Public Health News Roundup: February 20
Excess Weight More Harmful to Minority Children with Asthma
Excess weight has a greater negative impact on Hispanic and African-American children with asthma than it does on Caucasian children with asthma, according to a new report in the Journal of Asthma. The added weight impedes lung function. Hispanic and African-American children also experience higher rates of asthma than do Caucasian children. Deepa Rastogi, MD, MS, senior author and attending physician in the Division of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, The Children's Hospital at Montefiore, said this information can help physicians identify and treat asthma early. “Physicians might want to measure the degree of airway obstruction in Hispanic and African-American children who are both overweight or obese and asthmatic. Early identification of a drop in lung function can assist in better patient management.” Read more on obesity.
Study: 30 Percent of Chemo Drugs Used Off-label
Approximately one-third of chemotherapy drugs are used to combat cancers for which they were not approved, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. "The main criticism of off-label prescribing has been the concern that it jeopardizes patient safety because the full risk-benefit ratio is often not completely understood," said Monika Krzyzanowska, MD, MPH, of the University of Toronto. Still, lead researcher Rena Conti, an assistant professor of health policy and economics at the University of Chicago, said they cannot determine the effectiveness of the off-label treatments, according to Reuters. "We don't know what the outcomes are. We can't make a judgment of whether the off-label use we document… is appropriate or inappropriate." Read more on cancer.
Poll: One in Eight American Adults has Type 2 Diabetes
One in eight American adults—or 29 million people—suffer from type 2 diabetes, according to a Harris Interactive/HealthDay poll. The poll also found that one in three have a parent, sibling, spouse or child with diabetes. Despite those high numbers, only 21 percent of the people polled think of themselves as “well-versed” on the chronic condition, according to HealthDay. "Diabetes is very insidious,” said Ronald Tamler, MD, clinical director of the Mount Sinai Diabetes Center in New York City. “You don't know you're in trouble until the complications hit or until it's so out of control you have uncontrolled urination and thirst." Read more on diabetes.