Thursday, July 19, 2012

We are Still Getting Sunburns at an Alarming Rate

Despite increased use of sunscreen and wearing of hats and long sleeved clothes, 51% of women and 49% of men reported getting at least one significant sunburn during the previous year. This puts people at risk of skin cancer. The safest habit to promote is to be out in the sun for shorter times and perhaps at off-peak hours of the day. We certainly need the vitamin D production from sun exposure, but burning is to be avoided. See the Healthy People Objectives 2020 from the CDC.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heavy Smoking Can Lead to Major Depression

The risk for major depression was 27% in heavy smokers, compared to 7% in patients who previously smoked but had quit. Heavy smokers were defined as those who smoke a pack a day or more. It was not clear if smoking caused the depression or if patients genetically prone to depression were also prone to smoking, but the association added one more risk factor to this deadly habit. See Salma Khaled at the University of Calgary, J. Psychiatric Research 2012;46:436-43.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Increasing Case Reports of Measles in the U.S.

Last year there were 222 measles cases reported to the CDC, compared to an average of 60 cases per year during the last decade. Most of the cases were in unvaccinated patients or in those in which the vaccine status was unknown. However, 90% of the cases were associated with importation from other countries. Increasing numbers of parents are refusing or delaying immunizations due to perceived risks of autism and autoimmune diseases. Despite reassurances from the CDC and most doctors that vaccines are “safe”, there are risks, especially when multiple vaccines are given at the same time. Delaying vaccines, spreading them out, and using homeopathics to prevent complications are prudent measures. Avoiding vaccines in children who may be at risk of autism is a parental choice that should be respected. Such a small increase in reported cases of measles is not cause for alarm. See the CDC Weekly Report, 2012;61:253-7.