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06/10/2016

Who May Die? California Patients and Doctors Wrestle With Assisted Suicide

New York Times

Beginning Thursday, California will be the fourth state in the country to put in effect a law allowing assisted suicide for the terminally ill, what has come to be known as aid in dying. Lawmakers here approved the legislation last year, after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old schoolteacher who had brain cancer, received international attention for her decision to move to Oregon, where terminally ill patients have been allowed to take drugs to die since 1997.

06/09/2016

White Male Doctors Are Paid Way More Than Blacks and Women

Time

Far too often, a person’s sex or skin color is connected to how much he or she earns—even in the reputationally well-paying field of medicine, finds a new study published in The BMJ. Men make more than women, and white male doctors typically earn about $60,000 more than black male doctors.

06/08/2016

This Is How Much Celebrities Get Paid To Endorse Soda And Unhealthy Food

NPR

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics describes the lucrative endorsement deals of 65 music celebrities — including Britney Spears, Maroon 5, Timberlake and other stars popular with teens and young adults. These celebrities promoted 57 different food and beverage brands (see chart), ranging from soda to energy drinks to pizza, Pop Tarts and candy.

06/07/2016

Most Violent Crimes Are Wrongly Linked to Mental Illness

Time

Despite the fact that most people with mental illness are never violent, news stories about violence often focus on whether a person’s mental health problem was responsible, according to a new report.

06/06/2016

Families Isolated By Rare Genetic Conditions Find New Ways To Reach Out

NPR

Shortly after Milo Lorentzen was born, nurses whisked him away to the neonatal intensive care unit for low blood sugar and jaundice. An exam then found a cluster of irregularities, including a cleft palate and a hole in his heart.

06/03/2016

Scientists Announce HGP-Write, Project to Synthesize the Human Genome

New York Times

Scientists on Thursday formally announced the start of a 10-year project aimed at vastly improving the ability to chemically manufacture DNA, with one of the goals being to synthetically create an entire human genome.

06/02/2016

We’re spending $107 billion on cancer drugs, but is it worth it?

Washington Post

A flood of innovative cancer treatments helped fuel an 11.5 percent surge in spending on oncology drugs over the past year — to $107 billion globally, according to a new report. But there’s a crucial question the study can’t quite answer: How much are patients benefiting from this expanding arsenal of high-priced drugs?

06/01/2016

Why taking morphine, oxycodone can sometimes make pain worse

Science

There’s an unfortunate irony for people who rely on morphine, oxycodone, and other opioid painkillers: The drug that’s supposed to offer you relief can actually make you more sensitive to pain over time.

05/31/2016

Infection Raises Specter of Superbugs Resistant to All Antibiotics

New York Times

American military researchers have identified the first patient in the United States to be infected with bacteria that are resistant to an antibiotic that was the last resort against drug-resistant germs.

05/27/2016

Cancer deaths rose during the recession. But why?

Washington Post

Wealthy countries experienced a small uptick in cancer deaths during the global economic crisis, according to a new study — an estimated 260,000 excess deaths between 2008 and 2010.

05/26/2016

Antimicrobial Mechanism Gone Rogue May Play Role in Alzheimer’s Disease

Scientific American

General consensus among Alzheimer’s researchers has it that the disease’s main culprit, a protein called amyloid beta, is an unfortunate waste product that is not known to play any useful role in the body—and one that can have devastating consequences. When not properly cleared from the brain it builds up into plaques that destroy synapses, the junctions between nerve cells, resulting in cognitive decline and memory loss. The protein has thus become a major drug target in the search for a cure to Alzheimer’s.

05/25/2016

Despite Pressing Need, Survey Finds Most Americans Unlikely to Enroll in Clinical Trials

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center

The lack of participation in clinical research may be the Achilles’ heel of today’s cancer community. According to a new survey of more than 1,500 consumers and nearly 600 physicians conducted on behalf of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK), only 35 percent of Americans indicated that they were “likely” to enroll in a clinical trial. Other studies have shown that only 4 percent of cancer patients enroll in clinical trials nationally each year.

05/24/2016

Just 5% of Terminally-Ill Cancer Patients Fully Understand Prognosis, Study Finds

ABC News

Just a fraction of terminally-ill cancer patients fully understood their prognosis according to a new small study published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

05/23/2016

An ‘Added Sugar’ Label Is On The Way For Packaged Food

NPR

The new, redesigned “Nutrition Facts” label is coming. The Food and Drug Administration has announced that the new label will be required on most packaged food by July 2018.

05/20/2016

Nearly a third of women in academic medicine experience sexual harassment

Reuters

For women in U.S. medical research, sexual harassment is less common than 20 years ago, but it was still experienced by 30 percent of those responding to a new survey, compared to just 4 percent of men, researchers say.

05/19/2016

House GOP presses ahead with Zika measure

Washington Post

House Republicans on Wednesday pushed through a $622 million bill to battle the Zika virus, setting up challenging negotiations with the Senate and the White House.

05/18/2016

How Much Time Is Left? Doctors, Loved Ones Often Disagree

US News

Loved ones acting on behalf of critically ill patients are often more optimistic about outcomes than physicians. But not necessarily because they don’t grasp the gravity of the case, new research suggests.

05/17/2016

Should Your Doctor Ask If You Own Guns?

Time

Doctors routinely ask if you smoke, and counsel you to wear your seat belt when you’re in a car. Technically, either behavior isn’t any of their business, but they do fall under the umbrella of preventive care. Now Dr. Garen Wintemute, director of the violence prevention research program at the University of California Davis, and his colleagues want to add firearms to the office visit for similar reasons.

05/16/2016

Obamacare Rule Bans Discrimination Against Transgender Patients

Time

The Obama administration has finalized a new rule that bans discrimination against transgender people and all discrimination on the basis of sex within health programs that receive federal funding.

05/13/2016

WHEN DO YOU GIVE UP ON TREATING A CHILD WITH CANCER?

New York Times

Andrew Levy’s parents knew that the rare and deadly cancer in his blood could not be
beaten, so they began to prepare for the worst. Then something mysterious happened.

05/12/2016

For cholesterol study volunteer, an unsettling discovery in a Science paper: herself

Science

When I first meet Rita Woidislawsky at La Colombe, her favorite coffee shop steps from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania’s upscale Rittenhouse Square, she’s effusive and bracingly direct—hugging patrons she knows, waving to baristas, and quickly finding the one table that’s about to free up. She’s dressed in workout clothes and delights in looking younger than her 68 years, with curly hair and an Israeli accent that’s lingered since she emigrated in her late teens.

05/11/2016

Malaria Vaccine Shows Strongest Protection Yet

Time

There’s currently no vaccine for malaria, despite the fact that the disease infects 214 million people per year and kills about half a million. But scientists have been working on a vaccine for some time. Now, a new study reveals that an experimental malaria vaccine can protect adults from malaria for up to a year.

05/10/2016

Researcher under fire for New Yorker epigenetics article

Nature

A story about epigenetics in the 2 May issue of The New Yorker has been sharply criticized for inaccurately describing how genes are regulated. The article by Siddhartha Mukherjee — a physician, cancer researcher and award-winning author at Columbia University in New York — examines how environmental factors can change the activity of genes without altering the DNA sequence. Jerry Coyne, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Chicago in Illinois, posted two widely discussed blog posts calling the piece “superficial and misleading”, largely because it ignored key aspects of gene regulation.

05/09/2016

Why this lab-grown human embryo has reignited an old ethical debate

Science

It’s easy to obey a rule when you don’t have the means to break it. For decades, many countries have permitted human embryos to be studied in the laboratory only up to 14 days after their creation by in vitro fertilization. But—as far as anyone knows—no researcher has ever come close to the limit. The point of implantation, when the embryo attaches to the uterus about 7 days after fertilization, has been an almost insurmountable barrier for researchers culturing human embryos.

05/06/2016

Can A Hospital Tell A Doctor To Stop Talking About Abortion?

NPR

One of the country’s most outspoken abortion providers has filed a civil rights complaint against the hospital where she works, saying that it has wrongly banned her from giving media interviews.

05/05/2016

Bacteria-Infected Mosquitoes Could Slow Spread of Zika Virus

New York Times

If there is ever a contest for Least Appreciated Creature on Earth, first prize should go to a microbe called Wolbachia. The bacterium infects millions of invertebrate species, including spiders, shrimps and parasitic worms, as well as 60 percent of all insect species. Once in residence, Wolbachia co-opts its hosts’ reproductive machinery and often greedily shields them from a variety of competing infections.

05/04/2016

Medical errors may be third leading cause of death in the U.S.

CNN

You’ve heard those hospital horror stories where the surgeon removes the wrong body part or operates on the wrong patient or accidentally leaves medical equipment in the person they were operating on. Even scarier, perhaps, is a new study in the latest edition of BMJ suggesting most medical errors go unobserved, at least in the official record.

05/03/2016

For Hospitals, Prestige Leads To Profits

Kaiser Health News

When it comes to hospitals, which benefit most from high health care prices? It may sound counter-intuitive, but a group of not-for-profit hospitals appear to be among those doing the best business.

05/02/2016

Feds Act To Help More Ex-Inmates Get Medicaid

NPR

Administration officials moved Thursday to improve low Medicaid enrollment for emerging prisoners, urging states to start signups before release and expanding eligibility to thousands of former inmates in halfway houses near the end of their sentences.

04/29/2016

Massachusetts Senate approves under-21 ban on tobacco sales

Washington Post

The Massachusetts Senate voted overwhelmingly Thursday to raise the minimum age for purchasing cigarettes and other tobacco products across the state, which could make it the second to raise its threshold to 21 years old.