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Women have broken through glass ceilings, they have narrowed the pay inequity gap, taken control of their reproductive health and become empowered in countless ways.

Yet, in the area of healthcare, women still face significant inequities. The one about which is most important to raise to day was reported on by the New York Times, which informed us that where women are concerned they are expected to pay significantly higher health insurance premiums than men. As the WSJ Health Blog stated it:

In a Humana plan with a $2,500 deductible, a 30-year-old woman pays 31 percent more than a man of the same age in some cities; Anthem Blue Cross (part of WellPoint) charges 30-year-old women 49% more than men of the same age for its Blue Access Economy plan in at least one city.

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Many people think that hair conveys a lot about a person’s personality; others see it as just this nuisance growing out of the top of one’s head requiring maintenance. But now, hair holds the secret to what can be anything from a social habit to a serious addiction.

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That’s right: there is now a test that can provide an extended history of alcohol consumption, says WSJ’s Market Watch. The AbuseCheck(TM) by Consumer Genetics uses a hair sample to detect the level of fatty ethyl esters in one’s hair. The more you have, the longer you have been drinking.

A few hiccups: the longer the hair, the better the test as the hair has time to build up these esters while it grows.…

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Today in one of my favorite blogs, the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, Jacob Goldstein comments on the fact that doctors, drowning in paperwork, have less and less time to heal.

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The solution, of course, which health economists, health policy analysts, and bioethicists have been clamoring for for years, is to have a centralized healthcare billing system. As NEJM reminds us the administrative costs for ALL of the Canadian healthcare system is 16.7% of the total healthcare budget while in the good-old US of A we spend something on the order of double that. And JUST overhead spending the US spends 10 times as much as Canada.…

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No one is perfect–but a physician charged for the tenth time for sex related allegations is still seeing patients in Canada.

How this is possible completely eludes me. Were the previous nine allegations all found to be completely unsubstantiated? Is this poor fellow being singled out? I don’t think so.

According to a report from EnergeticCity.ca, the physician was arrested in June for the first nine allegations occurring between both male and female patients, even minors.

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Even so, in their infinite wisdom, the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons did not suspend his license. Perhaps he received fifty lashes with a wet noodle and a “hall monitor” to attend is visits with patients.…

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News reports say that researchers from the John Innes Center in the UK have grown a potentially cancer-preventing tomato. These tomatoes genetically altered to grow with the dark purple pigment anthocyanin are hoped to either prevent or reduce the effects of a number of chronic diseases including cancer.

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When the purple tomatoes were fed to mice in the laboratory, their lives were significantly extended–and one can assume not simply over the excitement of eating a purple tomato!

Researchers conducting this study say its still too soon to tell how much an effect these GMOs will have on human health–and of course the key is still getting these veggies into people diets.…

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Courtesy of Strange Maps, I have a chance just one week before we elect a new president of the United States to look at a very different kind of map so that my eyes don’t bug out over staring at electoral maps and electronic “whiteboards” with every shade of state from red to pink to mauve to navy blue.

Instead, Strange Maps brings us what I will affectionately call “the Fat Map”. This map ranks by percentage of population that is obese. Unlike these 2008 election maps, this one is filled with brown states (which must represent the color of their people’s almost cardiac arresting hearts), orange states (where clearly these citizens should be eating more actual oranges and less Cheetos), the peach states (slightly better off, but they should lighten up on the red meat), the light green states (where they go light on the greens), and the bright green state (that would be Colorado, where despite the abundance of breweries, they still turn out to be the leanest in the nation).…

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Oxford University’s Practical Bioethics Blog informs us that the tools of eugenics are alive and well in Europe–but for an entirely new reason all together. Polish Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, is lobbying for the use of involuntary chemical castration for sex offenders in Poland. Arguing that the rights of victims should be placed above offenders, the Prime Minister has argued that the only suitable punishment in a case of incest is to perform non-voluntary chemical castration. The justification for this argument is simple in the Prime Minister’s view: sex offenders are not humans with moral standing but “creatures” who clearly do not have much if any at all.…

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The Sunday Baltimore Sun featured a story about “concierge” medicine and a Maryland trend of primary care docs charging premium membership fees on the order of $4000 or more for patients to be part of their practice. The reason? One doc was quoted in the article:

“Primary-care doctors are seeing 30 to 40 patients a day – that’s too many,” said Dr. Harry A. Oken, who has been with Charter Internal Medicine for more than 20 years. “It’s not about the money. It’s about having the time to spend with your patients to keep them healthy.”

With a shortage of primary care docs already existing in this country, the fact that some of them will now be isolating themselves inside these so-called “boutiques” of medicine is troubling to some.…

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A new study published in British Medical Journal has shown that almost half of internists have prescribed drugs that were expected to have nothing more than placebo effect. As reported by Bloomberg, these useless prescriptions were handed out as often as 2 or 3 times per month.

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Why would docs do this? To increase “positive patient expectations” says Jon Tilbert, author of the study. Among the physicians who participated in the study, 67 percent reported that they believe that this practice is ethical or even morally obligatory.

This is perhaps the best data yet to prove that there is rampant consumerism in healthcare and that physicians are complicit.…

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10/24/2008 Ethic-Mart

Chris MacDonald at The Business Ethics Blog has pointed out that Wal-Mart may be the “next Nike”, jumping on the business ethics bandwagon in China.

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The retailing giant, often criticized for its business practices, is now trying to influence more than 1,000 of its suppliers by raising its human rights and environmental standards. By raising expectations for its suppliers, Wal-Mart hopes to enhance its own ethical profile–abroad and eventually at home.

Whether this move by Wal-Mart is a symbolic one for PR value or a sincere turnaround (or some of both), there can be no doubt that one of the world’s largest retailers making ethical changes in the nation’s most populous country is likely to have an effect and other corporations are going to play “follow-the-leader”.…

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