Avoiding red or processed meat doesn’t seem to give health benefits | New Scientist

Many health bodies have said in the past that people should limit their red meat intake

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

Owen Franken/Corbis Documentary/Getty

There are no health reasons to cut down on eating red or processed meat, according to a new review of the evidence. The claims, which contradict most existing dietary advice, come from a review of existing studies led by the Spanish and Polish Cochrane Centers, part of a global collaboration for assessing medical research.

Numerous health bodies have said for decades that we should limit our intake of red meat because it is high in saturated fat, thought to raise cholesterol levels and cause heart attacks. More recently, both red and processed meat have been linked with cancer.

In the latest review, though, the authors came to a different conclusion because they considered separately the two main kinds of research. The best evidence comes from randomised trials. In these, some participants are helped to change their diet in a certain way, such as eating less meat, and the rest aren’t. At the end, the health of the people in the two groups is compared.

But such trials are costly and hard to do. According to one estimate, only about 5 per cent of nutrition studies are large, good-quality randomised trials. It is much more common to do research that just observes what people choose to eat undirected. Known as observational studies, these are notoriously open to bias and can give misleading results.

Bradley Johnston of Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, and his colleagues first reviewed all previous observational studies looking at the health impact of eating red or processed meat. These pointed to a “very small” adverse effect on deaths, heart disease and cancer.

Then they separately reviewed the 12 randomised trials that have been done in this area, and found that there was little or no health benefit for people who cut down on eating these meats. Based on these findings, the authors conclude that people should “continue to eat their current levels of red and processed meat unless they felt inclined to change them themselves”. However, they added that some might want to change their diet because of animal welfare or environmental reasons.

“It may be time to stop producing observational research in this area,” Tiffany Doherty from Indiana University’s Pediatric and Adolescent Comparative Effectiveness Research team wrote in an accompanying editorial.

Duane Mellor, a spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says people shouldn’t take the advice as a green light to eat more red meat. “What it doesn’t say is that we can tear up the guidelines and start eating twice as much meat. But red meat three times a week is not a problem.”

Journal reference: Annals of Internal Medicine, DOI:

More on these topics:

This content was originally published here.

Americans Spent More on Taxes in 2018 Than on Food, Clothing and Health Care Combined

A grocery shopper in Los Angeles on July 24, 2019. (Photo by Mark RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Americans on average spent more on taxes in 2018 than they did on the basic necessities of food, clothing and health care combined, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Consumer Expenditure Survey.

The survey’s recently published Table R-1 for 2018 lists the average “detailed expenditures” of what the BLS calls “consumer units.”

“Consumer units,” says BLS, “include families, single persons living alone or sharing a household with others but who are financially independent, or two or more persons living together who share major expenses.”

In 2018, according to Table R-1, American consumer units spent an average of $9,031.93 on federal income taxes; $5,023.73 on Social Security taxes (which the table calls “deductions”); $2,284.62 on state and local income taxes; $2,199.80 on property taxes; and $77.85 on what BLS calls “other taxes.”

The combined payments the average American consumer unit made for these five categories of taxes was $18,617.93.

At the same time the average American consumer unit was paying these taxes, it was spending $7,923.19 on food; $4,968.44 on health care; and $1,866.48 on “apparel and services.”

These combined expenditures equaled $14,758.11.

So, the $14,758.11 that the average American consumer unit paid for food, clothing and health care was $3,859.82 less than the $18,617.93 it paid in federal, state and local income taxes, property taxes, Social Security taxes and “other taxes.”

I asked the BLS to confirm these numbers, which it did while noting that the “Pensions and Social Security” section of its Table R-1 included four other types of payments (that many people are not required to make or that do not go to the government) in addition to the average of $5,023.73 in Social Security taxes that 77.21% of respondents reported paying.

“You asked us to verify the amounts for the total taxes and expenditures on food, apparel/services, and healthcare,” said BLS. “Based on table R-1 for 2018, your definition for food, apparel, and healthcare matches the BLS definition and the total dollars. Your dollar amounts for federal, state, and local income taxes and for property taxes are correct, as is the amount for Social Security deductions. For the combined pension amount [$6,830.71] that we publish however, in addition to the $5,023.73 for Social Security, there is an additional amount for government retirement deductions [$135.11], railroad retirement deductions [$2.85], private pension deductions [$608.22], and non-payroll deposits for pensions [$1,060.79].”

That Americans are forced to pay more for government than they pay for food, clothing and health care combined has become an enduring fact of life.

A review of the BLS Table R-1s for the last six years on record shows that in every one of those years, the average American consumer unit paid more in taxes than it paid for food, clothing and health care combined.

In 2013, the average American consumer unit paid a combined $13,327.22 for the same five categories of taxes cited above for 2018, while paying a combined $11,836.80 for food, clothing and health care.

In 2014, the average American consumer unit paid $14,664.13 for those same taxes and $12,834.34 for those same necessities.

In 2015, it was $15,548.36 versus $13,210.83. In 2016, it was $17,153.30 versus $13,617.60. And, in 2017, it was $16,750.20 versus $14,489.54.

Even when all the numbers for the last six years are converted into constant December 2018 dollars (using the BLS inflation calculator), the largest annual margin between the amount paid in taxes and the amount paid for food, clothing and health care was last year’s $3,859.82.

The margin was so great last year that you can add the $3,225.55 Table R-1 says the average consumer unit paid for entertainment to the $14,758.11 it paid for food, clothing and health care, and the combined $17,983.66 is still less than the $18,617.93 it paid for the five categories of taxes.

You get a similar result if you add the combined $2,903.50 that the average consumer unit paid in 2018 for electricity ($1,496.14) and telephone services ($1,407.36).

Yes, Americans on average paid more in taxes last year than they paid for food, clothing, health care, electricity and telephone services combined.

Was the government you got worth it?

(Terence P. Jeffrey is the editor in chief of CNSNews.com.)

This content was originally published here.

PROFILES IN SUCCESS: Cavanaugh takes hoops lessons into his work as an orthodontist

As Robert Cavanaugh walked through the Old Town Banquet Hall in Valparaiso last month, the former Valparaiso High School and Valparaiso University basketball player was struck by the amount of meaningful relationships he’d made with people in the room over the years.

Cavanaugh was one of 10 individuals inducted into the Valparaiso High School Hall of Fame on Jan. 20, and while he had two tables of supporters, Cavanaugh spent plenty of time floating around the room.

Joe Otis was holding court on one side of the room, telling old basketball stories. Mike Jones and Scott Anselm traded stories while forming a unique bond with Cavanaugh with the three having played for both the Vikings and the Crusaders. Former coach Bob Punter told a tale or two before introducing Cavanaugh to the audience.

The honor of getting inducted into the Hall meant a lot to Cavanaugh, an orthodontist with Cavanaugh & Nondorf Orthodontics, but the people is what he’ll remember.

“(Getting inducted) was kind of humbling,” Cavanaugh said. “The best part of it was going to the event and seeing all these people that were such a big part of my life. The evening itself was really neat because of getting to spend time with so many different people.”

Cavanaugh knows a lot of people simply because he is as ingrained in the Valparaiso community as one can be. He and his wife, Heather, have five children that have come up through the Valparaiso school system, the same system that produced Cavanaugh before he graduated in 1990.

Cavanaugh spent his first three seasons at VHS playing basketball under Skip Collins. The 1988-89 team won a sectional championship before falling in the regional. Collins gave way to Punter and Cavanaugh for his first taste of a different coaching philosophy.

“Skip was very regimented, very organized and very detailed,” Cavanaugh said. “Punter let us go a little bit more. We scored a lot more points going up and down the floor, but we gave up a little bit more, too.”

The 1989-90 Vikings also won a sectional title and Cavanaugh learned a life lesson in watching Collins, and then Punter, that he has taken with him to his orthodontics practice.

“You can see there’s ways to look at different approaches,” Cavanaugh said. “Now as a business owner, being in charge of 10 to 12 staff members, you can see that they’re all different. The coach has to decide what everyone is good at. Watching (Collins and Punter), there’s not only one way to do something, there’s positives and negatives.”

Cavanaugh set the IHSAA record for consecutive free throws at 72 his senior year and he made 102 out of 104 attempts from the charity stripe. Despite scoring 18.5 points per game and leading the Vikings in assists, Cavanaugh wasn’t highly recruited out of high school and it wasn’t until he had a stroke of good fortune that he found his landing spot.

“(Second-year Valparaiso University coach) Homer Drew called me and told me that he really liked me, but also wanted to tell me that he wasn’t going to recruit me because they didn’t need a guard,” Cavanaugh said. “The season ends and two of their guards leave. Homer called me and immediately offered me a scholarship. I was lucky how the opportunity came about.”

Cavanaugh started all four years for the Crusaders and has made a profound impact on the Valparaiso record book. He finished his career with the highest 3-point percentage at the time and now ranks No. 6 in program history. Cavanaugh is joined in the top 10 by Bryce Drew, Casey Schmidt and Mike Jones, all Valparaiso High graduates. Cavanaugh also ranks among the program’s best in assists and free throw percentage.

More important than individual statistics was the ascent of the team when Cavanaugh played for the Crusaders. Valparaiso won five games in each of his first two seasons before breaking through for 12 wins in 1992-93. The following year the Crusaders won 20 games, a mark they’d hit in eight of the next nine seasons.

“We were starting to see the hard work paying off,” Cavanaugh said. “It was about setting goals higher, having persistence. Those first couple years when you’re not winning, it’s hard. People are hanging their heads, but once you start winning, it changes your whole feeling.”

While basketball was a passions for Cavanaugh, so was dentistry. His father, Tom, worked in the field for 40 years and Rob gotten bitten by the bug at an early age. After graduating from Valparaiso, Cavanaugh completed his dental studies at the Indiana University of Dentistry in 1998 and then graduated from NOVA Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale with orthodontic specialty education in 2001. Cavanaugh became board certified by the American Board of Orthodontics in 2005.

“During some of those summers (when I was younger), I worked for my dad in his office,” Cavanaugh said. “I started making some appliances. My grandfather was a general dentist and I had the opportunity to visit some of the other dentists in town.”

Dentistry is certainly a family business as far as Cavanaugh is concerned. His partner, Matt Nondorf, is the same way as his father, sister and wife also work in the field. Just as dentistry brings Cavanaugh and his family together, so does flying. Tom was a longtime flight instructor and Rob’s brother Brad owns Air One, an aerial photography business.

“During my sophomore year at VU I got my pilots license,” Cavanaugh said. “My dad was a flight instructor and was honored by the FAA with the Wright Brothers Award for 50 years of no accidents. Hanging out at the airport with all the guys, it’s something I’ve always had an interest in.”

Cavanaugh has built a successful business career, but the itch to compete is still there. He cures it with weekly basketball games and by coaching his children. While basketball has always come natural to him, Cavanaugh is finding a new love with following his children in cross country. While dentistry and sports don’t quite go hand in hand, Cavanaugh has found a balance between the two that is rooted in more life lessons he learned back at Valparaiso High.

“The big thing going into dental school was to remember time management and being able to multitask,” Cavanaugh said. “Learning how to deal with failures, how to make mistakes and to be persistent.”

This content was originally published here.

Veterans Affairs To Share Veterans’ Health Information Without Consent

Thousands of veterans were alarmed to learn VA is quietly rolling out is plan to automatically share veterans’ health information with third parties without written consent.

You got that right. Thanks to the VA MISSION Act, VA will now automatically enroll, or opt-in, all veterans into a health information sharing system with numerous government agencies and private organizations after September 30, 2019, unless you object in writing on a paper form.

Veterans must submit the VA Form 10-0484 in person or by mail to their local VA Release of Information office by of September 30, 2019, if they do not want to be “automatically enrolled” into the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia Project.

Sound absurd? Here is what VA wrote in its Virtual Lifetime Electronic
Record (VLER) FAQ:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out.

Let me say that a third way in case I have not been clear.

VA will automatically share your health information with third parties without your written consent unless you opt-out in writing or submit a revocation in writing submitted in person or by US mail. You cannot submit your opt-out or revocation electronically.

How ironic, right?

In the name of technology, VA is about to force veterans into an electronic data sharing system without consent. The only way to prevent this violation is to present your objection on an agency mandated form ON PAPER by hand or snail mail by Monday. How old school.

And we are just learning about the deadline now.

In order to opt-out or revoke consent, there are a couple of forms you need to consider, noted above… but you only have until Monday to figure it out.

Curiously, the VA Form 10-10164 opt-out that is not technically an official form until October 2019 based on the available form.

One could argue that submitting the 10-10164 before September 30 may still result in a veteran’s automatic opt-in and then opt-out since the form may lack legal effect until October 2019.

So, the forms you can use to opt-out or revoke consent:

How do you get the form to VA? Can I send it on eBenefits or
fax it to Janesville Evidence Intake Center?

No. The agency requires that you either hand deliver the
signed form or mail it to the local Release of Information office at your VA Medical
Center by Monday.

No revocations will be processed after September 30, 2019. I
hope VA will not auto-opt-in veterans who submit the new form before the
deadline.

Either way, if you fail to take action by September 30, your
health information will be shared with the eHealth Exchange managed by The Sequoia
Project.

Good luck.

Once health information is shared, it cannot be unshared as
best I can tell from the information available including the old form.

This means meaning you lose control of your data. While you can possibly opt-out at a later date, whatever is shared is out there in the great and mysterious cloud for whatever hacker to access however and whenever they choose.

Who may get access?

The eHealth Exchange is a massive data-sharing system between federal agencies and private organizations in all 50 states that was originally controlled by the Department of Health and Human Services.

A nonprofit called The Sequoia Project took over management of the eHealth Exchange for “maintenance.” Many VA contractors and vendors are on the Board of Sequoia including Cerner and Mitre Corporation.

VA reassures us everything is safe. Right. Kind of like all
the times our data was illegally shared or hacked within the existing system?

“Rest assured. Your health information is safe and secure as it moves from VA to participating community care providers,” promises VA.

Believe them? We don’t, either.

We Drove To Minneapolis VA To Investigate

On Thursday, colleague Brian Lewis and I went to Minneapolis VA Medical Center immediately after reviewing what I describe below to confront agency officials about the highly questionable timing of the notice.

The Facebook Live video contains our initial impressions, which later evolved after we spoke with local officials and conducted an additional deep dive. Veterans who do not revoke consent/opt-out by September 30 will be enrolled automatically per the VLER FAQ.

We learned some inside baseball by asking around about it
and inspecting the facility. But, many of the VA officials we spoke with were
generally unaware of what VA Central Office was rolling out.

Our local Release of Information booth at Minneapolis VA did not have any of the forms available for veterans seeking to opt-out or revoke their previous consent. The attendant seemed to think her boss might bring some forms up sometime Friday or Monday since a few veterans were asking about it.

Fantastic.

Btw, you may have noticed my reference to “booth” about our ROI. In order to speak with someone at ROI, Minneapolis VA leadership decided to move the ROI intake to the open lobby area where anyone and everyone can hear about what you are asking about regarding your private health information.

So much for privacy when trying to get your private health
records.

For newbies reading this, Brian and I are veterans rights attorneys in the Minneapolis Metro who are well-known, but not well-loved, by VA officials locally and nationally.

I will explain the forms in a bit.

Back In The Day When Consent Was In Writing… And It Mattered

For years, VA was required secure informed consent from veterans prior to the sharing of health information. Whether you were a veteran trying to get care in the community or allow your attorney access to a claims file, you were required to provide VA with a release of information granting consent to share the date.

If you wanted to give VA your genomic information so they
could share it with private researching organizations for God knows whatever
reason, specifically the Million Veteran Program, you had to sign a form
granting permission.

If you wanted to opt in to allow your community care provider to use the health exchange to access your electronic health records, you need to sign the VA Form 10-0485. If you wanted to revoke that access, you needed to sign and submit the VA Form 10-0484.

There’s Gold In Those Records, Boys And Girls

To me, and millions of other veterans, this process seems
straightforward, but VA officials, university researchers, and private industry
really wanted more access to more veteran data since our electronic health records
comprise one of the most valuable datasets in the history of the world to date.

Yes, there is an incredible monetary value within the database containing all of our electronic health information, and private industry would profit handsomely from various marketing, advertising, and health solutions that could be developed by simply accessing our records.

Now, that access to our records comes at a cost. For at
least the past eight years, standard HIPAA requirements to de-identify records
no longer provide the security previously believed. Companies like Facebook
readily work to hack HIPAA protections using algorithms to connect HIPAA de-identified
data with a person’s Facebook profile using various markers including data like
that given by veterans to the Million Veteran Program, for example.

That data can then provide the backbone of entirely new research and advertising arm of companies like Facebook and Google to connect pharmaceutical ads with individuals who may be interested in the newest and greatest pill for anxiety or erectile dysfunction.

VA Throws Off The Heavy Yoke Of Privacy

Fortunately for business partners, researchers, and anyone
else who wants to access our data but not be troubled with difficult privacy
laws, VA will no longer have its research potential hamstrung by sentimental
laws like the Privacy Act or HIPAA.

Veterans can thank Congress and its passage of the VA MISSION
Act for allowing automatic access to all veterans’ health information by third
party community care providers and “partners.”

One of my readers alerted me to a change in protocol yesterday
starting with a PDF flyer circulating at VA.

That flyer, called the Veteran Notification Flyer, informs veterans of the five things we “need to know” about the VA’s new implementation of the health information mandate. I included this below in italics verbatim from the agency’s flyer.

You may be thinking, ‘Well, at least VA thought to give you
notice.’

Not exactly. I have not received any notice yet. However,
many veterans are writing in starting yesterday with notice letters that VA was
transitioning veterans into a new and brave system of data sharing.

The flyer was created September 11, 2019, informing veterans that in 20 days the process was flipping on its head where we need to opt-out after automatically being opted-in.

5 Things You Need To Know About Health Information
Sharing

If you are a little unclear about how to be sure no one
receives the health information, you are in good company. A lot of readers and
agency officials were unclear of exactly what is going on, and multiple dates
are floating around within VA’s own notices.

One page reads, “VA will begin opting all Veterans into
health information sharing, beginning January 2010.” Another page
reads, “VA Systems will begin opting all Veterans into health information
sharing, beginning January 2020.”

So, when did or will VA start the sharing of our health information
without consent?

An intranet notice to VA employees indicated the actual
process of sharing will start on or about November 18, 2019.

The VLER FAQ sheet probably provides the best advice
specific to veterans who do not want their data shared in the electronic system:

All Veterans who have not previously signed form 10-0484 as of September 30, 2019 will be automatically enrolled, but have the option to opt out. Beginning late 2019, a VA patient’s information will be shared with any community providers that also provide health care services for the shared patient.

“Revocation forms will not be processed after September 30,
2019. However, if you submit VA Form 10-0484, before September 30, your
preference will remain honored and no further action is needed by you.”

This language suggests the form must be submitted before
September 30, because the agency will stop processing them after September 30.

But how to do you revoke the consent that you never granted?

What is also important is the language difference between
the two forms.

Old VA Form 10-0484 vs New VA Form 10-10164

Let’s start with the new form, VA Form 10-10164. Basically,
the form says the agency cannot share your health information unless treatment
is required for an emergency:

So, the opt-out is not absolute. The form also indicates the
opt-in means all your health information can be shared for treatment.

What about your mental health records? How will VA protect
that data? Could that data also be shared with DHS or other organizations for
their own purposes?

The VA Form 10-0484 handles the issues differently.

First, it addresses that the signer revokes their previous
consent. Obviously, most of us never consented to this program. So, by signing
this 0484, can you preemptively revoke?

That is a question for your local Release of Information
Official.

The old form provides the following list about revocation
that I think is far clearer about what is at stake. Here is the list from VA in
italics:

One of the differences that jumped out at me in the old form was the promise that VA “will no longer share any of my individually-identifiable health information”. It did not qualify that revocation by stating the information will be shared in an emergency.

However, the revocation qualifies the health information by calling it “individually-identifiable health information” demonstrating the agency will share your information so long is it is de-identified. As noted above, merely adhering to HIPAA is no longer sufficient to protect your identity or other information that can be traced right back to you with today’s computing power.

What About Health Information Already Shared

The old 10-0484 says the information “already exchanged”
will continue to the used despite revocation meaning once the information is
out there, it is out there.

The health information being passed between VA and its
community care providers is supposedly shared in “guidance” with the Health
Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations.

Do we have enough information to make informed decisions?
Does VA seem to give a rip about our informed consent?

I plan to update this post as more information comes out. You may want to check back from time to time.

Stay informed on VA news, scandals and benefits. Get our daily newsletter via email.

This content was originally published here.

Suggested move to plant-based diets risks worsening brain health nutrient deficiency: And UK failing to recommend or monitor dietary levels of choline, warns nutritionist — ScienceDaily

To make matters worse, the UK government has failed to recommend or monitor dietary levels of this nutrient — choline — found predominantly in animal foods, says Dr Emma Derbyshire, of Nutritional Insight, a consultancy specialising in nutrition and biomedical science.

Choline is an essential dietary nutrient, but the amount produced by the liver is not enough to meet the requirements of the human body.

Choline is critical to brain health, particularly during fetal development. It also influences liver function, with shortfalls linked to irregularities in blood fat metabolism as well as excess free radical cellular damage, writes Dr Derbyshire.

The primary sources of dietary choline are found in beef, eggs, dairy products, fish, and chicken, with much lower levels found in nuts, beans, and cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli.

In 1998, recognising the importance of choline, the US Institute of Medicine recommended minimum daily intakes. These range from 425 mg/day for women to 550 mg/day for men, and 450 mg/day and 550 mg/day for pregnant and breastfeeding women, respectively, because of the critical role the nutrient has in fetal development.

In 2016, the European Food Safety Authority published similar daily requirements. Yet national dietary surveys in North America, Australia, and Europe show that habitual choline intake, on average, falls short of these recommendations.

“This is….concerning given that current trends appear to be towards meat reduction and plant-based diets,” says Dr Derbyshire.

She commends the first report (EAT-Lancet) to compile a healthy food plan based on promoting environmental sustainability, but suggests that the restricted intakes of whole milk, eggs and animal protein it recommends could affect choline intake.

And she is at a loss to understand why choline does not feature in UK dietary guidance or national population monitoring data.

“Given the important physiological roles of choline and authorisation of certain health claims, it is questionable why choline has been overlooked for so long in the UK,” she writes. “Choline is presently excluded from UK food composition databases, major dietary surveys, and dietary guidelines,” she adds.

It may be time for the UK government’s independent Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition to reverse this, she suggests, particularly given the mounting evidence on the importance of choline to human health and growing concerns about the sustainability of the planet’s food production.

“More needs to be done to educate healthcare professionals and consumers about the importance of a choline-rich diet, and how to achieve this,” she writes.

“If choline is not obtained in the levels needed from dietary sources per se then supplementation strategies will be required, especially in relation to key stages of the life cycle, such as pregnancy, when choline intakes are critical to infant development,” she concludes.

This content was originally published here.

Trump’s Ban on E-Cigarette Flavors Endangers Public Health

Today President Donald Trump announced that his administration plans to ban the sale of e-cigarettes in flavors other than tobacco, a move that will undermine public health in the name of promoting it. The ban, which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will impose through regulatory “guidance” it plans to issue soon, will dramatically reduce the harm-reducing alternatives available to smokers who are interested in quitting and is likely to drive many people who have already made that switch back to a much more dangerous source of nicotine.

The flavor ban is aimed at preventing underage vaping, which increased sharply last year. “We are going to have to do something about it,” Trump told reporters, describing vaping by teenagers as “a new problem in the country.”

Yet in terms of numbers and health consequences, the main impact of the ban will be felt by the millions of adults who have used e-cigarettes to quit smoking. Those adult vapers overwhelmingly prefer the flavors that the FDA plans to ban, and many of them, deprived of the products they are now using, are apt to start smoking again, dramatically increasing the health risks they face. The upshot will be more smoking-related disease and death.

Since selling e-cigarettes to minors is already illegal, a more reasonable approach would have been to improve enforcement of age restrictions. Companies such as Juul, the leading e-cigarette maker, have already taken steps in that direction through robust age verification. If some retailers are still selling e-cigarettes to minors, a logical response would have been to crack down on them. Instead the Trump administration is depriving adults of potentially lifesaving products that seem to be nearly twice as effective in facilitating smoking cessation as alternatives such as nicotine gum and patches.

Trump seems to have been influenced by his wife, Melania, who recently tweeted that “we need to do all we can to protect the public from tobacco-related disease and death, and prevent e-cigarettes from becoming an on-ramp to nicotine addiction for a generation of youth.” Yet the flavor ban will undermine that first goal by eliminating the vast majority of the vaping products that provide nicotine without tobacco or combustion. Since the availability of e-cigarettes seems to have accelerated the long-term decline in smoking, the flavor ban can be expected to slow that trend or even reverse it.

The FDA has repeatedly acknowledged the enormous harm-reducing potential of e-cigarettes. Former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb openly agonized about the tradeoff between broad restrictions aimed at preventing underage consumption and the interests of smokers who want to quit or have already done so with the help of e-cigarettes. This decision gives no weight to those interests. The only consolation is that Trump’s announcement takes the shine off Michael Bloomberg’s latest crusade.

This content was originally published here.

BYU students promote women in dentistry

From left to right: Lauren Olsen, Eliza Butcher, Nadia Valentin, Kendra Law, Tessa Hadley, Cyerra Davis and Haram Kim smile at the opening social of the BYU Women in Dentistry committee last week. (Ty Mullen)

Recent BYU graduate Lauren Olsen wanted to be a dentist since she was 4 years old, but while at BYU, her advisor influenced her to pursue a different career path. She ended up graduating in 2018 with a degree in public health.

“He looked at me and was like ‘You know, if you’re a dentist, you’ll have a really hard time being a mom,’” Olsen said, describing the conversation that led her to change majors. “I left and just cried a lot.”

Lauren Olsen dressed as a dentist with her father. Olsen said she knew she wanted to be a dentist at a very young age. (Lauren Olsen)

Olsen said a public health internship in Cambodia helped her realize she needed to return to her roots and study dentistry. While there, she met a young girl with an infected tooth and a swollen face who couldn’t speak. There were no dentists available in the area to assist her.

“I was flying home the next day and thought ‘I didn’t do anything for her,’ and it’s one of my biggest regrets,” Olsen said. “When I got home, I started having a lot of little experiences that reminded me that I wanted to be a dentist all along.”

Olsen said once she got home, she asked family members if they knew any women in dentistry. She eventually learned about Jennifer Klonkle, who is a mother and works one day out of the week as a dentist in Arizona.

Dentists like Klonkle inspired Olsen to find a way to share their stories with other aspiring female dentists.

“If only other girls at BYU could see this,” Olsen said. “I know these nice, normal, smart girls are dentists and moms and whatever they want to be.”

Despite the small number of female dentists in Utah, Olsen established the Women in Dentistry committee at BYU to inform others that there are women who have successfully forged a career in dentistry.

Only four percent of dentists in Utah are women, while 28.9 percent of dentists are female nationwide, according to a 2017 study by the Utah Medical Education Council.

Women in Dentistry president Kendra Law said the group has grown from six to about 30 members. Law said she believes the numbers have increased because of the committee’s support for students who would otherwise be discouraged from a career in dentistry.

“It just helps to have this support group of women who are all trying to reach the same goal,” Law said. “Even when some people are saying, ‘No, you can’t do it,’ we can turn to each other, and we have a good network of people supporting and pushing us to all reach the same dream.”

The first six members of the Women in Dentistry club (from left): Alejandra Garcia, Lauren Olsen, Tess Hadley, Emily Coenen, Kendra Law and Emma Kohl. Club president Kendra Law said the number of members has grown since then. (Lauren Olsen)

The Women in Dentistry committee volunteers for organizations like Community Health Connect to help youth from low-income Utah County families receive the dental care they need. Members of the committee participate in a fluoride varnish program where they check children’s teeth and refer severe cases to dentists who offer dental care free of charge.

“They get a chance to see and understand that there are kids that really don’t have a toothbrush or can’t take care of themselves,” said Julie Francis, Dental Assistant Program Coordinator of Mountainland Technical College. “They get that feeling to help people and become more involved in the community.”

Olsen said she is expanding the Women in Dentistry committee to reach female dental assistants who are juniors and seniors in high school.

“Ninety percent of the high school students we talked to signed up to learn more,” Olsen said.  “It taught me when you teach young girls about their potential, they want to do big things.”

Olsen is now completing prerequisites at UVU so she can apply for dental school next summer. She is also creating a website where young women can observe the examples of female dentists who have successfully balanced their career and other interests.

“So that there will never be a girl again who comes to BYU and gets told ‘No, you can’t be a mom and a dentist. You can’t be a Young Women’s president and a dentist,’” Olsen said. “We’ll have a database of interviews showing that you can and that women all over the country are doing it.”

For updates about BYU Women in Dentistry club meetings, follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

This content was originally published here.

Why we should prioritize our students’ mental health this school year

Dr. Bobbi
Wegner

Aug 13, 2018

How is summer already over? It seems that it’s only just begun. The reality is the kids will be back to middle and high school before the last sip of summer is had. And with the new year, there are often new challenges. As many say, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” But mental health issues that are diagnosed and treated early have the best prognosis and do not have to become “big problems.” As our children grow into tweens and teens, there is a new landscape to understand. As parents, it is crucial to tend to your child’s mental health just as you do their physical health.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services the most common mental health disorders for our teens and tweens are anxiety (32% of 13 to18-year-olds), depression (13% of 12-17-year-olds), Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD; 9% of 13- to 18-year-olds), and eating disorders (3% of 13-18-year-olds). Making matters worse, kids who suffer from these disorders often turn to drugs or alcohol to cope. Research shows that 29% of adolescents who recently started using alcohol did so after a major depressive episode. The same pattern was found for drug use too.

Your happy elementary-aged kid will face new issues as they get older. Although mental health may not have been high on your radar as something to tend to, now is the time. And back to school is a stressful and important time for our kids. New schedules, new fears, loss of friendships, loss of summer, new pressures, more responsibility, busier schedules, changing bodies, and changing emotions to name a few. First presentations of mental health issues often happen during times of transition.

I was just talking with my friend’s rising 9th grader, and she is already worrying about whether to take advanced placement classes, how to make new friends, how to stay connected to those who are going to different schools, and how to navigate a new school. My initial response was to say “It will be okay. It will all work out,” and go on with my day, but that’s about as helpful as saying “I don’t care that much.”

Instead, I sensed her worry and made a conscious decision to just sit and listen at first, and then ask questions. “Why not try the harder class first since you have done well in the past, and then move if it doesn’t work?” Well, the word on the street is that the guidance counselor is inflexible and once she signs up for classes, she might be stuck with them. And, as an almost 9th-grader, she is already thinking about college and her grades. Got it. Now it makes more sense. We chatted. I mostly created time to just be with her, listen, and reassured that she is not alone in it – either her parents or I would help, if need be. We both left feeling more connected and she less anxious.

My friend’s daughter does not have diagnosable anxiety, but normal worries can evolve into clinical disorders when feelings go unaddressed. It is these moments we parents, aunts, caregivers, adults need to tune into.

What to do:

First and foremost, stay connected to your kid and keep lines of communication open. The age-appropriate behavior is to “individuate” or push your parents/caregivers away during adolescence. Try to trust that they will come back, and just let them know you are here – always. Manage your own anxiety around this. Most people (young or old) don’t want advice, they just want a trusted sounding board. Resist the urge to fix, and just listen. This is crucial for all parents and caregivers of tweens and teens.

If you are worried that your child could be suffering from a mental health issue, look for the signs below. There is no harm in seeking help from a trained professional even for just a one-time consultation.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following (From NAMI):

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:

If you notice any of the symptoms above, here’s what you can do:

This content was originally published here.