Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Morning Drill: June 23, 2011

A collection of dentistry and health related links/comments to start your day.

Recommendations on Cell Phone Use and Cancer Risk
The evidence is limited when it comes to cell phones and cancer risk, but specialists say common-sense measures can come into play until the science catches up with technology.

The issue is back in the news after the World Health Organization's (WHO's) recent announcement that cell phone use should be considered "possibly carcinogenic." There are an estimated 5 billion mobile phones in use around the world.

The working group from the organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was careful not to make any firm conclusions.

"The evidence, while still accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion and the 2B classification," reported Working Group Chair Jonathan Samet, MD, from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. This category is used for agents when there is limited evidence.

Others have suggested a cancer risk before, but the organization's consortium is the most significant to classify the radiation emitted by cell phones in this way.

Still, the group, which consists of 31 scientists from 14 countries, avoided calling cell phones carcinogenic and passed on classifying them even as probably cancer causing.

This has left some practicing clinicians shaking their heads in annoyance as cancer fears ripple through the community.

"The classification the working group selected is very weak, and I think people are now focusing too much on the possibly carcinogenic part," neuro-oncologist Lynne Taylor, MD, from Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, said in an interview.

Dr. Taylor says she agrees that more research is necessary, but this won't affect how she uses her cell phone or counsels patients. "This is not anything to worry about," she said.
Bill mandating dental malpractice insurance clears Pa. Senate
Legislation that would require dentists to carry malpractice insurance was approved Wednesday by the state Senate.

Senate Bill 388 would require dentists to have liability insurance of at least $1 million per claim and $3 million annually, according to Sen. Pat Vance, R-Cumberland/York, who sponsored the bill.

A dentist would lose his or her license for failure to insure.

"This legislation will ensure that those injured by a dentist can pay for corrective care and be compensated for any pain or suffering they faced," Vance said in a news release. "I'm hopeful this bill will move quickly through the House and be signed by the governor."

The bill was referred to the House Insurance Committee.
Potato chips are piling on the pounds, study finds
Blame the potato chip. It's the biggest demon behind that pound-a-year weight creep that plagues many of us, a major diet study found. Bigger than soda, candy and ice cream.

And the reason is partly that old advertising cliche: You can't eat just one.

"They're very tasty and they have a very good texture. People generally don't take one or two chips. They have a whole bag," said obesity expert Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer of the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

What we eat and how much of it we consume has far more impact than exercise and most other habits do on long-term weight gain, according to the study by Harvard University scientists. It's the most comprehensive look yet at the effect of individual foods and lifestyle choices like sleep time and quitting smoking.

The results are in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

Weight problems are epidemic. Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades. Pounds often are packed on gradually over decades, and many people struggle to limit weight gain without realizing what's causing it.

The new study finds food choices are key. The message: Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Cut back on potatoes, red meat, sweets and soda.

"There is no magic bullet for weight control," said one study leader, Dr. Frank Hu. "Diet and exercise are important for preventing weight gain, but diet clearly plays a bigger role."

Potato chips were the biggest dietary offender. Each daily serving containing 1 ounce (about 15 chips and 160 calories) led to a 1.69-pound uptick over four years. That's compared to sweets and desserts, which added 0.41 pound.

For starchy potatoes other than chips, the gain was 1.28 pounds. Within the spud group, french fries were worse for the waist than boiled, baked or mashed potatoes. That's because a serving of large fries contains between 500 to 600 calories compared with a serving of a large baked potato at 280 calories.

Soda added a pound over four years. Eating more fruits and vegetables and other unprocessed foods led to less weight gain, probably because they are fiber-rich and make people feel fuller.
FDA: Breast implant problems grow with time
Don't expect breast implants to last for life, the government warned Wednesday: About 1 in 5 women who receive them for cosmetic reasons will have them removed within 10 years, and those odds are even higher for cancer survivors.

It's not the first time the Food and Drug Administration has issued such a warning. But the agency repeated it Wednesday after reviewing new data on silicone-gel breast implants five years after they returned to the market following a health scare. The agency concluded the implants are basically safe as long as women understand they come with complications. Those include painful scar tissue and ruptured implants.

"The longer you have the implant, the more likely you are to have complications," said FDA medical device chief Jeff Shuren. He said women should get regular checkups including scans to make sure the implants haven't ruptured.

While FDA's safety review concentrated on silicone-gel implants, the agency's updated advice booklet for women makes clear that saline-filled versions come with the same complications — women getting those wind up back on the operating table, too.
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