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June 4th, 2010
06:12 PM ET

Why do Latinas avoid the doctor? Study investigates

By: Sabriya Rice
CNN Medical Producer

Social and cultural factors may play just as big a role as economics in the poor health care outcomes of Latinas, a new study finds.

The small study, published in the journal Ethnicity and Disease, looked at Latinas in upstate New York found that 70 percent of the women reported delaying doctor appointments, even though nearly all  had insurance and over half had diagnoses of chronic medical conditions including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

"Diagnosis should typically motivate you to seek further attention," says Janie Jurkowski, an assistant professor at the University at Albany's School of Public Health and co-author of the study. "It's really quite scary and striking to see that even with a chronic disease people are delaying care.”

Among the reasons the women listed for avoiding their doctor appointments included opting for alternative therapies, previous experience with discrimination in a clinical setting and a preference for doctors of their own race who "speak their language." Jurkowski says the cultural competence of the provider is very relevant in today's society and efforts to diversify the work force, provide interpretation services and encourage cultural sensitivity benefits everyone in the long run.

"The longer the these patients delay, the worse the outcome and the more rigorous and costly the treatment,” Jurkowski notes. “Getting people in sooner would be better for the healthcare system as whole, especially in the era of rising costs. "

Most of the participants in this study were of Dominican and Puerto Rican heritage, however the trend has been viewed in other Hispanic groups in the U.S., and the number of Hispanic Americans continues to rise. According to census reports, the Hispanic population is increasing at more than three times the growth rate of the total U.S. population, and by the year 2020 Hispanics will represent nearly 18 percent of the U.S. population.

"There are lot of places in this country that are seeing fast growing Latino populations, and the health care system is not ready culture-wise to respond to the growth," Jurkowski says.


June 4th, 2010
05:58 PM ET

Frequent moves in childhood linked to poor outcomes

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

The stress of moving on children may carry negative effects on mental health and happiness in adulthood, a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests.

People who had moved more as children were more likely to report lower life satisfaction and psychological well-being, regardless of age, gender and education level. These people also said they had fewer quality social relationships in adulthood than those who moved less in their youth.

Study participants came from a sample of more than 7,000 Americans adults who were contacted in 1994 and 1995. Nearly 5,000 of them completed additional surveys 10 years later that included questions about life satisfaction, personality, and how many times they moved to a "totally new neighborhood or town" as children.

Personality may play a big role in this, the authors wrote. Previous research has shown that high extraversion and low neuroticism are strongly associated with most aspects of well-being. The authors of the current study found that introverted participants who said they had moved frequently as children said they had lower levels of life satisfaction and psychological well-being than introverts who had not moved often. Introverts who had moved a lot as children also had a small increased likelihood of dying between survey periods.

When children move to different places, they are forced to leave their friendships behind and make new ones, which isn't always easy, the authors note. Introverted children may have a harder time joining a new social circle and developing close relationships than more outgoing kids, meaning the shy ones may have more of a negative experience adjusting.

One limitation of the study is that some adults may not remember how many times they moved to a new neighborhood as children, and these results come from self-reported data. Another is that some participants may not have known what constituted a "totally new neighborhood," or what ages are included in "childhood," when taking the survey.

Further research should be done on the subject before the findings should influence anyone's decisions about moving, the authors wrote.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 4th, 2010
02:02 PM ET

'Sex and the City' hazardous to women's health?

By Elizabeth Cohen
Senior Medical Correspondent

You may find the new “Sex and the City” movie entertaining – but don’t turn to it for medical advice.

In the movie, Samantha Jones, the eldest of the famous foursome of gals, takes hormones.

“I’m leading the way through the menopause maze,” she tells her friends. “I’ve tricked my body into thinking it’s younger…No hot flashes. No mood swings. And my sex drive is right back to where it was.”

The medical hiccup: Samantha had breast cancer, and doctors generally don’t recommend hormone therapy for breast cancer survivors, since some studies show it increases the chances of having a recurrence.

“Most doctors that I know would do everything possible to avoid use of hormone replacement therapy in a woman with a past history of breast cancer,” says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society.

Some breast cancer survivors are upset about the movie.

“It drives me crazy that some woman out there might think this is OK,” says Courtney Bugler, a breast cancer survivor and executive director of the Young Survival Coalition.

Candice McDonough, a spokeswoman for New Line Cinema, which produced “Sex and the City 2,” declined to comment.

The National Cancer Institute and Susan G. Komen for the Cure have advice for breast cancer survivors about hormone replacement therapy.

With reporting by CNN's Sabriya Rice and John Bonifield


June 4th, 2010
01:04 PM ET

Kellogg settles Rice Krispies false ad case

By Saundra Young
CNN Senior Medical Producer

For the second time in a year, cereal giant Kellogg is settling false advertising charges from the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC announced that the leading cereal maker's claims that Rice Krispies boosts a child's immunity with "25 percent Daily Value of Antioxidants and Nutrients – Vitamins A, B, C and E" were "dubious" and ordered the company to discontinue all advertising stating such. Kellogg has agreed to the order.

Last April, the Kellogg Company settled FTC charges over false advertising claims for another popular breakfast cereal Frosted Mini-Wheats. The national ad campaign claimed the cereal was clinically shown to improve kids' attentiveness by nearly 20 percent. The FTC found the clinical studies actually showed that only half the children who ate the cereal had improved attentiveness and that very few–only 1 in 9 - were 20 percent more attentive. That settlement barred Kellogg from making these claims, and from misrepresenting test results in any breakfast or snack food products.

"We expect more from a great American company than making dubious claims – not once, but twice – that its cereals improve children's health," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. "Next time, Kellogg needs to stop and think twice about the claims it's making before rolling out a new ad campaign, so parents can make the best choices for their children."

Now the FTC's is modifying its original order and barring Kellogg from making any misleading or unsubstantiated health-related claims about any of the food products the company  sells –unless there is scientific evidence to back those claims.

"What is particularly disconcerting to us," said FTC Commissioner Julie Brill, "Is that at the same time Kellogg was making promises to the commission regarding Frosted Mini-Wheats, the company was preparing to make problematic claims about Rice Krispies"

Kellogg released a statement: "Kellogg Company has a long history of responsible advertising. We stand behind the validity of our product claims and research, so we agreed to an order that covers those claims. We believe that the revisions to the existing consent agreement satisfied any remaining concerns."

The company has signed the FTC order, which is just like a court order and is legally binding. If the order is violated in any way, the company could be fined up to $16,000 per violation. The definition of violation can vary, for example, from every time a commercial airs touting these claims, to every box of cereal that remains of the shelf containing the potentially misleading wording. The FTC says violations can often lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in penalties. Companies are required to provide information on how they are complying with the Agency's Bureau of Consumer Protection's Enforcement Division, which is constantly checking to see whether companies are complying with FTC orders.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 4th, 2010
12:40 PM ET

Burgers hinder breathing?

by Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

Burgers may be cheap, quick and juicy, but America's favorite fast food could have more health implications than just clogged arteries or indigestion.

European researchers found “high burger consumption was associated with higher lifetime asthma prevalence” for children, according to findings published in the recent issue of the journal Thorax. High burger consumption consists of eating three or more a week.

Dr. Gabriele Nagel in the Institute of Epidemiology at Ulm University, Germany and his colleagues analyzed data collected on 50,000 children for 10 years in 20 rich and poor countries to explore how diet could affect asthma or food allergies.

Parents in the study were asked about their children’s normal diet and whether they had ever been had asthma and/or have had wheeze.

Healthier foods like fruit, vegetables and fish, and the Mediterranean diet were associated with a lower lifetime prevalence of asthma.

Burgers,  not so much.

This could be because “fast food is rich in industrially hydrogenated vegetable fats such as margarine and meat from ruminant animals which are dietary sources of trans-fatty acids,” researchers wrote.

Health advocates have blamed burgers and fast food  for childhood obesity rates. Group tells Ronald McDonald to take a hike.

Researchers say it might not just be the burgers.  "The frequency of burger consumption could be considered as a proxy for unknown lifestyle factors which may vary depending on the societal context, environmental and other lifestyle factors," they wrote.

Read the abstract here.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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