7-20-15 Should Marijuana Be Used to Treat Autism?

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A panel is meeting to decide whether to recommend autism as a condition that qualifies for medical marijuana in Michigan.

The meeting Monday in Lansing is occurring about two months after the Medical Marijuana Review Panel heard testimony, mostly in favor of adding autism.

Supporters say oil extracted from marijuana has been effective in controlling severe physical behavior of children with an extreme form of autism. The oil is taken by mouth.

The supporters include Dr. Harry Chugani, chief of pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan in Detroit.

Any decision to add autism would rest with the director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. In Michigan, medical marijuana can be used to relieve the side effects of cancer, glaucoma, HIV, hepatitis C and a few other conditions.


5.28.15:  Michigan law requires notification about dense breast tissue



LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan law effective Monday says women with dense breast tissue must be notified in writing and encouraged to consider additional tests, requirements supporters say could help detect cancer earlier.


Advocates say such breast density can obscure early detection of breast cancer in mammograms. Additional tests could include ultrasounds or an MRI.


Some Michigan lawmakers and health providers raised concerns about the extra time demands on doctors, about insurance coverage and about causing unnecessary worry among patients.


The Legislature approved the bill in December and it was signed in January by Gov. Rick Snyder.


More than 20 states have laws that address raising awareness among women about the limits of mammograms in dense breast tissue.


5.14.15:  USDA develops first government label for GMO-free products


WASHINGTON (AP) — The Agriculture Department has developed the first government certification and labeling for foods that are free of genetically modified ingredients.

USDA’s move comes as some consumer groups push for mandatory labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.

Certification would be voluntary — and companies would have to pay for it. If approved, the foods would be able to carry a “USDA Process Verified” label along with a claim that they are free of GMOs.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack outlined the department’s plan in a May 1 letter to employees, saying the certification is being done at the request of a “leading global company,” which he did not identify. A copy of the letter has been obtained by The Associated Press.


5.11.15:  New blood tests, liquid biopsies, may transform cancer care



A new type of blood test is starting to transform cancer treatment, sparing some patients the surgical and needle biopsies long needed to guide their care.


The tests, called liquid biopsies, capture cancer cells or DNA that tumors shed into the blood, instead of taking tissue from the tumor itself.


A lot is still unknown about the value of these tests, but many doctors think they are a big advance that could make personalized medicine possible for far more people.


They give the first noninvasive way to repeatedly sample a cancer so doctors can profile its genes, target drugs to mutations, tell quickly whether treatment is working, and adjust it as the cancer evolves.

4.14.15:  US prescription drug spending jumped 13 pct. in 2014


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — U.S. spending on prescription drugs soared by 13 percent last year to $374 billion.

The increase was driven primarily by costly breakthrough medicines, price hikes and a surge from millions of people newly insured under the Affordable Care Act.

A new report from the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics found a record 4.3 billion prescriptions were filled in 2014. Many were inexpensive generics going to patients now insured through Medicaid in states that expanded eligibility.

The higher spending was mostly due to the many recent drugs costing tens of thousands of dollars for a year or course of treatment.

Last year saw an unusually high 42 novel medicines launched, 18 for rare diseases. Ten new drugs were designated breakthrough therapies, for conditions including multiple sclerosis, various cancers and hepatitis C.

4.1.15:  April is Autism Awareness Month


Later today the City of Grand Rapids will join Hope Network in hosting the Bridge Autism Walk.

The purpose is to raise awareness and honor those individuals and families affected by autism.

Lt. Governor Brian Calley and Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell will join others on the Blue Bridge on Front Avenue, for a walk that will begin at 5 p.m.


Autism Disorders affect 1 in 68 children.

To help, you can show your support by getting involved in the Bridge Walk, or donate by going to

2-24-15  A New Approach to Peanut Allergy Prevention?

Early exposure to peanuts helps prevent allergies in kids

For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do.

Doctors found that exposing infants like these to peanuts before their first birthday actually helped prevent a peanut allergy. The early exposure seemed to help build tolerance.

The research involving more than 600 babies is the largest and most rigorous test of this concept. They were checked first to make sure they didn’t already have a peanut allergy. So parents of babies should not try this on their own.

Study results were released Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine and discussed at a medical meeting in Houston.

2-20-15  Is Cholesterol No Longer a Concern?


WASHINGTON (AP) — An extra cup or two of coffee may be OK after all. More eggs, too. But you definitely need to drink less sugary soda. And, as always, don’t forget your vegetables. Those recommendations come today from a government advisory committee. They call for an environmentally friendly diet lower in red and processed meats. The committee wants to reverse earlier guidance on limiting cholesterol. And it says the caffeine in a few cups of coffee could actually be good for you.

2-20-15  Cold Blast Hitting MI and Northeast Hard


We are not the only one’s suffering under this arctic chill.

Michigan is in the grip of this bitterly cold weather and that means school closings, bad roads and trouble with the furnace.

But the arctic air is also putting more pressure on portions of the Northeast United States.  Warnings have been going out to remind people to avoid prolonged exposure.  Health officials in Philadelphia are urging residents who are older or with health problems to avoid going out into the dangerously cold weather.

Boston is getting a little reprieve after suffering under close to 100 inches of snowfall.  Temperatures will move into the teens this weekend.  But the cold weather and snowfall have forced the closure of schools along the east coast.

2.19.15:  Study finds diets of people worldwide are worsening despite more healthy food


LONDON (AP) — A new study finds the world is increasingly hungry for junk food, despite there being more fruit, vegetables and healthy options available than ever before

In survey of eating habits in nearly 190 countries, researchers found that even though people are eating more healthy foods including whole grains and fish, there has been an even bigger jump in the amount of junk food eaten.

Among the findings, older adults ate better than younger adults and women ate healthier diets than men.

There was a mixed picture in the U.S., with increases both in the amount of healthy and unhealthy foods eaten.

One of the study authors says while Westerners are among the biggest eaters of junk food, China and India are catching up and that governments should step in.

Mongolia had some of the best nutritional improvements.

But researchers found in some countries in Africa and Asia, there has been no improvement in their diet during the past 20 years.

The study was paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Britain’s Medical Research Council and was published online in the journal, Lancet Global Health, as part of an obesity series.