Monday, May 2, 2016

Morning Rounds by Megan Thielking

Monday's here! Let's kick the week off with this morning's news in science and medicine. For headlines throughout the day, find us at

WHO keeping tabs on maternal mortality in Mexico

Maternal mortality is worringly high in Mexico, a new WHO report says, with more women dying of conditions related to pregnancy than health officials thought. A new investigation dug up more than 1,200 additional cases that should’ve been classified as maternal death in the past decade, which is when a woman dies during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the first six weeks after she’s given birth. Maternal mortality rates are lower than they were a decade ago, the report notes. But the authors are worried other factors — including rising rates of type 2 diabetes and hypertension among Mexican adults — will undercut the progress that had been made in improving maternal mortality rates in the nation.

Therapy could curb memory problems in cancer survivors

The simple step of speaking with a therapist could help reduce the memory problems many cancer survivors suffer after chemotherapy. About half of cancer patients end up with long-term impacts on memory, which are often mild but can interfere with a patient’s daily routines. But new research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy, a kind of talk therapy, could curb those memory problems. But since this was just a small trial of 47 white breast cancer survivors, more robust research will be needed to show the technique definitively counteracts memory problems. The study will be published online today in CANCER

Inside STAT: Meet the most feared writer in biotech

Adam Feuerstein is skeptical, unforgiving, and might well be the most feared journalist covering the biotech industry. “I have an itchy trigger finger on hypocrisy,” Feuerstein told STAT. The columnist for TheStreet doesn’t just make biotech execs shake in their boots — it seems he can make stocks move, too, based on an analysis of how stocks jump or tumble in correlation with Feuerstein’s articles. Galena Biopharma fired its CEO after Feuerstein reported that the company had paid outside firms to promote company stocks while insiders profited from selling it. Following another one of his stories, about safety concerns of a blood substitute, an exec at another company landed in jail. STAT reporter Rebecca Robbins brings you the story on Feuerstein — read here.

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Tiny wires that can help keep you cool

Science's version of fresh-cut grass. (Qing Wang, Penn State)
Scientists have created a new way to keep people cool when their health — and, sometimes, their life — depends on it. It’s a portable, personal cooling system made up of a network of nanowires. It’s an improvement upon existing cooling systems that are more fragile and less able to flex with the human body. The scientists say the technology could potentially be used to keep firefighters' temperature in check while they’re battling extreme heat. Or, they suggest, it could be used in athletic uniforms to keep players safer from overheating. Read about the product in the new Advanced Materials

Racial segregation tied to care differences among cancer patients 

Black residents of highly segregated neighborhoods are less likely to get surgery for a certain type of lung cancer than black residents living in less-segregated neighborhoods, according to a new study out this morning. Researchers looked at a group of patients who’d been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer, one of the most common types of lung cancer, between 2000 and 2009. They also looked at the racial and ethnic diversity of those patients’ neighborhoods.

Black patients who lived in the most segregated areas were 65 percent less likely to be treated with surgery than black patients living in the least segregated areas, and had worse survival rates too. And across the board, black patients had lower five-year survival rates after diagnosis than white patients. The researchers say that segregation can widen health disparities by limiting a person’s access to health care, employment, and education. The study will be published online here later today. 

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