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Morning Rounds Shraddha Chakradhar

Flu vaccine selections may be an ominous sign for this winter

As medical and public health officials start to urge people to get vaccinated in anticipation of the coming flu season, there’s evidence a couple of components in this year’s flu shot may be off the mark. Last week, experts met at the WHO to select the strains for the vaccine that countries in the Southern Hemisphere will use in the winter of 2020. Their choices are based on the versions of the various viruses being seen most commonly now. The experts decided that next year’s vaccine ought to include some strains that are different than what’s in this year’s flu vaccine for the Northern Hemisphere. This shift away from the Northern Hemisphere vaccine means that what’s in that vaccine right now is perhaps not the best match for what’s currently circulating. 

More people are getting cancer, but fewer are dying from it

A new study looked at cancer trends across 195 countries and found that there were nearly 25 million cancer cases in 2017, about 10 million of which resulted in deaths. Here’s more from the report: 

  • Overall trends: Between 2007-2017, incidence rates of cancer increased in 123 countries, while death rates from cancer decreased in 145 of the 195 countries in the study. 

  • By sex: The most common cancer type in men and women in 2017 was nonmelanoma skin cancer. The most cancer deaths among men were due to respiratory cancers, while breast cancer was the most fatal among women. 

  • By countries: Between 2007-2017, there was a 52% increase in cancer cases in countries that ranked in the middle when it came to income and other similar socioeconomic qualities — including India and Brazil. 

NIH announces high school essay contest winners

The NIH today is announcing 10 winners of a high school essay contest to get teens to speak more openly about mental illness and seek support for themselves and others. The NIH and the Calvin J. Li Memorial Foundation — which was set up to help support first-generation Asian American children — asked teens ages 16-18 to share their experiences with mental illness and outline innovative approaches to reducing stigma. The winners were selected from 160 entries that came in from 38 states and Puerto Rico, and essay topics include integrating mental health into high school curricula and improving treatment among the African American community. The winners will receive an undisclosed cash prize, and two honorable mention winners will also be receiving gift certificates. 

Inside STAT: For precision cancer care, doctors invest in new tools — and training


(ViewRay, Inc.)

One of the biggest challenges with radiation therapy for cancer has been ensuring that the beams only hit the intended tumor. But organs and tumors can be dynamic, making radiation hit neighboring areas, causing unintended toxic effects. A new piece of technology may change that: A combination of an MRI machine and a linear accelerator that delivers radiation, the new MRI-Linac machine is being tested in hospitals around the country. “[W]e can image better. Target better,” Dr. Raymond Mak, a radiation oncologist at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center, tells STAT’s Megan Thielking. But training people to use the machine may be the most daunting part, as it can take weeks or even months before patients can be introduced to it. Read more — and watch the accompanying video from STAT’s Alex Hogan — here

Many patients with vaping-related illnesses used THC

A new CDC report underscores the difficulty of pinpointing the exact cause of the current wave of vaping-related illnesses. Based on interviews with 86 confirmed and probable patients in Illinois and Wisconsin, officials reported that many vaped THC — one of the main components in marijuana — and used pre-packaged cartridges in their devices. Many of these were acquired from friends or dealers. All told, the people reported using 234 products across 87 different brands. The new report comes amid another spike in vaping-related illnesses, of which there are now 805 confirmed or probable cases across 46 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Twelve deaths have been tied to the illnesses. Washington on Friday became the latest state to ban flavored vaping products, following New York, Michigan, and Massachusetts, which has a four-month ban on all vaping products. 

Thinking positively could mean better heart health and prolonged life

Here’s new research that may inspire a more positive outlook this week: An optimistic attitude could protect against heart disease and early death. Researchers looked at 15 studies with data from nearly 230,000 individuals and found that those who reported feeling optimistic about life and responded positively to events had about a 35% lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease than their pessimistic counterparts. Optimists were also less likely to have died during the study follow-up period of at least a decade than those who were more likely to have pessimistic thoughts. The results add to a growing body of evidence that optimism may mean good things for health: Just last month, scientists also reported that optimists were more likely to live past the age of 85. 

What to read around the web today

  • Unprotected: Broken promises in Georgia's senior care industry. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Now in development: off-the-shelf stem cells. Knowable Magazine
  • The female founders disrupting the vagina economy. Wired
  • A strong grip? Push-ups? What actually can help you live to a ripe old age. The Washington Post
  • How a rural hospital in Kansas survived multiple owners and bankruptcy. KCUR

Thanks for reading! More tomorrow,


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Monday, September 30, 2019


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