In Chapter 6 of The Decision Tree, "Screening for Everything", Thomas talks about the human papilloma virus (HPV), the virus that causes cervical cancer. Traditionally, doctors detected HPV by looking for irregular cells in the pap smear. But now, a cheap ($5) test can detect and analyze the DNA of the virus, determining if it is the high- or low-risk type, which can determine the likelihood of a patient developing cervical cancer. One problem remains: you still have to get women into the clinic to be tested. However, a new study in the British Medical Journal shows that home testing is not only a reality, but it may actually boost compliance rates. Roughly 28% of women using the home testing kit, which consisted of a simple cervicovaginal lavage, effectively screened themselves, while only about 17% of women required to go into the doctor's office for screening showed up.Read More
We've all heard the mantra: keep LDL levels – the “bad” cholesterol – down, and the “good” HDL cholesterol up. But thanks in part to the ubiquity of statins, such as Lipitor, which allow us to simply pop a pill to limit LDL production in the body, we've recently adopted tunnel vision when thinking about managing cholesterol. LDL levels are all we seem to care about now, as we strive for lower and lower numbers at each visit to the doctor's office. However, I think we're missing the bigger picture by focusing solely on LDL. First, it's made us reliant on medication to solve a problem that can many times be addressed with changes in diet and exercise regimes. Once someone starts Lipitor treatment, they'll be taking it for life, and if LDL levels don't quite get as low as they should, it's all too easy to solve the problem by increasing the dose. When patients first begin Lipitor treatment, physicians typically prescribe the lowest possible amount, 10mg. However, dosing can go as high as 80mg, which begs the question: Do higher doses of the drug really improve outcomes?Read More
"The human body does enormously well healing itself," Keas founder, and ex-Google Health lead, Adam Bosworth told Health 2.0 conference-goers shortly after stepping on stage. On the heels of an article in the New York Times that touted the company's beta launch, Bosworth walked the crowd through the way we'll keep ourselves healthy in the future, using Keas' platform.Read More
A bacterium that infects insects may provide a biological method for stunting the spread of a range of devastating human diseases. The bacteria may protect their hosts against disease-causing pathogens by hiking up the insects' immune response, according to a study published online today (October 1) in Science.