Health

Last week, we brought you a series on cancer and the environment.

I put together this visual representation of some of the statistics we learned about cancer and our lives.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers might soon take some initial votes on bills related to abortion law in the state.

Legislation awaiting a vote in the Republican-led House would require a doctor or an assistant to do some screening before an abortion to make sure a pregnant woman isn't being forced or coerced to have the abortion against her will. Other bills would provide penalties for coercing a woman to have an abortion against her will.

Courtesy MSU

Scientists from across the nation are in Washington today. They’re asking Congress to support Michigan State University’s $600 million nuclear science facility.

The scientists want lawmakers to declare MSU’s Facility for Rare Isotope Beams a national priority, and to keep funding intact.

Brad Sherrill is chief scientist of what’s called F-RIB. He believes the facility will bring $1 billion into Michigan – including hundreds of new jobs and thousands of scientific visitors

The state of Michigan has ordered a new printer that will allow it to produce 4,000 medical marijuana cards a day.

Rae Ramsdell, who oversees the program, says 40,000 people who don't have cards have been given a tamper-proof letter to show they're qualified to use marijuana for medicinal purposes.

More than 131,000 people have been approved for marijuana. Thousands more serve as caregivers, who are allowed to grow marijuana for up to five people.

anitapatterson / Morguefile

An effort is under way to require autism coverage by insurance companies in Michigan. But mental health advocates want coverage to be mandated for all mental illness.

The autism coverage issue has gotten a lot of attention because Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s daughter has autism, and he supports the insurance mandate.

But others say lawmakers need to go further.

Dr. Leigh White is assistant director for the Olin Student Health Center at Michigan State University.

She says people are often blamed for their mental illness.  

flickr.com

Michigan health officials are warning people not to eat raw clover sprouts, because they may be contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

The Michigan Department of Community Health says two people were hospitalized after eating the sprouts at sandwich shops in mid and southeast Michigan earlier this month.

Five other people became sick.

Health officials say two confirmed cases of E. coli in Michigan had the same genetic fingerprint as cases in other states. All were  linked to raw clover sprouts eaten at Jimmy John’s restaurants.

An Ottawa County Circuit Court judge is ordering Blue Cross Blue Shield to pay the City of Holland $1.6 million. Holland is one of dozens of communities that sued Blue Cross over variable fees charged on insurance claims filed by employees.  The city claims the insurer didn’t tell them about the fees for 17 years.

Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesperson Helen Stojic says the fees were not hidden.“As the lawsuit proceeds to the appellate courts we’re confident that the legal process will result in a finding that our access fee were known to our customers,” Stojic said.

A chemical used to refinish bathtubs has been linked to 13 deaths – three of them in Michigan.

More people are having their bathtubs refinished or doing it themselves to save money. Many are using products that contain methylene chloride, available at home improvement stores and on the Internet.

The chemical is marketed to the aircraft industry, to strip paint from airplanes. It's also used as a degreaser.

Methylene chloride is colorless, highly volatile and toxic.

bluescreen / Morguefile

An environmental watchdog group has released a report about toxins found inside new cars. It says that “new-car smell” can be harmful to your health. 

The Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says the interiors of the 2011 Mitsubishi Outlander, Chrysler 200 S and the Kia Soul had the highest level of hazardous chemicals.

The Honda Civic, Toyota Prius and Honda CRZ had the lowest level of chemical hazards.

Jeff Gearhart of the Ecology Center in Ann Arbor says flame retardants and chemicals in plastics generate gases that can cause health problems.

AndrewH324 / Flickr

University of Michigan students are harnessing the power of Facebook to promote a bone marrow registry drive to take place tomorrow at the Michigan Union.

A Michigan student who recently became ill with a severe bone marrow disease could potentially find the bone marrow donor he needs at tomorrow’s event.

Daniel Lee, a junior at the University of Michigan was diagnosed with aplastic anemia just over a month ago. His condition means his bone marrow no longer produces enough blood cells and he needs an emergency bone marrow transplant.

University of Michigan junior, Jessica Kaltz began planning the bone marrow drive several months ago. She organized the event in partnership with her sorority, Sigma Kappa, and DKMS, a non-profit organization that recruits bone marrow donors.

Kaltz, who says she was unaware one of her classmates might benefit when she came up with the idea, says, “It’s amazing to see how many people care when you put a face to the cause.”

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The stem cell research lab at the University of Michigan has reached a significant milestone.

A stem cell line developed from a 5 day old human embryo donated to U of M’s stem cell program has been certified by the National Institutes of Health. That’s significant, because there are only 147 embryonic stem cell lines approved by the NIH. Many of them are old lines with certain drawbacks for researchers.

Gary Smith is the co-director of the stem cell program.    He says U of M is just one of a handful of universities in the United States making new human embryonic stem cell lines for research.    

“Any investigator across the United States...or really across the world can utilize those embryonic stem cells," says Smith, "And in fact (the researchers) can use those embryonic stem cells to submit research….or for funds from the National Institutes of Health to do research on those lines.”   

Smith says U of M plans to submit another 10 stem cell lines for certification.

The budget plan President Obama delivered to Congress today contains $22 million for Michigan State University's Facility for Rare Isotope Beams.   MSU officials originally expected $55 million.

The future of the nuclear research facility has been in some doubt since January.  The U.S. Secretary of Energy declined to promise federal funding for the project during a stop at the North American International Auto Show.     He said budget constraints had to be considered.

Michigan State University wants the world to know that evolution science pioneer Charles Darwin was a rock star first.

The MSU Museum on Sunday afternoon presents its annual Darwin Discovery Day and this year's theme is "Darwin rocks!" It also marks the opening of a new exhibit entitled "It Started with a Rock Collection: Charles Darwin, Geologist."

Officials at the East Lansing museum say they have received a rock collection from the Shropshire Geological Society in England, where the young Darwin started his collection and scientific investigations.

user JohnE777 / Flickr

Michigan State University’s Human Medicine program is expanding its research facilities far away from East Lansing.

Last month, MSU announced its buying the old Grand Rapids Press building.  This week, developers say they hope to turn an old newspaper building in Flint into a home for MSU medical researchers.

Aron Sousa is an associate dean at the MSU College of Human Medicine.  He says expansions in Grand Rapids and Flint, as well as Midland and Traverse City, reflect the communities’ needs.

“Both the college [of Human Medicine] and the university want to be more active across the state.  We’re the land grant school for the state of Michigan.  We take that mission and that history seriously," says Sousa. 

 MSU is ending some medical programs in Kalamazoo and Saginaw, to make way for new medical schools at Western and Central Michigan Universities.

Conventional wisdom is younger people are able to spring back easier from a divorce.

But Michigan State University sociologist Hui Liu says her research shows it’s just the opposite.

She studied the self-reported health status of more than 12 hundred divorced Americans.  She found the younger the divorced person, the more likely they were to report health problems and for a longer period.

Liu says the effect only lasts as long as the stress of the divorce. 

“What I can see from this study is it’s a transitional effect," says Liu.  

Liu speculates life experience is one reason older divorced people cope better. 

"If you get divorced at an older age, you know how to handle your life," says Liu.      

The study found that eventually divorced people do return to the same level of health as married people. 

 The study appears in the journal Social Science & Medicine.

The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

Lyme disease is spread through blacklegged tick bites, and its prevalence has most notably been in the eastern U.S. and southeastern Canada.

The CDC reports that if the disease is left untreated, the "infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system."

Researchers say incidence rates of the disease have steadily increased as the ticks, and the bacterium they can carry which causes the disease, expand their range.

Now researchers from Michigan State University, the Yale School of Public Health, and many other institutions have mapped the risk areas for Lyme disease.

The researchers say their map provides a baseline for tracking the spread of Lyme disease:

This risk map can assist in surveillance and control programs by identifying regions where human cases are expected and may assist treatment decisions such as the use of antimicrobial prophylaxis following a tick bite.

The map show high risk areas in the northeast, and Wisconsin and Minnesota - and a potential emerging risk spot in southwest Michigan.

More from the Associated Press:

Researchers who dragged sheets of fabric through the woods to snag ticks have created a detailed map pinpointing the highest-risk areas for Lyme disease.

The map shows a clear risk across much of the Northeast, from Maine to northern Virginia. Researchers at Yale University also identified a high-risk region across most of Wisconsin, northern Minnesota and a sliver of northern Illinois. Areas highlighted as "emerging risk" regions include the Illinois-Indiana border, the New York-Vermont border, southwestern Michigan and eastern North Dakota.

The map was published this week based on data from 2004-2007. Researchers say the picture might have changed since then in the emerging areas, but the map is still useful because it highlights areas where tick surveillance should be increased and can serve as a baseline for future research.

A new University of Michigan study finds most parents are hesitant to insist their young children use booster seats when they carpool.  

Public service announcements remind us that children between 4 and 8 years old,  under 4 feet 9 inches tall, must be in a booster seat when riding in a car.    But that message is not convincing most parents to insist on a booster seat when their kids carpool with other children.

A Michigan hospital is working with a robot that’s designed to help people with spinal cord injuries walk again.

DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan in Detroit is one of 10 hospitals in the nation trying out Ekso – a battery-powered exoskeleton.

Patients with spinal cord injuries fit entirely into the robotic frame, which helps them stand and walk.

Diane Patzer was one of three RIM physical therapists who worked with patients during the initial trial of the Ekso.

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees have agreed to move ahead with a half billion dollar nuclear research project, even though federal funding for the project is in some doubt.    

The Facility for Rare Isotope Beams could make MSU a top location for nuclear research.  But U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu suggested earlier this month that federal officials were reevaluating budget priorities and hinted the MSU project may be one of those cut.  

cancer.med.umich.edu

University of Michigan researchers say a drug used to treat advanced breast cancer actually led to an increase in the number of tumor-forming cells.  The FDA revoked its approval of the drug last year.

The drugs Avastin and Sutent were used to shrink tumors and slow the progress of breast cancer.  But the effects didn’t last and when the tumors returned, they were more aggressive.

Dr. Max Wicha is director of U-of-M’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

msu.edu

Michigan State University will use a $5.8 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to study bacterial diseases in sub-Saharan Africa, the leading cause of death for children in the region.

The AP writes:

The bacterial diseases include pneumonia, sepsis and meningitis and they kill more people in the area than malaria. The Nigeria-based project involves collecting local data on the diseases and promoting the use and development of vaccines.

NASA

Here's some amazing footage of what NASA is calling the largest solar storm in the last eight years. NASA says the storm began at 10:38 p.m. ET on Jan. 22, peaked at 10:59 p.m. and ended at 11:34 p.m.

After the flare, the solar particles hit the Earth this morning. From NASA:

The coronal mass ejection CME collided with Earth's magnetic field a little after 10 AM ET on January 24, 2012. The influx of particles from the CME amplified the solar radiation storm such that it is now considered the largest since October 2003. NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center has categorized it as a "strong" -- or S3 (with S5 being the highest) – storm. Solar radiation storms can affect satellite operations and short wave radio propagation, but cannot harm humans on Earth. Auroras may well be visible tonight at higher latitudes such as Michigan and Maine in the U.S., and perhaps even lower.

How a solar storm turns into northern lights (or southern lights) was always a mystery to me until I saw this video explaining how it works. 

DMC

The Detroit Medical Center has broken ground on a $78 million dollar heart hospital.

It’s part of a broader expansion plan announced when Vanguard Health System purchased the DMC last year.

Theodore Schreiber is president of the Cardiovascular Institute, which will run the hospital. He says financing the facility would have been “inconceivable” without the DMC’s acquisition by for-profit Vanguard.

"Nationally as a whole, non-profit hospital institutions have tremendous difficulty obtaining capital, let alone the flagship institution in center city Detroit at the heart of the economic crisis," he said.

Schreiber says the hospital will be the only facility of its kind in Michigan, with diagnosis, prevention and treatment of heart disease.

It’s expected to be completed in early 2014.

(courtesy of HIVandHepatitis.com)

A new University of Michigan study finds a particular type of liver disease is becoming increasingly common among the elderly.  

Cirrhosis is a chronic condition that slowly deteriorates the liver. Long associated with alcoholism and Hepatitis C,  obesity now  is linked to a growing percentage of Cirrhosis patients.   

screen grab from YouTube video

As the debate continues in Michigan over how to enforce the state's medical marijuana law, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that regularly smoking marijuana does not impair lung function.

Here is one of the co-authors of the research, Dr. Stefan Kertesz, explaining what they found.

Dr. Kertesz is an associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine and a physician at the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

He says other studies on the subject showed mixed results.

"What this study clarifies," Kertesz explains in the video, "is that the relationship to marijuana and lung function changes depending on how much a person has taken in over the course of a lifetime."

"At those very high levels of use, there could be harm. However, at those lower or moderate levels of use… there’s no real evidence of harm to air flow rate or to lung capacity," said Kertesz.

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

The Michigan Supreme Court today will consider a case that affects the 131,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan. The case centers on where patients can grow their marijuana.   

Larry Steven King grew his medical marijuana plants in a locked dog kennel at his home in Owosso. King has a medical marijuana card. But police charged him with growing marijuana illegally. The kennel did not have roof.  

Prosecutors say that means it did not meet the state requirement for an ‘enclosed, locked facility’ . 

Attorney John Minock represents Larry King. Minock says the problem is with the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act, which he says is vague on what exactly an ‘enclosed, locked facility’ actually entails.   

“Larry was trying to comply with the law, as he understood it," says Minock, "The law on this area is not really clear.” The case split the lower courts. The trial court dismissed the charges, finding that the marijuana had been stored properly. But the Court of Appeals sided with prosecutors that the kennel did not meet the law’s requirements.

Construction in East Lansing, Michigan.
MSU

The future of Michigan State University’s half billion dollar nuclear research project is somewhat in doubt. 

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu declined to discuss future federal funding for the research facility during an appearance today in Detroit. Chu says the MSU facility is one of several worthy scientific projects on the Energy Department’s drawing board. 

“But in the end it all boils down to what our budget is going to be and how do we...spend that budget," says Chu.   

The federal government approved the MSU nuclear research project in 2008.  

MSU has already started work on the half billion dollar facility, based on the federal government’s commitment to help fund the project.  

Michigan Senator Carl Levin says it would be “unconscionable if the federal government failed to live up to its commitments.”

51-year-old David Smith faces one count of failing to disclose his HIV status to a sexual partner.

The Kent County Health Department issued a press release Thursday afternoon that said it’s treating this as “an extremely serious health concern”:

Police say the suspect, 51 year old David Smith from Kent County, made statements that suggested his activities may have included people from outside of the area, including individuals he met over the internet.

The University of Michigan's Taubman Medical Research Institute will reward a $100,000 prize to the top "translational science" practitioner each year starting in 2012.

Translational science is the practice of moving scientific research from a "bench" in a lab, to the "bedside" of a patient - or developing ways to move "laboratory discoveries to clinical applications."

From a Taubman Medical Research Institute press release:

The $100,000 award will be presented at the institute’s annual symposium, held each fall, to the clinician-scientist making the most significant contribution to translating basic research findings into medical practice. The winner will be asked to serve as keynote speaker for the event...

Nominations will be judged on their contribution to translating basic research findings into clinical applications and by the manner in which their clinical practice connects to their research. All clinician-scientists, regardless of country, are eligible, excluding U-M researchers.

A panel of scientists will choose the winner each year. The deadline for the first year's nominations is April 1, 2012.

The initial announcement of the contest came last October in an event with A. Alfred Taubman and Governor Rick Snyder. From AnnArbor.com's Juliana Keeping:

Billionaire A. Alfred Taubman will fund a $100,000 science prize — a carrot meant to lure the most talented “clinician-scientists” in the world to the University of Michigan, the university announced today.

Eva Feldman, the director of the 4-year-old A. Alfred Taubman Medical Research Institute at the University of Michigan Health System, said Taubman wants “a 100,000 gift given to the best clinician scientists in the world.” We anticipate this person will come speak at our annual symposium each year; and anticipate it will bring exceptional clinician scientists to the University of Michigan.”

(courtesy of the Alpha 1 foundation)

University of Michigan researchers says many people waiting for a liver transplant want more of a say in their care. Nearly half are willing to make a potentially life risking decision.   

Last month, there were 16,000 people in the United States waiting for a new liver. One out of five is expected to die while waiting.  

But University of Michigan researchers say they were surprised to find 42 percent of people waiting for a liver transplant were unwilling to accept anything less than an ideal organ, even if doing so could cost them their lives.

“I think the interpretation would be they felt they would be able to work on their health via their diet, lifestyle, etc…and were not willing to take the gamble of a high risk organ," says Michael Volk, an assistant professor in U-M’s Department of Internal Medicine.  

Volk says transplant surgeons should take more time to educate patients about relative risks and benefits of ‘lower quality’ organ transplants.  

The U of M study appears in the journal Liver Transplantation.

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