The Rundown | Week of 7.16.18

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Later Meals and Higher Cancer Rates

Researchers from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health studied the effects of “mistimed sleeping and eating patterns,” concluding that participants who ate an early dinner had a 20 percent lower risk for breast and prostate cancers. The study analyzed more than 1,800 men and women who had one of the two cancers and compared the group against a control composed of 2,193 patients without cancer. Participants answered questions to account for various factors, including sleep patterns, chronotypes, and diet. Evidence suggests that daily “eating patterns and specifically a long interval between last meal and sleep are associated with a lower cancer risk.” The study contributes to a growing body of literature that correlates circadian rhythms and cancer risk; breast and prostate cancer were selected in part because they are night-shift related cancers, a fact reinforced by the World Health Organization’s classification of nocturnal shift work as “probably carcinogenic to humans.”
>>Read More: An earlier dinner may lower risk of some cancers, study says

AI and VA Continue Partnership

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and IBM Watson Health will continue their partnership, which began two years ago as part of the National Cancer Moonshot Initiative. The tech giant contributes its artificial intelligence capabilities while the federal agency offers its vast data sets for precision oncology. IBM Watson’s genomics technology has, to date, helped 2,700 veterans, one-third of which are from rural areas. The VA treats 3.5 percent of the nation’s cancer patients, making it the largest integrated health system in America. With the extended contract, the partners hope to improve scalability and refine the accuracy and predictive potential of precision oncology.
>>Read More: VA, IBM Watson Health Continue High-Tech Cancer Partnership

Teens, Smartphones, and ADHD

A recent study in JAMA determined a positive correlation between symptoms of ADHD in teens and frequency of digital media usage. The longitudinal study tracked high school sophomores’ self-reported digital media consumption — including texting, streaming videos, and browsing social media apps such as Instagram and Snapchat — over a two-year period. Those with no symptoms of ADHD at the onset were more likely to develop symptoms of ADHD in proportion to their digital media usage over the two years. Psychologist and co-author of the study Adam Leventhal linked the results to a previous study that associated frequent social media habits with a higher rate of depression in teens. The rapid evolution of technology and, consequently, teens relationship with smart devices has made it difficult to assess the impact of these devices on mental health.
>>Read More: More screen time for teens linked to ADHD symptoms

New Front in the War on Opioid Abuse

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently introduced the Synthetic Opioid Surge (SOS) to combat the nation’s opioid epidemic. The operation appoints an additional assistant US attorney 10 areas where opioid-related overdoses are especially rampant. Rather than target users, the policy aims to crack down on wholesale networks, both foreign and domestic, that distribute highly potent and lethal synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Operation SOS is modeled after a successful Florida initiative that resulted in the indictment of 45 traffickers. This latest effort complements the Department of Justice’s other objective of reducing opioid prescriptions by one-third over the next two years. “Operation SOS … will help us put more traffickers behind bars and keep the American people safe from the threat of these deadly drugs,” Sessions said in a statement.
>>Read More: Attorney General Jeff Sessions announces Operation Synthetic Opioid Surge to combat crisis

Why Aren’t (Most) Doctors on Board with Telehealth?

Physician buy-in is the foremost barrier to widespread adoption of telehealth technology, according to a new report by Deloitte. While 80 percent of consumers are either willing to try or have already scheduled a televisit, only 14 percent of physicians currently have the capabilities to fulfill that, and 18 percent of those physicians have no plans to add the required technology within the next two years. This divide between consumers and the healthcare market is motivated by “lack of reimbursement, complex licensing requirements, and the high cost of the technologies” which, when combined, result in physician indifference to telehealth. Leading the charge in adoption are primary care physicians, who are 30 percent more likely to offer video visits.
>>Read More: Docs still not all in on virtual care, Deloitte study says

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