Oct. 24 - 28, 2011

Medicare: How much more will they cut?
CNN Money
...For all the chatter about how politicians have to buckle down and get serious about reining in Medicare, you might have missed this development: Last year's health reform bill cut $500 billion out of two big Medicare programs over a decade, while increasing the number of high-income retirees who have to pay larger Part B premiums. "It's as if that never happened," says Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina. 

Helpful medical libraries (Letter to the Editor)
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
In your Oct. 18 "Medical advice that clicks" article [reprinted from The New York Times], Jane E. Brody shared Andrew Schorr's compelling story. However, if like the article Schorr's book, "The Web-Savvy Patient," fails to mention the important role of libraries and librarians as reliable resources for information to help people use the Internet to their advantage and avoid pitfalls, it would be a lost opportunity. (Carol Jenkins, Chapel Hill. The writer is director of the UNC Health Sciences Library, which serves UNC's five health affairs schools, UNC Hospitals and the general public.)

Rex Healthcare forming new heart practice (Blog)
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
Two cardiothoracic surgeons are leaving Carolina Cardiovascular Surgical Associates to form a new practice affiliated with Rex Healthcare. ...They will work with other physicians affiliated with Rex’s Heart & Vascular team, including cardiologists and vascular and thoracic surgeons, and they will join the UNC faculty led by Andy C. Kiser, M.D., who in July was named chief of the Division of Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Yoga and Stretching Both Ease Chronic Back Pain
Reuters (Wire Service)
Weekly yoga classes eased pain and improved functioning in some people with chronic lower back pain – but the yoga sessions weren't any better than regular stretching classes, according to a new study. ..."We've known for a while... that exercise is good for back pain," said Dr. Timothy Carey, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, who wrote a commentary published with the study. Yoga, he told Reuters Health, "seems to be a perfectly good option for people with back pain, but it is not a preferred option."

Tanning 'safer in the morning'
The Daily Mirror (United Kingdom)
Soaking up the sun could be safer in the morning. The level of a protein which repairs DNA damage made by cancer-causing UV rays is highest at this time. ...Prof Aziz Sancar of the University of North Carolina, in the US, said: “It would suggest restricting sunbathing to the morning hours would reduce the risk of skin cancer in humans. But further studies are needed.”

Say ‘Om’: Yoga Helps Low Back Pain, Study Finds (Blog)
ABC News
...In an accompanying comment, Dr. Timothy Carey, professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, said exercise should become a regular component of treatment for low back pain. “We physicians should refer our patients for exercise, practitioners should work to standardize treatments, and payers should encourage these treatments through minimization of co-payments for therapies that have both effectiveness and modest cost,” he wrote.

UNC cardiologist receives honor
The Herald-Sun (Durham)
Cam Patterson, division chief of cardiology at the UNC Chapel Hill School of Medicine has been named the recipient of the 2012 North America Vascular Biology Association Judah Folkman Award in vascular biology.

Out of Your Mind: How Mindfulness Soothes Hot Flashes and Quells IBS
The Huffington Post
...Women with irritable bowel syndrome who learned mindfulness had fewer uncomfortable symptoms after three months of practice than those simply going to a support group, according to a study by the University of North Carolina published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology last month. Mindfulness practitioners also had much less of the anxiety and depression that can accompany this chronic condition.

How to protect against skin cancer: drink coffee, tan in the morning
...For humans, this cycle appears to be better equipped to fight the sun's harmful rays in the morning. Why? Because what repairs our skin after sun damage (XPA protein) is five times more present in the morning. "Our research would suggest that restricting sunbathing or visits to the tanning booth to morning hours would reduce the risk of skin cancer in humans," said Dr. Aziz Sancar, of the University of North Carolina, who conducted the initial experiment on mice.

E. coli outbreak sickens at least 7 in Wake
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
...Dr. David Weber, a UNC-Chapel Hill physician who treats adult and pediatric infectious disease, said such illness can be food- or waterborne and be transmitted from person to person. "It's a fecal-oral disease, and it's carried by many different animals," Weber said. "Classically when you track this back, there'll be an animal at the end of the chain."

Revenue at UNC Hospitals exceeds $1 billion for fiscal 2011
WNCN-TV (NBC/Raleigh)
Total operating revenue at the University of North Carolina Hospitals at Chapel Hill exceeded $1 billion in the most recent fiscal year, according to an audit by the State Auditor.

Flu shots less effective in people who are obese, study finds
The Los Angeles Times
Here's another health risk associated with carrying extra pounds: People who are obese get less protection from the annual flu shot, according to a study released Tuesday. ...Study leader Melinda A. Beck, a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who studies how nutrition affects people's susceptibility to infectious diseases like the flu, said everyone should still get flu shots because some protection is better than none. (Note: Three co-authors of this study at UNC School of Medicine faculty)
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Sparring continues over Rex Healthcare
The News & Observer (Raleigh)
The UNC Health Care System appears to be taking a more aggressive stance in its ongoing dispute with WakeMed over the future of Rex Healthcare. Last week, the UNC Health Care System, which owns Rex, sent a public-records request to WakeMed asking for minutes from Board of Directors meetings, agendas for those meetings and annual financial audits for the hospital system.
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