Archives for the month of: June, 2012

CBS News, Fox News, and even Men’s Fitness reports that living in a busy city with constant traffic noise increases your chance of developing heart attacks.

“The researchers found that for every 10 decibels of added traffic noise near a participant’s residence, heart attack risk jumped up 12 percent.” – CBS NEWS

According to the research conducted in Denmark, scientists pooled 57,053 people to participate in a study for this “noise pollution” over the course of an average time of 9.8 years. The participants were 50-64 years old.The conclusion of this study is that a long-term exposure to traffic noise directly correlated with a higher risk for myocardial infarction (heart attacks).

Find out more by reading the actual research article from PLoS ONE, “Road Traffic Noise and Incident Myocardial Infarction: A Prospective Cohort Study.”

Figure 1 from “Road Traffic Noise and Incident Myocardial Infarction: A Prospective Cohort Study” research paper – Association between road traffic noise and myocardial infarction.

The graph above is a figure from the actual research paper. The figure 1 explains the correlation between the road traffic noise (x-axis) with observed heart attacks (y-axis). There is a positive correlation between the two variables. The median of 56.4 Decibles is the reference point. In the paper, it references the dotted line as the 95% confidence interval. Confidence interval is a statistical estimate of population study which determines the validity and the reliability of the estimated study. You can also note that there is a positive correlation between the x and y-axis (traffic noise and heart attacks respectively).

CBS News – Written very similar to the actual research paper. Quoted from CBS news, Dr. Mette Sorenson, researcher of Danish Cancer Society, “…wrote that for this study air pollution wasn’t a factor.”CBS News also mentions the age group for the study which informs the readers that the participants are older group of people.

CBS News

Fox News and Men’s Fitness – Reporting the same news, they both failed to mention the participant’s age. Readers may form a different opinion if they knew that the age group of the participants were 50 to 64 years old. According to professor Sally Lusk of University of Michigan, she states that “noise pollution” is not considered a health hazard in the United States as much as the Europeans considers it. She conducted her own research in which “exposure to high noise levels raises blood pressure.” Fox News provided additional research and information like Lusk, for the readers to evaluate the risks of living in an area with high volume of traffic noises. Men’s Fitness informs the readers the health risks and how it may affect the body.

In contrast to “noise pollution,” air pollution can create problems not only for the lungs but also affect the heart and brain. 

Science News – Researchers are reporting that pollution indeed can have an adverse affect to the heart. This report is a detailed, long news report from Science News. Not only does it inform the readers of the effect of air pollution, but also, educates the readers how it may be affecting your body. Cardiologists, toxicologists from the Environmental Protection Agency are quoted.

“Beginning in childhood, fatty plaque deposits can begin to accumulate along the interior walls of arteries. Various agents of the body’s immune system … can inflame this plaque. And when they do, the fatty deposits can engorge with immunity-driven materials, eventually to the point of bursting.” – Science News

When this “bursting” occurs, the human body immediately considers it a cut or a wound. Therefore, the body will try to heal itself by sealing the “burst.” This is a good defense mechanism to limit excessive internal bleeding or breaching un-wanted foreign particles. However, the clot can also block blood passages which can unintentionally create spasms and stress.

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Another blogger’s opinion of ACA – Chief Justice John Roberts’ opinion of the court was a determining factor for the favorable ruling of the health care act. From my previous blog post “June 28, 2012,” I wrote that “Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by former president George W. Bush, ruled in favor for the law which may have surprised the Republicans.” This blog post defends Roberts for his right-doings and for doing the “right thing for the Court and the country (Embattled Farmers).”

Embattled Farmers

However you feel about Obamacare, today was an excellent day for our system of government.

John Roberts did his job.  The question before him was not whether or not he liked Obamacare, whether this was the law he would have written, but whether this law that Congress passed and the President signed is constitutional.

He found that it is, under Congress’ power to tax.

Back on March 26, I wrote that this might be the outcome, based on Roberts’ stance during oral arguments.  Opponents of  the individual mandate had sought to distinguish the mandate itself from the fine (or tax) that would be assessed, and Roberts rejected that distinction as ridiculous.

Roberts is getting a ton of grief from his fellow conservatives, but our Founding Fathers would be proud.  He did the right thing for the Court and the country.  I’ll be mad at him again, I’m sure, but today…

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Other blogger’s perspective of the ACA. It includes very detailed, informing details of the ACA and the definition of “taxing.” in terms of the new act.

Panther Red

Shortly before the stock markets closed yesterday afternoon, the US Supreme Court announced a ruling on the so-called “Affordable Care Act” (also known as ACA.)  Health care stocks generally rose on the news of the ruling, in some cases sharply, while shares in health insurers showed a mixed reaction.  Today, the trend has been slightly downward across the board.

A majority of the US Supreme Court held that the US government does have the power to compel citizens and other residents of the USA to buy health insurance.  While the court rejected the Obama administration’s argument that this power, the core of the law, was within the scope of the authority the Constitution grants the federal government to regulate interstate commerce, it concluded that, because the law is to be enforced by the Internal Revenue Service in the process of collecting taxes, it is supported by the government’s authority…

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Victory…for the Democrats and for President Obama.

Yesterday seemed like a momentous moment for the Democratic party and for President Barack Obama. The supreme court ruled in favor for the health care law in a ruling of 5-4, with a favor from five different justices. On what ground is this law constitutional?

“The court said the health law’s individual mandate, which requires most taxpayers to either buy insurance or pay a penalty, is a tax and is constitutional. The court also altered the law’s Medicaid expansion without striking it down entirely.” – Sam Baker, The Hill

Chief Justice John Roberts, who was appointed by former president George W. Bush, ruled in favor for the law which may have surprised the Republicans. However, Chief Justice opinion of the court explains that the Affordable Care Act is described as a “penalty” not as a “tax.” It also mentions that

Upholding the Affordable Care Act under the Commerce Clause would give Congress the same license to regulate what people do not do (Part III-a) – Syllabus of SCOTUS

Basically, the affordable care act will be implemented in 2014. If you do not purchase or already own a health insurance, you will have to pay a penalty fee. This is another form of taxing, as Fox News states.

“Rubio warned that the law would hurt economic growth, in part by letting the IRS fine — or rather, tax — Americans who don’t buy health insurance.” – Fox News

For more in-dept reading and explanation of the legality of the ruling, check out SCOTUS Blog.

The mandate is constitutional: In Plain English – Editor Amy Howe

A taxing, but potentially hopeful decision – Ilya Somin

Don’t call it a mandate – it’s a tax – Lyle Denniston 

And just for fun fact, both CNN and Fox News initially reported inaccurately that the law was struck down because it was unconstitutional – Read here.

CNN – Providing colorful pictures from the ruling of 2012 health care to Marbury vs. Madison (1803) interactive slide show, it starts the news report with the word “taxes.” It highlights that this newly approved act is another form of taxing the American people. CNN also provides a statement from an earlier interview with President Obama where he compares that the ACA is similar to the “state requirements that motorists carry auto insurance.” CNN also reports a statement from a political scientist of University of Minnesota, Lawrence Jacobs, which he claims that this act is a democratic taxing bill. CNN ends the report with Jacobs explaining that some people will be exempted from the mandate due to other reasons such as poverty or conflict in religious beliefs. CNN also provided in a different report, the three impacts from the ruling of the ACA. It was informative and educational to the readers. CNN political ticker also stated presidential candidate Mitt Romney raised $4.6 million in fund this morning (Friday). This amount of money also included the donations from 47,000 contributors within the first hour after the ruling –read more here.

Fox News – There is a video segment, short of one minute or so of two reporters greeting the readers of Fox News report. There is also a map of the United States shown in this video with 26 states highlighted. These states are to opt out of the health care law by doing nothing. The reporter from Chicago reports that there are “…2,700 pages of legal language in the act.” The report is rather short. It explains to the readers that those 26 states will do nothing to enforce the law but will come together by joining powers to help elect as many Republicans in upcoming November election. Fox News provides information of the health care ruling but also the determined measures of appealing this act in various reports.

An infographic with various opinions and reactions from the governors of few different states – created by Chris Cantrell and Katie Sheedy – interesting graph to show you the different reactions from the few states listed. Some are in favor, others are not, and few are lukewarm to the ACA.

Other health news blogs – Public Health-Research & Library News

What is your opinion of the ACA and the outcome of the SCOTUS ruling?

U.S. Food and Drug Administration provides an online search engine for every approved drugs since the 1939. It is called Drugs@FDA. Anyone with access to the internet can search the details of his or her medication. The listed are the following features to the search:

  • Labels for drug products
  • If there are generic drug products for an innovator (“brand name”) drug product
  • Therapeutically equivalent drug products. Drug products that are therapeutically equivalent control a symptom or condition in the exact same way as another drug product.
  • Consumer information for drugs
  • All drugs with a specific active ingredient
  • The approval history of a drugs, including approval letters and review documents

(FDA)

Are you currently on any medication? Do you know the active ingredient of your drug? Check out Drugs@FDA and find out for yourself!

Search engine for approved drugs since 1939.

The New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed a ban of limiting the sale of large-size sodas and sugary drinks. This proposal will continue as the city Board of Health unanimously voted in favor. In addition, city residents are freely allowed to comment on the New York Information Center Website of their opinions of the proposed bill (Click on the link, “Proposed Rules” link on the left, the proposed bill is under “Chapter 6 – Food Units (Agency DOHMH)“).

Many NYC residents may be outraged and confused by this suggestion. Not only does it take away one’s freedom but also steps on the first amendment of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” However, in the Mayor’s defense, this is merely another stepping stone to protect people’s health and “The court has never struck down a health measure that was designed to protect people from unsafe diets or unsafe foods.” (New York University law professor Rick Hills).

“This is something we think we have the legal authority to do. We¹re not taking away anybody’s right to do something; we’re simply making it different for them in how they do it.” – Mayor Bloomberg on CNN

“The city spends $4 billion a year on medical care for overweight people, he said.” – CNN reporting on Mayor Bloomberg

New York City has been a strong advocate of promoting better health for the city residents as early as 2010. In October 24, 2011, the New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley states in a press release that “The majority of New York City adults are now overweight or obese, as are 4 in 10 elementary school children and the health consequences are staggering.” They even promoted for a better health by launching “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign to reduce high sugar-caloric in-takes.

“Pouring on the Pounds” campaign on Food Day

“Pouring on the Pounds” campaign poster on October 24, 2011 to promote better health and to challenge city residents to live a “sugar-free” lifestyle for one week.

In October 7, 2010, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor David A. Paterson of NY had requested help from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to exclude sugary drinks from a list of exempt purchases with nation’s food stamp.

As you can note, the mayor has been adamant of promoting public health, decreasing obesity epidemic, and reducing medical costs for treating the side effects of obesity which is often caused by poor choices of food and large in-take of empty calories. The support for Mayor’s suggested ban on sugary drinks are numerously favorable . Something also to note is that the members of the Board of Health are appointed by the mayor. In which, several news channels are reporting that with this correlation, the proposed ban is expected to be favored and initiated by next spring.

Anti-Obesity Initiative. Click on the picture for a list statements in favor for the proposal provided by various people such as professors, folk singer, author, journalist and writer.

Back to the original topic. The mayor proposed a limit in size of selling or purchasing sugary drinks.

“According to a recent NY1/Marist poll, 53 percent of New Yorkers surveyed think the ban is a bad idea, while 42 percent support it.” – NY1 News and Time Warner Cable Inc.

Bennett Gershman, a constitutional law professor at Pace University, argued the ban would afoul of the U.S. Constitution’s Commerce Clause. – CBS News

McDonald’s restaurants issued a statement saying, “Public health issues cannot be effectively addressed through a narrowly focused and misguided ban. This is a complex topic, and one that requires a more collaborative and comprehensive approach.” – CNN

If this proposal is approved, the city will have to take this law into effect six months after it is passed issued by the Board of Health. Restaurants will have nine months before they face a fine of two hundred dollars if they do not follow the ban.

  • CNN accurately reports and covers the issue. It initially states the problem of the proposed bill and then further explains the reasons of the ban by stating direct quotes from Mayor Bloomberg. Also, it provides opposing views such as stating that consumption of sugary drinks do create obesity however, Center for Disease Control and Protection does not limit to one substance. CNN also provides opinions from McDonalds and Coca-Cola. CNN lists several opinions and statement from credible sources. At the end of the report, CNN also provides the highlights of mayor’s accomplishment in promoting public health.
  • CBS News starts off the report by questioning the readers of what the mayor may initiate next if this proposed ban of sugary drinks takes into effect. CBS news gives the readers the insight to the legal issues of the mayor’s proposal. The report presents two opposing views and illustrates legal challenges the ban will face. Contributing to the different legal views of the proposed ban are two New York law professors. CBS News does not show favoritism towards the ban but points out the legal complications that the ban may face.
  • NY1 is a local NYC news channel. It informs the citizens what the ban is all about. This report has a video which is two minutes with a similar transcript text below the video.

As of right now, the current health care law requires insurance companies to provide same benefits to those who are diagnosed with pre-existing medical conditions. It is only a matter of time when the supreme court decides the fate of the health care law.

There are pros and cons to the dividing issue of passing this particular law. We know that the current health care system is unorganized and economically inefficient. There has to be a change in the U.S. health care system. However, potential running presidential candidate Mitt Romney believes that the proposed health care law is ‘unconstitutional’.

“This piece of legislation is bad policy, it’s bad for our health care, and I can tell you if I’m president I’m going to stop it in its tracks on day one.” – Mitt Romney (CNN)

How is the law unconstitutional? In the proposed law, there is an “individual mandate” clause which will require citizens to purchase health insurance if they are not already insured. However, only if this clause is approved, then the “guaranteed issue” clause is applicable. The “guaranteed issue” clause allows health coverages for pre-existing patients.

“If they were to strike down the individual mandate, I think guaranteed issue unfortunately would go away.” – Jessica Arons (Director of Women’s Health and Rights Progam at Center for American Progress) – (Fox News)

If this law is turned down, what happens next? “Health Care Reform and the Big ‘What If?‘” from Fox News lays out the potential events and the impact it could make if the law was struck.

“Health Law Ruling Won’t Alter Plans by Insurer” from the New York Times reports that UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest insurance companies, states that even if the health care law is dismissed, it will work with other insurers to help cover pre-existing patients.

“But UnitedHealth emphasized it could not take that step alone, and insurers have long argued that they are able to offer this kind of coverage only if other insurers shared in the cost.” – NYTimes (Reporter Reed Abelson)

It is important to understand the current health care system as well as the proposed health care law. It could be the future health care system or it may not, in which then the American people should advocate for a better system.

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