Thursday, October 29, 2009

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week

Drowsy Driving Prevention Week --- November 2--8, 2009
November 2--8 is Drowsy Driving Prevention Week. Driving while drowsy is a major contributor to an estimated 100,000 motor vehicle crashes per year and results in more than 1,500 deaths nationwide. Sleepiness demonstrably impairs safe driving by reducing alertness and slowing reaction time.
Several factors can contribute to drowsy driving. Although insufficient sleep duration and fragmented sleep are significant causes of drowsiness, circadian rhythms cause increased sleepiness during the afternoon, even with adequate sleep. Sedating medications and consumption of alcohol also cause drowsiness, which is amplified with sleep deprivation. Untreated sleep disorders also can contribute to excessive sleepiness.
Groups at higher risk for sleep-related crashes include bus, truck, and other commercial drivers; shift workers and persons with more than one job or irregular work hours; persons with untreated sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and narcolepsy; and drivers aged <26 years, especially males. In addition, adolescents are more likely than older drivers to be sleep-deprived because of school schedules, social activities, and shifting circadian rhythms.
Good sleep practices ( include establishing a regular sleep schedule, avoiding intense physical activity or large meals before bedtime, and ensuring an environment conducive to sleep. For short-term improvement of alertness, drivers can park and take a 15--20 minute nap or consume caffeine. High-intensity lighting, nap breaks during shifts, and breaks from repetitive work can reduce the risk for drowsy driving among shift workers. Diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders also are important in reducing the risk for drowsy driving. Additional information is available from the National Sleep Foundation ( or ( and CDC (

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sniffle or Sneeze? No Antibiotics Please!

CDC advises parents about colds, flu and antibiotics

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has news for parents this cold and flu season: antibiotics don’t work for a cold or the flu. Antibiotics kill bacteria, not viruses. And colds, flu and most sore throats are caused by viruses. Antibiotics don’t touch viruses — never have, never will. And it’s not really news. It’s a long-documented medical fact.

But tell that to parents seeking relief for a child’s runny nose. Research shows that most Americans have either missed the message about appropriate antibiotic use or they simply don’t believe it. It’s a case of mistaken popular belief winning out over fact. According to public opinion research, there is a perception that “antibiotics cure everything.”

Americans believe in the power of antibiotics so much that many patients go to the doctor expecting to get a prescription. And they do. Why? Physicians often are too pressured for time to engage in lengthy explanations of why antibiotics won’t work. And, when the diagnosis is uncertain — as many symptoms for viral and bacterial infections are similar — doctors are more likely to yield to patient demands for antibiotics.

The problem is, taking antibiotics when they are not needed can do more harm than good. Widespread inappropriate use of antibiotics is fueling an increase in drug-resistant bacteria. And sick individuals aren’t the only people who can suffer the consequences. Families and entire communities feel the impact when disease-causing germs become resistant to antibiotics.
The most obvious consequence of inappropriate antibiotic use is its effect on the sick patient. When antibiotics are incorrectly used to treat children or adults with viral infections, such as colds and flu, they aren’t getting the best care for their condition. A course of antibiotics won’t fight the virus, make the patient feel better, yield a quicker recovery or keep others from getting sick.

A less obvious consequence of antibiotic overuse is the boost it gives to drug-resistant disease-causing bacteria. Almost every type of bacteria has become stronger and less responsive to antibiotic treatment when it really is needed. These antibiotic-resistant bacteria can quickly spread to family members, school mates and co-workers — threatening the community with a new strain of infectious disease that is more difficult to cure and more expensive to treat.
According to the CDC, antibiotic resistance is one of the world’s most pressing public health problems. Americans of all ages can lower this risk by talking to their doctors and using antibiotics appropriately during this cold and flu season.

What to do for colds and flu!

Children and adults with viral infections recover when the illness has run its course. Colds caused by viruses may last for two weeks or longer.

Measures that can help a person with a cold or flu feel better:
· Increase fluid intake
· Use a cool mist vaporizer or saline nasal spray to relieve congestion
· Soothe throat with ice chips, sore throat spray or lozenges (for older children and adults)

Viral infections may sometimes lead to bacterial infections. Patients should keep their doctor informed if their illness gets worse or lasts a long time.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Smoking May Increase Risk of Breast Cancer

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic have reported that women who have smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their life have a significantly increased risk of developing breast cancer. The details of this study were published in the September-October 2009 issue of The Breast Journal.[1]

Although both active and passive smoking are known to increase the risk of lung cancer, findings for breast cancer have been mixed. A recent review of published studies suggests that both active and passive smoking may increase the risk of breast cancer—particularly premenopausal breast cancer. The following observations were made from this review of 19 studies:

Passive smoking increased the risk of breast cancer by 27%.
Among premenopausal women, passive smoking increased risk of breast cancer by 68%.
Active smoking increased the risk of breast cancer by 46%.

The Mayo Clinic’s study was a case control study that involved 1,225 women who developed breast cancer and 6,872 who did not in the first year after an initial visit to the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic between 1993 and 2003. The women completed surveys regarding personal lifestyle habits and were considered smokers if they had smoked 100 or more cigarettes in their lifetime.

The results indicated that women who were former or current smokers had a 25% increased risk of developing breast cancer (P=0.004). They also found that hysterectomy was associated with a 43% reduction in risk of breast cancer. Oral contraceptives and exogenous hormones increased the risk of breast cancer by twofold.

Comments: This study confirms previous studies suggesting that smoking can play a major role in breast cancer etiology.


[1] Croghan IT, Pruthi S, Hays JT, et al. The role of smoking in breast cancer development: An analysis of a Mayo Clinic cohort. The Breast Journal. 2009; 15: 489-495.