April 16, 2014

UNMC study on impact of tobacco advertising

The University of Nebraska Medical Center needs people to take part in a study that looks at the impact of tobacco advertising. Dr. Mohammad Siahpush is an associate dean for research at the College of Public Health and says they are especially interested in learning more about point of sale marketing. The tobacco industry spends a large portion of their $12.5-billion marketing budget on point of sale promotions. The goal of the study is to find out if cigarette or other tobacco advertising increases the craving to smoke, buy cigarettes and lowers the chances of quitting.

This knowledge can also be used by states and local communities as they establish their own local and regional tobacco control policies. They have the authority to regulate tobacco marketing and this study will provide them with evidence and conclusions regarding the impact it has on smokers.

UNMC is seeking 300 Omaha smokers to volunteer for the study. It consists of two telephone surveys six months apart. Those chosen will receive a small reimbursement for their time. Those interested in taking part can call 1-855-600-6960 for more information. `

A single organ donor can help to save eight other lives

Nebraskans are being encouraged to sign up to be organ donors and to let their loved ones know they’ve done so and why.

Dr. Howard Koh, Assistant Secretary for Health at the U-S Department of Health and Human Services, says it’s easy — and important — to register to become an organ, eye and tissue donor.

“Over 120,000 people are on waiting lists hoping for a chance at life-saving organ donation,” Dr. Koh says. “Nearly 2,000 of them are kids and tragically, every day in our country, some 18 people die on those waiting lists hoping for organ donation.”

This week, 445 Nebraskans are on waiting lists for transplants. Last year, 107 Nebraskans received transplants.

While you may have checked the box to become an organ donor the last time you renewed your driver’s license, Koh says that’s not enough.

“The actual decision to donate is often made by a family member at the bedside about to lose a loved one,” Koh says. “That’s why it’s critically important for that family member to know what your intentions are. That’s why these discussions can be very sensitive when these decisions are not known ahead of time.”

Of the 445 Nebraskans on the transplant waiting list, more than 200 need a new kidney and another 169 need a new liver.

“These are issues that are effecting every state, every community and the numbers of people on waiting lists are only going up over time, not down, which is very, very troubling,” Koh says. “That’s why everybody needs to be informed and be told that they can make a difference.”

One donor, Koh says, can save as many as eight lives and help as many as 50 more people through corneal and tissue donations.

Learn more about the Nebraska Organ Recovery System at http://www.nedonation.org



Increase in e-cigarette juice related calls to poison centers

A new Centers for Disease Control finds a dramatic increase in e-cigarette-related calls to poison centers due to children drinking the nicotine juice. Dr. Ron Kirschner is the Medical Director of the Nebraska Regional Poison Center and says this is starting to become more of an issue here.

The CDC reports the number of calls to poison centers regarding nicotine juice rose from one-per-month in September of 2010 to 215 in February of 2014. More than half the calls concerned children 5 years and under. Dr. Kirschner says the juice comes in candy and fruit flavors and smells good so it is appealing to young children. However, the juice contains nicotine and is very dangerous.  He says if consumed in that concentrated form it can cause seizures, muscle weakness and even death. He says another problem is that some of the packaging is not child resistant.

Dr. Kirschner recommends treating the juice like medication and keep it locked up and out of reach of small hands. He also recommends keeping the Nebraska Regional Poison Center number handy – 1-800-222-1222.

Benefit Tour de Cure ride planned in Nebraska to combat diabetes

bikersA new health report finds more than 7% of all Nebraskans have diabetes and the numbers are climbing every year.

Chris Carmichael, national spokesman for the Tour de Cure, says the cause of diabetes is still a mystery, but both genetics and environmental factors like obesity and lack of exercise appear to play roles.

“It’s a growing concern nationally,” Carmichael says. “Nearly 26-million people have diabetes and if this trend continues, by 2050, one in three adults will have diabetes.”

In Nebraska, the latest studies find 7.1% of the population has diabetes, or about 132,000 people.

“Almost everybody has been touched by diabetes in some form, whether you have it yourself or a family member or a friend,” Carmichael says. “That’s why we need to get out, get active and raise some money to eventually find a cure that stops it.”

Diabetes is a disease in which the body does not produce or properly use insulin, a hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.

Several bicycling fundraisers for diabetes research are planned in the coming months in the region. Events include: May 31st in Omaha, June 7th in Des Moines, Iowa, and July 12th in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Most events have family-friendly rides as short as five or ten miles, with longer options of 20, 50 and 100 miles.

“Go to diabetes.org/tour and you can find out all the information you need to know in order to get signed up and start fundraising for Tour de Cure events,” Carmichael says.


Report ranks Nebraska’s counties based on residents’ health

A new report ranks the overall health of Nebraska’s counties using some 30 factors, including things like childhood poverty, smoking, college attendance, physical activity and access to physicians.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, says Polk County, in east-central Nebraska, ranked as the state’s healthiest county.

“Polk County has a very low rate of premature death and people in that county are reporting that they feel like they’re in good health,” Van Dijk says. “They also have very good birth outcomes. Only 5% of infants are born at a low birth weight which is better than not only the state of Nebraska but the top performers in the United States.”

Some counties were too small in population to provide useful data, so only 79 of Nebraska’s 93 counties are listed in the rankings. Kimball County, on the southwest tip of the Panhandle, ranked as Nebraska’s least-healthy county at number-79.

“People are dying earlier than in other counties in Nebraska and they’re also reporting they don’t feel as well when they’re living,” Van Dijk says, “so probably higher rates of chronic diseases that interfere with your health, perhaps higher rates of mental health illnesses that also contribute to not feeling well.”

She says counties that did poorly in the rankings should look at this as an opportunity.

“The county health rankings are not meant to shame a county that’s ranking at the lower end of the scale but to serve as a call to action,” Van Dijk says, “to say, what can we do to move these health factors forward and improve on these areas so residents of our community can live longer, healthier lives?”

The rankings come from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest health-focused philanthropy. This is the fifth year of the rankings, published online at: www.countyhealthrankings.org