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Science

Death Rates Have Dropped for Seriously Ill Covid Patients

Early on, physicians were placing patients on mechanical ventilators to assist with their breathing; over time they learned to position patients on their stomachs and provide them with supplemental oxygen through less invasive means, and postpone ventilation or avoid it altogether if possible.By mid-June, clinical trials in England had proven that treatment with a cheap steroid drug, dexamethasone, reduced deaths of patients on ventilators by one-third, and death in patients getting supplemental oxygen by one-fifth. But the early recommendations from China and Italy were “to absolutely not use steroids, even though a lot of us thought it made sense to use them,” said Dr. Gita Lisker, a critical care physician at Northwell Health. “I think it’s making a big difference. But when we starte...

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Health

Colon Cancer Screening Should Start Earlier, at Age 45, U.S. Panel Says

Adults should start screening for colorectal cancer routinely at the age of 45, instead of waiting until 50, a government task force recommended on Tuesday, in a move that reflected the sharp rise in the number of colon and rectal cancers in young adults.The proposal by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force still must be finalized. Its guidance on screenings and preventive care services is followed by doctors, insurance companies and policymakers.Though the vast majority of colorectal cancers are still found in those 50 and older, 12 percent of the 147,950 colorectal cancers that will be diagnosed this year — some 18,000 cases — will be found in adults under 50, according to an American Cancer Society study. The incidence of colorectal cancer, which dropped steadily for people born fr...

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Health

The F.D.A. Wanted to Ban Some Hair Products. It Never Happened.

Heat is crucial to the process: Directions call for applying the product to the hair, blow drying the hair with a hair dryer, and then using a flat iron heated to at least 380 degrees to straighten the hair. The concern is that heat converts the liquid formaldehyde into a gas and releases it into the air.Reached by phone in early October, Monte Devin Semler, who is listed in California business records as the trustee of an entity that manages GIB LLC and who says on his LinkedIn profile that he is the owner and founder of Brazilian Blowout, hung up after being asked to comment. He did not respond to emails.Another manufacturer, Van Tibolli Beauty PR, was told by the F.D.A. on Sept. 2, 2015, that its GK Hair Taming System products contained formaldehyde, and that labels warning consumers...

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Science

The Pandemic’s Real Toll? 300,000 Deaths, and It’s Not Just From the Coronavirus

Although the pandemic has mostly killed older Americans, the greatest percentage increase in excess deaths has occurred among adults ages 25 to 44, the analysis found.While the number of deaths among adults ages 45 to 64 increased by 15 percent, and by 24 percent among those ages 65 to 74, deaths increased 26.5 percent among those in their mid-20s to mid-40s, a group that includes millennials.Among those in the youngest age group, under 25, deaths were 2 percent below average.People of color also had large percentage increases in excess deaths, compared with previous years. Hispanics experienced a 54 percent increase, while Black people saw a 33 percent rise. Deaths were 29 percent above average for American Indians or Alaska Native people, and 37 percent above average for those of Asia...

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World

Steroids Can Be Lifesaving for Covid-19 Patients, Scientists Report

International clinical trials published on Wednesday confirm the hope that cheap, widely available steroid drugs can help seriously ill patients survive Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.Based on the new evidence, the World Health Organization issued new treatment guidance, strongly recommending steroids to treat severely and critically ill patients, but not to those with mild disease. “Clearly, now steroids are the standard of care,” said Dr. Howard C. Bauchner, the editor-in-chief of JAMA, which published five papers about the treatment.The new studies include an analysis that pooled data from seven randomized clinical trials evaluating three steroids in more than 1,700 patients. The study concluded that each of the three drugs reduced the risk of death.JAMA published th...

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Science

Steroids Can Be Lifesaving for Covid-19 Patients, Scientists Report

International clinical trials published on Wednesday confirm the hope that cheap, widely available steroid drugs can help seriously ill patients survive Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.The new studies include an analysis that pooled data from seven randomized clinical trials evaluating three steroids in over 1,700 patients. The study concluded that each of the three drugs reduced the risk of death.That paper and three related studies were published in the journal JAMA, along with an editorial describing the research as an “important step forward in the treatment of patients with Covid-19.”Corticosteroids should now be the first-line treatment for critically ill patients, the authors added. The only other drug shown to be effective in seriously ill patients, and only mode...

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Science

How a Bus Ride Turned Into a Coronavirus Superspreader Event

In late January, as the new coronavirus was beginning to spread from China’s Hubei Province, a group of lay Buddhists traveled by bus to a temple ceremony in the city of Ningbo — hundreds of miles from Wuhan, center of the epidemic.It was a sunny day with a gentle breeze, and the morning service was held al fresco, followed by a brief luncheon indoors.A passenger on one of the buses had recently dined with friends from Hubei. She apparently did not know she carried the coronavirus. Within days, 24 fellow passengers on her bus were also found to be infected.It did not matter how far a passenger sat from the infected individual on the bus, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on Tuesday. Even passengers in the very last row of the bus, seven rows behind the infected wo...

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Health

Why the Coronavirus Stalks Children of Color

Just under 3 percent were Asian, and about 10 percent were listed as “other” or multiracial. Fewer than 1 percent of the children were American Indian/Alaskan Native or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.[Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter.]Two-thirds of the children had no pre-existing medical conditions before the onset of MIS-C, though the proportion of those who were obese was slightly higher than in the general population. The most common symptoms were abdominal pain, vomiting, a skin rash and diarrhea.While children over all have been less severely affected by the disease, there was a 21 percent increase in confirmed infections among children between the second and third weeks of August, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics...

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Science

Dermatology Has a Problem With Skin Color

Nearly half of dermatologists and dermatology residents say they were not adequately trained to treat skin conditions in people of color. For Black patients, that often translates into a prolonged, disheartening search for the right diagnosis.When Tierra Styles, 31, of Auburn, Ga., asked her pediatrician about a rough patch of skin on the back of her toddler’s neck, the doctor said it was nothing. On later visits, it was diagnosed as scabies, then eczema. But the prescribed ointments had no effect.Finally, Ms. Styles took her son to a dermatologist who was Black. She said the sandpaper-like patch was a benign skin condition called keratosis pilaris.“The doctor tried to pull up a picture on the internet, but she couldn’t find one,” Ms. Styles said. “There was not one picture of an Africa...

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Science

Obesity Raises the Risk of Death From Covid-19 Among Men

The coronavirus has been an unpredictable foe from the start. It triggers silent or barely perceptible infections in some individuals, while in others it sets off a cascade of complications that overwhelm the body and lead to death.Why some patients sail through the disease and others are felled by it is a question that has bedeviled doctors.Older age and chronic health conditions like high blood pressure and heart disease are known to increase the risk of severe Covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also lists extreme obesity as a high risk.But is excess weight in and of itself to blame? Or all of the health problems that accompany obesity, like metabolic disorders and breathing problems?A new study points to obesity itself as a culprit. An analysis of thousands of p...

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