Tag: CDC

Smoking Disparities among LGBTQ Populations

Recently, I was in a LGTBQ establishment, having a conversation with a friend during a night out, when a tobacco company representative kindly offered us a $2 off coupon for a pack of cigarettes. Needless to say, I accepted the coupon out of curiosity, having had similar experiences in other Queer spaces previously. For those that are not aware, tobacco is fairly engrained in Queer nightlife, most of the people that I know personally who smoke are either LGBTQ identified, or those who live back home in rural Michigan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 6 heterosexually identified adults in the United States are smokers, compared to Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual adults where the smoking rate is nearly 1 in 4. For transgender individuals, there is little research to know what the smoking prevalence is.

The research on smoking rates among LGBTQ individuals in general has grown more recently, with one study noting the overlap between LGBTQ individuals living in rural Appalachia. Bennett, Ricks, and Howell found that among the LGB individuals, many of them lived with high levels of stress due to their isolated location and living within their identities in those rural areas. Many of those interviewed noted that tobacco smoking is connected to both stress and social structures, though did not seem as aware of how their LGBTQ identity and ability to be “out” as something that may contribute to smoking.

I may be one to have to occasional cigarette, and like my love for sugar, I’m aware of how that makes me appear as a hypocritical public health professional. On the flip side, I think we can all agree that nobody is perfect, and I hope that my owning of my imperfections highlights the level of transparency that I try to bring into my work.



Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Persons and Tobacco Use: https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/disparities/lgbt/index.htm

Bennett, K., Ricks, J. M., & Howell, B. .. (2014). ‘It’s just a way of fitting in:’ Tobacco use and the lived experience of lesbian, gay, and bisexual Appalachians. Journal Of Health Care For The Poor And Underserved25(4), 1646-1666. doi:10.1353/hpu.2014.0186

The Realest Statistic on Opioids

Earlier this week the CDC released a study that shined light upon the real impact the opioid epidemic has had on the American population. According to their study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the average life expectancy of American’s has gone down for the first time in a quite a while. This kind of statistical anomaly has not been seen since the early 90’s when the AIDS epidemic was at its peak.

The number of deaths from opioid overdose has nearly doubled between 2009-2015. Dr. Deborah Dowell, Senior Medical Advisor in the Division of Unintentional Injury at the CDC,  analyzed the data and found that opioid overdose contributed to decreased life expectancy more than Alzheimer’s, chronic liver disease, and unintentional accidents (which included car accidents) combined.

I knew the opioid epidemic, was, well, an epidemic, but this definitely put it into perspective for me. Do you know someone who has suffered from the opioid epidemic? Or maybe know someone who knows someone? Odds are, you do. Regardless, spreading the word can only help.

What resources do you know of that are dedicated solving this problem? The more information we spread the greater impact we can have!




Smoking Rates Down, E-Cigarette Rates Up

Earlier last month, the FDA announced a new rule that would extend the authority given to them in the 2009 Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act to include all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco.

If you’re not familiar with the original act, you may be wondering, what does this mean? 

Well, prior to this new rule taking place, there were no federal regulations on e-cigarettes, which meant e-cigarette companies had the ability to sell to minors under the age of 18 without restriction. Given the rising rate of e-cigarettes over the last few years, especially among youth, this lack of regulation caused reason for public health concern.

The CDC’s most recent Youth Risk Youth Behavior Survey revealed that among high schoolers, while cigarette use decreased significantly from 28 percent in 1991 to 11 percent in 2015, 24 percent of students reported using e-cigarettes during the past 30 days. Even though cigarette use is at an all time low for this population, many health experts fear that e-cigarettes may serve as a gateway to smoking. More importantly, most e-cigarettes contain nicotine, which has been shown to have a negative impact on adolescent brain development.

The new rule is a foundational step for the FDA in protecting people from the dangers of tobacco use. Not only does it allow the FDA to restrict sale of e-cigarettes to minors, but also allows them to regulate the marketing and distribution of these products. This means the FDA will help to prevent misleading claims made by manufacturers, evaluate ingredients, and communicate risks of these new tobacco products.

Photo: http://vaping360.com/what-is-vaping/

When (and Will) We Have A Zika Vaccine?

President Obama has requested that $1.8 billion in emergency funding be put toward the development of a Zika vaccine, but that doesn’t mean we’ll have a quick fix to one of the world’s most alarming threats to public health.

Although government funding is likely to be soon secured, and several companies are working expeditiously to develop a potential vaccine, experts say we’re at least 18 months away from having a vaccine that’s ready for widespread dissemination.

Unfortunately, the development of vaccines is often a slow process, largely due to federal regulations that prevent testing on human subjects in the early stages of the formation process. Obviously, such regulations are intended to keep subjects safe, but this standard wasn’t always the case. Since the 1940s, scientists tested vaccines on themselves and their family members during their trial and error processes. Remarkably, most cases were a success; however, in 1955, the federal government intervened after a clinical trial left 11 test subjects dead and hundreds more paralyzed. Since then, new rules were created that involve benchmarks that must be followed before pharmaceutical companies can sell vaccines for public use.

This process can (and usually does) take several years of research before scientists can determine a virus’ specific antigen. The vaccine then goes through three stages of testing to determine specifics, such as potential side effects, correct dosage amounts, and whether or not it would be effective among large numbers of people. Obviously, it’s a lengthy process, which, in most cases, is still ongoing when an outbreak’s peak has passed.

It’s a tricky situation, because public health calls for the promotion of health for all, primarily through the prevention of unhealthy outcomes. This makes the speedy development of vaccines seem like a tremendous positive for attacking viruses and disease. However, safety always comes first, thus, preventing a vaccine from causing more harm than good.

So, while the jury is still out on if and when we’ll see a Zika vaccine, we can at least be sure not to see anything for quite some time.

Love Shouldn’t Hurt: February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month

Love is still in the air as people wind down from their Valentine’s Day celebrations. While most people tend to associate the month of February with this love and romance filled holiday, it’s important to remember that it is also National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month, a national effort to raise awareness about abuse in teen relationships and promote programs that prevent it.

Teen dating violence is more common that most people think, and impacts 1 in 3 adolescents in the United States through physical, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse. Teens who suffer dating abuse are also subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior.

The CDC reports that the ultimate goal in preventing dating violence is learning how to stop it before it starts. This means it is important to not only teach teens how to develop and maintain healthy relationships, but also how to recognize when an unhealthy relationship is forming. However, recognizing this kind of behavior isn’t as easy as it seems, as some early signs of abusive behavior, like jealousy and verbal abuse, are often overlooked as “normal” parts of relationships.

Because of this, the CDC is leading an initiative called Dating Matters®: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships, which aims to aims to promote healthy, nonviolent dating relationships among youth in high-risk urban communities. The program also supports efforts to implement prevention strategies in schools and communities using an online system that helps assess and monitor the capacity for implementing a comprehensive teen dating violence initiative.

Although this public health initiative focuses primarily on teens, it’s important to remember that dating violence can happen to anyone, and knowing how to recognize early signs of abuse and how to prevent unhealthy relationships is important for everyone.

If you or someone you know who is in an abusive dating relationship, free and confidential help is available 24 hours a day through the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline, 7 days a week at 866-331-9474, or through online live chat at www.loveisrespect.org.

Drunk driving: completely preventable crime (1)!

An 18-year-old man was charged with driving while intoxicated in a fatal crash. On October 12th, a man was killed by an underage drink and drugged driving crash in High Point. It was a head-on crash happened around 2 a.m.. Although both Turner and Yeomans were transported to Mose Cone Hospital immediately after the collision, Yeomans died while receiving treatment and Turner had serious, but not life-threatening injuries. As a result, 18-year-old Turner was charged with not only driving while intoxicated (DWI) but also driving after consuming under the age of 21. Why this vehicle crash deserves our attention? Because this accident did not simply destroy two people, instead, it destroyed two families.

Almost 30 people every day died of motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver in the United States in accordance with the article published by CDC. “Over 10,000 people every year are killed and another 290,000 are injured as a result of drunk driving,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehpey-Church, who lost her 18-year-old son in an underage drink and drugged driving crash. Do you really think these terrifying numbers are non of your business? Do you really believe that you or your family members will never meet any irresponsible drivers who drink while driving?

Hopefully, your answers for these two questions above are no.

Drunk driving is completely preventable crime!

Photo credit: http://brandongaille.com/35-best-anti-drinking-and-driving-slogans/

World AIDS Day: who is at-risk?

As the World AIDS Day is approaching on December 1, AIDS is more discussed openly and with compassion instead of in secrecy and shame.
Do you still believe population with high-susceptibility are sexual workers, drug users, and men who have sex with men? Yes or No!
Yes. They do have high risk of being infected by HIV.
No. There is a large number of teenagers being infected by HIV. According to CDC, youth aged from 13 to 24 accounted for a substantial number (estimated 26%) of all new HIV infections in the United States in 2010.
However, although previous research studied the knowledge, attitudes, practice, and influencing factors concerning AIDS among teenagers in the United States,  a group of teenagers is missing.
Chinese international students, a vulnerable group, need to be taken care!

With high-susceptibility of being infected by HIV, Chinese international students did not be studied before. Based on the report published by National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention (China), there was an increasing number of students who were infected by HIV. Those students accounted for 1.64% of the total HIV carriers and people living with HIV/AIDS in 2011, increased from 0.96% in 2006. Of those students, almost half of them (49%) were aging from 20 to 24. Therefore, teenagers, especially college students, are the most vulnerable group concerning the chance of getting AIDS (He et al., 2008; Liu, 2006; Wang, 2002). Unfortunately, most of the previous research in China studied the knowledge, attitudes, and practice (KAP) concerning AIDS among college students in mainland China, instead of studying Chinese international students in the U.S.. Similarly, there is no study mainly focus on this group of students in the U.S.. Therefore, study on Chinese international students is in demand.

Additionally, the number of Chinese students studying in the United States is increasing according to the data published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Nearly 100,000 Chinese students came to U.S. universities between 2009 and 2012, which contributed to a quarter of all foreign students in the U.S..

With an increasing number and high-susceptibility of being infected by HIV, Chinese students in the United States deserve research to learn their KAP, and develop effective preventions.


Photo credit: https://top5ofanything.com/list/ecdb3c65/Countries-with-The-Highest-HIV-AIDS-Prevalence-Rates


He et al.. (2008). Analysis to the effect of health education for college students’ AIDS-related knowledge and attitude. Chinese Journal of Health Education 24 (2): 102-104

(贺莉萍, et al. “健康教育对大学生艾滋病相关知识态度的影响.” 中国健康教育 24.2 (2008): 102-104.)

Liu, L.R.. (2006). Summary of health education of AIDS prevention in Beijing. Chinese Journal of Health Education 22 (2): 146-148

(刘利容. “北京地区预防艾滋病健康教育研究综述.” 中国健康教育 22.2 (2006): 146-148.)

Wang, Q.L.. (2002). 全球艾滋病流行进展. 中国艾滋病性病, 1, 000.

CDC Finds Women Gain Too Much Weight During Pregnancy

A recent report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has revealed that nearly half of American women gain too much weight during pregnancy.

In fact, less than one third of women maintained the correct pregnancy weight according to their body mass index (BMI), implying the majority of child-bearing women run the risk of having a complicated labor and delivery, or becoming obese and developing health problems later in life. These women also run the risk of passing off health problems to their offspring.

The amount of weight a woman gains during pregnancy, also known as gestational weight gain (GWG), is important for the longterm health of the mother and child. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) has provided recommended weight gain ranges, depending on the woman’s BMI. To find out if women were adhering to their recommended GWGs, the CDC analyzed 2013 birth data from women in 41 states. Since 2003, birth certificates are required to include the mother’s height, pre-pregnancy weight, and delivery weight. For the five states that have yet to use the revised birth certificate, a questionnaire was distributed to mothers to gather pregnancy-related information.

Overall, 32.1% had appropriate GWG, while nearly 50% were in the excessive range for GWG. More than 20% were in the inadequate GWG range. Women in the excessive range tended to be overweight before pregnancy. The high prevalence of excessive GWG is of concern because excessive GWG increases the risk for macrosomia, postpartum weight retention, and obesity in mothers and possibly their children.

Experts say women of normal weight should add 25 to 35 pounds during pregnancy, while overweight women should gain only an additional 15 to 25. Obese women should only add 10 to 20. And while women may need to consume extra calories (350-450 per day) to support the metabolic demands during pregnancy, this should typically occur later, in the second and third trimesters.

The fact that so many women fell in GWG ranges not recommended by IOM or the CDC indicates the need for effective interventions, encouraging women about the importance of reaching a recommended weight given their BMI. Such interventions might include focusing on dietary goals and increased physical activity. Pregnant women are encouraged to engage in at least 150 minutes of physical activity (i.e., brisk walking, jogging) per week. Overweight women who are looking to diet during pregnancy are also encouraged to keep an account of their dietary intake, as well as maintain regular prenatal appointments to ensure they are receiving an adequate amount of calories per day. Of course unusually thin women need to remain cautious during pregnancy as well. Underweight women run the risk of delivering a very small baby, which could lead to health problems later on.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that it’s not about eating twice as much — it’s about eating twice as healthy.


Photo credit: The Guardian

Mom Isn’t Completely Wrong

As cooler weather approaches, you may be wondering if you should arise a few minutes earlier to dry your hair before going outside. Remember, what Mom always said about catching a cold, the flu, or perhaps pneumonia? Well, while she may have your best interest at heart, Mom isn’t quite right on this one, although you shouldn’t discredit her totally. Here’s the scoop

It turns out, colds and flu can only develop by coming in contact with a virus, such as influenza. Even coming in contact doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get sick—infection has to occur before symptoms begin. So, simply going out without a jacket or a wet head won’t get you sick, although physicians don’t recommend making these everyday habits. Naturally, having a wet head or not wearing a jacket decreases your body’s temperature, which, over time, causing additional stressors on the body. Stress, in turn, affects your body’s immune system by reducing your white blood cell count, resulting in an increased risk of infection.

Since colds and viruses can be caught outside, going out with a weakened or compromised immune system certainly increases your risk of catching a cold or the flu. But to be sure, a wet head won’t cause a cold. So while Mom wasn’t completely right, it might be best to take her advice as much as possible. In addition to monitoring your body’s stress levels, other precautions to fight cold or flu include regular hand washing, using disinfectant, and receiving a consistent amount of sleep. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu/protect/habits/.

Travel safe: health prep before you jet

Are you planning any extravagant trips this holiday season? Maybe exploring the ancient city of Petra, or hiking through the steep ridges of Patagonia, or testing your bargaining skills in shops found in the Colaba Causeway in Mumbai. Wherever you are set to go, make sure you and your traveling buddies and hosts get the most out of the experience by finding out what you need to do to prepare your body for foreign territories and tasty treats. Some countries will provide a detailed list of all the vaccinations and recommended medicines to carry with you before you enter or acquire your visa, but always double check sources you trust.

The CDC’s Travelers’ Health page is a great up-to-date resource for all your health travel advice. The World Health Organization also has some helpful tips. Also, make sure you are aware of any recent outbreaks or health concerns your destination is dealing with around the time of your travel. Try to identify key resources (your country’s Embassy, trusted health clinics, and pharmacies) in your immediate area, in case of an emergency.

And as always – be a courteous traveler. Recognize that you are no longer in your own country and things may be very different. Be respectful of the people and local customs and you will surly have a great time! The Lonely Planet is a fun source of information about all things historical and cultural – just one example of many.

Happy traveling! 🙂