Monday, November 30, 2009

The number of Americans with diabetes will nearly double over the next 25 years, while the cost of care will almost triple, as patients live longer and develop more of the disease’s long-term complications, a new analysis said.

The projections, which were published in the December issue of the journal Diabetes Care, estimate that the population will rise to 44.1 million in 2034, from 23.7 million now, with medical spending increasing to $336 billion from $113 billion.

“In 25 years, there’s going to be this convergence of the population getting older but also many people having had diabetes for a long period of time, and that will lead to higher costs,” said Dr. Elbert S. Huang, the lead author of the paper, who is part of a University of Chicago diabetes research team. “Duration of diabetes is as important a predictor of complications as glucose.”

A congressional subcommittee chairman said he called a hearing this week "to get to the bottom" of a recent task force recommendation on mammogram screening for women in their 40s.

"My goal is to get to the bottom of why the task force made these recommendations," Rep. Frank Pallone, D-Va., told the New Jersey Star-Ledger. "Has anything changed in the way we’re looking at testing? And find out about better ways of breast cancer screening to develop in the future, including more efficient blood tests and exams with no radiation impact."

Pallone, who chairs the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says the recommendation made it "very confusing for women deciding what to do."  He said he wants insurance companies to continue to allow coverage for those women who want the mammogram at a younger age, and said the flap should not affect the outcome of health reform legislation.

"There’ll always be disagreements about tests and procedures," he said. "Health care reform needs to move forward, as fast as possible. More people lack coverage, insurance premiums and drug prices are going up. We can’t delay it any longer."

A recently published study reports that nearly one in four adolescent girls were found to have had at least one sexually transmitted infection (STI), while the prevalence grew to more than one in three among girls who ackowledged being sexually experienced. "The prevalence of STIs among female adolescents is substantial, and STIs begin to be acquired soon after sexual initiation and with few sex partners," said authors of the study, which was published online in the journal "Pediatrics" on Nov. 23.

Data were analyzed from 838 females who were aged 14 to 19 and participating in the nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2003–2004. After interview and examination, survey participants provided biological specimens that were tested for five STIs: Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Chlamydia trachomatis, Trichomonas vaginalis, herpes simplex virus type 2, and human papillomavirus (HPV) (any of 23 high-risk types or type 6 or 11).

Among the conclusions :

  • Prevalence of any of the 5 STIs was 24.1% among all female adolescents and 37.7% among those deemed "sexually experienced" (gave a "yes” response to the question, “Have you ever had sex?)
  • HPV was the most common STI among all female adolescents (18.3%), followed by C trachomatis infection (3.9%).
  • Prevalence of any of the STIs was 25.6% among those whose age was the same or 1 year greater than their age at sexual initiation and 19.7% among those who reported only 1 lifetime sex partner.
"These findings support early and comprehensive sex education, routine HPV vaccination at the age of
11 to 12 years, and C trachomatis screening of sexually active female adolescents," the authors wrote.

This seems like a good place to remind readers that a new Facebook application has been launched to help educate, motivate and mobilize people to prevent the spread of Human Papillomavirus (HPV). “Fact Check: HPV” ( allows users to take an interactive, educational quiz about HPV, find additional resources, and commit to take action, while even allowing concerned friends to anonymously share the application with peers.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The LA Times' "Booster Shots" spotlights our "Best and Worst Prevention Ideas of the Week" awards.

Good and bad preventive health ideas ... and where 'drunken cooking' fits in

Posted using ShareThis

A highly successful tobacco cessation program in Massachusetts was named Partnership for Prevention’s “Best Prevention Idea of the Week,” while TV commentator Glenn Beck’s mistaken claim that pet insurance was included in the health reform bill before Congress was named “Worst Prevention Idea of the Week.”

The Best/Worst Idea awards are a regular feature of Prevention Matters, the blog of Partnership for Prevention. Each week, Partnership for Prevention's staff will choose the designees based on nominations of items in the previous week's news submitted by members, staff and the public at large. To submit a nomination or for more information, contact Damon Thompson at


Mass. program dramatically cuts smoking among poor

Lower income Massachusetts smokers have dramatically abandoned their habit amid a major state campaign that vigorously promotes and pays for tobacco addiction treatment. Smoking rates among the poor plummeted 26 percent in the first two years of the ongoing state program, a striking result that is already drawing national attention to the effort. The study, issued by the Department of Public Health, found early indications that the tobacco cessation efforts - aimed at patients enrolled in the state’s medical insurance for the poor, MassHealth - are reaping immediate health benefits. Once patients began receiving counseling and medications to help snuff out their habits, they made fewer trips to emergency rooms because of wheezing bouts of asthma, and there was a trend toward fewer life-threatening heart attacks.


Beck confuses veterinarian training with pet insurance

“Do you know in the health care bill, we're now offering insurance for dogs," Glenn Beck said on his Nov.12 radio program. "Do I need to say any more?" Actually, the House bill provides scholarships and education loan repayment assistance for public health professionals serving in areas of need, including veterinarians. Beck appears to have propagated some misinformation delivered recently by Rep. Cliff Stearns, R-FL. “So the real question I have for you folks (Democrats): Why are veterinarians part of this health care bill?" asked Stearns in a recent floor debate. Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., responded: "Have you ever heard of swine flu? Have you ever heard about food safety? Have you ever heard that 70 percent of all of the antibiotics produced in the United States are given to cattle and poultry even though they are not ill? But swine flu should make you worry a little bit, don’t you think?"

A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll of American women indicates that most of them plan to disregard the new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force about mammograms. The poll also shows that most women sharply overestimate their risk of developing the disease.

The task force last week suggested that most women don't need mammograms on a routine basis until age 50. Women under 50 should consult their doctors to see if mammograms are approrpriate for them.

In the survey of 1,136 women, 76% said they disagree or strongly disagree with the recommendations, while 84% of women ages 35 to 49 said they plan to get mammograms before age 50 despite the task force recommendations.

But the poll found that most women have misconceptions about the disease and the panels' motives. Seventy-six percent the panel based its conclusions on cost, even though the task force's report included only scientific studies. Forty percent estimated that a 40-year-old's chance of developing breast cancer over the next decade is 20% to 50%. But the real risk is 1.4%, according to the National Cancer Institute.

We've all heard how walking is an excellent form of physical activity for all ages. Health and fitness experts even recommend walking 10,000 steps a day. Even so, a new report maintains that there are places across the country where walking is downright dangerous.

That report, entitled "Dangerous by Design." was prepared by a coalition called Transportation for America. In this podcast, we're talking with David Goldberg, Director of Communications for that coalition.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A firefighting official’s warning against drunk cooking was named Partnership for Prevention’s “Best Prevention Idea of the Week,” while an organization’s decision to stop rating TV health news stories because of their poor quality was named “Worst Prevention Idea of the Week.”

The Best/Worst Idea awards are a regular feature of Prevention Matters, the blog of Partnership for Prevention. Each week, Partnership for Prevention's staff will choose the designees based on nominations of items in the previous week's news submitted by members, staff and the public at large. To submit a nomination or for more information, contact Damon Thompson at


Fire warnings over drunk cooking  

People should get carryout instead of cooking while drunk, a senior fire officer has warned. It follows an early morning rescue from a house fire of a 24-year-old man in Prestatyn, Denbighshire. North Wales Fire Service said the man had been drinking and not heard the smoke alarm during the fire. Neighbours saw the smoke and dialed 999. The fire service said the man had fallen asleep while cooking. Tom Pye from the brigade said: "Our advice is to never cook after drinking - please prepare a sandwich before you go out or get a takeaway instead."


Negative prognosis on TV health news leads group to stop rating stories

For more than three years, editor Gary Schwitzer has been methodically reviewing TV health news claims for accuracy and responsibility. But no more; he told NPR's “On the Media” that he's found the vast majority of TV consumer health reports sickening. For example, he says the morning health news segments on network TV unquestioningly promote new drugs and new technologies; feed the “worried well” by raising unrealistic expectations of unproven technologies that may produce more harm than good; fail to ask tough questions; and make a serious discussion of health care reform even more difficult.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Only about 1 in 4 Americans aged 50–64 regularly take advantage of preventive services such as screenings and immunizations, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in collaboration with AARP and the American Medical Association (AMA).

The report, “Promoting Preventive Services for Adults 50–64: Community and Clinical Partnerships,” focuses on opportunities to improve the health of the growing number of adults in the 50–64 age bracket to broaden the use of potentially lifesaving preventive services.

The report identifies recommended preventive services such as influenza vaccine, cholesterol screening, breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as preventive screenings for behaviors that could negatively impact health such as binge drinking.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Here Comes the Great American Smokeout

Don't forget the 34th annual Great American Smokeout will take place On November 19. Hosted by the American Cancer Society, this event each year promotes smoking cessation by encouraging smokers to give up smoking for a full day. This year's theme is "creating more birthdays,” since smokers who quit at age 35 gain an additional eight years and those who quit at 55 gain an average of an additional five years.

The Great American Smokeout website,, provides excellent resources to aid in cessation techniques. They suggest that the first step taken should be to select a specific day to quit, within the next 30 days. The website also offers tip sheets and a “Quit Clock.”

Tobacco use is the single most preventable case of disease and death in the US. Partnership for Prevention and ACTTION Coalition are working to provide greater access to smoking cessation services. Many of these cessation programs include collaboration with the federal government and business employers to provide necessary access to cessation services for their employees. Please visit the Partnership for Prevention at and the ACTTION Coalition at

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America’s Health have released a new poll showing that 71 percent of Americans favor an increased investment in disease prevention and that disease prevention is one of the most popular components of health reform.

The poll, conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research and Public Opinion Strategies, indicates majority support for disease prevention investments from across the political spectrum (85 percent of Democrats, 59 percent of Republicans, and 68 percent of Independents) and across the country (72 percent in the Northeast, 73 percent in the South, 71 percent in the West, and 69 percent in the Midwest).

According to the survey, 70 percent of people think prevention will save money rather than cost money. Nearly two-thirds of Americans ranked investing in prevention between an 8 and 10 on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 means not at all an important health care priority and 10 means very important.

A “model” tobacco cessation benefit offered to Massachusetts’ Medicaid participants has produced an astounding 26% drop in smoking rates in only two and a half years, and has already been linked to decreases in heart attacks, hospitalizations for asthma and COPD, and a significant decrease in birth complications.

Researchers from the Massachusetts Tobacco Cessation and Prevention Program (MTCP) found that up to 38% fewer MassHealth cessation benefit users were hospitalized for heart attacks in the first year after using the benefit, and that 18% fewer benefit users visited the emergency room for asthma symptoms in the first year after using the benefit. Researchers also found that there were 12% fewer claims for adverse maternal birth complications since the benefit was implemented.

The Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services said more than 75,000 people – a full 40% of MassHealth members who smoke – have used the benefit to try to quit smoking. Cost savings are being studied, and all indications suggest they will be significant.

“As the nation debates the future of its health care system, the national significance of this research cannot be understated.” said Robert J. Gould, PhD, President and CEO of Partnership for Prevention. “These findings demonstrate that prudent investments in preventive health today will have a dramatic and positive effect on our health care system tomorrow.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The 20th Anniversary Edition of America’s Health Rankings notes a worrisome escalation in preventable diseases that will significantly increase costs in an already unaffordable medical care delivery system. Of the $2.4 trillion of annual health care expenditures in the United States, $1.8 trillion is associated with the treatment of chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Obesity has increased nearly 130 percent since the first edition of America’s Health Rankings was issued 20 years ago. Currently, 27 percent of the population is obese. A supplemental analysis to this year’s report shows America now spends $80 billion in direct health care costs associated with obesity. Left unchecked, 43 percent of adults will be obese and obesity will add nearly $344 billion in 2018 alone to the nation’s annual direct health care costs, accounting for more than 21 percent of health care spending.

America’s Health Rankings  is an annual comprehensive assessment of the nation’s health on a state-by-state analysis. It is published jointly by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention. The data in the report comes from validated outside sources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report is reviewed and overseen by a Scientific Advisory Committee, with members from leading academic institutions, government agencies and the private sector.

The 2009 Anniversary Edition shows Vermont as the healthiest state this year, while Mississippi is ranked 50th. Over the past 20 years, New York has demonstrated the most improvement in the overall health of its population.

Partnership for Prevention President/CEO Robert J. Gould, Ph.D. today issued the following statement about the revised recommendations of the US Preventive Services Task Force regarding breast cancer screening:

The US Preventive Services Task Force is the nation’s best-equipped institution to make science-based recommendations on the use of clinical preventive services. Accordingly, we accept their recommendations on breast cancer screening.

To help avoid any possible confusion about these new recommendations, we would strongly note three areas where theyhave not changed:

• Mammograms are still recommended for women 40-49 with high risk of breast cancer;

• Mammography has clearly been shown to save lives and is a vital component of our nation’s arsenal to fight breast cancer; and

• All women should talk with their physicians about their individual risks and the value of screening.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sex education programs that advise students to delay sexual activity while also offering instruction on ways to avoid unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections effectively reduce risky sexual behavior, increase condom use and decrease spread of STIs, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-commissioned report released on Friday, the Washington Post reports. The report said there is insufficient evidence to determine whether programs that focus on abstinence until marriage reduce the chance adolescents will engage in risky sexual behavior, become pregnant or contract an STI.

The report was authored by a 19-member expert panel assembled by CDC to examine the efficacy of various sex education programs. For the report, the panel reviewed an analysis of 83 studies on sex education programs from 1980 through 2007. The findings come as Congress considers whether to approve President Obama's request to redirect federal funding from abstinence-only sex education to programs that have been validated by scientific research.

CDC's Randy Elder -- who works with the Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent 15-member panel that issues public health recommendations -- said the study found "sufficient evidence that comprehensive risk reduction efforts are effective." However, "after a similar look, the task force determined that based on a number of problems with the studies presented to them there was insufficient evidence" to determine the efficacy of abstinence-only programs, Elder said.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The American Lung Association is releasing its second annual "Helping Smokers Quit: State Cessation Coverage" report. The report addresses state coverage of cessation treatments through Medicaid, state employee health plans, private insurance, and quitlines in 2009. It shows that states are not doing enough to help smokers quit, when they could be saving lives and money by doing so.

Currently, only six states provide comprehensive coverage for Medicaid recipients: Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania. Just five states provide comprehensive cessation coverage for state employees: Illinois, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and New Mexico.

The Lung Association recommends that private insurance plans also offer comprehensive cessation coverage and encourages states to require all insurance companies to cover these treatments. Currently, only seven states (Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon and Rhode Island) have such requirements.

This lack of comprehensive cessation coverage in most states leaves smokers without clinically-proven treatment options when they want to quit.

The report makes recommendations on how to provide all smokers with access to cessation treatments in health care reform, and urges policymakers to provide this coverage. It also calls on each state to provide all Medicaid recipients and state employees with comprehensive, easily-accessible tobacco cessation medications and counseling. Finally, it recommends that private insurance plans offer comprehensive cessation coverage and encourages states to require all insurance companies to cover these treatments.

You can download the report here, and you can find detailed, state-specific information on cessation coverage through an online State Tobacco Cessation Coverage Database.

The following guest post was written by Sean Barry with Transportation for America - a national coalition seeking to align our national, state, and local transportation policies with an array of issues like economic opportunity, climate change, energy security, health, housing and community development.

In the last few years, health advocates have increasingly urged Americans to walk, bike and exercise more often, noting regular physical activity is paramount to good health. Unfortunately, a new report released this week by Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership reveals that walking in many of our communities is far more dangerous than it should be.

Dangerous by Design: Solving the Epidemic of Preventable Pedestrian Deaths (and Making Great Neighborhoods) shows that the level of pedestrian fatalities in the U.S. is roughly equivalent to a jumbo jet going down every month. But there is no national sense of urgency about pedestrian safety.

Under current federal transportation law, projects that benefit pedestrians and bicyclists are labeled “enhancements” and attacked by some as luxuries that detract from core road and highway building.

Current transportation policies vastly shortchange people who walk or bike. Less than 1.5 percent of total federal funds are ultimately spent on pedestrian safety, despite walkers comprising 11.8 percent of all traffic deaths and a comparable percentage of all trips. In this decade alone, 43,000 Americans have died preventable deaths while walking or crossing a street in their community. Although members of every demographic group are affected, ethnic minorities are suffering disproportionately, with African-American fatalities 70 percent higher than whites, and Hispanics 62 percent higher.

It should not come as a surprise that our inadequate investment in roads safe for all users adversely affects safety and health. For many Americans, daily physical activity is no longer a part of their daily existence. Seniors, the disabled and low-income Americans who cannot or chose not to drive face limited alternatives. Lower rates of physical activity are linked to rising obesity and pollution from automobiles increases the risks of asthma.

Dangerous by Design ranks America’s major metropolitan areas according to a Pedestrian Danger Index that measures how safe they are for walking. The report also profiles communities across the country that have successfully stepped up and reversed current trends.

In St. Petersburg, FL, for example, a “Vision 2020” planning process resulted in 13 additional miles of sidewalks and 32 rapid-flashing signals at crosswalks, improving driver-yielding compliance by 83 percent. In Charleston, SC, two-thirds of area residents say they are getting more exercise after the launch of a three-mile pedestrian and bike path. And, the installation of 1,600 speed humps in residential Oakland, CA led to a 50 to 60 percent reduction in the odds of injury or death among children walking.

There is growing movement for action in Congress as well. Last year, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the Complete Streets Act. This legislation would ensure that new road projects emphasize safety and accessibility for all users, including pedestrians, bicyclists and transit riders.

Transportation for America is working to arrange a meeting with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, perhaps as soon as next week. At this meeting, we plan to deliver the message from our hundreds of partner organizations and thousands of supporters across the country that safer streets must be a priority.

Sign our petition today and help us send a strong message to the USDOT!

We hope the release of this report will fuel a greater sense of urgency about pedestrian safety and the need for a more balanced transportation policy. With health care remaining in the headlines, let’s convey to our representatives that making our streets safer is no longer just an “enhancement,” but an essential.

A rap video for swine flu prevention was named Partnership for Prevention’s “Best Prevention Idea of the Week,” while the widespread presence of dirty restrooms on cruise ships and their link to norovirus outbreaks was named “Worst Prevention Idea of the Week.”

The Best/Worst Idea awards are a regular feature of Prevention Matters, the blog of Partnership for Prevention. Each week, Partnership for Prevention's staff will choose the designees based on nominations of items in the previous week's news submitted by members, staff and the public at large. To submit a nomination or for more information, contact Damon Thompson at


Cigna Enlists Rapper on H1N1 Prevention

Health care provider Cigna Corp. has produced a rap video to teach kids how to avoid getting "swine" flu. The video, featuring University of Massachusetts physican Mache Seibel, a.k.a. DocRock, teaching five prevention steps, such as sneeze into your sleeve, wash your hands and "keep you fingers outta your eyes, mouth and nose, cuz that the places H1N1 goes." The 30-second video is free on YouTube at


Dirty Restrooms on Cruise Ships "Widespread," Linked to Norovirus Outbreaks

A team of researchers from several Boston-area institutions report in the current issue of the medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases that they found "widespread poor compliance" with regular cleaning during unannounced inspections of dozens of cruise ships. Moreover, the researchers found a link between the dirty restrooms on ships and outbreaks of norovirus -- a common gastrointestinal illness that has caused problems for the industry.

The New York Times' Steve Lohr reports that geriatric experts are using "the digital tools of low-cost wireless sensors in carpets, clothing and rooms" to help them learn how to prevent falls among older people. Researchers say the devices provide continuous measurement and greater precision in monitoring an older person’s walking and activity, and that promise to deliver new insights on risk factors and tailored prevention measures.

"For an older person, a fall is often a byproduct of some other health problem: cardiovascular weakness, changes in medication, the beginnings of dementia, gradual muscle degeneration," Lohr writes. "Motion analysis aided by inexpensive sensors and computing, researchers say, may well become a new 'vital sign,' like a blood pressure reading, that can yield all sorts of clues about health."

More than one-third of people ages 65 or older fall each year, with about one fall in 10 resulting in a serious injury. The estimated economic cost of falls ranges widely, up to $75 billion a year in the United States, if fall-related home care and assisted-living costs are added to medical expenses.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The following guest post is from Gloria Linnertz, an advocate in the lung cancer community who hails from Waterloo, Ill.:

We think we know about radon and lung cancer, but do we?

"Why was I so confident in my ignorance?" is the question I ask myself very often. In the months prior to my husband’s diagnosis of lung cancer, he mentioned to me that perhaps we should check our home for radon gas. Of course, I didn’t know anything about radon gas, but thought I did. I said that our home was relatively new—only twenty years old—and we had a tight basement. I was confident in my ignorance! Because radon cannot be detected through our senses, the only way to know if this silent killer is intruding into your home is to test. Recognizing what we can’t see, taste or smell is the problem.

In the year before his diagnosis, my husband Joe also said to me that he might have cancer. My husband had previously had two triple artery bypasses twenty years apart. Again, I said: "You don’t have cancer; you have heart disease." I thought he was just worrying too much. I thought I knew, but I didn’t. My husband Joe was a person to take preventive and safe measures. For 27 years he worked and exercised every day, kept a low fat, low cholesterol diet, and didn’t smoke. We had smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, and fire extinguishers in our home; and we didn’t burn candles. Joe only lived six weeks after his diagnosis of lung cancer that had spread to his liver and bones. We had been living with a radon level of 17.6 picocuries per liter of air in our home for 18 years.

Knowing the word radon and that it is a gas does not constitute knowledge of the element and its danger. You’ve heard the saying “A little knowledge can be dangerous.” I would change that to “A little knowledge can be deadly.” We, the general public, don’t know the facts. We must replace our limited knowledge with a full base of all the facts on radon.

Dr. Bill Field, an American Academic Scholar and Professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health and Department of Epidemiology within the College of Public Health at the University of Iowa, who has recently been appointed to the Advisory Board on Radiation and Worker Health by President Obama, stated that protracted radon progeny exposure is the seventh leading cause of cancer mortality in the United States and the leading environmental cause of cancer mortality. It is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths among non-smokers.

Large and recent studies confirm that radon in homes increases lung cancer risks. Throughout our world up to 18% of the lung cancers can be attributed to indoor radon according to Professor Bill Angell, Chair of the Prevention and Mitigation Working Group of the World Health Organization’s International Radon Project. . Radioactive particles from radon gas are inhaled and attach to the air sacs in the lungs. These particles change the characteristic of the cells to cancer, and those mutated cells divide and multiply.

Radon is a radioactive gas that emanates from rocks and soils and tends to concentrate in enclosed spaces like houses. Soil gas infiltration is the most important source of residential radon and is present in every home (except ones on stilts) because of the way our homes are built and designed.

The analysis from recent studies in Europe, North America, and Asia indicates that lung cancer risk increases proportionally with increasing radon exposure according to the World Health Organization (WHO). There is no known threshold concentration below which radon is safe. On September 21, 2009 WHO, in view of the latest scientific data, released a reference level of 2.7 picocuries per liter of air (pCi/L) as a minimum level to minimize health hazards due to indoor radon exposure.

Radon is easy to measure. Every home needs to be tested for radon because each home has its own individual footprint on the earth. The homeowner cannot rely on the results of surrounding houses in the neighborhood. A short term (3-7 days) and/or long term (3-12 months) test kit can be used. Radon professionals can also perform the test with electronic devices. Test kits can be obtained from the radon hotline at (785) 532-6026 or email at or Web site: Radon test kits can also be purchased at the local hardware stores.

It is easy to protect from radon gas. Addressing radon is important in new construction as well as existing buildings. Radon prevention strategies focus on sealing radon entry routes and using soil depressurization techniques to prevent the gas from entering the home. The cost is very reasonable. “How little it can cost to save a life!” is what I would say to someone who complained about the expense of a radon mitigation system installed by a licensed radon professional.

I write this in memory of my husband Joe --who was so very dear to me—my friend, my partner, my companion, my love. I ask you to test your home for radon during this month of November—National Lung Cancer Awareness Month. If your level is above 2.7, spend that little extra money to help save a life. That life may be someone you love.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has launched its new "Be Active Your Way" blog. The Blog is designed to stimulate dialogue among professionals who encourage Americans to get the physical activity they need according to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.

Several "supporter" organizations serve as blog contributors, and a new blog item is posted each Wednesday. Anyone interested in the conversation can participate, as supporters and other professionals who work in the field of physical activity are welcome to share lessons learned by posting comments.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dr. Douglas Kamerow, a preventive medicine specialist and former assistant surgeon general, tells NPR that effective preventive care, like effective treatments, is a crucial part of a reformed health care system. Kamerow, who last year helped Partnership for Prevention prepare a series of policy papers on prevention and health reform, adds that debating whether prevention saves money is asking the wrong question.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Partnership for Prevention President/CEO Robert J. Gould Ph.D. applauded the support for disease prevention and health promotion that is provided in the health reform bill to be voted on the by the House of Representatives over the weekend.

"I wanted you to know that Partnership for Prevention strongly supports the prevention provisions of HR 3962, the 'Affordable Health Care for America Act.' Gould said in a letter to House Majority Whip Steny L. Hoyer, D-Md.

"We believe the provisions of HR 3962 establishing a dedicated national trust fund for prevention, wellness and public health will enable thousands of U.S. communities to help citizens quit tobacco, become more physically active, and reduce their risk of life-threatening diseases," Gould added. "Only by addressing these primary drivers of poor health and high health care costs can we foster community environments that will enable American families to support healthy behaviors and healthy choices."

Forty-three states now cover some form of cessation treatment for Medicaid beneficiaries, up from 23 states in 1998, according to the Nov. 6 issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), which summarizes coverage of tobacco dependence treatment under the Medicaid program, reported that. However, only six states cover all of the effective pharmacotherapies and individual and group counseling.

Smoking rates among Medicaid enrollees are much higher than among the general population – 4.7 million smokers. This represents 33% of the total Medicaid population and adds to nearly $22 billion in annual Medicaid expenditures related to smoking. Numerous studies have found that tobacco cessation treatments are highly cost effective. Yet many barriers exist, preventing greater access to those who need and want help to quit tobacco use.

Partnership for Prevention and the Call for ACTTION initiative encourage the federal government and states to implement the updated 2008 Public Health Service Clinical Practice Guidelines which call for access to comprehensive coverage of all effective treatments – counseling and medication without barriers and limitations.

Diane M. Canova
Managing Senior Fellow
 & Senior Program Officer
Partnership for Prevention

Dr. Carmen Nevarez , vice president of the Public Health Institute and a member of Partnership for Prevention's Board of Directors, will become the 138th president of the American Public Health Association (APHA) at the organization's annual meeting in Philadelphia.

During her one-year term as president, Nevarez will serve as an "ambassador" for APHA, speaking at meetings and conferences around the country, and as a representative on various boards, committees or other initiatives outside of APHA. Founded in 1872, the 30,000-member APHA is the oldest, largest and most diverse organization of public health professionals in the world.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

From the November issue of The Nation's Health:

Prevention, a touchstone of public health, has landed in the crosshairs of the national health reform debate, with cost-effectiveness pitted against the sometimes incalculable value of a healthy life....

...With such questions coming to the forefront, the task ahead is to reframe the prevention debate, said Rob Gould, PhD, president of the Partnership for Prevention. Focusing on how much money prevention costs or saves the federal budget is the wrong question, Gould told The Nation’s Health. Instead, the discussion should focus on questions of value, he said, whether the money being spent is a good investment.

"We should not be apologizing for helping people live longer and healthier lives, especially when we can deliver that life at the right cost," said Gould, an APHA member. "The good news is that the public wants prevention in health care, even if it costs more, so we’re starting from a good place in terms of public support. But we have to answer the economic questions, and we need to talk about cost in terms of value."

In September, the Partnership for Prevention released and sent to policy-makers a report on the "Economic Argument for Disease Prevention: Distinguishing Between Value and Savings," which stated that "health is a good, and goods — whether they are national security, clean water or a new car — are not purchased to save money. They are purchased for the nonmonetary benefits they provide. Shoppers do not buy groceries to save money, but they do ‘save money’ by shopping wisely."
The report noted that prevention can result in other benefits that usually go unmeasured in studies on cost-effectiveness, such as improving "work force productivity and corporate competitiveness," as well as the ripple effects good health can bring to households and children, educational attainment and crime rates. A similar report released in August by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, "Cost-Savings and Cost-Effectiveness of Clinical Preventive Care," found that even while clinic-based preventive care, such as cancer screenings, do not usually result in cost savings, such services "offer good value for increasingly scarce health care dollars."

In a recent Chicago Tribune interview, Partnership for Prevention President Robert J. Gould said making healthy choices easier will help create a "culture of health."
"If we lower the barriers to making healthier choices in the community, then we can create a culture of health in this country," Gould told Tribune reporter Julie Deardorff.

Deardorff's article undescored Gould's assertion by citing a recent report in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  That study found that people who live in "healthy" neighborhoods -- areas with plentiful opportunities for physical activity and eating well -- had a 38 percent lower rate of Type 2 diabetes than those in "unhealthy" neighborhoods.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Medicare’s decision to help ramp up “medical home” demonstration programs was named Partnership for Prevention’s “Best Prevention Idea of the Week,” while reports of toxic Halloween face paint was named “Worst Prevention Idea of the Week.”

The Best/Worst Idea awards are a regular feature of Prevention Matters , the blog of Partnership for Prevention. Each week, Partnership for Prevention's staff will choose the designees based on nominations of items in the previous week's news submitted by members, staff and the public at large. To submit a nomination or for more information, contact Damon Thompson at


Medicare backs state medical home projects

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will join state multi-payer patient-centered medical home demonstration programs next year as a contributing payer. The demonstrations will build on a model tested in Vermont for three years. Under the Vermont model, private insurers work with Medicaid to set uniform standards for medical homes, which emphasize prevention, health information technology, care coordination and shared decision making among patients and their providers.


Toxins Make Halloween Face Paints Scary

Halloween face paint could contain a nasty trick for children. A test of 10 face paint products widely available via the Internet or in craft or Halloween stores showed that all 10 face paint products tested contained lead, and six out of 10 had known skin allergens, including nickel, cobalt or chromium, at levels above recommendations of industry studies. The findings were outlined in a report issued by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics entitled: Pretty Scary: Could Halloween Face Paint Cause Lifelong Health Problems? Earlier this year, a face paint from China was recalled by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration when some children had rashes and itching; the FDA later found microbial contamination in the product.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Christine M. Grant, Vice Chair of Partnership for Prevention's Board of Directors, is serving as chair of the American Bar Association Section of Science & Technology Law. Grant took office at the conclusion of the 2009 ABA Annual Meeting in Chicago.

The ABA Section of Science & Technology Law provides leadership on emerging issues at the intersection of law, science, and technology; to promote sound policy and public understanding on such issues; and to enhance the professional development of its members. The Section has over 13,000 members, with diverse backgrounds in areas such as e-commerce law, Internet law, computer law, communications law, and law relating to engineering, physics, biology, and medicine. It works through 26 substantive committees to explore topics such as e-commerce, information security, privacy, the Internet, digital evidence, animal law, rights and responsibilities of scientists, nanotechnology, homeland security and bio-technology and the law.

Grant is CEO of InfecDetect LLC in Princeton, N.J., a company focused on preventing infectious disease through rapid diagnostic tests, protective gear and food safety products. She is a former commissioner of New Jersey health and senior services, and has served five New Jersey governors. She is also a former senior executive at two global pharmaceutical companies, Merck & Co. and what was formerly Aventis Pasteur, now known as Sanofi Pasteur.