Everything you need to know about Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor

U.S. Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor is a type known as glioblastoma.

So what is a glioblastoma?

It is a highly malignant form of cancer that spreads quickly and is known to be fed by a large network of blood vessels in the brain, according to this NBC News report.

The sad news for the former Republican presidential nominee came out Wednesday after doctors operated on a small clot about McCain’s left eye.

Glioblastoma is a mass of abnormal cells growing in the brain. The tumor grows from star-shaped cells known as astrocytes that make the supportive tissue of the brain. Brain tumors, unlike other cancers, do are not hereditary except in rare cases.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 24,000 malignant tumors are diagnosed each year — about three in 10 of them are glioblastomas.

Also unlike other cancers, glioblastomas don’t spread to other organs.

McCain’s doctors believe they removed all of the tumor tissue, but cancerous cells could remain and spread to other parts of the brain. It is often difficult to remove glioblastomas because they often spread deep into the brain by the time of diagnosis.

The diagnosis often occurs after a patient suffers a seizure.

McCain also has a history deadly skin cancer known as melanoma. A 2014 study published in the Annals of Epidemiology found glioblastoma was associated with melanoma.were greater among melanoma cases than in people who had never been diagnosed with skin cancer.

The senator’s symptoms may include double vision, forgetfulness or headaches.

Treatment usually is a combination of chemotherapy drugs and radiation on a daily basis. Gene therapy has shown some promise in fighting the tumor.

The prognosis for recovery from glioblastoma is not good.  The median survival rates range from 14 months to three years.

The veteran lawmaker from Arizona fought in Vietnam and was a prisoner of war for more than five years. He is currently recovering at his home.

To read the whole NBC News report click here.

(Featured photo courtesy of Medill DC/Creative Commons)

Fight against Zika draws lawsuit to stop Mosquito spraying

The aggressive fight against the Zika virus is drawing some opposition when it comes to mosquito spraying.

A Miami Beach doctor filed a federal lawsuit, according to The Miami Herald, arguing that using the pesticide naled poses a health risk. It claims Miami-Dade County — the epicenter last summer of Zika in Florida — failed to give residents enough notice to prepare or take proper precautions.

Dr. Michael Hall also says the county failed to follow Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The lawsuit was filed just before Miami-Dade dosed a large part of the coast in Miami-Dade on Monday with the insecticide.

Naled is not new. It has been used to fight mosquitoes in mangroves and marshes for decades. But with Zika — an illness carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that caused birth defects if contracted by pregnant women — the use of the pesticide has been expanded into neighborhoods.

Environmentalists have complained is harmful to fish and pollinators such as birds, bees and butterflies.

Zika, at present, appears to be under control in South Florida. The Centers for Disease Control life all travel recommendations for Miami-Dade and declared the risk low for contracting the disease.
 “Right now, there’s a very low threat of Zika. They’re not finding Aedes aegypti in the traps,” Hall said.

Critics of naled point to a recent study of Chinese babies born to mothers exposed to the pesticide found decreased motor function at nine months. A 2016 study found a 25 percent increase in the rate of autism in areas where aerial spraying is conducted.

“What are we doing to our future generations? We have autism off the charts. Are we not connecting the dots?” Hall asked. “We have less lethal means to take care of Zika.”

Read the whole Miami Herald story by clicking here.

RELATED: Worried about Zika, West Nile? Expert advice to prevent mosquito bites

Beach horror: Can sandcastles make your kids sick?

Is there anything more wholesome than children building sandcastles on an American beach?

Guess again, vacationers. The Environmental Protection Agency and pediatricians have issued warnings that beach sand can contain pollutant and bacteria especially harmful to children.

The Palm Beach Post’s news partner, Channel 5, WPTV noted that beaches are occasionally closed because of poor water quality.

A study five years ago among some 5,000 beach visitors, found that those who dug in the most contaminated sand were twice as likely to fall ill with diarrhea, vomiting, nausea and stomach aches.

And it came from the deep. EPA and health officials warn building sand castles can be dangerous to your child’s health. No kidding. (Photo by Suzanne LaGasa via Creative Commons.)

Those who had been buried in the sand showed an even greater tendency to get sick.

Brittany Schiro said she lives close to Galveston, Texas, but comes to Clearwater in Florida with her family for cleaner beaches.

“We have a lot of problems in the water, bacterial stuff going on there,” says Schiro, who lives close to Galveston, Texas.

So what can bad sand do to you? Symptoms can range from gastrointestinal illness to severe rashes.

Sand pollution is highest after heavy rains. Doctors urge parents to use sanitizer on tiny hands.

Schiro said there are limits to being the ever-cautious parent.

“You gotta let them be children, right?” she said.

(Featured image by Richard Leeming via Creative Commons)

Why do mosquitoes bite you, but not your friend?

You are enjoying a nice glass of chardonnay with your bestie in the back yard when suddenly mosquitoes take aim as if you are a dart board at an insect bar giving away free Bloody Marys.

But your friend remains untouched. It’s as if she has been sweating bug repellent but still smells of that perfume you can’t stand.

“They like you because you are so sweet,” she jests, as you start scratching at the multiple bites on your arms and legs.

In fact, there is a reason why mosquitoes tend to bite some people and leave others alone, according to the website FeedsGuru.com:

You Smell:  Yep, the smellier a person is, the more attractive they are to a mosquito. When a body sweats it produces lactic acid, which is quite tasty to the mosquito. The older the sweat, the sweeter the meal. So you know, take a bath.

Blood Type: Turns out that people with Type O blood are twice as likely to suffer bites than people with Type A blood, according to one study. Also, 85 percent of us secrete a chemical signal that indicates blood type, increasing the chances to get bit since mosquitoes tend to like to know what they are getting.

Bacteria: FeedsGuru reports that the type of bacteria living on our skin varies from person to person. Studies show that people with Staphylococcus and Variovorax present on their skin will likely suffer more mosquito bites. While other bacteria, such as Delftia, tend to keep the pests away.

Carbon Dioxide: Mosquitoes are drawn to the CO2 you exhale, as well. Produce more, get more bug bites. So people who struggle to breathe get bit more. Beer drinkers, for instance, tend to breathe heavier and thus are more prone to bites.

 

<<RELATED: How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard

<<RELATED: TOP MOSQUITO CITIES: Florida cities make the list

 

Could disabled children be collateral damage in education bill fight?

The Florida’s Legislature secret effort to steer more money to private charter schools, virtual education and home schooling have resulted in political heat on Gov. Rick Scott to veto the sweeping education bill.

But could disabled children be collateral damage?

The Associated Press reports that tucked in the 300-pages of HB 7069 is $30 million for the Gardiner Scholarship Program that provides tuition, therapy and other services to roughly 8,000 disabled students. By all accounts, it’s a wonderful program that helps autistic and other disabled children.

Gov. Rick Scott

But Scott is under pressure to reject the bill by school superintendents, the state’s teacher union, parent-teacher groups and Democrats. Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, the leading Republican candidate for governor in 2018, called the legislation a “train wreck.”

GOP lawmakers wrote the bill largely in secret to steer away money from public education. Scott has not indicated what he will do.

Sen. Gary Farmer, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat opposed to the bill, told The AP that legislative leaders crafted the legislation to include the disabled scholarship program in order to make it harder for Scott to veto the bill.

“I was deeply disturbed that (the families of disabled children) were hijacked and used as pawns to mollify opposition to an otherwise bad bill,” Farmer said.

Barbara Beasley, whose 9-year-old daughter receives a Gardiner scholarship, told the AP that lawmakers need to separate out the scholarship program.

“I beg Gov. Scott to order lawmakers back to session to fix their mistakes, separate these items from the bad and push them through,” Beasley said.

To read the full AP story click here.

(Feature image by Christos Doulkeridis through Creative Commons)

Medical marijuana law loophole? Store sells buds to vape

As the Florida Legislature passes the buck on instituting rules for medical marijuana dispensaries, a business says it is not breaking any law by selling whole flower marijuana right now that can be vaporized and inhaled.

Trulieve, with five locations now but with plans to expand, says it is not violating state law by selling whole-flower cannabis that can be vaped, for medical necessity, according to a story by News Service of Florida.

Patients must have a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana and go through a process to get into the state program.

The drug comes in a vaporizer cup with the company’s “Volcano Vaporizer,” according to the store’s website. The cups resemble some of the pods used in coffee makers.

And here’s the rub. Vaping pot is allowed under state law but smoking marijuana in a cigarette, pipe or bong remains prohibited.

The medical marijuana dispensary says it is not violating state law by selling the cannabis even though it could be potentially be broken down and made into pot that can be smoked. Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers says the company issue warnings to patients that the product should only be used for vaping.

Trulieve CEO Kim Rivers says the company issue warnings to patients that the product should only be used for vaping. She has shops in Miami, Tallahassee, Pensacola, Tampa and Clearwater.

Florida Health Department spokeswoman Mara Gambinieri said the product was approved by the Office of Compassionate Use.  Medical marijuana supporters have advocated for whole-flower, saying it is better medicinally.

All six of Florida’s distributing organizations that are authorized to sell cannabis have vaping products. Trulieve is the first that is selling a whole-flower product. Other vaping products use cannabis that is ground up.

The Legislature last session failed to come up with a law to implement a constitutional amendment establishing medical marijuana in Florida approved by 72 percent of the voters last year.

That leaves it up to the Department of Health to come up with rules governing medical marijuana dispensaries by mid-summer and implemented by October. Lawmakers have come up against smoking medical marijuana, saying it is unhealthy.

According to the Health Department, 80 percent of cannabis sales are vaping.

John Morgan, the Orlando attorney who was one of the key figures in getting the amendment passed last November, has said he would sue if the new rules did not allow smoking. The rules are supposed to be in place in July and implemented in October.

“For them not to allow smoking, that is the opposite of what the amendment says. The only place where it says it can’t be smoked is public places,” Morgan told The Associated Press.

Jupiter Medical wins battle with Legislature over deregulation

Jupiter Medical Center took out full-page ads in this newspaper and others and lobbied lawmakers to keep them from changing the rules on hospital expansion. From the result, it worked.

The Florida Legislature failed to pass one of Gov. Rick Scott’s pet bills that would have eliminated the certificate of need process. Under the certificate of need process, hospitals must show a significant need for the community to expand or move into specialized practice areas.

“The organization’s effort among others played a part in it not coming to a vote in the Senate,” said John Couris, the president and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center.

Thus, Florida remains one of 36 states and the District of Columbia that currently limit entry or expansion of health care facilities through certificate-of-need programs. In Florida, this process extends to acute hospital beds to organ transplants to psychiatric services.

Gov. Scott and House Republicans said getting rid of the certificate of need process would open up competition and lower prices.

But Jupiter Medical Center and other critics said deregulation would actually do the opposite by benefiting big hospital chains who could dictate higher prices and undercut patient pool are that is crucial for doctors to perfect their skills.
Couris said the open letter to the community published in full-page advertisements showed the hospital’s commitment to top-notch care. He said competition is already off-the-charts when it comes to certain areas of medicine, such as heart surgery and maternity care.

“We compete every day in healthcare. South Florida is a hyper-competitive market,” he said. “We were concerned for the consumer, for access, quality and cost.”
Couris reiterated that he isn’t against the free market but when it comes to health care appropriate regulation is necessary. Certificate of need “is appropriate regulation and it works,” he said.

The Legislature also let a bill die when the session ended Friday that would have expanded the number of trauma care centers in Florida. Critics had the same worries that the measure would undercut patient pools and thus hurt performance at existing trauma care centers.
The Health Care District of Palm Beach County monitored the progress of both bills.

Currently, Delray Beach Medical Center and St. Mary’s Medical operate Level-1 trauma centers. Both hospitals opposed plans by JFK Medical Center in Atlantis to get into the trauma business last year.

Robin Kish of the Health Care District released a statement on the issue:

“Our position remains constant,” she said. “The Health Care District, which oversees the county’s integrated, lifesaving Trauma System, treated more than 4,000 trauma patients in 2016 and we are committed to delivering the highest quality care so traumatically-injured patients can return to their daily lives.”

 

John Couris, president and CEO, of Jupiter Medical Center.

Trauma center, certificate of need bills die in Legislature again

This was the year that Gov. Rick Scott and Republicans in the Florida Legislature delivered on all their talk about opening up competition in health care. Like with medical marijuana legislation, it was a big failure.

One only needs to see every other billboard on Interstate 95 to realize the hospitals are in an all out war for patients in areas of heart surgery and maternity care. But Scott and House Republicans wanted to open up it even more in some very troublesome areas, critics said.

They wanted to add trauma centers across the state and to eliminate the requirement that hospitals prove community need before expanding into an area of practice.

Both bills (HB 7 and HB1077) died on Friday when the Senate refused to take them up. This is not the first time that Scott, a former health-care executive, has tried to get rid of these regulations.

This blog explored both issues during the session that also saw lawmakers fail to implement voter-mandated medical marijuana laws. 

When comes to specialized hospitals programs and trauma, hospitals need as many patients as they can get so they can perfect the practice. You know, brain injury and pediatric heart surgery are not exactly easy.

Governor Rick Scott holds a brief press conference at Palm Beach International Airport announcing his order for Florida National Guard recruiters to work from nearby armories after attacks in Tennessee on July 18, 2015. (Richard Graulich / The Palm Beach Post)
Governor Rick Scott wants to eliminate the need for hospitals to prove a community needs them to expand.

Trauma centers are no different.

Scott called for getting rid of a limit of 44 trauma centers statewide. Right now, Palm Beach County has two level-one trauma centers: St. Mary’s Medical Center and Delray Beach Medical Center.

Dr. Robert Borrego, medical director of the Trauma Center at St. Mary’s Medical Center, told The Post earlier this year that it is important to limit the number of trauma centers.

“Can you imagine coming to a center and you have traumatic brain injury and the neurosurgeons only do about 10 operations a year? Are you going to comfortable there or do you want somebody who does 1,000 operations a year?”

Study: diet drinks can lead to stroke, dementia

A new study shows people who drink diet sodas may be more at risk for stroke and dementia.

Have a Diet Coke and stroke.

Diet sodas — one of Americans favorite caffeine delivery systems — appears to be just as unhealthy as its sugary cousins

The Washington Post reports that a new study refutes that diet drinks are a better option than those made with sugar or corn syrup.

The new study in the journal Stroke says people who drink diet soda are three times as likely to have a stroke or develop dementia.

“This included a higher risk of ischemic stroke, where blood vessels in the brain become obstructed and Alzheimer’s disease dementia, the most common form of dementia,” Matthew Pase, a Boston University School of Medicine neurologist told The Washington Post.

Paseo is the lead author of the study.

He stressed the study showed just a correlation and not a causation but that diet pop simply “might not be a healthy alternative.”

The study of 2,888 individuals age 45 and overlooked for the development of a stroke and 1,484 participants age 60 and older for dementia over a 10 year period.

There was no association with stroke or dementia found in a parallel study of sugary drinks.

The diet sodas used by those in the study contained the artificial sweeteners saccharin, acesulfame-K, and aspartame.

“So, the bottom line is, ‘Have more water and have less diet soda,” Christopher Gardner, director of Nutrition Studies at the Stanford Prevention Research Center, said in an American  Heart Association news release. “And don’t switch to real soda.”

He added: “Nobody ever said diet sodas were a health food.”


The American Beverage Association said low-calorie sweeteners have been proven safe by worldwide government safety authorities as well as hundreds of scientific studies and there is nothing in this research that counters this well-established fact.

“While we respect the mission of these organizations to help prevent conditions like stroke and dementia, the authors of this study acknowledge that their conclusions do not — and cannot — prove cause and effect,” the beverage association noted.

To read the whole Washington Post story click here.