"Medical News In 2002"

The medical news and there was plenty of it continues this year to be overshadowed by issues of a possible war with Iraq and the sagging economy. Brilliant as this year’s discoveries and strides may have been most news were just glitches rather than articles relegated to the back pages. Despite it all those in the world of medicine and healing continued to extend a helping hand to all in need. Quietly and gently listening, stroking, wiping away a tear, sharing all and receiving in return the blessing of knowing they may have made a difference.

In July of this year a study known as The Women’s Health Initiative was stopped several years early to announce that women every where should at least consider stopping the use of hormone replacement therapy due to increased risks of uterine, ovarian and breast cancers. The statistics are real, they are not new. It makes this health writer wonder what they are up to this time.

The health insurance giant CIGNA announced a new program called healthy rewards where members are encouraged to seek out massage therapy, laser vision correction, acupuncture, fitness club memberships (and more) and they will pick up part of tab; no referral necessary, no claims to fill out. Let’s hope this is a trend, after all a healthy member costs them less money. Go CIGNA.

Stem Cell research continues to make headlines with proponents on both sides continuing to make claims. This is some of the most exciting research that any of us will ever see. Promising research believes that over half of America could benefit from stem cell transplants including one million children with juvenile diabetes, 8.2 million people with cancer, 58 million people suffering with heart disease, those with Alzheimer’s, arthritis and spinal cord injury. And this is just the top of the list. If you would like to learn more visit www.StemCellResearchFoundation.org.

A recent small but promising study on a cancer was released highlighting the treatment of five people with malignant melanoma. Treatment begins with surgical removal of a piece of the tumor. White blood cells located within the tumor mass that are actually putting up a fight are then separated out, fed and cloned and then given back to the patient. All five patients are either cured or doing very well. Is the cancer answer hiding somewhere within the body? Studies are now planned on breast, colon and prostate cancers.

We have a new medical term this year- "Minimal Medicine." It seems after years of doctors scrambling to try and get their patients hospitalized are now scrambling to find ways to keep their patients out of the hospitals. According to the CDC 90,000 deaths in 2000 were caused by hospital based infections. If that’s not enough hospital staffing stretched beyond their limits are making medical errors leading to another 44,000 to 98,000 deaths each year. Look for these non hospital based therapies to become main stream: high-frequency ultrasound that will blast tumors with sound waves, microsensors implanted that could control epileptic seizures, calm the tremors of Parkinson’s’ and detect plaque buildup in arteries and the continued use of lasers in new and different applications.

And finally we will only be as healthy as this orb we inhabit. I am disheartened that President Bush has loosened the standards on his father’s clean air and water bill. What is he thinking?! There are several sound organizations out there with PACs (political action committees) that can make a difference including the Sierra Club, The Environmental Defense Fund and Audubon. Democrats and republicans everywhere should respond. We only have to look south of our borders to understand poor air and water standards and how it effects human health.

As for resolutions how about taking care of the single most important asset you have, your health. It may not make the national news but your health is important so take care of it. Happy New Year, Rebecca