Health

Health
10:52 am
Mon June 23, 2014

Amid New FDA Warnings, Kentucky Lawmaker Wants Minors Banned from Tanning Salons

Like cigarettes, tanning beds will soon come with a black box warning that the products should not be used by minors.  But a Kentucky lawmaker says the warnings won’t be enough to keep teenagers out of the tanning beds. 

Henderson Representative David Watkins sponsored legislation this year to prohibit anyone under 18 from using tanning beds.  The retired physician says dermatologists are seeing a rise in skin cancer among teens.

"It seems like the younger skin is more sensitive.  If we can keep the kids out before 18 then the chances of getting skin cancer are reduced some," suggests Watkins.  "It also gives time for their thinking to mature and realize there is a significant risk to tanning beds."

Representative Watkins' legislation failed to clear the Kentucky General Assembly this year, but he will offer it again next year. 

Studies have shown that tanning beds are dangerous because of their emission of ultraviolet rays.  New federal regulations announced last month by the FDA will change the risk of indoor tanning from low to moderate. 

Kentucky currently requires signed parental consent before teens can use tanning beds.

Health
10:02 am
Fri June 20, 2014

Paul Backs Effort to Defend Those Using Medical Marijuana in States Where It's Legal

Kentucky Republican Rand Paul is teaming up with a Democratic colleague to defend states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Paul and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker are sponsoring an amendment to a spending bill being debated by Congress that would prohibit the federal government from spending money to combat medical marijuana in states that allow it. The U.S. House recently passed a measure similar to what Paul and Booker are proposing.

The amendment wouldn’t legalize medical marijuana nationally, but would instead prevent the Drug Enforcement Administration and federal prosecutors from investigating and bringing charges against individuals who are complying with state law.

Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia currently have laws that legalize or regulate the use of medicinal marijuana. While Kentucky isn’t on that list, state lawmakers recently passed a bill that would allow research to be conducted on the possible prescription of cannabis oil to treat certain medical conditions. The oil is extracted from hemp and marijuana plants.

Health
5:28 am
Thu June 19, 2014

Lawmakers Hear Impassioned Testimony Over Legalizing Medical Marijuana

Will Kentucky be the next state to legalize medical marijuana?

State lawmakers heard Wednesday another round of impassioned testimony over legalizing medical marijuana in the state.

The legislature’s Interim Joint Committee on Health & Welfare heard pleas from a nurse practitioner and people with disabilities who say that the drug, which is currently available for medicinal use in 22 states, would alleviate symptoms of pain.

Louisville Democratic Rep.Tom Burch says he thinks it’s just a matter of time before it’s legalized for medical use.

“I was here when we criminalized the use of marijuana back in the 70s," Burch said. "It was a rush to, you know, get these criminals off the street, and all this kind of stuff that was going on. It was ill advised, but it was a good election year and everybody wanted to be against crime, so that's why we passed it, so that a little bag of marijuana would get you five years."

The legislature will take up the issue again next month when it will examine the effects of marijuana on post-traumatic stress disorder in combat veterans.

Health
4:27 am
Tue May 27, 2014

Researchers Study Exercise During Pregnancy for Child Cancer Protection

An area of cancer research at the University of Kentucky is focusing on exercise for mothers during pregnancy to help prevent cancer in their children.

Second year grad student Alyssa Jarrel is involved in conducting the study. She says the research has focused so far on mice, but could very well have implications for humans.

"Pregnancy is such a short term intervention and it can have long term benefits for the offspring. So, we're talking nine months for an intervention for the mom to have lifetime benefits for the child," Jarrel said. She adds the benefits could be seen with moderate exercise three to four times a week in a reduced risk for a high Body Mass Index, reduced risk for cardio-vascular disease and reduced risk for the development of types one or two diabetes.

Jarrel says the research has focused on skin cancer but investigators believe it can translate to a reduced risk of cancer in general. She says researchers are seeing reduced inflammation and increased anti-oxidant response in the offspring.

The researcher says a long term grant proposal would follow mother from pre-conception through pregnancy and then monitor the children for several years.

Health
2:07 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Cancer Research Partnership Between U of L and Owensboro Gets $5.5 Million Grant

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville has been partnering with Owensboro Health in an effort to create new cancer vaccines.
Credit The University of Louisville

One of Kentucky’s most well-known cancer treatment centers is receiving a multi-million dollar grant to find new treatments and vaccines.

The James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville announced Friday that they have been given a three-year, $5.5 million dollar grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

The Center’s director, Doctor Donald Miller, says the grant will help continue a partnership between U of L and Owensboro Health that is exploring the use of plant-based pharmaceuticals and vaccines.

“We have two vaccines--one for cervical cancer, one for colon cancer that are ready to move forward  into early phase clinical trials, and this grant will primarily support the testing of those vaccines over the next three years,” Dr. Miller said.

The grant will also seek to further develop plant-based drugs that would allow a higher concentration of anti-cancer drugs to be delivered to tumors.

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Health
5:22 pm
Thu May 15, 2014

With Mine Safety in the News, Kentucky Office Dealing with Big Budget Reduction

The Kentucky office responsible for mine safety is facing big budget cuts.
Credit flickr

As concerns rise about mine safety following an explosion in a Turkish coal mine that killed more than 200, Kentucky mine safety officials are coping with a 38 percent budget cut.

The state Office of Mine Safety and Licensing’s Dick Brown says $8.5 million in cuts will lead to eliminating some 50 positions across the state and cutting annual mine safety inspections from six to four.

The cuts also mean less safety training for miners.

“We’re going to have to be judicious in how we approach this and make sure, number one, that miners are as safe as we can possibly make them and that we can effectively keep them safe,” Brown said.

Brown expects a cut to the number of mine safety rescue teams as well. However, Madisonville’s KCTCS Mine Rescue Team receives private funding from coal companies and won’t be impacted by the budget cut.

Health
3:18 pm
Thu May 8, 2014

Land Selected for Site of Hardin County's First YMCA

Hardin County is one step closer to having its first ever YMCA facility.

A steering committee announced Thursday afternoon the selection of a 14 acre site in Elizabethtown where the YMCA will be built. Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston is chair of the committee, and says the project could have a positive impact on the community’s health.

“One of the alarming factors that I have seen is that when our student-athletes have physicals, the hospital has shared with us that they’re seeing an increase—even in our student-athletes—of cases of high blood pressure, weight problems, and some who are even on some kind of blood pressure medication,” Johnston told WKU Public Radio.

The Hardin County YMCA will be a branch of the Greater Louisville chapter of the organization.

The privately-owned land selected for the project is on Veteran’s Way in Elizabethtown behind the Best Buy store. Johnston says the property owner has agreed to make a sizeable donation to the effort, meaning the land will be bought below market level.

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Health
4:28 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

Kentucky Has More ADHD Diagnoses than Any Other State in Nation

Kentucky leads the nation in the number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Nearly one in five children in the commonwealth has been diagnosed with the disorder, according to numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly 19 percent of Kentucky children ages 4-17 have, at some point, been diagnosed with ADHD. That’s well over the national average of 11 percent.

Indiana’s diagnosis rate is nearly 16 percent, with Tennessee’s rate is 15 percent

You can learn more about each state’s rate of ADHD diagnosis here.

The figures come from a 2011 national survey conducted by the CDCP, and show about 6 million children nationwide have received an ADHD diagnosis. It’s not known if the higher levels are the result of over-diagnoses by doctors, higher levels of awareness, or some combination of those and other factors.

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Health
8:04 am
Wed April 30, 2014

Kentucky Physicians to Undergo Additional Training to Help Spot Signs of Child Abuse

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has ceremonially signed into law a measure that would require Kentucky physicians to undergo training to detect signs of child abuse.

Republican Rep. Addia Wuchner sponsored the bill. Three other states have similar laws, and Wuchner says this will address Kentucky's problem with abuse-related fatalities and injuries.

“The statistics are heart-rendering. We all know them, we hear them repeatedly. There are numbers that we never wanted Kentucky to be number one in. We like being number one in basketball, and all those other arenas. But sadly, Kentucky’s children cried out that we do something differently," the GOP lawmaker said.

Beshear says the training will be funded in part by medical licensing fees.

Kentucky averages 29 child deaths each year due to abuse and neglect.

Health
10:44 am
Wed April 9, 2014

Kentucky Health Commissioner Pleased with Insurance Sign-Ups by Young Invincibles

In a speech to WKU students, Dr. Stephanie Mayfield, Kentucky's Commissioner for Public Health, spoke of the recently-concluded enrollment period for health insurance.
Credit Lisa Autry

Kentucky’s public health commissioner is encouraged by the number of young adults who enrolled in health insurance on Kynect, the state’s online health exchange. 

Fifty percent of new enrollees were under the age of 35, which Dr. Stephanie Mayfield says should mean cost savings.

"You would think this would be a healthier population who would be accessing the system for preventive measures and not as many chronic diseases," explained Mayfield.  "It's an opportunity to intervene in the still relatively early years and have less of a financial impact on the system."

Dr. Mayfield spoke Tuesday at WKU about Kentucky’s health challenges. 

The state has several initiatives underway that include reducing the rates of smoking, obesity, and cancer deaths, all by 2019.

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