MD Magazine's Most Read Stories of 2017

DECEMBER 30, 2017
MD Magazine Staff
depression, hiv, women, abortions, migraines, ibd, health care, fraud, suicide rates, cdc, dogs, avatar, schizophreniaTo commemorate a year of great clinical stories and development, MD Magazine presents its 10 Most Read Stories of 2017:

Major Depressive Disorder May Be Linked to Early Childhood Stress

A systematic review found that early life stress and FKBP5 genotypes could lead to a significant risk of developing major depressive disorder (MDD) or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It was the first comprehensive evaluation of FKBP5 gene, a critical regulator of stress activity axis in the brain, and its role in stress-related disorders. The findings backed previous research that had shown early childhood stresses like abuse, parental death or divorce and neglect are strongly associated with the development of MDD, PTSD, and a higher risk of suicide.

HIV Risk Higher Among Women Due to Greater Risk Behaviors

A research team from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found women represent about 40% of new HIV infections due to participation in sexual behavior that carry greater risk of transmission. Such behavior includes vaginal, oral, or anal sex with multiple partners concurrently, having non-monogamous sex partners, and using condoms inconsistently. However, the varying rates between women based on racial, social, and contextual demographics created more questions for the researchers.

PROMISE 2 Explores Eptinezumab for Chronic Migraine

Alder Biopharmaceuticals announced the start of the second phase 3 study to evaluate eptinezumab (ALD403) for the prevention of migraines. PROMISE 2 will focus on the effects of the investigational therapy for the treatment of chronic migraine, whereas PROMISE 1 focused on episodic migraines. Chronic migraines currently affect about 1% of the US population, with a majority of patients experiencing about 15 headaches per month.

IBD Rates Rising Worldwide in Proportion with Urbanization

A systematic review of 147 studies found that irritable bowel disease incidence is highest in Europe and North America. In Europe, 505 per 100,000 people have ulcerative colitis in Norway, and 322 per 100,000 people have Crohn’s disease in Germany. In North America, 286 per 100,000 have ulcerative colitis in the US, and 319 per 100,000 have Crohn’s disease in Canada. Researchers are now pointing to urbanized areas as role players in IBD's development.

56 Physicians Among Hundreds Charged in $1.3B Health Care Fraud Scandal

A coordinated effort between the Criminal Division, US Attorney’s Offices, Health and Human Services and more than 1,000 state and federal law enforcement agents led to 412 defendants being charged with defrauding US taxpayers of roughly $1.3 billion. Among the defendents, 120 were also charged with opioid-related crimes. A particular group of defendents were alleged to have run a scheme in Michigan that prescribed unnecessary opioids to patients. Some of the prescribed drugs were found for sale on the black market.

CDC: Suicide Rates Increase in US Rural Areas

In 2015, US counties with large metropolitan areas reported an average estimate of 12 suicides per 100,000 persons. In the same time span, US non-metropolitan/rural counties reported an average estimage of 20 suicides per 100,000 persons, according to a study from the CDC. Researchers noted that economic indicators like housing foreclosures, poverty, and unemployment vary by urbanization level. However, rural areas usually have a greater prevalence of these negative factors, and factors like housing foreclosures and overall business cycles negatively affect suicide rates and other health outcomes.

How Dogs Could Help Patients with HIV Live Longer

Patients with HIV are about twice as likely to suffer from depression than HIV-negative people, according to a study published in JMIR. Dog ownership was found to be a factor in reducing depression likelihood in patients, which in turn positively affects treatment adherence to antiretroviral therapy regimens. 

High Incidence of PTSD Among Cancer Patients

More than 20% of patients with cancer experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) within months of their diagnosis, according to the analysis of 469 adult patients with various types of cancer. Patients chosen for the study had been diagnosed within that month, and were tested for PTSD after a 6-month period, then again after 4 years. The results showed a 21.7% PTSD incidence after 6 months, then a significant drop (6.1%) at the 4-year follow-up. However, about 33% of patients diagnosed with PTSD were still experiencing persistent symptoms at the 4-year mark.

Advancements and Challenges in Global Abortion Safety

Global analysis from the World Health Organization (WHO), Department of Reproductive Health and Research, and the Guttmacher Institute found that nearly half of all abortions to occur between 2010 and 2014 were unsafe. Using a 3-tiered classification set by WHO to define safe and unsafe abortions, the analysis found that of the 55.7 million procedures to occur in that time span, 30.6 million (54.9%) were safe. Another 17.1 million (30.7%) were classified as less safe, and 8 million (14.4%) were least safe. Bela Ganatra, lead author, scientist, Department of Reproductive Health and Research, WHO, told MD Magazine that the global rates were surprising and "heartbreaking.

AVATAR Therapy for Auditory Hallucinations: If You Can't Beat the Voices, Join Them

The Audio Visual Assisted Therapy Aid for Refractory auditory hallucinations (AVATAR) was pilot tested as an auditory halluciantion therapy between 2009 and 2011. Now, a recent follow-up study found positive outcomes in a larger, powered, randomized controlled trial — 83% of patients reported a reduction in auditory verbal hallucinations at 12 weeks. The therapy, which allows patients to create an avatar of their perceived hallucinations, is designed to aid therapists in conceding control of such hallucinations to the patients over a period of time. Its potential for success could have major implications in the field of schizophrenia — of which 65% of patient experience verbal auditory hallucinations.

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