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Why we pay $1000 for a $20 medical test

Oct 22, 2013 Author: Doctor | Filed under: General

The first time a patient called me to say that she’d been billed more than $600 for her Pap smear, I was sure it was a mistake. The second time, I was less sure, and these days I am no longer surprised to find laboratory charges of $1,000 or more for a test that until recently cost only $20 or $30.

Cervical-cancer screening is one of the 20th century’s true public health successes. The incidence of a disease that once caused more deaths among American women than any other form of cancer has decreased dramatically since the introduction of routine Pap smears in the 1970s. In the modern era, most deaths due to cervical cancer occur among women who have never been screened or who have gone decades without screening. One of the main factors in helping to conquer this once-dreaded disease has been the availability of a cheap, effective screening test that can detect disease early, while it’s still very treatable. Yet increasingly, in my roles as the chief medical officer of a community health center and as a family doctor seeing patients in that system, I hear from women who are choosing to skip their screenings because of skyrocketing costs.

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Powerful Norovirus Spreads Across America from Australia

Jan 26, 2013 Author: Doctor | Filed under: General

A variant of norovirus first spotted in Australia is now sweeping the U.S.

The wily virus causes stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. The sickness is sometimes referred to as the stomach flu, though influenza has nothing to do with it.

Since the strain called “GII.4 Sydney” was identified in Australia last March, it’s been getting around. The U.K. has had a bang-up norovirus season with more than a million people sickened. The new strain has also struck in France and New Zealand.

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed on Wednesday the receipt of reports that another caffeine drink, 5-hour Energy, may have been involved in a number of deaths – in this case 13 over the past four years.

The reports were first detailed by the New York Times on Wednesday.

The news follows the FDA’s disclosure last month that it was investigating reports of five deaths that may be related to Monster Beverage’s namesake drinks.

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Can graviola cure cancer?

Mar 31, 2012 Author: Doctor | Filed under: Cancer

Graviola is a substance that comes from a tree in the rain forests of Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Its scientific name is Annona muricata. It is also known as cherimoya, guanabana, soursop, custard apple, and brazilian paw paw. In many countries, people use the bark, leaves, root, and fruits of this tree for traditional remedies. The active ingredient is thought to be a type of plant compound (phytochemical) called annonaceous acetogenins.

People in African and South American countries have used graviola to treat infections with viruses or parasites, rheumatism, arthritis, depression, and sickness. We know from research that some graviola extracts can help to treat these conditions.

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Cars and cannabis don’t mix

Feb 11, 2012 Author: Doctor | Filed under: General

DRINKING and driving is never a good idea, and neither is smoking pot and driving, a study finds.

People who get behind the wheel within a few hours of smoking marijuana may be almost twice as likely to cause an accident as those who are sober.

A review of nine studies on pot smoking and car crashes was done by researchers from Dalhousie University in Canada.
The authors wrote that previous studies had been somewhat inconclusive about marijuana’s effect on car collisions, some showing it linked with a higher risk of crashes, and some showing a lower risk.

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