Quick Hits: Light Therapy May Ease Cancer Symptoms

Emma Yasinski
Emma Yasinski Staff Writer

MedShadow is introducing a weekly news feature called Quick Hits: brief summaries of recent news items related to our mission.

Light therapy is under investigation as a way to ease the fatigue and depression that people with cancer often suffer from. Researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City conducted a series of clinical trials examining whether regular exposure to bright white light from a light box could improve their symptoms. In the latest trial, cancer patients exposed to the bright white light saw their depression symptoms subside much more than a control group that received no light therapy. Via The Wall Street Journal. Posted April 11, 2016.

Getting a flu shot while pregnant may also protect women against the risk of stillbirth, according to a new study. The observational study, based on birth and vaccination records of more than 58,000 pregnancies in Australia during the 2012 and 2013 flu seasons, found that mothers who received the flu shot had a 51% lower risk of stillbirth than peers who were unvaccinated. Although the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the flu vaccine during pregnancies, more than 50% of expectant mothers do not get one. Via The New York Times. Posted April 7, 2016.

Pressure is building on physicians to recommend alternate therapies to treat hypothyroidism as many people do not respond well to levothyroxine, a synthetic hormone considered the standard of care. Prior studies have confirmed that anywhere between 5% and 15% of those with hypothyroidism don’t see their condition improve with levothyroxine, and the reason may result from genetic variations in individual patients. Compounding the problem is that the symptoms of hypothyroidism, including depression, fatigue and weight gain, are associated with other medical ailments and some people may be misdiagnosed. Via The Wall Street Journal. Posted April 11, 2016.

Consumers are not motivated to ask their doctors about a drug after seeing a TV ad for it, according to a new survey of 500 consumers. Conducted by Treato, a health insights firm, found that 64% of respondents said they saw more pharma advertising this year compared to last year. Last year, the figure was 51%. But although pharmaceutical companies have boosted their overall advertising spend -– the industry tied an all-time high of $5.4 billion in 2015 according to Kantar Media — they appear to be getting less bang for their buck. Only 7% of those polled in Treato’s survey said they brought up a drug with their physician after seeing a TV ad. Last year, the figure was 21%. Via Treato. Posted April 18, 2016.

The FDA is launching an advertising campaign specifically targeted to white, rural teens to warn them of the dangers of smokeless tobacco use. The program will focus on placing ads in 35 markets across the United States. The move is an expansion of the agency’s “The Real Cost” youth tobacco prevention effort, which began in 2014. Nearly 32% of white, rural males between the ages of 12 and 17 use, experiment with, or are at risk of using smokeless tobacco, and about 1,000 males under the age of 18 begin using smokeless tobacco each day. Via FDA. Posted April 19, 2016.