Construction worker suicide rates are highest in the US, CDC study says

Males working in construction have the highest suicide rates in the country, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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Males working in construction have the highest suicide rates in the country, according to a recent analysis by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Comparing the suicides of more than 22,000 people across 17 states in 2012 and 2015, researchers found males working in construction and extraction took their lives the most often, a rate of roughly 44 per 100,000 “civilian noninstitutionalized working persons” for construction workers and 53 per 100,000 for extraction workers.

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Men working in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media came in second — an increase of 47 percent during the years studied, according to the CDC. Installation, maintenance and repair rounded out the top three for males in 2015.

Comparatively, in 2015, women working in arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media had the highest suicide rates for females, while women in protective services came in second. The third were women who worked in health care support, according to the study.

“Among both males and females, the lowest suicide rate in 2015 was observed in Education, Training, and Library occupations,” the CDC reported.

The research comes adjacent to the rising suicide rates in the U.S. overall. The health agency announced in June the rates have been rising in “nearly every state,” with 25 states reporting a more than 30 percent increase during the study period.

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“Increasing suicide rates in the U.S. are a concerning trend that represent a tragedy for families and communities and impact the American workforce,” Deb Houry, the director of the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in an online statement. “Knowing who is at greater risk for suicide can help save lives through focused prevention efforts.”

The study Thursday is a correction to a similar 2016 study, which mistakenly included the misclassification of some workers as farmers instead of managers.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Rates of Mental Health Tx, Diagnosis Up for College Students

FRIDAY, Nov. 16, 2018 — From 2007 to 2017, there was an increase in the rates of mental health treatment and diagnosis among college students and a decrease in stigma, according to a study published online Nov. 5 in Psychiatric Services.

Sarah Ketchen Lipson, Ph.D., Ed.M., from the Boston University School of Public Health, and colleagues used 10 years of data from the Healthy Minds Study, which included 155,026 students from 196 campuses, to examine mental health service utilization by college students.

The researchers observed significant increases in the rates of mental health treatment and diagnosis. From 2007 to 2017, the rate of treatment increased from 19 to 34 percent, and an increase from 22 to 36 percent was seen in the percentage of students with lifetime diagnoses. Increases were also seen in depression and suicidality, while there was a decrease in stigma.

“We found that utilization increased substantially over the past decade, with much of this burden falling to campus counseling centers,” the authors write. “To better meet the mental health care demand from students and reduce strain on existing services, campuses may wish not only to expand capacity but also to increase the use of preventive and digital mental health services, such as those delivered via mobile apps.”

One author disclosed receiving consulting fees from Actualize Therapy.

Abstract/Full Text (subscription or payment may be required)

Posted: November 2018

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Pancreatic cancer death rates rising across Europe, report reveals

Pancreatic cancer death rates in the European Union (EU) have increased by 5% between 1990 and 2016, a report launched today reveals. This is the highest increase in any of the EU’s top five cancer killers which, as well as pancreatic cancer, includes lung, colorectal, breast and prostate cancer.

‘Pancreatic Cancer Across Europe’, published by United European Gastroenterology (UEG) to coincide with World Pancreatic Cancer Day, examines the past and current state of pancreatic cancer care and treatment, as well as the future prospects, such as targeting the microbiome, for improving the prognosis for patients. Whilst lung, breast and colorectal cancer have seen significant reductions in death rates since 1990, deaths from pancreatic cancer continue to rise. Experts also believe that pancreatic cancer has now overtaken breast cancer as the third leading cause of death from cancer in the EU.

Pancreatic cancer has the lowest survival of all cancers in Europe. Responsible for over 95,000 EU deaths every year, the median survival time at the point of diagnosis is just 4.6 months, with patients losing 98% of their healthy life expectancy5. Often referred to as ‘the silent killer’, symptoms can be hard to identify, thus making it difficult to diagnose the disease early which is essential for life-saving surgery.

Despite the rise in death rates and dreadfully low survival rates, pancreatic cancer receives less than 2% of all cancer research funding in Europe. Markus Peck, UEG expert, explains, “If we are to take a stand against the continent’s deadliest cancer, we must address the insufficient research funding; that is where the European Union can lead the way. Whilst medical and scientific innovations have positively changed the prospects for many cancer patients, those diagnosed with pancreatic cancer have not been blessed with much clinically meaningful progress. To deliver earlier diagnoses and improved treatments we need to engage now in more basic as well as applied research to see real progress for our patients in the years to come.”

Microbiome—the key to turning the tide?

After forty years of limited progress in pancreatic cancer research, experts claim that new treatment options could finally be on the horizon as researchers investigate how changing the pancreas’ microbiome may help to slow tumour growth and enable the body to develop its own ‘defence mechanism’. The microbial population of a cancerous pancreas has been found to be approximately 1,000 times larger than that of a non-cancerous pancreas and research has shown that removing bacteria from the gut and pancreas slowed cancer growth and ‘reprogrammed’ immune cells to react against cancer cells.

This development could lead to significant changes in clinical practice as removing bacterial species could improve the efficacy of chemotherapy or immunotherapy, offering hope that clinicians will finally be able to slow tumour growth, alter metastatic behaviour and ultimately change the disease’s progression.

Professor Thomas Seufferlein, pancreatic cancer expert, comments, “Research looking at the impact of the microbiome on pancreatic cancer is a particularly exciting new area, as the pancreas was previously thought of as a sterile organ. Such research will also improve our understanding of the microenvironment in a metastatic setting and how the tumour responds to its environment. This will inform the metastatic behaviour and ultimately alter disease progression.”

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Timely care key to improving survival rates and racial disparities

Delayed care is a crtically important factor in the survival of patients with head and neck cancer, and the patients who most often experience these delays are African American, according to two new studies at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and Hollings Cancer Center.

These findings are reported in an article published online October 18 and by a systemic review published online October 11—both in JAMA Otolarynology—Head & Neck Surgery.

MUSC Hollings Cancer Center researcher, MUSC Health otolaryngologist-head and neck surgeon and lead author Evan Graboyes, M.D., said this is a critical area of research.

“Just as some scientists work to understand cancer genetics or tumor biology in the hope of finding targets that can be modified with a new drug, we see care delivery pathways in the same light,” said Graboyes. “Even just changing a few things can result in a higher survival rate of patients and decreased racial disparities in care around the country.”

Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) affects the areas around the throat, voice box, nose, sinuses and mouth. The disease begins when healthy cells in the head and neck start to grow rapidly and out of control to form a tumor, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology. Squamous cell carcinoma refers to the origin of the tumor: flat cells that form the lining of both the mouth and the throat.

While HNSCC is considered rare, consisting of only 4 percent of all cancer cases each year, it has a high mortality rate. The American Cancer Society estimates that almost 14,000 patients will die from this disease in the U.S. in 2018, and African Americans are even more likely to die from it.

Treatment for HNSCC varies depending on the stage at which the patient is diagnosed, but best practices have been tested and agreed upon by a team of doctors from across the United States. These findings, which form the basis for the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for treating this form of cancer, shaped the parameters of these two studies.

According to the NCCN treatment guidelines, patients undergoing surgery for HNSCC need to receive postoperative radiotherapy (PORT) within six weeks of their surgical procedure to maximize their chances of remission.

Graboyes’ study found that delays starting PORT are common and occurred in 45 percent of the patients involved in his research. While examining these findings, the team also determined that 56 percent of African American patients received delayed care while only 43 percent of white patients did.

Graboyes and his team investigated the processes of care that caused delays and found many factors contribute. Patients who received their pathology report within seven days of surgery were four times more likely to follow treatment guidelines by starting PORT within six weeks.

Patients who had care in two different hospitals rather than continuous care at one hospital or academic medical center were more likely to experience delays as well. Those who met with radiation oncology before surgery had an 8.9-fold increase in timely PORT.

“We know that African Americans with this disease have a significantly higher rate of mortality than white patients, but we aren’t sure why,” said Graboyes. “This research showed us that delays in treatment disproportionately affected African Americans, which could be one of the factors contributing to their lower survival rates.”

More research is still needed to determine the specific barriers to timely and equitable HNSCC care, and racial differences as well as treatment delays in other aspects of cancer care continue.

Barriers to cancer treatment in general often relate to a patient’s insurance status, the cost of the procedure, fear or distrust of the medical system, lack of knowledge of the disease and a lack of perceived importance.

Graboyes aims to enact real change that will benefit future patients in South Carolina and across the country. “We hope that these data will be helpful for head neck cancer providers and healthcare policy makers to understand the magnitude of the problem and spur coordinated action to address its root causes,” he said.

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