Air Pollution and Your Health: Are We Risking Our Lives for the Big City?

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), air pollution presents a negative effect on asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease, and stroke. [1] The United States National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), as established by Environmental Protection Agency, recommends ozone concentrations below 70 parts per billion (ppb) and annual average particles with a mass median aerodynamic diameter of less than 2.5 μg (PM2.5) concentrations less than 12.0 μg/m3 for “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. For public welfare protection, PM2.5 concentrations less than 15.0 μg/m3 are recommended. [2] According to the World Health Organization (WHO), outdoor air pollution is estimated worldwide to cause about 8% of lung cancer deaths, 5% of cardiopulmonary deaths, and 3% of deaths from respiratory infections. [3] It is suggested that negative impacts on respiratory and cardiovascular health can follow both short and long-term exposures to particulate matter air pollution, and long-term exposure may be linked to atherosclerosis and childhood respiratory disease. With regard to these factors and public health, increased mortality may be the ultimate effect of air pollution. [4]

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Rebranding: The Solution to Veggie Consumption?

Derek Ebot-Akoachere, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

 

An estimated 396 million adults in the world were found to be obese in 2005. This may increase to 1.12 billion in 2030 if current trends remain unabated. [1] The Food and Drug Administration is fighting to curb this health issue by food labeling and education campaigns. [2] People tend to rate foods they perceive as healthy to be less tasty [3] because they are labeled with less appealing descriptors, [4] which may render health-focused labeling counter-effective. This begs the question: what if healthy foods were labeled with more appealing descriptors?

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Is There a Link Between The Degree of Maternal Obesity and Congenital Malformations?

Derek Ebot-Akoachere, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

 

According to the United States Surgeon General, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health, obesity is a health issue of nationwide epidemic proportions, [1] Almost one-third of women of childbearing age are considered obese [2], and obesity is associated with many pregnancy complications including congenital malformations (CMF). [3] The relationship between obesity in pregnancy and CMF has been investigated, but there is little data associating increasing severity of obesity and CMF.

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Yoga for Nonpharmacologic Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, opioid abuse continues to be a growing issue, and drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. [1] Between 1999 and 2008, opioid overdose death rates, prescription pain reliever sales, and substance use disorder treatment admissions increased in parallel. [2] Guidelines advise patients to remain active when able, and advise prescribers to consider use of non-pharmacologic therapy, including intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation, exercise therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or progressive relaxation. [3] Yoga combines physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation, and is considered to be a low-impact exercise technique with low risk of injury when guided by a trained instructor. In addition to chronic low back pain, it may reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and relieve anxiety, depression, and insomnia. [4]  

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Presenting Genomic Sequencing Information in Primary Care

Meron Mezgebe, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

Clinical exome and genome sequencing has been shown to provide advantages in molecular diagnosing to patients with rare genetic events and new mutations. Results presented in whole genome sequencing (WGS) provide more complex results than simpler gene- or gene panel-based testing. [1] With the limited access to genetic professionals, non-geneticist physicians and primary care physicians (PCPs) can present genomic information to patients. A study found that physicians appear underprepared, and perceived that they lack sufficient knowledge and confidence to incorporate genomic testing and pharmacogenetics testing into practice. [2] Furthermore, a qualitative analysis found PCPs to be concerned about their general genomic knowledge. [3]

Evaluation of highly heritable conditions [1], prenatal screening [4], and cancer treatment [5] through genome sequencing has been shown to be beneficial. However, the risk of anxiety and unnecessary medical costs might outweigh the benefits of sequencing for healthy individuals. [6]

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Weight Loss, is it Worth the Cost?

Meron Mezgebe, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

The estimated global incidence of diabetes is predicted to increase to 439 million adults by 2030 partially due to increasing prevalence of obesity and sedentary lifestyle. Diabetes may lead to premature death and complications such as blindness, amputations, renal disease, and cardiovascular diseases. [1] In the U.S., Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) costs the economy over $245 billion yearly. [2] Gastric band (GB) surgery for obese people with T2D was previously found to be cost-effective and clinically effective compared with non-surgical interventions. [3]

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Physical Activity May Not be a Key in the Mysteries of Dementia

Caitlin Register, Mercer University College of Pharmacy

Routine moderate to strenuous exercise can strengthen the heart muscle and improve blood flow to the lungs and the rest of the body. Capillaries widen to deliver more oxygen to the tissues, and allow more toxins to be removed. [1] Risk for cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the United States, can be decreased with diet modifications and physical activity. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity per week. [2] Studies have also been conducted to look for relationships between physical and mental health, and correlations may have been found between continued regular exercise and a decrease in major depressive disorder symptoms. Dementia is a disease characterized by progressive deterioration of cognitive function, and may be the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world. Researchers continue to search for links between physical health and improved cognition. [3]

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