October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What to know about the latest developments in breast cancer research, treatment and prevention

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off on Monday.

Often associated with pink ribbons and 5K walks, the movement has been wildly popular: National Cancer Institute (NCI) funding for breast cancer totaled $520 million in 2016.

The increasing breast cancer awareness comes at a time when women can find substantial improvements in breast cancer treatment.

Here’s what you need to know about the latest developments.

How common is breast cancer?

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women (besides skin cancer), and the second most common cause of cancer death in women.

Approximately 266,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer by the end of 2018.

In 2015, there were an estimated 3.4 million women living with breast cancer.

What you can do

We’ve known for a while that your risk of breast cancer gets lower with some lifestyle changes. Women who exercise, don’t smoke, don’t binge drink, stay a healthy weight after menopause, and use the pill for a shorter number of years have a lower risk.

Breast mammography, although imperfect, has been instrumental in detecting breast cancer when it does occur. Recommendations regarding screening are controversial: the question is the age that screening should begin.

The American College of Radiology (ACR) recommends annual screening starting at age 40, while the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) believes that you should be screened every two years starting at age 50.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends annual screening at age 45, with the option for women to be screened when they’re 40 if they prefer. The differences reflect changing opinions on what age the benefits of screening outweigh the risks.

New to the scene is breast tomosynthesis, a 3-D screening tool that received FDA approval in 2011. Research has shown better cancer detection rates with tomosynthesis, and fewer “false alarms,” when women with no disease are mistakenly called back for further testing.

In patients with dense breast tissue, screening ultrasounds can improve detection rates. In patients with the highest risk of developing breast cancer, screening breast MRIs, in combination with mammography, have been shown to improve survival.

Continue onto ABC News to read the complete article.

How This Psychologist Is Making Therapy More Accessible For Black Millennial Women

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According to the U.S Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Services, African-Americans are 20%  more likely to experience psychological distress such as depression, suicide, PTSD and anxiety than their non-Hispanic white counterparts.

Meet Dr. Bradford, a licensed psychologist based in Atlanta, Georgia and founder of Therapy for Black Girls. Passionate about changing the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy which often prevents black women from taking the step of seeing a therapist, Bradford aims to alleviate the process of seeking relief for mental health-related issues within the black community, by fostering a safe space to present mental health topics to black millennial women in a digestible way.

Previously a college counselor, Bradford leveraged her people person and problem solver skills to create the Therapy for Black Girls platform in 2014. The Therapy for Black Girls platform now reaches over 32,000 members with its blog, podcast, social media communities, and very own national therapist directory, that lists black women mental health providers nationally.

I spoke with Bradford about what inspired her to create Therapy for Black Girls, why there’s a stigma surrounding mental health in the black community and the challenges that isolate black women millennials from seeking mental health care.

Dominique Fluker: As a licensed psychologist, speaker and host of the wildly popular mental health podcast, Therapy for Black Girls, share why you decided to create the online space dedicated to encouraging the mental wellness of black women and girls? 

Dr. Joy Bradford: I created the space because I really wanted Black women to have a place to go to get information about mental health that felt relevant and accessible to them. I wanted to be able to share information about recognizing signs and symptoms of mental illness but also to have conversations about the kinds of things we can do to encourage mental wellness.

Fluker: How is the Therapy for Black Girls platform combating the stigma surrounding mental health issues and therapy for African-American women?

Bradford: I think it’s combating stigma because it is making topics that were once taboo, ok to be publicly discussed. I think that topics covered on the podcast have given people language for some of the things they may have been struggling with, and I think the directory has allowed scores of women to connect with mental health professionals across the country who are excited about providing high-quality care to them.

Fluker: What are the challenges that black women millennial face daily that might make them feel isolated from mental health care?

Bradford: I think that sometimes black millennial women worry that their issues are not “big” enough to go to therapy and so they don’t utilize the service. I also think that sadly a lot of black millennial women also don’t feel like providers will really get them and it feels really hard to go into space where you’re supposed to be very transparent but not able to be comfortable. Additionally, I think that the cost may be prohibitive for some people who may want to go to therapy. Even with insurance, it may be difficult to afford therapy, but without it, there can be a lot of hoops to jump through to find lower cost therapy that is a good fit.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

Science ‘Mojo’ and an Executive Dream Team: CEO Emma Walmsley’s Bold Prescription for Reviving GlaxoSmithKline

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The new boss is quickly shaking up the three-century old pharma firm.

EMMA WALMSLEY was just six weeks into her tenure as CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, the $38.9 billion British pharmaceutical firm, when “Glaxit” happened.

Glaxit was not a world-shaking geopolitical tremor à la Brexit, but for GSK it may have seemed hardly less significant. Neil Woodford, the much celebrated British fund manager—who had gained fame for coming out of the dotcom crash and the global financial crisis unscathed, and one of GSK’s largest shareholders—announced he was quitting the company. In a blistering 958-word critique—published on May 12, 2017, and garnering coverage from Reuters to the Telegraph—Woodford explained why, after 15 years, he was pulling every last pence out of GSK stock.

Those 15 years had been “frustrating” for him; GSK had remained throughout, he charged, “a health care conglomerate with a suboptimal business strategy.”

Woodford had long been one of GSK’s most vocal critics; for years he had clamored for it to break up into its constituent businesses. (The company has pharmaceutical, vaccine, and consumer health divisions.) He argued the gambit, fashionable in Big Pharma these days, would unlock shareholder value through more focused stand-alone companies. GSK’s leaders—most recently former CEO Sir Andrew Witty—had consistently rejected the idea, contending that the firm’s conglomerate structure provided stability and some synergies.

But the last straw for Woodford seemed to be Walmsley. Of the company’s new chief executive, he wrote, “Even before taking her seat she has been keen to portray herself as a ‘continuity candidate.’” In other words, more of the same.

Walmsley may not be ready to ditch GSK’s conglomerate structure, but in almost every other way, Woodford’s description couldn’t be more wrong.

To begin with, there’s who she is. Neither a man nor a scientist, Walmsley is something of an outsider in pharmaland. She’s the only woman to run one of the large innovative drugmakers, and her path was hardly a typical one. A marketing whiz who spent 17 years at L’Oréal, Walmsley joined GSK in 2010 and started running the company’s consumer health care business the following year.

Then, there’s what she’s done. Since taking charge in April 2017, Walmsley, No. 1 on Fortune’s International Power 50 list, has made swift and radical changes. Within months, she had replaced 40% of her top managers and pulled the plug on 30 drug development programs and 130 brands. She announced plans to stop selling Tanzeum, a diabetes drug for which GSK had won FDA approval only three years prior.

Within a year, she sold off the rare-disease unit and initiated a strategic review of the company’s cephalosporins antibiotic business. She assembled a roster of all-star talent to fill out her executive team, and in July she did a $300 million deal with 23andMe, the data-rich direct-to-consumer genetic testing company. She instituted new (and unheard of, at GSK) levels of organizational hygiene—implementing uniform key performance indicators, employee standards, and strategies across GSK’s three businesses. As Walmsley told Fortune in June: “The way I define the job is, firstly, in setting strategy for the company, and then leading the allocation of capital to that strategy—because until you put the money where you say your strategy is, it’s not your strategy.” For the new boss, that means a new commitment to R&D.

She has also embarked on a cultural overhaul: Meetings get straight to the point and often begin with the question, “What are we here for?” In her first interview as CEO, she told the Financial Times, a bit clumsily, that GSK scientists would no longer be “drifting off in hobbyland” under her watch.

Walmsley is the fresh face of discipline and rigor at GSK. When asked how her communication style compared with that of her predecessor Witty, a senior leader who recently left the company chuckled before responding they couldn’t be more different.

Continue onto Fortune to read the complete article.

Taraji P. Henson Creates Foundation to Honor Her Late Father Who Battled Mental Health Issues

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Taraji Henson posing at Fox

Taraji P. Hensonis on a mission. In hopes of eradicating the stigma surrounding mental health in African-American communities, the actress just launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her late father. The organization will provide scholarships to African-American students majoring in mental health, offer mental health services to youth in urban schools and work to lower the recidivism rates of African-American men and women.

“I named the organization after my father because of his complete and unconditional love for me; his unabashed, unashamed ability to tell the truth, even if it hurt; and his strength to push through his own battles with mental health issues,” Henson said.

The Empire star chronicled her relationship with her father Boris, who died in 2006 at the age of 58 after battling liver cancer, in her 2016 memoir, Around the Way Girl. “My dad fought in the Vietnam War for our country, returned broken, and received little to no physical and emotional support,” she said. “I stand now in his absence, committed to offering support to African Americans who face trauma daily, simply because they are black.”

Continue on to PEOPLE to read the complete article.

Improving Your Appearance and Loving your smile just got easier

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WhitenFresh

New product helps people love their teeth and lose the bad breath

When it comes to loving what we see in the mirror, our teeth and smile have a lot to do with how we feel about ourselves. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports that 86 percent of those getting cosmetic dentistry do so to improve their physical appearance.

One of the most popular services that people seek cosmetic dentistry for is teeth whitening. Now people can save money, whiten their teeth, and love the smile they see in the mirror once again with a new, patent pending product that has hit the market called WhitenFresh.

“We have created the product that just about everyone can benefit from,” explains Dr. Michael Florman, a Los Angeles-based orthodontist and the chief executive officer of EverSmile, Inc. “Not only is it more affordable than making a cosmetic dentistry appointment, but it’s also simple to use, tastes great and helps with oral hygiene on the go.”

The product is so revolutionary in the industry that it’s sure to put smiles on faces from coast to coast. WhitenFresh is a product that comes in a small airless spray bottle that can be carried in your purse or pocket. It has been specially designed to whiten teeth, get rid of bad breath and kill germs at the same time. Plus, it’s something that has been formulated so it won’t cause sensitivity. People can use it up to six times per day.

WhitenFresh has numerous benefits, including:

  • High bacteria-killing power. According to the National Institutes of Health, bad breath is often caused by bacteria that builds up in the mouth. WhitenFresh gives people a way to quickly get rid of the bacteria that may lead to bad breath.
  • Providing a great whitening tool for sensitive teeth. Those with sensitive teeth may find it difficult to use other tooth whitening products, because they often make the condition worse. WhitenFresh does not cause sensitivity because it uses a low dose of hydrogen peroxide to whiten gradually.
  • Keeping the mouth fresh between brushing and flossing. Since it’s easy to carry in a purse or pocket, people can freshen up on the go, even when they are not near their toothbrush. It can be used before or after meals, drinking coffee, after wine, before heading into a meeting, or anytime a fresh mouth is needed.
  • Having a great flavor. Nobody likes to try to whiten their teeth with products that are messy or don’t taste good. WhitenFresh has a great mint flavor and there is no messiness.
  • Offering versatility. Just spray and go. WhitenFresh can be used by just about everyone, and they can all benefit. It’s effective at helping to diminish wine and smoking stains.
  • Being simple to use. You just spray one pump into the mouth on the teeth and tongue, swish it around for up to 20 seconds, and then spit out the excess or swallow it. The formula is so gentle that it can be swallowed if spitting is not convenient.

“No matter where you are or who you are with, you want great breath, clean teeth, and a nice white smile. It gives us confidence and makes us feel good,” added Dr. Florman. “WhitenFresh has been designed to help people love their smile and feel confident with their look.”

EverSmile has created a line of products that will help those with braces, aligners, and retainers keep their devices clean. At the same time, they will be WhitenFreshable to clean their aligners, whiten their teeth, and freshen their breath. The products are now available in 4,600 CVS stores around the nation. The line of products includes EverSmile WhiteFoam, which gently cleans aligners or trays, EverSmile OrthoFoam, which cleans under and over braces, and EverSmile WhitenFresh, which is a freshening and tooth whitening spray that kills bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay on the go.

EverSmile products use patent pending EverClean™ technology, which cleans and whitens using proprietary surfactants, solvents, and hydrogen peroxide. It breaks up organic stain particles that discolor the teeth and dental appliances.

Dr. Florman, who practices in Los Angeles, is considered to be one of the top Invisalign providers in the country and has over 25 years of consulting experience for oral care companies including for Colgate, Arm & Hammer, and others. Dr. Florman has invented multiple dental products and has brought several products from inception to commercial success. For more information about the company and products, visit their site at: eversmilewhite.com.

About EverSmile

Located in Los Angeles, EverSmile’s mission is to create new and advanced oral care products that will change patients’ lives. Currently in development are our new sensitivity-free whitening agents, dry mouth formulations, low-abrasion toothpastes, and a complete children’s dental line. For more information about the company and products, visit their site at: eversmilewhite.com.

# # #

Source:

American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. AACD survey results. aacd.com

National Institutes of Health. Halitosis. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

This decade-old menstrual health company gets a Meghan Markle boost

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Around the world, girls miss school because of stigmas about menstruation, or because they don’t have feminine-hygiene supplies. Days for Girls wants to change that.

It’s late May in Calgary, and Celeste Mergens, the founder of Days for Girls, is capping off a remarkable month.

She has just flown from Australia to Canada to attend back-to-back events honoring her 10-year-old nonprofit, which provides reusable sanitary pads and economic opportunities to women in poor communities. The number of volunteers for Days for Girls now tops 50,000 in more than 1,000 chapters in 17 nations. And Meghan Markle, the new duchess of Sussex, has just given a powerful voice to the issue of menstrual health, highlighting it in her royal biographyand encouraging everyone to avoid period shaming.

“We are growing exponentially,” Mergens says. “This is the day we worked for.”

Founded in 2008, Days for Girls is one of a number of nonprofits that seeks to destigmatize menstruation and provide access to sanitary products so that girls can continue to attend school when they have their periods. In India, 23% percent of girls drop out of school because they lack access to toilets and sanitary pads. In rural Nepal, girls are sent to live in small, isolated sheds while menstruating. And in Ethiopia, a study found that 56% of girls were absent from school specifically because they did not have access to sanitary pads.

Days for Girls came about after Mergens traveled to the slums outside Nairobi, Kenya, while doing humanitarian work for a family foundation. After visiting an overcrowded orphanage, she emailed the assistant director, asking what girls did for feminine hygiene. “It turned out that they would sit on a piece of cardboard for days,” she says. “I knew we needed to change that.”

FIGURING OUT HOW TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM

It took Mergens more than a few tries to figure out how to best address the problem. At first, she approached a nongovernmental organization and asked for donations of disposable pads for about 500 girls at the orphanage. She soon learned there was no place to properly dispose of the pads. “The chain fence adjacent to the latrines was filled with disposed-of pads that were rolled up in every little link of the chain link,” she says.

The next idea was to create a reusable white pad. “Volunteers sewed this first design,” Mergens says. “Three of them sewed till their fingertips bled.” While the basic idea was a good one, the pads didn’t fit well–and worse, after washing, they showed stains. “The girls explained how taboo it was to hang anything out menstrual-related [to dry],” Mergens says. She and her volunteers came up with a trifold, washable pad made with colorful fabrics that look more like washcloths. “We kept listening, and the design today is actually patented,” she says.

Working with a small group of volunteers, which soon became an army, Mergens began to distribute kits–containing washable pads, panties, a washcloth, and soap–to girls in Kenya. The work soon spread to other parts of Africa and Asia.

Ten years later, the organization works all across the globe, including the U.S. “We got a call first from New Orleans,” Mergans says. “Communities and schools group said, ‘You are talking about over there, but we have this need.’” In New Orleans alone, an estimated 3,200 girls lack adequate feminine-care supplies. The group also supplies products to U.S. prisons.

Continue onto Fast Company to read the complete article.

How Today’s Google Doodle, Dr. Virginia Apgar, Made A Big Difference

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Today is the birthday of Dr. Virginia Apgar, who has helped make many, many, many birthdays possible.  The pioneering doctor lived from June 7, 1909, to August 7, 1974, and is the subject of today’s Google Doodle. You can’t really go through medical school without knowing Apgar’s name, at least her last name. Here’s why.

In 1952, Dr. Apgar unveiled the Apgar score. Besides being her last name, Apgar stands for the following five domains “Appearance, Pulse, Grimace, Activity, and Respiration” of the score. Basically 1 minute and 5 minutes after a baby is born, doctors, nurses, and midwives will score the baby from 0 to 2 (with 2 being the best) for each of these domains. The following table from the KidsHealth website shows how this scoring is done:

You then sum the 5 domain scores to get a sense of the baby’s overall health. If you do the math, you will see that the total score can range from a 0 to a 10 with a higher score being better. A baby rarely scores a 10, because most babies have at least blue hands and feet when they are born (hey, life ain’t easy and not everyone is the best at everything). A score of 7 or higher is normal. Lower than 7 merits immediate medical attention such as potentially oxygen, clearing out the airway, or physical stimulation to get the heart beating faster as the U.S. National Library of Medicine describes. Time may be all that the baby needs, since low scores at 1 minute frequently become normal at 5 minutes. Sometimes a doctor, nurse, or midwife may check an Apgar score 10 minutes after birth if any questions remain.

Of course, an Apgar score is only an immediate assessment and usually does not forecast either good or bad health in the future. So putting your good Apgar score on your resume will impress no one. A high Apgar score doesn’t necessarily mean that everything will be beer and Skittles from thereon. Similarly babies with low initial Apgar scores can go on to have very healthy lives.

While it may seem routine now, using a standardized way to check a baby’s health was not standard practice before Dr. Apgar invented the score. Newborn care was a lot more haphazard, making survival among infants, especially those born prematurely, more challenging.

It was an accomplishment for Dr. Apgar even to get to a position to make such an important invention. Back when she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in 1929 and then from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1933, the “Apgar” score for the medical careers of women and minorities was very, very low. Very few were even allowed into medical school, let alone progress in their careers afterwards. But Dr. Apgar was a persistent pioneer, eventually becoming the first woman to achieve the rank of full professor at her medical alma mater in 1949. Things aren’t smooth sailing for women and minorities today in medical and academic careers. But you can thank Dr. Apgar for at least making some initial inroads.

Continue onto Forbes to read the complete article.

4 Ways to Get Rid of Your Bad Breath Once and For All

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Dentist

It’s something that none of us wants, but at some point we likely all experienced it. Bad breath, otherwise known as halitosis, is a condition that leaves you running for your toothbrush or worse yet, prompt others to run from you. June is Oral Health Month, making it a great time to nip this common problem in the bud. In fact, it’s so common that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that up to half of the US population has suffered from it. That’s a big enough problem that knowing what causes it and how to get rid of it should become a higher priority.

“Having halitosis can be quite embarrassing and it’s something that nobody wants,” explains Dr. Michael Florman, a Los Angeles-based orthodontist and the chief executive officer of EverSmile, Inc. “Many people are just not sure how to tackle the problem, so they continue to suffer in silence, often afraid to talk and open up to those who come near them.”

The NIH reports that bad breath is caused by food residue and bacteria that accumulates in the furrows of the tongue. Those accumulations are then broken down by volatile compounds that lead to the unpleasant smell. Bad breath can also be caused by poor oral hygiene. Some of the same bacteria that causes the bad breath can also lead to cavities and gum disease. Additional things that contribute to bad breath include smoking and chewing tobacco, certain medications, and medical conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which has the bad breath originating in the stomach, and also dry mouth (xerostomia), which occurs when people do not produce enough saliva. There are still other conditions that can cause bad breath, such as respiratory tract infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, postnasal drip, and sinus infections.

While there are many factors that can contribute to having bad breath, there are also things you can do to help rid yourself of it. Here are a few ways to help get rid of and prevent bad breath:

  • Good oral hygiene. Certain remedies are obvious to reduce or eliminate bad breath depending the etiology. Brushing your teeth regularly, flossing and scraping your tongue all reduce bacteria that cause bad breath. The only way to make sure that you have good oral hygiene is to visit your dentist regularly. Visiting your dentist will help determine if you are maintaining good oral hygiene, if you have gum disease or bad teeth.
  • Drink and snack better. Drinking water will help keep odor under control because it helps move those acids through the digestive tract. Be sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day, because bad breath can be a sign of dehydration. Also, eating a healthy snack will also help settle down odors from the stomach.
  • Try commercial remedies.Over the counter remedies such as using mouth rinses, toothpastes, and sugar free chewing gums all can help. Regular brushing and flossing removes bacteria and plaque from teeth and gums. One of the newest products on the market to combat bad breath is EverSmile Unlike other breath fresheners, WhitenFresh uses patent pending hydrogen peroxide and surfactants to kill bacteria that cause bad breath, gingivitis, and tooth decay. The gentle WhitenFresh formula is sprayed into the mouth up to four times per, each time reducing the number of the bacteria and odor causing molecules. WhitenFresh can be used when on the go, and makes an incredible added benefit to daily brushing and flossing routines. An additional benefit derived from using WhitenFresh is that it also whitens teeth.
  • Keep food in mind.If you want to avoid bad breath for a particular meeting or date, be sure to avoid eating those foods right before it that help to cause it. These foods include garlic, onion, and fish. If you eat these foods and plan to be around others, you can help mask it by chewing on some parsley, or chew some gum. Keep mind, however, that it will only help reduce the odor for a short time.

“Bad breath is not attractive, but it’s not something you are stuck with either,” added Dr. Florman. “Your best route to eliminating it is through good oral health care. If you still have it regularly speak with your dentist or doctor about what could be causing it so that it can be addressed. Getting rid of that bad breath will give you more of a reason to smile.”

EverSmile has created a line of products that will help those with braces, aligners, and retainers keep their devices clean. At the same time, they will be able to clean their aligners, whiten their teeth, and freshen their breath. The products are now available in 4,600 CVS stores around the nation. The line of products includes EverSmile WhiteFoam, which gently cleans aligners or trays, EverSmile OrthoFoam, which cleans under and over braces, and EverSmile WhitenFresh, which is a freshening and tooth whitening spray that kills bacteria that causes bad breath and tooth decay.

EverSmile products use patent pending EverClean™ technology, which cleans and whitens using proprietary surfactants, solvents, and hydrogen peroxide. It breaks up organic stain particles that discolor the teeth and dental appliances.

Dr. Florman, who practices in Los Angeles, is considered to be one of the top Invisalign providers in the country and has over 25 years of consulting experience for oral care companies including for Colgate, Arm  & Hammer, and others. Dr. Florman has invented multiple dental products has brought several products from inception to commercial success. For more information about the company and products, visit their site at: eversmilewhite.com.

About EverSmile

Located in Los Angeles, EverSmile’s mission is to create new and advanced oral care products that will change patients’ lives. Currently in development are our new sensitivity-free whitening agents, dry mouth formulations, low-abrasion toothpastes, and a complete children’s dental line. For more information about the company and products, visit their site at: eversmilewhite.com

Famed for “Immortal” Cells, Henrietta Lacks is Immortalized in Portraiture

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In life, Virginia-born Henrietta Lacks did not aspire to international renown—she didn’t have the luxury. The great-great-granddaughter of a slave, Lacks was left motherless at a young age and deposited at her grandpa’s log cabin by a father who felt unfit to raise her. Never a woman of great means, Lacks wound up marrying a cousin she had grown up with and tending to their children—one of whom was developmentally impaired—while he served the 1940s war effort as a Bethlehem steelworker.After the Axis fell and her husband’s work died down, Lacks delivered three additional children, for a total of five. Sadly, fate denied her the chance to watch them grow. Visiting a hospital with complaints of a “knot” inside her, Lacks received news of a cancerous tumor in her cervix, which had escaped doctors’ notice during the birth of her fifth child. Treating Lacks’s cancer with crude radium implants—standard operating procedure in 1951—doctors were unable to save her life. At the age of 31, the person known as Henrietta Lacks ceased to exist.

And yet, curiously, a small biological part of Lacks lived on. Tissue samples collected as a part of her radiation treatment proved surprisingly robust in the lab. Doctors were accustomed to tissue samples dying off quickly once removed from their hosts, and were shocked at the unflagging replication rate of the cells from Lacks’s cervix.

Physicians recognized the value of Lacks’s tissue samples, but did not feel any ethical obligation to inform her surviving family of their work. As days, weeks, months and years passed, the initial samples continued cell reproduction with no signs of faltering, opening the door to all sorts of previously impossible disease testing. As copies of Lacks’s cells—dubbed “HeLa” cells as a nod to their source—circulated among the global scientific community, paving the way for such breakthroughs as Jonas Salk’s famous polio vaccine, Lacks’s family was never notified. Not only did they not affirmatively consent to the use of Henrietta’s tissue samples for continued research, they didn’t even know about the remarkable properties of HeLa tissue until 1975, when the brother-in-law of a family friend asked offhand about the Lacks cells his National Cancer Institute coworkers had been studying. For more than two decades, the Lacks family had been kept in the dark.

Lacks’s descendants never received compensation and were never asked for input, despite the ongoing worldwide use of Lacks’s cells for biomedical research into diseases running the gamut from HIV to Ebola to Parkinson’s. Her children welcomed the addition of a donated grave marker to her unmarked plot in 2010—“Here lies Henrietta Lacks. Her immortal cells will continue to help mankind forever.”—but the public debate over her exploitation by the scientific community rages on. Her story has been the subject of a widely acclaimed 2010 book and a 2017 HBO feature film produced by and starring Oprah Winfrey.

In the lead-up to the 2017 film, African-American portraitist Kadir Nelson, commissioned by HBO, set out to capture Lacks in a richly colored, larger-than-life oil painting. That visual rendering of the woman whose cells have saved millions was just jointly acquired by the National Museum of African American History of Culture and the National Portrait Gallery, and will be on view on the first floor of the latter through November 4, 2018.

“Nelson wanted to create a portrait that told the story of her life,” says painting and sculpture curator Dorothy Moss. “He was hoping to honor Henrietta Lacks with this portrait, because there was no painted portrait that existed of her.”

Continue onto Smithsonian to read the complete article.

CVS Health Fights Back on High Cost Drugs by Launching Industry’s Most Comprehensive Approach to Saving Patients Money

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New CVS Health initiative seeks to solve one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of consumer financial worry.

Recognizing the threat of rising drug prices and high out-of-pocket costs, CVS Health providing most advanced solutions for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

CVS Pharmacists are key resource for patients in identifying opportunities to maximize their prescription benefits and save money at the pharmacy counter in communities nationwide.

CVS Caremark mitigating impact of high drug costs by providing members and prescribers with robust information and innovative tools to choose lower-cost prescription drugs.

The high cost of prescription drugs is one of the nation’s most pressing problems and a major source of financial worry for consumers across the nation. While CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) has made significant progress in mitigating the impact of high list prices set by pharmaceutical manufacturers, for too many Americans annual out-of-pocket drug costs are still significant. In response, CVS Health announced today that it is fighting back by launching the most comprehensive program in the industry to help patients save money on their medications.

According to a recent national poll, commissioned by CVS Health, 83 percent of Americans said they were concerned personally about the impact of rising prescription drug prices.[1] As prescription drug prices continue to rise and enrollment in high deductible health plans grows, many patients are shouldering higher costs for their prescription medicine.

CVS Health will address this problem with a robust set of initiatives, including the new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder, which will enable the company’s retail pharmacists for the first time to evaluate quickly and seamlessly individual prescription savings opportunities right at the pharmacy counter. This new tool further enhances existing savings opportunities the company’s pharmacy benefit manager (PBM) CVS Caremark is currently offering its clients such as the preventive drug lists that make medications for many common, chronic conditions available at a $0 copay. In addition, CVS Caremark provides real-time, member-specific drug costs and lower-cost alternatives to prescribers through their electronic health record system and to CVS Caremark members through the member portal and newly updated app. These programs are part of CVS Health’s commitment to helping consumers find the lowest cost prescription drugs by offering more pricing transparency for prescribers, pharmacists and patients.

“Today’s consumers are faced with higher prescription drug prices than ever before and many of them are now paying for a larger share of their prescription drug costs out of their own pockets at the pharmacy counter due to growth in high deductible health plans,” said Thomas Moriarty, Chief Policy and External Affairs Officer, CVS Health. “Until now, patients haven’t had the appropriate tools available to them to help them manage these costs. To address this, CVS Health is giving expanded tools to patients, prescribers and pharmacists so they can evaluate prescription drug coverage in real-time and identify lower-cost alternatives. We are committed to finding the right drug at the lowest possible cost for patients to ensure they are able to access and stay on the medications they need. That’s our promise.”

Pharmacist working at the drugstore

At the Pharmacy Counter

The new CVS Pharmacy Rx Savings Finder enables the retail pharmacist to quickly and seamlessly review a patient’s prescription regimen, medication history and insurance plan information to determine the best way for them to save money on out-of-pocket costs – with the primary goal of helping the patient find the lowest cost alternative under their pharmacy benefits plan.

“Our direct experience is that patients who are confronted with high out-of-pocket costs at the pharmacy counter are less likely to pick up their prescriptions and are less likely to be adherent to their prescribed therapy,” said Kevin Hourican, Executive Vice President, Retail Pharmacy, CVS Pharmacy.

“Armed with the information available through our Rx Savings Finder, our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists can play an important role by helping patients save money on their medications, providing advice on how and when to take them, and ultimately helping them achieve better health outcomes,” Hourican added. “We are beginning this process with our CVS Caremark PBM members and expect to roll it out more broadly throughout the year.”

The Rx Savings Finder will show pharmacy teams:

  1. First, if the prescribed medication is on the patient’s formulary and is the lowest cost option available.
  2. Second, if there are lower-cost options covered under the patient’s pharmacy benefit – such as a generic medication or therapeutic alternative with equivalent efficacy of treatment.
  3. Third, if the patient may be able to save money by filling a 90-day prescription rather than a 30-day prescription.
  4. Finally, if neither a generic nor a lower-cost alternative is available, other potential savings options for eligible or uninsured patients where allowed by applicable laws and regulation.[2]

Pharmacists can also help patients enroll in the ExtraCare Loyalty Program and sign them up for Pharmacy and Health Rewards. Through Pharmacy and Health Rewards, patients receive $5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions filled, earning up to $50 in ExtraBucks annually.

At the Doctor’s Office

Another component of the company’s comprehensive savings approach is the recently launched real-time benefits program, which helps bring greater drug price transparency to prescribers and CVS Caremark members. At the point-of-prescribing, providers are able to see the member-specific cost for a selected drug, based on a member’s coverage, along with up to five lowest-cost, clinically appropriate therapeutic alternatives based on the patient’s formulary. PBM members have access to the same information on the CVS Caremark app and member portal. Early results show that prescribers accessing the real-time benefits information through their electronic health record switched their patient’s drug from a non-covered drug to a drug on formulary 85 percent of the time. In addition, when the patient’s drug is covered, prescribers using real-time benefits switch their patient to a lower-cost alternative 30 percent of the time. When the prescriber switched to a lower-cost drug, the difference was approximately $75 per prescription.
“We have been working hard to keep prescription medications affordable for patients,” said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, CVS Health. “In fact, in 2017, nearly 90 percent of our PBM plan members spent less than $300 out-of-pocket for their prescription medicines. While this signals progress, for those patients that cost is not insignificant. That is why we are committed to doing even more across our enterprise to help patients find and access the lowest cost drug at the pharmacy which ultimately will help improve clinical outcomes and remove higher downstream medical costs from the system.”

Using Pharmacy Benefit Management Solutions

CVS Health is also making a variety of PBM solutions available to help further drive down drug trend for its PBM clients and drug costs for the patients they support. The company’s Point of Sale (POS) rebate offering allows the value of negotiated rebates on branded drugs to be passed on directly to patients when they fill their prescriptions – and the savings from this program can be significant. In 2013, CVS Health led the industry with the introduction of POS rebates to clients, and today nearly 10 million members are covered by and able to benefit from the program.

In 2017, despite manufacturer brand list price increases on drugs near 10 percent, CVS Health PBM strategies reduced drug trend for CVS Caremark commercial clients to the lowest level in five years, keeping drug price growth at a minimal 0.2 percent. In fact, 42 percent of CVS Caremark commercial clients spent less on their pharmacy benefit plan in 2017 than they had in 2016. CVS Caremark helped members reduce monthly out-of-pocket costs and improve adherence to its highest level in seven years in key categories such as diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.

Prescription drug trend is the measure of growth in prescription spending per member per month. Trend calculations take into account the effects of drug price, drug utilization and the mix of branded versus generic drugs as well as the positive effect of negotiated rebates on overall trend. The 2017 trend performance is based on a cohort of CVS Health PBM commercial clients, employers and health plans.

About CVS Health

CVS Health is a pharmacy innovation company helping people on their path to better health. Through its more than 9,800 retail locations, more than 1,100 walk-in medical clinics, a leading pharmacy benefits manager with more than 94 million plan members, a dedicated senior pharmacy care business serving more than one million patients per year, expanding specialty pharmacy services, and a leading stand-alone Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, the company enables people, businesses and communities to manage health in more affordable and effective ways. This unique integrated model increases access to quality care, delivers better health outcomes and lowers overall health care costs. Find more information about how CVS Health is shaping the future of health at https://www.cvshealth.com.

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[1] The Morning Consult poll was conducted from February 22-26, 2018, among a national sample of 1992 registered voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

[2] Prescriptions submitted for reimbursement to Medicare, Medicaid or other federal or state programs are not eligible.

Why Aren’t More People Eating Breakfast?

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Woman Eating Breakfast

We may know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that doesn’t mean we are taking it to heart and having a hearty breakfast. In fact, although 97 percent of Americans agree breakfast is the most important meal of the day, only 44 percent eat it every day.

The most common reasons people skip breakfast are they weren’t hungry, didn’t feel like eating, or they were too busy. Females are more likely than males to skip a morning meal because of being busy or running late.

Why is breakfast so important? A good way to look at it is that you are breaking the fast. When you go without breakfast, you have deprived your body of calories since the last time you’ve eaten. These calories help feed your brain and without them you may lack energy, and your metabolism needs fuel to kick-start it into action. Breakfast is important, so it’s important to consume a sufficient amount.

Studies show that people who eat a good breakfast actually consume more vitamins and minerals, and less fat and cholesterol, than people who skip breakfast.

Those who make eat breakfast have been shown to be better learners. Children who have breakfast are more likely to have better concentration, problem-solving skills, and hand-eye coordination.

Smart choices for breakfast include whole grains, fruit, and low-fat dairy products.

The whole grains and fruit contain high amounts of fiber, which tend to fill you up faster and will delay symptoms of hunger for hours.

If choosing a dry cereal, look for whole grain as one of the first ingredients. It should contain 3 to 5 grams of fiber, and read the nutrition facts label to make sure sugar doesn’t appear as one of the first three ingredients. Sugar may be listed with a word that ends in “ose,” which means some form of sugar is in the product. Some of the sugar-coated or frosted cereals may have as much as 2-3 teaspoons of sugar for a one eighth cup serving.

Oatmeal is another high fiber choice, and with the instant oatmeal on the market today, it can be prepared in fewer than 2 minutes. When paired with fresh fruit and milk, you have a healthy breakfast in a matter of minutes.

If you just don’t have the time to grab something at home and must go through the drive through of a fast food restaurant, there are healthy choices for you. Many are offering warm oatmeal, whole-grain bagels, rolls, and English muffins. These are better than fat-filled doughnuts, scones, croissants, or biscuits. Skip the oversize breakfast sandwiches, whole milk, bacon and sausage. All of these contribute excessive fat, calories, and cholesterol to your diet.

Breakfast foods don’t have to be traditional. They can be any combination, just make them nutritious and well balanced, and they are limited only by your creativity and imagination.

Breakfast doesn’t have to be the full-course meal. Those can be reserved for weekends. There are many nutritious choices out there that can be ready in minutes.

As your busy day begins, take a few minutes to include breakfast into your morning schedule. Egg in a Nest is quick, healthy and only has 3 ingredients. As an added bonus, your kids may be able to make it themselves depending upon their age.