NY Health Insurance: Impressive

For those in the New York area concerned about their health insurance, they need just look at the rest of the nation and feel quite confident and pleased with their lost.  It seems that New Yorkers are faring even better than the federal government vis-à-vis establishing a health insurance exchange. 

Indeed, according to America’s Department of Labor, it will only be March of this year that the deadline will be for employers to tell their employees about exchanges.  Ultimately what this means is that the government is simply not prepared yet to figure out the language employers should use.  As regional president for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., David Bauer noted, “the Department of Health and Human Services is still promulgating regulations. It's very fluid, there are a lot of unanswered questions.”

Public Health Emergency Sunday


Andrew Cuomo recently declared a public health emergency Sunday.  With this, pharmacists were told they could administer the flu vaccination to additional people, most notably to patients between the ages of 6 months and 18-years-old.  (Ordinarily they are given only to those who are over 18 by pharmacists).  It has been declared the worst outbreak of flu in New York in a number of years, for sure at least since 2009.  Indeed, throughout the nation, the flu has been reported to have reached “epidemic proportions,” especially since it started so early this year.  According to a report put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ninety percent of American regions reported an increase in the level of flu, with 20 childhood fatalities.

As a result of what has been happening, state officials have been instructed by the governor to “marshal all needed resources to address this public health emergency and remove all barriers to ensure that all New Yorkers – children and adults alike – have access to critically needed flu vaccines.”  In addition, people who have not yet gotten their flu shots are now being encouraged to do so as the cases of reported influenza in NYC are continuing to rise.

New York’s Medically-Vulnerable

While Hurricane Sandy might be over, its after-effects are still being felt by those who are medically vulnerable in the region. Herewith are some of the health risks those in the New York and New Jersey areas may expect to encounter: exposure to carbon monoxide; injuries and infections resulting from floodwaters (this includes bacterial; electrical; eye and hand injuries).  Mold is still a concern as that could develop once one’s home is exposed to standing water for a long period of time.  It is thus important to immediately dry and remove water-damaged items to further prevent mold.

People are also at risk of hypothermia, so it is crucial to find ways to stay warm when there is no electricity.  One way of doing so is by dressing in layers as this makes a great personal insulator.  Body temperature can be maintained by drinking hot, sweetened drinks.  The good news is that according to New York City’s Health Department, tap water is safe for drinking in those areas that did not encounter flooding.  Often, sewage overflows do not affect the city’s water supplies, but each case needs to be examined individually.  Generally common sense is advised; once one notices or smells something strange about the water, it should not be consumed.

When it comes to food, food safety rules must be followed.  If it wasn’t properly refrigerated or encountered any exposure to floodwater, it should be exposed of.  Any food items touched by sewage water should also be dumped. 

It should also be remembered that all chronic diseases – especially diabetes and high blood pressure – are likely to be exacerbated in the wake of the hurricane. Extra care thus needs to be taken.

Junk Foods Offered in 50% of Elementary Schools

A recent study shows that more than fifty percent of elementary school students have the option of buying junk foods like ice cream, potato chips and other snacks while at school. Researchers implied that schools should heed health warnings and be encouraged to improve nutrition at school, both during lunches and between periods.

When children are presented with appealing sugary and salty snacks, they are more inclined to skip the healthier, more balanced meals for trips to the vending machines.

According to Lindsey Turner of the University of Illinois, elementary school is “really a crucial period where the preferences and behavioral habits are being developed.

“If kids are early on in that environment where that junk food is around, then it potentially becomes a habit that’s harder to break,” she said. She added that the recent findings are “disappointing.”

New York Health Department Continues to Battle Obesity and Diabetes

New York City’s department of health recently released a new set of posters for its campaign against obesity and diabetes.

The new ads illustrate the growing portions of fast foods and sodas, and connect them to the dangerous health conditions. The ads show how the increase in soda and French fry intakes has made both obesity and diabetes much more common.

“Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations,” one poster reads, with an image of growing soda cups and an amputee in a wheelchair. This is only one of the city’s recent attempts to discourage super-sized servings of sugary drinks and fast, fatty and salty foods.

New York’s health commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley said “The portion sizes that are marketed are often much more than humans need.”

The American Beverage Association has responded to the campaign, claiming it oversimplifies the connection between the portion sizes and the health conditions.

“Portion control is indeed an important piece of the solution to obesity,” Stefan Friedman of the association said. “But instead of utilizing scare tactics, the beverage industry is offering real solutions like smaller portioned containers and calorie labels that show the number of calories in a full container, right up front, to help people choose products and sizes that are right for them and their families.”

Red Wine May Reduce Breast Cancer

The health benefits of red wine are often discussed, with studies showing that it is healthy for the heart and circulatory system, digestion and more. Now, research has revealed that it may reduce the risk of breast cancer in women as well.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center conducted a study using 36 younger women. The group was told to drink eight ounces of cabernet sauvignon or chardonnay every day for a month, and then later to switch to a different type of wine for an additional month.

Researchers found a difference in the women during the two months.

“In red wine, the hormone levels, the estrogen levels decreased while the testosterone levels increased,” explained Dr. Chrisandra Shufelt. “And that may actually be a change for risk factors for breast cancer.”

She explained that the change in hormone patterns may indicate that red wine can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Yoga Reduces Post-Breat Cancer Fatigue

A large percentage of breast cancer survivors are left with fatigue that can significantly impact their quality of life. Recent studies have revealed that yoga may work as an effective treatment for the issue.

A group of breast cancer survivors participated in a three-month, twice-a-week yoga class, and reported reduced fatigue and increased “vigor”. An additional group who took classes in health issues, without yoga sessions, felt no change in their depression or exhaustion.

The psychology department of the University of California, Los Angeles, gathered 31 breast cancer survivors, in order to test if yoga’s stress-reducing qualities will have an impact on the women’s fatigue. Each woman answered a questionnaire, revealing that levels of fatigue in the group were similar. The participants were then randomly assigned to a twice-weekly yoga class or a two-hour health class which took place once a week.

After three months, the educational class continued to suffer from the same levels of fatigue, while the yoga participants reported a dramatic decrease in fatigue and depression. The improvements continued up to three months after the last yoga class, as well.

According to Dr. Maira Campos, the new study’s results mirror those of similar studies conducted over the past few years. Dr. Campos was not involved in the recent study.

Allergies and Food Labels

Over the past two decades, the number of people with allergies has tripled in the U.S., and studies predict that at least a third of the country’s population will develop symptoms at least once in their lives.

Food labels are required to list food allergens in order to protect their customers. The Food and Drug Administration has listed the top 8 food allergens in the U.S., and they are required to be listed on all food labels in a simple manner. These allergens include:

  • Milk
  • Eggs
  • Peanuts
  • Tree Nuts
  • Fish
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Wheat

Though recent studies have shown that allergy tests may not be one hundred percent accurate, they are offered in many clinics and can help identify a severe allergy. Some allergic reactions can be incredibly dangerous, so it is important to be careful if there is a risk present.

Police Officers and Sleep Disorders

A recent survey has revealed that 40% of police officers in the U.S. and Canada suffer from sleep disorders. These conditions have been linked to a variety of health issues, as well as safety and performance on the job. Most of these disorders are left undiagnosed and untreated.

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New York Health Officials: AIDS Medication for HIV Residents

New York health officials have recommended that HIV positive residents be offered AIDS medication as soon as the virus is diagnosed. This immediate, aggressive response has proved to prolong life and reduce the spreading of the disease in the past.

Until recently, standard practice has called off the medication until the immune system weakens significantly, due to the steep expense. The pills can cost up $15,000 a year in the United States. Now, New York City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley has expressed his optimism as recent studies have shown the significant benefits of early treatment, together with education and testing, which suggest a promising strategy for battling the disease.

“I’m more optimistic now than I’ve ever been about this epidemic that we can drive our new rates down to zero or close to it- eventually. I don’t know how soon. But I’m very optimistic of the direction that it’s going to take the epidemic to,” Farley said.