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On ‘Sound Medicine’: Work-related asthma, and testing drugs in newly diagnosed cancer patients

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Sound Medicine” covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

Why is workplace-related asthma on the rise? A reported 9 percent of all asthma cases are work related, affecting about 1.4 million adults each year. These findings are a part of a recent Centers for Disease Control report that indicates that work-related asthma is becoming more prevalent. Kenneth Rosenman, M.D., chief of the division of occupational and environmental medicine and professor of medicine at Michigan State University, shares his thoughts on what is driving this trend, which occupations are most affected, and how people can avoid serious problems.

Should routine ovarian cancer screenings end? The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently recommended that women not receive routine screenings for ovarian cancer. This recommendation, based on a new study of 70,000 women, comes as a surprise to medical practitioners and public health experts, since ovarian cancer has the highest mortality rate among the gynecological cancers. Michelle Berlin, M.D., MPH, director of the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health at Oregon Health & Sciences University, discusses how women are currently screened and what symptoms indicate that screening is appropriate.

Berlin is also the author of “Making the Grade on Women’s Health: A National and State-by-State Report Card,” which she discusses in an accompanying segment with “Sound Medicine”  women’s health expert Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, M.D, director of the National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and an expert in women’s and adolescent medicine at Wishard and Riley hospitals.

Will promising treatments soon be available to breast cancer patients newly diagnosed with aggressive disease? The Food and Drug Administration has announced a decision to allow drug companies to test new cancer drugs on women with newly diagnosed, early-stage but aggressive breast cancer. This is a change from the former policy, which dictated that the drug had to first be tested on patients with more advanced disease before being made available to patients early in their diagnosis. This move is a significant departure in which patients can participate in drug trials, testing the new drugs when they may have the strongest probability of success. Kathy Miller, M.D., discusses the potential benefits and risks of this policy change as well as whether she believes the FDA has taken a more aggressive approach to clinical research.

What is the microbiome and how does it help us? For the first time, researchers funded by the National Institutes for Health have mapped out the entirety of the human body’s microbes. This so-called microbiome consists of 100 trillion microbes and 8 million microbial genes. Human cells are outnumbered by bacterial cells by a ratio of 10 to 1. George Weinstock, Ph.D., professor of genetics and professor of molecular microbiology at Washington University St. Louis, shares the pathology behind why microbes can sometimes make us sick but also how they protect us and provide vital functions.

This week’s check-up from Jeremy Shere is about smart sutures, a new type of suture engineered to help monitor and care for wounds.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM). 

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: WLRH (Huntsville, Ala.), KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).