Depression May Be Common, But Overlooked, In Patients With Cancer

HealthDay (9/25, Preidt) reports that research suggests “depression is common, though often overlooked, in people with cancer.” Investigators “assessed depression in 400 patients treated for cancer between 2013 and 2016.” The study indicated that “depression was found in 40 percent of the patients, and 3 out of 4 of those patients were never diagnosed or treated for it.” The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology.

Related Links:

— “Cancer Patients May Have Undiagnosed Depression,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, September 25, 2017.

Lack Of Paid Sick Leave May Cause Mental Distress For Ill Workers

HealthDay (9/22, Preidt) reported, “Lack of paid sick leave can cause mental distress for workers when they’re ill because they’re afraid of losing wages or their jobs,” researchers concluded after studying “nearly 18,000 workers, ages 18-64,” 40 percent of which had no paid sick leave. The findings were published online in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.

Related Links:

— “Workers Without Paid Sick Leave Suffer Ill Effects,” Robert Preidt, , September 22, 2017.

Asthma Medication Montelukast May Be Associated With Adverse Psychiatric Effects

HealthDay (9/21, Gordon) reports, “The asthma medication Singulair (montelukast) appears linked to neuropsychiatric side effects, such as depression, aggression, nightmares and headaches,” researchers concluded after analyzing data from the Netherlands Pharmacovigilance Center Lareb database and the World Health Organization’s VigiBase. The findings were published online Sept. 20 in Pharmacology Research and Perspectives. Medscape(9/20, Hackethal) also covers the study.

Related Links:

— “Asthma Drug Tied to Nightmares, Depression,” Serena Gordon, HalthDay, September 21, 2017.

Women With History Of PTSD May Have Increased Risk Of Developing SLE

MedPage Today (9/20, Walsh) reports, “Women with a history of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have an increased risk of developing systemic lupus erythematosus [SLE],” researchers found. What’s more, “a history of any trauma exposure, regardless of PTSD-specific symptoms, was associated with a significantly higher risk of incident lupus,” the study of some 50,242 women revealed. The findings were published online in Arthritis & Rheumatology.

Related Links:

— “PTSD Tied to New-Onset Lupus in Women,” Nancy Walsh,, MedPage Today, September 20, 2017.

New York City Public Defender Describes Personal Experience Of His Psychotic Break

In an opinion piece in the New York Times (9/20, McDermott, Subscription Publication), attorney Zack McDermott, a 26-year old public defender in New York City, describes his personal experience of his psychotic break while he was working at the Legal Aid Society of New York. He discusses his behaviors, feelings, and support system as he returned to work after embarrassing himself at a happy hour event.

McDermott, who was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder, points out that 40 percent of inmates at Rikers Island suffer from mental illness, and says that “jails have become our de facto mental health facilities.”

Related Links:

— “The ‘Madman’ Is Back in the Building,” Zack Mcdermott, New York Times, September 20, 2017.

FDA Issues Warning On Dangers Of Mixing Opioid Addiction Medications, Other Treatments

The AP (9/20, Johnson) reports the FDA on Wednesday issued a new set of warnings on the dangers of combining prescription treatments for opioid addiction with anti-anxiety medicines and other medications. According to the FDA, mixing the drugs leads to slowed or difficulties with breathing and impaired cognitive function. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a statement accompanying the warning, “Careful management of the patient and coordination of care is recommended” over denying opioid addicts the use of treatment with methadone or buprenorphine.

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Football Participation Before Age 12 Linked With Future Mood And Behavior Problems

The Washington Post (9/19, Maese) reports that “children who play football before age 12” later experience “mood and behavior problems” at “significantly higher” rates than those who begin playing football when older, according to a new studypublished in Nature’s Translational Psychiatry. Those who began their football participation before turning 12 had twice the rate of “problems with behavior regulation, apathy, and executive functioning” and “were three times more likely…to experience symptoms of depression,” the Post says the study found.

The New York Times (9/19, Belson, Subscription Publication) says the research is likely to contribute “to the debate over when, or even if, children should be allowed to begin playing tackle football.” The Times adds that the study “was based on a sample of 214 former players” averaging 51 years of age, and 68 of the athletes played in the NFL.

USA Today (9/19, Perez) reports that the study’s lead author, postdoctoral fellow Michael Alosco of the Boston University School of Medicine, said in a statement, “This study adds to growing research suggesting that incurring repeated head impacts through tackle football before the age of 12 can lead to a greater risk for short- and long-term neurological consequences.”

The New York Daily News (9/19, Red) says the study concluded, “Youth exposure to football may have long-term neurobehavioral consequences. Additional research studies, especially large cohort longitudinal studies, are needed to better understand the potential long-term clinical implications of youth American football to inform policy and safety decision-making.”

STAT (9/19, Tedeschi) quotes one of the study’s co-authors, Robert Stern, as saying the research has “tons of limitations” and lacks sufficient evidence to prove football was the cause of the athletes’ behavioral problems. Nonetheless, Stern said the research was enough to raise the question, “Does it make sense for my kid to be hitting his head several hundred times per season?”

TIME (9/19, Gregory) says the study’s release comes amid nationwide reports of declining youth football participation due to safety concerns.

Related Links:

— “Study shows playing football before age 12 can lead to mood and behavior issues,” Rick Maese, Washington Post, September 19, 2017.

Attorneys General Announce Plan To Request Insurers Prioritize Non-Opioid Pain Medications, Treatment

The AP (9/18, Mulvihill, Raby) reports a 37-state coalition of attorneys general “asked health insurers Monday to encourage pain treatment through means other than prescriptions for opioid” pain medications, an effort they are conducting by sending letters to companies to request they prioritize alternative treatments.

Related Links:

— “States ask insurers to prioritize non-opioid pain treatment,” GEOFF MULVIHILL and JOHN RABY, AP via Washington Times, September 18, 2017.

Folic Acid Supplements During Pregnancy Makes It Less Likely To Have Autisitic Children

Reuters (9/18, Cohen) reports women who took folic acid supplements during their pregnancies were less likely to have children with autism even when the mothers were exposed to pesticides that have been linked to the disorder, according to a 510-child study published in Environmental Health Perspectives. The study suggests that “folic acid might reduce, though not eliminate, an increased risk of autism associated with maternal pesticide exposure.”

Related Links:

— “Pregnant moms who take folic acid cut autism risk from pesticides,” Ronnie Cohen, Reuters, September 18, 2017.

Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers More Than Opioids

The New York Times (9/17, A1, Thomas, Ornstein, Subscription Publication) reports that the New York State Attorney General’s office sent letters last week to the state’s three largest pharmacy benefit managers requesting information on “how they were addressing the crisis” with opioids amid questions that insurers are “are limiting access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.”

The Times and ProPublica analyzed Medicare prescription drug plans covering 35.7 million people and found access to less-risky or more expensive painkillers was limited, but “almost every plan covered common opioids and very few required any prior approval.”

Related Links:

— “Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers,” KATIE THOMAS and CHARLES ORNSTEIN, New York Times, September 17, 2017.