Podcast 2007 Show Notes
#0047—December 14, 2007
Balintfy: Welcome to episode 47 of NIH Research Radio with news about the ongoing medical research at the National Institutes of Health-the nation's medical research agency. I'm your new host Joe Balintfy. Coming up in this edition, Wally Akinso has reports about training that helps older adults find health information online, and about a state-of-the-Science Conference on a largely unreported and untreated health condition. But first, a new survey shows a decline in smoking and illicit drug use among eighth graders. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
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Decline in Smoking and Illicit Drug Use Among Eighth Graders
Balintfy: Eight graders are smoking less, and using illicit drugs less, this according to a new national survey. Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse explains the importance of the survey results.
Volkow: What is very exciting about the results from the 2007 Monitoring the Future survey is that it showed significant decline in the use of both illicit substances and smoking among 8th graders and this is the youngest group of kids that are evaluated as part of the survey done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse to determine the rate of abuse of substances in this country.
Balintfy: The Monitoring the Future project--now in its 32nd year--is a series of independent surveys of eighth, 10th and 12th graders conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan under a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The 2007 survey results appear to reflect an ongoing cultural shift among teens and their attitudes about smoking and substance abuse. Lifetime, past-month and daily smoking among eighth graders has dropped considerably in the past-year, and daily cigarette smoking among eighth graders dropped from 4 percent to 3 percent; down from its 10.4 percent peak in 1996.
Volkow: This has major implications because we know we can predict, if these trends are maintained, a significant drop in the morbidity and mortality of these kids as they grow into adulthood. At the same time, because cigarette smoking is, in general, the first drug that kids will use—and it predicts subsequent use of illicit substances—this may also predict that these kids—if they maintain these low rates of smoking—will end up being at lower risk of abusing illicit substances.
Balintfy: Similarly, annual prevalence of marijuana use by eighth graders fell from 11.7 percent in 2006 to 10.3 percent in 2007, and is down from its 1996 peak of 18.3 percent.
Volkow: So again, because this is that stage in their lives when they are particularly vulnerable for drug experimentation, and for the adverse effects of repeated drug exposure, this is very good news because it decreases the likelihood that they will become problematic drug users later on in life.
Balintfy: But Dr. Volkow warns, the survey results were not all good news.
Volkow: Nonetheless there is something that continues to be of worry, which is the high rate of prescription drug abuse by high school teenagers. And we have seen over the past 3 or 4 years that numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 more frequently abused substances are actually prescription medications, which are these types of drugs. The one that is most frequently abused in this type of drug is Vicodin, which is a pain killer, and approximately close to 10% of 12th graders have abused Vicodin for nonmedical purposes.
Balintfy: Other highlights from the survey are that Marijuana use appears to be more prevalent among males, but prescription drug use is roughly the same among 12th grade males and females. And among 12th graders, whites appear to have the highest rates of past-year use of illicit drugs; African Americans have the lowest.
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Balintfy: Now, we turn to Wally Akinso. He brings us a report on how the National Institute on Aging has developed free training for those who teach and work with older adults.
Training Guide from the National Institute on Aging Helps Older Adults Find Health Information Online
Akinso: Health issues are a vital concern for older adults. And surveys show that 34 percent of people ages 65 and older go online to search for health and medical information. To help these older adults search for and find dependable health information online, the National Institute on Aging has developed a free training curriculum for those who teach and work with older adults. It’s known as the “Toolkit for Trainers” and is now available on the NIH Senior Health website. Stephanie Dailey, Public Affairs Specialist from the NIA’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison, talks about what the toolkit has to offer.
Dailey: The toolkit includes lesson plans student handouts, glossaries, teaching tips, there’s even an introductory video that shows how it can be used in classrooms. And it’s designed to be used in libraries, senior centers, community colleges, and life long learner centers and can be a welcome addition to the computer classes they offer for older adults there.
Akinso: The NIH Senior Health website was jointly developed by the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine for older adults and their families. If you would like to obtain the toolkit, visit www.nihseniorhealth.gov/toolkit. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
Balintfy: When we come back, a report on a health condition that leaves individuals so embarrassed, they won’t report it, and don’t get treatment. That's next on NIH Research Radio.
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State-of-the-Science Conference: Fecal and Urinary Incontinence
Balintfy: Here's Wally Akinso again with a report about a State-of-the-Science Conference on Fecal and Urinary Incontinence. We learn that despite the availability of treatments, it is a condition often unreported and untreated.
Akinso: Many people with fecal and urinary incontinence find themselves embarrassed of their conditions causing unreported and untreated individuals. Though treatments are available, developing prevention strategies and identifying risk factors has been challenging for healthcare professionals. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and the Office of Medical Applications of Research held a State of the Science Conference which explored what is known and what has been discovered about both fecal and urinary incontinence. Dr. Seth Landefeld, Conference Chairperson, discusses the panel’s conclusions.
Landefeld: Fecal incontinence and urinary incontinence may have serious effects on the lives of many individuals who suffer physical discomfort, embarrassment stigma and social isolation and on family members, caregivers and society. As we thought on the panel about things that may especially effective in preventing urinary incontinence we identified a few. First, we noted the importance of exercise and weight loss on the general population level. Second we identified a particular procedure episiotomy which occurs in 1 million childbearing women every year that is associated with a higher rate fecal incontinence and has no established benefit. The routine use of this procedure should be seriously reconsidered. Finally we identified other preventive maneuvers often specific exercises related to the pelvic floor and possibly other exercises that may well be beneficial. These beneficial preventive approaches should be implemented but there’s much need for the development of other preventive maneuvers.
Akinso: According to Dr. Landefeld as baby boomers approach their 60s, the incidence and public health burden of incontinence are likely to increase. He added that if you have fecal and urinary incontinence don’t be embarrassed and please see the doctor. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda Maryland.
Balintfy:And that’s it for this episode of NIH Research Radio. Please join us on Friday, December 28th when episode 48 of NIH Research Radio will be available for download. I'm your host, Joe Balintfy. A quick note of thanks to my predecessor and former coworker, Bill Schmalfeldt: Bill did a great job here at NIH and left some big shoes to fill. I know Bill will keep listening so I hope you’ll join him as Wally and I, with the rest of the News Media Branch bravely carry on without him. NIH Research Radio is a presentation of the NIH Radio News Service, part of the News Media Branch, Office of Communications and Public Liaison in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, an agency of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
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