Health and Medicine

Cancer Breakthrough at UVA

Feb 8, 2015
University of Virginia School of Medicine

Scientists at the University of Virginia have made what could be an important breakthrough in treating cancer.  They’ve discovered a substance released by lung cancer cells that enables them to spread – beginning their deadly march to other parts of the body.  Biochemist Marty Mayo says finding that substance, called Activin A, could lead to a simple blood test for certain cancers.

Twenty years ago, the idea of vaccinating people against cancer was a dream, but then scientists discovered that a virus actually caused several kinds of cancer, and they came up with a vaccine to prevent infection. 

Virginia was the first state in the nation to require that girls be vaccinated – assuring that they would never get cervical cancer, but many Virginia parents are opting out.

The deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable care act is about two weeks away. Under the law, anyone without a plan in place by February 15th will  face fines.

For many, the process is confusing and even daunting, but if you haven’t signed up yet and would like to, there’s still time. A non-partisan group called “Enroll Virginia” is offering free help over the phone or in person for anyone who has not chosen a health coverage plan.

Virginia’s hospitals are required  to treat anyone who comes to their emergency rooms, and they’re spending about $600 million a year on charity care.  Meanwhile, state lawmakers refuse to expand Medicaid, and the federal government is cutting payments for Medicare.  Unless something is done,  some hospitals say they may be forced to close.  

Patricia Springer owns a small business – Moonbeam Massage.  She’s happy to help people who’ve suffered an injury or illness, but since the great recession began, business has been slow.

Does just seeing Ronald McDonald put you in the mood for a burger and fries?  Well, that effect is even stronger for children, who are bombarded with billions of dollars worth of food advertising brought to them by the media characters they love. 

It’s the low hanging fruit in the childhood obesity epidemic.  Redirect the power of advertising to promote foods to children that are lower in salt, sugar and fat.  And by promote, researchers mean, use the extraordinary power of media characters like Dora the Explorer and Tony the Tiger before her to deliver the message.