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Top news stories from AMA Morning Rounds®: Week of May 1, 2023


Read AMA Morning Rounds®’ most popular stories in medicine and public health from the week of May 1, 2023–May 5, 2023.

NBC News (5/4, Edwards) reports that “research found four distinct signals up to two years before a colorectal cancer diagnosis.” These signals include: abdominal pain, rectal bleeding, ongoing diarrhea, and iron deficiency anemia. Study “participants had at least one of those symptoms that began as early as two years before they were diagnosed,” and “nearly half of the study participants experienced at least one of those symptoms three months before they were diagnosed.” Moreover, “the risk for cancer diagnosis rose as additional symptoms popped up.” The findings were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

The Washington Post (5/3, Ovalle, Johnson) reports that the FDA approved GSK’s RSV vaccine, called Arexvy, in adults 60 years of age and older. This marks the first U.S. approval of a vaccine in this indication, with a Pfizer vaccine following close behind and “under consideration for older adults and for pregnant people as a maternal vaccination that would protect newborn children.” Meanwhile, “a monoclonal antibody treatment for babies, developed by Sanofi and AstraZeneca to offer vaccine-like protection during the winter RSV season, is also under consideration.”

The New York Times (5/3, Jewett) reports, “The GSK vaccine was nearly 83% effective in preventing lower respiratory tract illness in adults 60 and older in a study of about 25,000 patients, according to data published in The New England Journal of Medicine.”

STAT (5/3, Branswell, Subscription Publication) reports that the CDC “must recommend the vaccines before they can be pushed into the marketplace. That will likely happen after a CDC vaccine expert panel, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, meets on June 21 and 22.”

The New York Times (5/2, Caron) reports, “Americans have become increasingly lonely and isolated, and this lack of social connection is having profound effects on our mental and physical health,” U.S. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy “warned in an advisory” (PDF) issued on May 2.

The Washington Post (5/2, Nirappil) reports, “Loneliness presents a profound public health threat akin to smoking and obesity,” Murthy cautioned in the advisory “that aims to rally Americans to spend more time with each other in an increasingly divided and digital society.” He “said half of U.S. adults experience loneliness, which has consequences for mental and physical health, including a greater risk of depression, anxiety – and perhaps more surprisingly, heart disease, stroke and dementia.” The advisory “calls for a collective effort to ‘mend the social fabric of our nation,’ including teaching children how to build healthy relationships; talking more to relatives, friends and co-workers; and spending less time online and on social media if it comes at the expense of in-person interactions.”

The Washington Post (5/1, Searing) reports, “People with asthma were found to be 36% more likely to develop cancer than people who do not suffer from the chronic respiratory disease, according to research published in the journal Cancer Medicine.” The study found people with asthma “had a higher risk for developing five types of cancer—lung cancer, blood cancer, melanoma, kidney cancer and ovarian cancer—from the 13 types of cancer the researchers analyzed.” Additionally, people “with asthma who used inhaled steroids had elevated risk for just two cancers (lung and melanoma), compared with higher risk for nine cancer types among nonusers— ‘suggesting a protective effect of inhaled steroid use on cancer,’ the researchers wrote.”

According to the New York Times (4/28, A20, Padmanabhan), “bilingualism may” be associated with “improved memory in later life,” according to research published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging. After “studying hundreds of older patients, researchers in Germany found that those who reported using two languages daily from a young age scored higher on tests of learning, memory, language and self-control than patients who spoke only one language.”

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