Insight News

Sunday
Feb 07th

Health

HPV and oral sex: A risky mix

What's the cause for the alarming 225 percent increase in oral cancer? Could it be heavy smoking or drinking? Well a new study in Clinical Oncology shows human papillomavirus (HPV) and oral sex are the culprit.
 
Certain oral cancers have declined by more than 50 percent thanks to decreases in tobacco use. Meanwhile, HPV related head, neck and throat cancers have exploded along with the popularity of oral sex (and deep kissing).

One long-term effect of the HIV epidemic has been an oral sex free-for-all. Also, many young people don't think being orally receptive is committing a sexual act. So as the popularity of oral sex zoomed one unintended consequence appears to be an increase in HPV related oral cancers.

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Health In Perspective: The oral sex, cancer connection

One of the most striking recent medical developments is difficult to talk about, but it’s timely and important. Cancers of the tongue and throat, all categorized as oropharyngeal cancers, are appearing at an epidemic rate! These cancer types were previously seen almost exclusively in older people who smoked and drank to excess. This is no longer true. Now the most common cause of cancer of the tonsil and tongue is Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). That’s right, the sexually transmitted disease. And it is occurring in ever younger people of all socioeconomic classes. But now comes the squeamish part. The increased rate of this cancer directly parallels the evolution in sexual practices that have occurred within our society over the past 40 years. The risk factor most strongly associated with this cancer is a history of performing oral sex and oral-anal contact. That’s because the tonsils in the back of the throat are fertile ground for this virus.

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Health exchanges create affordable care

This week, two years ago, President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law.  By doing so, he started states down the path to creating Health Benefits Exchanges, or marketplaces that will help Americans find affordable health care. The state of Minnesota has chosen to create its own exchange, drawing on our history of leadership and excellence in the area of healthcare. 

But, Minnesotans needs to ensure that the Exchange doesn’t fall victim to party-line politics. Some legislators want to put the Exchange into the hands of the health insurance companies and insurance brokers.

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Ellison hails second anniversary of Health Care Reform

Ellison hails second anniversary of Health Care Reform

Approximately half of metropolitan Minneapolis residents benefit
Only two years after its enactment more than half of Metropolitan Minneapolis residents are already benefiting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as the Healthcare Reform bill. 

The landmark bill, signed March 23, 2012, made comprehensive health care available to millions of Americans and gave them more control over the coverage they can receive. 

Because of ACA insurance companies cannot refuse to cover children with pre-existing conditions like asthma or diabetes. In addition young adults can stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26 and seniors get discounts on prescription drugs, as well as free preventative services. Estimates are that almost half of the people in the Minneapolis area have improved health insurance coverage as a result.

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The Benefits of the Affordable Care Act for Minnesota

The Benefits of the Affordable Care Act for Minnesota


For too long, too many hardworking Americans paid the price for policies that handed free rein to insurance companies and put barriers between patients and their doctors. The Affordable Care Act gives hardworking families in Minnesota the security they deserve. The new health care law forces insurance companies to play by the rules, prohibiting them from dropping your coverage if you get sick, billing you into bankruptcy because of an annual or lifetime limit, or, soon, discriminating against anyone with a pre-existing condition. 

All Americans will have the security of knowing that they don’t have to worry about losing coverage if they’re laid off or change jobs.  And insurance companies now have to cover your preventive care like mammograms and other cancer screenings.  The new law also makes a significant investment in State and community-based efforts that promote public health, prevent disease and protect against public health emergencies. 

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Advances in HIV mean something for everyone

Advances in HIV mean something for everyone

Boston - Chilly Boston temperatures and a freshly fallen snow couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of attendees at this years Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). The meeting revealed important data on HIV prevention and treatment. There was also a significant break-through in curing another viral infection, hepatitis C. In addition, there was promising early data on an experimental gene therapy procedure that could lead to new ways of controlling, and perhaps someday, even curing HIV infection. Yet in a meeting that provided something useful and promising for everyone, it also left unanswered questions.

Prevention: A well stocked toolbox
Until recently the tools in the HIV prevention toolbox have included condoms, clean needles and viral suppressive HIV drugs. But looking back, last year may be viewed as a turning point. Significant advances in HIV prevention were seen in vaccine research and new pills and gels for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis. Furthermore, data published late in 2011 confirmed that after three years, the now famous Berlin Patient was in fact cured of HIV. This year there were no vaccine breakthroughs at CROI, but a new phase of perfecting and planning the use of other prevention tools and advances has begun. The hope is that doing so can at last put an end to the HIV pandemic.

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Marine Reserves rebuild ocean ecosystems

Marine Reserves rebuild ocean ecosystems

Dear EarthTalk: I heard the term “underwater wilderness” recently. What does it refer to? -- Melissa Cook, via e-mail

“Underwater wilderness” is a term sometimes used to describe so-called Marine Reserves, a type of Marine Protected Area (MPA) where offshore drilling and mining are not allowed and fishing is either heavily restricted or banned altogether. Marine Reserves, which occur in both tropical and temperate waters, typically have large amounts of biodiversity and are important to protect because they play a key role in rebuilding depleted fish populations and revitalizing wider ocean ecosystems.

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