TIME Innovation

Why We Need More Nurses

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. We need more nurses.

By Alexandra Robbins in the New York Times

2. Is containing China more important than discouraging modern slavery?

By Akbar Shahid Ahmed, Ryan Grim and Laura Barron-Lopez in the Huffington Post

3. This is how you fix a space robot 140 million miles away from the nearest mechanic.

By the Los Alamos National Laboratory

4. A robot might not take your job, but self-driving trucks will take the jobs of three million truckers.

By Scott Santens in Basic Income on Medium

5. A special bacteria in your yogurt could diagnose liver cancer.

By Vijee Venkatraman in Beta Boston

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Innovation

How the Food We Waste Could Feed Millions

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. The food we waste could feed millions.

By Lizzie Dearden in the Independent

2. How a genetically-modified herpes virus ‘cures’ skin cancer.

By Sarah Knapton in the Telegraph

3. Who provides most of America’s mental health care? Our prisons.

By Newt Gingrich and Van Jones in CNN

4. This ‘smart apartment’ will monitor the activity, mobility and even blood pressure of its residents.

By Traci Peterson in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram

5. Movies make the best journalism.

By Richard Gehr in the Columbia Journalism Review

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Cancer

How Herpes Is Being Used to Fight Cancer

Patients whose cells were treated with this STD were 8 times more likely to survive than a control group

A genetically modified strain of herpes can kill cancer cells and stop tumors from growing, according to new research. The strain, called T-Vec, was used to treat patients with melanoma as part of one of the final phases of testing of a new drug.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is the latest to show how viruses may be used clinically to kill cancer cells. Unlike chemotherapy, which casts a wide net and kills any proliferating cells, viruses often narrowly target cancer cells, which could make them more effective in fighting the disease. The method also appeals to researchers because it activates the immune system to fight cancer.

Researchers looked at more than 400 patients with aggressive malignant melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. More than 16% of patients given the T-Vec treatment showed a lasting response for six months, compared with 2% of members of the control group given normal treatment.

“We may normally think of viruses as the enemies of mankind, but it’s their very ability to specifically infect and kill human cells that can make them such promising cancer treatments,” said professor Paul Workman, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, in a statement.

The drug, produced by Amgen, now awaits approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration before it will be offered to patients.

 

TIME Cancer

How a Common Childhood Vaccine Helps Ward Off Cancer

It reduces the risk of childhood leukemia by 20%

Scientists now understand why a common childhood vaccine reduces the risk of leukemia.

Researchers previously knew that the vaccine against Haemophilus influenza type B, or HiB, reduces the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common form of childhood cancer. But now a new study published in Nature Immunology explains why this is the case.

Dr. Markus Müschen and his team on the study used a mouse model and found that recurring HiB infections, which can happen easily in children who have not been vaccinated, can cause certain enzymes to activate and push common precancerous blood cells into cancer. So, vaccines against HiB infections also protect children from this path to leukemia.

Müschen told the New York Times that the HiB vaccine, which is routinely given to children, has led to a 20% reduction in the risk for leukemia.

 

TIME Cancer

Why Women With Dense Breasts May Not Need More Screening

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Science Photo Library—Getty Images/Brand X

The debate over how much screening women with dense breasts should get continues

For several years now, there been a growing push to advise women with dense breast tissue to get more than just an annual mammogram. And there’s good reason for it—studies show that dense breast tissue can mask small potential tumors on a mammography image, and dense breast tissue may also be a risk factor for breast cancer.

But the latest study shows that not all women with dense breasts may be at higher risk of cancer. In a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. Karla Kerlikowske, professor of medicine and epidemiology/biostatistics at the University of California San Francisco, and her colleagues provide much-awaited data on exactly what the risk of cancer is for these women.

MORE: High-Tech 3D Mammograms Probably Saved This Woman’s Life

The researchers studied 365,426 women 40 to 74 years old who had more than 831,000 mammograms total. They also had information on the number of breast cancer cases among the women within 12 months of their mammogram. When the team then applied different models for predicting which women would develop cancer—including just their dense breasts, or combinations of their dense breasts and evaluations of their five-year breast cancer risk with factors such as their age, race, family history of the disease, recent breast biopsy and breast density—they found that breast density alone was not a good indicator of cancer risk.

Dense breast tissue is determined by radiologists reading a mammogram and is relatively subjective. About half of the women in the study with dense breasts turned out to have low risk of developing cancer. And of those with higher risk, only 24% would have benefited from additional screening such as having an MRI or ultrasound. Overall, that means only 12% of the population of women getting screened by mammograms, including those with dense breast tissue, would need additional screening.

MORE: New Genetic Test for Breast Cancer Would Be Cheaper and Easier

That’s a dramatic difference from the current practice, in which almost all women with dense breasts are advised to consider supplemental screening. In fact, 22 states now mandate that doctors who receive a report that their patient’s breasts contain dense tissue must discuss potential additional screening with their patients. A federal law requiring the same discussion is currently under review. Not all insurers cover this extra screening, however, which raises questions about how cost effective and useful it might be.

The latest results hint that the practice may not be justified. About 42% to 45% of women who get screened will have dense breast tissue, and “you can’t do supplemental screening for 45% of the population,” says Kerlikowske. “It’s just not realistic, neither from a time or cost standpoint.”

MORE: Many Breast Cancer Patients Get Unnecessary Radiation

As the study shows, it’s possible to figure out which women with dense breasts are more likely to develop cancer by considering not just their breast density but other risk factors as well. “I think people right now are looking at the density report from the mammogram and not taking into account age and other factors,” says Kerlikowske. “But you can’t; you have to look at the risk factors together.”

If everyone with dense breasts received additional screening, 1,124 women would have to be screened to catch one potential case of cancer. By incorporating the other risk factors, that number drops to 694.

Now that Kerlikowske and her team have zeroed in on a way to identify the women with dense breasts at highest risk of developing cancer, they plan to look at whether MRI and ultrasound tests can help these women to avoid aggressive disease and live longer.

TIME Innovation

How Survivors in Nepal Are Getting Better Earthquake Aid

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. When local systems failed them, survivors in Nepal lifehacked earthquake aid.

By Abe Streep in Wired

2. Can the same brain drain that’s crippling health care in Africa be used to save it?

By Serufusa Sekidde in Project Syndicate

3. Find out how female Marines are getting the job done.

By Hope Hodge Seck in the Marine Corps Times

4. Learning to use a drill is good. Learning to run the plant is better.

By Sophie Quinton in National Journal

5. We might be able to starve cancer cells to death.

By Sandia National Laboratories

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Obesity

‘Thrifty’ Metabolisms May Make It Harder to Lose Weight

File photo dated Thursday October 16, 2014. of a young girl using a set of weighing scales as slimmers should forget what they have been told about avoiding rapid weight loss in favour of slow but sure dieting, according to new research.
Chris Radburn—PA Wire/Press Association Images File photo dated Thursday October 16, 2014. of a young girl using a set of weighing scales as slimmers should forget what they have been told about avoiding rapid weight loss in favour of slow but sure dieting, according to new research.

The study marks the first time lab results have confirmed the widely held belief

Losing those love handles may be easier for some people than for others, says a new study that confirmed the theory that physiology plays a role in a person’s ability to lose weight.

According to a press release, researchers at the Phoenix Epidemiology and Clinical Research Branch studied the metabolisms of 12 obese men and women undergoing a six-week 50% calorie-reduction experiment. After measuring participants’ energy expenditure after a day of fasting and then re-examining them during the caloric-reduction period, researchers found that the slower the metabolism works during a diet, the less weight the person loses.

Coining the terms “thrifty” vs. “spendthrift” metabolisms, the experiment marks first time lab results have confirmed a widely held belief that a speedy metabolism plays a role in weight loss.

“While behavioral factors such as adherence to diet affect weight loss to an extent, our study suggests we should consider a larger picture that includes individual physiology — and that weight loss is one situation where being thrifty doesn’t pay,” said lead author Dr. Susanne Votruba, Ph.D.

Researchers have yet to figure out if the differences in metabolic speeds are innate traits or develop over time. Also, the study was only focused on weight loss, and the team does not know if the body’s response to caloric reduction can be used to prevent weight gain.

Over one-third of Americans are obese, and it leads to some of the most common forms of preventable deaths in the country.

TIME Books

The Most Heartbreaking Moments in Tom Brokaw’s Cancer Memoir

Random House

Sarah Begley is a culture and breaking news reporter for TIME.

The NBC journalist reflects on his struggle with multiple myeloma

When Tom Brokaw received a diagnosis of multiple myeloma in 2013, he felt his luck had run out, the popular veteran NBC anchor writes in his new memoir, A Lucky Life Interrupted: A Memoir of Hope. Suddenly, he was experiencing severe back pain and taking serious medication to combat the cancer that was attacking his plasma cells, while still working on documentaries and reports for NBC News.

When news of his condition started to leak, his successor in the anchor chair Brian Williams, with Brokaw’s help, turned the scary news into a tender joke on air: “In an email tonight Tom mentioned at least the possibility of joining the Springsteen tour in Australia to give Bruce a bump of some added publicity.”

With the public in his corner, Brokaw continued to do battle, undergoing chemotherapy and other treatment to manage the incurable cancer. In illness, Brokaw relied on his wife Meredith and their three daughters (especially Jennifer, a physician) for practical and emotional support.

Brokaw recounts some of the most emotional elements of the ordeal in his new memoir A Lucky Life Interrupted, out today.

On learning his diagnosis:

Brokaw was taken aback when he found out he had multiple myeloma at age 73, “just short of the life expectancy of an American white male,” as he put it.

Life expectancy was not so much a measure of how long I had to live but, rather, what was still to be accomplished.

Is it too late to learn to sail solo? Play chess? Get a short story published?

On telling his wife about the disease:

Brokaw waited to tell Meredith until they were in person together. Her first reaction was to ask him a few questions about multiple myeloma, “but we were both in a wilderness of uncertainty,” he writes.

We’ve been together a half century and the relationship is deeply emotional, with a hardwired circuitry of midwestern steadiness to maintain the balance.

We fell asleep in each other’s arms.

On trying to be lighthearted at the darkest times:

Cancer is not tidy, and Meredith was there to help Tom every step of the way. Much in the way humor helped break the news to the public, the Brokaws used laughter to combat some of the worst aspects of treatment:

Through mid-September 2013 I was so immobilized at night I’d have to awaken Meredith to help me relieve myself. She patiently held a hospital container, a plastic quart bottle with a crooked neck in which I urinated. It was all done so slowly and methodically, we gave it a ritualistic name: tai chi pee.

On his new sense of mortality:

Brokaw’s illness affected everything down to the way he read the newspaper.

Reading the obituaries took on a new dimension. Previously I had looked first to see what kind of life the deceased had led, especially if they were in what I called the Greatest Generation, the men and women of World War II. Now I was more interested in age. Here’s a guy who made it to eighty-five and died of prostate cancer. That’s a full life. Whoops, here’s another who died at seventy-two, his family said, of cancer-related causes.

As he writes in the memoir, part of what made Brokaw lucky was that he could afford top doctors (and received sympathies from several U.S. presidents).

“I will die someday but it is not likely to be the result of multiple myeloma,” he writes at the end of the book, after a series of positive results from his doctors. “I remain a lucky guy.”

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Cancer

TV Chef Sandra Lee Diagnosed With Breast Cancer

Sandra Lee arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar after party on Feb. 22, 2015 at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Splash News/Corbis Sandra Lee arrives at the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar after party on Feb. 22, 2015 at The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, Calif.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, her partner of 10 years, said he was "devastated" by the news

Television chef Sandra Lee revealed on Tuesday that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and will undergo a double mastectomy to ensure the growth is removed entirely.

“Life can turn on a dime,” Lee said in an interview with PEOPLE, shortly after announcing the diagnosis on Tuesday’s Good Morning America. She said she had begun documenting her treatment on video to raise awareness about early detection.

Her longtime partner, New York governor Andrew Cuomo, wrote in a statement that he was “devastated” by the diagnosis, but praised Lee for her “determination, resolve and grace.”

“While she has kept her illness private until now,” Cuomo wrote, “Sandy has bravely decided to speak openly about her illness in order to remind women of the potentially lifesaving power of early detection. I fully support her decision.”

Read more at People.com

TIME animals

Rare Cancer Discovered in Pennsylvania Smallmouth Bass

A smallmouth bass fish
Joel Sartore—National Geographic/Getty Images A smallmouth bass fish, Genoa, Wisconsin .

It's the first confirmed case of its kind in the Susquehanna River

A rare cancerous tumor was discovered on a smallmouth bass pulled out of the Susquehanna River.

The fish was caught last year, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission confirmed the case this week. Fish are not particularly susceptible to cancer, and it’s the first such case in the species in that location, though fish were previously found with sores and lesions, the Washington Post reports.

The disease may be the result of pollution, and officials want the river to be included on the EPA’s list of “impaired waterways.” The EPA, however, says it bases that list on water quality, not the health of species living there.

A Pennsylvania Department of Health official said that consuming fish with cancer should not pose a risk to humans, but urged fishers not to eat those with sores and lesions.

[Washington Post]

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