The 5 Biggest Medical Breakthroughs of 2008-2009
In 1928, Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming demonstrated penicillin’s antibiotic properties. However, it was not until 1942 that the now common antibiotic was available for mass production. Likewise, the first approved flu vaccine was developed by the United States military during World War II; however, it was not available for the public until the late 1950s. Medical breakthroughs occur every year; but which will become commonplace and which will be lost by the wayside? Only time can tell. Here, the top innovations of 2008.
- Cutting the Amount of Colon Cancer Cases. For many, going for the “old-fashioned” colonoscopy can be, well, uncomfortable. Many opt for the virtual colonoscopy in which a doctor uses an x-ray to look for polyps and cancers. While this method is effective in finding these protrusions, a 2008 study found that 9 percent of patients receiving a colonoscopy have flat or recessed lesions. These growths are almost ten times as likely to be cancerous as the typical polyp.
- Dynamic Duo for Stroke Sufferers. For approximately four years, doctors have know that administering excess tPa—a naturally occurring hormone that dissolves blood clots—in a patient suffering a stroke can reduce long term effects of the event. However, in the last year doctors at the University of Alabama-Birmingham Comprehensive Stroke Center, and doctors at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona, Spain have found that when tPa is administered alongside transcranial Doppler (TCD) ultrasound increases the effectiveness in treating patients suffering ischemic stroke. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and the number one leading cause of disability. This new development in stroke treatment is surely a breath of fresh air.
- Improvements in Osteoporosis Treatment. A hotly debated topic among doctors is whether or not to administer bone density drugs for women who have borderline results on their bone mineral density test (BMD). This debate may become out-of-date due to a new test called FRAX developed by the World Health Organization. Unlike traditional bone density tests, FRAX takes into account those “other” factors that can raise your risk for fractures. The test uses 12 factors including age, weight, family history, and various illnesses to determine a 10-year risk of breaking a bone due to osteoporosis.
- Bettering Breast Cancer Treatment. For those of us who know someone who faced early-stage breast cancer, the 5-7 weeks of intense chemotherapy is emotionally, physically, and mentally draining for all involved. Due to a 12 year Canadian study, the amount of time spent on radiation treatment can be cut in half. According to the study, administering a higher dose over a 3-week period is just as effective. Regardless of this new discovery, keeping up with your mammograms is essential to your overall health. You love your breast...so keep them.
- New and Natural Ways to Control Your Hunger. We’ve all seen the commercials with the miracle pill or diet that will change your eating habits and control your hunger. If you’re more impressed by scientific means to weight loss, then a 2008 Swedish study has good news for you. The study found that “resistant starch” helps suppress appetite. Found in potatoes, brown rice, corn, whole grain breads, and beans, this starch digests more slowly, or “resists” digestion—making you feel full for a longer period of time. What’s more, resistant starches are high in fiber, can help regulate blood sugar levels, increase energy, and aid in digestive health.
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