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The link between sugar and diabetes and why acne happens: In health news today

Sugar is processed at a refinery. A new study establishes what appears to be a direct link between sugar and diabetes. Experts previously believed that sugar contributed to diabetes by contributing to obesity, but this study shows a more direct connection.

In today's health news:

In what one study author described as "quite a surprise," researchers from Stanford have established a direct link between high sugar levels in a population's food and higher diabetes rates. A study appearing in PLOS ONE says while obesity is a primary driving force in diabetes prevalence, sugar also seems to play an important role: For every 150 calories of sugar available per person per day, researchers found the diabetes rate rose 1 percent.

Another study found that as the amount of time a person spends sitting increases, so does their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. HealthDay says according to researchers, telling people to avoid sitting, rather than imploring them to be physically active, could actually be a more effective route to helping them avoid the disease.


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Many low-income patients want to email their doctors; few actually do, can

A new study highlights a desire of low-income patients to communicate electronically with their doctors regarding their health that's hampered by a lack of infrastructure and access.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

Around seven in 10 low-income patients say they're interested in communicating electronically with their health providers – but only 19 percent actually do.

The disparity is highlighted in a recent study appearing in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

"A significant majority of safety net patients currently use email, text messaging, and the internet, and they expressed an interest in using these tools for electronic communication with their medical providers," wrote the authors. "This interest is currently unmet within safety net clinics that do not offer a patient portal or secure messaging."

Nina Vaccaro, the executive director of the Southside Coalition of Community Health Clinics, says that tide is changing. She pointed to the eight member clinics in the coalition.


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Study says diabetes drug can double risk of pancreas inflammation

Diabetes medicine awaits distribution at a Colorado community health center. A new type of diabetes drug, based on a compound known as GLP-1, seems to double the risk of pancreatitis, according to researchers.
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A class of diabetes drug appears to double patients' risk of acute pancreatitis, according to a new study, quantifying for the first time a known risk associated with the medication.

Research appearing in JAMA Internal Medicine says the drugs – the basis of which is a compound known as glucagon-like peptide-1, or GLP-1 – are twice as likely to send users to the hospital for pancreatitis than other medications.

Pancreatitis is a sudden inflammation of the pancreas, an organ that produces enzymes and several hormones, including insulin. The enzymes normally work in the small intestine, but if they become active before leaving the pancreas, they eat away at its tissue, which damages the organ and causes abdominal pain, fever and nausea.

The drugs, sitagliptin and exenatide – which are sold under the brand names Januvia and Byetta – were found to contribute to lesions in the pancreas, which ultimately resulted in widespread inflammation of the organ.


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The safety net in jeopardy and what alcohol may mean for SIDS: In health news today

In a new study, a maternal alcohol problem was implicated in one in six cases of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Ryan Clare/Flickr Creative Commons

In today's health news:

Up to 4 million residents of California will remain uninsured even after provisions of the Affordable Care Act go into effect next January, writes the Los Angeles Times, leaving the burden of their care to the safety net – public hospitals, county health centers and community clinics. But now funding issues may be putting the stability of the safety net in jeopardy, say local health officials.

Trouble with access to health providers is nothing new for low-income patients, but a study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine highlights one more facet of that problem: Low-income patients often don't have the resources available to communicate with their doctors electronically. A survey revealed that only 17 percent reported corresponding with their providers via email as part of their care, even though 78 percent expressed interest in doing so.


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Percentage of males in nursing tripled over 4 decades, says Census Bureau

A new Census Bureau study shows that men are overwhelmingly outnumbered in the nursing profession by their female counterparts, but still out-earn them by about $9,600 a year.
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Men make up less than 10 percent of U.S. nurses, but on average make about $9,600 more a year than their female counterparts.

That's according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which released a study that showed the proportion of male nurses tripled between 1970 and 2011 – from 2.7 percent of the workforce to 9.6 percent.

But despite the fact that men are overwhelmingly outnumbered by women in the profession, the former are still out-earning the latter: For every dollar male nurses earn, female nurses earn 91 cents.

Nurses have quietly become a central component of a major question among those in the medical field: With the Affordable Care Act's huge expansion of Medicaid looming, medical providers and professionals are pondering who's going to care for all those new patients. There's a major shortage of primary care doctors, and there's widespread agreement that nurses and other mid-level providers are going to be crucial to fulfilling that patient need.


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