May 22, 2019 by John Fernandez and Tanya Racoobian
Roundup: CDC Recommends New Shingles Vaccine for Those 50 or Older
A panel of experts with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended the use of a new vaccine to prevent shingles — instead of the older vaccine which is considered less effective.
The decision by the advisory Committee on Immunization Practices came this week following the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s announced approval of the new vaccine, called Shingrix, which is manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline, for adults ages 50 and older.
Shingrix is the first new vaccine for shingles in a decade. It’s also the first time the panel has recommending that adults 50 and older be vaccinated — a group that numbers about 42 million Americans. The panel also recommended that anyone who previously was vaccinated with the Zostavax vaccine be revaccinated with the new vaccine — an estimated 20 million people.
The panel’s recommendation gives preference to the new vaccine over Merck’s Zostavax, the only shingles vaccine on the market for over a decade which had been recommended for people ages 60 and older. Anyone who has had chickenpox is vulnerable to getting shingles. The herpes zoster virus causes both shingles and chickenpox. The virus tends to live along nerve cells and becomes active as people’s immune systems diminish.
“This represents a major advance for people who want to be protected against the disease and its complications,” said Kathleen Dooling, a medical officer with the CDC.
The new vaccine could more effectively prevent tens of thousands of cases of shingles and thousands of cases of its most common complication, a debilitating nerve pain, she said.
Adults 50 or older should consult with the primary care physician about the shingles vaccine.
Most Americans Unaware of Top Cancer Risk Factors
Most Americans are unaware that obesity and alcohol consumption are among the major risk factors for cancer, according to a new survey from the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) conducted online by Harris Poll.
While a majority of Americans correctly agreed that tobacco use (78 percent of survey respondents ) and sun exposure (66 percent) as risk factors for cancer, far fewer are aware of other lifestyle factors that increase their cancer risk. Most notably, less than a third of Americans (31 percent) realize that obesity is a risk factor for cancer. Currently, obesity is considered the second leading preventable cause of the disease.
In fact, states ASCO, a higher body mass index is associated with increased risk of a number of cancers, including colon, breast, high grade prostate, and uterine cancers. ASCO is a professional organization representing physicians of all oncology sub-specialties who care for people with cancer.
A recent analysis by the National Cancer Institute found that, if current the rates of obesity continue to trend upward, by 2030 there could be about 500,000 additional cases of cancer in the United States than would otherwise be expected.
The survey commissioned by ASCO also found that less than one in three Americans (30 percent) recognize alcohol as a risk factor for cancer, despite the fact that alcohol consumption can raise the risk of certain cancers, including cancers of the mouth, liver and breast.
“This research helps us understand what our fellow Americans know and believe about cancer, and therefore where we need to focus as a nation in our efforts to conquer cancer,” said ASCO President Bruce Johnson, M.D. “It is clear there are many important gaps we need to address – from educating the public about cancer prevention, to confronting high treatment costs, to investing in cancer research that is vital to improving patients’ outcomes in the future.”
The survey also found that nearly three-quarters of Americans support greater federal investment in cancer research, even if it means higher taxes or adding to the deficit. One in four people who have had cancer, or have an immediate family member who a cancer diagnosis, are forgoing treatment or physician visits because of the expense.
The ASCO survey involved 4,000 U.S. adults, ages 18 and older. More than a third of Americans reported “having a firsthand experience with cancer, while 4 percent said they have or had cancer themselves, and 32 percent have an immediate family member who has or had cancer.
Meanwhile, the survey revealed that a majority of Americans are not taking preventive actions to reduce their cancer risk. Only 48 percent, each, say they use sunblock or limit their exposure to the sun; 41 percent say they maintain a healthy weight; and 38 percent say they limit alcohol consumption in order to prevent cancer.
- Link Between Alcohol, Lifestyle Factors and Breast Cancer
- Being Overweight or Obese Linked to Higher Cancer Risk in More Studies
Embrace Tomorrow by Getting Your Mammogram Today
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