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Cyberbullying less common in teens that feel loved, supported, study finds

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Cyberbullying is less common among teens who feel loved and supported by their parents, new research shows.

The findings could be especially relevant during the coronavirus pandemic, say a team from New York University.

“With remote learning replacing classroom instruction for many young people, and cellphones and social media standing in for face-to-face interaction with friends, there are more opportunities for cyberbullying to occur,” noted study author Laura Grunin. She’s a doctoral student at NYU’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing, in New York City.

“New family dynamics and home stressors are also at play, thanks to higher unemployment rates and more parents working from home,” she added in a university news release.

For the study, which was based on surveys from 2009 and 2010, Grunin and her team analyzed responses from more than 12,600 U.S. youth aged 11 to 15 years. The kids were asked about their bullying behaviors and their relationship with their parents.

The more adolescents considered their parents as loving, the less likely they were to cyberbully, the survey findings showed.

Those who said their parents were “almost never” loving were at least six times more likely to engage in high levels of cyberbullying than those who said their parents were “almost always” loving.

Other types of emotional support, including how much adolescents felt their parents help and understand them, also influenced cyberbullying behavior, the researchers noted.

The study was published Sept. 2 in the International Journal of Bullying Prevention.

More than half of U.S. teens say they’ve experienced online harassment, insults, threats or spreading rumors.

According to study co-author Sally Cohen, a clinical professor at NYU Meyers, “Understanding what factors are related to a young person’s cyberbullying of peers is important for developing ways that families, schools and communities can prevent bullying or intervene when it occurs.”

Grunin said the findings point to the importance of emotional support from parents.

“I would stress to parents it is not necessarily if they think they are being supportive, but what their adolescent thinks,” Grunin explained. “Parents should strive to discern their teen’s perception of parental emotional support as it might be associated with youth cyberbullying behavior.”

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on cyberbullying.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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Study: More than 4 million potential years of life lost to cancer in the U.S.

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Nov. 13 (UPI) — Deaths from cancer accounted for more than 4 million potential years of life lost in 2017 in the United States, striking down young adults in particular well before average life expectancy, an analysis published Friday by the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention found.

There were 599,099 cancer deaths nationally in 2017, based on death certificate data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Lung cancer, the most deadly cancer in the United States, accounted for approximately 24% of cancer deaths nationally and 21% of potential years of life lost, while colon and rectal cancer made up 9% of deaths and 10% of potential years of life lost, the data showed.

In addition, pancreatic cancer was the cause of just over 7% of cancer deaths nationally and 7% of potential years of life lost and breast cancer accounted for 7% of deaths and 9% of potential years of life lost.

“Potential years of life lost is a useful complementary measure to cancer mortality rates,” study co-author Dr. Minkyo Song said in a statement.

“Together, they provide a more detailed picture of the social and economic toll of cancer,” said Song, a research fellow at the National Cancer institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.

More than 600,000 people in the United States have died or will die from cancer in 2020, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Potential years of life lost is an estimate of the average years a person would have lived if he or she had not died prematurely.

Average life expectancy in the United States is about 79 years, and cancer is the leading cause of death in those younger than 80 years.

For this study, the researchers used national mortality data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, and defined potential years of life lost as the number of years lost prior to age 75 to quantify how many years of life were prematurely lost.

Nearly 4.3 million years of life were prematurely lost due to cancer in 2017, the data showed.

Ethnic and racial minority groups account for a disproportionate share of the burden of premature cancer death in 2017, with 78% occurring in non-Hispanic Whites with only 70% of potential years of life lost.

Conversely, Hispanic people accounted for 7% of cancer deaths and 10% of potential years of life lost, while Black people made up 12% of cancer deaths and 15% of potential years of life lost, the data showed.

Testicular cancer had the highest potential years of life lost per death, with an average of 34 years lost, followed by bone cancer, with an average of 26 years lost and endocrine cancers including thymus cancer, with an average of 25 years lost, the researchers said.

The total number of potential years of life lost increased slightly from 1990, despite an overall decrease in cancer deaths, researchers said.

In 1990, 4.26 million potential years of life were lost, compared with the 4.28 million in 2017, the data showed, with the increase likely due to the growth of the U.S. population.

For the most part, potential years of life lost mirrored overall U.S. cancer mortality trends, but one exception to this pattern was prostate cancer — which caused about 5% of U.S. cancer deaths in 2017 but only 2% of potential years of life lost.

“Potential years of life lost can be used to estimate the impact of cancer death in younger populations,” Song said. “This metric highlights the enormous loss of life due to certain cancers that occur at younger ages, even if they occur infrequently.”



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Study: Kids with food allergies, and their parents, become targets for bullies

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As if having food allergies isn’t hard enough on a child, new research shows that almost 1 in 5 of these kids are bullied.

The bullying didn’t stop at the schoolyard. A similar percentage of parents said they had been teased about their concern for their child’s food allergies.

“I think this is an underreported problem because a lot of kids don’t report being bullied. I think bullying is something that allergists should start screening kids for,” said study author Dannielle Brown, a second-year medical student at Loyola University School of Medicine in Chicago.

Senior author Dr. Ruchi Gupta, director of the Center for Food Allergy and Asthma Research at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said the problem may stem from a lack of awareness.

“Food is a part of everything kids do. It’s often hard for kids to understand that food can be life-threatening,” Gupta said. “Students hear the word allergy and think, ‘It’s like how I’m allergic to cats and get sniffles and sneeze after being with a cat.’ They may think it’s not a big deal.”

But food allergies are a big deal, and the support of peers is very important for keeping kids safe, Gupta explained. “When peers aren’t supportive, kids with food allergies engage in more risk-taking behaviors [like not checking food ingredients],” she said.

The new study included 252 kids from age 4 to 17. Slightly more than one-quarter of the group was Black; the rest were White. Their parents completed surveys about bullying and food allergies.

About one-third of kids over 11 reported being bullied due to their food allergy. Just over 13% of youngsters aged 4 to 11 said they had been bullied due to food allergies.

When the researchers looked at the rates of bullying by race, they found that Black children with food allergies were bullied for their food allergies at similar rates. However, Black children were twice as likely to be bullied for non-food allergy-related reasons.

Kids weren’t often forthcoming about being bullied. Only about 14% had told parents they’d been bullied.

The good news is that when parents knew about bullying and stepped in, they were successful about half the time. Speaking with a teacher or someone in the school administration were the options parents turned to most often for their child.

For parents who reported being teased about their child’s food allergy, it was often by the parent of another child or a friend.

Both Brown and Gupta said the findings point to a need for more education and awareness about how serious food allergies can be.

People often think that food allergies aren’t severe and that there’s a simple medication that people can take. But food allergies aren’t like other allergies, Gupta stressed.

Someone having a reaction to food might have typical allergy symptoms, like hives, but they can also have trouble breathing and need to go to the hospital. They’ll also need to have a shot of the drug epinephrine to counteract the allergic reaction.

“Other parents may not understand because food allergies weren’t as prevalent when they were growing up. It’s important to be willing to learn from one another. People need to treat each other with kindness and respect, and not be so quick to react and respond,” Brown suggested.

Gupta said parents can also empower their child through role-playing. For example, many kids with food allergies need to sit at a designated allergy-free table at lunch. Bullies may see this as an opportunity to tease.

“Go through some common scenarios your child might encounter, and help them practice what to say,” she said. That way, if something does happen, your child will already know how he or she wants to respond.

Dr. Irene Mikhail, a pediatric allergist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, looked over the study and said she hasn’t had many patients tell her they’ve been bullied — but “kids might not want to talk about bullying with me or with their parents in the room.”

Mikhail also thought that a lack of understanding or experience with food allergies is a big issue. “When I was a kid, no one had food allergies, but there has been a legitimate increase in the rate of food allergies over the last 30 years,” she said.

Another issue is that people misuse the term food allergy for other, less serious conditions like a food intolerance. “We really want to only classify a food allergy as an allergy so that people in the community don’t become complacent about food allergies.”

Mikhail also recommends role-playing with kids. “Empower kids with what they can say. If they sense confidence, a bully might not act. If kids are being bullied, they should get help from adults around them,” she suggested.

The researchers will present their findings Friday at a virtual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Findings presented at meetings are typically viewed as preliminary until they’ve been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Learn more about food allergies and bullying from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

Copyright 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



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‘Polypill’ reduces risk for heart attack, stroke by up to 40%, study finds

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Nov. 13 (UPI) — A so-called “polypill” that combines three blood pressure medications and a cholesterol-lowering drug, when taken with aspirin, reduces risk for heart attack or stroke by up to 40%, according to a study published Friday by the New England Journal of Medicine.

Taken alone, the combination drug — which is not available in the United States — lowers a person’s risk for heart attack or stroke, as well as the need for angioplasty or other types of heart surgery, by 20%, the data showed.

When administered with aspirin — with its proven ability to prevent heart attacks by stopping blood clots — the combination works to decrease the risk for these cardiovascular events by twice as much as without it, the researchers said.

“Studies of polypills, now including ours, have shown that they reduce risk by 30% to 40%,” study co-author Dr. Salim Yusuf told UPI.

“We hope our findings add to the momentum created by other similar studies and push drug manufacturers to make these products available in North America,” said Yusuf, a professor of medicine at McMaster University in Canada.

Currently, polypill therapies have been approved and are available for use in Europe and South America, as well as in parts of Asia and Africa, according to Yussef.

U.S.-based drug manufacturers have yet to initiate clinical trials of similar products, despite the positive findings, he said.

Although the formulation of polypills varies from country to country, the product used in this study contained 40 milligrams of simvastatin, 100 mg. of atenolol, 25 mg. of hydrochlorothiazide and 10 mg. of ramipril, according to the researchers.

Simvastatin, also sold under the brand name Zocor, is used to treat high cholesterol, while atenolol, hydrochlorothiazide and rampiril are all blood pressure medications.

Heart disease causes roughly 18 million deaths each year, and more than 40 million people around the world have heart attacks or strokes annually, based on World Health Organization estimates.

In the United States, about 18.2 million adults age 20 and older have heart disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new study was conducted in 89 centers in nine countries and coordinated by the Population Health Research Institute at McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences.

For the study, Yusuf and his colleagues assessed the effects of the polypill alone or in combination with aspirin in 5,714 men aged 50 years and older and women aged 55 years and older.

Those who took the polypill with aspirin used a low dose of 75 mg. per day for the aspirin.

After following study participants for an average of about five years, the researchers found that 4.4% of those who took the polypill alone had a heart attack, stroke, heart procedure or died from heart-related causes, compared with 5.5% of those given a placebo.

Of those who took only aspirin, 4.1% suffered these heart-related events, according to the researchers. Similarly, about 4.1% of those who took the polypill with aspirin experienced heart complications, the data showed.

The chief benefit of the polypill, in addition to its effectiveness, is convenience, as it means those for whom treatment is needed will have to take only one pill daily, instead of three or four, Yusuf said.

This should improve compliance with prescribed treatments, he added.

“In addition to stopping smoking, the most modifiable risk factors for cardiovascular disease are high blood pressure and elevated cholesterol,” Yusuf said.



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