weekly-reading-dogs-cancer-zikaWALKING, THE CHEAPEST DRUG ON MARKET. Who would have thought to prescribe walking to patients? As little as 30 minutes of walking a day cuts the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease in half, lowers the likelihood of diabetes by 60 percent, limits colon cancer by 31 percent for women and reduces risk of dementia, heart disease, depression, osteoporosis, glaucoma and pesky colds, according to a Mother Earth News report. “Even a small first effort can make a big difference in improving the personal health of an individual and the public health of the nation,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy in the same report. Some physicians, such as Robert Sallis, M.D., at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Calif. even prescribe walking to patients, keeping a walking RX prescription pad in his exam rooms. Fewer than half of all adults meet the bare minimum recommendations for physical activity (30 minutes a day, five days a week), according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So, next time you leave work, think about taking the long way.

THE FIRST U.S. CASE TIED TO THE ZIKA VIRUS was reported Jan. 15 in Hawaii and since has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A baby born in an Oahu hospital with microcephaly had been infected with the Zika virus after the child’s mother, who lived in Brazil in May last year, was likely infected by a mosquito during pregnancy. The same virus is believed to be the cause of similar brain damage seen in thousands of babies in Brazil in recent months.  The C.D.C. recommends pregnant women postpone travel to any countries or regions with active Zika virus transmission, which includes 17 Latin American and Caribbean countries and territories. Scientists are still unsure of how the virus damages fetal brains, but note it is related to the dengue, yellow fever and West Nile viruses, which don’t normally cause brain damage. This case was reported on by, the New York Times.

TROUBLE AT THE FARM. Growing concern about overuse of antibiotics in raising livestock is causing many hospitals to move toward purchasing meat from animals raised without antibiotics. Each year nearly 2 million Americans are infected from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and 23,000 of them die from these superbugs, according to an npr report. The main concern is if farmers overuse drugs to promote growth or prevent disease in their animals and create resistant bacteria, doctors may have few ways to treat these infections. While, purchasing antibiotic-free meat is more expensive and often in limited supply, more than 400 U.S. hospitals are working to make 20 percent of their meat purchases free of antibiotics. Hospitals such as Hackensack University Medical Center have made 100 percent of their chicken purchases antibiotic-free. “It took a lot of work to make this happen and a lot of pushing, but hospitals should be inclined to push the industry to make a change,” said Tafuri, senior sustainability adviser at Hackensack University Medical Center.

RELEASE THE HOUNDS. A large clinical trial is underway in Britain to determine if dogs are truly effective at smelling cancer. Thanks to the British organization, Medical Detection Dogs, Lucy, a dog with a proven track record, and seven other dogs will smell over 3,000 urine samples in search of cancer. Lucy, a Lab and Irish water spaniel mix has been accurate in detecting bladder, kidney and prostate cancer more than 95 percent of the time. In 2004, Caroline Willis, director of research at the Amersham Hospital department of dermatology launched the first study involving dogs smelling cancer. “Our original intention was to train the dogs to detect skin cancer, but that was quite difficult to do,” she said. “So we decided to test for the abnormal chemicals released by bladder cancer into urine, which is easy to collect.” With 22 successes in 54 tries, man’s best friend may have another hidden talent.