Leave Your Flowers, Balloons and Unicorn-shaped Mugs at Home

Some of the mainstays of a hospital visit — a flower-filled vase or Mylar balloon— are no longer welcome in the name of infection control. A Wall Street Journal report highlights how hospitals increasingly are putting limits on what can be brought to a patient’s room. The concern is that the flowers, balloons and even that unicorn-shaped coffee mug meant to raise spirits actually will bring in an unwanted germ. Among those instituting at least partial bans are NYU Langone Medical Center (all balloons) and New York–Presbyterian Hospital (latex and Mylar balloons and fresh, dried and artificial flowers in certain patient rooms). “Cards are nice. Books are nice — but remember, pretty much any surface could be a source of bacteria,” says Susan Dolan, president of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, in the news article.

Aid-in-Dying Law Goes into Effect, Physician Opens Practice to Address Concerns

California’s End of Life Option Act went into effect June 9, and Lonny Shavelson, former emergency department physician in Berkeley, is opening a practice to consult physicians and patients on the law that gives terminally ill adults with six months to live the right to request lethal medication, according to a "KQED News" article. Shavelson, who has written books on assisted suicide, said many patients and health care providers don’t fully understand the law, and predicts many physicians will be hesitant to fulfill patient requests. “If it’s a medical procedure you believe in and you believe it’s the patient’s right, then it’s your obligation to learn how to do it — and do it correctly,” he said to KQED.

Women's Obesity Rates Climb Higher

“Scary” and “alarming” is how one expert describes new findings by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 40 percent of American women are now obese. That compares with 35 percent of men, and is the first time the women’s obesity rate has surged significantly higher than that of men, "CBS News" reports. Worldwide, 15 percent of women and 11 percent of men are obese. Obesity can trigger diabetes, heart disease and other serious health problems.

Getting Active May Reduce Risk of Certain Cancers

Can you walk away from cancer? Well, it’s not that simple, but a recent study finds that even moderate exercise, such as brisk walking or jogging could reduce the risk of developing 13 different cancers, including those affecting the breast, lung, colon, liver, esophagus, kidney, stomach, endometrium, blood, bone marrow, head and neck, rectum and bladder. Although the observational study is far from definitive, as Gretchen Reynolds reported in the New York Times Well blog, “the findings sturdily suggest that exercise may help to reduce many types of cancer,” and, as Steven Moore of the National Cancer Institute told her, “it has few side effects and doesn’t cost much.”