Lake fish, even with some mercury, good for your health

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

inter-tribal-fisheries-assessment-program-logoLANSING — Eating Great Lakes fish that contain mercury may threaten your health, but the nutritional benefits may outweigh the risks, according to a new study of lake trout and lake whitefish consumption by members of Native American tribes with high rates of obesity, diabetes and other diseases.

“Great Lakes fish should be considered for their nutritional importance relative to contemporary options, even when adjusting for risks of mercury toxicity,” according to the researchers from the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority’s Inter-Tribal Fisheries and Assessment Program in Sault Ste. Marie and the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Continue reading

Older prison inmates run up state health costs

By JOSHUA BENDER
Capital News Service

LANSING — The number of prisoners older than 50 has increased 146 percent since 1998, according to Michigan prison officials.

This jump from 3,589 prisoners in that age group to 8,819 in 2014 creates a number of health care and cost challenges for state prisons, said Chris Gautz, public information officer for the Department of Corrections.

The aging of inmates between 1994 and when she retired in 2012 was stark, said Carol Howes, a retired warden who worked at the Lakeland and Coldwater prisons.

“The prisoner population was much sicker,” she said.
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Diversity in health care coming too slowly for some

By AMELIA HAVANEC
Capital News Service

LANSING – Health experts urging more diversity in Michigan’s health care workforce may see graduation statistics from local universities as good news.

In the 2013-2014 academic year, more than a quarter of medical school graduates from Wayne State University and the University of Michigan – 27 percent and 36 percent respectively – were minorities, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Set.

In that same year, according to the data, minority students constituted 37 percent of the graduating class at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry, up 68 percent from its preceding graduating class.
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New federal map pinpoints major Michigan health risk

ARTERIES

By AMELIA HAVANEC

Capital News Service

LANSING – Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 610,000 people every year – one in every four deaths – according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Cardiovascular disease is a common term. Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ACD) is not, however, and Michigan residents are dying of this malady at a significantly higher rate than the national average.

Earlier this year, the CDC issued a map reporting the cause of death most distinct to each state.
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Finally, obesity rates take hike downward

By AMELIA HAVANEC

Capital News Service

LANSING – New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the high rate of obese adults nationally is finally steadying from an upward climb since the 1990s, and Michigan is no exception.

The portion of Michigan adults estimated to be obese in 2014 was 30.7 percent, the lowest it’s been since 2010.

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Sanilac, Saginaw and Chippewa counties are the most obese, while Ottawa, Washtenaw and Oakland are the least, according to the CDC.
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Bill would keep police out of ‘voluntary’ checkpoints

By ERIC FREEDMAN

Capital News Service

LANSING — Police agencies shouldn’t be allowed to help research groups and private companies take blood, urine, saliva and other samples from drivers who stop at voluntary checkpoints, some lawmakers say.

The practice of law enforcement officers directing vehicles off the road at so-called voluntary checkpoints creates “fear and intimidation,” said Rep. Jim Runestad, a White Lake Republican and lead sponsor of a new bill that would outlaw such assistance.

Drivers who pull over are then asked to provide cheek swabs to provide data to private companies on alcohol and drug use that can “inhibit their driving,” Runestad said. The information can then be used, for example, to design drugged and drunken driving programs.
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Folks who eat fish tested, show high mercury levels

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING – Health authorities in Michigan are waiting for the results of tests for elevated levels of chemicals and metals in people who eat lots of Great Lakes fish.

Blood and urine from volunteers in Michigan and two other states were tested for PCBs, pesticides, mercury, lead and cadmium.

Each state focused on a community. Michigan tested anglers along the Detroit River and Saginaw Bay.
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Michigan rollout of low-income health care exceeds expectations

By BECKY McKENDRY

Capital News Service

LANSING – In only three weeks the state’s Medicaid expansion program that gives health coverage to low-income residents is almost halfway to its yearly signup goal.

The Healthy Michigan program started enrolling low-income residents for comprehensive health coverage on April 1. By April 21, nearly 140,000 people had signed up for the plan – 43 percent of the 320,000 people the state hoped would enroll by the end of the year.

Coverage under Healthy Michigan provides all services required by federal standards, such as emergency services, maternity care and mental health treatment.

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State and local health officials struggle to anticipate disease threats from climate change

By DANIELLE WOODWARD

Capital News Service

LANSING — State health officials are struggling to anticipate new health threats posed by a changing climate.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has put together the Michigan Climate and Health Adaptation program to prepare for any health risks the climate change may bring.  The program was recently renewed with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control.

The unusual weather brought on by climate change can have health consequences that range from something as minor as dehydration to as serious as a West Nile virus outbreak, said Angela Minicuci, a public information officer for the state health department.

“Our primary goals are that climate change will be recognized as a public issue and integrated into a public health practice,” said Dominic Smith, the state health department community health educator.

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State prisons adapting to graying, infirm inmates

By KYLE CAMPBELL

Capital News Service

LANSING — When you imagine a state prison inmate, you might think of someone young and tough with arms covered in tattoos and muscles swollen from hours of pumping iron in the yard.

How about wrinkled and gray with arthritic hands gripping a walker or spinning the wheels on a wheelchair?

Despite an overall decline in prison population, the number of inmates above the age of 65 has increased 78 percent to 1,073 during the past decade. Those inmates make up about 2.5 percent of the prison system, but with more baby boomers entering old age, that number will only go up, officials warn.

It’s a fact the Department of Corrections can’t ignore.
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