Dangerous Use of Growth Hormone Surges Among U.S. Teens, Especially Hispanics


hghA growing number of U.S. teens—especially Hispanic teens—are using synthetic human growth hormone (hGH) to boost their muscles and athletic ability, according to a new survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, HealthDay News reports.

Overall, 11% of teens admitted using hGH in 2013, up from 5% in 2012.

About 13% of Hispanic teens and 15% of black teens said they used hGH at least once, compared to just 9% of white teens.

People hoping to boost their athletic abilities or enhance their appearance have abused synthetic hGH and other performance-enhancing substances in the past, which poses serious health risks, the study authors warned, according to the HealthDay report:

The body produces human growth hormone naturally, and experts have long known that the hormone is essential for growth and cell production in young people. It also helps regulate body composition, muscle and bone growth.

A synthetic form of this hormone, known as hGH, has been available since 1985, the Partnership noted. Congress has approved certain uses of synthetic hGH, such as for muscle-wasting disease associated with HIV/AIDS, adult deficiency due to rare pituitary tumors and the long-term treatment of short stature in children.

Any off-label use of hGH for other medical conditions is strictly prohibited, however.

“And while it’s doubtful that all of the teens who reported having used synthetic hGH actually obtained prescribed synthetic human growth hormone, the proliferation of commercially available products that are marketed saying they contain synthetic hGH, or promote the natural production of hGH within the body, is staggering,” said Steve Pasierb, president of the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, in a statement.

Read more here.


A Look at the Future Through Demographics of Kindergarteners


FT_14.06.30_Kindergarten-2Pew Research shows how today’s kindergartners offer a glimpse of tomorrow’s demographics. A new data analysis by Pew Research Center finds a big increase over the past decade in the number of states where at least one-in-five public school kindergartners are Latino.

There are 17 states where Latino children comprise at least 20% of the public school kindergarten population, according to our analysis of 2012 Census Bureau data. By comparison, just eight states had such a composition a decade earlier, in 2000.

Fueled in part by Hispanic population growth, there may be more minorities in classrooms when school starts this fall (among them blacks, Asians and Hispanics) than white students nationwide in K-12 public schools, according to U.S. Department of Education projections. In 2014, some 50.3% of students are projected to be minorities. That’s a sharp increase from 1997, when minorities made up just 36.7% of students.

Looking ahead, nearly half of babies born in the U.S. today are a racial or ethnic minority, though they are not yet a majority. The number of Hispanics has increased in recent years primarily due to births, as the number of Hispanic immigrants has stalled after four decades of rapid growth. In 2012, one-in-four of the nation’s newborns were Hispanic. By 2060, Hispanics are projected to make up 31% of the overall U.S. population.

Read more here, http://pewrsr.ch/TQQAaK

Infographic: Latinos Suffer More Diabetes, Obesity, Certain Cancers, and Other Conditions


health dis infographic smallDid you know Latinos suffer more from certain diseases?

For example, Latinos are 45% more likely to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, 65% more likely to be diabetic, and six times as likely to have tuberculosis than Whites.

These health disparities are captured in a new infographic.

The infographic, from Families USA, which works to heighten health care for all Americans, urges people to “work together to improve our health care system to make it high-quality, comprehensive, affordable, and accessible for everyone.”

Study: Many Overweight Children Have Inaccurate Ideas about their Weight


CDCAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 48% of obese boys and 36% of obese girls think their weight is “about right.” Among kids and teens who were merely overweight, 81% of boys and 71% of girls also judged their weight to be “about right.”

This information comes from the CDC’s recently released, “Perception of Weight Status in U.S. Children and Adolescents Aged 8–15 Years, 2005–2012,” which survey’d youth about how they perceive their own weight.

Some of their key finding include:

  • About one-third of Mexican-American (34.0%) and non-Hispanic black (34.4%) children and adolescents misperceive their weight status compared with non-Hispanic white children and adolescents (27.7%).
  • Approximately 81% of overweight boys and 71% of overweight girls believe they are about the right weight.
  • About 30% of children and adolescents aged 8–15 years in the United States misperceive their weight status. Weight status misperception is more common among boys (32.3%) than girls (28.0%).

Accurate self-perception of weight status has been linked to appropriate weight control behaviors in youth. Understanding the prevalence of weight status misperception among U.S. children and adolescents may help inform public health interventions.

Find the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention here. 

Local Researcher Wins ‘Making a Different World’ Award


Dr. Amelie Ramirez (Photo by Eydie Mendoza)

Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez, director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, has received the first-ever “Making a Different World” award from Latinas Contra Cancer for her dedication to improving health outcomes around Latino cancer.

Ramirez, an internationally recognized expert in health disparities research, has spent 30 years developing unique health communication models and interventions that have helped reduce cancer rates and increase cancer screening among Latinos.

She also directs the National Cancer Institute-funded Redes En Acción program, a national research network that has made big strides in research, training, and education to reduce Latino cancer.

Redes is a partner of Latinas Contra Cancer, which provides cancer health education and support for low-income Latinos.

Ramirez received the honor at the Latinas Contra Cancer 4th Biennial National Latino Cancer Summit July 20-22, 2014, in San Francisco.

“I am honored by this tremendous distinction from some of the key leaders in our nation’s growing effort to reduce cancer inequalities among Latinos,” Dr. Ramirez said. “We are truly working hard to show how Latino communities can reduce their risk for cancer, how to help patients navigate the health care system, and how to help cancer survivors.”

At the conference, Ramirez also led a panel, “Navigators, Promotoras, and CHWs: How Health Care Workers can Help Solve Cancer Health Disparities among Latinos.” The panel identified the use of patient navigators, promotoras, and other community health workers (CHWs) in research interventions and outreach/educational programs to bridge the gap on cancer health disparities and Latinos’ access to health insurance and quality health care.

Recently, Ramirez and her Redes colleagues discovered that Latinas endure a lag in definitive breast cancer diagnosis and treatment initiation, which jeopardizes their outcomes.

So they conducted a randomized controlled trial to test if patient navigation would improve access to healthcare and health system navigation specifically among the Latina population.

“The trial hypothesized, and went on to prove, that navigation can reduce Latinas’ times to diagnosis and treatment and significantly increase the proportion of Latinas initiating treatment,” Ramirez said. “Navigation indeed is likely to have saved the lives of many local Latinas.”

Ramirez also mentors Latino undergrad, pre- and post-doctoral students, contributes to the scientific literature and serves on editorial boards for several journals. She has been recognized for her work to improve Latino health and advance Latinos in medicine, public health, and behavioral sciences across the U.S., including: 2011 White House “Champion of Change”; 2007 election to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies; 2007 Professor of Survivorship from Susan G. Komen For the Cure; and 2003 Humanitarian Award from the American Cancer Society.

School Lunches Are Healthier Now…But Do Kids Like Them? Study says Yes.


school meal BTGWe all know that healthier school meals improve kids’ diets. But did you know kids’ like them?

The first national surveys of school leaders show that the majority of students like the new healthier lunches schools are offering after USDA’s improved nutrition standards went into effect in fall 2012.

This study is done by Bridging the Gap,  a nationally recognized research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation dedicated to improving the understanding of how policies and environmental factors affect diet, physical activity and obesity among youth, as well as youth tobacco use.

In elementary school the study finds that there hasn’t been a significant impact on participation in the school lunch program. Sixty‐five percent of public elementary schools reported no overall change in the number of students purchasing lunch, 19 percent reported an increase in student participation, and 17 percent reported a decrease.

In middle and high schools it was found that by the spring a majority of the students generally liked the new meals to at least some extent (70% of middle school students; 63% of high school students).

The generally positive reactions to updated school meal nutrition standards may indicate they are a promising strategy to improve the diets of children and adolescents. Policymakers should continue to assist elementary and secondary school officials with implementation of the updated nutrition standards.


Find the July 2014 Research Brief here.

And find more information about how healthy snacks affect Latino childhood obesity, visit the Growing Healthy Change platform!

A Candid Conversation About Childhood Obesity with TEDMED


TedMedThe national childhood obesity rate has leveled off, but rates are still far too high – and racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities persist with more than 39% of Latino kids overweight or obese. What needs to happen to show bigger results, faster?

Join leaders from Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, American Heart Association, City of Philadelphia Government, UCSF School of Medicine, & AcademyHealth for a TEDMED Great Challenges Hangout about childhood obesity, and how we can all make sure ALL children can grow up at a healthy weight.

How do we make sure all children can grow up at a healthy weight? What are some of the underlying environmental and societal causes that must be addressed? What could corporate, community and policy leaders do to further address this critical public health issue?

Join health & research leaders from across the country for a TEDMED Great Challenges Hangout about childhood obesity.

On July 22, some of the nation’s top health and research leaders will take measure of the progress and challenges in our ongoing struggle with childhood obesity.

Join them here for “TEDMED Great Challenges: A Candid Conversation About Childhood Obesity.”

San Antonio Researcher Named to U.S. Minority Health Committee

Dr. Cynthia Mojica

Dr. Cynthia Mojica

Dr. Cynthia Mojica, a researcher at the Institute for Health Promotion Research (IHPR) at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, is among five new appointees to the Advisory Committee on Minority Health for the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The 10-member committee advises the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health on improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations.

Members are appointed by the secretary for their minority health expertise.

Mojica, who will serve on the committee through 2018, has extensive experience conducting research in cancer prevention and control. She has made strides to increase cancer screening and diagnostic follow-up, as well as obesity prevention, with an emphasis on community and clinic-based intervention development among ethnic minority and underserved populations.

“I am honored to serve on this committee and am looking forward to offering my perspectives on how to best increase the health of Latino and other minority populations,” Mojica said.

Mojica also has held leadership positions in the Latino Caucus of the American Public Health Association. She was recently appointed to the Diversity Committee in the School of Medicine at the Health Science Center, and is a member of the Cancer Prevention and Population Science research program of the Cancer Therapy and Research Center, the National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center at the Health Science Center.

She is recipient of the W.K. Kellogg Fellowship in Health Policy Research and the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Service Research Award from the National Cancer Institute.

Learn more about the federal committee and its other new members here.

Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez: Eating to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Women who eat large quantities of red meat may have a higher risk of breast cancer, according to a recent Harvard study.

Women who eat large quantities of red meat may have a higher risk of breast cancer, according to a recent Harvard study.

Research is proving that, if we eat the right food, it can help fight cancer.

But, what foods fight cancer? What foods don’t? Are there such things as healthy — and tasty — meals and snacks?

Dr. Amelie G. Ramirez dives into this issue in a new post on the Susan G. Komen for the Cure national blog on breast cancer issues.

Dr. Ramirez is professor and director of the Institute for Health Promotion Research at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, the team behind SaludToday.

Here’s an excerpt:

Previous studies have shown that eating fruits and vegetables may slightly lower the risk of some types of breast cancer. Carotenoids, a natural orange-red food pigment found in foods like carrots and squash, have been linked to a reduced risk of breast cancer, and researchers are also investigating the effect that dairy, meat, folate (found in leafy greens) and other foods can have on breast cancer risk and development.

While these studies are promising, more research needs to be done to answer our questions about diet and cancer prevention.

Susan G. Komen has invested more than $20 million into research that is addressing these questions and others about the relationship between diet and exercise and breast cancer prevention. Whether it’s research into phytoestrogens (plant estrogens present in soy and some herbs) or the benefits of a diet rich in fish oil, Komen’s research investment in this area spans diet, exercise and obesity.

My own research in the San Antonio area has focused on diet as well. With funding from Komen, my team and I recently launched a new study to teach breast cancer survivors how certain foods may reduce the risk of breast cancer recurrence as well as the risk of developing other cancers.

Our study, Rx for Better Breast Health, will randomly assign breast cancer survivors to one of two groups. Each study group will get different cancer nutrition tools, possibly including cooking demonstrations by Chef Iverson Brownell, who specializes in creating healthy, tasty culinary recipes.

Read the full post here.

Go here to find out more about Dr. Ramirez’ new Rx study, or call 210-562-6579 to see if you qualify.

Study: A Look into Chronic Disease and Hispanics in the U.S.


July15NCLRNational Council of La Raza (NCLR) has released a new report on July 15, 2014 on Latnio Health. The report, “An Inside Look at Chronic Disease and Health Care among Hispanics in the United States,” examines the challenges in preventing and managing chronic diseases in the Latino community.

With support from Boehringer Ingelheim and in partnership with public health consulting firm John Snow, Inc.(JSI), NCLR gathered information about the rates of chronic disease among the Hispanic community, the challenges and motivators faced in prevention and management efforts and the roles of health care providers and community resources in helping Latinos handle health issues and chronic conditions.

The report is based on written surveys and focus groups of patients at community-based health centers across the country that belong to the NCLR Affiliate Network.

The study boasts three major findings; there is high prevalence of chronic disease in Hispanic communities, there is often inadequate chronic disease management available to those who need it, and surveyed participants reported many challenges to receiving proper care.

To read more about the study and it’s finding, visit NCLR’s website and download the report.

Go to Top