Tag Archives: Ulysses Labilles

Bridging Cancer Epidemiology and Social Evolution

Research Design 2Modern epidemiology is a direct result of the paradigm shift from a population-based (upstream) to a downstream (individual) approach. The impact of modern epidemiology such as ‘molecular’ and ‘genetic’ epidemiology (Loomis & Wing, 1990; Diez-Roux, 1998) requires an explanatory power that mostly dependent upon the advances in technology and information systems. Moreover, before estimating the economic effect of a specific intervention before it is implemented, nor assess the economic and/or quality-of-life value of an ongoing or anticipated intervention (Rothermel, 2013); it is critical to recognize not only the significance of sophisticated technologies that go beyond the established genome, proteome, and gene expression platforms, but also new techniques of study design and data analysis (Pearce, 1996; Verma, Khoury & Ioannidis, 2013). Given the remarkable progress in the last decade in advanced technology and new methods for biologic measurements, the reductionist approach of modern epidemiology often ignored the significant causes of disease. Pearce (1996) argue that epidemiology must reintegrate itself into public health and must rediscover the population perspective. However, while the new paradigm could produce a lifestyle approach to social policy, the cumulative outcome of research in cancer epidemiology could equate positive implications to population health.

The key figures in the new epidemiologic model not only acknowledges the development of new techniques of study design and data analysis but also recognize the need for a multidisciplinary approach (social, biologic, statistical), and specifying the population group as the unit of study (Susser, 1985). While occupational carcinogens can be controlled with some difficulty through regulatory measures (Pearce, 1996), it is essential to acknowledge the fundamental problem of tobacco use, not by its consumption but in its production. Pearch (1996) focused on some of these fundamental changes in epidemiology over the past few decades and considered the concepts of causality involved, as well as their ideological and practical consequences. While smoking cessation could be the probable social implication, it is important to stress the epidemiologic value of a study on the apparent correlation between gender and age, modification effect of tobacco use among individuals with pancreatic cancer (PC) and cancer types with a shared-gene association (CTSG-A). The outcome of a risk factor epidemiologic study in individual terms could uplift precision medicine to meet the challenges in tailoring medical interventions based on patient’s biological profile, genetic and epigenetic traits, giving a better understanding of the environment, genetic, biodemographic interactions (EGBIs).

Embraced by both biomedical and social determinist frameworks, the interlinking of the traditional epidemiologic level of intervention (upstream or distal) and the modern epidemiologic level of intervention (downstream or proximal) put public health in the conundrum of the proximal-distal divide. Signal the importance of the argument of the 2008 study of Krieger in replacing the terms proximal and distal from the public health lexicon, supports the recommendation of Wemrell et al. (2016) on the critical need for open interdisciplinary debates on the contribution of social theory to the epidemiological inquiry. While coping with the demand of the 21st-century, global health could still be viewed and approached within the mindset of traditional epidemiology, and the purview of molecular and cancer epidemiology.

The discovery of tobacco smoking as a cause of lung cancer in the early 1950s gave the field of epidemiology its recognition (Pearce, 1996), shifting the epidemiologic paradigm in the object of study in the mid-20th century on the role of multiple causes. Establishing the correlation of age, gender a modifiable risk factor (smoking) with PC and CTSG-A requires the use of early and current epidemiologic theories, and contemporary mainstream epidemiologic concept coalescing to a United Paradigm of Cancer Causation (UPCC). The complex, integrative approach of UPCC supports the views of Loomis, and Wing (1990), Pearce (1996), and McEwen and Getz (2013) in embracing the new epidemiologic paradigm congruent to the advances in cancer genome sequencing. Theorizing the pathopoiesis mechanism of smoking, inherited genes, and association of gender and age in the etiopathogenesis of PC/CTSG-A warrants exploration of its causal footprints, conjoining both biomedical and lifestyle (Krieger, 2011).

Follow-up and future research on the role of molecular epidemiology in emphasizing individual susceptibility to PC will assess the relative contribution of modifiable risk factors to non-modifiable genetic factors. In this premise, the etiopathogenesis of the disease could be explored from the bottom up. Bridging cancer epidemiology and social evolution will be dependent upon the incorporation of the strength of the social network and social contagion theory. The testable assumption of the social network theory as its strength states that the social structure of the network itself be primarily responsible for determining individual behavior and attitudes by shaping the flow of resources which determines access to opportunities and constraints on behavior (Berkman et al., 2000). Why choose if a single theory cannot make a change? Incorporating these ideas in addition to the composite and underpinnings of UPCC could springboard a priori argument on the role of social networks in the spread of an intervention such as smoking cessation, or amplifying the promotion of the significance of early screening to improve mortality and morbidity.

While the causal nature of peer effects could be associated with tobacco use; the social contagion theory of Christakis and Fowler (2013) set an argument on human social networks exhibiting a “three degrees of separation.” Such association could support the assumption of spreading the interpersonal influence that acknowledges the significance of early screening, and the promise of a novel therapeutic approach. Like the widely discussed classic paper of Travers and Milgram (1969) on ‘six degrees of separation,’ the three degrees of separation or the three degrees of separation rule (Christakis & Fowler, 2009) agreed on the premise that telegraph phrases are meant to be evocative, and not definitive. For example, the role of interpersonal influence in spreading novel ideas such as advances in early screening to achieve a more significant therapeutic outcome. The preponderance of the evidence that points to the added significance of a passive-broadcast viral messaging to create social contagion warrants the recognition of the approach. Taking into account factors such as the promise of the outcome of a research study in the quality of life, social and economic incentives could expand the social network and amplify social support needed by individuals with PC or any deadly diseases. According to Kroenke et al. (2013), effective social support interventions need to evolve beyond social-emotional interventions and need to account for disease severity and treatment status.


Berkman, L. F., Glass, T., Brissette, I., & Seeman, T. E. (2000). From social integration to health: Durkheim in the new millennium. Social Science & Medicine51(6), 843-857. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0277-9536(00)00065-4

Christakis, N.A & Fowler, J.H. (2009). Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives. (First ed.). New York: Little, Brown, and Company.

Christakis, N. A., & Fowler, J. H. (2013). Social contagion theory: examining dynamic social networks and human behavior. Statistics in medicine32(4), 556-577. doi: 10.1002/sim.5408

Diez-Roux, A. V. (1998). On genes, individuals, society, and epidemiology. American Journal of Epidemiology148(11), 1027-1032. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.aje.a009578

Krieger, N. (2008). Proximal, Distal, and the Politics of Causation: What’s Level Got to Do With It?  American Journal of Public Health (AJPH), 98(2). http://dx.doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2007.111278

Krieger, N. (2011). Epidemiology and the people’s health: theory and context (Vol. 213). New York: Oxford University Press.

Kroenke, C. H., Kwan, M. L., Neugut, A. I., Ergas, I. J., Wright, J. D., Caan, B. J., … & Kushi, L. H. (2013). Social networks, social support mechanisms, and quality of life after breast cancer diagnosis. Breast cancer research and treatment139(2), 515-527. doi:  10.1007/s10549-013-2477-2

Labilles, U. (2015a). Reevaluating the Impact of Cigarette Smoking on Pancreatic Cancer. Unpublished manuscript, College of Health Sciences, Public Health, Epidemiology, Walden University, Minneapolis.

Labilles, U. (2015b, September 27). A Promise to a Dying Brother [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://onenationsecho.com/2015/09/27/a-promised-to-a-dying-brother/.

Labilles, U. (2015c). Prospectus: Tobacco Use and Family Cancer History in the Pathopoiesis of Pancreatic Cancer. Unpublished manuscript, College of Health Sciences, Public Health, Epidemiology, Walden University, Minneapolis.

Labilles, U. (2016). The New Public Health: Beyond Genetics and Social Inequalities. Unpublished manuscript, College of Health Sciences, Public Health, Epidemiology, Walden University, Minneapolis.

Labilles, U. (2017). Pathopoiesis Mechanism of Smoking and Shared Genes in Pancreatic Cancer. ProQuest-CSA, LLC. Library of Congress, Copyright R# TX 8-490-984, Washington DC. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30721.35681

Loomis, D., & Wing, S. (1990). Is molecular epidemiology a germ theory for the end of the twentieth century?. International journal of epidemiology, 19(1), 1-3. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ije/19.1.1

McEwen, B. S., & Getz, L. (2013). Lifetime experiences, the brain, and personalized medicine: An integrative perspective. Metabolism62, S20-S26. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.metabol.2012.08.020

Pearce, N. (1996). Traditional epidemiology, modern epidemiology, and public health. American journal of public health86(5), 678-683.

Rothermel, C. (2013). What is health economics and outcomes research? A primer for medical writers. AMWA Journal, 28(3)

Susser, M. (1985). Epidemiology in the United States after World War II: the evolution of technique. Epidemiologic reviews7(1), 147-177. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordjournals.epirev.a036280

Travers, J., & Milgram, S. (1969). An experimental study of the small world problem. Sociometry, 425-443. doi: 10.2307/2786545

Verma, M., Khoury, M. J., & Ioannidis, J. P. (2013). Opportunities and challenges for selected emerging technologies in cancer epidemiology: mitochondrial, epigenomic, metabolomic, and telomerase profiling. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention22(2), 189-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1263

Wemrell, M., Merlo, J., Mulinari, S., & Hornborg, A. C. (2016). Contemporary epidemiology: a review of critical discussions within the discipline and a call for further dialogue with social theory. Sociology Compass10(2), 153-171. doi: 10.1111/soc4.12345


From an Evolutionary Model to the Unified Paradigm of Cancer Causation (UPCC)

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Three essential events launched the field of cancer epidemiology during the 18th century. First, is Bernardino Ramazzini’s study on cervical cancer in 1713, the research of Percival Pott in 1775 that led the way on occupational carcinogenic exposure studies, and Thomas Venner on the danger of tobacco use in his Via Recta, published in London in 1620 (American Cancer Society, 2014). After two centuries when John Hill wrote a book entitled “Cautions Against the Immoderate Use of Snuff” in 1761; Krain (1970), along with other studies in the 1970s, Wynder, Mabuchi, Maruchi and Fortner (1973) explored the causality of tobacco use in the development of PC. Jones et al. (2008) found that PCs have an average of 63 genetic alterations that can explain the major features of pancreatic tumorigenesis. The intensive genetic studies described by Jones et al. (2008) gave way to the better understanding of the core set of pathways and processes, embracing the idea of Owens, Coffey, and Baylin (1982) that tumor heterogeneity is a fundamental facet of all solid tumors. While pancreatic cancer (PC) has few viable treatment options, Jones et al. (2008) suggested that the best hope for therapeutic development may lie in the discovery of agents that target the physiologic effects of the altered pathways and processes rather than their gene components. Above all, the significance that could not have been appreciated in the absence of global analysis is the identification of the precise genetic alterations that may be responsible for tumor pathway dysregulation (Jones et al., 2008).

The pathogenic theory of medicine or the germ theory of disease was highly controversial when first proposed as a concept that microorganisms are the cause of many diseases. After validation in the 19th century, germ theory revolutionized both medical thought and the art of surgery, becoming a fundamental part of modern medicine and clinical microbiology. My metatheory, the “Unified Paradigm of Cancer Causation (UPCC)” is as a composite of germ theory and Darwinian evolutionary system (Greaves & Maley, 2012) along with other theories will provide clarity on the narrative of the initiation of PC. Albeit the acceptance of the somatic mutation theory of carcinogenesis (SMT) as the mainstream narrative of how neoplasms develop (Soto & Sonnenschein, 2004), SMT included in the UPCC’s cocktail of theories will build on the arguments of the core principle of genetic variation and pattern of mutations (environmental and genetics) that are sufficient probable causes of the disease. UPCC could explain the behavior of PC cell in rationalizing the complex array of the possible interaction of smoking and inherited genes.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most prevalent cause of cancer death in Western societies and is projected to be the second leading cause within a decade (Waddell et al., 2015). While using the Darwinian methods that link human sociocultural progress to genetic evolution (Richerson & Boyd, 2000); Lynch and Rebbeck (2013) used a “Multi-level Biologic and Social Integrative Construct” (MBASIC) to integrate macro environment and individual factors with biology. Considering the limitation and information generated by single-level studies have reached a saturation point (Lynch & Rebbeck, 2013), I highlighted the significance of individual level (behaviors, carcinogenic exposures); and biologic level (inherited susceptibility variants in my dissertation “Pathopoiesis Mechanism of Smoking and Shared Genes in Pancreatic Cancer.” Germline changes associated with PC could range from slightly increased risk (low penetrance genes) to high lifetime risk (high penetrance genes). Given that PC is the antecedent of inherited (germline), and acquired (somatic) mutations in cancer-causing genes, adding the probable correlation between gender and age, modifiable risk factors to the equation that could trigger or wake up a sleeping germline mutation could position the result of a study for improved public health intervention, translation, and implementation in clinical settings to alter the expression of the disease.


American Cancer Society. (2014). History of cancer epidemiology. Retrieved from http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/thehistoryofcancer/the-history-of-cancer-cancer-epidemiology

Greaves, M., & Maley, C. C. (2012). Clonal evolution in cancer. Nature, 481(7381), 306-313. doi: 10.1038/nature10762

Hill, J. (1761). Cautions Against the Immoderate Use of Snuff: Founded on the Known Qualities of the Tobacco Plant and the Effects It Must Produce When This Way Taken into the Body. R. Baldwin and J. Jackson, London, UK. (Held now only as a self-contained pamphlet at shelfmark 1560/2918 in the British Library).

Jones, S., Hruban, R. H., Kamiyama, M., Borges, M., Zhang, X., Parsons, D. W., … & Iacobuzio-Donahue, C. A. (2009). Exomic sequencing identifies PALB2 as a pancreatic cancer susceptibility gene. Science324(5924), 217-217. doi: 10.1126/science.1171202

Krain, L. S. (1970). The rising incidence of carcinoma of the pancreas—real or apparent?. Journal of surgical oncology2(2), 115-124. doi: 10.1002/jso.2930020206

Labilles, U. (2015a). Reevaluating the Impact of Cigarette Smoking on Pancreatic Cancer. Unpublished manuscript, College of Health Sciences, Public Health, Epidemiology, Walden University, Minneapolis.

Labilles, U. (2015b, September 27). A Promise to a Dying Brother [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://onenationsecho.com/2015/09/27/a-promised-to-a-dying-brother/.

Labilles, U. (2015c). Prospectus: Tobacco Use and Family Cancer History in the Pathopoiesis of Pancreatic Cancer. Unpublished manuscript, College of Health Sciences, Public Health, Epidemiology, Walden University, Minneapolis.

Labilles, U. (2016). The New Public Health: Beyond Genetics and Social Inequalities. Unpublished manuscript, College of Health Sciences, Public Health, Epidemiology, Walden University, Minneapolis.

Labilles, U. (2017). Pathopoiesis Mechanism of Smoking and Shared Genes in Pancreatic Cancer. ProQuest-CSA, LLC. Library of Congress, Copyright R# TX 8-490-984, Washington DC. doi: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30721.35681

Lynch, S. M., & Rebbeck, T. R. (2013). Bridging the gap between biologic, individual, and macroenvironmental factors in cancer: a multilevel approach. Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention22(4), 485-495. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-13-0010

Owens, A.H., Coffey, D.S. & Baylin, S.B. (1982). Tumor cell heterogeneity: Origins and Implications. (Vol 4). San Diego: Academic Press.

Richerson, P. J., & Boyd, R. (2000). Evolution: The Darwinian theory of social change: an homage to Donald T. Campbell. Paradigms of Social Change: Modernization, Development, Transformation, Evolution, pp. 1-30. http://www.des.ucdavis.edu/faculty/richerson/evolutionberlin.pdf

Richerson, P. J., Boyd, R., & Henrich, J. (2010). Gene-culture coevolution in the age of genomics. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(Supplement 2), 8985-8992. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0914631107

Soto, A. M., & Sonnenschein, C. (2004). The somatic mutation theory of cancer: growing problems with the paradigm?. Bioessays26(10), 1097-1107. doi: 10.1002/bies.20087

Waddell, N., Pajic, M., Patch, A. M., Chang, D. K., Kassahn, K. S., Bailey, P., … & Quinn, M. C. (2015). Whole genomes redefine the mutational landscape of pancreatic cancer. Nature518(7540), 495-501. doi: 10.1038/nature14169

Wynder, E. L., Mabuchi, K., Maruchi, N., & Fortner, J. G. (1973). Epidemiology of cancer of the pancreas. Journal of the National Cancer Institute50(3), 645-667. https://doi.org/10.1093/jnci/50.3.645


Indoor Tanning and Melanoma: A Public Health Issue

Indoor TanningIndoor Tanning and Melanoma: A Public Health Issue

Ulysses Labilles and Jennifer Beito

In Minnesota and other parts of the U.S., increase melanoma continue to be common among women than men younger than 50 years. Lazovich et al. (2016) highlighted the gap between age- and the sex-specific association studies between indoor tanning and melanoma. It was found that the strongest correlation between indoor tanning and melanoma is the anatomic site, commonly developed on the trunk in women. Lazovich et al. (2016) stated that while not as strong as for women, 2-fold increase among men who tanned indoors was found to have a higher risk of developing melanomas of the trunk. Furthermore, the findings in this 2016 study are “consistent with the divergent pathway hypothesis for melanoma, which suggest that intermittent solar ultraviolet radiation exposure among those with many nevi, in contrast to chronic solar ultraviolet radiation exposure in persons with fewer nevi, induce the development of the lesion at a younger age, with tumors developing on anatomic sites typically protected from the sun” (Lazovich et al., 2016). Whereas Lazovich et al. (2016) found considerable variation in the correlation between indoor tanning and melanoma by anatomic site, confirming indoor tanning as a possible predictor, responsible for the increased among younger women. Given the timing of increased risk among women indoor tanning users, it is expected for the melanoma epidemic to continue unless indoor tanning is restricted and reduced (Lazovich et al., 2016).


The field of melanoma genetics with new platforms to investigate, makes this area epidemiology move at a high pace. According to Ribero, Glass and Bataille (2016), genes involved in the cell cycle and senescence, identified in the genome-wide association studies over the last ten years, explains the development of the lesion, in addition to telomere biology that further links to reduced senescence. In this study, the role of clinicians was highlighted in recognizing the phenotypic, environmental, and familial risk factors for melanoma to identify those patients at risk who require screening and long-term follow-up (Ribero et al., 2016, p. 338). In this country, skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and increasingly becoming a major public health problem with more than 60,000 melanomas diagnosed in 2010 (Rogers et al. 2015; Guy et al. 2015). The potential causality for increased melanoma incidence was discussed by  Rivera, Han, and Qureshi (2013), traced to the 1980 obbligato explosion in indoor tanning. It is, therefore, essential for continued investigation from scientists, professional societies and legislators (Rivera et al., 2013). Using REP resources aggregated from residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota between 1970 and 2009, 256 young adults their first lifetime diagnosis of melanoma, between the ages of 18 and 39 years of age (Reed et al. (2012). The study confirms the arguments of Bleyer et al. (2006) that “the incidence of cutaneous melanoma is increasing among young adults, with this rate increasing more than 6-fold among adult men than women, but incidence are reversed among young adults and adolescents, with the female-male incidence ratio of 1.8 in young adults aged 20 to 24 years.” (Reed et al., 2012, p. 331) Reed et al. (2012) noted that the results of studies from the Rochester Epidemiology Project (REP) might be explained by some sex-specific behaviors such the increase likelihood of young women to participate to different UV light exposure than young men. While De Giorgi et al. (2012) stated that only minimal changes in mortality had been observed, there is a continuous increase in melanoma incidence worldwide. De Giorgi et al. (2012) supported the argument that indoor tanning may have been responsible for increased melanoma incidence in women and younger tanning bed users with higher estimated risk ratio in the general population. Debates over reducing indoor tanning tend to dominate discussions for its potential to reduce melanoma incidence, mortality, and treatment costs, the findings of the 2016 study of Guy et al. underscored the increased economic benefits and quantified the significance of continued efforts to reduce indoor tanning in preventing melanoma. Using a Markov model to estimate the expected number of melanoma cases,  lives and treatment costs saved, Guy et al. (2016) estimated 61,839 melanoma cases, prevent 6735 melanoma deaths, saving $342.9 million in treatment costs over the lifetime of the 61.2 million youth age 14 years or younger in the U.S. by restricting the use of  indoor tanning among minors younger than 18 years (Acscan.org, n.d.).

Discussion. Melanoma remains a public health issue, despite efforts to reduce indoor tanning, making melanoma incidence to rise continuously in the U.S. and globally, over and above-attempted prevention efforts (Le Clair, & Cockburn, 2016). The increased risk of malignant melanoma and other forms of skin cancer are found to be correlated with the ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning device, considered to be an urgent public health issue need to adopt the Action Model to Achieve Healthy People 2020. Ultraviolet light emitted from tanning beds is classified carcinogenic by the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2009, as an interceptive response to the associated risk of exposure with the initiation of melanoma (El Ghissassi et al., 2009). Tanning beds and its carcinogen, the length of time the skin is exposed, and whether or not the skin is protected with prescribed protection such sunscreen are all the key influences contributing the increased risk. Many individuals are exposed to sunlight during their quotidian lives, and popular alfresco activities elevate a person’s chance of developing skin cancer. For example, athletes who spend countless hours training and competing in the sun, workers who need to be under the direct sun exposure all day and children who play outside for countless hours are more prone to developing skin cancer. Exposure to UV radiation during childhood plays is a major role in the future development of melanoma and non-melanoma skin conditions. Many studies have determined that even short, intermittent but excruciating exposure to sunlight during childhood and adolescence significantly increase one’s risk of developing melanoma. More than one moiety of a person’s lifetime UV exposure occurs during childhood and adolescence. If a person has a history of one or more blistering sunburns during childhood or adolescence, such exposure could put these individuals two times greater risk to developing melanoma than those who did not have such exposures (Glanz, & Wechsler, 2002). Ultraviolet radiation is divided into three wavelengths ranges, however; only two of the ranges authentically perforate our atmosphere, UVA, and UVB. Scientists initially believed that only UVB rays played a role in the formation of skin cancer. UVB light does cause deleterious transmutations in skin cell DNA. UVB rays are responsible for sunburn and many basal and squamous cell cancers (English, Canchola & Finley, 1998). However, there are no safe UV rays. UVA rays withal contribute to skin cancer. These rays could cause a deeper skin damage than UVB, emasculates the skin’s immune system and increases the peril of cancer development, especially melanoma. Tanning lamps and tanning beds distribute high doses of UVA, which makes them especially hazardous (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2001). A 2002 Dartmouth study as noted by Goldstein and Goldstein (2001) showed tanning bed users had 2.5 times the peril of SCC and 1.5 times the jeopardy for BCC. Individuals more predisposed than others to the damaging effects of UV radiation could develop skin cancers. The increased risk of melanoma is shown to be higher among individual with family history. Melanoma and other types of skin cancer, risk factors include light or fair skin color, natural blond or red hair, sun sensitivity, immune suppression disease, vocation and geographic location (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2001).

Cases ascertained by a population-based, statewide cancer registry known as the Minnesota Cancer Surveillance System Skin Health Study and approved by the Institutional Review Board at the University of Minnesota, Lazovich et al. (2010) addressed the limitations on past studies in adjusting sun exposure and dose response of individuals using indoor tanning. Individuals diagnosed with any histologic type of melanoma between July 2004 and December 2007, between the ages of 25 and 59 was collected based on state driver’s license or state identification card. Previous studies show that indoor tanning use decreases with age. Therefore, the researchers truncated the age limit to 59 years old. Multiple regression was performed, and adjusted odd ratios show the likelihood of melanoma among users of indoor tanning, and never users were similarly elevated regardless of the age when indoor tanning began (Lazovich et al., 2010). The study of Lazovich et al. (2010) has several significant findings: “First, melanoma was found to be more frequent among indoor tanners compared with persons that never engaged in this activity. Second, measured by total hours, sessions, or years, a strong dose-response relationship was found between melanoma risk. Lastly, an increased risk of melanoma was found with the use of each type of tanning device examined as well as with each period of tanning use, suggesting that no device could be considered safe. Burns from indoor tanning seemed to be fairly common and conferred a similar risk of melanoma to sunburns, strengthening the associations explored significant even after adjusting for the potential confounding effects of known risk factors for melanoma.” (pp. OF9-OF10) Le Clair and Cockburn (2016) asserted the importance of prevention through doctor’s consultation, focusing on the significant impact of behavioral change than written intervention. The findings of this study suggest that knowledge of sun sensitivity in individuals with high UVR sensitivity may reinforce a positive outcome in sun exposure habits, and could represent a useful tool for reducing indoor tanning (Le Clair, & Cockburn, 2016, p.142). Spending an abundance of time alfresco for work or recreation without protective apparel and sunscreen increases the risk to develop skin cancers.  However, no matter what treatment you may cull; the primary cause is something which is kenned and avoidable – natural and artificial UV rays. As a result, the 2 primary aversion methods are simple to recollect, edify and implement – they are endeavored and proven (Goldstein & Goldstein, 2001): “Significantly limit exposure to the sun between the hours of 10 am and 4 pm, utilizing a sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher at all times each day, cover your skin with apparel, wear a hat and use sunglasses. Second, verbally express “no” to all other sources of UV radiation such as tanning beds and tanning lamps. Ergo, the next time you visually perceive someone exiting the tanning salon, relaxing midday in the direct sun at the beach or ambulating around with a flamboyantly discernible tan, do not be envious. Instead, view this person as you would a person smoking a cigarette. They are acting temerariously and jeopardizing their lives in an endeavor to imitate what is occasionally introduced by the media. Recollect, despite what the media may lead you to believe; you do not require a tan to look good. During the 2012 meeting by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it was concluded that future cases of skin cancer could be prevented, along with the associated morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs through discussion of research gaps and current body of evidence on strategies to reduce indoor. The overarching goals of Healthy People 2020 should be the framework of existing and future studies embracing the state of the evidence on strategies to reduce indoor tanning; the tools necessary to adequately assess, monitor, and evaluate the short- and long-term impact of interventions designed to reduce indoor tanning; and strategies to align efforts at the national, state, and local levels through transdisciplinary collaboration and coordination across multiple sectors (Holman et al., 2013).

Conclusion. The participation of health care providers is required for information dissemination as well as physical and psychological screenings to improve education to address the misconception about tanning safety. According to Friedman et al. (2105) “Public perception of the purported health benefits of indoor tanning can be blamed for the popularity of tanning salons as a desire to prepare the skin before sun exposure, the most commonly cited motivations for indoor tanning.” improve education to address the misconception about tanning safety. Artificial UVR is often misconceived to produce a “safer” tan than outdoor sunlight (CDC, 2014). Le Clair, & Cockburn (2016) argued that this belief is  “contradicted by scientific evidence, and must be addressed to effectively reduce the burden of indoor tanning on health outcomes worldwide.” (p. 140) According to Whitmore et al. (2001), Karagas et al. (2002), and Green et al. (2007), DNA damage in skin cells caused by exposure to indoor tanning UVR is associated with an increased risk of melanoma induction and other types of non-melanoma skin cancers. In-depth understanding of clinicians providing public health education outreach programs is critical from the epidemiology of melanoma to the increased risk of the developing tumors with the frequent use or use of tanning beds. Lobbying efforts such as the Indoor Tanning Association are the most significant barrier to state indoor tanning legislation (Obayan et al., 2010). The risk and benefits of indoor tanning was discussed during the 2012 report of the minority staff of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, asserted that 80 % of tanning salons told investigators that indoor tanning was beneficial to fair-skinned teenage girls, while 90 % of tanning salons denied that sunlamp use posed any health risks to this vulnerable group (Gottlieb et al., 2015). Such argument not supported by peer-reviewed study should always be challenged, and leaders both political, healthcare and public health should continue to cooperate in drafting evidence-based legislations to ease the economic and individual burden of melanoma induced by indoor tanning. It is paramount to increase the height of prevention efforts, not only limiting the use of tanning beds to children aged 18 or younger, but also to young adults over 18 years old who have increased the risk to melanoma. The transdisciplinary, multilevel, and coordinated approach has the potential to combat future cases melanoma and other forms of skin cancers by reducing indoor tanning, withal many barriers and challenges. While the role of new common sense legislation in tandem with public education campaigns is paramount, mass media campaigns are critical in introducing strategies and highlighting shared environmental risk, as well as the avoidable risk of indoor tanning use. Holman et al. (2013) posit that by reducing indoor tanning use, future cases of skin cancer could be prevented through tailored interventions following the context of comprehensive skin cancer prevention that promotes sun protection and sunburn avoidance when outdoors (Coups, Manne & Heckman,2008). Addressing contextual factors that promote tanning, including environmental and systems changes, social norms, the indoor tanning industry and the media will be dependent upon close coordination and collaboration of key partner across multiple levels. Continued literature must be encouraged among legislators, clinicians, and public health leaders, spreading its highlights through effective mass media outreach.


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Coups, E. J., Manne, S. L., & Heckman, C. J. (2008). Multiple skin cancer risk behaviors in the US population. American journal of preventive medicine, 34(2), 87-93.

CDC (2014). The Burning Truth. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/burningtruth/index.htm (2014)

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Goldstein, B. G., & Goldstein, A. O. (2001). Diagnosis and management of malignant melanoma. American family physician, 63(7), 1359-68.

Gottlieb, M., Balk, S. J., Geller, A. C., & Gershenwald, J. E. (2015). Teens and Indoor Tanning: Time to Act on the US Food and Drug Administration’s Black-Box Warning. Annals of surgical oncology, 22(3), 701-703.

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Guy, G. P., Machlin, S. R., Ekwueme, D. U., & Yabroff, K. R. (2015). Prevalence and Costs of Skin Cancer Treatment in the US, 2002− 2006 and 2007− 2011. American journal of preventive medicine, 48(2), 183-187.

Guy, G. P., Zhang, Y., Ekwueme, D. U., Rim, S. H., & Watson, M. (2016). The potential impact of reducing indoor tanning on melanoma prevention and treatment costs in the United States: An economic analysis. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Holman, D. M., Fox, K. A., Glenn, J. D., Guy, G. P., Watson, M., Baker, K., … & Sampson, B. P. (2013). Strategies to reduce indoor tanning: current research gaps and future opportunities for prevention. American journal of preventive medicine, 44(6), 672-681.

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Lazovich, D., Vogel, R. I., Berwick, M., Weinstock, M. A., Anderson, K. E., & Warshaw, E. M. (2010). Indoor tanning and risk of melanoma: a case-control study in a highly exposed population. Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Biomarkers, 1055-9965.

Lazovich, D., Vogel, R. I., Weinstock, M. A., Nelson, H. H., Ahmed, R. L., & Berwick, M. (2016). Association between indoor tanning and melanoma in younger men and women. JAMA Dermatology, 152(3), 268-275.

Le Clair, M. Z., & Cockburn, M. G. (2016). Tanning bed use and melanoma: Establishing risk and improving prevention interventions. Preventive Medicine Reports, 3, 139-144.

Obayan, B., Geller, A. C., Resnick, E. A., & Demierre, M. F. (2010). Enacting legislation to restrict youth access to tanning beds: A survey of advocates and sponsoring legislators. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology63(1), 63-70.

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Reed, K. B., Brewer, J. D., Lohse, C. M., Bringe, K. E., Pruitt, C. N., & Gibson, L. E. (2012). Increasing incidence of melanoma among young adults: an epidemiological study in Olmsted County, Minnesota. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings (Vol. 87, No. 4, pp. 328-334). Elsevier.

Ribero, S., Glass, D., & Bataille, V. (2016). Genetic epidemiology of melanoma. European Journal of Dermatology, 26(4), 335-339.

Rivera, A. R., Han, J., & Qureshi, A. A. (2013). Has too much blame been placed on tanning beds for the rise in melanoma diagnosis?. Expert Review of Dermatology, 8(2), 135-143.

Rogers, H. W., Weinstock, M. A., Feldman, S. R., & Coldiron, B. M. (2015). Incidence estimate of nonmelanoma skin cancer (keratinocyte carcinomas) in the US population, 2012. JAMA Dermatology151(10), 1081-1086.

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Whitmore, S. E., Morison, W. L., & Potten, C. S. (2001). Tanning salon exposure and molecular alterations. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology44(5), 775-780.

Ethical Concepts of the New Public Health

I am currently working on two essays that I needed to submit with my fellowship application, but the event in Paris made me stop for a few minutes and reflect on the scorching reminder that terrorism has no religion, a brand of madness, not faith. Such event amplified the urgency to stress the significance of New Public Health that carries a high potential for healthy less aggressive societies.  The main principles of living together in healthy communities were summarized by Laaser et al. (2002) as four ethical concepts of the New Public Health essential to violence reduction – equity, participation, subsidiarity, and sustainability. The coupling of current economic, demographic, and social issues will play a role in guiding future policy revisions. While my fellowship of interest is in epidemiology and infectious diseases, increased understanding of the interrelated dimensions of deracination or forced migration using the modern concept of public health is warranted. It is critical to understand the determinants of violence: the type of stigmatization; the process of urbanization; religious, ethnic, and racial prejudices; women’s status; the level of education; employment status; socialization of the family; availability of firearms;  alcohol and drug consumption;  and poverty.


Laaser, U., Donev, D., Bjegovic, V., & Sarolli, Y. (2002). Public health and peace. Croatian medical journal, 43(2), 107-113.

Socioeconomic Status and Public Health Financing

Health financing is the cornerstone of strategy development based on both in terms of raising resources and of ways to manage resources. It is critical to emphasize the need for greater evaluation of the distributional impact of policies and programs. Socioeconomic status could affect public health financing such as people with insurance or money, creating higher expenditures. On the other hand, medically underserved, uninsured and underinsured create greater expenses because they enter the health system at the advanced stages of diseases and in weakened conditions (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012). In addition to socioeconomic status, other social determinants that affects both average and distribution of health includes physical environment, lifestyle or behavior, working conditions, social network, family, demographics, political, legal, institutional and cultural factors. Since funding is considered as a scarce resource, it is paramount to allocate resources based on the identified gaps in care. The significance of socioeconomic data in US public health surveillance systems should be emphasized in order to monitor socio-economic gradients in health. Socioeconomic data is important in determining the allocation of resources for public health financing. Krieger et al. (2003) stated that the use of multilevel frameworks and area-based socioeconomic measures (ABSMs) for public health monitoring can potentially overcome the absence of socioeconomic data in most US public health surveillance systems. Moreover, political will is essential to bridging public health and action that will help in the development and implementation of public health policy based on scientific evidence and community participation. Epstein, Stern and Weissman (1990) found that hospitalized patients with lower socioeconomic status have longer stays and require more resources. It was suggested in this study that supplementary payments allocated to the poor merits further consideration. Strategies for more efficient provision of care for patients with low socioeconomic status can be developed at the managerial and clinical levels.

Inequality or disparity is defined as the difference in health status, inequalities in access to and quality of health care services. Additional disparities are attributed to factors such as discrimination in relation to health care system and the regulatory climate. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) found that disparities continue to dwell even when socio-demographic factors, insurance status, and clinical needs were controlled for racial and ethnic health care. Disparities dictate funding requirements for public health initiatives for the underserved populations. Furthering social justice and maximizing individual liberties will advance traditional public health goals. Socioeconomic status of communities drives the financing needs for public health initiatives; therefore, burdens of the program must be minimized and identified to reduce pre-existing social injustices. Social benefits, public health programs that stimulate dignified employment, and strengthening of communities are important benefits that should be given high consideration. Public health professionals and health department leaders may not have the capacity to implement all programs that could be beneficial to a target population or community, but advocacy is paramount to improving health. Sufficient data is critical to justify the necessity of the program. I believe that it is our duty as healthcare and public health leaders to remove from policy debates and decision-making any discriminatory procedures or unjustified limitations on personal liberties. Public policy should be based on an ethics perspective and multiple considerations.


Bleich, S. N., Jarlenski, M. P., Bell, C. N., & LaVeist, T. A. (2012). Health inequalities: trends, progress, and policy. Annual review of public health33, 7.

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Epstein, A. M., Stern, R. S., & Weissman, J. S. (1990). Do the poor cost more? A multihospital study of patients’ socioeconomic status and use of hospital resources. New England Journal of Medicine322(16), 1122-1128.

Getzen, T. E. (2013). Health economics and financing (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.

Kass, N. E. (2001). An ethics framework for public health. American Journal of Public Health91(11), 1776-1782.

Krieger, N., Chen, J. T., Waterman, P. D., Rehkopf, D. H., & Subramanian, S. V. (2003). Race/ethnicity, gender, and monitoring socioeconomic gradients in health: a comparison of area-based socioeconomic measures-the public health disparities geocoding project. American journal of public health93(10), 1655-1671.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012). Multi-media PowerPoint: Financing public health. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Palmer, N., Mueller, D. H., Gilson, L., Mills, A., & Haines, A. (2004). Health financing to promote access in low income settings—how much do we know? The Lancet364(9442), 1365-1370.

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Shi, L., & Singh, D. A. (2011). The nation’s health (8th ed.). Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

A Summer Phenomenon

For 26 days in 2011, every place in Texas showed higher concentrations of lung-damaging ozone than allowed by federal air-quality standards, especially in Dallas. The federal standard set in 2008 is 75 parts per billion. The spike in ozone which is particularly a summer phenomenon is exacerbated by trucks carrying drilling materials that emit nitrogen oxides, and natural gas escaping from pipelines or storage tanks that emit volatile organic compounds, or VOCs. Known ozone “precursors” such as nitrogen oxides and VOCs can react with each other to form ozone when aided by sunlight. The most difficult environmental issue North Central Texas face today is air quality. Dallas Forth Worth (DFW) region meets the standard for five of six criteria air pollutants defined by the EPA. The six pollutants are carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxides, ozone, particulate matter, and sulfur dioxide. The only air pollutant for which DFW do not meet the National Ambient Air Quality Standard is the ozone. In hot summers, combination of nitrogen dioxides and VOCs and concentrations of traffic and industry, Dallas is an ideal incubator for the creation of ground-level ozone.


Under the Clean Air Act, ozone pollution has long been regulated because of its tremendous hazards to the public. Under the Clean Air Act, ozone poses tremendous hazards to the public health and the environment. High ozone levels lead to respiratory distress and disorders; decreased lung function; increases in the emergency room visits and sick days. To address the serious problem of ozone, the Clean Air Act provides a multi-step process for ensuring that all areas of the country achieve acceptable ozone levels. EPA establish nationwide air quality standards for ozone (called National Ambient Air Quality Standards), which are required to be strong enough to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. The next step, EPA designate areas of the country that meet the standards, and those who do not. The last step, requiring states to submit plans for achieving and maintaining compliance with EPA’s ozone standards — with especially strict requirements for areas that currently do not meet the standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) updated its ozone air quality standards in March 2008. The EPA towards the end of 2012 promised the DFW residents for stronger protections against the harmful public health and environmental impacts of ground-level ozone. The agency announced on January 7, 2012 about its determination that Wise County, Texas contributes to high ozone levels in nearby Dallas-Fort Worth. This action required polluters in Wise County  to do their fair share to reduce ozone levels in Dallas-Fort Worth. Wise County was included in the DFW ozone designation due in large part to the emissions of nitrogen oxides, and volatile organic compounds from a recent boom in oil and gas production in the area. According to the Technical Support Document (TSD), the final area designations in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area for the 2008 ozone national ambient air quality standards are based on several factors and indicators. The population density and degree of urbanization were analyzed. TSD stated: EPA evaluated the population and vehicle use characteristics and trends of the area as indicators of the probable location and magnitude of non-point source emissions. These include ozone precursor emissions from on-road and off-road vehicles and engines, consumer products, residential fuel combustion, and consumer services. Areas of dense population or commercial development are an indicator of area source and mobile source NO2 and VOC emissions that may contribute to ozone formation that contributes to nonattainment in the area. Rapid growth in population or vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in a county on the urban perimeter signifies increasing integration with the core urban area and indicates that it may be appropriate to include such perimeter area(s) as part of the nonattainment area.


It is very important to recognize the effect of ozone to a population, especially adults and children who are already had chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma. Exposure may compromise the ability of the body to fight respiratory infections. Bell et al. (2004) a multisite time-series study of 95 large US urban communities throughout a 14-year period  found that widespread pollutant such as ozone adversely affects public health.


Area Designations for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/designations/2008standards/documents/R6_DFW_TSD_Final.pdf

Bell, M., McDermott, A., Zeger, S., Samet, J. & Dominici, F. (2004). Ozone and Short-term Mortality in 95 US Urban Communities, 1987-2000. JAMA;292(19):2372-2378. doi:10.1001/jama.292.19.2372.

Dallas Fort-Worth Breathes Easier Following EPA’s Decision … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2013/01/16/dallas-fort-worth-breathes-easier-following-epas-decision-on-wise-county-ozone-petitions/

Green Dallas…building a greener city! (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.greendallas.net/air_quality.html

Labilles, U. (2013). Obstacles of Disease Surveillance Interoperability: A Challenge to Public Health. (Unpublished,  PUBH-8115-1/HUMN-8115-1-Soc Behave Cultural Fact in Public Health. 2013 Spring Qtr. WK7Disc) Walden University, Minneapolis.





A Challenge to Public Health Surveillance Interoperability and Clinical Research

The obstacles that impact interoperability of the disease surveillance systems starts with the issue of balance between the public interest in the collection of information and the privacy rights. In theory, properly utilized, surveillance is a fundamental government activity, indispensable in nature (Gostin & Gostin, 2000). The legal complications brought about by the Fourth Amendment prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures, triggered the social impetus behind HIPAA and the HHS Report. The Fourth Amendment is a constitutional protection against wrongful enforcement of the law on access to private medical records. These offers insight into the growth and development of non-Fourth Amendment protections for medical records privacy, and examines later actions that appear to restrict or undercut these potential medical record protections. The shared goals of both public health surveillance and the protection of health information privacy will encourage individuals to fully utilize health services and cooperate with health agencies. The key to protecting the well-being of the community is the optimum balance between public health activities and privacy protection. This balance is challenged by the enactment and enforcement of current legislation such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act’s Privacy (HIPAA). The way public health exception of HIPAA Rule was drafted resulted to confusion and put this balance in jeopardy, as well as recognized reluctance to provide information to state and local public health agencies. Wilson (2009) stated that the exception ambiguously defines the role of public health authorities in maintaining the privacy of personally identifiable health information. Incertitude about privacy can be equipoised by initiatives by state and federal policy makers such as the report “Confidentiality of Individually-Identifiable Health Information” issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).  This report reflected a legitimate interpretation and representation of the best aspects of constitutional and judicial protections of medical records privacy using current innovative technology in health information and communication.

State, local, and tribal public health authorities shares the privacy challenges that are inherent in data sharing. Wilson (2009) stated that, in the process of promulgating the Privacy Rule, HHS recognized the need to inscribe an exception for public health purposes in order to allow authorities at all levels of government to continue to collect, analyze, and use health information that would otherwise be unavailable without prior patient consent. State courts and policy makers have produced some protection for individuals’ medical histories which are characterized more by their diversity and conflicting standards than by the quality of protection. Unfortunately, state laws offer little additional support for medical records protection from law enforcement intrusion, thereby it is paramount for continued collaboration between public health professionals, health leaders and policy makers to focus on needed amendments to protect the interest of both the public, patients and researchers which will then bridge the divide on the interpretation of the law. It is critical to acknowledge that challenge of law- and policy-makers in finding common ground between individual privacy expectations and the communal health authorities’ needs for identifiable health data. The dissemination and use of identifiable health data for public health purposes are typically supported by the public, but it relies on how the government and other entities maintain appropriate privacy and security protections in acquiring the data. It is warranted for the continued improvement on the level of protection afforded to the public and patients by state laws governing medical records privacy. Moral justifications should be considered in establishing firm, consistent set of rules governing law enforcement’s use and exchange of private medical records and data needed in clinical research. The obstacles that forestall data-sharing practices should be assessed and remedied within each jurisdiction. Legal interpretations should be openly discussed to properly develop and implement model policy to strengthen disease surveillance, and increase the efficiency of data-sharing practices between researchers and public health authorities at all levels.


Aarestrup, F. M., Brown, E. W., Detter, C., Gerner-Smidt, P., Gilmour, M. W., Harmsen, D., … & Schlundt, J. (2012). Integrating genome-based informatics to modernize global disease monitoring, information sharing, and response. Emerging infectious diseases18(11), e1.

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Bernstein, A. B., & Sweeney, M. H. (2012). Public health surveillance data: legal, policy, ethical, regulatory, and practical issues. MMWR Surveill Summ, 30-4.

Carroll, L. N., Au, A. P., Detwiler, L. T., Fu, T. C., Painter, I. S., & Abernethy, N. F. (2014). Visualization and analytics tools for infectious disease epidemiology: A systematic review. Journal of biomedical informatics.

Chan, M., Kazatchkine, M., Lob-Levyt, J., Obaid, T., Schweizer, J., Sidibe, M., … & Yamada, T. (2010). Meeting the demand for results and accountability: a call for action on health data from eight global health agencies. PLoS Med7(1), e1000223.

Chowdhary, S., & Srivastava, A. (2013). Cloud Computing: A Key to Effective & Efficient Disease Surveillance System. In Int. Conf. on Advances in Signal Processing and Communication. ACEEE (Lucknow).

El Emam, K., Hu, J., Mercer, J., Peyton, L., Kantarcioglu, M., Malin, B., … & Earle, C. (2011). A secure protocol for protecting the identity of providers when disclosing data for disease surveillance. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association18(3), 212-217.

Gostin, L. O., & Gostin, L. O. (2000). Public health law: power, duty, restraint (Vol. 3). Univ of California Press.

Gostin, L. O., Hodge, J. G., & Marks, L. (2002). The Nationalization of Health Information Privacy Protections. Tort & Insurance Law Journal, 1113-1138.

Hodge Jr, J. G., Torrey Kaufman, J. D., & Jaques, C. (2012). Legal Issues Concerning Identifiable Health Data Sharing Between State/Local Public Health Authorities and Tribal Epidemiology Centers in Selected US Jurisdictions.

Kulynych, J., & Korn, D. (2003). The New HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) Medical Privacy Rule Help or Hindrance for Clinical Research? Circulation108(8), 912-914.

Labilles, U. (2014). Obstacles of Disease Surveillance Interoperability: A Challenge to Public Health. (Unpublished, PUBH-8270-2. Health Informatics and Surveillance. 2014 Spring Qtr. WK11Disc) Walden University, Minneapolis.

Lenert, L., & Sundwall, D. N. (2012). Public health surveillance and meaningful use regulations: a crisis of opportunity. American journal of public health, 102(3), e1-e7.

Office for Civil Rights, H. H. S. (2002). Standards for privacy of individually identifiable health information. Final rule. Federal Register67(157), 53181.

Van Der Goes Jr, P. H. (1999). Opportunity Lost: Why and How to Improve the HHS-Proposed Legislation Governing Law Enforcement Access to Medical Records. University of Pennsylvania law review, 1009-1067.


Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Global Disease Surveillance System

The first confirmed case of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) in the United States raised concerns about the rapid spread of the disease if there is no disease surveillance system in place. MERS infection was first reported in Saudi Arabia in 2012. MERS morbidity and mortality is alarming in which its clinical features resembles severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) with the mortality rate of approximately 60% for those who was hospitalized with severe acute respiratory condition. The federal and state health officials released the information about the first U.S. MERS case on May 2, 2014 which is an example of the importance of disease surveillance in the public health system. The patient is a health care provider who flew from Saudi Arabia’s capital Riyadh to the United States, with a stop in London. He took a bus to Indiana after landing in nearby Chicago. On April 27, he began experiencing shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. Medical staff members who came into direct contact with this patient was placed in full isolation at Community Hospital in Munster, then were taken off duty and put in temporary home isolation. MERS have no known treatments, and symptoms can take up to 14 days to occur. The exposed medical staff members will be allowed back to work after the incubation period ends and their laboratory results are confirmed to be negative for the virus. The most important factor that is needed to be considered is the probability of rapid situational changes on the progression of human-to-human transmission. Anticipating this probability will be dependent upon the quality of surveillance systems to monitor symptomatic and mild infections. These include the network structure of infections within the MERS-CoV clusters. Understanding the pandemic potential of this virus is paramount to saving lives, therefore, it is important to acknowledge the significance of the necessary requirements for a sustained globalized environment in which the continued commitment of richer countries to make it a moral obligation to help institute required reforms, policies, structures and systems required for public health and disease surveillance. It is important to develop counter-measures in the event MERS-CoV starts evolving, and mutate that will make it easier to infect humans. Mathematical epidemiologists use reproduction number (R0) to measure the average number of infections in a fully susceptible population caused by one infected individual. In this scenario, R0 of this virus will need to be increased which will then pose a relevant challenge for estimating R0 from a series of outbreaks distributed through time. In a bioterrorism standpoint, it is critical for investigators to explore the probability for this virus to be mutated in a laboratory setting. Enhanced surveillance is needed to trace active contacts, as well as vigorous monitoring of the MERS-CoV animal hosts and transmission routes to human beings within and beyond the target population. As long as the transmission properties remain small, the rapid identification, and isolation of cases with a basic R0 will keep human-to-human transmission under control. Early detection of milder, and asymptomatic cases is paramount for the reduction of case fatality rate, since mortality rate of this disease is related to late stage diagnosis and comorbid medical conditions. Globalization has its positive and negative impacts, making the world smaller and increase its vulnerability to infectious disease outbreak. Renewed commitment to public health, and strong international partnerships are essential to strengthen national and international cooperation in infectious disease prevention and control.


Bauch, C. T., & Oraby, T. (2013). Assessing the pandemic potential of MERS-CoV. The Lancet382(9893), 662-664.

Breban, R., Riou, J., & Fontanet, A. (2013). Interhuman transmissibility of Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus: estimation of pandemic risk. The Lancet382(9893), 694-699.

CDC – Coronavirus – Middle East Respiratory Syndrome – MERS-CoV. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/mers/

Heymann, D. L., & Rodier, G. R. (1998). Global surveillance of communicable diseases. Emerging infectious diseases4(3), 362.

Labilles, U. (2014). Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS): The World is Getting Smaller. (Unpublished, PUBH-8270-2. Health Informatics and Surveillance. 2014 Spring Qtr. WK9Assgn) Walden University, Minneapolis.

Man treated for deadly MERS virus in Indiana improving: state … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/04/us-usa-health-mers-idUSBREA4208620140504?feedType=RSS

Man treated for deadly MERS virus in Indiana improving: state … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/nationworld/sns-rt-us-usa-health-mers-20140502,0,6981423.story

WHO calling in the experts on MERS-CoV | Hospital Infection … (n.d.). Retrieved from http://hicprevent.blogs.ahcmedia.com/2013/07/08/who-forms-emergency-committee-to-prepare-for-mers-cov-emergence/

Bridging the Technology Gap and Geographic Divide

This morning, I attended a webinar on the transitioning to ICD-10 CM and its impact on Public Health Surveillance presented by Peter Hicks of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While its benefits and challenges were discussed, the question to ask is the cost implications of the transition. Another question to ask is its compatibility to existing health information technology. I believe at this point, we need to embrace its advantages, and explore the merging of this initiative on its potential for higher quality and patient-centered care. Setting this topic aside for future dialogue, let me follow-up last week’s discussion on the true, meaningful use of personal health records (PHR), and health information exchange (HIE). In this milieu, let me discuss the promise of telehealth on higher quality and patient-centered care. The geographic separation between regional multi-site healthcare system in which one site is 32 miles or even 51.4 miles away is no longer a logistic problem using telehealth. The quality of care of the traditional model, where health care takes place when the patient and the provider are together at the same time and place can be amplified by current modern system of healthcare. It is important to acknowledge the importance of modern telecommunications and information technologies in providing management flexibility to providers, administrators and managers. It bridges the geographic separation between the patient-provider and management-staff, and allow us to challenge the notion of location and time. Video conferencing can be used to communicate with the provider, where the patient is located one part of the state and the physician is located at another part, or to show new Mohs technicians to perform cryotomy or frozen section immunohistochemistry. In this model, we can remotely monitor patient’s physical condition. Telehealth in concert with disease-specific surveillance data can assess the need for community outreach to educate and inform about the significance of the intervention.

The ability to capture and transmit images using the internet, teleconsultation can be used as an additional approach to teaching new surgical techniques, unbiased by doctrine or surgeon’s experience, enabling accurate quantitative criteria to evaluate the effectiveness of surgical cuts. In the context of cutaneous surgery, whereby contemporary research tools may become one of the criteria in the designing and performing of operations—telemedicine could be an innovative teaching platform presenting systematic pursuit of accurate, optimal cutting patterns and new surgical techniques. This capacity, when used in combination with digital pathology, could offer an alternative method to comply with Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) proficiency testing compliance on sharing Mohs slide images with another laboratory to confirm the quality of test of patient frozen section samples. In a multidisciplinary approach, it could bridge the consultation with dermatopathologist on the critical success of a high-quality Mohs surgery program. The dermatopathologist can play a role in quality assurance by reviewing Mohs slides at regular intervals to satisfy the requirement for proficiency testing. Teleconsultation and digital pathology can help assess margins in rare and difficult tumors. Moreover, consultation with dermatopathologist helps in ruling out residual disease or for further immunohistochemistry studies, as well as consultation to assess perineural involvement and uncertain frozen section diagnosis of unusual proliferative lesions. High ground such as remote monitoring of the progress of surgical repairs; we need to acknowledge the challenge in which many of these technologies can impact privacy and security. Telemedicine network structure may have an advantage over competitive hospital- or university-based networks, but the challenge will always be funding and organizational support.


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Labilles, U. (2014). Telehealth: Bridging the Geographic Challenge. (Unpublished, PUBH-8270-2. Health Informatics and Surveillance. 2014 Spring Qtr. WK8Disc) Walden University, Minneapolis.

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Sanders, T. B., Bowens, F. M., Pierce, W., Stasher-Booker, B., Thompson, E. Q., & Jones, W. A. (2012). The Road to ICD-10-CM/PCS Implementation: Forecasting the Transition for Providers, Payers, and Other Healthcare Organizations. Perspectives in health information management/AHIMA, American Health Information Management Association9(winter).

Terry, N. P. (2012). Anticipating Stage Two: Assessing the Development of Meaningful Use and EMR Deployment. Annals Health L.21, 103.

Tilleman, T. R. Optimization of Incisions in Cutaneous Surgery including Mohs’ Micrographic Surgery.