The novel coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, China has sickened tens of thousands of people and the number of cases is growing as of this recording. The World Health Organization has declared a global health emergency and countries around the world have enacted travel restrictions and public health measures to contain the outbreak. The situation is changing rapidly and the public is understandably concerned. We recorded this podcast to provide the most timely information on what is known about the novel coronavirus outbreak including: How infectious is the virus? How deadly? How does it compare to other recent outbreaks such as SARS? What are reasonable precautionary measures to keep ourselves safe? Host Bryan James speaks with two experts in infectious disease epidemiology, Dr. Justin Lessler, Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Dr. Michael Mina, Assistant professor of Epidemiology and Immunology at Harvard School of Public Heath, and a physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
Screen time has been blamed for health issues ranging from sleep disturbances, to depression, and obesity. But how much do we actually know about how media use affects health? Are some people more at risk than others? What role does the content of what we watch play in these health outcomes? Can screen time be beneficial? In this episode, host Bryan James is joined by Anna Pollack to explore this topic, along with media time expert Dr. Jenny Radesky, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan.
As the new year approaches, many people (epidemiologists included!) will resolve to begin exercising more. Making a renewed commitment to exercise is among the most common New Year’s resolutions. Although almost everyone knows they should be exercising, there is a lot of confusion about how much exercise we really need to stay healthy. Does the amount or type of exercise you need depend on whether you’re exercising to lose weight or exercising to stay healthy? Should you be adding a fitness tracker to your gift list? Are you ever ‘too old’ to lift weights? In this episode, new host Bryan James is joined by Hailey Banack to explore these, and other, interesting topics with physical activity expert Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk of the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
We are in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic. More American lives have been lost to drug overdoses than were lost either at the height of the AIDS epidemic, or during the Vietnam war. There has been a lot of recent debate about what has caused this epidemic, and to what extent is the pharmaceutical industry at the root of this problem. Yet a lot of questions remain about this issue. Why do we say we are in the midst of an epidemic, and how has this epidemic evolved? How has the opioid overdose epidemic affected US life expectancy? What factors have contributed to this problem, and what role has the pharmaceutical industry played? Are we seeing the same problem in other countries? What is being done to address the opioid overdose epidemic, and how effective are these different types of approaches? In this episode, guests Dr. Magdalena Cerdá, Director of the NYU Center for Opioid Epidemiology and Policy, and Dr. Noa Krawczyk, Assistant Professor of the NYU Department of Population Health, join Matt Fox to discuss these fundamental questions and to offer some thoughts on ways forward to address this critical public health problem.
Gun violence is endemic in the United States. It’s become a politically polarized topic and the discourse, which tends to focus on mass shootings, is replete with misinformation. Key questions underlying this debate are inherently epidemiological and population research can help separate fact from fiction. For example, what does the data tell us about trends in gun ownership and gun violence in the United States? To what extent are gun deaths attributable to mass shootings and murders versus gun suicides? What policy levers regulate gun ownership and use, and what do we know (and not know) about their impacts? In this episode, guest Dr. David Hemenway, Director of the Harvard Injury Control Research Center, joins Matt Fox and Arijit Nandi in grappling with these fundamental questions, and tries to bridge the gap between the perceived and actual reality of gun violence in the United States.
While cigarette smoking has declined in the US, vaping has increased dramatically—especially among younger Americans. While vaping may be less harmful to human health than combustible tobacco products like cigarettes, it still contains highly addictive nicotine and other potentially harmful but not well-understood chemicals. And yet many of us don’t really know exactly what vaping is and how it differs from cigarette smoking. Should vaping be seen as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes for smokers, or a gateway to nicotine and other addictions for teens and current non-smokers? How is vaping regulated and does this need to change? In the sixth episode of Epidemiology Counts, Bryan James and Matt Fox interview Dr. Craig Ross from the Boston University School of Public Health about the health effects and increasing rates of vaping, and whether this can be seen as a net benefit or harm to society.
Did you get your flu shot? Employers and other institutions that have a stake in our health, wellbeing and productivity have decided the flu shot is a worthwhile investment. However, many people seem ambivalent about the flu shot. What is behind these different perspectives? In the 6th episode, Matt Fox and Jennifer Ahern interview Dr. Arthur Reingold on the topic of influenza and the flu vaccine. In this episode we uncover some of the details behind the flu as a disease, its transmission, and learn about the flu vaccine to help everyone make better informed decisions for themselves and their families.
How do we know what’s really making us sick? And how to do we make it better? If we read the newspaper, we might think it’s whether we follow a low fat diet, whether we took the stairs those two flights to our office instead of jumping on the elevator, and ditching cigarettes once and for all. But our guests today, Sandro Galea and Katherine Keyes, will argue that those decisions are all part of a broader picture of what drives health, and that intervening upstream of diet and cigarettes has a greater potential to affect the health of populations. We know that education, poverty, social injustice, and health care system organization have vast consequences for life and health; Galea and Keyes will discuss how these factors shape population health, and what we can do to re-prioritize research so that we maximize the potential to improve health for many.
Did you know there are 39 grams of sugar in a standard can of soda? That’s approximately equal to consuming 10 sugar cubes in one sitting! In the fourth episode, Matt Fox and Hailey Banack interview Dr. Barry Popkin on the topic of sugar sweetened beverages. In this episode we highlight the links between sugar sweetened beverages and obesity and discuss some ideas for public health policy to limit consumption of sugar sweetened beverages.
In the third episode, Matt Fox and Anna Pollack interview Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, professor at NYU Langone Health, on plastics. In this episode, we answer that nagging question as you microwave your lunch – should we microwave our food in plastic? Do plastics in consumer products reflect a health risk? If so, how could we change our habits to minimize that risk?