Health Highlights: March 6, 2008

  • Past month use of illicit drugs for people age 12 or older was highest in Rhode Island (11.2 percent) and lowest in North Dakota (5.7 percent).
  • Utah had the lowest past month use of marijuana among people age 12 or older (4.3 percent), while Vermont had the highest (9.7 percent).
  • Oklahoma had the highest rate (6.7 percent) of past year use by people age 12 or older of pain relievers for non-medical reasons, while Hawaii, New Jersey, and South Dakota had the lowest rate (3.9 percent).
  • The District of Columbia had the highest rate (12.3 percent) of substance abuse disorders (either drug or alcohol dependence or abuse), while New Jersey had the lowest (7.5 percent). The highest rate of illicit drug dependence or abuse was in the District of Columbia (4.3 percent) and the lowest was in Iowa (2.1 percent). The highest rate of alcohol dependence or abuse was in Montana (10.8 percent), while the lowest was in Kentucky (6.3 percent).
  • Nevada had the highest rate of people age 18 or older reporting at least one major depressive episode in the past year (9.4 percent), while Hawaii had the lowest (5.0 percent).
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    Falls a Serious Health Threat for Older Americans

    In 2006, about 5.8 million Americans age 65 and older reported falling at least once in the previous three months, and 1.8 million reported sustaining some type of fall-related injury that required a visit to a doctor or restricted activity for at least a day, according to this week's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    The authors said the statistics reinforce the need to raise awareness and to provide effective interventions for falls, which can cause injuries that can seriously impair older adults' quality of life and add a significant burden to the health care system.

    The report also found that while there was no difference in the percentage of men and women who reported falling, about 36 percent of women sustained injuries from their falls, compared to about 25 percent of men.

    To help older adults lead independent, healthy lives, the CDC offers two free publications.

    One is called Preventing Falls: What Works. A Compendium of Effective Community-Based Interventions From Around the World. The other publication is called Preventing Falls; How to Develop Community-Based Falls Prevention Programs for Older Adults.

    Both publications are available on the CDC Web site at


    Patrick Swayze Faces Tough Struggle Against Pancreatic Cancer

    Doctors say actor Patrick Swayze faces a difficult fight after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, ABC News reported.

    "Patrick has a very limited amount of disease and he appears to be responding well to treatment thus far," George Fisher, Swayze's doctor, said in a prepared statement released by the actor's publicists.

    People with pancreatic cancer have about a five percent chance of being alive five years after diagnosis, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute. One reason for the poor prognosis is that there's no reliable screening method for pancreatic cancer.

    "Sixty (percent) to 70 percent of pancreatic cancers are diagnosed in the most advanced stage -- when it has spread to other organs -- and we have, at best, minimally effective therapies for advance pancreatic cancer," William Blackstock, professor of radiation oncology at the Wake Forest University Comprehensive Cancer Center in Winston-Salem, N.C., told ABC News.

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