The Student Health Service/Campus Health department at the University of Pennsylvania created videos to accompany their tobacco-free campus campaign. Watch their video, supported by the University of Pennsylvania Prevention Research Center (UPenn PRC), to learn more about their plans to improve health and create a more beautiful and sustainable campus.
Visit their website for more information on this ongoing project and look for the signage that alerts students and staff that Penn is Tobacco Free. Student Health Services has also provided a Tobacco Cessation Resources brochure to help students quit smoking.
The University of Pennsylvania Celebrates 30 Years of the CDC’s Prevention Research Center Program
UPenn PRC Anniversary Story
Prostate Cancer Evidence Academy: A Year of Progress
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer in men; being African American is a key risk factor. Philadelphia, the fifth largest city in the US, is 44% black/ African American and in Pennsylvania, the incidence rate for prostate cancer is 58% higher for African American men than for white men.
These sobering statistics were incentive for UPenn PRC Director and Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor Karen Glanz, PhD, MPH, and Tim Rebbeck, PhD, to host the first Prostate Cancer Evidence Academy at the University of Pennsylvania in November, 2015. Sponsored by the UPenn PRC, the Cancer Prevention and Control Research Network, and the Penn Center for Excellence in Prostate Cancer Disparities, the conference gathered nearly 100 attendees, including health care providers, researchers, policy makers, survivors, and advocates for a comprehensive symposium on prevention, control, awareness, and education.
The goal of the conference was not only to present the latest data but to engage clinicians, public health professionals, policy makers, and patients/survivors in bridging the gap between research and practice. Bringing together the widest possible range of stakeholders created a unique model for sharing evidence-based research, models, and programs.
Neha Vapiwala, MD, a Penn associate professor of radiation oncology, attended the conference. Now, she and Glanz are working on a new train-the-trainer project which provides respected and trusted community and religious leaders with basic information about prostate cancer. The researchers see further applications of this model for other chronic diseases.
“Cultural myths and societal misperceptions about certain stigmatized diseases may prevent people from asking questions, understanding symptoms, or seeking care,” says Vapiwala,“Deep-rooted distrust of the health care system further exacerbates the problem.” “The conference was a first venture of its kind for us,” Glanz says. “Out of that came some clear needs, and some of them really converged with what Neha had noticed in her clinic.”
In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer Commentary, Cheryl Bettigole, MD, UPenn PRC Community Advisory Board member and Director of the Division of Chronic Disease Prevention at the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, advocates broadening the tobacco tax increase adopted by the Pennsylvania legislature last summer.
The tax increase was applied only to cigarettes, e-cigarettes, roll-your-own and smokeless tobacco. Bettigole advocates including cigars and cigarillos.
“More than 10 percent of high school boys now smoke cigars and the failure to tax these products is likely to make them disproportionately cheap and hence more attractive to teens. Like e-cigarettes, cigarillos come in a multitude of flavors that seem designed to draw kids in, and are often displayed in Philadelphia’s neighborhood stores next to displays of candy and gum.”
Flavored tobacco products are a particular draw to young people. According to Bettigole, seven out of ten teens who start smoking begin with a flavored tobacco product. Bettigole notes, “More than 90 percent of smokers start as teens and that addiction, once begun, can be impossible to break.”
Writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a loophole in the Affordable Care Act which disadvantages those who need colorectal cancer screening most, PRC Researcher Chyke A. Doubeni, MD, suggests that “this unfortunate scenario occurs in part because the U.S. Congress unfairly limits the ability of low-income Medicare beneficiaries to receive screening. This compounds other barriers and perpetuates long-standing disparities in mortality from colon cancer for seniors.”
Doubeni notes that misclassifiying colonoscopy as a “one-time activity” rather than including it in the screening menu of “a series of clinical activities involved in identifying and testing patients and performing diagnostic confirmation when necessary” makes the test available only to Medicare patients who can afford supplemental policies.
In the May 2016 issue of Gastroenterology, UPenn PRC Researcher Chyke Doubeni examines the barriers to screenings which provide early identification and prevention of colorectal cancer for low-income patients. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States; about 70% of those deaths occur in Medicare age-eligible patients.
Doubeni reviews the Affordable Care Act provisions intended to benefit low-income patients and examines why providers’ interpretations of those benefits have lead to confusion about insurance status of patients, insurance coverage for different steps of screening procedures, and reimbursement expectations. Doubeni’s recommendations include Congressional action to amend and clarify the provisions.