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President Trumps doctor is a D.O, not an M.D. Whats the difference? – Tampa Bay Times

Dr. Katherine Pannel was initially thrilled to see President Donald Trumps physician is a doctor of osteopathic medicine. A practicing D.O. herself, she loved seeing another glass ceiling broken for the type of doctor representing11% of practicing physiciansin the U.S. and now1 in 4 medical studentsin the country.

But then, as Dr. Sean Conley issued public updates on his treatment of Trumps COVID-19, the questions and the insults about his qualifications rolled in.

How many times will Trumps doctor, who is actually not an MD, have to change his statements? MSNBCs Lawrence ODonnelltweeted.

It all came falling down when we had people questioning why the president was being seen by someone that wasnt even a doctor, Pannel said.

The osteopathic medical field has had high-profile doctors before, good and bad. Dr. Murray Goldstein was the first D.O. to serve as a director of an institute at the National Institutes of Health, and Dr. Ronald R. Blanck was the surgeon general ofthe U.S. Army. Former Vice President Joe Biden, challenging Trump for the presidency, alsosees a doctor who is a D.O.But another now former D.O., Larry Nassar, who was the doctor for USA Gymnastics, was convicted of serial sexual assault.

Still, with this latest example, Dr. Kevin Klauer, CEO of the American Osteopathic Association, said hes heard from many fellow osteopathic physicians outraged that Conley and by extension, they, too are not considered real doctors.

You may or may not like that physician, but you dont have the right to completely disqualify an entire profession, Klauer said.

For years, doctors of osteopathic medicine have been growing in number alongside the better-known doctors of medicine, who are sometimes called allopathic doctors and use the M.D. after their names.

According to theAmerican Osteopathic Association, the number of osteopathic doctors grew 63 percent in the past decade and nearly 300 percent over the past three decades. Still, many Americans dont know much about osteopathic doctors, if they know the term at all.

There are probably a lot of people who have D.O.s as their primary (care doctor) and never realized it, said Brian Castrucci, president and CEO of the de Beaumont Foundation, a philanthropic group focused on community health.

Both types of physicians can prescribe medicine and treat patients in similar ways.

Although osteopathic doctors take adifferent licensing exam, the curriculum for their medical training four years of osteopathic medical school is converging with M.D. training as holistic and preventive medicine becomes more mainstream. And starting this year, both M.D.s and D.O.s were placed into one accreditation pool to compete for the same residency training slots.

But two major principles guiding osteopathic medical curriculum distinguish it from the more well-known medical school route: the 200-plus hours of training on the musculoskeletal system and the holistic look at medicine as a discipline that serves the mind, body and spirit.

The roots of the profession date to the 19th century and musculoskeletal manipulation. Pannel was quick to point out the common misconception that their manipulation of the musculoskeletal system makes them chiropractors. Its much more involved than that, she said.

Dr. Ryan Seals, who has a D.O. degree and serves as a senior associate dean at the University of North Texas Health Science Center in Fort Worth, said that osteopathic physicians have a deeper understanding than allopathic doctors of the range of motion and what a muscle and bone feel like through touch.

That said, many osteopathic doctors dont use that part of their training at all: A 2003 Ohio study said approximately75%of them did not or rarely practiced osteopathic manipulative treatments.

The osteopathic focus on preventive medicine also means such physicians were considering a patients whole life and how social factors affect health outcomes long before the pandemic began, Klauer said. This may explain why 57 percent of osteopathic doctorspursue primary carefields, as opposed to nearly a third of those with doctorates of medicine, according to theAmerican Medical Association.

Pannel pointed out that shes proud that42 percentof actively practicing osteopathic doctors are women, as opposed to36 percentof doctors overall. She chose the profession as she felt it better embraced the whole person, and emphasized the importance of care for the underserved, includingrural areas. She and her husband, also a doctor of osteopathic medicine, treat rural Mississippi patients in general and child psychiatry.

Given osteopathic doctors' likelihood of practicing in rural communities and of pursuing careers in primary care,Health Affairsreported in 2017, they are on track to play an increasingly important role in ensuring access to care nationwide, including for the most vulnerable populations.

To be sure, even though the physicians end up with similar training and compete for the same residencies, some residency programs have often preferred M.D.s, Seals said.

Traditional medical schools have held more esteem than schools of osteopathic medicine because of their longevity and name recognition. Most D.O. schools have been around for only decades and often are in Midwestern and rural areas.

While admission to the nations37 osteopathic medical schoolsis competitive amid a surge of applicants, thegrade-point average and Medical College Admission Test scoresareslightly higherfor the155 U.S. allopathic medical schools: Theaverage MCATwas 506.1 out of 528 for allopathic medical school applicants over a three-year period, compared with 503.8 for osteopathic applicants for 2018.

Seals said prospective medical students ask the most questions about which path is better, worrying they may be at a disadvantage if they choose the D.O. route.

Ive never felt that my career has been hindered in any way by the degree, Seals said, noting that he had the opportunity to attend either type of medical school, and osteopathic medicine aligned better with the philosophy, beliefs and type of doctor he wanted to be.

Many medical doctors came to the defense of Conley and their osteopathic colleagues, including Dr. John Morrison, an M.D. practicing primary care outside of Seattle. He was disturbed by the elitism on display on social media, citing the skills of the many doctors of osteopathic medicine hed worked with over the years.

There are plenty of things you can criticize him for, but being a D.O. isnt one of them, Morrison said.

Lauren Weber is Midwest correspondent for Kaiser Health News, a nonprofit news service covering health issues. It is an editorially independent program of KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation), which is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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President Trumps doctor is a D.O, not an M.D. Whats the difference? - Tampa Bay Times

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Stellar Speakers to Make Targeting Metabesity 2020 One of the Most Important Healthy Longevity Conferences of the Year – PRNewswire

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Building on ground-breaking conferences in London (2017) and Washington (2019), Metabesity 2020 will be held online, with an all-access free pass option, on Oct. 12-15.

Keynoters include Dr. Victor Dzau, (President of the National Academy of Medicine), Dr. Kenneth Dychtwald (Founder of Age Wave and one of America's leading gerontologist), and Lord Geoffrey Filkin (Chair of the Strategic Advisory Group of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group for Longevity). Congresswoman Shalala, the longest-serving Secretary of Health and Human Services in history and now representing Miami-Dade County, Florida, one of the oldest demographics in the U.S., will join for a fireside chat in a session on making healthy longevity a national priority. Other speakers include Peter Stein(Director of FDA's Office of New Drugs), Luigi Ferrucci (Scientific Director of the National Institute on Aging of NIH), top researchers in geroscience, diabetes, cancer, and neurodegenerative diseases, and their peers in industry, capital markets and other stakeholders.

This unique, silo-busting conference gathers more than 70 speakers in 20 sessions and will focus on preventing chronic disease and the extension of "healthspan," the portion of life spent free of significant disease.Targeting Metabesity 2020 will also offer a full day for Longevity Sector Investors at the Shark Tank-inspired Emerging Company Showcase on Oct. 15.

Founder and Co-Chair of Metabesity 2020, Dr. Alexander Fleming commented, "We are a part of a global moonshot project to advance healthy longevity for all within the next decade. We aim to make healthy longevity a national policy and part of everyday clinical practice. In addition to presenting the amazing scientific advances, in this Pandemic year, we are spotlighting the importance of equal access to solutions and the related disparities across ethnic, gender, and socioeconomic groups."

Conference Co-chair, Stanford ProfessorDr. Lawrence Steinman, a co-discoverer of the multiple sclerosis drug, Tysabri and a number of other therapeutic approaches, added, "After several decades of stupendous progress in treating immediately life-threatening conditions, orphan and genetic disorders, and incapacitating degenerative diseases, we must turn our attention to slowing the aging process and reducing the risks of the major chronic diseases. Collectively, these diseases account for the great majority of morbidity and mortality and healthcare spending across the globe."

Conference organizer and Kinexum CEO Thomas Seoh noted, "This year's edition of Metabesity is a major milestone for the conference. A large and diverse online global audience has registered, and many more will be able to view the recorded proceedings.We are thrilled that the not-for-profit Kitalys Institute is taking the conference forward, along with related initiatives. Kitalys and the Metabesity Conference are partnering with a powerful network of academic, business, and governmental organizations to help reap the longevity dividend, a triple health, well-being and economic win for our young, our growing elderly, taxpayers, and our economy."

Conference organizer and Kitalys Institute Executive Director Adriane Berg added, "The Kitalys Institute mission is to accelerate the translation of emerging science into equitable gains in public health.We are thrilled and honored to work with the prominent speakers and motivated attendees of the Metabesity conferences to prevent or delay chronic diseases and extend healthy longevity."

To simulate the ambience and networking of previous conferences, Metabesity 2020 will include social gatherings after each day's program and a gala event on Wednesday evening. Acclaimed artists Voces8 and composer Eric Whitacre and his 17,000+ singers virtual choir will provide musical interludes. Amazing improv rapper and comedian Chris Turner will emcee the gala event.

For further information, please contact:

Adriane Berg, Executive Director, Kitalys Institute, at [emailprotected], +1 (201) 303-6517.

AlisonCockrell, Custom Management Group, at[emailprotected].

Targeting Metabesity 2020 website at http://www.metabesity2020.com

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SOURCE Kitalys Institute

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Stellar Speakers to Make Targeting Metabesity 2020 One of the Most Important Healthy Longevity Conferences of the Year - PRNewswire

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CBD Users Think Its Real Medicine That Cures Acne, AFib, Anxiety Where’s the Evidence? – SciTechDaily

Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical found in hemp or marijuana plants that does not make users high. Despite CBD only beingapprovedby the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat rare forms of childhood epilepsy, CBD has been widelymarketed as a cure-allunder the auspices of wellness. These claims have coincided with anexplosion in CBDs popularityraising the troubling question: Are patients using CBD to treat medical conditions that could otherwise be improved or cured by established treatments with verifiable efficacy?

A new study lead by theQualcomm Institutes Center for Data Driven Health at the University of California San Diego, published inJAMA Network Open, reviewed CBD user testimonials to discover why they take CBD, finding the vast majority used CBD to treat diagnosable medical conditions, including for psychiatric, orthopedic, and sleep conditions while fewer took CBD for wellness.

The reasons consumers take CBD had not been previously studied because experts lacked access data where large groups of users discussed in detail why they take CBD, said Dr. Eric Leas, Co-Founder of the Center for Data Driven Health, Assistant Professor in the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Longevity Science at UC San Diego, and lead author.

To fill this gap the team turned to Reddit, a social media website with 330 million active users. Reddit is organized into communities focused on specific topics, many of which deal exclusively with health. The team monitored all r/CBD posts, where users can find anything and everything CBD related, from its inception in January 2014 through February 2019.

A random sample of posts was drawn and analyzed by the team who labeled them according to if the poster testified to using CBD to treat a diagnosable medical condition or using CBD for non-specific wellness benefits. On r/CBD users tell us in their own words why they take CBD, addedDr. John W. Ayers, also with the Center for Data Driven Health and Vice Chief of Innovation in the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health who co-authored the study.

90 percent of testimonials on r/CBD cited using CBD to treat diagnosable medical conditions. For example, many testimonials recounted experiences such as, after using CBD for 2 months, my autism symptoms have improved. My family has noticed great improvements and I have finally been able to attend important social events.

Through a process of labeling the posts, the team grouped this subset of testimonials into 11 categories corresponding to medical subspecialties. Psychiatric conditions (e.g., autism or depression) were the most frequently cited sub-category, mentioned in 64 percent of testimonials, followed by orthopedic (26 percent), sleep (15 percent), and neurological (7 percent) conditions. There were also testimonials that claimed CBD treated addiction, cardiological, dermatological, gastroenterological, ophthalmological, oral health, and sexual health conditions, ranging from 1 to 4 percent of all posts [as detailed in the accompanying study materials].

The public appears to believe CBD is medicine, added Dr. Davey Smith, Chief of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health and study coauthor. Who would have predicted that the public might ever think CBD is a cardiology medication?

By contrast, just 30 percent of testimonies cited using CBD for wellness benefits, the vast majority citing mental wellness, e.g., quieting my mind, and about 1 percent citing any physical wellness benefit, e.g., exercise performance.

CBD retailers attempt to evade FDA regulation by framing their product as a wellness aid, rather than a therapeutic, said Dr. Alicia Nobles, with the Center for Data Driven Health and Assistant Professor in the Division of Infectious Disease and Global Public Health. But when users explain why they take CBD in absence of any prompts they will commonly cite they are using it for medicinal purposes like to treat acne.

At this time there are no known medical uses for over-the-counter CBD, said Dr. Leas. CBD is this generations snake oil as millions believing to have discovered a new medical breakthrough are actually taking a product without evidence of a benefit.

The obvious harm is that some patients might forgo seeing a physician or taking medications with known, tested and approved therapeutic benefits in favor of CBD and thereby become sicker or succumb to their illness, added Mr. Rory Todd, study co-author and research associate in the Center for Data Driven Health.

While many think that using CBD poses few risks to consumers trying CBD out, the team notes that taking CBD can harm patients in other ways that warrant cautious use. There are several documented cases of CBD products leading to mass poisons, because unlike FDA-approved medications there are no uniform safety standards governing the manufacture or distribution of CBD, said Mr. Erik Hendrickson, study co-author and research associate with the Center for Data Driven Health. CBD can also interact with patients prescribed medications, including resulting in rare but dangerous side effects such as liver damage and male reproductive toxicity, added Dr. Smith who is also a practicing physician.

The lack of regulation governing the CBD marketplace may drive misperceptions of CBD the team notes. The public isnt spontaneously coming to the conclusion that CBD is medicine. Instead, this is a natural response to the largely unchecked marketing claims of CBD retailers, added Dr. Ayers. A lack of regulation puts the onus on physicians who must raise concerns about CBD with patients one-on-one instead of focussing on evidence-based treatments. For instance, since the COVID-19 outbreak claims that CBD prevents or treats COVID-19 are now commonplace.

Now is the time to act, concluded Dr. Leas. Government regulators must step up to the plate and give CBD the same level of scrutiny as other proven medications. Moreover, anyone considering taking CBD should instead consult a physician to identify a proven medication.

Reference: Self-reported Cannabidiol (CBD) Use for Conditions With Proven Therapies by Eric C. Leas, PhD, MPH; Erik M. Hendrickson, MPH, MA; Alicia L. Nobles, PhD, MS; Rory Todd, BA; Davey M. Smith, MD, MAS; Mark Dredze, PhD and John W. Ayers, PhD, MA, October 2020, JAMA Network Open.DOI: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.20977

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Watermark Aims To Be ‘Tesla of Senior Housing’ With Precision Wellness Model – Senior Housing News

Wellness has always been at the foundation of Watermark Retirement Communities business model. Now, the Tucson-based operator aims to take wellness to the next level with a precision approach.

That is, Watermark is harnessing technology, partnerships, new in-house talent, building design and novel operational approaches to support tailored wellness for each resident.

In this regard, Watermark Chairman David Freshwater compares Watermark to Tesla. He calls the automaker a technology company that just happens to make cars, and considers Watermark to be a wellness company that provides housing and services for seniors.

Were going to try to be the Tesla of senior housing, he said Wednesday during a fireside chat at Senior Housing News BUILD conference, being held virtually this week.

In recent years, senior living has increasingly shifted from a focus on taking care of peoples needs to promoting their wellness. Often, these new operational models are organized around various facets of wellness, such as physical, intellectual and spiritual.

While Watermark also believes in a multi-faceted approach to wellness, a pitfall is viewing wellness as a discrete component of how a senior living community is built and operates, Freshwater said. For instance, some senior living communities have wellness centers, which is where wellness-oriented programming occurs.

But the pursuit of wellness must be ongoing and supported across a residents entire experience, Freshwater argued.

It comes back to the idea of the whole community being a wellness center, he said.

Freshwater came to this conclusion in part through work that Watermark has done over the years with wellness pioneers based in Tucson, including Canyon Ranch and the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.

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This work began with the very first community that Watermark opened, in 1987. The University of Arizona Center for Aging approached the operator about a wellness concept it wanted to embed in a retirement community. This concept, Project AgeWell, set Watermark on a path of incorporating wellness throughout its building designs and operations.

As Watermark grew and evolved, its commitment to wellness did not waver, but wellness was not necessarily a core component of every project as it had been at the first community. Another turning point came in 2005, when Watermark held a forum with some leading minds in wellness and added a new dimension of wellness to those typically considered. This additional dimension was focused on the built environment.

Today, Watermarks portfolio encompasses 60 communities with 12 under development, and is creating communities to support wellness through all aspects of design. This not only includes major efforts such as having wellness-oriented restaurants but must extend to some less obvious areas such as landscaping. One example Freshwater gave was the decision to eliminate the use of chemical weedkillers. Because its more difficult to keep weeds in check through other methods, there are occasionally weeds in the landscaping, so sales staff had to be educated that this is a feature to sell residents on, not a source of embarrassment.

Likewise, the landscaping is designed to blend with the existing environment; if a community is located in a desert, designs often let the desert extend all the way to the back doors of apartments.

So the operator spends time educating its residents about the possible natural dangers they may encounter in such an environment. Freshwater noted that it is not uncommon for residents in Watermarks desert communities to find rattlesnakes on their back decks. Rather than compromising wellness-oriented design for the sake of preventing such incursions, the providers philosophy calls for education and common sense.

That rattlesnake isnt going to bite you just call maintenance and well move it, Freshwater said, referring to the message conveyed to residents.

Watermark is taking a measured approach to rethinking building design in the Covid-19 era. Freshwater is cognizant that certain aspects of a buildings plant will have to change, such as HVAC systems. But the operator is looking at ways to retrofit designs that accommodate permanent changes stemming from the coronavirus, without acting rashly.

Were not going to be knee jerk and saying, lets put up plexiglass, Freshwater said.

He envisions the permanent changes Covid-19 will bring to the built environment will be similar to the safety measures enacted by the airline industry after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks such as tighter safety checkpoints and procedures at airports and reinforced metal doors on airplanes preventing access to cockpits.

Watermark views the pandemic as an opportunity to get granular and study what can be implemented in communities that strikes a balance between the services residents pay for with enhanced safety in the event of another mass outbreak.

And many of the approaches are simple. Watermark is looking at spacing dining rooms to encourage social interaction while compartmentalizing residents into smaller groups. The company is reviewing outdoor space in warm-weather communities to determine methods to seamlessly move from indoors to outdoors, such as indoor-outdoor exercise classes.

Community restrictions that Watermark enacted during the pandemics early weeks laid bare the need for resident engagement a core pillar of the operators E4 wellness strategy. (The other pillars are essence, enhance and embody.) The framework is being developed with leadership from Aras Erekul, who worked for Canyon Ranch before joining Watermark.

To Freshwater, a key principle of the approach is that keeping residents safe is not the same as keeping them well.

We could tell in our own communities that we really needed to somehow find a way to get people engaged again, he said.

As the pandemic persists, Watermark is looking at ways to tailor and scale its wellness programs to a larger resident population, and technology will play a role. The operator is adapting its Watermark University program in which residents, staff and families host classes rooted in their passions so that classes will be available to residents either on demand or in real-time, virtual settings.

Watermark has precedent in doing this. The operator once launched the Fountains Club, a wellness program at its CCRCs which opened its slate of amenities to seniors living outside the campus. The program was well received, with up to 200 people from the outside community participating.

It was a win-win for the community because it allowed us to have more vibrant programming and a broader offering for our residents, Freshwater said.

Moving forward, partnerships will play a pivotal role in achieving Watermarks wellness goals and this is an area where he noted the industry as a whole needs to improve. Watermark entered a partnership with the longevity center at UCLA, where the operator is opening a community on campus, and is exploring other partnerships with research centers, hospital groups and wellness specialists.

In Freshwaters view, wellness must not be simply medical. It can also involve arts, culture, music anything that can enhance the services it provides to residents, it will consider.

There are literally thousands of affiliations that we could have been cultivating, he said. If you have more minds approaching a topic, youre going to do better at it than if you just stay myopic.

Precision wellness is a demanding operational model that at its most robust requires dedicated staff members. Communities that are part of Watermarks high-end Elan brand, which includes a high-profile New York City project that is soon to welcome its first residents, do staff at this higher level.

But, advancements in technology and the embrace of tech driven by Covid-19 also open up new possibilities for bringing wellness to more affordable communities, Freshwater believes. For instance, being able to share wellness programming across various communities through virtual platforms creates cost efficiencies.

Covid-19 gives me hope that wellness isnt a luxury, Freshwater said.

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CLEVER CARE HEALTH PLAN Announces Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Approval – Insurance News Net

ARCADIA, Calif. (PRWEB) September 24, 2020

Today, Clever Care Health Plan announced the regulatory approval from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to begin offering Medicare Advantage services in Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego counties.

CMS is a federal agency that regulates reimbursement for healthcare products and services for the two largest healthcare programs in the country, Medicare and Medicaid. Together with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA,) CMS also oversees the safety and effectiveness of pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and healthcare services.

"We are excited to have received the approval from CMS, which places the company in a timely position to begin enrolling Medicare-eligible prospects during the Annual Election Period," says Dave Firdaus, Chief Executive Officer of Clever Care Health Plan. "With a diverse population residing in Southern California, we anticipate great interest in the wellness and preventive benefits of Eastern medicine that Clever Care Health Plan will uniquely provide."

During the Annual Election Period, which begins on October 15th through December 7th, Clever Care will be able to offer two different plan options, Clever Care Longevity Medicare Advantage HMO Plan and Clever Care Balance Medicare Advantage HMO Plan. Both plans include robust Eastern medicine benefits, a first in the market.

"We have been streamlining all internal operations including a diverse customer service team, who will have the ability to provide support services to the community in the language most comfortable for them and most reflective of the Southern California population," says Mr. Firdaus.

Clever Care is a health plan that integrates the benefits of Eastern medicine with an extensive network of over 15,000 provider facilities and 30 leading hospitals in Southern California.

About Clever Care Health Plan Clever Care Health Plan is an insurance corporation based in Southern California that offers affordable and innovative enhanced benefits with a holistic approach to care. Formed to connect the benefits of Eastern and Western medicine through an extensive network of PCPs and specialists, Clever Care Health Plan offers a differentiated health care solution. Clever Care of Golden State Inc. (DBA Clever Care of California) is a wholly owned subsidiary of Clever Care Health Plan. Detailed information can be found at http://www.CleverCareHealthPlan.com.

Read the full story at https://www.prweb.com/releases/clever_care_health_plan_announces_center_for_medicare_and_medicaid_services_approval/prweb17421222.htm

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Tracking the Working Dogs of 9/11 – The Bark

When veterinarianCynthia Ottowas in Manhattan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks helping support the search and rescue dogs, she heard rumors about the possible impact on the dogs long-term health.

I was at Ground Zero and I would hear people make comments like, Did you hear that half of the dogs that responded to the bombing in Oklahoma City died of X, Y, or Z? Or theyd say dogs responding to 9/11 had died, she recalls. It was really disconcerting.

It also underscored to her the importance of collecting rigorous data on the health of dogs deployed to disaster sites. An initiative that launched in the weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks did just that, and this week, 19 years later, Otto and colleagues findings offer reassurance. Dogs that participated in search-and-rescue efforts following 9/11 lived a similar length of time, on average, compared to a control group of search-and-rescue dogs and outlived their breed-average life spans. There was also no discernible difference in the dogs cause of death.

Honestly this was not what we expected; its surprising and wonderful, says Otto, director of theSchool of Veterinary MedicinesWorking Dog Center, who shared the findings in theJournal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

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While postmortem results showed that dogs that deployed after the 9/11 attacks had more particulate material in their lungs upon their death, it seems this exposure didnt cause serious problems for the animals in life. The most common cause of death were age-related conditions, such as arthritis and cancer, similar to the control group.

During and in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 response, Otto and colleagues reached out to handlers to recruit search-and-rescue dogs into a longitudinal study that would track their health, longevity, and cause of death. They recruited 95 dogs that had worked at the World Trade Center, Fresh Kills Landfill, or Pentagon disaster sites. As a control group, they also included in the study 55 search-and-rescue dogs that had not deployed to 9/11.

As part of being involved, the dogs received annual medical examinations, including chest X-rays and blood work. When the dogs died, the researchers paid for the handlers to have veterinarians collect samples of various organ tissues and send them for analysis at Michigan State University. Forty-four of the 9/11 dogs and 19 of the control group dogs underwent postmortems. For most of the other dogs in the study, the research team obtained information on cause of death from medical records or the handlers themselves.

While the team had expected to see respiratory problems in the exposed dogsconditions that have been reported by human first responders to 9/11they did not.

We anticipated that the dogs would be the canary in the coal mine for the human first responders since dogs age faster than humans and didnt have any of the protective equipment during the response, Otto says. But we didnt see a lot that was concerning.

In fact, the median age at death for 9/11 dogs was about the same as the control group: 12.8 compared to 12.7 years. The most common cause of death for the dogs that deployed was degenerative causestypically euthanasia due to severe arthritisfollowed closely by cancer, though the risk of cancer was about the same as in control group dogs.

Otto and her colleagues have ideas for why the foreign particulate matter found in some of the dogs lungs did not translate to ill health, though they emphasize that theyre speculations, not yet based in data.

For the pulmonary effects, its somewhat easier to explain because dogs have a really good filtering system, Otto says. Their lungs are differentthey dont get asthma, for exampleso it seems like there is something about their lungs thats more tolerant than in humans.

She notes that working dogs tend to be extremely physically fit compared to pet dogs, perhaps counteracting any ill effects of the deployment conditions on health. But working dog handlers and trainers can always do more to focus on fitness and conditioning, especially because doing so could slow the progression of arthritis, a disease which played a role in the death of many dogs in the study.

We know when people stop moving, they gain weight and that puts them at a higher risk of arthritis, and arthritis makes it painful to move, so its a vicious cycle, she says. The same can be true of dogs.

The mind-body connection may also help explain the difference between humans and dogs and the longevity of the working dogs, Otto says, as dogs dont necessary worry and experience the same type of stress in the wake of a disaster.

These dogs have an incredible relationship with their partners, Otto says. They have a purpose and a job and the mental stimulation of training. My guess is that makes a difference, too.

Ottos coauthors were Elizabeth Hare and Kathleen M. Kelsey from the Penn Vet Working Dog Center and John P. Buchweitz and Scott D. Fitzgerald from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University.

Article used with permission of University of Pennsylvania

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