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CLINICAL NEWS The Digital Underground The Truth About Cancer and Opioids Although telemedicine is gaining ground in the U.S., the use of telehealth services is still the exception, rather than the rule. Patients with cancer are less likely to die from opioid abuse and misuse than those in the general population, according to findings from a retrospective analysis. According to an American Medical Association (AMA) survey of 3,500 physicians: Reviewing death certificates from 2006 to 2016 on which opioids were listed as a contributing cause of death, the re- searchers reported that the incidence of opioid-related deaths (per 100,000 people) ranged from 5.33 to 8.97 in the general population and from 0.52 to 0.66 in the cancer population, meaning patients were 10 times less likely than the general population to die as a result of opioids (p value not provided). worked in practices that used telemedicine for patient interactions (e.g., patient diagnosis and follow-up visits) worked in practices that used telemedicine for interactions with health-care professionals (e.g., specialty consultation or second opinions) “We found that in addition to specialty, larger practice size was an important correlate of telemedicine use,” the authors noted, suggesting that “the financial burden of implementing it may be a continuing barrier for small practices.” Source: Kane CK, Gillis K. The use of telemedicine by physicians: still the exception rather than the rule. Health Aff. 2018 December 3. [Epub ahead of print] CANCER POPULATION GENERAL POPULATION The results should reassure hematologists/oncologists that opioids can be used safely for cancer-related pain management, the authors concluded, but “care should be taken when planning effective treatment of cancer- related pain.” Source: Chino FL, Kamal A, Chino JP. Opioid-associated deaths in patients with cancer: A population study of the opioid epidemic over the past 10 years. J Clin Oncol. 2018;36(suppl):230. Junk the Junk Food Opting for organic foods might lower the risk of cancers, including breast cancer and several types of lymphomas, according to findings from a large French cohort study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. In a sample of 68,946 volunteers who tracked whether they ate organic or conventional ver- sions of 16 specific foods over 7 years, people who reported eating organic “most of the time” had a 25% lower risk of cancer, compared with those who never ate organic (p=0.001). The authors suggested that the lack of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or genetically modified organisms in organic foods might explain the lower cancer risk, but these findings need to be confirmed in further research. Source: Baudry J, Assmann KE, Touvier M, et al. Association of frequency of organic food consumption with cancer risk: findings from the NutriNet-Santé Prospective Cohort Study. JAMA Intern Med; 2018;178:1597-606. ASHClinicalNews.org ASH Clinical News 19