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LLU School of Public Health Study Links Mental Illness and Poor Diet — and More News Shorts


In this week’s news round-up, Loma Linda University School of Public Health study links mental illness and poor diet, an Adventist hospital and church in Ghana provide health care to prison inmates, Centura Health and Grand Junction’s Community Hospital end merger talks, and doctors at LLU Children’s Hospital perform its first stem cell transplantation for Sickle Cell disease.

Loma Linda University School of Public Health Study Links Mental Illness and Poor Diet. A new study, published in the International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition by Loma Linda University School of Public Health, found that adults with poor diet — such as low consumption of plant-based food but increased consumption of fast food, french fries, and soda — were more likely to show symptoms of moderate to severe psychological problems than those who have a healthier diet. Researchers gathered data from 245,891 telephone surveys conducted from 2005 to 2015, which included each participant’s health status, health behaviors, and socio-demographics. The results are still consistent even after taking into account other factors such as age, gender, marital status, income level, and education. “This and other studies like it could have big implications for treatments in behavioral medicine,” said Lead Author Jim E. Banta, PhD, MPH. “Perhaps the time has come for us to take a closer look at the role of diet in mental health because it could be that healthy diet choices contribute to mental health.” He added that the new study is in line with those from other studies conducted in other countries which have also found links between diet and mental health. For example, eating processed food, sugar, and dairy as well as living a sedentary lifestyle could lead to inflammation which causes depression. However, Banta emphasized that the new findings cannot fully establish the cause and effect between poor diet and mental illness and further research is still needed. From Vegan News, “Diet Low in Plant-Based Food Could Increase Risk of Mental Illness, Says Study.”

Seventh-day Adventist Hospital and Church in Ghana Provide Needed Prison Health Care and Funding. The Men’s Ministry of the Penkwase SDA Church in Sunyani, Ghana, has pledged to provide funds to procure medical supplies to effectively deal with the scabies infestation among the Sunyani Central Prisons inmates. This came to light when management and staff of the Seventh-day Adventist Hospital in Sunyani undertook a free medical screening exercise for inmates and staff of the Sunyani Central Prisons. Over 300 inmates and about a hundred staff were screened during the exercise, which lasted for two days. It revealed that a sizable number of inmates had been infected. Johann Nartey, the ASP Public Relations Officer of the Sunyani Prisons, was grateful to the SDA Hospital for the gesture, describing it as “timely and in the right direction.” The free medical screening was made possible by two medical doctors, 20 nurses, three nutrition officers, one ENT specialist, one health educator, the chaplain of the hospital, Pastor J. A. Boateng, and others. Head of the Outreach program, Caleb Osei, attributed the surge in scabies among the inmates to over-crowding and the lack of fresh air; he described the situation as very worrying. Osei, who also an emergency nurse, said the SDA Hospital in Sunyani decided to undertake the exercise to identify inmates with hidden medical conditions and offer assistance and also advise them about how to lead healthy lifestyles, especially with regard to their diet. Osei disclosed that other medical challenges common among the inmates were urinary tract infections, eye problems, and hypertension, adding that almost all the inmates who were screened were under-weight. From Modern Ghana, “Sunyani Prisons Record Outbreak Of Scabies.”

Centura Health and Grand Junction’s Community Hospital End Merger Talks Due to Catholic Health Reproductive Care Directives. In calling off a merger with religiously-affiliated hospital group Centura Health, Grand Junction’s Community Hospital will remain free to offer reproductive health services like birth control and sterilization to its patients. The hospital’s board of directors announced that it was ending negotiations with Centura after four months of talks but did not provide a reason, according to the Grand Junction Sentinel. With Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) as one of Centura’s sponsors, many hospitals under its leadership must abide by guidelines laid out in Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, referred to as ERDs, which are decided upon by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Centura’s second sponsor is Adventist Health System (AHS), which is affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and while it appears to be less restrictive than CHI, there is not much clarity when it comes to which health care services it would refuse to patients. The lack of public information with regard to the Adventists’ ethical directives is of critical concern to Joyce Lisbon, who represents the Colorado Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights, and said she has struggled to parse out how its leadership would have affected the hospital’s offerings. “If Centura was to take over, transparency was something we were very concerned about,” said Lisbon. “They don’t make it very clear what their services are, let alone what their services aren’t.” From Colorado Times Recorder, “Grand Junction Hospital Will Retain Reproductive Health Services by Calling Off Merger with Centura.”

Doctors at LLU Children’s Hospital Perform Its First Stem Cell Transplantation for Sickle Cell Disease. The pediatric hematology-oncology team at the Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital in Loma Linda, led by Indian American doctors Akshat Jain and Rishi Chavan along with Quan Zhao, recently performed the hospital’s first-ever stem cell transplantation for Sickle Cell disease. The surgery was performed with no complications, Jain told India-West in an e-mail. Sickle Cell disease is a genetic disease of red blood cells that affects children since birth. One in seven African American children suffers from some form of Sickle Cell disease in the U.S., said Jain, adding that India has the world’s third largest population suffering from this disease. Children suffer from severe pain episodes throughout their lives and die early from complications of this disease, he added. As this is the disease of the cells made from the bone marrow, Jain explained, by removing the patient’s defective marrow cells and transplanting healthy stem cells into the patient from a matched donor, the disease can be controlled and even cured. But the lack of a suitable matched donor leaves most of the patients around the world to suffer as transplantation is not possible, he said. Jain said his team bypassed this problem by using the patient’s father’s cells and using a special technique called “Haploidentical Transplantation” to cure the little girl from her lifelong disease that had caused her to use a wheelchair due to severe and repeated pain episodes because of the dying bone cells. From India West, “Indian American Doctors Conduct Stem Cell Transplant for Sickle Cell Disease Using ‘Haploidentical Transplantation’ Technique.”


Pam Dietrich taught English at Loma Linda Academy for 26 years and served there eight more years as the 7-12 librarian. She lives in Yucaipa, California.

Photo by Robin Stickel on Unsplash


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