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by Joyia Emard

The California Physician Assistant Board (PAB) announces the appointment of Rozana Khan as its new executive officer, effective December 1, 2020. Ms. Khan has been serving as PAB’s interim executive officer since the retirement of former executive officer Lynn Forsyth in August.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Khan served as an Associate Government Program Analyst for PAB from 2017 to 2020. She was responsible for analyzing consumer complaints pertaining to licensed and unlicensed activities of physician assistants, and acted as the liaison to the staff at the Medical Board of California (MBC) and the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Division of Investigation.

During her time at PAB, Ms. Khan has gained a comprehensive grasp of the legislative and regulatory processes and developed a wide range of skills in strategic planning, budget management and staff development to ensure the efficient management and achievement of the Board’s mission and goals.

Prior to her work at PAB, Ms. Khan served as a Staff Services Analyst for MBC from 2013 to 2017, a Health Record Technician for the California Correctional Health Care Services from 2008 to 2013, and a Prior Authorization Technician for Health Net Pharmaceuticals from 2005 to 2008.

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Assistance is available from licensed mental health professionals

A depressed older man sits on the side of his bed.A new nationwide poll found that nearly two-thirds of Americans 65 and older who have concerns about depression will not seek treatment, and nearly one in three respondents who are concerned they may be suffering from depression believe they can “snap out of it” on their own.

Conducted by Acupoll and the GeneSight Mental Health Monitor among a statistically representative sample of U.S. adults, including a representative sample of adults 65 and older, the survey also found:

  • Sixty-one percent of respondents who aren’t concerned they might have depression would not seek treatment for it because “my issues aren’t that bad.”
  • Thirty-nine percent of respondents concerned they may have depression think they can manage without professional help.

Survey researchers noted depression remains a taboo topic among older Americans, despite about one-third of those over 65 who are concerned they have depression recognizing that the condition has interfered with their relationships and their ability to enjoy activities.

“The ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mindset of some seniors and reluctance to talk about mental health are hindering them from getting the help they need, especially now when the pandemic is having an enormous impact on the mental health of older Americans,” said Dr. Mark Pollack, chief medical officer of Myriad Neuroscience, makers of the GeneSight. “People will seek treatment for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes. Depression is no different. It is an illness that can and should be treated.”

A mental health professional listens to a patient.Depression is more than just feeling down once in a while or having a bad day: It pervades and negatively affects your everyday life. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of depression include:

  • Feeling sad or anxious often or all the time.
  • Not wanting to do activities that used to be fun.
  • Feeling irritable‚ easily frustrated‚ or restless.
  • Having trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.
  • Waking up too early or sleeping too much.
  • Eating more or less than usual or having no appetite.
  • Experiencing aches, pains, headaches, or stomach problems that do not improve with treatment.
  • Having trouble concentrating, remembering details, or making decisions.
  • Feeling tired‚ even after sleeping well.
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless.
  • Thinking about suicide or hurting yourself.

If you are concerned that you may be experiencing depression, you don’t have to go it alone—reach out for professional help: Licensees of the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Psychology and Board of Behavioral Sciences can assist, as can specialists of the Medical Board of California and the Osteopathic Medical Board of California. You can check a professional’s license at https://search.dca.ca.gov. In addition, several pandemic-related resources for emotional support and well-being are available at https://covid19.ca.gov. If you feel you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK (8255) or call 911.

Related Reading: Study Finds Anxiety on the Rise in Age of Pandemic; #BeThe1To Make a Difference: National Suicide Prevention Day

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California residents Justin Wilhite and Paul Cantelli relive their horrifying experiences fighting COVID-19 while Kim Duran talks about the pressures of having two family members with the virus at the same time.

All three have one message to share—wash your hands, wear a mask, and practice physical distancing.

Watch this emotional video as all three relive painful memories.

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The newest tagline on the television news is “[fill in the blank] is going to look different this year…”

Well, guess what: Everything looks different this year, thanks to the pandemic.

In the fall issue of DCA’s Consumer Connection magazine, the writers take a look at what’s become different in 2020, such as:

  • Athletes competing without the roar of the crowd
  • Combating anxiety with mindfulness
  • Architects designing safer, healthier, public spaces
  • The absence—and importance—of the power of the human touch
  • William Prasifka, the new Executive Director of the Medical Board of California

    Left: Page 10. Top: Page 5. Bottom: Page 19.

The writers also take a look at how long-time, well-known issues are being looked at in new ways, including:

  • The pervasive problem of domestic violence; how to help victims and how to help stop it
  • How autism in girls looks and needs to be treated differently than that used for boys
  • Accountancy is not just addition and subtraction but an exciting career choice

But don’t worry: Some things in the magazine are the same, such as answers to your questions in #AskDCA, news briefs, and other information for consumers and licensees to keep you safe and informed in these up-and-down times.

So what’s the big deal about normal, anyway? Normal is what you make it. Wear you mask. Stay safe. And while you’re quarantining, read the Consumer Connection!

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Regular checkups and early treatment are key

Four men stand together smiling in front of a high-rise building.He brings weather, news, and smiles to the more than 3.5 million Americans who wake up with NBC’s TODAY Show every morning. But popular TODAY co-host Al Roker brought a very serious message to his audience earlier this month when he publicly revealed his prostate cancer diagnosis.

Adding to his long history both on- and off-screen to raise prostate-cancer awareness, Roker shared his latest health news with his coast-to-coast audience to further inform viewers about this illness, which is the No. 1 cancer affecting Black men and the No. 2 cancer affecting all American men.

“It’s a good news/bad news kind of thing,” Roker said. “Good news is we caught it early. Not great news that it’s a little aggressive, so I’m going to be taking some time off to take care of this.”

Since his November 6 announcement, Roker has kept audience members updated with the latest on his treatment and promising prognosis while continuing to encourage others—especially Black men—to know the facts about this common but often treatable disease.

An older smiling man talks to his doctor about test results.PROSTATE CANCER FACTS

According to the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer can often can be treated successfully, especially if it is detected early. Prostate cancer begins when cells in the prostate gland start to grow out of control; however, while some prostate cancers grow and spread quickly (like the more aggressive type affecting Roker), most grow slowly. Most prostate cancers are found early through screening, and early forms of this cancer usually cause no symptoms. However, more advanced prostate cancers can sometimes cause symptoms such as:

  • Problems urinating, including a slow or weak urinary stream or the need to urinate more often, especially at night.
  • Blood in the urine or semen.
  • Trouble getting an erection (erectile dysfunction).
  • Pain in the hips, back (spine), chest (ribs), or other areas from cancer that has spread to bones
  • Weakness or numbness in the legs or feet, or even loss of bladder or bowel control from cancer pressing on the spinal cord.

Most of these problems are more likely to be caused by something other than prostate cancer. For example, trouble urinating is much more often caused by benign prostatic hyperplasia, a non-cancerous growth of the prostate. Still, it’s important to tell your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms so that the cause can be found and treated, if needed, and so more tests can be done to check for prostate cancer, if necessary.

A blood test shows a raised level of PSA.HELP IS AVAILABLE

Roker’s cancer was found during a regular checkup using a blood test that measures elevated blood levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein produced by the prostate gland. The test was subsequently confirmed by an MRI and a biopsy. Following surgery and treatment, he returned to work a few weeks later and continues to encourage men to go to regular medical checkups so, if prostate cancer is present, it can be detected and treated as early as possible.

The Department of Consumer Affairs licenses hundreds of thousands of medical professionals statewide who can be consulted on prostate health questions or any other health issues. To verify a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: With Screenings, Colon Cancer Is Preventable; ‘Movember’ Focuses on Men’s Health

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Contact a licensed N.D. for insights on nature-based care

A gloved hand holds a pepper in a lab setting.A new study is shining a light on the chili pepper and its apparent role in lower mortality rates.

As presented before the American Heart Association earlier this month, study researchers reviewed 4,729 studies from five leading global health databases featuring the health and dietary records of more than half a million individuals in the United States, Italy, China, and Iran. Their final analysis included four large studies that outlined health outcomes for participants with data on frequency of chili pepper consumption.

Using that large combination of international data, researchers compared individuals who often ate chili peppers to those who rarely or never ate them. They found those who often ate chili peppers had:

  • A 26% relative reduction in cardiovascular mortality.
  • A 23% relative reduction in cancer mortality.
  • A 25% relative reduction in all-cause mortality.

The researchers were intrigued by previous studies that have found eating chili peppers has an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anticancer, and blood-glucose regulating effect due to capsaicin, which gives chili peppers their characteristic mild to intense spice when eaten.

“We were surprised to find that, in these previously published studies, regular consumption of chili pepper was associated with an overall risk-reduction of all-cause, CVD [cardiovascular disease], and cancer mortality,” said senior author Dr. Bo Xu, a cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic’s Heart, Vascular & Thoracic Institute, noting more research is needed to specify amounts and types of chili peppers or capsaicin that may make the biggest health difference. “It highlights that dietary factors may play an important role in overall health.”

A variety of peppers and other herbal remedies are arranged on a table.Nature-based remedies such as those highlighted in this study are typical of those used in both longtime traditional and today’s holistic health care. California’s professionally educated and licensed naturopathic doctors (N.D.s) are trained to safely treat patients by using natural methods and substances to support and stimulate the body’s self-healing process, while also utilizing conventional medicine in conjunction with naturopathic medicine when appropriate. This makes N.D.s valuable assets to Californians who are interested in natural and conventional medicine and treatments, since N.D.s are trained in both.

To find out more about California’s licensed N.D.s and their distinct and comprehensive system of primary health-care services, visit the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Naturopathic Medicine Committee at https://naturopathic.ca.gov; to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: Mushrooms as Medicine; #TBT with DCA: Naturopathic Medicine Committee

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Engineers and contractors implement water supply needs.DCA licensees help keep Californians healthy

Access to adequate toilet facilities, clean water, and sanitation is no laughing matter. According to the United Nations (U.N.):

  • 2 billion people live without safely managed sanitation—more than half the global population.
  • 673 million people still practice open defecation worldwide.
  • Inadequate sanitation is estimated to cause 432,000 diarrheal deaths every year and is a major factor in intestinal worms, trachoma, schistosomiasis, and other dangerous sewage-related illnesses.

That’s why the U.N. annually recognizes the importance of clean water, sanitation, and safe facilities on World Toilet Day November 19. As part of that international recognition, the U.N. and its partners work toward water and sanitation services that are sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible, and affordable, with a goal of providing these services for everyone across the globe by 2030.

Here in California, numerous Department of Consumer Affairs licensees are educated and dedicated to providing our state and its residents with water and sanitation services that are second to none. By researching and responsibly using water resources, testing and transporting water to our homes and businesses, and ensuring safe sanitation facilities and services, engineers, contractors, and other licensed professionals uphold our health and our environment.

So the next time you turn on the faucet or flush the toilet, remember how important these seemingly simple actions are. For World Toilet Day resources and materials, visit the United Nations; to check a California professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

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A woman's hand holds a smoking cigarette.Licensed professionals and helpful resources can help you quit

The problem is real:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cigarette smoking is the leading cause of preventable disease and death in the United States.
  • Smoking accounts for more than 480,000 deaths annually, or about 20%, per the CDC.
  • Current CDC data show about 34 million U.S. adults—nearly 14%—smoke.

But so is the solution:

  • Most adult smokers (68%, according to the CDC) want to quit.
  • Since 2002, there are more former smokers than current ones.
  • The positive health results of quitting smoking can be measured within weeks, days, or even hours.

And beyond making big improvements in your health, the American Lung Association outlines other major benefits to quitting:

  • Your wallet—It’s expensive to smoke cigarettes. In some places, a pack of cigarettes costs more than $10, and prices keep rising. Even if a pack costs “only” $5, smoking one pack per day equals $1,825 each year.
  • Your convenience—Are you tired of having to go outside many times a day to have a cigarette? Is standing in the cold and the rain really worth it? Wouldn’t it be easier if you could choose to go outside only when you want to and not when you need to?
  • Your friends and family—Cigarette smoke harms everyone who inhales it, not just the smoker. Whether you’re young or old and in good health or bad, secondhand smoke is dangerous. Both you and the people in your life will breathe easier when you quit.
  • Your quality of life—Your senses of taste and smell improve when you stop smoking, your smoker’s cough disappears, you have more energy, and you can sit through a long movie or airplane flight without craving a cigarette.

A doctor encourages an older man to quit smoking.Quitting smoking can be very challenging, and it can take more than one try—or several attempts over a long time. However, you are not alone: If you want to quit, Department of Consumer Affairs’ allied health, behavioral sciences, and psychology licensees can help (you can check professionals’ licenses at https://search.dca.ca.gov). In addition, the California Department of Public Health offers several resources in partnership with the California Smokers’ Helpline ([800] NO-BUTTS), a free phone, text, app, and chat-based tobacco cessation program available in multiple languages. So if you are one of the millions of Americans still smoking cigarettes, give quitting a try—or another try—with the assistance of these professionals and resources.

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An apartment balcony overlooks a tree-covered walkway.New research is the first of its kind to draw a direct link between people living near green spaces and those individuals having lower smoking rates.

A joint study by University of Plymouth, University of Exeter, and University of Vienna researchers used data gathered through the annual Health Survey for England. They examined the responses of more than 8,000 adults to questions about their health, where they lived, and various other lifestyle factors.

Of the survey’s respondents, 19% described themselves as current smokers while 45% said they had regularly smoked at some point during their lives. However, even after to taking into account other factors known to influence smoking, people living in areas with a high proportion of green spaces such as parks, public gardens, landscaped playgrounds, or fields were 20% less likely to be current smokers than those in less green areas.

A downtown San Diego park features drought-tolerant plants.In addition, among people who had smoked at some point during their lives, those living in greener neighborhoods were up to 12% more likely to have successfully quit smoking.

The authors suggest that improving access to neighborhood green spaces may constitute an overlooked public health strategy for reducing smoking prevalence, especially given that smoking uptake and cessation are affected by stress.

“This study is the first to investigate the association between neighborhood green space and smoking behaviors in England,” said lead author Leanne Martin of the University of Plymouth, whose previous studies with the same research team have found being able to see green spaces from your home is associated with reduced cravings for alcohol, cigarettes, and unhealthy foods. “Its findings support the need to protect and invest in natural resources—in both urban and more rural communities—in order to maximize the public health benefits they may afford. If our findings are substantiated by further work, nature-based interventions could be prescribed to assist individuals attempting to give up smoking.”

GROWING RESEARCH ON GREEN SPACES’ BENEFITS

A park in San Francisco features grass and a waterfall.This latest study adds to increasing academic research outlining green spaces’ many benefits to those in urban and suburban areas that, according to the World Health Organization, include:

  • Improved air and water quality
  • Buffering of noise pollution
  • Reduction of environmental health risks
  • Stress alleviation
  • Increased physical activity
  • Improved social interaction
  • Community cohesiveness
  • Improved levels of mental health, physical fitness, and cognitive and immune function
  • Lower general mortality rates

Landscape architects licensed by the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Landscape Architecture Technical Committee are trained, educated, and dedicated to implementing a wide variety of green spaces into our communities and our lives. Find out more about their services at www.latc.ca.gov and, to check a professional’s license, visit https://search.dca.ca.gov.

Related Reading: Landscape Architects: Building Nature Into Our Lives; ‘Awe Walks’ Increase Emotional Well-Being

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