The Week That Wasn't: Virus for Bladder Cancer, Weight Compensation, Musical Alarms

Dana Najjar


July 12, 2019

Welcome to The Week That Wasn't. Here are three trending stories we decided not to cover this week, and why.

Common Cold Virus Targets Bladder Cancer

A new study published in Clinical Cancer Research last week has received vast amounts of media attention for its unusual approach to treating a common type of bladder cancer. The study found that one of the viruses responsible for the common cold could potentially be used to target non–muscle invasive bladder cancer, which accounts for nearly 3 of every 4 cases of bladder cancer.

The researchers from the University of Surrey exposed 15 patients to the CVA21 virus prior to surgery during a phase 1 study. Tissue samples that were later collected from the patients' bladders showed evidence of viral replication and antitumor activity. For one patient, the tumor was completely undetectable. But as promising as these results may be, they are still very early and are based on a smaller sample size than we usually report on.

Exercise Doesn't Always Mean Weight Loss

Researchers studying the possible mechanisms behind weight compensation — the fact that exercise produces less weight loss than expected — found that increased appetites and the belief that healthy behaviors compensate for unhealthy ones were to blame. The study tracked a group of 198 overweight and sedentary adults, half of whom were randomly assigned to exercise for 24 weeks. Those with the highest compensation reported increased appetite, cravings for sweets, and poorer sleep.

Although the findings are interesting, they don't add much to what we already know about weight loss: Exercise alone will not do the trick; it needs to be accompanied by healthy eating habits in order to maintain a sustainable calorie deficit.

A Cure for Alarm Fatigue

Alarm fatigue is a well-documented hazard of the healthcare industry: Clinicians exposed to an overwhelming cacophony of alarms can become desensitized to the point of ignoring them, sometimes putting patients' lives at risk. By some estimates, physicians can be exposed to as many as 1000 alarms per shift. Although the alarms themselves may be an inescapable aspect of medicine, their dissonant peals need not be.

The New York Times reported this week on a group of physicians, psychologists, and musicians who are looking to revolutionize the aural environment in hospitals by designing quieter, melodic, and more visual alarms. The new standard "is likely to go into effect early next year," according to the Times, and we can practically hear the sighs of relief that will be breathed in hospitals across the country. We've covered this general topic over the years, and our colleagues at the Times covered this so well that we didn't need to.

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