Thursday, February 27, 2014

New Data Show Impact of Dating Violence on Utah Teens

(Salt Lake City, UT) – New data from the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS) show that in 2013, one in four (28%) high school students who dated or went out with someone in the past year report they were emotionally, verbally, physically, or sexually abused by that person. This percentage goes down as students get older, especially for female students.

According to YRBS data, in 2013:
     22.7% of students reported being verbally or emotionally harmed one or more times by a dating partner. Females (19.2%) were more likely to report verbal and emotional abuse compared to males (11.7%).
     10.7% of students reported being forced to do sexual things they did not want to by a dating partner. Females (15.0%) were more likely to report sexual abuse compared to males (6.3%).
     6.9% of students reported being physically hurt on purpose one or more times by a dating partner.
     21.9% of students reported being bullied on school property; with the majority (16.8%) being electronically bullied.

To help teachers and students understand the dynamics of unhealthy dating relationships, the UDOH and Utah Healthy Relationship Task Force have developed a dating violence prevention toolkit.

“The Healthy Relationships Toolkit was adapted for Utah classrooms from the evidence-based curriculum ‘Safe Dates’, which has been shown to significantly reduce psychological, sexual, and physical abuse and perpetration in national studies,” said Katie McMinn, UDOH Violence Prevention Specialist.

The toolkit provides interactive role plays, worksheets, and games to help students understand the differences between caring, supportive relationships and controlling, manipulative, or abusive ones. Local resources for individuals who may be in abusive relationships are provided, as well as safety tips, warning signs, and practical tools to help students understand the attitudes and behaviors associated with unhealthy relationships and dating violence.

“As a community we need to teach our young people how to respect one another, talk through problems, and manage their anger in a healthy manner,” said McMinn. “If we do that, we can reduce and even end violence, whether it’s domestic or dating violence, bullying, or child abuse.”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Study Shows No Increased Environmental Cancer Risk in South Davis County

(Salt Lake City, UT) – At the request of the Davis County Health Department (DCHD) and under the direction of  Governor Gary R. Herbert, the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) has completed an analysis of 35 years of cancer data in the the area surrounding the Stericycle facility in Davis County. 

The UDOH Environmental Epidemiology Program (EEP) looked at all reportable cancers in south Davis County (the cities of Bountiful, Centerville, North Salt Lake, West Bountiful and  Woods Cross) for the years 1976 through 2011. The results did show some elevated cancer numbers, none of which are attributable to environmental exposures.

DCHD Director Lewis Garrett says he requested the study several months ago in reponse to resident concerns. “A number of Davis County citizens called the Department worried about a Notice of Violation lodged against Stericycle by the Utah Division of Air Quality,” said Garrett. “I wanted to know if our residents have suffered quantifiable health effects from Stericycle operations.”

Cancer rates in the study area that are higher than the state average for at least two consecutive six-year periods are considered meaningful. 

The study found two cancer types that met that definition: breast (2000-2011) and prostate (1988-1999).   Six cancer types were found to be higher than the state average in the last six-year study period, so it cannot be determined if those rates are evidence of the beginning of a cluster, or simply random variation of the data, until another study period elapses. The study can be found at

Those cancers are:  
o  Colon cancer
o  Prostate cancer
o  Cutaneous melanoma (a type of skin cancer)
o  Bone and joint cancer
o  Breast cancer
o  Anal cancer among women

None of the cancers is typically associated with environmental exposure.

“These cancers are all highly preventable through lifestyle choices and regular health screenings,” said Allyn Nakashima, MD, State Epidemiologist. “No links to air, water, or soil have ever been established for these types of cancer.”

Garrett says the initial study establishes a baseline for future investigations into the health of Davis County residents.  

Also as part of the investigation, UDOH collected soil samples to check for levels of dioxin and heavy metals near the Stericycle plant. EEP is also conducting a statistical investigation of adverse birth outcomes in south Davis County. Results of both studies will be available in a few months.