Hearing Loss Greater After Age 70, Hearing Aid Use Low

Photo Courteys - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Sixty-three percent of Americans age 70 and older experience significant hearing loss, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied 717 people over 70 years old and found that of the participants with hearing loss, 64 percent were white, while African-Americans with loss of hearing made up only 43 percent of the sample.  Researchers further concluded that African-Americans only had about a third of the chance of having hearing loss compared with whites after looking at age, noise exposure and other considerations associated with hearing loss.

The study authors were not able to determine a reason why older white people have a greater chance of hearing loss.

The study also found that only about 20 percent of older adults actually use a hearing aid, despite the high rate of hearing loss among this age group.

"Any way you cut it, the rates of hearing aid use are phenomenally low," said study researcher Frank Lin, MD, PhD.

Lin and his colleagues reported in the study that hearing aid use appeared to be dependent upon the severity of hearing loss.  Only three percent of people with mild hearing loss said they used a hearing aid, compared to 41 percent with moderate or severe hearing loss.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA Warns of Unapproved Rx Cold Meds

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday there are nearly 500 prescription cough, cold and allergy drugs that are not approved and should not be on the market.

The FDA highlighted brands such as Cardec, Lodrane, Organidin and Pedia-Hist, many of which, the agency says, have issues with excessive amounts of active ingredients.  Deborah Autor, director of compliance at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, also noted that some extended-release formulas do not function properly and others consist of two or more active ingredients, raising the risk of over-sedation.

"We don't know what's in them, whether they work properly, or how they are made," Autor told reporters.

Autor added that many of these drugs had failed FDA testing, but many physicians are unaware of their FDA status, particularly because they are still listed in the Physicians Desk Reference and can be advertised in medical journals.

Manufacturers of the drugs previously listed with the FDA, but are unapproved, must stop producing them within 90 days and stop shipping within 180 days, Auto said.  Those that have not filed with the FDA must cease manufacturing and shipping of their products immediately.

A complete list of the unapproved prescription products can be found at the agency's website.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Ibuprofen May Lower Risk of Parkinson's Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A drug commonly used for aches and pains could be useful against a far more serious ailment.  

Ibuprofen is a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug sold over-the-counter under such familiar brand names as Advil and Motrin. Previous studies have suggested that these drugs may decrease the risk of getting Parkinson's disease.  

A new study published in the journal Neurology surveyed ibuprofen use in 136 thousand participants.  After six years, those who took ibuprofen two or more times a week were 38 percent less likely to develop Parkinson's compared to those who hadn't taken the drug.    This was true only with ibuprofen and not with similar drugs such as aspirin, naproxen, or acetaminophen.   

The findings do not mean that those with Parkinson's disease should start taking ibuprofen. The authors conclude that ibuprofen has potential protective effects against Parkinson's, and they advocate further investigation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Trend: Going Barefoot on Campus

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kyle Vaughn describes his sense of style as "ludicrous." His wardrobe includes a green sequined vest, vibrant purple slacks, a beanie with elephant ears stitched on the sides and an elf costume for the holiday season.

But when people comment on Vaughn's appearance, they rarely mention the neon colors and novelty accessories.

Strangers tend to notice the fact that he's not wearing shoes.

When Vaughn, 21, walks by, some ask where he left his shoes, others scoff in disgust and children ask their parents why he's barefoot.

Vaughn, from Katy, Texas, is one of a growing number of individuals who prefer to live their lives without shoes.

He's lived barefoot for as long as he can remember. As an elementary school student, his teachers scolded him for kicking his shoes off under his desk. Today, while there are times when Vaughn is forced to wear shoes –- like when he's working as a food prep –- he estimates that 90 percent of his life is spent barefoot.

"It just feels better," he said. "It sounds corny, but there's something nice about feeling the earth you're walking on. You're just more connected to the world."

Those living barefoot cite health reasons, practicality and general comfort as reasons for losing their shoes.

The trend can be attributed to an increased awareness of natural living, said Michael Buttgen, founder and president of the Primal Foot Alliance, an online network of barefooters.

"As a society, we have this desire to go back to what's pure and natural," he said. "People don't want to eat processed food anymore. They don't want to release harmful toxins into the air. Going barefoot is a logical next step."

Al Gauthier, host of Living Barefoot, a bi-monthly podcast with an audience of 25,000, says the movement picks up steam as more people learn about it.

But Dennis Frisch, a podiatrist in Boca Raton, Fla. and a member of the American Podiatric Medical Association, doesn't believe going barefoot is a safe practice.

"The risks of what could happen when you're barefoot significantly outweigh the risks of what could happen when you're wearing shoes," Frisch said.

For example, he said that a blister or corn caused by wearing an uncomfortable shoe will take a couple of days to heal on its own. But a cut caused by stepping on undesirable material while barefoot could potentially become infected and be a severe medical problem.

Frisch said he isn't "anti-barefoot," and he even advises some of his patients to kick off their shoes while they're at home. Being barefoot for some period of each day is especially important for women who wear constrictive high-heeled shoes, he said.

"There's nothing wrong with being barefoot," Frisch said. "It's just that there is a place for it, and outside isn't that place."

Still, Frisch suggests people who want to escape the confines of shoes while at home wear socks or slippers to protect the soles of their feet.

Few barefooters have experienced such medical problems.

Howell says fears of broken glass and sharp objects are "greatly exaggerated."

"People like to think that every city street is littered with broken glass," he said. "But if you actually look around, you'll see that simply isn't true."

He said most injuries can be avoided if walkers look at the ground.

"If you pay a little attention, it's easy to avoid problems," he said. "A piece of glass that's big enough to see can be avoided."

As the movement grows in popularity, barefooters hope their choice will become more socially acceptable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Watchdog Group Warns about Dangers of Designer Drugs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(VIENNA, Austria) -- An international watchdog group is warning of the dangers of so-called designer drugs.

The International Narcotics Control Board says designer drugs created to dodge bans are in reality dangerous.  They're being produced more quickly and in greater numbers and the group urges governments to move in and make new substances illegal as soon as possible.

Sixteen such new drugs are currently being monitored in Europe.  Japan recently placed 51 under national control and elsewhere all over the globe, the numbers of these designer drugs is growing. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


HPV Affects Half of Adult Men, Study Shows

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TAMPA, Fla.) -- People often think the transmission of human papilloma virus (HPV) is something that endangers women, but a new study shows there may be a good reason to aim similar prevention messages at men.

Researchers found that about half of adult men could have HPV.

"We found that a big proportion -- about 50 percent -- of men have genital HPV infection of one type or another," said Anna Giuliano, lead researcher and chair of the Department of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute in Tampa, Florida.

HPV is a common sexually transmitted virus that can cause a number of different cancers in men and women.

"I've been studying HPV in women for many years ... but I realized that we knew almost nothing about HPV infections in men," said Giuliano.

The findings, she said, indicate that men need to be much more aware of the risks of HPV, and also could help determine whether widespread vaccination of men and boys is a cost-effective option.

Back in October, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the vaccine Gardasil to prevent genital warts caused by certain types of HPV in men and boys, ages nine to 26.  The Centers for Disease Control's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends routine vaccination for girls ages 11 and 12.

Researchers tested more than 1,100 healthy men from Brazil, Mexico and the United States every six months for an average of two years.  Their results indicated that the number of new infections among the men was high, and that risk stays with men throughout their lives.

Giuliano and her colleagues also found a connection between new infections and sexual activity.  Risk was higher among men who had many sexual partners and men who engaged in anal sex with different partners.  There were no differences in risk among different age groups, but they did find that older men tended to get rid of HPV infections faster than younger men did.

The study was funded by the National Cancer Institute and appears in the current issue of The Lancet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Finds Gene Mutation Associated with Type 2 Diabetes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Type 2 diabetes affects more than 200 million people worldwide. The disease involves an inability of bloodsugar to enter the cells to supply energy. A new study finds that about 10 percent of these patients in the United States and Europe have a gene mutation associated with the disease. 

Dr. Ira Goldfine from the University of California, San Francisco, the co-author of the study, analyzed DNA from patients with and without Type 2 diabetes over a period of several years. Researchers found the HMGA-1 mutation -- a gene that makes a protein and when present tells the cells to make insulin receptors -- in a group of Italian diabetics and then replicated that finding in U.S. and French patients. "About 10 percent of Type 2 diabetics in the United States and Europe have defects in this gene," Dr. Goldfine says. 

The study appears in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association and researchers say they identified four abnormalities in the gene sequence.  "There's a sort of scrambling of the sequence which shows that there is a defect at this point in the gene," according to Dr. Goldfine.

Researchers also took cells from these patients and in a test tube managed to correct the defect and normalize the cells. "We have a screening test now to identify these people and people who are related to them so we can start treatment and intervention early," says Goldfine. 

Researchers also say understanding the genetic component may help diabetic patients receive more targeted treatments.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Inside the World of Paleo Diets, Caveman Workouts

Art De Vany. Photo Courtesy - ABC News(NEW YORK) -- You don't have to carry a club or wear a bearskin to live like a caveman.  To keep fit, a number of people have adopted the "Paleo" lifestyle -- eating and exercising like our ancestors from the Paleolithic era.

Art De Vany, 73, is often called the "grandfather" of the Paleo movement.  For De Vany, a workout includes pulling his Range Rover in his driveway.  He compared it to "hauling heavy bison out of a pit."

De Vany, the author of The New Evolution Diet, also eats like a caveman by consuming meat, seafood, vegetables, and fruit, but no grains or processed food.  He adopted the caveman or Paleo diet some 30 years ago in an effort to improve the health of his family.

The human species during the Paleolithic age, he said, "was probably the epitome of the expression of the human genotype.  (They had) large, powerful brains -- they gave us all that we have in our world."

Those big-brained cavemen ate meat, vegetables and nuts.  What they didn't eat, besides processed foods, was bread, grains, rice or anything that is the product of agriculture.

Actress Megan Fox is rumored to be a fan of the diet, and experts seem to have no major problems with it because it balances meat with a lot of fresh vegetables.

Robb Wolf is another adherent to the Paleo lifestyle. Wolf, the author of The Paleo Solution, runs a gym in California -- but it's not your average gym.  The gym's equipment includes gymnastic rings, pommel horses and cargo nets for climbing.

"We're not scratching around under bushes and getting poison oak on us in weird places and stuff," Wolf said.  "It's trying to make full-body, functional movements that are fun."

"We do it in a group format," he added. "I think a lot of the success for my gym and a lot of gyms like it is there is a tribe element to it."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Actor Mickey Rooney to Take Stand Against Elder Abuse

Photo Courtesy - Jeff Kravitz/ FilmMagic/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Actor Mickey Rooney is scheduled to speak out against elder abuse before a Senate committee on aging Wednesday.

The 90-year-old actor has been the alleged victim of abuse at the hands of his own stepchildren, according to court documents.

Rooney, who has had one of the longest careers of any actor, was recently granted court protection from stepson Chris Aber and his stepdaughter Christina Aber, after he filed a case against them charging verbal, emotional, and financial abuse, and alleging that they denied him such basic necessities as food and medicine.

"All I want to do is live a peaceful life, to regain my life and be happy," Rooney said in a statement to his fans.  "I pray to God each day to protect us, help us endure and guide those other senior citizens who are also suffering."

The goal of the Senate hearing, entitled "Justice for All: Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation," is to draw attention to the widely underreported problem and coordinate federal, state and local efforts to combat it.

"It's a really sad but important issue and Mr. Rooney is definitely lending his star power to it," committee spokesman Joe Bonfiglio said.

According to court documents, Chris and Christina Aber allegedly kept Rooney as "effectively a prisoner in his own home" through threats, intimidation and harassment.  Christina Aber has also been accused of taking control over Rooney's finances, blocking access to his mail, and forcing the actor into performances he does not wish to do.

Rooney was granted temporary restraining orders on Feb. 15, but will have to appear in court on April 5 if he wants them extended for three years.  A Los Angeles Superior Court Judge also appointed a temporary conservator of Rooney's estate.

While elder abuse of this magnitude is relatively rare, geriatric experts say instances of some kind of abuse and neglect -- whether psychological, physical, sexual or financial -- are a major concern among aging populations.  According to the American Psychological Association, an estimated 2.1 million older Americans become victims somewhere on the spectrum of abuse.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Why Heart Attack, Cardiac Arrest Is Rare But Possible in Kids

(MADISON, Wisc.) -- While lethal heart problems in otherwise healthy children are rare, doctors say there are a number of conditions that could explain a sudden cardiac death or life-threatening heart attack in young patients.

The first important distinction to make is between a heart attack and cardiac arrest, says Dr. Amy Peterson, a pediatric cardiologist from American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wisc.

Heart attack occurs when there is an insufficient amount of blood delivering oxygen to the heart and part or all of the heart muscle begins to die. This could be due to blockages in the arteries, heart disease, or structural abnormalities of the heart muscle or the arteries. Cardiac arrest, on the other hand, refers simply to a heart that has lost its rhythm and stops beating, which could occur for a number of different reasons, she says.

"In general, heart attack in children is extraordinarily rare and when kids present with chest pain it is at the bottom of the list of things we suspect," Peterson says.

Cardiac arrest is less rare but still very uncommon, she says, but there are a number of ways that parents can be on the lookout for undiagnosed heart conditions that may cause a problem.

True heart attack in children can occur in rare circumstances where there is a genetic predisposition to exceptionally high cholesterol. In this case, a child who may or may not be overweight can suffer from arterial blockages similar to those which cause heart attack in adults with hypercholesterolemia, Peterson says. In these cases, a family history of severe high cholesterol is the best indicator that a child might be at risk for this kind of problem.

Other reasons for heart attack would include a structural abnormality of the heart or arteries that a child would be born with.

So what can a parent do to protect their child against sudden cardiac death?

In some cases, diagnosis can be incredibly difficult as the first symptom of a problem will be cardiac arrest or sudden death. Examples of this have been widely publicized in cases of teen athletes who drop dead seemingly out of nowhere on the field or court. While these instances are devastating, Dr. Rene Herlong, a pediatric cardiologist with Singer Heart & Vascular Institute, urges parents to not become overly worried that this might happen to their child as it "is rare as walking outside and getting hit by lightning."

But if your child suffers from chest pain, especially during exercise, or faints during exercise, this is something that should be checked out by a medical professional as it could be a sign of a heart condition, Herlong adds.

Knowing the family history and being aware of any genetic predispositions towards heart conditions is one of the best things a parent can do, Peterson says. And when a heart attack or cardiac arrest occurs, it is essential to give the child basic life support in the form of CPR or defibrillation, if a defibrillator is available, as soon as possible until advanced life support from medical professionals arrives.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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