Drinking Coffee May Cut a Woman's Stroke Risk, Study Finds

John Foxx/Thinkstock(STOCKHOLM) -- Swedish researchers say women who have at least one cup of coffee each day may reduce their risk of stroke by up to 25 percent.

They add that women who do not drink coffee may be increasing their risk of suffering a stroke.

"Results from our study in women showed that consumption of one to five cups of coffee per day was associated with a 22 to 25 percent lower risk of stroke, compared with consumption of less than one cup a day," said Susana Larsson, the lead researcher from the National Institute of Environmental Medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.

In the study, published in Thursday's issue of Stroke, the researchers examined data on 34,670 women, ages 49 to 83.  They found that between 1998 and 2008, 1,680 women suffered a stroke, but coffee drinkers saw a 22-25 percent lower risk.

Investigators in the study theorized that the coffee might reduce inflammation, improve insulin resistance and lessen oxidative stress, causing a decreased risk of stroke.

Critics of the study note that there are too many factors not accounted for and say the link does not provide proof of a causal relationship.

However, the researchers did say that their findings were preliminary and that people should not change their coffee-drinking habits based on the study alone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Brains of Volatile Preteens Might Offer Clues About Peer Pressure

BananaStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Why are some adolescents more emotional and susceptible to risky behaviors, while others remain steadfast in the face of peer pressure?

Dr. Marco Iacoboni, a professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at UCLA medical school, raised just that question about his 14-year-old daughter. So Iacoboni and a team of researchers sought to answer what might make adolescents give in to their friends and take more risks.

"When [adolescents are] among a group of people, they to tend to follow what others do, and being able to control their own emotions and actions can be very important," said Iacoboni, who is also the director of the transcranial magnetic stimulation lab at the Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center at UCLA. Brain responses to emotional facial expressions would offer the first clue, he said.

Iacoboni and his colleagues took brain images of 38 adolescents over time as they were shown pictures of people expressing basic emotions, such as fear, happiness, sadness, anger, and neutrality. The researchers found that as the adolescents looked at faces expressing happiness or sadness, the area of the brain that expressed control over emotions showed increased activity. The same group of adolescents reacted less emotionally to the other expressions, and the area of the brain associated with risk-taking and pleasure seeking lit up.

Previous research indicated that increased activity in the amygdala, an area deep in the brain, among preteens is associated with a higher likelihood of engaging in risky behavior, such as experimenting with drugs or sex.

"The assumption was more activity in there meant it was bad for the kids," said Iacoboni. "But we found higher activities and desires in other areas of the brain made them less prone to follow other kids."

Iacoboni and his researchers found that activity in the ventral striatum, located next to the amygdala, also increased when the adolescents were shown more emotional photos.

"We saw there's an inverse activity relationship between the amygdala and the ventral striatum," said Iacoboni. "The VS activity increased while the amygdala activity slightly decreased, so the VS regulates the amygdala."

But could a test like this predict whether a preteen is more likely to act out or succumb to peer pressure? Iacoboni said it's still too early to tell. The study didn't control for other factors in the adolescents' lives, such as socioeconomic status, current behavior and life influences that could contribute to future behavior.

The adolescents were tested twice over two years, once at age 10 and again at age 13. The researchers plan to test the group once again when they're 16.

The research so far suggests that facial expressions and emotions directed at adolescents may influence their brain response and, potentially, how they act. Perhaps parents who express -- or control -- their emotions around their preteens could influence the way they express or hold back their emotions around others, Iacoboni said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'Apple-Shaped' Obesity Not Appealing to Your Heart

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(CAMBRIDGE, England) -- There's general obesity, in which you call someone obese based on their body mass index, and then there's apple- or pear-shaped obesity, based on their waist and hip circumference. 

So, which one is a better indicator of predicting heart attacks or strokes?

An international study from the University of Cambridge reviewed 220,000 individual records from 17 countries and monitored the occurrence of heart attacks or strokes based on body mass index versus waist-hip circumference.

The study found that people with “apple-shaped” obesity were at a slightly higher risk of developing heart attacks or strokes compared to people with general obesity as assessed by their BMI. 

However, when adjusted for factors like smoking and diabetes, both general-and apple-shaped obesity contributed equally to the risk of heart attacks.

Bottom line: Obesity, whether apple-shaped, pear-shaped or general, is generally associated with heart attacks.

The study will be published in the Lancet.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA, DOJ Take Action Against Johnson & Johnson-McNeil

Cristina Arias/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Justice announced Thursday afternoon that McNeil Consumer Healthcare (a unit of Johnson & Johnson) and two of its executives have been accused of violations of federal law for failing to comply with good manufacturing practices in connection with a series of product recalls and poor inspection reports at its manufacturing facilities.
Without admitting or denying the allegations, McNeil has entered into a consent decree with the government that places three of the company’s plants under supervision of the FDA. The decree also prevents them from reopening their Fort Washington, Pa. plant until it has been found by the FDA to be in compliance with the law.
McNeil can continue operating two of its other plants, one in Puerto Rico and the other in Lancaster, Pa., but the company must submit to independent inspections and adhere to a strict timetable to bring those facilities into compliance.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


New Study Shows Age Affects Us All

Comstock/Getty Images(AMES, Iowa) -- If you thought the aging clock ticked differently for humans than it does for animals, think again! It has been believed for a long time that humans aged slower than most animals due to the long life spans and access to modern medicine. However, a multi-species study in the journal Science compares the human aging patterns with those of chimps, gorillas and other primates.

The study suggests that the pace of human aging may not be so unique after all. The researchers combined data from long-term studies on seven species of wild primates, such as monkeys from Costa Rica, baboons from Kenya and chimpanzees from Tanzania, and compared them with those of humans. The important finding: The aging rates were similar for both primates and humans. They also found males had higher age-specific mortality than females across most of the primate species. However, there was an interesting exception to males dying at a younger age. The males did not die earlier than the females in a species of monkey from Brazil where males do not compete with each other for access to mates. This suggests that in other primates maybe males die faster because of stress and strain of competition. The authors point out that looking at other primates would definitely help us understand the factors that govern the maximum life span.

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Study Finds Three Times-a-week Insulin Improves Glucose Levels

Jeffrey Hamilton/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If Vicki Taniwaki eats three meals in a day, she will have "stuck" herself with insulin at least five times by the time she goes to bed at night.

Taniwaki has been diagnosed with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. She must take two basal injections, or background insulin, and three bolus injections, an insulin to control her glucose levels after meals, every single day of her life.

But, as normal as this routine has become for Taniwaki, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in August 2007, she said there is certainly room for error with all those sticks and pricks.

"Anything you do that much becomes routine, but the opportunity to screw it up also goes up as you become more lax and comfortable with it," said the 50-year-old.

When Taniwaki heard about a study that found the background shot of insulin could be lowered from one or two times a day to three times a week, she said it could be a positive change to her day.

"Anything that would diminish or curtail that maintenance routine would be good," said Taniwaki. "Some people could argue that then you would have to worry about trying to remember when you did that background injection, but if I could do roughly half of what I'm doing now I would be very happy."

While the new type of insulin is not available on the market right now, Taniwaki could be cutting back on stick and pricks in the future.

A new study, published in the Lancet, found that a longer acting form of insulin, known as degludec, is just as effective as the existing long-lasting insulin, glargine.

One injection of glargine lasts 18 to 26 hours, but study participants who used degludec had the same amount of blood sugar control as glargine while only getting injected three times a week instead of daily.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


More than One in 20 Americans over Age 20 Is a Cancer Survivor

Duncan Smith/Thinkstock edit Delete caption(NEW YORK) -- Cancer no longer sounds the death knell it once did.  In fact, more Americans are living with cancer than ever before.

According to a new study by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in 20 Americans over age 20 is now a cancer survivor.

Using data compiled by other cancer studies, the NCI and CDC found that the estimated number of cancer survivors in the U.S. increased from 10 million in 2001 to almost 12 million in 2007.

The data also revealed that women had a higher rate of survival than men. Almost two-thirds of all cancer survivors as of January 1, 2007 had been living with the disease five years or more.

The most common cancers diagnosed were breast, prostate and colorectal. 

The majority of survivors were seniors 65 and older, while fewer than one percent were 19 or younger.  Many of those had leukemia.

Researchers cite several reasons for the increased cancer survival rate including advancements in screening and early detection, more effective treatment and clinical follow-up, and an aging U.S. population.

If these trends continue, the number of cancer survivors is expected to climb even higher.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two-Thirds of Americans Live With Voice Disorders

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton may be miles apart in their opinions about how to deal with the Middle East crisis, but they do have one thing in common: They both live with something called cheerleader's voice syndrome.

When Clinton fires off a verbal warning to the likes of Muammar Gaddafi, she tries to project authority and confidence, but instead her vocal cords rub together too forcefully and create a sound that's abnormally tense and grating. And when Palin shouts "Drill baby drill!" it comes across as shrill, baby, shrill.

Few would argue with these bipartisan auditory observations.

"Cheerleader's voice syndrome is just one of the many voice problems Americans suffer from," said Russian-born opera singer turned voice coach Elena Zoubareva, who, with the help of a Harvard ears, nose and throat specialist and speech language pathologist, has developed a new voice training program called FitVoice.

Zoubareva said that about two-thirds of Americans -- more than 28 million people -- experience voice problems daily. The damaged voice boxes of schoolteachers alone cost American taxpayers $2.5 billion in missed workdays each year.

To Zoubareva's ear, women are usually worse offenders than men. "Many women speak like this," she said, dropping her voice several throaty octaves to verbally illustrate her point. "They sound from the chest and there is a tendency to speak lower than their optimum pitch level."

The reason for this, Zoubareva speculated, is that consciously or subconsciously, women believe lower tones are sexier and will get them noticed more in business and by the opposite sex. Like the squeaky cheerleaders, those with this so-called Bogart-Bacall syndrome are also trying to exude more confidence, strength and authority. Think of Lauren Bacall, the syndrome's namesake, as the worst-case scenario.

"In the beginning, Bacall had a much higher, normal sounding voice," Zoubareva said. "But somewhere along the line she was probably advised by a director or producer to try to sound sexier, and so she learned to lower her voice quite a bit."

For their troubles, both groups of women are often rewarded with nodules, which form like calluses on the vocal cords. These can eventually harden and scar to produce a permanently hoarse, strained speaking voice.

Lest men feel smug about their sonorous superiority, they should be reminded of their own special brand of phonotraumatic habits. Zoubareva identified a problem she dubbed sports fans voice, acquired after years of listening to the Red Sox fans in her adopted hometown of Boston scream themselves into a voiceless frenzy by the end of every game. All that unfettered shouting and cheering can lead to the growth of polyps on the vocal folds, which can so damage the voice that they could require surgical repair.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Toddler Who Suffers from FPIES Can Only Eat Five Foods

BananaStock/Thinkstock(HOWELL, N.J.) -- Fallon Schultz, a 28-year-old clinical social worker from Howell, N.J., has known since her son Landon was two weeks old that something was wrong.

He had horrible eczema and would scream day and night, projectile vomiting after feeding as if he were allergic to her own breast milk.  At her pediatrician's advice, Schultz switched to soy and then to a nutrition formula, but it got much worse.  Landon had diarrhea filled with blood and mucus, 10 times a day, and soon he began bleeding from the worsening eczema under the hair on his head.

After consulting with various doctors, Schultz finally got a diagnosis in 19 months later.  Landon was found to be suffering from food protein induced entercolitis syndrome, or FPIES, a condition so severe that Landon can only eat five foods: ripe strawberries, blueberries, avocados, grapes, raisins and elemental formula.

Landon was diagnosed by doctors at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  And now the hospital's foundation has agreed to join Schultz in setting up her new nonprofit, the FPIES United Family Fund to support education and advocacy, and to find a cure for the syndrome.  She is hoping to raise an initial $300,000 from corporate sponsors to raise awareness.

"Local doctors don't know about the disease and because that they don't pick it up. [Landon] has permanent damage and is not going to get better," said Schultz.  "If you don't have something that is cookie-cutter, they think you are crazy.  I am trying to turn something that has been a nightmare to help someone else's child.  It's been a long two years."

Doctors don't even have an ICD-9 code to diagnose FPIES, according to the United Family Fund, which is pushing for that medical diagnostic tool.

"Our lives have been taken over by FPIES, and I am just trying to do everything I can as a mother to help him and other children affected by this cruel disease," she said.  "I want to do something big.  I want these kids to be better.  It's not good enough for my son and/or the kids going through this."

Landon cannot eat 27 fruits, vegetables, milk and soy products, grains and meats.  If he does, he is in excruciating pain.  Then, for days afterwards, his body fights the proteins in the food, damaging his gut and causing such dangerous vomiting and diarrhea that he runs the risk of going into a septic-like shock.

Experts have no idea how many children suffer from FPIES.  Most will outgrow it in four or five years, but Landon's case is so severe, no one can predict his prognosis, according to Schultz.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA to Hold Meeting on Anesthesia's Link to Learning Disabilities in Kids

Pixland/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Advisers to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will hold a panel meeting Thursday to explore whether or not anesthesia use in children can cause learning disabilities.

Studies in the past have shown a possible link between anesthesia exposure in young rats and monkeys and the death of their brain cells.  However, that link has not yet been made clear in humans.  But a 2009 study reported in Anesthesiology, found that children who were exposed to anesthesia twice before the age of four were 59 percent more likely to be diagnosed with learning disabilities than those who weren't.

"We need to definitively answer the questions of whether anesthetic use in children poses a risk to their development and, if so, under what circumstances," Bob Rappaport, MD, the head of the FDA's anesthesia and analgesia products and his colleagues wrote in an article published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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