Large, Long-Term Study Finds Discrepancy on Teen Abstinence Claims

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- A multi-year study of more than 14,000 teens finds many reported abstinence from sex, but were still infected with typically sexually-transmitted diseases.  Roughly 10 percent of those in the large study who tested positive for an STD said they had not had sex over the past year.  Half said they had never had sex at all.

One of the study's authors, Jessica McDermott Sales of Emory University in Atlanta, says dishonesty is one explanation, but not the only one.  She is quoted in The New York Times as saying, "This is a fairly sizable portion of kids who are saying they're not sexually active when they apparently are."

The more than 14,000 participants in the study were first questioned in 1994 and then surveyed again in 2001 and 2002.  Significantly, those who reported having had sex were only twice as likely to be infected with an STD as those who reported no sexual activity -- a reportedly small difference, in statistical terms.

The research appears in the January edition of Pediatrics.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can Coffee Consumption Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A new study suggests there may be a link between coffee consumption and diabetes.  Researchers have found that coffee raises the amount of sex hormone-binding globulin (SHBG) in the blood, which leads to a lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. 

James D. Lane, an associate research professor at Duke University Medical Center who was not involved in the study, told MyHealthNewsDaily that these new findings are "impressive," but more research would be necessary to confirm the link. 

In the recent UCLA study, researchers observed the possibility that a molecular mechanism might be the reason for coffee's "protective effect," reports Medical News Today.  The UCLA trial found that women who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee each day showed higher levels of SHBG and were 56 percent less likely to develop Type 2.

According to The American Diabetes Association, Type 2 Diabetes is the most common form of the disease accounting for more than 90 percent of diabetes cases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Geriatric Care Panel Suggests New Fall Prevention Guidelines

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The American Geriatrics Society and the British Geriatrics Society recommended new prevention guidelines for elderly falls, stating that fall screening should be a part of all health care practices for older adults. 
A summary of the new guidelines was published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society and were compiled by a panel of specialists in fall prevention for the elderly after a series of randomized trials and extensive literature reviews and analyses.

The panel recommended that doctors and healthcare professionals try to determine whether older patients are at risks for falls by asking questions relating to fall frequency or unsteady walking.

"Falls are one of the most common health problems experienced by older adults and are a common cause of losing functional independence," said Dr. Mary Tinetti of Yale University School of Medicine and a panel chair.

The new guidelines focus on interventions including raising low blood pressure and managing heart rate and rhythm abnormalities, medication reduction, exercise or balance and gait strengthening and home and daily activity moderation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blue Shield of Calif. Agrees to Review of Rates for Policyholders

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Healthcare provider, Blue Shield of California, agreed Friday to submit to an independent actuarial review of its rates and give refunds to policyholders if the review finds the rates to be unsound.  The insurance company's decision comes after concerns were raised regarding rising healthcare rates for individuals.

Nearly 200,000 members of the Blue Shield of California Life and Health Insurance Company received notice that rates would increase on average by 15 percent annually with some members receiving even higher increases.

Blue Shield Chairman and CEO Bruce Bodaken explained in a statement the company's reasons for subjecting its rates to the review, expected to last 30-45 days.

"We regret that our members have received significant rate increases in recent months and want to be absolutely certain that the rates reflect our actual cost of providing medical care."  He later continued, "If this independent review finds that the rates are not sound, we will hold our members harmless by refunding the difference with interest."

The review will be administered by Axene Health Partners LLC, which will be "free to confer" with the Department of Insurance to determine if Blue Shield's rates are "excessive, unjustified or unfairly discriminatory."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


McNeil Issues Voluntary Recall on Common Over-the-Counters

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(FORT WASHINGTON, Pa.) -- McNeil Consumer Health Care initiated a voluntary recall on certain lots of Tylenol 8 Hour, Tylenol Arthritis Pain, Tylenol upper respiratory products, Benadryl, Sudafed PE and Sinatab products distributed in the United States, the Caribbean and Brazil.  These particular lots were manufactured at the McNeil plant in Fort Washington, Pa. prior to April 2010 when the facility's activity was suspended.  

While McNeil says the quality of these products has not likely been compromised, the pharmaceutical company is taking this precautionary measure after discovering that many of the plant's equipment cleaning procedures were not up to adequate standards or were not properly documented.  The company highlighted in a statement that the recalls are not due to "adverse events."

McNeil is also recalling certain lots of Rolaids Multi-Symtom Berry Tablets distributed in the United States to bring the product's labeling up to regulation standards.

All recalls will happen at the wholesale level only.  McNeil says that "no action is required by consumers or healthcare providers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Is Breastfeeding Exclusively for Six Months Best?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- A group of U.K. researchers are now questioning the guidelines on how long mothers should breastfeed, adding uncertainty into an already stressful debate.

In an editorial published in the British Medical Journal, Dr. Mary Fewtrell, from the University College London Institute of Child Health, and colleagues argue that babies who are breastfed exclusively for six months are at a higher risk for iron deficiency and food allergies including celiac disease.  They also suggest that waiting six months to introduce weaning foods can lead to the underdevelopment of taste, which might have long-term implications on diet.

Three of the four authors acknowledged having consulted or received research funding within the past three years from companies that manufacture infant formulas and baby foods.

The editorial spawned criticism from pediatricians and lactation specialists, who adamantly believe that exclusive breastfeeding for six months is the gold standard in neonatal nutrition.

"We in lactation and breastfeeding medicine have worked hard over the past 10 years literally fighting both our medical colleagues who are not educated in lactation, and our culture, to establish exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months as the evidence-based norm and standard of care for virtually every baby," said Dr. Kathleen Marinelli, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

Although 75 percent of new moms in the U.S. start breastfeeding, only 13 percent are still breastfeeding exclusively at six months, according to the CDC.  Advocacy groups have pushed for better resources and support to make six months of breastfeeding more feasible for new moms, many of whom return to work less than six weeks after giving birth.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA to Restrict Acetaminophen Content in Prescription Drugs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday asked drug manufacturers to limit the strength of acetaminophen, a drug commonly used in both prescription and over-the-counter medications, in their products.  Combination prescription medications will be allowed to include no more than 325 mg of acetaminophen in each tablet or capsule.

The FDA's decision to restrict the drug's content level comes from acetaminophen's risk of severe liver injury as well as its associated allergic reactions.

Additionally, manufacturers of products containing acetaminophen will now be required to include a boxed warning emphasizing the potential risk of liver toxicity and a warning listing the drug's potential allergic reactions such as swelling of the face, mouth and throat, difficulty breathing, itching or rash.

The agency highlights that the action will only affect prescription medications (e.g., Vicodin, Lortab).  Over-the-counter products used to reduce pain and fever (e.g., Tylenol) were not included in the FDA's decision.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Bayer Tests Fat-Loss Injection for Double Chin

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LEVERKUSEN, Germany) -- A simple injection in the neck to get rid of that double chin? Sounds too good to be true, and that very well may be the case concerning Bayer's newest fat-dissolving injectable, ATX-101, which is beginning phase III trials in Europe.

The upcoming multi-center, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study will test the efficacy of ATX-101 for eliminating localized fat under the chin, known as submental fat. The companies announced Monday that they are enrolling patients for the trial in France, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Italy and the U.K.

The drug utilizes half of the two-drug, off-label cocktail used for the notoriously problematic fat-dissolving injectable Lipodissolve that prompted a public warning by the Food and Drug Administration in spring 2010.

Lipodissolve, which was marketed as a quick and easy "lunchtime lipo" procedure a few years back, utilized two chemicals, phosphatidylcholine (PC) and deoxycholate (DC), neither of which were FDA approved for fat elimination.

ATX-101, is just sodium deoxycholate (DC in solution).

Research has shown PC actually inhibits the fat-dissolving effects of DC, so researchers are testing the efficacy of DC alone for fat elimination, said KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals, Inc., which teamed with Bayer in August 2010 for the upcoming trial.

KYTHERA hopes ultimately to bring an FDA-approved compound for injectable fat elimination to the U.S. market. Two phase II trials in humans have been done in the U.S. so far and a third is underway.

"We are very pleased with the progress that has been made in Europe with ATX-101," Keith Leonard, KYTHERA's president and CEO, said in a press release on the trial. "The initiation of these Phase III studies marks an important milestone in our collaboration with Intendis and further demonstrates the potential of ATX-101 as a first-in-class injectable drug for localized fat reduction."

But plastic surgeons are wary of this renewed attempt to test DC as a cosmetic fat-dissolver.

"I would be very cautious. Even if it's approved in Europe, people will start purchasing it and sneaking into the U.S. illegally," said Dr. Darrick Antell, a plastic surgeon at Roosevelt Hospital in New York and a spokesman for the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. "There's no doubt in my mind that if it's approved for the small area [under the chin], then people will start using for large areas and I have no doubt that there will invariably be adverse effects. [Injectable fat-dissolvers] need a lot more work. People who would use this sort of medicine at this point would be like driving ahead of your headlights."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Genetically Modified Chickens Stop Bird Flu Spread

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The idea of tweaking genes for healthier, tastier or more abundant food makes some people uneasy. But what if genetically modified food could help prevent the spread of a deadly disease, saving human and animal lives as well as money?

According to a study published in Science, genetically modified chickens could stop the bird flu virus -- specifically the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain -- in its tracks.

"The chickens can be infected, but they don't pass the virus on to other chickens in the flock," said study co-author Professor Helen Sang from The Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

Bird flu outbreaks in the U.S. are rare and involve viral strains that generally affect birds. But over 400 human cases of H5N1 have been reported in more than a dozen countries across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Pacific, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Roughly 60 percent of these have been fatal.

Although there's no sign of H5N1 in the U.S., the country still feels the fury of bird flu. The virus is transmitted to chickens by wild birds, forcing farmers to slaughter entire flocks. So while it hasn't threatened public health, bird flu continues to fuel significant animal welfare worries and economic woes.

But given the logistical challenges of replacing current flocks with the flu-fighting variety -- not to mention mixed feelings about genetically modified food -- the GM approach to beating bird flu may be hard to get off the ground.

"Replacing the world's chicken population with genetically modified chickens wouldn't be cheap. It looks good on a drawing board, but it might not fly," said William Schaffner, chair of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "There are lots of great ideas out there, but the filter of realty whittles them down pretty quickly."

But as poultry farming becomes more centralized, farmers are beginning to get their stock from a few, large suppliers, according to Sang.

"I think it would be very hard to get to the backyard chickens in many of the affected countries," Sang said. "But the majority of the poultry raised are coming from a small number of breading companies and producers who could choose to incorporate the genetic modification into their breeding program."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Writing Can Help Avoid Choking Under Pressure

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Jasmin Sultana, 24, of Queens, N.Y., knows only too well what it means to choke under pressure.

The first time she took her driving test, tears welled up in her eyes and she could not see the road. She pulled over mid-test, stopped the car, and told the tester, "I just can't do this."

"Even though I was prepared for it, leading up to it I was really sweaty," said Sultana. "I started to feel nervous, and during the test I started crying."

The second and third time she took the test, Sultana could feel her stress level building. Again, she choked.

"I just couldn't concentrate," she said. "It became such a long process to pass this test."

Sultana was wrapping up her final college year before she got the nerve to try it again. This time she brought a friend along. Right before the test, her friend assured her there was nothing to worry about.

Sultana thought about failure, she told her friend. She thought about what her tester thought about her. She thought taking a deep breath to quell the anxiety won't work for her. But she also thought, "I've got to pass this thing." She didn't want to take this test again.

"Telling someone put things in perspective for me, that it's just a test that I've been prepared for," said Sultana, who went on to pass the test.

Letting out all of her fearful thoughts before test time may have done the trick, according to a new study published Thursday in the journal Science. The study suggests that simply writing about your anxiety just a few minutes before a high-stakes event can help you perform significantly better.

Researchers conducted four separate studies that focused on test-taking anxieties of high school and college students. Before giving the students a test, researchers assigned different groups of students with high performance anxiety to either write down their anxieties about taking the upcoming test, write freely about any topic, or not write at all.

"I am afraid I am going to make a mistake," wrote one student in the expressive writing group.

"I just want to stop thinking about how I am going to fail," another student wrote.

The study found that those who wrote about their test anxiety in some cases received a whole grade letter higher than those who wrote about an unrelated event, or did not take the time to write.

"It's really a counterintuitive finding -- that dwelling on your worries can have a positive impact," said Sian Beilock, an associate professor in the department of psychology in The University of Chicago and co-author of the study.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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