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Friday
Oct152010

Scientists Say Cancer Is a 'Man-Made' Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MANCHESTER, England) -- Environmental factors, such as pollution and lifestyle choices, are to blame for causing cancer in humans, according to a study conducted at the University of Manchester.  The scientists deemed cancer as a "man-made" disease after studying hundreds of mummies, fossils, and ancient literature.

Their research, published in Nature, found only one case of cancer in the mummies studied, as well as few literary references to the disease.  They suggest this proves cancer was very rare in ancient times, and point out that the rate of the disease has risen greatly since the Industrial Revolution.

Professor Rosalie David, at the Faculty of Life Sciences, said, “In industrialised societies, cancer is second only to cardiovascular disease as a cause of death. But in ancient times, it was extremely rare. There is nothing in the natural environment that can cause cancer. So it has to be a man-made disease, down to pollution and changes to our diet and lifestyle.”

She added, “The important thing about our study is that it gives a historical perspective to this disease. We can make very clear statements on the cancer rates in societies because we have a full overview. We have looked at millennia, not one hundred years, and have masses of data.”

The data includes the first case of cancer ever found in an Egyptian mummy.  Professor Michael Zimmerman, a visiting professor at Manchester University, based at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, diagnosed the mummy with rectal cancer.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct152010

Pre-Existing Condition? Baby Denied Medical Coverage While in Womb

Photo Courtesy - The Barnes Family(NEW YORK) -- New mother Kelly Barnes is heartbroken and angry.

She's heartbroken because she has endured what no mother should have to endure. While pregnant with twins, she lost one of them at 30 weeks. The other baby, Kinsleigh, was born with serious heart problems.

But Barnes is angry because her insurance company, Aetna, held up paying thousands of dollars in medical charges. The reason? The insurance company said the newborn might have been suffering from a pre-existing condition.

"Under Aetna's own definition, in order to deny for pre-existing condition, there has to be medical advice or care that was rendered or given," Barnes' attorney, Tom Caldwell, said. "And in this case, of course, that would be real hard, given the fact the baby was still in the womb."

Barnes said she called Aetna hoping for a resolution.

"It's like you're talking to somebody who is reading from a script," Barnes said. "They don't have answers for you based on what you're telling them."

ABC News called the insurance company in September and it claims the pre-existing condition hold-up was a simple coding error and it wasn't paying back Barnes' claims since July. But Barnes said that no one ever told her that, and it wasn't until ABC got involved that all the costs were finally paid.

"It is my personal belief that they will -- they do this to you, expecting you not to follow up with it," she said. "And I'm sure most people don't."

Kinsleigh still needs heart operations, but those Aetna said it will foot the bill. Even so, Barnes said she'll never forget the nightmare that Aetna put her and her family through.

Following the ABC News investigation, Aetna apologized to Barnes.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct142010

Chelation Quackery? FDA Moves to Halt Supplements

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently warned eight companies to cease marketing of over-the-counter products which they claim will treat everything from autism and Alzheimer's to macular degeneration, MedPage Today reports.

The products, known as chelation products, are marketed as dietary supplements which the FDA does not regulate.  The products are generally sold in various forms such as nasal sprays, capsules, liquid drops and suppositories.

"This is dangerously misleading, targeting patients and caregivers of patients who have serious conditions with limited treatment options," Michael Levy, director of new drugs and labeling compliance at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), said during a press briefing.

The products claim to cure a range of diseases by removing heavy metals from the body.  These conditions including autism and cardiovascular conditions, as well as Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, and macular degeneration.

Though no adverse events have yet been reported, Dr. Charles Lee, medical officer at CDER, said the products can cause side effects including dehydration, kidney failure, liver damage and death.

"Just because we don't have evidence of lots of adverse events doesn't mean there's no risk from them," Lee said, adding that such events are likely underreported.

Many parents have turned to intravenous chelation to treat their autistic children -- treatment that is not FDA-approved, MedPage Today reports.  The agency said it is aware of one death in an autistic child given intravenous chelation therapy.

The agency said it does not have data as to how widespread is the use of the over-the-counter agents.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct142010

Nutrition Experts Debate Idea That Not All Calories Are Created Equal

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Even if they're not exactly math whizzes, most dieters are experts at counting calories, tallying up every morsel and sip like a top-notch accountant. Somewhere along the line they learn that in order to lose weight, they must create a calorie deficit  by eating less fat, less carbohydrates, less protein or a little less of everything -- and whichever way they do it is immaterial. This is weight loss 101.

Now, a growing number of rebel researchers and practitioners are challenging this notion. They're taking the "carbs versus protein" diet debate a step further by maintaining the source of calories is just as important as the number of them.

Conventional nutrition experts acknowledge the biochemistry of nutrition is complex but one essential fact is constant: a calorie is a calorie no matter where it comes from.

"For the most part the evidence seems to show that just about any diet will give you about the same results for weight loss as long as you eat sensibly and exercise moderation," says Christine Gerbstadt, a spokesperson for the American Dietetics Association (ADA), a group that advocates "balanced eating plans" like the USDA Food Guide at MyPyramid.gov and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH Diet). Both diets are low in fat, sugar, cholesterol and salt, high in complex carbohydrates like whole grains and offer moderate amounts of lean proteins.

But experts like Jonny Bowden, a certified nutritionist and author of Living Low Carb, insist all calories are most certainly not created equal. As proof, he points to studies like this 2009 Swedish investigation where volunteers snacked on candy or peanuts to the tune of about 20 extra calories per each half pound of body weight. For example, someone weighing 150 pounds would overindulge by eating a gut busting 1,300 calories a day.

After two weeks, you might expect that both groups were popping the buttons on their pants but this was the case with just the sweet eaters. The peanut snackers did gain a small amount of weight but only about a third of what the candy eaters gained and only the candy group showed an increase in waist circumference, cholesterol and overall blood fats.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct142010

One in Five Teens Has Mental Disorder

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new study in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry finds 20 percent of American teenagers suffer from some kind of mental disorder severe enough to have an impact on their day-to-day lives.  Even more have had some kind of less severe mental difficulty. 

The researchers say their study is the first to show such a broad range of problems in a nationally representative sample.  They say severe emotional and behavior disorders are more common than the most frequent physical conditions from which teens suffer.  Those include diabetes and asthma.

Anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks and social phobia were the most commonly reported problems among the more than ten thousand teens studied.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct142010

Researchers: Love Really Is a Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Stanford University experts say those butterflies in your stomach may be good for your health.  Researchers there say intense feelings of romantic love affect the brain the same way powerful pain relievers do.  Stanford's Arthur Aron says people are so attracted to some drugs because they activate the area of the brain that makes you feel good.  "The same reward area is activated when people are experiencing the intense desire of romantic love."

Here's how the study worked.  Researchers posted notices around the Stanford campus, asking couples in the throes of brand new love to participate.  The study focused on the euphoric, obsessive phase of early love rather than more mature romantic relationships.  Tests on students who admitted being all lovestruck over a new partner showed their feelings for that person reduced intense pain by 12 percent and moderate pain by 45 percent.

The leader of the study, Jarred Younger, says love really is a drug. "One of the key sites for love-induced analgesia is the nucleus accumbens, a key reward addiction centre for opioids, cocaine and other drugs of abuse. The region tells the brain that you really need to keep doing this."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct142010

Rescued Miners May Be Trapped by Psychological Issues

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(COPIAPO, Chile) -- Amid cheers, celebration and a throng of loved ones, officials and media, the 33 Chilean miners emerged, one by one, from the ground.

But once the jubilation is over, experts say the men may have to confront a number of medical and psychological issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder.

"The probability they will have PTSD symptoms is very high," said Edna Foa, director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "How permanent those symptoms are, or if they're going to develop further, is something we need to wait and see."

After surviving more than two months trapped underground and facing tremendous uncertainty, including the prospect that they could have died, experts say the miners may now suffer a number of symptoms related to PTSD and other psychological issues.  How they respond to them depends on each miner's individual psyche as well as the amount of support they get from mental health professionals, their families and the community.

"Some may have depression, anxiety or phobic symptoms, some may socially withdraw, some may become hypervigilant and some may have traumatic reminders of the event," said Dr. Jon Shaw, professor of psychiatry at the University of Miami School of Medicine.

For those that do suffer from PTSD, those symptoms will emerge later, usually within a few weeks.

"There may be severe psychological distress, including cognitive symptoms such as loss, a sense of confusion, concentration problems, a sense of disorientation, nightmares, dreams, a loss of appetite," said Neal Walker, a clinical psychologist with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a U.S. government agency. "There may also be behavioral symptoms, such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, they may cry easily, and some men will try to make fun of their experience -- 'gallows humor,'" said Walker.

Shaw said their body clocks will likely have trouble readjusting after months in darkness.  "They will have trouble with the sleep-wake cycle, their Circadian rhythms," he said.

A spokesman for the hospital in Copiapo, where some of the miners are being treated for a number of heath conditions, said the miners haven't slept yet because they are overjoyed and want to spend time with their families.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

FDA Warns Patients About Osteoporosis Drugs

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday cautioned patients and health care providers about the the possible risks of "atypical thigh bone (femoral) fracture" in patients who take bisphosphonates, a class of drugs used to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

While the FDA is uncertain about the causal relationship between bisphosphonates and atypical femur fractures, there has been an alarming amount of thigh bone fracture reports in patients taking bisphosphonates.

"The FDA is continuing to evaluate data about the safety and effectiveness of bisphosphonates when used long-term for osteoporosis treatment," said RADM Sandra Kweder, M.D., deputy director of the Office of New Drugs in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. 

Dr. Kweder continues, "In the interim, it's important for patients and health care professionals to have all the safety information available when determining the best course of treatment for osteoporosis."

The FDA says a labeling change and Medication Guide, which will only affect bisphosphonates approved for osteoporosis, will reflect the potential risk.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

Latino Life Expectancy Longer Than Other Groups

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- A new Centers for Disease Control study suggests Latinos in the U.S. have a longer life expectancy than Caucasians or African-Americans in the country do.  The C.D.C.'s National Center for Health Statistics research, based on 2006 death rate data, finds Latinos in the U.S. live an average of 2.5 years longer than the non-Hispanic white population and nearly 8 years longer than the non-Hispanic black population.

Life expectancy for the total population was 77.7 years, but the Hispanic population had a life expectancy of nearly 81 years.  Non-Hispanic whites can expect to live about 78 years, and African-Americans have a life expectancy of 73 years.

The C.D.C. report said the reasons for the differences are not known.  A recent article on AskMen.com on living longer points to the Latino lifestyle as a determinant, saying the importance of family, a strong work ethic, the role of religion and formation of a community may be part of the equation. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct132010

Early Retirement Could Fog Your Memory

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A new study of countries around the world suggests retirement could lead to reduced cognitive performance, or poor memory.  Its a 20-year study by the Rand Center for the Study of Aging and the University of Michigan and involved people in the United States and several European countries, where people tend to retire younger than they do in the U.S. 

Americans, who often work well into their 60s, tended to perform better on memory tests than their counterparts from countries like Italy and Spain.  Richard Suzman of the National Institute on Aging says people who spend thousands of hours in the workplace benefit from the mental stimulation.  It's unclear whether it's the actual work, the social interaction or other factors that might be behind a better memory.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio