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Friday
Feb082019

IVF coverage by employers on the rise? How to know what your company offers

posteriori/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Infertility coverage is the in-demand benefit of the moment for women and more companies are stepping up to offer to help pay for treatments like in-vitro fertilization (IVF).

Over 400 U.S. companies offer benefits for fertility treatments, according to data collected by Fertility IQ, a fertility information website.

Starbucks offers one of the best company benefits, with part-time employees receiving infertility coverage after just one month on the job. Companies including Bank of America, Tesla and Spotify offer unlimited IVF coverage to their workers.

Even with some employers adding infertility benefits, the majority of IVF patients treated last year paid for all or some of their treatment out-of-pocket, according to Fertility IQ.

A single round of in-vitro fertilization can cost upwards of $20,000 and often requires more than one try. More than seven million women in the U.S. have used infertility services, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Haley Burns, 29, began to research companies that offered IVF when she realized she would need the treatment. After doing research, she discovered that the health care company she worked for offered a good fertility plan.

“It's obviously a company that cares about their employees,” Burns told “Good Morning America.” “Finding out that my company and what they offered was so much better than their competitors out there made a difference and made me stay with the company.”

More than 70 percent of Fertility IQ survey respondents said their company did not do a good job of making employees aware of fertility benefits, while a majority reported a "greater sense of loyalty and commitment" to employers who offer benefits.

Employees unsure of their benefits can turn to their human resources representative for help or do their own research, whether by talking to colleagues, reading the fine print in paperwork or going online.

Fertility-focused organizations have also begun to offer tips for employees who want to ask their employers for IVF benefits.

ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis is pregnant with her first child thanks to the help of infertility treatments, she said on "GMA."

She shared these four tips to help women try to lower the cost of infertility treatments.

1. Call your insurance provider: [Call] whatever insurance you’re getting through your company and ask them what fertility benefits they offer. Typically it’s the insurance providers themselves that can explain which benefits you’re eligible for.

Also, ask insurance provider about different plans – sometimes it’s different coverage depending on which plan you’re on and it might make sense to switch.

2. Look at your partner's insurance: In some cases that’s going to be a bigger benefit than the one you’re getting from your company.

3. Negotiate: "When you’re going out and talking to these various fertility providers, negotiate. Caution against just making choice on cheapest option. If they’re not the strongest provider, you could be setting yourself up for multiple rounds of treatment which becomes more expensive.

[And] look at the [fertility] drug prices because different pharmacies offer different drug prices and they can get upwards of thousands of dollars."

4. Find grants and scholarships: "There are a number of organizations that offer grants and scholarships." The Kevin J. Lederer Life Foundation in Chicago, for example, offers grants to cover the medical costs of IVF treatments. Other resources include the Kyle Busch Foundation, the Baby Quest Foundation and the Cade Foundation.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved

Friday
Feb082019

Beer before wine is fine? No, you'll still be hungover

Wavebreakmedia/iStock(LONDON) -- The old saying goes, beer before wine and you'll be fine -- the next morning. But wine before beer?

Many folks have long said the order in which different types of drinks are consumed will affect one's hangover -- in England, for example, there's the saying, "Grape or grain, but never the twain."

But a group of scientists now have said that's not true: The order in which drinks are consumed doesn't affect a hangover.

If you drink too much, the study showed, you'll still likely be in store for a rough morning after.

A joint study by researchers from the Witten/Herdecke University in Germany and the University of Cambridge in the UK put the old sayings to the test, using 90 volunteers split into three groups. One drank beer and then wine, another wine and then beer and a third drank only beer or wine.

A week later, the volunteer groups switched what they were drinking. The volunteers were asked to rate their hangovers based on common symptoms -- fatigue, headache, nausea -- and asked to rate their levels of drunkenness throughout a day's revelry.

The researchers, led by Dr. Kai Hensel, a senior clinical fellow at the University of Cambridge, found there was no significant difference between the three groups in terms of hangovers.

"We used lager beer and white wine. And we didn't notice any difference,” Hansel told the BBC.

"Using white wine and lager beer, we didn't find any truth in the idea that drinking beer before wine gives you a milder hangover than the other way around,” said Jöran Köchling from Witten/Herdecke University, an author of the study, which was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. "The truth is that drinking too much of any alcoholic drink is likely to result in a hangover."

Unfortunately, however, scientists have yet to find the ever-elusive "hangover cure" for which drinkers from time immemorial have been waiting.

If that finding comes as a disappointment for those of us who enjoy a drink or two, there is one ray of hope in the findings.

"Unpleasant as hangovers are, we should remember that they do have one important benefit," Hensel said. "They can help us learn from our mistakes."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb082019

Trump to receive second physical as president after last year's controversy

Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump is scheduled Friday to receive his second physical since taking office, after last year's checkup raised questions about the true state of his health.

Trump, 72, was the oldest president elected in U.S. history at 70. Last year, he was said to be in "excellent health" after undergoing his first presidential physical, according to then-White House doctor Rear Adm. Ronny Jackson, who sparked controversy after a glowing assessment created skepticism among reporters.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders told ABC News this year's physical will once again take place at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in suburban Maryland. A different doctor will conduct the exam.

Ahead of the president's 2018 physical, questions were raised about Trump's cognitive abilities after reports he sometimes repeated himself during meetings. Jackson pushed back on any criticism in a nearly hour-long briefing with White House reporters.

"There's no indication that he has any kind of cognitive issues," Jackson said. "On a day-to-day basis, it has been my experience the president is very sharp -- very articulate when he speaks to me."

Jackson praised the president for having good genes and said Trump scored a perfect 30 out of 30 on the Montreal Cognitive Assessment aimed at detecting mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease.

"Some people have just great genes," Jackson said. "I told the president that if he had a healthier diet over the last 20 years, he might live to be 200 years old. I don't know."

Trump subsequently nominated Jackson to become Secretary of Veterans Affairs, but the doctor was forced to withdraw after allegations of misconduct that still are being investigated.

Last year, the outcome of the president's exam noted his 75-inch height, 239-pound weight, total cholesterol of 223 and resting heart rate of 68 beats per minute.

Jackson suggested a reasonable goal for the president would be to lose 10 to 15 pounds, adding that a nutritionist would work with the president on his eating habits, especially curbing his appetite for fast food.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb082019

Supreme Court puts Louisiana abortion law on hold

dkfielding/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Supreme Court has temporarily put on hold a controversial Louisiana abortion law set to take effect Friday which requires abortion providers in that state to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles.

Chief Justice John Roberts joined with Justices Elena Kagan, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor to grant an emergency stay while the case proceeds.

Critics of the law argue it would severely limit access to abortion services in Louisiana by disqualifying the small handful of clinics that perform the procedures. Supporters say the state has the right to regulate the clinics to ensure safety.

The request for a stay in the case, which the high court has not yet decided on whether to hear, is seen as the first major test on abortion for the court's new conservative majority and President Donald Trump's two appointees to the bench.

Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito all dissented from the decision and would have allowed the law to take effect as appeals proceed.

Kavanaugh, writing for the first time from the high bench on the issue of abortion, argued that Louisiana's four abortion doctors have plenty of time to obtain the admitting privileges they need before the restrictions take effect after a 45-day transition period.

"The case largely turns on the intensely factual question whether the three doctors [in Louisiana]...can obtain admitting privileges. If we denied the stay, that question could be readily and quickly answered without disturbing the status quo or causing harm to the parties or the affected women, and without this Court’s further involvement at this time," Kavanaugh wrote.

"These three doctors could lawfully continue to perform abortions at the clinics during the 45-day transition period. Furthermore, during the 45-day transition period, both the doctors and the relevant hospitals could act expeditiously and in good faith to reach a definitive conclusion about whether those three doctors can obtain admitting privileges," he said.

The Supreme Court rejected a similar abortion law in Texas in a 5-3 decision in 2016, saying it created an "undue burden" on women seeking access to abortion.

In the Louisiana case, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that the state law is substantively different from the Texas measure and should be upheld because it does not "impose a substantial burden on a large fraction of women" in the state.

"Today’s decision maintains a critical lifeline for women in Louisiana, who already face some of the bleakest outlooks for reproductive freedom," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group. "The Supreme Court rightfully refused to uphold a brazen and unconstitutional attempt to ignore identical cases that are intended to shutter abortion clinics in the state, making Roe v. Wade obsolete."

The Supreme Court will now consider whether to grant a writ of certiorari and issue a final opinion in the case.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb082019

Doctors race to find out more about polio-like disease AFM before next wave

Courtesy the Carr family(NEW YORK) -- Four-year-old Camdyn Carr began the fight of his life two months ago at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore, Maryland, where he was first diagnosed with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM).

The Carr family have remained steady in the battle as their child’s body fights a modern day medical mystery that left him mostly paralyzed and nearly killed him.

“I'm grateful he's getting better and I know it's a long process,” his father Chris Carr told ABC News.

AFM is a devastating illness that is being compared to a modern day Polio because of their similar paralyzing symptoms. It has stricken 543 children in the United States since 2014. It has no vaccine or cure and the cause is unclear.

AFM strikes quickly and mostly in children -- first appearing like a normal cold -- but in its wake, victims are left in a state of partial or full paralysis, that can lead to death.

“You’d never think it would happen to you ... ‘cause Lord knows I would not have ever thought, I never even heard of AFM before he got sick. Prepare for the worst and pray for the best,” the father said.

After a sudden 2014 outbreak of AFM, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created a task force of health professionals. They were tasked with researching and tracking the emergence of the disorder.

Since then, there have been increasing numbers of cases every two years that have led doctors to some answers.

Dr. Benjamin Greenberg is a specialist who has worked with the CDC and has treated patients with AFM since 2009, well before the 2014 outbreak. He's one of several doctors across the country trying to solve this mystery.

“We know there are a lot of different causes of paralysis in children. There are a number of different viruses certain autoimmune conditions that can lead to the exact same symptoms and the exact same findings on an MRI at the same time,” he explained. "Not every child who develops the syndrome of acute flaccid myelitis has been infected with an enterovirus, but our read of the data says that between July and November during ... 2014, 2016 and 2018 that the majority of children were probably impacted by this group of enteroviruses that year.”

Because of this, experts believe there is a link between occurrence of specific viruses and why outbreaks of AFM happen in two year cycles. With the clock ticking before the next emergence, officials like Dr. Greenberg fear it could become even worse.

The concern is that “it could mutate to become more virulent and cause more cases of paralysis over years to come and nobody knows the answer to that,” Greenberg said.

The latest outbreak began making headlines across the country last October when six children in Minnesota were diagnosed with AFM.

Those children, along with Camdyn Carr, are part of at least 210 children across 40 states to contract AFM in the 2018 outbreak and until doctors better understand the illness, physical therapy is one of the only treatments that can help.

Courtney Porter, Carr’s therapist, said when she first met Carr, he had “a lot of anxiety.”

“He was very afraid of everything that we did here, even just getting from his bed into the wheelchair, from the wheelchair onto our mat tables, were very nerve-inducing things [that] required a lot of distraction and play to get him to be able to do those types of things,” Porter said.

Carr likely faces a lifetime of recovery.

“It’s definitely a long progress for the kids,” Porter said.

But in her time with the now 4-year-old, Porter said his progress “is really promising.”

“To even just see the movement in his left leg now that he didn't show at all just a couple of months ago is really exciting to see,” she said.

As more children have become ill with AFM, families have called on state and federal health officials to do more.

Chris Carr traveled to Washington, D.C., in November with several other families and met with members of Congress and representatives from the CDC.

“I’m kinda glad that I’m doing it for my son and all the other families that are affected, because people need to know about this,” he said. “It’s already hard enough on people going through this with their children. It’s even harder that you gotta deal with the CDC that’s not doing their job, in my opinion.”

The frustration at health officials has been a growing sentiment that resonated with many other families who have struggled with AFM.

Robin Roberts said her son Carter went from being a perfectly healthy 3-year-old to a quadriplegic in 2014.

“We did everything the CDC said to do. We did everything a pediatrician tells you to do. And this crazy thing still happened to us,” Roberts said.

At the time, doctors who first treated Carter were left scrambling for answers, unsure what was wrong with even less research available about the disease.

Roberts said they were “dismissed by the first physician” who saw her son, but she insisted that something was wrong.

“There was actually another doctor that came into his curtain a short while later and he said, ‘look I'm worried about a possibility of a meningitis possibly a stroke although that would be pretty atypical or something else going on here,’” Roberts recalled.

It took the doctors 10 days, several spinal taps and an MRI to determine Roberts had AFM, but despite the diagnosis there was not much they could do.

“There was no cure or treatment to do,” the mother said. “Based on everything going on with Carter that nothing was bound to change and to take care of him the best we could and the best we knew how with the complications being hooked up to the ventilator being fed through a tube and stomach.”

For two years, his parents became full-time caregivers, putting Carter through intense physical therapy.

Roberts called it a “cadence of chaos” trying to do everything around the clock.

“Coming home doesn't make it go away. It means you're trying to do more with less. You're trying to do all the things that all of those wonderful professionals did for your child to help them be good feel good get better be entertained be happy,” she said. “But it's just mom and dad.”

As attentive and dedicated as Robin and her family were to Carter, it wasn’t enough. On Sept. 22, 2018, after two years of living with AFM, she said her son passed away from respiratory complications related to AFM.

Since his death, the family has pushed health officials to put a greater focus on AFM so that other families don’t have to go through the pain of losing a child like they did.

“I think the CDC could be following these cases more closely,” Roberts said, suggesting they follow the illness “on a long term basis to make sure they know what's happening to these kids.”

She continued, “I applaud them for putting together the task force that just recently started. But I think the efforts of those sort of work groups are long overdue. And they must be maintained and have sustainability into the future.”

The CDC has yet to acknowledge her son’s death was a result of AFM.

The CDC said in a statement to ABC News' Nightline that they are "very concerned about AFM."

"Since 2014, we have learned important information about the cases and outbreaks. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that we still don’t know about this rare and complex condition," the statement said. "CDC is committed to finding out what causes AFM cases and what factors might be linked to greater risk. We have established an AFM task force of national experts to help us develop a comprehensive research agenda. We value the experiences and stories of parents whose children have AFM and pledge to work with them to find the cause."

“I think they need to accelerate the dialogue and the work around acute flaccid myelitis to find out what's causing this,” Roberts proposed. “[To] find out how the disease progresses so that we can better understand how to intervene or mitigate it to begin with.”

“It must be accelerated or more children are going to die,” she said.

The CDC has previously said they didn’t do as much as they should have with record keeping and they are going back and revising the numbers from previous years.

Dr. Greenberg said “there is room for improvement across the board relative to how we approach AFM.”

Camdyn Carr returned home in December. As his family continues to battle AFM, his dad is doing what he can to keep a firm hold on hope.

Chis Carr said he feels for the families that have lost a child, but is “just hoping that my son is different from the others.”

“I could not imagine what they go through, but I just hope that’s not my child at the same,” he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb072019

Explaining Trump's talk of 'late-term abortions' during State of the Union 

Andy445/iStock(NEW YORK) -- President Donald Trump brought up “late-term abortions” during the 2019 State of the Union, and it’s left doctors scratching their heads.

“As a board-certified Ob-Gyn, I wish people understood that the term ‘late-term abortion’ is not remotely a medical term. In fact, even Ob-Gyns don’t know what people are referring to when we hear this term,” said ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jen Ashton.

The phrase has come up recently as a result of the passage of a law in New York concerning reproductive rights in the state, as well as comments made by the now-embattled governor of Virginia describing a hypothetical situation.

During his speech Tuesday night, Trump described how the New York law would "allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth" and said that "these are living, feeling, beautiful, babies who will never get the chance to share their love and dreams with the world."

That description made no mention about the rare circumstances that would lead to an abortion happening later in a pregnancy -- which includes spinal and genetic anomalies that would prevent a viable life, rather than just a decision by the mother that she does not want the child -- and the misconception has caused outrage and misunderstanding that doctors have tried to clear up.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) released a fact sheet in early February about abortions that take place later in a pregnancy. It begins by noting that "politicians should never interfere in the patient-physician relationship."

Dr. Sarah Horvath, an OB-GYN who is in a family planning fellowship at ACOG, told ABC News that the phrase “late-term abortion” is “inaccurate and purposefully confusing language that’s used for political reasons.”

Why abortions take place later in pregnancies

Horvath said that there is no set time limit for what is considered “late” in a pregnancy. The average pregnancy spans 40 weeks.

States differ as to whether or not they set a time limit -- typically either 20 or 24 weeks -- as to when an abortion can be obtained, with exceptions, or if their limit is set to fetus "viability" which allows for individual case considerations to be taken into account.

Ashton explained that “there is a difference between first trimester terminations (up to 12 to 13 weeks) and second trimester terminations (generally up to 24 weeks).”

“In general, we use 24 weeks as the threshold for viability: the age at which a fetus can survive outside the uterus. But there are cases in which fetuses at 23 weeks can survive, and those in which fetuses of 25 weeks do not,” Ashton said.

More conservative states have been pushing for so-called “heartbeat” bills, where an abortion is banned, with exceptions, once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy when some women may not even know that they are pregnant.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported in 2015 that 1.3 percent of abortions took place at or after the 21st week of a pregnancy, and Horvath said that fewer than 1 percent of abortions happen after 24 weeks of a pregnancy.

"In terms of second trimester terminations, there are often cases where serious anomalies are not detected in the fetus until the second trimester. There are also cases in which the life or medical condition of the woman is at serious risk if the pregnancy were to continue,” Ashton said.

Horvath said that she has had patients who face the “devastating” situation of having an abortion later in their pregnancy, including one patient who lived in New York.

Horvath described how the patient, whose name she did not share, had a “very wanted pregnancy” and everything “looked like it was going to be a normal pregnancy” until the 26th week. It was at that point that the woman was diagnosed with a “lethal fetal skeletal anomaly.”

“It develops later in pregnancy. She had an ultrasound at 20 weeks that had shown a healthy pregnancy and it was only after 24 weeks that this was actually diagnosed,” Horvath said of the situation. “This is completely incompatible with life outside the uterus.”

The new law in New York

The situation with this patient occurred before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act into law on Jan. 22 of this year. The law adjusted the legal framework for abortions in the state, setting it to a fetus viability standard as opposed to a set gestational age, and changing laws that criminalized certain later abortions.

Horvath said that the viability standard “is a much more accurate way of determining whether a fetus can live outside of the uterus.”

The ACOG, which is a nonprofit association with more than 58,000 members, uses viability as their standard as well.

“Viability is the capacity of the fetus for sustained survival outside the woman’s uterus. Whether or not this capacity exists is a medical determination, may vary with each pregnancy and is a matter of judgement of the responsible health care provider,” the ACOG wrote in a statement about their position on abortion.

In the case of the patient Horvath treated, because the new law was not yet in place in New York, and because when she was diagnosed with the lethal fetal skeletal anomaly her own life was not in danger, she “had no ability to obtain abortion care in her home state.”

“She was forced to continue to carry a pregnancy that she knew was never going to be able to survive and become a healthy baby,” Horvath said. “Several weeks later it demised in utero and she was then able to have the procedure to remove it from her uterus.”

The difference that the new law would have made in that patient’s case, Horvath said, was that she would have been able to be treated in her home state and not have to “wait with the knowledge that she was carrying a doomed pregnancy.”

“It’s really important to remember that every one of these situations is complicated and difficult for the woman and that’s why it’s much better that its left for her to discuss with her physician and the people in her life who can love her and support her and help her make the right decision for her,” Horvath said.

Political posturing

While the passage of the law in New York has prompted some discussion about abortion laws, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who previously worked as a pediatric neurologist before entering politics, also waded into the fray by talking about the issue during an appearance on a radio show.

During the State of the Union, Trump said “the governor of Virginia … stated he would execute a baby after birth.” Trump also said that the law in New York would “allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth.”

Horvath said that Trump’s characterizations are inaccurate.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb072019

Gabrielle Union says she felt like a 'failure' for having a daughter via surrogate

Roy Rochlin/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Actress and new mom Gabrielle Union admits she felt like she was "surrendering to failure" when she decided to use a surrogate to welcome her first child into the world.

Union, 46, welcomed her first child with husband Dwyane Wade, last November, and has been open about her struggles with infertility, multiple miscarriages, Adenomyosis diagnosis and more in the past.

Still, in a new interview with Women's Health magazine, the actress admits that the "idea" of using a surrogate to welcome baby Kaavia James into the world was something she struggled to accept.

“There’s nothing more that I wanted than to cook my own baby," Union said, adding that when it comes to surrogacy: "The idea of it felt like surrendering to failure.”

As someone in the spotlight, she adds that she was especially apprehensive about the public's reaction to finding out she went with a surrogate.

“People want to see the bump, hear that you got hemorrhoids -- they want to know you’re like them," she said. "I was like ‘This is going to seem like the most Hollywood s*** ever. Will I be embraced as a mom?' It’s terrifying.”

The actress also revealed how she picked her surrogate, saying, "Some people care about the race, religion, or food habits of their surrogate. I was like, ‘I want a reader.’”

One thing the Bring it On actress says she didn't have any qualms about was becoming a first-time mom in her 40s, saying that, "Any earlier and the FOMO would have greatly influenced how I parented."

"Now I’m in the right mindset and mental space, and I’m open to being the best mom I can be,” she said.

The new issue of Women's Health magazine is now on newsstands nationwide.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb072019

I tried 'exercise snacking' for a week and here's why I'm going to keep doing it

ABCBY ABC NEWS' KATIE KINDELAN

(NEW YORK) -- Exercise snacking has nothing to do with eating chips during a SoulCycle class.

It simply means doing short bursts of exercise throughout the day. The extra movement may be as effective as taking a spin class or doing sprints on your own, some experts say.

As someone whose job requires sitting at a desk all day, the research caught my eye. I have found that even though I’m active after work (diligently attending a group fitness class daily) I have a hard time pulling myself away from my desk.

I’m answering emails, writing a story, on the phone and poof, the day is over and I realize (and my body tells me) that I have barely moved all day.

For one week I committed to climbing three flights of stairs three times a day at work, the same type of stair climbing examined in a headline-making study recently published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition and Metabolism.

The study found that its test group of sedentary adults who climbed a three-flight staircase three times a day – with a one- to four-hour break between each climb – were stronger and fitter at the end of the six-week study than the control group who did not climb stairs.

I started my exercise snacking routine on a Monday, a day I was not bounding in with energy to say the least.

Around 9 a.m., when I would have usually hopped in the elevator to go up three stories to the office café, I instead found myself in the stairwell, climbing three flights of stairs.

Even though I work out, I had to take a break about midway through and huffed and puffed way more than I would have liked. I climbed the three flights in one minute and 46 seconds.

After I reached the top though, I immediately felt better and proud of myself for doing it. I climbed down the three flights of stairs too.

The rest of the week went by much the same. I would think, “Do I really have to do this?” But, much like working out, once I got myself to the stairwell and climbed the stairs, I was always glad I did.

I never set an alarm to remind myself, but maybe I should have because I did miss a few climbs, particularly the third climb of the day as I was trying to finish my work.

What amazed me was the thought I had nearly every time: that I couldn’t possibly pull myself away from my desk. Climbing three sets of stairs takes less than two minutes and I always returned to my desk having not missed much.

That was my biggest takeaway from the wee -- that taking these kinds of short breaks throughout the day did not impact my work but instead made me feel better physically and mentally which, in turn, made my work better.

I also noticed feeling more in control of my breath in my workout classes. My legs felt more sore, which I attributed to my workouts, but now realize I can put some of the blame, or credit, for that on exercise snacking too.

On Friday, after climbing more than 30 flights of stairs, I walked up another three sets of stairs at 9 a.m., the exact same time as Monday. This time I clocked in at one minute and one second, shaving a full 45 seconds off of my time.

I'll definitely keep snacking

I am on board with the exercise snacking trend and have made stair climbing a habit.

I've found it actually adds to my productivity because I return to my desk more alert. It also breaks up my day and allows me to focus for a period of time on a task knowing that I'll have this break coming up.

I'll check my time occasionally to see how I'm progressing, but I've also tried to leave my phone at my desk so it gives me at least a minute or two away from a screen. A mini-meditation is how I've come to look at each "snack" break.

On days when I know I will be busy, I'll set a timer for myself so I don't forget to get up every few hours.

The six-week study that piqued my interest in exercise snacking found that stair-climbing "snacks" improved cardiorespiratory fitness (a measure of how well your body transports and absorbs oxygen) and strength.

Researchers said they want to keep looking into whether shorter breaks between "snacks" can improve cardiorespiratory fitness even more, and what the breaks can do to health factors like blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

If stairs are not an option for you at work, there are still ways to incorporate exercise snacks at a lesser intensity, whether it is a walk down the hall, squats or yoga moves at your desk or simply standing up and stretching for an energy boost.


Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Feb062019

Company claims to have 'complete cure for cancer' within a year, but is it too good to be true?

Jakub Rupa/iStockBY: DR. ERICA ORSINI

(NEW YORK) -- An Israeli biopharmaceutical company recently announced that it would be able to cure cancer within the next year. But is this claim too good to be true?

“We believe we will offer in a year’s time a complete cure for cancer,” Dan Aridor, chairman of the board for Accelerated Evolution Biotechnologies (AEBi), told The Jerusalem Post. “Our cancer cure will be effective from day one, will last a duration of weeks and will have no or minimal side-effects at a much lower cost than other treatments on the market. Our solution will be both generic and personal.”

AEBi claims it has developed a technology that makes use of personalized therapy to target cancer cells specific to each patient, a claim that has been met with skepticism in the medical community.

“There are over 200 human cancers,” said Vince. C. Luca, Ph.D., principal investigator in drug discovery at the Moffitt Cancer Center. “Finding a cure for even one of two would be a major accomplishment. Claiming to cure them all is impossible.”

Targeted cancer therapy is not new. Researchers have already been able to target specific components of cancer cells by replicating antibodies, the proteins that our bodies naturally produce to mark disease cells for the immune system to attack. More than a dozen of these antibodies have already been approved by the FDA to treat different cancers, such as some types of breast cancer and some forms of leukemia.

AEBi, however, plans to achieve its goal with another technique, known as “functional phage display,” which would create protein components known as “therapeutic peptides.”

Phage display uses viruses that infect bacteria, called phages, which hijack the bacteria’s cellular machinery to replicate into more viruses. Scientists have figured out how to insert foreign genetic material into phages to create drugs, which replicate along with the viruses — adalimumab, which treats rheumatoid arthritis, is one of them.

According to the company, its technology would use phage display to create multiple therapeutic peptides in order to target more than one receptor at a time — something current drugs made with phage display can’t do.

“Instead of attacking receptors one at a time, we attack receptors three at a time — not even cancer can mutate three receptors at the same time,” Ilan Morad, Ph.D., founder and CEO of AEBi, told The Post.

Luca, however, says it’s not as simple as AEBi claims. “A tumor is made up of the same genetic information as the rest of your cells, except tumors have developed several mutations. It will not be easy to isolate targets unique to the cancer cells without putting healthy tissue at risk.”

AEBi declined requests for comment from ABC News. However, in December 2018, Aridor tweeted images of a press release announcing that the United States Patent Office had issued a patent for the company’s technology.

AEBi claims to have had success killing cancer cells in the lab with its therapeutic peptides. However, its studies on the matter have not been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, meaning no one but people within the company have seen the results. Nevertheless, AEBi claims it has seen success in mice, and says it is pursuing a clinical trial in humans, according to The Post.

New drugs require a long approval process before they are available for use by the public, and the studies supporting the drug are scrutinized closely. On average, it takes 12 years for a drug to be approved by the FDA, and only one out of 5,000 drugs that enter pre-clinical testing are typically approved for use in people.

Luca said that without seeing the results, there’s no reason to take AEBi’s claims seriously.

You need to ask yourself, “has this technology been peer-reviewed and has it been tested in a clinical trial?” Luca said. “[If not], claiming effectiveness is unsubstantiated and should not be taken seriously.”

Erica Orsini, MD, is a resident physician in internal medicine and a member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

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Wednesday
Feb062019

Susan Lucci urges women to look out for heart disease symptoms following health scare 

Taylor Hill/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Soap opera star Susan Lucci is opening up about a recent heart health scare in hopes of sharing a message with other women to “listen to your symptoms and act on them."

Lucci, who skyrocketed to fame for her role as Erica Kane, the matriarch on the long-running TV show All My Children, said she never thought she was at risk because she had spent no time in the hospital other than giving birth to her children.

Lucci revealed in an interview with ABC News' Good Morning America that her life recently took a dramatic, soap opera-esque turn when she discovered that by the time she was treated for her heart, one artery was already 90 percent blocked and the other was 75 percent blocked.

This past October, Lucci said she felt discomfort in her chest but ignored it, thinking, "It's nothing. It's gonna pass."

Then, she said she felt it a third time.

"I was actually in a boutique," she said. "And I suddenly felt what I had heard someone on a TV interview years ago, a woman says that she, leading up to a heart attack, had felt like an elephant was pressing on her chest."

The store manager immediately drove Lucci to the hospital, where tests showed she had two blocked arteries that would require stents to be put in that night.

"I was just shocked," Lucci told GMA, noting that if she hadn't done this, a heart attack was likely imminent.

"I thank goodness that I was not home because had I been home," she added, "I probably would've said, 'Oh, I just need to lay down. I'll have some water ... then, I'll feel fine.'"

Heart disease is the number one killer of women, according to the American Heart Association, claiming more lives each year than all forms of cancer combined.

The disease came as a shock for Lucci because she said she eats a healthy diet and exercises six to seven days a week. She even spent a season working out on ABC's Dancing with the Stars.

Lucci said she later found out, "It was genetics for me, and stress."

"I asked the doctor, 'How is my heart? How is my actual heart?' And he said, 'Your actual -- your heart is like the heart of a 20-year-old,'" she said. "He said it to me three times. So I believe him."

The health scare "shook me up," Lucci says. "It shook ... my confidence in my health."

Lucci said she thinks people often dismiss notable symptoms for so long in part because "we are so busy."
 
"In a good way, nurturing the people we love in our family," she added. "We are not on our own to-do list ... and you think it will pass. And truly, my symptom of the elephant pressing on my chest and radiating around my back did pass."

If there is one message she hopes others will glean from her health scare, Lucci said, "You just need to listen to your symptoms and act on them."

ABC News' Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton noted that heart disease affects women differently than men, in part because their average heart size is different (men's hearts are about 11 ounces while women's are about 9 ounces), but also because the pathology is slightly different based on gender.

When it comes to symptoms of heart disease, Ashton added that women should look out for chest pain, nausea, vomiting, sweating, fatigue and shortness of breath.

If women experience any of these, they should assume the worst and seek medical attention immediately, Ashton added. She added that if you go to the emergency room, she recommends using the words, "I think I'm having a heart attack," because even medical professionals often don't think heart attack at first.

The good news, however, is that 80 percent of heart disease can be prevented with attention to lifestyle issues, according to Ashton.

Here are six lifestyle changes that can help prevent heart disease in women:

1. Weight management: Shedding off extra fat and unnecessary pounds will help reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton, according to the American Heart Association.

2. Not smoking: Smoking cigarettes is linked to a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, according to the AHA. The best thing you can do for your health is to quit.

3. Reducing stress: Stress can affect some of the factors linked to an increased heart disease risk, according to the AHA, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

4. Being active: Daily physical activity and an active lifestyle can help increase the length, and quality of your life, the AHA states on their website.

5. Knowing your health numbers (Blood pressure, cholesterol, etc.): As high blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, and high cholesterol can contribute to plaque (which can lead to clogged arteries), being aware of your numbers is an important step to take when it comes to owning your heart health.

6. Medication: Ashton added that it is important to remember, however, that many people can do all the right things but still need medication for blood pressure or cholesterol.

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