Entries in Adults (7)


Colon Cancer Among 'Least Prevented'

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Karen Witkus took the prescription, folded it up and tucked it in her wallet. She didn't want to think about the colonoscopy it would procure.

"I heard horror stories about it," said Witkus, 55, imagining the probing test and the gut-cleansing preparation it required. "I kept delaying and before you know it, it had been in my wallet for three years."

A colonoscopy is a procedure in which doctors view the inside of the colon with a small camera to spot and remove pre-cancerous growths called polyps before they turn into deadly tumors. It's the most sensitive of three colon cancer screening tests recommended for men and women over the age of 50, but nearly half of all eligible adults skip the tests altogether, according to a 2009 study.

As a result, colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, killing more than 50,000 Americans annually, according to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Up to 60 percent of those deaths are preventable through screening, the agency says.

Dr. David Johnson, chief of gastroenterology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and past president of the American College of Gastroenterology says reasons for the low screening rates vary.

"One reason is that the test may not be covered by the patient's insurance," he said, alluding to insurance plans that are unaffected by the Affordable Care Act, which mandates coverage of colorectal cancer screening. Only 29 states and the District of Columbia have mandated that insurance plans cover colorectal cancer screening tests. "Another reason is that patients simply never have the conversation with their doctor."

Then there are people like Witkus, who despite having a referral and insurance coverage forgo the test out of fear. A colonoscopy requires that patients drink a gallon of bad-tasting laxative to cleanse the bowel, making polyps more visible. Patients miss up to two days of work – one for the pre-procedure doctor's visit and bowel prep and another for the procedure itself.

Although the benefits of a colonoscopy far outweigh the inconvenience and discomfort, doctors and researchers have nonetheless been searching for easier and more acceptable alternatives. One such test is currently under review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Developed by Exact Sciences, the stool-based screen detects changes in DNA as well as traces of blood that signal the presence of pre-cancerous polyps or cancers of the colon.

"I believe we have a significant opportunity to play a role in winning the battle against colon cancer," said Exact Sciences president and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Conroy, citing results from a recent clinical trial that suggest the stool-based test can detect 65 percent of polyps measuring 2 centimeters or more. "Colon cancer is the most preventable yet least prevented cancer. ... There is a significant need for something different."

Johnson, who was involved in the trial, agrees.

"Anything that brings more people into the screening pool, I'm all for," he said. He hopes the new test will play a "sizable role in increasing the options for screening," but cautions, "the best screening test is still the colonoscopy."

 When Witkus finally had her colonoscopy three years after getting the prescription. She was shocked to learn that she had colon cancer. Had she undergone the test at age 50, her cancer and subsequent surgery to remove 6 centimeters of bowel would have likely been avoided, her doctors told her.

Witkus did undergo screening with fecal occult blood testing two years before her colonoscopy and said she had no problem with the more convenient and less-invasive test. The test was negative but is known to miss the majority of polyps. She hopes that an accurate but minimally invasive test will one day be available, adding that the colonoscopy prep was the worst part.

While the new test is far from perfect, Johnson said he believes it could be refined to improve its sensitivity. But there are other unknowns, including the cost of the test and whether insurers will cover it. Approval by Medicare often triggers other insurance providers to cover the test, but if it's too expensive, the test might struggle to gain acceptance in an increasingly cost-conscious healthcare market. However, the potential to prevent cancer in more people and avoid costly treatment will certainly help its case. The cost of treating colon cancer exceeded $14 billion in 2010, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Thankfully doctors were able to remove Witkus' cancer before it was too late. But she knows that she was lucky.

"I talk to everybody I can now about colon cancer," she said. Her advice? "Definitely get the colonoscopy."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Mom and Dad Are Sexting: 18 Percent of Adults Send Lewd Messages

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- And you thought it was just the younger generation and Anthony Weiner sending explicit text messages -- or sexts. According to a survey conducted by Lookout, a mobile safety company, 18 percent of American smartphone owners say they sext.

But even more revealing are the age breakdowns. The data show that one in five moms and dads of children under 18 use their smartphones to text. Additionally, 25 percent of women between the ages of 35 and 44 send sex text messages from their phones.

And there’s also data on what sort of content are in these messages. Eleven percent of Americans admitted that they have recorded explicated videos on their phones; five percent of moms have done so and 18 percent of dads have.

But the most surprising part? Not many of them are worried about the photos or videos being exposed. Only three percent of American adults said their biggest concern about losing the phone would be that the inappropriate pictures or text messages would be revealed to a stranger.

“The survey results were especially interesting because we found that even though people are sharing extremely private content on their smartphones, many do nothing to prevent an embarrassing exposure,” Alicia diVittorio, mobile safety advocate at Lookout, told ABC News.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, surveyed 2,097 adults over the age of 18 in the United States. The survey was conducted online and variables of age, sex, race, education, region, etc. were weighed to reflect population breakdowns.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Disabled Adults More Likely to Be Victims of Violence, Study Finds

Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Adults with disabilities are more likely to be victims of violence than adults who are not disabled, according to a new study published online in The Lancet.

Mentally ill adults are at four times higher risk for violence, and adults with intellectual impairments are also particularly vulnerable.

A team of researchers from the United Kingdom's Liverpool John Moores University and the World Health Organization analyzed 26 studies on violence against disabled adults, with more than 21,000 participants from around the world.

"About three percent of individuals with non-specific impairments [eg, physical, mental, or emotional, or health problems that restrict activities] will have experienced violence within the past 12 months, rising to almost a quarter of people with mental illnesses," said lead author Mark Bellis of Liverpool John Moores University in a press release.

The violence, he explained, was either physical, sexual or by an intimate partner.

Experts not involved in the research say the study calls attention to the plight of many disabled adults who become targets for a variety of reasons.

"There are a number of reasons why adults with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence," said Dick Sobsey, professor emeritus at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada.

"Many of them are more vulnerable or may have limited communication abilities, either by impairment or by situations they are in," he said.

Jack Levin, professor of sociology and criminology at Northeastern University in Boston, added that they may not be able to fight back or report the incidents to authorities.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Many Adults Still Sleep with a Teddy Bear

Creatas/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Many adults slept with a teddy bear when they were younger, and a new survey reveals some apparently haven’t given up the habit.  A survey of 6,000 Brits by the Travelodge hotel chain finds 35 percent of adults admitting they sleep with a teddy bear.  The respondents say the bear helps reduce stress at the end of the day and make it easier to sleep.

Travelodge commissioned the survey after staffers made efforts to reunite more than 75,000 forgotten teddy bears left behind at its hotels, and discovered many belonged to adults.

Additional survey findings:

  • 25 percent of male respondents take a teddy bear with them when they go away on business trips. Many say the bear reminds them of home, and snuggling with it at night helps them sleep.
  • 26 percent of male respondents said it was quite acceptable to have a bear regardless of your age.
  • 51 percent of British adults said they still have a teddy bear from their childhood.
  • The average teddy bear in Britain is 27 years old.
  • Ten percent of single men surveyed admitted they hide their teddy bear when a woman stays over.
  • 14 percent of married men say they hide their teddy bear when family and friends come to visit.
  • 15 percent of men and 10 percent of women treat their teddy bear as their best friend and share intimate secrets with it.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sex Life of Older Adults and Rising STDs

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The sex life of older adults is getting new attention in the face of some staggering statistics.

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis have doubled for people in their 50s, 60s and 70s in the past decade, but safe sex awareness among older adults and its promotion by doctors is still lagging, according to an article published Friday by researchers at Kings College and Saint Thomas’s Hospital in London.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 885 reported cases of syphilis in 45- to 64-year-olds in 2000; in 2010, there were more than 2,500. In 2000, there were 6,700 cases of chlamydia in this age group; the number ballooned to more than 19,000 by 2010.

The numbers of older people with HIV  has nearly doubled, and 15 percent of new diagnoses of HIV in the U.S. were in people age 50 and older in 2005, which is the most recent year that the CDC calculated the risk for this age group.

The researchers say it’s hard to know just why STD rates are on the rise among older people, mostly because there’s been so little research on the sex lives of older adults.

“Unfortunately, until the public health data started to show a rise [in disease rates], no one did any research at all,” said Rachel von Simson, the report’s lead author and a medical student at Kings College London. “We just know there are more infections being diagnosed now than in the past.”

Biological changes and the rise of drugs for erectile dysfunction may be setting the mood for the rise. Postmenopausal changes to the vagina, such as decreased lubrication, make older women more vulnerable to infections, and pills like Viagra let men have sexual intercourse at older ages than ever before.

Eli Coleman, director of the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, said longer lives and more divorces may be leading older people to have more sex partners than in years past. The generation’s view of condoms and safe sex is also probably less well-informed than their children’s.

A 2010 study of sexual health from Indiana University found the lowest rates of condom use were among people ages 45 and older.

The authors of the current study said doctors often shy away from discussing sexual health with their older patients or may not view STDs as a risk at all. And health education campaigns heavily promote safe sex for teenagers and young adults, but ads urging older adults to use condoms are rare.

“People think this is a problem of youth, and there’s a sense of invulnerability and ignorance among older adults,” Coleman said. “We need to urge physicians to not look at some patients as not at risk.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Most Adults Prefer Having Sex on Weekends, Survey Finds

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If your big weekend plans include getting busy in the bedroom, you're not alone.

A new survey of 1,000 adults by finds most adults choose weekends for sex, with 30 percent preferring Saturday, 22 percent opting for Friday and 20 percent Sunday.  The next highest day for sex was Wednesday, aka "Hump Day," with 14 percent favoring it.’s resident sex expert, Dr. Kat Van Kirk, says "less structured time" on weekends can definitely lead to more sex.   As for why Wednesday is the preferred weekday for sex, Dr. Van Kirk says it's the middle of the work week when we can all use a sexual boost.

Of the remaining days of the week, 13 percent prefer sex on Monday and Thursdays, while 12 percent choose Tuesday as their day for lovemaking.

Still, a whopping 65 percent of all respondents said they have no preference when it comes to which day of the week they choose to have sex.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Adults, Not Just Teens, Are Engaging in 'Sexting'

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In 2009, the Pew Center for Internet and American Life published survey findings that 4 percent of adolescents 12 to 17 years old had sent "sexually suggestive nude or nearly nude images or videos" of themselves to someone else via text message.

That sparked a "sexting" panic over the unsettling implications of young people engaging in this type of illicit interaction, as well as legal issues involving the cell phone-transmitted photos that could be deemed child pornography.

Consequently, much of the media attention to sexting has focused solely on adolescent behavior, yet the act of sexting isn't limited to teens.  Plenty of adults send racy text messages and cell phone pictures, too.

Psychology professor Michelle Drouin has studied sexting behavior among the college-aged population and found that around half of people in committed relationships had sent a sext photo to their partners, and two-thirds had engaged in sext messaging.

"It's a part of our dating culture to be doing this," said Drouin, who teaches at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne.

Though Drouin doesn't see sexting as inherently "dangerous" as it's often portrayed in the context of adolescent relationships, her research indicates the sexting behavior does relate to certain types of "red flag" relationship styles among adults.

"Those who are anxiously attached and those who are avoidantly attached were more likely to use texting," Drouin said.  "But when you broke it down, it was actually women who were anxiously attached who were more likely to use sexting and were more likely be sending messages.  The men who were avoidantly attached -- those who dismiss the importance of interactions and relationships -- were more likely to be receiving those sexual text messages."

Conversely, people with healthier relationship styles don't tend to sext as much.

The low level of commitment involved with sending sexual text messages, as opposed to verbal and face-to-face contact, may also impact relationship dynamics.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio