Entries in health (55)


Ocean Injuries More Common Than Thought

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study found that injuries caused by ocean waves are more common and more severe than you might think.

According to a release from the University of Delaware, there have been 1,121 injuries requiring emergency room treatment in the state of Delaware over the past three summers that were related to ocean waves.

Researchers worked with lifeguards to determine how many of these injuries occurred in the surf zone -- the part of the beach between the water's edge and where the waves break. Many of the 1,121 injuries occurred in two feet of water or less, with the patient being knocked over by a wave and driven into the sand.

The study determined that the most frequent beach-related injuries were to the arm and shoulder. On the contrary, neck and spinal injuries were less common than experts expected, making up just under five percent of beach injuries. The patients that did hurt their neck or spine, however, often suffered life-changing injuries.

Interestingly, many of the injuries reported in the study occurred in clusters. On 21 percent of the days studied, there were no injuries at all, whereas on 26 percent of days there were five or more injuries.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


American Heart Association Lists Seven Ways to Limit Stroke Risk

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Heart Association put out a list this week of the seven health factors that can increase your risk of suffering a stroke.

Nearly 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year, making strokes the fourth-leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of disability.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 23,000 Americans age 45 and older and created a scoring system based on seven criteria. Those seven criteria were:

Manage blood pressure
Control cholesterol
Be physically active
Control blood sugar
Keep weight down
Eat a healthful diet (and)
Don't smoke.

Each patient was given a grade from zero to two in each of the above categories. For each point gained, a patient's stroke risk decreased by 8 percent. Patients with a total score of 10 or higher saw a 60 percent drop in their stroke risk. Comparatively, those with a score between five and nine were 40 percent likely to suffer a stroke than those with a score between zero and four.

According to the study, the most important factor in stroke prevention was having good blood pressure.

For Americans, regardless of race, a better score in the AHA's seven criteria was linked to a reduced risk of stroke.

However, blacks generally had worse overall scores, highlighting the added importance for black Americans to improve their scores in the "simple seven" factors.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sunscreen May Minimize Effects of Aging on Skin

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the heat of summer approaching sunbathing and sunscreens are on many Americans' to-do lists. We all know that sunscreen protects us from the harmful rays of the sun that can cause skin cancer, but according to one study, they may also be a fountain of youth.

An Australian study in the Annals of Internal Medicine says that regular sunscreen use may reduce the signs of aging. Researchers instructed half of the approximately 900 participants in the study to wear sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher every day and the other half to wear sunscreen at their own discretion.

After four years, when researchers studied their skin closely, the group that used daily sunscreen was 24 percent less likely to show signs of aging skin.

The same study looked at beta-carotene supplements and found that they had no impact on aging skin. Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant that some people believe protects the skin from aging.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Four Steps to Significantly Lower Risk of Heart Disease, Early Death

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- According to researchers at Johns Hopkins University, doing just four things could help significantly reduce your risk of death.

The study looked at over 6,200 healthy people over a span of eight years and determined that those who met four qualifications reduced their risk of early death by 80 percent and their specific risk of heart disease by nearly 40 percent.

The four things that the researchers recommend are:

Exercise regularly
Eat a Mediterranean-style diet
Keep a normal weight
Do not smoke

According to researchers the most important of the four is opting not to smoke, as avoiding tobacco had the largest individual impact of any of the four risk factors. In fact, smokers who maintained two or more of the other healthy habits still had a higher rate of early death than non-smokers who were both sedentary and obese.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


'Smoking' Alcohol and the Sobering Risks of Ingestion Fads YORK) -- Drinkers who have grown bored with drinking alcohol in liquid form, or who are hoping to skip the calories, have found a way to “smoke” their favorite spirits.

Vaporizing alcohol in either dry ice or through a specially made device has taken the Internet by storm, even if it is not readily available at your local watering hole. Multiple videos show young people as they inhale alcohol in an effort to get drunk faster.

Broderic Allen of Dallas, 25, made headlines last week when he said “smoking” alcohol helped him lose weight by allowing him to ingest it without the empty calories. Allen, who started to inhale alcohol after seeing his friends try it, said he didn’t believe he was putting his health at risk.

“It’s just a label, when you say, ‘Smoking alcohol,’” Allen told ABC News. “I looked it up before I tried it and there have been no studies being done to determine if it’s bad for the lungs.”

But even without official studies, experts warn that “smoking” alcohol and similar alcohol-ingestion fads can be dangerous.

Dr. Brett Roth, medical director of the North Texas Poison Center in Dallas, said there have been a number of alcohol fads in the past decade, from “drinking” liquor through the eyeballs to alcohol enemas, or “butt chugging,” that started as a joke, but led to sobering consequences.

“There’s a novelty in danger that attracts people who want to do things a little differently or add a little excitement,” said Roth, adding that he knew of one death by poisoning from an alcohol enema. “Young people are attracted [to these fads] in that way.”

Roth concedes there is no definitive data to explain how breathing alcohol vapor is bad for your health, but he points out that the alcohol goes straight into the bloodstream through the lungs. The upshot is that alcohol travels directly to the brain instead of first passing through the stomach lining or liver, as in a drink.

“People need to realize this will knock them out very quickly,” Roth said. “It’s much different [than drinking alcohol.]"

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Toddlers Struggle with Juvenile Arthritis

Courtesy Kim Pruden(PHOENIX) -- Campbell Pruden was only 19 months old, just beginning to talk, when she developed a limp and begged to be carried. The only way she could express her pain was to tell her parents, "It's too tight."

In 2011, the once energetic toddler was diagnosed and hospitalized with systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. At one point, she was taking eight daily medications. She was so afraid of the frequent steroid injections that she had to be put under anesthesia to keep her still enough for the procedure.

"In the beginning when there were all those unknowns, we knew we had to get to the bottom of it," said her mother, Kim Pruden, a 35-year-old speech pathologist from Phoenix. "But at the same time, we had to keep that poker face with her to give her the confidence that, 'You are OK and you are going to be OK.'"

The couple has their "breakdown" moments after Campbell goes to bed at night.

One of the greatest misunderstandings about arthritis is that it affects only adults. More than 300,000 children in the United States are living with the disease, according to the Arthritis Foundation, which has launched a new public awareness campaign to debunk the myths of arthritis during the month of May.

In addition to swelling in the joints, children can suffer muscle and soft tissue tightening and bone erosion that affect growth patterns.

Symptoms may include a non-contagious fever and rash. Inflammation can affect the spleen or the membranes that cover the lungs and heart.

It's important to recognize the symptoms of arthritis early, as many forms of arthritis can cause irreversible joint damage, often within the first two years of the disease. There are more than 100 types of arthritis and knowing what type you have makes a difference in how it is treated.

Now three years old, Campbell gets intravenous injections of powerful immune-suppressant medicines known as biologics, but office visits can last anywhere from two to five hours long. She calls the tiresome procedures her "stupid tubes."

Pruden laughs that the ordeal is like "going to Disney World for kids to get poked with needles."

Pruden and her husband John take a positive approach with their daughter whose joints are always aching.

"We keep her moving, we keep her active and we take one day at a time," she said. "When she is not feeling well, we respect that, but it's important not to make that a crutch or an excuse."

Arthritis is an umbrella term used to describe the many autoimmune and inflammatory conditions.

One family hard-hit by the disease recently moved from rainy Seattle to Charleston, S.C., for the warm climate, which is easier on the aching joints of sufferers.

Sisters Amelia, 5, and Liberty, 3, have juvenile idiopathic arthritis, which affects their joints "from head to toe," according to their mother, Lisa Schultz, who was recently diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

Their father has had gout since he was 20, which is also a form of arthritis.

Amelia was diagnosed in April 2010 when she was nearly 2. She suddenly stopped walking and reverted to crawling.

"She started limping in the morning and wanted to be carried," said Schultz, 37 and a stay-at-home mother. "She would cry when I changed her diaper, too. I would lift her up and she would say her toes hurt when I put on her socks. Her second toe was almost the size of her big toe and her knees were the size of oranges."

Amelia's younger sister was just 15 months old last November when she, too, developed juvenile arthritis. Like her sister, she had painful joints; both stopped growing. Just recently, Liberty has developed inflammation in her right eye related to her arthritis and takes drops six to eight times a day. Untreated the condition, uveitis, can cause blindness.

"One day in the tub I saw that one knee was way bigger than the other knee, but I thought there is no way possible I would have two kids with it," said Schultz. So far Liberty is "in better shape" than Amelia. The family has a son, 7, who shows no signs of arthritis.

Both girls had tried anti-inflammatory and steroid medications, often the first line of defense for treating arthritis.

In the last decade, there have been significant advances in the treatment of arthritis, especially for those who do not respond to conventional drugs. The most important has been the development of a group of drugs called biologic response modifiers or biologics.

Now, like Campbell Pruden, the girls take biologics, known as TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitors that suppress the inflammatory response seen in arthritis. So far, neither of the Schultz girls has any joint deterioration. But their mother worries about potential side effects with these powerful biological medicines -- one of which is lymphoma.

"It's scary," she said. "But we don't have a choice. Years ago kids were in wheel chairs and crippled. Now, with the medicines, you wouldn't be able to tell they have arthritis."

As for Campbell Pruden, she is now in a "holding pattern," doing well as doctors have cut back on her medications. Her parents keep her off red meat and dairy, part of an anti-inflammation diet.

"She can have some sort of remission, but it will be in her body for the rest of her life," said Pruden. "You never know when there is going to be a flair up. Right now, we just hope it stays dormant.

Nowadays, Campbell joins her parents hiking and on other outdoor activities. "She's a trooper and wants to do everything we do," said her mother.

Just recently Campbell got a fever and her parents worried she was taking a downward turn. "Doctors ruled out a flair-up [of her arthritis] -- it was an early version of the flu," said Pruden. "If it's flu, I'll take it."

The Prudens' greatest reward comes from helping others with the disease.

"I make it my mission to raise awareness," she said. "These children live in pain every day and can't even wake up and go to school because of the pain in their body. We need to find a cure, to find a way for these kids to lead strong, happy lives."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Face Transplant Patient Making Sounds, Swallowing

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Polish man who received a life-saving face transplant just three weeks after a work accident is already making sounds and practicing swallowing, his doctors said.

The 33-year-old man, identified only as Grzegorz, underwent a 27-hour operation on May 15 to reconstruct his jaw, nose, cheeks and eye sockets, which were then swathed with skin from a deceased donor -- a procedure previously reserved for patients who are years out from their disfiguring injuries.

"Usually, the recipients have to wait between one and seven years," said Dr. Adam Maciejewski, who headed the team of surgeons at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, explaining that Grzegorz's injury was particularly extreme. "For obvious reasons, we had to act much faster, as we were saving this man's life."

Although Grzegorz is able to make some sounds, he communicates through writing because the tracheotomy tube that helps him breathe does not allow him to speak.

Earlier this month, Carmen Blandin Tarleton spoke publicly for the first time since her February face transplant. The operation came six years after her estranged husband attacked her with lye, blinding her and leaving her disfigured.

Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a Chimpanzee in 2009, got her face transplant surgery in 2011.

Maciejewski said Grzegorz's surgery was the first transplant undertaken to save a patient's life. He is still at risk for infection but is expected to recover and live a normal life, doctors said.

Although post-operation photographs show stitches from above his right eye, under his left eye and around his face to his neck, Grzegorz was able to give photographers a thumbs up six days after surgery.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Bird Flu Widens Geographic Reach in China

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(BEIJING) -- Officials in Beijing confirmed Saturday that a 7-year-old girl is infected with H7N9 avian influenza, widening the geographic spread of the virus that has already killed 11 people.

The girl, whose parents sell live poultry, was admitted to the hospital on Thursday with pneumonia and is the first case reported outside eastern China, where the virus was first reported in late March.

Government officials said the total number of new bird flu infections across the country rose to 47 today as the eastern province of Jiangsu reported two fresh cases and Shanghai reported one.

What is concerning about this latest report is the distance between Shanghai and Beijing.

The virus was able to travel more than 750 miles without leaving a trail of dead birds.

Unlike the H5N1 bird flu that raised concerns starting in 2003, H7N9 does not seem to make birds very sick or sick at all. This makes tracking the movement of the virus and containing it to limited flocks of birds next to impossible.

Authorities can't just test flocks that show signs of the disease. The case in Beijing illustrates that clearly. In order to understand where people might be at risk, China will have to screen many healthy birds across an increasingly large area.

The epidemiologic investigations of people who were sickened by H7N9 are extremely important. In order to prevent infections, authorities need to determine what kind of exposures put people at risk.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Arizona Baby Who Got Melanoma in Womb Still Thriving

KNXV/ABC NewsPHOENIX) -- Addison Cox, the Phoenix girl who mysteriously contracted her mother's deadly melanoma while still in the womb, has surprised doctors and will soon celebrate her second birthday.

Her mother, Phoenix police detective Briana Cox, died last year of cancer that had metastasized during her pregnancy. She was only 33 years old.

In a rare and unexplained medical mystery, Briana's cancer cells had crossed the placenta to her developing fetus.

Addison was just 6 weeks old when doctors found tumors had spread throughout her body. Her family was told she would likely not survive much beyond a year.

"Her original diagnosis was 12 to 18 months," her father, James Cox, told ABC News. "She turns 2 in May."

"We sure are pleased," he said. "Basically our family has gotten so much support from each other and friends. ...The local church took us under their wing and my co-workers have been so kind to all of us."

Addison has a 4-year-old biological brother who has been in counseling since his mother died.

"He still thinks about his mother and misses her," said James, 37. "But talking to a 4-year-old kid about anything can be difficult."

Addison also has two teenage stepbrothers. James' mother, who is from Texas, has been living with the family to help out for the last nearly two years.

The cancer has affected the child's brain, shoulder, lungs, kidney, liver, leg, and even the back of her tongue. Addison has had chemotherapy, radiation and brain surgeries at Phoenix Children's Hospital, which is hosting a telethon to benefit the family.

"One hundred percent of the proceeds raised will have a direct impact on care, along with critical programs services provided to patients and families," said hospital spokeswoman Stacy Dillier.

The toddler has been on chemotherapy for 20 months and has undergone radiation. A month ago, she had two brain surgeries four days apart.

A fundraiser by the police department where Briana Cox worked has helped the family deal with their financial needs. "Most has been covered by medical insurance, but it's the cost of day-to-day life that really hammers us," said James Cox.

So far, Addison has progressed well, understanding speech and saying a few words, like any child her age, according to her father.

"That gives you a lot to look forward to and know she's still doing this well, it just kind of keeps you going," said James.

Addison's mother had a malignant skin melanoma removed in 2006 and was assured by her doctors that the cancer had not spread and all her margins were clear.

Briana Cox went on to have a son David, now 4, and again became pregnant with her daughter Addison.

But just two months after the baby was born, in June 2011, Briana had a seizure and collapsed during a run. Scans revealed her brain and other parts of her body were riddled with advanced cancer.

And when four dark bumps appeared on baby Addison's forehead in September, she too was diagnosed with the same stage-four melanoma.

Briana Cox died in February of 2012, but her last wish was to tell her family's private, but painful story to help others better understand the dangers of the disease.

James Cox was in the Azores, serving in the U.S. Air Force, when his wife was diagnosed. Today, James works in emergency management.

"It was like running into a brick wall," he said in local press at the time. "It knocks the wind out of you. It was like being punched in the chest. And when Addison was [diagnosed], it was like being ejected from a car. You wonder, what's next?"

The phenomenon has only been recorded "a handful of times" in medical literature, according to Dr. Pooja Hingorani, a pediatric oncologist who treats Addison at Phoenix Children's Hospital.

"All cancer can happen in pregnancy," Hingorani told ABC News last year. "But melanoma is the most common cancer to pass through the placenta from the mother."

About 30 percent of all mother-to-fetus cancers are melanoma, according to Hingorani, who said she has only seen four to five cases ever.

"When it is in the blood stream, it can go everywhere," she said.

Melanoma is a virulent form of skin cancer that begins in the cells that make the pigment melanin, but it can also begin in the eyes or intestines. According to the National Cancer Institute, about 76,000 new cases are diagnosed each year and 9,100 die of the disease.

Sun exposure is thought to be one of the causes of melanoma. Hingorani said cancer among women of childbearing age is on the rise, and those who are pregnant, should tell their doctors if they've had melanoma.

"After the birth, the placenta needs to be examined carefully," she said. "It's hard to say if we would have picked it up at birth, if Addison would have had a less extent of disease."

Meanwhile, James Cox said he has been overjoyed with the medical care that Addison has received.

James said Addison's doctors hope to get her into clinical trials, if treatments start to fail.

"They got her in immediately when it was discovered, coordinated her care and are constantly looking forward to the next step."

"If Phoenix Children's had not been there," he said. "Addison would have already passed away."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


American Institute for Cancer Research Releases Seven Important Health Tips

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Institute for Cancer Research released a list of seven recommendations to reduce the risk of death from all diseases by 33 percent.

The list below was compiled after tracking nearly 380,000 people over a span of 13 years:

1.    Stay as lean as possible without becoming underweight.

2.    Be active for at least 30 minutes a day.

3.    Limit consumption of calorie-dense foods and avoid sugary drinks.

4.    Eat a plant-based diet that includes a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans.

5.    Limit intake of red meat (beef, pork, lamb) and avoid processed meat (ham, cold cuts, bacon, sausage).

6.    If you consume alcohol, limit yourself to one drink/day for women, two drinks/day for men.

7.    (WOMEN ONLY) Breastfeed your children exclusively for the first six months.

According to the report, the most effective of the tips involved avoiding red and processed meat, which was associated with a 34-percent lower risk of mortality. Low body fat and a diet high in plant foods (at least 5 servings per day) also decreased likelihood of death by over 20 percent.

Avoiding excess alcohol and foods and drinks high in sugar were each associated with a nearly 10-percent drop in mortality rate.

The study does not attribute the tips to any particular cause of death, rather focusing on general health and mortality.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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