Entries in health (55)


New Survey Shows Americans Still Trust Their Doctors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images

(PRINCETON, N.J.) -- Despite the volubility of medical advice -- both online and around the world -- Americans still seem to trust their doctors and rarely seek a second opinion after their first diagnosis. The latest results from Gallup's annual Health and Healthcare Survey show that 70 percent of Americans trust their doctor's word and see no need to seek additional information or other opinions.

This information contradicts what Gallup describes as doctors' complaints about their patients not trusting their opinions and spending hours surfing online medical sites. The poll shows that the eldery are especially sure of their doctor's diagnoses and medical advice. It also reveals that patients with college or graduate degrees do not necessarily doubt their doctors more than anyone else.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


FTC Asked to Investigate Faulty Online Health Marketing

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – The Federal Trade Commission has been called on to investigate potentially illegal marketing practices that target a growing number of Americans seeking medical information and treatment online.

In a complaint filed with the FTC, the Center for Digital Democracy, U.S. PIRG, Consumer Watchdog and the World Privacy Forum called on the commission to protect consumers from insecurely providing personal data when looking for health information and services on the Internet.

The filing has asked that the FDA, which has been pressured to expand the rights of health marketers online, await a study and report from the FTC before taking any action.

At issue are the types of online targeting techniques and methods used by advertisers and what type of personal data is being collected through those methods.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


What's the Secret to Happiness? Living in the Moment, Study Says

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Does your mind have a tendency to wander? It happens to all of us. While we're doing one thing, we're thinking about something else. A new study from Harvard says our wandering minds make us unhappy.

The study’s authors contacted 2250 people at random moments throughout the day and asked them three questions.

1.  How are you feeling right now? (on a scale of 0 to 100)
2.  What are you doing right now?
3.  Are you thinking about something other than what you're doing?

Researchers found that people's minds were wandering 46.9 percent of the time and that people were less happy when their minds were wandering than when they were present and attentive.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Early Education Can Help Prevent Preterm Birth

Photo Courtesy of Getty Images(WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.) – Women who are pregnant should discuss their risk of preterm birth by the 12th week of pregnancy, according to a commentary published in the November issue of Ob. Gyn. News.

The commentary stemmed from a study by the March of Dimes and BabyCenter that found that more than two-thirds of new or expectant mothers had not discussed the risks and consequences of preterm birth with their healthcare provider.

Preterm birth, or birth before 37 weeks of pregnancy, is the leading cause of newborn death. It can also lead to serious health challenges such as learning disabilities and cerebral palsy.

The commentary suggested that early detection can help prevent premature birth.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Gene Screening vs. Family History: Which Wins?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CLEVELAND) -- The widely held belief that you can always rely on family may be especially true when it comes to your risk for certain diseases, new research shows.

Researchers led by Dr. Charis Eng, chairman and founding director of the Genomic Medicine Institute of the Cleveland Clinic, found that a thorough family history better predicted the risk for developing certain cancers than genomic screening did.

Eng and her colleagues assessed 44 people's risk for developing breast cancer, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer by obtaining a complete family health history and also by using a direct-to-consumer personal genomic screening tool. They presented their findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics.

A comparison between the two methods showed they did not often place people in the same risk category for the three kinds of cancer. Researchers also found that personal genomic screening did not identify nine people who were found to be at high risk for colon cancer because of a previous family history.

In addition to helping assess disease risk, doctors say knowing a patient's family history can help offer insight into how someone will respond to certain treatments.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Exercise Could Fend Off the Common Cold

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(KANNAPOLIS, N.C.) -- New research suggests that staying fit could reduce your risk of catching the common cold.

People who exercised at least five days a week spent 43 percent fewer days with an upper respiratory tract infection than those who exercised no more than once a week, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Similarly, those who rated themselves as highly fit had 46 percent fewer days with a respiratory infection than those who reported low fitness, based on the findings of David Nieman, a researcher at Appalachian State University in Kannapolis, N.C., and colleagues.

Researchers followed 1,002 adults up to age 85 during two 12-week periods in 2008; half participated in the fall and half in the winter.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Supplements Cost Much and Are Not Necessary for All, Experts Say

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Entire stores, grocery store aisles and websites are dedicated to helping you find the right combination of vitamins and supplements -- the kinds you swallow, the kinds you chew and the kinds you drink. Although 44 percent of Americans say they use supplements every day -- helping to create the $25 billion dollar industry -- many don't understand why they take them or whether they need to take them at all.

Some supplement labels claim that what's inside the products will help guard against illness. Others boldly claim that you're not getting enough nutrients in a day. But for many, supplements may not be the answer to staying healthy.

"If we really look at the data on vitamins and minerals, there isn't a whole lot there," said Dr. Donald Hensrud, associate professor of Nutrition and Preventive Medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. 

"If you have a varied diet and you're eating fruits and vegetables, you should get all the vitamins through your diet," said Dr. Jill Silverman, primary care physician to ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser. "Otherwise, I just think you're just wasting your money if you're taking anything extra, and potentially doing some harm."

While some supplements are marketed to work for a variety of ailments, there's no scientific data to back all of the claims. Only three-to-four percent of Americans follow all of the dietary guidelines, according to 2009 position paper published by the American Dietetic Association.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Blood Test to Flag Concussions? Army Says Yes

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ALACHUA, Fla.) –- Preliminary reports on as-yet unpublished Army research have offered a look at what may be in the future for the diagnosis of mild to moderate brain injury.

Army researchers say they may have found a new procedure that may make it possible someday to diagnose mild concussions quickly and easily.

Led by Banyan Biomarkers, researchers drew and tested the blood of 34 people taken to the hospital for head injuries and then diagnosed with mild concussions at a trauma unit.

The blood tests showed the presence of certain proteins -- biomarkers -- that do not normally show up in the blood of uninjured people. The theory is that the concussive jolt to the brain unleashes these proteins in the bloodstream.

If, in fact, the biomarkers in the subjects' blood turn out to be correlated with their brain injuries, it would be the first suggestion that a blood test to look for brain injury in humans could be a reality.

Experts contacted by ABC News differed in their opinions on the Banyan-Army study.

A much larger study, funded by the U.S. Defense Department, is expected to begin next year. It will involve 1,200 patients at 30 trauma centers around the country.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


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


7 Ways to Work Yourself to Death

Photo Courtesy -- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just as work can enrich our lives, in many ways it can shorten them -- a fact that cuts across socioeconomic levels, ages and nationalities.

A growing body of research says that one's work can be taxing on his or her health.  ABC News' Medical Unit has learned seven ways that work can negatively affect our health:

1.  Distracted Driving:  Taking the Office on the Road.  Cell phones, smart phones and personal digital assistants have improved the ability to conduct work at all hours and in almost any setting, as long as you can get a signal.

But federal figures hint at the toll exacted by bringing the office into the driver's seat. During 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports 5,870 people died in crashes in which police cited distracted driving as a contributing factor.

2.  Sitting Still: When Work's Got You Chained to the Desk.  Doctors, nutritionists and other health professionals tell us time and again how sitting on a couch, snacks at the ready, contributes to heart disease and diabetes.

A study published online last month and in this month's print issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found some evidence that sedentary workers were at an increased risk of dying -- even if they were diligent about exercising in their off-hours.

Lead author Jannique van Uffelen, a research fellow at the University of Queensland in Australia, led the review of 43 studies, involving more than 2 million workers, which examined sedentary time at the office.  She and her colleagues found some limited evidence linking hours spent sitting at work with both diabetes and early death.

3.  Work Is Hell: When You Have a Bad Boss or Hostile Workplace.  Multiple studies in recent years have focused on the impact of a hostile workplace and a bad boss on a worker's physical and mental health. It turns out that these factors can be life-shortening.

4.  Wide Awake: When Work Disrupts Your Sleep.  Work stress can creep up subtly; the cumulative effect of insufficient sleep, whether caused by interrupted or poor sleep, insomnia or the body's inability to adjust to shift work can also speed your demise. Scientific evidence for how this happens is accumulating.

An analysis of several studies, published in May 2010, consistently linked getting less than six hours of sleep to an increased risk of dying early.

5.  Walking Papers: Getting Laid Off or Fired.  An intriguing study published in the May 2009 issue of the American Economic Review highlighted the life-threatening impact of losing a job.  The stress associated with losing a job is often described as one of the most trying life events, along with divorce and death of a loved one.

6.  Burning the Midnight Oil: Working Overtime or Working Late.  In May of this year, a study of British civil servants found that those working 10 to 11 hours a day (compared with the traditional seven-hour British workday), were as much as 60 percent more likely to suffer heart disease or die prematurely than those working regular hours.

7.  Risky Workplace: When Occupational Hazards Expose You to Danger.  Occupational health hazards, sometimes caused by exposures to dangers not visible to the naked eye, can shorten lives, research shows.

In late October 2009, British government officials announced that asbestos was the top workplace killer in Great Britain and that about a quarter of the 4,000 people dying from asbestos-related illnesses every year were tradesmen such as carpenters, electricians, plumbers and painters who come in contact while working in homes and other buildings with the heat-resistant mineral used for years in insulation.

ABC News Radio