Study: Fish Oil Fights Weight Loss Caused by Chemotherapy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(EDMONTON, Alberta) -- Researchers at the University of Alberta suggest that adding fish oil supplements to the diets of cancer patients receiving chemotherapy could help prevent loss of muscle mass.

In this study, researchers compared 16 lung cancer patients who took fish oil to 24 patients who didn't. Muscle mass and fat tissue were monitored by CT scan periodically during initial chemotherapy cycle lasting about 10 weeks. Patients taking fish oil maintained their weight, while those who did not take fish oil lost an average of about 5 lbs., most of which was muscle mass.

The main ingredient in fish oil -- omega-3 fatty acids -- is thought to decrease inflammation in the body.

Critics of the study note that patients and researchers knew who took fish oil, so the effects could have been influenced by patient expectations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Updated Guidelines for Sun Protection In Children

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ELK GROVE VILLIAGE, Ill.) -- Though many parts of the country continue to deal with bitter cold, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued an updated policy statement on skin cancer prevention and safe sun exposure practices in children.

The recommendations include wearing protective clothing, timing children's outdoor activity to minimize sun exposure between 10 a.m. through 4 p.m. when possible, applying sunscreen with a minimum of SPF 15, and wearing sunglasses. Infants younger than six months of age should be kept out of direct sunlight all together, the Academy says.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization note their support for legislation that would ban the use of artificial tanning devices by individuals under the age of 18. Some tanning units produce ultraviolet radiation so strong that they can at times reach strengths 10 to 15 times higher than peak midday sun.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Paralyzed Gymnast Walks After 'Frozen Spine' Treatment

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(MIAMI) -- When a double-flip gone awry left gymnast Jorge Valdez, 20, paralyzed with a dislocated neck, doctors feared he would never walk again.  But just seven days after surgeons opted for a still-experimental treatment involving induced hypothermia, Valdez walked out of the hospital.

Valdez was practicing a double flip while making an audition video for the Las Vegas Cirque du Soleil when he misjudged his rotation and landed on his head, dislocating his C6 and C7 vertebrae.

"I was unable to move after that, I couldn't feel my legs.  I could only open and close my hands a little," Valdez, a Miami native, said.  "I was scared.  I've been injured before pretty bad, but nothing this bad."

He was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, where doctors determined he was a candidate for a cooling procedure that is thought to slow spinal cord damage by reducing swelling at the injury site.

Valdez was a good candidate for cooling because he had an isolated injury and he was a healthy guy with no other medical conditions, said Dr. Steven Vanni, a neurosurgeon at the University of Miami, who treated Valdez.  Though he had been able to move his arms after the injury, by the time he was brought to Vanni, he had no motor or sensory function below his neck, making it difficult to predict how much function he would ultimately recover.

"He told my dad he couldn't guarantee that I'd be able to walk again," Valdez says.

After surgeons removed the disc that was pressing on the spine and fixed the dislocations, a catheter cooled by chilled saline was inserted into Valdez's groin.  The chilled catheter cooled down his blood as it passed through it, his internal body temperature down to about 92 degrees Fahrenheit.  He was kept in a medically-induced coma and in that hypothermic state for 48 hours post-operation.

"I woke up and thought it was the day of the surgery [Thursday], when really it was Saturday," Valdez says.  By that Wednesday, he was walking on his own.

Now out of the hospital, Valdez's physical therapy focuses primarily on his hands, where he has some nerve damage.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drug Maker Wants to Lift Age Restrictions on Morning After Pill

Photo Courtesy - Joe Raedle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., the maker of Plan B One-Step, has requested that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration switch this "morning after" pill to full nonprescription status for women of all ages.

Currently, women 17 and older can buy the high-dose birth control pill over-the-counter, without a prescription.  Those younger than 17 need a prescription to obtain the high-dose hormone pill.

"Our 2003 Plan B application and our current application for Plan B One-Step is seeking over-the-counter status for the product based on data that demonstrate the product meets the scientific criteria that the FDA has established for over the counter products," said Denise Bradley, senior director of corporate communications at Teva Pharmaceuticals.  "Label comprehension and safety data show that all women are able to safely and effectively take this product.  It is not typical for any women's health product to have age restrictions."

Plan B, or levonorgestrel, is a progestin-only emergency contraceptive that can prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of uterus if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex.  The drug is not effective if the woman is already pregnant, and it does not pose harm to a fetus.

According to Jeff Ventura, a spokesman for the FDA, a prescription drug may be eligible for over-the-counter status if it is determined that dispensing the drug by prescription is not necessary for the protection of the public health, and the drug is safe and effective for use in self-medication as directed in proposed labeling.

"The application will go through the normal FDA review process," said Ventura in a statement.  "It will be evaluated against the same scientific and regulatory criteria as all other over-the-counter switch applications."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Are You Overtreating Your Child's Fevers?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.) -- For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines for parents and health care professionals on how to deal with fevers in children.

It says that if you give your child Advil or Tylenol for a one hundred degree Temperature, then you have "fever phobia."

That's because mild fevers are not harmful and don't need to be treated aggressively.

Fever is common symptom in children. But a fever helps the body fight infection and should be treated to improve a child's level of body temperature.

This advice does not apply to children with certain chronic conditions or to children under three months of age -- who should be taken to the doctor if they have a fever.

But for other youngsters, the bottom line is don't treat fever just because it's there.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


FDA Approves 'More Effective' Hypertension Drug

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved a drug that it says is more effective than others when it comes to treating high blood pressure.

The FDA approved Edarbi tablets for treatment of hypertension in adults. Officials say data from clinical studies shows that Edarbi has proven to be more effective in lowering 24-hour blood pressure as compared to FDA-approved hypertension drugs, Diovan and Benicar.

"High blood pressure is often called the 'silent killer' because it usually has no symptoms until it causes damage to the body," said Norman Stockbridge, M.D., Ph.D., of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "High blood pressure remains inadequately controlled in many people diagnosed with the condition, so having a variety of treatment options is important."

In a release, the FDA described Edarbi as being an angiotensin II receptor blocker that lowers blood pressure by blocking the action of angiotensin II, a vasopressor hormone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Probes Links Between Hot Flashes, Heart Attacks

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BOSTON) -- A new study suggests that women who experience that crimson blush of a hot flash early on in their menopause experience seemed to have a lower risk of heart attack.

"The timing of hot flashes may make a big difference in terms of what they signify in terms of heart health," said Dr. Ellen Seely, of Harvard's Brigham and Women's Hospital, the senior author of the study.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in women, and the risk increases dramatically after menopause. The study found a woman's risk of heart attack rises depending on when hot flashes begin in menopause.

The study analyzed data from more than 60,000 women over an average of almost 10 years. Women were asked to recall their symptoms -- like hot flashes and night sweats -- in questionnaires about their health. The women were in their early 60s on average, about 14 years after the start of menopause.

Dr. Sharonne Hayes, from the Mayo Clinic's department of cardiovascular diseases, said the results of the study add to the growing understanding of the complicated relationship between symptoms of menopause and heart attacks later in life.

"What it does tell us is that the interplay between hot flashes and night sweats and future cardiovascular risk and menopause is much more complex than we thought it was before," she said, but cautioned more research is needed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


After Cancer, Americans Most Fear Alzheimer's Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Americans live in fear when it comes to possibly contracting a fatal disease.

According to a poll conducted last year by Harris Interactive for the MetLife Foundation, four out of ten people are most concerned about getting cancer. That’s up slightly from 2006, when the question was posed about scary illnesses.

Next on the worry meter is Alzheimer’s disease, with three out of ten Americans fearing that debilitating condition the most. In 2006, just 20 percent of respondents listed Alzheimer’s as number one on their list of potentially fatal diseases.

Despite real fears about Alzheimer’s, nearly two-thirds of Americans admit knowing very little or virtually nothing about the brain-wasting disease that gradually robs people of their memory and cognitive skills.

As far as other serious conditions are concerned, heart disease, stroke and diabetes were feared the most by 8 percent, 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Addicted to Your Smartphone? One in Five Say 'Yes'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It doesn’t matter if it’s an iPhone or a BlackBerry, a new survey finds one in five smartphone owners are addicted to their high-tech toys.  The addiction is highest amongst iPhone owners, with 26 percent admitting being hooked.  The survey was conducted by Crowd Science, an online market research firm.

Additional findings from the smartphone survey:

  • People between the ages of 30 and 49 are the heaviest users of smartphone features, while respondents who are 50 years of age and older use fewer features, particularly text messaging, games and social media, and do so less frequently.
  • 58 percent of smartphone owners say they perform local and map-based activities at least once a week, while 25 percent say they do so less than once a month.  Eleven percent indicate they never do so.
  • 89 percent of smartphone owners believe it’s taboo to break up with someone via text message.
  • If their smartphone fell in a public toilet, 57 percent of respondents would fish it out.  Agreement was highest among iPhone owners, at 65 percent, compared with 49 percent for BlackBerry owners.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Typo Prompts Johnson & Johnson Recall

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J.) -- Johnson & Johnson is recalling certain packages of Sudafed because of a typo.

The recall involves Sudafed’s extended-release 24 Hour tablets. The product is fine – consumers can still use it – but the problem is a misprint on the product’s box. There's a double negative that reads "do not not divide, crush, chew or dissolve the tablet."

The internal packaging has the proper instructions but Johnson & Johnson and the Food and Drug Administration were concerned enough about the typo to recall 600,000 packages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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