Oregon Senate Votes to Ban Suicide Kits

A helium hood like those sold by Sharlotte Hydorn is shown in this photo from the Journal of Medical Ethics. (Journal of Medical Ethics)(PORTLAND, Ore.) -- Oregon senators have unanimously voted in favor of passing a bill that would ban the sale or marketing of suicide kits. The vote came in response to a 29-year-old Oregonian named Nick Klonoski who used a suicide kit to end his life in December. Klonoski ordered the simple kit, which contained a hood and tube, through the mail.

"After learning of a young man who took his life using a helium hood he bought, it became obvious that there were no checks and balances of marketing suicide kits," said State Sen. Floyd Prozanski, who sponsored the bill. "Minors had access to the kits through the Internet, and I personally don't believe we need to be marketing an object like a suicide kit."

Prozanski said that he supports assisted suicide for those who are terminally ill and have been counseled on ending their life, but not for young people who are depressed but otherwise physically healthy.

The Daily Beast reported that Klonoski was not terminally ill, and would not have qualified for lethal prescriptions available to eligible Oregon residents under the Death with Dignity Act. Oregon is one of three other states in which assisted suicide is legal.

When Klonoski received his suicide package in the mail, it might have been anything: a simple white box decorated with a butterfly. But inside were the simple tools he would use to end his life. And even after Klonoski reportedly used one of Sharlotte Hydorn's homemade suicide kits to end his life in December, the 91-year-old entrepreneur said she makes no apologies for his death.

"I cannot take all the sadness of the world on my shoulders," said Hydorn from her home in La Mesa, Calif. "I feel so sorry for the mama, but I'm not at fault. That's his choice, not my choice."

While Hydorn believes she's "making the world better" by selling the kits to people who want to end their life, she took the news of the Oregon bill in stride.

"If I never sell anymore kits there, that's fine," said Hydorn. "Oregon is Oregon, and they can do as they please.

Hydorn said the homemade kits, which she has been selling for four years, are intended to assist the death of those who are terminally or in severe chronic pain. But anyone can request the $60 kit, and she does not screen her clients before sending out the device.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Gunter Sachs’ Suicide Highlights Depression in Alzheimer's Disease

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The death of Gunter Sachs, iconic playboy of the go-go 1960s, has brought to light how depression often accompanies Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's and Huntington's. The German billionaire and ex-husband of Brigitte Bardot fatally shot himself Saturday at his chalet in Gstaad, Switzerland, at age 78, leaving a suicide note that revealed his struggle with an illness he dubbed "A," thought to stand for Alzheimer's.

"The loss of mental control over my life was an undignified condition, which I decided to counter decisively," read the signed note, released by Sachs' family to Swiss media Sunday.

Roughly one-third of people with Alzheimer's disease also suffer from a form of depression, according to Dr. Gary Small, director of the Center on Aging at University of California at Los Angeles.

"The realization that you have a disease that has no cure, no treatment, that robs you of your mind, that can be pretty depressing," Small said. "Many people, when they grasp that, they don't want to live anymore. They don't want to face the future."

But the mood disturbance could also result from the same attack on brain cells that causes the memory loss and behavior changes associated with Alzheimer's, Small said. In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, Small and his colleagues found an association between the amount of plaque and tangles -- hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease -- in the brain and symptoms of anxiety or depression.

It is unclear whether Sachs had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease or depression. Sachs' father, Willy Sachs, shot and killed himself in 1958.

Despite training as a mathematician and economist, Sachs made history as the 1958 European bobsled champion, a photographer, documentary filmmaker and author of the 1997's The Astrology File: Scientific Proof of the Link Between Star Signs and Human Behavior.

Sachs is survived by his third wife, former model Mirja Larsson, and their two sons, as well as a son by his first wife, Anne-Marie Faure, who died the same year as Sachs' father.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Students Aim to Curb Meningitis

The co-creators of OneShot. Photo courtesy of Rosie Gochnour/The State Press(PHOENIX) -- In 2006, entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie created TOMS Shoes after witnessing children living barefoot during a trip to Argentina. His company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need in one of 23 countries every time someone purchases a pair from TOMS. It’s a philosophy he refers to as “one-for-one.”

Inspired by Mycoskie’s company, Tyler Eltringham, a sophomore at Arizona State University, decided to create his own “one-for-one” movement. But it wasn’t with shoes, it was with vaccines. So Eltringham teamed up with four other ASU students to create OneShot in November 2010.

Recently they’ve been working with ASU Health Services and University Housing to give all incoming freshman the opportunity to receive Menactra, a vaccine for meningococcal meningitis, a bacterial infection of the membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Then, for every shot administered to students at ASU, OneShot plans on giving those vaccinations to high-risk places in Africa.

To help raise some awareness and finances for OneShot, the team submitted their idea to ASU’s Innovation Challenge, which is in its second year at ASU. The goal is to give young entrepreneurs and innovators the chance to get their ideas heard and funded.

More than 150 teams competed this year and Eltringham’s OneShot took top prize, winning $10,000 in February. The $10,000 is a start for OneShot, but there is still a lot more funding that goes into a project of this size. Due to a lack of finances, the team cannot travel to Africa to administer the vaccinations themselves. To help raise money for OneShot, the team seeks out different competitions like the ASU Innovation Challenge, hoping to win more funding.

The organization is currently entered in the Edson Student Entrepreneurship Initiative Competition, which helps provide funding, training, and office space for teams of students across ASU to explore their innovative ideas. The winners of the competition are scheduled to be announced this month.

On ASU’s move-in day in August OneShot aims to vaccinate 10 to 15 percent of the 10,000 incoming freshman. This is heavily dependent on receiving more funds; and without additional financial support, they would only be able to provide vaccines for between one and three percent of the students.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Jenny Craig Tops List of Best Diets

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(YONKERS, N.Y.) -- Jenny Craig reigns queen of popular diets, according to a new report from Consumer Reports Health.

Researchers based the overall scores on adherence to the 2010 U.S. Dietary Guidelines and results of published randomized clinical studies that analyzed the short- and long-term weight loss and drop-out rates of seven popular diets.

Jenny Craig topped the list with 85 points.  Slim-Fast came in second with 63 points and Weight Watchers, a popular diet for many Americans, came in third with 57 points.

"We were pleased to be rated as Consumer Reports' best-rated diet," Jenny Craig CEO Patti Larchet said in a statement.  "This news confirms what we have always known: that Jenny Craig's clinically proven, comprehensive approach to weight management works."

The Jenny Craig diet offers its own brand of food, including single-serving entrees, snacks and desserts, which are sent to the dieters' homes.  Prices vary, but the cost of the food can range between $400 and $600 per month.  The company also offers weekly counseling sessions in-person or by phone.

Here are the seven popular diets ranked by Consumer Reports Health:

1. Jenny Craig
2. Slim-Fast
3. Weight Watchers
4. Zone
5. Ornish
6. Atkins
7. NutriSystem 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Lyme Disease to Blame for Woman's Erratic Behavior at NYC Hotel? YORK) -- The woman who reportedly wandered around the lobby of New York's famous Waldorf-Astoria hotel this past weekend wearing her panties over her pants, muttering to herself and carrying a gun has prompted medical experts to revisit the question of whether Lyme disease can have psychiatric manifestations.

After police charged Marilyn Michose, of Danbury, Connecticut, with fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, the 46-year-old's mother told newspapers that her daughter has Lyme disease and the medication she takes makes her "manic."

It was unclear whether Michose's mother was referring to medication for Lyme disease or for some other condition.  Michose was taken to a hospital for psychiatric evaluation after the incident.

Lyme disease is caused by the bite of an infected deer tick.  It commonly causes a skin rash, fever, headache and fatigue.  Whether the disease can have psychiatric manifestations has long been a controversy in the medical community.

While they can only speculate without knowing more about Michose's case, some experts believe a percentage of patients with Lyme disease go on to develop serious problems that might affect the brain, heart, eyes and other organs.

Skeptical experts, on the other hand, say there's little scientific evidence to back up the notion that long-term psychiatric problems can develop.  They say chronic Lyme disease, which can resist treatment and cause a litany of problems for many years, simply doesn't exist.

"With Lyme disease, you can develop some significant psychiatric problems," said Dr. Brian Fallon, director of Columbia University Medical Center's Lyme and Tick-Borne Diseases Research Center in New York.  "Lyme disease is an infection that can spread throughout the body and when it spreads to the central nervous system, it can cause a wide variety of manifestations, such as memory problems, verbal fluency problems and sometimes in the more acute phases of brain infection, it can cause encephalitis, which is characterized by severe confusion or personality changes."

Fallon went on to say that about 15 percent of patients infected by Lyme disease who are not treated will develop neurologic problems.  Symptoms usually appear in the first few weeks after the tick bite.  Such problems, however, tend to go away after treatment but Fallon said sometimes, people get worse before they get better.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Says Long Ring Fingers Associated with ALS

Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Researchers have identified long ring fingers with the degenerative nervous system disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gherig's disease.

The study from King's College London, as reported by HealthDay News, does not say that people with long ring fingers have ALS, or will develop it.

Researchers looked at 110 people, some of whom had ALS. After findings suggested that ALS patients had longer ring fingers, researchers hoped they had perhaps found a biological indicator.

Scientists understand very little about ALS, which is fatal, since it can run in families or develop at random.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Research Suggests Autism Estimates Fall Short

Christopher Robbins/Thinkstock(SEOUL) -- A new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry Monday suggests that more children have autism than previously thought.

Researchers in South Korea examined 55,000 children in Seoul. They found that one in 38 were somewhere on the autism spectrum.

The study suggests that similar examinations of a total population would raise estimates. In the United States, autism is estimated to be found in one percent of the population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: 14 Percent of Strokes Happen When Asleep

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(CINCINNATI) -- New research suggests that 14 percent of all strokes may be so-called wake-up strokes.

The study from the University of Cincinnati examined almost 2,000 cases of strokes seen in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky region. Of the case studies, about one in seven occured while the person was asleep.

The average age for these wake-up stroke victims was 72. Most of these patients would have needed a clot-busting drug if they had been awake.

The study did not find major differences in habits or risk factors between wake-up stroke and conscious stroke victims.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Some Patients Get Colonoscopies Too Often

Siri Stafford/Photodisc(WASHINGTON, D.C.) -- A new study finds that some patients get colonoscopies more often than they should.

In a report issued Monday in Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers urge doctors to be more discerning about advising colonoscopies. This means following established guidelines in the United States for potential victims of colorectal cancer. Current guidelines recommend middle-aged and older adults to have a colonoscopy every 10 years. Colon cancer usually grows slowly, so more numerous examinations are unnecessary.

Colonoscopies, moreover, are invasive procedures that carry a variety of risks and complications. A less invasive procedure involving stool tests should be done once a year, and allows doctors to catch the cancer in its developing stages.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Meditation Prescribed More Often as Alternative to Medicine

Medioimages/Photodisc(BOSTON) -- More than 6 million Americans are advised meditation and other mind-body therapies by conventional health care providers, according to a report released Monday by Harvard Medical School. And for sicker patients, these alternative therapies seem to provide both emotional and physical relief for many types of medical ailments, according to the findings, which were published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Nearly 40 percent of Americans use some form of complementary and alternative medicine, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. These practices include meditation, yoga, acupuncture and other types of mind-body-practices. And now, many are receiving the support of conventional doctors who have seen apparent benefits in some of their patients.

Meditation has more recently been tried to treat eating disorders, alcoholism, eating disorders, psoriasis, and even impotence. More than two dozen medical centers across the country, including specialized cancer centers, have attached complementary medicine centers, or provide meditation or other mind-body classes.

However, many of these uses of meditation are experimental, and the results vary by each patient. Many experts say meditation is more likely to treat medical conditions successfully when it is used in conjunction with conventional therapies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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