Doctors Say Stress Can Cause Men to Go Gray

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Most medical experts say genetics play the largest role in determining when a person goes gray, but new research seems to back the old wives' tale that stress, indeed, can turn the head white, or at least gray. Some researchers say persistent mental or physical stress that lasts two or more years can cause premature aging of the hair.

The French say Marie Antoinette turned gray overnight when she awaited her fate with the guillotine -- a legend that at least one doctor said likely had a medical explanation. Anxiety may have made her hair temporarily fall out in a condition called telogen effluvium, leaving the pale villus -- or "baby hair" -- behind.

"There's a common garden-variety graying of hair that is a gradual process from the death of cells on the hair follicle," Gaspari, a dermatologist from the University of Maryland Medical Center.

But one researcher who has studied gray hair and its causes claims Americans are going gray five years earlier than they did in 1970 -- and probably because of stress.

"Basically, people gray as they grow older," said osteopath Tyler Cymet, vice president of medical education at the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine who practices at Northwest Hospital outside Baltimore. And Obama is right on target, age-wise.

The average white male goes about 30 percent gray at the age of 34, "give or take nine years," Cymet told

African-Americans hit the 30 percent gray mark at 44 years old, plus or minus 10 years.

After the head turns 30 percent gray, it is another two to seven years until a person is fully gray. About 50 percent of all people are graying by 50. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Links Diet Soda to Greater Stroke Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Diet soda might offer the same taste with no calories, but new research suggests it might also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke, even more so than regular soda.

People who drank diet soda daily had a 61 percent increased risk of cardiovascular events compared to those who drank no soda, even when accounting for smoking, physical activity, alcohol consumption and calories consumed per day, according to a study of more than 2,500 people presented Wednesday at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

"This study suggests that diet soda is not an optimal substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages, and may be associated with a greater risk of stroke," Hannah Gardener of the University of Miami and her colleagues reported at the conference.

The researchers used data obtained though the multi-ethnic, population-based Northern Manhattan Study to examine risk factors for stroke, heart attack and other vascular events such as blood clots in the limbs.  Participants reported their soda consumption for an average of 9.3 years.  While 901 participants reported drinking no soda, 163 said they drank one or more diet sodas per day.

"The study highlights the increasingly negative information we are getting about the consumption of non-caloric sweetened beverages," said Dr. Jana Klauer, a New York City-based private practice physician specializing in weight control and nutrition.  "People drink them to save calories and enjoy a sweet taste, but diet soda hasn't lead to weight loss and now appears to be causing more problems than it solves."

Drinking regular soda has previously been linked to diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a precursor to diabetes.  Surprisingly, Gardener and colleagues failed to detect an increased cardiovascular risk among daily drinkers of regular soda.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Non-Invasive Treatment Freezes Extra Fat Off

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) -- People seeking to get rid of stubborn belly fat could save a trip to the operating room by opting for a new treatment that literally freezes the pounds right off.

The FDA-approved, one-hour treatment called Zeltiq works by using a vacuum like device that pulls in the extra fat and freezes it.  The fat cells then die over six to eight weeks, producing dramatic results.

"It's incredibly popular," said Dr. Debra Jaliman.  "I mean, first of all, when people first hear about it, they think it's too good to be true.  They can't even believe it.  And then when I explain it, they say, "Does this really work?  But the patients we've done, they've just been ecstatic."

"I've been in dermatology for 25 years," said Jaliman, "and I never expected to see this."

In its ability to target a specific area, Zeltiq is similar to liposuction.  But it's not surgery, and the lack of pain and recovery time has made this one of the hottest treatments, so to speak, that Jaliman offers.  But results are not immediate -- they can take five to eight weeks.

The new treatment is the brainchild of Dr. Rox Anderson of Harvard University and Mass General.  A laser specialist who invented laser hair removal and spends most of his time removing debilitating scars and marks from children, he started wondering about the effects of cold a few years ago.

He thought about two things: Incidents where infants sucked on popsicles for too long and lost the fat in their cheeks, and the fact that butter fat hardens, or freezes for that matter, more quickly than a lot of other things, like skin.  Which means you can kill the fat cells below without doing any damage to your skin.

At this point, the technology is best suited for people with a bit of extra fat.

"So people who are in good shape, who have a healthy diet, they're exercising and they have body fat distribution still that they're not happy with, they are the ideal candidates for this," said Anderson.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Plastic Surgery Rebounds Along with Economy

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill.) -- The number of Americans voluntarily going under the knife for a nip and a tuck has grown along with the economy, beggging the question: could plastic surgery be a sign of better economic times?

According to statistics released Wednesday by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 13.1 million minimally-invasive and surgical cosmetic surgeries were performed in the United States in 2010, up 5 percent from 2009.

Along with many other industries, plastic surgery suffered in the economic downturn that began in 2008.  The uptick in cosmetic procedures is the first since the recession began.

"People are reassured and more confident that we're not going to have a double dip recession," said Dr. Phil Haeck, president of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons.  "This is just one more tiny sign that the economy is moving forward.  It's slow, but it may be that we'll slowly pull out of this recession."

"It's reassuring we're not going to have a year like 2008, and I guess we're one more indicator of that," said Haeck.  "People have taken care of their family, so now they feel they can do a little something for themselves."

Surgical procedures increased by two percent, totaling almost 1.6 million procedures in 2010.  The top surgical procedure performed continues to be breast augmentation; 296,000 Americans underwent the procedure last year.  Other top procedures included nose reshaping, eyelid surgery, liposuction and tummy tucks.

Facelifts had not seen growth since 2007, but they rose nine percent in 2010, with nearly 113,000 surgeries performed across the country.

All body-shaping procedures, including breast lifts, body lifts, upper arm and thigh lifts, saw an increase in 2010 as well.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Senator Looks to Impose Nationwide Ban on Bath Salts

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Following bans in Florida, Louisiana and North Dakota, and a warning from White House Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, New York Senator Charles Schumer has proposed a bill that would add bath salts to a list of federally-controlled substances.

"These so-called bath salts contain ingredients that are nothing more than legally sanctioned narcotics, and they are being sold cheaply to all comers, with no questions asked, at store counters around the country," Schumer said in a February 1st statement.

The synthetic drugs, sold online, in convenience stores and in smoke shops, can affect the body in ways similar to cocaine and methamphetamines.

"The longer we wait to ban the substance, the greater risk we put our kids in," Schumer said.  "These so-called bath salts are dangerous drugs masquerading as a harmless product.  They offer a cheap and deadly high, and we need to move immediately to get them off the shelves."

Schumer has also asked New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah to ban the chemicals statewide.  Other states, such as Idaho, are following suit.  The United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and Israel have already banned the chemicals.

The recent flurry of legislation stems from mounting reports of bath salts, plant food and incense made with methylenedioxypyrovalerone and mephedrone causing hallucinations, paranoia, suicidal thoughts, even some deaths.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Warming Injections Can Greatly Minimize Pain for Patients

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TORONTO) -- Canadian researchers report that if an injection of local anesthetic is warmed beforehand, the shot will be much less painful for the patient, according to the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

A review of 18 studies found that warmed injections resulted in a "clinically meaningful reduction in pain," regardless of the amount injected or whether it was injected subcutaneously (under the skin) or intradermally (into the skin).

Lead author of the study, Dr. Anna Taddio of the University of Toronto, explained how a small change can make a big difference for patients.

"Warming an injection is a cost-free step that emergency physicians can take to reduce pain from a shot."

"Patients often dread the sight of a needle, but doing something as simple as warming the injection to body temperature can make a painful part of an emergency department visit more tolerable," Taddio added.

The study highlighted several ways to warm injections including controlled water baths, incubators, fluid warmers, baby food warmers and a syringe warmer.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cholesterol Content in Eggs Reduced in Last Decade

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Since the last analysis in 2002, cholesterol in eggs has dropped, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  The USDA's new analysis also shows a 64-percent increase in vitamin D since the last study.

According to the new data, the average amount of cholesterol found in a large egg is 186 milligrams -- 14 percent lower than in 2002.  A large egg also averages 41 units of vitamin D -- reflecting a 64-percent hike since the last recorded data.

However, Jacob Exler, PhD, a nutritionist with the Nutrient Data Laboratory at the USDA's research service, advises that people still consume eggs in moderation. 

"It's still one egg a day," Exler told WebMD.  "Eggs are a healthy food in a diet that has a variety of foods," he added.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Can Excessive Use of Fixodent Cause Nerve Damage?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A study released in 2009 suggested that the prolonged use of the denture cream Fixodent could cause significant nerve damage.  Now, a class-action suit including two patients, Anne Coffman and Mark Jacoby, has been filed against Procter & Gamble, makers of Fixodent, alleging that their use of the product has caused their devastating problems.  Both Coffman and Jacoby say they must use wheelchairs due to the debilitating neurological illness.

"I don't know if you can put a dollar value on my health or anybody else's, for that matter," Coffman told Cuomo. "I would prefer to see [the makers] take the zinc right out of the product...or take the product right off the market."

Used by many of the 35 million Americans who wear dentures, the cream is marketed with the catchy tagline "Fixodent -- and forget it." But what the maker didn't tell consumers for years was that the adhesive contains zinc, which when ingested or absorbed in large amounts over time can lead to serious nerve damage.

The possible connection first was made five years ago by researchers at the University of Texas, who studied four denture users with neurological disease.

"They had high zinc levels that we could measure in the blood," said Dr. Sharon Nations, author of a study in the journal Neurology. "And all of them reported that they were using very large amounts of denture cream."

That study was completed in 2006, but its publication in Neurology was delayed for more than two years. It was delayed, according to its authors, because of a peer review by Dr. Kenneth Shay, a dentist, who lambasted the study and called the link between excessive use of denture cream and neurological disease "little more than speculation." He said that the authors "don't understand the nature of the material they are writing about."

But an ABC News investigation found that Shay at the time also was a paid consultant for Procter & Gamble, the maker of Fixodent, when he reviewed the study. In e-mails and documents obtained by ABC News, Shay not only made recommendations that, according to the authors, led them to water down the study's finding, but also sent draft reports of the study to Procter & Gamble.

It wasn't until 2009, after the study was published in the journal Neurology, that Procter & Gamble added a "new label information" warning to the side of Fixodent packages, and on the back, cautioned that "prolonged zinc intake may be linked to adverse health effects."

Shay declined to be interviewed, but in a phone call with ABC News he defended his review of the study, saying that the research report had "objective shortcomings."

Procter & Gamble sent a written statement to ABC News reading:

"Procter & Gamble is committed to providing safe and effective products for all consumers. That is who we are and what we stand for. We go to great lengths to ensure that our products safely deliver best-in-class performance, so consumers can choose our products with total confidence. Fixodent is safe for use as directed, as supported by the experience of millions of consumers over many years. Our Fixodent formula has undergone extensive scientific testing, and we continuously monitor for its safe use. ... We know of no valid scientific evidence that using Fixodent as directed causes any ill health effects."

But Mark Jacoby and others like him said it all comes too late. He has stopped using Fixodent, but said the damage to his body has been done.

"Fixodent and forget it?" said Jacoby. "Well, apparently I can't forget it 'cause it took a lot away from me."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Women Live Just as Long after Sentinel Node Dissection

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SANTA MONICA, Calif.) - New research suggests that the removal of many lymph nodes for women in the early stages of breast cancer is not always needed, reports HealthDay News.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that removing just those lymph nodes that the cancer initially spreads to has the same effect on a woman's length of survival as removing the aforementioned nodes as well as other nodes.

"If you're looking at a woman with a very limited amount of disease in the sentinel node and with a very limited amount of disease undergoing breast conservation surgery [lumpectomy], it may suggest that they can potentially avoid axillary dissection [removing most or all of the lymph nodes under the arm]...but that's being said with a lot of caution," Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital told HealthDay News. "[But] we can't say that they absolutely can."

A randomized trial, conducted by researchers at John Wayne Cancer Institute at Saint John's Health Center, found that women who had sentinel lymph node dissection or axillary lymph node dissection had the same length of survival.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Pollution Doubles Skin Damage from Sun

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SKILLMAN, N.J.) - A new study shows that skin damage from the sun is made worse by exposure to pollution, reports WebMD.

According to researchers from Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies, pollution found in urban environments can double skin damage caused by sun exposure.

"The AAD already advises people to use extra sun protection near water, snow, and sand as they reflect the damaging rays of the sun that can increase your chance of sunburn," said Darrell Rigel, former AAD president and clinical professor of dermatology at New York University Medical Center in New York City. "It could be that people who live in polluted areas also need extra sun protection, though that remains to be tested."

Lab tests showed that skin damaged by UV radiation showed additional signs of premature aging when exposed to additional stressors such as cigarette smoke, high heat, low temperatures, high winds and ozone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio