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Wednesday
Jan262011

Red Cross Makes Urgent Plea for Blood Donors

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- This winter has brought especially brutal weather across the country, and according to the American Red Cross, the nationwide blood supply is at its lowest January levels in the last 10 years.  The agency is trying to get the word out that blood is urgently needed.

"When severe weather disrupts [the balance between supply and demand], the Red Cross puts out a call to potential blood donors across the country to give blood as soon as possible and help make up the deficit," Dr. Richard Benjamin, chief medical officer for the American Red Cross, said in a press release.

The Red Cross says someone needs a blood transfusion every two seconds in the U.S. because of injuries, surgery and treatments for diseases like cancer and sickle cell anemia.  The organization says it needs all blood types, especially type O, and encourages everyone at least 17 years old in overall good health to see if they are eligible to donate.

Blood and blood components, like platelets, are extremely perishable and need to be replenished constantly.

"Platelets have a shelf life of only five days, and regular blood has a shelf life of six weeks," said Dr. Michael Sacher, director of the Hoxworth Blood Center at the University of Cincinnati.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan262011

Parental History Predicts Risk of Heart Attack

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ONTARIO, Canada) -- It has long been known that a family history of heart disease is a risk factor for heart attack, but scientists have identified a number of genes and factors of environment and behavior that increase the risk of heart disease.

The international research compared over fifteen thousand patients who survived a heart attack to people who never had one. The result is called the "interheart" study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. 

The question: if one or both of your parents had heart attacks, does that affect your risk of having one, even after accounting for other genetic and behavioral risks such as smoking and drinking alcohol? The answer: having a parental history of heart attack increases your risk by an average of 74 per cent. If one parent had a heart attack over 50 years of age, your risk goes up 67 per cent, under 50 your risk increases by 136 per cent. If both your parents had heart attacks over age fifty, that puts you at a 190 per cent greater risk and if they both had heart attacks under fifty, your risk soars by a whopping 226 per cent.    

The study's conclusion is a parental history of heart attacks is a significant, independent predictor of heart attack.    

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan262011

Past Smoking Trends, Obesity to Blame for Shorter Lifespans in US

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Americans have shorter lifespans compared to people in other high-income nations, and smoking and obesity are to blame, according to a new report.

Despite spending more money on health care than any other country, the report by the National Research Council found that life expectancy in the U.S. has been rising but slowly in comparison to countries like Japan and Australia. 

One main culprit for this lag has been America's past with smoking.  The report says mortality rates are still being affected today by smoking habits 30 to 50 years ago, when smoking was more widespread in the U.S. than in Europe or Japan.

Reductions in smoking in the U.S. over the last 20 years, however, will likely counter these findings in the upcoming decades, when the benefits begin to register.  The report predicts that men's life expectancies will improve fairly quickly as a result.  Mortality rates for women in the U.S., on the other hand, are predicted to decline slowly because women's smoking behavior peaked later than men's.

Obesity is also to blame for the lag in life expectancies, possibly accounting for a fifth to a third of the shortfall in the U.S., according to the report.  If obesity rates continue to rise, it could offset any improvements to come from reductions in smoking.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Allegra to Be Sold Over the Counter

Photo Courtesy- Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Those who suffer from allergies can now buy the number-one prescribed allergy treatment without a prescription.

The FDA approved the Allegra family of allergy medication for over-the-counter use Tuesday.

Allegra and Allegra-D will be available in March 2011 in their original prescription strengths for over-the-counter purchase. The price of the medication will be left to the discretion of retailers.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Cost of Treating Heart Disease, Stroke to Triple by 2030

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(DALLAS) – The aging population of the United States is expected to cause the cost of treating heart disease and stroke to triple by the year 2030.

In a policy statement, the American Heart Association said the cost of treating the diseases in the U.S. is expected to reach $818 billion in the next 20 years.

"The burden of heart disease and stroke on the U.S. health care system will be substantial and will limit our ability to care for the U.S. population unless we can take steps now to prevent cardiovascular disease," said Dr. Paul Heidenreich, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford Medical School. Heidenreich is also the chair of the American Heart Association panel who issued the statement in the January edition of Circulation.

Along with an aging population, the dramatic increase in costs also accounts for an increasingly diverse racial mix in patients. The American Heart Association also points to “unhealthy behaviors and unhealthy environments” that have increased risk factors in Americans.

The percentage of Americans with some type of heart disease is expected to rise to 40.5 percent by 2030, compared to the current figure of 36.9 percent.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

FDA Seeks Tougher Oversight for Defibrillators

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ROCKVILLE, Md.) – The Food and Drug Administration has asked for greater standards for external defibrillators as issues with the technology have led to several recalls, according to HealthDay News.

The FDA Tuesday asked a panel of advisors for stricter oversight on the devices, which are used to jumpstart a patient’s heart in an emergency, because manufacturers have failed to fix problems that led to the recalls.

In the past five years, the FDA says there have been 68 recalls of the device, as well as 23,591 reports of malfunction.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Anti-Estrogen Medication Could Improve Lung Cancer Diagnosis

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(GENEVA, Switzerland) – A drug used to battle breast cancer may help reduce the risk of dying from lung cancer, according to a new study.

The study, published in Cancer, claims that the anti-estrogen medication tamoxifen can help control hormonal levels in lung cancer patients that are critical to survival.

Researchers at the Geneva Cancer Registry examined the effect of anti-estrogen therapy in patients with lung cancer. They found that fewer women who had taken anti-estrogens died from lung cancer than expected.

"Our results support the hypothesis that there is a hormonal influence on lung cancer which has been suggested by findings such as the presence of estrogen and progesterone receptors in a substantial proportion of lung cancers," said Elisabetta Rapiti, M.D., of the Geneva Cancer Registry. "If prospective studies confirm our results and find that anti-estrogen agents improve lung cancer outcomes, this could have substantial implications for clinical practice.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Do We Expect Too Much from Fast Food?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At Taco Bell, 99 cents gets a customer a beefy five-layer burrito: layers of seasoned ground beef, beans, real cheddar cheese and reduced-fat sour cream wrapped up in a nacho-cheese-sauce-smothered tortilla.

But a California woman is suing the fast-food chain for false advertising, claiming its beefy filling is only 35-percent ground beef.

"We are asking that they stop saying that they are selling beef," a representative from the California law firm Beasley, Allen, Crow, Methvin, Portis & Miles, which is representing the woman in a class action, told the New York Daily News.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, "Ground beef can have seasonings, but no water, phosphates, extenders or binders added." The lawsuit, filed Jan. 19 in a California federal court, claims Taco Bell's "seasoned ground beef" is two-thirds binders, extenders, preservatives, additives and other agents. The lawsuit wants Taco Bell to publicly come clean about the content of its Mexican-inspired products.

But for 99 cents -- and ready in seconds -- who expects Grade-A beef?

"It may be unrealistic to think that you're going to get a high-quality meat product at an inexpensive fast-food joint," said Lisa Cimperman, a registered dietitian at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. "Ground beef is an expensive ingredient, so it's probably one place they're going to cut corners."

Among the ingredients in Taco Bell's taco meat filling are soybean oil (an anti-dusting agent), silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent) and the common food additives maltodextrin and soy lecithin.

"In most cases, these additives are not necessarily harmful," said Cimperman. "They're added for shelf stability, texture and flavor."

Nevertheless, the plaintiff has a legitimate "beef," Cimperman said. But she hesitates to say the lawsuit will dissuade Taco Bell devotees.

"People who are interested in eating organic, grass-fed beef aren't eating at Taco Bell," Cimperman said. "I think that if you choose to eat there, it's a conscious decision to eat something less healthy."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Women Enjoy Reading Celebrity Gossip

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Reading gossip about celebrities is apparently a weekly habit for more than 50 percent of America's women, according to a new survey.  A survey of 1,281 women ages 18 to 35 reveals that more than 50 percent of respondents read celebrity gossip at least once per week, including seven percent who claim they're addicted.  Just 16 percent of women claim they never read celebrity news.

Additional survey findings:

  • 60 percent of women prefer to read about a celebrity's successful comeback while 40 percent would rather read about their downfall.
  • 46 percent of women enjoy reading about a celebrity's party lifestyle, but 54 percent would rather read about a star's charity work.
  • Gossip magazines and websites are the top two preferred sources of celebrity gossip for women, with 34 percent and 32 percent of women rating them as their primary sources, respectively.
  • Just five percent of women get their celebrity gossip from daily newspapers.
  • Nearly 70 percent of women catch up on celebrity news and gossip in their homes, while 33 percent do so in doctor's offices.
  • Some 27 percent of women polled read celebrity gossip in the workplace, while 23 percent get their celebrity news in beauty salons.  Thirteen percent of women read celebrity news while in an airport or traveling on a plane.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan252011

Roger Ebert Back 'At the Movies' With Prosthetic Chin

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(CHICAGO) -- Renowned movie critic Roger Ebert returned to the small screen to talk about the big screen over the weekend in the new show, "Roger Ebert Presents At the Movies" looking much different than he did the last time he gave one of his famous "thumbs up/thumbs down" ratings several years ago.

Ebert, who lost the lower part of his jaw and his voice box after complications from thyroid and salivary gland cancer, appeared in a segment at the end of the show with his new prosthetic chin and an artificial voice in place of what he lost.

A Scotland-based company, CereProc, reconstructed Ebert's voice using archived footage of him from his show "At the Movies." The company says there are realistic animated and emotional aspects to the voices it creates with its software.

Ebert's chin is a silicone prosthesis that is similar to dentures in that it's not meant to be worn all the time. Dr. David Reisberg, a maxillofacial prosthodontist at the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago, helped create Ebert's prosthetic chin.

"We wanted to design a prosthesis that would elevate his lower jaw or chin area," said Reisberg. "It wasn't so much because he wanted to look better, but he felt that other people would be more comfortable dealing with him."

The prosthesis rests on Ebert's shoulder blades and is almost like a collar, Reisberg said. Since he doesn't wear the chin every day, it's unlikely there will be any complications, which would be minor.

Reisberg said that reconstructive surgery is generally the best option, but Ebert suffered from complications from previous procedures. Reisberg couldn't elaborate on those problems because he wasn't involved in that part of Ebert's cancer treatment.

Surgeons say silicone implants and silicone prostheses are two options for facial reconstruction. Depending on the severity of the facial trauma or personal preference, patients may also opt to use their own tissue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio