'Teen Mom 2': Medical Reality Intrudes on MTV Reality Show

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Now here's a dose of reality. New mother Leah Messer learned in the last episode of MTV's Teen Mom 2 that one of her twins may have disabilities.

The reality star left the doctor's office crying after hearing the devastating news that her one-year-old daughter Aliannah was not growing as well as her twin sister.

On the show, Aliannah shrieks as the doctor attempts to straighten her crooked legs.

"It's pretty obvious that there are deficits," said the doctor, who could not provide more details, but immediately ordered an MRI of the child's spine. "To me, it looks like her arms are too short. She looks a little disproportioned. You see that? There certainly are things that aren't working."

He suspected a "nerve-rooted injury" could be causing the deformity.

The twins were born in an emergency Caesarian section and Aliannah was born in the breach position -- or legs first.

After the doctor's visit, Messer called Corey Simms, who is the twins' father. The couple first appeared on the prequel show, 16 and Pregnant, and were recently married.

Both MTV shows have been under heavy fire for encouraging teen pregnancy and painting an attention-getting picture of pregnancy and motherhood. Reps for MTV didn't return phone calls seeking comment.

Even the show's website acknowledges the trend: "After examining the Teen Mom and 16 and Pregnant phenomenon we can say that how eager are the young ladies to be on reality TV shows. They are not even hesitating to be pregnant to just score an audition."

But with new story lines like these, experts like Leslie Hughes, a nurse practitioner at the Teen Ob Clinic at Thomas Jefferson Hospital, says that television is "doing a better job."

"A few years ago, Hollywood glamorized teen pregnancy with girls like Britney Spears' younger sister being called, 'the little homemaker,'" she said. "I didn't think that was cute at all."

"But Teen Mom shows the harsh realities -- it's not just a dress-up doll," said Hughes. "It's a major responsibility."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study Finds One in 12 Are Drunk at Major Sporting Events

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(MINNEAPOLIS) -- Many fans lucky enough to have tickets to one of the NFL conference championship games this weekend will cheer for their team with a beer in hand, and about one in 12 will leave the stadium legally drunk, according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota say people under the age of 35 were eight times more likely to be legally drunk than other attendees, and fans who tailgate in the parking lot before the game were the worst offenders -- they were 14 times more likely to leave a game intoxicated.

In an anonymous survey given by the researchers after administering a breathalyzer test, one in four tailgaters owned up to downing at least five alcoholic beverages, with those in the highest BAC range knocking back an average of 6.6 drinks.

Doug Shavel, who has tailgated at New York Jets home games in Giants Stadium for more than 10 years, agreed that tailgating and drinking seem to go hand in hand.

"Everywhere you look voluminous quantities of alcohol are being consumed," he said. "People arrive by 9 a.m. for a [1 p.m.] kickoff and they're drinking the entire time. Some continue drinking postgame while they wait for the parking lot to clear out."

Shavel has seen a lot of bad behavior in his time that can be attributed to drinking. Once a drunken fan vomited on the person sitting next to him, then later he saw someone puking in the aisles. At another event, Shavel said he saw a man who was so inebriated he had to be carried out on a stretcher with an IV attached to his arm.

In his own tailgating circle, a friend once drank until he was so drunk he fell over into a pit of hot charcoal. "That's the exception, not the rule," Shavel insisted.

In fact, the percentage of drinkers discovered by the study may seem surprising low to anyone who has ever attended a sporting event and witnessed an alcohol-fueled fist fight or someone staggering through the stands.

But lead investigator Darin Erickson, an assistant professor of epidemiology and community health at University of Minnesota's School of Public Health said the numbers match up with findings from a previous study.

"People's perception of how many people get drunk at games may be somewhat distorted. Their estimates are likely greater than the actual numbers," he said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Researchers: Not Everyone Needs Statins to Prevent Heart Disease

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(LONDON) -- Millions of people take statin drugs to lower their cholesterol levels, and there's been an even bigger push to use them to prevent heart disease since the cholesterol-busting statin drug Crestor was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a way to stave off cardiovascular disease in those who don't yet have it.

But new research may throw into question exactly who is at enough risk for heart problems to justify taking the medications and who might be better off skipping them.

On the one hand, the drugs have been shown to lower levels of dangerous LDL, or "bad," cholesterol.  On the other hand, they do carry rare but serious side effects, including the breakdown of muscle tissue, memory loss and a nervous system malfunction called neuropathy.

A group of British researchers found that people who are at low risk for heart disease -- in this case, those who have never had heart disease and aren't likely to develop it -- may not benefit very much from taking statins.  In a report published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, a group of British researchers reviewed 14 studies with more than 34,000 low-risk participants who took statins for at least a year and found that there is a very low likelihood of death from any cause.

"Cochrane Review guidance is helpful in highlighting that the current evidence does not support use of statins below a one percent annual all-cause mortality risk or an annual CVD [cardiovascular disease] event rate of below two percent," the report said.  Experts say this level of risk is extremely low.

The researchers also found that statins lowered cholesterol levels, reduced the number of procedures required to improve or restore blood flow through the heart and reduced the number of strokes.  Despite these benefits, the authors say the use of statins doesn't really improve people's quality of life, and that a number of the trials they analyzed were significantly flawed.  As a result, they say "caution should be taken in prescribing statins for primary prevention among people with low cardiovascular risk."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Heart Disease Death Rate Drops with Fruits and Veggies 

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OXFORD, England) -- It's time to make friends with the produce aisle: pumping your diet with fruits and vegetables isn't just good for your waistline -- it could save your life, according to new research from the University of Oxford.

While "five a day" has traditionally been the mantra for fruit and veggie consumption, researchers found that those who consumed eight or more servings were 22 percent less likely to die from heart disease than those who consumed three or fewer servings a day.

Even among those who couldn't manage the eight servings, more fruits and veggies consistently meant a lower risk; for every additional serving above two per day, researchers observed a four percent decrease in the rate of heart disease deaths.

Though past studies have linked the consumption of fruit and vegetables to heart health, many remain skeptical as to whether these foods have a direct protective effect on the heart. Given the size of Tuesday's study -- over 300,000 participants from eight different European countries -- and the strength of its findings, some doctors feel that it may erase and remaining doubts concerning fruits and veggies, and cardiovascular health.

"This is probably the largest study of its type and should convince even the greatest skeptic of the value of fruits and veggies," said Dr. Randall Zusman, director of the division of hypertension at Massachusetts General Hospital.

"This compares 'enough' fruit and vegetable intake to 'more than enough' and suggests that 'more than enough' is better," said Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University's Prevention Research Center. This could have big implications considering that the U.S. population "doesn't even approximate the 'enough' target" as it is.

The study, which was published Tuesday in the European Heart Journal, is part of the EPIC trial, a long-term study in Europe initially set up to track the effect of vegetable and fruit intake on cancer.

In the U.S., the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables has often been promoted as "five a day". The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moved away from that recommendation in 2007, to a more flexible approach, dubbed Fruits & Veggies - More Matters.

Instead of a flat recommendation of five servings a day, the new program changes recommendations based on age, sex and activity level. For a 40-year-old sedentary man, recommendations are now two cups of fruits and three cups of vegetables a day; for a sedentary woman of that age, the recommendation is 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of veggies.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Antioxidants May Increase Male Fertility

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(AUCKLAND, New Zealand) -- There are people who swear by the effects of antioxidants for everything from anti-aging to protection from cancer -- whether or not science supports these claims.  Now, a new study found that the tiny molecules may even boost the chances of making a baby.

Researchers from the University of Auckland in New Zealand reviewed 34 clinical trials that involved more than 2,500 couples undergoing infertility and subfertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization and sperm injections.  The retrospective analysis found that men taking antioxidant supplements were more than four times more likely to get their partners pregnant than men who did not take the oral antioxidants.  The antioxidants were associated with more than a five-fold higher rate of live births

"When trying to conceive as part of an assisted reproductive program, it may be advisable to encourage men to take oral antioxidant supplements to improve their partners' chances of becoming pregnant," said lead researcher Marian Showell of the University of Auckland in New Zealand in a press release.

The researchers said further information is needed to confirm the findings.  And some fertility doctors dismissed the study entirely, discouraging patients from putting all their eggs into the antioxidant basket.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Eight Servings of Fruit and Veggies Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OXFORD, U.K.) – People who eat eight or more servings of fruit and vegetables daily have a 22-percent lower risk of dying from heart disease compared to those who eat three or fewer portions per day, according to a new study.

The study, published in the European Heart Journal, followed over 300,000 participants of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Heart study for over eight years after completing an initial health evaluation and nutritional survey.
Researchers at the University of Oxford found that the average fruit and veggie daily intake was five portions per day, while only 18 percent of the study participants ate eight or more portions daily. The beneficial effect of the food was not influenced by blood pressure, lifestyle, or other dietary differences amongst the participants. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Smokers ‘Mirror’ Other Smokers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(HANOVER, N.H.) – A new study may explain why smokers feel the need to light up when they see others smoking.

The study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical School, examined a group of nearly 35 study participants -- half of them smokers -- and measured the effects of images of smoking in movies by measuring the participants’ resultant brain activity. 

The results showed that smokers’ brain pathways that regulate the physical hand-to-mouth actions of smoking were activated while they were viewing the movie scenes.  None of this brain activity was observed in the brains of non-smokers.
The region of the brain activated in the smokers is known to contain “mirror neurons” that mirror somebody else’s movements as if they themselves were actually doing them.  This finding provides a clue into one possible reason why smokers feel the need to light up when they see someone else smoke.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Can You Stop Drinking by Getting Drunk Faster?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass) – A study suggests that taking a kudzu extract can be used to decrease binge drinking and eventually lead to complete alcohol cessation.

The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, randomly assigned 12 participants to either take kudzu extract or a placebo for nine days.  All participants then drank a set amount of alcohol as the experimenters closely monitored their heart rate, blood alcohol levels and sense of inebriation. 

The researchers, from McLean Hospital at Harvard Medical School, found that those who took kudzu extract had increased heart rate, elevated blood alcohol levels and reported greater levels of dizziness than those who took the placebo.
Although the authors don’t know why kudzu caused the rapid rise in blood alcohol levels, they believe that they’ve discovered why people drink less when taking kudzu: they may simply feel the effects of the alcohol sooner.

The researchers argue that, although getting drunk faster may not be a good method to quit drinking, kudzu can decrease binge drinking and lead to complete cessation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Not All Bar Fights Involve ‘Tough Guys’

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(ONTARIO, Canada) – A new study suggests that bar fights do not always involve men in a testosterone-driven rage, but rather sometimes involve men who are non-aggressive, unwilling participants.

The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, surveyed 675 Canadian male drinkers ages 19-25. Almost half of those surveyed said they had participated in a bar fight within the previous year.

Researchers at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario, Canada found that men who reported initiating the fight scored higher on measures of aggressive personality traits and hypermasculinity, or exaggerated stereotypical male behavior, than the 18 percent of men who only reported being victimized in a bar fight situation.

The authors concluded that there is a sizeable group of unwilling victims who do not have the hypermasculine and aggressive personalities and whose victimization should not be trivialized by the “boys will be boys” mindset.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Half of Americans Have Pre-Existing Health Conditions

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- As many as 129 million non-elderly Americans have a pre-existing health condition that puts them at risk of being denied affordable coverage without health care overhaul, according to a government report. The estimate represents nearly half of Americans younger than 65, and 86 percent of people 55 to 64.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius released the report hours before the House of Representatives was set to begin debate Tuesday on a Republican-spearheaded health care repeal bill.

"The timing of the report may be political but that does nothing to diminish its accuracy," said Robert Field, professor of law at the Earle Mack School of Law and professor of health management and policy at the Drexel University School of Public Health in Philadelphia.

What constitutes a pre-existing condition -- one that exists before someone applies for a health insurance policy -- is generally defined by insurers. But ones considered to fall in "high-risk pools" were also counted in the report. So pre-existing conditions ranged from having cancer to having high cholesterol.

Under the Affordable Care Act -- part of the health care legislation passed by the last Congress and signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010 -- insurers can no longer base eligibility, benefits or premiums on a person's health status, starting in 2014.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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