'Relatively small doses' of running can lower risk of death: Study

alvarez/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Running isn't just good for a person's day-to-day health and well-being, it may ward off an early death, new research has shown.

Being a runner -- even an casual one -- was associated with a 27 percent lower risk of mortality, according to a meta-analysis published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The review, which analyzed 14 studies that included 232,149 participants, found that running also was associated with a 30 percent lower risk of cardiovascular death and a 23 percent lower risk of cancer death.

"Even relatively small doses of running can improve your health," said Zeljko Pedisic, lead author of the study and associate professor at Victoria University in Australia. "If you are physically inactive and don’t have much time on your hands for exercise, running might just be the right activity for you."

The researchers found that running as little as once a week, or 50 minutes per week, significantly reduced runners' risk of death. Since there wasn't data from the original studies on individuals who ran less frequently than that, researchers were unable to determine if there would have been similar mortality gains for more sporadic runners.

Higher levels of running, on the other hand, weren't necessarily associated with greater mortality benefits, the researchers wrote.

Notably, the frequently and duration of running researchers found to be associated with improved mortality is lower than the 150 minutes of weekly exercise that the Department of Health and Human Services currently recommends for Americans.

Pedisic said he hoped that the study would both encourage those who aren't physically active to become so, while motivating regular runners to keep training.

Since safe and accessible public spaces could prompt the public to run or exercise more frequently, Pedisic added that "our findings can also be used to encourage policymakers to improve public infrastructure for running."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


US experts cautious about China's new seaweed-based Alzheimer's drug

digicomphoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Chinese regulators conditionally approved an Alzheimer's drug derived from seaweed, the world's first Alzheimer's drug in decades, according to drug maker Shanghai Green Valley Pharmaceuticals.

The weekend news was met with cautious optimism by experts, who warned that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a far more rigorous drug testing and approval protocol than the framework China operates under.

"While this is encouraging news, it is currently unclear at this time as to if, and when, this potential therapy could be a treatment option for Alzheimer’s disease in the U.S.," said Dr. Richard Isaacson, director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic at Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian.

The FDA would require a phase 3 clinical trial to prove that the drug, called Oligomannate, is safe and effective, before allowing it to be marketed to Americans, Isaacson explained. And while China plans to make the drug available to its citizens by the end of the year, U.S. and European trials aren't even slated to start until 2020.

The conditional approval means that Oligomannate could be withdrawn from the Chinese market if safety issues arise.

The drug is approved for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease, according to China's National Medical Products Administration (NMPA). A Chinese clinical trial that included 818 patients, found that the drug statistically improved patients' cognitive function and did not come with major side effects, compared with a placebo.

Still, the drug company has not released full data from that trial, and the trial's data has neither been published nor subject to a peer review process.

"Although exciting to hear about a possible new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, I have a lot of questions about the mechanism," said Dr. Andrew Budson, a neurology professor at Boston University School of Medicine.

Drugs that treat the underlying causes of Alzheimer's would slow the disease's progression, he explained, but would be unlikely to improve cognition or function. The fact that Oligomannate improves cognitive function suggests that it might treat symptoms rather than the disease itself.

"My suspicion is that it is like a cup of coffee that produces better cognition while the caffeine is in your system, but doesn’t cause a permanent change," Budson said.

The news from China comes on the heels of an announcement last month from U.S.-based Biogen Inc., which said it would seek FDA approval for an experimental Alzheimer's treatment, intended to slow decline in those with an early-onset version of the disease.

The announcement came as surprise, since the treatment had failed in two earlier trails. After those failures, Biogen said the drug was unlikely to work and it would stop researching it, then reversed course less than a year later, saying it would pursue FDA approval.

As of 2018, there were at least 5.7 million Americans living with Alzheimer's disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Screen time and kids: New findings parents need to know

BobGrif/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The digital age has made screens more accessible and portable than ever. Although the full implications of screen time exposure on young kids whose brains are still developing is not yet known, there is concern that screen use can affect cognitive and language development, lead to problems in school and make some mental health disorders worse.

Because of these concerns, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) created guidelines in 2016 for parents to limit children's screen time.

Some of those guidelines include:

- Avoid screen time for children younger than 18 months, with the exception of video chatting.

- From 18 to 24 months, introduce digital media by watching quality programming like PBS Kids or Sesame Workshop with children.

- For ages 2 to 5, limit screen time to 1 hour per day and watch quality programming with kids.

- For ages 6 and up, limit media use and device type, and ensure media use does not interfere with sleep and physical activity

A new study from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center published in JAMA Pediatrics showed concerning evidence that brain structure may be altered in kids with more screen use. Researchers looked at brain MRIs in 47 preschoolers and found that screen time over the AAP's recommendations was associated with differences in brain structure in areas related to language and literacy development.

Importantly, cognitive testing was not different among children with more or less screen time when correcting for household income. But the findings provide some evidence that support caution with screen time during this crucial developmental stage.

According to David Anderson, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and senior director of National Programs and Outreach at the Child Mind Institute, it’s especially important “to be very cautious when using screens with young kids, as this study highlights, as young kids are in a critical developmental period."

At this stage, children "require face-to-face interaction," said Anderson to reach developmental milestones including building language and social skills. During this time they also develop empathy, the ability to understand emotion, and "build stamina to navigate personal situations," he said.

This study brings up the important question: What is screen time replacing? It is unclear if the findings are related to the screen time itself, or from the lack of other activities that screen time replaces, such as reading with parents, socializing and outdoor play.

Is all screen time bad? Some forms may be worse than others. According to another recent study in JAMA Pediatrics that analyzed prior research on screen time in kids from ages 4 to 18, TV and video games in particular, were associated with worse academic performance, especially in teens.

On the other hand, Anderson pointed out that "there can be positive effects" of screen time including "increasing social connection, particularly in kids in marginalized groups, where finding online communities where they can be accepted and supported can be immensely positive."

And in teenagers and adults, "small doses of screen time can be a mental health-positive way of relaxing, reducing stress, and connecting socially to friends and family members."

What can parents do? In addition to the recommendations by the AAP to restrict screen time in young children, as children get older it is important to place limits not just on how much screen time, but when to allow screen time. Screen time later at night can interfere with sleep, so the AAP recommends parents pay special attention to limiting nighttime device usage.

It’s important to make an effort to spend time and socialize together, and promote activities like playing outdoors or participating in athletics.

"If your teenager is generally actively participating, getting homework done, having face-to-face interaction with family members and friends, and has extracurricular and physical activity … parents can relax a little [about screen time] … and reduce the guilt," Anderson advised.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


High school football captain, born deaf, is true leader on field

Gail Holmes(NEW YORK) -- Devin Holmes, a 17-year-old football captain who was born deaf, dominates on the field at Bloomfield High School in Michigan and is headed to play the sport collegiately next year.

Communication on the football field, as any sport, is key and Holmes' teammates on the varsity football squad have learned American Sign Language to help the defensive starter. Holmes also communicates with his coaches, including Dan Loria, through an interpreter.

"He's extremely honest, sincere, hardworking, extremely passionate about football, about his team and about his school," Loria told ABC News' Good Morning America of the high school senior. "I didn't name him captain because he's deaf. I named him captain because the kids rally around him like nothing I've ever seen before."

Holmes told GMA that he appreciates his teammates who have shown him a lot of support throughout the season.

"They have chosen to learn ASL to better communicate with me," he said. "My teammates also created gestures to give me better focus during practice and while playing the game."

"I want to give them positive motivation," he added. "...I teach them that we make mistakes sometimes, but we keep going and never give up on our team."

Holmes, who stands 6-feet-tall and weighs 285 pounds, has played football since he was 12 years old. This is his second year as a starter on the defensive line.

Devin's mother, Gail Holmes, said the sport became a passion and is excited to watch him continue playing at Gallaudet University, a school for deaf and hard-of-hearing students, in Washington D.C. next year.

"It's a wonderful feeling and an honor for him as well," Gail Holmes told GMA. "He's such a hard worker and he's determined to fight any challenges."

Devin Holmes said he's anxious to "make his mark" with his new team at Gallaudet, where he will major in education and minor in coaching.

After graduation he hopes to become a football coach.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


EPA rules 'weaken' protections from coal-related pollution, advocates say

BrankoPhoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The Environmental Protection Agency announced new proposals to regulate pollution from coal-fired power plants on Tuesday, a move advocates say will weaken protections for groundwater and sources of drinking water around the country.

The newly announced changes would ease some requirements put in place in 2015 that would have required coal-fired power plants to stop the use of coal ash ponds that store waste from burning coal and drastically reduce how much wastewater they can release into rivers and lakes.

EPA chief Andrew Wheeler said the rule would help alleviate the cost of complying with earlier rules for energy companies that challenged the Obama-era rule in court.

"Today's proposed actions were triggered by court rulings and petitions for reconsideration on two 2015 rules that placed heavy burdens on electricity producers across the country," Wheeler said in a statement.

"We are proposing both at the same time in order to provide more certainty to the American public. These proposed revisions support the Trump Administration's commitment to responsible, reasonable regulations by taking a commonsense approach, which also protects public health and the environment."

But environmental advocates accused the Trump administration of weakening rules intended to protect the public from pollution in exchange for helping the coal industry save money.

"It is outrageous that Trump's team is so beholden to polluters that they are willing to let power plants continue to dump lead, mercury, chromium and other dangerous chemicals into our water supply to preserve every last cent of their profits," Thom Cmar, deputy managing attorney of the coal program at the environmental law firm Earthjustice, said in a statement.

"If it weren't for the reckless rollbacks under Donald Trump, there would be no more toxic chemicals being added today to ponds across the U.S. that are leaking poison into our water. Earthjustice and our partners will fight this every step of the way."

One of the concerns with coal ash -- a byproduct of burning coal which can contain potentially dangerous substances, such as mercury, cadmium, and arsenic -- is that the contaminants can leach into the groundwater when the pond or pit where it's stored isn't lined properly.

One analysis from the Environmental Integrity Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group led by former Obama-era EPA officials, and other groups found that groundwater near 91% of unlined coal ash ponds around the country had levels of at least one related pollutant higher than what is considered safe.

Advocates have also raised concerns about the risk of coal ash ponds in areas impacted by natural disasters or flooding, saying the ponds could overflow and release contamination into other bodies of water or sources of drinking water.

Companies will still have to test groundwater around coal ash pits and take action when contamination spreads under the EPA's newly proposed rule, but it allows the ponds to stay open beyond a 2019 deadline in the coal ash rule put in place under the Obama administration.

Some changes in the newly proposed rule were forced by court rulings in legal challenges against the Obama-era rule, but advocates said the Trump administration is allowing coal ash ponds to stay open as a source of pollution to help power companies save money. Under the rule proposed Monday, companies will have until Aug. 31, 2020 to stop releasing waste to coal ash ponds and update or begin to close them.

The EPA announced a separate rule Monday that would change restrictions on how much pollution power plants can discharge into rivers and lakes, saying that new technology has made it cheaper to limit pollution since the rule was written in 2015.

The agency says that proposal would reduce pollution more than the original rule by blocking an estimated 105 million pounds of lead, arsenic, mercury and other substances from entering bodies of water and save reduce the cost of complying with the previous rule by about $175 million a year.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Here's the story behind the viral illustration every mom is sharing

Paula Kuka / @common_wild(NEW YORK) -- If you're a mom on social media, there's a good chance you saw an illustration shared more than once last week.

It was created by Paula Kuka, who told Good Morning America it was response to an illustration in an Australian newspaper she thinks is unfair to moms.

It depicted "a mother looking at her phone and not noticing her baby had fallen out of the pram. It was accompanied by a poem that finished with the line 'wishing that he was loved like a phone,"' Kuka said.

"I do completely agree with sentiment that we are addicted to our phones and it is to the detriment of social engagement," she told GMA. "But to specifically target new mothers seemed unfair and possibly harmful. Post-natal depression and anxiety affects more than 1 in 7 Australian women. When I saw the cartoon, I couldn’t help but feel defensive for any new mother who takes a moment for herself to look at her phone and is judged by strangers for her parenting."

The "irony," Kuka said, is that most of the time moms are on their phones, making doctor appointments, shopping lists, reading school emails or running a business while also taking care of children.

Kuka points out that while mobile phones are unique to this generation of mothers -- many are among the first to grow up with smartphones -- there have always been distractions. Still, moms today are expected to be more hands-on than ever before, she said.

"My drawing aimed to highlight what you don’t see. I just sat down and drew all the things I might do at home with my kids, when the public gaze isn’t on me. Playing, cleaning, cooking, reading, dancing and comforting them," Kuka said. "I drew it in not as a way to vilify the original cartoonist, but out of compassion for other mothers, with the hope I might make something stop and think before they judge a mother in public as they are only seeing a tiny fraction of what really goes on."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Sinus problems turn out to be marijuana man shoved up his nose 18 years prior

BMJ Case Reports(NEW YORK) -- A 48-year-old Australian man is breathing easier after a brain scan revealed that his persistent sinus problems were being caused by a package of marijuana he'd shoved up his nose 18 years prior.

The patient's case was described in the British Medical Journal in a report entitled "a nose out of joint."

Years earlier, while the patient was incarcerated, he inserted a rubber balloon filled with marijuana, which his girlfriend had given him during a prison visit, into his right nostril. The small package got lodged further up his nasal passage, leaving the patient to mistakenly believe he'd swallowed it.

Instead, the marijuana package developed into a rhinolith, or a calcium deposit that forms inside the body, usually around a foreign object, the study said.

Rhinolith are rare and typically occur when children put foreign objects like beads, buttons, erasers, seeds of fruits, sand or pieces of paper up their noses during childhood. Patients report symptoms like nasal discharge, headache, facial pain, nosebleeds and an unpleasant smell.

The Australian man's case is unique, his doctors say. The only other reported instance of a rhinoliith caused by illicit drugs occurred when a 21-year-old patient inserted codeine and opium wrapped in a nylon sheet up his nose.

In the Australian man's case, the CT scan revealed a "rubber capsule containing degenerate vegetable/plant matter." Further interviews with specific questioning led the patient to tell his prison smuggling story.

Three months after having the mass removed from his nasal cavity, the patient's symptoms had completely resolved.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Counterfeit prescription pills made of fentanyl are killing Americans: DEA 

iStock(NEW YORK) -- The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a warning on Monday about counterfeit prescription pills, saying the pills are "killing Americans."

"Mexican drug cartels are manufacturing mass quantities of counterfeit prescription pills containing fentanyl,” according to a press release from the DEA.

Twenty-seven percent of counterfeit pills seized by the DEA contain “potentially lethal doses of fentanyl,” according to the government agency.

“Capitalizing on the opioid epidemic and prescription drug abuse in the United States, drug trafficking organizations are now sending counterfeit pills made with fentanyl in bulk to the United States for distribution,” said DEA Acting Administrator Uttam Dhillon in a statement. “Counterfeit pills that contain fentanyl and fentanyl-laced heroin are responsible for thousands of opioid-related deaths in the United States each year.”

Deadly fake prescription pills have become a by-product of the nation’s opioid epidemic. Fake pills look almost identical to oxycodone pills, Jill Head, supervisory chemist at the DEA, told ABC News.

Head said there is typically 30 milligrams of oxycodone in a pill. But the fake pills have no oxycodone in them, only high amounts of fentanyl.

“Fentanyl is about 50 times more potent than heroin,” said Head. “Two milligrams of fentanyl is what’s considered a lethal dose for about 95% of the population.

Black market 30 mg oxycodone pills can sell on the street for up to $30 per pill, according to the DEA.

In August, authorities seized nearly a half-million counterfeit pills at a storefront in New Jersey, estimated to have been a $2.3 million counterfeit drug operation.

There were over 28,000 deaths involving synthetic opioids in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. States with the highest death rates from synthetic opioids include West Virginia, Ohio and New Hampshire with males aged 25-44 having the highest death rates from synthetic opioids.

The CDC said the pills are often mixed with heroin or cocaine without the user’s awareness.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


This mom breast pumped during the 2019 New York City Marathon

silkfactory/iStock(NEW YORK) -- When Molly Waitz ran across the finish line of the New York City Marathon Sunday, she not only had to carry her finisher’s medal but dozens of ounces of breast milk she pumped along the way.

Waitz, 27, of Cutchogue, N.Y., breast pumped during the entire 26.2 mile race.

"I never thought I would do this and the fact that I was able to do it while working full-time and caring for my child, it was just unbelievable," said Waitz, who gave birth to her son, Bode, her first child, eight months ago. "Anything is possible if you want to do it."

Waitz ran the marathon, her first, on behalf of First Candle, a Connecticut-based charity that raises awareness of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and support for "families who have experienced a loss," according to its website.

Through the charity she learned about the Willow Breast Pump, a $499 wearable device that allows moms to breast pump hands free.

Willow provided Waitz with a free pump to try and Waitz decided to run 26.2 miles with it. Waitz stored the breast pump in her sports bra and ran as her breast milk flowed into a bag that sits inside the pump.

The pump is connected via Bluetooth to an app that would notify Waitz when a bag was full. She then popped the bag out of the pump and placed it in a fanny pack-type bag she wore during the race.

Waitz finished the race in six hours and 46 minutes, according to official race results, and pumped nearly 20 ounces of breast milk.

"I pumped for the first time somewhere between miles three and four and then I did it again right off the Queensboro Bridge, which was mile 16," she said. "I slowed down a little bit to do it but I didn’t really have to. You could do it blindfolded."

Waitz said she hopes she sends a message to other moms that anything is possible, but notes that she pumped while running the race out of pure necessity.

Because the marathon is so large, runners race in different waves. Waitz left her hotel at 5 a.m. but did not start running until around 11 a.m.

She said she did not make it back to her hotel on Sunday until around 6 p.m.

"I wanted to do the marathon and the necessity was figuring out how I was going to do it," she said. "There’s a lot of stigma about how should you feed your child. That’s not what I wanted to get across by doing this."

"It’s not that what I was doing was the best thing for every child," she added. "They just need to have a happy parent and be loved. Whatever you can provide for your child is what’s best for them."

Waitz follows in the footsteps of other super mom runners who have managed to produce food for their child while at the same time accomplishing major physical feats.

Last year, Sophie Power of London was photographed stopping to breastfeed her 3-month old son while completing the 106-mile Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc race in the Alps.

In the U.S., Air Force Staff Sgt. Jaime Sloan, a mom of two, breast pumped while completing the Ironman 70.3 in Tempe, Ariz., a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike race and a 13.1-mile run.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Country singer Chely Wright reveals she suffered a stroke but thought it was a migraine

Ildar Imashev/iStock(NEW YORK) -- One year ago, country singer Chely Wright wasn't sure if she'd had a stroke after experiencing unknown symptoms. Now, she wants to make sure others aren't in the same position.

She took to social media over the weekend and opened up about her health scare.

The 49-year-old country music star wrote about how she was experiencing symptoms of a migraine for three days amid her busy show schedule.

"I sort of knew it," she shared in a Facebook post. "What I had been experiencing with that headache and leading up to that headache was different. I'd even said aloud to myself in the bathroom mirror, 'Did you have a stroke?'"

"Exactly one year ago today, I went to the ER at Lenox Hill Hospital because I was on Day 3 of a migraine, which isn’t uncommon for me," Wright wrote. "Because I had shows booked for the coming weekend, I wanted to get this headache out of the way. Lauren and I dropped the boys at school and headed to the ER."

When she finally saw a doctor, she said the doctor was concerned about the symptoms that she described.

The country star, who rose to fame in the 1990s for hits like "Shut up and Drive" and "Single White Female," had just turned 48 years old and immediately underwent a series of diagnostic tests.

It turned out that she did have a stroke.

Now, the singer is reassuring others that she is OK, but also using social media to urge others to be aware of the symptoms and listen to their bodies.

"The reason I’m sharing this is so you all might take a moment to refresh your understanding of stroke and the symptoms of stroke," she wrote.

Wright also made sure to mention that not everyone is as fortunate as herself and said, "I am okay and very grateful to have access to quality medical care. As we all know, not everyone in America has that luxury. We have to fix that."

Wright received an outpouring of concern and support from her fans after revealing her stroke diagnosis on Facebook.

Many even shared similar experiences that they’ve had, saying that having a stroke is more common than you'd think.

According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, signs of a stroke can develop quickly or over hours and even days. The institute also says that the symptoms depends on the type of stroke and the area of the brain that’s affected.

Some symptoms of a stroke include sudden weakness, paralysis (an inability to move) or numbness to the face, arms or legs, especially on one side of the body, confusion, trouble speaking and even a sudden and severe headache -- like Wright experienced.

Strokes also affect more women than men and kill more women than men. One in five women has a stroke, according to the American Stroke Association.

"We don’t totally understand it. It’s complex," ABC News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said of the disparity. "Part of the reason is because [women] tend to deny things and say, ‘Oh this is not a good time. I’m not going to seek medical attention.'"

"But there are also some hormonal factors," she added. "We know that there certain reproductive or OBGYN issues that increase the risk and a lot of them occur during pregnancy, like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, or high blood pressure. Women on certain hormones, either the birth control pill or hormone replacement therapy, especially those who have a history of migraines and/or smoke, can be in higher risk."

Women especially need to remember that a stroke is a medical emergency, according to Ashton, who explained the acronym people need to remember for strokes, FAST.

"F stands for face drooping, A is arm weakness, S is slurred speech, T [is for] this is a medical emergency. It’s time to call 911," she said. "When in doubt, check it out."

After her own experience, Wright encouraged her followers to listen to their bodies.

"Pay attention to your body and encourage your loved ones to do the same," she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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