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Married Cancer Reseachers Both Battling Breast Cancer

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fighting cancer is never easy. But as Dr. Oliver Bogler undergoes his second month of chemotherapy for breast cancer, he says he is grateful that his wife can relate. Five years ago, she was also going through her second month of chemotherapy, also for breast cancer.

Oliver and his wife Irene are both cancer researchers at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at the University of Texas. They met 20 years ago while doing cancer research at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research in San Diego. The two connected over their passion for research.

Irene, now 52, was the first in their family to face cancer. It was 2007, she was 46, and they had two children under the age of seven at the time.

"I think you feel numb, a little bit shocked, but within a few days I was in at Anderson having tests and making determinations on treatments," says Irene. She went through chemotherapy, a mastectomy and radiation, in that order. During that time, Irene says she remembers Oliver giving her unconditional support.

Now, though, Oliver has developed the same kind of breast cancer.  And at 46 years old, he’s the same age as Irene was when she began her battle.  He is now undergoing chemotherapy and is looking ahead to his own radical mastectomy in March.

Breast cancer is very rare in men. "Of all the cases of breast cancer, 99 percent are women and one percent are men," according to Oliver's doctor and men's breast cancer specialist at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Sharon Giordano. The Boglers are the first couple Giordano has ever seen who have both had breast cancer -- and she has seen over 100 male breast cancer patients.

Giordano says a lot of the time men have a delayed diagnosis because they don't think they could be at risk for breast cancer. "Men on average have an advanced disease because you have to have a lump to identify it. They don't examine their nipples and think breast cancer."

Members of Oliver's family say neither family has a history of cancer, and initially wondered if the cancer research could have been a reason Irene and Oliver both had the same cancer.

"It's not Irene's genes or Oliver's genes, so you do wonder why," says Oliver’s brother, Daniel. "We asked Oliver about that when he was diagnosed; we thought maybe while feeding his cells and growing his cultures."

Oliver assured his family that the radiation he and Irene received in their labs while researching is no worse than one gets from an X-ray machine at the airport. Daniel says he believes the entire situation is nothing more than very bad luck.

Oliver's cancer is Stage 2, just as Irene's was. The family remains optimistic that Oliver will reach the same cancer-free stage that Irene has. Until then, the two are benefiting from a mutual understanding of what Oliver is going through.

"These two people who do nothing but work against cancer all their lives -- what have they done to deserve this? Why does lightning have to strike twice on their little family?" Daniel says. He did add, however, "If it has to happen to anyone, he's someone who's intimately familiar with cancer and he's at the best place to get the best care."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Florida Asks Women to Spill Their Sex Habits

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Florida Department of Health is getting a little too close for comfort for some women in the state.  

The department recently mailed a survey to randomly selected women between the ages of 18 and 24 requesting intimate details about their sex lives.

The 12-page questionnaire, which was sent to about 4,000 women, is intended to help the state get a better grasp of the need for family-planning services in Florida.  But critics say the survey crosses the line.

Among the questions are, “How many sexual partners have you had?” “Has a man ever poked holes in a condom to get you pregnant?” and “Have you ever been raped?”

Paige Waugh, a student at the University of Tampa, told an ABC News affiliate that the survey is “a bit invasive.”  And the women who agree to take the survey, she added, are probably not going to be truthful.

“That’s private information,” Waugh says.  “So they are probably going to get biased results.”

The state says that the survey is completely voluntary and participants will remain anonymous.

There is, however, a small perk for women who agree to take the survey.  A $10 gift card to CVS to use on various health-related items is given to all participants in exchange for the intimate details of their sex lives.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mom Enrolls 7-Year-Old in Medical Marijuana Program

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When 7-year-old Mykayla Comstock was diagnosed with leukemia in July, it was less than three days before her mother filed Oregon medical marijuana paperwork so the child could take lime-flavored capsules filled with cannabis oil.

The decision to give Mykayla the capsules came naturally to Erin Purchase, Mykayla's mother, who believes marijuana has healing power.  But doctors aren't so sure it's a good idea.

"The first doctor was not for it at all," Purchase told ABC News. "Basically she blew up at us and told us to transfer to another facility."

Their new doctor knows that Mykayla takes about a gram of cannabis oil a day -- half in the morning and half at night -- but doesn't discuss it with them.

"This is our daughter," Purchase, 25, said. "If they don't agree with our personal choices, we'd rather they not say anything at all."

It's legal for a minor to enroll in the Oregon medical marijuana program as long as the child's parent or legal guardian consents and takes responsibility as a caregiver.

And Mykayla is not alone.

There are currently four other patients enrolled in the Oregon medical marijuana program between the ages of 4 and 9, six between the ages of 10 and 14, and 41 between the ages of 15 and 17, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. Severe pain, nausea, muscle spasms and seizures are among the top conditions cited for medical marijuana use.

Mykayla first started to feel sick in May, when she developed a rash, cough and night sweats. By mid-July, doctors found a mass in her chest and diagnosed her with T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia a few days later. The family relocated from Pendleton, Ore. to Portland to be near Randall Children's Hospital for treatment, which included chemotherapy.

At first, Mykayla wasn't responding well to her treatment, and doctors said she might need a bone marrow transplant. Then she started taking the cannabis oil pills. By early August, Mykayla was in remission and the transplant was no longer necessary.

"I don't think it's just a coincidence," Purchase said. "I credit it with helping -- at least helping -- her ridding the cancer from her body."

Purchase said she, too, uses medical marijuana. She said it has helped with her kidney and liver disease since 2010, adding, "I feel that it saved my life."

However, Dr. Donna Seger, the executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor at Vanderbilt University, said cannabis has no effect on liver or kidney function, and is not a medicine for cancer.

"If it does anything, it decreases immunity," she said. "It doesn't fight cancer."

Seger said she has several concerns about a 7-year-old taking pills filled with cannabis oil because there is little research on its long-term effects on children. Cannabis could have potentially negative effects on cognitive development in children, and little is known about regimens lasting months or years.

Purchase said she wasn’t nervous at all about prescribing pot to her daughter, but was unsure what dosage to administer. She started Mykayla with .07-grams at a time.

"It took a while to get her adjusted to it," Purchase said. "She acted more funny when she first started taking it and after a while gained tolerance. Now, when she takes it, you can't even tell. She's very normal."

But Dr. Michel Dubois, who works in NYU Langone's Pain Management Center, is concerned about the addictive qualities of pot, as well as the 50 to 60 different chemicals contained in cannabis oil pills. He said the capsules shouldn’t be administered for more than a month or two.

Although Mykayla's doctors told Purchase she was in remission on Aug. 6 when her blood cell counts returned to normal, Mykayla will undergo two and a half or three more years of chemotherapy so that she can one day be officially cured, Purchase said. That could mean years of more medical marijuana.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Investigation Finds High Rate of Food Poisoning Bacteria in Pork

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Pork eaters beware: a new investigation has found high rates of a potentially harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning, especially in kids.

Consumer Reports tested 198 samples of meat from pork chops and ground pork and found yersinia enterocolitica in 69 percent of them.  The samples came from six U.S. cities and included many major store brands, according to the magazine.

What makes this bacteria dangerous is that it's resistant to antibiotics used to treat infections.  Consumer Reports says this can be a result of farmers feeding antibiotics to healthy pigs.

“Antibiotics are routinely fed to healthy animals at low levels.  This practice promotes the development of antibiotic resistant bacteria which are a major public health concern,” said Dr. Urvashi Rangan, Director of Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports.  “Infections caused by resistant bacteria are more difficult to treat and can lead to increased suffering and costs.”

Each year, yersinia enterocolitica causes foodborne illness in about 100,000 Americans, the magazine reports.  It advises consumers to cook pork thoroughly and wash their hands after handling raw meat.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FDA Closes Peanut Butter Plant Linked to Salmonella

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Administration Monday shut down the country’s largest organic peanut butter processor following a salmonella outbreak that sickened scores of people nationwide.

For the first time the FDA has utilized new power granted by the 2011 food safety law and shut down Sunland Inc.’s New Mexico processing plant.

In a statement on their website, the FDA said that the link between the company and the salmonella outbreak that sickened 41 people in 20 states along with “Sunland’s history of violations led FDA to make the decision to suspend the company’s registration.”

Between June 2000 and September 2012 11 product lots of nut butter tested positive for presence of salmonella. And, according to the FDA, between March 2010 and September 2012, Sunland Inc. distributed at least a portion of eight product lots after they had tested positive.

The FDA also found the presence of salmonella in 28 environmental samples during a September and October 2012 inspection.  FDA inspectors reported that employees of Sunland Inc. failed to wash hands, improperly handled equipment used to process food as well as providing "no records” to document cleaning of equipment. Additionally, the building housing the production and packaging had no hand-washing sinks even though employees had “bare-handed contact” with the product.

“The super-sized bags used by the firm to store peanuts were not cleaned despite being used for both raw and roasted peanuts.  There was a leaking sink in a washroom which resulted in water accumulating on the floor, and the plant is not built to allow floors, walls and ceilings to be adequately cleaned."

"Finally, investigators found that raw materials were exposed to potential contamination.  Raw, in-shell peanuts were found outside the plant in uncovered trailers. Birds were observed landing in the trailers and the peanuts were exposed to rain, which provides a growth environment for salmonella and other bacteria.  Inside the warehouse, facility doors were open to the outside, which could allow pests to enter.”

In a Nov. 15 statement the president and CEO of Sunland, Jimmie Shearer, emphasized that at “no time” did the company distribute products they knew to be contaminated. The company has submitted a statement to the FDA outlining their response to the recall and contaminated product testing.

“We believe that drawing any inferences much less conclusions about the Company’s practices based solely on the observations as set forth in the Form 483 without considering the Company’s response would be wholly premature and unduly prejudicial to Sunland.”

The Food Safety Modernization Act, which the FDA acted under to shut down the plant, grants the agency the authority to suspend manufacturing when there is “reasonable probability of causing serious adverse health consequences or death to humans or animals, and other conditions are met.”

Sunland Inc., can request an informal hearing to lift the suspension.  However the 24-year-old company will only have its registration returned after the FDA decides the company has safe manufacturing practices.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pregnancy Revealed in 1,000 Pictures

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A stop-motion home movie made of 1,000 separate photos of a mom, Osher Grencel, during her pregnancy could be called the “prequel” for little baby Emma Grencel, who was born on July 3.

The video shows every step of the nine-month pregnancy process, including morning sickness, the first precious face scan images of Emma, and includes cameos from her dad, Tomer Grencel, 30, who put the entire video together.

In Tomer’s description of the video, he explains he was the photographer, Photoshop editor, director, script writer and proud dad of the entire production. He boasts, “Look at our 9 months pregnancy in 1,000 pictures! Each frame (picture) was separately taken, edited and uploaded! It was 9 months of a growing belly and 1 month of video editing… :-)”

The Grencels, who live in Tel Aviv, told ABC News they decided to take a photo of Osher’s pregnant belly each day so they could “see the belly grow!”

Tomer, a professional photographer, said he got the idea to create the video when “someone told Osher that because she is so skinny no one will know she is pregnant until relatively late stage of the pregnancy.” Tomer had known he wanted to do something special to document the pregnancy, but until that moment, wasn’t quite sure how yet.

The video, which has had more than 500,000 hits on YouTube, wasn’t originally intended to be used as anything more than a fun video to show friends and family.

“Actually it’s quite funny,” Tomer said. “In some of the days before taking the photo, Osher told me, ‘I don’t want to take the photo today, I look bad!’ And my answer was, ‘Come on, honey. You look great, and no one will see it anyway.’”

Tomer said he quickly learned one important rule throughout the pregnancy: SHE is not pregnant. You BOTH are.

When asked if the couple would recommend creating a video like this to other people, they replied, “Of course. It’s an amazing souvenir for the child … You have to be patient, it’s a long process and you must be consistent. But it’s sure worth it.”


Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


NFL Cheerleader Who Shaved Head ‘Personally Affected by Cancer’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The Indianapolis Colts cheerleader who had her head shaved in front of 60,000 cheering fans and a national TV audience had a very personal reason for agreeing to lose her locks to the team’s mascot for cancer research.

“I’ve had family members and mentors [with cancer] and I volunteer at a local children’s hospital and met little girls who lost their hair and saw the bravery that they possess and it was just something that I wanted to do to help reach others,” Megan M. said Monday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

Megan, whose last name was withheld by the Colts as standard team policy, was the sole Colts’ cheerleader to accept a challenge sent out by Blue, the team’s mascot, via Twitter earlier this month to support head coach Chuck Pagano in his battle against leukemia.  Megan agreed to lose her locks if Blue could raise $10,000 for cancer research by Nov. 25.

In just weeks, through fans’ donations to the CHUCKSTRONG fund on the team’s website, more than $22,000 was raised so Megan lost her hair at the start of the Colts’ fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.  While Megan was the only cheerleader to publicly agree to the challenge, she was joined by fellow cheerleader Crystal Ann in shaving solidarity on gameday, and the two held hands as they both went under the razor.

“The fans were so supportive and just cheering for me the whole entire time and my captain was really great,” Megan M. told GMA of the very public experience.  “She tried to call a lot of dances that did not involve a lot of hair whipping around to make me feel more comfortable when I was getting used to it.”

Blue’s challenge to the team’s cheerleaders came after a group of Colts’ players and coaches shaved their heads in support of Pagano, who is undergoing chemotherapy to battle his leukemia.

In addition to Blue’s challenge, the team also partnered with Great Clips earlier this month to offer fans who wanted to shave their heads in honor of Coach Pagano a free buzz cut and a $10 donation to Blue’s CHUCKSTRONG Challenge.  All money raised will go to the IU Health Simon Cancer Center, according to the Colts’ website.

Pagano has been absent from the team’s sidelines recently while he undergoes treatment, but was in the stands at Sunday’s game as his team beat Buffalo, 20-13.  He received a standing ovation from fans at the game and, according to Megan, has been grateful for the fans’ and the team’s support from the start.

“He was nice enough to send me a text while he was going through this himself, thanking me for doing this,” Megan said.  “He’s just a really wonderful man.”

Megan’s hair will be donated to Locks of Love to provide hair pieces for children who have lost their hair from cancer, according to media reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Grapefruit Can Interact with Prescription Meds: Researchers

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A growing number of prescription medications may interact harmfully with grapefruit and its juice, according to a review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Doctors say the fruit can intensify the dosage of some drugs, possibly leading to sudden death, kidney or respiratory failure, and internal bleeding.

Chemicals in the grapefruit suppress an important enzyme in the human body, said Paul Doering, professor emeritus of pharmacy at the University of Florida. “If grapefruit juice is there first, it kind of takes hostage the systems that get rid of the drug and inactivates them,” allowing more of the prescription medication to get into the system, he added.

Researchers say the interaction can occur even if the grapefruit or its juice is consumed many hours before medication.

“I would recommend people stagger them by at least 12 hours if they could,” or cut out grapefruit juice altogether, Doering said.

“It's a very serious situation,” said Doering. “I'm sad to say that not all health professionals are up to date on the ins and outs of this issue.”

“My advice to consumers would be, if they love eating citrus or specifically eating grapefruit, they should ask: is there any problem with eating grapefruit?”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doctors to Advise Teens on Emergency Contraception

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) – Does your teen know about Plan B? If not, he or she may soon get acquainted with it. All pediatricians are now encouraged to advise adolescents about the use of emergency contraception, according to Monday’s policy statement released online by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The statement says that pediatricians should inform teenaged patients about the use, availability, and effects of all forms of emergency contraception as a day-to-day practice. In addition, both male and female patients should be encouraged to get tested or treated for sexually transmitted diseases, and talk about regular contraception methods as a follow up to the use of emergency contraception.

Co-author and Professor of Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital Cora Breuner highlights the fact that these are not the same as abortion drugs or methods.

“These are progestin only medications that prevent fertilization. They do not prevent implantation, so these are not considered abortive drugs,” she says.

Breuner also states that the primary focus of the statement is to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies.  The United States continues to have a higher teen birth rate compared to developed countries. Breuner and her colleagues discovered that teenagers have been found to use emergency contraception more often if they are notified about it in advance.

“I think this will provide an impetus to have a conversation with your practitioner as a parent or a patient about what you plan to do about your own family planning and reproductive health before there has to be a discussion about "I had unprotected sex" or "I had non-consensual sex,” she says.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Singapore Tops Least Emotional List

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Singapore is the least emotional country in the world, according to a new Gallup poll.

The study found that 36 percent of Singaporeans reported “feeling either positive or negative emotions … the lowest in the world.”

Georgia and Lithuania tied for the second least emotional countries and the Philippines took the top spot as the most emotional country.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio