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HEAR THIS HOUR'S UPDATE

Monday
Jul162012

Green Tea and Gold to Treat Prostate Cancer?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, Mo.) -- A combination of gold and green tea compounds may be the future of prostate cancer treatments, according to a new mouse study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers from the University of Missouri found that a combination of a compound found in green tea leaves and radioactive gold nanoparticles were able to destroy the tumor cells. The tea compound, which was attracted to the cancerous cells, helped to deliver the gold nanoparticles, which killed the cancer cells.

Researchers said large doses of chemotherapy, which sometimes have toxic side effects, are currently used to treat a variety of cancers, but the new treatment would require doses that are “thousands of times” lower than that of chemotherapy. The particles are small enough to destroy the diseased cells, but leave the healthy surrounding tissue and cells intact.

“By combining a natural component in green tea that has an affinity for prostate tumor cells, we have formed gold nanoparticles that have a high uptake in tumor cells,” said Dr. Cathy Cutler, research professor at the MU Research Reactor and co-author of the study. “This formulation of gold nanoparticles, which has shown such tumor cell death at such a low dose in a model of aggressive human prostate cancer indicates it could be effective for aggressive prostate cancer.”

The green tea compound used in the study, known as epigallocatechin-gallate, or EGCg, is an antioxidant that has been shown in prior research to have cancer-fighting properties.

According to the Centers Disease Control and Prevention, more than 200,000 men in the United States were diagnosed with prostate cancer, and more than 28,000 died of the disease in 2008.

There is currently no treatment for aggressive prostate cancer, which is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. In less aggressive forms of the disease, physicians inject hundreds of radioactive “seeds” into the prostate to treat the cancer, but the seeds have limited tissue penetration, so it is a treatment best used for early stages of the cancer that is contained in the prostate.

Dr. David Crawford, professor of surgery and radiation oncology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, said the use of nanoparticles for a number of areas in medicine to deliver therapy is “exciting,” and, while early in development, still promising.

But Dr. Derek Raghavan, president of Levine Cancer Institute at Carolinas HealthCare System, called the study “headline hunting” and noted the gap between data and clinical application is “vast.” He said there are years of research needed to ensure the safety and efficacy of the treatment.

“I wish people working in basic labs would stop making these types of promises at such an early stage,” Raghavan said. “They secure brief fame, but it is so disruptive to patients who are fighting for their lives. It also adds confusion when real progress is actually being made.”

Lab animal data only occasionally easily translates into clinical application, but many studies based in animals make lofty promises without much follow-up, Raghavan said.

Nevertheless, the University of Missouri scientists were optimistic in their findings, and said they plan on following up their research in dogs, which they said get a form of the disease very similar to the human form.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Boy, 10, Treated Daily for Cystic Fibrosis, Bowls Perfect Game

The Grayston Family(LAGUNA HILLS, Calif.) -- A 10-year old California boy who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis as an infant is defying all the odds.

Sam Grayston, 10, of Laguna Hills, Calif., bowled a 300 last Friday at the Forest Lanes Bowling Center in Lake Forest, Calif.

“The pressure started to build and I threw the ball a little weird,” Sam said. “I was really nervous, but it kept going right to left and then all the pins fell.”

Sam’s mother, Laurie Grayston, said that Sam had part of his intestine removed and was fed through a feeding tube until he was nine months old. She was also told that Sam would never be able to sit up on his own.

“I didn’t want to believe it,” said Laurie. “We didn’t believe he was going to be held back. We thought he was going to be normal.”

Now Sam has to undergo daily treatment for his cystic fibrosis. This includes a few arduous breathing treatments every morning and night, including a treatment that requires him to wear a vest that shakes him vigorously to clear mucus from his lungs. He also has to take medicine each time he eats and has to drink constantly to avoid dehydration.

Despite what therapists and doctors predicted, Sam started to walk and has spectacular hand-eye coordination.

His father, Joe, a Los Angeles County fire captain and former professional baseball player for the Texas Rangers, taught his son how to play baseball and golf.

“He is great with almost any sport that uses a ball and a bat,” Joe said. “He is such a great athlete and he has a quiet confidence about him.”

“He has the most amazing swing as a lefty, in golf and baseball,” Laurie said. “He was on the 10 and 11 year old baseball All-Star team as a nine year old.”

According to his mother, Sam just wanted to try bowling for fun and now he can’t get enough of it. He wants all of his birthday parties to be at the bowling alley. The Graystons also set him up in a Youth Bowling League and started sending him to private lessons.

“He just took off from there,” Laurie said. “I drop him off around 10 and he will play until 6 p.m. He is just focused on it; he is focused on any sport he does.”

However, when Sam’s passion for bowling conflicted with his ability to play baseball, he had to make a decision. He decided to take some time off from baseball and participate in his weekend bowling league. But  this decision initially was met with some resistance from his parents.

“I had been his baseball coach for a few years and when he told me he was going to stop playing baseball and bowl instead I was like ‘Um, what?’” Joe said laughingly.

But, Sam’s parents said that they want him to follow his dream and do whatever he wants.

When Sam saw the last pin fall in the 10th frame he was elated.

“Happiness -- lots of happiness. Most of my friends were there and everyone was watching,”  Sam said.

Sam said that his favorite sport is bowling and his next big goal will be to bowl a 700 series over a course of three games.

“Sam is an inspiration,” his mother said. "He never complains and he is always in a good mood. He is just an all around amazing boy.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Kate Upton Fires Back Against Body Critics

Tony Barson/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- In the midst of a very public battle over her body image, model Kate Upton has fired back against those who have been attacking her weight.

A pro-anorexia website called Upton “thick” and “vulgar” while criticizing her appearance in raunchy burger commercials.

But 20-year-old Upton has had enough and finally fired back.

Upton said, “I’m not going to starve just to be thin. I want to enjoy life and I can’t if I’m not eating and miserable,” The Sun reported Monday.   

A spokesman for the model added, “It’s absurd. Kate is gorgeous and very healthy.”

The unnamed female blogger who sparked the Upton uproar acknowledges preferring the “skinny aesthetic,” wrote in a July 8 post on the website “Skinny Gurl” that she has been deluged with angry emails and threatened with rape and death.

The controversy first began back in June when the blogger wrote that Upton was, “confidently lumbering up the runway like there’s a buffet at the end of it,” and also called her a “little piggie” with “huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition….”

She continued: “Did you know that humans are 80% genetically identical to cows? Well, allow me to prove it to you….” That line was followed by an unflattering photo of the back of Upton’s lingerie-clad body on the runway.

Since then, the fashion world’s most influential insiders have denounced the blogger and risen to Upton’s defense.

“Running this site where you actually praise women for staying emaciated and skinny and then to go out there and then track someone who has a normal body, I mean, she’s got issues,” said Lesley Jane Seymour, editor-in-chief of MORE magazine.

“She’s laughing all the way to the bank,” supermodel and author Carol Alt said of Upton. “I would just say keep your end up and keep moving forward.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Women Beat Men on IQ Tests for First Time

John Rowley/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research is providing an answer to the age-old, delicate question: who is smarter, men or women? A new study has come down on the feminine side of that argument, finding that women now score higher on IQ tests than men.

The author of the study, James Flynn, a New Zealand-based researcher known as an IQ testing expert, said that over the past century, women have lagged slightly behind men in IQ testing scores, at times by as much as five points. But now, Flynn said women have closed the gap and even inched ahead in this battle of the intelligent sexes.

“Over the last 100 years, everyone in the developing world has been gaining about three IQ points, but women have been gaining faster,” Flynn told ABC News. “This is the result of modernity. In every country where women have an equal chance of modernity, women have caught men [in IQ testing].”

Flynn has not yet published the results of his study, saving that for a book he will publish in September. But he told ABC News that he collected data from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Estonia, and Argentina on scores on a standard IQ test, called the Raven test. Each country tested at least 500 men and 500 women, most between the ages of 15 and 18, Flynn said.

“In all of those samples, women are the equal of men, perhaps scoring a half point or a point higher,” Flynn said.

The changes, Flynn said, can be explained by changes in opportunity and education that have come about in the last century -- for example, less reliance on rote memorization in education and an emphasis on improving logic and analytic skills.

“As we enter the modern worlds, our minds change just as our automobiles have changed,” Flynn said. “Where women can have an equal chance to interface with the modern world, they equal on IQ and surpass on academic performance.”

He said there is no reason those advantages shouldn’t go on to help women in the occupational and professional sphere, though there are other social factors affecting women’s success in those arenas.

Deciding which is the smarter sex is an ever-controversial topic of conversation and scientific research. Studies of animals and humans have found definite differences between males and females, in things like brain size, verbal and spatial abilities and brain disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia. It’s mostly unclear, though, how those differences translate to behavior.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

FDA Approves Truvada for HIV Prevention

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Food and Drug Adminstration Monday announced the approval of the first drug for use in people who are not infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), to prevent its transmission, which some are calling a landmark in the fight against AIDS.

The drug, Truvada, is actually a combination of two medicines and is manufactured by Gilead Sciences, Inc. of Foster City, Calif. While Truvada has been approved since 2004 as a treatment for those already infected with the HIV virus, this is the first time any drug has been approved for pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP.

The study that led to the drug's approval found the risk of transmission among men who have sex with men decreased more than 40 percent. Furthermore, it showed a decrease of more than 70 percent in risk of transmission among heterosexual couples in which one partner was infected with HIV but the other was not.

"Truvada should not be used alone for preventing infections," cautioned Dr. Debra Birnkrant, director of the Division of Antiviral Products at the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "However, when used in combination with other prevention methods, such as safer sex practices, counseling, and regular testing to determine infection status, Truvada is effective in reducing the risk of transmission."

Other experts in the field agreed with this assessment.

"The approval of Truvada to prevent HIV infection in uninfected individuals who are at high risk of sexually acquired HIV infection is a significant development, providing an important addition to our toolkit of HIV prevention interventions," said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. "However, it is critical to stress that Truvada as 'pre-exposure prophylaxis' should not be considered a stand-alone method, but should be used in conjunction with other proven HIV prevention strategies."

Not everyone was in favor of the approval. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a global organization involved in providing treatment to AIDS/HIV patients, strongly criticized the move, calling it irresponsible and saying Truvada's approval for this use would undermine current prevention efforts.

AHF president Michael Weinstein questioned whether the fact that support provided to study participants -- such as monthly HIV testing and intensive counseling -- would not be available to the general population would lead to decreased adherence to the drug regimen, and thus to the development of drug-resistant strains. Weinstein further cautioned that the drug's side effects on the kidneys and bones might be worth accepting in patients who needed to be treated for HIV, but were not worth the risk on otherwise healthy individuals.

"Today marks a catastrophe in the history of AIDS in America," he said.

While the AHF criticized the approval, a number of experts said there are many high risk individuals who won't use condoms but might take a daily pill.

"It's argued that PrEP is far more expensive than condoms, but it's a lot cheaper than a lifetime of HIV treatment," said Dr. Joel Gallant of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health. "If we can target PrEP to those at highest risk, PrEP is likely to be cost-effective."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Have You Ever Faked It?

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new survey by AdamEve.com found 47 percent of women admitted they faked an orgasm on occasion.  According to the same survey, 77 percent of men denied ever faking it.

There were several reasons cited by women for faking it, including:

•    35 percent: "It just wasn’t going to happen."
•    23 percent: "I didn’t want to hurt my partner’s feelings."
•    13 percent:  "I wanted it to be over."
•    7 percent: "I was tired."
•    4 percent: "I was bored."
•    3 percent: "I was uncomfortable."

The survey involved 1,000 U.S. adults.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Study: More TV Linked to Larger Waists, Weaker Legs for Kids

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The more television a child watches, even in the first years of life, the more likely he or she is to be thicker around the middle and less muscularly fit, according to a new study.

Previous studies have linked lots of television with childhood obesity and other child health detriments, but this study's authors say their report is the first to relate how time in front of the boob tube affects a specific measure of physical fitness, their explosive leg strength, an important asset for sports like soccer, basketball and football.

Caroline Fitzpatrick, the study's lead author, said the measure isn't just important for children who want to be athletes.

"Explosive leg strength is an important measure of a child's overall physical fitness, their general muscular fitness," she said.

Fitzpatrick and her colleagues at the University of Montreal studied more than 1,300 children from across Quebec. When the children reached age 2 and age 4, the researchers asked parents how many hours per day their children spent watching television. On average, the 2-year-olds watched almost 9 hours of TV each week; by the time they reached age 4, average weekly TV viewing rose to nearly 15 hours.

A few years later, when the children were in second and fourth grades in school, the researchers measured their waist size and also how they performed on the standing long jump, hoping to measure each child's explosive leg strength.

The researchers were able to translate hours in front of the TV to centimeters of physical size and performance. They calculated that each hour of television watched during the week as a 2-year-old corresponded to a 0.361-centimeter decrease in a child's performance on the standing long jump. If a child watched an hour more of television as a 4-year-old than they did when they were 2, that corresponded to 0.285 centimeters shaved off of their jump. That extra hour of TV time also corresponded to a 0.047-centimeter increase in waist size.

The study was published Sunday in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul162012

Your Home Caregiver Could Be Untrained or Worse

Creatas Images/ThinkStock(NEW YORK) -- A study from Northwestern University finds that agencies that hire caregivers to work with the elderly rarely require or provide training. And, more troubling, many fail to do national criminal background tests or drug testing.

Federal rather than state background checks ensure that criminal offenders -- sexual or otherwise -- can't move between states to find work.

The study, which was published July 13 in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society, found that some agencies even recruit from Craigslist and lie about the qualifications of caregivers who will be paid to work in the home, putting those who are most vulnerable at risk.

"My patients are mostly in their 80s, 90s and 100s and so many have dementia and caregivers," said lead study author Dr. Lee Lindquist, a geriatrician and associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"Some are doing an outstanding job and the seniors look perfect," she said. "Others have pressure ulcers and are losing weight, depressed and falling apart. The caregivers are popping gum and playing with their iPhones and could care less."

People have a "false sense of security" when they work with an agency, according to Lindquist. "It's kind of like the wild west -- anybody from a plumber to an architect can set up shop. It's getting worse and it's scary because more people want to stay in their homes longer and it's the best place for most seniors."

More than 12 million Americans receive home health care from 33,000 providers, according to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice.

Nursing homes are regulated because they accept Medicare dollars, but regulations on home care varies from state to state, according to Lindquist.

"It's a private pay market," Linquist said. Patient families must pay between $25 and $50 an hour for in-home care, and but the agencies take a large chunk, leaving the aide with an average of $7.25 an hour. Private aides, without any middle-man, make $15 to $20 an hour.

Northwestern researchers interviewed 160 agencies, posing as a person who needed a home caregiver and asking about hiring, screening, training and competency assessment.

Only 55 percent of the agencies said they did a federal background check and only one-third said they did drug testing, according to the researchers.

Most agencies relied on self-reporting of experience and only one-third tested applicants for skill competency and waited for "client feedback," the study found.

Study author Lindquist said she has seen examples of neglect in her own medical practice. She said she had a 103-year-old patient whose illiterate caregiver mixed up her own medications and those of the patient.

Another woman dropped 10 percent of her weight and developed bed sores because she was not being properly fed or taken out of bed.

Lindquist's study found that 84 of the agencies she contacted were no longer in business. They had slick websites, but their phones were dead.

"When they make money, they leave the industry after three to five years," she said. "Bosses change or they get out of the field.

"Most people almost try to sell a product and tell us what they thought we wanted to hear," she said.

Some cited phony tests when asked about background checks, including one agency that said it used a "National Scantron Test for Inappropriate Behavior" and an "Assessment of Christian Morality Test" -- neither of which exists, Lindquist said.

When asked about drug testing, some agencies told researchers, "Oh no, unless you pay for it."

As for supervision, only 30 percent of the agencies did a once-a-month home check.

"Amazingly, some agencies considered supervision to be asking the caregiver how things were going over the phone or when the employee stopped in to get their paycheck," Lindquist said.

To find a reputable agency, Linquist advises talking to friends and family and get "word of mouth" to get recommendations for good and bad agencies. Private duty nursing associations can also be helpful, but they represent only a small number of agencies and "cannot vet everyone."

Lindquist said ultimately, laws must change to provide more regulation of the industry, but she hopes her study will educate consumers who can put more market pressure on the bad agencies to get out of the home care business.

"We need to expect better things from an agency and a caregiver," she said.

"A lot of people spend more time picking out a car than an agency," Lindquist said. "Think about it -- this is your loved one, your mom, your dad, your grandma. That should mean something."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul152012

Is Wobbling Worrisome? Gait Changes May Be an Early Sign of Dementia

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Slow on your feet? This could be the first sign of memory loss to come.

Three new studies presented Sunday at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Vancouver, Canada, finds that changes in walking patterns of the elderly are closely linked to memory loss and may actually be an early clue to dementia.

One group of researchers studied the strides of a group of elderly patients at Basel Mobility Center in Switzerland.  The study, conducted by lead researcher Dr. Stephanie Bridenbaugh, found that those participants with declines in cognition tended to walk more slowly than their memory-savvy counterparts, particularly when asked to perform a simple task — such as counting backward — while walking.

“Gait analysis can simply, quickly and objectively measure walking,” Bridenbaugh commented in a news release. “When problems emerge, this may provide early detection of fall risk and the earliest stages of cognitive impairment in older adults.”

Other doctors not directly involved with the research agreed that it can be difficult for older patients to perform tasks while walking.

“Someone with mild troubles trying to remember things, they might not be focused as much on walking,” said Dr. William Hu, assistant professor of neurology at Emory University. “I hear this all the time from patients: ‘I was rushing to go to the grocery store, and I left my purse at home.’ Asking a person to do another thing while walking really tests their cognitive reserve.”

Another set of researchers at the Mayo Clinic found similar results. The scientists looked at the changes in the pace and the stride of their patients over the span of 15 months. They found that these changes in walking were directly correlated to their memory loss.

Heather Snyder, senior associate director of the Alzheimer’s Association, reports that these studies “continue to build the evidence that there is a connection between gait and cognition.”

“Gait testing is an inexpensive way for us to observe potential changes,” Snyder said. “It can be done by any physician in their office, as a way to identify people that may need further evaluation.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Jul142012

American Academy of Dermatology: How to Choose Sunscreen 

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The American Academy of Dermatology says that, although people may know it's important to wear sunscreen when outdoors this summer, it's essential to know how to pick the correct sunscreen and how to apply it, Health Day reports.

Dermatologist Dr. Henry Lim said in an AAD news release that consumers may be overwhelmed by the large number of sunscreen products available, and as a result, may avoid using it altogether. This leads to sunburn and overexposure to the sun's ultraviolet radiation, he said.

The AAD suggests reading the label on sunscreen products and using only products that offer the following:

- Broad-spectrum coverage (the label may say "broad spectrum," "protects against UVA/UVB," or "UVA/UVB protection.")

- An SPF of 30 or above

- Water resistant

The AAD also recommends re-applying every two hours when outdoors, finding shade when your shadow appears shorter than you are and wearing protecting clothing like long sleeves, pants, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses.

Lim said it's best to apply sunscreen 15 minutes prior to going outside, and to re-apply every two hours or immediately after swimming or sweating. He also said the AAD recommends one ounce of sunscreen for the entire body, or enough to fill a shot glass, to be adequately protected.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio