FDA to Require Proof Antibacterial Soaps Work, Are Safe

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday appealed to manufacturers of antibacterial hand soaps and body washes to demonstrate that their products are safe for long-term daily use and more effective than plain soap and water in preventing illness and the spread of certain infections.

Under the proposal, if companies do not fulfill this requirement to demonstrate safety and effectiveness, their products would need to be reformulated or relabeled to remain on the market.

“I'm delighted the FDA have taken a position here and outlined a path forward,” said Dr. Stewart Levy, a microbiologist at Tufts University.

Waterless hand sanitizers, like Purell, are not included because they have different ingredients.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Americans Spending Too Much on Ineffective Vitamins and Supplements? 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new medical report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, warns $30 billion Americans spend every year on vitamins and mineral supplements should probably be spent elsewhere.  Researchers looked at past findings and concluded that vitamins and mineral supplements are ineffective in the general population who don’t generally have micronutrient deficiencies -- that’s the majority of supplement users in the U.S.

In one included study of 450,000 people, no clear benefit could be found with supplements regarding mortality, cardiovascular disease or cancer. In another study of over 5,900 men, no improvement in cognitive decline was found. And in yet another study of more than 1,700 men and women, no significant difference in the risk of a recurrent heart problem was noted.

Worse, beta carotene, vitamin E and possibly high doses of vitamin A supplements have actually been shown to be harmful and increase the risk of early death.

Despite the study's findings, Dr. Diane Birt, a leading nutritionist at Iowa State University, tells ABC News the findings don't apply to expectant mothers.

"It is very important to remember that multi-vitamin mineral supplements are recommended during pregnancy and this doesn't impact that recommendation at all," says Birt.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Father Hears Daughter’s Voice for First Time at Choir Show

Villa Duchesne High School/ABC News(ST. LOUIS, Mo.) -- Ken Stehle expected to see his 14-year-old daughter at her choir show, but he did not expect to hear her. Stehle has been deaf since birth.

His daughter Ashley was a surprise soloist at the Show Choir Christmas Concert at Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School in St. Louis, Mo., and thanks to an advanced level of power hearing aid technology he was able to hear his daughter serenade him.

“When Ashley came out, she dedicated it to her dad,” Brenda Stehle, Ashley’s grandmother told ABC News. Ashley was wearing a microphone and her father was wearing a remote mic bundle to receive her audio.

[ Watch the video here! ]

“He just closed his eyes and he had the biggest grin you ever seen in your whole life,” she said. “He was concentrating on hearing the sound of her voice.”

“Ken was just fascinated,” Brenda Stehle said. “He just kept saying, ‘Awesome.’”

“After Ashley finished her song, she busted out in tears and so did her dad,” Mrs. Stehle said.

The crowd gave Ashley a standing ovation.

Ken Stehle, 49, was able to hear his daughter sing because he received a Phonak Naida Q70 hearing aid the Friday before his daughter’s choir show on Dec. 8.

Rene Gifford, director of the cochlear implant program at Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, praised the Phonak Naida Q70 as cutting edge technology that has only become available in recent months.

“It’s the first time cochlear implant recipients have been able to take advantage of true Bluetooth technology without any conversion factor and is a much more convenient way to connect assistive listening devices,” she said.

Ashley’s immediate and extended family all gathered together for Ashley’s show. Mrs. Stehle said the show director came onstage at the end of the show and announced there would be a surprise for someone in the audience. That surprise was Ken.

“Ashley was not announced as a soloist prior to the concert, so it was a surprise in more ways than one,” said Elle Madras, from the communications department at Villa Duchesne. She estimates more than 350 people were in attendance.

Ashley was the last solo performance before the final ensemble number, Madras said.

“Ashley performed a twist on the 1960′s classic, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”, personalizing the lyrics for her family,” Madras said. “There was hardly a dry eye in the house.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Can Gold Leggings Really Reduce Cellulite?

File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Would you pay $200 for a pair of leggings? How about if those leggings claimed to reduce cellulite? And had 24-karat gold woven into the yarn? Suddenly, $200 for a pair of leggings doesn’t seem so pricey after all.

The so-called gold, anti-aging leggings are available from Proskins, a British company that makes high-end fitness apparel. The leggings themselves aren’t gold, but black.

According to the Web site, the compression leggings use gold “nanoparticles,” a “revolutionary new anti-aging beauty treatment” that “reduces the appearance of aging, skin cells increase Hyaluronic Acid production and therefore, the skin gets moisturized, avoids wrinkles and recovers its youth and elasticity.”

The leggings are selling so well that they are out of stock but available through a 14-day pre-order.

The leggings are part of a 24-karat-gold, anti-aging collection that also includes gloves and a mask.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Top Holiday Travel Anxieties Revealed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- ‘Tis the season to visit friends and family, and feel uncomfortable in someone else’s home for the duration of your trip.

Wouldn’t you just rather stay in a hotel? Of course! And if money weren’t an issue, the majority of people would do so, according to a new survey from Choice Hotels, a group that has a vested interest in people’s staying in hotels.

The unscientific survey of more than 1,200 travelers does highlight the pitfalls of bunking up with loved ones. The No. 1 anxiety of doing so is being awoken too early, followed by having to wait in line to use the bathroom.

More than 10 percent of respondents listed each of the following as anxieties:

  • Accidentally seeing a relative naked;
  • Eating a meal from a “not so great” cook;
  • Participating in uncomfortable family traditions (wearing ugly sweaters, etc.);
  • Kids getting into the gifts before they’re supposed to;
  • Getting stuck in long conversations with “odd” relatives;
  • Having to sleep on an air-mattress or on the floor;
  • Having to share a room with a sibling or a relative;
  • Getting into an argument with a relative.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Safety Tips for Shopping at Malls this Christmas

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A carjacking, which ended with a 30-year-old attorney dying after being shot in the head at a shopping mall in New Jersey, serves as a cautionary tale about safety at the nation’s retail centers as millions of people flood into malls to finish their holiday shopping.

“Malls seem like tightly-controlled and safe spaces for shopping, entertainment and dining. Yet they actually present great problems for those who are in charge of the safety and security of the retailers and customers,” according to a Rutgers University report on crime prevention at malls.

Several police departments and security firms have released tips in recent weeks about how best to remain safe at malls this holiday season.

  • Park in well-lit areas close to your destination. “Parking lots and structures are typically the most dangerous places at the mall,” according to security firm ADT. If shopping alone ask security personnel for an escort to your car.  Carry your keys in your hand to use as a weapon if necessary.
  • When entering your car, remember E.L.F.S. --  Enter the car, Lock the doors, Fasten seat belts and Scram, recommended the Monmouth County, New Jersey Sheriff’s Office in a statement.
  • Pick restrooms in well-lit and well-trafficked areas of the mall. Always accompany children to the restroom.
  • Be mindful of your surroundings and the things you’re carrying. Don’t overload yourself with packages or become distracted by your cell phone.
  • Always know where the closest exit is located in case of fire or another emergency.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Got Raw Milk? Pour It Down the Drain, Pediatricians Say

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The nation’s top pediatrician’s group issued a statement Monday against the consumption of raw milk and milk products from cows, goats and sheep, warning that these unpasteurized products are a well-known source of dangerous food-borne illness.

The new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) policy statement, which specifically advises pregnant women, infants and children to consume only pasteurized milk and milk products, also supports a ban on the sale of raw milk in the United States.  It appears in the current issue of the journal Pediatrics.

Today, only about 1 to 3 percent of all dairy products consumed in the United States are unpasteurized, according to the AAP.  Still, Dr. Jatinder Bhatia, a co-author on the policy statement and a professor and chief of the neonatology division at the Medical College of Georgia, said that there is no legitimate reason for consumers to choose raw milk.

“Why consume raw milk when the pasteurized product is safer and has no nutritional properties that have been altered or diminished?” Bhatia said. She added that the timing of the policy statement is due to a recent “movement in the Midwest...allowing sale of raw milk and the continued illnesses associated with non-pasteurized milk and milk products.”

Backing the AAP’s position is a wealth of data underscoring the risks of raw milk and its products.  According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 1998 through 2011 there were 148 outbreaks in the United States associated with raw dairy products. In total, this added up to 2,384 illnesses, 284 hospitalizations and two deaths.

More recently, a study last week from the Minnesota Department of Health suggested that more than one in six people who regularly consume raw milk or raw milk products could make themselves sick by doing so.

And these sicknesses can be deadly. The AAP notes in its statement that raw milk products can contain such bacteria as listeria, campylobacter, salmonella, brucella, and E.coli, all of which can lead to life-threatening illnesses including meningitis and blood-borne infections.  In pregnant women, the microorganisms in raw milk can even lead to preterm delivery, stillbirths and miscarriages.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventative medicine and infectious disease at Vanderbilt University who was not involved with the statement, applauded the move.  He noted that prior to widespread pasteurization of milk, raw dairy was to blame for a significant proportion of food borne illnesses among Americans, leading to hundreds of infectious outbreaks.

“From a public health standpoint, this continues to be a serious problem.  Each year we continue to have outbreaks in the U.S. associated with unpasteurized milk or milk product consumption.  These outbreaks are completely preventable,” he said.

Schaffner said these infections not only affect the consumer but also the individuals with whom they come into contact, since they can be passed from person to person and lead to larger outbreaks.

Pediatric nutritionist and director of the nutrition clinic at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Keith-Thomas Ayoob agreed the new policy statement is an important step.

“There’s a reason for pasteurization -- because it keeps milk safe,” Ayoob said.  “I don’t take chances.  [It's] tenuous at best and not worth the risk." 

"We should all be grateful for the pasteurization of milk.  Period,” he added.

The U.S. government has already taken some action against raw milk in the past.  In 1987, the Food and Drug Administration banned interstate commerce of raw milk products.  However, since there are no federal agencies that regulate and enforce milk sanitation within each state, the sales of these products are still legal in at least 30 states.

The demand for raw milk and raw milk products is predominantly among certain groups who believe there are health benefits from consuming the natural ingredients in unprocessed milk -- ingredients they feel become inactivated through the pasteurization process.  A few even claim that pasteurized milk is linked to autism, allergic reactions and asthma.  There is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sugar: The More You Eat, the More You Want

Matjaz Preseren/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Back in 1969, there was a novelty hit entitled “Sugar, Sugar” that had the singer crooning, “…You got me wanting you.” Well, new research sheds light on that desire.

In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers tracked the brain activity of more than 100 high school students while they drank chocolate-flavored milkshakes that were identical in calories but either high in sugar and low in fat, or vice versa.

The researchers found that while both kinds of shakes stimulated the pleasure centers in the brain, those that were high in sugar did so far more effectively.

The study found that sugar was such a powerful stimulus that it overshadowed fat, even when the two were combined in large amounts.

The study suggests that what really attracts individuals to such treats, and prompts them to eat much more than they know they should, is not the fat they contain, but the sugar.

“We do a lot of work on the prevention of obesity, and what is really clear not only from this study but from the broader literature overall is that the more sugar you eat, the more you want to consume it,” says Dr. Eric Stice, a senior research scientist at the Oregon Research Institute.

Dr. Stice says sugar appears to “drive compulsive intake.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Golfers with Sleep Apnea Can Use Oxygen to Improve Their Game

James_Thomas_Photo/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Golfers are always looking for ways to improve their game, whether it be a new set of irons or golf balls that claim to get greater distance.  But a just-released study shows players with the sleep breathing disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea can lower their golf handicap simply by getting more oxygen at night.

Sleep apnea is a condition that often causes those affected to stop breathing while they sleep.  It is a known risk factor for high blood pressure, cardiac disease, stroke and death.  OSA also has negative effects on memory, concentration, and executive function.

A new study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine compared 12 middle-aged golfers with OSA with 12 golfers without the condition through 20 rounds of golf over a six-month period.  During that time, those with sleep apnea used a facemask while sleeping to push oxygen into their lungs via a continuous positive airway pressure machine, or CPAP.

For average golfers with OSA who got treatment, the average decrease in golf handicap was 11.3 percent.  For those who were higher-skilled golfers -- those with a handicap lower than 12 -- the average decrease in golf handicap after treatment was 31.5 percent.

The study has no implications for golfers without OSA.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Opera Singer Overcomes Stroke that at First Left Him Speechless

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Two-year-old Gabriel's squeals filled the Metropolitan Opera lobby as he ran around its plush, red carpet beneath twinkling chandeliers.

"There he is," said the boy's father, 42-year-old bass singer Eric Jordan, looking around at the source of the noise and smiling.

Jordan's booming voice still holds traces of the stroke that rendered him speechless on the day Gabriel's cries kept him from dying in his sleep.

The Onset

Gabriel woke up most mornings and cried until his parents put him in bed with them, and the morning of Jordan's stroke was no different.  It was September 2012, and Jordan's wife fetched their crying child at 5:30 a.m.

But something was wrong.

"We all settled back down, but Eric never did," Jordan's wife, Christina Arethas, said.

Irritated, she faced him and said his name.

"At that point, he was not able to look at me.  He was not able to open his eyes," she said.  "I started really raising my voice, thinking maybe he's in a dreamlike state. I hit him across -- I slapped him across the face a couple of times."

None of it worked, so she put Gabriel in another room and went to talk to Jordan alone. That was when she heard a thud.

"As soon as I stood up, I felt faint," Jordan said.  "My right arm froze."

Arethas found Jordan on the floor, bleeding from his head and thrashing about as if trying to stand up.

"At this point, his eyes were open," Arethas said. "I said, 'Please, if you can just say anything, say something to me right now.'  And he couldn't."

She dialed 911 and medics rushed Jordan to New York Presbyterian Hospital.  There, doctors told her Jordan had had a stroke.

When Arethas got her first good look at him, she saw that the right side of his face was drooping.  Doctors peppered him with questions, but he couldn't answer any of them.

Arethas turned to a resident and asked, "Will he be like this?"

The resident answered, "Worst case scenario, yes."

"That was when the world came crashing in on me," Arethas said.

The Hospital

Jordan had an ischemic stroke, meaning that one of the arteries leading to his brain was blocked. The interrupted blood flow deprived Jordan's brain of oxygen, which caused cells to die. In Jordan's case, the affected part of his brain was the left hemisphere.

"That's a very critical part of the brain," said Dr. Maksim Shapiro, an interventional radiologist at NYU Langone who did not treat Jordan but specializes in using brain catheterization to stop strokes. "We speak with the left hemisphere."

According to the National Stroke Association, one in four stroke survivors experiences a language impairment called aphasia. This can manifest as difficulty in speaking, understanding speech or reading.

When Jordan woke up, having undergone a regimen of potentially life-threatening drugs and surgery, his wife told him he would need to cancel his upcoming gigs.

"He could not say one word," she said. "For a person who was so verbal, so gregarious, I mean, you could not shut him up before, he could not say one word. That was pretty disheartening."

Jordan thought to himself that he would be fine in a few days, but the stroke had left him with aphasia, which meant he had a hard time formulating thoughts into speech, and apraxia, which made it difficult for his muscles to form the words. His right vocal cord was initially paralyzed by the stroke, he said.

He feared that his opera days were over a mere two years after starting at his dream job: singing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

"I was like a cave man," he said. "It was a hard pill to swallow, the amazing reality that I cannot phonate well, cannot pronounce my Italian, German or Russian or that I cannot remember my music."

The Recovery

Jordan began therapy within the first few weeks of his stroke, but recovery was slow. He felt that he had an "iron tongue" and that it needed to be untied.

But singing involves different parts of the brain than speaking does, and he soon found that it was sometimes easier for him to sing than to speak.

"How ironic is it that for an opera singer like me to be a singer that cannot speak?" he said, before demonstrating by singing a few lines of a slow song called "Down in the Valley," pronouncing every word with care.

He speaks and sings every day to loosen his tongue.

At first, Jordan could only speak when he was especially emotional, accessing a "deep place," Arethas said. When she first told him he would have to learn to speak again, he paused and uttered a word she couldn't say in front of Gabriel.

"I've been told that's a different part of the brain that processes that type of communication," she said.

More than a year later, Jordan still sometimes trips over his words, but as he walks past singers and stagehands on their breaks, he speaks -- and sometimes sings -- almost as if nothing had happened.  It takes him longer to learn a role than it did before his stroke, but he can do it.

The first time Jordan needed to perform was just a little more than a month after his stroke, because another singer had jury duty.

"I was so scared," he said. "Because onstage -- this place where I wanted to work with all the people here for years -- I thought my future here was done.  Thankfully, it isn't."

He would soon perform a part in Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera with his wife, his parents and his doctor in the audience.

When Jordan becomes frustrated, Arethas reminds him of this performance.

"Because he had that victory, there were other victories along the way," she said. "That was one of the peaks on our roller coaster journey."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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