Less Housework Correlates with Weight Gain in Women, Study Suggests 

(Tom Morello/Thinkstock)(NEW YORK) -- Over the past 50 years the American workforce has changed. Many workers spend most of their jobs sitting down in front of a computer, and women have become a full part of the workforce. A new, and somewhat controversial, study proposes that this shift to a desk and away from heavy vacuum cleaners is causing American women to gain weight.

The study, published this February, relied upon an extensive archive of “time-diaries” from the American Heritage Time Use Stud. It found that back in 1965 women spent an average of 25.7 hours a week cleaning, cooking and doing laundry, but by 2010 that number had shrunk to an average of 13.3 hours per week.

“Those are large reductions in energy expenditure,” said Dr. Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

As the years went by women started to work more and spent more time watching, television, using home computers and other sedentary activities, and less time exerting themselves through hours of chores.

Chores became easier and took less energy, too, as technology advances such as gliding vacuums made housework less of an ordeal even when it was done.

Dr. Archer stressed that the study does not imply that women should spend more time in the kitchen or doing chores, rather that it just illustrates a change in lifestyle trends and the importance of staying active. He encouraged everyone to make an effort to be more active at home and in their daily lives by walking out to the mailbox, playing with a dog, and  just doing the little things that add up to burn calories and keep us fit.

“The data clearly shows,” Dr. Archer said, "that even at home, we need to be in motion."

 Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Girl with Rare Disease, Cystinosis, Can't Sweat

Katie Larimore(NEW YORK) -- Sarah Larimore, 7, didn't always like summer.

She suffers from a rare genetic metabolic disorder called cystinosis, which prevents her from sweating.  She lives in South Carolina, and can't stay in 80-degree weather for longer than 20 minutes, so during the summer she used to stay cooped up inside, her mother, Katie Larimore, told ABC News.

Last summer, her family built a swimming pool in their backyard.

"It was her first real, live outside summer," her mother said.  "She just stayed in the water for three months."

Sarah is one of at least 25 million Americans who suffer from rare conditions, according to the National Institutes of Health, which recognizes Thursday as Rare Disease Day.  The last day of February has been promoted since 2009 by the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) to increase awareness about the common needs of people with illnesses that not many others have.

People with a rare illness -- defined as affecting fewer than 2,000 people -- share common challenges: They have trouble getting an accurate diagnosis, finding treatment, and convincing insurance companies to pay for care, said Mary Dunkle, a NORD spokeswoman.

"Even though each disease is different, the challenges of living with a disease that's rare is pretty consistent," she said.

Of the 6,000 to 7,000 rare diseases recorded in the U.S., treatment options exist for only a few hundred of them, Dunkle said.  Treatment is more widely available than it was 30 years ago when NORD was founded, but there's a long way to go, the spokeswoman said.

Federal aid for people with rare illnesses is precarious, and it's often tough to persuade a pharmaceutical company to invest in treatment for a rare disease when there isn't a big payoff, Dunkle said.

Sarah, who loves reading and fashion as well as swimming, shares her diagnosis with about 500 Americans, according to the Cystinosis Research Network.  Cystinosis causes an amino acid, cystine, to accumulate in every cell of the body, damaging organs and blood cells.  An estimated 2,000 people suffer from the illness worldwide.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Heart Troubles Rare but Deadly in Young Athletes

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though relatively rare, a cardiac event that strikes a young person at practice or play is often deadly.  About 100 young people die every year playing organized sports, and cardiac arrest is the cause in half the cases, according to the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA).

Dr. Dominique Abrams, a cardiologist at Boston Children's Hospital, said cardiac conditions in young people typically fall into one of two categories.

The first, cardiomyopathies, involve some abnormality of the heart such as enlargement, thinning walls or scaring.  The second type is caused by rhythm disturbances.  Nothing appears wrong with the heart but it has a tendency to beat irregularly in some way.

Abrams said that at-risk children and young adults can experience a heart event any time but that exercise certainly increases the chances.

"Patients can be at home watching TV when it happens," he said.  "But we know that symptoms might be exacerbated during sports because their adrenaline is pumping, causing the heart to beat faster."

High school players of hard driving sports like basketball, football and hockey are not the only ones at risk either -- though their stories are the ones that usually make the news.  Abrams referenced a subtype of Long Q-T syndrome that's associated with swimming deaths.

"It's thought to be brought on by the 'diving reflex,' which triggers sudden changes of heart rate and may cause loss of consciousness -- an inherently dangerous occurrence in a pool," he said.

American Heart Association studies show that young black athletes have a greater incidence of cardiovascular death than whites.  And a Dutch study in the Journal of American Cardiology found that 68 percent of cardiac arrest cases during sports play were boys.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Debi Austin, Anti-Smoking Advocate Seen in ‘Voicebox’ Ad, Dead at 62

YouTube(NEW YORK) -- Debi Austin, the anti-tobacco advocate who appeared in the iconic “Voicebox” anti-smoking ad, died Friday following a 20-year battle with cancer, according her family. She was 62.

“True to Debi’s spirit, she was a fighter to the end and leaves a big hole in our hearts and lives. Debi will be remembered fondly by those who love her to be caring, courageous, very funny and always there to offer advice or lend a hand. She was passionate and outspoken about what she believed in and deeply touched all who knew her or heard her story,” Austin’s family said in a statement provided to ABC News.

Austin appeared in one of California’s most provocative anti-tobacco ads in 1996. It was titled “Voicebox.”

The ad ran in California, Salt Lake City, Utah, New York City, Idaho, Washington, Massachusetts and Hawaii.

In the ad, Austin talked about having her first cigarette when she was 13. But when she found out how bad it was she said she tried to quit but couldn’t.

“They (tobacco industry) say nicotine isn’t addictive,” Austin said as she picked up the cigarette and inhaled the smoke through an airhole in her neck. “How could they say that?”

Through the years, Austin also appeared in other TobaccoFreeCA ads including “Candle” and “Stages.”

“We are saddened by Debi’s death. She exemplified the real toll tobacco takes on a person’s body,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health, in a news release on the department’s website.

“Debi was a pioneer in the fight against tobacco and showed tremendous courage by sharing her story to educate Californians on the dangers of smoking. She was an inspiration for Californians to quit smoking and also influenced countless others not to start. We trust she will continue to touch those that hear her story, particularly teens and young adults. She will be greatly missed,” Chapman said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Vermont Mom Disfigured by Lye Attacks Gets Face Transplant

Jochen Sand/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- A Vermont mom, injured by a lye attack that left her disfigured and legally blind, has received a face transplant at the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Carmen Blandin Tarleton, a registered nurse and mother of two from Thetford, Vt., was injured in 2007 when her estranged husband broke into her home, attacked her with a baseball bat and doused her with industrial strength lye.

More than 80 percent of Tarleton's body was burned in the attack and she was placed in a medically induced coma for three months. Even though Tarleton, 44, endured more than 55 surgeries to treat her numerous chemical burns, she was left disfigured, blind and unable to move her neck.

"Despite our best efforts, Carmen was left severely disfigured and in constant pain. She would drool almost constantly," Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, the director of plastic surgery transplantation at Brigham and Women's Hospital, told reporters.

Pomahac spent 15 hours leading a surgical team of more than 30 members as they carefully transplanted facial skin, including the neck, nose, lips, facial muscles, arteries and nerves of the donor. Pomahac estimated that Tarleton would regain 75 to 80 percent of facial movement and would slowly regain feeling and motor functions in her face during the next six months to a year.
This is the fifth face transplant performed at the hospital.

Tarleton, who remains at the hospital recovering, thanked her doctors in a statement read to reporters by her sister Kesstan Blandin.

"I feel great appreciation and gratitude for the tremendous gift I've been given," Tarleton said in a statement. "We're all excited to move into this new chapter of our lives together."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Transgender 6-Year-Old Barred from Using Girls' Restrooms at School

Courtesy Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund(FOUNTAIN, Colo.) -- Coy Mathis, born a male triplet, has behaved like a girl since she was 18 months old. Since being enrolled at Eagle Elementary School in Fountain, Colo., the 6-year-old has presented as female and worn girls' clothing. Her classmates and teachers have used female pronouns to refer to her, and she has used the girls' bathrooms.

Everything was fine until December of 2012 when school officials told her parents she can no longer use the female facilities and ordered her to use the boys' or nurse's bathroom.

"We want Coy to have the same educational opportunities as every other Colorado student," said Kathryn Mathis, Coy's mother. "Her school should not be singling her out for mistreatment just because she is transgender."

Now Jeremy and Kathryn Mathis, with the help of the Transgender Legal and Defense Education Fund (TLDEF), have filed a complaint with the Colorado Civil Rights Division on behalf of Coy, alleging that the school has violated her rights.

 "We are hopeful we can resolve this quickly for Coy's sake," said TLDEF's executive director, Michael Silverman.  

The Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination against transgender students in public schools.

A letter from the school's lawyers explained the rationale behind the decision, saying, "The district's decision took into account not only Coy but other students in the building, their parents, and the future impact a boy with male genitals using a girls' bathroom would have as Coy grew older."

While other students and teachers do not notice that Coy has male genitals, the school said it feared as the child developed parents and students would become "uncomfortable."

Transgender youth typically face several challenges and discrimination, and are at a disproportionate risk for depression, suicide, substance abuse, HIV and sexually transmitted diseases, according to the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.

Coy's parents worry that the school's policy is setting their child up for stigma and bullying.

"We have five children and we love them all very much," said Kathryn Mathis. "We want Coy to return to school to be with her teachers, her friends, and her siblings, but we are afraid to send her back until we know that the school is going to treat her fairly. She is still just 6 years old, and we do not want one of our daughter's earliest experiences to be our community telling her she's not good enough."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Guidelines for Diagnosing Psychiatric Disorder May Overlook Physical Illnesses 

Keith Brofsky/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The addition of a newly-labeled psychiatric disorder called somatic symptom disorder to the Diagnostics and Standards Manual, or DSM-5, has fueled a debate among patients and advocacy groups who fear that broader and "looser" criteria may make it easier for doctors to dismiss patients as mentally ill when in fact they have a physical illness.

Somatic (or bodily) symptom disorder or SSD is characterized by symptoms that suggest physical illness or injury that are either "very distressing" or result in disruption in a person's functioning. The symptoms are also often accompanied by "excessive and disproportionate thoughts, feelings and behaviors," according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Critics worry that patients will be misdiagnosed as mentally ill and won't get treatment, affecting mostly those with chronic and difficult to diagnose neurological disorders and multi-system diseases like ME/CFS, ones that are poorly understood and can take years to get medical answers.

"A lot of people will be written off as crocks -- it's just in their head," said Dr. Allen Frances, who was chair of the task force that created the DSM-4 and professor emeritus of psychiatry at Duke University. "They won't get the medical work-up they need. A lot of times they diagnose it as depression and anxiety and they get stigmatized."

But Dr. Joel E. Dimsdale, chair of the committee that reviewed the SSD diagnosis and professor emeritus in psychiatry at University of California, San Diego disagrees, noting that the new SSD diagnosis replaces four somatic disorders that were "confusing" and rarely used by doctors.

The goal was to simplify the diagnosis, according to Dimsdale. One older diagnosis, somatization disorder, had a checklist of 37 symptoms and was modified three times. "Doctors throw up their hands and can't even keep the stuff straight," he said.

But critics like Frances argue the new diagnosis could "mislabel" 1 in 6 people with cancer and heart disease; 1 in 4 with chronic pain and irritable bowel; and will have an astounding false positive rate of 7 percent in the general population, based on projections from the DSM-5 working groups.

"I think they have gone overboard," said Frances.

Frances is worried about people like Bridget Mildon, a 36-year-old mother of three from Salmon, Idaho, who said she was misdiagnosed with "conversion disorder," an older classification of somatic disorder, when she actually had a rare neurovascular disorder that causes transient seizures or full-blown stroke.

"It took me almost five years to get a doctor to finally reevaluate and look at my symptoms from a different perspective," Mildon said.

But Dimsdale defends the updated DSM, which he said is more "patient friendly" than the older DSM-4, which was written 20 years ago.

“I see it as a useful working guide to help doctors diagnose and treat patients. If it doesn't work, we'll fix it in the DSM-5.1 or DSM-6," said Dimsdale. "Perhaps some people fear they will be labeled or mislabeled, but my perspective is that it's important to treat people who are suffering," he said. "That's what we are about."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Three Facts Families Should Know About Eating Disorders

David De Lossy/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Eating disorders aren’t your typical dinner table conversation.  However, studies suggest more people die of anorexia than any other mental health disorder. In a recent Twitter chat on eating disorders hosted by ABC News’ chief health medical editor Dr. Richard Besser, several other experts identified three important facts that families should know about eating disorders.

Anorexia, Bulimia Aren’t the Only Eating Disorders

While anorexia and bulimia are the most well-known eating disorders, tweeters pointed out that binge eating disorder and eating disorder not otherwise specified, or EDNOS, are actually more common.

Patients with EDNOS have symptoms similar to those with anorexia and bulimia, such as distorted thoughts about their bodies and unhealthy eating behaviors, but do not fully meet the strict definitions of either.

EDNOS are sometimes dismissed as “not being real eating disorders,” but they carry the same risks as anorexia and bulimia. The consequences of eating disorders discussed in the chat include physical risks and mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

It Often Takes a Family Member or Friend to Get Treatment Started

Denial is common in eating disorders. Patients fail to recognize the seriousness of low weight and do not always seek treatment on their own.

Many patients in recovery tweeted stories of family members and friends who recognized the symptoms of an eating disorder and intervened.  Warning signs discussed in the chat highlighted odd behaviors and rituals surrounding food, rather than weight loss. Look for a preoccupation with food, and inward emotional signals.

“Increasing isolation around meals is a red flag for eating disorders,” warned NYU Langone Medical.

‘Talk About It, Talk About It More’

“Talk about it, talk about it more,” tweeted Dawn Matusz, a patient who currently started treatment for binge eating disorder.  ”Bring it into the open, and it can no longer hide.”

Experts, advocates, and patients alike stressed the importance of talking about eating disorders, and the earlier, the better, as early intervention helps with recovery.  ”Err on the side of over-discussing,” tweeted Dr. Russell Marx of NEDA.

Even once a patient starts treatment, it is important to keep talking because family and social support are essential to recovery.  Eating disorders thrive in secrecy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


New Campaign Urges People to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and a new campaign is urging people to get tested for this fatal, but preventable disease.

The Jay Monahan Center for Gastrointestinal Health in New York City‘s “Make That Call” Campaign stresses the importance that people 50 and older get screened. The screening is simple, painless and can be life-saving, as early detection is crucial to surviving colorectal cancer.

Of cancers that affect both men and women, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States.  In 2013, 143,000 people will be diagnosed and 50,000 will not survive the disease. The statistics are startling, especially considering that the disease is preventable. The key is early detection through proper screening.

Director of the Jay Monahan Center, Dr. Felice Schnoll-Sussman stresses that everyone over the age of 50 should get screened, but that younger people are still at risk and should be mindful of the symptoms. If you are experiencing bloating, unexpected weight gain, change in bowel habits, or blood in your stool, it is time to make an appointment.

The Jay Monahan Center was co-founded by ABC’s Katie Couric, and named after her late husband who passed away after a battle with colon cancer in 1998. The clinic focuses on prevention, diagnosis, treatment and support for people suffering from gastrointestinal cancers.

For more information, visit www.makethatcall.org.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Miranda Kerr’s Supermodel Health Secrets

ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr is one of the most successful supermodels in the world.

The 29-year-old is a busy woman but manages to balance her demanding career with her family life, all while looking great.  She and her husband, actor Orlando Bloom, have a 2-year-old son, Flynn.

Kerr appeared on ABC's Good Morning America on Wednesday to talk about her secrets to looking and feeling great. She said planning is essential to juggling family and work.  She plans ahead for an entire year, works hard and takes time out for her son.

Kerr is diligent about eating right and exercising.  To de-stress at night, the model practices yoga, especially downward dog and shoulder stands.  Also, “To rejuvenate in the morning, swing your arms back and forth loosely and jump up and down, a jump for joy,” she says.

The model is also a certified nutritionist, and she discussed three superfoods that she says are beneficial:

Noni juice -- Traditional Polynesian medicine uses parts of the noni plant.  Noni is viewed as a tonic with many different uses and remains an intricate part of Hawaiian culture.

Goji berries -- People have used goji berries to treat many common health problems, including fever and hypertension.  The berries can be eaten raw, cooked or dried and can also be used in herbal teas, juices and wines.  Goji berries contain powerful antioxidants that might help to prevent disease and boost the immune system.

-- Chlorella is a kind of algae that grows in fresh water.  The entire chlorella plant is used to make nutritional supplements and medicine.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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