Many Die Within a Week of Receiving Hospice Care

iStock/Thinkstock(ALEXANDRIA, Va.) — Hospice care, which is intended to make people more comfortable as they near the end of life, often comes too late to be truly effective.

A report by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization says that a third of the 1.5 million patients who received this specialized treatment last year passed away within a week of receiving it.

In fact, half receiving hospice care were alive for less than 18 days from the point when they were first visited by health care workers trained in helping and comforting those whose conditions can't be improved by medicine.

Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the NHPCO, said in a statement, "We need to reach patients earlier in the course of their illness to ensure they receive the full benefits that hospice and palliative care can offer."

In one bit of brighter news, 66 percent of hospice care was provided at the places where people lived, whether it was their own homes, residential facilities or long-term care centers.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Researchers Suggest Working Night Shifts May Cause Decline in Cognitive Skills

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers in France say that working the night shift can hurt your brain, impairing cognitive abilities in the long run.

The study, published in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine, looked at over 3,000 employed and retired workers over a 10-year period. The researchers found that patients who had worked odd hours -- defined as either alternating morning and night shifts, working so late that they could not sleep before midnight, waking up before 5 a.m., or working pure night shifts -- had a significant decline in cognitive skills equivalent to 6.5 years in worsening cognition.

The decline included memory and attention span, researchers say. Additionally, those who had worked odd shifts for more than 10 years suffered even more. However, by stopping such shift work for at least five years, patients recovered some cognitive function.

Researchers say the data shows the lasting dangers of working odd shifts.

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Study Suggests Weight-Loss Surgery May Lower Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

Victor_69/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers in the United Kingdom believe they have found evidence that weight-loss surgery may help to cut a patient's risk of developing type 2 diabetes by up to 80 percent.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, looked at nearly 4,400 obese patients divided up evenly based on whether they had had weight-loss surgery. Seven years after having the surgery, only about 4.3 percent of those patients had developed type 2 diabetes. Of the individuals who had not had surgery, 16.2 percent developed type 2 diabetes in that same time span.

Researchers say the study shows a link between modern weight-loss surgery and reduced diabetes risk.

Diabetes was the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2010.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Nurse Kaci Hickox Agrees to Self-Monitor Until Nov. 10

ABC News(FORT KENT, Maine) -- Kaci Hickox, the nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa and fought a mandatory quarantine last week, will not need to participate in a hearing Tuesday to rehash whether she'll need to stay home for the next 10 days.

A judge in Augustus, Maine, ruled in Hickox's favor Friday, issuing a temporary order that she could leave her home and spend time in public spaces despite state officials' attempts to force her into mandatory quarantine and force her to take an Ebola blood test.

The matter was scheduled for a hearing Tuesday, but that hearing has been canceled because Hickox agreed to comply with the temporary order until her 21-day incubation period is up on Nov 10. She will need to participate in active monitoring, coordinate her travel with officials and report any symptoms if they appear.

"We just found common ground with the state of Maine," Hickox's lawyer, Norman Siegel, told ABC News. "You can find it. You just have to work hard and listen even if you disagree with them."

Hickox had been treating patients in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders before she returned to the United States and landed in Newark Liberty International airport on Oct. 24. Upon landing, she was questioned for six hours and quarantined in an isolation tent through the weekend.

On Monday, she was allowed to drive home to Maine. Once there, officials first suggested a voluntary quarantine and then sought to legally enforce it.

But Hickox said she wouldn't comply because the quarantine rules weren't "scientifically valid." She said she fought the quarantine for all the other health workers expected to return from West Africa in the coming weeks.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she can't spread Ebola -- which she's twice tested negative for -- if she doesn't have symptoms, and even then, others would need to be in contact with her bodily fluids to catch it.

"I am humbled today by the judge's decision and even more humbled by the support that we have received by the town of Fort Kent, the state of Maine, across the United States and even across the border," Hickox, 33, told reporters Monday from her home in Fort Kent.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


What You Need to Know About Movember and No-Shave November

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Welcome to November, the month where all your male friends and co-workers show up clean-shaven and baby-faced on Nov. 1 and look like western-movie villains or grizzly bears by Thanksgiving.

Growing out one's facial hair for 30 days is called "Movember" or "No-Shave November," and it's meant to raise awareness for cancer. It's also a chance for dudes to show off their 'staches, goatees, Fu Manchus, mutton chops and other furry face-warmers.

Here's your guide to the mustachioed month-long event:

What is Movember?

Movember began in Australia in 2003 to raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancers, according to the Movember Foundation, a nonprofit that raised nearly $21 million in 2013.

"We are all about the mustache and only the mustache," said Movember's U.S. Director Mark Hedstrom. "What we're asking them to do is participate by changing their appearance. What that fosters is a conversation."

From there, Hedstrom said men can explain why they're growing a mustache and start talking about men's health.

Now, it has campaigns in 21 countries, according to the organization. This year, the U.S. Movember campaign will also include men's mental health and men's fitness, Hedstrom said.

What is No-Shave November?

No-Shave November is a different organization that encourages people to donate what they would otherwise spend on hair grooming to the American Cancer Society.

Instead of being "all about the mustache" this group is a little more anything goes. Participants can grow mustaches and beards, but it also encourages women to maybe skip shaving their legs.

No-Shave November was founded on Facebook in 2009, but last year began a partnership with the American Cancer Society.

How can I participate?

To participate in Movember, start with a fresh face at the beginning of the month and "donate your face" until Nov. 30 by not shaving. You're like a fuzzy billboard for mean's health issues. You can raise funds, too. The Movember Project has donated more than 800 programs to date.

To participate in No-Shave November, give up one of your hair grooming practices and donate what you'd normally spend on it toward cancer research.

"Nearly everyone spends some amount of his or her hard-earned money on grooming, whether that's shaving, waxing, trimming or threading," according to No-Shave November's website. "If just for November, those individuals gave that cost (ranging from a few dollars for razors to a $100 salon visit) to a cancer charity instead, friends and family alone could pool together a sizable chunk of change to help cancer patients and their families."

Can't grow a mo'?

No problem. Not every man can grow a mustache, and that's OK.

"There's no such thing as a perfect mustache. Every mustache is perfect in its own unique way," said Adam Paul Cousgrove, the chief executive of the American Mustache Institute, which chooses an official Mustached Man of the Year annually. "They're the snowflakes of the face."

Women can participate in Movember by pushing the men in their lives to grow out mustaches and getting them to be active as part of Movember's new "Move" initiative.

"We're trying to practice what we preach," Hedstrom said. "Diet and exercise are key to a healthy lifestyle."

Or women can skip the salon visit (or leg shave or whatever) and participate in No-Shave November by donating that money to the American Cancer Society.

What do I need to know about prostate cancer?

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancers in the United States with an estimated 233,000 new cases in 2014, according to the National Cancer Institute. That means it accounts for 14 percent of all new cancer cases.

An estimated 29,000 people will die of prostate cancer this year, according to the National Institutes of Health, meaning it accounts for about 5 percent of all cancer deaths.

What do I need to know about testicular cancer?

The NIH estimates that 8,820 people will be diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2014, and 380 people will die from it.

What do I need to know about cancer in general?

An estimated 1,665,540 people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2014, according to the NIH. And an estimated 585,720 people will die of cancer.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease.

What if I want to keep my mustache afterward?

You would make the American Mustache Institute very happy.

"We're here to show that the mustache is here to stay," Cousgrove said. "We're a hearty, ruggedly good-looking people."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


'Post-Ebola Syndrome' Persists After Virus Is Cured, Doctor Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- West Africans fortunate to survive Ebola may go on to develop what's being called "post-Ebola syndrome," characterized by vision loss and long-term poor health, a doctor told the World Health Organization.

“We are seeing a lot of people with vision problems,” Dr. Margaret Nanyonga, a psycho-social support officer for WHO, said at a conference in Sierra Leone last week. “Some complain of clouded vision, but for others the visual loss is progressive. I have seen two people who are now blind.”

Approximately 50 percent of Ebola survivors she has treated in Kenema, Sierra Leone’s third-largest city, report declining health after fighting off the deadly virus, Nanyonga said. Besides deteriorating vision, they are complaining of body aches, chest pain, headaches and fatigue. This is consistent with symptoms experienced by survivors in previous outbreaks, she said.

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert who is a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee, said he was not aware of a post-Ebola syndrome but was not surprised that the health of West African Ebola survivors deteriorates after recovery.

“You can imagine when people recover from Ebola there will be a period of time when they are fatigued, particularly if they have led a rough existence of poverty and poor nutrition,” he said.

Though he was not aware of any survivors having vision problems, he speculated that the virus could attack the blood vessels that line the interior walls of the eyes. Without thorough eye exams -- which he doubted are happening in places like Sierra Leone -- he said he was hesitant to pin the reason for loss of vision on Ebola.

There are very few scientific reports looking at the ongoing health problems of those who are cured of Ebola. In one small study, a majority of 29 people who survived a 1995 outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo reported a significant amount of joint pain, muscle aches and fatigue. They were still experiencing deteriorating health up to a year and a half after recovery, the researchers found.

Support for survivors is gradually emerging, including a post-Ebola clinic in Kenema to deal with survivors’ psychological and social needs, according to WHO. Nanyonga said she had developed an assessment tool to track common and disabling symptoms.

“We need to understand why these symptoms persist, whether they are caused by the disease or treatment, or perhaps the heavy disinfection,” she said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Brittany Maynard, Who Had Incurable Brain Cancer, Ends Her Life

Design Pics/Thinkstock(PORTLAND, Ore.) — Terminally ill Portland, Oregon, resident Brittany Maynard, who became a symbol for the right-to-die movement, has ended her own life. She was 29.

Diagnosed with an incurable form of brain cancer and given less than six months to live, Maynard moved to Oregon to take advantage of the state's physician-assisted suicide law.

Maynard took lethal medication prescribed by a doctor and died late Saturday, "as she intended -- peacefully in her bedroom, in the arms of her loved ones," Sean Crowley, a Compassion & Choices spokesman, said in a statement.

"We're sad to announce the passing of a dear and wonderful woman, Brittany Maynard. She passed peacefully in her bed surrounded by close family and loved ones," Compassion & Choices, a non-profit that works to improve care and expand the choices for people at the end of their lives, said on its Facebook page.

Over the past few months, Maynard and her husband, Dan Diaz, have used the time to complete the sick woman's bucket list that included visiting the Grand Canyon.

Maynard has also had to deal with criticism from those who believed she had no right to end her life. However, she told People magazine last month, "For people to argue against this choice for sick people really seems evil to me. They try to mix it up with suicide and that’s really unfair, because there’s not a single part of me that wants to die. But I am dying."

Maynard's final message on Facebook was as follows, "Goodbye to all my dear friends and family that I love. Today is the day I have chosen to pass away with dignity in the face of my terminal illness, this terrible brain cancer that has taken so much from me…but would have taken so much more. The world is a beautiful place, travel has been my greatest teacher, my close friends and folks are the greatest givers. I even have a ring of support around my bed as I type. ...Goodbye world. Spread good energy. Pay it forward!”

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A Fifth of Adults Say They Live with Chronic Pain

iStock/Thinkstock(SPOKANE, Wash.) — Chronic pain is an unpleasant way of life for nearly one in five adults in the U.S.

Study author Jae Kennedy, a researcher at Washington State University in Spokane, polled 35,000 households to learn that 39 million people have to deal with persistent pain each day.

Kennedy did not include adults who complain about arthritis or back pain because it's often not constant.

That still left 19 percent of the adult population with pain so serious that a majority said it was either constantly present or even "unbearable and excruciating" at times.

Most of those feeling chronic pain are people 60 to 69; women; the obese or overweight; people who were hospitalized during the past year; and those who claimed their health was fair or poor.

What's more, Kennedy says that persistent physical discomfort can lead to psychological distress as well.

"Going forward, it will be important to track changes in rates of persistent pain within the U.S., and compare these rates to other countries with different health care systems," Kennedy said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Marijuana Reform Supported by Most in High School

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A survey of high school seniors found that most 18 year olds want marijuana reform.

According to the study, published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, nearly one-third of students surveyed felt marijuana should be entirely legal, and nearly three in 10 say that pot possession should be treated as a minor violation.

The survey included 12,000 students between 2007 and 2011. Researchers did find those more likely to be in favor of legalization were black, liberal and urban students while women, conservatives, religious students and those with friends who disapprove of marijuana use were less likely to support legalization.

Interestingly, nearly 17 percent of those students who had never used marijuana before were in favor of legalization.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Staying Home Becoming More of a Reality for Older Americans

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — If given the choice, most senior citizens would prefer to remain in their own homes even if they become disabled than having to reside in assisted-living or long-term care facilities.

That preference is becoming more feasible, according to the 2013 survey by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.

In a poll of 618 local service providers, 70 percent say they offer programs to help the elderly stay at home, which is also referred to as "aging in place." Just six years ago, fewer than a third of providers offered this service.

The federal government is cognizant that the older population will grow dramatically as more Baby Boomers pass the 65-year-old threshold.

One way to help seniors continue a normal, independent way of life is the creation of supportive communities that assist them in their daily needs.

Meanwhile, when an older person returns home from a hospital stay, local providers partner with private health-care companies and managed-care providers to ensure a home is safe from hazards in an effort to reduce the chances of falls.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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