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Tuesday
May242016

New Insights into the Importance of Breakfast

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Do you need to eat breakfast every single day?

For decades, the conventional wisdom has been that eating breakfast kick starts one's metabolism.

A new op-ed in The New York Times turns that idea on its head. The author, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, writes, “Our belief in the power of breakfast is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies.”

In the column titled, “Sorry, There’s Nothing Magical About Breakfast,” Carroll writes that breakfast has “no mystical powers” and should simply be eaten if a person is hungry after waking up.

ABC News Chief Women’s Health Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said Tuesday on Good Morning America that Carroll is correct that breakfast is not a one-size-fits-all meal.

“This concept that your body needs to eat as soon as you’re vertical because it’s in a fast, that is a complete myth,” said Ashton, who recently earned a master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University.

“From a medical and nutritional standpoint, we have to understand, the body doesn’t really enter a fasting mode until you’ve been without food for like 36 or more hours,” Ashton said. “Your liver is always supplying glucose into your bloodstream so this is an individual preference.”

Ashton said the studies that have linked breakfast to weight and good health were based on association and not causation -- two different measures in scientific study.

Ashton said her personal preference is to eat in the morning. She usually goes for eggs on Wasa toast, Greek yogurt with Chia seeds or a homemade smoothie.

She has similar advice for her patients.

“I say, ‘Look, if you’re going to make bad choices because you’re ravenous and you don’t eat breakfast, then you should eat breakfast, but it should be smart. It should be simple. It should be sustainable,’” Ashton said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
May242016

Your Body: The Health Benefits of Coffee

TongRo Images/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

If you can't function without your morning coffee, you might be doing more than perking up your energy.

A new study reveals drinking coffee -- even decaf -- can greatly cut your risk of colorectal cancer.

According to researchers at the University of Southern California, a study of more than 5,000 people proved that drinking coffee boosted the chances of not being diagnosed with a deadly disease -- and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.

I've been convinced of the overall health benefits of coffee for years. But it's worth noting that this latest study was based on observation, not cause and effect, so we still need to figure out why and how coffee seems to be good for our health.

On another note: If you're pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no more than 200mg of caffeine a day.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

VA Secretary Under Fire Comparing Veteran Wait Times to Amusement Park

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald on Monday likened the significance of measuring the amount of time it takes veterans to receive healthcare from the department to waiting for rides at Disney parks, an attempt to downplay the value of the figures, which attracted widespread criticism from department critics and veterans' organizations.

"We should be measuring the veterans' satisfaction. I mean, what really counts is how does the veteran feel about their encounter with the VA," McDonald said to reporters at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. "When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what's important?"

"What's important is what's your satisfaction with the experience," he continued. Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

According to department data, as of May 1, patients wait an average of seven days for primary care, 10 days for specialty care and four days for mental health care. The department drew fire two years ago when a whistleblower said that 40 veterans died waiting up to 21 months for care.

The head of the VA at the time, Eric Shinseki, resigned.

The comments were set upon immediately by politicians and advocacy groups.

"You can’t compare veteran healthcare to a tourist’s experience," House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff Miller, R-Florida, said in an interview with ABC News, adding that he still supports McDonald.

"There's no question that Secretary McDonald still has my confidence, but he has got to quit singing the song of the status quo like he has done in many instances on accountability,” Miller continued.

The American Legion also took issue with the comments.

“The American Legion agrees that the VA Secretary’s analogy between Disneyland and VA wait times was an unfortunate comparison because people don’t die while waiting to go on Space Mountain,” National Commander Dale Barnett said in a statement.

McDonald, an Army veteran, was appointed and confirmed in 2014 amid efforts to reform VA care and reduce waiting times after reports that agency officials had doctored waiting time records, replacing Shinseki.

Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, sent a letter to McDonald Monday afternoon, criticizing the secretary for exhibiting "a severe lack of judgement drawing into question your ability to provide accountability within your agency."

The VA said in a statement that it takes the duty of serving veterans "seriously."

"We know that Veterans are still waiting too long for care. In our effort to determine how we can better meet Veterans’ needs, knowing that their satisfaction is our most important measure, we have heard them tell us that wait times alone are not the only indication of their experience with VA and that’s why we must transform the way we do business," the agency said in a statement.

"We have learned that figures measuring the wrong metric can cause unintended consequences and confusion like the 14 day measure back in 2014 that was central to employees managing to a metric rather than to the real need of our patients."

The agency says that it is the only healthcare system that publicly shares wait times.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

Just 5% of Terminally-Ill Cancer Patients Fully Understand Prognosis, Study Finds 

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Just a fraction of terminally-ill cancer patients fully understood their prognosis according to a new small study published today in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cornell University and Weill Cornell Medicine followed 178 cancer patients who were determined to be terminally ill. They interviewed each patient to see if they understood the gravity of their disease and their future prognosis.

Patients were asked what stage cancer they had, their current health status, how long they expected to live and if they had recently had a life-expectancy discussion with their doctor. Just 5 percent of the patients accurately answered all four questions about their disease and prognosis correctly. Additionally 23 percent of patients had a both recent and previous discussion about their life-expectancy with their doctor, according to the study.

Holly Prigerson, co-author and Director of the Center for Research on End of Life Care at Weill Cornell Medical Center, said it was a "shock" to see how few of the patients fully understood their prognoses. Prigerson said in some cases patients may not "hear" a terminal diagnosis if their physician avoids being blunt about their life expectancy or lack of treatment options.

"Our point is a lot of them don’t want to know, but they need to know basic information about the disease and illness and treatment options," said Prigerson told ABC News.

She emphasized that doctors themselves have a hard time telling a patient there's nothing left that can save his or her life, but patients should be given all information so they can make better decisions.

"It’s a difficult topic," said Prigerson. "Have patients understand, if that they are being offered treatment, it’s not a cure. And they really have months not years to live."

Prigerson said previous studies have dispelled the idea that terminal patients who are told the truth fare worse than other patients who aren't given full information about their conditions.

Dr. Barbara Daly, director of our clinical ethics program, at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, explained that these end-of-life conversations are difficult since some patients find the information itself "threatening."

"When you look at how people deal with information, some people deal with it by wanting more and more information," said Daly. "Some people deal with it and they see it as a threat in a sense so they don’t hear it."

Daly also said that some doctors speak in medical terms that can be confusing for a patient.

"It takes a high level of skill to talk to people…to present it in a way where it’s understandable," said Daly. "Doctors...they literally forget how to talk like a normal person."

Daly said some medical centers are now using a designated person, such as a social worker or nurse practitioner, to talk to patients so that they fully understand their diagnosis and can get more time to talk about their disease.

Although the study didn't focus on finding a solution, the authors did come to the unsurprising conclusion that the patients who recently had an end-of-life conversation with the oncologist had a better understanding of their illness than others who didn't have this conversation. Daly said patients can take steps to ensure they understand their overall prognosis by bringing a family member to appointments and asking the doctor point blank questions.

"If the patient him or herself is comfortable saying 'Tell me how long you think I have to live?' or 'Tell me if you think the treatment is going to help?'" they will get better information, Daly said. "If we’re going to help people, it's part of the whole movement to get people to plan for their healthcare...to make their wishes known."

Due to the limited nature of the study the findings may not be generalizable for a larger population.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

VA Hospital Grants Last Wish to Dying Vietnam Vet

Lupe Gonzalez/South Texas Veterans Health Care System(SAN ANTONIO) -- A Vietnam War veteran's last request to see his beloved horses was granted by the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital in San Antonio.

Roberto Gonzalez, from Premont, Texas, was drafted in 1970 and shot within four months of serving in Vietnam, Lupe Hernandez of the South Texas Veterans Health Care System told ABC News Monday. The resulting injuries left Gonzalez paralyzed.

"That did not stop Mr. Gonzalez from his passions, ranching and horses," Hernandez said. "He was the only paralyzed race horse trainer in Texas. He trained and raced horses for 30-40 years."

Hernandez continued: "Because he knew that the end was near and he would not be going home again, he requested through his wife that he see his horses one last time. His family brought two horses to the Spinal Cord Injury Center at the Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital."

Gonzalez's horses "Sugar" and "Ringo" were able to bring comfort to the vet, who Hernandez said is in very critical condition right now.

Gonzalez was one of the first patients at the VA Hospital when it first opened in 1974, Hernandez said.


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Monday
May232016

Teen with Muscular Dystrophy Walks to Receive High School Diploma 

ABCNews.com(BEARDEN, Ark.) -- A 19-year-old from Arkansas who has been in a wheelchair since last year stood up and walked at his high school graduation as his classmates, friends and family gave him a standing ovation.

Doug Haynes, of Bearden, Arkansas, set walking at his school’s May 20 graduation ceremony as his top goal after a surgery last November to treat the muscular dystrophy he has had since age 12 left him unable to walk.

“Doug is a very determined guy,” his mom, Robin Doherty, told ABC News. “He faces things head on and just attacks it.”

Haynes has undergone hours of physical and occupational therapy daily since the surgery, all while maintaining his course work so he could graduate on time. He told only his family, one classmate and the school’s principal about his plan to take his first steps to receive his diploma.

“If he got scared or nervous, we didn’t want people expecting it,” Doherty explained. “When they stood him up, I thought, 'Okay, he’s really going to do this.'”

Haynes was helped out of his wheelchair and across the stage to receive his diploma by his physical therapist. A classmate moved his wheelchair to the end of the stage.

The crowd inside the auditorium where the graduation was held gave Haynes a standing ovation. Most of them knew Haynes from when he was a boy and had watched him deal with muscular dystrophy.

“His town has rallied around him and provided so much support and become a big family for him,” said Cheryl Tucker Carlin, a family friend who captured the video of Haynes walking and posted it on Facebook.

Doherty described the moment as a “roller coaster of emotions” and said her son nearly got caught up in the crowd’s reaction as well.

“He said, ‘Mom, when they stood up I almost lost it,’” Doherty recalled of Haynes, who plans to start at a local work program now that he has graduated.

 Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

Tortoise Burned in Fire Gets Custom 3D Printed Shell

Courtesy Animal Avengers(NEW YORK) -- A tortoise has a second chance in life after a team of designers in Brazil custom-made a 3D shell for the reptile, who was badly burned in a fire.

The Animal Avengers, the animal rescue group that saved the tortoise, consists of a 3D designer (Cicero Moraes), four veterinarians (Roberto Fecchio, Rodrigo Rabello, Sergio Camargo and Matheus Rabello), and a dental surgeon (Paul Miamoto). The group combines technology with members' love for animals to create innovative ways to help maimed creatures. They have already saved seven animals that would have been euthanized, Moraes told ABC News.

"The tortoise Freddy was found alongside a road in early 2015. It had been the victim of a fire and its hull caught fire, losing 85 percent of its structure," Moraes said.

Freddy was taken to the vet Rodrigo Rabello, part of the Animal Avengers, in Brasilia, Moraes said.

Moraes explained that the tortoise was named Freddy because after the burn her "back looked like the face of Freddy Krueger."

Moraes said the process for printing a 3D tortoise shell is "relatively simple."

The 3D designers took photographs of Freddy and a healthy tortoise, and then used computer programming to design a custom prosthetic hull that was printed out, layer by layer, from a 3D printer. The prosthetic hull was then surgically attached to Freddy. An artist even hand-painted the outside of the shell so that it blended in with nature.

Moraes said his group had previously created a 3D printed toucan beak, goose beak, parrot beak and macaw beak.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

#MyDepressionLooksLike: Twitter Users Share Their Stories with Hashtag

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Depression is one of the most common mental disorders, yet many people mask their symptoms or isolate themselves rather than share their mental health struggles publicly. But on Twitter, users are aiming to combat that isolation with the new hashtag #MyDepressionLooksLike, which is being used to share stories about depression.

Thousands of users have used the trending hashtag to share powerful stories about how their lives are affected and shaped by depression. It's an issue that remains a problem with an estimated 15.7 million of U.S. adults grappling with a depressive episode in 2014, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Some users write they are incapacitated by deep feelings of depression or anxiety. Others write about painful moments when they masked the depression in a smiling selfie or when they were out among friends.

Mary Alvord, a Maryland-based psychologist and director of the psychotherapy practice Alvord, Baker & Associates, told ABC News social media can be a powerful tool to help combat the stigma of mental illness and to inform people.

"For the most part the message, my message to teens [in treatment] is you’re not alone," Alvord told ABC News Monday. "I think social media platforms, while they can certainly be used in a negative way, they also have the potential to really help."

Alvord said that even though more attention is being paid to mental disorders like depression, many people don't understand what a depressive person looks like.

"I think people assume that depressives go around and talk about how sad they are," said Alvord, who explained that isolation and irritability are major signs of depression that are often overlooked. "Irritability is often a sign with depression that people don’t think about. It’s often associated with agitation and anger."

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

Medical Experts Warn of 'Dormant Butt Syndrome'

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's yet another reason to get up off of that couch.

Ohio State University researchers are warning of a new ailment they call "Dormant Butt Syndrome."

"It basically refers to the gluteus-maximus -- or the glute muscles -- just not functioning as efficiently as they should," says Dr. Chris Kolba, a physical therapist at Ohio State University's Wexner Medical Center.

Kolba says the muscles in your behind are meant to support the rest of you and be a shock absorber. But when those muscles are too weak, the rest of your body tries to pick up the slack, which can cause back, hip and even knee pain.

The cure, he says, is to stay flexible and keep moving.

"Stretching the front of your thigh, stretching your hip flexor and then doing exercises to specifically activate the glutes and the lateral hips as well," Kolba explains.

And avoid sitting too long or sleeping in the fetal position.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
May232016

Girl, 10, Pens Handwritten Petition Asking Magazines to Diversify Their Images

Courtesy of Glennon Doyle Melton(NEW YORK) — A mother, who says she has battled bulimia and struggled with body issues since childhood, was shocked when her 10-year-old daughter created a handwritten petition asking magazines to diversify their images.

Author Glennon Doyle Melton wrote in her now viral blog post about the moment her daughter Tish first approached her, asking: "Mama, the other girls are all skinny. Why am I different?"

Melton, 40, continued, "I stared at her and silently lost my mind. Ten is when I noticed my differentness, too. Ten is when I decided there was something wrong with me and became bulimic."

"The funny thing is I actually speak and write and talk about this kind of stuff a lot but in the moment when I really needed to have the words, it just all escaped me for a minute," Melton told ABC News.

Still, Melton eventually found the words and had a two-hour discussion about body image.

And after a quick stop at the bookstore, where she caught Tish staring at a magazine rack featuring thin blonde models, Melton realized that their discussion had helped Tish understand because soon Tish was yelling from her room, asking how to spell the word "petition."

As it turned out, Tish had handwritten a petition, saying "that magazines should not show beauty is most important on the outside. It is not. I think magazines should show girls who are strong, kind, brave, thoughtful, unique and show woman of all different types of hair and bodies."

Courtesy of Glennon Doyle Melton"All women should be treated equally," her petition concluded.

Melton said reading the petition was a moment of "utter joy."

"Girls either get sick or angry," she said. "You can take it internally and feel shame and feel like it's your problem and then get sick or you can see it as the world's problem and then you get angry. If we can raise a generation of girls who get pissed about it, things may change."

The mother of three also said she wants to encourage moms to talk to their daughters about the images they're consuming from different types of media, including magazines.

"Most of the mothers I talk with have the same body image problems, which is why it's so tricky. It's like, 'How do I talk to my daughter about this when I am this?' But we don't have to have it figured it out before we teach it," Melton said.

Melton added that Tish already has a few handwritten signatures on her petition — five and counting.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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