Review Category : Health

Healthcare Nightmare for San Bernardino Terror Victims

ABC News(SAN BERNARDINO, Calif.) — The survivors of an ISIS-inspired terrorist attack that left 14 dead and 22 injured in San Bernardino, California say that they still struggle to receive medical treatments despite assurances from the county that their care would be expedited.

The San Bernardino Survivors Speak Out support and advocacy group said in a statement on Friday that the county “has failed to expedite the workers comp process,” and has been slow in providing information to a firm that it hired last month to accelerate the process.

Amanda Gaspard, who has struggled to get a surgery despite the fact that she still had the shrapnel of two bullets embedded in her leg, said that her frustrations with the bureaucracy and denials had added to her suffering over the past year.

“They do not want to pay for it,” she told ABC News last month. “I am in pain every single day.”

Her surgery was approved shortly after she spoke out.

Sally Cardinale and Ray Britain, who both survived the attack, said in December that medications were regularly being denied.

“These are people that were shot. A lot of the things that we’re talking about — we’re talking about people having to fight for surgeries, for physical therapy to try and learn to walk again,” Britain said.

On Dec. 19, San Bernardino County CEO Greg Devereaux sent a letter to the survivors saying that IWCC had been hired to “help expedite your workers’ compensation cases,” and that he expected the firm to contact injured employees or their lawyers by Dec. 29, the group said.

But as of Friday, according to the group, some of the survivors have still not heard a word from IWCC.

The group also claims that on Jan. 5, an employee of IWCC “claimed that the County had taken awhile to approve sharing file information and thus she was only about half way through the list,” and that, “she was running into road blocks and hurdles with helping the survivors.”

In a phone call with ABC News, a spokesman for IWCC, Harold Anderson, “cannot comment at all” on the claims, and he would not say how many of the survivors had been contacted.

San Bernardino County did not immediately respond to ABC News request for comment.

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Nutella Maker Fights Back Against Cancer-Causing Claims

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The maker of Nutella is fighting back against a finding by food safety officials in Europe that palm oil used in Nutella’s chocolate-hazelnut spread could pose a potential cancer risk.

“Ferrero wants to assure its consumers that Nutella and other Ferrero products that contain palm oil are safe,” Ferrero, the Italian company behind Nutella, told ABC News in a statement Thursday.

Ferrero has been defending its popular Nutella product since a report from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said palm oil can create carcinogens when processed at temperatures above 393 degrees, as is the case with Nutella.

The company described to ABC News the steps it says it takes to lessen any potential risks from processed palm oil.

“When palm oil, produced and processed to minimalize the presence of these contaminants, is refined correctly, it contains a lower level of contaminants than other vegetable oils that have been treated at excessive temperatures,” the statement read. “This case applies to the palm oil used by Ferrero, who for years has been able to significantly reduce the levels of contaminants in its palm oil compared to conventional palm oils available on the market, similar to the levels found in other vegetable oils that have been processed properly, in line with EFSA’s parameters.”

“This is due to careful harvesting, from the squeezing in the quickest possible time to the processes and manufacturing at the lowest possible temperatures,” the statement continued. “We manage all technological-productive factors with the aim to reduce the duration and the temperatures of the processes, thus minimizing the risks of possibly developing or increasing 2MCPD, 3MCPD or GE. Furthermore, our Quality Assurance and Process Control Systems allow us to constantly monitor such factors and guarantee the food safety of our products to the consumer.”

The EFSA report, first released in May, said that more study is needed on the risk of palm oil processed at high degrees.

The company released a commercial in Italy late last year to assure customers the product is safe.

Palm oil is found in a variety of processed foods, from margarine to instant noodles and whipped topping, according to Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor.

“If you have a diverse diet, you’re not going to be taking in too much of [palm oil],” Besser said Friday on ABC’s Good Morning America.

The current research on a possible connection between palm oil and cancer has been conducted only on animals, according to Besser.

“There have been no studies to show a palm oil connection to cancer in humans,” he said.

Officials from The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Besser they are monitoring research on the effects of palm oil in processed foods.

“I talked to the FDA yesterday, they said they’re aware of these studies but from their perspective palm oil is safe to be used in foods,” Besser said. “They’ll continue to look at the evidence.”

When it comes to eating Nutella, Besser advised treating it as an occasional food due to its higher sugar content.

“It should not be an everyday food,” Besser said. “It is not a breakfast food.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Your Body: Life Expectancy Falls for First Time in 20 Years

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

American life expectancy has fallen, albeit slightly, for the first time in more than two decades — and it could be our fault.

The death rates for most of the top killers have increased, including heart disease, strokes, diabetes, drug overdoses and accidents. Researchers say one of the driving forces may be obesity.

Here’s what you can do to help extend your life:

  • Address your stress. Stress is a silent killer and implicated in everything from substance abuse to high blood pressure and heart disease.
  • Make this year the year of waste management. Getting your body weight in the healthy range is one of the most important life extenders there is.

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Make Your Gut Disappear with Harry Potter Themed Yoga

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — Two sisters from Austin, Texas have come up with a workout that’s positively magical: a Harry Potter-themed yoga class.

Nerdist reports certified yoga instructor Isabel Beltran and her sister Ximena Larkin already staged a class called Pints & Poses, held in Beltran’s boyfriend’s Circle Brewing Co. brewery.

However, the two sisters used the location to create the magical routine, complete with wands for participants, and Hogwarts-inspired poses like Slytherin cobra, and the Reverse Wizard.

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Middle Schoolers in NY Using 3-D Printer to Create Prosthetic Hand for Child in Need

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) — These middle school students on Long Island, New York, are quite literally lending a helping hand.

Since late November of last year, a group eighth-grade students from Howard B. Mattlin Middle School have been working nearly every day with a 3-D printer to create a prosthetic hand that will be donated to a child in need.

“They love that they are a part of something that’s going to make a difference and something they never thought would be possible,” said Melissa Goscinski, an art teacher at the school who spearheaded the program.

Goscinski told ABC News Thursday that her kids “use almost all their free time in between classes, before school and during lunch” just to work on the project.

“They have really taken ownership of this, and the great thing is that when they run into problems, they don’t give up,” she said. “They talk to each other and work together to figure it out on their own. They’re really developing great problem-solving skills.”

Goscinski’s students are making the hand as part of an online collaborative project called the Prosthetic Kids Hand Challenge.

The project’s website
provides information about what materials are needed to create the prosthetic hands as well as simple video tutorials on how to put them together.

The detailed but easy-to-follow instructions on the site have empowered even young children to create prosthetics, according to Chris Craft, the project’s founder.

More than 550 groups have signed up, and the project has received more than 350 hands since it started last year, Craft told ABC News Thursday.

The hands are donated to individuals who contact Craft as well as various nonprofits around the world, Craft said.

Recipients of the hands are featured on the project’s social media pages.

Goscinski said she is not sure yet who may receive the hand that her students are making, but, nonetheless, her eighth-graders are excited to make more and get more groups of students involved.

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Bacteria Yield Clues for Woman’s Cause of Death 800 Years Ago

Gebhard Bieg(MADISON, Wis.) — A woman’s post-mortem was 800 years in the making, with “ancient” bacteria providing the critical clue for her likely cause of death, and offering a tantalizing glimpse into the lives of our forebears in the Near East.

In the 800-year-old remains of a Byzantine woman found in Turkey, in what used to be Troy, an archaeologist discovered some nodules the “size of strawberries” — leading to initial speculation that the woman died of tuberculosis. But the story turned out to be much more complex.

Researchers from multiple institutions, including McMaster University in Canada and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, were able to extract “ancient” bacteria from the nodules, revealing a likely cause of death that was entirely different, according to findings published this week in the science journal eLife.

Co-author Dr. Caitlin Pepperell, an expert on the evolution of pathogens and a professor of medicine and medical microbiology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said after seeing the “chalky and white” nodules, researchers initially suspected the woman had died from tuberculosis.

“When tuberculosis affects the lungs they can cause calcified lesions,” Pepperell told ABC News.

However, when they opened up these nodules, they found preserved and fossilized tissue that did not appear to have signs of tuberculosis infection. She and her colleagues then worked with a specialist to extract and read “ancient” bacteria.

They found these fossilized nodules had bacteria far different from the bacteria that causes tuberculosis.
“We got these reads from these bacteria and at that point we knew it was not TB. It was something else and the job was to figure out what it was,” Pepperell said.

Their work was complicated by the fact that a large amount of DNA on the remains is from foreign bodies. Additionally, they had to examine the bacteria for signs it was from the same era as the remains and not a recent addition.

“DNA becomes damaged in a predictable way over time. You look for those damage patterns,” to find the ancient DNA, Pepperell said.

Further testing revealed strains of two different types of bacteria called Staphylococcus saprophyticus and Gardnerella vaginalis, which pointed to the woman dying of a serious infection — possibly related to the urinary tract or reproductive system.

But they found a big missing piece of the puzzle when they discovered DNA likely from a male fetus.
“What clinched it was that we got Y-chromosome data,” Pepperell said, referring to the chromosome found only in males. “I had always been suspicious of a pregnancy-related infection … because they were an incredibly important cause of death in women in that time and place.”

The presence of the Y chromosome would point to an infection in the placenta involving both of the found bacteria, she said. Immune cells from both the woman and the male fetus would be present in trying to fight the infection, explaining the presence of Y-chromosome DNA.

Pepperell, along with her fellow researchers, now theorize that the woman died after contracting a serious infection called chorioamnionitis that affected her placenta, amniotic fluid and other membranes around the fetus.

As a result of finding this specific strain of the Staph bacteria, Pepperell said researchers understand a little bit more about how people of the Byzantine era lived and died.

“The strain from Troy belongs to a lineage that is not commonly associated with human disease in the modern world,” Pepperell said in a statement.

She pointed out that many people of this era lived in close quarters with their livestock.

“We speculate that human infections in the ancient world were acquired from a pool of bacteria that moved readily between humans, livestock and the environment,” she said.

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Middle School Principal in Iowa Shaves Head to Support Bullied Student

Thinkstock/iStock(PACKWOOD, Iowa) — The principal of Pekin Middle School in Packwood, Iowa, recently shaved his head in front of the school’s students to support a child who was bullied after shaving his own head.

The child — Jackson Johnston, a sixth-grade student at the school — had shaved his head this past weekend as a show of solidarity and support for his grandfather who has been battling cancer.

The 11-year-old knew that his “Papa” had been feeling a bit down since his hair “started getting thin and patchy from chemotherapy treatments,” according to Jackson’s mother, Amber Johnston.

To help lift Papa’s spirits and show that he was not alone, Jackson decided to shave his head, Johnston told ABC News Thursday. Jackson surprised Papa with the new haircut this past Sunday, she said.

“He took off his cap and said, ‘Hey, Papa! I thought we could start a new club together!” Johnston said. “It was really moving. Papa was just so overcome with emotion and touched that Jackson would do something like that for him.”

Jackson spent the rest of day feeling “pumped up, proud and excited.” But the following morning at school, he was disheartened after several kids made fun of his shaved head, Johnston said.

A few students teased Jackson, calling him names like “Bald Boy” and asking him things like, “Why would you want to cut your hair like a cancer patient?” his mother said.

After Pekin Middle School principal Tim Hadley found out, he said he wanted to figure out a way to “use this and turn it into a life lesson rather than just having a one-time conversation.”

So the following morning, Hadley held an impromptu school assembly during which he asked Jackson to shave off all the hair on his head.

A video showing the gesture of support has garnered more than 84,000 views on Facebook.

“My big goal wasn’t the act of shaving, but rather, I wanted to show the kids that it’s important to stand up for each other and support one another,” Hadley told ABC News.

The principal said he also led a dialogue after the event, where he explained the weight that the words we use can carry.

“I said, ‘Let’s think about it. Are my words going to build others up, or take them down?'” Hadley said. “And I said, ‘I hope all of you choose to build.'”

Ever since the assembly, Johnston said her son has received “a lot of words of kindness and support,” and a few of the students who had teased him “have actually apologized and told him they actually liked his haircut.”

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8-Year-Old Battling Cancer Gets Wish to See Amazon Shipping Facility

Thinkstock/Ryan McVay(PHOENIX) — An 8-year-old boy’s birthday wish to see an Amazon distribution center has been fulfilled.

Ben Bicknese loves shopping on the e-commerce site so much that he wanted to see where all the magic happens.

“He was just floored,” Ben’s mom Cecilia Bicknese of Tucson, Arizona, told ABC News. “There’s some pictures of his eyes popping out of his head. He was just stunned … he couldn’t believe he was there.”

Ben was diagnosed with Wilms tumor, a type of kidney cancer, in 2014 and had removal surgery that same year. The cancer returned in 2015, and he’s gone through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

Because of Ben’s low immune system, doctors advised against him leaving the house. That’s when his grandparents bought him an iPad to keep him occupied.

“He was online all the time, so he’d shop and figured out what two-day shipping was with Amazon,” Bicknese said of her son. “Then he found the same-day shipping and that blew his mind. He was just obsessed with it. He loves getting packages. He’s just like me.”

Ben became intrigued as to how Amazon handles its customers’ requests and asked his family if he could see one of its fulfillment centers someday.

Bicknese said she reached out to a friend who knew an employee of the company. Amazon then invited the family to its shipping facility in Phoenix on Tuesday — just one day after Ben’s 8th birthday.

“We were incredibly touched by Ben’s story and we were honored to host him, his family and care network at one of our Amazon fulfillment centers in Phoenix for a special behind-the-scenes tour,” a representative of Amazon said in a statement to ABC News. “From his scavenger hunt picking birthday presents to learning how to use the tape machine, we had just as much fun as Ben did — maybe even more! … Ben is definitely an honorary Amazonian and we wish him all the best.”

Amazon also donated 50 Kindle e-readers, Fire tablet devices and $2,500 in content gift cards to Banner Medical Center, where Ben received his treatment in Tucson.

“It was a blessing,” Bicknese said. “It was a really good day for him after a lot of bad days.”

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Gay Man Documents Protest over FDA Blood Donation Policy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After being turned away when he wanted to donate blood, an LGBT activist documented his efforts to meet the new requirements to give blood as a gay man, including abstaining from sexual relations for a year.

On Tuesday, Jay Franzone, 21, gave blood for the first time since he announced his protest against what he and other critics say are regulations that unfairly stigmatize and limit gay men.

Franzone, a recent college graduate, has previously participated in protests against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy as part of the National Gay Blood Drive. He has been widely interviewed during his year of protest.

“It’s been a wild ride, I’m really grateful to have given blood,” Franzone said, expressing gratitude for the encouragement he has received. “I was able to hear directly from so many different blood donors and their recipients.”

Under FDA rules, men who have sex with men are banned from donating blood unless they abstain from sex for one year. The current policy was introduced in December 2015 as a change to policy set in 1983 during the AIDS crisis: a lifetime ban on blood donations for gay and bisexual men. For 30 years, the FDA disallowed their donations over concerns about infected blood from men who could have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, which can be transmitted through transfusions.

The new guidelines are in line with the policies in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia and Japan.

The American Medical Association had pushed for the lifetime ban to end and praised the FDA when the new policy was first introduced.

“The AMA has been a strong advocate for eliminating public policies that do not align with scientific evidence and best ethical practices in public policy,” AMA officials said in a statement when the FDA policy was changed in 2015. “The FDA’s final guidance takes important steps to improve the balance ensuring health equity, engaging with high-risk populations, and protecting the safety of the national blood supply.”

Franzone said he believes even though the lifetime ban was lifted, the current policy encourages “misconceptions and stigma.” He believes the FDA policy should look at whether a potential donor’s individual behavior is risky rather than restricting large groups of people. The FDA continues to ban sex workers, people who have been incarcerated for more than a year, intravenous drug users and people who have traveled to certain countries from donating blood.

“You can be a heterosexual person and have multiple high risk encounters,” Franzone said, “and give blood the same day.”

Franzone wrote an article about his experience, published in the New York Times Thursday, as he ended his waiting time to donate blood.

He has received support from both people who have dealt with blood donation and community leaders, he said. One of them is Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley, who serves as vice chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus and has advocated for removing questions about sexual orientation on blood donation questionnaires.

“It has been a privilege to work with Jay on this critical issue, and I applaud him for his leadership and commitment,” Quigley told ABC News. “Our nation’s blood donation policy, which requires gay men to observe a 12-month celibacy period before donating, is both discriminatory and outdated. All healthy Americans who want to help save lives through blood donation should have the opportunity to do so.”

Franzone said many families have also shared their experience with blood donations, encouraging his protest. One woman contacted him via Facebook he said, and thanked him after her cousin, a gay man, was unable to donate blood to help her son who had a cardiac condition.

“His partner and his friends kept [her son] company in a hospital,” far from home, Franzone recounted. But they could not donate blood to help his medical condition.

The woman thanked Franzone over social media for both donating blood and drawing attention to the policy, he said, writing “thank you for giving him and kids like him the tools to fight.”

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Your Body: Teen Drug Use

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

Teens are not using drugs and alcohol as much as they used to, the latest government survey shows.

Federal health officials surveyed more than 45,000 eighth, 10th and 12th graders and found their use of everything from meth and heroin to tobacco and alcohol were all down.

Conversely, however, the National Institute on Drug Abuse says 12th grade marijuana use is up in states that have legalized its use.

So what are the signs your kids may be using?

  • Look for physical and behavioral signs first, like changes in their pupils and odor to their breath or a difference in their sleeping and eating patterns.
  • Are they asking for more money or missing classes in school?

While it’s always important to respect your child’s privacy, it’s more important to protect their health and their lives.

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