Review Category : Health

Your Body: The Sacrifices of Caregivers

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

Caregivers sacrifice a lot when caring for sick and elderly loved ones.

A recent report focusing solely on those who care for others with Alzheimer’s disease found that caregivers give up basic necessities, such as food and medical care, to support loved ones.

According to the report, caregivers are 28 percent more likely to eat less or go hungry while caring for someone. Nearly half of them cut back on their own expenses, and more than 1 in 3 had to reduce work hours or quit their jobs altogether.

My prescription: Take care of yourself before you try to assist others, and remember that the most selfless gesture is actually self care. You’ll be better able to help someone else when you’re in a good place yourself.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FDA Advises Against ‘Evaporated Cane Juice’ Labels

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a guidance for industry on Wednesday declaring that sweeteners obtained from sugar cane should not be listed on food labels as “evaporated cane juice.”

The FDA says the term implies false information suggesting that the sweetener is produced from a fruit or vegetable.

The misleading title conceals its basic nature and characterizing properties — sugar.

The FDA is recommending companies to relabel the term as “sugar,” with the option of providing a true descriptor to differentiate the ingredient from other cane-based sweeteners.

The purpose of the guidance is to aid consumers in making informed decisions when it comes to sweeteners by advertising not only authentic but persistent information by the manufacturer.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FDA Further Explains Food Labeling Term ‘Evaporated Cane Juice’

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration released a guidance for industry on Wednesday declaring that sweeteners obtained from sugar cane should not be listed on food labels as “evaporated cane juice.”

The FDA says the term implies false information suggesting that the sweetener is produced from a fruit or vegetable.

The misleading title conceals its basic nature and characterizing properties — sugar.

The FDA is recommending companies to relabel the term as “sugar,” with the option of providing a true descriptor to differentiate the ingredient from other cane-based sweeteners.

The purpose of the guidance is to aid consumers in making informed decisions when it comes to sweeteners by advertising not only authentic but persistent information by the manufacturer.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Lawmakers Put Healthy Kids On Display to Urge More Zika Funding

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Senate Democrats brought out healthy children to talk urge more funding for the battle against the Zika virus and vent their frustrations at Republicans.

Toddlers and infants joined four senators and Heidi Murkoff, the author of “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and its related titles, to make an argument for increased federal funding to combat Zika based on the people most affected by the virus: mothers and their babies.

“There are no red or blue babies. There’s only healthy babies like these,” Murkoff said at the press conference. Zika has been linked to the birth defect microcephaly — where the baby’s head is smaller than expected.

Coons, who invited Murkoff, previewed the battle lines for the Senate as the two chambers reconcile their competing proposals: the Senate’s, which at $1.1 billion was still too low for Democrats, and the House’s bill, which funds Zika efforts at $622 million for the next five months.

“We’ve done our job in the Senate. I think for us to move further by accepting what would be demonstrably inadequate funding coming from an unacceptable source, you’re asking us to go beyond compromise and well into simply giving up,” he said.

Despite the serious issue, the senators couldn’t help but smile — and even get down on the floor to play with the children.

Sen. Chuck Schumer sounded particularly pleased to see the children.

“It reminds me of the thing most missing in my life: Grandchildren,” he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Surrogate Mom at Center of Legal Battle Speaks Out YORK) — Melissa Cook, a 48-year-old mother of four who made headlines when she refused to abort one of the triplets she was carrying as a surrogate mom, says she will never give up her fight to see the three babies she bore in February.

“I loved them while they were in me. I love them still,” Melissa Cook said in an interview that aired Wednesday on Good Morning America. I do feel like they are part mine.”

So she has taken the issue to court, asking a Los Angeles Monday to allow her to see the children to make sure they’re OK. The judge is expected to issue a written opinion on her lawsuit in the next seven to 21 days.

Cook of Woodland Hills, California, was hired by a Georgia man to be a gestational surrogate. She gave birth to the triplets in February after undergoing in-vitro fertilization with a sperm sample from the man who hired her and three eggs from an anonymous donor.

Early in the pregnancy, Cook told ABC News, the biological father told her he only wanted two babies because he said he could not afford to raise three.

The biological father is identified in court documents as C.M., a 50-year-old man living at home with his parents.

“For him to say, ‘Oh, I changed my mind,’ is ridiculous,” Cook said. “I said, ‘Get it together. We will figure it out.'”

Cook said she had signed a surrogacy contract — before knowing how many of the embryos would take — allowing the biological father to reduce the number of fetuses for medical reasons. C.M.’s attorney, Robert Walmsley, told ABC News his client asked Cook to abort one of the fetuses out of concern for “her health and the health of the children.”

He also claims that several doctors asked Cook to abort a fetus because of her age.

Walmsley said Cook entered into a contract with his client that any or all children would be his, and that he could ask her to abort but couldn’t force her to do so.

“Most importantly, the children are still his,” Walmsley said.

“C.M. is committed to his children. He is caring for them. They are happy and they are absolutely beautiful,” Walmsley said. “We are not denying the fact that it’s difficult to take care of triplets, as it would be for anybody, but he is loving and cherishing it every day.”

Cook’s lawyer, Harold Cassidy, told ABC News that “Melissa wanted to do what was best for the children.”

Legal expert Elura Nanos, who is not involved in the case, told ABC News it would “violate the rights of privacy to force a woman to get an abortion.”

“No one would ever enforce such a provision,” Nanos said.

When Cook gave birth to the three babies in February, she said, she was not allowed to see them and the hospital could not legally give her any information about the babies. Cook and her lawyers told ABC News the genetic father took the triplets home after they had been at the hospital for almost two months.

“I sit there crying at night wondering what is going to happen to the children and if they are going to be cared for,” Cook told ABC News.

Cook said she has filed the lawsuit to ensure the children are in good hands. She said she is also working to have California surrogacy laws changed.

“We are going to fight to have the law changed so that courts look at the best interest of the children, so that courts take into account the surrogate,” said Michael Caspino, another one of Cook’s attorneys.

Cook added, “It would be wonderful to hold these children to let them know, I’m fighting for you guys.”

The attorney for the babies’ father said Cook’s complaints contain “erroneous facts.”

“There are so many erroneous facts in the court complaints filed by Melissa Cook and her lawyers,” Walmsley said. “Their goal is to litigate this in the media and file in any court available to drain him financially.

“If they cared about the children, they wouldn’t deprive them of their father and his resources,” he said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

11-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Creates and Directs Animated Film

Creatas/Thinkstock(RIVERDALE, N.Y.) — An 11-year-old who beat stage 4 cancer — including 18 rounds of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation – has debuted an animated short film that she directed and gives voice to.

Neshama Ryman, of Riverdale, New York, created the characters and storyline for her movie, “The Klumz,” while she was undergoing treatment for the alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma she was diagnosed with while in kindergarten.

The now fifth-grade student knew during her treatment that she would have a wish granted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Once her health improved, the Foundation paired Neshama with world renowned animators at FableVision Studios to make her wish to create her own movie come alive.

“She took a very long time developing this idea,” Neshama’s mom, Lamelle Ryman, told ABC News. “I really believe that it has been part of her medical healing to have this incredible wish ongoing. “

A Wish In the Making

The characters featured in “The Klumz” have long been part of the Ryman family’s folklore. The family uses the term “klumz” as a way to diffuse tense situations. If a glass of milk falls on the floor, for example, the family will blame it on a “klumz.”

“The ‘Klumz’ have been living with our family for quite some time,” said Ryman, who with Neshama’s father, Rob, has two other children. “Neshama was the one who named them ‘klumz,’ a cross between klutz and clumsy.”

Neshama, who also suffers from a congenital condition in her leg that has required six reconstructive surgeries to date, carried a sketchbook with her at treatments and began to draw how she envisioned the “klumz” would look.

Animation At Work

Neshama first met with the animators at FableVision last year, traveling to the Boston headquarters of the global media production studio.

“Usually we create things for kids and families and our clients are adults,” said Peter Reynolds, FableVision’s founder and a best-selling children’s book author and illustrator. “In this case we had a child ‘hire’ us to get her vision off the ground.”

He added, “We took it quite seriously. She was the boss and our goal was to make our client happy.”

The FableVision team corresponded with Neshama, their director, frequently and even traveled to her hospital bedside in Maryland at one point to keep the movie moving forward.

“Animation is a very cumulative process and we couldn’t take a step forward until our director said, ‘Yes that’s good, go forward,’” said Tony Thyne, FableVision’s vice president of creative. “We would go on a plane and go there and sit on a hospital bed with her and do storyboards and whatever we needed to do to keep the process moving.”

Thyne added, “We realized that it was the journey itself – the film was going to be magnificent – but it was the making of it that really was the gift.”

The film’s background artwork is Neshama’s original paintings and the characters are based entirely on the sketches she made while undergoing treatment.

Neshama’s original wish was to have “Harry Potter” star Emma Watson voice the movie, which follows “The Klumz” family as they accidentally make messes, see the beauty in them and try to get their human counterparts to see the beauty too.

Thyme and Reynolds were preparing their pitch to ask Watson to join the movie when they had Nashama read the script and decided her voice would be better instead.

“We thought it’d be a shame to not have this authentic, kid voice narrating the story,” Reynolds explained. “We asked the director and she was tickled that we thought she was better suited than Emma Watson to tell the story.”

“Why Not An Academy Award?”

Neshama’s directorial debut is being shown for the first time publicly Wednesday.

When Neshama, who is on a school camping trip and not available for comment, saw the completed movie for the first time, she could not believe her eyes.

“She’s very dramatic so at times if she’s really excited she will fall to the floor and this was one of those moments,” Ryman said. “She was speechless and ecstatic.”

Ryman said her family’s experience with the Make-A-Wish Foundation and FableVision went “above and beyond” her expectations.

“As a parent going through this with a child, it gave me so much strength and positivity,” she said. “It became a template for something I created in our family, the idea that if you’re going through something difficult, follow the joy.”

She added of the movie, “It’s reminding us all that messes are part of life and we need to try to do what we can to find the joy and the hope in life no matter what we are dealing with.”

The FableVision team is also still involved in the process even though the animation is done. They are trying to get Neshama’s “The Klumz” movie entered in prestigious movie festivals like Sundance, Cannes and Tribeca.

“Why not an Academy Award?,” Thyne said. “We’re all so proud of it and now the fun part is trying to figure out how we’re going to showcase Neshama’s film.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

These Zen Priests Could Make You Less Fearful of Death

ABC News(NEW YORK) — For many of us, thinking about death — our own, or that of anyone we love — is supremely difficult. So, most of the time, we don’t think about it at all — until we have no choice.

But two Zen Buddhist priests are using meditation, and a generous dose of humor, to show people that the dying process does not have to be scary, and can even be uplifting.

Sensei Robert Chodo Campbell and Sensei Koshin Paley Ellison are the co-founders of the New York Center for Contemplative Care in New York City, and have trained doctors, nurses, hospice care workers and social workers in 32 states.

“The reality is that this life of ours is short. This life is not infinite,” Campbell said. “At some point, this is going to be me in that bed. So, do I want to spend the rest of my life fearing that or embracing the life that I have? And that might mean having a lot of fun.”

During their interview with ABC News’ Dan Harris for his podcast, 10% Happier with Dan Harris, the duo talked about how they teach people to embrace death’s inevitability as a push to live a fulfilling life. Zen Buddhist practice forces followers to look at this reality repeatedly and also teach them how to treat a dying loved one with compassion instead of fear.

“The reality with being with dying people and sick people is so extraordinary because there’s something that strips away that the veneer that we put on it in society,” Ellison said. “We put the old people in the nursing home, we put the sick people in the hospital, we put people in hospice, but learning how to enter those spaces and with an intimacy and to realize I am also that — I am also you — person in the bed.”

“The intimacy is the piece that’s missing,” Campbell added. “Fifty years ago, this wasn’t the case, people were dying at home. We knew how to take care of people who are dying, we knew how to take care of Grandma … [but now] everyone’s out in the work force. There’s no one to take care of Grandma if she got sick. It’s such a mark on society, how far we’ve come and how far back we’ve fallen in this area of care-giving.”

Campbell and Ellison offer a nine-month course “in the art of relating to the patient.” They take about 35 students a year, showing people how to incorporate meditation practice and caring into their bedside manner with patients and in their relationships with loved ones. They also have a book out now called Awake at the Bedside: Teachings on Palliative & End of Life Care.

“To me, the greatest fear I think all of us have is meeting the realities of our aging, illness and death,” Ellison said. “The reality of it to me makes life so vivid and beautiful. … For me, it’s about how do you want to live your life. How do you want to live this day, and to me it brings this kind of awareness.”

During the 10% Happier interview, it was clear their love of caring for people starts with each other. Campbell and Ellison, who have been romantic partners for 15 years, joked around, pushed each other’s buttons, nudged each other over who would be allowed to be speak next, then in between, they would stop to calmly explain how they came to run a center teaching better hospice care.

Both men had very different upbringings. Ellison grew up in a Jewish household in upstate New York and said he knew he wanted to become a Zen Buddhist monk at 8 years old after he saw a photo of one in a National Geographic magazine.

“And he was so still and I thought, ‘Wow, I would like to be like that,’” Ellison said.

He started meditating at age 17 and never looked back, though he said it took him 10 years of practice to realize he actually enjoyed it after he started caring for his ailing grandmother.

“She always had a lot of difficulty with ‘the Zen thing’ as she called it,” he said. “Coming from a family of Holocaust survivors, it was really difficult for her. Culturally, it felt like a betrayal … for her.”

But towards the end of her life, it was his grandmother who told him he should start an organization with Campbell to help ailing patients and their caregivers have an easier time with hospice care.

Campbell’s upbringing couldn’t have been more opposite. Born to a neglectful and alcoholic teenage mother in Birmingham, England, Campbell said he was bounced around between relatives and went on to live a life fueled by drugs, alcoholism and violence. He left home at 16 and traveled Europe. He worked as a DJ in Spain, spent a few months on a kibbutz in Israel and then worked in the fashion industry, first in London and then New York City.

“Coming to New York for me was like a kid in a candy shop,” Campbell said. “It was 1983 in New York. The club scene, the disco scene, the drug scene, and for three years I really took that on 100 percent. … What I was doing was pushing the envelope more and more and more — how dangerous could I really make this life of mine be?”

Eventually, he got sober and starting working at an institute caring for addicts and other troubled adults. A chance meeting with a female Buddhist monk led him to start practicing Zen meditation.

“I had been sitting for about two years, practicing meditation, and I realized I needed to do something else then just sitting on the cushion,” Campbell said. “I wanted to be of service so that’s when I started volunteering at hospice.”

He met Ellison as he was caring for his grandmother and after her death, the two started the center together.

When it comes to contemplating their own deaths, again both had different views. Campbell said he feared the “lack of control” about the dying process, and said he wouldn’t want to prolong his suffering and hated the thought of Ellison having to care for him. Ellison, on the other hand, has a more open approach.

“I don’t find death scary but I don’t know what it will be like when I’m dying,” he said. “When I’m actively dying I don’t know what that will be like. Maybe I’ll be very at peace with it, maybe I won’t. … To me it’s about being open to what that moment will be, I have no idea, but the idea of it is not scary to me, I’m actually quite curious.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

GMO Mosquito Company Calls for Expedited Action to Test Against Zika

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The head of a British biotech company that has developed a genetically modified mosquito in an effort to lower the population of the insects that spread the Zika virus called for federal regulators Wednesday to expedite a decision on conducting a test of these mosquitoes in Florida.

Hadyn Parry, the CEO of Oxitec, spoke at a congressional hearing Wednesday about his company’s mosquitoes, which are genetically modified in an effort to reduce the population of the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the species primarily responsible for the spread of the Zika virus.

The GMO mosquitoes are all male and hence do not bite. When released into the wild, they mate with females and produce nonviable offspring, thereby reducing the mosquito population without the need for pesticides. They have already been used in Brazil and the Cayman Islands to fight the spread of the Zika virus.

Parry said the company received a “complicated” answer from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about its initial 2011 filling to test the GMO mosquito called “Oxitec OX513A” in the U.S.

“We are being treated as an investigational animal drug,” Parry testified at the congressional hearing Wednesday, noting that that means from the FDA’s perspective “they need to approve an animal drug in order to provide a public health benefit.”

The FDA has given an initial “Finding of No Significant Impact” regarding the proposed test in the Florida Keys. In a statement to ABC News, the FDA explained that the agency is “reviewing relevant comments” about the proposed trial before making a final assessment. The agency would not speculate on the timeframe for how long this will take.

Parry said at the hearing that he hoped the FDA would act quickly to allow the testing.

“I think we should encourage them to find the processes to make this happen,” Parry said, noting that an emergency route for approval may be appropriate in this case. He pointed out that the GMO mosquitoes can reach mosquitoes in areas where traditional spraying can’t, such as in indoor areas.

In previous tests outside of the U.S., the GMO mosquito has helped reduce the population of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes by 90 percent in urban areas, Perry said.

“We can target the mosquito as an integrated approach. We have now the technology to control the mosquito in an urban environment and focus as a priority,” he said.

The congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology held the hearing on the Zika virus and the research being done to understand and fight the virus.

Currently, at least 500 people have been diagnosed with the Zika virus in the U.S., though virtually all contracted the disease while outside the country. In limited cases, the disease was spread through sexual contact, according to health officials.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Your Body: ‘Banana Peel Challenge’ May Lead to Serious Injuries

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

A new social media trend that resembles something out of a cartoon could potentially cause people to sustain real injuries.

The “Banana Peel Challenge” has kids walking on banana peels to see if they’re as slippery as the classic cartoon cliché leads us to believe. The falls that result from the challenge, however, are anything but funny. They can lead to long-term or even permanent damage.

This isn’t the first dangerous challenge to become a fad on social media. There was the cinnamon challenge, which in some cases caused potentially long-term lung damage, and the duct tape challenge, which ended with a brain aneurysm for one teen.

So how do you bring this up with your kid?

Try your best to stay current with what’s in their world. Remember that the developmental job of a teenager is to push limits and take risks.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Born Deaf, 11-Year-Old Boy Takes on National Spelling Bee

iStock/Thinkstock(BELTON, S.C.) — An 11-year-old South Carolina boy who was born deaf has made it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Neil Maes of Belton, South Carolina, received cochlear implants when he was 1 and 5 years old and, through therapy, was able to learn spoken language.

Now, the fifth-grader is one of the top spellers in the nation, knowing words like weissnichtwo (an indefinite, unknown, or imaginary place) and pfeffernuss (a small, hard, highly spiced cookie).

“It seems like a bad situation: ‘Your child can’t hear.’ But so much good has come out of it,” mom Christy Maes told ABC News Wednesday. “We thought for him to win the regionals and come into the nationals, that would be a great platform to encourage and inspire hearing-impaired individuals. It makes a child feel so hopeful, saying, ‘I could do this.’ It’s things like this that mean the most to me.”

When Neil was born July 13, 2004, doctors informed Christy and Peter Maes that he was deaf, news that Christy said was a shock to the entire family.

“There’s no other hearing-impaired member on either side of the family,” she said. “Life goes on — he’s 11 now, but it’s a genetic mutation. From my understanding, it’s not uncommon.”

Neil began therapy at 6 months old. He soon received cochlear implants and relied on his hearing to learn how to speak.

One day, when Neil was in third-grade, he came home and informed his mother that he had won his classroom spelling bee.

That same year, he won his school spelling bee, beating out every student in grades 3, 4 and 5.

“He was the first third-grade winner,” Christy said. “We studied hard and then went to regionals. He had a goal and wanted to win. We tried to make it fun.”

In fourth-grade, Neil never made it through his classroom spelling bee. This year, he made it to regionals and won. The final word he spelled was ecru, granting him a spot in the 2016 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Neil is speller number 213 in group 2. He was competing Wednesday at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, from 10 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., ET. There are 285 spellers in the entire competition.

“The Scripps National Spelling Bee celebrates our spellers and their incredible talents,” a spokesman from the organization told ABC News Wednesday. “For those who overcome adversity and special challenges in their lives to reach the National Finals is a testament to their determination and grit. Each speller is unique and wonderful and the reason this competition is such a national treasure.”

The winner of the spelling bee will receive a $40,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy, among other prizes.

Neil prepared for the event through fun spelling activities like sidewalk chalk and shaving cream on a cookie sheet, mom Christy said.

“One of his favorite words is abecedarius,” Christy said. “He likes the German words, the fun ones to say. He loves spelling long dog breeds like Chihuahua. He’s nervous, so I’m trying to play it cool, give him some space.”

“He did want to come and watch the first group spell. These kids, you watch them spell and they miss some words and you want to hug them. Everybody’s for each other. No one’s competing against each other. It’s a good vibe here,” she continued.

She added: “Neil’s just a good-hearted kid. He shows a lot of love to everyone around him. We love him just for who he is, not for any trophies that he wins.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →