Review Category : Health

Yoga Won’t Necessarily Make Asthmatics Breathe Easier

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Yoga seems to provide a remedy for many ailments but researchers say it’s not a cure-all, particularly for asthma sufferers searching for relief from their symptoms.

Holger Cramer, director of Yoga Research at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, says he and others poured over 14 studies about yoga in the possible treatment of asthma. Unfortunately, Cramer says “yoga can’t be considered a routine intervention for patients with asthma at this time.”

The conclusion came after studying 824 asthma sufferers who practice yoga on five continents. Cramer says that there’s only slight evidence that these exercises for mental and physical health provide actual relief.

Dr. Michael Foggs, an allergist-immunologist from Chicago, agrees that yoga shouldn’t be recommended as treatment for asthma.

However, he doesn’t believe it will hurt either, adding, “If yoga helps them to feel better and breathe better, patients should by all means practice it.”

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As More Live to Be 100, More Needs to Be Done to Care for Them

Randy Faris/Fuse/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Living to 100 years old is an impressive feat, but it’s not all that unusual anymore.

With the number of centenarians expected to reach 3.2 million by 2050, health officials are undertaking a serious examination about how to better care for the 100-plus crowd.

Most people 100 years and older usually die from frail health or pneumonia rather than diseases like heart disease or cancer, which befall people in their 70s, 80s and even 90s.

What has study author Catherine Evans of King’s College London most concerned is where centenarians should live since only ten percent die at home with the vast majority passing away in either long-term care facilities or hospitals.

Evans say the goal is to allow more 100-year-olds to live their final days in places that are familiar and familial, which means “a greater emphasis on anticipatory care with contingency planning that details treatments and interventions when an unanticipated, or sentinel, event occurs.”

In other words, managing some illnesses at home rather than hospitals. Evans also recommends increasing the number of beds in long-term care facilities for those with extreme longevity.

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Surgery a Viable Option for Diabetes?

Keith Brofsky/Photodisc(NEW YORK) — If you have obesity and diabetes, diet and exercise alone just may not cut it – but surgery might, according to new studies that further investigated the use of gastric surgical procedures to fight diabetes.

“In the short term, the two surgical treatments — especially gastric bypass, and then Laparoscopic Adjustable Gastric Banding — are more effective than a very intensive lifestyle treatment to treat Type 2 diabetes and obesity,” said Dr. Anita Courcoulas at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, one of the lead authors on the study.

Courcoulas says they were able to track success in those who had had surgery. “Those who underwent a gastric bypass — 50 percent of them have partial remission of their diabetes, and after the band procedure…27 percent of them had at least partial remission of their diabetes.”

Part of the reason for the success? What happens to your body when it undergoes gastric bypass: “There are likely some hormonal and chemical changes that happen — that there’s a metabolic response that goes beyond the weight loss.”

The doctors said lifestyle changes did help overweight diabetic patients, but surgery helped more.

Their findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Baby with Down Syndrome Celebrated on 200-Foot Billboard

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — “It was an ugly cry.” That was Tara McCallan’s reaction when she saw her daughter’s face plastered on a billboard at one of the busiest intersections in Toronto.

But it was a cry far different than the one McCallan had when her daughter, Pip, was born 18 months ago.

This time, it was joyful. Back then, it had been painful.

Pip — the star of her mom’s Happy Soul Project — was the winner of a contest run by Indie88. Some 45,000 people voted and Pip — along with the slogan “What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful” — came out on top to win the coveted billboard spot. The original video was posted to YouTube.

“It was a feeling of redemption,” McCallan told ABC News of the unveiling. “We had come full circle.”

McCallan didn’t know about Pip’s Down syndrome until her birth.

“I so wish I could hold that mess of a woman in the hospital and tell her it would be OK,” she said, referring to her own grief on getting Pip’s diagnosis.

Pip’s already been through a lot in her young life. At five weeks old, she had her first eye surgery. She’s had two others. She was in heart failure from the time she was born until she had open heart surgery when she was five months old. The good thing about those health complications, McCallan said, was that it “made Down syndrome feel like no big deal.”

In her winning entry, McCallan wrote of her daughter:

“My daughter Pip has gone through numerous eye and heart surgeries, wears a patch, tiny contacts, little baby glasses. So I understand why some people stare at her or are curious. What I don’t understand though is those who purposely want to make fun of Pip or others with a disability. You see she also just happens to have Down syndrome.”

Through it all Pip keeps smiling. Her smile, McCallan said, “is the most contagious thing in the world.”

So much so that people from around Canada are taking road trips and flights just to get a look at Pip’s billboard.

But her new stardom isn’t going to Pip’s head. At 18 months, Pip adores her three-year-old brother brother Noal, is in love with her puppy, and was trying to put her hands in the toilet while her mom was giving ABC News an interview.

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Science Reveals Secret Behind Koala Bears’ Love for Trees

iStock/Thinkstock(MELBOURNE, Australia) — We’ve all seen the koala bear hugging those trees. Ever wonder why?

According to a new study from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and published in the June 2 issue of Biology Letters, koala bears hug trees to help regulate their body temperatures on hot days. Thermal images show the koala bear, glowing yellow, is “hot” and the tree, dark purple, is “cool.” The trunk, therefore, serves as a sort of air conditioning unit for the animal.

Mystery solved!

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Double-Amputee Cat ‘Paw Stands’ Down Stairs

iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Boots the cat is still getting used to her prosthetic hind limbs. But she’s found another way to get down stairs: on her front paws.

A new video shows Boots careening down stairs in what looks like a handstand — a paw stand, if you will.

“I did not believe my boyfriend, Jon, when he had first told me he saw her do this,” said the 1-year-old cat’s foster mom, Megan Brocato. “But as soon as I saw her do it once, I knew I had to get some video!”

Boots was dropped off at a Denver animal shelter when she was 10 days old, according to Brocato. Her back paws had been cut off, so the Denver-based animal welfare group Life Is Better Rescue teamed up with prosthetic maker OrthoPets to get her a set of temporary prosthetics called “house slippers.”

“When she first got her house slippers, she could hardly stand in them, let alone walk,” said Brocato. “It was definitely an adjustment.”

Boots learned to walk with her house slippers in about a week, according to Brocato. But six months later, stairs are still a challenge — hence the paw stand.

Boots will eventually be fitted with permanent artificial limbs. She’ll also need physical therapy to stay healthy, but Brocato said she has no doubt the fearless feline will adapt to whatever comes her way.

Cats aren’t the only creatures to thrive after being fitted with artificial limbs. Experts say more and more of our animal friends are benefiting from replacement parts that help them get back on their paws, feet or fins in no time.

“When we started building prosthetics for animals back in 2002, we would do maybe one or two a month,” said Martin Kaufmann, co-founder of Orthopets. “Now we make eight to ten a week.”

The main reason animals are receiving prosthetic limbs more often than in the past, Kaufmann believes, is because we humans have come to look upon ourselves as the guardians of our four-legged friends rather than the owners of disposable possessions.

“Once you see yourself as a guardian, you can look at animals through a different lens,” he said. “Your mindset is not to euthanize or chop off a leg, but to help them get back to normal function.”

The most common site of prosthetic limb replacement on an animal is the paw or foot, Kaufmann said. When a four-legged animal has an amputation of the front leg, it’s usually high up near the shoulder. In a back leg amputation, only the lower portion of the leg typically gets removed.

Socket prostheses are the most common type of replacement limb used in animals. They slip over the limb stump and then strap or buckle into place. Newer, integrated prostheses involve implanting one part of the device into the bone and then anchoring another removable part into it with a screw. Either kind provides long-lasting limb support and more natural movement, Kaufmann said.

A typical dog prosthetis paw costs between $1,200 and $1,500 dollars, Kaufmann said. Cat replacement limbs are smaller and less expensive. Prosthetic limbs made for larger beasts like llamas, cows or horses are more expensive.

Most animals are first fitted with a temporary teaching prosthetic. Then once they get the hang of it — typically in about two weeks — they’re switched over to permanent hardware, Kaufmann said, adding that all animals have that eureka moment when they figure out how to use their new limb.

“It’s the most exciting thing in the world to watch,” he said.

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Twin Peak: Class of Multiples Signals Waning Trend

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It seems twins have become a graduation ceremony staple this year alongside the caps and gowns.

At Central Middle School in Tinley Park, Illinois, the eighth grade class has nine sets of twins making up 7 percent of the total class, according to ABC News affiliate KTRK-TV. And at the tiny college of St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin, there are a reported eight sets of twins out of just 500 graduating seniors.

It might seem like there are more multiples than ever, but experts say we’re seeing the tail end of a medical trend that has already passed its peak.

Twin births steadily increased from 1980 to 2009 from 18.9 per 1,000 births to 33.2 per 1,000 births, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the trend has leveled off since 2009, and has even shown signs of a decline in the years since. Births of three or more children have decreased 9 percent from 2011 to 2012.

Doctors say the drop in multiples is likely to continue and should be seen as a sign that fertility treatments have gotten better, not worse.

Fertility clinics used to implant multiple embryos to boost the odds of a healthy pregnancy. But thanks to new techniques that check the health of an embryo before implantation, many are scaling back to the safer option of implanting a single embryo, according to Dr. Alan Copperman, the director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

“I think we’ll see a dramatic decrease over the next decade,” Copperman told ABC News of twin births. “[These older twins] will reflect blips in time with how we practiced medicine a decade ago…I’m thrilled for all of these healthy children graduating, [but] sometimes twin pregnancies don’t end well.”

Carrying twins or other multiples puts both mothers and infants at risk for dangerous complications, including premature birth. Dr. Joanne Stone, director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, said her hospital has even seen an increase in women pregnant with multiples opting for selective reduction, a process that reduces the number of embryos in the womb to ensure a healthier pregnancy.

“There’s no doubt that multiple births are the main contributor to sickness or death regarding pregnancy,” said Stone. “We see people who have reduction to go from multiples to single birth – a recognition of [the risks or difficulty].”

But fertility treatments aren’t the only reason for the surge in twins. Stone said that women who get pregnant later in life are more likely to have multiples, and the rate of women aged between the ages of 40 and 44 who are having their first child doubled between 1990 and 2012, according to the CDC. But it’s unlikely that these spontaneous births will lead to another spike in twins or multiples similar to the spike from fertility drugs, Stone said.

As for this year’s graduating classes full of twins, Copperman said it serves as a reminder of the evolving effectiveness of fertility treatments.

“We’re looking at the effects of the trend today,” said Copperman, who said in the future people will be surprised by how many multiple births there were. “[In the future we'll say,] ‘Do you remember in 2014 when everyone was a twin and now everyone has a single child?’”

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Boy Travels 7,500 Miles for Life-Changing Surgery

Courtesy Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford (STANFORD, Calif.) — A 6-year-old boy has finally taken his first steps, thanks to surgery in Stanford, California, 7,500 miles from his home in Palestine.

Hadi Alkhadra was born with arthrogryposis, a mysterious condition that gave him locked knees and feet that were facing the wrong direction. He had to crawl or be carried by his parents until a series of surgeries at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University allowed him to walk for the first time.

“All of these people we have met, they have worked so well together to help Hadi,” the boy’s mother, Shireen Alkhadra, said in a statement.

With help from the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, Hadi and his mom traveled from the West Bank for surgery under orthopedic surgeon Dr. Lawrence Rinsky. Now, with special braces, Hadi can wear shoes, stand with flat feet and walk.

“This never could have happened without Dr. Rinsky and Stanford,” Shireen Alkhadra said.

Hadi is still recovering and undergoing rehab, but said he looks forward to going home to his sister, two brothers and dad later this month. He will also attend school for the first time, and said he wants to “to be a surgeon, just like Dr. Rinsky.”

“This is a very bright young man,” Rinsky said of his young patient. “He has a wonderful spirit and is making incredible progress. I think he has a good future ahead of him.”

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Hollywood Kids Take 2-Week Vegan Cleanse Challenge

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Hollywood’s tots are taking a page from Queen B’s book — taking a challenge to go vegan.

Unlike the 22-day vegan diet that Beyonce and Jay Z made famous, this one’s just two weeks long. And it’s for kids.

Created by yogi-to-the-stars and author Rainbeau Mars, the kiddie cleanse began Monday and has 300 participants so far. It was inspired, she said, when she and her daughter Jade were cooking at Jade’s school. The other moms told Mars there was no way the kids would eat the vegetable soup they were making.

“I also noticed that probably 95 percent of the kids had never helped in the kitchen,” she said, something she thinks is crucial for getting kids to eat healthy.

Celeb kids have joined the challenge. Johnny Sequoyah, 11, of the show Believe, said that in the two days since she started the cleanse, she already feels better. She loves donuts and french fries, she said, but has learned that when “you’re eating only junk food, it makes you really tired. Whenever I finish a hamburger or doughnut I do feel tired and sometimes in a bad mood after.” She said she likes the smoothies, and also kale salad with lemon as her favorite “healthy substitute.”

Those are two of the foods Mars highly recommends when it comes to kids. “Keep it simple,” when it comes to kids’ cleanses, she said.

Chia pudding is another favorite. “I almost cried the other day seeing all these kids posting photos of the chia pudding they made. We might know how healthy and simple it is, but now they’re spreading the word.”

Kid rapper Lela Brown, who was a contestant on America’s Got Talent, has also signed up. “I decided to do the cleanse because I thought it would be a really cool experience to try being vegan,” she said. She also said she was hoping for more energy and to “clear out her pores.”

It’s those kinds of results that appeal to the kids participating. Mars said, “You tell them it will make them feel better and stronger and they want to sign up.”

But Mars was quick to point out that when it comes to the kids, this cleanse is not about weight loss. Besides health benefits, she wants the kids to really think about where their food is coming from. Avoiding animal products, including “cholesterol, antibiotics and any fear we may be ingesting is good for the planet and good for us all.”

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Marathon Runners, Young and Old, Post Similar Finish Times

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Age has little effect on marathon times, according to a new study, with reports saying runners will finish with similar times during their youth compared to those during their late 50s.

Researchers at Camilo Jose Cela University in Madrid, Spain say people who’ve run marathons for decades will cover a course in about the same time at age 18 that they do between the ages of 55 and 60.

Scientist Juan Del Coso Garrigos explains that runners’ times generally improve dramatically between 18 and 29 and then tail off slightly each subsequent year until both men and women marathoners equal their times as a teen when they hit 55. After that, the drop-off turns pretty steep.

In essence, a person’s marathon times during the course of a long running career forms a U-shape.

The study involved looking at the times of the top ten finishers in every age group from 18 to 75 for both males and females who took part in the 2010 and 2011 New York City Marathons.

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