Review Category : Health

Don’t Be Afraid to Unleash the Power of OW!

Photodisc/Thinkstock(SINGAPORE) — Of all the things that might come out of your mouth after you’ve banged your knee against the side of a coffee table, “Ow” is probably the least offensive.

But regardless of what you might yell, it can actually have the effect of reducing the pain you feel, according to scientists from the National University of Singapore.

Building on other studies that examined vocalized pain reduction, the scientists had dozens of students submerge their hand in a bowl of ice water. The group that was allowed to say “Ow” tolerated the discomfort longer than others who were told to stay quiet.

In fact, another group that got to press a button during the experiment also tolerated pain longer than the control group.

NUS researcher Annett Schirmer says that this study and others seem to prove that if health care workers converse with patients during a painful procedure, just the simple act of talking may help them to better endure the procedure.

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Woman’s Skin Cancer Selfie Goes Viral

PhanuwatNandee/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Dermatologists said they are torn about how the public may react to a young woman who posted a photo of herself undergoing treatment for skin cancer.

Tawny Willoughby, a 27-year-old mother of a toddler, took to Facebook to show the world the ugly side of tanning gone wrong.

“If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go!” she wrote. “This is what skin cancer treatment can look like.”

The skin on her face is covered with angry, painful-looking scabs because she has used a treatment called Aldara, which goes by the generic name imiquimod, she wrote in the post.

Dermatologist Dr. Barney Kenet, who has never met or treated Willoughby, said the cream is used to trigger an immune system response to kill abnormal cells for patients with non-melanoma skin cancers like Willoughby’s. It’s also used to treat genital warts, he said.

“The reason it’s so horrific is that the immune system is very powerful and what stimulates it to attack these abnormal cells really destroys them with a lot of inflammation,” he said. “This picture represents the extent of her damage.”

Not all the scabs are spots where Willoughby had cancer, Kenet said, but they’re abnormal pre-cancerous cells. If a person with perfectly healthy skin put the cream on, that person likely would not have a reaction to the cream at all.

“It’s a great message and it’s a perfect example of what happens to you if you use — in this case — tanning beds,” said Kenet, a dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian Weill-Cornell Medical Center.

But Dr. Neil Korman, a professor of dermatology at U.H. Case Medical Center who has not treated Willoughby, said he worries patients will shy away from this kind of treatment because Willoughby appears to have taken the photo on the worst day of her treatment, and she didn’t mention that it’s not painful.

“It’s a standard therapy we use relatively routinely,” Korman said. “Often, it doesn’t feel anywhere near as bad as it looks.”

Willoughby wrote that she tanned four to five times a week in high school, and she has been diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma once and basal cell carcinoma five times since her first diagnosis at age 21. She wrote that she’s lucky not to have melanoma, which can metastasize, but she’s had cancer cut and scooped out, electrodissected, frozen with liquid nitrogen, surgically removed and killed with photodynamic therapy, which combines drugs and light therapy.

“Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That’s my biggest fear now that I have a two-year-old little boy of my own.”

Willoughby was not immediately available for comment.

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Blind Runner and Guide Survive Cancer, Find Friendship

Kelly Harold (NEW YORK) — Once a week, 23-year-old Abbey Lanier follows her guide dog to the east side of New York’s Central Park so she can do what a lot of people would usually dread — run six miles.

She meets up with Tessa Wehrman, who hands Abbey one end of a nylon tether, and the two women run in lock-step, in quick strides along with the other runners. Abbey is blind, Tessa is her guide, and while this seems like a one-sided relationship, it becomes clear that this is a balanced exchange.

“There is something about running that really breaks down your barriers. You build relationships and they don’t just stop when you’re done running,” Tessa explained.

Abbey was born with a hereditary degenerative retina condition called retinitis pigmentosa. But for her, the condition has never been more than a diagnosis; she navigates the city like any other New Yorker, thanks to her guide dog, Alexa.

Getting exercise is not as easy.

That’s where Achilles International comes in.

Since 1983, the nonprofit group has been pairing disabled athletes with volunteers to run, walk, cycle or swim. Athletes from major cities in the U.S. and around the world have been crossing finish lines, conquering physical limitations and building friendships.

Tessa is quick to brush off any comments about her being overtly charitable, and is even quicker to explain why.

“I was diagnosed in 2011, on Friday the 13th, no less, with breast cancer,” she said.

A double mastectomy at the age of 26 and exhaustive rounds of chemotherapy left Tessa with a slower pace on the pavement. But by opening up about her fears, sharing her story and her struggles while running with Achilles, Tessa strengthened the bond with the woman on the other end of the guide tether.

In 2013, Abbey herself was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“I was really glad that I couldn’t see the scans because I wasn’t going to be able to handle that,” Abbey said.

Like Tessa, Abbey was resolute throughout treatment, denying cancer the chance to break her spirit.

“I decided that as soon as I was done with chemo and radiation, I was signing up for a race and that was how I was going to celebrate,” Abbey said.

Since their treatments, both women have been cancer-free, although it is never far from their minds. Still, thanks to the unexpected bond from their time with Achilles, Abbey said they refuse to let cancer define them.

“I’m not just the blind girl with cancer who runs. I’m more than that, and I would, I’d like to think that other people are more than their physical characteristics,” she said.

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Jay and Kateri Schwandt, Couple With 12 Sons, Welcomes 13th Boy

ABC News(ROCKFORD, Mich.) — Jay Schwandt and his wife, Kateri, have 12 sons, and he was hoping their 13th child would be a girl. He didn’t get his wish.

Kateri Schwandt, 40, gave birth to another baby boy Wednesday, several days after her due date.

Jay Schwandt, 40, confirmed a post on Facebook saying he and his wife now “need to choose a name.”

“It’s a BOY!” he said in the post. “BLESSED beyond belief!”

The couple from Rockford, Michigan, has observed the tradition of keeping their children’s gender a surprise.

During an appearance on Good Morning America last week ahead of Kateri Schwandt’s May 9 due date, she said she assumed she’d have another boy.

And when their 12 sons — Tyler, 22, Zach, 19, Drew, 18, Brandon, 16, Tommy, 13, Vinnie, 12, Calvin, 10, Gabe, 8, Wesley, 6, Charlie, 5, Luke, 3, and Tucker — were asked to raise their hands if they wanted another brother, only three of them did.

In a prior interview with ABC News, Jay Schwandt, who does land surveying for commercial real estate properties near the family’s home, said his wife was “pulling for another boy because that’s in her comfort zone.”

“I’m pulling for a girl,” he said.

The Schwandts manage their household of rough-and-tumble boys through a system of flow charts and chores.

“There’s a lot of activity, a lot of commotion, a lot of chaos, but there’s also a lot of love,” Kateri Schwandt said.

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Elderly Man Called 911 for Food Because He Couldn’t Move, N.C.) — An elderly man who’d just returned home after months in the hospital said he was hungry, had no food and no one to turn to for help. So he dialed 911.

“I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t get out of my damn chair,” Clarence Blackmon, 81, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, told the 911 operator, according to ABC News station WTVD-TV in Durham.

“I said, ‘I’m not broken, I’m not bleeding, and I’m not in crisis. I just want somebody to help me buy some food,'” he told ABC News.

What the 911 operator did next will melt your heart.

“He was hungry,” 911 operator Marilyn Hinson told WTVD. “I’ve been hungry. A lot of people can’t say that, but I can, and I can’t stand for anyone to be hungry.”

An hour and a half later, Hinson showed up at Blackmon’s door, carrying a box of groceries, Blackmon told ABC News. She had all his favorites: a head of cabbage, green beans, pickled beets and Pepsi. And then she stayed and made him a few ham sandwiches.

“I was overwhelmed,” Blackmon said.

Blackmon had a stroke about a year and a half ago and said 911 operators saved his life, he said. He spent the past six months in a rehabilitation facility. He told WTVD he’s also battling cancer.

Hinson gave him her number and told him to call if he needs anything.

“She is such a delightful lady,” Blackmon said. “It’s amazing. Us little people need a helping hand every once in a while. Most of the time, we get overlooked. We’re still here.”

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When Should You Get a Mammogram?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When Food Network star Sandra Lee announced she had breast cancer on ABC’s Good Morning America Tuesday, she stressed that she got her mammogram two years early.

“I’m 48 years old. I’ve got — I’ve got a couple years ’til 50,” she told ABC News’ Robin Roberts. “If I would have waited, I probably wouldn’t even be sitting here.”

Different organizations offer different recommendations when it comes to mammograms, but that can get confusing.

For instance, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, which is the national independent panel of experts that makes recommendations on when people should get medical tests, says that women shouldn’t begin to get annual mammograms, which are an X-ray of the breast that can detect cancer, until they turn 50. But the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association and the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say women should get annual mammograms starting when they’re 40.

“There continues to be controversy regarding breast cancer screening: both when to do it, what method to use, and who should be screened,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ medical contributor and a practicing OB/GYN. “Part of the reason for this confusion is due to the fact that data can and is interpreted by different organizations in slightly different ways.”

USPSTF doesn’t deny that patients die of breast cancers in their 40s, but it says mammography benefits don’t outweigh the harms. The potential harms of mammography include stress, unnecessary additional imaging, unnecessary biopsies and unnecessary treatment for cancers that wouldn’t end up killing the patient, said Dr. Donna Plecha, director of breast imaging at U.H. Case Medical Center in Cleveland.

“Other people say, ‘No that’s not a harm to me. You’re being thorough,'” Plecha told ABC News. “It really depends on your point of view.”

“I think mammography saves lives,” she said.

Plecha said of every 1,000 people who undergo a mammogram, on average, 900 will have negative results and 100 will be recalled for additional tests. Of those, 26 will be asked to return in six months and 19 will need biopsies. Between five and eight of these patients will be diagnosed with breast cancer, Plecha said.

Ashton said patients should work with their doctors to determine what’s best for them.

“Medicine is not ‘one-size-fits-all’ and this is no different,” Ashton said. “Each woman is an individual and her risk needs to be assessed by her health care provider so that the best course of action for her can be determined. There is no such thing as a perfect screening test, but rather today, different approaches for women based on their age, family history and personal risk factors.”

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City Noise Doesn’t Bother Most City Dwellers

Photodisc/Thinkstock(BUFFALO, N.Y.) — People who live in noisy environments don’t seem to mind it as much as those who might be visiting and are noticeably perturbed by all the racket.

University of Buffalo researcher Dr. Matthew Xu-Friedman says that city dwellers aren’t necessarily going deaf, they just happen to get used to their noisy surroundings.

How does that happen? Xu-Friedman credits the brain’s amazing ability to adapt “to a different heightened level of activity.”

Using mice, Xu-Friedman and his team exposed some rodents to a week’s worth of loud noise, such as the roar of a hair dryer. Compared to a control group, these mice were soon able to adapt so that their brains could hear new sounds.

In the same way, New York City residents hear the constant din as merely background noise, enabling them to deal with the other distractions of their everyday lives.

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Cane with Facial Recognition Software Is a Breakthough for the Blind

iStock/Thinkstock(BIRMINGHAM, England) — Imagine a cane that can see for the blind. That is, really see the faces that are familiar to the cane’s owner.

That’s what scientists at Birmingham City University in England have come up with. Steve Adigbo, who helped developed the XploR mobility cane, says that the device can identity a face from 10 yards away.

It works by first taking photos of the subject and then storing that information into a memory card, which uses facial-recognition software.

When the cane comes across a face it recognizes, it vibrates and then sends a message to an earpiece worn by the owner via Bluetooth.

In addition to this breakthrough that employs smartphone technology, the developers also made the cane user-friendly so that it’s both lightweight and easy to operate.

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CDC: Most American Adults Have Had At Least One Cavity

4774344sean/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Wednesday that indicates the vast majority of American adults have had at least one cavity in their lives.

The study, published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Data from the survey indicated that 91 percent of adults under the age of 65 reported having suffered at least one cavity.

That figure jumped to 96 percent among those older than 65.

The study also found that just 48 percent of adults under 65 still had all of their teeth. Twenty percent of those older had no remaining teeth.

The survey also found the number of Americans under 40 with all of their teeth is double that of those between the ages of 40 and 64.

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North Dakota Mom Gives Birth to Twin Boys, and Only One Has Dwarfism

Christy Lawler(FARGO, N.D.) — Twins Christian and Dalen Lawler were born healthy boys on Jan. 20. Except in a rare occurrence, Dalen has dwarfism, and Christian does not.

“Dalen was born at 8:37 p.m. and Christian was born one minute later,” mom Christy Lawler told ABC News Tuesday. “Both of them, perfectly healthy, went to the regular nursery. I was looking over them and I did notice Dalen’s hands were different from Christian’s. They were short, compact, and chubby and I said, ‘You know, maybe you do have what they were saying.'”

Lawler, of Fargo, North Dakota, said that at 32 weeks pregnant a genetic doctor told the 26-year-old mom of three that one of her children could have achondroplasia, a common form of dwarfism that affects bone growth in humans.

But due to potential health risks, Lawler said she declined doctors’ offers to perform amniotic tests that would reveal Dalen’s diagnosis prior to birth.

“The tests had risks involved — to him and my pregnancy,” she said. “I felt that whether the diagnosis was that he had it or didn’t, we would still love him anyway.”

On April 14, Lawler announced on Dalen’s Facebook benefit page that he had been diagnosed with dwarfism.

“We were a little surprised, but we taught ourselves and learned as much as we could,” Lawler said. “Both me and my husband have infertility issues, so we felt blessed either way — whether he was average height or not.”

“We weren’t afraid of telling everybody, close family knew about it,” she added. “There’s a support group I belong to called ‘Parents of Little People’ and I asked them, ‘Do you just come out and say, hey my child has dwarfism?’ So, I said it as if it was coming from Dalen. I haven’t had any issues. Everybody’s been very loving and has had open arms.”

Dr. John Garcia, a pediatric sleep specialist at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul, Minnesota, has been treating Dalen for sleep apnea — a disorder that affects his breathing. Dalen was diagnosed with the condition at one month old.

“In the last 10 years I’ve seen 700 patients with achondroplasia and in the last year, 200, so it’s a large number,” Garcia told ABC News. “He [Dalen] was diagnosed and treated [for sleep apnea] in the same night.”

“Now, with supplemental oxygen he does just fine. He has been a trooper,” Garcia added.

“Mom is extremely resilient,” Garcia said. “That’s my first impression of her. She problem-solves quicker than most.”

Although she sometimes finds herself growing concerned about Dalen’s health and social challenges, Lawler said that she and her husband Derek will remain positive for their son.

“This world isn’t made for people like Dalen,” she said. “I am also a little scared about him going to school and maybe being made fun of. Otherwise, we want to push them both equally.”

“I don’t want Dalen to feel that he can’t do anything because he has dwarfism. I want him to feel confident that he can do whatever he wants without anything holding him back,” she said.

The Lawler family has created a crowdsourcing page to raise funds for baby Dalen’s surgical procedures that children with achondroplasia commonly face as they grow older.

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