Review Category : Health

11-Year-Old Cancer Survivor Invents IV Backpack

ABC News(NAUGATUCK, Conn.) — An 11-year-old girl from Connecticut is spending the first months of her new school year handling a patent application, raising money online and screening companies that want to make her big idea — an IV pediatric backpack for kids with cancer — a reality.

Kylie Simonds, of Naugatuck, Connecticut, was in fifth grade last year when she took a standard classroom assignment — create something to solve an everyday problem — and turned it into something that could help thousands of kids with cancer.

“I came up with it from when I had cancer,” Simonds told ABC News. “When I had chemo, I had to pull around the big IV pack, so I came up with this backpack.”

“I remember tripping over all the wires, getting tangled up and having to drag this big thing around,” said Simonds, who underwent months of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries to beat rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare childhood cancer she was diagnosed with three years ago, at age 8.

“I would have loved this thing for myself,” she said.

The backpack prototype, which won Simonds four awards at a statewide invention convention, includes details like a drip bag protection cage so kids can move around without fearing they will puncture the medicine bag and an IV controller built into the bag to control the bag’s flow rate.

“I worked with my mom and dad to actually make it and my nurses and doctors gave me some tips,” Simonds said. “They were saying it has to be light and portable and there has to be something that protects it if you sit back, so I thought of the metal cage that protects it.”

Right now, the bag features a Hello Kitty design but, Simonds said, the bag’s future will include customizable designs for boys and girls.

A GoFundMe page created by Simonds and her parents to raise money for her backpack design has already raised nearly $47,000 in two months.

“Some companies have already emailed us about how they want to help us,” said Simonds, who was treated at Yale Cancer Center in Connecticut. “My dad had to look through the emails to see which ones really want to help us and we found some companies that are good and we’re going to work with them.”

Friends Simonds made while undergoing cancer treatment have already been emailing her to say they want the backpack now, she said.

“It’s just touching my heart,” Simonds added.

Though Simonds’ big idea is receiving nationwide attention and could have an impact on thousands of people, it is her fifth-grade teacher, who gave her the assignment in the first place, who may be the most impressed.

“She was just shocked and amazed,” Simonds said of her teacher. “She was really, really happy and excited to see it.”

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“Grey’s Anatomy” Star Says Shonda Rhimes Predicted Her Pregnancy

ABC/Todd Wawrychuk(NEW YORK) — It seems there’s nothing Shonda Rhimes can’t do.

Actress Sarah Drew, who plays Dr. April Kepner on Rhimes’ hit show Grey’s Anatomy, said Rhimes even predicted her second pregnancy.

“She wrote the pregnancy into the show before I was even pregnant. Shonda knows everything!” Drew declared in the October-November issue of Fit Pregnancy.

On the show, which returns for its 11th season Thursday night, Drew’s character is expecting her first child with onscreen husband Jackson Avery, played by new dad Jesse Williams.

But off screen, she is expecting her second in December with husband Peter Lanfer, a professor at UCLA. The pair are already parents to 2-year-old son Micah Emmanuel. They are waiting to find out the sex of their second child.

Drew, 33, told Fit Pregnancy she’s enjoying her second pregnancy more than the first.

“The first time it wasn’t just the physicality, it was the emotional weight, too,” she said. “I was mourning the end of a massive chapter in my life. I know that sounds weird.”

She added, “Emotionally, I was a basket case and I had a lot of fear. This time around it’s been really delightful, because I have the example in front of me of what happens when the child comes out. And yeah, it’s changed my life, but I’m really happy with the way things have changed. Your desires and the things that you love shift. You grow and adjust.”

One of the ways Drew has grown is by letting go of trying to be the perfect parent. After struggling to breast-feed Micah, she ended up pumping her breast milk and feeding it to him through a bottle for a year.

“I honestly think the biggest trials end up teaching you how to let go,” she told Fit Pregnancy. “So the breast-feeding thing was a huge lesson for me: that this is not the end of the world. I was a control freak about sleep for the first six months of Micah’s life, and now it’s like, OK, if he has a late night, he’s actually perfectly fine. His life isn’t ruined. My life isn’t ruined.

“So yes, I’ve learned to let go, and now I live a much more relaxed and happier life.”

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Eating Fruits and Vegetables Really Do Make You Feel Better

iStock/Thinkstock(COVENTRY, England) — The magic bullet that might help to boost your mental well-being is located in the produce section of your local supermarket.

It sounds like a joke but Dr. Saverio Stranges and his team at the University of Warwick’s Medical School are dead serious about the medicinal effects of fruits and vegetable on one’s emotional state.

By examining data from the Health Survey for England, Stranges and other researchers learned that 33.5 percent of people reporting high mental well-being, that is, the ability to cope with life’s everyday stressors, ate five or more portions of fruits and vegetables daily.

However, when they looked up information about those in the survey who consumed less than one serving of fruits and vegetable each day, just 6.8 percent reported high mental well-being.

Meanwhile, unhealthy habits like drinking and conditions such as obesity were not associated with optimum emotional health.

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There’s More than Just Oregano in This Pizza Sauce

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) — Practically everyone’s heard of pot brownies. That probably isn’t the case with a product that’s described as “the world’s first cannabis infused pizza sauce.”

It’s possible that one day Podey Pizza could become a household name. Meanwhile, the California-based medical cannabis company says that despite the special ingredient, its sauce doesn’t have a marijuana taste but the effects of the drug can be felt fully after three or so slices.

Of course, there’s always the problem that you might not stop at three slices since it’s been well-documented that pot gives people an appetite.

Podey Pizza sauce comes in a five-ounce jar and contains 300 milligrams of medical marijuana. While there are other sauces that claim the same thing, Podey Pizza says they were the first.

At the moment, it’s only available at dispensaries in the California Bay Area and at select locations in Denver.

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Single Parents Are as Sexually Active as Singles Without Kids

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(BLOOMINGTON, Ind.) — There’s little doubt that single parents have got it tougher in some ways than singles without children. Yet, assumptions that single parenthood wreaks havoc on one’s sex life compared to people without kids appear to be false.

In a study conducted by researchers from The Kinsey Institute and University of Nevada, single parents have just about as many sexual encounters as their childless counterparts.

Co-authors Justin Garcia and Peter Gray quizzed 5,800 single men and women, both with and without children, to arrive at that finding.

As Garcia explains, “Without the help of a partner, singles often have to divert more energy to parenting and so in theory one might think single parents would not be dating as much — but that’s not what we found.”

Another surprising discovery was that singles with kids aged five and under had more sex than those with older youngsters. The reasons have to do with hormonal changes in younger adults and the need perhaps to find a partner to help raise the smaller kids.

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Questions Raised Over Differences Between Brand-Name Rx Drugs vs. Generics

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When Robin Lynn, who suffers from depression, was prescribed a generic version of a popular anti-depressant medication, she didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.

“I thought that generic drugs are the exact same thing as the name-brand drug,” Lynn said.

But after taking Budeprion XL 300, a generic form of brand-name Wellbutrin XL, Lynn, who is from New York, said she noticed over time that the drug wasn’t helping.

“I would have a lot of energy, but by middle of the day I would have no energy, I would crash, and it wasn’t really controlling my depression symptoms either,” she said. “My outlook on life was different in a matter of hours. I knew that was just not normal, that’s not how things are supposed to be.”

In 2007, Lynn went looking for answers and reached out to pharmacologist Joe Graedon, who wrote the best-selling book The People’s Pharmacy, with his wife Terry Graedon. Around that same time that he heard from Lynn, Graedon said he began to receive complaints about Budeprion XL 300, with users reporting some intense side effects not seen with using the brand-name drug.

“They were getting very jittery. They were experiencing headaches. They were having stomach problems, insomnia, just a whole range of side effects, and it just wasn’t clearing up their depression the way the brand-name drug was,” Graedon said. “And some of them even expressed suicidal thoughts.”

“It was like getting a shot of adrenaline first thing in the morning,” Lynn said. “It would make my hands shake, my heart would pound.”

Eight out of 10 prescriptions written in the United States are filled with the no-brand-name, generic version of the drug prescribed by a doctor, and every year generic drugs save American consumers more than $200 billion in prescription costs.

For years, Joe and Terry Graedon were strong advocates for the use of generic drugs.

“We were huge supporters of generic drugs, because you can save an amazing amount of money,” Joe Graedon said. “I mean a brand-name drug for heartburn or for depression can cost a couple of hundred dollars a month. The generic might cost only $5 or $10 a month… So if they were identical, I mean, What’s not to like?”

But when hundreds of people started writing in with their negative experiences with Budeprion XL 300, the Graedons became concerned and contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, asking them to investigate.

“Pretty much we heard nothing back,” Joe Graedon said. “The FDA didn’t seem very responsive to our concerns.”

So Graedon decided to take the investigation into his own hands. He took the drug Budeprion XL 300 to ConsumerLab.com, which independently tests generic drugs for universities, businesses, hospitals and government agencies, and asked them to test how Budeprion XL 300 dissolves, and whether it dissolves the same way as the brand-name drug, Wellbutrin XL.

The FDA mandates that generic forms of prescription medication contain the same active ingredient as the brand name, but the agency allows the generic version to use different inactive ingredients, including binders to hold the pill together and time-release agents to disperse it.

That dissolution process was important with Wellbutrin XL and its generic forms because they are “extended release” drugs. Every time-release drug has a mechanism to distribute the active ingredient into a patient’s system. The generic forms aren’t required to have the same mechanism as their brand name.

“What we found was shocking,” said Dr. Todd Cooperman, the president of ConsumerLab.com. “The generic released its ingredient very quickly. In fact after just two hours, 34 percent of the ingredient had come out into solution. The original product had only released 8 percent at that time…so you’re getting a burst of medication coming out very early on with the generic that you shouldn’t be getting.”

Such a huge early release of the generic drug Budeprion XL 300 would mean the active ingredient would spike and be used up quickly, leaving little of the active ingredients in a patient’s body for the rest of the day, while also potentially causing unexpected side effects.

After publishing their results, Cooperman said, “it seemed like the FDA kind of wanted to quash this issue. The manufacturer also questions, you know, did we do the right test? The FDA said everything was fine.”

The drug information insert that comes with Budeprion XL 300 stated that the drug had been “tested in a study” and “equivalence was demonstrated” with the name-brand Wellbutrin XL, but then, the FDA announced a shocking admission.

“The FDA finally admitted that there actually had never been a study of this generic, and it had never been tested in humans, and that the information in that package insert was, therefore, just made up,” Cooperman said.

As it turns out, the FDA did require testing in a lower dose of Budeprion XL and used those results to approve the 300mg-strength version.

Janet Woodcock, the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research at the FDA, told ABC News that the 300mg version wasn’t tested separately because “there was concern about testing the generics in normal volunteers.”

“We had had seizures reported, and we were worried that we would be unethically exposing volunteers,” she said.

But Cooperman believes the FDA made an error in not doing further testing.

“If you’re going to say, ‘OK it’s good enough for 300 million people to take it potentially, but we’re not going to test it in 24 healthy people,’ I can’t follow that rationale,” he said. “I think they made a big mistake there.”

Seven years after the Graedons first complained to the FDA, the agency took Budeprion XL 300, the 300mg version, off the market in 2012.

“It was not equivalent enough to the brand drug,” Woodcock said.

Manufacturers for the drug declined ABC News’ requests for comment. Other forms of generic Wellbutrin are still on the market, and they are all considered safe. In fact, experts agree that generic drugs are in general extremely safe.

But there have been other cases of generic drugs causing different effects in patients. Dr. Harry Lever, a cardiologist and the medical director of the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Center at the Cleveland Clinic, said he starting seeing patients having problems with a generic form of Toprol XL, a blood pressure medication.

“They began getting chest pain or shortness of breath or dizziness. And some of them I would just change the manufacturer back to the name brand…some would seem to feel better,” he said.

Lever wrote to the FDA about his concerns in December 2012. He received an assurance, 18 months later, that all forms of generic Toprol were up to the FDA’s standards. But then, just two weeks later, the FDA announced two forms of that drug manufactured in India were voluntarily recalled.

According to the FDA, the recall was “a coincidence.” Woodcock said these recalls were routine and due to some specific lots that may have degraded over time. Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd., one of the companies that manufactured the drug, also told ABC News that the voluntary recall was “related to specific manufacturing issues with the two batches in question and not related to manufacturing of any other batches.”

But Lever isn’t buying it.

“All I can speak to is what I’m seeing,” he said. “And I’ve seen problems and when you have batches that are removed you begin to wonder that there are problems and you can’t just ignore it.”

Though watchdogs like Graedon and Cooperman believe most generics are safe, they still have concerns about others.

“We suspect there are at least dozens if not scores of generic drugs that may not live up to the standards that the American public expects,” Graedon said.

The FDA disagrees. But the bottom line is generic forms of prescription medication, while generally safe, are not identical to their brand-name drugs, though critics suggest using caution and speaking with your doctor.

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What Do You Wear Under a Hospital Gown?

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) — Certainly one of the most unpleasant aspects of any hospital visit is when a patient has to don a gown that opens in the back.

Dr. Todd Lee at McGill University in Montreal explains that people often feel stripped of their dignity when they have to wear a gown without pants, which lowers them into the passive and helpless role of a patient.

Lee then looked at five hospitals in Toronto to learn more about this phenomenon. Of the 127 patients who wore gowns, just 11 percent wore pants underneath. Interestingly, more than half of the attending physicians said this would pose no problem with examinations but most of the patients in the study opted to remain naked under the gown in spite of how uncomfortable it made them.

However, at one hospital, 13 of 17 patients admitted that that they would like to wear pants beneath the gowns, suggesting that it would improve their experience.

Lee says, “Any clothing is probably superior to the gown, even if patients were wearing pajamas that allowed them to walk around the hallway without exposing themselves.”

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What Do You Wear Under a Hospital Gown?

iStock/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) — Certainly one of the most unpleasant aspects of any hospital visit is when a patient has to don a gown that opens in the back.

Dr. Todd Lee at McGill University in Montreal explains that people often feel stripped of their dignity when they have to wear a gown without pants, which lowers them into the passive and helpless role of a patient.

Lee then looked at five hospitals in Toronto to learn more about this phenomenon. Of the 127 patients who wore gowns, just 11 percent wore pants underneath. Interestingly, more than half of the attending physicians said this would pose no problem with examinations but most of the patients in the study opted to remain naked under the gown in spite of how uncomfortable it made them.

However, at one hospital, 13 of 17 patients admitted that that they would like to wear pants beneath the gowns, suggesting that it would improve their experience.

Lee says, “Any clothing is probably superior to the gown, even if patients were wearing pajamas that allowed them to walk around the hallway without exposing themselves.”

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The Five Health Behaviors to Avoiding a Heart Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(SOLNA, Sweden) — Older and middle-aged men who want to prevent heart attacks should follow five health behaviors put forth by the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Karolinska Institute in Solna, Sweden.

Granted, they’re not all easy to do at once, but the men who were able accomplish it were less likely to experience a heart attack over 11 years by watching their diet, exercising regularly, lifting weights, quitting smoking and having just one drink of alcohol daily.

Study lead author Agneta Akesson says that of the 20,700 Swedish men who participated in the study from 1997 through 2008, just three of the 212 men who practiced all five recommendations suffered a heart attack.

In contrast, 1,724 of the men who didn’t bother with a single one of the healthy behaviors were stricken with a heart attack.

The researcher admits that sticking to all five behaviors is a difficult task but says that even one behavior, such as loading up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat milk, cuts the risk of heart attack by 20 percent in men ages 45 to 79.

Akesson says that a previous study on women showed similar results.

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Weekends Are Made for Exercising and Drinking

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Working out on the weekends often seems to be accompanied by bending the old elbow.

In other words, hitting the gym or exercising from Thursday through Sunday is also when fitness buffs usually consume more alcoholic beverages, according to David E. Conroy at the Center for Behavior and Health at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Conroy had 150 participants ages 18 through 89 keep a diary on smartphones of the occasions they worked out and drank (presumably not together) over three 21-day spans during the course of a year.

The result, says Conroy, is that it’s “on days when people are more active they tend to drink more than on days they are less active.” And the less active days are Monday through Wednesday.

Interestingly, the pattern was the same for all age groups, regardless of their levels of physical activity.

Conroy says the next step is figuring out why these two disparate activities appear to go hand-in-hand.

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