Review Category : Health

Dozens of North Carolina Students Sent Home Due to Mysterious Illness

Getty Images(PERSON COUNTY, N.C.) — Dozens of students at a North Carolina school were sent home after they exhibited possible signs of a virus, according to the local school superintendent.

At least 84 students at the Person High School in Person County were sent home after exhibiting “virus type symptoms,” according to a statement from Person County School Superintendent Danny Holloman.

Additionally, six staff members were also sent home after exhibiting the same symptoms. At the Helena Elementary School and Woodland Elementary School, a total of 20 students were sent home after showing symptoms.

Students and staff were asked to stay home if they have vomiting, fever or diarrhea.

What triggered the illness remained unknown as of Wednesday afternoon, but school officials said they were reaching out to the local health department and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for help.

The CDC requested schools send samples from sick kids to determine the source of the outbreak.

School officials said the affected schools would be cleaned overnight and classes were expected to resume as normal Thursday morning. The Person County Health Department did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

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More Men With Breast Cancer Opting for Double Mastectomies

Getty Images(PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan.) — Seven years after finding a lump in his chest, Bret Miller was diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer at age 24.

Multiple doctors had brushed off his concerns through the years, telling him it was likely a calcium deposit.

Then, after finally being told he had cancer, Miller, of Prairie Village, Kansas, was dismayed when a doctor recommended a double mastectomy.

“At first, I was listening to what the doctors were saying, but a part of me … I didn’t want to do the double mastectomy,” he said.

A lifeguard at the time, Miller, now 29, worried how he would look, saying, “It would have made me feel awkward and not make me want to be around a pool anymore.”

He’d planned to postpone the second mastectomy for a month so he could recover from the first. But the day before his initial surgery in 2010, Miller’s physician told him that after consulting another doctor they would stick with a single mastectomy because he should not be treated exactly like female patients.

He said he was relieved that he only had to have one procedure.

“I know it affects women more … but men still have breasts, as well,” Miller said of his having a mastectomy and being left with a long scar. “It took a little while to be comfortable with it.”

While breast cancer is among the most common cancers for women, male breast cancer is rare and researchers are still trying to understand how men with the disease are being treated, compared to women.

A newly published study released Wednesday found that more male breast cancer patients are undergoing double mastectomies, electing to remove unaffected breast tissue as part of their cancer treatment.

The study examined 6,332 men with breast cancer undergoing surgery, and found that for the first time, the number of men having both the affected breast and the unaffected breast tissue removed in a double mastectomy had increased significantly.

The percentage of double mastectomies in men nearly doubled to 5.6 percent in 2010-2011 from 3 percent in 2004-2005.

In women, rates of prophylactic double mastectomies have also been rising, especially for women who are younger, white and privately insured, according to the study.

Ahmedin Jemal, vice president of surveillance research at the American Cancer Society and lead researcher in the study, told ABC News it’s unclear why there has been such a dramatic rise in the procedure for men.

“It is concerning because there is no really good evidence” to the benefit in male breast cancer patients, Jemal said.

He explained that for some women with the BRCA gene mutation, which makes them predisposed to breast or ovarian cancer, removal of the breasts prophylactically is recommended. But there is far less evidence that this is an issue in men, he said.

“I think the increase we see is in the general population is not only high risk people but other women and men are getting the mastectomy,” Jemal said.

Men with the BRCA 2 gene have a 7 percent chance of developing cancer in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control.

About 2,350 men are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer every year, compared to 231,840 women, according to the American Cancer Society. For men, the lifetime risk of getting breast cancer is 1 in 1,000, compared to 1 in 8 for women.

Thought it’s unclear why there is an increase for double mastectomies in men, Jemal and other researchers said in the study it may be related to genetic testing, family history or fear of the cancer’s return.

Dr. Robert Shenk, a surgical oncologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said he was surprised by the study’s findings because men have a far lower risk of developing breast cancer in their second breast.

“It doesn’t make sense to me to remove it,” Shenk said, theorizing that it’s possible men may have chosen to remove breast tissue for cosmetic reasons and so they appear symmetrical.

“You also don’t know if physicians who are used to or recommending prophylactic mastectomies in women are doing the same thing for men,” he added.

Both Shenk and Jemal said more studies were needed for male breast cancer patients to figure out why there has been such a large rise double mastectomies for men.

For Miller, he said he hopes the study will help other men be aware that breast cancer doesn’t only affect women. After his diagnosis in 2010, Miller started a nonprofit foundation aimed at raising awareness about male breast cancer.

“Every single day is a new story and it’s scary to know that [they’re] only 1 percent” of breast cancers, he said.

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5-Year-Old’s Selfless Donation May Have Saved Twin Brother with Cancer

Charlotte “Charlie” Godish, 5, donated stem cells to her twin brother Bradley. (Jennifer Godish)(ELGIN, Ill.) — A 5-year-old girl became a hero to her family after she helped her twin brother fight his aggressive form of leukemia by selflessly donating her stem cells to him.

“What Charlie did for her brother and my wife and I was nothing short of amazing,” dad Brian Godish of Elgin, Illinois, told ABC News Wednesday. “For us to be fortunate enough for Bradley to have a twin sister who’s a perfect match; we were speechless. Not everyone is so lucky.

“We were almost at a loss for words as to how emotional it was.”

Back in January, Godish told ABC News Wednesday, he and his wife approached their daughter Charlie, short for Charlotte, and asked how she would feel donating her cells to Bradley, who had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in the fall of 2014.

“She didn’t understand the whole medical process, but what she did understand was she wanted to help her brother,” he added.

“Her words were, ‘Yeah, just let me know when you need me.'”

The surgery took place at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Feb. 17, but the family is speaking publicly now because Bradley’s cancer is in remission and the twins recently started kindergarten.

Dr. Jennifer Schneiderman, the twins’ transplant physician, said all went as smoothly as can be.

“The procedure itself went just fine,” she said. “He [Bradley] had a high risk feature to the leukemia, so a procedure was recommended. We look to parents and siblings to see if they’re a match and Charlie, his sister, happened to be a match. She [Charlie] gets general anesthesia and we obtain the marrow. She doesn’t feel it at the time, but typically patients will feel some soreness for 36 to 48 hours and then they’re fine.

“We do about 60 transplants a year and I’d say about a quarter are of brother and sister,” she added. “As far as an age appropriate thing, she was very eager to help him and said she would do whatever she needed to do.”

Beatrice Abetti, director of the Information Resource Center at the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, agreed that a sibling is always the best chance of a match for a stem cell transplant.

“Donating involves extracting stem cells from the hipbone or bloodstream to be infused into the ill child in order to restore marrow function,” she added in a statement. “While the process can involve some soreness or discomfort for the child donating the cells, there is generally little risk in this procedure, and the potential benefits for the child with cancer can be significant.”

Now that the procedure is complete, Godish, a father of three, said he is glad the twins have recovered.

“She never complained of pain, which ‘til this day amazes me,” Godish said. “She had a huge bandage on her back and she didn’t want to take it off. It was sort of a badge of honor to show she helped Bradley. She was so proud.

“We really hope as parents they learn from this–to always be selfless to always help somebody out, to always give,” he added. “Charlotte’s always been such a selfless person and Bradley’s been such a good-natured kid. This shows how valuable love and life is and I hope they never take life for granted.”

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Your Body: Stop Holding onto Your Skinny Jeans

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

You know those skinny jeans in the back of your closet from your slimmer days? Are you still hoping and even struggling to fit into them? If so, let them go.

Research shows that holding onto skinny clothes and hoping that you’ll fit into them one day is a common idea but it’s actually linked to negative feelings like failure and disappointment. This can often lead women to start dangerous dieting practices out of desperation.

Instead, embrace yourself as you are today and focus on living a healthy lifestyle. Just because you’re not where you used to be, doesn’t mean that you’re not at your best.

And put those clothes to good use. Donate them or resell them for cash to buy clothes that really fit.

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Divorcing Couples Snap Happy Selfies to Announce Their Break-Ups

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s the post-break-up phenomenon taking social by storm.

Divorcees are now ditching their marriage and instead saying ‘I do’ to “divorce selfies.” The new trend is finding the silver lining in splitting up, turning a heartbreaking situation into a fun photo opp.

“[It’s] A lighthearted way to announce your divorce in one shot and also let people know that they don’t have to feel awkward around you,” Elise Sole, senior writer for Yahoo Parenting, told ABC News.

Florida couple, Keith Hinson and Michelle Knight, were all smiles on their wedding day, but fast forward three years and they’re now happily divorced.

“The most amicable, easy-going divorce in history,” Keith explained.

The exes sealed the deal with a selfie right outside the courtroom.

“She just said, ‘Hey, you want to take a selfie?,’ kind of as a joke and I said, ‘Why not?’” Keith added.

He shared the photo on Instagram with the caption, “Here’s to the most friendly, respectful and loving split imaginable.”

The response was overwhelmingly positive.

“We’re celebrating the fact that we can move forward,” said Keith.

But they’re not the only ones showing divorce can have a happy ending.

Canadian couple Shannon and Chris Neuman declared their 11-year marriage was officially over by snapping a selfie outside of a Calgary courthouse on Thursday.

“We kind of high-fived and did a silly selfie and went on our way,” Shannon explained.

In just a matter of days the candid photo went viral, being shared on Facebook a whopping 36,000 times and counting.

“It shocked me that other people were responding to it,” she said.

Shannon hopes her kids will appreciate it when they’re older, too.

“I think that they’ll recognize that we love them,” she said. “We’ll always work really hard to be — this makes me cry — to be their parents.”

The new “divorce selfie” trend is helping prove divorce doesn’t have to be ugly.

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Knee Replacements Are Becoming More Common, Especially Among Women

Jodi Jacobson/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Knee replacements are on the rise, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics says, and the people undergoing the surgery are getting younger.

According to data released on Wednesday, the rate of knee replacements increased for both men and women between 2000 and 2010. The rate of the surgery in men over the age of 45 increased by 86 percent in that time, while the rate in women of the same age jumped by 99 percent.

Women have long been more likely to have knee replacements — the CDC says that 33 out of every 10,000 women over the age of 45 had the surgery in 2000, compared to 24.3 out of 10,000 men. In 2010, those figures reached 65.5 out of 10,000 women and 45.3 out of 10,000 men.

Perhaps just as notably, the average age of all knee replacement patients fell from 68.9 years old in 2000 to 66.2 in 2010.

The report does not offer reasons behind the increasing frequency of knee replacements, nor comment on the efficacy of the procedure.

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California High School Football Teammates Suffer Mysterious Brain Injuries

iStock/Thinkstock(EL DORADO, Calif.) — A high school football player in California is hospitalized in critical condition, one of two teammates who suffered brain injuries during a Friday game.

Authorities say they are investigating whether drug use among players — particularly the prescription drug Adderall, used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD — may have played a role. The investigation includes a review of game footage and other matters, authorities said.

Union Mine High School students Nick Brown and Justin Schwartz had finished playing a junior varsity game against Foothill High School when teammates and onlookers noticed something wrong.

“[Brown] just wasn’t looking right,” Merrill said. “It looked like he was exhausted.”

The two teens lost consciousness and collapsed, and were rushed to hospitals. Schwartz was treated for a concussion and nerve injury before being released. He’s now recovering at home.

Brown, meanwhile, remains hospitalized in critical condition after undergoing emergency brain surgery. His family released a statement, acknowledging that he “suffered a high impact blow to the head that caused a subdural brain bleed.”

Authorities are investigating whether Adderall may have played a role, according to the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department. While a fellow 17-year-old student was arrested for allegedly providing the drug to classmates, authorities say they have not connected the suspect to Brown and Schwartz’s injuries. The identity of the student facing charges has not been released.

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Your Body: Dealing with Adult Nightmares

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

Are you still having nightmares? For about 10 percent of adults, they are a serious problem.

Studies in the field of sleep medicine have shown that having negative attitudes towards ourselves, being exhausted or fatigued, using sleeping pills and frequent heavy use of alcohol are all associated with nightmares.

If you’re experiencing frequent nightmares, talk to your doctor. If it’s from medication, you may be able to switch. If it’s caused by a mental health-related issue, talk with a mental health professional about therapy options.

Keep a regular sleep schedule, relieve stress with activities like yoga or meditation, and limit alcohol and nicotine to help make sure you get a good night’s sleep, nightmare-free.

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New Heart ‘Calculator’ Lets You Find Out How Old Your Heart Really Is

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Putting a new spin on looking “good for your age,” researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have figured out a way to determine if your cardiovascular system is actually aging faster than the rest of you.

In a new study, CDC researchers found the hearts of U.S. adults are often much “older” than their chronological age.

Using data from the large and well-established Framingham Heart Study, researchers looked at information from 578,525 participants between the ages of 30 to 74 and found that men fared worse than women overall. On average, men had a predicted heart age of 7.8 years older than their chronological age and women had a heart age that was 5.4 years older, according to the study.

Researchers determined the “age” of the heart or cardiovascular system by examining each person’s risk profile. This includes if they smoke, their blood pressure, diabetes status and body mass index. A riskier profile meant an “older” heart.

“Too many U.S. adults have a heart age years older than their real age, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said. “Everybody deserves to be young — or at least not old — at heart.”

The study determined that an estimated 69 million American adults have hearts older than their chronological age.

This study found certain groups fared even worse, with hearts far older than their actual age. For African Americans, heart age for both men and women was an average of 11 years older than their chronological age. Additionally, if people had more education or household income, their heart age tended to “decrease” or become more in line with their chronological age.

In order to help the average citizen see their own heart “age,” the CDC worked with the Framingham Study and created the “heart calculator,” which can determine your cardiovascular age after assessing a few risk factors.

Dr. Sahil Parikh, a cardiologist at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said he’s hopeful the new calculator will make it clear to patients how a few bad habits can have severe consequences on their health. He pointed out that doctors can currently calculate a patient’s percentage risk for a cardiac event but that patients may not really understand the gravity of that risk percentage.

“If you tell a patient that your risk of having a cardiovascular [event] is 10 percent, their take-home is ‘Wow, there’s a 90 percent chance I’ll be fine,’” Parikh said. “We would consider 10 percent a high risk.”

Parikh said he’s hopeful that younger patients in their 40s will realize that their age does not protect them from severe events and that if they are overweight or smoking, they will realize their heart age might be far “older.” Patients often do not believe they are at risk until they suffer a heart attack, stroke or other major cardiovascular event, he noted.

“I can tell you story after story of people who have a thunderclap [cardiac] event and it strikes them out of the blue,” Parikh said. “When you go back in retrospect, there are telltale signs. They did not recognize it or felt that it did not apply to them.”

Those with an older “heart age” should not be discouraged and should instead take steps to decrease their risk, such as losing weight, quitting smoking or taking blood pressure medication, Parikh said.

“You can always modify risk,” he said. “There are clearly therapies today that reduce incident of heart attack and reduce mortality of heart attack and stroke.”

If you want to find your own heart age you can check out the heart calculator here.

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Your Body: Talking to Your Kids About Their Weight

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

Talking to kids about their weight is no easy task and you don’t want to hurt their feelings. But it’s such an important conversation to have in order to help your children take control of their health as soon as possible.

Here are some tips on how to talk to them:

  • Tell your children that their health is at stake and you want to help them get better so they can live a healthy life.
  • Never, ever, criticize your children or make their appearance the focal point.
  • Lead by example. Make cooking healthy meals a game, take walks around the park together, or encourage them to join a sports team.
  • Lastly, let your children know you love them unconditionally. This can give your kids the confidence they need to live their best and healthiest lives.

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