Review Category : Health

American Says ‘Sense of Humanity’ Makes Him Fight Ebola

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Wellbody Alliance operates the largest primary care clinic in Sierra Leone. The clinic is close to the epicenter of the deadly Ebola outbreak that is raging throughout western Africa.

Raphael Frankfurter, the group’s 23-year-old executive director, returned from the country last week after spending several months there. The chief Ebola physician in the country recently died from the virus, wreaking havoc within the healthcare community there, he said. His team felt that as a non-medical person, he would be safer and more useful raising funds and coordinating programs in Boston where the organization is based.

Before Frankfurter left Sierra Leone, a woman died from Ebola in a nearby hospital after attending a funeral where she likely washed and wrapped an infected corpse, as is the local custom. He was tasked with finding all 35 people she had come in contact with and convincing them to come in for testing.

“People are not always receptive to us because of the aggressive way healthcare workers have met people in the community,” he said, explaining that armed military often surround the homes of suspected Ebola cases and isolate them for weeks at a time. “We tried a much more relaxed approach to engage them respectfully so they don’t feel as marginalized or intimidated.”

Frankfurter said with Ebola cases on the rise, the mood in Sierra Leone is tense.

“I couldn’t help feeling some of the tension myself, but rationally I was not afraid for my life. I know it is very difficult to contract Ebola unless you come into contact with a very sick person’s bodily fluids,” he said.

His family is concerned but they respect his work, he said.

“They are supportive and I appreciate the stress I am putting them through. I have reassured them many times that I have limited contact with patients,” he said.

Frankfurter said he is planning on returning to Sierra Leone as soon as it makes sense, possibly in September or October. He said a shared sense of humanity drives him to help the people of the region through this crisis.

“I’m motivated by a strong sense of ‘these people going through this in Sierra Leone could be me,'” Frankfurter said. “There is so much need. I couldn’t live with not engaging and trying to address some of these problems.”

Like many humanitarian aid groups, Wellbody Alliance has removed all but essential medical personnel from the hot zone. Their doctors remain to fight one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history at great personal risk, Frankfurter noted.

Of the 1,711 Ebola cases currently reported, 145 of them are healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organization. There are 80 healthcare workers among the 932 confirmed deaths in all affected countries.

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American Says ‘Sense of Humanity’ Makes Him Fight Ebola

Hemera/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Wellbody Alliance operates the largest primary care clinic in Sierra Leone. The clinic is close to the epicenter of the deadly Ebola outbreak that is raging throughout western Africa.

Raphael Frankfurter, the group’s 23-year-old executive director, returned from the country last week after spending several months there. The chief Ebola physician in the country recently died from the virus, wreaking havoc within the healthcare community there, he said. His team felt that as a non-medical person, he would be safer and more useful raising funds and coordinating programs in Boston where the organization is based.

Before Frankfurter left Sierra Leone, a woman died from Ebola in a nearby hospital after attending a funeral where she likely washed and wrapped an infected corpse, as is the local custom. He was tasked with finding all 35 people she had come in contact with and convincing them to come in for testing.

“People are not always receptive to us because of the aggressive way healthcare workers have met people in the community,” he said, explaining that armed military often surround the homes of suspected Ebola cases and isolate them for weeks at a time. “We tried a much more relaxed approach to engage them respectfully so they don’t feel as marginalized or intimidated.”

Frankfurter said with Ebola cases on the rise, the mood in Sierra Leone is tense.

“I couldn’t help feeling some of the tension myself, but rationally I was not afraid for my life. I know it is very difficult to contract Ebola unless you come into contact with a very sick person’s bodily fluids,” he said.

His family is concerned but they respect his work, he said.

“They are supportive and I appreciate the stress I am putting them through. I have reassured them many times that I have limited contact with patients,” he said.

Frankfurter said he is planning on returning to Sierra Leone as soon as it makes sense, possibly in September or October. He said a shared sense of humanity drives him to help the people of the region through this crisis.

“I’m motivated by a strong sense of ‘these people going through this in Sierra Leone could be me,'” Frankfurter said. “There is so much need. I couldn’t live with not engaging and trying to address some of these problems.”

Like many humanitarian aid groups, Wellbody Alliance has removed all but essential medical personnel from the hot zone. Their doctors remain to fight one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history at great personal risk, Frankfurter noted.

Of the 1,711 Ebola cases currently reported, 145 of them are healthcare workers, according to the World Health Organization. There are 80 healthcare workers among the 932 confirmed deaths in all affected countries.

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Stress in a Marriage Affects Interaction with Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas) — Many children have natural radar systems that go into overdrive when there’s an undercurrent of tension in the house between mom and dad.

Southern Methodist University psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros says that’s all the more reason for parents to try and cool things down because their stress and bad feelings can also affect each one’s relationship with their children.

In examining 200 families who wrote about their experiences for 15 days, Kouros learned that moms seemed to over-compensate when marriages were going through rocky patches and as a result, they would generally be more caring with their children.

However, dads were different and not in a good way. When their wives exhibited signs of being depressed, it affected men negatively and that led to worse interactions with the youngsters.

The bottom line, Kouros said, is that the quality of a marriage has an enormous effect on the entire family and parents need to be more cognizant of that fact and how children react to it.

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Stress in a Marriage Affects Interaction with Kids

iStock/Thinkstock(UNIVERSITY PARK, Texas) — Many children have natural radar systems that go into overdrive when there’s an undercurrent of tension in the house between mom and dad.

Southern Methodist University psychologist Chrystyna D. Kouros says that’s all the more reason for parents to try and cool things down because their stress and bad feelings can also affect each one’s relationship with their children.

In examining 200 families who wrote about their experiences for 15 days, Kouros learned that moms seemed to over-compensate when marriages were going through rocky patches and as a result, they would generally be more caring with their children.

However, dads were different and not in a good way. When their wives exhibited signs of being depressed, it affected men negatively and that led to worse interactions with the youngsters.

The bottom line, Kouros said, is that the quality of a marriage has an enormous effect on the entire family and parents need to be more cognizant of that fact and how children react to it.

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Acid in Popular Beverages Can Wreck Youngsters’ Teeth

iStock/Thinkstock(ADELAIDE, Australia) — Parents have heard all the reasons why they should steer their kids away from certain popular beverages that are loaded with either sugar or caffeine or both. However, a study from Australia’s University of Adelaide brings up another downside of soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks, which is high acidity.

Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar and his team say that the acids in these drinks can cause tooth enamel to wear away, not to mention make the teeth discolored and sensitive.

And if that isn’t bad enough, Ranjitkar warns of the dreaded “triple threat” that can do irreparable damage to young teeth. In addition to the effects of acid in beverages, he says that many teens also grind their teeth when they sleep and the combination of that and acids produced by the stomach because of reflux present a nightmare scenario.

Ranjitkar’s advice to parents then is to limit soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks since enamel erosion can occur within 30 seconds of acid in contact with teeth.

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Acid in Popular Beverages Can Wreck Youngsters’ Teeth

iStock/Thinkstock(ADELAIDE, Australia) — Parents have heard all the reasons why they should steer their kids away from certain popular beverages that are loaded with either sugar or caffeine or both. However, a study from Australia’s University of Adelaide brings up another downside of soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks, which is high acidity.

Dr. Sarbin Ranjitkar and his team say that the acids in these drinks can cause tooth enamel to wear away, not to mention make the teeth discolored and sensitive.

And if that isn’t bad enough, Ranjitkar warns of the dreaded “triple threat” that can do irreparable damage to young teeth. In addition to the effects of acid in beverages, he says that many teens also grind their teeth when they sleep and the combination of that and acids produced by the stomach because of reflux present a nightmare scenario.

Ranjitkar’s advice to parents then is to limit soft drinks, fruit juice and sports drinks since enamel erosion can occur within 30 seconds of acid in contact with teeth.

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Experts Share Secrets to Streak-Free Tanning

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — There are many reasons to mourn the end of summer, but the threat of ashen, winter-chapped skin is chief among them.

Not ready to face a ghostly complexion just yet? Neither are we.

To keep our pallor at bay, we consulted the experts. Here, they offer tried-and-true tips to maintain the appearance of a summer glow.

Be Gentle

Meredith Fish, who founded Brownberry, a salon and product line that specializes in the art of the spray tan, recommended that wannabe golden girls lightly exfoliate before applying self-tanner.

“The actual activation is happening between [the product and] your epidermis, which is the outermost layer of skin. If you’re not working with the outermost layer, it’s not going to last as long,” she explained.

Of her preferred exfoliation technique, Fish said: “My favorite is just using a wash cloth with a really hydrating soap. You want to be careful not to irritate your skin or dry it out, which sometimes people end up doing, because they’re just so ferociously determined to exfoliate.”

Christy Cella, the vice president of education at Clarins Group and a “self-tanning client of Clarins for 18 years,” agreed. After stressing the importance of exfoliation to eliminate unsightly dry patches, she, too, encouraged users to moisturize.

“People always go, ‘Why do I need to moisturize?’ The fact is if your skin already has a bit of slippage [from lotion], a self-tanner will glide on more effortlessly,” she said. “It just makes the tan look more natural and you’re less likely to have any mistakes.”

Think Ahead

Erin Griffin, a makeup artist at Tarte Cosmetics, has told clients to apply product the day before they want to see results.

“[Y]ou want to ensure the product fully absorbs into your skin and has enough time to full develop a natural-looking color,” she told ABC News. “When using Tarte’s Brazilliance Skin Rejuvenating Maracuja Self Tanner, I always suggest avoiding any activities such as exercising, showering or shaving, for at least eight hours after you’ve applied the tanner.”

Lay It on Thick

According to Fish, the key to superlative sunless tanning is a willingness to “go to town!”

“You’re better off going back over a spot, if you think you missed it…than being cautious where you spray,” Fish said. “You just really want to get every spot — every nook and cranny. Be as thorough as possible.”

For a foolproof tan, Griffin added, “always…apply the product in long, even strokes as opposed to circular motions.”

Nothing Lasts Forever

Like a “real” tan, a faux glow is temporary. To extend its effects, Cella said to moisturize regularly: “Body oils are a great way to keep your skin hydrated and supple.”

At Brownberry, Fish said she “would never want to deter a customer from going swimming, but the longer you soak the more quickly [your tan is] going to fade.” Be ready to reapply, she added.

Fading Gracefully

Of course, no matter how we cling to bronzed skin and the season with which we associate it, cooler temperatures will prevail.

When it does, Cella advised users to apply tanner less frequently and consider products like Radiance-Plus Golden Glow Booster, which they can mix into moisturizer for a more subtle tint.

“You don’t want to look like you just got back from Tahiti in January,” Fish said. “But I think it’s always nice to have a little sun-kissed glow. It’s definitely youthful looking. It’s definitely healthy looking.”

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Couple that Fought to Ban Medical Procedure After Wife’s Cancer Looks Back at Year of Changes

Courtesy Hooman Noorchashm(PHILADELPHIA) — After nearly a year of campaigning to ban a procedure favored by the medical community and dealing with his wife’s life-threatening cancer diagnosis, Dr. Hooman Noorchashm said he finally feels his family is on solid ground again.

“We think we’ve landed on our feet. It’s been a whirlwind for almost the past year now,” Noorchashm told ABC News.

Noorchashm, a cardio-thoracic surgeon, and his wife Dr. Amy Reed, a certified-anesthesiologist, spearheaded a campaign last fall to ban the practice of using laparoscopic power morcellation in the removal of uterine fibroids or the uterus due to possible cancer risks.

The couple has first-hand knowledge of how devastating the procedure can be after Reed underwent the surgery last October to remove uterine fibroids. According to the couple and confirmed by Brigham and Women’s Hospital, as Reed underwent the procedure — where the fibroids are broken up and removed through small incisions — an undetected virulent cancer called leiomyosarcoma hidden in the fibroids was ground up along with the fibroids as they were removed.

As the device ground up fibroids for removal, it may have also spread the cancer throughout her abdomen.

Noorchashm told ABC News he was shocked and angry after hearing in detail how the procedure spread the undetected cancer.

“Within minutes of hearing of my wife’s diagnosis. I just knew this was wrong,” Noorchashm said of the procedure.

At the time of Reed’s surgery, it was unclear what the likelihood a person undergoing the procedure would have undetected cancer.

A 2012 study published in the Public Library of Science found that in 1,091 morcellation procedures performed at Brigham and Women’s Hospital over five years, only one woman was found to have leiomyosarcoma, the same virulent undetected cancer as Reed’s.

Within weeks, Noorchashm was talking to other doctors and asking to get more information about these kinds of procedures and reaching out to other women who experienced something similar. He and Reed started a Change.org petition to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the procedure.

Within months, two Boston hospitals, Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (where Noorchashm was employed and Reed was treated), agreed to first review the procedures and then limit occasions when the procedures would be used.

But Noorchashm wanted a more permanent answer. He temporarily stopped working 90 hours a week as a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and started applying that time to supporting his wife during her treatment and working to get the procedure banned.

“I basically used the same intensity I brought to work and focused it on this,” said Noorchashm. “What you’re seeing here is a large volume of time and non-stop sustained [work] in order to make a change.”

In the months after Noorchashm and Reed started their petition, at least two medical articles were published in the Journal of American Medical Association questioning the safety of the procedure.

A study published in July in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Columbia University researchers revealed that undetected uterine cancers were found in 27 per 10,000 women at the time of the procedure.

Last April, the couple had a major breakthrough after the FDA recommended doctors stop performing the procedure due to possible cancer risks. The FDA found that 1 in 350 women were at risk of having a type of uterine cancer, called uterine sarcoma, spread throughout the abdomen if they undergo the procedure.

In a statement sent to ABC News last April, the FDA acknowledged that Noorchashm brought the issue to their attention last December.

“After further discussion, we involved staff from across the agency to look into the issue further,” the FDA told ABC News in a statement.

Despite the FDA caution, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists released a statement in May that “minimally invasive surgery, including gynecologic power morcellation, continues to be an option for some patients undergoing hysterectomy or myomectomy.”

The ACOG said that preoperative consults should be used to advise patients about their options and that further studies were required in the development of detecting uterine cancers before morcellation procedures.

Despite the ACOG findings, in recent weeks the procedure has become more and more marginalized after a major supplier withdrew devices for the procedure and a Blue Cross/Blue Shield insurance plan announced they would no longer cover the procedure due to potential cancer risks.

Late last month Ethicon, the Johnson and Johnson division that makes three device models used in these procedures, announced it is voluntarily withdrawing all of its power morcellation devices from the market.

According to an FDA spokesman, there are approximately 24 devices for laparoscopic tissue morcellators that have been approved by the FDA. The Johnson and Johnson withdrawal covers three devices on the market

“The risk-benefit assessment associated with the use of these devices in hysterectomy and myomectomy procedures for removing fibroids remains uncertain,” Johnson and Johnson said in a statement. “Due to this continued uncertainty, Ethicon believes that a market withdrawal of Ethicon morcellation devices is the appropriate course of action at this time.”

Noorchashm and Reed have not filed any lawsuit against either Ethicon or Brigham and Women’s hospital. The couple said they are focused instead on stopping the procedure altogether.

However, Ethicon’s morcellators are the subject of three lawsuits filed earlier this year against the company. In one case against Ethicon was dismissed after lawyers determined that a different manufacturer made the device used in the procedure. Ethicon has said they do not comment on litigation. According to an Ethicon spokesman, the cases are still pending.

The lawsuits were not a factor in withdrawing the devices, according to an Ethicon spokesman.

This week the Blue Cross/Blue Shield High Mark plan available to residents of Delaware, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, announced it would no longer cover power morcellation for uterine procedures due to the possible risks.

For Noorchashm and Reed, both 41, the biggest news of the past year was not one published in a headline. Instead it was the news that after surgery and six rounds of chemotherapy Reed was found to have no evidence of disease.

In recent weeks the couple moved with their six children, aged 1 to 12, to Philadelphia, where their extended family lives and where Noorchashm will start at job at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals later this summer.

Reed is likely to go back to work at some point in the next few weeks.

As the couple start to get back to their normal lives, Noorchashm said the last year has left a mark on how he practices medicine. He and Reed are still planning on working as advocates in different aspects of the field. And Noorchashm said he wants to change the way the FDA approves devices such as the morcellation devices.

Earlier this summer the couple were asked to talk at panel convened by the FDA to review the procedure.

In his day-to-day work, Noorchashm said he now puts himself in his patient’s shoes more often and doesn’t write off patients who seem disgruntled about something minor.

“Do I want that to happen to me or my loved one?” Noorchashm said of his new attitude. “[If] I wouldn’t want to be in that position, I’m not going to do that.”

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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Dementia Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers have found a possible link between Vitamin D deficiency and increased risk of dementia.

In a study published in the journal Neurology, researchers said they looked at over 5,000 patients and found that those with vitamin D levels that qualified as “severely deficient” were 122 percent more likely to develop dementia than those who received sufficient levels of the nutrient. Those patients who were merely “deficient” were 51 percent more likely to develop dementia.

Researchers tested the results excluding certain factors — including alcohol use, education level, age, sex and smoking status — and found that their findings remained accurate.

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Researchers Link New Gene to Increased Breast Cancer Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say they have identified another gene that may be linked to increased risk of breast cancer.

According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the PALB2 gene may be linked to between five and eight times increased risk of breast cancer. Researchers say a mutation in the PALB2 gene, which is known to interact with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes previously linked to breast cancer risk, led to increased breast cancer risk among all age ranges of women, even those without family history of the disease.

The individual risk linked to the PALB2 gene did vary based on a number of factors, including age and family history. Women under 40 with the gene mutation were eight to nine times more likely to have breast cancer, while women over 60 were about five times greater than normal risk.

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