Review Category : Health

Contract Dispute Continues for Minneapolis Area Nurses Despite End of Strike

iStock/Thinkstock(MINNEAPOLIS) — Thousands of nurses at five hospitals in the Minneapolis-area have finished their week-long strike over a contract dispute.

Although the strike is over, the nurses’ contract fight is not.

The nurses in the Minnesota Nurses Association believe hospital operator Allina Health wants to switch nurses to a plan with lower monthly premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs.

Almost 5,000 nurses joined the picket lines starting last weekend, calling for Allina to hold contract talks.

“We’re asking Allina, come back and actually negotiate with us,” said Angie Becchetti, one of the nurses on strike, last Sunday. “We’re asking for health insurance to keep intact and we’re asking for better staffing and workplace violence prevention.”

It was unclear when the nurses and Allina Health would hold talks, and if and when the nurses were planning a second strike.

“We’re eager to get back to the bargaining table,” said Dr. Penny Wheeler, Allina CEO, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but “both sides need to be willing to talk about a health plan transition.”

Allina Health brought in 1,400 replacement nurses this week, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported, and Allina officials said emergency rooms at four of the hospital were near capacity often. Officials also said Allina decided to cancel elective surgeries at Unity Hospital and close some recovery floors, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Officer Killed On Duty Honored by Police Force in Widow’s Maternity Photo Shoot

iStock/Thinkstock(GREENVILLE, N.C.) — A widow, who lost her police officer husband in the line of duty while she was expecting, decided to honor him in a maternity photo shoot that’s gone viral.

Officer Allen Jacobs died March 18 in Greenville, South Carolina.

His widow Meghan Jacobs is pregnant with their third child — a baby girl to be named Lennox — who is due in July.

To honor her late husband, Meghan Jacobs, with the help of a friend of more than 15 years, photographer Jessie Ellex, planned a maternity photo shoot that resulted in more than 600 photos.

“The tone of photo shoot was very mixed,” Ellex, 29, told ABC News. “It was, of course, very somber, but bittersweet, knowing Meghan and Lennox have the support of the Greenville Police Department.”

Ellex said the six-hour photo shoot started with just Meghan Jacobs and her mother, but they were later joined by officers.

“When the police officers met us around 7:30 [p.m.] all I could do was fight back tears. But we all pushed through,” she recalled.

In many of the photos, Allen Jacobs’ fellow officers and a police dog posed behind the widow. The photo shoot also featured her late husband’s patrol car, his uniform, his badge and even the flag that had been on his casket.

In a caption on Facebook, Ellex noted that the “flag was never disrespected and never touched the ground.”

Ellex said Meghan enjoyed the photos and that she is relieved because “Meghan is like a sister to me, so when she met Allen he became an important part of my life just like Meghan.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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NC Whitewater Rafting Facility Closes After Deadly Amoeba Found

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — A North Carolina whitewater rafting facility was forced to close after water samples tested positive for brain-eating amoeba.

The U.S. National Whitewater Center (USNWC) announced the temporary cancellation of its whitewater activities in a statement Friday, and said it was based on “discussion with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and local health officials.”

Health officials had been studying the water since the death of Ohio teen Lauren Seitz, who visited the park with her church group, and fell in the water when her raft overturned.

Doctors said Seitz had died from a rare, but fatal brain infection caused by being exposed to an amoeba, Naegleria Fowleri, in the water.

The statement from USNWC said “initial test results” found Naegleria Fowleri DNA in its whitewater system.

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Abortion Demands on the Rise Over Zika Fears

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The increase in fears over the Zika virus has also caused an increase in the number of Latin American women wanting abortions, researchers say according to the BBC.

Recent estimates published by the New England Journal of Medicine suggest that the abortion requests in Brazil have more than doubled.

The BBC reports many governments have advised women not to get pregnant while the risk of contracting the Zika virus is still prevalent.

Many pregnant women who have contracted the Zika virus have given birth to babies with microcephaly, or tiny brains and heads.

According to the BBC, 60 countries and territories have reported cases of Zika that were spread by mosquitoes. More than 1,500 babies bave been born with microcephaly as a result of the zika virus.

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Comparing the Accuracy of Body Fat Scales

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Scales have evolved from simply stepping on a scale to see your weight at one moment in time to being able to track weight over time and connect with apps on a smartphone.

Scales also now measure body fat. Good Morning America invited three women to try six different consumer body fat scales.

The three women first had their body fat percentage measured by Dr. John Shepherd and his team at the University of California San Francisco’s Body Composition Lab. Shepherd considers these findings — obtained using a body fat assessment device known as the Bod Pod — the “gold standard” in the final comparisons.

The body fat scales tested by the women included those made by Tanita, Fitbit, Taylor, Withings, Weight Watchers and Qardio.

The scales ranged in price from $40 to $150. All six scales reported the weight correctly for all three women, with less than 1 percent of error from Dr. Shepherd’s findings.

On average, the Tanita scale, Taylor scale and Weight Watchers scale each reported our testers’ body fat 4 percent more than the “gold standard.”

The Withings scale reported our testers’ body fat 9 percent more than the “gold standard.” The Withings body analyzer uses a scientific technique that is widely recognized as the best method for at-home body mass measurement.

The Qardio scale reported our testers’ body fat 5 percent more than the “gold standard.”

We had a syncing error with the Fitbit scale — which Fitbit says may have been due to a Wi-fi problem, so we are not reporting those results.

We reached out to all the companies in our story and some criticize the use of the Bod Pod as the “gold standard” and say their own testing confirms the accuracy of their products. They also tell us these products are meant to help users see trends over time.

Consumer Reports tested the same six scales in March and came to the conclusion that, “The results were unimpressive: None was very accurate.”

As of earlier this month, the Withings model is no longer on the market. The company has now released two new scales that test body fat among other things.

The scales still use the same technique to calculate body fat but, “the new electronics are more advanced and take even more exact readings,” Withings told ABC News.

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Your Body: The Effects of Graveyard Shifts

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

They don’t call it the graveyard shift for nothing.

Past research has shown a link between shift work and an increased risk for cancer, metabolic disorders and heart disease.

Now, a new study looked at the risk of heart disease in female nurses who worked at least three nights per month, in addition to other day and evening shifts. Researchers found that women who did five years or more of shift work had an increased risk of heart disease.

So how do you preserve your health if you’re working overnight?

Try to counteract this associated increased risk with things that can lower your risk. Exercise daily if you can, eat a heart-healthy diet and if you smoke, try your best to quit.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Bug Spray Hacks: How to Avoid the Summer Bite

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Mosquitoes and other biting insects may be an unfortunate part of summer, but you don’t have to suffer. We’ve got a few tips for avoiding those nasty bug bites.

More Is Not Better

Extra coats of bug spray do not offer added protection. One coat of bug spray to exposed skin is enough. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says DEET offers the best protection against mosquito bites but notes that the chemical may cause skin rashes, including blisters and skin and mucous membrane irritation, if applied in high amounts.

If you want to avoid products that contain DEET, there are natural alternatives such as lemon eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, neem oil and citronella.

The Best Ingredients to Fight Off Bugs

Be sure to look for proven ingredients like DEET, picaridin and IR3535 to give long-lasting protection. Apply repellants only to exposed skin and avoid spraying the repellant over cuts, wounds or irritated skin, the CDC advises.

Look for an EPA Label

If you’re unsure of which product is the right one for you, go to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Insect Repellant Search Tool. You can plug in which bug you’re trying to avoid and the duration you’re going to be outside. The EPA regulation number on the back of each bottle confirms that the product has been proven safe and effective by the EPA.

Don’t Spray Your Face

To protect your face, spray bug spray on the palm of your hand before applying the product to your face. The CDC says bug sprays can be used with sunscreen, though it’s best to apply the sunscreen first.

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‘Mom Hair’ Article Sparks Online Outrage Among Critics Calling it ‘Mom Shaming’

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A recent article about so-called “Mom Hair” is sparking an online firestorm in the mommy blogosphere.

The New York Times style section recently ran a piece about new moms struggling with hair loss after pregnancy and deciding on a “longer-in-back, slightly-shorter-in-front bob,” calling it “inescapably frumpy” and comparing it to “Mom Jeans,” which in turn launched a wave of backlash from women across the web.

Ashley Austrew, a mother from Omaha, Nebraska, wrote a post on the blog, Scary Mommy, an online community for parents, criticizing the article for its condescending remarks and calling it mommy shaming.

“I don’t know about you but I’m sick of having the word ‘mom’ continually used as a synonym for uncool, unflattering, unhip and sexless,” Austrew wrote.

Even though celebrity moms like Michelle Williams, Miranda Kerr and Kris Jenner have been flaunting shorter looks and looking great, style critics have long seen motherhood as synonymous with general un-coolness.

Saturday Night Live poked fun at the connection between moms and poor style choices in a skit about “Mom Jeans” over three years ago. Then in May, the show mocked the inevitability of new mothers shearing off their sexy, long locks for “the cut.”

Robi Ludwig, a psychotherapist in New York City and author of “Your Best Age is Now,” says she often sees mothers face societal stereotypes.

“Just because somebody has a baby, it doesn’t mean that they don’t wanna look good, that they don’t wanna look glamorous, and, if they don’t hit the mark right away, it’s an evolutionary process,” she said.

She said shaming particular looks is unnecessary, especially when what really matters is having a haircut that makes a woman feel good about herself.

“They did a Harvard study where they found that women who got their hair done, cut, colored and blown out, the younger they thought they looked, the lower their blood pressure would go down, so it has a physiological effect,” Ludwig said.

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Twinkie Science Experiment Continues 40 Years Later

iStock/Thinkstock(BLUE HILL, Maine) — A 40-year-old Twinkie in Blue Hill, Maine, seems to have weathered the past few decades quite well. Perhaps a testament to the power of preservatives, the legendary Twinkie at George Stevens Academy in Blue Hill remains, with the exception of some dust, remarkably intact.

What began as an impromptu chemistry experiment in 1976 has left the small private school home to the world’s oldest Twinkie. Chemistry teacher Roger Bennatti, who has since retired from teaching, began the experiment during a lesson on food additives and shelf life when a student expressed curiosity about the lifespan of a Twinkie.

To answer, he gave his students a few bucks and sent them to a store. They returned with a package of Twinkies. After popping the first one in his mouth, he placed the second one on the blackboard. “Let’s see,” he said.

Forty years later, the Twinkie remains, though its exact location has since changed. After leaving George Stevens Academy in 2005, Bennatti passed the Twinkie down to Libby Rosemeier, who had been a student in that very chemistry class and now serves as the school’s Dean of Students. The Twinkie remains on display in a glass box in her office and has become, in many ways, the school’s claim to fame.

Rosemeier is still in awe at the amount of attention the Twinkie has garnered.

“It’s really funny that we’re this wonderful coastal community in Maine, and we have this school of 325 kids that is a gem and we’re doing great things and kids are going to great colleges, and the thing people know about us is this 40-year-old Twinkie,” Rosemeier told ABC News.

Nevertheless, she welcomes the Twinkie attention, if that’s what puts the school and all of its students’ accomplishments, including an impressive jazz band and sports teams with championship titles, on the map.

Bennatti, too, said he is surprised by the impact of his Twinkie experiment decades ago, though he refers to it as a “worthy science experiment.”

“When I retired I could have taken it with me, but I wanted it to stay with George Stevens,” he said, adding that in the future, he hopes it is kept on display and dedicated to all of the past, present and future science students of the high school.

“I’ve heard people suggest that the sports teams should be renamed the Fighting Twinkies,” Bennatti laughed, “but I’m not so sure they’ll go for that.”

As for the Twinkie’s future, Rosemeier, who tentatively plans to retire in the next five years, is still unsure of who will inherit the 40-year-old sugary treat.

“The Smithsonian hasn’t contacted me yet,” she joked.

Hostess did not respond to a request for comment.

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Cancer Risk Can Decrease Significantly by Taking Basic Preventive Measures, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Cancer can seem to strike out of the blue, but taking basic preventative measures may decrease a person’s chance of developing forms of the disease by as much as 45 percent, according to a review of studies published today in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

Medical experts have asserted for decades that certain behaviors including smoking and eating an unhealthy diet can increase the risk of developing cancer. In the report published Thursday, researchers attempted to understand how reducing these behaviors and living a healthy lifestyle could affect a person’s chance of developing cancer.

The researchers examined 12 ongoing cohort studies, looking at the health of people between the ages of 25 to 79 and their habits. They found those who adhered to cancer prevention guidelines including living a physically active lifestyle, eating five or more servings of vegetables per day and limiting alcohol consumption were not-so-surprisingly less likely to develop cancer.

What was striking was the significance of the decrease. Those who followed the guidelines had a 10 to 45 percent reduction in the risk of developing cancer, decreasing with healthier lifestyle habits. Similarly, they saw a 14 to 61 percent reduction in deaths from cancer among the people who adhered to these guidelines. More research is needed to see if these initial findings continue to hold firm past the 7 to 14 years of monitoring done during this analysis. That amount of time may not be enough to fully understand how healthy behaviors affect cancer development. Additionally subjects self-reported their activities, which is not the most accurate way to measure healthy behaviors.

“If you adhere to these guidelines, you may reduce your risk of getting or dying from cancer, though the risk is not totally eliminated,” lead author Lindsay Kohler, a doctoral candidate at the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona said in a statement today. She noted that family history and environmental factors also play a role in cancer development and death.

“However, following these recommendations will lead to healthier lives overall and, in turn, reduce the risk for many major diseases,” she said.

Dr. Gregory Cooper, Co-Program Leader for Cancer Prevention and Control at the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center, explained that these types of studies can help him illustrate to patients why exactly it’s important to adhere to a healthy lifestyle.

“I’ll tell a patient that there was just a study that was published that people who ate five servings of fruits and veggies a day can have low risk of cancer,” said Cooper. Additionally he said this information can be used to help educate patients in cases where precancerous lesions may be found, such as during a colonoscopy.

Patients ask “‘What caused it?’ I say part of it is probably hereditary and part of it might be related to diet,” Cooper said. “It’s another opportunity to educate patients. You have pre-cancerous polyps and it may be a way to prevent that.”

Cooper also pointed out that just because a person lives a healthy lifestyle and has no known cancer risks, does not mean they can avoid recommended testing. He pointed out that there is still a significant portion of cancer cases where the likely cause remains unknown.

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