Review Category : Health

Alzheimer’s Drug Trials Lag As Number of Patients Rises

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic found that while the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise — expected to reach over 100 million by 2050 — there were only 413 Alzheimer’s disease drug trials between 2002 and 2012.

During the same time period, there were nearly 5,000 clinical trials for breast cancer drugs. It’s a shocking gap, considering that approximately 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S. can be attributed to Alzheimer’s disease — more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined, the report, published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, said.

Currently, there are just five drugs approved for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The failure rate of drugs tested against Alzheimer’s is a staggering 99.6 percent.

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Alzheimer’s Drug Trials Lag As Number of Patients Rises

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Research conducted at the Cleveland Clinic found that while the number of people living with Alzheimer’s disease continues to rise — expected to reach over 100 million by 2050 — there were only 413 Alzheimer’s disease drug trials between 2002 and 2012.

During the same time period, there were nearly 5,000 clinical trials for breast cancer drugs. It’s a shocking gap, considering that approximately 50,000 deaths each year in the U.S. can be attributed to Alzheimer’s disease — more than prostate cancer and breast cancer combined, the report, published in the journal Alzheimer’s Research and Therapy, said.

Currently, there are just five drugs approved for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. The failure rate of drugs tested against Alzheimer’s is a staggering 99.6 percent.

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Challenges Mount for Doctors Fighting Deadly Ebola Outbreak

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it is struggling to contain an unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus on the continent of Africa.

The contagious and deadly disease is spreading, in part because of trade, across the borders of three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, health officials said.

In the outbreak zone, though, a new fear was growing: that some frightened patients are staying away from hospitals and sheltering at home or in churches, further spreading the disease.

Since March, the outbreak has killed at least 390 of the more than 600 people it has infected in the three countries, according to WHO.

There is no known cure for Ebola. In this outbreak — the largest for the Ebola virus — 62 percent of infected people have died.

Ebola spreads by close contact with the bodily fluids of infected people.

The virus is characterized by a sudden fever, intense weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and impaired kidney and liver function. In severe cases, it can cause internal bleeding.

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Challenges Mount for Doctors Fighting Deadly Ebola Outbreak

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The World Health Organization said Wednesday that it is struggling to contain an unprecedented outbreak of the Ebola virus on the continent of Africa.

The contagious and deadly disease is spreading, in part because of trade, across the borders of three countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, health officials said.

In the outbreak zone, though, a new fear was growing: that some frightened patients are staying away from hospitals and sheltering at home or in churches, further spreading the disease.

Since March, the outbreak has killed at least 390 of the more than 600 people it has infected in the three countries, according to WHO.

There is no known cure for Ebola. In this outbreak — the largest for the Ebola virus — 62 percent of infected people have died.

Ebola spreads by close contact with the bodily fluids of infected people.

The virus is characterized by a sudden fever, intense weakness, vomiting, diarrhea and impaired kidney and liver function. In severe cases, it can cause internal bleeding.

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Woman Bares Colostomy Bag in Bikini Pic, Becomes Internet Sensation

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Bethany Townsend decided to post some snapshots of herself in a bikini, bravely exposing her colostomy bags for the first time. And now they’ve gone viral.

The photos of the 23-year-old English makeup artist, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, have been viewed by more than nine million people, according to Caters News.

Townsend said the overwhelmingly positive response to her pictures has inspired her to pursue a career in modeling.

“I didn’t expect this kind of reaction at all,” Townsend told Caters. “The photo has been seen by millions of people and it’s had 190,000 likes and over 10,000 comments on Facebook – it’s just gone ballistic.”

According to the National Institutes of Health, Crohn’s disease is a condition that causes inflammation, or swelling, and irritation of any part of the digestive tract. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea and rectal bleeding.

In extreme situations like Townsend’s, it becomes necessary to remove the damaged section of the intestine and fit the patient with a colostomy bag to divert feces away from the damage.

Townsend said she was fitted with the bags four years ago after a series of operations failed to help her symptoms. She decided to show the bags off on Facebook and Instagram after seeing a few other women doing the same, according to Caters. She then sent them to the Crohn’s and Colitis UK Facebook group, which posted them on their page.

“I sent them the picture and my information, and it all blew up from there,” Townsend said.

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Disability Does Not Justify Pistorius Shooting, Groups Say

Jemal Countess/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A defense witness in the Oscar Pistorius murder trial said people with disabilities are more likely to have symptoms of anxiety and “exaggerated fight or flight” responses, but disability rights groups aren’t buying it as an excuse for the shooting death of his girlfriend.

“Frankly, I think there’s a little bit of exploitation of his physical disability to say that it’s linked to some mental health issue that would cause him to commit murder,” said the president of the National Organization on Disabilities, Carol Glazer. “It’s just too much of a stretch.”

Pistorius, a 27-year-old South African Olympian known as the “Blade Runner” for his prosthetic legs, is on trial for shooting his model girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp through a locked bathroom door on Valentine’s Day 2013. He claims he mistook her for a burglar.

Wayne Derman, who was the chief medical officer for the South African Paralympic team when Pistorius competed in 2012, said in court Wednesday that he has seen “exaggerated fight or flight” responses in people with disabilities that he hasn’t seen in able-bodied people.

He described Pistorius as “hyper-vigilant,” which he described as “restless, looking around and a constant scanning of potential threats.” He said Pistorius cowered and held his ears when fireworks went off during the opening and closing ceremonies.

Derman cited his own unpublished research that found athletes with disabilities experienced higher levels of anxiety than other athletes at competitions. A similar study showed no or only a slight difference between athletes with disabilities and athletes without disabilities.

Derman also testified that people with disabilities are more likely to be attacked than able-bodied people, stopping short of suggesting that this may have contributed to Pistorius’ mind-set at the time of the shooting.

Disability groups in the United States say they find it hard to believe Pistorius’ disability could be to blame for the shooting.

Glazer of the National Organization on Disabilities said there tends to be a “knee-jerk” reaction to assume that becoming disabled is “the most traumatic experience on Earth,” but it’s not true because people adapt.

Pistorius’ legs were amputated when he was an infant.

“Anyone who can figure out how to win an able-bodied track medal in the World Championships, participate in the able-bodied Olympics, and then win a gold in the Paralympics, has figured out how to adapt to his disability,” Glazer said. “It’s highly unlikely that the same disability would trigger hyper-vigilance or other stress reactions.”

Henry Claypoll, the executive vice president of the American Association of People with Disabilities, said it’s true that people react differently to their disabilities and experience discrimination. But he, too, has a hard time reaching Derman’s conclusion.

“The bottom line is I don’t think you can justify these actions by his having lived with a disability,” Claypoll said.

Dr. Phillip Resnick, who directs forensic psychology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, said Derman’s testimony is reminiscent of the battered woman defense, in which a woman kills her husband as a result of repeated abuse and the fear that if she doesn’t kill him, he’ll kill her first.

Derman’s testimony follows a month-long psychological evaluation which concluded that Pistorius now has post-traumatic stress disorder. However, the panel’s report dismissed generalized anxiety disorder as a contributing factor that led to the shooting.

A psychiatric witness prompted the psych evaluation by testifying in May that Pistorius suffered a lifelong anxiety disorder as a result of dealing with his amputations.

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Face and Hand Transplants Get Official Policy

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — There are now official rules that govern face and hand transplants, but that doesn’t mean having the words “organ donor” on your driver’s license will automatically sign you up.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the nonprofit organization under contract with the federal government to allocate organs, has been facilitating face and hand transplants for years. But without a formal policy in place, the process has been difficult, according to Dr. Sue McDiarmid, who chairs the organization’s Vascularized Composite Allograft Transplantation Committee.

The new rules, which go into effect July 3, will treat face and hand transplants like other organ transplants in the hopes of streamlining the process and boosting the number of procedures nationwide.

“There are more of these procedures being done in the United States,” McDiarmid said, explaining the need for an official policy that clarifies the consent process. Now, “if there appears to be a potential donor that is interested or has stated ahead of time that they specifically would be interested in donating…we can go forward with that.”

Registering to be an organ donor is not enough to constitute consent for this kind of donation, McDiarmid said. If a an organ donor wants to donate their hands or face, that donor or their next of kin must give “explicit consent” to do so. Since organ donor registries are run by individual states, those states may develop mechanisms for getting this additional consent in the future.

Like any other organ donation, the face and hands must be harvested immediately. But experts have come up with ways to honor a family’s wish to have an open casket, McDiarmid said. For face donors, a mold can be used to create a mask for funeral proceedings, and a prosthetic hand can be used for hand transplant donors.

Since the first face transplant in 2008, there have been at least seven face transplants nationwide, McDiarmid said. And since the first hand transplant in 1999, there have been eight double hand transplants and 14 single hand transplants, she said.

Face transplant recipients in the United States have included Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a Chimpanzee in 2009 and got her face transplant surgery in 2011. Another notable recipient was Carmen Blandin Tarleton, who underwent a face transplant in February 2013, six years after her estranged husband attacked her with lye, blinding her and leaving her disfigured.

“The donor and her family have given me a tremendous gift making a significant difference in my quality of life at the daily level,” Tarleton said a few months after her transplant. “They graciously relieved a significant amount of my physical pain and discomfort.”

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Face and Hand Transplants Get Official Policy

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — There are now official rules that govern face and hand transplants, but that doesn’t mean having the words “organ donor” on your driver’s license will automatically sign you up.

The Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network, the nonprofit organization under contract with the federal government to allocate organs, has been facilitating face and hand transplants for years. But without a formal policy in place, the process has been difficult, according to Dr. Sue McDiarmid, who chairs the organization’s Vascularized Composite Allograft Transplantation Committee.

The new rules, which go into effect July 3, will treat face and hand transplants like other organ transplants in the hopes of streamlining the process and boosting the number of procedures nationwide.

“There are more of these procedures being done in the United States,” McDiarmid said, explaining the need for an official policy that clarifies the consent process. Now, “if there appears to be a potential donor that is interested or has stated ahead of time that they specifically would be interested in donating…we can go forward with that.”

Registering to be an organ donor is not enough to constitute consent for this kind of donation, McDiarmid said. If a an organ donor wants to donate their hands or face, that donor or their next of kin must give “explicit consent” to do so. Since organ donor registries are run by individual states, those states may develop mechanisms for getting this additional consent in the future.

Like any other organ donation, the face and hands must be harvested immediately. But experts have come up with ways to honor a family’s wish to have an open casket, McDiarmid said. For face donors, a mold can be used to create a mask for funeral proceedings, and a prosthetic hand can be used for hand transplant donors.

Since the first face transplant in 2008, there have been at least seven face transplants nationwide, McDiarmid said. And since the first hand transplant in 1999, there have been eight double hand transplants and 14 single hand transplants, she said.

Face transplant recipients in the United States have included Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a Chimpanzee in 2009 and got her face transplant surgery in 2011. Another notable recipient was Carmen Blandin Tarleton, who underwent a face transplant in February 2013, six years after her estranged husband attacked her with lye, blinding her and leaving her disfigured.

“The donor and her family have given me a tremendous gift making a significant difference in my quality of life at the daily level,” Tarleton said a few months after her transplant. “They graciously relieved a significant amount of my physical pain and discomfort.”

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Popular Diet Blogger Reveals Eating Disorder to Her Followers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For Jordan Younger, going vegan began with a simple goal — to get healthy.

Little did she know her blog, “The Blonde Vegan,” chronicling her food choices, would soon amass a huge fan base with more than 70,000 followers on Instagram.

However, an even bigger surprise came when after just a year of living and touting that vegan lifestyle, Younger, 23, says things went sour.

“I would just stand in front of the refrigerator for 20 minutes totally panicking that I wasn’t going to be eating the right thing for my body,” she told ABC News. “I was a slave to food.”

Confessing in a blog post titled, “Why I’m Transitioning Away from Veganism,” Younger, of New York City, explained she had developed orthorexia, an obsession with eating righteously.

“A lot of people haven’t heard of orthorexia, which is not surprising to me at all,” she said.

Younger said she restricted her own diet so much that she developed a strange rash, grew weak and even stopped having her period.

“I started realizing that I had vitamin deficiency,” she explained. “I was malnourished. … I was very much restricting myself through the shield of veganism.”

But after coming forward, Younger was shocked to be bombarded with negative comments from people saying that she wasn’t a true vegan and much worse.

“I got death threats, I did,” she said. “But on the opposite side of the spectrum I just had so much support from so many people.”

Now, Younger has changed her diet, adding fish and eggs. She’s also changed her Instagram name, from vegan to veggie, focusing now on a new direction and a new venture — her clothing line.

“The new message is all about balance,” she said. “Do whatever you’re doing in moderation.”

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Excessive Reading May Spur Nearsightedness

iStock/Thinkstock(MAINZ, Germany) — For years, educators have bemoaned the fact that youngsters aren’t reading enough.

Now, it turns out that those who read a lot may be inadvertently damaging their eyesight, according to a study out of the University Medical Center in Mainz, Germany.

Furthermore, the more education a student has, the greater the likelihood of developing myopia, more commonly known as nearsightedness.

In a study of people ages 35 to 74, a quarter who only gained a high school degree reported being nearsighted, while more than half of university graduates were diagnosed with myopia.

Lead author Alireza Mirshahi says the lesson here is not to give up the pursuit of a higher education or stop reading, but to take a break and get outside more often.

That also pertains to people in the U.S., where nearsightedness affects 42 percent of the population.

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