Review Category : Health

Kristen Johnston Reveals Severity of Lupus, Grateful for Improvement

Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Lupus LA(NEW YORK) — Actress Kristen Johnston is sharing details about her battle with lupus, saying the condition was so debilitating for her that she felt she was “swimming in molasses.”

Johnston, who starred on the hit sitcom 3rd Rock From the Sun and now appears in TV Lands’ sitcom The Exes, said in an interview with People magazine that she realized something was wrong last summer when she had trouble climbing the stairs.

It took visits to 17 doctors before Johnston, 46, had the correct diagnosis: lupus myelitis, a rare form of the disease that affects the spinal cord.

The actress was treated with chemo and steroids and was in remission six months later, she told People.

The illness affected her so badly she couldn’t lift her neck without a brace. “If I had to live like that forever, I would have killed myself,” she told People.

Johnston’s doctor, rheumatologist Daniel J. Wallace, said the actress would have ended up a quadriplegic had treatment been delayed much longer.

Now, she’s grateful for her health turnaround. “Every single day is a gift, and I don’t take one second of it for granted,” she said.

In December the actress posted on her Facebook page to let her fans know that she would miss two episodes of the show because of the illness.

Johnston has acknowledged having struggled for years with alcohol and drug addictions. In a video on People magazine’s website, Johnston said sobriety was one of the hardest things anyone could do.

“Everything was always masked by drugs and alcohol, so to go through this terrible experience it’s — I don’t know, I’m just a really happy human being. I’m just very grateful, very grateful,” she said.

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Elderly Americans More Comfortable with Their Appearance

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Getting older can be a source of dread for many, but one poll suggests the elderly seem to be a lot more comfortable with their looks compared to younger groups.

Gallup asked 85,000 adults if they “agree” or “strongly agree” about always feeling good about their appearance, and 66 percent of those 65 or older chose one of those options.

Meanwhile, only 54 percent in the 35-64 age group said they “agree” or “strongly agree” with feeling happy about their looks, while 61 percent of those 18-to-34 concurred with the statement.

As for gender, men were more confident about their appearance than women until much later in life, while African Americans and Hispanic Americans liked the way they looked more so than either Asian Americans or whites.

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Elderly Americans More Comfortable with Their Appearance

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Getting older can be a source of dread for many, but one poll suggests the elderly seem to be a lot more comfortable with their looks compared to younger groups.

Gallup asked 85,000 adults if they “agree” or “strongly agree” about always feeling good about their appearance, and 66 percent of those 65 or older chose one of those options.

Meanwhile, only 54 percent in the 35-64 age group said they “agree” or “strongly agree” with feeling happy about their looks, while 61 percent of those 18-to-34 concurred with the statement.

As for gender, men were more confident about their appearance than women until much later in life, while African Americans and Hispanic Americans liked the way they looked more so than either Asian Americans or whites.

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Framing Exercise as Fun May Hold Key to Losing Weight, Study Says

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study undertaken by researchers from Cornell University found that the more fun you have during a workout, the less you’ll eat afterwards.

The study, published in the journal Marketing Letters, involved two experiments in which researchers tested how much adults ate following a period of exercise. In the first experiment, 56 adults were led on a 1.4 mile walk. The walk was alternately called either an “exercise walk” or a “scenic walk,” and afterwards, those who believed it was an “exercise walk” ate 35 percent more chocolate pudding for dessert than those who believed they had been on a “scenic walk.”

In the second experiment, under similar parameters, those who were told they had been on an exercise walk ate 124 percent more calories of candy provided to them than those who were told they were on a scenic walk.

Researchers believe their findings show that one of the reasons people involved in exercise programs may gain weight is because they reward themselves with food after working out.

The key, researchers say, is to make exercise enjoyable. Among other suggestions, they note that individuals planning to begin an exercise routing to help them lose weight should try listening to music during a run, making phone calls during a walk, or watching a video during a treadmill routine.

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Study: Reducing Alcohol Consumption Could Improve Heart Health

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study conducted by researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that a reduction in alcohol consumption could lead to improved heart health.

The study, published in the journal BMJ, looked at data from 50 previous studies that included information on over 260,000 individuals. Among those individuals who have a specific genetic variant linked to lower alcohol consumption, researchers found improved cardiovascular health. The study’s authors say that their findings suggests that reducing alcohol consumption — even for light to moderate drinkers — may be beneficial for heart health.

Alcohol is among the leading risk factors for death and disability. Individuals who drink less alcohol had about a 10 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease. They also typically had lower blood pressure and a lower body mass index.

The genetic variant that researchers used as a benchmark in their study typically break down alcohol more slowly, causing “unpleasant symptoms,” which previous studies have shown is linked to diminished alcohol consumption.

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National Blood Drive Protests Ban on Gay Donors

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For the second year in a row, groups held a national blood drive to protest the ban against gay and bisexual men donating blood.

Grassroots organizations collaborated Friday to draw attention to the policy and call for change.

While the American Medical Association says the policy is no longer necessary with improved HIV blood screening, federal officials have indicated that they’re willing to change the rules only if research shows no risk to recipients.

In Portland, Maine, allies donated blood in the names of men banned.

“I’m at as much risk if I were being promiscuous or living in a different kind of lifestyle as anyone,” said participant Karen Ball. “…Pretty shocking to find out that most gay people can’t donate blood and I just thought that was horrible.”

The campaign is pushing for at least 100,000 signatures to amend the policy.

Some experts agree with the call for change, explaining that the ban is outdated.

“HIV carries with it a lot of stigma with it no matter what and on top of that, in some parts of the country, being gay still carries stigma with it although that has gotten better,” said University of Alabama Birmingham professor Dr. Michael Saag. “…The tests are much, much better and we don’t need that discrimination anymore.”

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Government Shutdown Baby Boom: Real or Coincidence?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s been nine months since the government shutdown, and some D.C. area hospitals are reporting a surprising development: Babies. Lots of them.

Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., has seen an additional three births per day in July, according to spokesman Gary Stephenson.

“We’re at near-capacity right now,” said Stephenson, joking that some furloughed workers “apparently found ways to amuse themselves.”

Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington delivered 99 more babies in April, May and June than they did in the same stretch last year, according to spokeswoman Maryanne Boster.

Both hospitals stopped short of crediting the two-week shutdown in October 2013 for the spike in births, stressing that the apparent link was purely anecdotal. But it’s not the first time a local baby boom has been blamed — albeit anecdotally — on an event nine months prior.

“It’s just so appealing to think, ‘Oh, it’s a full moon,’ or ‘it’s nine months after a blackout or Hurricane Sandy,’” said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. “But there’s a lot of natural fluctuation.”

Some days Greenfield has 20 women in labor, she said. Other days, there are four.

“There are so many things that play into whether someone gets pregnant,” she said, explaining that a small proportion of furloughed couples would be fertile — not to mention eager to conceive — during the two-week shutdown.

“It’s such a sexy topic,” she said of the big event-baby boom link. “It just doesn’t appear to be real.”

But other OBs say they not only see an uptick in births nine months after unusual events like blizzards and blackouts, their patients say those events are why they got pregnant.

“I can say that I’ve definitely seen spikes after things like hurricanes, blackouts and blizzards,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ senior medical contributor and a practicing OB/GYN. “I’m not aware of any hard data on this, but anecdotally, many obstetricians will ask their patients about the events nine months prior, and many women will say ‘Yes, we conceived during the blackout.'”

Ashton said it’s definitely possible that the link is coincidental, and said there tend to be seasonal fluctuations in birth rates as well.

Boster of Virginia Hospital Center said they expect to see the baby boom continue through the summer months “after the long, snowy winter.”

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Government Shutdown Baby Boom: Real or Coincidence?

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — It’s been nine months since the government shutdown, and some D.C. area hospitals are reporting a surprising development: Babies. Lots of them.

Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C., has seen an additional three births per day in July, according to spokesman Gary Stephenson.

“We’re at near-capacity right now,” said Stephenson, joking that some furloughed workers “apparently found ways to amuse themselves.”

Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington delivered 99 more babies in April, May and June than they did in the same stretch last year, according to spokeswoman Maryanne Boster.

Both hospitals stopped short of crediting the two-week shutdown in October 2013 for the spike in births, stressing that the apparent link was purely anecdotal. But it’s not the first time a local baby boom has been blamed — albeit anecdotally — on an event nine months prior.

“It’s just so appealing to think, ‘Oh, it’s a full moon,’ or ‘it’s nine months after a blackout or Hurricane Sandy,’” said Dr. Marjorie Greenfield, chief of obstetrics and gynecology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. “But there’s a lot of natural fluctuation.”

Some days Greenfield has 20 women in labor, she said. Other days, there are four.

“There are so many things that play into whether someone gets pregnant,” she said, explaining that a small proportion of furloughed couples would be fertile — not to mention eager to conceive — during the two-week shutdown.

“It’s such a sexy topic,” she said of the big event-baby boom link. “It just doesn’t appear to be real.”

But other OBs say they not only see an uptick in births nine months after unusual events like blizzards and blackouts, their patients say those events are why they got pregnant.

“I can say that I’ve definitely seen spikes after things like hurricanes, blackouts and blizzards,” said Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News’ senior medical contributor and a practicing OB/GYN. “I’m not aware of any hard data on this, but anecdotally, many obstetricians will ask their patients about the events nine months prior, and many women will say ‘Yes, we conceived during the blackout.'”

Ashton said it’s definitely possible that the link is coincidental, and said there tend to be seasonal fluctuations in birth rates as well.

Boster of Virginia Hospital Center said they expect to see the baby boom continue through the summer months “after the long, snowy winter.”

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Oldest Case of Down Syndrome Discovered in 1,500-Year-Old Skeleton

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A 1,500-year-old skeleton has shed new light on how ancient civilizations viewed those with genetic disorders. French researchers have found the oldest confirmed case of Down syndrome after uncovering the skeleton of a child with the genetic disorder.

A case study published in the International Journal of Pathology showed pictures of the skeleton buried near a church in Chalon-sur-Saône in eastern France. The skeleton featured a broad skull with flattened base and thinner skull bones, all telltale signs of Down syndrome.

Down syndrome is a chromosomal condition that is associated with intellectual disability, a characteristic facial appearance, and mild to moderate cognitive delays.

The researchers also noted that in spite of the evident genetic disorder the child did not appear to be stigmatized by the community, at least in its burial.

“This Down syndrome child was not treated differently at death than others in the community,” wrote lead author Maite Rivollat. “We interpret this as meaning that the child was maybe not stigmatized during life, the first time a Down syndrome individual has been so viewed in the context of the ancient community.”

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Girl Mauled by Raccoon Gets Man-Made Ear

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SPRING LAKE, Mich.) — An 11-year-old girl mauled by raccoon as a baby is recovering from surgery to attach a makeshift ear that was grown on her arm.

Charlotte Ponce of Spring Lake, Michigan, lost her right ear, nose and part of her lip in the 2002 attack.

“The raccoon pretty much ate the right side of her face, all the way back to the ear,” Charlotte’s adoptive mom, Sharon Ponce, told ABC News in an earlier interview. “Now, all she wants is to wear two earrings.”

In April, Charlotte underwent a seven-hour surgery to embed an ear-shaped scaffold carefully crafted from her own rib cartilage and embedded under the skin of her right her arm.

Doctors at Beaumont Children’s Hospital in Royal Oak transplanted the man-made ear to Charlotte’s head Thursday, according to the hospital.

Dr. Kongkrit Chiayasate, the plastic surgeon who performed the operation, said Charlotte was doing well and recovering in the hospital’s intensive care unit, where blood flow to her new ear is being monitored.

“First time we met her, she never made any eye contact, did not talk at all,” Chiayasate said of Charlotte’s growing confidence. “In the past two years, she’s transformed. She’s got more confidence.”

Charlotte has undergone at least 10 operations since 2012 and might need revision surgery as her face grows, Chiayasate said.

“If you look at her face, she’s beautiful,” said Chiayasate of seeing Charlotte’s transformation. “It’s just like your own child seeing them grow up.”

As for earrings, Chiayasate said Charlotte would be able to wear them as soon as she recovers and they no longer pose and infection risk.

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