Review Category : Health

It’s ‘Not Impossible’ Others in US Could Contract Ebola, CDC Head Says

This undated photograph shows a CDC scientist pipetting specimens in the Biosafety Level 4 Influenza Laboratory, Atlanta, GA. (James Gathany/CDC)(ATLANTA) — The country’s top medical official who has vowed to stop Ebola “in its tracks” in the U.S., conceded Wednesday that it’s “not impossible” that others will contract the disease.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said an extensive tracking process is underway in the wake of the first Ebola diagnosis in the United States, with special focus on the patient’s family and health staff.

“We have a seven-person team in Dallas working with the local health department and the hospital, and we will be identifying everyone who may have come in contact with him and then monitoring them for 21 days,” Frieden said.

Frieden believes the disease will be “stopped in its tracks” in this country.

The unidentified man’s safety, along with the well-being of the medical people treating him, is a primary focus, Frieden said. Since his diagnosis, the patient’s condition was listed as critical. On Wednesday, the hospital upgraded his condition to serious.

“What we need to do first in this particular instance is do everything possible to help this individual who’s really fighting for their life, and then make sure that we’re doing that, that we don’t have other people exposed in the hospital, identify all those contacts and monitor them for 21 days. It’s not impossible that one or two of them would develop symptoms and then they would need to be isolated,” he said.

Frieden said he’s confident that passengers who flew on the same plane as the patient did not contract the disease.

“That was four or five days before he had his first symptoms and with Ebola, you’re not contagious until you have symptoms,” he said.

Although American Ebola patients have been treated in the United States prior to this diagnosis, they all contracted Ebola in West Africa. Ebola has killed 2,917 people and infected 3,346 others since the outbreak began in March.

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Woman Finds Out She’s Pregnant After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Courtesy Mount Sinai Health System (NEW YORK) — At age 34, Adele Rivas thought she was too young to have breast cancer, even though her mother had been diagnosed with the disease in her 40s.

But a persistent lump in her breast led Rivas to get a biopsy test. Her mother tagged along for moral support.

“My mother said, ‘I have to come with you,’” Rivas remembers. “She came, thank goodness.”

With her mother by her side, Rivas was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer.

Doctors quickly ordered an MRI scan, but Rivas, a physician’s assistant, was hesitant. She and her husband had been trying to have a baby, and the MRI could affect an early pregnancy.

But even as Rivas asked to take a pregnancy test, she said she felt silly. She knew the chances that she was pregnant were small. Two different doctors had declared her infertile and said she had a minimal chance to get pregnant naturally.

At the time of her diagnosis Rivas and her husband were investigating adoption options. Rivas was afraid to try IVF or other hormonal treatments due to cancer risks associated with higher estrogen levels.

When Rivas asked to take a pregnancy test, she thought she was just delaying dealing with her cancer diagnosis.

“A voice told me ‘You’re really in denial,’” about cancer, Rivas recalled thinking at the time.

When a nurse came back after the test, she told Rivas it was likely positive but it was so early to be sure. They would have to wait another 48 hours for doctors to be completely sure.

“I left that day not knowing if I was pregnant but knowing I have breast cancer,” said Rivas.

Two days later doctors repeated the test and confirmed she was pregnant. While Rivas and her husband Luis Rivas were excited about the pregnancy, they now had to consider their options.

“I needed to figure out how to handle this, if we could keep the pregnancy,” said Rivas.

Rivas ended up at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York, where she was treated by Dr. Christina Weltz. While unusual, Rivas’ case is hardly unique, Weltz said. Approximately one out of every 3,000 women is diagnosed with breast cancer.

“The way that you treat it, really depends on a lot of factors including at what stage of the pregnancy [the cancer] is diagnosed,” said Weltz. “The question that really arises for every aspect of the treatment is whether the breast cancer treatment is compromising the safety of the pregnancy or if maintaining a safe pregnancy is compromising the treatment of the breast cancer?”

After talking to her doctors about options Rivas decided to keep the pregnancy, but go through a grueling treatment schedule that included a mastectomy in her first trimester and chemotherapy in her second and third trimesters.

Rivas’ doctors warned her that prolonged time in surgery could lead to miscarriage so Rivas was unable to have breast reconstruction at the same time as her mastectomy.

“I’m flat with no nipples and no breasts, but that was worth it to me,” said Rivas.

After having surgery at six weeks, Rivas also had to deal with morning sickness as she prepared for her chemotherapy in her second trimester.

Dr. Joanne Stone, a professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York, treated Rivas and said she hoped Rivas’ story would give other women comfort if they’re diagnosed with cancer during pregnancy.

“What I think is really important about this story is that people know you can get diagnosed and you can get treated when you’re pregnant,” said Stone.

At four months Rivas started chemotherapy treatments. Rivas and her husband moved in with her mother to save money and so that they would have support when the baby came. Rivas credited her husband Luis Rivas with keeping her sane. She said sometimes she broke down and cried, but mostly was able to focus on the positive.

“I can’t believe how fast things can change and how much you can endure,” said Rivas. “I think of myself as a pretty tough person. If anyone told me that I was able to go through this, I would say they’re nuts.”

After four rounds of chemotherapy, Rivas was finished with her cancer treatment. Her body had changed not only due to pregnancy but the treatment as well. While her appetite was steady, the chemotherapy led to hair loss.

“After the chemo was done, I was pretty much a normal pregnant person without hair,” said Rivas. “I looked pretty silly and no boobs — it was just crazy.”

After getting through all her cancer treatments, Rivas remained worried about her son. She was afraid he could be at risk for being underweight or premature.

But on March 10, about two months after stopping cancer treatment, Rivas gave birth to a healthy boy. Rather than being underweight, Rivas’ son, named Conatantino or “Tino,” weighed in over 8 pounds.

“He’s a happy, happy soul,” said Rivas. “The only time he gets upset is when he’s hungry. He’s growing like crazy. He’s a big boy, he’s in the 95th percentile for height and weight.”

Now caring for a 6-month-old infant, Rivas and her husband are still at her mother’s home. But the couple is ecstatic over the birth of their first son. Rivas has now started working with other foundations for young women undergoing cancer treatment.

After giving birth, Rivas was also put on a medication to stop her from producing estrogen to diminish the chance of relapse.

If she stays on the medication as recommended, she won’t have a chance to have another child for 10 years, when she will be 44.

“This was our last chance at having a family. It almost didn’t happen,” said Rivas. “I can’t imagine not having him here. We don’t know why our prayers were answered in such a strange way. Maybe I can be a model of strength for other people.”

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A Granny Smith a Day Keeps Bad Gut Bacteria at Bay

iStock/Thinkstock(PULLMAN, Wash.) — When it comes to knowing what’s best for your health, granny knows best. Granny Smith, that is, as in the tart green apple that’s very popular this time of year.

Washington State University researchers say that while all apples contain non-digestible compounds that have certain health benefits, it’s the Granny Smith in particular that possibly prevents some disorders linked to obesity.

In essence, the compounds from these apples help to create friendly bacteria in the gut because they resist changes that occur when in contact with stomach acids and digestive enzymes.

As a result, those who are obese might reduce the risk of contracting low-grade, chronic inflammation that can lead to diabetes.

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Amy Robach Reflects One Year After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

ABC NewsBy ABC’s Amy Robach

(NEW YORK) — It was a year ago that I agreed to have a live, televised mammogram in the middle of Times Square on Good Morning America.

I was persuaded by GMA producers and Robin Roberts, to help demystify this test that so many women my age avoid.

I was 40 years old and had put off having my first mammogram for a number of reasons: I was too busy, I was concerned about the discomfort of the test — and most notably — I wasn’t concerned about actually having breast cancer. I had no family history. I felt safe. Boy did I have it wrong.

A few weeks later, a follow up appointment with a sonogram and biopsy revealed what was initially suspicious, was in fact a malignant mass in my right breast. After my surgery in November 2013, my surgeon found a second malignant tumor and determined the cancer had spread to my sentinel lymph node.

My journey this past year has included two surgeries, breast expanders for seven months, and eight rounds of chemo, but thank God I started on that path last October 1.

I shudder to think where I would be today if I hadn’t had that mammogram.

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Amy Robach Reflects One Year After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

ABC NewsBy ABC’s Amy Robach

(NEW YORK) — It was a year ago that I agreed to have a live, televised mammogram in the middle of Times Square on Good Morning America.

I was persuaded by GMA producers and Robin Roberts, to help demystify this test that so many women my age avoid.

I was 40 years old and had put off having my first mammogram for a number of reasons: I was too busy, I was concerned about the discomfort of the test — and most notably — I wasn’t concerned about actually having breast cancer. I had no family history. I felt safe. Boy did I have it wrong.

A few weeks later, a follow up appointment with a sonogram and biopsy revealed what was initially suspicious, was in fact a malignant mass in my right breast. After my surgery in November 2013, my surgeon found a second malignant tumor and determined the cancer had spread to my sentinel lymph node.

My journey this past year has included two surgeries, breast expanders for seven months, and eight rounds of chemo, but thank God I started on that path last October 1.

I shudder to think where I would be today if I hadn’t had that mammogram.

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‘Thank You for Saving My Life': Amy Robach Meets Breast Cancer Survivor

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Amy Robach underwent her first-ever mammogram last year, live on ABC’s Good Morning America for breast cancer awareness month, but never imagined she’d hear the words: “You have breast cancer.”

Deb Greig was watching from her home in Charleston, South Carolina. The former news director at ABC News’ Charleston affiliate, WCIV, knew of Robach early on in her career, and was stunned when Robach shared the news of her breast cancer diagnosis in November 2013.

“I was actually putting my makeup on to get ready for work and I ran around to watch the story. And I was shocked,” Greig recalled.

Robach decided to have a mastectomy and underwent chemotherapy. Fast forward a few months to when Robach was reading letters of encouragement from viewers and opened a thank you note from Greig.

“I had been driving around with my mammogram prescription in my car for a year when I heard you tell your story on GMA,” the card read. “I booked by mammogram that morning, had the mammogram two days later…a biopsy the next day, and learned I had cancer the next day. …I want to thank you for saving my life.”

[ABC News Goes Pink: Take the pink pledge to understand your risk!]

The letter meant the world to Robach, who reached out to Grieg and later visited her family at home in Charleston.

Greig, who is in her 50s, had been putting off getting a mammogram for many of the same reasons as Robach and other woman around the country.

“I did self-exams. I was very aware of breast cancer, and I felt healthy. And I was really busy, like every woman in this country,” she said. “So I kept thinking, ‘I feel good, I can’t feel anything, I’m fine.’ And as it turns out, there was a tumor about the size of a lipstick tube hiding where it couldn’t be felt.”

[WATCH: 5 Things You Need to Know About Breast Cancer]

“If I had not had the mammogram it would’ve just continued to grow into a mass and I would’ve been in trouble,” she said. “From the time that it was detected and that I had the surgery it had doubled in size. But it had not yet spread out. So I was very lucky.”

For Greig and her two daughters, Danielle and Nicole, who lost their father to lung cancer nearly two years earlier, the diagnosis was another emotional blow.

“I was very angry and very scared for them. …That definitely was the hardest part,” she said. “And I could not believe that God would do that to them and have them lose two parents. But I knew it was a possibility.”

With her girls at her side, Greig had a double mastectomy on Christmas Eve 2013.

“I had been feeling sorry for myself beforehand,” she said. “And one of the nurses had said, ‘Why don’t you look at things a little bit differently and instead say, ‘I’m having my surgery on Christmas Eve and I’m gonna wake up Christmas Day cancer-free’? And that’s how the girls and I decided to look at it.”

Greig and Robach are two women who speak to the larger picture of breast cancer in America. Both were fortunate enough to get a mammogram, catch their cancer early and beat it, and now they want to inform others and encourage women to be vigilant.

Nine months later, Greig looks vibrant and healthy as ever. Her prognosis, according to her doctors, is good.

“I feel like a fighter,” she told Robach with a laugh.

“A warrior,” Robach replied with a smile. “We have our battle wounds.”

Beating cancer has given Greig a new lease on life, said her daughter, Nicole, 23.

“Our mom beat cancer,” she said. “She has a new outlook on life. And she’s just so positive and strong. I feel very blessed.”

Greig feels thankful for every day.

“I’m much more positive. I won’t hesitate at all to take a second to help anybody that needs anything. I’m thankful,” she said. “Every day is a gift.”

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Snacking Makes the World Go Round

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Snacks are about as American as potato chips, chocolate and cheese. But they’re also popular in other parts of the world.

In fact, a Nielsen Global Survey of Snacking found that 91 percent of the 30,000 people polled in 60 countries say they snack at least once daily and one in five enjoy snacks three or four times on a typical day.

What’s more, snacking has become such a regular part of our routines that 45 percent of respondents say they sometime replace a regular meal. For instance, just over half claim to occasionally substitute a snack for breakfast while 43 percent have had one instead of lunch and 40 percent will make a snack dinner from time to time.

As for what people snack on in the U.S., the big three, in order, are chips, chocolate and cheese with close to two-thirds saying they’ve snacked on some kind of chip during the past month.

Meanwhile, the top snack globally is chocolate, although Europeans say their top pick is a piece of fruit.

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Cancer Doctors Target Obesity in Battle Against Cancer

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Top cancer doctors are calling for the recognition of obesity as a risk factor for some forms of cancer.

According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, obesity is considered a risk factor for breast, prostate and colon cancers, among others. It is not, however, sufficiently recognized, doctors say. About 84,000 cancer diagnoses are believed to be attributed to obesity each year, along with 15 percent of cancer deaths.

The ASCO announced an anti-obesity initiative on Wednesday, including education, policy advocacy, research and clinical tools.

The group says that cancer diagnoses could be a “teachable moment” to motivate patients to improve their diet and lifestyle habits.

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Researchers Consider Link Between Adolescent Obesity and Colorectal Cancer

AlexRaths/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Adolescents who are obese may face an increased risk of colorectal cancer later on in life, researchers say.

According to a study presented at the American Association of Cancer Research Conference, researchers looked at data from 240,000 Swedish men and found that those who were obese as teenagers were 2.37 times as likely to develop colorectal cancer compared to those who they deemed “normal weight.”

The link between obesity and colorectal cancer has been seen in previous research, but the study is the first to find that risk begins at an earlier age.

Of note, the study has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal, and their restrictions for the categorization of “obese” are not clear.

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How the CDC Will Make Sure Ebola Doesn’t Spread in US

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(DALLAS) — To stop the deadly Ebola virus from spreading in the U.S., health officials said they have already started tracking anyone involved with the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed here.

Officials from the U.S. Centers of Disease Control confirmed Tuesday that the first Ebola patient has been diagnosed in the U.S., after arriving from Liberia. In a press conference in Dallas, CDC director Tom Frieden said local health department officials were prepared and had already started tracking people who had come into contact with the unidentified Ebola patient now being treated in Dallas.

“I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely in this country,” said Frieden, who confirmed a CDC team was also en route to help track anyone connected to the infected patient.

To track any potential exposures and stop the outbreak, Frieden said medical officials will first interview the patient and then family members. From there officials will outline and investigate all of the patient’s movements after the symptoms appeared and he was contagious.

They will build “concentric circles,” with one circle representing everyone the patient could have exposed and then a second including all the other people those initial contacts have interacted with.

“With that we put together a map essentially that identifies the time, the place, the level of the contact,” said Frieden. “Then we use a concentric circle approach to identify those contacts, who might have had the highest risk of exposure, those with intermediate risk.”

Those at risk of being infected will be monitored for at least 21 days, which is the duration of the Ebola incubation period.

“This is core public health and it is what we do day in and day out and what we will be doing here to identify any possible spread and to ensure there aren’t further chains of transmission,” said Frieden.

Frieden confirmed the unidentified man arrived from Liberia on September 20 and was staying with family when he started to exhibit symptoms. Frieden repeated the unidentified patient did not have symptoms on his flight to the U.S., and that patients are not contagious until they exhibit symptoms.

The patient did not show symptoms until September 24, four days after arriving in the U.S. He sought medical care on September 26 and was admitted and placed in isolation on September 28.

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