Review Category : Health

Your Body: Tobacco Use and Cancer

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

Each year, over 340,000 people die from a cancer related to tobacco use.

Tobacco use causes at least 12 types of cancer and cigarette smoking causes 3 in 10 of all cancer deaths.

If you’re a smoker, it is never too late to stop. Here’s what you should know if you want to quit:

  • Ask your doctor for help. There are prescription medications that can help with the brain’s addiction signals that are involved in nicotine addiction.
  • Set a date for when you’ll quit and prepare for it by telling people. Support systems definitely help.
  • Keep in mind that the average successful previous smoker tried to quit at least seven times before finally kicking the habit.

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Corpus Christi Residents Warned Not To Use Tap Water

iStock/Thinkstock(CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas) — The city of Corpus Christi, Texas issued a warning to residents on Wednesday night to avoid using tap water until further notice. A statement from city officials indicated that an “unknown chemical substance” was feared to have contaminated the water supply due to a back-flow issue in the industrial district.

Residents were asked to only use bottled water for all purposes, including drinking, brushing teeth, washing clothes and bathing, until the situation could be fully investigated.

“Boiling, freezing, filtering, adding chlorine or other disinfectants, or letting the water stand will not make the water safe,” the statement warned.

Officials said they were issuing the warning out of “an abundance of caution” until tests could confirm the water supply had not been affected, but that any residents with specific health concerns should consult a physician.

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UDSA Issues New Food Labeling Recommendations

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Department of Agriculture issed new guidance to food manufacturers and retailers on Wednesday, aiming to clarify how food items should be labeled to best inform consumers how long they are fit to eat.

The variety of different terms used for that purpose, including “sell by”, “best by”, “use before”, can be hard to decipher.

The USDA says confusion over these labels is a major contributor to the amount of food that is thrown away because consumers aren’t sure if it is still alright to eat. According to the USDA, 30 percent of food is wasted by retailers and consumers.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said it encourages manufacturers and retailers to use the term “Best if Used By” on date labels moving forward.

“In an effort to reduce food loss and waste, these changes will give consumers clear and consistent information when it comes to date labeling on the food they buy,” said Al Almanza, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety. “This new guidance can help consumers save money and curb the amount of wholesome food going in the trash.”

The USDA noted that there are no federal regulations controlling how food products are dated, with the exception of baby formula. Therefore, there is no official difference between “sell by”, “best by”, “use by” or any of the other labels – companies can use them as they see fit.

The agency chose to recommend “Best if Used By” because research showed that the phrase was most easily understood by consumers as an indicator of quality rather than safety.

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VIDEO: Separated Conjoined Twin Sisters Meet For First Time Since Surgery

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford(NEW YORK) — The California hospital where conjoined twins were separated last week released video on Wednesday of the two-year-old girls meeting for the first time since their 17-hour surgery.

#Breaking: #Video with first pictures of the successfully separated #ConjoinedTwins since their surgery 1 week ago. #PersonofTheWeek #health pic.twitter.com/94yInQdXpt

— Stanford Children’s (@StanfordChild) December 14, 2016

The pair have been recovering in the same room in the intensive care unit at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford in Palo Alto, but in different beds.

See the first pictures of formerly #conjoinedtwins Eva and Erika Sandoval, reunited for the 1st time since their surgery. #hcsm #news pic.twitter.com/xTSAyfRgTb

— Stanford Children’s (@StanfordChild) December 14, 2016

Prior to the surgery, they shared a bladder, liver and parts of their digestive system and a third leg. Eva and Erika each retain portions of the organs they shared, and each still has one leg.

Conjoined twins and our medical team who separated them named “Persons of the Week” by @DavidMuir on @ABCWorldNews https://t.co/cmA75yW1QM

— Stanford Children’s (@StanfordChild) December 12, 2016

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CDC Warns Against Travel to Texas City After Spread of Zika

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The CDC warned pregnant women to reconsider their travel plans to the Texas city of Brownsville, on the Mexico border, after five cases of locally-transmitted Zika have been documented there.

“Additional cases of mosquito-borne Zika have been identified in the area, suggesting that there is a risk of continued spread of Zika virus in Brownsville,” the CDC said in a statement.

The CDC designated Bronsville as a “yellow” area “where local spread of Zika virus has been identified, but there is not yet any evidence of widespread, sustained local spread.

“Although the specific level of risk in yellow areas is unknown, there is still a risk to pregnant women,” the group warned.

The CDC’s announcement came after four new cases of locally-transmitted Zika were confirmed last week. The first case in the Brownsville area was discovered on November 28.

The new cases involve three men and one woman, who is not pregnant, reported KRGV, an ABC affiliate. The confirmed infections include two minors who lived in close proximity to the woman diagnosed with the virus in November, who was also not pregnant.

“Right now, we’re aware that local transmission has occurred in a small area of Brownsville,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. “However, we want to cast a wide net with testing to develop a clearer picture of what is happening with Zika in the area and provide pregnant women with more information about their health.”

Texas health officials are recommending all pregnant Brownsville residents and those who have traveled there on or after October 29 be tested for Zika.

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Large Smoke Plume Seen After Two-Alarm Fire at NYC Hospital

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Insulation caused a two-alarm fire at a building next to a major New York City hospital Wednesday, according to officials from the FDNY.

The fire, which is now under control, broke out at the Kimmel Pavillon, part of a planned expansion by the NYU Langone Medical Center, which is located next to the main medical building, Tisch Hospital, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center spokesman.

The building is under construction and set to open in 2018.

The fire started after insulation caught fire on the seventh floor, according to the FDNY. Billowing smoke could be seen rising across the Manhattan skyline and over the East River.

Hospitals officials moved patients within Tisch Hospital due to the heavy smoke, but none were evacuated from the building. Hospital operations are continuing normally, according to a spokesman for the medical center.

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Large Smoke Plume Seen After Two-Alarm Fire at NYC Hospital

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Insulation caused a two-alarm fire at a building next to a major New York City hospital Wednesday, according to officials from the FDNY.

The fire, which is now under control, broke out at the Kimmel Pavillon, part of a planned expansion by the NYU Langone Medical Center, which is located next to the main medical building, Tisch Hospital, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center spokesman.

The building is under construction and set to open in 2018.

The fire started after insulation caught fire on the seventh floor, according to the FDNY. Billowing smoke could be seen rising across the Manhattan skyline and over the East River.

Hospitals officials moved patients within Tisch Hospital due to the heavy smoke, but none were evacuated from the building. Hospital operations are continuing normally, according to a spokesman for the medical center.

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Your Body: How to Cope with Sleep Paralysis

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

The symptoms Kendall Jenner described on TV, waking up temporarily unable to move or speak while your mind is completely awake — this could be something called sleep paralysis.

For many people, it’s the feeling of almost fear that you want to move your body but can’t. It typically lasts for a few seconds to as long as two minutes.

Risk factors for sleep paralysis include stress and not getting enough sleep.

So how do you improve your sleep in general? Commit to a sleep routine with as little variation as possible. Staying within an hour or two of bedtime and waketime is key to keeping your circadian rhythms stable. And make your sleep environment cool, dark, and quiet. Sweet dreams.

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Babies Exposed to Zika Virus in First Trimester More Likely to Have Birth Defects, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A first of its kind study of U.S.-born babies exposed to the Zika virus shows higher rates of birth defects for those exposed in the first trimester of pregnancy.

The study, published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is the first time researchers have tried to estimate the likelihood of birth defects, particularly brain abnormalities and microcephaly, developing in a fetus if a pregnant woman is infected with the Zika virus.

The highest rates of birth defects appeared to occur when the pregnant women had the virus in the first trimester. In 85 women who had Zika symptoms or exposure to the virus in the first trimester, 11 percent of the infants had birth defects.

Overall, six percent of infants born to women in the U.S. who were exposed to the Zika virus were found to have birth defects.

“These data highlight the critical importance of primary prevention as recommended by the current CDC guidelines,” the authors wrote.

Without the presence of Zika virus, microcephaly occurs in a range between two babies per 10,000 live births, or .0002 percent, and 12 babies per 10,000 live births, or .0012 percent, in the Unites States, according to the CDC.

In this study of preliminary data, researchers from various public health departments and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed information on pregnant women likely exposed to the Zika virus in the U.S. and all territories, except Puerto Rico, which is monitored separately.

They identified 442 women, with an average age of 28, who were likely exposed to the Zika virus and who had completed pregnancies between December 2015 and September 2016. Of the 442 completed pregnancies, the researchers determined 26 infants had signs of birth defects, or approximately six percent. This included five fetuses that were found to have birth defects after the pregnancy ended via miscarriage, termination or still birth.

“The more you learn about his virus the nastier it gets,” Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told ABC News Wednesday.

Twenty-two of the affected infants had brain abnormalities or microcephaly, a defect characterized by an abnormally small head. The four other affected infants had signs of other birth defects including eye and hearing abnormalities. Since the majority of people infected with the virus do not exhibit symptoms and tests to detect the disease in antibodies are not always clear, researchers followed women who were likely exposed to the virus either by traveling to areas where the virus was spreading via mosquitoes or via sexual transmission with an infected person.

Schaffner said the study gives further evidence that any pregnant woman exposed to the virus should be monitored for a long after giving birth since some birth defects may not be evidence immediately after birth.

“Any baby born to a woman with Zika,” Schaffner said, “should be followed very, very carefully after birth even if they don’t have microcephaly.”

As this is one of the first studies to estimate the percentage risk of developing birth defects from the Zika virus, researchers called their findings “preliminary” and called for further long-term study.

In an accompanying editorial Dr. William Muller and Dr. Emily Miller of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, said even the preliminary findings can help doctors make decisions about patients exposed to the virus.

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‘Tis the Season to Decorate Safely, Consumer Product Safety Commission Warns

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Before lighting the menorah, switching on the Christmas lights or hanging up the mistletoe, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is encouraging those celebrating the holiday season to take caution when decorating.

Between November and December 2015, six people died and an estimated 14,000 people ended up in the hospital due to holiday-decoration related causes, with many of those injuries due to falls, cuts, back strains, accidental ingestion of a foreign objects, according to the CPSC.

Check out these tips on how to decorate safely.

Christmas Tree, Oh, Christmas Tree

While many artificial trees are fire resistant, their natural counterparts are naturally more susceptible to catching fire. The CPSC encourages homeowners to regularly inspect Christmas trees and make sure they are fresh.

But how to tell? Fresh trees will be greener, needles will be harder to pull from the branches, branches will not break too easily and trunks will likely be sticky with resin. Always make sure the tree stand is filled with water, and of course, make sure to keep trees away from any heat source, including fireplaces and radiators, as they are more likely to dry out the tree quicker.

Make sure small decorations are hung out of reach of young children, and avoid any tree decorations that may look like candy, as young children may not know the difference and attempt to eat them.

Take care when hanging any delicate decorations that may break easily. Lacerations were among the top reported decoration–related injuries last year, according to the CPSC. Also use caution on ladders, as 41 percent of holiday decorating injuries involve falls, and half of those are from ladders.

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

Think that snow-in-a-can looks pretty? While it likely adds a magical touch to a home, the artificial snow can accidentally be ingested and cause serious irritation to the lungs, so read all directions carefully before using.

Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree

Every December, Americans unpack yards and yards of tangled Christmas lights and spend hours decorating their trees and their homes, both inside and out. But more often than not, people don’t inspect these wires before each holiday season, which may have become frayed or loose over the years.

And as this CPSC video shows, a spark from one of these old wires can quickly turn your beautiful holiday home into a blazing inferno. If concerned, purchase new lights or ensure current ones haven’t become damaged from years of use. Additionally, make sure not to use more than three standard-size sets of lights per single extension cord.

Cold December Night

Looking to stay warm over the winter by lighting a fire, or simply want to light the Menorah candles? The CPSC reminds the public to make sure all flues are open and always use a fire screen when burning wood. Keep any burning candles out of reach of pets and kids, who may accidentally knock them over, and keep all open flames away from trees, decorations curtains and furniture.

Happy decorating!

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