Review Category : Health

Pancreatic Cancer May Become Second Leading Cause of Cancer Death

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Pancreatic cancer is projected to become the second leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States by 2020, health officials warn.

Despite advances in treating other forms of the disease, new data out Monday details an increase in pancreatic cancer, which is historically understudied and underfunded. Cancer of the pancreas doesn’t receive as much as attention as “the big four” — lung, breast, prostate, and colorectal — according to Lynn Matrisian, study author from the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

“The projections for deaths from pancreatic and liver cancers are startling,” Matrisian said. “This study is a call to action to the scientific and clinical communities, as well as the population at large, to increase attention, awareness, and ultimately progress in the fight against pancreatic cancer.”

The report, published online in the journal Cancer Research, also indicates that the number of thyroid cancer diagnoses is predicted to increase dramatically in the next decade.

For other types, however, the death rate is declining each year, with those for lung, colorectal, and breast cancer dropping.

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Telemedicine Brings the Doctor to You

Hemera/Thinkstock(DAYTON, Ohio) — With three growing boys, the Alspaughs of Dayton, Ohio, say their home away from home is unfortunately often the doctor’s office.

“We really do have a stack of medical bills and it overwhelms us,” said Rachel Alspaugh.

For the boys — ages 14, 11, and 9 — it costs the family $90 a visit. The price goes up to $100 each time mom or dad goes.

“We’re just wondering, ‘Is there a better way?’” Philip Alspaugh asked.

According to health care consumer advocate Michelle Katz, there is: telemedicine, a brand-new, high-tech medical service.

For $40 to $50 a use — about half the cost of the average doctor’s visit — doctors perform virtual medical exams either online or over the telephone. They even write prescriptions.

Telemedicine is already backed by many hospitals and major health insurers. The U.S. government endorsed the service through Medicare and Medicaid.

But for most families, Katz said, they don’t know it’s an option or don’t figure in the extra costs of going to the doctor’s office.

“It costs money to take off from work, to get all the boys in the car, drive down to wait a few hours, to get a diagnosis that you might already know about,” she said.

Telemedicine is used to treat minor ailments like cold symptoms, which account for nearly a quarter of office visits to the primary care doctor.

“We’ve got a very affordable alternative to an emergency room for non-emergency care,” said Dr. Tim Howard, a telemedicine doctor.

While he tells patients that the best care is received by seeing a primary care physician for a hands-on exam, telemedicine helps families stay healthy in between regular doctor’s office visits, not instead of them.

Katz estimated that the Alspaughs could save more than $2,600 this year.

“I’m amazed,” said Rachel Alspaugh. “I’m simply amazed.”

If you’re interested in telemedicine:
Consult with your primary care physician to see what telemedicine company they might already work with.

Check with your insurance provider to make sure it covers telemedicine and to see whether it has a service it recommends.

Log onto third-party medical rating service websites like vitals.com and NCQA.org to research the doctor/service.

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E. Coli Cases Prompt Recall of 1.8 Million Pounds of Ground Beef

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Approximately 1.8 million pounds of ground beef is being recalled over concerns that it may have been contaminated with E. coli, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on Monday.

The recall by Detroit-based Wolverine Packing Company involves products made between March 31 and April 18.

[ CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FULL LIST OF RECALLED PRODUCTS ]

According to the FSIS, the affected products bear the establishment number “EST. 2574B” and were sent to restaurants in at least four states — Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio.

Officials won’t say where the recalled meat was served, but they do say it was not used in school lunches or in meals for the military.

So far, 11 people have been treated for illnesses linked to the recalled beef.

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California Chrome’s Nasal Strips Once a Hit Among Humans, Too

Rob Carr/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — It’s official: Triple Crown contender California Chrome can wear his nasal strip to the Belmont Stakes, a decision by the New York State Gaming Commission that dismisses the possibility of an unfair advantage.

But race horses aren’t the only competitors to don the nostril-stretching strips, according to Dr. Cathy Fieseler, president of the American Medical Athletic Association Board. Human athletes have tried them, too.

“People are always going to look for something that’s going give them a tenth of a second or a hundredth of a second advantage,” said Fieseler, referring to athletes like retired San Francisco 49er Jerry Rice, who put nasal strips on the map among human athletes. “They’ll try anything if they see somebody using it.”

Even Meb Keflezighi, winner of the 2014 Boston Marathon, has been photographed wearing nasal strips, although he didn’t wear any during this year’s race.

“They may make someone more comfortable,” Fieseler said, explaining how most athletes breathe more out of their mouths than their noses when they run. “As far as enhanced performance, I don’t think there’s anything to back that up.”

That might be why the stretchy strips have fallen out of favor among athletes in recent years. Robert Truax, a doctor of osteopathy at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, said that any performance-enhancing effects — if they do exist — are exceedingly minimal.

“At what level does a few tenths of a second matter?” he said, likening the strips to the compression socks and sleeves worn by athletes in a range of sports. “They may or may not help performance, but at the end if the race, the person may not feel so fatigued. They’ll feel better.”

Compression socks reduce swelling to keep blood flow in the central part of the body, according to Truax.

“It’s not like a drug,” he said of nasal strips, which he wore when he ran a half marathon. “It’s a truly mechanical advantage.”

New York State Gaming Commission’s equine medical director, Scott Palmer, on Monday discontinued the state’s ban on the strips, citing a lack of research that shows they enhance performance.

“In my opinion equine nasal strips fall into the same category as tongue-ties,” he said in a statement. “Equine nasal strips do not enhance equine performance nor do they pose a risk to equine health or safety and as such do not need to be regulated.”

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How a Handshake Is Boosting Fears of MERS

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A simple handshake has raised questions about MERS, the deadly infection now known to have spread on U.S. soil.

An Illinois man tested positive for the infection on Friday, marking the third U.S. case in two weeks.

But unlike the first two cases, the man had not come from Saudi Arabia. Rather, he had a business meeting and shook hands with a seemingly healthy associate, who two days later would land in the intensive care unit of a hospital in Munster, Indiana.

“This is the first MERS infection acquired in the U.S.,” said ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser. “There are a couple possibilities: one is that it was transmitted by handshake; the other is that their face-to-face meeting, which lasted 40 minutes, was enough for the virus to be transmitted. At this point, there’s no way of knowing which it was.”

The Illinois man is fine. Unlike his business associate, he never developed any symptoms, which include fever, cough and body aches. He tested negative for an active infection May 5, but tested positive for MERS virus antibodies on May 16, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The good news is that you can get this infection and have no symptoms,” said Besser.

But that might also be the bad news, since it’s unclear whether someone with no MERS symptoms can spread the virus.

“We don’t know yet,” Besser said.

MERS is still thought to spread primarily through close contact in healthcare settings like hospitals. But the Illinois man’s 40-minute business meeting raises the scary possibility that the virus has the potential to spread through face-to-face conversations and handshakes.

The CDC tested close contacts of the first two U.S. MERS cases — but only contacted the people they shared flights with to ask about symptoms.

“It sure strikes me that if you’re able to get this through 40 minutes of face-to-face conversation, you would want to know whether the people sitting next to someone on an airplane could get the MERS infection as well,” Besser said, adding that data suggest the MERS virus can live on surfaces for more than 48 hours — up to 24 times longer than the seasonal flu, according to CDC.

But the CDC said the “latest development” does not change the agency’s recommendations to prevent the spread of MERS, which include frequent hand washing, avoiding contact with people who appear sick and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces.

“It’s possible that as the investigation continues others may also test positive for MERS-CoV infection but not get sick,” said Dr. David Swerdlow, who is leading the agency’s MERS response. “Along with state and local health experts, CDC will investigate those initial cases and if new information is learned that requires us to change our prevention recommendations, we can do so.”

The new case also suggests that some MERS stats are a little skewed. The World Health Organization has been reporting that that infection is fatal 30 percent of the time — a number that fails to account for symptomless cases.

“If you’re only counting people who have been in hospitals and were sick to begin with, it’s going to look a lot more severe than it is,” said Besser. “In all likelihood, that 30 percent figure is inflated.”

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Teen Uses Instagram to Move Past Eating Disorder

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Posting photos of food to Instagram is as common of a social media ritual as tweeting selfies or checking into a sold-out concert. But peel back the layers of fried chicken and butter cream, and some images may tell a deeper story.

Case in point: One Singaporean teen has documented her evolving meals as part of a journey toward healthy eating habits.

“During my recovery from an eating disorder, I used my love for food to pull me up and spur me on to a full recovery and now it has evolved into a full blown passion,” writes Lin, the 15-year-old blogger behind the handle @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie.

Her inspiring, colorful and varied dishes have attracted more than 86,000 followers.

“I started from researching recipes and basic food concepts and adapting them to make my own recipes,” Lin states on her blog. “Now I’m beginning to branch out into creating my own.”

From waffles branded with a teddy bear silhouette to soba noodles with pickled veggies to honey-grilled tofu, Lin’s enthusiasm for learning new recipes and combining cultural influences from her diverse city keep the blog in a constant state of evolution.

Lin’s online approach to recovery is a stark contrast from “thinspo” accounts where anorexics or bulimics sometimes gather to share encouragement for unhealthy eating habits. But the @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie account is not the only source of positive inspiration to be found.

Claire Mysko manages Proud2bme.org, the National Eating Disorder Association’s online community that offers support for those with eating disorders.

“We use Proud2BMe to promote pro-recovery feeds and reposting positive images and information from various sources,” Mysko said. “If you’re in a vulnerable state, you need to check in with yourself and what you’re responding to. But one of the cool things about social media, because you’re really curating your content, is that you can choose what you’re seeing in your feed.”

“If you want to fill your feed with positive messages of recovery, there’s a lot of content out there and I think that’s one of the best things about social media,” she said.

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Teen Uses Instagram to Move Past Eating Disorder

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Posting photos of food to Instagram is as common of a social media ritual as tweeting selfies or checking into a sold-out concert. But peel back the layers of fried chicken and butter cream, and some images may tell a deeper story.

Case in point: One Singaporean teen has documented her evolving meals as part of a journey toward healthy eating habits.

“During my recovery from an eating disorder, I used my love for food to pull me up and spur me on to a full recovery and now it has evolved into a full blown passion,” writes Lin, the 15-year-old blogger behind the handle @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie.

Her inspiring, colorful and varied dishes have attracted more than 86,000 followers.

“I started from researching recipes and basic food concepts and adapting them to make my own recipes,” Lin states on her blog. “Now I’m beginning to branch out into creating my own.”

From waffles branded with a teddy bear silhouette to soba noodles with pickled veggies to honey-grilled tofu, Lin’s enthusiasm for learning new recipes and combining cultural influences from her diverse city keep the blog in a constant state of evolution.

Lin’s online approach to recovery is a stark contrast from “thinspo” accounts where anorexics or bulimics sometimes gather to share encouragement for unhealthy eating habits. But the @tumblinbumblincrumblincookie account is not the only source of positive inspiration to be found.

Claire Mysko manages Proud2bme.org, the National Eating Disorder Association’s online community that offers support for those with eating disorders.

“We use Proud2BMe to promote pro-recovery feeds and reposting positive images and information from various sources,” Mysko said. “If you’re in a vulnerable state, you need to check in with yourself and what you’re responding to. But one of the cool things about social media, because you’re really curating your content, is that you can choose what you’re seeing in your feed.”

“If you want to fill your feed with positive messages of recovery, there’s a lot of content out there and I think that’s one of the best things about social media,” she said.

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Young Adults Don’t Believe Everything They Read on Twitter, Says Researcher

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(EAST LANSING, Mich.) — There’s an old saying: “Don’t believe everything you read.”

Here’s the 2014 update: “Don’t believe everything you read on Twitter,” or on other social media sites.

Kimberly Fenn, assistant professor of psychology at Michigan State University, conducted a study on “false memory,” which happens when bogus information is presented after an actual event, which can change the perception of the original memory.

Fenn and her team had a group of people in their 20s view images of a man stealing a car, followed by false information in a scroll that resembled Twitter. When tested later, Fenn said that the participants were less likely to form false memories from the information featured in the Twitter facsimile.

The researcher concluded that “young adults are taking into account the medium of the message when integrating information into memory.” In other words, they’re not believing everything they read online.

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Americans’ Church-Going Habits Change Depending on Survey Method

iStock/Thinktsock(WASHINGTON) — How often do you go to church? The answer may depend on whether you’re asked that question via phone or online.

In a survey conducted last year by the Public Religion Research Institute, Americans seem to bolster their church attendance when taking the poll on a cellphone or landline as opposed when asked for a truthful answer on an Internet questionnaire.

The survey, which asked 4,000 people about evenly split between phone and online, found that 36 percent of respondents overall claimed to attend church weekly or more when responding by cell or landline.

However, that number fell to 31 percent in the online survey.

Over the phone, 30 percent said “seldom or never.” Online, that number jumped to 43 percent of respondents.

As far as any particular religion goes, more white evangelical protestants, black protestants, white mainline protestants and Catholics all said they attended church more often when asked by phone than those of the same faiths who took the survey online.

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A Temporary Tattoo Could Cause Long-Term Problems

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Tattoos and needles scare you? Try a temporary tat.

Or not. Although they may not carry the same health risks as permanent tattoos, temporary ink can also pose problems, according to the Food and Drug Administration, even when applied with decals or transfers.

The FDA warns that people have complained that color additives have left blisters, red weeping lesions and scarring that winds up being permanent.

As it happens, henna, a brownish or reddish-brown dye included in decals and transfers, is only supposed to be used to color hair and not directly applied to the skin.

Black henna containing the color p-phenylenediamine, known as PPD, has also resulted in dangerous skin reactions on people who only wanted a temporary tattoo.

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