Review Category : Health

Your Body: Help Lower Your Risk of Diabetes with Exercise

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

Exercise has long been linked to health benefits, especially for those who are at risk for type 2 diabetes.

Doctors commonly recommend a diet and exercise regimen, so researchers from England combined results from 28 smaller studies and found that people who do moderate activity for 150 minutes a week have about a 26 percent less risk of developing diabetes. If you double that amount of exercise, the risk is reduced even more.

Here’s my prescription:

  • Read those food labels. Sugar content is the number one most important number on that label. Women should max out at no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day.
  • Get moving. Even if you hate exercise, try a group class — at least you’ll all be suffering together.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

How Well Can Kids Get Past Parental Control Software?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Who knows more about technology in your home: the children or the parents? That’s one of the questions ABC News asked a group of nine to 13-year-old children who took part in Good Morning America‘s software challenge.

Parental control software companies claim they can block inappropriate content that may be sexually explicit or violent. GMA designed an experiment with Eric Klopfer, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Director of the MIT Schiller Teacher Education Program, to find out whether children could get around these controls.

The 10 children tried out two of the best-known software blocking products: Qustodio, which on its website claims to be the “Internet’s best free parental control app,” and Net Nanny, which costs $40 for one device. Children were given half an hour to get to a site GMA had blocked —RoboFun — which is the name of the school helping with the experiment.

First, the children tried Qustodio. One of the girls, Lindsay, found a proxy site which allows users to bypass filters like parental controls. She got to the blocked site and word spread quickly to the other children.

If one child figures out how to get around blocking software, “all their friends are going to find out as well,” Klopfer told ABC News in an interview that aired on Monday.

But the second program, Net Nanny, stumped the children.

“I think they would have figured that one out too,” Klopfer said, had the children been given more time. “Some of them were on the right page, literally the right web page.”

GMA also checked the software programs’ abilities to block inappropriate content. Both programs allowed GMA to access the site of a violent video game popular with teens. Cyber security expert Theresa Payton confirmed GMA‘s results.

“The way these software products work is they will block the things they know to block based on the settings you gave them, “ said Payton. “But they’re always going to be in catch-up mode.”

Following ABC News’ experiment, Qustodio said in a statement that it will now block the proxy website the children used in the experiment, as well as the violent game, saying that in general these sorts of issues are detected and corrected quickly.

The statement added, “It’s important to note that we have a second layer of protection.” If a child is able to access a proxy site, “our advanced technology will still block attempts to access inappropriate content.”

Net Nanny told ABC News that it “performs well because of its unique technology. Unlike most filters, Net Nanny doesn’t block a website based on its URL — that’s the equivalent of judging a book by its cover, it said. Instead, Net Nanny’s technology analyzes the content on every page to determine if it meets the safety criteria set by the parent.”

“In today’s digital world, parents are facing a balancing act of epic proportion,” the statement from Net Nanny added. “They want to let their kids embrace technology in healthy ways within limits, yet also make sure family values transcend device, app or platform.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Study: Celebrex No Riskier for Hearts than Other Anti-Inflammatory Drugs

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study affirmed the safety of anti-inflammatory drug Celebrex.

According the the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the generic version of the drug, celecoxib, was tested against other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Naproxen and Ibuprofen. Researchers say that there was no evidence that Celebrex was not more likely to cause cardiovascular issues when compared to NSAID alternatives.

More than 24,000 patients were assigned daily doses of either Celebrex, Naproxen, or Ibuprofen. The baseline characteristics of the patients were deemed to be similar across all three groups.

The study also indicated that Celebrex might be less risky than other NSAIDs in other ways, including potential risk to the kidneys. However, some say that the results of the study aren’t necessarily an endorsement of the drug.

Celebrex is used by approximately two million Americans each year for arthritis, cramps, aches and pains.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Brain Implant Helps ‘Locked In’ ALS Patient Communicate

University Medical Center Utrecht(NEW YORK) — A brain implant has allowed a woman with the so-called “locked-in syndrome” to finally communicate after amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) robbed her of the ability to speak.

The brain-computer interface was implanted into the unnamed patient’s brain, enabling her to communicate by translating a “brain click” into a mouse click, according to a study published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine. With the interface, the patient could click on letters of the alphabet to spell out what she wanted to say.

Nick Ramsey, senior study author and cognitive neuroscientist at University Medical Center Utrecht, said the patient is ecstatic about the experimental device.

“We feel like we succeeded because she really wants to use it,” Ramsey told ABC News. “She wants to keep the system.”

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease in which patients gradually lose their ability to move, speak and even breathe. While they ultimately become paralyzed, ALS patients’ cognitive function isn’t affected by the disease.

The 58-year-old female patient studied had progressed to the point of being “locked in” before the implant. While her ability to think was completely intact, she could not move any part of her body except her eyes.

To help her communicate, researchers surgically implanted electrodes on the region of the brain responsible for hand movement. When she thinks about moving her hand, the device decodes the electric signals, translating them into clicks on a tablet computer.

This means the new device does not require her to move at all in order to communicate. Instead, she only needs to think about moving.

For now, the device only has four sensors, enabling the patient to select letters on a keyboard in order to write.

While more research is needed to ensure the device is safe and effective in larger groups, Ramsey said that even after the study finished, the patient was excited to keep using the experimental device.

“She was quite adamant that nobody touches her system and she is still using it now,” he said.

In the future, Ramsey said they hope if they have 30 to 40 sensors, there could be quicker and more nuanced communication.

“[We] hope to be able to expand the capabilities of the next generation devices where we get more sensors,” he explained. “That will make their lives even easier.”

Ramsey has two other patients awaiting similar implants and plans on conducting additional trials, he said.

Before the implant, the woman in this study had lost her ability to make any noises and it became quite nerve-racking for her family to take her outside. “Worst case scenario, her breathing tube could get disconnected and nobody would know unless someone was looking at her,” Ramsey said.

Now she has a way to communicate that can help her stay active, said Ramsey.

“She is really a very active woman,“ said Ramsey. “She has three children in their late teens. She likes to go outside. She likes to go on holiday. She likes to do things that ordinary people do.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Stem Cell Researchers Anxious About Trump Presidency

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to take office, scientists are anxiously waiting to see if his policies will affect ongoing scientific research that utilizes embryonic stem cells or fetal tissue.

Both embryonic stem cell research and fetal tissue research have faced either backlash or federal funding restrictions in recent decades.

Alta Charo, a professor of law and bioethics at the University of Wisconsin, said that at this point, not enough has been said by Trump to give a clear indication about whether any restrictions could be reintroduced.

“It’s all a little bit like using a Ouija board,” Charo, co-chair of the National Academy of Medicine Forum on Regenerative Medicine, said about the upcoming administration. However, she suggested looking to Vice President-elect Mike Pence for some clue as to how the administration might view research.

Treatment Using Stem Cells

The field of embryonic stem cell research faced federal funding restrictions under President George Bush that were later removed under President Barack Obama. In 2009, after Obama removed restrictions on federal funding for stem cell research, Pence wrote an op-ed for The Hill calling embryonic stem cell research an “empty promise.”

“I am a Christian who believes that life begins at conception and that a human embryo is human life,” Pence wrote. “Therefore, I believe it is morally wrong to create human life to destroy it for research. Not only that, I believe it is morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans, who believe that life is sacred, and use it to fund the destruction of human embryos for research.”

Stem cells are developed mainly from donated embryos. From a single embryo, millions of cells can be cultured to develop due to the unique nature of the cells, according to the National Institutes of Health.

In recent years, the field of stem cells has advanced greatly, according to experts, thanks in part to the lessening of restrictions and advancements in technology. Experiments involving stem cells are being done across the country to help a host of conditions, including Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury and diabetes, among others.

Kevin McCormack, communications director at California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, said reintroducing a funding ban to stymie research would likely be more difficult than it was in the early 2000s when stem cell research was a new field.

“It would be like putting a genie back in the bottle,” said McCormack.

Pointing to one case at the University of Southern California, where a paralyzed man regained hand movement after an experimental stem cell therapy, McCormack said any measures that would halt funding or restrict stem cell research wholesale, “would be like going up to someone and say you can’t have that treatment.”

McCormack did note that more states have provided stem cell funding, including California, which provides grants for the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. While state funding could help, the NIH provides a huge amount of funding for U.S. medical research, spending approximately $32 billion on medical research annually.

Dr. Lorenz Studer, director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, said after decades of research, scientists are finally starting to see concrete signs that stem cells could become a common form of treatment for certain diseases.

“There has been so much investment to do basic research,” said Studer. “We want to move forward and see it’s going to work.”

Studer’s lab has been working on treatments for Parkinson’s disease for decades and said he expects that next year experimental treatments for human patients will finally start.

His team has created billions of nerve cells designed to imitate the cells lost in Parkinson’s disease. The cells are derived from a single line of embryonic stem cells that are replicated again and again from a single embryo.

“The idea has been around for 20 or 30 years … but we never had a good source of cells to do it,” he said. Researchers have seen promising results in animal studies with stem cell-based treatments, Studer said.

Federal Funding Is ‘Essential’

Studer’s current funding comes from New York State, but he said federal funding has been “essential for this type of research” in the last 20 years.

In 2001, Bush signed an executive order that stopped all federal funding for embryonic stem cell research, except for a handful of cell lines that had already been cultivated from embryos.

As a result of these restrictions, researchers faced either giving up federal funding, creating siloed work environments to separate federal funds from other grants or working with cell lines that weren’t quite right for their area of study, according to Studer.

Studer himself said he had duplicates of lab equipment that had labels to denote if they were paid for by federal funds or other funds.

“What you had to do was label all vial dishes, so some would be for federal funding and some would be for non-federal funding,” said Studer. “It was obviously very cumbersome.”

Around the time the restrictions were lifted, Dr. Allen Spiegel, dean of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and vice chair of the National Institutes of Health Stem Cell Task Force, told ABC News the years of restriction on embryonic stem cell research has been a major setback for U.S. researchers.

“In hearings [before senators] … I stated that banning funding for research on human embryonic stem cells was like tying one hand behind the backs of stem cell investigators,” Spiegel said in 2009. “Lifting the ban cannot eliminate the effect of years of delay, but harnessing the full power of NIH to review and fund scientifically meritorious research projects will accelerate progress toward the goal of helping people suffering from diabetes, neurologic diseases and many other conditions.”

Other Concerns

Studer said there is promise with a new line of stem cells called “induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.” These cells are “reprogrammed” adult cells, derived from skin or blood cells, that mimic embryonic stem cells.

In 2009, Pence cited these cells as a way to avoid using embryonic stem cells. “These altered cells are known as induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and unlike embryonic stem cells, iPS cells do not require the destruction of human eggs or embryos,” Pence wrote in the essay. “These reprogrammed cells have equal or greater potential to heal unhealthy tissue or combat disease in human organs.”

However, the NIH reports “it is not known if iPSCs and embryonic stem cells differ in clinically significant ways.”

“The process of making your skin or blood cells into iPS cells, it’s a pretty crazy process. You have to put in four genes, and at the end, you get something similar,” Studer, who uses iPS cells in research, explained. “At the end, there’s a concern that… it may not be completely safe” for clinical use. He noted that there is not as much evidence these iPS cells — first discovered in 2007 — are as safe to use in experimental treatments in humans as embryonic stem cells, which have been studied for decades.

Charo said the way researchers find out if these cells are effective “is by comparing them to what embryonic stem cells can do, that will be an important thing to keep in mind.”

Charo said in addition to access to funds for stem cell research, one area of concern is that research using fetal tissue will also be curtailed. Fetal tissue has been used since the 1920s by researchers to study a host of conditions, including vaccine efficacy, transplantation complications and other neurological disorders. In the 1950s, the NIH started to fund research that involved using fetal tissue.

Earlier this year, four states, including Indiana, where Pence is currently governor, passed legislation that banned the donation of fetal tissue for research, according to the Guttmacher Institute. The Indiana law signed by Pence also required abortion providers to cremate or dispose of the fetal tissue rather than give the tissue to medical researchers. The laws were passed after video emerged that incorrectly indicated abortion providers from Planned Parenthood were illegally selling fetal tissue for a profit.

“We already have ongoing clinical trials for things like serious neurological [diseases] like MS,” said Charo. “It’s been so much more difficult to get this tissue … because the atmosphere has gotten really chilling.”

This summer, the Indiana law was suspended by a judge a day before it was set to be enacted. It currently remains suspended.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Katy Perry Donates $10K to Planned Parenthood, Pens Essay on Turning ‘Words Into Action’

KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) — Katy Perry just revealed that she has donated $10,000 to Planned Parenthood.

The group, which endorsed Hillary Clinton back in January, said earlier this week that it will “fight to make sure” its health center doors “stay open” even after the election of Donald Trump as president.

Trump said on the campaign trail that he wants to defund Planned Parenthood as long as it performs abortions. He later clarified his position saying, “The abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood should absolutely not be funded.”

He added, “millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood.”

Perry, 32, explained her decision to donate to the organization in a lengthy caption on Instagram.

“It’s time to turn words into action!” she began. “There are so many steps to take, but my first vow is to support organizations that may have their funding support taken from them in the future by the government.

“I am making a public donation to Planned Parenthood for the teenage me who made several visits to first a clinic in Santa Barbara and then Los Angeles, CA to educate myself on my sexual health, a subject I had little to no information on because of my sheltered upbringing,” she wrote. “I had no idea how things worked down there, and had no idea how to make a plan for them.”

Perry said the organization gave her the ability to “focus on my dreams and us[e] my voice until I knew the timing was right for me to make a plan to have a family. Since then, I have been able to focus wholeheartedly on bringing messages of strength and becoming a voice for others. Without this education, I may have had a different life path.”

Perry added that although she had a singular experience with the health organization, she feels Planned Parenthood “can sometimes be the only medical support low-income families ever see.”

“I know what it’s like to need help,” the singer said. “I came from a lower- to middle-class family and never grew up with the option of health insurance.”

Perry ended her caption by explaining that Planned Parenthood gave Katheryn Hudson, Perry’s birth name, “the knowledge to plan.”

“Now, more than ever, we all need to protect and create safe places for each other,” she continued. “I hope I can help inspire you to make a gift as well, and become a member and an ally.”

She concluded her note by encouraging others to “show your support” to Planned Parenthood with the hashtag: “#wewontgoback.”

Perry was outspoken during the 2016 presidential election.

She, along with other celebrities, campaigned for Democratic presidential nominee Clinton. She also performed at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Planned Parenthood: ‘We Will Fight to Make Sure’ Doors ‘Stay Open’ Under Trump Presidency

Andrew Burton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Planned Parenthood has announced that it will “fight to make sure” its health center doors “stay open” even after the election of Donald Trump as president.

The group had endorsed Hillary Clinton earlier this year in January. It was the first time Planned Parenthood endorsed a candidate in a presidential primary in the organization’s history.

“There are almost no words to capture the threat that this election result posts to our democracy, to our economic security, to access to reproductive health care and most especially to the safety and dignity of people of color,” said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a statement on Wednesday after news of Trump’s win.

“We will fight to make sure that Planned Parenthood health center doors stay open, and that people in this country can get access to basic reproductive health care, no matter their zip code, income, sexual orientation, race, religion, gender, or country of origin,” Richards added.

She added, “We will not give up, we will not back down, and we will not be silenced.”

Trump has said he wants to defund Planned Parenthood as long as it performs abortions.

Last fall, when Trump was asked if he would shut down the federal government to cut off taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood, he replied, “I would.”

Since then, he has clarified his position, saying, “The abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood should absolutely not be funded.”

Trump was previously on the record as being pro-choice but has maintained a pro-life position throughout his presidential campaign.

The president-elect also said during the primaries earlier this year that there should be a punishment for women who have an abortion, but he later said he meant that the doctor who performed the procedure should be penalized.

Despite threatening to defund the “abortion aspect of Planned Parenthood,” Trump has also said “millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Two Curable, Preventable Illnesses Kill 1.4 Million Children a Year, UNICEF Report Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Pneumonia and diarrhea — two largely preventable and curable illnesses — kill more children globally than all other childhood diseases combined, according to a new report released today by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). The report adds that pneumonia in particular is especially aggravated by air pollution, and urges world leaders currently meeting for the U.N. climate talks in Morocco to take action.

The two illnesses together kill 1.4 million children each year, according to the report. The children who are hit the hardest by these illnesses are overwhelmingly from lower and middle-income countries. More than 90 percent of childhood pneumonia and diarrhea deaths occur in low and lower-middle income countries, although those countries only account for 62 percent of the world’s population of children under 5.

“These illnesses have such a disproportionately high impact on child mortality and are relatively inexpensive to treat,” Fatoumata Ndiaye, UNICEF deputy executive director, said in a statement. “Yet they continue to receive only a fraction of global health investment which makes absolutely zero sense.”

Ndiaye added: “That’s why we’re calling for increased global funding for protective, preventive and treatment interventions that we know will work to save children’s lives.”

Pneumonia alone is the leading infectious killer of children under 5, according to the report, responsible for the death of nearly 1 million children in 2015 — more than malaria, tuberculosis, measles and AIDS combined.

“We have seen clearly that air pollution linked to climate change is damaging the health and development of children by causing pneumonia and other respiratory infections,” Ndiaye said.

Nearly half of all childhood pneumonia deaths are linked to air pollution, according to UNICEF, which urged world leaders to consider this during the current COP22 climate talks in Marrakesh.

“Two billion children live in areas where outdoor air pollution exceeds international guidelines, with many falling ill and dying as a result,” Ndiaye added. “World leaders meeting at COP22 can help to save children’s lives by committing to actions that will reduce air pollution linked to climate change and agreeing to investments in prevention and health care.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Twins’ Daylight Saving Time Birth Results in Bizarre Age Twist

Cape Cod Hospital(HYANNIS, Mass.) — Daylight Saving Time led to a rare time twist with the birth of twin boys in Massachusetts.

Emily and Seth Peterson of West Barnstable welcomed their sons in the early morning hours of Nov. 6 at Cape Cod Hospital.

Samuel was born 5 pounds, 13 ounces at 1:39 a.m., shortly before the 2 a.m. hour when clocks were turned back an hour.

Brother Ronan arrived at 5 pounds, 14 ounces 31 minutes later. Because he was born after the clocks fell back one hour, his official time of birth was declared 1:10 a.m. instead of 2:10 a.m.

So even though Ronan was born after Samuel, he is on paper, at least, the older twin.

“My husband was the first to say it, ‘Here’s a riddle for you!'” mom Emily Peterson, 32, told ABC News Friday. “It literally took me a day to wrap my head around it. I didn’t realize it was quite that big of a deal until my nurse turned around and said ‘I’ve been working here 40 years and haven’t seen anything like that.'”

A representative at Cape Cod Hospital told ABC News that Ronan was not born until after the time changed at 2 a.m. Legally, they must give the actual time of birth, she said.

Michael K. Lauf, president and CEO of Cape Cod Healthcare, told ABC News in a statement that “the Peterson twins’ birth story was a remarkable occurrence” at the hospital.

“Our veteran maternity nurse, Deb Totten, said it was the first time she has seen it in more than 40 years of nursing,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to have such a positive story at our hospital about a wonderful young couple who will have a great tale for their sons.”

Samuel and Ronan Peterson have since joined big sister Aubrey, 2, at home with mom and dad.

“I personally think it’s kind of cool that one’s ‘older’ and one’s born first,” Peterson said. “Hopefully they’re not going to be fighting over it for the rest of their lives.”

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →