Review Category : Health

Latest Data Shows over 18,000 Cases, 6,000 Deaths from Ebola in West Africa

ABC News(NEW YORK) — The latest data from the World Health Organization shows that the number of cases of Ebola in West Africa has surpassed 18,000, and the number of deaths is well over 6,000.

The latest release includes data from Guinea and Sierra Leone through Wednesday and from Liberia through Sunday.

Sierra Leone, which earlier this week overtook Liberia for the largest number of cases of Ebola, extended that gap in recent days. More than 8,000 cases of Ebola have now been reported in Sierra Leone, compared to 7,765 in Liberia.

Liberia has still reported the most deaths from the disease, 3,222 in total, compared to 1,899 in Sierra Leone and 1,462 in Guinea.

The three nations are the most severely impacted by the ongoing Ebola outbreak. The WHO notes that Mali is also involved in the outbreak, with seven confirmed cases and one probable case of the disease. Six Ebola patients have died in Mali.

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Why to Hope Your Surgeon Is Grooving to the Bee Gees, Not House of Pain

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” is maybe not the best song for your surgeon to play while he’s standing over you in the operating room, scalpel in hand, according to a tongue-in-cheek editorial in the British Medical Journal’s December issue.

“Stayin’ Alive” topped the list of the best songs for surgery compiled by surgeons at the University Hospital of Wales for the journal’s annual, lighthearted Christmas issue.

“Though a great suggestion for the patient, operating team members should resist the urge to emulate John Travolta’s expansive dance routine,” surgical registrar Dave Bosanquet and his co-author wrote of the song.

They added that if the patient goes into cardiac arrest on the table, the disco beat is actually the perfect rhythm for chest compressions.

The Bee Gees’ hit was followed by Sade’s “Smooth Operator” and Toni Braxton’s “Un-Break My Heart,” which was “ideal for cardiac surgery.”

Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb” was recommended for patients to listen to while they await epidural anesthetics, but the authors warned to “avoid repeated exposure as lyrics may cause dangerous introspection.”

“You can have a lighthearted environment even in someplace as serious as a[n operating] theater,” Bosanquet said, adding that operating rooms inherit old CD players and speaker systems that doctors can use to connect their phones and play music.

About 80 percent of the people in operating rooms found that playing music during surgery helped reduce anxiety, improve efficiency and foster team communication, according to Bosanquet’s research. He noted that when patients were awake during procedures, studies have shown that hearing tunes actually has pain-relieving effects.

But not all songs belong in the OR. In addition to avoiding “Another One Bites the Dust,” the surgeons advised against REM’s “Everybody Hurts,” because “no patient appreciates receiving such a repetitive reminder.”

Radiohead’s “Knives Out” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Scar Tissue” were also no-nos.

“Knives Out” was “not only likely to increase patient anxiety, but will bring melancholy to the theatre,” they wrote. “Staff may question the meaninglessness of existence.”

Bosanquet and his team advised against anything by the hip-hop trio House of Pain, which is “likely to increase analgesic requirements.”

But House of Pain also had an upside, they wrote: “The single ‘Jump Around’ may shorten operative time considerably.”

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Holiday Travel: Should Fido Stay or Go?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — When it comes to pet parenting and holiday travel plans, there are two camps that owners fall into: those that bring their four-legged friends everywhere and those that decide it’s best for their furry pal to stay behind.

Both choices have pluses and minuses. But either way, before you leave, there are certain steps experts recommend to ensure that Fido has a stress-free season as well.

“Pet parents are always mindful of the comfort and well-being of their furry kids, so it makes sense that they would factor them into their travel plans,” said founder and president, Kim Salerno.

Salerno’s sentiments echo the results of a recent, albeit unscientific, online poll conducted by TripIt in which 77 percent of pet owners surveyed said “their pets will influence their holiday travel plans.”

But “influence” needn’t turn into “control.” Instead, experts recommend matching your plans to your pooch’s behavior.

“The health and well being of pets should be the primary concern,” according to Salerno. “Not every pet makes a good travel companion. Pets who are sick, temperamental, anxious, or poorly socialized are probably best left at home. However, if pets are easygoing, great around people, and cope well with new places and situations — bring them along.”

With that in mind, here are a few best practices animal experts suggest you follow if …

…You can’t bear to leave Spot behind.

“First aid kits, medicine, car safety devices and crates are all must-haves when traveling with pets,” note the experts at TripsWithPets.

It is equally important to keep important documents, such as current health certificates, on hand. Most airlines require such papers to fly with a pet.

Staying at a pet-friendly hotel? Consider where the room is located on the property and whether any ambient noises will cause your pooch or kitty distress. You may be able to request another space.

If staying with a friend or family member, keep in mind that their house rules for pets may not be the same as you own. When in doubt, always ask whether your pet is allowed on couches, beds and even certain rooms of the house.

…Your furball doesn’t do well on the road.

Whether you are having a pet sitter come to your house, home-boarding elsewhere in the neighborhood, or taking your pet to an overnight facility, Nicole Ellis, a spokesperson for DogVacay, recommends making sure all of their regular care items are available to them and the caretaker.

“Some dogs get an upset stomach if you change their brand of doggie chow, so be sure to have plenty of your dog’s usual food for his stay,” Ellis said. “It’s also always a good idea to keep more than one leash available — a short leash and one that has an extendable line for areas where your dog might want to get some exercise.”

Ellis also suggests leaving something of your own behind.

“An old t-shirt that smells like you can also make for a great cuddle toy for your dog while you are apart!” she said.

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Robot ‘Shadow Hand’ Could Bring Sense of Human Touch to Space YORK) — A robotic technology being tested by the European Space Agency could allow people on Earth to literally have a hand in space.

A robot shadow hand aims to replicate the delicacy and precision of human touch, allowing remote machine operators to feel as though they’re really performing a task in space.

“The aim is that remote operators will feel as though they are right there with whatever they are controlling, such as planetary rovers,” the European Space Agency said in a statement.

The robotic hand is so human-like that it is able to easily grip objects, such as an apple, and mimic the motion of the human operator.

Experiments with the shadow hand are being carried out at the Telerobotics and Haptics Laboratory in the Netherlands. It was not immediately known when the “helping hand” would be sent to space.

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Why Are Magazines in Doctors’ Waiting Rooms So Dull?

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Your doctor can answer all your health questions, but can he answer this question: Why are the magazines in the doctor’s waiting room usually dated and dull?

Researchers in New Zealand decided to find an answer. They placed 87 magazines — both new and old — as bait in the waiting room of a primary care practice of over 5,000 patients.

After 31 days, 41 magazines had disappeared, and 60 percent of those missing mags were newer issues, less than two months old.

The researchers also discovered that 98 percent of so-called “gossipy”-type magazines — the ones that feature five or more photos of celebrities on the cover — went missing, versus just one of the “non-gossipy,” more educational magazine offerings.

The researcher calculated that magazines disappear from doctors’ offices at a rate of 1.32 per day.

The research is published in the British Medical Journal’s Christmas issue, which tends to be tongue-in-cheek with reports of scientific scrutiny being applied to less-than-serious subjects.

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Memory Complaints Tied to Stroke Risk Among Higher Educated Individuals

Burlingham/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study indicates that highly educated individuals who complain of memory problems may have a higher incidence of stroke.

According to the study, published in the journal Stroke, researchers in the Netherlands looked at 9,152 participants aged 55 years old or older, and attempted to link memory complaints with stroke risk. Subject were divided into low, intermediate and high education. Researchers say those in the higher education category who had memory complaints were 39 percent more likely than those who did not report memory lapses to suffer a stroke.

The same link was not found in individuals in the intermediate or lower education groups.

Researchers say the link among higher educated participants persisted even when they adjusted for other risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes, and cognitive test scores.

It is possible that the link is caused by the increased ability of those with more education to notice subtle changes in their memory.

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Tamoxifen Effective in Lowering Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

podfoto/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study conducted by an international team of researchers confirmed the effectiveness of Tamoxifen, a commonly prescribed breast cancer treatment.

The study, published in the journal Lancet Oncology, showed that a five-year course of Tamoxifen is effective in cutting recurrence risk for at least 20 years.

Researchers studied more than 7,000 breast cancer survivors, half of whom took the five-year course of Tamoxifen, while the other half took a placebo for five years. They later followed up with the participants, an average of 16 years later, and found that those who took the Tamoxifen were 20 percent less likely to have had a recurrence of breast cancer.

The drug did not lower the risk of breast cancer death, researchers said.

Tamoxifen was approved for use in 1998 and has been used by millions of women.

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Study: Few High Schoolers Get Enough Sleep

monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday determined that most American high school students do not get sufficient sleep.

Looking at data from over 52,000 students between 2007 and 2013, researchers asked the students how many hours of sleep they get. The data was then separated by sex, grade, and race/ethnicity into those who answered “five hours or less,” “six hours,” “seven hours,” “eight hours,” or “nine hours or more.”

The study found that between 6.2 percent and 7.7 percent of females and eight percent to 9.4 percent of males reported getting nine or more hours of sleep. Researchers did note, however, that the percentage reporting nine or more hours of sleep decreased as grade level increased.

The CDC recommends that adolescents get nine to ten hours of sleep each day. The vast majority of students in this study, however, did not reach that standard.

The study didn’t specifically look at the effects of too little sleep on its participants, though researchers believe insufficient sleep can be harmful in areas including memory formation, chronic disease risk factors, increased risk of obesity and emotional problems.

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‘Feel Full’ Chemical Could Be Future of Weight Loss

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Scientists in the U.K. say they have devised an innovative way to fight against weight gain by making diners “feel full.”

Researchers from the Imperial College London and the University of Glasgow published a small study in the medical journal Gut examining the effects of a fatty acid called propionate on hungry diners. Your body makes propionate naturally when dietary fiber is broken down in your digestive system, and in theory, propionate tells your brain to stop eating.

It has been studied in mice as a possible appetite suppressant, and the Glasgow researchers wanted to see if it worked in humans.

Dr. Gary Frost, the co-author of the new study, said the goal was to give adults a way to fight back against slow incremental weight gain that happens over time.

“We know that adults gain between 0.3 and 0.8 kilos [0.7 and 1.8 pounds] a year on average, and there’s a real need for new strategies that can prevent this,” Frost said in a statement.

In the first part of the study, 20 dinners were given additional propionate or a dietary fiber supplement and let loose on an open banquet. Those who were given the propionate ate 14 percent less than the people who were given the fiber supplement, according to the study.

Frost and his colleagues were able to sprinkle propionate over food because they bound it to a dietary fiber called inulin, which comes in powder form. The inulin allowed the propionate to travel to the colon, where it was released into the body.

In the second part of the study, 60 overweight people started integrating either powered propionate or dietary fiber into their daily meals over 24 weeks. Those taking propionate were more easily able to maintain their weight, the study found.

Only one of the 25 volunteers who took daily propionate gained more than 3 percent of their body weight, according to the study. In comparison, six out of 24 volunteers who were given propionate gained more than 3 percent of their body weight.

Although some study participants lost weight during the study, the difference in weight loss between those who ingested propionate with their food and those who didn’t was not statistically significant.

At the end of each section of the study, the researchers measured participants’ hormones associated with hunger and feeling full. During the banquet part of the study, they found raised levels of appetite suppressing hormones. In the daily meals part, there was no measurable difference in hormones.

Researchers are working on conducting more studies and working with a food company to develop propionate into an approved food ingredient, Frost said, describing the powered propionate as tasting “slightly bitter.”

Dr. Naveen Uli, a pediatric endocrinologist at University of Cincinnati Rainbow Babies and Children’s hospital, said this study is part of a larger trend in the medical community to look at changing food itself to create healthy eating habits.

“I think it is promising, but certainly it remains to be seen if the effects are sustained in a larger study,” said Uli, who was not involved in the new study.

ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser said studies have shown propionate can help control weight in mice, but results in humans are not as clear.

“What this suggests is there may be ways to trigger the body to tell us we’re full. That could be a really exciting approach to weight control coming in the future,” Besser said. “So far, no, this is not the silver weight loss bullet.”

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Most Googled Dishes in States Ranked Least Healthy

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana got the dubious distinction this week of being the unhealthtiest states in the country, according to the United Health Foundation’s annual rankings.

So ABC News asked Google to tell us the most popular recipes searched in those three states. The list may make you gain weight just by reading it.

Here’s what Google came up with using data since 2004:


  • Comeback sauce, a concoction that features mayonnaise and chili pepper.
  • Chess squares, a cake with a pecan crust and a cream cheese filling.
  • Crawfish bisque
  • Chicken tetrazzini
  • Butter roll
  • Corn dip
  • Drunk chicken, a fowl dish that includes beer.
  • Crack dip, which includes sour cream, Ranch, cheese and bacon.
  • Tomato gravy


  • Mexican chicken
  • Chocolate gravy
  • Deer chili
  • Chicken spaghetti
  • Cornbread salad
  • Chili seasoning
  • Corn dip
  • Mexican cornbread
  • Giblet gravy


  • Pastalaya recipe
  • Crawfish fettuccine
  • Crawfish Monica
  • Shrimp fettuccine
  • Crawfish bread
  • Canes sauce, a combo of mayonnaise, ketchup and worcestershire sauce.
  • Shrimp stew
  • Crawfish bisque
  • Corn grits
  • Pecan candy

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