Review Category : Health

Suicides of Young Adults in Rural Areas Far Surpass Those in Cities

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Americans ages 18-24 are at far greater risk of committing suicide if they live in rural areas as compared to their counterparts from urban areas.

A study conducted by Ohio State University researchers and published in JAMA Pediatrics says that almost twice as many young people in rural areas killed themselves from 1996 through 2010 than their city peers.

Study co-author Cynthia Fontanella explains the reasons may have to do with isolation, lack of mental health care facilities and greater availability of guns.

Suicide rates per 100,000 were 19.93 for rural males and 4.40 for rural females. In cities, the rate was 10.31 per 100,000 for males and 2.39 for females

Overall in the U.S., 66,600 young people took their own lives in the 15-year period that was studied, the third leading cause of death in this demographic. Guns were used in just over half the suicides and a third died from hanging or suffocation.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

FDA Adds Alcohol, Seizure Warnings to Quit-Smoking Pill

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Monday announced the addition of alcohol and seizure warnings on the quit-smoking drug Chantix.

According to an FDA safety announcement, the drug could limit patients’ ability to tolerate alcohol. Other patients suffered seizures, including some who had no history of seizures.

As a result of those findings, the FDA updated the warnings and precautions on Chantix labels to warn about the risks. The FDA says that most cases involving seizures occurred within the first month of starting the drug, and that anyone who has a seizure while taking Chantix should stop taking the medicine and seek medical help immediately.

The FDA previously released statements on the possible neuropsychiatric side effects of Chantix in both 2009 and 2011. Pfizer, the company that manufactures Chantix, is conducting a clinical safety trial to investigate the risks and results from the FDA’s study. Results of Pfizer’s trial are expected in late 2015.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Novelist Describes Spending 416 Days at a Treadmill Desk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Novelist Neal Stephenson has to spend a lot of time at a desk, but that doesn’t mean he’s sitting still.

Stephenson, author of the New York Times bestseller Anathem and considered one of the pioneers of the cyber punk genre, blogged that he’s been using a treadmill desk for years, but only recently started logging his mileage in a spreadsheet. Now that he’s amassed 416 days worth of data, he said he had some thoughts on it.

“While its beneficial effects certainly outweigh its downside, it would be less than honest to claim that use of a treadmill while working is completely benign,” he wrote.

He began experiencing pain in his left leg in the first part of 2014, but he only felt it when he was walking on the treadmill. Walks outside didn’t hurt, he said, so he reduced his speed to half a mile an hour.

“I could walk in a normal stride outdoors for many miles without having any trace of this problem, but even a short stint on the treadmill brought it back,” Stephenson wrote.

A physical therapist informed him that he was walking too slowly and rocking from side to side, so he’s since changed his posture and nearly quadrupled his speed, he wrote.

Recently, Stephenson said he averages about 2.5 to 3 miles a day. He doesn’t walk every day, and some days he walks more than 6 miles, according to the graphs he posted.

“People who do this a lot need to pay attention to gait, posture, shoes, and other factors that have a bearing on joint and muscle health,” he wrote. “This seems like common sense, but anecdotally I’ve heard from a number of people who overlooked it.”

Still, a little pain shouldn’t dissuade people from trying standing desks, said sports medicine expert Rob Truax of University Hospital Case Medical Center in Cleveland, who hasn’t treated Stephenson. He said pain can alert you to a muscle imbalance but doesn’t mean you’re injured. And a trip to a sports medicine doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor can be a big help.

“Walking is normal. Walking is natural,” he said. “We want to avoid telling people, ‘Don’t engage in normal physical activity.'”

Truax said sitting at a desk eight hours a day can negate conditioning from even an hour of physical activity beforehand. And walking at a pleasant pace for hours on a treadmill can strengthen muscles, improve musculoskeletal endurance, and decrease caffeine intake by keeping you awake, he said.

To start, start slow and only aim to go half a mile or a mile, especially if you’re not getting a lot of physical activity beforehand, Truax said. Then increase distance and speed gradually.

Stephenson was not available for comment.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Does Eating Carrots Improve Your Vision?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The myth that carrots improve your vision dates back to World War II. The British Royal Air Force developed a radar system that helped find German aircraft at night or in conditions of limited visibility.

To keep this system under wraps, they attributed it to the consumption of carrots by their airmen, even perpetuating a propaganda campaign touting carrots’ benefits to night vision.

And chew on this: while carrots do contain beta carotene, or vitamin A, which does indeed help your eyes and body in general, simply ingesting vitamin A will not improve your eyesight on a measurable level, experts said.

Dr. Milan Ranka, a pediatric ophthalmologist at New York University, gets to the root of the matter: “Although eating a bunch of carrots won’t make you a fighter pilot with 20/20 vision, they are part of a balanced diet that will keep your eyes healthy.”

Simply put, eating carrots won’t help you get rid of those corrective lenses.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Redesigned Scopes Failed to Prevent ‘Superbug’ Outbreaks

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(NEW YORK) — The endoscopes allegedly responsible for a wave of “superbug” outbreaks had been redesigned in recent years in the hopes of making them easier to clean and less likely to spread bacteria from patient to patient, ABC News has learned, but the modifications might have created different challenges as the scopes continue to transmit antibiotic-resistant bugs.

Patients undergoing procedures with duodenoscopes at hospitals in Los Angeles, Connecticut, Pittsburgh and Illinois have come down with antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections over the last two years, according to local health authorities and the Journal of the American Medical Association.

All three manufacturers of these scopes had redesigned them within the last decade, enclosing a complex area at their tips to minimize contact with patients’ bacteria, ABC News has learned.

While the tip is enclosed, it is not “sealed like a bubble or a can” because tiny tools need to emerge to perform biopsies and complete other tasks, said Dr. J. Todd Weber, chief of the prevention and response branch in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division of healthcare quality promotion.

“That presents cleaning challenges because it is not an open surface,” Weber said. “There’s a mechanism inside there. It’s not easy to get the appropriate brushes into that space.”

Duodenoscopes are inserted through the mouth to access a patient’s small intestine and ducts in the liver and gallbladder. They contain a light, a camera, a catheter and other tiny equipment used in 500,000 procedures a year, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Unlike scopes used in colonoscopies and upper endoscopy procedures, duodenoscopes used a complex elevator wire channel to access the tiny ducts.

It’s this complexity that makes them tough to clean, the FDA said in its latest safety communication since an outbreak of CRE, an antibiotic-resident bug, at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center left two duodenoscopes patients dead and infected five others undergoing procedures. (It’s unclear what role the bug played in the two scope patients’ deaths.)

The hospital said it traced the bacteria back to two duodenoscopes that were new models and had only been in use since June. Local health officials added that the scopes were cleaned in accordance with manufacturer guidelines.

“For example, one step of the manual cleaning instructions in device labeling is to brush the elevator area,” the FDA communication said. “However, the moving parts of the elevator mechanism contain microscopic crevices that may not be reached with a brush. Residual body fluids and organic debris may remain in these crevices after cleaning and disinfection. If these fluids contain microbial contamination, subsequent patients may be exposed to serious infections.”

Older duodenoscope models have exposed elevator wire channels at the tips so the manufacturers — FujiFilm, Olympus and Pentax — each decided to enclose these channels in their newer models. Fujifilm was the first to do this in 2004, followed by Pentax in 2009. Olympus, the manufacturer named in the UCLA outbreak, was the last to do this, and had filed paperwork with the FDA only last fall, initially thinking it wasn’t necessary to get clearance for the change, ABC News has learned.

“The elevator wire channel port is now sealed so separate cleaning is no longer necessary,” Olympus said in a product brochure announcing the change. “The result is faster, easier cleaning that makes scope reprocessing more efficient.”

When 39 duodenoscope patients became infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria at one Illinois hospital in 2013, researchers at the CDC determined that the scopes had been cleaned properly but they found antibiotic-resistant E. coli and another bacteria around the enclosed channel two months after the scopes were last used. A manufacturer was not named in the study.

“The complicated design of duodenoscopes makes cleaning difficult,” the researchers wrote in the discussion section of the study. “It appears that these devices have the potential to remain contaminated with pathogenic bacteria even after recommended reprocessing is performed.”

Since the UCLA CRE cases were announced in February, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center has had four patients test positive for CRE, and Hartford Hospital in Connecticut has announced that 300 of its patients were exposed to E. coli. Both exposures were linked to duodenoscopes.

Still, neither doctors nor health officials want to pull the scopes because these infections are rare, and the devices allow doctors to treat patients with deadly diseases and infections without surgery, increasing their chances of survival.

Duodenoscope procedures are not elective, and usually necessitated by a serious symptom, Weber said.

“The value of the procedures performed utilizing these devices far outweighs the unfortunate events that have occurred,” said Dr. Michael Kochman, who chairs the American Gastroenterological Association’s Center for GI Innovation and Technology.

FujiFilm declined to comment, and neither Olympus nor Pentax were immediately available for comment.

Olympus said in a prior statement to ABC News that it is aware of reports involving its duodenoscopes, and it is working with the FDA, medical organizations and customers to address concerns. It is also making supplemental educational materials available to customers.

“While all endoscopes, including duodenoscopes, require thorough reprocessing after patient use in order to be safe, the Olympus TJF-Q180V requires careful attention to cleaning and reprocessing steps, including meticulous manual cleaning, to ensure effective reprocessing,” the company said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

The Facebook ‘Feeling Fat’ Emoji Is No More

Facebook(NEW YORK) — Facebook’s “feeling fat” emoji has been removed.

A petition successfully lobbied the social media network to drop the chubby-cheeked, double-chinned icon from its status update “feelings” list.

Catherine Weingarten of the group Endangered Bodies started the petition last week. It garnered nearly 17,000 signatures before Facebook relented. Weingarten said she is thrilled by the news.

“As someone who struggled with body image, I feel so happy that I am eliminating one form of fat shaming and body hatred on the internet,” Weingarten said Tuesday in a statement to ABC News. “I hope that this shows that there is space for body positivity in our mainstream culture and that we really can make a difference.”

Although Facebook has yet to issue its own statement and did not immediately return requests for comment, the emoji has indeed disappeared from the drop down list of more than 50 “feelings” emoticons.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Christie Brinkley Shares Her Beauty Secrets

Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week(NEW YORK) — It’s tough to believe it, but Christie Brinkley is 61.

She works hard to maintain her good looks, modeling her routine after that of the “original health nut,” her mother.

“My mom was always my biggest teacher, my inspiration, my role model. My mom was just the most amazing person,” Brinkley told Elle magazine. “She was like a bon vivant in that she just lived each day to the fullest.”

The supermodel, who just developed her own skincare line, Christie Brinkley Authentic Skincare, shared a few of her tips to aging gracefully.

1. Never skip exfoliation:
“In the beginning of my career I read an article about the reason that men always look five years younger than women is because they shave. It said that the daily exfoliation from shaving gives them that rapid cell turnover and keeps their skin glowing and looking so great,” she said, adding that she ran out and bought an exfoliator. She has been a fan ever since.

2. Don’t eat meat: Inspired by a graphic description of a Chicago slaughterhouse, Brinkley decided to become a vegetarian when she was 13. “I said, ‘I love animals. I don’t want to be part of that system,'” she explained. In 2011, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, she adopted a vegan diet.

3. Splurge: Sometimes, she admitted, she’ll break her vegan diet. “Life is too short to not have oysters and champagne,” she said.

4. Focus on how you feel, not how you look: “When you feel great you emanate a certain energy that translates as beautiful,” she said. “I don’t care if you have the standard beauty or not, it’s that X-factor that comes through, and the basis of that is good health.”

5. Don’t listen to your haters: “Adopting a really positive attitude can work wonders to adding years to your life, a spring to your step, a sparkle to your eye, and all of that,” she said.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Most Americans Pray Once a Day

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A majority of Americans are living on prayer.

According to the 2014 General Social Survey of about 2,540 adults, mostly funded by the National Science Foundation, 57 percent of people said they prayed at least once a day while three in four admitted praying at least once a week. Meanwhile, a quarter of the respondents said they either prayed rarely or not at all.

While the numbers of Americans praying are essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, being part of an organized religion continues to fall. Just over nine in ten were affiliated with a particular faith during the latter part of the 20th century but now just 79 percent make that claim.

Thirty years ago, 50 percent of Americans said they attended some sort of worship services at least once a month compared to around 40 percent in 2013.

Today, 54 percent described themselves as “very” or “moderately” religious, down from 62 percent in 2006.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Allergies Are Keeping People Up at Night

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Spring’s right around the corner and so is allergy season.

Not only does this make the day miserable for many suffering from allergies, but it can also disrupt sleep time as well, based on a survey conducted by AllerEase, the maker of allergen barrier bedding products.

In a consumer poll of 1,000 people, 46 percent complained of seasonal and environmental allergies. According to findings by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, around 20 million Americans are allergic to dust mites, which can infest mattresses and pillows.

Over the course of time, mattresses can accumulate anywhere from 10,000 to ten million dust mites if not properly cleaned.

Of all allergy sufferers, a third say their sleep is disturbed by their symptoms while another third complain about being congested right after waking up or throughout the day.

Meanwhile, only 13 percent report washing their bedding frequently. While once a week is recommended, millennials are the worst offenders with most in this group usually only washing their bedding once or twice a month.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Indianapolis VA Hospital Under Fire for Email Making Fun of Veterans

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Department of Veterans Affairs took another hit Monday as news surfaced that an email had been circulated to staffers at an Indianapolis VA hospital making fun of the mental health problems suffered by returning combat veterans.

The Dec. 18 message included several images of a toy Christmas elf, according to The Indianapolis Star, which obtained the email.

The email was sent by social worker Robin Paul to her staff within the Seamless Transition Integrated Care Clinic at the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

In one photograph, the elf pleads for Xanax, which is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic. The caption reads: “Self-medicating for mental health issues.” In another image, the elf hangs by a Christmas light with the message: “Caught in the act of suicidal behavior (trying to hang himself from an electrical cord).”

The news comes at a time when suicide among military veterans claims an estimated 22 lives a day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Critics called Monday’s news just another black mark on an agency mired in scandal. In May 2014, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid accusations that the department had hid unacceptably long wait times for patient care. In February, his replacement apologized after falsely claiming that he’d served in Special Forces.

“All we want for the VA to do is to be able to fix what’s broken, to hold employees accountable and help restore the faith of veterans in their VA health care system,” said Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the VFW. “This one employee, this one supervisor, violated all three of those….It was [an] extremely poor attempt at humor.”

In a statement released by a facility spokeswoman, Paul, the social worker who sent the email, said: “I would like to sincerely apologize for the email message and I take full responsibility for this poor judgment….I hold all Veterans and military personnel in the highest regard and am deeply remorseful for any hurt this may have caused.”

In an emailed statement, the hospital called Paul’s email “totally inappropriate.”

“The Indianapolis VA Medical is committed to treating our Veterans and the health conditions they face with the utmost respect and compassion,” the hospital said. “We apologize to our Veterans and take suicide and mental health treatment seriously, striving to provide the highest quality.”

The VA would not say whether Paul had been fired, only that the matter had been handled.

Follow @ABCNewsRadio
Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →