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How Hotter Summers Are Putting Swimmers at Risk

How Hotter Summers Are Putting Swimmers at Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — As families flock to pools and lakes to cool off, experts are warning about a risky consequence of climate change: waterborne disease.Just last week, a 9-year-old girl from Johnson County, Kansas, died from primary amoebic meningoencephalitis, an extremely rare but almost invariably fatal brain infection caused by the freshwater amoeba Naegleria fowleri.“It’s a heat-loving amoeba,” said Michael Beach, associate director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s healthy swimming program. “Naegleria is kind of a classic climate change indicator.”
Once limited to the southern states — particularly Texas and Florida — Naegleria fowleri has been moving north.“It’s a pretty dramatic shift,” Beach said, citing recent cases in Minnesota and Indiana. “As water temperatures climb, we expect to see infections moving northwards.”There have been 132 known cases of primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in the U.S., with the average number of cases per year growing from 2.3 before 1998 to 3.7 after, according to CDC data.Seven of the 10 warmest years on record for the contiguous 48 states have occurred since 1998, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.The warmer weather also means more people swimming, raising the risk of bacterial, viral and parasitic infections transmitted through feces, according to Beach.There were 81 recreational water-associated disease outbreaks reported in 2009 and 2010, according to the latest CDC data. Forty-five of them were caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites. That’s up from 39 outbreaks in 1999 and 2000, 20 of which were associated with pathogens, the agency said.“Swimming is a communal bathing activity, and a lot of this [disease outbreaks] can be about who you’re swimming next to,” said Beach, describing how pathogens lurking in trace amounts of diarrhea on the skin or in kids’ diapers can get unwittingly swallowed by other swimmers.This week, health officials in Kitsap County, Washington, closed a lake after more than 200 swimmers reported stomach cramps, nausea and diarrhea. The outbreak has been called “norovirus-like” pending lab test results.But lakes and rivers aren’t the only source of waterborne infections. The leading cause of recreational water illness, a parasite called cryptosporidium, is “very tolerant to chlorine disinfection,” according to the CDC. That means pools can spread illness, too.“We’re not saying to not swim. But because you do it with other people, make sure you’re healthy before you get in,” Beach said, stressing the importance of showering before and after swimming. “And minimize how much water you swallow.”The CDC recommends the following tips for safe summer swimming:

Avoid getting water up your nose when swimming in warm, freshwater.
Keep poop, pee and germs out of the water.
Don’t swim if you have diarrhea.
Shower with soap before taking a dip.
Wash your hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
Check the free chlorine level and pH before getting into the water.
Don’t swallow the water.

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Boy Who Got Unapproved Drug Heads Home to Virginia

Boy Who Got Unapproved Drug Heads Home to Virginia

Aimee Hardy(NEW YORK) — Josh Hardy, the boy whose parents successfully fought to get him an unapproved drug to save his life last March, is heading home to Virginia after spending months living in Tennessee to be near St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.“Glory to GOD!” his mother, Aimee Hardy, wrote on the Save Josh Facebook page. “We are going home!!!! Leaving today. After 6 1/2 months, Josh finally gets to be in his house.”Josh Hardy, 8, has beaten cancer four times, his parents said. But the treatments left his immune system so weak that a common virus became life-threatening.The Hardy family said that their best hope for Josh’s survival was an unapproved antiviral drug called brincidofovir, but the company that makes the drug at first refused to give it to him. The Hardys started several online petitions to change the company’s mind.”Having survived four diagnoses of cancer, it would be an absolute travesty for him to meet his demise from a virus,” Aimee Hardy told ABC News in March. “Especially knowing there is a medicine in someone’s hands that can rid of this virus.”Josh received his first cancer diagnosis when he was just a baby: Aggressive rhabdoid tumors in both kidneys, Hardy said. He went through surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but the cancer returned in his thalamus gland and then his lung.Then, after nearly four years of being cancer-free, Josh received bad news in November 2013, Hardy said. He had myelodysplastic syndrome, the same precancerous bone marrow disorder that ABC News anchor Robin Roberts was diagnosed with in 2012. It can be caused by cancer treatments.Josh underwent a bone marrow transplant to remedy the disorder, but he developed graft-versus-host disease, meaning the new immune cells started to attack his body, Hardy said.
“He was in complete heart failure and kidney failure and went into the ICU on January 14,” Hardy said.To stop the attack, Josh’s doctors at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Tennessee suppressed his immune system with drugs, allowing his heart and kidneys to start healing. But with a weakened immune system, Josh came down with adenovirus, a common virus that causes colds but can also be much more serious, Hardy said.In Josh’s case, reawakening his immune system to fight the virus could bring back his graft-versus-host disease, so doctors gave him an antiviral medicine to get rid of the adenovirus. But the drug was toxic to his kidneys and wasn’t working, Hardy said.”He’s at a physical standstill,” Hardy said at the time.That was when Josh’s doctor at St. Jude suggested brincidofovir, a drug that researchers at Chimerix, a small North Carolina drug company, have been developing for the past 14 years. St. Jude had been involved in a clinical trial of brincidofovir in which children who had undergone bone marrow transplants and had early adenovirus infections took the drug and were able to decrease the amount of virus in their bodies.But Dr. Hervé Momméja-Marin, Chimerix vice president of clinical research, said the drug has not been proven to do this in more advanced adenovirus cases, like Josh’s. Chimerix President and CEO Kenneth Moch said giving the drug to Josh would mean they would have to give the drug to the hundreds of other patients hoping to get it under the Food and Drug Administration’s compassionate use rules, which allow patients to get drugs even if they aren’t enrolled in clinical trials.”We all have great compassion for this child,” Moch told ABC News on March 11. “We spent our lives trying to develop new medications for patients just like Josh…We need to make sure to get this drug available as soon as possible to as many people as possible.”But the following day, Chimerix announced that Josh’s story accelerated talks with the FDA, allowing it to launch a 20-patient open-label clinical trial. Josh was the first patient enrolled.Moch resigned from his position in April, Chimerix announced.After months in the hospital, Josh was discharged in April. But persistent problems with his kidney, lung and heart function and the need for several blood transfusions kept the family in Tennessee. Now that those problems are resolved, the family can return to Fredericksburg, Virginia.“And with a lot of hard work his strength will return,” Aimee Hardy wrote. “He can walk a nice distance holding my hands. And we anticipate the return of his immunity in a few months.”
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Exclusive: Feds Struggling to Cope with Medical ‘Breakdown’ at the Border

Exclusive: Feds Struggling to Cope with Medical ‘Breakdown’ at the Border

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The federal government is so overwhelmed by the current tide of migrants crossing the border it can’t provide basic medical screening to all of the children before transporting them — often by air — to longer-term holding facilities across the country, ABC News has learned.The director of refugee health in the federal Health and Human Services Department “has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility,” according to an internal Department of Defense memo reviewed by ABC News.Inside the government, officials are sounding alarms, fearing that they and their teams who come in contact with the sick children face potential exposure to infectious diseases from chicken pox to influenza, including rare cases of H1N1, more commonly called swine flu.Two unaccompanied children were flown from Nogales to California despite having 101-degree fevers and flu-like symptoms, according to the Department of Defense memo. Those children had to be hospitalized.The memo said pointedly that officials in charge of moving the immigrants from Border Patrol processing centers to Health and Human Services facilities are “putting sick [fevers and coughing] unaccompanied children on airplanes inbound for [Naval Base Ventura County] in addition to the chicken pox and coxsackie virus cases.”The document said three other kids were in the ICU at local hospitals in California, and two of them were diagnosed with strep pneumonia.Less than a week later, that same Ventura Naval Base suffered an outbreak of pneumonia and influenza among the unaccompanied minors inside the shelter.“Preliminary reports indicate that several unaccompanied minors in the shelter had become ill with what appears to be pneumonia and influenza,” according to a statement from the Administration for Children and Families at Health and Human Services.HHS told ABC News the children were supposed to be screened for sickness before leaving the Border Patrol screening centers.“When the children arrive at U.S. border stations,” the ACF statement read, “they are screened for health problems and given medical treatment if needed.”But, according to the memo ABC News reviewed, “Curi Kim [the HHS director of the Division of Refugee Health] has identified a breakdown of the medical screening processes at the Nogales, Arizona, facility.  The  [unaccompanied children] were initially screened and cleared upon entry into that facility with no fever or significant symptoms.  They were not however re-screened and cleared for travel and placement at a temporary shelter.”While confirming to ABC News the outbreak occurred, HHS would not respond to inquiries about the DOD memo showing sick children were knowingly sent to Naval Base Ventura prior to the outbreak.“My biggest concerns are with the health of these children,” said Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor. “They are victims going through incredibly stressful circumstances and some will have health issues that need to be treated. Some come from countries that don’t vaccinate against pneumonia or meningitis. They need those vaccines.  Some come from countries where it is flu season. They need that vaccine, too. The big health risks are among these children, not to our communities.”Once kids are in HHS custody they receive exams and vaccinations, and are screened for tuberculosis, according to ACF,  but more serious illnesses such as meningitis and polio are of little concern for causing an outbreak.“Children from this region of the world participate in comprehensive childhood vaccination programs, similar to the United States, and are generally well protected from most vaccine-preventable diseases,” ACF said in a statement.Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras each have rates of vaccination against preventable illnesses such as polio, tuberculosis, measles and pertussis consistent with the United States, according to the World Health Organization.During congressional testimony the first week of July, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said: “We’ve already had one confirmed case of H1N1 in Texas, and have been informed by our federal partners of two additional cases of type A influenza that are likely to be H1N1, in addition to reports of other illnesses at other detention facilities.”The Texas Department of Health confirmed to ABC News that there have been three flu cases, one confirmed H1N1 and two others being flu type A,  or presumptive H1N1.According to the CDC, between April 12, 2009 and April 10, 2010, the height of swine flu in the U.S., approximately 60.8 million cases occurred, with 12,469 deaths.The CDC website stated: The H1N1 virus that caused that pandemic is now a regular human flu virus and continues to circulate seasonally worldwide.
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How Scientists, Doctors Use Baby-Friendly Tricks to Study Infants

How Scientists, Doctors Use Baby-Friendly Tricks to Study Infants

Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, University of Washington(NEW YORK) — For all the impressive advancements in medical technology, researchers and scientists still face a daunting challenge when they study the habits of infants.In order to study infants without overwhelming them, scientists often try to mask the massive machines needed to view brain activity either by having the child sleep through it or by covering it in kid-friendly decorations. Other researchers have devised decidedly low-tech ways of reading an infant’s interest in a subject, even when they can’t say a single word.In a study released Monday in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences, doctors used a special machine to examine infant brain activity as they start to learn language skills.Patricia Kuhl, a professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of Washington and the lead author of the study, said the research indicated the area of the infants’ brain that controlled motor skills lit up when they heard certain words. The activity indicated that the infants are trying to mimic adults and speak much earlier before they say their first word.However, Kuhl said, the study was important because of both the surprising findings and the way researchers were able to get them. To “read” the infant’s brain activity, they used the cutting-edge device called a magnetoencephalograph, that was quiet and nimble enough to read the chaotic world of infants’ brain activity.Kuhl said unlike a MRI machine, which is extremely loud and requires a patient to be totally still, the magnetoencephalograph is nearly silent. However, the infants still had to be strapped into a chair, so to keep them entertained the researchers were tasked with making silly faces and holding up toys all in the name of science.“You want them to like the lab,” said Kuhl. “It’s decorated with fish and it’s got little stickies [on it.] It’s…very baby friendly. We wave toys and we’re very aware and of their curiosity and of their desire to play. We do everything to make them comfortable.”In a 2013 study published in Psychological Science, researchers used MRI machines to examine baby’s brain activity in response to different stimuli. However, to get the infants into a machine where they could not move, the researchers had the babies go in after they fell asleep naturally. They also used ear coverings so the loud MRI machine didn’t wake the infants.MRI machines can be so distressing for patients because of claustrophobia or other fears about being in the hospital that a New York Hospital installed a pirate-themed scanner to put children (and some parents) more at ease.“The genius is in this machine. …There’s no noise and the baby can listen and can move,” said Kuhl of the magnetoencephalograph. “The ability for the first time to do this kind of recording in this kind of technical advanced machine…[it’s like] we’re putting [on] a stethoscope.”Aside from technological advancements, researchers rely on some decidedly low-tech approaches when studying infants.Fei Xue, a professor of psychology at the University of California Berkeley, has done numerous studies examining how infants learn and react to new toys or information. She said researchers have plenty of tricks to keep babies focused on the tasks at hand.Xue said most studies only last between 5-10 minutes because the infants will get bored if they’re longer. If they want a baby to focus on an object, they darken the room and light up the object to draw the baby’s attention.“In a way, it’s easy to work with infants,” said Xue. “They’re very curious and they’re interested in the world.”To measure if babies are interested in an object or scene without getting verbal confirmation, Xue and her fellow researchers simply follow the infant’s eye movement. While there are special computer programs, Xue said often it just comes down to a researcher holding a stopwatch and watching the infant through a monitor.In spite of the infants’ inability to speak, Xue said, understanding their thought process can reveal how they learn, which could eventually help shape education programs.“When they go to preschool and elementary school…they will help us to know how to structure the school system,” said Xue of her young subjects. “Understanding these really young humans is important.”
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Drowning Child’s Rescue Caught on Police Body Camera

Drowning Child’s Rescue Caught on Police Body Camera

iStock/Thinkstock(CLEVELAND) — Ismael Quintana pumps on the boy’s chest, trying frantically to restore the child’s heartbeat. The 2-year-old’s aunt, Cynthia O’Connor, kneels beside him, breathing air into his mouth.The boy had climbed into a backyard pool June 17 and was found underwater, Cleveland police said. So Officer Quintana performed chest compressions, pushing down, again and again, an incident captured on the officer’s body camera in video released Wednesday.The body cameras are being used by the city’s police as part of a pilot program, a way to document crime scenes and interactions with suspects.
But sometimes rescue efforts are captured, too. In the case of the boy, the water eventually gushed out of his mouth and nose and he began breathing again, shallow breaths, before being rushed away for further care.

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Candace Cameron Bure Draws Criticism for Attempting Cleanse

Candace Cameron Bure Draws Criticism for Attempting Cleanse

ABC/Lou Rocco(LOS ANGELES) — Candace Cameron Bure took some heat from her fans this past Monday after announcing on Facebook that she was kicking off a five-day cleanse.The recent Dancing with the Stars contestant posted a status that read, “After a very indulgent week in Napa, I’m excited to kick off my 5 day cleanse…Shakes for breakfast & lunch, sensible snacks & a light veggie dinner!”The post got a mixed reaction from fans, some of whom warned Bure of possible health risks associated with the cleansing fad.The former Full House actress responded a little later with a follow-up post clarifying her earlier one.“After reading your comments,” Bure wrote, “let me expand! I’m excited to start my 5 day cleanse not to lose weight but to get my body back on track, ridding all the toxins and unhealthy stuff I’ve put in it the last few months.”Bure, 38, went on to explain, “Since being off Dancing With The Stars, my body has struggled to find its balance after having danced up to 8 hours a day and eating so clean.” She added that, “After going back to my normal eating habits as well as extended over indulgent summertime vacation eating and normal exercise routine, my body has endured some confusion causing some minor health issues.”Candace insists the Paleta cleanse, which she’s following, includes “real food,” and she included a link to the company’s website.Bure ends the post by declaring, “If you still comment about how unhealthy I am for doing a cleanse or that I don’t need to lose weight, I’ll know that you never read any of this and I won’t bother answering any comments below of that nature.”The second post received a much better response, earning twice as many “likes” from fans.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

If You’re Gonna Sit, Be Physically Fit, Say Researchers

If You’re Gonna Sit, Be Physically Fit, Say Researchers

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(DALLAS) — For years, studies have pointed out the health dangers of sedentary behavior — that is, doing a lot of sitting around and not much else.However, while scientists don’t dispute the various side effects that sedentary behavior can have, which include obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, there hasn’t been much research about how sitting affects those who are physically fit.That is, until now. Researchers at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, in conjunction with the American Cancer Society and the University of Texas, examined the fitness of 1,300 men in relation to their sedentary behavior beginning in 1981.What they found is, men who are considered physically fit really only have to worry about high triglycerides, which can lead to hyperglycemia, if their lifestyle also involves a lot of sitting.Just the same, a report from the Mayo Clinic last week suggests that two hours of sitting can have adverse effects on one’s health, which would basically cancel out the benefits of 20 minutes of exercise.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

The Religions Americans Warm Up To

The Religions Americans Warm Up To

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Which religions do Americans feel most warmly about?Using a scoring system with zero being the coldest and 100 the warmest, a Pew Research survey lumps three very close together. Among 3,217 randomly selected adults, Jews ranked number one with an overall score of 63, followed by Roman Catholics with 62 and evangelicals right behind at 61.Other religions aren’t quite as warmly received in the Pew poll. For instance, Hindus and Mormons scored 50 and 48, respectively.Interestingly, atheists outpaced Muslims, 41 to 40.Pew also found that Americans of a particular faith tend to be most accepting of those sharing the same religion.For instance, Catholics give themselves a score of 80, while evangelical Christians gave their fellow evangelicals a 79.Outside their faith, white evangelicals feel most warmly about Jews, with a score of 69, while Jews only rated evangelicals a 34.
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All Concussions Carry Long-Term Risk

All Concussions Carry Long-Term Risk

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Any kind of concussion, no matter how minor, can have serious ramifications despite the speed of recovery, according to a new study.It’s not just severe traumatic brain injuries that affect thinking skills over a period of time, says researcher Andrew Blamire from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom, but even concussions considered mild or moderate.Blamire and his colleagues compared the differences between healthy people and those with mild or moderate concussions by examining brain imaging studies and thinking tests, noting that injured people scored 25 percent lower than those absent any brain trauma.While the scores appeared to even out a year later, the researchers still found evidence of brain damage on imaging tests of the concussion victims.The study concluded it’s an important finding since nine out of ten concussions are considered mild or moderate.Dr. Michael O’Brien, director of the sports concussion clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not part of the study, adds that people who’ve suffered any sort of brain trauma should be made aware of the structural damage a year after a concussion since it might explain continued difficulties  in school performance, physical performance and even social issues.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

CDC Director Admits to Safety Issues at Labs

CDC Director Admits to Safety Issues at Labs

Mandel Ngan//AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Thomas Frieden faced tough questions from lawmakers Wednesday on safety lapses at agency labs. Members of Congress grilled Frieden about lax storage and the exposure of lab workers to potentially lethal anthrax samples being kept in Ziplock bags. Following questions from Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) and others, Frieden said the agency “missed the broader pattern” and made little excuses for past incidents. Murphy noted that since 2007, there have been 17 reports of a CDC worker being potentially exposed to a select agent or toxin, while Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) claimed there were four reports in the past decade where dangerous pathogens were shipped offsite inappropriately. “Our investigation has uncovered this is not CDC’s first wake-up call,” Murphy said. “Despite the number of red flags, these incidents keep happening… These practices put the health of the American public at risk. It is sloppy, and it is inexcusable.”In response, Frieden outlined steps to improve lab safety culture, including the closing of two laboratories involved in the incidents and the appointment of Dr. Michael Bell as the official in charge of agency safety.
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FDA: More than 300 Vials with Dengue, Influenza Found in Storage Room

FDA: More than 300 Vials with Dengue, Influenza Found in Storage Room

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hours after the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came under Congress’ fire for lax storage and the exposure of lab workers to potentially lethal samples, officials released an update Wednesday on more than 300 vials of smallpox and dengue discovered in a storage unit. Biological samples were found in a cold storage area on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labs on July 1, containing a total of 327 “carefully packaged” vials labeled with biological agents including influenza, Q fever, and Rickettsia. FDA employees turned the items over to safety officials, who destroyed some and transported others to the CDC’s high-containment facility. An investigation is continuing into the origin of the samples, but officials believe the vials were collected between 1946 and 1964. There was no evidence that anyone was exposed to the agents, CDC representatives said in a statement.”Overlooking such a sample collection is clearly unacceptable,” the agency said. “The FDA has already taken steps to ensure that similar material is not present in its other cold storage areas by initiating a thorough review of all common cold storage spaces.”
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Is It Ever OK to Leave Your Kid in the Car?

Is It Ever OK to Leave Your Kid in the Car?

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s a decision nearly all parents have faced: leave the kids in the car or take them inside?And headlines surface every summer about babies who’ve died after being forgotten in a vehicle, reminding parents of the dangers of hot cars and children left behind for too long. But what if it’s just for two minutes, while someone runs into the gas station? What if you’re only a few feet away from the car? What if it’s cold outside?Whatever the conditions, experts say it’s never OK.Janette Fennell, founder of the nonprofit KidsAndCars.org, a safety-awareness website, says parents need to know their kids could be easily kidnapped or choke on something when their parents aren’t around.”Another thing that happens is that kids knock cars into gear and it starts rolling — kids have died this way, and there’s certainly been enough property damage,” said Fennell, whose organization tracks children’s deaths in cars. “There was a case in Virginia last month where a little one was strangled to death by a power window.”These things happen in a flash. It’s not worth the risk,” she added. “I know we’re busy and I know we’re tired. I have two kids and I know how hard it was to get them in and out, but I also have to admit to myself that if I left them in the car, it would only be for my convenience.”The speed at which cars overheat makes the situation even more dangerous, New York pediatrician Dr. Dyan Hes said.”Even if you crack the window,” she said. “Kids can absolutely dehydrate. If it’s over 104 degrees, they can start having seizures.”And overheating is a risk year-round, not just in the summer.”We’ve had children die in vehicles when it was 57 degrees outside,” said Fennell, who recently launched a White House petition to prevent heat stroke deaths in vehicles.”In the first ten minutes, your car’s temperature is going to spike about 20 degrees, on average. Right there, that can be very injurious or even fatal. Little children heat up three to five times faster than an adult; they don’t have the ability to dissipate the heat.”Different factors affect how quickly a car heats up: the outside color, the interior color, sunroofs, outside temperature, etc. To be safe, just take your child inside with you, Fennell said.An average of 38 children die in hot cars every year, according to KidsAndCars.org.
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Girl Killed by Brain-Eating Amoeba Loved the Water

Girl Killed by Brain-Eating Amoeba Loved the Water

Courtesy the Yust Family(SPRING HILL, Kan.) — When Shon Yust looked out at the guests in his backyard Monday night and noticed that no one was in the pool, he thought of his 9-year-old daughter, Hally.“If Hally was here, I’m almost sure sh…

Organic Food Gets High Marks in New Study

Organic Food Gets High Marks in New Study

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It turns out that all the hype about organic foods being better for your health may be true after all.Europeans and U.S. researchers at Newcastle University in Britain analyzed more than 320 studies that compared organic to other crops, and their findings were that foods from organic farming contain more antioxidants and far less pesticide residue.Chuck Benbrook, a research professor at Washington State University who participated in the study, says that he hopes the study will result in the growing of more “nutritionally rich food.”
There are a couple of caveats to the Newcastle study, however. It was funded by the European Union and the Sheepdrove Trust, which promotes organic research.  Also, previous studies in Britain and at Stanford University say there was no nutritional difference between organic and conventional crops.Currently, sales of organic foods in the U.S. are at $35 billion annually.
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America’s Elderly Feel Both Good and Bad About Their Lives

America’s Elderly Feel Both Good and Bad About Their Lives

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Regrets? Well, people have more than a few, especially when they get up in years, according to a survey reported in USA Today.However, the same poll conducted by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, the National Council on Aging, UnitedHealthcare and USA Today indicates that the young and the old are not that far apart when it comes to their optimism about aging.For instance, 48 percent of people 60 and older say they have the support of their family and friends, compared to 44 percent of those ages 18-59.In fact, more older Americans (32 percent) say they’re happy about their living situation than younger Americans (25 percent).However, slightly more younger respondents expressed optimism when it came to finances and health than the elderly.As for regrets, which were asked only of people 60 and older, 45 percent said they wished they had saved more money, 36 percent would have taken better care of their health, 21 percent say they should have been closer to their family, and 15 percent wished they had worked longer than they did.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Social Drinking Helps War Stress

Social Drinking Helps War Stress

iStock/Thinkstock(HAIFA, Israel) — How are Israelis coping with the latest air war between their country and Hamas militants in Gaza?A new study by Israeli and U.S. researchers says that bending the old elbow at the local watering hole might help.According to the report published in the Drug and Alcohol Dependence journal based on previous conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians, social drinking can help people deal with the anxiety of air raids and rockets flying overhead.While not encouraging drunkenness or alcohol abuse, the researchers contend that liquor increases feelings of happiness that come from hanging out with friends and others close to you.University of Haifa political scientist Daphna Canetti, who helped conduct the study, remarked, “Our research shows for the first time that drinking can help people get through terrorism-related trauma, like what we’re experiencing in Israel right now.”Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Prosthetic Limbs Get Real with Lifelike Features

Prosthetic Limbs Get Real with Lifelike Features

Dan Brandenburg/E+/Getty Images(DRESDEN, Germany) — A German company has created prosthetic limbs so lifelike that most people have trouble spotting them.Christoph Braunstamos of Stamos and Braun Prothesenwerk said the company considers each silicone prosthetic a work of art.“All the work is done individually,” he said. “We try to catch the right colors from the patients and transfer them to the prosthesis.”Braunstamos said the company works hard to get all the little details right. For instance, they craft fingernails and toenails from acrylic, the same material used in nail salons, so people can paint them.“That’s often important to women,” he said.Braunstamos admits that the realistic looking appendages don’t function as well as prosthetics with built-in bionics, but the fingers are flexible enough for someone to play the piano. The artificial arms and feet can also perform basic tasks, he said.Each prosthetic costs between $2,500 and $8,500, depending on the size and the level of customization. However, in Europe where most of them are sold, the majority of the cost is picked up by insurance, Braunstamos said.
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Study Measures Health Lifestyles of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals

Study Measures Health Lifestyles of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals

iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — Americans who identify themselves as gay, lesbian and bisexual appear to have unhealthier lifestyles than heterosexuals, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Health officials learned of these disparities in a 2013 National Health Interview Survey, which asked 35,000 people about their sexual orientation.Ninety-six percent of respondents claimed to be heterosexual, while 1.6 percent identified themselves as gay or lesbian, and 0.7 said they were bisexual.As for the findings by the CDC, a third of gays and lesbians and four in 10 bisexuals admitted having five or more drinks on at least one day during the past year, compared to 26 percent of “straight” respondents.The survey also revealed that more gays, lesbians and bisexuals smoke cigarettes than heterosexuals, while bisexuals were more apt to report serious psychological distress in the past 30 days than heterosexuals.However, the differences in physical activity among the groups was negligible, as were those who reported being in good or excellent health.Although the researchers warned that the estimates may not be entirely accurate because the sample size of gays, lesbians and bisexuals was relatively small, they did say the data would be helpful in addressing health problems among various groups.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

American Stroke Rates Decline, Study Says

American Stroke Rates Decline, Study Says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Stroke rates among Americans have dropped in the last 20 years, according to a new study, with the number of stroke-related deaths on the decline as well. Researchers followed 14,357 participants in four different U.S. communities from 1987 to 2011 and found significant stroke decrease in those 65 and older. Still, there was a necessity to lower the number of incidences in younger groups, according to the report. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found a 24 percent overall decline in first-time strokes in the past two decades, along with a 20 percent drop per decade in deaths. The decreases can be linked to smoking cessation and hypertension medications, researchers concluded.
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Phone App Helps E-Smokers Track Their Habit

Phone App Helps E-Smokers Track Their Habit

Smokio(NEW YORK) — A new app claims to turn your e-smoking device into a smart cigarette.The free app, by the makers of Smokio Electronic cigarettes, is designed to connect its e-smoking device to any smartphone, allowing the user to keep track of “vaping” activity, the word e-smokers use to describe puffing out vapor on an electronic cigarette.“This free app tracks where you vape, when you vape and the equivalent consumption of those nasty cigarettes you used to smoke,” a promotional video for the app on the company’s website says.Smokio CEO and co-founder Alex Prot said the app and e-smoke device combo are meant to motivate smokers to quit the same way fitness trackers like Fitbit and Jawbone motivate exercisers to move.“The purpose of the app is to help people know how much they’re smoking which is the first step towards cutting back or quitting,” he said.But that assertion may skim the edges of a Food and Drug Administration rule that forbids sellers from marketing e-cigarettes as a way to kick the habit.An FDA spokeswoman said that the agency does not comment on specific products but any e-cigarette seller representing their product as a smoking cessation method without FDA approval could be subject to FDA enforcement action. She added that most apps used by consumers for “wellness” purposes are not regulated.Prot claims that the app takes some of the same information the American Cancer Society uses to encourage people to quit smoking and features it in a series of graphs intended to show health improvements such as the “heart rejuvenation” and “increased lung capacity” that come from smoking fewer cigarettes.The assertions, however, may be misleading.“The benefits noted in the app are based on not using any tobacco products,” explained Lee Westmaas, director of Tobacco Control Research for the ACS.Westmaas added that the potential long-term harms of e-cigs are still unknown.An estimated 4 million Americans now use e-cigarettes, according to the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association.Prot said that a few thousand people have downloaded the app since it went live last year. The compatible e-smoking device costs around $80.
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