After all of my years in medicine, there is still one story that never ceases to amaze me, and that is the sheer number of Americans willing to sacrifice their health over false suspicions and fears about vaccines. So many adults and worrisome parents are confused and misled by the falsehoods and lies spread by fear-mongering reports and non-science-based physicians, that I have to wonder which side of the argument is being heard more clearly.
There is a real danger in spreading non-science-based beliefs about medicine and a perfect example of that are the clusters of measles outbreaks that we see popping up more and more frequently. We have a perfectly safe and effective vaccine to protect our children and ourselves from the measles, but the statistics show individuals would rather risk possible death than be protected. The story of the influenza vaccine is rather similar.
Not only are these vaccines important for an individual, but they are also imperative for the health of thousands of others. We no longer live in an isolated society—more and more people use
Nancy Dziedzic, of Sacramento, California, enjoyed hiking in her 20s, but she had never tackled any major mountains. Now 51 and more than three years after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer, Dziedzic is preparing to conquer Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa, towering at 19,340 feet, and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.
Dziedzic and five other multiple myeloma patients start their 11-day quest on Feb. 17. The Kilimanjaro hike is part of Moving Mountains for Multiple Myeloma, a collaboration between CURE Media Group, Takeda Oncology and the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF). Together, the groups send patients, as well as their family members, caregivers, and myeloma doctors and nurses on hikes with challenging terrain, including the Grand Canyon and Machu Picchu.
Multiple myeloma develops in the plasma cells found in the bone marrow. These plasma cells are critical for maintaining the immune system, but abnormal antibodies turn them into malignant melanoma cells. The cancer typically occurs in the spine, pelvic bones, ribs and areas of the shoulders and hips— the bone marrow with the
A 9-year-old Georgia girl who loves playing with her American Girl dolls has started a bead bracelet business in the hopes of raising enough money to donate special dolls to cancer patients. Bella Fricker, who has more than a dozen of the dolls herself, first noticed the special dolls while flipping through an American Girl magazine, Fox 5 Atlanta reported.
The company designed the dolls for children undergoing cancer treatment or suffering from hair-loss conditions.
“We were going to give it to a little girl that is going through chemo,” Bella told Fox 5 Atlanta.
But after seeing the $115 special-order price tag, Bella began brainstorming for a way come up with extra funds.
“I go upstairs, and she’s busted out this table, and put up a sign,” Valerie Fricker, Bella’s mother, told Fox 5 Atlanta. “And I said, ‘What are you doing?’ and she said, ‘Oh I started a business.’”
Bella has sold more than 500 of her beaded bracelets for up to $6 each, and her mom started a Facebook page to help
As we continue to modernize our lifestyles — riding instead of walking, working in a cubicle instead of in a field, playing iPods instead of sports — more people are becoming overweight and, worse, obese. In fact, there are so many overweight and obese people that some public health officials now call it an epidemic, particularly because of the many resulting health problems.
Obesity: A Worldwide Problem
Around the world, more than one billion adults are overweight and about 300 million of them are obese. In the United States, 66 percent of all adults are overweight and, of those, 32 percent are obese.
Obesity levels in Japan and some African nations are below 5 percent, but they’re rising. Obesity rates in China overall are not high, but in some of that country’s larger cities, rates are up 20 percent.
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, too. The number of overweight children in the United States has doubled since 1980, and for teens, it’s tripled. And the problem with children is now a global issue as well.
Obesity: Why It’s Happening
Although your genes play a role in your body weight, there
A new vaccine developed by a team of researchers may protect people and livestock from the deadly Nipah virus.
The virus, upon which the Hollywood blockbuster Contagion was modeled, is found naturally in several species of fruit bats. Once infected, it causes serious respiratory distress syndrome and encephalitis. The researchers noted that in more than 75 percent of cases, those infected with Nipah die.
The researchers, led by Dr. Heinz Feldmann, chief of the Rocky Mountain Laboratories’ Laboratory of Virology, conducted their research on live Nipah virus in a high-security facility in Hamilton, Mont.
They found that immunizing African green monkeys with a vaccine based on the Hendra virus attachment G glycoprotein completely protected them against Nipah virus infection.
“There are currently no approved vaccines for prevention of infection and disease caused by Nipah and Hendra for use by people or livestock,” corresponding author Christopher Broder, a professor of microbiology at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md., said in a university news release. “This Hendra-sG vaccine has now been shown to be fully effective against infection by both Nipah and Hendra virus in at least three animal species, demonstrating its potential as
Extreme hot weather across much of the country does not seem to have translated into unusual numbers of heat-related deaths or emergency room visits, at least so far.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Wednesday that last month was the hottest July in the U.S. since record-keeping began in 1895. The monthly average temperature in the lower 48 states of 77.6° F beat the old mark of 77.4° F set in the Dust Bowl year of 1936.
But news reports from areas hit hardest by the heat wave, and an informal survey of emergency room physicians by MedPage Today and ABC News, suggested that a feared jump in heat-related illnesses and deaths has not materialized.
Media coverage of the extreme weather appears to have routinely included advice on avoiding adverse health effects, such as staying hydrated and not engaging in excessive exertion during the hottest part of the day.
The physicians contacted by MedPage Today and ABC News said that such advice appears to have been heeded more than in past years.
Corey Slovis, MD, of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, credited the media with educating people on ways to avoid heat
Last Labor Day weekend, Robin Purdy, 43, enjoyed the warm evening on her back deck with her family in Kitchener, Ontario. Getting buzzed bymosquitoes, she stepped back inside noticing a bite on her foot that was bigger and itchier than the rest.
Two days later, she woke up with a severe headache, a stiff neck, vision troubles, and back pain. Her doctor delivered a startling diagnosis: West Nile Virus.
West Nile is a mosquito-borne illness that takes the country by storm every summer. This year is a particularly severe West Nile season, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, perhaps due to the hot, dry weather that has blistered states across the country. But cases have been reported as far north as Purdy’s Ontario, and in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey.
In 2012 so far, 42 states have reported infections in people, birds, and mosquitoes. In humans, 241 cases have been reported — the highest rate since summer 2004. Four people have died. Eighty percent of West Nile virus cases have come from three states: Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma. (Purdy is the only known West Nile case in a human her
A 6-year-old boy who has been fighting an inoperable brain tumor since infancy donned a Superman T-shirt to his ceremonial ringing of the chemotherapy bell at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on Thursday.
Jimmy Spagnolo, who finished a year-long round of chemotherapy, busted out in a victory dance for the momentous occasion that was caught on film and shared on the hospital’s Facebook page.
“The bell signifies so many emotions – it can signify the sound of tears, strength, fear, courage, doubt, satisfaction, relief and happiness all coming through as one as people around them cheer this accomplishment,” the hospital posted on Feb. 3,alongside the video. “The sound of that bell resonates in more ways than one. The emotion in the room is just unbelievable.”
Jimmy, of Shaler Township, Pennsylvania, was just 4-months-old when doctors found the tumor, KDKA reported. The family turned to Facebook to document his health battles and gather support from friend and family.
“Jimmy is here for a purpose, and his purpose is to spread hope and love and inspire people, Lacie Spagnolo, Jimmy’s mom, told KDKA. “And that’s all he does.”
Despite the increasing prevalence of drug-resistant bacteria, progress toward new antibiotics is “alarmingly slow,” according to a new report on the drug pipeline.
Only two new systemic drugs have been approved since 2009, according to the analysis conducted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA).
And only seven new ones are in the advanced stages of testing, according to investigators led by Helen Boucher, MD, of Tufts University in Boston. The report appears online in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
Because of antibiotic resistance, “we have reached a crisis in the U.S. and globally,” Boucher told MedPage Today, adding that changes are needed “quickly so that we are able to continue providing our patients with the best care we can and the care that they’re accustomed to.”
“We have the opportunity” to make changes, she said, “but it’s also a moral imperative that we do so and that we figure out a solution to this problem. Now.”
In 2009, the FDA approved telavancin (Vibativ) and a year later the IDSA launched its 10 x ’20 campaign, calling for pharmaceutical companies and governments to overcome roadblocks and develop 10 new antibiotics by 2020.
A red meat allergy linked to certain tick bites has affected some Virginia children, researchers strongly suspect.
From September 2011 to May 2012, 45 children aged 4 to 17 developed itching and had trouble breathing after eating red meat, the study found. All had been bitten by a tick in the past year. Of these, more than 45 percent sought care in the emergency room for their symptoms, and 8 percent were admitted to the hospital.
Previously documented in adults, this phenomenon has been linked to the Lone Star tick, which commonly is found in the eastern and southern United States. Cases also are being reported in central states such as Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri, said study co-author Dr. Scott Commins, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Virginia.
The tick injects spit into the body when it bites, and the body develops antibodies to a carbohydrate in the tick’s spit that is known as alpha-gal. This carbohydrate is also present in red meat, so when an infected person eats meat, an allergic reaction is triggered.
Unlike other allergic reactions that occur immediately, this reaction tends to occur within
Love does wonderful things for your state of mind, and it also offers natural stress relief. In healthy relationships, the power of love is strong enough to keep your heart happy and your mind and body healthy.
Stress Relief: How Love Helps
Sharing in life’s joys and challenges is one of the great benefits of being in a relationship.
“When you are in a loving marriage or a good relationship, you have somebody there to share your worries with, to talk through problems with, to enjoy free time with,” says Sally R. Connolly, a social worker and therapist with the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. Relationships can provide stress relief by simply not leaving you to shoulder every burden completely on your own, Connelly explains.
You also have someone “to visualize the future with. Somebody who is there for you and witnesses your life,” adds Connolly. A number of studies have found that people in healthy marriages live longer and have fewer health problems than people who are unhappily married or not in a relationship, according to Connolly. Such is the power of love. What’s more, people who are happily married
Small stressors can quickly add up to major stress and one big stressful event can send you reeling, with no idea of how to start addressing it. If you could just get away for a little stress relief, you know you would be okay. But too few of us have the time — or the money — to run off on an impromptu vacation.
Well, you don’t have to spend a dime or go anywhere other than a quiet spot nearby to take a mental vacation.
Stress Relief: Take Off on a Mental Vacation
If you don’t find a way to reduce stress, your health will pay the price, both mentally and physically. It’s not necessary to get a lengthy massage or head to a beach to relax — you can unwind every day in simple ways and still get a major benefit.
“People who are under a lot of stress have physical problems related to constantly being under stress,” says Sally R. Connolly, a social worker and therapist at the Couples Clinic of Louisville in Louisville, Ky. “And if you don’t find ways [to relieve it], even in small periods of time, you
Everyone longs to be healthy and happy. After all, what’s the point in working hard toward a long and healthy life if you can’t enjoy it? While focusing on a healthy lifestyle by exercising and eating right is great for your body, balanced living means protecting your mental and emotional health, too. And stress reduction needs to be at the top of your to-do list.
Balanced Living: Making the Commitment
Balanced living means considering all aspects of your life: relationships, work, fitness and health, and emotional well-being.
We all get bogged down with work and family responsibilities from time to time, but making time for yourself is necessary so that you can keep up with all your responsibilities. All batteries get run down, even yours. So recharge your body physically and mentally and make the commitment to enjoy some “you time” every day.
Balanced Living: Boosting Happiness and Creativity
Being happy gives you a better outlook on life, so you’re more prepared to tackle your tasks. Stress, on the other hand, can keep you from enjoying life and can have a negative impact on your health. Research also has shown that stress
In a big win for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court has ruled that the landmark Affordable Care Act (ACA) is constitutional.
By a 5-4 vote, the court ruled that the law’s controversial individual mandate — which requires nearly everyone to have health insurance — is constitutional. “The individual mandate may be upheld as within Congress’s power under the Taxing Clause,” Chief Justice John Roberts said.
The much-anticipated 193-page ruling was handed down Thursday morning.
The court notably took a stance that no lower court did: that the law’s requirement that everyone have insurance is a tax. Both the Obama administration and the 26 states suing the federal government argued that the mandate is a penalty, not a tax.
Even though the mandate is a tax, the court decided that an old tax law called the Anti-Injunction Act does not apply. If law had applied, the court wouldn’t have been able to rule on the law until 2015.
The court also, for the most part, upheld the ACA’s expansion of Medicaid to cover nearly all people under age 65 with household incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level.
Much more is at stake for women if the Supreme Court overturns the health care law.
Starting in 2014, the law bars insurance practices such as charging women higher premiums than men, or denying coverage for pre-existing conditions that could include pregnancy, a Caesarean-section birth or a sexual or a domestic violence assault.
Even excluding maternity coverage, the National Women’s Law Center found that nearly one-third of the most commonly sold insurance plans charged women aged 25 to 40 at least 30 percent more than men for the same coverage.
“Invariably, non-smoking women are charged more than men who smoke,” said Judy Waxman, vice president for health and reproductive rights with the women’s law center.
While about 14 states already have barred insurers from charging women more, such restrictions will be universal in 2014 if the law stands.
On the flip side, women older than 55 are sometimes charged less than men the same age, Waxman said, a difference that will also even out in 2014.
Opponents of the law, including Grace-Marie Turner of the conservative Galen Institute, say the law’s restrictions on charging women more
If the Supreme Court strikes down the health law, 49 million Medicare beneficiaries could lose a variety of benefits that have already kicked in. They include:
- Prescription savings. Beneficiaries get discounts of 50 percent on brand-name drugs when they are in the so-called doughnut hole, or coverage gap where beneficiaries have no insurance help with the cost of their medications. The law phases out the gap by 2020.
- Preventive services. Beneficiaries in the traditional, government-run Medicare program receive preventive services such as mammograms and
The 2010 health law launched what insurance executive Brad Wilson calls “the revolution” — unprecedented efforts to expand coverage, contain costs, cut waste and improve care.
So Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, where Wilson is CEO, started paying bonuses to doctors who improve efficiency, nudging consumers to shop around for treatment, urging caregivers to communicate with patients via email, paying doctors to install computerized records and even going into business with doctors and hospitals.
While the Affordable Care Act might be in jeopardy,