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9 Quick and Easy Make-Ahead Casseroles

Mon, 2014-10-20 16:40

It’s that time of year: comfort food season!

As soon as the weather turns cold and the days grow dark, all I want to eat is warm, gooey, and comforting foods (and preferably ones covered in melt-y cheese), which make casseroles one of my go-to meals for busy weeks.

And when it comes to making a satisfying and nutritious meal without a lot of prep, a casserole comes in handy, especially with a 4-month-old and not having a lot of time to devote to cooking. These recipes are fast and easy and perfect for making ahead of time, so you have dinner prepared and lots of leftovers for quick weeknight meals!

RELATED: 6 Easy Breakfast Casseroles

Photo: Anne Mauney, fANNEtastic Food

Gluten Free Mexican Chicken Casserole
This simple, healthy dinner via fANNEtastic Food is quick and easy to make (only 10 minutes of prep time!), and freezes well for later, too.

Easy Greek Casserole
This combo of feta cheese, tomatoes, olives and more comes together in a matter of minutes—just layer the ingredients in a pan and pop in the oven. This one’s from my blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

Lightened Up Meatball Casserole
This recipe from the blog Peanut Butter Fingers might sound high in calories, but it’s far from that since it’s been lightened up with turkey meatballs, part-skim mozzarella, goat cheese, and fat-free Greek yogurt.

Fiesta Egg Casserole
This fiesta egg casserole from The Fitnessista is high in protein and combines Mexican flavors like savory chorizo and creamy avocado.

Easy Breakfast Casserole
Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers made this Easy Breakfast Casserole with spinach and Canadian bacon for guests, but you could bake it at night and reheat slices for easy mornings.

Santa Fe Casserole
This vegetarian bean casserole via Healthy Tipping Point has so much flavor, even the meat-eaters in your life will love it!

Mini Goat Cheese Chili Relleno Casseroles
These mini casseroles in ramekins are perfect to make ahead for a brunch party, or freeze in portions to enjoy later. Another delicious recipe via The Fitnessista.

Squash Casserole
Made with summer squash, chicken apple sausage, Greek yogurt, onion, garlic, cheese, and breadcrumbs, this recipe from Peanut Butter Fingers is both nutritious and delicious.

Taco Casserole
Love tacos? This recipe from blogger Run Eat Repeat is for you! It combines tortillas with all of your favorite taco ingredients in one quick and healthy dish.

Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

RELATED: 13 Comfort Foods That Burn Fat


Categories: Health & Fitness

Airport Screening in West Africa Will Curb Ebola’s Spread: Study

Mon, 2014-10-20 16:37

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — If passengers weren’t screened before they boarded airplanes in the Ebola-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, three people infected with Ebola would leave on international flights from any of those West African nations every month, a new analysis predicts.

The three countries are those hit hardest by the current Ebola outbreak. Screening is currently in place at international airports in cities there, and the study results highlight the need to maintain it, according to a team led by Dr. Kamran Khan, of St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

In the study, the researchers analyzed airline flight schedules and passenger destinations, along with Ebola infection data, to determine how effective air travel restrictions and airport departure and arrival screenings are in helping control the spread of Ebola.

In the current situation, about three people infected with Ebola would board international flights every month from Guinea, Liberia and/or Sierra Leone if there was no screening of passengers before they departed those countries, Khan’s team reported Oct. 20 in The Lancet.

“The risk of international spread could increase significantly if the outbreak in West Africa persists and grows. Risks to the global community would further increase if Ebola virus were to spread to and within other countries with weak public health systems,” Khan said in a journal news release.

It’s far more efficient and less disruptive to screen airline passengers for Ebola when they leave West Africa than to screen them when they arrive at airports around the world, the researchers added.

“Exit screening at the three international airports [Conakry, Monrovia and Freetown] in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone should allow all travelers at highest risk of exposure to Ebola to be assessed with greater efficiency compared with entry screening the same passengers as they arrive in cities around the world,” Khan said. “However, this will require international support to effectively implement and maintain.”

The researchers also noted that more than 60 percent of people flying out of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone this year are expected to have final destinations in less-developed nations.

“Given that these countries have limited medical and public health resources, they may have difficulty quickly identifying and effectively responding to imported Ebola cases,” Khan said.

However, even though screening airline passengers before they leave the three West African countries is useful, it’s only one measure and does have downsides, he added.

“The best approach to minimize risks to the global community is to control the epidemic at its source,” Khan said. “While screening travelers arriving at airports outside of West Africa may offer a sense of security, this would have at best marginal benefits, and could draw valuable resources away from more effective public health interventions.”

Some in the United States have called for a ban on air travel from Ebola-affected countries. But Khan believes that more “excessive constraints on air travel could have severe economic consequences that could destabilize the region and possibly disrupt critical supplies of essential health and humanitarian services.”

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 4,500 people out of an estimated 9,000 reported cases, according to the World Health Organization.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.


Categories: Health & Fitness

5 Ways for Caregivers to Feel Cared For

Mon, 2014-10-20 15:54

Getty Images

Almost a third of adults (29%) act as a caregiver for an ill or disabled relative, according to the National Alliance of Caregiving, and of those, around two-thirds (66%) are female. For many, it’s literally a full time job: about a third of family caregivers spend more than 30 hours a week on caregiving tasks, according to a new survey from caring.com. There’s also a heavy financial cost to caregiving: Almost half (46%) spend more than $5,000 on caregiving costs each year, with 7% spending over $50,000 annually.

The role can take a toll on your health, too: Up to 70% of caregivers report significant depression symptoms, and 17% feel that their own health has worsened from caregiving.

“It’s very isolating, and it’s a job most people aren’t trained for and would never sign up for—the pay stinks, and there’s no end in sight,” says Jerri Rosenfeld, LMSW, a social worker at Northern Westchester Hospital’s Ken Hamilton Caregiver Center in Mount Kisco, New York.

Luckily, you don’t have to go it alone. Try these resources for emotional and logistical support:

Start with a support group

“Sometimes all you need is that hour to talk to someone and get things off your chest to people who will see you in a non-judgmental way,” Rosenfeld says. Your local hospital is a good place to start, as is your church or synagogue, or even the town’s recreation center, which may offer a senior or elder program that also provides caregiver support.

RELATED: 7 Steps to Instant Calm

Find the right online help

About 25% of family caregivers seek support online, whether it’s through discussion forums or social media channels like Facebook, according to a 2011 survey done by caring.com. But make sure you look for groups that focus just on caregivers, not forums that combine both patient and family together: “You need to be able to be frank about your own issues, your feelings of guilt and responsibility, without worrying about another patient’s feelings,” Rosenfeld explains.

Caring.com features caregiver support groups for a wide range of conditions (including Alzheimer’s, diabetes, cancer, MS, and Parkinson’s). AARP’s online caregiving community is a good place to talk to others facing issues around caregiving for the elderly, as is the caregiver support section at agingcare.com.

Keep a journal

It’s a safe place where you can write down your thoughts from the day, even if they don’t make any sense, suggests Rosenfeld, and research shows journaling can help relieve stress. Caring.com recommends three different types: a gratitude journal, where you write down everything that you’re grateful for daily; a venting diary, where you get out whatever’s disturbing you; or a reminiscence log, where you record random memories you have of your loved one.

Organize with an app

Apps developed specifically for caregivers can help relieve some of the organizational burden, such as keeping on top of appointment and medication reminders, writing down notes from office visits, and connecting with your loved one’s other caregivers, as well as family and friends. Some good ones include Caregiver’s Touch ($4.99), CareZone (free), and CaringBridge (free). Coming soon: STANDWITH, an app from F*ck Cancer founder Yael Cohen to facilitate communication between caregivers and well-meaning supporters.

RELATED: 3 Legal Documents Caregivers Need

Carve out time for you

“Many times, a caregiver brings in their loved one for a test or some other appointment and just sits in the waiting room when they really should be using that time for themselves, even if it’s just to take a quick walk outside,” says Rosenfeld. Set aside time for things that nourish you, even if it’s just giving yourself permission to sit on your patio and sip your coffee for an extra 15 minutes. “A lot of times people say to caregivers, ‘you need to take time for yourself so you can be a better caregiver,’ but they’ve got it completely wrong,” Rosenfeld says. “They need to take time for themselves because they are human beings.”

RELATED: 22 Ways to Help a Friend With Breast Cancer


Categories: Health & Fitness

Move of the Week: Deadlift

Mon, 2014-10-20 14:52

Want to tone your lower half? Try this exercise from E! host Maria Menounos’ circuit routine. Though the name may sound funny, deadlifts will seriously sculpt your quadriceps, glutes, and hamstrings, while working your core, too.

Here’s how to do it: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent and a 5-pound dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your weight in your heels, push your hips back and lower your torso as you slide the dumbbells down the front of your thighs to just below your knees. (Your shoulders should be back.) Slowly rise to standing. Repeat 15 times.

Try this move: Deadlift

Have more time for a full workout? You can do this exercise as part of a fat-melting circuit. Watch Maria Menounos, author of Every Girl’s Guide to Diet and Fitness ($14, amazon.com), show you how to do a speedy, 7-move exercise routine. Do the circuit two to three times to get a great workout in less than 20 minutes.

RELATED: 18 Moves to Tone Your Butt, Thighs, and Legs


Categories: Health & Fitness

Pricey Hepatitis Drug a Good Bet in U.S. Prisons, Study Says

Mon, 2014-10-20 14:37

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Using an expensive drug to treat prison inmates with hepatitis C is more cost-effective than another treatment option, according to a new study.

More than 500,000 prison inmates in the United States have hepatitis C, which causes liver damage. It’s spread by contact with infected blood.

The drug Sovaldi (sofosbuvir) costs more than $7,000 a week for 12 weeks of treatment. Some states are concerned about the price and want to limit its use in prisons.

However, “it looks like the additional benefits of sofosbuvir are sufficiently large even in this high-risk population to justify its increased cost,” study senior author Jeremy Goldhaber-Fiebert, an assistant professor of medicine at the Stanford School of Medicine, said in a university news release.

Until a few years ago, hepatitis C patients were treated over 48 weeks with two drugs, pegylated interferon and ribavirin. The treatment — effective in less than half of patients — caused fatigue, nausea and headache, along with many other side effects, according to the news release.

In 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a new hepatitis C drug called Victrelis (boceprevir) which, when used with pegylated interferon and ribavirin, was more effective than that two-drug combination, but more expensive.

Sovaldi was approved by the FDA in 2013 but costs more than Victrelis.

In this study, Stanford University researchers used a computer program to compare the cost and effectiveness of treating a hypothetical group of hepatitis C-infected prison inmates with either 28 weeks of Victrelis plus pegylated interferon and ribavirin, or 12 weeks of Sovaldi plus pegylated interferon and ribavirin.

Compared to no treatment, the Sovaldi treatment added 2.1 quality-adjusted life years at an additional cost of $54,000, while the Victrelis treatment added 1.3 quality-adjusted life years, according to the study published Oct. 21 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Quality-adjusted life years, or QALYs, is a method used to measure the effectiveness of a treatment over time. For example, a treatment that adds one year of optimal health to a patient’s life equals one QALY. A treatment that provides half that quality of health for an additional two years also would equal one QALY.

However, concerns about the affordability of Sovaldi still remain due to its high cost, Goldhaber-Fiebert added.

“Though often not the focus of health-policy research, [hepatitis C]-infected inmates are a population that may benefit particularly from a highly effective, short-duration treatment,” Goldhaber-Fiebert said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about hepatitis C.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Man Treated for Ebola in Atlanta Now ‘Free’ of the Virus

Mon, 2014-10-20 14:37

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — An unidentified patient being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta is now “free of Ebola virus disease” and was discharged Sunday from the facility, the medical center said in a statement released Monday afternoon.

The man, who has requested anonymity since being admitted to care at Emory’s Serious Communicable Disease Unit on Sept. 9, now poses no threat to public health and has left the hospital for an “undisclosed location,” the hospital added.

Emory had previously successfully treated two medical missionaries who became infected in West Africa, the site of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Also Monday, the American video journalist infected with Ebola while working in Liberia is improving and could be released from the hospital by week’s end, doctors at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha said. Ashoka Mukpo, of Providence, R.I., has been undergoing treatment at the hospital since Oct. 6.

The dual announcements followed more good news on the Ebola front in the United States: Dozens of people who had contact with the Dallas patient who died earlier this month are no longer in danger of catching the disease, health officials said Monday.

Those people include the fiancee and other family members of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian native who contracted the disease in his home country before arriving in Dallas last month.

Also cleared were the paramedics who drove Duncan to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 28 and health care workers who drew or processed his blood. And a mandatory quarantine was lifted for a homeless man who later rode in the same ambulance as Duncan before it was disinfected, The New York Times reported.

All told, the 21-day monitoring period ended Sunday and Monday for roughly 50 people, the newspaper reported.

An estimated 120 people remain under watch because they could have had contact with one of the three people in Dallas who came down with the disease. Besides Duncan, the other two include two nurses who treated him at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Federal health officials have said that symptoms of Ebola show up within 21 days of exposure to the virus.

In other developments:

  • Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with 160 million people, has been declared free of Ebola. Officials attributed aggressive health care measures that led to just 20 cases of infection and eight deaths.
  • Leaders of the European Union have set a goal of nearly $1.3 billion in aid to help combat the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Meanwhile, U.S. health officials are planning to tighten recommendations for health care workers treating Ebola patients.

The new guidelines, which haven’t been formally unveiled, are expected to include recommendations for full-body suits and hoods “with no skin showing.” There will also be stricter rules for removing equipment and disinfecting hands, and the designation of a “site manager” to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment used while treating a patient, the Associated Press reported.

The revised guidelines are apparently in response to the two nurses in Dallas who became infected with Ebola while treating Duncan, the first diagnosed case of the disease in the United States.

Health officials aren’t sure how the nurses became infected with the often deadly disease, which has decimated three West African nations since last spring.

But Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday that the nurses caring for Duncan had some of their skin exposed, the AP reported.

“Very clearly, when you go into a hospital, have to intubate somebody, have all of the body fluids, you’ve got to be completely covered. So, that’s going to be one of the things,” the news service quoted Fauci as saying.

Also Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced the creation of a 30-member team of military personnel to help civilian medical professionals in the United States if its assistance is needed to treat Ebola. The team will include doctors, nurses and infectious disease experts, the AP reported.

To date, there have been three cases of Ebola diagnosed in the United States: the two nurses and Duncan.

Early Sunday morning, a cruise ship carrying a lab worker who was being monitored for Ebola because she’d handled a lab specimen from Duncan returned to its port in Galveston, Texas, cruise line officials said.

The unidentified woman is a laboratory manager at Texas Health Presbyterian. She had been voluntarily quarantined aboard the Carnival ship with her husband. She was showing no signs of symptoms of the disease and posed no risk because she has been symptomless for 19 days, federal officials said, according to the AP.

Carnival Cruise Lines said it had been told by health officials Sunday morning that the lab worker tested negative for Ebola, the news service said.

And Spanish health authorities reported Sunday that a nurse’s aide who had become infected with Ebola while caring for an elderly priest was free of the virus.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama called on Americans not to give in to panic over Ebola. And he repeated his opposition to a travel ban for flights from the three affected countries in West Africa — Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said Ebola “is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear — because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science.”

Some lawmakers have called for a travel ban, but Obama believes such a move would be counterproductive. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world — if that were even possible — could actually make the situation worse,” he said.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 4,500 people out of an estimated 9,000 reported cases, according to the World Health Organization.

More information

For more on Ebola, visit the World Health Organization.


Categories: Health & Fitness

3 Weird Ways Birth Month Can Affect a Baby’s Health

Mon, 2014-10-20 14:03

Getty Images

The period of time shortly before and after babies are born is vital to their development and future health: research has shown that everything from a mother’s stress levels and exposure to secondhand smoke, pesticides, and pet dander can affect a child’s risk of illness down the road. But here’s something that you might not expect to have such an effect: The month in which a child is born—or in some cases, conceived.

“The scientific literature goes back almost 100 years linking birth season to almost anything under the sun, from income to life expectancy to height,” says Hannes Schwandt, PhD, an economist at Princeton University’s Center for Health and Wellbeing. But Schwandt cautions that much of the research on this topic has not taken into account factors like the mothers’ socioeconomic status or the length of pregnancy—both of which can affect when a woman gives birth, as well as the health of their baby.

Still, several recent studies (one by Schwandt himself) have found interesting correlations and potential implications for a baby’s birthday. Here are a few surprising finds.

May conceptions and premature birth

Women who get pregnant in May (and are due in the winter) have a 10% higher risk of delivering their babies prematurely, according to a 2013 study by Schwandt and his co-author Janet Curie, PhD. The researchers speculate that high rates of influenza in January and February likely play a role, since it’s known that catching the flu can trigger premature labor in women nearing full-term.

That doesn’t necessarily make May a bad month for conception, though. “In some years, flu season peaks much earlier,” says Schwandt. “In that case, women who conceived in earlier months would be at greater risk.” Regardless, getting a flu shot is a pregnant woman’s best bet at protecting herself and her baby from health risks, now or in the future.

RELATED: 10 Biggest Myths About The Flu

Autumn births and physical fitness

A boy born in November can run at least 10% faster, jump 12% higher, and is 15% more powerful than a child of the same age born in April, according to a 2014 study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine. Overall, kids with fall birthdays appeared to be more naturally fit than those born during other times of the year.

One possible explanation? The authors suspect that mothers who are pregnant through the summer are exposed to more sunlight and therefore produce more vitamin D, an important nutrient for fetal development. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says that all women—pregnant or not—should get 600 international units of vitamin D per day. Most pregnant woman can get enough vitamin D via food and prenatal vitamins, according to ACOG, so the group doesn’t recommend routine screening for vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy. But if you’re concerned that you’re getting enough, talk your doctor.

Springtime babies and multiple sclerosis

Low vitamin D levels during development may also put babies at increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis later in life. A 2013 Queen Mary University of London study found that vitamin D levels in babies born in May were about 20% lower than in those born in November; May babies also had twice as many autoreactive T-cells, potentially dangerous cells that could later turn against the body’s own immune system.

Previous research has suggested that the risk for multiple sclerosis is highest for people born in May and lowest for those in November, and the study authors believe the “sunshine vitamin” could be involved. They point out that their findings only show an association between vitamin D levels and MS risk—not cause-and-effect—and that more research is needed on the benefits of vitamin D supplementation during pregnancy.

RELATED: 10 Surprising Things That Increase Your Risk of Multiple Sclerosis

The bottom line

Don’t panic if you conceived in May, or dub your kid a future Olympian just because you’re due in November. Any effects that timing does have on a child’s health won’t be nearly as important as other factors you can control year-round—like eating well, avoiding cigarette smoke and alcohol, and getting regular exercise while you’re expecting.

“Unless you have a personal preference, there is no ‘best’ or worst’ month to get pregnant or have a baby,” says Schwandt. “Taking care of yourself and getting proper prenatal care will make a much bigger difference than whether you give birth in January versus June.”

RELATED: Pregnant? Diet Changes to Make Right Now


Categories: Health & Fitness

4 Movies Germaphobes Should Never Watch

Mon, 2014-10-20 13:47

Photo: Outbreak, Warner Bros./Getty Images

Are Ebola headlines making you jittery about the thought of a global pandemic? Escape your worries with a nice movie. And when we say nice, we mean NOT one of the fright-fests below.

Contagion

Gwyneth Paltrow is Patient Zero and all the Goop remedies in the world can’t save her from the viral plague she sets in motion. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, this thriller was praised for being a realistic take on modern disease control. Not recommended for people who want to fly again. Or basically anyone.

 

Outbreak

An Ebola-like virus called Motaba with a 100% mortality rate migrates from monkeys to people, then from Africa to a small California town. The feds debate bombing the town to save it—and the country—from the virus that has gone airborne. Freakiest scene: the infected monkey bites Doctor McDreamy (aka Patrick Dempsey).

 

28 Days Later

Not to be confused with the Sandra Bullock rehab movie, this zombie horror film is set in London after a virus has made its way out of a lab (via a chimp) and killed all but a few people. It’s The Walking Dead with virus-victim zombies, it’s directed by Trainspotting‘s Danny Boyle, and it’s brilliantly scary.

 

The Andromeda Strain

In this 1971 classic based on a Michael Crichton novel, scientists fight an alien virus. A 2008 TV miniseries was evidently deadly…dull. Just check out this scathing review from Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn back when she wrote for Entertainment Weekly.

RELATED: 12 Ways We Sabotage Our Mental Health


Categories: Health & Fitness

Some Lung Patients Buy Cigarettes Along With Meds at Pharmacies: Study

Mon, 2014-10-20 13:37

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — While picking up a prescription for cholesterol-lowering medication, about one in 20 people with conditions such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or high blood pressure will also purchase cigarettes, a new study finds.

Six percent of people with asthma or COPD, and about 5 percent of people with high blood pressure or those picking up oral contraceptive bought cigarettes, the researchers found.

“While smoking itself can cause many health problems, it can worsen certain conditions and have other effects on medications,” said lead researcher Joshua Gagne, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston.

For example, smoking can worsen respiratory conditions and can increase blood pressure, the researchers wrote. Smoking can also increase the risk of heart attack and stroke in oral contraceptives users, Gagne said.

In February, the pharmacy chain CVS announced that it would no longer sell tobacco products at its stores beginning in October 2014. CVS said it was making the move because selling tobacco products isn’t in keeping with a pharmacy’s mission of helping to protect people’s health. The company said it was the first national pharmacy chain to halt the sale of tobacco products.

“Ending the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products at CVS/pharmacy is the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health,” Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Caremark, said in a news release. “Put simply, the sale of tobacco products is inconsistent with our purpose.”

For the study, Gagne and his colleagues looked at data from CVS on more than 361,000 customers who filled prescriptions for statins (cholesterol-lowering drugs) between January 2011 and June 2012. The researchers linked this data to all purchases at CVS stores.

The study found that people who purchased cigarettes while picking up a prescription made twice as many visits to the store compared to those who didn’t buy cigarettes.

Of course, it’s still easy for smokers to buy their cigarettes elsewhere, Gagne said. However, pharmacists can play an important role in helping patients stop smoking, he said.

“Pharmacists are trained in smoking cessation counseling and are often among the most accessible and most frequently visited health care professionals. Rather than providing an opportunity to promote smoking, pharmacy visits should represent an opportunity to help patients quit,” Gagne said.

Dr. Norman Edelman, senior scientific advisor at the American Lung Association, said, “Making the purchase of cigarettes easy for those most at risk from smoking is certainly not good public health practice.

“It would seem obvious that stores which are selling ‘health’ have a responsibility to avoid selling products which lead to death and disability,” he said.

The American Lung Association has entered a partnership with CVS to combat lung cancer, which is primarily caused by smoking, Edelman said. “We applaud their decision to discontinue selling cigarettes and hope other drug outlets will do the same,” he said.

When CVS announced its decision, its largest competitor, Walgreens, said that they planned to continue selling tobacco products.

According to published reports, Walgreens said in a statement that since tobacco sales in pharmacies make up only 4 percent of total tobacco sales, there would be “little to no significant impact” on smoking if they stopped selling tobacco.

The company noted that it sells a variety of products to help people quit smoking.

“We believe that if the goal is to truly reduce tobacco use in America, then the most effective thing retail pharmacies can do is address the root causes and help smokers quit,” Walgreens spokesman Jim Cohn said in the statement.

The new study was published Oct. 20 online in JAMA Internal Medicine.

More information

For more information on smoking cessation, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Herceptin Boosts Survival for Breast Cancer, Study Reports

Mon, 2014-10-20 13:37

By Kathleen Doheny
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Adding the drug Herceptin to chemotherapy for certain breast cancer patients increases overall survival and reduces the risk of recurrence compared to chemotherapy alone, new research shows.

The study found that adding a year of Herceptin (trastuzumab) to standard chemotherapy improved overall survival by 37 percent. The addition of Herceptin also boosted 10-year overall survival rates from 75 percent to 84 percent.

And the 10-year disease-free survival rate went from 62 percent to 74 percent for those also taking Herceptin, the study found.

The women who were given Herceptin were patients with a type of breast cancer known as HER2-positive, said study author Dr. Edith Perez at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla.

Up to 20 percent of invasive breast cancers are HER2-positive, according to background information in the study. Too much human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) helps breast cancer cells grow. Herceptin works by targeting HER2 proteins to stop cancer cell growth.

The study is published online Oct. 20 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. It was supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and others, including Genentech, the company that makes Herceptin.

Previous research suggesting that adding Herceptin to standard chemotherapy could improve outcomes was first reported in 2005. One of those reports was updated in 2011, according to background information in the study.

In the new research, Perez’s team combined the info from two of those large studies and updated the findings. The new review followed more than 4,000 women with breast cancer. Half received chemotherapy, and the other half received chemotherapy plus one year of treatment with Herceptin. The follow-up was for a median of 8.4 years.

The researchers found that adding Herceptin improved overall survival by 37 percent. The addition of Herceptin also boosted disease-free survival by 40 percent, according to the study.

The major finding of the new study, Perez said, is that “this strategy [of adding Herceptin] had long-term benefit to decrease cancer recurrence and improve survival.”

The findings show not only that Herceptin works, Perez said, ”but sustainability of the benefit.”

Cardiac problems have previously been linked with Herceptin, according to background information in the study. In this update, Perez found the increase in heart problems was minor with the addition of Herceptin. Heart-related deaths occurred in 0.2 percent of the Herceptin group versus 0.1 percent in women who didn’t get Herceptin.

The research found a benefit to adding Herceptin in both younger and older patients. The drug also provided a benefit whether or not cancers were estrogen receptor-positive (which means the cancer uses estrogen to grow) or not, and whether or not cancer had spread to the lymph nodes.

“What this shows is there is a sustained effect on survival,” said Dr. Joanne Mortimer, director of Women’s Cancer Programs at the City of Hope Cancer Center, in Duarte, Calif.

With some drugs, Mortimer said, ”sometimes you see an initial response and then it goes away. This is affirmation of survival improvement with the addition of Herceptin” for those with HER-2 positive breast cancers, she said.

But, those benefits don’t come without a cost. Herceptin is expensive, with a one-year course costing approximately $64,000, according to Genentech, the company that makes the drug. The company offers patient assistance for those who may have difficulty paying for the drug, according to the firm’s website.

More information

To learn more about Herceptin, visit BreastCancer.org.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Parkinson’s Drugs May Spur Compulsive Behaviors

Mon, 2014-10-20 13:37

By Alan Mozes
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Drugs commonly used to treat Parkinson’s disease may raise the risk of so-called impulse control disorders, according to a new review.

These disorders include compulsive gambling, compulsive shopping and/or hypersexuality.

That increased risk was seen in a fresh review of a decade’s worth of U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) records.

“What we have here is a striking example of a major problem in drug safety,” said study author Thomas Moore, a senior scientist with the Institute of Safe Medication Practices and a lecturer in epidemiology and biostatistics at George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. “And that is the issue of how drugs can sometimes provoke psychiatric side effects that actually make people behave in extremely destructive and abnormal ways.”

Moore and his colleagues reported their findings online Oct. 20 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

According to the American Parkinson Disease Association, these medicines are part of a powerful and effective class of drugs known as dopamine receptor agonists. These medications work by mimicking the activity of the brain chemical dopamine.

The study’s authors stressed that these medicines are widely used to treat a range of illnesses, including Parkinson’s, restless leg syndrome and patients diagnosed with high levels of the hormone prolactin — which can cause impotence in men and can prevent pregnancy in women.

More than 2 million such prescriptions were filled during the last three months of 2012 alone, the researchers noted.

To explore any risk for the development of impulse control issues, the study authors analyzed FDA data on 2.7 million domestic and foreign adverse drug events reported between 2003 and 2012.

Of these, 1,580 events were specifically identified as involving what investigators categorized as “serious” impulse control scenarios, with about half involving American patients. The remaining cases involved patients in 21 other countries.

Nearly 45 percent of these events (710) were linked directly to the use of any of six different dopamine receptor agonist medications, with most involving male patients (more than 65 percent) at an average age of 55. The other 55 percent of cases were associated with the use of other medications, the study found.

More than 60 percent of the time, the impulse control cases involving dopamine receptor agonists were patients struggling with Parkinson’s, while nearly a quarter involved patients with restless leg syndrome, the researchers said.

Breaking it down, the team identified 628 instances of pathological gambling, 465 cases of hypersexuality, and 202 examples of compulsive shopping.

“I should say that the risk for these events does not appear to be rare at all,” said Moore. “These psychiatric side effects appear to occurring among at least 10 percent of patients. If you compare that with, say, the risk for suicide among patients who take antidepressant drugs, this is much higher. It’s an astronomical rate, in terms of drug adverse event risk. And frankly I think I’m being conservative.”

Joshua Gagne, an assistant professor of medicine with Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, agreed that the increased risk could exceed 10 percent.

“The problem is that there is certainly a lot of underreporting of the problems we’re talking about,” he explained. “I suspect many affected patients never tell anyone. It’s easy to imagine that a patient would be ashamed if they’re losing a lot of money gambling or doing things that they generally don’t want their family to know about, which suggests many may be keeping this issue a secret, leading us to underestimate the dimension of the situation.”

Gagne, who wrote a commentary accompanying the new analysis, said a lot more research will be needed before the true risk is clearly defined.

“The thing to know,” he added, “is that there aren’t many treatment options for Parkinson’s, for example, that work as well as these drugs. They’re really a cornerstone of treatment, and it’s important to have them as options.

“But while they should continue to be used, it’s equally important to know what the risks are,” Gagne said. “So, while more research is done, we need to encourage physicians and pharmacists and patients to discuss the concern, and to help patients be more open about it when these issues take hold.”

More information

Visit the American Parkinson Disease Association for more on Parkinson’s.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Mouse Study Suggests Antibiotics May Aid Salmonella’s Spread in Animals

Mon, 2014-10-20 13:37

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Antibiotics might actually help Salmonella — bacteria that cause food poisoning — spread among infected animals, according to new research.

Although this phenomenon isn’t yet known to have occurred among people, the study’s authors cautioned their findings should serve as a reminder of the potential dangers of antibiotic use.

They also noted that their findings call into question the pervasive use of low doses of antibiotics among livestock.

“We humans shouldn’t take antibiotics lightly. We need to consider whether they’re always beneficial when they’re given to animals across the board, or when we take them ourselves,” said the study’s senior author, Denise Monack, associate professor of microbiology and immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine, in a university news release.

The study’s authors explained that some mice are normally what’s known as “superspreaders.” These mice can shed feces carrying large amounts of bacteria that can infect and sicken other mice, but yet remain symptom-free themselves.

When the researchers gave the antibiotic streptomycin to mice infected with Salmonella typhimurium, they found that a small number of normal mice began to shed large quantities of bacteria in their feces, much like the superspreaders. But, unlike the superspreaders, these mice became increasingly ill, according to the study.

In a matter of hours, most of the mice that had been shedding relatively low amount of salmonella in their feces had very high levels of the bacteria in their gut and their feces. Within days, these mice developed symptoms and became sick. Several of them died, the study, published on online on Oct. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed.

Meanwhile, the so-called superspreaders appeared healthy and were unaffected by the infection and the antibiotic, the researchers found.

The levels of salmonella in the guts of former non-superspreaders were close to those of superspreaders, the researchers found. They noted the bacteria shed by former non-superspreader mice were just as infectious as those shed by superspreaders. That means the antibiotic treatment had the opposite effect of what it should have — increasing the risk of infection instead of reducing it, according to the researchers.

The researchers found the same results when they gave mice a different antibiotic, neomycin, according to the study.

Roughly 80 percent of all antibiotics used in the United States are given to cattle, pigs, chicken and other livestock, according to the researchers. The drugs are given to boost the animals’ growth rates, although experts have warned that this practice contributes to the increase in drug-resistant germs, the researchers explained.

“We’ve shown that the immune state of an infected mouse given antibiotics can dictate how sick that mouse gets and also carries implications for disease transmission,” said Monack. “If this holds true for livestock as well, and I think it will, it would have obvious public health implications. We need to think about the possibility that we’re not only selecting for antibiotic-resistant microbes, but also impairing the health of our livestock and increasing the spread of contagious pathogens among them and us.”

Identifying superspreaders could prevent Salmonella epidemics, but this has been difficult since they do not have symptoms. Inspecting stool samples is one way to detect superspreaders but this would be challenging when dealing with livestock, the researchers noted. The researchers noted the differences in the immune systems of superspreaders could allow them to be identified through a blood test.

Salmonella infections cause roughly 1 million cases of food poisoning each year, sending 19,000 people to the hospital, the researchers said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides more information on drug-resistant bacteria.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Regular Doctor Visits Help Control Blood Pressure, Study Says

Mon, 2014-10-20 13:37

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Regular visits to your doctor can help keep your blood pressure under control, a new study shows.

High blood pressure can cause serious health problems such as stroke and heart attack, according to the American Heart Association.

Researchers analyzed data from 37,000 American adults who had their blood pressure checked between 1999 and 2012. Those who saw their doctor at least twice a year were 3.2 times more likely to keep their blood pressure under control than those who saw their doctor once a year or less.

Even after controlling for factors such as diabetes, smoking and body fat, doctor visits were the strongest predictor of blood pressure control.

Having health insurance and being treated for high cholesterol also improved the chances of keeping blood pressure in check, according to the study published Oct. 20 in the journal Circulation.

The researchers also found that obese people were more likely to keep their blood pressure under control. This is “probably because doctors recognize the need to control risk factors and may be quicker to give them blood pressure medications,” study author Dr. Brent Egan, a professor of medicine at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, said in a journal news release.

As many as 80 percent of the 78 million American adults with high blood pressure know they have the condition. But only 75 percent receive treatment, and only about half have it controlled under 140/90 mm Hg, according to the American Heart Association.

People with blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher should make lifestyle changes such as losing weight, eating healthy, exercising and, if necessary, taking medication, the heart association advises.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention explains how to prevent high blood pressure.


Categories: Health & Fitness

For Infertility Treatment, Should He Drink Less Coffee, More Booze?

Mon, 2014-10-20 11:37

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A man’s love of coffee could hamper the success of a couple’s infertility treatment, a small new study suggests.

But mild alcohol use by would-be fathers might help boost the odds of pregnancy through in vitro fertilization, the findings indicate.

The Boston researchers aren’t ready to encourage men enrolled in IVF to cut coffee consumption and have an extra beer with dinner. Still, these preliminary results were “definitely surprising,” said study co-author Dr. Jorge Chavarro, an assistant professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

“We’d like to follow up and see if it replicates in other populations, such as other couples who are trying to conceive naturally,” he said.

The research is to be presented Monday at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting in Honolulu.

Previous research into male fertility hasn’t found connections between alcohol or caffeine and scientific measurements of semen quality. But Chavarro said those measurements might not reflect other aspects of male fertility that are crucial to a man’s ability to impregnate a woman, he said.

Enter the new study, which looks beyond measurements of sperm quality to evaluate the effect of male beverage consumption on IVF birth rates.

The researchers focused on 105 men, average age 37, involved in 214 IVF treatments between 2007 and 2013. All answered questions about their diet before undergoing treatment.

Overall, more than half of the couples achieved a pregnancy in each IVF cycle, the researchers found. Couples in which the man consumed the most caffeine (equivalent to three or more 8-ounce cups of coffee a day) were half as likely to have a pregnancy as couples where the male consumed the least caffeine (less than a cup of coffee daily), the researchers said.

Ultimately, after adjusting their statistics for factors such as age or obesity, the researchers said live births were least likely — just 19 percent of the time — in the couples whose male partners consumed the most caffeine.

But the live pregnancy rate was 52 percent to 60 percent for couples where the men consumed the least caffeine, said study author Dr. Anatte Karmon, a research fellow of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The numbers for alcohol consumption only bordered on statistical significance, Karmon said. While 28 percent of couples in which the men drank the least alcohol had live births, she said, live births occurred for 57 percent of couples where the man drank the most — 22 grams or more per day, which is less than the 28 grams found in two “standard” drinks or two 12-ounce beers.

Chavarro said researchers don’t know why caffeine or alcohol might have these effects. One possibility is that they’re making men more or less likely to have sex with their partners. But Chavarro said that a change in sexual routine probably wouldn’t have had much effect on pregnancy since the couples had infertility problems.

Dr. Rebecca Sokol, a professor of medicine, obstetrics and gynecology at Keck School of Medicine at University of Southern California, questioned the study’s conclusions. The researchers only looked at a small number of men and the study doesn’t prove whether alcohol or caffeine actually affect fertility, she said.

Other research suggests that alcohol could be toxic to sperm, said Sokol, who is also president of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

What should couples do with the information from the study? Nothing right now, Chavarro said. “As far as we are aware, this is the first time this has been reported,” he said. “There needs to be a lot more replication before anyone can make a strong recommendation to patients.”

However, “we know from other studies that alcohol at very high intakes is not a good idea” for men in infertile couples, he said. “The alcohol levels in this study are very modest.”

Sokol also advised moderation. “It is in the best interest of couples who are trying to initiate a pregnancy that they moderate their use of drugs and chemicals because all could potentially impact fertility,” she said.

Chavarro is co-author of another new study being presented at the fertility meeting that suggests — but doesn’t prove — that eating fruits and vegetables containing residue from pesticides could harm sperm quality. The study doesn’t say if organic food would be a better alternative, however.

Another new study, written by researchers at Sao Paulo Federal University in Brazil and scheduled to be presented Tuesday at the conference, finds that smoking can impair fertility. Smoking contributes to problems with semen quality in men with a condition known as varicocele — enlarged veins in the scrotum — the researchers said.

All three studies should be considered preliminary since they have not undergone the peer review process required of research published in major medical journals.

More information

For more about infertility, see the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Hey, Guilt-Ridden Parents: Exercise Isn’t Selfish

Mon, 2014-10-20 11:37

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FRIDAY, Oct. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) — Fathers face many of the same family and work barriers to exercise as mothers, new research indicates.

“A decline or lack of exercise among working parents has mostly been recognized as a female issue. The ethic of care theory — that females have been socialized to meet everyone else’s needs before their own — explains why women feel guilty when they take time to exercise, though the same principle hasn’t been studied for fathers,” study author Emily Mailey, a kinesiology researcher at Kansas State University, said in a university news release.

She asked mothers and fathers about the barriers they face in trying to establish a regular exercise program, and found that lack of time and guilt were the main obstacles for both.

“The guilt parents feel is because they think of exercise as a selfish behavior. Fathers reported guilt related to family and taking time for themselves, whereas mothers reported guilt related to family, taking time for themselves and work,” Mailey said.

“Fathers mentioned feeling guilty about not spending time with their spouses. That really didn’t come up for the women. The men felt guilty about exercising after the kids go to bed because that would be time they could spend with their wives,” she added.

Mothers were more likely than fathers to say that work and scheduling prevented them from exercising. Many fathers were able to find time to exercise during the workday, but mothers were less likely to do so because they worried about being judged by their co-workers for leaving to exercise, and lacked time to freshen up after a workout.

“A lot of active dads were taking time during the lunch hour or during the workday to exercise. Moms felt more guilt for taking time out of the workday to the extent that most weren’t doing it. If moms were active, they were exercising first thing in the morning,” Mailey said.

The study was published online recently in the journal BioMed Central Public Health.

“Regardless of their activity levels, parents view their families as the top priority. Active parents were able to see exercise as something that contributed to the good of the family and that was not at odds with being good parents. As a result, they felt less guilty about taking time to exercise and were more apt to prioritize physical activity because they valued the benefits,” Mailey said.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about exercise.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Medication Errors Occur Every 8 Minutes in U.S. Children

Mon, 2014-10-20 11:37

By Tara Haelle
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 20, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A child receives the wrong medication or the wrong dosage every eight minutes in the United States, according to a recent study.

Nearly 700,000 children under 6 years old experienced an out-of-hospital medication error between 2002 and 2012. Out of those episodes, one out of four children was under a year old. As the age of children decreased, the likelihood of an error increased, the study found.

Though 94 percent of the mistakes didn’t require medical treatment, the errors led to 25 deaths and about 1,900 critical care admissions, according to the study.

“Even the most conscientious parents make errors,” said lead author Dr. Huiyun Xiang, director of the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

That conscientiousness may even lead to one of the most common errors: Just over a quarter of these mistakes involved a child receiving the prescribed dosage twice.

“One caregiver may give a child a dose, and then a second caregiver, who does not know that and wants to make sure the child gets the proper amount of medicine, may give the child a dose, too,” Xiang said. Other reasons for errors included incorrectly measuring the dosage or overprescription of some medications, he said.

Xiang and his colleagues analyzed all the medication errors reported to the National Poison Data System for all children under 6 years old during the study period. Their findings were released online on Oct. 20 in the journal Pediatrics.

Another common feature was that eight of every 10 errors involved liquid medication. There are several possible reasons for that, Xiang said.

“Young children are more likely to be given liquid medicine than medicine in other forms, like tablets or capsules,” he said, especially since many prescription and over-the-counter children’s medications are in liquid form.

“A second reason is that liquids can be difficult to measure correctly,” Xiang said. “Some liquid medications are measured in milliliters, other in teaspoons, some with measuring cups, some with syringes. That can be confusing to parents and caregivers.”

A different study — from the August issue of Pediatrics — found that using teaspoons or tablespoons to administer children’s medications was behind many drug dosing errors. Instructions requiring teaspoons or tablespoons made it twice as likely that parents or another caregiver would incorrectly follow the doctor’s prescription than if the instructions were in milliliters, that study found. An error was even more likely if parents used a kitchen spoon to measure out the dose, according to the earlier study.

In the current study, Xiang’s team also found that errors involving cough and cold medicines suddenly dropped by two-thirds from 2005 to 2012, a dive likely linked to two events, Xiang said.

In 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it was reviewing the safety of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines for children, and soon after, manufacturers voluntarily withdrew those drugs from shelves for children under 2 years old.

Shortly thereafter, the American Academy of Pediatrics said that cough and cold medicines weren’t effective in children under 6, and that those medications might pose a health risk to young children.

While errors related to those medicines dropped, however, mistakes involving other medications increased by 37 percent, though the study did not look at why.

“It may be associated with the increased use of analgesics and antihistamines among young children,” said Xiang.

Pain relievers and cough and cold medicines each comprised about a quarter of all the errors identified, and antihistamines made up 15 percent of the errors. Antibiotics made up about 12 percent.

The medications causing the highest rate of hospitalization or death included muscle relaxants, cardiovascular drugs and mental health drugs, such as sedatives and antipsychotics.

To avoid these errors, Xiang recommended that parents use a smartphone app to keep to a medication schedule and to use only the measuring cup or syringe that comes with a medication for measuring it. If a mistake should occur, parents should keep the national poison emergency helpline handy: (800) 222-1222.

“Parents need to realize that medication errors at home are very common, but those errors can be reduced,” he said.

One expert believes that some parents may be too ready to reach for over-the-counter medicines for their children.

“The take-home message from this study for parents is that children do not routinely require medications for fever, congestion or the common cold,” said Dr. Minu George, Interim Chief of the Division of General Pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“Decreasing use of the medications may lead to fewer errors,” she added. “Education is key — educating parents on how to keep their child comfortable and when it is necessary to call and/or see their physician before giving medications can prevent errors in the future.”

More information

Learn more about giving medication to children from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Detergent Pods Pose Risk to Kids’ Eyes, Researchers Warn

Mon, 2014-10-20 10:37

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THURSDAY, Oct. 16, 2014 (HealthDay News) — The popular “pods” that hold liquid laundry or dishwasher detergent can pose a danger to kids, especially to their eyes, a new study reports.

Researchers say parents should keep the pods away from children because if kids squeeze or bite them, the liquid inside can squirt out and enter the eyes, mouth or nose.

Within just a few months in 2012, the study authors saw 10 children, all under age 4, who had eye injuries from encountering the liquid from burst pods. In that same period, another 21 children were treated after ingesting the liquid in the pods.

All of the children with eye injuries recovered after being treated with irrigation of the eye and antibiotic ointment. The recovery period was about four days, according to the study. No further information was available on the children who ingested liquid from the pods.

The study appears in the October issue of the Journal of the American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus.

The brightly colored pods, which have been available in the United States for about four years, can attract kids who want to play with them, the study authors said.

Some manufacturers make note of the risks in warning labels and by making it hard for kids to open containers. However, “these safety features are not always present . . . particularly with off-brand or generic laundry pods that might be sold at discount stores,” Dr. Constance West, pediatric ophthalmologist and associate professor at Cincinnati Children’s and University of Cincinnati department of ophthalmology, said in a journal news release.

The liquid can cause more damage than typical liquid dishwashing and laundry detergent because the chemicals are more concentrated, according to the researchers.

More information

For more about children and poisoning, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Scientists Grow, Implant Human Intestinal Tissue in Mice

Sun, 2014-10-19 11:37

SUNDAY, Oct. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) — New stem cell-based research could improve understanding of intestinal diseases and eventually lead to new treatments, a new study suggests.

Scientists used stem cells to grow “organoids” of functioning human intestinal tissue in a lab dish. They then transplanted the organoids into mice, creating a new model for studying intestinal disorders, according to the researchers.

“This provides a new way to study the many diseases and conditions that can cause intestinal failure, from genetic disorders appearing at birth to conditions that strike later in life, such as cancer and Crohn’s disease,” lead investigator Dr. Michael Helmrath, surgical director of the Intestinal Rehabilitation Program at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, said in a center news release.

“These studies also advance the longer-term goal of growing tissues that can replace damaged human intestine,” he added.

Further research could eventually lead to the ability to create personalized human intestinal tissue to treat gastrointestinal diseases, according to the researchers.

“These studies support the concept that patient-specific cells can be used to grow intestine,” Helmrath explained.

The research was published online Oct. 19 in the journal Nature Medicine.

The intestinal organoids were created using so-called pluripotent stem cells, which can become any type of tissue in the body. The scientists created these “blank” stem cells by reprogramming adult cells taken from skin and blood samples.

The stem cells were placed in lab dishes with a specific molecular mixture that prompted the cells to grow into intestinal organoids, which developed into fully mature, functioning human intestinal tissue after being transplanted into mice.

The mice were genetically engineered so that their immune systems would not reject the human tissue, the study authors noted.

Researchers acknowledge that studies with animals often fail to produce similar results in people.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about digestive diseases.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Cruise Ship Passenger Linked to Ebola Back on Shore

Sun, 2014-10-19 09:37

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Oct. 19, 2014 (HealthDay News) — A cruise ship carrying a lab worker who was being monitored for Ebola returned to its Galveston, Texas, port early Sunday morning, cruise line officials said.

The unidentified woman, a laboratory manager at Texas Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, handled a lab specimen from the Liberian man who died from Ebola at the hospital earlier this month. She had been voluntarily quarantined aboard the Carnival Magic ship with her husband. She is showing no signs of symptoms of the disease and poses no risk because she has been symptomless for 19 days, federal officials said, according to the Associated Press.

Federal health officials have said that symptoms of Ebola show up within 21 days of exposure to the virus.

A cruise line spokesperson said the couple drove themselves home after leaving the ship, but offered no other details, the news service said.

The lab technician handled the sample from Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national and first patient ever diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. He died Oct. 8 at Texas Presbyterian Hospital. He became infected with the often deadly Ebola virus in Liberia — one of three West African nations at the epicenter of the viral outbreak — before arriving in Dallas last month to visit relatives.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama called on Americans not to give way to panic over Ebola. And he repeated his opposition to a travel ban for flights from the three affected countries in West Africa.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said Ebola “is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear — because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science.”

Some lawmakers have called for a travel ban, but Obama believes such a move would be counterproductive. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world — if that were even possible — could actually make the situation worse,” he said.

Obama’s comments came a day after he appointed Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and a trusted White House adviser, as Ebola “czar.”

Klain’s role: to oversee the federal government’s response to the small but anxiety-producing presence of the often lethal virus in the United States.

Klain had been out of public service since leaving Biden’s office during Obama’s first term. The White House said Klain would report to national security adviser Susan Rice and to homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.

A lawyer, Klain also served as chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore.

Klain gained a reputation for skillful handling of high-stakes political challenges. For instance, he was the lead Democratic lawyer for Gore during the disputed 2000 presidential election recount, The New York Times reported.

On Thursday evening, Obama said “it may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person [to oversee the Ebola response], not because they [federal health officials] haven’t been doing an outstanding job, really working hard on this issue, but they are also responsible for a whole bunch of other stuff.”

Obama’s announcement followed a Congressional subcommittee hearing where top federal health officials faced tough questions about their response to Ebola infections in the United States. The officials also defended their opposition to a ban on travelers from the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the sites of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

To date, there has been one death and two infections from Ebola in the United States.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 4,500 people out of an estimated 9,000 reported cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Also Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was widening its search for people who may have had contact with one of the nurses who treated Duncan at Texas Presbyterian Hospital. Nurse Amber Joy Vinson was part of the medical team that cared for Duncan.

Vinson traveled by plane on Oct. 10 from Dallas to Cleveland to visit family members and returned to Dallas on Oct. 13. She said she had a slight fever before boarding the return flight to Dallas, but family members said she had appeared “remote and unwell” while in Ohio over the weekend, the Times reported.

The CDC said it was tracking down passengers who took Frontier Airlines Flight 1142 from Dallas to Cleveland on Oct. 10. The agency had already been tracking passengers on her Oct. 13 flight back to Dallas.

CDC officials have said repeatedly that people infected with Ebola are not contagious until they show symptoms, such as fever and vomiting.

More information

For more on Ebola, visit the World Health Organization.


Categories: Health & Fitness

Obama Urges Calm in Ebola Scare, Opposes Travel Ban

Sat, 2014-10-18 09:37

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

SATURDAY, Oct. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) — President Barack Obama on Saturday asked Americans not to give way to panic over Ebola, and he repeated his opposition to a travel ban for flights from affected countries in West Africa.

In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama said that Ebola, “is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear – because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science.”

Some lawmakers have called for a travel ban, but Obama believes such a move would be counterproductive. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world – if that were even possible – could actually make the situation worse,” he said.

Obama’s words come a day after he appointed Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and a trusted White House adviser, as Ebola “czar.”

His role: to oversee the federal government’s response to the small but anxiety-producing presence of the often lethal virus in the United States.

Klain has been out of public service since leaving Biden’s office during Obama’s first term. The White House said Klain would report to national security adviser Susan Rice and to homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco, the Associated Press reported.

A lawyer, Klain also served as chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore.

Klain gained a reputation for skillful handling of high-stakes political challenges. For instance, he was the lead Democratic lawyer for Gore during the 2000 presidential election recount dispute, The New York Times reported.

On Thursday evening, Obama said “it may be appropriate for me to appoint an additional person [to oversee the Ebola response], not because they [federal health officials] haven’t been doing an outstanding job, really working hard on this issue, but they are also responsible for a whole bunch of other stuff.”

Obama said he was considering such a move “just to make sure that we are crossing all the t’s and dotting all the i’s going forward.”

Obama’s comments came after a Congressional subcommittee hearing where top federal health officials faced tough questions about their response to Ebola infections in the United States. The officials also defended their opposition to a ban on travelers from the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the sites of the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

To date, there has been one death and two infections from Ebola in the United States. The deceased was a native of Liberia who became infected in his home country before arriving in Dallas last month to visit relatives. The two infections involved two nurses at the Dallas hospital who helped treat the Liberian man.

The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed nearly 4,500 people out of an estimated 9,000 reported cases, according to the World Health Organization.

Also Thursday, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was widening its search for people who may have had contact with one of the nurses who treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national and first patient ever diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Nurse Amber Joy Vinson was part of the medical team that cared for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas, the focus so far of Ebola in the United States.

Vinson traveled by plane on Oct. 10 from Dallas to Cleveland to visit family members and returned to Dallas on Oct. 13. She said she had a slight fever before boarding the return flight to Dallas, but family members said she had appeared “remote and unwell” while in Ohio over the weekend, the Times reported.

The CDC said it was now tracking down passengers who took Frontier Airlines Flight 1142 from Dallas to Cleveland on Oct. 10. The agency had already been tracking passengers on her Oct. 13 flight back to Dallas.

CDC officials have said repeatedly that people infected with Ebola are not contagious until they show symptoms, such as fever and vomiting.

Meanwhile, the search continues for other health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas who may have had contact with Duncan or his bodily fluids. CDC officials say Ebola can only be spread through contact with an infected person’s bodily fluids.

Federal officials said early Friday that a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from Duncan has quarantined herself on a Caribbean cruise ship and is being monitored for any signs of infection. The woman, who is on board with her husband, shows no signs of infection, the U.S. State Department said, the Associated Press reported.

At Thursday’s Congressional hearing, several of the nation’s top health officials faced blistering criticism of their handling of Ebola in the United States. And the officials reiterated their opposition to a ban on travelers from West African nations fighting Ebola.

Legislators asked tough questions about health officials’ response to the handling of the Duncan case, particularly since two intensive-care nurses who cared for him later contracted Ebola themselves.

Health officials have decided to move both nurses — Vinson and an infected colleague, Nina Pham — from Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital to other facilities in the United States with dedicated biocontainment units designed to treat deadly infectious diseases like Ebola.

Vinson has been relocated to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which has successfully treated two other patients with Ebola. Pham arrived Thursday night at a specialized U.S. National Institutes of Health medical center in Bethesda, Md.

Officials still have not determined how the two nurses became infected with the Ebola virus.

The nurses were moved from Texas Health Presbyterian, which has been criticized for its handling of the Duncan case, in part, to ease the burden on the hospital. The medical center has its hands full tracking dozens of other health care workers who may have been exposed to Ebola while treating Duncan, CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Thursday.

“Texas Presbyterian is dealing with a difficult situation,” Frieden said at the Congressional hearing. “They are now dealing with at least 50 health care workers who may potentially have been exposed. That makes it quite challenging to operate, and we felt it would be more prudent to focus on caring for any patients who come in with symptoms.”

In response to lawmakers’ demands for a travel ban, Frieden said that keeping commercial air travel open with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — the epicenter of West Africa’s Ebola epidemic — will continue to strengthen efforts on the ground to contain the outbreak there.

Under a ban, people in the three West African countries would be tempted to slip across the border into a neighboring nation and fly to America from there, making it difficult or impossible to detect their entry into the United States, Frieden explained.

“We won’t be able to check them for fever when they leave,” he said. “We won’t be able to check them for fever when they arrive. We won’t be able to take a detailed history to see if they were exposed. When they arrive, we wouldn’t be able to impose quarantine as we now can if they have high-risk contact.”

Other officials on the panel supported Frieden’s position. They included Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and John Wagner, acting assistant commissioner for the Department of Homeland Security’s customs and border protection field operations.

This united front did not blunt legislators’ demands for a travel ban.

“I just don’t understand [how] we can’t look at one’s travel history and say, ‘No, you’re not coming here, not until this situation’ — you’re right it needs to be solved in Africa, but until it is we should not be allowing these folks in. Period,” said Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

More information

For more on Ebola, visit the World Health Organization.


Categories: Health & Fitness