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Health & Fitness (238)

   High tech glasses developed at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis may help surgeons visualize cancer cells, which could help reduce the number of surgeries need to eradicate the disease in many patients.  

   The glasses are so new they have yet to be named.  

   They're designed to make it easier for surgeons to distinguish cancer cells from healthy cells, by making the cancer cells appear blue.  Highlighting the diseased cells will help to ensure that no stray tumor cells are left behind during surgery.  

   The glasses were used during surgery for the first time Monday. Breast surgeon Dr. Julie Margenthaler performed the operation at BJC's Siteman Cancer Center.  She says more development and testing will be done, but the potential benefits to patients is encouraging.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 06:21
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   A new study says nearly 3 out of 4 U.S. children and young adults consume at least some caffeine.
   For most, it comes from soda, tea and coffee. The rate didn't budge much over a decade, although soda use declined and energy drinks became an increasingly common source.
   That's according to a government analysis of national health surveys from 1999 through 2010.
   The research shows even most preschoolers consume some caffeine-containing products. But their average was the amount found in half a can of soda, and young kids' overall caffeine intake fell during the decade.
   The analysis is the first to examine recent national trends in caffeine among children and young adults.
   The results were published online Monday in Pediatrics.
 
Monday, 10 February 2014 02:41
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Thursday, 06 February 2014 08:55
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A day after Rachel Fredrickson won the latest season of "The Biggest Loser," after shedding nearly 60 percent of her body weight, attention wasn't focused on her $250,000 win - but rather the criticism surrounding her loss.

Experts cautioned that regardless of her current weight, the criticism being levied on social media about her losing too much isn't helpful. A more constructive message is needed, they say, centering on body image and healthy living.

The 5-foot-4, 24-year-old Frederickson dropped from 260 pounds to 105 under the show's rigorous exercise and diet regimen - but also time spent on her own before the finale. She was a three-time state champion swimmer at Stillwater Area High School in Minnesota, and said she turned to sweets for solace after a failed romance and gained the weight over several years.

Frederickson's newly thin frame lit up Twitter on Wednesday, with many viewers pointing to the surprised expressions on the faces of trainers Jillian Michaels and Bob Harper during the show's Tuesday night finale. Many tweeted that Fredrickson looked anorexic and unhealthy, while others congratulated her for dropping 155 pounds.

Frederickson's body mass index, a measure of height and weight, is below the normal range, said Jillian Lampert, senior director of the Emily Program, an eating disorder treatment program based in St. Paul, Minn. But she said the criticism directed against Frederickson isn't helpful.

"As a society we often criticize people for being at higher weights - that's part of why we have the TV show `The Biggest Loser' - and then we feel free to criticize lower weight," Lampert said.

A more constructive message to send young people would center on well-rounded health and the importance of eating well, moving well and sleeping well, she said.

"We certainly see a lot of people who struggle with eating disorders who use the same behaviors on that show to an extreme," she said. "That can't be helpful."

Joanne Ikeda, a dietitian and retired faculty member at the University of California at Berkeley's Department of Nutritional Sciences, added that focus needs to be on embracing body-size diversity.

"We are just obsessed with body size, women particularly. There's just tremendous body dissatisfaction," Ikeda said. "I'm sure even if she was the exact right size, someone wouldn't like the look of her fingers or the length of her hair."

"We should be happy we don't all look like Barbie and Ken," she said.

A listed phone number for Frederickson couldn't be found by The Associated Press late Wednesday. During an appearance on "Access Hollywood," Frederickson didn't directly respond to the criticism but said she intends to live a healthy lifestyle going forward.

"My journey was about finding that confident girl again. Little by little, challenge by challenge, that athlete came out. And it sparked inside me this feeling that I can do anything I can conceive. And I found that girl, and I'm just going to embrace her fully," she said.

In a statement released late Wednesday, NBC said it was committed to helping all of the show's past contestants live healthier lives.

Among the social media commentators was 36-year-old Shannon Hurd, who tweeted that Frederickson looked weak and unhealthy. In an interview Wednesday with AP, Hurd said she became anorexic at age 16 and has been recovering since she was 19.

"Looking at her `after' photo, I guess I saw ... a piece of myself way back when, and it really just struck something deep down," Hurd said from her home in suburban Denver. "I don't know if she's anorexic, but I do think her weight loss is so extreme there is no way her loss can be maintained through normal habits, and unfortunately that leads to distorted thinking."

---

Follow Jeff Baenen on Twitter at -HTTPS://TWITTER.COM/JEFFBAENEN

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED. Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Thursday, 06 February 2014 07:19
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   WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is using ads that depict yellow teeth and wrinkled skin to show the nation's at-risk youth the costs associated with cigarette smoking.
   The federal agency said Tuesday it is launching a $115 million multimedia education campaign called "The Real Cost" that's aimed at stopping teenagers from smoking and encouraging them to quit.
   Advertisements will run in more than 200 markets throughout the U.S. for at least one year beginning Feb. 11. The campaign will include ads on TV stations such as MTV and print spots in magazines like Teen Vogue. It also will use social media.
   "Our kids are the replacement customers for the addicted adult smokers who die or quit each day," said Mitch Zeller, the director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products. "And that's why we think it's so important to reach out to them — not to lecture them, not to throw statistics at them — but to reach them in a way that will get them to rethink their relationship with tobacco use."
   Zeller, who oversaw the anti-tobacco "Truth" campaign while working at the nonprofit American Legacy Foundation time in the early 2000s, called the new campaign a "compelling, provocative and somewhat graphic way" of grabbing the attention of more than 10 million young people ages 12 to 17 that are open to, or are already experimenting with, cigarettes.
   According to the FDA, nearly 90 percent of adult smokers started using cigarettes by age 18 and more than 700 kids under 18 become daily smokers each day. The agency aims to reduce the number of youth cigarette smokers by at least 300,000 within three years.
   "While most teens understand the serious health risks associated with tobacco use, they often don't believe the long-term consequences will ever apply to them," said FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg. "We'll highlight some of the real costs and health consequences associated with tobacco use by focusing on some of the things that really matter to teens — their outward appearance and having control and independence over their lives."
   Two of the TV ads show teens walking into a corner store to buy cigarettes. When the cashier tells them it's going to cost them more than they have, the teens proceed to tear off a piece of their skin and use pliers to pull out a tooth in order to pay for their cigarettes. Other ads portray cigarettes as a man dressed in a dirty white shirt and khaki pants bullying teens and another shows teeth being destroyed by a ray gun shooting cigarettes.
   The FDA is evaluating the impact of the campaign by following 8,000 people between the ages of 11 and 16 for two years to assess changes in tobacco-related knowledge, attitudes and behaviors.
   The campaign announced Tuesday is the first in a series of campaigns to educate the public about the dangers of tobacco use.
   In 2011, the FDA said it planned to spend about $600 million over five years on the campaigns aimed at reducing death and disease caused by tobacco, which is responsible for about 480,000 deaths a year in the U.S.
   Tobacco companies are footing the bill for the campaigns through fees charged by the FDA under a 2009 law that gave the agency authority over the tobacco industry.
   Future campaigns will target young adults ages 18-24 and people who influence teens, including parents, family members and peers. Other audiences of special interest include minorities, gays, people with disabilities, the military, pregnant women, people living in rural areas, and low-income people.
Tuesday, 04 February 2014 01:52
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CHICAGO (AP) — Gay and bisexual teen boys use illicit steroids at a rate almost six times higher than do straight kids, a "dramatic disparity" that points up a need to reach out to this group, researchers say.
 
Reasons for the differences are unclear. The study authors said it's possible gay and bi boys feel more pressure to achieve a bulked-up "ideal" male physique, or that they think muscle-building steroids will help them fend off bullies.
 
Overall, 21 percent of gay or bisexual boys said they had ever used steroids, versus 4 percent of straight boys. The difference was similar among those who reported moderate use — taking steroid pills or injections up to 40 times: 8 percent of gay or bi teens reported that amount, versus less than 2 percent of straight boys. The heaviest use — 40 or more times — was reported by 4 percent of gays or bi boys, compared with less than 1 percent of straight teens.
 
The study is billed as the first to examine the problem; previous research has found similar disparities for other substance abuse.
 
"It's a bit sad that we saw such a large health disparity," especially among the most frequent steroid users, said co-author Aaron Blashill, a psychologist and scientist with the Fenway Institute, the research arm of a Boston health center that treats gays and lesbians.
 
"Given the dramatic disparity ... it would seem that this is a population in which greater attention is needed," the authors said.
 
Their research was released Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
 
The nationally representative study is an analysis of government surveys from 2005 and 2007. It involved 17,250 teen boys aged 16 on average; almost 4 percent — 635 boys — were gay or bisexual. Blashill said it's likely more recent data would show the disparities persist.
 
Dr. Rob Garofalo, adolescent medicine chief at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, said the differences aren't surprising, since it is known that gay youth often have "body image issues." But he said, "It is still shocking. These are dramatically high rates."
 
The Food and Drug Administration issued a consumer update in November warning that teens and steroids are "a dangerous combo," citing government data showing that about 5 percent of high school boys and 2 percent of high school girls use steroids — more than a half-million kids.
 
Steroids include synthetic versions of the male hormone testosterone. Users take them to promote muscle growth, strength and endurance. Side effects can include heart and liver problems, high blood pressure, acne and aggressive behavior. With their still-maturing bodies, teens face a heightened risk for problems that may be permanent, the FDA update.
 
Steroids are legally available only by prescription. There are few FDA-approved uses, including replacement of hormones in men who have unusually low levels.
 
Potential signs of abuse include mood swings, speedy muscle growth and even breast development in boys.
 
Garofalo said some of his gay and bi patients have admitted using steroids. Those patients sometimes have acne, high blood pressure, anxiety, or aggression related to steroid use, but those symptoms usually go away when the drug use stops, he said.
 
Kids are often less open about using steroids than about drinking or smoking marijuana, but the study helps raise awareness and the results suggest it's a topic physicians should be raising with their patients, especially gay and bi kids, Garofalo said.
 
___
 
Online: Pediatrics: http://www.pediatrics.org
Monday, 03 February 2014 01:38
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LONDON (AP) -- Russian men who down large amounts of vodka - and too many do - have an "extraordinarily" high risk of an early death, a new study says.

Researchers tracked about 151,000 adult men in the Russian cities of Barnaul, Byisk and Tomsk from 1999 to 2010. They interviewed them about their drinking habits and, when about 8,000 later died, followed up to monitor their causes of death.

The risk of dying before age 55 for those who said they drank three or more half-liter bottles of vodka a week was a shocking 35 percent.

Overall, a quarter of Russian men die before reaching 55, compared with 7 percent of men in the United Kingdom and less than 1 percent in the United States. The life expectancy for men in Russia is 64 years - placing it among the lowest 50 countries in the world in that category.

It's not clear how many Russian men drink three bottles or more a week. Lead researcher Sir Richard Peto of Oxford University said the average Russian adult drinks 20 liters of vodka per year while the average Briton drinks about three liters of spirits.

"Russians clearly drink a lot, but it's this pattern of getting really smashed on vodka and then continuing to drink that is dangerous," Peto said.

"The rate of men dying prematurely in Russia is totally out of line with the rest of Europe," he said. "There's also a heavy drinking culture in Finland and Poland but they still have nothing like Russia's risk of death."

Alcohol has long been a top killer in Russia and vodka is often the drink of choice, available cheaply and often homemade in small villages. Previous studies have estimated that more than 40 percent of working-age men in Russia die because they drink too much, including using alcohol that is not meant to be consumed like that in colognes and antiseptics.

Drinking is so engrained in Russian culture there's a word that describes a drinking binge that lasts several days: "zapoi."

Peto said there was some evidence of a similar effect in Russian women who also drank heavily but there was not enough data to draw a broad conclusion.

The study was paid for by the U.K. Medical Research Council and others. It was published online Thursday in the journal Lancet.

Other experts said the Russian preference for hard liquor was particularly dangerous.

"If you're drinking vodka, you get a lot more ethanol in that than if you were drinking something like lager," said David Leon, a professor of epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has also studied the impact of alcohol in Russia but was not part of the Lancet study.

He said changing drinking patterns in Russia to combat the problem was possible but that it would take a significant cultural adjustments.

"It's not considered out-of-order to drink until you can't function in Russia," Leon said. "It just seems to be part of being a guy in Russia that you are expected to drink heavily."

© 2014 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. THIS MATERIAL MAY NOT BE PUBLISHED, BROADCAST, REWRITTEN OR REDISTRIBUTED.Learn more about our PRIVACY POLICY and TERMS OF USE.

Friday, 31 January 2014 10:37
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