Infinite Menus, Copyright 2006, OpenCube Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ABC Health News
Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Good news -- cancer deaths are down overall.

Cancer deaths dipped almost 2 percent a year between 1999 and 2015 among men, about 1.5 percent a year for women, according to a new report. And although cancer rates actually increased slightly between 2010 and 2014 for children -- 1 percent a year -- their death rate also dropped 1.5 percent between 2011 and 2015.

This joint report of the American Cancer Society, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Cancer Institute, and the North American Associate of Central Cancer Registries measured how well the medical "war on cancer" progresses.

These are significant declines, reflecting more accurate and successful cancer treatments, and better detection as well. Cancer detected at earlier stages has more treatment options and a better five-year survival rate.

Unfortunately, the statistics show that this progress in reducing cancer deaths hasn't occurred for each type of cancer. Death rates are down for lung and colorectal cancers in both men and women, for instance, but up for pancreatic and liver cancers for both genders. Death rates are down for breast and prostate cancer as well. Rates and trends by race and ethnic groups still differ.

As to how many cancers occur (rather than how well we survive them), the rate of cancer came down 2.2 percent a year for men between 2008 and 2014; it was stable for women.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Jackie Wesselman/Reily Township Fire and EMS(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- This was a rescue that emergency workers in Germantown, Ohio, won't soon forget.

A horse that is more than 20 years old and blind fell backward into an 8-foot-deep well pit on containing pressure tanks and pumps on Sunday morning, Germantown Fire Chief Dan Alldred told ABC News.

“When I arrived, all that was sticking out was her head and two front feet,” Alldred said.

The cover of the well pit had been removed, though it wasn’t clear why, he said.

With the help of an equine veterinarian, Dr. John Nenni, the owners, who have not yet been identified, had cinched some straps around the mare to prevent her from slipping further down the 3-foot-square opening and called the authorities, Alldred said.

One of the responding agencies, Reily Township Fire, has special training in large animal rescue, said Lt. Roy Wesselman of the department. He said that as often as eight times a year the agency is called in on incidents such as livestock trailer accidents and animals' getting stuck in unusual spots.

The veterinarian sedated the horse in the well, which allowed rescuers to strap the mare to a plastic board called a rescue glide. They then attached the rescue glide to a piece of heavy machinery known as a trackhoe that they used to lift the roughly 1,000-pound animal up and out of the well, Alldred and Wesselman confirmed.

“We had to use the trackhoe to pick up the horse, along with a bunch of manpower to slide her up and out on a slide board,” Alldred said.

Once she was safely out the hole, Nenni worked to reverse the effects of the sedation. About two and a half hours after authorities arrived on the scene, the mare was up and walking around, Alldred said.

“She’s going to be stiff and sore. She had minor injuries, scrapes, bumps and bruises, some swelling,” Wesselman said. “But she was up eating grass and walking around when we cleared the scene.”

Nenni told ABC News that this was his first time being involved in extracting an animal from a hole. The veterinarian said he relied mostly on what he had learned in a class to know what to do.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the deadly Ebola virus rises again in central Africa, health officials have decided to try a different approach to fight back –- rushing more than 7,500 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At least 26 deaths have been tied to the current outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province, according to the World Health Organization. There were 46 confirmed and suspected cases identified as of May 20, according to the Ministry of Health in the DRC. Since Ebola has a three-week incubation period, health officials fear the number will soon rise.

The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a "ring vaccination" approach, around the epicenter of the outbreak in the Congo. In addition to the current available doses, another 8,000 will be available in the coming days, the organization said.

"We need to act fast to stop the spread of Ebola by protecting people at risk of being infected with the Ebola virus, identifying and ending all transmission chains and ensuring that all patients have rapid access to safe, high-quality care," Dr. Peter Salama, deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response at the World Health Organization said.

This is the vaccination and strategy the WHO is deploying, along with medical partners from the DRC Ministry of Health, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), UNICEF, and the Ministry of Health of Guinea, to fight Ebola:

How is Ebola transmitted to people?

Outbreaks of Ebola virus appear to begin when a human comes into contact with an infected animal or its body fluids. Subsequent person-to-person transmission happens after physical contact with the body fluids of a living or deceased patient –- blood, vomit, diarrhea, even semen. Health care workers are often infected as they care for patients, unless they have taken extreme measures to protect themselves.

What are the current treatments for Ebola?

There is no cure for Ebola, so the mainstay of treatment for Ebola virus involves supportive care to maintain adequate organ function, giving the patient’s immune system time to mobilize and eliminate the infection.

Several experimental antiviral therapies were used to treat patients who contracted the virus during the 2014 to 2016 outbreak in West Africa, but it's not clear how effective those drugs were and they are in very short supply.

Why this vaccine?

This vaccine was developed to help protect people who have not yet been infected with Ebola. It has been proven safe and effective in human trials, but it has not received a license, so it's still considered experimental.

In the past, U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the vaccine what is known as a breakthrough therapy designation -- a status reserved for medicines designed to treat serious or life-threatening illnesses.

The vaccine, which is referred to as both VSV ZEBOV and V920, was developed by Merck and has demonstrated the ability to cut the risk of infection in human trials.

In September 2014, WHO identified both VSV and the ChAd3 vaccine as the most advanced candidates for use in the West African outbreak, mainly because both appeared to protect people after a single inoculation.

More than 3,500 people were vaccinated with VSV in 2015, as part of a large trial at the end of Ebola outbreak in Guinea.

Why is this approach different?
This vaccine was designed for use in a so-called "ring vaccination" approach, a strategy used in 1977 to control smallpox. The idea is to vaccinate health care workers who care for those affected, people who know someone who has been infected and then the another group who know those people, in an expanding "ring" around the infections.

Each "ring" may have 100 to 150 people, according to WHO estimates. The vaccines are being given to them free of charge.

So far, 600 people have been identified as part of the "ring" around people who are known or suspected to have been infected in the Congo. There is enough vaccine in stockpiles to cover those identified and many more.



Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Suicide-related hospital visits for children have increased sharply in the U.S., new research finds.

The study in Pediatrics found that from 2008 to 2015 the proportion of children's hospital visits arising from suicide attempts or suicidal thinking nearly doubled from .81 percent to 1.55 percent.

Teens aged 15 to 17 showed the biggest increase. And, while the proportion of suicide-related hospital visits rose for both boys and girls, the increase was higher for girls.

The study also found that hospital visits for suicide attempts or suicidal thinking by children are lowest during summer and highest in the fall and spring.

"The growing impact of pediatric mental health disorders has important implications for children’s hospitals and health care delivery systems," concluded the study's authors, doctors from children's hospitals in Nashville and Philadelphia and a researcher from the Children's Hospital Association.

The research team examined trends in emergency visits and hospitalizations at children's hospitals using billing data from the Pediatric Health Information System database at 49 children’s hospitals. About 116,000 hospital visits were studied.

The influence of multiple factors, including race and household income, was examined. Although there was a rise in suicide-related hospital visits among all racial groups, the increase was highest for non-Hispanic white youth.

A family's income level also seemed to be a factor, with children from the lowest-income families bucking the trend by showing a slight decrease in the proportion of hospital visits related to suicide, dropping from 26 percent in 2008 to 23 percent in 2015.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among U.S. teens and preteens, with suicide rates having risen by 24 percent over the past 15 years, the study notes.

People who either try to kill themselves or think about or plan how to do it are at higher risk of repeated suicide attempts, the study says, citing prior research. "Up to 27 percent of children and adolescents ages 10 to 18 who present with a first suicide attempt will have a second one," the study says.

Prior research has shown that boys are more likely than girls to commit suicide. “Adolescent boys are less likely to express suicidal ideation or attempts, but they are actually more likely to die by suicide”, Dr. Ruth Gerson, assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Health, told ABC News.

Social media can play a role in suicide rates, especially when a child is a victim of cyberbullying, Gerson said.

Many teens see social media as a way to connect with their friends, she said. But “social media can't be a replacement for in-person relationships. Likes and retweets are not a replacement for a real-life shoulder to cry on.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The only way to test for symptoms of stomach or esophageal cancer is to undergo an upper endoscopy, a test that can be invasive, cost thousands of dollars and has a small percentage of success in actually finding a tumor.

Researchers in the U.K. wanted a diagnostic tool that would be easier and cheaper to test for these cancers so they used a noninvasive breath test to collect samples of 500cc of exhaled breath from 335 people, 172 of which they knew had those cancers, after a minimum four-hour fast.

The exhaled breath was quickly analyzed for five previously identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs), known to have some association with gastric and esophageal cancers (VOCs happen with other cancers, including lung, bladder, and breast). The researchers were looking for evidence of butyric acid, pentanoic acid, hexanoic acid, butanal and decanal.

The results were published in the journal JAMA Oncology.

The breath test was able to accurately identify esophageal or gastric cancer about 80 percent of the time.

Dr. Raja Flores, chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, told ABC News that endoscopy is underutilized in the U.S. Flores, who was not involved in the U.K. study, noted that the breath test is not the current standard of care.

If this new diagnostic tool is proven to succeed, many doctors might want to change their approach to patients and how they screen cancer.

This article was written by Chantel Strachan, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident from the University of Connecticut who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Spencer Platt/Getty Images(BROOKLYN, New York) -- More than two dozen people at the same street corner had to be rushed to the hospital after suffering a bad reaction to synthetic marijuana in Brooklyn on Saturday night.

Police sources told New York ABC station WABC-TV that officers reported to a street corner in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn after receiving multiple calls for bad reactions to the drug. The sources said at least 25 people were taken to the hospital to be treated for adverse symptoms.

Officials told WABC-TV that none of the patients are in life-threatening condition.

The drug, often labeled synthetic marijuana, doesn't include any actual cannabis.

Synthetic weed, also called K2 or spice, is dried plant material sprayed with chemicals, which can be smoked or sold in liquid-form to be inhaled with a vaporizer. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, effects can be "unpredictable and, in some cases, more dangerous or even life-threatening."

The overdoses on Saturday occurred at the intersection of Broadway and Myrtle Avenue under the J and Z subway tracks. The location is well-known by authorities.

In July 2016, at least 33 people had serious adverse reactions to synthetic weed in one day at the exact same corner, and more than 100 were taken to the emergency room from July 11-13, 2016, according to the National Institute of Health.

The National Institutes of Health released warnings in four states -- Wisconsin, Indiana, Maryland and Illinois -- over dangerous synthetic marijuana in early April. Illinois especially was hit with a number of problems due to the drug; three people died and more than 100 people were hospitalized in April, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in a city of nearly 1.2 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country's health ministry said.

A single case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed earlier this week in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, the capital of the northwestern Equateur province. It was the first time in the Democratic Republic of Congo's ongoing outbreak that a case had been detected in an urban health zone, with all other cases reported in remote, rural areas of Equateur province.

By Friday night, the number of confirmed Ebola cases in Mbandaka city had jumped to four. A new suspected case of Ebola was also reported there, according to the country's health ministry.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone," the Democratic Republic of Congo's Minister of Health Oly Ilunga Kalenga said in a statement in French.

Situated along the Congo River, Mbandaka is a densely populated transit hub at the crossroads of Equateur province, the health ministry said, raising fears that the Ebola virus will be easily passed on. Ebola spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people.

Downstream from Mbandaka is the country's capital, Kinshasa, which is home to roughly 10 million people. Just across the river from Kinshasa is Brazzaville, the capital of the neighboring Republic of the Congo.

As of Friday night, a total of 43 cases of hemorrhagic fever had been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the outbreak was announced on May 8. That number includes 17 confirmed cases of Ebola, 21 probable cases and five suspected cases. Health care workers have been among those infected, according to the health ministry.

There have been 25 deaths among these cases, including one person who died from a confirmed case of Ebola.

There are several types of hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the health ministry noted; thus, not all suspected cases are necessarily Ebola.

The health ministry said it had received 5,400 doses of Ebola vaccine Wednesday morning. Thousands more were expected to arrive in the coming days.

The World Health Organization (WHO) convened an emergency committee meeting Friday to discuss the "very concerning" developments in the country's Ebola outbreak. The committee acknowledged the "particularly high" risk of the outbreak spreading across international borders, given the city of Mbandaka's proximity to the Congo River.

But the committee said the response by the Congolese government, WHO and partners has been "rapid and comprehensive," and it provides "strong reason to believe that the outbreak can be brought under control." The committee also advised against any international travel or trade restrictions on the Central African nation.

Accepting the committee's assessment of the situation, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus did not declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

It's the ninth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo since 1976 when scientists first identified the deadly virus.

The latest Ebola outbreak comes amid an outburst of violence that has spread rapidly in the country's restive Kasai region. The violence was sparked by existing tensions between customary chiefs in Kasai-Central Province and the government in 2016, but the widening conflict has since pulled in militias, armed groups and security forces across an area the size of Germany.

The violence has forced families to flee their homes. About 3.8 million people in the Kasai region, including 2.3 million children, are in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the United Nations.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A doctor who slipped an abortion pill into his pregnant girlfriend's tea was sentenced to 20 years in prison on Friday. However, he will serve only three years.

Brooke Fiske was dating Sikander Imran when the Arlington, Virginia, doctor slipped a drug into her tea he knew could cause her to have a miscarriage, according to ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C.

Fiske was 17 weeks pregnant when she went to visit Imran to discuss raising the child, according to reports. That's when he slipped a pill into her tea, which caused her to go into premature labor hours later. She was rushed to the hospital, but the infant did not survive.

Imran was arrested in May 2017 and pleaded guilty in March to fetal homicide, court records show.

Despite Fiske's loss, she argued against a stiff penalty for Imran. The doctor, who lost his license following his arrest, faced a minimum of five years and maximum of 40 years in prison for felony, according to Virginia state law.

"To me, the length of time that he serves in prison isn't what's important," Fiske told WJLA-TV. "I think that it is really important that people know that if they are dealing with depression, before they do something, they should reach out and get help."

Imran's lawyers said he was dealing with mental health problems at the time, including panic attacks, and had threatened suicide, according to WJLA-TV.

Imran told the judge Friday he loved Fiske "more than anyone in the world" and prays for their unborn child every day.

"What matters is that people hear this story and realize that either they need to help themselves and they're going to reach out and get it before something awful happens, or they realize that whatever weight, whatever tragedy, whatever pain they're carrying, there is a way through it," Fiske said.

WJLA-TV reports Imran could also be deported to his native Pakistan after serving three years in prison.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Byrdyak/iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- Scientists at a San Diego zoo are celebrating the pregnancy of a southern white rhino named Victoria.

The pregnancy, achieved through artificial insemination with the sperm from a male southern white rhino, is an important step that scientists hope could bring them closer to saving the almost-extinct northern white rhino, the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research announced Thursday.

There are only two northern white rhinos left on Earth, the zoo said, and both are female. Victoria is one of six of the zoo's female white rhinos that researchers hope could eventually be surrogate mothers and carry northern white rhino embryos.

"The confirmation of this pregnancy through artificial insemination represents an historic event for our organization, but also a critical step in our effort to save the northern white rhino," Dr. Barbara Durrant, director of reproductive sciences at the institute, said in the statement.

Rhinoceros pregnancies last between 16 and 18 months, so if Victoria's pregnancy is successful, her calf could arrive next summer. Artificial insemination has rarely been attempted in rhinos and has produced only a few births, the research center said.

The last northern white rhino, Sudan, was euthanized in March at a Kenya preserve because of age-related health complications.

A mother and daughter who live in the same Kenyan preserve are the only surviving members of the northern white rhino species, but they are incapable of bearing calves.

There are no northern white rhino eggs, so researchers will have to use genetic technology to create an embryo.

Scientists at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research have the cells of 12 different northern white rhinos stored in their "Frozen Zoo."

These cells would need to be developed into stem cells, which could eventually become sperm and eggs.

"Reproductive options would then include artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and embryo transfer," the institute said in its statement.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- About 1 in 5 Americans endure lower back pain, and adding chiropractic treatments to one's usual medical care may help relieve it, at least a little, according to a study done with military personnel.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the second-leading cause of disability worldwide and back pain, specifically, is the most common reason U.S. soldiers require medical attention for an issue that interrupts combat readiness.

Common treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories, including ibuprofen and, in extreme cases, opioids or injections. Since almost all lower back pain improves within a few weeks, doctors are more likely now to recommend gentle exercise and patience.

Researchers recently studied active-duty personnel aged 18 to 50 who suffered from back pain, experimenting to see whether chiropractic spinal manipulation, when added to regular care, could be effective.

Those in the study were divided into two groups. One group was people who got regular care, including medication and physical therapy, and the other group added chiropractic care to those treatments.

Of the 750 individuals studied, about three-quarters of whom were male, those who also received chiropractic care have less lower back pain and better overall satisfaction after six weeks of trials.

One issue with the study is that those receiving the additional treatments were aware of it, so results could be skewed by a placebo effect; when people know they're getting extra care and expect a treatment to do them good, it's more likely to work.

Chiropractic care isn't a first-line treatment, the study suggests. But, for some people, it could potentially help as a component of multidisciplinary care to alleviate lower back discomfort.

Sunny Intwala, a third-year cardiology fellow affiliated with the Boston University School of Medicine and a clinical exercise physiologist who works in the ABC News Medical Unit, wrote this article.

 

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, is quickly approaching. Local pools and water parks will beckon. While most people will be fine, there’s a health risk you should be aware of if you decide to take a dip in a public or hotel pool this summer.

Yearly, since 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sponsored a campaign the week before Memorial Day. They call it Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, to reduce illness related to recreational water use.

Typically, recreational water is treated with chlorine, and most of the time chlorine keeps us from even knowing about all the possible bacteria and parasites that could be brewing. But chlorine isn’t effective if it’s not used properly. The CDC has specific guidelines for water temperature and acidity needed to discourage the growth of pathogens that can cause illnesses.

There were over 24,000 outbreaks between 2000 and 2014, infections caused by pathogens in recreational water, most of them in hotel pools and hot tubs during the months of June, July, and August, according to the latest report from the CDC. Additionally, between 2000 and 2014, the CDC recorded 493 disease outbreaks related to treated recreational water, resulting in more than 27,000 illnesses and eight deaths.

Over half of the cases were due to a parasite called Cryptosporidium, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, with the infection beginning when contaminated water is ingested (so don’t swallow pool water).

However, there are some strains of Cryptosporidium that can survive in chlorinated water for over a week. Between 2000 and 2007, outbreaks related to Cryptosporidium increased by about 25 percent per year.

But 30 percent of the overall outbreaks were due to two other kinds of bacterial infection: Pseudomonas, which can cause severe skin and ear infections, or Legionella, which can cause pneumonia from inhaled aerosolized water droplets.

Pseudomonas, which results in swimmer’s ear or a skin condition known as “hot tub rash,” caused 47 outbreaks and 920 infections.

At least six of the eight deaths between 2000 and 2014 were caused by Legionella, the CDC says.

“The annual number of outbreaks caused by Legionella increased by an average of 13 percent per year," according to the CDC.

Of course, you hope those who maintain your local commercial pool have read the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code on pool care. Yet, the mainstay of reducing outbreaks and prevention is watching your own behavior.

Here are the CDC's tips:

-- Stay out of the water if you or your child has had diarrhea recently.

-- Don’t swallow pool water.

-- Shower before entering the pool (to get any bacteria off your skin).

-- Check the inspection score for the public pool.

-- Test chlorine level and pH in your own pool with test strips.

Once that’s done, try to forget about the bacteria and enjoy the swim!

This article was written by Chantel Strachan, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident at the University of Connecticut who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

Kristine Squitieri Fitzpatrick/Facebook (NEW YORK) -- This young baseball player was so excited about hitting a home run, he celebrated with some sweet dance moves!

Billy, who has Down syndrome, plays in the "League of YES," a Long Island, New York-based organization whose mission is "to establish and sustain baseball programs for people of all ages with disabilities," according to their website. The group runs programs like this to help children with disabilities "develop social skills and increase self esteem."

Before he crossed home plate, Billy stopped to do a celebratory dance for all of his friends and the volunteers that cheered him on.

One of the group's organizers told ABC News that it was the "best home run ever." Way to go, Billy! Nice moves!

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Over half of the tobacco smoke consumed by young American smokers is inhaled through hookahs, and more must be done to specifically curb this kind of smoking, a new study published in the British Medical Journal Thursday found.

In the study, researchers surveyed more than 3,300 American adults aged 18 to 30 and asked them how frequently and how much hookah smoking -- also known as waterpipe tobacco smoking -- and regular cigarette smoking they did in March and April of 2013.

Researchers then used statistical analysis to estimate the proportion of toxicants originating from each kind of smoking. They found 55 percent of the volume of smoke inhaled by the people surveyed came from hookah smoking.

Ahead, here's what to know about the risks of the craze.

What is hookah smoking?

Hookah smoking, also known as waterpipe tobacco smoking, started out in India and the Eastern Mediterranean Region, but hookah parlors have gained popularity across the U.S. The practice is especially popular among young American adults -- 5 percent to 10 of young adults reported smoking hookah in the past 30 days, according to the article published in the British Medical Journal. An even larger percentage -- 20 percent to 30 percent -- have taken at least a puff in the past year.

Like cigarette smoking, the tobacco is still burned, but is instead drawn out of the hookah through water. Hookah smoke is thought by many to be somehow cleaner and less irritating when compared with cigarette smoking, but it has the significant risks.

Is tobacco smoked through a hookah safer than cigarettes?

"The vast majority of time, the stuff that is placed in the hookah is called shisha. It is a mixture of tobacco, flavoring, sweetener, and other chemicals. Some people put other things in the head of the hookah, such as marijuana. However, for this particular study, we made it very clear that we were only interested in them telling us how much hookah they used specifically with tobacco," Dr. Brian Primack, professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburg and a lead author of the study, told ABC News.

But consider this: smoking a cigarette takes a few minutes, and hookah sessions last longer. A 45-minute hookah session is associated with higher levels of toxicants, including tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine. And an hour of hooking smoking is one hundred to two hundred times the smoke volume inhaled from a cigarette.

Smoking studies have found that consuming one cigarette usually involves 10 to 12 puffs of about 50 milliliters of smoke each. On the other hand, one 45-minute to hour-long hookah session can involve up to 100 inhalations, and a total of about 500 milliliters of smoke consumed per person. The amount of smoke in a hookah session is definitely concerning, but because the smoke is less concentrated than smoke from a cigarette, it is hard to draw a direct comparison.

"I don't think there is an easy answer as to what is 'safer,'" Primack said. "Using either one has been associated with things like heart disease and lung cancer. However, we don't have enough data to make a direct comparison. Part of this is because hookah use is a relatively newer phenomenon, especially in the United States."

"If a person decides one night to either smoke one standard hookah session or one standard cigarette, this study shows that they would be getting a lot more smoke volume, carbon monoxide, tar, and even nicotine if they choose the hookah," Primack added.

Does hookah smoking contain fewer contaminants than cigarettes?

Primack said he and his team were "surprised at the sheer volume of smoke, tar, and other toxins to which hookah smokers are exposed."

"This is especially concerning because hookah is often perceived by youth as a harmless alternative to cigarette smoking," he added.

The study found that cigarette smoking did have more concentrated contaminants. The proportion of tar attributed to hookah smoking, for instance, was 21 percent, carbon monoxide was 10 percent, and nicotine was 2.4 percent. This shows that hookah smoking does deliver a slightly "cleaner" version of tobacco smoke.

But while the amount of amount of nicotine coming from the hookah was lower than that from cigarettes, even small amounts of nicotine have been linked to addiction in young people.

In fact, the initial use of hookah has been associated with people going on to try cigarettes, researchers found. These findings suggest that smoking prevention programs need to pay attention to hookah smoking as well.

What should be done to prevent young people from hookah smoking?

Ideally, there would be more studies that look at the long=term risks of hookah smoking, Primack said, but “we already have many studies that associate hookah smoking with large toxin loads and major clinical problems like heart disease and cancer"

He added that additional studies "could take years or even decades, and by that time many people will have lost their lives unnecessarily."

Policy reform will be crucial. There are already national laws that ban the flavoring of cigarettes, but these laws do not ban flavoring shisha (the form of tobacco used in hookah).

Shisha currently comes in chocolate, watermelon and cotton candy flavors.

The FDA recently finalized a rule to regulate waterpipe tobacco smoke, there are no plans to change policy regarding flavoring.

With all the strides that have been to discourage young people from smoking cigarettes, it’s time, researchers say, to turn some of the attention to the smoke from the local hookah parlor as well.

This article was written by Sunny Intwala, M.D., a third-year Cardiology fellow affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine and a clinical exercise physiologist who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK CITY) --  Federal investigators have yet to determine the source of the ongoing E.coli outbreak that has so far left 172 people sick after eating romaine lettuce, but they have one glimmer of hope: lettuce wilts.

The fact that lettuce is perishable means that while investigators with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) haven't yet figured out what caused the outbreak, the infected romaine from the Yuma growing region has now likely expired and is probably not on store shelves or in restaurant kitchens any longer.

CDC officials cited romaine's 21-day shelf life as the reason why any of the infected lettuce, which they believe was harvested on or around April 16 is no longer available.

While the immediate threat may have wilted, the larger question of why this outbreak happened lingers.

"We've thought about the easy explanations for this outbreak and so far they don't explain it, so what I've been saying is whatever happened is either different or very cryptic," said Stephen Ostroff, deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

"We are talking to the producers and processors and distributors - and to many folks - to try and get input into that essential question, which is: what explains this outbreak when the usual explanations don't seem to hold?" Ostroff told ABC News.

CDC officials reported their latest numbers - 172 reported cases of E.coli in 32 states - on Wednesday.

Those cases have resulted one death in California and a total of 75 hospitalizations, agency officials said.

The E.coli outbreak was reported just days before a salmonella outbreak in eggs was also reported, but in the egg case investigators were able to quickly crack the case.

The 35 cases of salmonella that were reported to the CDC as of May 10 were all traced back to a single farm in North Carolina that provided eggs to multiple companies. A recall was issued and 209 million eggs were withdrawn from the market.

The traceback information, or the sourcing of the offending food, coalesced quickly in the salmonella outbreak, pointing investigators to Rose Acre Farms' Hyde County farm in North Carolina, Ostroff said. Investigators have had no such luck with the E.coli outbreak.

Ostroff noted that such an investigation is "much more challenging because the supply chain for romaine lettuce is very complex." While the lettuce supplies extend from the farm to the retailer or restaurant, much like eggs do, there are added steps, including processors and bagging, where many types of lettuce can be added into a single bag.

The one commonality federal officials were able to find with the infected lettuce is that it stemmed from the Yuma growing region which is largely concentrated in Arizona, though they have not been able to pinpoint a single farm.

The harsh climate in Arizona means that the growing season there is over for the time being.

"If you're talking a place like Arizona in March and April where it's really strong sun and it's really dry, those are generally not conditions that E.coli likes so that makes it more difficult" to counter test against allegedly tainted samples, Ostroff said.

"E.coli doesn't sort of hang out in the environment in the same way that salmonella does," he said.

The work of federal investigators isn't done, however, as they will need to try and solve the yet-unsolvable question before the fall when the Yuma growing region is back in full force.

"Right now we remain in what I refer to as the acute phase of the investigation," Ostroff said, adding that federal investigators will be working with growers, processors and the many other groups involved in lettuce production "between now and [the fall] to see what we can put in place to see that this doesn't happen again."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



Subscribe To This Feed

iStock/Thinkstock(BRAZZAVILLE, Congo) -- As the deadly Ebola virus rises again in central Africa, health officials have decided to try a different approach to fight back.

At least 19 deaths have been tied to the current outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province. There were 39 confirmed and suspected cases identified between April 4 and May 13, according to the World Health Organization.

The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a “ring vaccination” approach, around the epicenter of the oubreak in the Congo.

"Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease," Dr. Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response for the World Health Organization said in a statement.

Here is more information about Ebola and the experimental vaccine the WHO plans to employ.

How is Ebola transmitted to people?
Outbreaks of Ebola virus appear to begin when a human comes into contact with an infected animal or its body fluids. Subsequent person-to-person transmission happens after physical contact with the body fluids of a living or deceased patient.

What are the current treatments for Ebola?
The mainstay of treatment for Ebola virus involves supportive care to maintain adequate organ function, giving the immune system time to mobilize and eliminate the infection.

Several experimental antiviral therapies were used to treat patients who contracted the virus during the 2014 to 2016 outbreak in West Africa, but it's not clear how effective those drugs were and they are in very short supply.

Why this vaccine?
This vaccine was developed to help protect people who have not yet been infected with Ebola. It has been proven safe and effective in human trials, but it has not received a license, so it's still considered experimental.

In the past, U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the vaccine what is known as a breakthrough therapy designation -- a status reserved for medicines designed to treat serious or life-threatening illnesses.

The vaccine, which is referred to as both VSV ZEBOV and V920, was developed by Merck and has demonstrated the ability to cut the risk of infection in human trials.

In September 2014, WHO identified both VSV and the ChAd3 vaccine as the most advanced candidates for use in the West African outbreak, mainly because both appeared to protect people after a single inoculation.

More than 3,500 people were vaccinated with VSV in 2015, as part of a large trial at the end of Ebola outbreak in Guinea.  

Why is this approach different?
This vaccine was designed for use in a so-called “ring vaccination” approach, a strategy used in 1977 to control smallpox. The idea is to vaccinate people who know someone who has been infected and the people who know those people, in an expanding "ring" around the infections.

So far, 393 people have been identified as part of the "ring" around people who are known or suspected to have been infected in the Congo. There is enough vaccine to cover those identified and many more; the WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses in Geneva and 300,000 doses in the U.S.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

0
comments



LinkedUpRadio Envisionwise Web Services