Health http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health The latest Health news and blog posts from ABC News contributors and bloggers. Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:31:52 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Prescription Drug Deaths Keep Rising: CDC http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/16/prescription-drug-deaths-keep-rising-cdc/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/16/prescription-drug-deaths-keep-rising-cdc/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 16:18:07 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135437 By Dr. Gina Jabbour

Deaths from prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and OxyContin nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2011, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In 1999, there were 4,263 deaths linked to opioid drugs but, by 2011, the number had climbed to nearly 17,000, the researchers found, adding that it likely climbed even higher.

“The numbers we’re seeing are definite underestimates,” said Dr. Holly Hedegaard, injury epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics and one of the lead authors of the CDC report. The researchers used death certificates to conduct their research, but specific drugs weren’t named in about 25 percent of drug poisoning deaths, Hedegaard said.

Her team found that the problem goes beyond opioid pain drugs alone. According to the new CDC report, the number of deaths linked to a combination of opioids with benzodiazepine drugs, like Xanax or Klonopin, was also on the rise. In 2011, nearly a third of opioid related deaths occurred in combination with benzodiazepines – a considerable jump from only about 13 percent in 1999.

The report also concluded that the group that saw the greatest increase in death rates was Americans between 55 and 65 years old.

“This is not the typical age group that you would associate drug use with,” said Dr. Robert Waldman, an addiction medicine consultant not involved with the research. “These are people that have pain medicine via a prescription.”

Over the past decade, Waldman said, the medical community has begun to place more emphasis on treating pain symptoms. While this has led to relief for many experiencing such symptoms, he said, it may have also led to more aggressive treatment of pain – and with it, more use of prescription painkillers.

“The amount that [opioids] are administered by well-meaning physicians is excessive,” he said. “Most physicians are people-pleasers who want to help and want to meet people’s needs, and they are more inclined to give people the benefit of the doubt until you are shown otherwise.”

Still, the rise in deaths at least appears to be slowing down in younger age groups. Signs of this plateau were first seen in 2006 in the 15-24 age group. Around that same time, the rise in deaths started to slow in other age groups, as well – likely due to a combination of increasing drug awareness, law enforcement activities and drug treatment programs.

Waldman said those approaches may be the best hope of tackling the opioid problem, along with strategies like prescription monitoring programs, limiting the number of pills dispensed, and requiring hard copies of prescriptions for opioids rather than allowing patients to call in for refills.

“Opioids are a last resort and should be used when nothing else works,” Waldman said. “All they do is provide symptomatic relief without relieving the underlying cause of the pain.”

Doctor’s Take

When people hear that drugs, in general, accounted for 90 percent of injury-related deaths in 2011, the temptation is to think of illicit substances such as heroin and cocaine. But it is becoming increasingly obvious that opioids prescribed by doctors are to blame, too.

The numbers released by the CDC remind us that even the most common painkillers can have serious consequences. The report shows the opioid problem permeates all age groups, and everyone needs to be educated on the risks of opioids.

The important thing to remember is that everyone has a part to play. Parents should talk to their kids – and even their parents – about the risks of opioids. Schools should refocus their drug education efforts, and doctors must emphasize these risks during patient appointments. All of these conversations need to get louder. The message that opioids are addictive and dangerous needs to be heard.

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Despite Warnings, Antibiotics Still Overprescribed in Kids http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/15/despite-warnings-antibiotics-still-overprescribed-in-kids/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/15/despite-warnings-antibiotics-still-overprescribed-in-kids/#comments Mon, 15 Sep 2014 14:42:37 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135426 By Dr. Natasha Bhuyan

Despite warnings from public health experts that overprescribing antibiotics could lead to difficult-to-treat “superbugs,” doctors are prescribing antibiotics to children about twice as often as they are actually needed, a new study found.

Researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital examined past studies between 2001 and 2011 to see how doctors treated common childhood respiratory infections, conditions including sore throats, ear infections and sinusitis. They found that although only 27.4 percent of the infections were caused by bacteria and could therefore be treated with an antibiotic, a whopping 57 percent of them were actually treated with antibiotics.

That amounts to 11.4 million unnecessary prescriptions for antibiotics per year, researchers say. Antibiotics are no good against viral infections and have only been shown to work against bacterial infections.

Lead study author Dr. Matthew Kronman, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said the results are disheartening, particularly because his team found no appreciable change in prescribing rates over 10 years.

“Whatever we are doing now, it isn’t working,” Kronman said. “We need to come up with new strategies to understand why this gap exists,” he said referring to the gap between antibiotics needed and those that are prescribed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, the top pediatrician’s group in the United States, has periodically issued guidelines on the use of antibiotics in kids, notably in 2001 for sinusitis and 2004 for ear infections. But the demands of parents, as well as difficulties doctors face in quickly distinguishing between viral and bacterial infections, still fuels the trend.

Experts not involved with the research said their big fear is that they will eventually have no treatment options for superbugs.  An estimated 2 million Americans are infected with antibiotic-resistant organisms, resulting in 23,000 deaths each year, according to a 2013 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

But there are other reasons that antibiotics should only be used when they’re needed.

“For some infections, like acute bronchitis, pharyngitis with a negative strep test, and URI, we know that antibiotics do not help you get better faster and are not needed,” said Dr. Mark Ebell, a family medicine physician and professor at the University of Georgia College of Public Health in Athens. “Even sinusitis and [ear infections] may be caused by viruses and often resolve without antibiotics.”

Ebell added that antibiotics can also hurt kids in other ways, such as causing nausea and vomiting. Antibiotics can also upset the delicate balance of gut bacteria, leading to diarrhea. In rare cases, they can lead to a debilitating allergic reaction called anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening.

When antibiotics are necessary, however, they can be lifesaving. Patients with more severe symptoms – such as pain, worsening symptom  or high fever – are more likely to benefit from an antibiotic, Ebell said.

Doctor’s Take

Doctors overprescribe antibiotics for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the difficulty in determining the exact nature of an infection when they see it.

“In several situations, the diagnosis is not very clear cut,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, and professor at the University of Florida, who was not involved with the research.

All the more reason, doctors say, that parents should be aware of what to do if their child has a runny nose or a sore throat. For patients with the common cold, the best defense is to drink plenty of fluids, get rest and use over-the-counter medications for symptomatic control. Antibiotics should not be taken for mild to moderate sinus infections, unless symptoms last longer than seven days or worsen after clinical improvement, according the American Academy of Family Physicians.

Of course, parents should never hesitate to call their pediatrician or family physician with questions at the first sign of illness. But even then, it is good to ask questions as to the necessity of antibiotics.

“It’s OK to ask your physician, ‘Why are you prescribing an antibiotic for my son-daughter?’” Kronman  of Seattle Children’s Hospital said. “Have a discussion with your physician. Is an antibiotic really needed for this cold or are there other things we can try?”

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Child Cancer Survivor Takes Message of Support, Hope for Cure on the Road http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/05/child-cancer-survivor-takes-message-of-support-hope-for-cure-on-the-road/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/05/child-cancer-survivor-takes-message-of-support-hope-for-cure-on-the-road/#comments Fri, 05 Sep 2014 23:30:15 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135403 ABC cancer survivor kab 140905 16x9 608 Child Cancer Survivor Takes Message of Support, Hope for Cure on the Road

ABC News

In August 2010, Ashley Burnette was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a cancer that begins in immature nerve cells. She was 7.

“I went through many, many treatments,” said Ashley of Raleigh, North Carolina. “It was just very hard for me and my family. … Now I am happy to say I am cancer free and I’ve been that for two years now.”

Ashley said she has been on a daily medication, but should be finished this month.

These days, the 11-year-old spends her time speaking as a national youth ambassador for Hyundai Hope on Wheels, a nonprofit organization that raises money for childhood cancer awareness and seeks out advocates to share its message.

“I travel all across the country and spread awareness for cancer and I pretty much just meet kids and go to children’s hospitals and make them feel comforted because, I mean, they are going through a lot right now,” she said.

The group’s 2014 goal is to award $13 million in pediatric cancer research grants. Car dealerships and Hyundai Motor America make a contribution to Hope On Wheels each time a new Hyundai is sold in the U.S.

“Childhood cancer affects not only the patients. It affects families, friends, doctors, nurses. It affects everybody and that’s really why we need to find a cure. … That’s why I’m so supportive of this organization,” Ashley said. “I just want to try to find a cure someday. I hope that day will be soon.”
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Perdue Farms Curbs Human Antibiotic Use in Chickens http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/03/perdue-farms-curbs-human-antibiotic-use-in-chickens/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/03/perdue-farms-curbs-human-antibiotic-use-in-chickens/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 20:20:00 +0000 Matthew Larotonda http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135392 One of the country’s largest poultry distributors announced today that the bulk of its flock no longer employed antibiotics used in human medicinal consumption — a move applauded by industry watchdogs.

Health experts have warned overuse of the drugs in agriculture can contribute to the creation of so-called “superbugs,” antibiotic-resistant diseases that kill thousands each year.

Perdue Farms Chairman Jim Perdue made the announcement at a news conference in Washington, D.C. The company said the scaling back only extended to antibiotics with uses in human consumption. Other antibiotics found only in veterinary medicine would still be distributed, including in livestock feed.

The company also announced it would be removing all antibiotics — human and animal — from its hatcheries, compensating for the move with improved cleaning methods for eggs and increased use of vaccinations.

“We’ve reached the point where 95 percent of our chickens never receive any human antibiotics, and the remainder receive them only for a few days when prescribed by a veterinarian,” said Perdue’s vice president for safety, Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown.

“Chickens do get sick once in a while,” he later added.

The American agricultural industry uses antibiotics to combat the health issues that arise from cramped farm conditions — including sanitation, lack of sunlight, exercise, and air quality. They can also be used to make livestock gain weight faster, with less food, though Perdue said it has not used it for that purpose since 2007.

But since many farms apply antibiotics on even healthy flocks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned to use the drugs only when medically necessary. All usage leads to resistance — in both human and animal alike.

In 2012, an ABC News special investigation, partnered with the Food and Environment Reporting Network, reported that an antibiotic resistant strain of E. coli found in poultry had likely put eight million women at risk of bladder infections. FERN’s health reporter Maryn McKenna, now of Wired Magazine and author of “Superbug,” said Perdue’s announcement today appeared to be an optimistic note for health watchers.

Perdue Farms “might be doing the one thing public officials have been asking for,” she told ABC News, but added with caution that research into veterinary antibiotics was not as documented as those used in humans.

Perdue itself admitted that the effect against resistance may not be known for years.

Regardless, industry watchdogs are praising the move.

“Perdue and its customers deserve a lot of credit for recognizing the importance of antibiotics and we commend the company for curbing their overuse,” said Gail Hansen, a health and industrial farming officer at the Pew Charitable Trusts. “This is an important step for public health, and we hope other producers follow suit.”

 

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Obama, in New Video, Speaks to Africans About Ebola Outbreak http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/obama-video-speaks-to-africans-about-ebola-outbreak/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/obama-video-speaks-to-africans-about-ebola-outbreak/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 18:24:34 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135383

President Obama released a video today urging the people of West Africa to get the facts about Ebola, the virus that has killed more than 1,550 people in Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

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The video, posted on the U.S. State Department’s YouTube channel, comes at a time when mistrust of African governments is thought to be fueling the worst-ever Ebola outbreak.

“The United States is working with your governments to help stop this disease, and the first step in this fight is knowing the facts,” the president said before listing some common misconceptions about the virus.

A spokesman for the State Department told ABC News that the video would be disseminated through American embassies in the region and translated into local languages. “The target audience is West Africans, and we’re doing all we can to make sure it reaches the hardest-hit areas,” he said.

HT obama ebola message jef 140902 16x9 608 Obama, in New Video, Speaks to Africans About Ebola Outbreak

President Obama addresses the Ebola outbreak in Africa in a US Department of State video message posted on YouTube. (Image credit: US Department of State/YouTube)

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Low-Carb May Trump Low-Fat in Diet Wars http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/low-carb-may-trump-low-fat-in-diet-wars/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/low-carb-may-trump-low-fat-in-diet-wars/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 16:01:30 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135364

By Gina Jabbour, MD

When it comes to choosing the best diet for weight loss and a healthy heart, low-carb may beat low-fat, a new study found.

Researchers at Tulane University found that people following a low-carbohydrate diet had significant benefits in terms of weight loss, decrease in fat mass, waist circumference and cholesterol levels compared to a low-fat diet.

“Carbohydrates, in general, are not the kind of neutral dietary component that we thought they were,” said Dr. Lydia Bazzano of Tulane University, the study’s lead researcher. “[Historically] they were often at the base of the dietary pyramid.”

In the NIH-funded study, Bazzano and her colleagues followed 73 people on a low-fat diet and 75 people on a low-carbohydrate diet for one year. During this year, researchers monitored what the participants of the study ate daily, urging the low-carbohydrate group to limit their carbohydrates to less than 40 grams per day and the low-fat group to get less than 30 percent of daily calories from fat and less than 7 percent from saturated fats.

Both groups also received the same dietary tips, including recommendations to eat dietary fibers and to select “healthy” fats over unhealthy ones.

At 12 months, those on the low-carb diet had lost nearly eight pounds more than those on the low-fat diet. Additionally, these dieters fared better on a commonly used measure of heart disease risk known as the Framingham Risk Score.

“Carefully selecting carbs in your diet would be the best take home message,” Bazzano said.

Diet and nutrition experts not involved with the study, however, said there could be other differences to consider between these two types of diets – not the least of which is how easy it is to actually stick to these diets.

“There is more to do and think about with a low-fat diet,” said Keith Ayoob, registered dietician and associate clinical professor of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. Specifically, he pointed out that with a low-fat diet, there are more distinctions that need to be made between the types of fat consumed, whereas in a low-carbohydrate diet, you largely eliminate that food group. “A low-fat diet appears less restrictive, but it may be more difficult for some people to comply with.”

Lead study author Bazzano’s impression, on the other hand, was that a low-carbohydrate diet may be harder to stick to. “At the grocery store there is every product in the world that is low fat,” she said.

Regardless, both experts agreed choosing a diet to which you can commit is the most important thing.

“A low carbohydrate diet may be better for a jumpstart,” Ayoob said, pointing out that most weight loss occurred in the first three months. 

Doctor’s Take

Clearly, when most people start a diet, they have one thing on their mind – losing the weight. A few of us might also consider the effects that a diet has on our heart health and general wellness.

What this study shows us is that choosing the right diet may help you kill two birds with one stone. And one of those birds is far more dangerous than the other. Heart disease is responsible for one out of every three deaths in the U.S. today, and diet is a big part of our risk. Past research has implicated sugary foods, with a high glycemic index, in increasing heart disease risk. Additionally, studies have found that when it comes to dietary fat, it’s really the type of fat rather than the overall amount of fat that will affect your risk for heart disease.

So if you are hoping to make dietary changes that improve your waistline as well as your heart health, low-carb may be the way to go. Of course, it is important to remember that the patients in this study were only followed for one year, so longer term research is needed. More importantly, the healthfulness of a low-carb approach depends on the types of fats you’re getting, with a focus on sticking to foods rich in healthy fats such as almonds, avocados and fish, while avoiding foods packed with unhealthy fats such as fried foods and fatty red meat.

As always, in addition to tipping the scale, maintaining a healthy lifestyle with exercise and a diet that can be followed long-term is still key to protecting our hearts.

 

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Breastfeeding May Influence Kids’ Eating Habits at Age 6 http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/breastfeeding-may-influence-kids-eating-habits-at-age-6/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/breastfeeding-may-influence-kids-eating-habits-at-age-6/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:40:18 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135361 By Pearl Philip, MD

What you feed your child in his or her first year of life could very well predict their health habits at age 6, according to a new report from researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The findings provide a lens to understanding childhood obesity rates, which have more than doubled in the past 30 years.

The researchers surveyed more than 1,500 mothers and concluded that children who were breastfed for longer periods as infants tended to eat more healthily at age 6 – drinking more water, eating more fruits and vegetables, and indulging in fewer sugar-sweetened beverages.

Moreover, the children whose parents introduced them earlier to healthful foods between 6 months and a year of age tended to continue to enjoy a healthier diet later on. For example, when mothers fed their children a sugar-sweetened beverages or juice during the first year of life, their children were twice as likely to drink sugar-sweetened beverages at age 6.

The study was published today in a special supplement of the journal Pediatrics.

“Seeing these relationships between early feeding and later health really emphasizes the importance of following the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics,” said Kelly Scanlon, one of the CDC researchers who authored the study. These recommendations urge exclusive breastfeeding for six months, followed by continued breastfeeding until the infant is a least 1 year old. They also suggest that parents introduce complimentary foods starting at six months that are healthy and nutrient rich.

The findings underscore a simple fact that is gaining traction in the field of childhood nutrition: preference for flavor in a child begins early. And it can even begin in the womb, some research suggests.

Scanlon said that breast milk, too, exposes infants to a variety of flavors, which studies have shown makes them more accepting than formula-fed infants of various flavors.

Childhood nutrition experts not involved with the study said the findings provide additional weight to the importance of shaping a child’s diet early. Dr. David Katz, editor-in-chief of the journal Childhood Obesity and director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, said the findings serve to underscore the long-established relationship between breastfeeding and health in mothers and children.

“The question we need to be asking is not ‘Why should mothers breastfeed?’ but, ‘Why shouldn’t they?’” Katz said. “For all mammals, our first food is breast milk.”

The study also points to other benefits of breast feeding. Kids who breast fed for longer in infancy tended to have a lower risk of ear, throat and sinus infections at age 6. The study also noted that mothers may have much to gain – or lose, in this case – as obese mothers who adhered to breastfeeding recommendations retained about 18 pounds less than obese women who did not breastfeed once their children reached the age of 6.

Doctor’s Take

This new study is only the latest in a growing body of research that suggests that there are things that mothers (and fathers) can do when their children are still very young to set them on the right path to healthy behaviors later. For women, this means breastfeeding your child if possible according to AAP guidelines. And for both parents, it means introducing your child early to the nutritious foods that will benefit their health both now and later on in life – while avoiding the ones that are likely to lead to obesity and other health problems.

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Action Flicks May Fuel Mindless Munching, Study Finds http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/action-flicks-may-fuel-mindless-munching-study-finds/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/09/02/action-flicks-may-fuel-mindless-munching-study-finds/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 14:19:28 +0000 ABC News http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135355

By Dr. Shaun Hanson

We’ve all been there before. You hunker down by the TV with a bag of chips, a tub of ice cream or perhaps your very own pizza pie, and before you know it, the credits are rolling, and the food is gone.

Were those pepperoni slices extraordinarily tasty? Or did the title of that “Hunger Games” movie have a subliminal effect on your appetite? Something made it much easier to eat while you were on that couch, but what exactly?

A new study from the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University asks that very question. What it finds is that it’s not TV itself that makes the cheesy puffs go “poof,” but certain shows or movies that may stop you from realizing just how much you’re consuming, until it’s too late.

The study, published Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, was led by Aner Tal, a Ph.D. in consumer behavior at Cornell. Tal hypothesized that distracting, action-packed programming was a key factor.

“If I go to the cinema and I’m really engrossed in the movie, I find myself with an empty bucket of popcorn 10 minutes later,” Tal said. “In a previous study, people would even eat stale popcorn if they weren’t paying attention.”

Accordingly, he chose a 20-minute segment from a film that was bound to capture attention: Michael Bay’s action movie “The Island.” For a less distracting option, he chose an excerpt from the interview program “Charlie Rose.”

Tal and his colleagues then recruited three groups of about 30 college students each. One group watched the clip from “The Island,” while another group watched the same clip without sound. The third group watched the “Charlie Rose” segment. Meanwhile, these students were supplied with as many M&M’s, cookies, carrots and grapes as they liked.

The results? The students who watched the action movie ate nearly twice as much of all the snacks than those watching the comparison show, which had far fewer camera cuts and fluctuations in sound. Even the students who watched the soundless version of the action movie ate more than the control group.

This, Tal said, was a surprise.

“We expected the action movie to get people to eat more than the laid-back talk show,” he said. “What had never been shown before is that even without sound, you could still get higher levels of engagement, which is relevant if you think about contexts where TV is on in the background, like at bars and restaurants.”

The study’s findings also suggested that the flashy film with jarring camerawork had a bigger impact on male subjects than female subjects. Regardless, the students consumed all snacks in increased amounts in the action film group, suggesting that eating was indiscriminate and based on what was close at hand.

Tal clarified, however, that the findings of the study do not necessarily mean that television is inherently harmful.

“It has been associated with increased BMI and sedentary lifestyle, but ‘everything in moderation’ applies to TV as well as food,” he said. “We’re also interested in how online content influences consumption. In theory, it should work the same way.”

More studies might be needed to confirm these findings, however. Dr. Kelly Pritchett, spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said this study, while interesting, was not conclusive.

“It’s hard to infer what this means for the general population,” said Pritchett, who was not involved with the study. “It’s just one group. We don’t know how this would apply to middle-aged Americans. We also don’t know anything about these students, about their families or socioeconomic status.”

Doctor’s Take

A growing body of evidence suggests that the factors that lead to obesity and unhealthy eating habits have to do with much more than simply what is on our plates. This study is the latest to demonstrate how distractions in our environment can affect our behavior when it comes to food.

“We’re trying to help people avoid mindless eating traps,” Tal said. “More distracting content is more dangerous.”

So what can you do to counter this tendency? Tal says the solutions are simple.

“If you have to snack, you can pour out a reasonable portion and put the rest in the kitchen,” he said. “Getting up for more would require conscious engagement. If you have to have endless snacks, instead of chips or candy, you can have baby carrots.”

As for those who prefer to settle in for a quiet evening with Charlie Rose, Tal said he did not intend the study to diminish the importance of in-depth talk shows.

“I was constantly thinking about that when I wrote the paper,” he said. “If he found out about it, I would have to say, ‘nothing personal.’”

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Action-packed TV programs may fuel mindless munching, a new study found. (Image credit: Mike Kemp/Getty Images)

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Puppies (and Kittens) Are Just the Prescription for Staff at Philadelphia Hospital http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/08/28/puppies-and-kittens-are-just-the-prescription-for-staff-at-philadelphia-hospital/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/08/28/puppies-and-kittens-are-just-the-prescription-for-staff-at-philadelphia-hospital/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 22:07:47 +0000 Ron Claiborne http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135341

For the health care workers at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, lunch time is puppy time.

Rather than grabbing a sandwich or a cup of coffee, they decompress a little from the day’s highs and lows by cuddling puppies and kittens.

The idea for the program called Pet a Pooch — though there are also some friendly felines — came from Heather Matthew, an emergency room nurse at the Philadelphia hospital. She said unwinding from a particularly overwhelming day started when she got home and spent time with her bull dog, Annabella.

“Health care is an incredibly stressful field, from the medical intensive care [unit] to the emergency [room] to the newborn nursery,” Matthew said. “It’s stressful.”

So in 2013, Matthew came up with the program to help ease her coworkers’ stress.

She recruited the Pennsylvania SPCA to bring puppies and kittens to the hospital where, during their lunch hours, anyone could drop by and hold, pet and love a furry animal.

“The pets that come, they’ve been abused, neglected,” said Jerry Buckley, president of the PSPCA. “I think the staff has a special affinity [for them.] … The patients they deal with are also the most vulnerable.”

Emergency room nurse Joyce Finnegan even adopted a pet — a chocolate Lab named Bo.

“The minute I saw him, I had to get him,” she said. Ten animals have been adopted, thanks to the program.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a urologist working 12 to 14 hours a day, said he took an hour off once a month to hang with the animals.

“A lot of the staff need some sort of calming effect,” he said.

“I’ve had people say to me, ‘I walked in here with the worst headache and I instantly feel better,’” Matthew said. “And that’s the goal. … They go out and they finish their workday and they then go on to provide even better care for their patients.”

HT wn puppy prescription jtm 140828 16x9 608 Puppies (and Kittens) Are Just the Prescription for Staff at Philadelphia Hospital

(ABC News)

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2 African Ebola Patients to Be Discharged From Hospital After Getting ZMapp http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/08/26/2-african-ebola-patients-to-be-discharged-from-hospital-after-getting-zmapp/ http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/2014/08/26/2-african-ebola-patients-to-be-discharged-from-hospital-after-getting-zmapp/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 22:01:21 +0000 Richard Besser http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/health/?p=135332 gty zmapp processing plant kbp kb 140826 16x9 608 2 African Ebola Patients to Be Discharged From Hospital After Getting ZMapp

The logo for Kentucky BioProcessing LLC is displayed at the facility in Owensboro, Kentucky, on Aug. 5, 2014. ZMapp, developed by Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. and manufactured by Kentucky BioProcessing, has been used to treat the Ebola virus. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

MONROVIA, Liberia – Two African health workers who received doses of the experimental Ebola drug ZMapp are set to be discharged from the hospital later this week, a Liberian health official told ABC News today.

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Three African health workers — two African doctors and one physician’s assistant — received the drug after contracting the virus earlier this month, according to Dr. Moses Massaquoi, who heads Ebola case management at Liberia’s health ministry.

Though they were all showing signs of improvement at first, one of the doctors died on Aug. 24. He also had diabetes and hypertension, Massaquoi said.

The remaining two patients improved soon after receiving the first of three doses of ZMapp — a cocktail of three antibodies meant to attack the virus. They are expected to be discharged on Friday.

Click here for more headlines from the Ebola outbreak.

 

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