• Four simple steps to beating the holiday blues

    Published: Wed, Dec 24, 2014

    Samantha Gattsek's family has never made a big deal out of holiday celebrations. But this year, she feels especially disconnected from the seasonal cheer surrounding her. "The holidays can feel like a lonely time of year, and it's hard to hear about everyone else's fun plans," the 29-year-old Manhattanite says. "I don't have that warm and fuzzy feeling."

  • New Blood Donation Rules Would Still Exclude Many Gay Men

    Published: Wed, Dec 24, 2014

    On Tuesday, the Food and Drug Administration recommended a change in the discriminatory and unscientific policy that effectively prohibited men who have sex with men from donating blood for life. Those guidelines kept any man who had sex with another man — even just once — since 1977 from donating blood forever, NPR reports. While gay discrimination has been reduced in so many other areas of life, up until now, there hasn't been enough medical or political will to intervene on the blood ban. That policy perpetuated stigma without improving safety. However, the new policy would ban blood donation for men who have had sex with another man for the past year. So the most likely outcome is that the vast majority of gay or bisexual men still won't be able to donate blood.

  • F.D.A. lifting ban on gay blood donors

    Published: Tue, Dec 23, 2014

    Administration announced on Tuesday that it would scrap a decades-old lifetime prohibition on blood donation by gay and bisexual men, a change that experts said was long overdue and could lift the annual blood supply by as much as 4 percent. The F.D.A. enacted the ban in 1983, early in the AIDS epidemic. At the time, little was known about the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes the disease, and there was no quick test to determine whether somebody had it. But science — and the understanding of H.I.V. in particular — has advanced in the intervening decades, and on Tuesday the F.D.A. acknowledged as much, lifting the lifetime ban but keeping in place a more modest block on donations by men who have had sex with other men in the last 12 months. In a statement, the agency said it had “carefully examined and considered the scientific evidence” before changing the policy. It said it intended to issue a draft guidance detailing the change in 2015.

  • Millions have already enrolled in 2015 health policies, Deadline still 7 weeks off

    Published: Tue, Dec 23, 2014

    What a difference a year makes. With its technical troubles largely behind it, healthcare.gov enrolled 1.9 million new customers for health insurance between Nov. 15 and Dec. 18. At the same time, another 4.5 million existing policyholders either re-enrolled or were automatically renewed into their existing policy or a similar one beginning Jan. 1. “We still have a ways to go and a lot of work before Feb. 15,” the deadline for open enrollment, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell told reporters Tuesday. “But we do have an encouraging start.”

  • New tick-borne virus discovered after the death of Kansas man

    Published: Tue, Dec 23, 2014

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. - A new, never before seen virus has been discovered in Kansas, reports KSHB. The CDC is now investigating after the tick-borne illness, dubbed “Bourbon Virus,” was linked to the death of a Kansas man. Up until recently, the man’s death remained a mystery. Now, doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital think this discovery may help others. It's estimated 300,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with Lyme disease every year. It's an illness spread by ticks.

  • Study: Hugs Can Help Fend Off Colds

    Published: Mon, Dec 22, 2014

    Instead of an apple, could a hug-a-day keep the doctor away? According to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, that may not be that far-fetched of an idea. Led by Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor ofPsychology in CMU's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the researchers tested whether hugs act as a form of social support, protecting stressed people from getting sick. Published in Psychological Science, they found that greater social support and more frequent hugs protected people from the increased susceptibility to infection associated with being stressed and resulted in less severe illness symptoms.

  • New York Pain Clinic Doctor Is Sentenced in Overdose Deaths of 2 Patients

    Published: Sat, Dec 20, 2014

    A pain doctor in Queens who was convicted of manslaughter in the overdose deaths of two patients was sentenced on Friday to more than 10 years in state prison. The doctor, Stan Xuhui Li, 60, of Hamilton, N.J., ran a one-day-a-week pain clinic in Flushing, Queens, where he saw as many as 80 patients in a day and did most of his business in cash, handing out prescriptions for opiates and tranquilizers. The manslaughter convictions against Dr. Li were unusual for New York State, where doctors who are caught providing drugs to addicts are usually charged with criminal sale of a prescription for a controlled substance.

  • Breathing in Pollution While Pregnant Linked to Autism

    Published: Fri, Dec 19, 2014

    Women who are exposed to high levels of air pollution during their third trimester of pregnancy may be twice as likely to have an autistic child, a study found. Bloomberg reports researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health found the risk of autism rises in parallel with exposure to fine particulate matter during pregnancy, with the biggest effect occurring in the final months of gestation. The results appear in the Dec. 18 edition of Environmental Health Perspectives. The findings add to other research suggesting the environment plays a role in the development of autism, a developmental disorder marked by repetitive behaviors and trouble communicating and socializing. The study, which started in 1989 and involved more than 100,000 nurses from across the U.S., will help researchers home in on the causes of autism and potential ways to prevent it, saidMarc Weisskopf, a senior study author.

  • Few Employers Cover Egg Freezing For Women With Cancer

    Published: Tue, Dec 16, 2014

    As some companies add egg freezing to their list of fertility benefits, they're touting the coverage as a family-friendly perk. Women's health advocates say they welcome any expansion of fertility coverage. But they say that the much-publicized changes at a few high-profile companies such as Facebook and Apple are still relatively rare, even for women with serious illnesses like cancer who want to preserve their fertility, NPR reports. News stories about company-paid egg freezing for female employees have focused on whether the benefit truly gives women and men more options for balancing work and family life or instead sends a message that they're expected to put off having a family if they want to get ahead on the job.

  • Survey: Teen marijuana use declines even as states legalize

    Published: Tue, Dec 16, 2014

    Marijuana use among teens declined this year even as two states, Colorado and Washington, legalized the drug for recreational use, a national survey released Tuesday found. USA TODAY reports the University of Michigan's Monitoring the Future study, now in its 40th year, surveys 40,000 to 50,000 students in 8th, 10th and 12th grade in schools nationwide about their use of alcohol, legal and illegal drugs and cigarettes. "There is a lot of good news in this year's results, bu the problems of teen substance use and abuse are still far from going away," Lloyd Johnston, the study's principal investigator, said.

  • Endless Ebola Endemic? That's The 'Risk We Face Now,' CDC Says

    Published: Mon, Dec 15, 2014

    Speed. That's key to ending the Ebola epidemic, says the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. NPR reports Dr. Thomas Frieden is visiting West Africa this week to figure out how to reduce the time it takes to find new Ebola cases and isolate them. Otherwise, Ebola could become a permanent disease in West Africa.

  • Nail Polish Can Lower a Baby's IQ

    Published: Sun, Dec 14, 2014

    A new study is drawing a link between two common plastics chemicals and low IQ scores among kids exposed to the chemicals in their mothers' wombs, CTV News reports. The study, from researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, found that children exposed during pregnancy to high levels of the two phthalate chemicals were, on average, six or more points lower than children exposed to lower levels. The study focused on two chemicals -- di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP) -- which are found in several household products. The chemicals help make plastics soft, and are used in vinyl products such as shower curtains, dryer sheets and personal care products such as hairspray and nail polish.

  • Google's Big New Project: Autism Research

    Published: Wed, Dec 10, 2014

    Google has spent the past decade-and-a-half perfecting the science of recognizing patterns in the chaos of information on the web. Now it’s applying that expertise to searching for clues to the genetic causes of autism in the vast sea of data contained in the human genome, Wired reports. On Tuesday, autism advocacy group Autism Speaks said it was partnering with Google to sequence the genomes of 10,000 people on the autism spectrum along with their family members. Google will host and index the data for qualified researchers to sift as they hunt for variations in DNA that could hint at autism’s genetic origins.

  • Walgreens testing mobile app for virtual doctor visits

    Published: Tue, Dec 9, 2014

    Walgreens, the nation's largest drugstore chain, is testing a new mobile app that lets patients see a doctor and get a prescription without leaving home. The Deerfield, Illinois, company said Monday that patients in California or Michigan can now contact a physician around the clock through Walgreen's telemedicine app for smartphones or tablet computers. The virtual visits cost $49, and doctors can diagnose and treat problems that aren't emergencies and don't require a physical exam, such as pink eye or bronchitis. The physicians, who must be licensed to practice in the patient's state, also can write prescriptions.

  • Laughing gas could treat depression

    Published: Tue, Dec 9, 2014

    Most people who have suffered from clinical depression will say they wish there were an instant cure. The creation of a pill like that is probably years away at best, but now a team of scientists think they've found a promising alternative: laughing gas. Researchers at Washington University in St. Louis say they've discovered that nitrous oxide -- a somewhat mild general anesthetic often used as a sedative in dental surgery -- may be an effective, rapid treatment for severe depression when a patient isn't helped by standard therapies such as antidepressant medications. The findings from this small pilot study of 20 patients were published Tuesday in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

  • Study: The Way You Walk Can Change Your Mood

    Published: Tue, Dec 9, 2014

    Being happy may very well put a little bounce in our step, but new research suggests that if we purposefully walk this way we may be able to actually elevate our mood, according to Newser. Reporting in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, researchers say they enlisted a group of volunteers to walk on a treadmill while watching a gauge move to the left or right. They didn't know that if their stance suggested a depressed mood (such as slouched shoulders) the gauge drifted to the left, while if it suggested an elevated mood (such as a slight bounce) the gauge drifted to the right.

  • Jonathan Gruber: I'm not 'the architect' of Obamacare

    Published: Tue, Dec 9, 2014

    Beleaguered Obamacare adviser Jonathan Gruber declared he was not “the architect” of the health law as House Republicans on Tuesday opened a double-header face-off over two scandals that have shadowed an otherwise successful launch of the second sign-up season. “I was not the ‘architect’ of President Obama’s health care plan,” said MIT economist Jonathan Gruber in prepared testimony released as a House Oversight hearing began. Gruber’s comments about the passage of Obamacare and the “stupidity” of the American voter have fueled controversy.

  • Doctors Are Slow To Adopt Changes In Breast Cancer Treatment

    Published: Mon, Dec 8, 2014

    Cancer doctors want the best, most effective treatment for their patients. But it turns out many aren't paying attention to evidence that older women with early stage breast cancer may be enduring the pain, fatigue and cost of radiation treatment although it doesn't increase life expectancy, NPR reports. Researchers from Duke University Medical Center analyzed the impact of a large randomized trial published in 2004 that compared treatment options for women over the age of 70 with early-stage breast cancer. That study compared cancer recurrence and survival rates among women who had surgery, chemotherapy and radiation to that of women who had surgery and chemotherapy only.

  • Turns Out, Your Vegetarianism Probably Is Just A Phase

    Published: Fri, Dec 5, 2014

    Proving your meat-pushing relatives right, most Americans who eat an all-plant diet really are just going through a phase, reports the Huffington Post. Just in time for holiday mealtime struggles, the animal advocacy group Humane Research Council and Harris International teamed up to release new data , finding that 84 percent of vegetarians and vegans eventually go back to eating meat -- 53 percent of them within a year's time and more than 30 percent of them within three months. Describing the findings as " disappointing ," the researchers investigated what factors may have contributed to the 10 percent of lapsed veggie-eaters.

  • Possible Ebola patient arrives at Atlanta hospital

    Published: Thu, Dec 4, 2014

    Emory University Hospital in Atlanta is monitoring an American health care worker who may have contracted the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa, the facility said Thursday. USA TODAY reports the hospital, one of 35 across the nation designated as an Ebola treatment center, first tweeted late Monday that the patient would be monitored there. "As anticipated, an American health care worker from West Africa who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus has been transferred to Emory University Hospital's Serious Communicable Diseases Unit for testing and observation to see if an infection has been acquired," the hospital said in a statement.