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June 2nd, 2010
06:47 PM ET

Keeping the elderly out of harm's way

By Sabriya Rice
CNN Medical Producer

Many international organizations will be marking World Elder Abuse Awareness day on June 15, and a recent California case highlights just how troubling a reality elder abuse can be.

On May 26, Cesar Ulloa, a former caregiver at Silverado Senior Living in Calabasas, California was sentenced to six years to life in prison on charges of torture and elder abuse. The Deputy District Attorney, Robin Allen, cites unthinkable charges against Ulloa including, "body-slamming" a 74 year-old woman, diving from a dresser onto an elderly man, and covering another man with a sheet then hitting him repeatedly in the face. In a statement to CNN, a Silverado Senior Living spokesperson said one of the reasons some of the other caregivers didn't report the abuse was because they felt intimated by the defendant, and the residential care facility has since initiated a confidential 1-800 number where reports can be made.

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June 2nd, 2010
05:49 PM ET

Speaking out to protect a way of life

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

Like many people living in south Louisiana, Acy Cooper is a third generation shrimper. When I shook his hand, you could feel the calluses from years spent out on the boat, and his 49-year-old face was weathered, just as you might expect in a man who spends most of his waking hours in the middle of the ocean. Shrimping is the only life he has ever known. He even made a crack about the movie character in “Forest Gump,” who rattles off all the different ways to prepare shrimp – “shrimp is the fruit of the sea, you can barbeque it, boil it, broil it, bake it, …”

Our conversation quickly turned serious, though. After spending days deliberating, Acy finally decided to speak out. Up until now, no fisherman working for BP has sat down for an interview with CNN. Acy says he wants to tell people about what is happening 50 miles out at sea, where oil has turned the water black. He wants to tell the stories of his workers, several hundred of them, who were fisherman, but now, temporarily work for BP. He wanted me to know that people are getting sick, and very little is being done to protect them.

When Acy took the job from BP, the company asked him to sign a form, which he says essentially amounted to a gag order. Sure Acy wants the job – after all, it is the only job he can get nowadays and he has bills to pay. So, when he started describing the workers lying on the edges of boats flat on their stomachs, their unprotected faces just inches away from the crude oil/dispersant mixture, he was nervous. He did it because he couldn’t stand the idea of them getting sick. He told me, “I couldn’t live with that.”

Fact is, it has already started. One of his good friends has a confirmed case of chemical poisoning, and has been in the hospital for several days. Dozens other have become sick. “Nausea, vomiting, headaches, diarrhea,” he told me. “It’s from breathing in the fumes,” he added. “Does it get better if you get away from the fumes and simply get fresh air?” I asked him. He smiled, looked down, and replied “sometimes.”

Riki Ott Ph.D., author of “Sound Truth and Corporate Myth,” says Acy’s right. I met with her earlier in the day. She has 21 years worth of data now from the Valdez disaster and told me about hundreds of cleanup workers who developed those same symptoms, and still had them more than a decade later. Most do get better, with symptoms lasting less than a week, but according to a study conducted at Yale, Valdez cleanup workers who had the most exposure to oil and chemicals reported conditions such as chronic airway disease and neurological impairment over a decade later. If you get a chance take a look at this information from the OSHA website. Keep in mind that many workers, including Acy, sometimes spend days in the water, as part of the cleanup efforts.

While stopping the oil leak has proven very difficult - protecting the cleanup workers is simpler. Providing respirator masks and adequate protective gear could go a long way toward preventing the illness in the short term, and the future. Riki got mad when telling me this. “BP doesn’t want to provide protective gear, because that means they are acknowledging the health risks, and will be forced to pay for people who get sick,” she yelled. “It all comes back to the money,” she continued.

It was raining today, when Acy and I sat and talked. I caught him looking at the ocean several times, and it’s clear that he is one of those guys more comfortable in the water than on the land. Right now, he wants to do everything he can to protect both – the water and the land he has known his entire life. It’s just that he would rather do it with some assurance of safety, protections against those toxic fumes, and the hope of a long disease free life. That is why Acy Cooper has broken his silence.

It seems like the least he could ask for.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 2nd, 2010
05:42 PM ET

WHO predicts 21 million annual cancer cases by 2030

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

By 2030, there will be more than 13 million deaths from cancer around the world and nearly 21 million diagnosed cases annually, according to a new report from the World Health Organization.

About 12.7 million new cancer cases and 7.6 million cancer deaths occurred in 2008, says GLOBOCAN 2008, the World Health Organization's new online resource for cancer globally. The map above, from the Web site, shows the incidence of lung cancer worldwide, with green indicating low levels and red showing high levels.

Less developed regions of the world have higher cancer incidence and mortality, the WHO said. Lung cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer, with 1.61 million cases in 2008. Breast cancer, with 1.38 million cases, and colorectal cancers, with 1.23 million cases, are the second and third most common.

Lung cancer is also the most common cause of cancer death, with 1.38 million reported. Stomach cancer, with 0.74 million, and liver cancers with 0.69 million, follow.

WHO noted that cancer is not exclusive to high-resource countries, and it is not rare anywhere in the world. But there are regional patterns - in developing regions, cervix and liver cancers are more common; developed regions have a higher burden of prostate and colorectal cancers.

You can view more maps of various kinds of cancer worldwide here.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 2nd, 2010
05:40 PM ET

TV food ads offer bad advice

By Matt Sloane
CNN Medical Producer

Television is not the best place to get nutritional advice, says a new study released today in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. According to the report, if someone were to eat a 2,000-calorie per day diet, based solely on the foods advertised on television, he or she would take in – on average – 25 times the recommended amount of sugar, and 20 times the recommended amount of fat.

Although most people do not claim to base their diets solely on the advertised foods, researchers say they've learned through previous studies that television is a primary source for nutrition information in America.

"The amount spent on nutrition education was $333 million per year," says Michael Mink, Ph.D.; public health program coordinator at Armstrong Atlantic State University, and lead author of the study. "The amount spent on food advertisements ranges from 7.3 to 11.6 billion dollars per year."

In addition to the fat and sugar contents of food, Mink and the other researchers looked at nutrient levels in the foods that were advertised, and found the average product on tv contained above-average amounts of bad nutrients such as saturated fat and cholesterol; and below-average amounts of beneficial nutrients such as fiber, vitamin D, calcium and vitamin E.

"What we really found wasn't just that there was so much sugar and fat," says Mink. "This is sort of a double-whammy: oversupplying the nutrients that create higher risk for illness, and undersupplying the nutrients that protect us from illness."

The lesson for the average consumer, he says?

"There are no disclaimers to say that this item may be difficult to incorporiate into a healthy diet," says Mink. "The viewer is going to have to be very proactive when choosing foods, and be proactive to incorporate other foods that are not on TV in to their diets."

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 2nd, 2010
02:55 PM ET

Teens having sex: Numbers staying steady

By Saundra Young
CNN Medical Senior Producer

The number of teenagers having sex hasn't changed much over the last eight years, according to a new report looking at sexual behavior in adolescents ages 15-19. The report, from the National Survey of Family Growth (NFSG), was released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics. It looked at trends in sexual activity, contraceptive use and attitudes towards pregnancy in unmarried teenagers, and found there have been not significant changes since the last NFSG report in 2002.

Based on data from a two year period between 2006 and 2008, it found more than 42 percent - or 4.3 million - teenage girls have had sex at least once. That number was 43 percent - or 4.5 million - for teenage boys. Nearly 30 percent of boys and girls surveyed have had 2 or more partners. Teenage girls who were younger when they had their first sexual encounter were more likely to have more partners. And teens whose mothers had their first child as a teenager and, at 14, did not have both parents in the home were more likely to be sexually active.

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June 2nd, 2010
02:52 PM ET

Peanuts may be banned on planes

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

Here's some news for anyone who suffers from peanut allergies, and for parents of allergic children: The Department of Transportation is considering taking action to make airplanes more accessible to people allergic to peanuts.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) says it is considering the following options:

"1) banning the serving of peanuts and
all peanut products by both U.S. and international carriers on flights covered by DOT’s disability rule;
2) banning the serving of peanuts and all peanut products on all such flights where a passenger with a peanut allergy is on board and has requested a peanut-free flight in advance; or
3) requiring a peanut-free buffer zone in the immediate area of a passenger with a medically documented severe allergy to peanuts if passenger has requested a peanut-free flight in advance."

These considerations are open for public comment at regulationroom.org. They are part of a larger set of proposals concerning airline passenger protections. Read more here

Already certain carriers, such as US Airways and Air Tran, have chosen to be peanut-free, and others such as Delta will create a buffer zone of several rows around the allergic passenger in which peanuts are not served. But there are plenty of carriers that serve peanuts freely, and do not have such policies.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 2nd, 2010
10:38 AM ET

Spray may treat premature climax

By Elizabeth Landau
CNN.com Health Writer/Producer

It's fitting that "PSD502" sounds like a code name, since it relates to a distressing problem most men would prefer not to talk about: premature ejaculation.

Researchers recently presented findings on PSD502, a topical spray medication, at the American Urological Association Annual Meeting. The spray, made by pharmaceutical company Shionogi Pharma, Inc., is in trials among men who suffer from premature ejaculation.

Participants were selected from 70 centers in the United States, Canada and Europe to use either this spray or a placebo spray. They were told to put the spray on the glans penis - the conical structure at the tip of the penis - five minutes before intercourse. Data came from two studies, each of which had more than 500 men.

Researchers found great improvement, with an average time of 3.3 minutes to penetration and climax among those who used PSD502, representing a 5.5-fold increase over the baseline of 36 seconds. Participants who used the placebo had a 1.6-fold gain in time to ejaculate.

The spray itself does not work magic with new materials; in fact, it is a combination of two drugs currently on the market for pain relief: lidocaine and prilocaine.

The company is in the process of applying for approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and could not yet estimate when the product might be available to consumers.

There is currently no FDA-approved treatment for premature ejaculation.

Between 5 and 30 percent of men experience premature ejaculation, studies have found. Risk factors for premature ejaculation include erectile dysfunction, stress, other health problems and use of certain medications such as psychotropic drugs.

Learn more about premature ejaculation from the Mayo Clinic.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 2nd, 2010
10:28 AM ET

Go ahead and exercise during cancer treatment

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

Cancer patients should be physically active during and after treatment, according to new national guidelines from the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Instead of avoiding exercise, Kathryn Schmitz, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, encouraged about 150 minutes of physical activity each week  for cancer patients.  Activities such as swimming, yoga, strength training can help.

For cancer survivors, yoga may boost energy and aid sleep

Schmitz is scheduled to present exercise guidelines at the 2010 meeting of the group  this week.

Cancer patients often see massive changes in their bodies during treatment. Some suffer loss of appetite and difficulty eating, and shed lots of weight. For these patients, exercise could help maintain lean body mass. Other patients gain weight. Exercise can help control their weight and possibly decrease risks of the cancer returning.

Patients should consult their doctors to get tailored recommendations - for instance, some cancer patients with weakened immune systems should stay away from public gyms, the expert panel advises.

Here's more from the UPenn's release.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.


June 2nd, 2010
10:26 AM ET

Malnutrition killing elderly in U.S.

By Madison Park
CNNhealth.com writer/producer

In a nation where people die from complications of too much food, some die from having too little.  Although malnutrition is often thought of as a killer in the developing world, it's also a problem for the elderly in the United States, according to research published in the May issue of the Annals of Epidemiology.

Researchers from Louisiana State University examined data from 3,141 counties  and older adult malnutrition mortality using Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.  Between 2,000 and 3,000 older adults die from malnutrition each year, according to CDC data from 2006.

FULL POST


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About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.

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