Aleppo's angel: A nurse's devotion to Syria's children

(CNN)Malaika, a 29-year-old head nurse, holds Ali, a 2-day-old infant, as he struggles to take his final breaths. Born in eastern Aleppo, one of the hardest-hit cities in Syria's five-year civil war, Ali was born with chest issues that forced him to rely on an oxygen pump and an incubator in the neonatal unit at Aleppo Children's Hospital.

At 1:20 p.m.on July 23, a government airstrike scored a direct hit to the hospital. Dust and debris filled the room where 11 babies lay in incubators.
Several hours later, early July 24, a second airstrike hit. Staff members scrambled to save the infants and rushed them to a safer location in the basement, but Ali -- already weak -- lost his oxygen supply. Malaika and a doctor tried to perform manual CPR on Ali's fragile body but knew there was nothing they could do. Malaika held him as he died, struggling to breathe.

'It was intentional. It was a war crime.'

Three more babies died from dust inhalation during the attacks. "I was crying. It was very painful," Malaika said through an interpreter.
"It was intentional. It was a war crime."
Malaika no longer has a home to return to at the end of the day.
 
These were just two horrific days in a life now full of them. Malaika no longer goes home at the end of her workday. Her house was destroyed in one of countless airstrikes, so she sleeps at the hospital. Her entire extended family has fled to Turkey, and she is the only one left.
Her husband divorced her and took their two daughters to Marea, a town north of Aleppo that is inaccessible to those still in the city. He's a supporter of the regime of President Bashar al-Assad. He was angry that, as a nurse, she treated an injured rebel fighter.
Malaika is one of only a handful of health care workers still in the besieged city of Aleppo. The eastern part of the city was taken over by rebel groups in 2012.
Only 35 doctors are left to care for the 300,000 residents who remain.

Doctors on the brink

This week, 15 of the country's doctors sent a letter to the White House, pleading for help: "We do not need tears or sympathy or even prayers, we need your action. Prove that you are the friend of Syrians.
"Last month, there were 42 attacks on medical facilities in Syria, 15 of which were hospitals in which we work," they added. "Right now there is an attack on a medical facility every 17 hours. At this rate, our medical services in Aleppo could be completely destroyed in a month, leaving 300,000 people to die."
A senior White House official acknowledged receipt of the letter.
"The US has repeatedly condemned indiscriminate bombing of medical facilities by the Assad regime in Aleppo and elsewhere in Syria," the official said.
"These attacks are appalling and must cease," the official continued. "We commend the bravery of medical professionals across Syria who are working every day in perilous circumstances with minimal supplies to save lives."
The official said the US government is working with the United Nations and engaging with Russia to find a diplomatic approach to reducing the violence and allowing humanitarian assistance into the city.

Some reprieve

Saturday, rebels finally broke through Aleppo's siege, beating back regime forces on the ground and breaking through the main blockade.
 
Rebels broke through a key government line in Aleppo
Malaika joined dozens of people who flooded the streets to celebrate. Then came another airstrike. She was hit by shrapnel as surrounding structures exploded and was taken to the hospital with two others, one of whom was a 6-year-old girl.
Ten people were injured, and two more were killed.
Malaika underwent an operation to remove the shrapnel and returned to work at Aleppo Children's Hospital the next day. The operation was unsuccessful, so two days later, she tried it again. All the while, she continued to work.
Malaika refuses to leave Aleppo despite the constant danger. "The children. I love those children. It's impossible," she said. "I love my country, and I love the children very much."
In Arabic, "Malaika" means "angel."
"I know there is a lot of danger," she said. "And we want to die here. I love my country, and I'm not leaving."
Source:CNN.com
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8 Foods You Should Never Give Your Kids

8 Foods You Should Never Give Your Kids

Every parent knows that getting kids to eat healthy wholesome foods is an uphill struggle.

Adults understand that healthy, satisfying meals usually comprise of ingredients like plain grilled chicken, fish, salads, vegetables, and fresh fruit for dessert. Kids, when confronted with these foods, find them boring, bland, unappealing, or simply disgusting!

Food battles with kids are terribly frustrating, but it’s important to keep issues like fussy eating and the avoidance of fruit and vegetables in balance. Encouraging healthy eating behavior is essential. In later life your kids will be grateful for your persistent focus on good nutrition.

Many foods seem nourishing and delicious. In reality, they actually have very little nutritional value and contain large quantities of hidden fats and sugars.

But, how can you know for certain which foods to avoid?

To help you to decide, we’ve listed eight of the worst foods that you can feed your children for breakfast, lunches, dinners or snacks.

1. Kids’ Breakfast Cereal

Kids’ eating Cereal

Many breakfast cereals specifically target the kids market. Images on the boxes are colorful and exciting, and the blurb has buzzwords, like delicious, healthy and nutritious.
The amount of sugar and processed ingredients per serving completely outweighs the miniscule amount of nutritional value. Search for brands that contain at least 3-grams of fiber per serving and less than 10 grams of sugar. The best morning cereal is whole grain oatmeal; it’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and you can always sprinkle on some berries or mix it with yogurt.

2. Granola Bars

Granola Bars

Granola bars marketed to kids lack nutritional value even more than the adult brands. They’re full of sugar and added ingredients like chocolate chips, marshmallows, candy, high fructose syrup, and artificial dyes, Make your own energy bars at home with natural ingredients like almond or peanut butter, raisins, coconut, whole grain cereal, honey, and dried fruit and nuts.

3. Luncheon Meats

Luncheon Meats

Processed meats can be both dangerous and toxic as they frequently contain nitrates. These are preservatives used in food processing that drastically increase the risk of heart disease and cancer. Check out the label to see if the meat contain nitrates; search for products that that are labeled as organic or not containing preservatives.

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4. Snack Cakes

Snack Cakes

Kids love snack cakes like Ho-Hos, Twinkies, or Wagon Wheels. But these snack cakes are full of trans fats, the most unhealthy processed fat possible. For something sweet, try using some mixed berries and grapes, or bake cookies or squares using natural ingredients.

5. French Fries

French Fries

There’s no way to keep French Fries totally out of your kid’s weekly menu.
The problem is giving French Fries at every meal. French fries provide almost no nutritional value—they’re super high in fat and sodium. If you decide you have no choice, restrict them to a few meals per week. Substitute oven-baked chips, or make baked potato wedges instead.

6. Pizza

eating-pizza

After a stressful day, the easy option is to order pizza. But shop-bought pizzas are not like you bake in your oven at home. Don’t phone! Just put together a homemade pie with natural, low-fat cheese, shredded chicken, and tons of vegetables..

7. Crackers

crackers

Most crackers are made from processed, white flour, preservatives, and unhealthy oils. Exchange them for a brand made with fibrous whole grains. Anyway, they satisfy hunger for longer,

8. Fruit Snacks

children-eating-apples_Fruits

Most fruit snacks are actually like candy. Just give real fruit and fiber to your kids in the form of dried whole fruit, like raisins or apricots, or fresh grapes, berries, and sliced apples and pears.

If you follow our suggestions you can be sure your kids will feel all the better for it. You just might have to wait for them to grow up before they tell you!

Source:CNN.com

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Heel spurs and stammers: What kept people from military service?

(CNN)On the heels of Donald Trump facing scrutiny over his multiple US military deferments during the Vietnam War, many Americans are questioning what exactly qualifies as a draft exemption -- especially from a medical perspective.

The New York Times reported Monday that the Republican presidential nominee dodged the draft due to four student deferments and a medical deferment after he was diagnosed with heel spurs, calcium deposits that cause bony protrusions on the bottom of the heel.
Classification records shared with CNN by the federal government's Selective Service System confirm that Trump received a student deferment and was later found "disqualified for military service" in 1968 after he underwent a physical exam.

No 'habitual drunkenness' or 'masturbation' allowed

Regulations determining which diseases and ailments disqualify a registered man from being drafted for military service can be traced to the Civil War, according to a digital copy of an 1863 regulation manual in the National Library of Medicine that spans 100 pages.
Consider just a few of the many medical conditions that could have disqualified someone from military service, if found to be severe or detrimental, in 1863:
  • Insanity or mania
  • Scrofula or constitutional syphilis
  • Cancer
  • Habitual drunkenness
  • Acne rosacea
  • Masturbation may result in rejection or discharge of service
  • Minimum stature of 5-foot-3, and possibly maximum height of 6-foot-3
  • A greater weight than 220 pounds, unless accompanied by corresponding height and muscular sufficiency
  • Deafness
  • Hernia and stomach ulcers
  • Contagious skin diseases
  • Club feet, splay feet, flat feet
However, "a national bureaucracy for managing conscription did not emerge until after the passage of the Selective Service Act of 1917 -- although even this relied on the contributions of approximately 4,000 local draft boards, which retained the prerogative of granting exemptions," said John Hall, professor of military history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"In 1940, as European and Asian war clouds darkened America's skies, the United States implemented 'peacetime' conscription for the first time -- but the world was already at war," he said. "The real break from American tradition came in 1948 when the United States for the first time employed the draft as a routine element of defense manpower policy, whether or not the United States was at war."
Around that same time, physical and mental standards for Selective Service registrants were developed.
In 1942, the list of medical conditions that could have disqualified someone from military service, if found to be severe or detrimental, looked a little different. Among dozens of other conditions, it included:
  • Brain tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Sexual perversions
  • Stammering to such a degree that the registrant is unable to express himself clearly or repeat commands
  • Psychopathic personalities
  • Chronic alcoholism and drug addiction
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebrospinal syphilis
"When Richard Nixon took office in 1969, he realized that the draft was undermining rather than sustaining the war effort in Vietnam, so he initiated a transition to an exclusive reliance on volunteers, which culminated in 1973," Hall said. "Partly because of the scarring experience of Vietnam, the United States is very unlikely to resort ever again to the draft."

Modern standards of health

Currently, each branch of the military -- from the Navy to the Air Force -- has its own medical or fitness assessment for applicants.
 
"They do have guidelines on what is disqualifying and what is qualifying and, in some cases, what can be waived and what cannot be waived," said Jim Dower, who formerly worked in both Selective Service and the military. He retired in 1994 and now resides in Sarasota, Florida.
"You're psychologically screened, you're physically screened in the normal things you would take a physical for, and your history is taken," Dower said. "If there's any questions, they go out and get consultations for whatever is required."
For instance, the standards of medical fitness for the United States Army were last updated in 2011 (PDF), when the "don't ask, don't tell" policy was repealed.
By then, some of the dozens of medical conditions that could disqualify someone from serving in the US Army, if found to be severe or detrimental, included:
  • Cleft lip defects
  • Stomach ulcers and stomach bleeding
  • Heel spur syndrome and hammertoe result in referral to a medical evaluation board
  • Current or history of coronary heart disease
  • Current absence of one or both testicles
  • Plantar flexion of the foot must meet 30 degrees
  • Women below 58 inches or over 80 inches tall do not meet standards
  • Men below 60 inches or over 80 inches tall do not meet standards
"Although there has not been a draft in over 40 years, men 18 [years old] are still required to register with the Selective Service System. It's a law and civic duty," said Matthew Tittmann, a spokesman for the agency.
"At 26, they become too old to register, but failure to register can carry lifelong consequences, and non-registrants risk being disqualified from access to federal college loans and grants, job training programs, all federal jobs and many state and municipal jobs," he added. "All documented and undocumented immigrants must register, as well. Otherwise they risk losing the aforementioned benefits and could delay their citizenship process."
Source:CNN.com
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How 'Pokemon Go' is helping kids with autism and Asperger's

"He's willingly starting to go out and going to Pokestops, get Pokeballs and catch creatures, whereas he didn't have the interest to go outside before," Barnhill said. "He's not a go-outside-and-play kind of kid. But this game has enabled him to want to reach out to people and strike up conversations about creatures that they've caught."
The game's augmented-reality feature and method of rewarding players who go to Pokestops located at popular landmarks in their communities have led people to be more interactive than normal while playing video games.
Lenore Koppelman is the mother of 6-year-old Ralphie, who has autism and hyperlexia, which is associated with verbal language difficulties. She has also found "Pokemon Go" useful in helping her son socialize with other kids.
"They want to play 'Pokemon Go,' and so does he, so it gives them something in common to do. The kids are so fixated on catching Pokemon that they are concentrating on finding them more than they are concentrating on his behaviors like they usually do," Koppelman said. "As a result, he is finally finding himself in the middle of groups of kids he doesn't even know, being welcome to play with them."
Though no quantifiable research has been done on the effects of "Pokemon Go," Dr. James McPartland, director of Yale's Developmental Disabilities Clinic in the Child Study Center, says the game is appealing among kids with autism or Asperger's because of its consistency and structure.
"('Pokemon Go') involves a finite set of interesting characters that is consistent, stable. Kids with autism often like things that are like this that are list-based or concrete or fact-based," said McPartland, who doesn't treat Ian or Ralphie. "They're very good at learning about things and memorizing things, so not only is this a shared area of interest, it's an area in which the kinds of strengths with autism can shine."
According to Dr. Peter Faustino, a school psychologist in New York who doesn't work with Ian or Ralphie, it's the common interest that's helped spark changes in children with autism or Asperger's.
Faustino describes how he guides children with Asperger's or autism to adapt a "social hook," which he defines as "something that will sort of share an experience or a connection." Normally, he advises them to take an interest in sports or pop music. However, Pokemon's popularity proves to be an exception.
" 'Pokemon Go' seems to be making Pokemon mainstream and cool. So it's almost this reverse social hook that's really kind of exciting for some kids," Faustino said. "The other thing that seems to be going on is this opportunity to get outside, to be more interactive outside of the house. This seems to be offering that hook."
While "Pokemon Go" has had some positive effects on Ian and Ralphie, Dr. Fred Volkmar, a professor in Yale's Child Study Center, who does not treat either boy, also warns of possible pitfalls for kids on the autism spectrum.
"The problem with Pokemon is that kids can do it to a point where it interferes with learning about the world," Volkmar said. "If you can make it somewhat functional, it's fine. It's detrimental if it's the only thing they're interested in. If it helps the kid become more isolated, it's not good."
But McPartland, who has worked with Volkmar, advises that with careful monitoring, these detrimental effects could be avoided.
"I don't think there's anything intrinsically detrimental about 'Pokemon Go,' " McPartland said. "Any activity any child does should be monitored by a parent. And parents should say how much is appropriate and when is appropriate and with whom it's appropriate. Like anything else, if those things aren't monitored, issues could arise."
Ralphie's mom says the new interactions are priceless, and she's proud of the positive changes in her son.
"He seems happier. He's laughing more. He seems more confident," Koppelman said. "He fist-pumps and says 'Yes!' when he catches one and then gives people high-fives and shouts 'I did it!' His father and I are both proud of him and how far he has come in only a week's time."
Source:CNN.com
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Are Rio's hospitals ready for the Olympics?

Rio de Janeiro (CNN)Sirens blaring, an ambulance peels out of the parking bay of a firehouse in southern Rio de Janeiro -- our car in hot pursuit.

We've been given access to Rio's First Emergency Response Battalion for the day, to see how prepared they are for medical emergencies during the upcoming Olympic Games.
We speed through crowded streets for some time, but then traffic strikes. We're stalled.
I check my watch. It's been 18 minutes since we left -- response time in most major cities in America is about nine minutes.
A couple of minutes later we arrive. But no, actually, we're lost. We've stopped because paramedics aren't completely sure where the patient is. Better directions are called in from dispatch and finally, success. It took 25 minutes from start to finish.
The victim, one of Rio's many homeless, is passed out on the street. "Did he fall?" the medics ask a woman standing nearby. "No, he just laid down and passed out," she replies.
Quickly, his head is padded and he's strapped onto a stretcher and wheeled over to the ambulance. There, medics attempt to revive him, doing all they can to avoid a trip to the hospital. This is one of the many ways Rio tries to ease the burden on overcrowded medical centers.
I soon see why.
"So these pictures show pretty much the five hospitals that they have dedicated for the Olympics. They have patients in the hallways. They have patients lying on the floor sometimes. It's a completely crazy situation," says Nelson Nahon, a doctor for Rio's regional Council for Medicine, a medical watchdog association called CREMERJ.
The pictures Nahon is showing me are startling. They remind me of makeshift medical shelters put in place after natural disasters. Patients on gurneys are shoved into every spare corner, lined up like dominoes.
"This is a picture of the red room -- the emergency patients," he says, gesturing to images CREMERJ has captured to illustrate the problem. "You can see the beds crammed next to each other, in row after row. So when the doctors walk in to see a patient, they have to put a bed aside, then put another bed aside, so that they can actually reach the patient."
Most disturbing is the site of a body bag lying in a bed next to other patients, waiting to be removed.
"This is a completely absurd situation, where a patient died and they put him inside this black bag next to others," says Nahon. "Normal procedure would be to take the deceased patient outside and then put him in the black bag and then forward him to wherever he should go."
Nahon tells me this type of overcrowding is common among Rio's public hospitals.
"Every day in Rio, we lack about 150 beds for emergency care," he says. "Intensive care is the same. They might even die in that period because they need intensive treatment and in the semi-intensive rooms they have, people who are supposed to stay there for 24 hours -- they stay for 15 days."
Nahon tells me this type of overcrowding is common among Rio's public hospitals.
"Every day in Rio, we lack about 150 beds for emergency care," he says. "Intensive care is the same. They might even die in that period because they need intensive treatment and in the semi-intensive rooms they have, people who are supposed to stay there for 24 hours -- they stay for 15 days."

A startling contrast

When I step into the Americas Medical City Hospital, it's hard to imagine that I'm in the same country. The chaos of people desperate for care has been replaced with the busy, but quiet, hum of a hospital that I'm used to. It feels like a big city academic hospital back in the United States.
For the next few weeks, this hospital will be under the watch of Dr. Antonio Marttos, a trauma surgeon from the University of Miami.
A Brazilian native, Dr. Marttos has spent most of the past three years commuting back and forth from his home in Miami to ready the facility for the 2016 Olympic Games. He has been tasked with overseeing all trauma and emergency services during the Games. This includes the Olympic Village Polyclinic -- a mini hospital in the Olympic Village that provides everything from emergency services to dental care -- as well as the Americas Medical City facility, which is composed of two hospitals, one that will cater to athletes and the other to Olympic dignitaries and VIPs.
If someone needs to be rushed from the Olympic Village or the Polyclinic to the hospital, it should take approximately 12 minutes.
It's full-service healthcare that will be run by a staff of 5,000 doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel -- many of whom will volunteer to do these jobs.
While many of the larger countries taking part in the Games come with their own medical teams, many smaller countries use this as an opportunity to get basic check-ups and preventative care.
Dr. Marttos tells me that in the event of an injury, a doctor needs to be on hand right away. "My role is to be sure my hospital has everything in place. We have protocols and guidelines," he said. "It looks like an American hospital, they have everything ready, like my hospital in Miami."
As a reporter, I've been talking a lot about Zika, Rio's notoriously dirty water and even threats of terrorism. When I ask him how much of a concern this is for him, he says his priority is the athletes. "How to take care of the injuries. Everything else, terrorism, is not under our control. Brazil got ready. They did a lot of training."
He adds, "I can say that for all the athletes, for all the people inside the venues, if they need us, we're going to be ready to take care of them."
Waiting times in public hospitals won't improve during Olympics.
 
As we tour the nearly 500-bed hospital, I can't help but think of just how starkly different this facility is compared to the pictures of the public hospitals that Dr. Nahon showed me: rooms filled to capacity, patients waiting for days for emergency services -- sometimes dying before being treated -- and the body bag next to a patient.
I ask Dr. Marttos what he thinks of the public hospital situation. He's very diplomatic and says that sometimes the physical infrastructure isn't the same as here. The walls may not be as nice, the equipment not quite as new, but that the quality of the doctors is the same.
He's optimistic that perhaps the work that he has put into the facility here will be a legacy for the care for future Brazilians.

More people turning to public hospitals

I'm back in the command center for Rio's Emergency Response Battalion, feeling the pulse of activity. More than a thousand people help keep the ambulances running and responding to emergencies 24 hours a day. The control board fills an entire wall, tracking minor to major injuries with color codes of blue, yellow and red.
Doctors, both military and civilian, triage the calls, making sure that everyone who gets an ambulance truly needs one. They cannot afford to waste efforts, especially with the extra stress of the Olympics.
Lt. Col. Carlos Sima shows me around his command center with pride, and puts a good face on their lackluster response time and the well-known overcrowding of the hospitals they deliver to.
"The economic crisis has made it very difficult," he tells me. "Even people who used to afford private hospitals are now going to public ones to save money."
I ask him what his biggest concern is during the upcoming Olympics, and hear a familiar refrain.
"A terrorist attack," he says quickly. "We don't have history with that. We are used to big accidents and the like, but because we don't have a history with terror, that would be of real concern."
Source:CNN.com
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Zika mosquito: thrives in hot water, hard to wipe out

Behind the spread of the Zika virus is a tiny menace that just won't go away.

It's called the Aedes aegypti (AYE'-dees uh-GYP'-tie), a species of mosquito that has played a villainous role in public health history and defeated attempts to wipe it out.

The mosquito is behind the large outbreaks of Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean. On Friday, Florida said four Zika infections in the Miami area are likely the first caused by mosquito bites in the continental U.S. All previous U.S. cases have been linked to outbreak countries.

Five things to know about the bug:

FIRST IN AFRICA

Aedes aegypti is a small, dark, hot weather mosquito with white markings and banded legs. Scientists believe the species originated in Africa, but came to the Americas on slave ships. It's continued to spread through shipping and airplanes. Now it's found through much of the world, including cities across the southern United States.

YELLOW FEVER MOSQUITO

Early in the 20th century, it was the engine behind devastating yellow fever outbreaks and became known as the yellow fever mosquito. Since then, it's also been identified as a carrier for other tropical illnesses such as dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika. Scientists say other types of mosquitoes might also spread Zika but Aedes aegypti is the main culprit. The vast majority of the mosquitoes tested recently in South Florida have been that kind.

Aedes aegypti has an unusually cozy relationship with people. While other species thrive in more rural areas, or at least in parks and gardens, this is a domesticated species - sort of a housecat mosquito - accustomed to living in apartment buildings and city centers. It prefers biting people to animals and likes to feed indoors, during daylight hours. It doesn't venture far. Researchers say it doesn't travel more than a few hundred yards during its lifetime - usually two to four weeks

KILLED OFF, IT CAME BACK

The mosquito is a hardy bug that can be particularly challenging to get rid of. In the early 20th century, many countries tried to wipe out the mosquito with chemicals and other measures. By 1970, it was eradicated from much of South America - including Brazil. But many mosquito-control programs lapsed due to budget problems, concerns about insecticides and the success of the yellow fever vaccine. The species roared back. More recently, scientists have been exploring novel ways of curbing the pest with genetic engineering, radiation or bacterial infections.

GOING FOR BLOOD

Female mosquitoes drink human blood for nutrients used in making eggs. After a female bites an infected person, it can spread the virus through its saliva to its next human victim. While the virus is mostly spread to people through mosquito bites, scientists have established that it's been spread through sex - mostly by men to their partners - in some cases. Zika can also be spread through blood; the virus usually stays in the blood for about a week, though it's been seen longer in the blood of pregnant women. A U.S. lab worker was accidentally infected through blood.

Source:USA Today.com

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7 Foods to Avoid with Asthma

Avoiding certain foods might help you avoid an asthma attack.

You can’t magically cure yourself of your asthma symptoms by eating special foods. But the food you eat can have an influence. Some may even make your asthma symptoms worse. Not everyone will react the same way to the same foods, of course, but it may be worth closely monitoring your reaction to certain foods and avoiding them if necessary. 

1. Dried fruit

Many kinds of dried fruit include sulfites, which are preservatives designed to stretch out the shelf life of the food—and one of the most problematic additives in foods for many people with asthma. Read the package for words like “potassium bisulfite” and “sodium sulfite” to determine if those dried cherries or apricots may trigger an asthma flare. 

2. Wine or beer

Many kinds of wine and beer also contain those pesky sulfites. You may have to forsake that glass of cabernet if you find yourself coughing or wheezing after indulging. Some research also suggests that histamines in wine can cause symptoms like watery eyes, sneezing and wheezing. 

3. Shrimp

Frozen or prepared shrimp could be risky for you. If you suspect that sulfites are once again the culprit, you’re right! Frozen shrimp—and other seafood—often contain sulfites because they discourage the growth of unappetizing black spots. If you’re eating out, be sure you don’t accidentally eat something that’s been cooked in a broth made with shrimp or other shellfish.

4. Pickles

You may need to toss the pickle included with your deli sandwich. Pickled foods tend to contain sulfites as preservatives, as do fermented foods like sauerkraut. Watch out for relishes, horseradish sauce, and even salad dressing mixes for the same reason.

5. Packaged or prepared potatoes

The next time you’re tempted to make mashed potatoes from a mix, think again. Take a look at the ingredients list on the package. Sure, that package contains potatoes, maybe some vegetable oil, some salt, perhaps some whey powder or dried nonfat milk, but further on down the list, you’ll probably spot a preservative like sodium bisulfite. The sulfites strike again! Opt for a whole potato that you can toss in the oven instead. Don’t forget to pierce it with a fork a few times first. 

6. Maraschino cherries

They look so beautiful, like brightly-colored jewels in a glass jar, but anyone with asthma who’s sensitive to sulfites should just admire maraschino cherries from afar. Canned fruits and bottled fruit juices—such as lemon and lime juice—may also contain preservatives that could trigger bronchospasms or other symptoms of asthma. 

7. Any foods to which you’re allergic

You’re probably already on high alert for foods that you know you’re allergic to. Keep on keepin’ on, since those foods may also play a role in triggering asthma attacks. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology reports the foods that cause the majority of allergic reactions include tree nuts, wheat, soy, peanuts, eggs, fish, shellfish and cow’s milk. If you’re allergic to any of those foods, definitely avoid eating them—or anything that’s cross-contaminated by them.

Source:HealthTip.com

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Deadly heat wave scorches central and eastern U.S.

(CNN)Dangerously high temperatures will keep scorching the Northeast in the wake of a deadly wave of heat and humidity that has plagued the Midwest.

Heat indexes well over 100 degrees are expected across dozens of states in the nation's central and eastern portions, the National Weather Service forecasts. A heat index combines the effects of temperature and humidity on the human body.
Temperatures also could reach the century mark Monday afternoon in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
Nearly 114 million people are under excessive heat watches, warnings and advisories in effect across 27 states on Sunday, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said.
The sweltering Midwest weather claimed the lives of a handful of people in the Detroit area over the course of three days, Roseville Police Chief James Berlin told CNN.
Five elderly residents who had underlying health issues died as a result of the soaring temperatures, Berlin said. Residents were encouraged to stay hydrated and find an air-conditioned place to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

Deadly heat wave scorches central and eastern U.S.

Story highlights

  • Temperatures close to 100 degrees are expected across dozens of states
  • Five elderly Michigan residents died due to record heat and humidity
 

(CNN)Dangerously high temperatures will keep scorching the Northeast in the wake of a deadly wave of heat and humidity that has plagued the Midwest.

Heat indexes well over 100 degrees are expected across dozens of states in the nation's central and eastern portions, the National Weather Service forecasts. A heat index combines the effects of temperature and humidity on the human body.
Temperatures also could reach the century mark Monday afternoon in New York, Philadelphia and Washington.
Nearly 114 million people are under excessive heat watches, warnings and advisories in effect across 27 states on Sunday, CNN meteorologist Sean Morris said.
The sweltering Midwest weather claimed the lives of a handful of people in the Detroit area over the course of three days, Roseville Police Chief James Berlin told CNN.
Five elderly residents who had underlying health issues died as a result of the soaring temperatures, Berlin said. Residents were encouraged to stay hydrated and find an air-conditioned place to avoid heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
Police and firefighters in the Detroit suburb of Roseville are doing their part to help residents beat the summer heat. They are offering rides to cooling centers set up at the city's recreation center and public library and distributing water to residents.
Heat is one of the country's leading weather-related killers, and each year dozens of Americans die from overexposure to high temperatures, according to The National Weather Service.
Heat stroke can happen very quickly after heat exhaustion settles in.
 
Hot, dry and breezy conditions across the West Coast have also hampered efforts to contain the rapidly expanding Sand Fire. The fast-growing wildfire, which was only 18% contained Sunday, has consumed more than 22,000 acres.

Warmest half-year on record

Scientists note the record temperatures across the country could be part of a long-term global warming phenomenon. Last week NASA announced that every month in 2016 has been the hottest ever recorded.
Global temperatures were on average 1.3 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than average between January and June this year when compared to the late 19th century, NOAA said.
Source: CNN.com
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7 Ways Diabetes Affects The Body

Uncontrolled diabetes can lead to a multitude of complications because the disease affects the body in many ways. With this condition, your body either doesn’t make enough insulin or can’t use its own insulin as well as it should. This causes a buildup of sugars in your blood which can wreak havoc on your body. Here what diabetes can do to your body.

Having diabetes increases your risk of developing a multitude of heart disease problems, such as chest pain, high cholesterol, narrowing of the arteries and high blood pressure. Many of these problems may be subtle or be "silent" until a major event, such as a heart attack or stroke.

Diabetes remains the leading cause of vision loss in the U.S. It can lead to various eye problems, including glaucoma, cataracts, and diabetic retinopathy.

Diabetes can cause wounds or sores in the skin to heal more slowly, which can result in people with diabetes being more susceptible to infections.

Gum disease risk also can increase with diabetes. Gum disease can lead to inflamed gums and eventually to tooth loss.

Kidney disease is one more potential complication of poorly controlled diabetes, and, unfortunately, it can develop over a number of years before symptoms show. Symptoms include swelling of the legs and feet. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure among adults in the U.S

Nearly 70 percent of people with diabetes will suffer from nerve damage. High blood sugar levels can harm nerves, and can develop to either peripheral diabetic neuropathy (usually starting in the toes or feet) or autonomic neuropathy (damage to the nerves that control internal organs).

With the nerve damage that may be caused by poorly controlled diabetes, can come nausea, constipation, or diarrhea.

Well-controlled diabetes can keep all these effects at bay and even stop them. To better control your diabetes, make sure to control your blood glucose levels with medication or through a lifestyle change. Eating healthy, losing weight, and engaging in regular physical activity all can help keep your diabetes under control and your health on track.

Source:CNN.com

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The Best Foods On Your Journey To Flat Abs!

I’ve said this many times before girls, but unfortunately you will not achieve flat abs simply doing crunches alone. Just like you can’t choose where you gain fat, you also can’t choose where you lose fat, so it’s important to include exercises that help target your whole body.  

The other single most important thing when wanting to achieve flat abs is your diet. What you eat has a massive affect on your abs and how they look. These ten foods are the perfect flat ab snacks because they help to banish bloating with their fibre content and protein to help keep your metabolism regular. 

Apples
Apples are a great source of fibre and also help to keep you feeling full. Replace snacking on chips and crackers with one apple.



Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale and broccoli are a some of the healthiest foods you can eat. They contain fibre which will help to keep you full and regular, and are full of nutrients. Add your greens to salads, stir frys, sandwiches and smoothies.



Greek Yoghurt
Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics, which help to keep the good bacteria in your tummy happy. This will also help to banish the bacteria that promote bloating. Make sure to buy the variety that still has ‘live cultures’ to reap all the benefits.


Almonds
Almonds are high in monounsaturated fat, as well as fibre, protein and magnesium which can help to stabilise your body’s blood sugar levels. They are the perfect snack, helping to keep you full and blood sugar spikes at bay.


Grapefruit
Grapefruit is packed with Vitamin C and it may work to lower cholesterol. Snacking on grapefruit can help you to feel fuller and satisfied for longer, due to it’s acidity which may slow down your digestion when eating it.



Quinoa
Quinoa is a great little grain that can help combat belly fat. Anytime you choose whole grains over white, processed flours you are helping to keep your belly flatter. Quinoa is an amazing source of fibre and protein, which helps to keep you full and can be eaten in so many different ways! I love mine in salads and alongside lean meats.



Salmon
Fatty fish such as salmon are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for your health. Salmon may promote fat burning by helping to boost your metabolism. Try grilling it to add to salads!
 

Berries
Berries are full of fibre and antioxidants which are optimal for keeping your abs flat. Add a handful to your diet daily as a healthy snack.



Green Tea
Green Tea is full of powerful antioxidants which can help to boost your metabolism. It is the perfect fat burning drink!


Legumes
Legumes such as lentils and beans are high in protein, B Vitamins, iron, potassium and other minerals. They are an awesome source of fibre which helps to keep you feeling full for longer and helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels.

Source:CNN.com

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New HIV vaccine to be trialled in South Africa

Durban (CNN)A vaccine against HIV will be trialed in South Africa later this year after meeting the criteria needed to prove it could help fight the epidemic in Africa.

In 2015, 2.1 million new infections were reported -- two-thirds of which occurred in sub-Saharan Africa.
A small trial, known as HVTN100, took place in South Africa in 2015 to test the safety and strength of immunity the vaccine could provide, ahead of any larger-scale testing in affected populations.
Two-hundred and fifty-two healthy volunteers were enrolled to receive either the vaccine, known as ALVAC-HIV/gp120, or a placebo to compare the extent of immune response generated. The results were presented Tuesday at the 21st International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa.
"This was precautionary to see if the vaccine looks promising," said Linda Gail Bekker, deputy director of the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre in Cape Town, South Africa, and president-elect of the International AIDS Society, who is leading the vaccine trials.
The vaccine stems from a landmark trial in Thailand in 2009 that was the first to show any protection against HIV, with 31% protection against the virus. This was enough to get experts in the field excited after years with no success.
"The obvious question is: Can we now replicate those results and can we improve upon them with greater breadth, depth and potency?" said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease, whose organization sponsors the study.
The vaccine was improved for use in the higher-risk populations of sub-Saharan Africa, where a different subtype of the virus also exists.
"We've inserted specific inserts from viruses that have come off the subcontinent," said Gail Bekker. A new component was also introduced to stimulate stronger immunity, known as an adjuvant.
Four criteria were set as measures of its likely effectiveness, including the level of T-cell and antibody response to fight the virus if it were to infect.
"It gives the tick on all four, it does look promising and it should launch," Gail Bekker said. "We wanted to see a particular immune picture that would suggest that a big efficacy trial would be likely to yield results," she said.
"[This] was like the gatekeeper of will we or will we not go ahead," Fauci said, "and the answer is 'yes'."
A larger-scale trial of the vaccine will now begin in 5,400 people across four sites in South Africa in November 2016 and run for three years. A fifth dose of the vaccine will also be given in hope of longer-lasting protection.
The Thai study showed 60% protection against HIV after one year, but this fell to 31% by the end of the trial. The team hopes the new regimen will bring protection levels back up.
"We want to get it up to 60% and keep it there," Fauci said. "That's the reason for the boost and the reason for the adjuvant," he said.
Experts have long been awaiting a vaccine showing enough efficacy to dent the numbers of people newly infected with HIV each year, which fell by 0.7% between 2005 and 2015, according to a study published Tuesday and presented at the conference.
"We're hoping this can be the first licensable vaccine regimen in the world," said Gail Bekker. She acknowledged that this is unlikely to occur purely as a result of the upcoming trial, but hopes the results will provide the evidence needed by manufacturers and vaccine regulators to take it further.
"I don't think we are going to treat [our] way out of this epidemic, " added Gail Bekker. "We are ultimately going to need a vaccine to shut it down."
The first vaccines made available are unlikely to provide enough protection for use on their own, but will instead be needed in combination with the plethora of prevention, treatment and social interventions already in use.
"A vaccine is still hugely important for the epidemic," said Sharon Lewin, director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity. "Even though we have all these prevention options, nothing will be as good as a vaccine."
Source:CNN.com
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Twist in Zika Outbreak: New York Case Shows Women Can Spread It to Men

The first case of female-to-male sexual transmission of the Zika virus has been documented in New York City, raising the prospect that the disease could spread more widely beyond the countries where it is already endemic and largely transmitted by mosquitoes.

 

For months, there has been growing concern about the dangers of sexual transmission, but until now the virus has been thought to pass only from men to women or between two men.

 

“This represents the first reported occurrence of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus,” said a report issued on Friday by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

 

The evidence of a previously undocumented transmission means is the latest twist in a viral outbreak that continues to baffle and surprise leading experts. It is prompting officials to rethink, once again, the guidance for health care providers and the general public on how to limit the danger of infection, as the pool of those who could be at risk widens.

 

Much about how the virus works is a mystery, and it remains challenging to detect; 80 percent of those infected show no symptoms. For those who do get sick, the illness is often mild, and there is no treatment.

 

But Zika can pose a dire risk to pregnant women. It targets developing nerve cells in fetuses and can lead to a birth defect called microcephaly, in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and brain damage. It may also cause developmental problems after birth.

 

Zika is primarily transmitted by the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti, which thrives in warm, tropical climates. But 11 countries have documented cases of sexual transmission from a man to a woman. Among the 1,130 people who have received a Zika diagnosis in the continental United States, including 320 pregnant women, the C.D.C. has reported 15 cases of sexual transmission.

In a reflection of the urgency of the situation, White House officials joined with congressional leaders and public health officials this month to denounce the failure of lawmakers to provide much-needed funding to combat the virus. The legislative session in Congress ended on Thursday with lawmakers failing to provide money to fight it.

Continue reading the main story

 

“The more we learn about Zika, the more concerned we are,” Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, the director of the C.D.C., said during a recent conference call with reporters.

At least seven children have been born with birth defects and five pregnancy losses related to Zika in the United States. The lifetime cost of care is estimated to be $10 million for each sick child.

 

“Each case is a tragedy,” Dr. Frieden said. “A child that may never walk or live independently.”

 

The New York case is the first in which a man was infected by a woman, and it raises the prospect that other men — with no travel history to Zika-affected areas and no reason to suspect that they might have the virus — could become infected and pass the virus on, creating a new chain of transmission.

 

In the report, researchers found that a man, who was in his 20s and did not travel outside the United States during the year before his illness, contracted the virus after one instance of vaginal intercourse, without a condom, with a woman who had recently returned from a country where the virus is endemic.

 

Dr. Mary T. Bassett, the city’s health commissioner, said there were several factors in this case that might have raised the risk of infection: The man was uncircumcised, the woman was in the early stages of her illness when her viral load was high, and she was also at the beginning of her menstrual cycle.

 

The woman, described as being in her 20s and not pregnant, had sex with her partner the day she returned to the city. The report does not name the country she visited, but the virus is now widespread in nearly 50 countries throughout South America and the Caribbean.

 

“She reported having headache and abdominal cramping while in the airport before returning to N.Y.C.,” the report said. The next day she developed a number of symptoms associated with Zika, including fever, fatigue, a rash, back pain, swelling of the extremities, and numbness and tingling in her hands and feet.

 

She reported that her period, which began that day, was also heavier than usual.

Her primary care physician sent blood and urine samples to the city and state health department laboratories for testing. The tests detected the virus but not antibodies to it, which suggested she was newly infected; it takes four or five days for the body to begin producing antibodies.

Seven days after intercourse, the woman’s partner developed a fever, followed by a rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. The report said the man had not had any other recent sexual partners or been bitten by a mosquito within a week before his illness.

Three days later, the man went to the same primary care physician who had diagnosed Zika in his partner. The physician sent samples of his urine to the same laboratories, and the virus was detected.

According to the report, the man “did not report noticing any blood on his uncircumcised penis that could have been associated with vaginal bleeding or any open lesions on his genitals immediately following intercourse.”
It is unclear if the virus was transmitted to the man by the woman’s menstrual blood or by vaginal fluids. If the virus was passed along through vaginal fluid, there is very little information on how long it might persist there or how great the risk of transmission during intercourse is.
The report cites a recent study of nonhuman primates where three nonpregnant females were found to have the virus present in vaginal fluid up to seven days after exposure.
“Further studies are needed to determine if the virus is also found in the vaginal fluid of humans and, if so, for how long,” the report said.
Zika has previously been known to be transmissible via semen, where it can persist for months. The current guidance from health officials is that men who may have been exposed either abstain from sex or use a condom for six months.
 

Women who are pregnant or trying to conceive are warned not to have unprotected sex with men who have been in areas where the virus is spreading during that time.

Even though it is just one case, the fact that the disease can be transmitted from women to men — widening the pool of those at risk — will have to be factored into the response from public health officials.

The Aedes aegypti mosquito remains the major means of infection. In the United States, that species is found mostly in the South and the Southwest, though its range can spread in the summer. That mosquito is not present in New York, but a similar species, the Asian tiger mosquito, could theoretically pose a threat of transmission, health officials have said.

In response, the city has stepped up its mosquito control and surveillance, and it will soon be starting a new public education campaign that will continue to highlight the risks posed by mosquitoes but with added emphasis on the risks of sexual transmission.
Source: NYtimes.com
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Can Running Make You Smarter?

strengthen your mind, you may first want to exert your leg muscles, according to a sophisticated new experiment involving people, mice and monkeys. The study’s results suggest that long-term endurance exercise such as running can alter muscles in ways that then jump-start changes in the brain, helping to fortify learning and memory.

I often have written about the benefits of exercise for the brain and, in particular, how, when lab rodents or other animals exercise, they create extra neurons in their brains, a process known as neurogenesis. These new cells then cluster in portions of the brain critical for thinking and recollection.

Even more telling, other experiments have found that animals living in cages enlivened with colored toys, flavored varieties of water and other enrichments wind up showing greater neurogenesis than animals in drab, standard cages. But animals given access to running wheels, even if they don’t also have all of the toys and other party-cage extras, develop the most new brain cells of all.

These experiments strongly suggest that while mental stimulation is important for brain health, physical stimulation is even more potent.

But so far scientists have not teased out precisely how physical movement remakes the brain, although all agree that the process is bogglingly complex.

Fascinated by that complexity, researchers at the National Institutes of Health recently began to wonder whether some of the necessary steps might be taking place far from the brain itself, and specifically, in the muscles, which are the body part most affected by exercise. Working muscles contract, burn fuel and pump out a wide variety of proteins and other substances.

The N.I.H. researchers suspected that some of those substances migrated from the muscles into the bloodstream and then to the brain, where they most likely contributed to brain health.

But which substances were involved was largely a mystery.

So for the new study, which was published last month in Cell Metabolism, the N.I.H. researchers first isolated muscle cells from mice in petri dishes and doused them with a peptide that affects cell metabolism in ways that mimic aerobic exercise. In effect, they made the cells think that they were running.

Then, using a technique called mass spectrometry, the scientists analyzed the many chemicals that the muscle cells released after their pseudo-workouts, focusing on those few that can cross the blood-brain barrier.

They zeroed in on one substance in particular, a protein called cathepsin B. The protein is known to help sore muscles recover, in part by helping to clear away cellular debris, but it had not previously been considered part of the chain linking exercise to brain health.

To determine whether cathepsin B might, in fact, be involved in brain health, the researchers added a little of the protein to living neurons in other petri dishes. They found that those brain cells started making more proteins related to neurogenesis.

Cathepsin B also proved to be abundant in the bloodstreams of mice, monkeys and people who took up running, the scientists found. In experiments undertaken in collaboration with colleagues in Germany, the researchers had mice run for several weeks, while rhesus monkeys and young men and women took to treadmills for four months, exercising vigorously about three times a week for approximately an hour or sometimes longer.

During that time, the concentrations of cathepsin B in the jogging animals and people steadily rose, the researchers found, and all of the runners began to perform better on various tests of memory and thinking.

Most striking, in the human volunteers, the men and women whose fitness had increased the most — suggesting that they had run particularly intensely — not only had the highest levels of cathepsin B in their blood but also the most-improved test scores.

Finally, because there’s nothing like removing something from the body to underscore how important it may be, the scientists bred mice without the ability to create cathepsin B, including after exercise. The researchers had those mice and other, normal animals run for a week, then taxed their ability to learn and retain information.

After running, the normal mice learned more rapidly than they had before and also held on to those new memories well. But the animals that could not produce cathepsin B learned haltingly and soon forgot their new skills. Running had not helped them to become smarter.

The lesson of these experiments is that our brains appear to function better when they are awash in cathepsin B and we make more cathepsin B when we exercise, says Henriette van Praag, an investigator at the National Institute on Aging at the N.I.H. who oversaw this study.

Of course, increases in cathepsin B explain only part of the benefits of exercise for the brain, she said. She and her colleagues plan to continue looking for other mechanisms in future studies.

They also hope to learn more about how much exercise is necessary to gain brain benefits. The regimen that the human runners followed in this study was “fairly intensive,” she said, but it’s possible that lighter workouts would be almost as effective.

“There is good reason to think,” she said, “that any amount of exercise is going to be better than none” for brain health.

Source:NY Times

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The Fastest Way To Pay Off $10,000 In Credit Card Debt

What's the best way to pay down a credit card balance as quickly as possible, while paying the least in interest, and without hurting your credit? What follows is a powerful method recommended by the most astute personal finance experts* to achieve exactly those objectives. It's extremely effective, completely legal, and leverages programs created by credit card issuers to your advantage. Follow these steps and start to become credit card debt-free.

Step 1: Use A Powerful Tool To Immediately Stop Paying Interest On Your Balance

Think of someone carrying a credit card balance like a patient who enters an emergency room bleeding badly. The first thing a doctor will do is stop the bleeding. It's no different when attacking a credit card balance; the first thing you do is stop the interest charges.

There's a simple way to do this, and it's brilliance is that it actually uses the banks' marketing offers to your advantage: find a card offering a long "0% intro APR balance transfer" promotional offer, and transfer your balance to it. These are cards which offer new customers a long period of time (often as much as 18 months) during which the card charges no interest on all balances transferred to it. We constantly track all the cards in the marketplace in order to find the ones currently offering the longest 0% intro periods.

If you need more motivation, just think of this: on a $10,000 balance, $150 of a $200 monthly payment would get vacuumed up by interest charges.** That leaves only $50 of your $200 that actually reduces your balance, the rest vanishing into bank pockets. That's just brutal. Use our reviews to find a card which offers the longest possible no-interest period while charging low, or even no fees. Moving your balances to the card you choose will stop the bleeding, allowing you to move on to step two.

Step 2: Power Through Your Balance During The 0% Period.

Once you've transferred your balances and put a stop to the interest charges, it's time to capitalize on the interest-free period to really break free of the debt. The best part of this is how simple it is: just keep making the payments you used to make when you had to pay big interest payments. Going back to the $10,000 example above, if you transferred that balance onto a card like the Chase Slate (which offers 15 months of 0% intro APR with no transfer fee) and maintained the same $200 monthly payment, you can see how much faster you'll be reducing your balance in the chart below.

As you can see, without using the 0% card, the same $200 monthly payments barely make any headway. It's like swimming upstream, or walking while taking a step back for every two steps forward. That's no way to swim or walk, and attempting to pay off your cards while paying high card interest rates is no way to manage your finances. Move your balances onto one of the cards below, stop getting crushed by interest, and start making real progress toward getting rid of your card debt.

Source: Lending Tree.com

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Cancer research could help the search towards an HIV cure

(CNN) HIV/AIDS is perhaps the most important global health crisis in modern history. Dramatic progress has been made in controlling the virus, but efforts to find a cure are still in its infancy.

To date only one individual, Timothy Brown, is known to have been cured of HIV infection.
The process that cured Mr. Brown, a dangerous and expensive stem cell transplant from a donor known to be immune to HIV, was related to his treatment for acute myeloid leukemia. It is not a practical route to cure others, but it did prove one critical point -- curing HIV is possible.
Finding a safe, affordable and scalable cure for HIV is a formidable challenge. Scientists have known for decades that HIV infection persists even when viral replication is effectively controlled by antiretroviral therapy. The virus can hide inside cells forever during therapy and re-emerge rapidly, and at any time, once treatment is stopped.
Despite these challenges, the quest to develop a cure for HIV has made remarkable advances over the past four years. Researchers have not been able to eliminate the virus from anyone except Mr. Brown, but in a handful of cases very early treatment with antiretroviral therapy has enabled an individual's immune system to control the virus, without any need for treatment. These rare "post-treatment controllers" stay off therapy for years without any evidence of the disease, raising the possibility that pathways to achieving lasting control of the infection in the absence of treatment—a remission using the cancer model—may be available for discovery.

Linking HIV to Cancer

The parallels between HIV and cancer are striking. We now know that controlling HIV in the absence of therapy will require the generation and maintenance of powerful CD8+ -- or "killer" - T cells that can target vulnerable parts of the virus. The challenge is remarkably similar to that in oncology, where the goal of innovative therapies is to generate killer T cells that recognize and clear cancer cells.
Many of the key immune pathways now being therapeutically manipulated to cure cancer were first discovered in studies of chronic viral infections, particularly HIV. For example, inhibitory pathways known as immune checkpoint blockers -- that control immune responses and ensure self-tolerance -- can reverse the brakes on killer T cells, enabling them to clear cancer (and presumably HIV-infected cells). Many people with once fatal cancers are now in long-term remission as a consequence of these new approaches.
Efforts are now underway to determine if these cancer therapies can be used to build up the immune system of patients with HIV in such a way that they too can achieve a durable and perhaps life-long treatment-free state of remission.
Both disciplines also struggle with the need to quantify the burden of disease. Cancer cells and HIV-infected cells are exceedingly difficult to distinguish from normal cells. They often also reside in tissues that are difficult to access. Intense efforts are therefore being aimed at quantifying the size, and distribution, of the disease in both disciplines, with often-similar approaches being taken.
Timothy Brown was cured by the work of a highly resourceful team of oncologists. His case illustrates that we need to do more to bring HIV and cancer research together -- incentivizing scientists to work across diseases and ensuring that research funding allows for these synergies.
Transformative advances in the cancer field may well provide inspiration for future directions of a strategy to guide those working towards an HIV cure.
Source: CNN
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Don't get burned: Are you using sunscreen right?

Still not wearing your sunscreen? Here are a few good reasons to start: Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the U.S. It's also the most preventable, says Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology at NYU and Vice President of the Skin Care Foundation Dr. Elizabeth Hale, since regular use of sunscreen is one of the most effective prevention strategies around. What's more: 90 percent of skin damage (aka premature skin aging) is caused by UV exposure, says Hale. And (you guessed it) regularly wearing sunscreen is one of the best ways to stave off this wear and tear.

But even if you're fully committed to wearing sunscreen, good intentions aren't enough. In order to get the most protection from that bottle, it's critical you slather right. For those guilty of committing the 10 common sunscreen sins below, remember this: A little extra care will pay off big time in the end.
10 Worst Sunscreen Slip-Ups
1. You don't wear it every day.
If you only think to put on sunscreen on beach days or at pool parties, then you're not wearing it nearly often enough. "Most of the sun damage we get is from cumulative incidental damage," says Hale. Walking to work (or from work to a coffee shop), driving, even sitting by a window can all add up to cumulative damage over time. Get in the habit of putting on sunscreen every single day in order to have the best chance of staving off skin cancer and signs of aging, says Hale.
2. You don't wear enough.
To be adequately covered by sunscreen, a few pats isn't going to cut it. "Every inch of exposed skin should be covered every single day," says Hale. A good rule of thumb? If you're using a lotion-based sunscreen and the goal is to cover exposed skin all over your body, you should use approximately a shot glass' worth to give yourself a baseline coat. If you're walking to the office and just looking to cover your neck and arms, a quarter-sized dollop should do the trick. If you're using a spray, you should see an even sheen all over your skin before rubbing it in.
3. You don't reapply.
No matter how thoroughly you slather, you'll still need to put more on if you're planning to spend several hours outside. "The correct teaching is that you need to reapply sunscreen every two hours," says Hale. But if you're swimming or perspiring heavily, you should plan to reapply even more frequently. (Runners, listen up!)
4. You're using the wrong SPF.
There's a lot of conflicting information out there about which SPF level provides the right amount of coverage. "The American Academy of Dermatology still says 15 for regular days and 30-plus for pool days," says Hale. These attitudes are starting to shift a bit, however, and Hale recommends a daily broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher. But no need to shell out for SPF 100. "Above SPF 30, there's a negligible difference," says Hale.
5. You don't know chemical from physical sunscreens.
Fun fact: There are two broad categories for sunscreen and the type you choose will influence when and how it should be applied. Chemical sunscreens work by absorbing the sun's rays, while physical sunscreens (such as zinc and titanium oxide) work by deflecting them, says Hale. For maximum effectiveness, chemical sunscreens should be applied directly onto the skin (i.e. before applying other body products) 30 minutes before heading outside in order for them to fully absorb into the skin. Physical sunscreens, on the other hand, can be applied over other body products and are effective immediately upon application.
6. You think your clothing's got you covered.
Just because your skin is covered by a layer of clothes doesn't necessarily mean it's protected from sun damage. "Unless you're wearing sun-protective clothing, regular clothes don't really afford enough sun protection," says Hale. For example, a white T-shirt only offers SPF 7. If it gets wet, that goes down to a measly SPF 3. For best protection, always use sunscreen in conjunction with your #OOTD. (It also helps to seek out shade and avoid being outside during peak sunlight hours.)
7. You're a sunscreen hoarder.
Got the same bottle of sunscreen tucked away in your medicine cabinet or under your car seat since 2013? (Guilty as charged.) While it's easy to think that you don't need a new bottle until the old one is done, the reality is a little more complicated. "Most sunscreens are good for up to two years," says Hale. "But if you keep it in your car or golf bag or another sweaty, hot environment then it destabilizes and the sunscreen is less effective." A good rule of thumb? If you're good about keeping sunscreen in a cool, dry place, it should keep for a year or two. But if you ever leave it exposed to the elements, replace it every season, Hale says.
8. You think your makeup's SPF is sufficient.
"It's great if your makeup has SPF, but it's really not enough," says Hale. For one thing, you might not be applying it with the same amount of coverage on different areas of your face. For another, it's rarely used on the neck and shoulders. In order to ensure you're adequately protected, Hale recommends using a moisturizing product with SPF before applying makeup on top.
9. You've got OTC interference.
Both over-the-counter and prescription body products or medications can make you more sensitive to the sun, says Hale. And that means you're more likely to burn. Two common examples are prescription doxycycline (an antibiotic prescribed for acne) and body products containing Retin-A and/or retinol. It's important to know that these products will make your skin more sensitive to sunlight, says Hale. If you're committed to using them, be sure to compensate by using a higher SPF (at least 30 or higher) and applying sunscreen more frequently.
10. You rely on 2-in-1 bug repellent/sunscreens.
"[Bug repellent and sunscreen] are very different and should be used very differently," says Hale. This is especially true because sunscreen needs to be applied much more frequently than bug spray. Hale recommends avoiding combination products and instead applying a base layer of sunscreen before using bug repellent.
The good news: Even if you're currently committing every sunscreen mistake in the book, it's never too late to adopt better sunscreen habits. Nail them down now, and you'll protect your health for years to come.
Source:CNN.com
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The superpowered secret to get kids to eat veggies

(CNN)Apparently, marketing is key to get youngsters to eat more veggies.

Scientists have showed that marketing junk food and sugary drinks in commercials to children directly influences the amount of unhealthy foods those kids consume. But what happens when healthy foods are marketed in the same way?
Branded marketing tactics -- from banners to commercials -- nearly triple the likelihood of a child choosing to eat vegetables at lunch, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics on Tuesday.
 
If elementary schools nationwide strategically implement these marketing interventions, children's nutrition at lunch will most likely improve, said Andrew Hanks, assistant professor of human sciences at Ohio State University and lead author of the study.
"To claim that their overall health will improve is more complicated, but it is a possibility," he said. "Strategic marketing can have powerful effects on food choices."
The researchers tested three marketing approaches in 10 public elementary schools in New York for six weeks. One approach involved displaying vinyl banners showing animated vegetable characters with super powers called "Super Sprowtz" around the salad bar in schools' cafeterias. The characters included Colby Carrot, whose eyes shoot orange laser beams, and Brian Broccoli, who flexes his arms.
nother approach involved showing short television segments about health education, delivered by the vegetable characters, in the school lunchrooms. The third approach combined the banner with the video segments. A control group experienced no marketing interventions.
The researchers found that almost 100% more students took vegetables from the salad bar when exposed to the banners alone. Before the banners, only about 12% of students took vegetables, but after the banners, about 24% of students did.
The banners combined with the videos, however, resulted in a whopping 239% increase in the number of students who visited the salad bar. So before the marketing, only about 10% of students took vegetables, but after, about 34% did.
However, the television segments alone did not have a significant impact on students' eating behaviors, the researchers noted.
"I was surprised to learn that the TV segments weren't effective," Hanks said.
"Based on the results, it seems that the banners were most effective," he added. "They were effective when used alone and carried the effect when used with the TV segments. The banners were most effective since they were placed right at the point of selection. The TVs were placed where space and electricity were available."
In a separate paper, a Canadian research team analyzed how similar marketing strategies for unhealthy foods and beverages can influence children's eating behaviors. The research was published in the journal Obesity Review on Tuesday.

Rules to make school lunches healthier are working, study finds

The researchers identified and reviewed 26 previous studies on children's food preferences and intake after they were exposed to food and non-food advertisements. In total, the studies included almost 6,000 children ranging in age from 2 to 18.

After analyzing the studies, the researchers found that children exposed to the marketing of unhealthy foods consumed significantly more. Being exposed to a five-minute advertisement was linked to eating nearly 4.5 grams more of junk food than otherwise, according to the paper. Similarly, children exposed to ads consumed 30 calories more of junk food than those not exposed to junk food ads.
The researchers also demonstrated that children 8 or younger seemed to be more susceptible to the impact of marketing.
"The findings from this review contribute to the growing body of research suggesting that the marketing of energy-dense, low-nutrition foods and beverages to children contribute to increased consumption of unhealthy calories -- an average of 30 calories more during or shortly after exposure to advertisements -- which puts children at increased risk for obesity and diet-related diseases later in life," said the paper's lead author, Bradley Johnston, director of Systematic Overviews through advancing Research Technology at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and assistant professor at the University of Toronto.
On average, children are exposed to about five food commercials per hour while watching television, according to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Public Health. The majority of those ads tend to feature unhealthy foods.
o get children to eat more fruit and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises parents to set an example by eating healthy foods along with their kids, as well as providing fruit and vegetables as snacks and during celebrations. Also, it helps when children work in gardens and grow their own produce.
However, many researchers are eager to see what would happen if more ads focused on healthy foods.
"We all know marketing works," Hanks said.
Source:CNN.com
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13 Snacks That’ll Boost Your Metabolism!

Avocado

You will never meet another person more in favor of the avocado and it should be in every weight loss plan and guide on how to lose weight. Avocados are high in fat but it is monounsaturated fat which is great for your body. The fat in avocados helps to raise your metabolism while dealing you a healthy serving of protein, fiber, and fat all in one tasty and handheld green skin. Make guacamole with low fat ingredients or merely add avocado to your sandwiches in order to get an instant boost to your diet.

 

High Fiber Cereal

Cereals that are high in fiber have been scientifically shown to be the perfect breakfast item for those people looking to improve their metabolism in a healthy way. According to the Journey of American Dietetic Association, women who ate cereal regularly were 30% less likely to be overweight. High fiber cereals digest slowly and also boost your metabolism, meaning they keep you full and energized much longer. The fiber in the cereal also keeps your insulin levels on the regular which prevents the addition of fat to your body, as well.

Cheeses

Adding low fat cheese to your fridge, sandwiches, and entrees can be a great way to spike your fat burning potential without ever having to sacrifice flavor for effectiveness. The boost of calcium and protein do wonders to your diet and the ease with which these cheeses can be integrated into a complex diet is almost impressive. There are trap cheeses, however, so stick to the low fat ones for the biggest fat burning effect.

Jalapeno Poppers

If you don’t mind adding a little bit of heat to your diet then consider Jalapeno poppers. Jalapenos are full of a chemical known as capsaicin that does wonders to your metabolism. The chemical will increase your heat rate, boost your metabolism, and make enduring the heat of the pper well worth it by the time you are done. Avoid heavily fried poppers, however, as they are heart attack traps waiting to happen. Opt for oven cooked snacks for the best middle ground between effect and tastiness.

Milk

Milk is an unorthodox addition to the metabolism boosting list of snacks but it fits in all the same. So long as you are getting good milk and avoiding chocolate or other artificial flavors you should be good. Milk is full of calcium and it helps you energize your complex carbohydrates. Switch out your bottle of soda at dinner with a glass of tasty milk. Milk will prevent weight loss and boost your fat burning abilities. Avoid adding cookies to your snack! if you want to boost the treat, however, you can add a splash of protein powder to make the snack into a filling meal with the same goal of losing weight.

Lean Meat

Beef has gotten a bad rep in the weight loss world thanks to foods like hamburgers, lasagna, and gigantic and juicy steaks. However, lean meats like beef, chicken, and turkey can all be looked at as supporters of metabolism growth. The big reason why these foods are so helpful in metabolism boosting is the fact that they take so long to digest and thus expend a large amount of energy. The protein that you will imbibe also means that you will be burning fat, not muscle, so that you will maintain a measure of your form and figure. Lean turkey, in the proper serving, can give you access to 26 grams of protein versus just 1 gram of fat and a total of 120 calories. This is an effective and life changing ratio.

Greek Yogurt

Get an extra blend of protein into your diet by adding Greek yogurt to your snack plans. Greek yogurt has almost 18 grams of protein per 6 ounces and it is usually devoid of all the filler and additives that is prevalent in other yogurt products. This is a quick filling way that works well with other snacks on this list. Adding in oats or berries can turn this snack to the maximum level of fulfilling. Avoid chocolate chips, in general but if you must then add only a few of the dark chocolate variety, which are full of antioxidants.

Garlic

Garlic, though foul smelling, should be considered a must add in your diet. Garlic is full of health benefits that range against disease fighting all the way to immunity boosting. Not to be skimped over ,garlic also helps you to shed weight. Garlic is found in many common daily foods that lead to the body’s production of fat. Don’t eat garlic by the clove, however, as you must still opt for moderation. Add garlic to your pasta dishes as a way to get a lot of flavor while also doing your body a big favor. The Journal of Nutrition shows a direct link with calories burned during daily activities and meals that included garlic that were consumed prior to said activities. Make sure to bring some minty gum to get the smell out!

Raspberries

Just about any kind of berry will be at home in your metabolism boosting diet but we highlighted raspberries for a reason. Raspberries contain 8g of fiber by the cup and sit at only 60 calories per serving. This sweet little snack is perfect to round out on the go lunches or to add in the repertoire of picky eaters. Raspberries are sweet and easy to eat and most of all affordable at the supermarket. Stock up on raspberries or any other berry that is high in fiber (strawberries, blueberries) in order to reap the benefits down the line. To make this a minor treat add a little bit of whip cream and oats to your bowl. The oats will boost your fiber content while the whip cream will add some sweetness.

Oranges

Oranges are a popular snack that have been the cornerstone to on the go lunches forever. This citrust fruit is stocked full of vitamin C that helps you to metabolize fat quicker than ever. Your daily dose of vitamin C should sit at 60 MG per day but if you consume upwards of 500 MG then you can see your fat burning abilities boost by almost 50%. Eat an orange with your pre-workout meal and reap the benefits when you start to sweat over the machines for the next hour. Studies show that eating oranges for 12 weeks will result in rapid weight loss.

Salmon

At this point in the scientific advancements of nutrition salmon should be a staple in the diet of most people. This fish is full of great oils, nutritious, and loaded with Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Salmon helps to reduce your bodies leptin hormone levels and in turn prompts your body to burn more calories. Not only will eating salmon instead of red meat, for example, help you lose weight but it will also do wonders for your hair and skin. If you don’t like the taste of salmon or just fish in general you can instead opt for fish oil capsules. These capsules are easy to consume, lacking in odor, and an effective replacement for the actual salmon itself.

Green Tea

When speaking comparatively, green tea is goign to beat the heck out of most common beverage options available in the grocery store. From pop to sugar filled juices, there are very few ready to drink consumables that will help your metabolism. Green tea is a great replacement to coffee because it doesn’t rely on caffeine in order to boost your metabolism. A chemical called EGCG boosts the activity inside of your brain, kickstarts your nervous system, and starts the burning of calories that will last throughout the day. Green tea is a bland drink but can be spiced up with minor amounts of honey for a tasty lunch beverage.

Grapefruit

Grapefruit has gotten a sort of gimmicky reputation thanks to the uber popular but ultimately failed grapefruit diet that circulated the internet a few years back. This failed diet doesn’t disprove how effective grapefruit is when used as a metabolism booster. This citrus laden fruit is filled with fiber t hat leaves you fuller for a longer period of time. The galacturonic acid inside of the grapefruit also helps your body breakdown stored fat in your body. Adding a grapefruit to your breakfast routine could go a long way toward cutting the LBs and looking better than ever.

Source: HealthTip.com

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Minister calls on health workers to be efficient

Koforidua, June 2, GNA - Mr Alex Segbefia, the Minister of Health, has urged health workers to uphold the tenets of the profession to meet the expectations of their clients.

     He said, though workers work under tight budgets and limited resources there is the need to maintain the standard of delivery in the sector.

     Mr Segbefia said this, when he paid a working visit to the Eastern Region, where he visited Koforidua Regional Hospital, Suhum Government Hospital, Nankese Health Centre and Akote CHPS Compound.

     He also paid a courtesy call on the Regional Minister.

      Ms Mavis Ama Frimpong, the Regional Minister said good health care is the bedrock of the general development of a country and expressed the hope that the visit by the sector minister would help address some of the health challenges in the area.

     She said though government is constructing health facilities across the 26 districts and municipalities of the region and more communities are waiting for their turn.

      She appealed for more CHPS compounds, polyclinics and district hospitals to be constructed to help improve health delivery in the region.

     Dr Mrs Charity Sarpong, Regional Health Director said, out of the 26 districts and municipalities, 18 of them have access to a district hospital and by the end of the year  all the various  zones in the region  would have a CHPS compound to help complement  health care delivery.

    She however said the region is faced with challenges such as inadequate staff, as well as logistics to help health workers work effectively.

     Dr Sarpong called for the building of a robust system to offer quality health services.

     Dr Kwame Anim Boamah, Medical Superintendent of the Koforidua Regional Hospital said the hospital strives for excellence in service delivery.

Source: GhanaWeb. com

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Doctor uses iPad to conduct remote surgery in Gaza

(CNN)In countries ravaged by conflict, providing international medical expertise on the ground can be almost impossible.

But a new software, called Proximie, is enabling surgeons to provide help from wherever they are in the world, all through the screen of an iPad.
"I see on my screen the surgical feed that is being captured by the camera in Gaza and I'm able to draw on my screen the incision that needs to be done," says Dr. Ghassan Abu-Sitta, Head of Plastic Surgery at the American University of Beirut Medical Center.

"Like being in the room"

Abu-Sitta has already used the Proximie software to lead two operations in the Gaza strip from his base in Beirut. From hundreds of miles away he showed colleagues how to negotiate a blast injury and operate on a congenital anomaly affecting the hand.
The software means that surgeons can demonstrate -- in real time -- the actions needing to be taken on the front line.
The procedure uses two smart phones or tablets connected to the internet which show a live camera feed of the operation. The surgeon sees this, and then marks on their device where to make incisions.
"That drawing shows up on my colleague's screen in Gaza and he follows my drawings by making the incisions where they appear on the screen," says Dr. Abu-Sitta, "It really is the equivalent of being there in the room with them."
With two thirds of the world's population lacking access to safe surgery, the time is ripe to develop new techniques to reach more remote areas.

A helping hand

Being able to watch surgery in progress could also make it a useful training aid.
"We want to be the platform for medical students to really engage in surgery," says Proximie co-founder Dr. Nadine Hachach-Haram. "Historically the old viewing galleries that happened in surgery where students could come in and learn and watch, they don't exist anymore.
"Surgery is very visual. You can read it in a book if you want but it's not the same as watching it live, so this is where our platform really fits in."
According to Peter Kim, Vice President of the Sheikh Zayed Institute for Pediatric Surgical Innovation, Proximie could be a positive addition to the range of other products using cameras and video for real-time sharing.
 
"I think the need and effort to share best practice and dissipate very siloed experiences in medicine should be supported," says Kim. "Those involved should be applauded for their effort but if it is a product with cost attached to it, the value must be clearly articulated."
Previously, Abu-Sitta and his staff were trying to help overseas surgeons by sending them audio recordings, photos and X-rays using the online messenger WhatsApp. But the new software is far more interactive, providing detailed images and patient information throughout the surgery.
"We wanted to push the idea that with only the minimum hardware, and minimum infrastructure you can still pull it off," says Abu-Sitta, "With just two tablets, iPad to iPad, we're able to perform this surgery."
Whether it's used for education or to conduct delicate surgeries in conflict zones, internet enabled software such as Proximie could be the future of surgery.
Source: Cnn.com
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Why strong friendships are key to men's mental health

CNN)For decades this Philadelphia physician lived a life inside his head, rarely expressing himself with his heart. He says his inability to open up wasn't good for his first marriage, or his second.

"I did not want to get divorced again, did not want to go through this thing with a broken family with kids," he says. "That was really very painful the first time."
This father of five, who wants to remain anonymous for his children's sake, looks back on his life and the mistakes he made.
"I frequently made assumptions and would mentally go over things in my head at home, all the time assuming that for example my wife was thinking or feeling something without asking her or checking in. I was living in sort of a delusional land for a while."
He says he felt frustrated about how to develop more intimacy in their relationship. Things got so bad that his second wife asked him to move out of the house.
"It was really a horrible experience," says the man, now 71. "It was lonely. I could be in my head all I wanted but it was deafening silence, lack of any kind of closeness... that actually helped me define what I really wanted primarily in my life, which was my relationship with my wife."
That was more than 20 years ago. It was a turning point that saved his marriage.
He and his wife went to a marriage counselor, but that wasn't enough to bring him out of his shell. Nor was one-on-one counseling.
So a therapist, psychiatrist Dr. Rob Garfield, recommended he join his "Friendship Lab," a therapeutic group of 5 to 7 men who learn how to become more comfortable opening up about their problems. They meet every other week with Garfield and his co-therapist, Jake Kriger, at the Men's Resource Center in Philadelphia. The two developed this model of group therapy 20 years ago.
"These are the same guys in their own community that can be functioning fairly well but personally feel disconnected," says Garfield, author of the 2015 book, "Breaking the Male Code: Unlocking the Power of Friendship."
Several of the men in the group have been members for more than 10 years. It helps participants learn to trust one another, communicate and open up.
Garfield says this physician who suffered from isolation is far from alone. He finds that many men, middle-aged and older, are a product of generations of male "coding."
"This is the way we're supposed to be: emotionally restrained, keeping things close to the vest, being in control, independent, competitive," he says. "These start from the time we're kids, as early as the age of three, and are reinforced through adulthood: the boy code, the guy code."
Garfield himself had great difficulty opening up decades ago. He went through a divorce and was starting a new career in his twenties.
"In men's group, it really accelerates their progress because they're getting support and actually hearing themselves kind of mirrored by other men, who on the surface look pretty good but are going through the same things," he says.
The Philadelphia physician, who asked that his name be withheld out of privacy concerns, has been a part of the friendship lab for 20 years.
"It's just a main venue that's safe for expression for anything that you wanted to bring up with the idea that you're not going to be judged, you're going to be heard, that you're going to get honest feedback from guys that you know, respect and like," he says.
"I didn't tend to have sustained relationships with men that would allow me to get into a lot of this personal information. I never had problems per se relating from a guy to a guy. As far as relating some of these issues, there wasn't really anybody I would trust. That I could tell them about anything that was on my mind."
Garfield, who teaches in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, designed a national survey in 2012 with a research group looking at the friendships of 380 men from a variety of age groups, races and ethnicities.
"Most guys have friends. In general the research shows men have as many friendships as women have but the quality is often very different. If a guy tells you he has a good friend, he may see them once every 3 to 5 years," says Garfield.
"What they wanted was more emotional intimacy in friendships to be able to express their feelings more."
Some men might also worry they will lose their romantic partner's respect by being too "soft." Garfield disagrees.
"My experience in getting feedback from women is that it's a relief. They're not thinking this guy is turning into a wimp," he says. "He's actually present and accounted for. He's showing up."
Dr. Garfield says one of his roles in the Friendship Lab is to help steer the men to talk using a language of emotion.
"Some men are actually able to do this fairly easily. Other men have to learn words like sad or shocked or hurt, these kinds of feeling words that actually put them in touch with raw emotions that they're feeling," says Garfield.
Garfield says the price of not opening up is not just profound depression but illness as well. Some men come to the group complaining of gastrointestinal problems or other issues like drinking too much.
"Many of these guys have physical kinds of problems that they don't really understand is connected with their isolation," says Garfield.
The Philadelphia physician says it took months to begin to trust others in the group, but after years that included annual sailing or other bonding day trips, he began to open up knowing that what they said in group was confidential and safe.
"The group itself is brutally honest. We're very interested in not discussing fluff in any way or small talk, and if someone is having a hard time expressing where they are, for whatever reason, it becomes pretty apparent because you've been working with these people for years. There's no hesitancy to call somebody else out to say listen, 'This really is not you. You're really being inhibited. What's going on?'"
Today the 71-year-old says he truly has happiness in his life because of this group.
"This is the best I've ever felt, which is really good. I feel more like a whole person rather than a shadow," he says.
"I felt grateful that they were giving me honest feedback so I could get out of my head and more into the reality of what was going on in my life. I think it was like peeling away sort of an onion, a little bit at a time."
Source: CNN.com
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What makes a good speller (or a bad one)?

(CNN)By the time he was 6 or 7 years old, Sameer Mishra was a pretty confident speller. His memory was sharp, he liked to read, and he actually enjoyed the weekly tests at school. While his parents drilled his older sister, a National Spelling Bee competitor, he'd angle for his own list of words.

Within a few years, he made it to the big bee in Washington, too. On his fourth and final trip there in 2008, he won by spelling the word "guerdon," meaning "something that one has earned or gained." Yes, Mishra is a good speller.
But everyone knows people who claim they're terrible at it and never were any good. They'd rather just use spellcheck, they say. To Mishra, they'll confess, embarrassed, "I misspelled 'banana' in the fifth-grade spelling bee" and just gave up.
So what is it that separates the spelling stars from the dictionary-deficient?
For those on stage at the National Spelling Bee this week, it often meant five hours a day memorizing words or studying etymology. For the perfectly good, non-bee spellers among us, it might mean they enjoyed reading from an early age.
But research published this year in the journal Brain suggests it has something to do with how some people's brains retrieve words -- or don't -- and how we manage to get them out -- or not.

The science of spelling

For as easy as the teens on stage make it look to spell "scherenschnitte" and "nunatak," there's a lot happening inside to produce each word.
Start with something a little simpler: "If I tell you a word like 'yacht' and ask you to spell it, maybe you can do it," said Brenda Rapp, a cognitive science professor at Johns Hopkins University and lead author of the Brain study.
If you heard the word and came up with y-a-c-h-t, it probably emerged from the areas of the brain that hold orthographic long-term memory, where spelling knowledge is stored.
If you're not familiar with the term of Dutch origin meaning a recreational watercraft, maybe you'd come up with something like y-o-t or y-a-h-t. You'd probably miss the "ch," but perhaps you'd identify a reasonable spelling that converts the sounds to letters, Rapp said. That process takes place in yet another part of the brain.
In either case, you had to hold those letters in mind, convert them into names or shapes and produce them in the right order. That, Rapp said, is orthographic working memory.
Each component plays a part in spelling a word, and each happens in a different part of the brain's left hemisphere.
Rapp and her colleagues studied 33 people who had trouble spelling after strokes. They struggled with long-term memory, working memory or both. The types of spelling errors they produced often depended on where their brains were damaged.
So what does that mean for those who just can't spell? People who haven't experienced a stroke or been diagnosed with something like dyslexia, which is closely related to dysgraphia, a word for poor spelling?
 
"To be a really good speller, all of these things need to be working well, and they need to be working well together," Rapp said. "You can imagine that in someone who is a poor speller, it suggests either one or more of these systems haven't fully developed, or they aren't interacting properly."
Human brains aren't specifically designed to do spelling or reading, like they are walking or speaking, Rapp said. Spelling and reading only stretch as far back as written language, several thousand years.
"They have to be learned," Rapp said. "They're not built in."
Most of us were trained in spelling and reading in school, but some will still see their emails marred by the angry red spellcheck lines. What you most often hear people complain about, Rapp said, is that they just can't see the word.
"For really poor spellers that otherwise seem like normal people of normal intelligence, it could be that ... for some reasons we don't understand, even though they had the same experience, they weren't able to create these long-term memory representations," she said.
That doesn't mean there's no hope of getting better or finding ways to cope.

Can you spell i-m-p-r-o-v-e-m-e-n-t?

More research is needed to zero in on which techniques works best to teach and learn spelling, but studying followed by testing has helped all of Rapp's stroke patients improve. Repetition -- "lots and lots of repetition" -- is key, she said.
 
6-year-old competes in Scripps National Spelling Bee
 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 
 
6-year-old competes in Scripps National Spelling Bee 03:45
"They study the word, then try to spell the word. They study the word, then try to spell the word. Study, spell, study, spell," Rapp said. "It's very important to test yourself."
For the youngest spellers, the key is getting the right words at the right time, said said J. Richard Gentry, an eduction consultant and author of "Raising Confident Readers." They're just learning to connect shapes with sounds and to store those patterns in their long-term memories. Some will still struggle, but a foundation that exposes children to bats, cats, hats and rats, for example, helps them move on to more complex sound and letter combinations, he said.
Spelling training has gotten more precise as research has improved, he said. No longer should students be presented with a jumble of words taken out of context. But neither does he believe that students should be tested on zingers used mostly in the course of a single reading or writing lesson.
"It's great that we're doing more writing, but spelling needs its own time, about 15 minutes a day," he said. "It's all about frequency and patterns."
And for adults who aren't aiming for spelling bee success? They can develop "spelling consciousness," Gentry said. That's what he calls an awareness that you should take the time to spell check an email or ask someone to read your memo before you send it.
"It's not their fault," Gentry said, especially if they have some form of dyslexia or were never really taught to do more than memorize the words on the test.
Even Mishra, the spelling bee champ, who recently graduated from Columbia University, said memorization can't be the only path to good spelling.
"I don't think it's possible to rote memorize the dictionary," he said.

The markers of spelling success

Mishra is attending the National Spelling Bee this week, and he still sees four qualities among the best-of-the-best spellers.
They're self-motivated and a little competitive. It's not about humbling the judges or besting other competitors, he said. The enemy is the dictionary, and the butterflies in their stomachs.
Second, they usually have a coach. It's an English teacher or a parent who helps them along the way, drilling them on words and keeping them on schedule. For Mishra, it was his sister, Shruti, who is now in medical school. When he hit a rough patch and struggled with the same words, she reminded him to run around outside or play video games.
"You can get frustrated, tired, exhausted," he said. "I needed someone to tell me: This is just a spelling bee."
Of course, it comes down to the work. The competitors are all intellectually curious, Mishra said. Great spellers are often avid readers, and they commit a lot of words to memory, but they'll also study prefixes, suffixes, foreign languages and definitions that will help them deduce how a word is spelled.
Just this week, after reading in Mishra's spelling bee bio that he's growing a beard, someone mentioned it was a "pogonotrophic fun fact." Mishra didn't know the word, but he knew that "pogo-" or "pogon-" referred to a beard and "-trophy" meant growing or development.
"It's pattern-building," he said. "A lot of really good spellers are really good at patterns."
Finally, Mishra said, great spellers persevere. Many competitors come back to the National Spelling Bee again and again until they've aged out of the competition. They inevitably leave off a letter or buckle after an intense round, but they don't give up and find something else to fill their time. "Grit" is what parents and educators call that quality nowadays.
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Eight things that happen when you quit alcohol

We all know too much alcohol is disastrous for the human body, though many studies have given us the OK to drink one to two glasses of wine per day, and see some health benefits.

There are even more reasons, however, to stop drinking alcohol completely. Here's what happens to your body when you begin to abstain.

1. YOU'LL SLEEP BETTER

A couple of glasses of pinot at night has a sedative effect on some people, making it easy to fall asleep. However, the quality of sleep you're getting in such a case is likely to be poor. A scholarly review of 27 different studies found that drinking will make you fall asleep quicker, but it'll soon affect the alpha wave patterns in your brain. The result is tossing, turning and waking up more often than usual throughout the night. Cut out alcohol completely and (after an initial period of adjustment) you should find you have longer, deeper sleeps every night.

2. YOU'LL LOSE WEIGHT

One of the main reasons people stop drinking alcohol is because they want to start losing weight, because you're cutting out empty calories altogether. Alcohol serves no nutritional purpose: It doesn't give you energy like carbohydrates or feed your muscles like protein. When you cut it out, you cut out hundreds of calories per day that weren't giving you sustenance anyway.

3. BUT YOU MAY CRAVE SUGAR

Although the sugar in beverages like wine is fermented into alcohol (and most wines therefore contain no or little residual sugar), a lot of people are satiated by wine's sweet taste. Like sugar, alcohol also gives your brain a hit of pleasurable dopamine and makes your feel temporarily happier. So if you stop drinking alcohol, you'll remove that dopamine hit and might begin seeking it from other sources – such as chocolate. While entirely in your control, this is something to be aware of.

4. YOUR METABOLISM WILL CHANGE

There is some evidence to suggest that light alcohol consumption (1-2 units per day) slightly speeds up your metabolism, but its effect is negligible if weight loss is a goal. Conversely, medium and heavy drinkers see their metabolisms slow significantly with alcohol consumption. Cutting out the drinks completely should see it speed up and make you burn energy more efficiently.

5. YOU'LL HAVE REGULATED BLOOD SUGAR

It is estimated that somewhere between 45 and 70 per cent of people with liver disease caused by alcoholism also have diabetes or a form of glucose intolerance. Alcohol wreaks havoc on your blood sugar levels by decreasing the effect of insulin in your body (potentially leading to insulin resistance). When you take booze out of your diet, this risk factor reduces because your body isn't impaired any more and can manage blood sugar levels effectively.

6. YOU'LL HAVE BETTER COGNITIVE FUNCTION

When you're drunk you slur your words, slow down your physical reactions, and your memory function doesn't work as well as usual. What may surprise you is that these effects linger long after you've sobered up, and staying off the sauce can bring your brain back up to optimal speed. In a study published by New Scientist, it was found that five weeks without alcohol improves cognitive function and concentration levels by 18 per cent, alertness by 9.5 per cent, and performance at work improves by 17 per cent.

7. YOU'LL BUILD MORE MUSCLE

Bodybuilders are usually teetotallers for good reason. According to a study in the American Journal of Physiology, alcohol consumption hinders workout protein consumption into the muscles, impairing the repair of muscles. Massey University research has even found that drinking alcohol also increases muscle soreness after weightlifting sessions. That's right: Not only does booze make your workouts less effective, it makes them hurt more afterwards, too.

8. YOU'LL CHANGE YOUR DISEASE RISK

In terms of disease risk, giving up alcohol changes your disease risk both for better and for worse. On one hand, your cancer risk goes down: Cancers of the liver, colon and rectum, breast, and mouth all have links to alcohol, and the more you drink, the higher your risk. Conversely, because light alcohol consumption – again, 1-2 units per day (but not more) – will reduce your risk of heart disease, that means dropping your intake to zero can, theoretically, raise that risk.

Source: Well and Good. com

 

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Research discovers mechanism that causes cancer cells to escape from the immune system

Under normal circumstances, the immune system recognizes and successfully fights cancer cells, eliminating them as they develop. However, sometimes the process breaks down and tumors form, and now we know why. Researchers at the Texas A&M Health Science Center found that when cancer cells are able to block the function of a gene called NLRC5, they are able to evade the immune system and proliferate, according to research published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

"We found the major mechanism of how cells escape from our and form tumors," said Koichi Kobayashi, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the Texas A&M College of Medicine and a lead author on the PNAS article. The discovery indicates NLRC5 as a novel biomarker for cancer patient survival and therapeutic response, as well as a potential target for new treatments.

"Cancer cells are born because of genetic changes, such as mutations or rearrangement of pieces of different chromosomes," Kobayashi said. "Because of this, all cancer cells have new, 'foreign' genes, which host T-cells generally detect as antigens. This anti-tumor system works very well."

Kobayashi and his colleagues discovered several years ago that NLRC5 regulates major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I genes. These genes code for molecules on the surface of cells that present fragments of foreign proteins—such as those from a virus or bacterium— that have invaded the cell. These fragments notify a part of the immune system called cytotoxic T cells, triggering an immediate response from the immune system against that particular foreign antigen.

The novel finding in this study is that the same system should work to destroy cancer cells, but sometimes they find a way to disable the NLRC5 gene, thus enabling them to evade the immune system and form tumors.

"If MHC class I antigen presentation does not work, cancer cells will not be killed by T cells," said Sayuri Yoshihama, M.D., Ph.D., a fellow in Kobayashi's lab and first author of the paper. "We found that function and expression of NLRC5 is reduced in cancer cells by various mechanisms, and the result is immune evasion by ."

In fact, based on biopsy samples from 7,747 solid cancer patients in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, expression of this NLRC5 gene is highly correlated with cancer patient survival in various cancer types—especially melanoma, rectal cancer, bladder cancer, cervical cancer and head/neck cancer—with patients who survive longer tending to have greater expression of NLRC5. Among these, melanoma and bladder cancer displayed the most striking differences, with 5-year survival rates of 36 percent and 34 percent in the NLRC5-low expression group compared with 71 percent and 62 percent in the NLRC5-high expression group, respectively.

"With this finding of NLRC5 as an important biomarker for cancer, we can ultimately predict how long cancer patients can survive and how well cancer treatments might work for them," Kobayashi said. It might be especially relevant for melanoma patients, both because NLRC5 mutation rate is relatively high and because its levels of expression are highly predictive of survival for that cancer type.

The team plans to continue its research on the role of NLRC5 in cancer and is actively developing plans for commercialization of technology related to this discovery. A provisional patent application has been filed, and plans are underway to develop and validate a test that can, based on NLRC5 expression levels, be used to predict cancer patient survival and therapeutic response. The hope is that the test will give health care providers one more tool for determining the best treatment strategy for cancer patients to eliminate the burden of costly, unhelpful therapies.

Eventually, Kobayashi and his team hope this discovery might also lead to new therapeutic strategies for cancer.

"If we can regulate the activation of NLRC5 or its expression level, that could be a novel cancer treatment," Kobayashi said. "We hope that in several years, our research may identify potential drug candidates that can increase the levels of NLRC5 and thus help our own immune systems better fight the cancer."

Still, he advises caution. This mechanism of evading the immune system is not employed by every cancer cell, and the research still needs to be replicated in an animal model.

Cancer isn't the only surprising disease that can be affected by the immune system. Kobayashi's previous work in immune function and genetics focused on inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's disease. They also study transplant medicine, trying to determine why some organs are rejected by the new host.

"We now know why cancer can escape from our immune system," Kobayashi said. "No other mechanism is as dramatic as we found. We envision the NLRC5 biomarker as allowing physicians to evaluate and determine the best treatment strategy for each , thus leading to better therapeutic outcomes for the more than 12 million people diagnosed with cancer each year."

Source: Medical Express News. com

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California boy, 7, who donated his hair to cancer patients for years diagnosed with 'aggressive' cancer

A 7-year-old California boy who has donated his hair to cancer patients was himself diagnosed with cancer, his parents said Sunday.

Doctors said Vinny Desautels has “Stage IV aggressive cancer” in growths on a hip, an eye, his nose and his right cheek, his father Jason told KTXL-TV.

 “Well, the veins from my hip are traveling to another place right behind my eye and it's making it squinty,” Vinny, who lives with his family in Roseville — near Sacramento — told the TV station.

The parents of 7-year-old Californian Vinny Desautels told a local TV doctors the boy was diagnosed with "aggressive Stage IV cancer."

He also explained his efforts over the past two years to help make wigs for people who have lost their hair while undergoing treatment. 

“I want to help people so they don't have to go to the doctors to fight cancer."

inny has donated his own hair for cancer patients for years before his own diagnosis.

Surgeons at a Sacramento hospital performed a bone marrow biopsy on Vinny Tuesday, and they’re waiting on pathology tests to identify his cancer and begin treatments, according to a GoFundMe page started by Vinny’s grandparents. The page had drawn over $357,000 from more than 8,000 donations Tuesday night.

“Praying for this sweet selfless boy!” one person wrote on the page. “Please God take this away from sweet Vinny.”

Vinny's grandparents posted this picture of Vinny and his father Jason Desautels on the family's GoFundMe page Tuesday. GoFundMe

Vinny's grandparents posted this picture of Vinny and his father Jason Desautels on the family's GoFundMe page Tuesday.

Doctors classify cancer that has spread to distant parts of the body as Stage IV, the highest such level, according to the National Cancer Institute. Vinny’s mother Amanda Azevedo told the TV station her son is a fighter.

“As long as we are doing this as a family, we got this,” Azevedo said.

Source: NY daily News

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Bullying is a 'serious public health problem,' report says

(CNN)It's time to recognize bullying as a serious public health issue, according to a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. But zero-tolerance policies aren't going to cut it.

"We need to understand that this is a public health problem faced by a third of our children," said Dr. Frederick Rivara, chairman of the committee compiling the report. "It has a major effect on their academic performance as well as their mental and physical health."

The effects of bullying

In addition to causing depression and anxiety and leading to alcohol and drug abuse into adulthood, the harmful effects of bullying manifest themselves physically in kids and teens by disrupting their sleep, causing gastrointestinal issues and headaches.
Researchers also noticed that bullying causes changes in the stress response system of the brain, affecting cognitive function and self-regulating emotions. Children who are bullied as well as those who bully others are more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide.
Bullies themselves are negatively impacted by their own behavior. They are more likely to be depressed, are at great risk for poor psychological and social outcomes and are more likely to engage in high-risk activities such as vandalism and theft.
Determining the scope of bullying hasn't always been easy due to differences in how it's defined or measured, but the committee looked at research suggesting that anywhere between 18% and 31% of kids are affected by bullying. Cyberbullying affected between 7% and 15% of kids, and it's on the rise.
There are also vulnerable subgroups at a higher risk for bullying, including kids who are obese or disabled, who identify as LGBT or who have fewer peers of the same ethnicity within their school.

What is bullying?

For the sake of having a consistent definition of what bullying means, the committee referred to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's current definition: Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated, and bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social or educational harm.
The report also focused on ages 5 to 18 years, in line with the CDC, because it's just as important to address bullying in early childhood as well as emerging adulthood.
Because cyberbullying is carried about by some of the same individuals and directed at the same targets, it is included within the broader definition rather than standing on its own. But Rivara acknowledged that more research needs to be done in order to understand cyberbullying and the most effective ways to combat it.
ven if cyberbullying isn't repetetive, which bullying often is by definition, it is still harmful because "a single perpetrating act on the Internet can be shared or viewed multiple times," according to the report.

How to prevent it

Given the proven short- and long-term "psychological consequences" for both the bullied and bullies themselves, the report committee determined which type of evidence-based programs can help to prevent it in the future. The report also includes suggested guidelines and policies for the future.
The recommendations include arriving at a consistent and comprehensive definition for bullying, more longitudinal studies about its prevalence, evaluating antibullying policies, developing and implementing evidence-based programs, and training and partnering with social media companies on policies to identify and respond to cyberbullying.
And it's time to shift away from zero-tolerance policies in schools and switch to Positive Behavioral Interventions & Supports or PBIS, which have a proven track record in more than 20,000 schools, according to committee member Catherine Bradshaw, a developmental psychologist and youth violence prevention researcher.
"Zero-tolerance policies were developed to address a variety of behaviors around bullying, but they don't work and may actually be harmful," Rivara said. "Under zero tolerance, bullies would be expelled or suspended. This decreases their chances of getting better or completing school and ultimately getting a job. They need help. With different programs, we can end the behavior but help them at the same time."
The PBIS programs have reduced rates of bullying, improved discipline and academic performance and created a better and healthier climate in the schools utilizing them, Bradshaw said. The programs focus on social emotional learning, which helps kids and teens to learn how to regulate their emotions, build empathy and identify the difference between teasing and bullying.
This can be used in conjunction with more intensive programs that are aimed at kids who are already involved in bullying, as a target or a perpetrator.
"Children need to be taught these skills like they would math and science," Bradshaw said.
But Bradshaw also said there is more room for utilizing innovation and technology to better identify and prevent bullying.
"We see a disconnect between the rates of bullying mentioned by kids and what adults are seeing and hearing," she said.
For that reason, the committee is calling for more data collection on bullying, like increased surveys among students, even if they are anonymous. Then, teachers can have a better idea of where the bullying is occurring and what type of bullying it is, and they can increase supervision. More research also needs to be done around bullies themselves, as well as bystanders.
As part of the training recommended by the committee, Bradshaw believes that more professional development models on bullying intervention could benefit from emerging technology. Role play through video games could seem more real and convincing to kids and adults working through scenarios as the bully, target or bystander, for example.

Preventing bullying outside school

Policies and programs need to transcend schools and reach the state level and federal agencies, the committee advised. All 50 states have adopted or revised laws to address bullying over the past 15 years, and almost all include cyberbullying. But the report encouraged state attorneys general to continually work with researchers on the best and most updated guidance for amending laws or creating new ones in anti-bullying campaigns.
Families were also a focus of the report.
Start the conversation at home before bullying occurs, Bradshaw said. Parents and families can provide critical emotional support, which helps kids open up about bullying that they are experiencing or witnessing. Family members can also help them cope and figure out how to handle and diffuse any situation that might arise, according to the report.
StopBullying.gov is a one-stop shop for kids, parents and teachers to learn the signs and symptoms of bullying, as well as strategies for stopping it, Bradshaw said.
What people learn about bullying early on can make a difference later.
"The important skills we're teaching kids now, when they're in school, are the same skills they need for life," Rivara said.
Source: CNN
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Fentanyl: The new heroin, but deadlie

Sacramento, California (CNN) America's addiction to opioid-based painkillers and heroin just got exponentially more dangerous. The most potent painkiller on the market, prescribed by doctors for cancer treatment, is being made illicitly and sold on the streets, delivering a super high and, far too often, death.

The drug, fentanyl, has been around since the 1960s. Its potency works miracles, soothing extreme pain in cancer patients who are usually prescribed patches or lozenges.
But an illicit version of the drug is flooding into communities across America, and casual users are finding out that their fentanyl pills and powder are delivering a powerful high that is easy to overdose on. It can even kill.
The Drug Enforcement Administration and the Centers for Disease Control say we have another national health crisis on our hands. These are just a handful of the people trying to stop it from taking more lives.

The mother

Natasha Butler had never heard of fentanyl before it killed her son, Jerome.
 
Natasha Butler stared hard at the pictures laid out in front of her.
But she averted her eyes when they lit on the one that still takes her breath away. It's the one that makes what happened real.
It's the one where the tubes, needles and respirator are all hooked up to her only son, Jerome, trying to keep him alive. They ultimately didn't.
"I'm dying inside," she said, her voice falling to a whisper and tears streaming down her face. "He was my firstborn. I had him when I was 15. We grew up together."
She had never heard of the substance that killed him. Doctors told her he died from an overdose of fentanyl, which experts say can be 100 times more potent than morphine and 50 times stronger than heroin.
"He came and told me it was an overdose. I'm like, 'An overdose of what?' It wasn't an overdose. This is murder," Butler said. "I taught my kids two things: God, and don't do drugs."
Jerome Butler had not been prescribed the highly controlled narcotic. His mother said she was told that an acquaintance had given Butler what her son thought was a pill of Norco, a less potent opioid-based painkiller, a mix of hydrocodone and acetaminophen.
The sellers knew, Butler alleges, that "the pill had the fentanyl in it, and they killed my son."
Jerome was one of 10 people who died in just 12 days from fentanyl-laced pills in a sudden spike of deaths in Sacramento County, California, in March. More than 50 people overdosed on those pills in the first three months of the year but survived. Investigators are still looking for the source.
Similar clusters of fentanyl-related overdoses and deaths are appearing across the United States.
Like the DEA, the Centers for Disease Control and prevention has issued a health advisory and is stepping in to get health providers and first responders to report fentanyl-related overdoses as well as expand access to naloxone, the drug that counteracts deadly opioid overdoses.
The latest state statistics on fentanyl-related deaths compiled by the CDC tell a sobering story.
Ohio reported 514 fentanyl-related deaths in 2014, up from 93 the year before. Maryland reported 185 fentanyl-related deaths, up from 58 in a year's time. In Florida, the number of deaths jumped to 397 in 2014, from 185. New Hampshire had 151 reported deaths due to fentanyl alone in 2015, five times the number of deaths from heroin, according to the office of the state's chief medical examiner.
No one was more stunned to see those numbers than the mother freshly grieving her son's death from the drug. She didn't know that so many other families had suffered its deadly effects long before it hit hers until she started researching it.
 
"What are we doing? What are we doing about it?" Butler said, exasperated and weeping. "I'm willing to do everything that I can."
And that is just what Butler intends to do. She's on a mission to warn communities about the opioid-based drugs killing people at alarming rates across America.
She is talking to community groups and has called senators, the California governor, even the White House, looking to tell her story and to build a coalition to help stave off more deaths from opioid use, especially fentanyl.
"I'm mad at the person who sold it. I'm mad at the person who is compressing it. I'm mad at the state for not protecting our people," she said.
Since her son's death, she said, she's heard from so many young people who are addicted to painkillers such as Norco.
"If you feel you don't have that much strength, let's get together," she said. "We can build strength. We can make a difference. We have to."

he special agent

"Just micrograms can make a difference between life and death," DEA Special Agent John Martin said of illicit fentanyl.
 
Illicit fentanyl is a bestseller on the streets and a prolific killer. It is so potent that when law enforcement goes in to seize it, officers have to wear level A hazmat suits, the highest protection level made, the same kind of suits health care workers use to avoid contamination by the deadly Ebola virus.
"Just micrograms can make a difference between life and death. It's that serious," said DEA Special Agent John Martin, who is based in San Francisco. An amount the size of a few grains of sand of fentanyl can kill you. "All you have to do is touch it. It can be absorbed through the skin and the eyes."
One of the top priorities for Martin and his agency is to stop the flow of fentanyl and other opioids from flooding American communities.
It first showed up in deadly doses on the streets in 2007. The DEA traced the illicit fentanyl to a single lab in Mexico and shut it down. Fentanyl drug seizures subsided for a while, but in 2014, they spiked in 10 states.
It's been an uphill battle. Americans are buying it in record numbers, and highly organized drug cartels are spreading it far and wide.
What is curious is where the drug or elements to make it originate. Its street nickname is "China White" or "China girl," offering a hint at where most of it is coming from.
"DEA investigations reveal that Mexico-based drug cartels are buying fentanyl directly from China," Martin said.
And as far as profits go, the other opioids commonly sold on the streets -- heroin, hydrocodone, OxyContin and Norco -- can't even touch fentanyl.
Hydrocodone sells for about $30 a pill on the street. A fentanyl pill may look and cost the same but requires only a fraction of the narcotic to give users an even stronger reaction.
The DEA estimates that drug traffickers can buy a kilogram of fentanyl powder for $3,300 and sell it on the streets for more than 300 times that, generating nearly a million dollars.
Fentanyl is often trafficked through the cartels' standard maze of routes through Mexico and into the U.S. But sometimes it's simply ordered on the notorious dark web and shows up straight from China in the buyer's mailbox.
"We're using countless resources to deal with the threat," Martin said.
Seizures of the drug have jumped dramatically, which would seem to be good news for the DEA. But what it indicates is that there is more of it to seize than ever before.
"Everywhere from the Northeast corridor, down to New York, the Midwest and now we're seeing it here out on the West Coast. Fentanyl is everywhere right now," Martin said.
On the East Coast and in the Midwest, it's often sold as powder and mixed with heroin. On the West Coast, it is showing up mostly in pill form.
"It's feeding America's addiction to opioids," Martin said, adding that the cartels have figured out a way to make it more cheaply and easily than heroin.

The forensic scientist

California state Sen. Patricia Bates is pushing a bill that would put harsher penalties on high-volume sellers of fentanyl.
 
"They look like what you're getting from the pharmacy," forensic scientist Terry Baisz said. She was taken aback by just how much the counterfeit pills look like the ones sold by pharmaceutical companies.
After 26 years in the Orange County crime lab, south of Los Angeles, she has never seen anything like what is coming in these days. It worries her.
"I was shocked the first time I tested this stuff and it came back as fentanyl. We hadn't seen it before 2015," Baisz said, "and now we're seeing it a lot."
Fentanyl had entered Orange County, and it was killing people.
Wearing gloves and a lab coat, Baisz looked down at a tiny clear plastic bag under a glass hood with a ventilation system. It was pure fentanyl. A sneeze or deep breath could end in a deadly overdose, so testing it calls for strict protocols. But Baisz said it's the pills that worry her the most as a public threat.
"I wouldn't hold those in a sweaty palm for long. You're bound to get dosed," she said.
In her lab coat and gloves, she pointed to pills spread across a table. They were all labeled as various well-known pharmaceutical drugs. They looked like perfect replicas of the real deal. None was labeled as fentanyl, but that is what most of them actually were.
"Just one could kill you," Baisz said. "We have to test them. We can no longer rely on the database and our naked eye."

The lawmaker

California state Sen. Patricia Bates is pushing a bill that would put harsher penalties on high-volume sellers of fentanyl.
 
"It's so dangerous and so lethal, I had to get involved," California state Sen. Patricia Bates said. "Two minutes, and you could be in respiratory arrest and be dead. It's kind of like, get high and die."
Bates knows those details because the fentanyl overdose deaths started racking up in one of the areas she represents, South Orange County. She is trying to push through a bill that would put harsher penalties on high-volume sellers of fentanyl.
The bill "will enhance the penalties, by weight," Bates said. "We're talking about ... catching the big guys, because when you take them out of the food chain, you really do reduce the incidents of the trafficking and what's available on the streets."
She knows it's a tough sell in a time when California voters have passed laws to lessen prison sentences for nonviolent offenders. And, of course, there is the matter of prison overcrowding in the state. But Bates is pushing it forward because she is certain this is the next epidemic, similar to what is happening with heroin but more deadly.
"Addicts are migrating to fentanyl," she said, "They are driven to it because it's a quicker, bigger high. Yet it is something that you don't recover from when you get that super-high."

The drug counselor

When fentanyl began showing up in San Francisco in 2015, Eliza Wheeler helped get the word out on the streets about a new, very potent drug in town.
In San Francisco, the drug showed up in the form of white powder and then as pills labeled as Xanax. It turned out to be pure fentanyl. A health advisory warned that more than 75 people had experienced an overdose in July that year.
"People didn't know what it was," Wheeler said. They thought it was heroin, which is far less potent.
Though San Francisco has seen a sudden rise in fentanyl overdoses, the city did not experience the large number of deadly overdoses that other cities have.
Wheeler is a project manager at the DOPE Project (Drug Overdose Prevention and Education) in San Francisco. In cooperation with the city's health department, DOPE and other organizations flooded the streets with fliers warning that "white heroin," promising a super high, was super potent and potentially deadly. The fliers also advised drug users to carry around Narcan, the brand name for naloxone, which blocks or reverses the effects of opioid-based drugs. It is supposed to be used in an emergency such as an overdose.
Since 2003, DOPE has trained about 6,000 people on how and when to use Narcan. It can be administered with a needle or as a nasal spray. "We saved countless people by giving easier access to (Narcan) and informing them about the dangers right away," Wheeler said.
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The San Francisco Department of Public Health sent out a health advisory crediting groups like DOPE with saving lives.
"If you want to do something that will keep people from dying and impact the crisis immediately, then lawmakers should help make more naloxone and training available to the public," Wheeler said.
Natasha Butler, who continues to grieve her only son, would like to see something else, too.
"We have an Amber alert to save children. Why not have a Jerome alert to warn people about this drug?"
 
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