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HealthWatch: Breast Cancer Prevention

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Girls Eating Right, Exercising May Help Ward Off Breast Cancer Later

A growing body of research shows that girls who have healthy diets and who exercise before puberty and beyond may cut their risk of developing breast cancer later in life.

Dr. Elisa Port is a breast cancer expert at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York.

She discussed the evidence on The Early Show Wedneaday, and suggested things parents can do to help their daughters get the biggest benefit.

To watch the segment, click here.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quick, Low-Cost Clinics

A new breed of health clinics offers a quick and inexpensive alternative to traditional doctors.

The walk-in clinics, located in pharmacies, are popping up all around the country, promising no wait and fast service. There are roughly 100 in the United States so far.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay observes that, for people with minor medical problems, long waits in doctors' offices are a big complaint. Now, the low-cost and convenient clinics for patients in a hurry are creating a whole new trend in consumer-driven healthcare.

Senay says the clinics are staffed by nurse practitioners or physician's assistants who treat minor ailments and offer basic health services. The fee is less than a doctor gets, and it's much quicker.
Prescriptions are available.

To see Senay's report, click here.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Trip Health Tips

If you're planning a summer getaway this year, there are some steps you should take to help make your vacation a healthy and happy one.

On Monday, The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay suggested some things you shouldn't leave home without doing:

Whether you're vacationing in the United States or abroad, a basic first aid kit is a good idea. For a wilderness trip or travel through remote areas by car, take a kit that has enough supplies for everyone in your party. Bring adequate supplies of food and water in case you get lost or stranded. Mosquitoes carry some dangerous diseases, so remember to put on plenty of insect repellent and use mosquito netting to protect you while you're sleeping in areas with mosquito-borne diseases. Unpurified drinking water is a major source of germs, so boil water or purify it before you drink it.

Some people are at higher risk than others for illness while traveling. People who backpack or trek, people older than 65and people who already have an illness that makes them more susceptible to disease are at higher risk of getting sick.

It's a good idea to see your doctor and dentist for a checkup before you leave to make sure you don't have any illness or condition that requires attention.

If you're already taking medication for any reason, make sure you take a supply with you in case it's not available wherever you're going. Antibiotics can be prescribed ahead of time if you need them for a bout with travelers' diarrhea, which can be caused very easily by contaminated drinking water. Write down a list of the medications you are taking, and why, in case a doctor unfamiliar with your medical history needs that information.

Put a call in to your doctor to make sure you're up to date with the vaccinations everybody needs as a child. For many parts of the world, the shots you got as a kid are enough protection against disease. You need a tetanus booster every ten years, and vaccination for measles and polio are important if you haven't had them. These are diseases that have been largely wiped out in this country, but are still a risk in other parts of the world with less advanced health care. Depending on where you go, a flu shot may also be a good idea. In the Southern Hemisphere flu season runs from April to September.

Also, ask your doctor about any health concerns or additional shots you might need that are specific to the area you're visiting. Extra precautions are often recommended, if not required, for travel to areas where different diseases are common. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Web site has an excellent travel health section that has the best up-to-date information on health alerts and additional vaccinations for a particular region or country.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Study: A-Third Of U.S. Adults Who Have Diabetes Don't Know It

There's been a concerted effort in recent years to increase public awareness about diabetes.

But a new study from the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that one-third of the adults living with the disease in the United States don't know they have it.

Dr. Robin Goland, an endocrinologist and co-director of the Naomi Berrie Diabetes Center at Columbia University Medical Center, says she finds that surprising, precisely because she would have thought those recent public education campaigns would have gotten through to more people.

On The Early Show, she notes that, of the 20.8 million Americans who have diabetes, 95 percent have type 2.

Goland says the good news is that, if you're on your way to getting diabetes, changing your diet and exercising just a little can prevent it from happening 60 percent of the time. The bad news is it has no symptoms, so it could be going on and it could be hurting your body.

In the segment, Goland talks about why so many Americans are unaware they have diabetes, its warning signs, why screening and early detection are important, and how diabetes is treated.

To watch the segment, click here.

In its "Small Steps. Big Rewards: Prevent Type 2 Diabetes" campaign, the NIH's National Diabetes Education Program reaches out to people at risk for type 2 diabetes with the message that they have the power to turn the tide against this disease.

For statistics on diabetes, provided by the NIH, click here.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Safe Grilling

Lots of people are going to fire up the barbecue over the holiday weekend.

But, if you're not careful, you could wind up with an uninvited guest at your cookout: food poisoning.

On The Early Show Thursday, Dr. Richard Raymond of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has plenty of advice about avoiding it.

To watch the segment, click here.

He says salmonella is the most common food-related illness.

Over the past seven years, the number of cases has dropped by 30 percent, due in large part to an aggressive USDA education strategy.

But people still ignore certain basics. The four main rules are clean, separate, cook and chill.

Wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling meat, especially poultry. Separate your raw meats from the rest of your food. People often take a plate of raw meat to the grill, then put the cooked meat back on the same plate. Cook your meat at 165 degrees. This is the minimum to safely cook meat. And finally, chill your food when you're not eating it. People often leave the potato salad out on the picnic table for hours before people get to it.

Vegetable-related illnesses have been getting more common. Scientists don't know why some veggies are more prone to bacteria than others, but, basically, people don't realize they can get sick from vegetables being left outside or not being properly chilled.

Children are most susceptible to food poisoning, as well as the elderly. Moms need to be extra careful.

To view a USDA barbecue safety fact sheet, click here.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lack Of Sleep May Cause Women To Put On Pounds

If you're not getting enough sleep, here's one more thing to keep you awake.

New research suggests that women who don't get enough shuteye are more likely to gain weight.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay says the study followed almost 70,000 women over a 16 year period, and found that women who got less sleep were at higher risk of weight gain and obesity.

Women who slept for five hours per night compared to those who got seven hours were 32 percent more likely to have major weight gain of 33 pounds or more, and 15 percent more likely to become obese over the duration of the study.

And the risk of weight gain and obesity went down for the women who got six hours compared to seven.

Senay says this new research, presented at this week's American Thoracic Society meeting, adds weight to a growing body of evidence that lack of sleep is a factor in weight gain.

She discussed it on The Early Show Wednesday.

To watch the segment, click here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hidden Home Carbon Monoxide Threat

The start of hurricane season is an opportune time for a reminder that, while very helpful in a crunch, gasoline-powered generators carry with them the very real threat of carbon monoxide accumulating in your home.

On The Early Show Tuesday, medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explained that carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas that can cause sudden illness and death. It's found in combustion fumes from fire or anything that burns fuel, including vehicles, generators, stoves, lanterns, charcoal and wood stoves or grills, gas ranges and household furnace and heating systems. Carbon monoxide doesn't normally cause problems in a well-ventilated area, but if it builds up in enclosed or poorly-ventilated spaces it causes poisoning when the fumes are inhaled.

When the power goes out during a hurricane, many people resort to gasoline-powered generators. They need to be operated far from a home, so the exhaust cannot enter. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 100 carbon monoxide poisonings and 15 deaths in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the Gulf states. Most occurred as a result of using generators improperly.

For much more on this, watch the segment, by clicking here.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Breast Cancer-Obesity Link

There's growing evidence that overweight women are much more susceptible to breast cancer.

On The Early Show Monday, medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explained that many types of breast cancer are fueled by the hormone estrogen, and fat cells produce small quantities of it.

So, said Senay, the more excess weight a woman carries in the form of fat, the more estrogen her body produces, and the higher the risk of developing breast cancer. Excess weight is also known to raise the risk of cancer recurring in breast cancer survivors.

She added that taking a snapshot of a woman's weight at any one time is not as useful as measuring weight gain over a lifetime.

In the first study of its kind, appearing in Monday's journal Cancer, researchers looked at the risk between weight gain throughout adulthood and all kinds of invasive breast cancer in almost 45,000 postmenopausal women who weren't taking hormone therapy. They found the greater the weight gain, the greater the risk of all types, stages and grades of breast cancer.

Compared to those who gained 20 pounds or less during adulthood, women who gained more than 60 pounds were almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer tumors, except the tumor types not fuelled by estrogen. And the risk of breast cancer that spread to other parts of the body was tripled for the heavier group.

To watch Senay's report, click here.

Friday, May 19, 2006

FDA Panel OKs Cervical Cancer Vaccine

A vaccine that blocks viruses that cause most cervical cancer is safe and effective and should be approved, a federal panel recommended Thursday. The drug's maker, Merck, said the vaccine could slash global deaths from the No. 2 cancer killer in women by more than two-thirds.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted 13-0 on five separate times to endorse Gardasil.

It's likely to get the green light from the full FDA in early June. After that, the vaccine would move into the hands of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will have to decide if it should be a mandatory vaccine or just a recommended vaccine, CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports.

"A vaccine like this is significant and could absolutely put a big dent in … cervical cancer," said The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay, who discussed it on the show on Friday.

"To put it into perspective," she said, "some 3,500 women die every year from cervical cancer in the United States. But it's a much bigger problem worldwide: Some 290,000 women die annually from cervical cancer worldwide.

"This vaccine is effective in preventing four different types of the human papilloma virus -- or HPV -- that are believed to be responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. So, this vaccine would be a big help, but it wouldn't eradicate cervical cancer altogether.

"There are other potentially cancer-causing types of HPV that this drug wouldn't prevent. So, even with the vaccine, it's still important for women to undergo regular screening, those annual pap tests are very important."

For details on developments surrounding Gardasil, click here.

To watch Senay's segment, click here.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

New Concerns Raised About Vitamins, Supplements

Continuing concerns about the efficacy of vitamins and other dietary supplements led the National Instiutes of Health to convene a major conference to review all the latest scientific evidence about them, and the results should be noted by everyone who uses them.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay says the conference endorsed only a handful, recommend against using others, and said the jury is very much still out, overall, as it called for much more research in the area.

The conference also pointed out that many people are taking too many vitamins and supplements: Some can be toxic at very high does. You can get too much of a good thing, the conference concluded.

For details, click here to watch the segment.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

New Pre-Pregnancy Guidelines

Many factors that can harm fetal development do serious damage early in pregnancy, often before a woman even realizes she is pregnant.

And, reports The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed recommendations that stress the necessity for health care planning if your life plan includes having children.

There are a number of steps women can take to be healthy and benefit both themselves and their future children, Senay points out.

She discussed the suggestions on The Early Show Wednesday.

Among them: getting counseling about making healthier lifestyle choices to protect the health of mom and possible future baby, such as maintaining appropriate weight, exercise and nutrition.

Other important steps a mother-to-be needs to take include ensuring she gets enough folate, or folic acid, to help prevent serious birth defects. Also: not smoking or drinking alcoholic beverages.

To watch the segment, click here.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Preventing Illness

The old saying says an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, when it comes to good health.

And now, reports i>The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay, a new study provides a report card on efforts to identify and prevent the most common threats to our health.

She says strategies such as routine vaccination and regular screening and counseling in the doctor's office are among the most powerful weapons in medicine, helping doctors to help their patients head off a wide range of health problems before it's too late. Much of the effort in health care today involves using our knowledge of threats such as cancer, heart disease and infectious disease to try to avoid these illnesses altogether.

"Fortunately," Senay points out, "there are plenty of ways we can screen and detect these things in the earliest stages, or even prevent these things from occurring in the first place. So, preventive medicine is incredibly important to reduce the problems that occur from these diseases and improve health overall.

"Unfortunately, we underutilize so many of the things that we know work."

The study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looks at which strategies are being effectively and frequently utilized, and which aren't, in many areas of medicine.

To watch the segment, click here.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Preventing, Detecting Skin Cancer

With summer fast approaching, it's important to start thinking about the damaging effects of the sun.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explains that ultraviolet radiation from the sun raises the risk of skin cancer later in life.

The type of skin cancer that's the most worrisome, she says, is malignant melanoma, which can spread to other parts of the body. Other types of skin cancer, such as basal cell skin cancer, are much less dangerous than melanoma.

The good news, says Senay, is that skin cancer is a visible cancer, and when melanoma is detected early and treated, it's very curable.

Senay goes through skin cancer risk factors, then tells how to protect yourself from skin cancer, and what to look for to tip you off that you may have it. This is where the "ABCs of skin cancer" come in, though they're actually A-through-E.

To watch the segment, click here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Second Anti-Smoking Pill OK'd

The Food and Drug Administration has given the green light to Chantix, which helped more than one-in-five smokers kick the habit in clinical trials. The drug, made by Pfizer, is drug designed to cut down on the pleasure of lighting up and to reduce nicotine withdrawal sypmtoms.

Pfizer says its tests showed Chantix to be more effective than another anti-smoking pill, Zyban.

For details, click here.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay discussed the new drug with co-anchor Rene Syler Friday.

To watch the segment, click here.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Natural Allergy Relief Aids

As pollen makes its way into the air, more than 35 million Americans suffer the sneezing, wheezing, runny nose and itchy, watery, red eyes that characterize spring allergies.

Many head to the drugstore to purchase popular, over-the-counter medications, but traditional medications often produce troubling side effects such as drowsiness, dry mouth and nausea.

Allergy sufferers may be better suited to look to nature to cure what ails them.

On The Early Show Thursday, alternatives medicine expert Dr. Woodson Merrell, director of the Continuum Center for Health and Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, gave his take on possible natural aids such as spicy food, herbs, and even kissing! He also touted acupuncture.

To watch the segment, click here.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Focus On Impaired Eyesight

New research shows that it's a common but, in many cases, correctable condition affecting millions of Americans. Dr. Emily Senay has details.

The first national survey of vision in 30 years in this morning's Journal of the American Medical Association shows that, although most of us have good eyesight, impaired vision is very common in the United States.

According to The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay, the National Eye Institute surveyed some 15,000 Americans and analyzed the data to come up with a snapshot of the quality of vision in the U.S.

Ninety-four percent of Americans age twelve and older see well enough to pass the vision test required by most states to get a driver's license. About 14 million people twelve and older currently have impaired vision. And roughly 83 percent, or 11 million of them could attain good vision with proper eyeglasses or contact lenses.

Vision impairment was found to be more common in racial minorities, people with diabetes, the poor, and those lacking health insurance.

Researchers say correcting impaired vision should be a public health priority to improve safety and quality of life. The fear is that people with impaired vision may be at increased risk of injuries, and older people are at increased risk of falls, fractures and depression.

Senay also discussed the most common causes of impaired vision, how diabetes leads to it in many cases, and how frequently people should get eye exams, along with other treatment questions.

To watch the segment,


Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Recognizing Strokes

Early detection and getting help quickly in the case of a stroke can often mean the difference between life and death, or minimizing damage to surviors.

As medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay explains on The Early Show Tuesday, a stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts, and the brain is damaged in that area. The consequences can be catastrophic. A stroke can kill quickly, and brain damage can paralyze or rob a victim of the ability to speak and think properly.

The more time that passes, the more brain cells are lost. It can take years to recover from a debilitating stroke, and many people never fully regain all of their abilities or mental faculties.

A person having a stroke may not be able to communicate what is happening in order to get help.

The American College of Emergency Physicians is using a new acronym, FAST, to help people recognize symptoms and act quickly if they think they or someone near them is having a stroke.

As Senay points out, "F" is for face, or stroke symptoms that affect the face, such as numbness or weakness in facial muscles, a drooping, crooked smile, or sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes. "A" is for arms, or a numb, weak or drooping arm, especially on one side of the body. "S" is for speech, which is slurred speech, an inability to understand or be understood, or an inability to speak. Finally, "T" is for time: The quicker the response, the less chance of brain damage. Call 911 immediately.

Other warning signs could include a sudden lack of balance or coordination, and a sudden, severe headache without a known cause.

To watch Senay's segment on strokes,


Monday, May 8, 2006

Arthritis: Stats, Treatments, Prevention, More

It may surprise you to learn that arthritis is the leading cause of disability in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the crippling disease is affecting more people than ever. The agency says that, in 2003, an average of 27 percent of Americans had been diagnosed with arthritis, and an average of ten percent of Americans had arthritis-related limitations of their daily activities.

According to medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay, that means at least 43 million people in the U.S. have arthritis. And the CDC says the high rates of arthritis and its impact on daily activities are projected to increase with the aging U.S. population.

On The Early Show Monday, Senay discussed the causes of and treatment options for arthritis, as well as possible ways to prevent it.

To watch the segment,


Friday, May 5, 2006

Kids And Strokes

A lot of people don't realize that kids can have strokes. Statistics are sketchy, but studies suggest that strokes occur in three of every 100,000 children from the age of one month to 18 years. In newborns, the stroke rate is even higher, roughly one stroke for every 5,000, about the same as the rate for adults over 75. About 10 percent of childhood strokes are fatal.

The problem is that strokes in children often go undiagnosed because parents don't recognize the signs, because they just don't think a stroke is possible. And treatment can be difficult, because drugs used to treat adults have never been tested on children and are, therefore, not approved for children.

Pediatrician Dr. Lillian Beard discussed it with co-anchor Hannah Storm on The Early Show Friday.

To watch the segment,


Thursday, May 4, 2006

Study: Fewer Teens Having Sex, But Many Who Do Getting Pregnant

A new study from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said on The Early Show Wednesday. "It will be great to get rid of them."

"It shows that even the soda companies now recognize the connection of these high sugary drinks with childhood obesity and the fact that childhood obesity leads to a variety of health problems, including diabetes, and later in adulthood, high blood pressure, and a variety of other ailments," Connecticut State Senate President Donald Williams, whose state already bans soda in schools, said.

For more on this story, click here.

To see the Jacobson interview,


Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Teens And Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes continues to make inroads among teens in the United States.

On The Early Show Tuesday, medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay

the majority of people with the disease suffer from type 2 diabetes, which develops over time when the body loses its ability to process insulin and regulate blood sugar. It's thought that most type 2 diabetes cases develop as a result of obesity, and we're seeing more and more type 2 diabetes in young as well as old people in this country.

A survey in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine estimates that 39,000 teens in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and an estimated 2.5 million more have pre-diabetes, or an inability to manage blood glucose levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.

Monday, May 1, 2006

Melatonin Pros And Cons

New research examines the plusses and minuses of the popular sleep hormone melatonin.

On The Early Show Monday, medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay

that melatonin is a sleep hormone naturally produced by the body during sleep and darkness. Melatonin helps regulate sleep patterns and set our internal body clock. During waking daylight hours, bright light hitting the retina of the eye tells our body not to produce melatonin.
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