<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/healthhttp://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.pngNBC 7 San Diegohttp://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usMon, 25 Jul 2016 15:45:19 -0700Mon, 25 Jul 2016 15:45:19 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations<![CDATA['Drunkorexia' Common Among College Students: Study]]>Sat, 23 Jul 2016 15:07:20 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/BeerDrinking-GettyImages-144235968.jpg

Almost a third of college students say they’ve taken part in practices dubbed “drunkorexia,” according to a recent study, NBC News reported. 

That’s the name for behaviors such as skipping meals or heavy exercising to offset calories from binge drinking, or to pump up alcohol’s buzz. The study, conducted by a research assistant at the University of Houston, found that the behaviors were just as common in men as they were in women. 

The survey found that 80 percent of students engaged in at least one of the following behaviors: cutting back on food and increasing exercise; engaging in bulimic-type behaviors such as vomiting after eating or taking laxatives; boosting exercise or eating less to offset calories from drinking. 

Previous research showed that 40 percent of college students drink heavily at least once a month. The researcher said a cultural shift in men being more worried about their appearance may have led to the rise in the behavior. 

Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Surgery Successfully Cures Epileptic Patients]]>Thu, 21 Jul 2016 07:59:38 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_epilepsy0720_1920x1080.jpgDoctors in Houston, Texas, are using a new procedure to eliminate seizures in many epilepsy patients. KPRC's Haley Hernandez reports.]]><![CDATA[Helping Teens With Autism Learn to Drive]]>Tue, 19 Jul 2016 07:42:04 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_driveautism0718_1920x1080.jpgResearchers are working on ways to help autistic teens learn to drive. NBC's Erika Edwards reports.]]><![CDATA[San Diego Newborn Dies of Whooping Cough]]>Mon, 18 Jul 2016 21:30:36 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Whooping-Cough2.jpg

A 5-week-old baby has died from whooping cough, San Diego County health officials said Monday.

The newborn, who was otherwise healthy, died July 15 from the disease, which is also referred to as pertussis. It’s the first infant death from whooping cough in San Diego since 2010 and the second this year in the state, officials said.

Further details on the baby's death weren't revealed.

Health officials said it’s critical that pregnant women and people who come into close contact with infants get vaccinated to protect against whooping cough.

Newborns are extremely susceptible to whooping cough because they are too young to be fully vaccinated.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all young children receive five doses of DTaP by kindergarten and all students entering seventh grade need proof of a whooping cough booster immunization.

In addition, a Tdap booster is recommended for pregnant women during their third trimester.

For more information on whooping cough and vaccinations, call the San Diego Health and Human Services Agency's immunization branch at 866-358-2966.

<![CDATA[Can a Child's Own Cells Fight Type 1 Diabetes?]]>Thu, 14 Jul 2016 10:21:17 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Diabetes0713_MP4-146850629810200001.jpgDoctors hope this first-of-its-kind clinical trial will lead to a cure for Type I Diabetes.]]><![CDATA[K2, Drug Linked to Mass NYC Overdose, Explained]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 14:13:08 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/185*120/AP_100215039023.jpg

Despite dire warnings about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids, popularly known by names such as K2, Spice, Black Mamba and Kronic, they continue to grow in popularity, NBC News reports.

On Tuesday, 33 people were rushed to the hospital in Brooklyn with symptoms that suggested an overdose on the drugs. New York City's health department told NBC New York there have been more than 6,000 K2-related emergency room visits and two confirmed deaths in New York City since 2015.

To get a better understanding of what K2 is and why the drug is so dangerous, NBC News spoke with Marilyn A. Huestis, a professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore and former chief of chemistry and drug metabolism at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. 

"They can destroy the kidneys so people may die or need to have dialysis and/or transplants," she said. "They can cause cardiovascular effects and can bring on heart attacks and strokes in the brain."

Photo Credit: AP, FIle
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<![CDATA[Study: Tobacco Drifts Into Smoke-Free Units]]>Wed, 13 Jul 2016 07:32:00 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/162*120/114959332.jpg

People living in apartments or condos who have established smoke-free homes are still being exposed to the dangers of second-hand smoke, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study looked at tobacco use and secondhand smoke exposure for people living in apartment or condos.

Eighty-one percent of homes in multi-unit housing were smoke-free compared to 87 percent of single-family homes, according to the study.

Even though a majority of residents say they live in a smoke-free home, more than a third said smoke from tobacco products enters their homes from elsewhere in the building. In fact, 34 percent reported the presence of second-hand smoke in their living area.

Almost 8 percent reported secondhand smoke entered their homes every day, and 9 percent reported secondhand smoke entered a few times a week, according to the study.

"Opening windows or using ventilation systems does not effectively eliminate secondhand smoke exposure in multiunit housing," Brian King, Ph.D., deputy director of research translation in the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health and a co-author of the study said in a written release.

In California, more than three dozen communities have banned smoking in multi-housing units according to the American Lung Association.

For those where smoking is allowed, there are still areas where smoking is banned under California law.

For example, smoking in common areas of apartment or condo complexes is prohibited under the state's workplace smoking ban, according to the California Air Resources Board.

The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, used information from the the 2013-2014 National Adult Tobacco Survey.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Placentae Can Bring New Life to Vision Treatments ]]>Tue, 12 Jul 2016 08:51:08 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Screen-Shot-2016-07-12-at-10.08.53-AM.jpg“Think of it like a born again eye,” Dr. Chike Mordi from Vision Source in Houston, Texas says of a new treatment's ability to help regenerate eye tissue. With a placenta that meets stringent donor screening and tests, doctors like Mordi can fix scarring and inflammation.]]><![CDATA[Improving Lesbian Health With Focus on Wellness]]>Tue, 12 Jul 2016 07:03:31 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/LesbianHealth0711_MP4-146832830246300001.jpgLesbian and bisexual women have higher rates of obesity, smoking and stress when compared to their heterosexual counterparts, but one University of Missouri researcher is working to change that. Dr. Jane McElroy led the first-ever national study to develop healthy weight programs for lesbian and bisexual communities. Ninety-five percent of the study participants achieved the health objectives that are critical for obesity prevention as identified by the Health and Medicine Division of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.]]><![CDATA[San Diego Blood Bank Facing 'Critical' Shortage]]>Tue, 12 Jul 2016 06:28:50 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Blood-Donation-GettyImages-115577729.jpg

Blood donors are needed to fill a critical shortage, the San Diego Blood Bank (SDBB) warned Monday.

“Supplies are low and the advent of Zika has worsened the challenge,” said San Diego Blood Bank CEO, David Wellis in a written statement. “There is no substitute for blood donations are critically needed."

There is currently a nationwide need for blood and platelet donors. All blood types are needed.

To be eligible to donate blood you must be at least 17 years old (15 and 16 year olds may donate with parental consent), weigh at least 114 pounds and be in general good health.

Anyone who has traveled outside of the United States has to wait 28 days after returning to donate blood.

Eligible blood donors are encouraged to schedule an appointment to give by visiting www.SanDiegoBloodBank.org or calling 1-800-4-MY-SDBB (1-800-469-7322).

The San Diego Blood Bank serves hospitals in San Diego, Orange, Imperial and Los Angeles counties.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Health Experts Give Up on Zika Funding From Congress]]>Mon, 11 Jul 2016 13:17:40 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoes-AP_16127497121865.jpg

Congress started its final week of the summer Monday but there was still no agreement on a legislation that would get the U.S. ready for a fight against the Zika virus, NBC News reported. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has registered 1,133 cases of Zika infection — all brought by travelers from Zika-affected areas. The CDC now counts 320 pregnancies affected by Zika in the states, and another 279 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Mosquito season is also in full swing in the U.S. and experts predict it's a matter of time before there are local outbreaks.

Republicans in Congress repeatedly stalled bills that would have supplied at least some of the funding. Then last month, Republicans offered a $1.1 billion plan as part of another bill, but Democrats said it was full of "poison pills" that attacked Planned Parenthood and eased pesticide regulations. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gay, Bisexual Men Urged to Vaccinate Against Meningitis]]>Fri, 08 Jul 2016 08:52:06 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Mengitis-GettyImages-166665957.jpg

Los Angeles County health officials will join with the Los Angeles LGBT Center Thursday to urge gay and bisexual men to be vaccinated against meningitis, local cases of which have spiked in recent months.

According to the county Department of Public Health, seven new cases of invasive meningococcal disease were diagnosed in the county in the last two months, bringing the number of cases this year to 11.

The most recent patient is a young adult gay man who was hospitalized. He was the fourth recent case in the L.A. County health agency's jurisdiction to occur among self-identified gay men or men who have sex with men. Including cases from Long Beach and Orange County, there have been seven cases among men who have sex with men since the beginning of May.

"The number of infections among men, most of whom identify as gay or bisexual, is substantially more than would be expected,'' said interim Los Angeles County Health Officer Dr. Jeffrey Gunzenhauser. "This is of great concern, and we want to ensure that individuals who are at risk get vaccinated and take other precautions to stop the spread of this deadly disease.''

Gunzenhauser is expected to join officials from the Los Angeles LGBT Center, city of Long Beach health department and AIDS Project Los Angeles today to encourage at-risk populations to get vaccinated.

On Tuesday, County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl introduced a motion calling on county health officials to develop a "comprehensive vaccination campaign,'' particularly targeting gay and bisexual men.

"We have seen a small number of cases of this dangerous disease since 2012,'' Kuehl said. "And, although our county health officer began recommending vaccination in 2014, we are still not seeing enough of our residents protecting themselves and getting vaccinated.

"We need a comprehensive response targeting the highest-risk population, men who have sex with men, to ensure that individuals who are at risk get vaccinated,'' she said.

Meningitis vaccinations are recommended for all HIV-infected people and all gay/bisexual men -- regardless of HIV status -- "who regularly have close or intimate contact with multiple partners or who seek partners through digital applications, particularly those who share cigarettes/marijuana or use illegal drugs.''

Health officials said people can also help prevent the spread of the disease by not sharing drinks, utensils, food, toothbrushes, cigarettes, cigars or pipes; and not having multiple kissing partners.

Meningococcal disease can start with flu-like symptoms, then progress to high fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion and rash, according to the health department. The disease is fatal in about one in 10 patients.

Copyright City News Service

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[California Might Get a Gym Where You Can Smoke Marijuana]]>Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:25:57 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/marijuanagym.jpg

A former pro football star and an advocate for athlete marijuana use have teamed up to open a gym in San Francisco that they say will be one of the first in the world to allow members to smoke pot while working out.

Ricky Williams, who played for the Saints, Dolphins and Ravens, and Jim McAlpine, a snowboard company executive, said Power Plant Fitness also will offer edibles and topical gels for those who don't like smoking the plant. They say using pot while exercising can help them focus or relax.

Members of the gym, which plans to open this year, will need a medical marijuana prescription to join, but that could change if California voters legalize recreational pot in November.

"I personally use it for focus. It's not about getting high. It's about keeping my mind engaged in the activity I'm in," said McAlpine, who organizes the 420 games, athletic events aiming to stop the stigma against pot use.

Carla Lowe, founder of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, a political action committee based in Sacramento, said it's not clear how the drug affects the body but "there's zero evidence that marijuana helps you focus. There is evidence that it makes you dopey."

Her group is working to defeat the ballot measure that would legalize marijuana in California, saying it "does not bode well for the future of our country."

But Williams, who was suspended several times by the NFL for marijuana use, said he wants to dispel the stigma.

"I think a lot of people buy into the stoner stereotype where guys just sit on the couch, smoke and don't do anything, and they're not very motivated," said Williams, who retired from the NFL after the 2011 season. "I found when I was playing football that using cannabis helped me relax physically, relax mentally and even spiritually."

Any potential benefits of marijuana on exercise have not been studied thoroughly. But one doctor who works with marijuana-smoking patients says the drug can help manage post-workout pain.

"To use cannabis in that sense for pain relief instead of the usual things you're able to use now, like opioids, is hands down why you would use it," said Dr. Perry Solomon, chief medical officer for HelloMD, a digital health care platform for the cannabis industry.

<![CDATA[Insight into Serial Attacker's Mind]]>Thu, 07 Jul 2016 08:02:34 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Homicide-Person-of-Interest-0705162.jpg

As San Diego police continue to search for a man accused in a killing series targeting random homeless people, experts try to learn more about the suspect.

Dr. Clark Smith is the Medical Director of Recovery Works. He’s also a long-time forensics psychiatrist who has analyzed hundreds of criminals, including murderers. He is not involved in the investigation, but weighed in.

“At the heart of anyone who would do this, they’re sociopathic,” Dr. Clark said. “They don’t have the man normal human emotions…This killer wants to express rage. Wants to take power over people.”

Dr. Clark said it is very likely the man will strike again if he is not caught.

“Someone who’s done this and gotten away with it. There’s a compulsive urge to repeat it,” he said.

Dr. Clark could not talk about a possible motive in this specific case. He did says some sociopaths attack randomly out of anger sometimes triggered by a loss.

Photo Credit: SDPD]]>
<![CDATA[Billion Dollar Policy Proposed to Stem Opioid Epidemic ]]>Thu, 07 Jul 2016 06:30:28 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_heroin0706_1920x1080.jpgThe White House has asked Congress to approve more than a billion dollars in emergency funding to combat the nation's growing opioid addiction crisis. The Obama administration also announced that it's loosening restrictions on a drug called buprenorphine used to ease addicts' cravings.

Photo Credit: NBC News ]]>
<![CDATA[More Second-Trimester Abortions Occurred Under Texas Law]]>Thu, 07 Jul 2016 03:31:23 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SupremeCourtTexasAbortion-AP_16179555843580.jpg

A preliminary review of statistics released by the Department of State Health Services in Texas shows a 27 percent increase in abortions after 12 weeks, NBC News reported. 

The numbers appear to oppose the 2013 omnibus abortion bill passed by Texas, which said it would protect women’s health — a rationale rejected by the Supreme Court last month. 

The total number of abortions dropped, despite the increase in later abortions — which rose from 4,814 procedures in 2013 to 6,117 in 2014. 

"Although second-trimester abortion is very safe, it is associated with a higher risk of complications compared to early abortion, and it's more expensive for women," said University of California San Francisco professor Daniel Grossman, who shared his analysis exclusively with NBC News. 

The Supreme Court found in June that new requirements on abortion providers mandated by the state law led to closures of about half of Texas’ abortion clinics, while concluding the regulations were medically unnecessary.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Cases in the U.S.]]>Tue, 05 Jul 2016 13:38:40 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/zika-carto-thumb.jpg

Using data from the CDC, this map tracks Zika cases by state. The map is updated once a day.

Developed for NBC by CartoDB, a location intelligence and data visualization company.

Photo Credit: CartoDB
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<![CDATA[Health Officials Widen Flour Recall After 4 More People Get Sick]]>Fri, 01 Jul 2016 15:16:05 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Flour-recall-General-Mills.jpg

Federal health officials on Friday widened an already big recall of flour after four more people got sick from food poisoning linked to the flour, NBC News reports.

No one has died or developed the most dangerous symptoms from the E. coli infections, but 42 people have become ill from the General Mills flour, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration said.

The CDC said health officials have found harmful E. coli 0121 strains in General Mills flour collected from the homes of ill people in Arizona, Colorado, and Oklahoma. On Friday, the CDC said Indiana has been added to the list of states with ill people. 

The General Mills recall covers types of Gold Medal Flour, Gold Medal Wondra Flour, and Signature Kitchens Flour.

Photo Credit: General Mills]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Says He Expects Congress to Move on Zika Virus]]>Fri, 01 Jul 2016 13:41:15 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ZIKA_GettyImages-537671534.jpg

About $25 million was dispensed by federal health officials Friday to help states at risk from Zika defend against its spread — cash taken from other programs because Congress has not approved fresh funding to fight the virus, NBC News reported. 

New Zika funding has been deadlocked in Congress, despite demands from President Barack Obama for increased funding to the tune of $1.9 billion. 

"I expect Congress to get this funding done before they leave for vacation, before they adjourn. That's part of their basic responsibility," Obama said.         

Republicans in the Senate presented a $1.1 billion spending plan with provisions that Democrats said were unacceptable. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there are 935 confirmed cases in at least 45 states and Washington D.C. Another 2,000 cases were reported in Puerto Rico, Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Photo Credit: Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[New Zika Studies Reveal Invisible Damage to Babies]]>Thu, 30 Jun 2016 11:32:35 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/BabyZika-AP_698041135257.jpg

Zika virus causes different types of brain damage in babies, not just microcephaly, according to two new reports.

Brazilian researchers found as many as one in five babies born with brain damage caused by Zika had normal-sized heads, NBC News reports. That means babies who may seem normal may in fact suffer from serious conditions that parents and doctors may not notice until they get older.

Worse, one study confirms that many of the pregnant women whose babies were affected didn't have the obvious symptoms of Zika, such as a rash. The virus is known to cause invisible infections in most people who catch it — usually good news, but that's bad news for pregnant women who may not know anything is amiss until their babies start showing symptoms as they grow.

And the study also found that even late in pregnancy, babies can suffer brain damage caused by Zika. In other words, there's no stage of pregnancy that's safe.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[A Little Butter Won't Kill You, Study Says]]>Wed, 29 Jun 2016 16:35:39 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/175635030-butter-generic.jpg

A little butter isn't going to kill anyone, but it's not a health food, nutrition experts said in a study released Wednesday.

"I would say butter is neither good nor bad," Laura Pimpin of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University told NBC News. 

Many studies look at saturated fat or omega-3 fatty acids or calcium, but Pimpin's team set out to find studies that looked at whole foods that people actually eat and then calculated their risks for overall death, heart disease and diabetes.

When possible, butter should be replaced with more healthful plant-based oils, Pimpin said. And it might be more useful, she said, to focus on the stuff people eat butter with.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Conference Sheds Light on Postpartum Depression]]>Wed, 29 Jun 2016 18:40:37 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/baby_feet_generic.jpg

Many talk about the joys of becoming a new mother. But for some women, it can be a very difficult, dark time.

Often times, the topic of postpartum depression is not talked about. Maureen Provenzale, who once suffered from postpartum depression, hopes people can become more aware of it.

She was hospitalized for postpartum depression and treated for what she says was a "true chemical imbalance." 

It took her time before she realized she needed help.

"I sat on the couch and I stared at the wall, and had the baby sitting on the floor," she said. "I was thinking about getting in the car, [thinking] ‘I'm just going to go away. He'll be better with someone else,’” Provenzale explained.

Provenzale spoke with NBC 7 while attending a conference at the Marriott Hotel in Mission Valley. It was the 29th annual conference of Postpartum Support International (PSI).

"Women are expected to be happy, especially if they have had a normal baby, especially if things have gone well,” PSI president Ann Smith said. “There is a certain degree of stigma about admitting to feeling that badly."

One goal of PSI is to make people more aware of a mental illness that impacts so many women.

"It needs to be talked about early on in pregnancy," Provenzale added.

For information about postpartum depression or for support, call PSI at (800) 944-4773. There’s also a great deal of information about postpartum depression in the documentary, “When the Bough Breaks,” which is narrated by actress Brooke Shields.

<![CDATA[Water Systems Failing to Test for Lead]]>Wed, 29 Jun 2016 09:02:05 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/223*120/lead-faucet.jpgThe Natural Resources Defense Council reports more than 18 million Americans got their drinking water from systems with lead violations in 2015.]]><![CDATA[Whitewater Park Closes After Deadly Amoeba Kills Teen]]>Fri, 24 Jun 2016 19:01:06 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/USWhitewaterCenter-.jpg

Health officials found a brain-destroying amoeba in the water at a North Carolina water park, which suspended operations Friday, NBC News reported. 

Officials found evidence of the microbe, and shut down the affected parts of the park after an Ohio teen died earlier this week after visiting the U.S. National Whitewater Center near Charlotte. Only whitewater activities are suspended, official said. 

The amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, occasionally kills people, and is often found in warm bodies of water. Cases of infection are rare. In cases that do result in infection, the microbe can get into the sinuses and from there infect the brain. Although the risk is low, experts say people worried about infection should avoid getting water up their noses. 

The North Carolina park says it disinfects the water used throughout the facility.

Photo Credit: U.S. National Whitewater Center]]>
<![CDATA[Celebrities Come Out for National HIV Testing Day]]>Mon, 27 Jun 2016 08:55:20 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DanielFranzese-GettyImages-533405824.jpg

The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS foundation is among the organizations putting resources behind HIV prevention and is urging people to get informed and tested. 

The foundation will hold its first HIV-testing event at the Abbey in West Hollywood on June 27, which is National HIV Testing Day, NBC News reports.

Celebrity advocates, including Daniel Franzese, Julie Benz, Lance Bass, Frances Fisher and Kyle Pratt, will be in attendance to encourage people to get tested, increase awareness and help eliminate the stigma surrounding HIV. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S. More than 156,000 of them are unaware they are infected.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[FluMist Nasal Spray Vaccine Doesn't Work: Experts]]>Wed, 22 Jun 2016 18:34:05 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/FluMistSpray-AP_16174566973522.jpg

Experts area saying the needle-free FluMist influenza vaccine has not protected against flu for years and should not be used this coming flu season, NBC News reported. 

The decision could nerve pediatricians short of vaccine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 

According to the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, data reviewed from past flu seasons revealed it didn’t work in recent years. The CDC said it was only 3 percent effective last flu season. 

FluMist uses live but weakened strains of the flu virus to stimulate immune systems, and is sprayed up the nose.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Epidemic Has Doubled Abortion Requests: Study]]>Wed, 22 Jun 2016 16:31:35 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoes-AP_16127497121865.jpg

The epidemic of Zika virus has caused a spike in requests for abortion help in countries that ban or restrict abortions, researchers said Wednesday.

Several women whose fetuses have shown evidence of possible Zika-related birth defects have opted for abortions in the U.S. and other western countries where abortion is legal, NBC News reported. But millions of women live in Latin American and Caribbean countries where the mosquitoes carry the virus almost unchecked. Many of the countries also restrict access to birth control.

The researchers found a 36 to 108 percent jump in abortion requests in countries where Zika was spreading, where there were advisories to women and where abortion was legally restricted.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of Texas at Austin, who decided to investigate how the epidemic has affected requests for abortions.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[300 Charged in Nation's Largest Health Care Fraud Bust]]>Wed, 22 Jun 2016 11:20:34 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AG_AP_16137669714048.jpg

About 300 people in more than half the states have been charged in the largest crackdown to date on health care fraud, federal authorities announced Wednesday. 

According to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services, those arrested account for more than $900 million in false billings to Medicare and Medicaid, NBC News reported. 

The crackdown ensnared 60 licensed medical professionals, including 30 doctors, officials said. The billings were for treatments or services deemed medically unnecessary — or for services that were never provided at all, including home care, medical equipment and phony prescriptions.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Americans Spend $30 Billion a Year on Alternative Medicine]]>Wed, 22 Jun 2016 11:01:49 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-75357983.jpg

Americans spend a substantial part of out-of-pocket health care costs on alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, yoga, chiropractic care and natural supplements, even though there is little evidence some of these approaches work, NBC News reported.

Federal researchers reported Wednesday that Americans shelled out more than $30 billion in 2012 alone for some sort of alternative or complementary treatment — an average of $500 per person.

The team at the National Center for Health Statistics says the findings is "an indication that users believe enough in the value of these approaches to pay for them."

Though studies have shown acupuncture can help in many ways, including with pregnancy-related nausea, other popular treatments have little or no science to back them up, including homeopathy, naturopathy, guided imagery, energy healing and traditional healers.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pregnant Women in Puerto Rico at Risk for Zika: CDC]]>Fri, 17 Jun 2016 12:24:17 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/PuertoRicoZikaCDC-AP_16169572347522.jpg

The zika virus is spreading quickly in Puerto Rico, meaning hundreds of babies could be born with birth defects, NBC News reports. 

More than 1 percent of all Puerto Rico blood donations tested in early June tested positive for the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

"In coming months, it is possible that thousands of pregnant women in Puerto Rico will catch Zika," CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said at a briefing for reporters. "This could lead to dozens or hundreds of infants being born with microcephaly in the coming year." 

The CDC began testing for Zika in Puerto Rico in April. Health officials confirmed more than 1,700 infections in the territory so far this year. Any blood donations that test positive for the virus are thrown out.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lung Cancer Patients Treated With Drug Over Chemo ]]>Thu, 16 Jun 2016 15:28:21 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MerckKeytruda-AP_41869771122.jpg

Lung cancer patients who have never been treated will now get the same drug used to help former President Jimmy Carter, NBC News reported. 

Researchers said they wanted to give Keytruda to 305 lung cancer patients who never received treatment. They wanted to see how it worked against standard chemotherapy cocktails. 

It worked as well if not better than chemo, so researchers stopped the study to see if the drug worked well on its own. 

Keytruda was the same drug that helped Jimmy Carter stall advanced melanoma that spread to his brain. It also helped patients live longer without their tumors growing or spreading, according to Merck — the company that makes the drug. 

The company can now ask the Food and Drug Administration if it will approve Keytruda to use as the first treatment a lung cancer patient tries. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Smoking Rate Drops, But More Kids Are Vaping]]>Thu, 09 Jun 2016 16:43:58 -0700http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/TeenSmoking-GettyImages-549379089.jpg

Fewer teens are smoking cigarettes than ever before, NBC News reports. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday that just 11 percent of high school students said they smoked in 2015. In 2013, that number stood at 15.7 percent. 

Only one-third of the students surveyed said they had tried a cigarette, the CDC said. 

But e-cigarettes are gaining popularity among teens — a trend that worries the CDC. The survey found 24 percent of high school students reported using e-cigarettes during the past 30 days. 

Because it was the first time the question about e-cigarettes was asked, there’s no way to know if that’s changed from past years.

Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images]]>