<![CDATA[NBC 7 San Diego - Health News]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/health http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/KNSD+RSS+Feed+logo+blue.png NBC 7 San Diego http://www.nbcsandiego.comen-usSun, 20 Aug 2017 14:29:47 -0700Sun, 20 Aug 2017 14:29:47 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Sex or Sleep? Male Fruit Flies Make a Choice: Study]]> Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:55:50 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/0710-2015-FruitFlies.jpg

When given a choice of sex or sleep, male fruit flies tend to opt for the latter, while female fruit flies think differently, according to research out of the University of San Diego.

Divya Sitaraman, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at USD, studied two fundamental behaviors needed to survive in fruit flies: sex and sleep. The research, conducted across both genders of fruit flies, aimed to learn how organisms prioritize behaviors when a choice must be made.

While some actions can be performed at the same time – like walking and drinking coffee – some behaviors cannot be performed simultaneously because they use shared resources. The nervous system has evolved ways of helping us focus on a task at hand. For instance, when we’re hungry, we choose to seek food before anything else.

Sitaraman’s research looks into the genetic, neuronal and precise circuit mechanisms that help organisms – in this case, fruit flies – make choices in social behavior.

It turns out, male fruit flies would rather sleep than have sex.

"They would always choose sleep over courtship," Sitaraman explained. "The females do not show the same preference for sleep over sex."

According to the study, male fruit flies prioritized behaviors differently than females in this scenario: when they were sleep deprived, they reduced their courtship behaviors.

Female fruit flies, however, did not.

“Genes important in sex determination also seem to play a critical role in these behaviors. The interplay between sex and sleep circuitry at the neuronal level seems sex-specific and functions very differently in female flies. Taken together, the study uncovered the role of genes in regulating sex-specific behaviors, interaction between circuits involved in different behaviors and sexual dimorphism in decision making,” a press release from USD stated.

Sitaraman said her study shows that decision-making and behavioral execution of those decisions “cannot be generalized in males and females.”

She said it’s important to study both male and female organisms to better understand behavior.

“We might be missing out a lot of the neuroscience of the sexual dimorphism of decision-making,” she added.

Sitaraman’s study was conducted in collaboration with scientists at Yale University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Southeast University in China; the discoveries were published in last month’s issue of Nature Communications, a journal that publishes high-quality research in biology, physics, chemistry, Earth sciences and related fields.

She said the study has been "a neuroscientist’s dream."

USD said the professor was awarded a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for $366,409 to study sleep regulation by dopamine.

That upcoming research, according to the university, may one day help scientists figure out ways to treat sleep disorders in humans.

“These studies will not only expose undergraduates to cutting-edge neuroscience research but also further the long-term goal of exploiting the experimental tractability of the fly as a model for mammalian sleep and reveal new hypotheses and approaches in understanding and treating clinically significant problems of sleep disorders,” a press release stated.

You can read the full study here.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Overdose Death Rate Doubles]]> Thu, 17 Aug 2017 08:21:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_teenoverdoses0816_1500x845.jpg

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a steep increase in fatal drug overdoses involving teenagers ages 15 - 19 since 2015 after years of decline. Deaths from fatal drug overdoses doubled, with most cases stemming from opioid use. 

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<![CDATA[If Trump Cuts Obamacare Subsidies, Premiums Will Spike: CBO]]> Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:45:28 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_17206719818863.jpg

The Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare premiums will increase by 20 percent next year and by 25 percent in 2020 — if President Donald Trump ends key federal subsidies to the program.

The CBO report released Tuesday also found that if the administration moves to cut the billions in subsidies to insurers, that would leave about 5 percent of Americans living in areas with no access to individual health care plans.

As CNBC reports, Trump has repeatedly threatened to end the billions of dollars in payments to insurance companies that sell individual health plans under the Affordable Care Act.

Insurers have warned they will be forced to raise premiums sharply to make up for the loss of cost-sharing reductions payments, or CSRs, if Trump cuts them off.



Photo Credit: Alex Brandon/AP (File)]]>
<![CDATA[Apple, Aetna Meeting to Bring Apple Watch to Aetna: Sources]]> Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:25:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/applewatchcolorful-1200x675.jpg

Apple and Aetna held secret meetings last week to bring Apple's health- and fitness-tracking device, Apple Watch, to Aetna customers, according to three sources who spoke with CNBC. 

Aetna, which covers an estimated 23 million people, is negotiating a deal with Apple to either provide the smartwatch for free or at a discounted rate to its members. 

Recently, Apple has focused on developing new health sensors for people with chronic disease, according to a CNBC report in April.

Apple Watch recently surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling health-tracking device, after shipments reached an estimated 22 million in early 2017. 



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Looking into the Future: Online Eye Exams]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:12:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/MD02F_1200x675_1022508099586.jpg

An online eye exam that you can take on a computer, in the comfort of your home. Seems like the perfect solution for busy people who may not have time to see the eye doctor. Yet, the increasingly popular tests have left many in the medical community skeptical.

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<![CDATA[5 Die After Being Fitted With Obesity Devices, FDA Says]]> Fri, 11 Aug 2017 08:16:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cms794.jpg

At least five people have died after receiving gastric balloons to help them lose weight, the Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. 

It’s unclear whether the balloons or the surgery to implant them could have caused the deaths, but the FDA issued an alert to doctors to monitor patients who have the devices, according to NBC News. The balloons are intended to treat severe obesity by reducing how much a person can eat by filling the stomach, closing off part of the stomach or surgically reducing stomach volume.

Two different balloon devices have been involved in reports of the deaths, which came as quickly as a day after surgery: one made by Apollo Endo-Surgery, the other by ReShape.

Apollo said the company has sold 180,000 of Orbera balloon devices worldwide.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File]]>
<![CDATA[Camp Beyond the Scars]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 14:08:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/vlcsnap-2017-08-10-14h06m04s366.png

Camp Beyond the Scars provides young burn survivors with a fun, safe, supportive, and inclusive camp environment that encourages healing, personal growth and character development within a natural setting.

Susan Day, Executive Director of the Burn Institute said the camp has proven to be a great experience. 

“Many times it’s the first time they get to meet a fellow burn survivor and share that common thread,” Day said.

This week, 45 young burn survivors, ages 8 to 17, will participate in a variety of activities and support sessions, specifically designed to help enhance self-esteem and coping skills.

Camp provides a nurturing atmosphere where each child can learn how to deal with the emotional and physical hardships they face as a result of their burn trauma.

“I’ve been here for a really long time so it’s nice to reunite,” said camper Madilyn Garcia. “It’s awesome to get the support every year.”

The object is to transform burn victims into burn survivors.

“Everyone understands everybody,” said camper Amy Grieshaber. “Everyone supports each other and there’s love and care.”

Many of the camp's counselors are off-duty firefighters and adult burn survivors who volunteer their time.

Established in 1987, Camp Beyond the Scars is one of the Burn Institute's most successful burn survivor support programs.

The Burn Institute is a local non-profit agency dedicated to reducing the number of burn injuries and deaths in San Diego and Imperial counties through fire and burn prevention education, burn care research and treatment, and vital burn survivor support services.

For more information call the Burn Institute at 858-541-2277 or visit www.burninstitute.org.



Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[1 in 3 Cancer Patients Face Unexpected Costs: Study]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:34:05 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/214*120/Screen+Shot+2017-08-10+at+11.30.52+AM.png

A Duke University study found more than a third of cancer patients with health insurance faced out-of-pocket costs that were more than they expected. Researchers say patients with unexpected costs are less willing to pay for care and may skip or opt out of necessary treatments.

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<![CDATA[The Freshman 15 Is a Myth]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 07:19:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/freshman15.jpg

Incoming college students have long feared the freshman 15, the alleged 15 pound weight gain common among first year students. But studies suggest this concept is nothing more than a myth, NBC News reported.

Only 10 percent of students end up gaining 15 pounds or more. Fluctuation in weight is still common for freshmen, but students typically gain an average of 7.5 pounds.

For some students, stress and other factors can actually trigger weight loss. It’s worth noting that the peak age for eating disorders is 18 to 21, right around the time students first enter college.

There are many measures students can take to maintain a healthy weight as they leave home for the first time. Establishing a routine meal schedule and limiting snacking will help make the adjustment easier. Getting a good night’s sleep and working to keep stress levels low will also help.



Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images ]]>
<![CDATA[Lawsuit: CVS Charges More for Drugs Paid for With Insurance]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 03:16:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cvsgeneric_1200x675.jpg

A California woman sued CVS Health Corporation Monday, accusing the company of charging customers more when they use insurance to pay for certain generic prescriptions, NBC News reported.

Megan Schultz claims in the lawsuit that she paid $165.68 for a prescription at CVS, America's largest pharmacy chain. Had she bought the same drug without using insurance, she said it would have only cost $92.

"CVS never told her that paying in cash would allow her to pay 45% less for the drug," the complaint says, claiming that the higher costs come from the pharmacy overcharging and remitting the excess payments to its pharmacy benefit manager, which negotiates between the insurance company and pharmacy.

CVS denied the allegations, responding in a statement that they "are built on a false premise and are completely without merit."



Photo Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Americans’ Use of Alcohol Is on the Rise: Study]]> Thu, 10 Aug 2017 06:36:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_ALCOHOL_INCREASE_080917-150230034019500001.jpg

A new study has found an 11 percent increase in alcohol use among Americans between 2002 and 2012. There was an even bigger jump in high-risk drinking and alcohol-use disorders. Women, older adults and racial minorities were found to have increased their alcohol use and abuse the most.

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<![CDATA[Opioid Overdoses Have Been Higher Than Thought: Study]]> Tue, 08 Aug 2017 03:40:56 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_17171822298733-hypodermic-needles-syringes-everywhere-.jpg

Deaths from heroin and opioid overdoses may have been underreported by more than 20 percent, according to a new study from the University of Virginia.

Researchers looking into the nation's deadly drug overdose epidemic revisited thousands of death certificates between 2008 and 2014 and found that mortality rates for opioids were 24 percent higher than previously reported, while the mortality rate for heroin was 22 percent higher than previously reported, according to NBC News.

"Opioid mortality rate changes were considerably understated in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey and Arizona," according to the study, published this week in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. "Increases in heroin death rates were understated in most states, and by large amounts in Pennsylvania, Indiana, New Jersey, Louisiana and Alabama."

The presidential opioid commission, chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has urged President Donald Trump to "declare a national emergency" to deal with the crisis that, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, killed nearly 35,000 across the United States since 2015.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File]]>
<![CDATA[UCSD Medical Discovery Could Lead to New Vaccine for Strep Throat ]]> Mon, 07 Aug 2017 20:37:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/215*120/TLMD-michigan-caso-de-strep-throat-faringitis-estreptococica-kevin-breen-manos-negras------------.JPG

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) may have discovered a path to a vaccine for two types of currently incurable step throat, thanks to a recent medical discovery. 

"What we are discovering has gone unnoticed for nearly a century by researchers," said Victor Nizet, MD, a professor at UCSD.

According to Nizet, strep throat bacteria can lead to flesh-eating diseases in those with weak immune systems.

"There is one protein on the bacteria that breaks off when it enters the body," said Nizet. "The body's white blood cells explode to attack it, which causes inflammation."

This is why your throat often swells up when strep is present: because the body is fighting off the infection, Nizet explained. 

"In patients with weakened immune systems, that very same inflammation can spin out of control and cause severe damage," said Nizet. "So that's what we're understanding. The battle between the host, meaning our immune systems, and this leading pathogen."

Nizet said this has gone unrecognized until now because scientists have been focused on studying the bacteria, not the protein that breaks off of it.

The discovery could lead to a change in the way vaccines are designed and a development for Strep Group A and Group B, which currently have no vaccines that efficiently fight them off.



Photo Credit: WOOD]]>
<![CDATA[Transgender Medical Center Opens For Kids]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 05:53:34 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_transgenderclinic0802_1500x845.jpg

Transgender kids in the St. Louis, Missouri, area now have somewhere to go for medical care and counseling. A transgender medical center opened Tuesday, and it's the first of its kind in the region. The medical facility is expected to help hundreds of children and their families throughout the region with comprehensive health care.

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<![CDATA[Amrita Protein Bars Recalled for Listeria Risk]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 03:43:15 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/necn+recall+generic.jpg

A brand of protein bars has been recalled by its manufacturer because it may be contaminated with listeria.

Amrita Health Foods, which is based in Pleasantville, New York, voluntarily recalled a limited number of Amrita Bars after a supplier reported that sunflower seeds and sunflowers seed butter sold to the company could be contaminated.

The recalled Amrita Bar were distributed to retail stores across the country. The following products have been recalled:

  • Amrita Chocolate Maca Bar, 60g (UPC 853009004056) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Dark Chocolate Quinoa, 60g (UPC 853009004438) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Sunflower Seed Butter, 60g (UPC 853009004414) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Chocolate Chip Coconut, 50g (UPC 853009004391) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Mango Coconut, 50g (UPC 853009004018) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Apricot Strawberry, 50g (UPC 853009004056) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Pineapple Chia, 50g (UPC 853009004025) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Apple Cinnamon, 50g (UPC 853009004049) : Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018
  • Amrita Cranberry Raisin, 50g (UPC 853009004032): Best Buy date between 04/24/2018 to 05/31/2018


Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious infections in young children, the elderly, and anyone with weakened immune systems. Symptoms include fever, nausea and diarrhea.

Anyone with questions about the recall can call Amrita Health Foods Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4p.m. at 1-888-728-7779. Or click here for more information.  



Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Glitter iPhone Cases Recalled for Burn Risk]]> Thu, 03 Aug 2017 12:05:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/iphone-cases.jpg

Decorative iPhone cases sold at Victoria's Secret, Nordstrom Rack and other stores have been recalled by their manufacturer because a liquid glitter inside the cases can cause skin irritation and chemical burns.

MixBin Electronics recalled 24 styles of cases for iPhone 6, 6S, and 7. Over 260,000 affected cases were sold at websites and stores for Victoria's Secret, Nordstrom Rack, Amazon, Tory Burch, Henri Bendel and MixBin.

Worldwide, 24 cases have been reported of the liquid inside the cases causing skin irriation or chemical burns, including 19 cases in the U.S., according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

One consumer reported permanent scarring from a chemical burn, and another reported chemical burns and swelling to her leg, face, neck, chest, upper body and hands.

Only fluid released from a cracked or broken case may cause skin irritation. If you come into contact with the liquid glitter, immediately wash affected areas with warm soapy water and seek medical attention if irritation continues.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled cases and contact MixBin Electronics for a full refund at 855-215-4935 or online here.



Photo Credit: US Consumer Product Safety Commission]]>
<![CDATA['Uncharted Territory': Health Expert Talks Legal Pot]]> Tue, 01 Aug 2017 10:48:30 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/marijuanageneric_1200x675.jpg

In just six months, California will officially license businesses to sell marijuana for recreational use.

That provides a limited window of time for health providers to prepare.

“We really don't know what to expect yet,” said Kristin Steele Psy.D. “This is uncharted territory.”

Steele spoke with NBC 7 Monday about Sharp McDonald Center, a local facility that deals with addiction including what she called “cannabis use disorder.”

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reports in 2015 about 4 million people in the United States met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder.

“In decades prior, it wasn’t really thought that someone could actually become dependent on marijuana,” Steele said. “What we’ve seen is that can actually occur.”

She described someone with a problem as one who spends a lot of time getting and using marijuana. The person may be facing consequences because of the use of marijuana.

She described chronic pain, anxiety and lack of sleep as possible symptoms.

Insurance companies sometimes need to be convinced to cover treatment for marijuana dependency.

“It really was a school of thought that people didn’t need formal treatment if they wanted to stop using marijuana,” Steele said.

Some people question the concept of marijuana dependence.

The website MedicalJane suggests high doses of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) could trigger anxiety in some patients but points out that more study needs to be done to prove a connection.

Also, the use of cannabis has been shown to help those dependent on other stronger narcotics, according to the website.

Steele said that it’s common to compare smoking marijuana to having a beer at the end of the day. What’s not known is why some people grow dependent on marijuana and others don’t.

“If someone is using marijuana every day they have a 20 percent chance of becoming addicted to it,” Steele said.

California voters passed Proposition 64 in November 2016, allowing those over age 21 to legally use marijuana, and the sale of the drug to be taxed.

Previously, marijuana was legal only for medicinal purposes and with a doctor's authorization.

San Diego is working to put measures in place to license local pot dispensaries to sell marijuana without a medical prescription by January 2018. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[1 in 3 Americans Took Prescription Opioids in 2015: Survey]]> Tue, 01 Aug 2017 10:31:21 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/lucha+opioides.jpeg

About one in three Americans used prescription opioid painkillers like OxyContin or Vicodin in 2015, according to a survey released by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, NBC News reported.

The NIDA study calculated 91.8 million Americans used prescription opioids, with nearly five percent of adults surveyed saying they took them without their doctor’s permission.

“The most commonly reported sources were friends and relatives for free,” the study reported. “Or a physician.”

Also Monday, a presidential opioid commission chaired by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie released an interim report that said the U.S. "is enduring a death toll equal to September 11th every three weeks." The report urged President Donald Trump to "declare a national emergency."

The commission suggested expanding treatment facilities across the country, educating doctors about the proper way to prescribe pain medication, equipping all police officers with the anti-overdose remedy naloxone, developing new fentanyl detection sensors, and improving data-sharing among law enforcement agencies.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Xtreme Eating Awards: 2017's Calorie-Filled Recipients]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 14:18:43 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Chillis+Ultimate+Smokehouse+Combo.jpg

Most people won't consider eating five bacon double cheeseburgers from Burger King, but that's the calorie equivalent of one Buffalo Wild Wings Cheese Curd Bacon Burger with fries.

That's just one of the "nutritional nightmares" the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest has called out in its latest Xtreme Eating Awards.

The annual awards "dishonors" chain restaurant meals that exceed the recommended daily allowances of calories (2,000), sodium (2,300 mg), saturated fats (20 g) and added sugar (50 g).

"These meals are extreme, but even the typical dishes served at restaurants are a threat to Americans' health because they increase the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and more," CSPI Senior Nutritionist Lindsay Moyer said in a statement.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act included provisions requiring calorie counts on the menus and menu boards of chains with 20 or more outlets. The Food and Drug Administration had scheduled the rules to go into effect on May 5 of this year. But less than a week before that deadline, lobbyists for pizza chains, supermarkets, and convenience stores convinced the Trump administration to delay the implementation date.

The decision prompted the CSPI to confer its first-ever Xtreme Putting Profits Before Public Health Award to Domino’s Pizza — the loudest industry voice opposing calorie labeling.

"Who cares about the obesity and diabetes epidemics, as long as the cash keeps rolling in to one of the nation’s premier purveyors of white flour and cheese?" the group said in a news release.

From the belt-busting Carnivore Pizzadilla to the caloric Flying Gorilla cocktail milkshake, here are some of the worst offenders of 2017.

Worst Cheese in a Leading Role: Buffalo Wild Wings' Cheese Curd Bacon Burger

A regular burger with deep fried cheese curds, bacon, American cheese, and something called “cool heat sauce,” Buffalo Wild Wings’ cheese curd bacon burger comes with a side of fries and contains 53 g of saturated fat and 1,950 calories, according to CSPI.

Worst Visceral Effects: Chili’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo

A sort of create-your-own-adventure meal, Chili’s Ultimate Smokehouse Combo contains a little bit of everything. Diners choose three meat from a list that includes BBQ chicken breast, jalapeño-cheddar smoked sausage, battered Chicken Crispers, or a half rack of baby back ribs, plus four sides.  That's 2,440 calories, 41 g of saturated fat and a ridiculous 7,610 mg of sodium. While CSPI notes that this meal contains enough sodium for nearly four days, it is also possible that the sheer quantity of this meal could last for the same amount of time. 

Least Original Breakfast: IHOP Cheeseburger Omelette With Pankcakes

IHOP’s cheeseburger omelette is loaded with chunks of ground beef, hash browns, tomatoes, onions, American cheese, and topped with ketchup, mustard and pickles and comes with a stack of buttermilk pancakes on the side. The meal contains just about an entire day's worth of calories (1,900) and added sugar (44 g), plus double the amount of saturated fat (45 g) and sodium (4,580 mg), and a whopping three-days worth of cholesterol (1,005 mg). As CSPI notes, “it’s the equivalent of eating four McDonald’s Sausage Egg McMuffins drizzled with two tablespoons of syrup.”

In a statement, an IHOP spokesperson said that while it applauds the CSPI's efforts, "it's misleading to single out the highest meal combinations without informing people of the wide range of choices offered at our restaurants that meet a variety of dietary needs. Our commitment is to offer guests flavorful, inventive all-day breakfast dishes that can be enjoyed as they see fit - whether it's every day or occasionally depending on how they choose to live a balanced lifestyle."

Worst Adapted Pasta: The Cheesecake Factory Pasta Napoletana

The Cheesecake Factory, which has appeared on the list every year since it began in 2007, is on the list this time twice: for worst cocktail for its Flying Gorilla, and worst pasta dish for the Pasta Napoletana.

How do you turn a meat lover’s pizza into a pasta? Start with a mountain of spaghetti, then heap it with Italian sausage, pepperoni, meatballs, bacon, butter and cream, of course. The Cheesecake Factory's Pasta Napoletana is like eating a Pizza Hut Meat Lover's Personal Pan Pizza, but with an additional cup of pasta and a cup of heavy cream,  the CSPI says.

"With more than 250 menu items, The Cheesecake Factory has always been about choices," said spokeswoman Aletha Rowe, in a statement to NBC. "Many of our guests come in and want to celebrate and not be concerned with calories. Others want to share their dish - and we love it when guests share - that's a great sign that our portions are generous - and a large percentage of our guests take home leftovers for lunch the next day."

"For our calorie conscious guests we have our award-winning SkinnyLicious menu featuring nearly 50 delicious choices with 590 calories or less - which is actually larger than many restaurants entire menus," Rowe added.

Worst Original Appetizer: Dave & Buster’s Carnivore Pizzadilla

What’s the most calorie-dense portmanteau of a food item imaginable? The award goes to Dave & Buster’s Carnivore Pizzadilla. The 12-inch pizza quesadilla hybrid with cheese, pepperoni, and Italian sausage. The dish packs 67 grams of saturated fat and 4,700 mg of sodium, the equivalent of 100 slices of pepperoni layered atop two Taco Bell Cheese Quesadillas or half a stick of butter melted over three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders with Cheese, the CSPI said.

Most Damage From Supporting Vegetable: Texas Roadhouse Prime Rib, Loaded Sweet Potato, Ceasar Salad

The Texas Roadhouse’s Loaded Sweet Potato was voted worst side at (770) and comes covered in marshmallows and caramel sauce. It's one of two sides diners can get with the 16 oz prime rib (1,570). Add a Caesar salad as your second side, and it’s like eating two of the chain’s 12 oz. New York strip steak dinners, according to the CSPI.

"We are proud of our made-from-scratch food and the vast menu options that we offer our guests," a Texas Roadhouse spokesperson said in a statement to NBC. "We also list calories on our menu and online, which allows our guests to choose what they feel is best for them."

Most Ridiculous Ending: Uno Pizzeria & Grill Ridiculously Awesome, Insanely Large Chocolate Cake

Truly both awesome in the literal sense of the word and insane in the colloquial one, a slice of Uno Pizzeria’s “Ridiculously Awesome, Insanely Large Chocolate Cake” weighs over a pound and contains an estimated 168g of sugar and 1,740 calories, according to CSPI. And while it may be appealing to hard core chocolate lovers, this confection is not for the faint of heart, literally.

NBC's Danielle Abreu contributed to this story.



Photo Credit: Courtesy Chilli's]]>
<![CDATA[Doctors Say Heart Attacks Decreasing in San Diego ]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 17:09:37 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/102141189.jpg

Doctors said at a local health summit Monday that although heart attack is the lead cause of death in San Diego County and in the nation, the number of heart attacks in the county are dropping significantly.

Experts believe it is due to a collaborative effort of healthcare providers throughout San Diego such as Scripps, Kaiser, and community health clinics. Physicians have agreed to aggressively treat patients, keeping them on a strict medication routine and recommending diet and exercise as well.

Dr. Anthony DeMaria is a cardiologist with the Judith and Jack White Cardiology program at University of California, San Diego, and the chair of the Be There San Diego Health Collaborative, which initiated the program.

"Hospitalizations for heart attacks dropped 20% from 2011-2016 in San Diego County, saving $95 million in hospital healthcare expenditures," said Dr. DeMaria.

DeMaria said many doctors in San Diego have teamed up with health coaches that help to keep patients on track.

"They send them reminders by calling or texting them and ask the patients what is keeping them from getting their medication," explained Dr. Demaria. "Perhaps they don't have transportation to the doctor's office. We set them up with social services that can help them with that barrier."

Risks factors for heart attack include high blood pressure, smoking cigarettes and high blood cholesterol, added Dr. DeMaria.




Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2017 Xtreme Eating Awards Announced by The Center for Science in the Public Interest]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 06:14:23 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_extremeeating0728_1500x845.jpg

The Center for Science in the Public Interest has released its 2017 Xtreme Eating awards. Most people wouldn't dream of eating five bacon double cheeseburgers from Burger King all at once, but at Buffalo Wild Wings you'd consume even more calories by eating just one Cheese Curd Bacon Burger and fries.

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<![CDATA[CTE Reports, Concussions Deter Parents From Youth Football]]> Mon, 31 Jul 2017 05:24:20 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-499666996.jpg

Lori Anderson grew up with a big, traditional, football-loving family in Austin, Texas, and moved her own family to midwest Michigan. There, she did what was once unthinkable: She did not let her 13-year-old son play football.

"I feel it is my job as a parent to make those hard decisions and this was one of them," she said. "I told him that there were studies that showed that some hits injured the brain, and that I didn’t want him to possibly have problems later in life."

Most of the brains of deceased football players analyzed in a study of professional and non-professional athletes released this month found the existence of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE. The disease was even found in some high school players.

While the National Football League is the professional authority on the sport, the future of American football relies on the engagement of young children. It seems revelations from CTE studies are deterring some parents from starting their children in the sport. Some, though not all, leagues say they have had declining participation rates in football. And youth organizations like Pop Warner have responded to the fears by making more concerted efforts to protect their young players with rule changes and more training for coaches.

Anderson said she sat her son down when he was 9 or 10 years old and explained to him that it wasn't going to be safe for him to play football. When he was 12, his friend was badly injured and ended up in a neck brace. That "hit home for him," Anderson said. After that, her son began looking up CTE for himself on the internet and made peace with not being allowed to play. 

Over 1 million high school students played football in the 2015-16 season, according to an annual participation survey by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS). But participation has steadily decreased since the 2008-09 season. The most recent report shows a 2.5 percent drop, or about 28,000 fewer players than nine years ago.

The report published July 25 by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), found that 177 of the 202 deceased football players had CTE. The disease was found in 110 of 111 brains from former NFL players; 48 of 53 college players; nine of 14 semi-professional players; seven of eight Canadian Football league players; and three of 14 high school players.

"Essentially this says it's a problem for football, it's a problem at all levels at high school and above," said the study's lead author Dr. Ann McKee, a Boston University neuroscientist. "We need to now look for ways to detect it in living people, and most importantly, to treat it in living people."

CTE is linked to repeated blows to the head, resulting in irreversible changes to the brain, including memory loss, depression and dementia. As of now, the disease has no known treatment.

Anderson's 13-year-old son is on the track team and runs for the cross country team. She said he also swims and wants to play golf next year.

"He still has the teamwork aspect, which I do feel is important to experience at his age," she said. "He is still learning about hard work and time management."

Dr. Barry Kosofsky is the chief of child neurology at Weill Cornell in New York City and director of the pediatric concussion clinic. His general rule about receiving concussions while playing sports is "three strikes, you're out." But that should not apply to children under 14, who, in his opinion, should not play tackle football in any capacity.

"Football is not safe for children to play, no," he said. "Football is bad for your brain."

While the JAMA study represents a skewed sample, Kosofsky said it still managed to make breakthroughs on CTE. 

"They've shown, which no one else has shown, that you can get it at earlier ages with less football exposure," he said. 

USA Football, the national governing body for amateur football, uses numbers provided in the Sports and Fitness Industry Association's Topline Participation Report for tackle and flag football, for players ages 6-17. The report’s trend since 2012 has shown a drop in enrollment by 1.7 percent, a smaller percentage decline than shown by the NFHS survey.

"The youth game is taught and played differently today than it was a few short years ago," a USA Football representative said in response to questions about the latest CTE report.

Carrie Bembry is a mother of three in Centerville, Ohio. Her youngest is 10 years old and he is passionate about football. He has played since kindergarten, she said, and she does not intend to keep her son from the sport, unless he receives another concussion.

Bembry's oldest child is 17 years old and he stopped playing football after his freshman year of high school. He was sidelined by a series of concussions that lead to noticeable cognitive difficulties. Bembry said her once-honor roll, popular son is now withdrawn, depressed and struggles in school. He has difficulty completing multi-step tasks. Doctors have correlated the recent issues to concussions.

"Of course I worry about concussions with my youngest playing football, but even with my oldest son's post-concussion problems, it is a risk that we are willing to take because he loves the game so much," Bembry said. "[But] yes, it for sure weighs heavily on my mind."

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is fighting against CTE in Congress, calling for legislation to protect players. Last year, as a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, she pressed a NFL spokesman to note the link between CTE and football. In a statement following Tuesday's report, she said, "The time for denying facts and looking the other way is over."

"We must now actively seek out ways to protect the health and well-being of players, from Pop Warner to the NFL and every league in between," Schakowsky said. "It is also imperative to ensure that the American people are informed about the dangers associated with playing football."

Pop Warner, a youth football program with players across the country, is one of the oldest and largest of its kind. According to spokesman Brian Heffron, enrollment has remained steady over the past five years. Their last significant drop in enrollment was from 2010-12, when "certainly the concussion issue played a role."

Heffron attributes their since-steady participation to Pop Warner's aggressive campaign for player safety, including banning kickoffs and head-on blocking, and mandating a coaching education.

"As an organization driven by player safety, we're grateful for the scientific community's focus on the issue," Heffron said. "We think there are valuable learnings in this study, but even the researchers point out that this was a narrow study."

The JAMA report is a continuation of research that began eight years ago and serves as the largest update on the study. The subjects of the study were not randomly chosen; they were submitted by players themselves or their families because of repeated concussions and/or troubling symptoms before death.

Dr. Greg Landry is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ sports council, and co-authored the guidelines on concussions and return to play. The son of a football coach, Landry played from ages 11 to 22, and was a team doctor for the University of Wisconsin for 25 years.

The JAMA study, he said, leaves many questions from the "biased sample" and he believes "youth football is low risk." But "coaches and officials need to do more to help football players protect their heads," he said. 

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the JAMA study was "important to further advancing the science and progress related to trauma."

"As noted by the authors, there are still many unanswered questions relating to the cause, incidence and prevalence of long-term effects of head trauma such as CTE," McCarthy said. "The NFL is committed to supporting scientific research into CTE and advancing progress in the prevention and treatment of head injuries."

The NFL pledged $100 million to research on neuroscience-related topics last year, after settling a $1 billion concussion lawsuit brought forth by former players.

Christina Barrett, of Macomb, Michigan, said all the reports on CTE and the movie "Concussion" were enough to convince her that her 10-year-old son should not play football.

"No sport is worth endangering a child’s health," she said. "While sports are important, they aren’t more important than my child’s health or academics. His future successes will be dependent upon his brain, not his athletic skills."



Photo Credit: John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Plunging Sperm Counts Called a 'Major Public Health' Crisis]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 07:27:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-674416385-sperm.jpg

A recent meta-analysis found a 40-year decline in sperm count in a large sample of men across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, NBC News reported.

Researchers from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Icahn School of Medicine in New York reviewed 185 studies from 1973 to 2011, and observed a 52 percent decline in sperm concentration and a 59 percent decline in total sperm count.

"For couples who are trying to conceive, this is a very severe problem and it's difficult psychologically, but in the big scheme of things, this is also a major public health issue," said Dr. Shanna Swan, an author of the study and professor of environmental medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine.

The paper doesn’t give reasons for the decline and cause-and-effect is unclear. But Dr. Joseph Alukal, a urologist and director of male reproductive health at NYU Langone Health, recommends that men can increase their count with a healthy diet, exercise, by not smoking and getting sleep.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Science Photo Libraray]]>
<![CDATA[Chipotle's Norovirus Outbreak the Result of Lax Sick-Policy]]> Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:00:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/cms872.jpg

Chipotle Mexican Grill's recent norovirus outbreak in Virginia was the result of lax sick policy enforcement by store managers, the company confirmed on Tuesday.

The company said in their earnings conference call that they believe an employee was the cause of the outbreak.

"We conducted a thorough investigation, and it revealed that our leadership there didn't strictly adhere to our company protocols. And we believe someone was working while sick. And we took swift action and made it clear to the entire company that we have a 0 policy -- or a 0-tolerance policy for not following these protocols," CEO Steve Ells said during the conference call.

It has been about two years since an E. coli outbreak rattled the food chain. In Oct. and Dec. 2015, at least 60 people were infected with the illness after eating at locations across the country. At least 22 people were hospitalized.

CLARIFICATION (July 26, 2017, 6:58 p.m. EST): An earlier version of this story implied that a direct quote was made from a Chipotle executive about the cause of the outbreak.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[6 Health Benefits of Owning a Pet]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 09:45:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-639191848.jpg Cute puppies and furry cats make great additions to the family, and they can even help boost their owners' health. Studies show that animals can help people make healthy choices and lead positive lifestyles. Here are six ways your pet can boost your health.

Photo Credit: fizkes/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Medicaid is a Matter of Life or Death for a 2-Year-Old in Pennsylvania]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 07:46:38 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Claire+Concilio.jpg

The health care debate played out closer to home Monday as Senate Republicans continued to weigh which version of their bill will be brought to a vote Tuesday.

Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who supports replacing and repealing former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA), told NBC10 it was not clear if his party has enough votes to push through legislation.

“If we do nothing, if we keep the design as it is now, if we keep the Obamacare expansion in exactly the form it is, if we do nothing else, then someday ... this is going to blow up,” he said. “The federal government cannot continue to run the kinds of deficit, rack up the kind of debt, it has.”

One way or another, it won’t be the end of the fight, he said.

But to one Mount Airy family, the federal deficit is not the problem. Instead, they wonder if their 2-year-old daughter will ever walk or run.

Claire Concilio's parents use Medicaid coverage to access treatment at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for spinal muscular atrophy, a rare neuromuscular disorder that can lead to death.

The disorder didn’t surface in the young girl until six months after her birth. That’s when Concilio’s parents noticed their daughter moving slowly and unable to lift her head. Her pediatrician thought weight gain was to blame until several more months passed and Concilio became increasingly incapacitated.

At her one year check-up, doctors found the problem.

"If Claire were to lose Medicaid, we'd lose more than the hope of her ever having a normal life,” Amy Concilio, Claire’s mother, said. “We would lose her."

Without treatment, the 2-year-old cannot hold herself in a sitting position. She would likely never walk, let alone run or skip with her friends.

Sen. Mitch McConnell's health care legislation would uproot much of Obama's health care law, eliminating its tax penalties on people not buying policies, cutting the Medicaid health care program for the poor and providing less generous health care subsidies for consumers, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The burden, some say, is too great for some families to bear. 

“We’re going to fight and we’re going to hope she can walk with a walker or crutches someday,” Concilio said.

“Thank you, CHOP, and thank you, Medicaid, for saving my daughter. Thank you for giving her a chance, and thank you, Pennsylvania, for not taking that chance away.” 

More than 80 percent of patients at CHOP's Karabot Center receive health insurance through Medicaid, a program that could be substantially reduced under a new health care bill.

“If you’re surprised by that number, you’re not alone,” Madeline Bell, president of CHOP, said. “Medicaid is the largest children’s health program in the United States. Many of these children have no other options for health insurance.”

Throughout the state, more than 1.1 million people receive coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion, Gov. Tom Wolf said while touring CHOP Monday afternoon.

Roughly 32,000 patients at CHOP and its West Philadelphia Karabots Pediatric Care Center are on Medicaid, the hospital’s largest insurance payer, according to Bell. Nationally, more than 33 million kids depend on Medicaid.

“Everything we have seen proposed up to this time significantly cuts Medicaid and benefits for those children,” Bell said.

“When you start thinking about the fact that we support buildings and jobs, not to mention very vulnerable children, it would have a very devastating impact on CHOP, the local economy in Philadelphia. It’s those talking points that sometimes get missed.”

A spokesperson from Toomey's office said the Senate bills being considered would not impact children with disabilities. 



Photo Credit: NBC10]]>
<![CDATA[Twins Born Conjoined at the Heart]]> Tue, 25 Jul 2017 07:55:49 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Joined_at_the_heart-150093339088500001.jpg

Twin baby girls Paisleigh and Paislyn Martinez were born conjoined at the chest, with their hearts fused together. Doctors from University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital used groundbreaking technology to separate them.

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