<![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-usWed, 22 Mar 2017 15:22:40 -0700Wed, 22 Mar 2017 15:22:40 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Seniors Worry About Loss of Meals Under Trump Budget Plan]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 14:24:14 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/IMG_82502.jpg

Dale Lamphier, 97, never married and her closest living relatives―three nephews―live across the country. About two years ago, she moved to a senior housing complex in Westwood, New Jersey, a town she has lived in her whole life. She has been using the meal delivery service Meals on Wheels since her brother died about three years ago.

"Meals on Wheels is important because I can't do much shopping―very little," she said. "And I can't carry things. There are a lot of people here that can't."

There is a Trader Joe's about a block from her complex, which she walks to, but not often. She relies on her daily meal delivery.

North Jersey is just one of the thousands of Meals on Wheels branches that could see cuts to its funding under President Trump's proposed budget plan. Jeanne Martin, the executive director of Meals on Wheels North Jersey, said her program reaches about 220 senior citizens across 30 towns in northern Bergen County. If Trump's budget plan passes, her branch will lose about $32,000―10 percent of her annual budget―and potentially more money from other Department of Health and Human Services grants.

As a whole, the national Meals on Wheels organization receives about 35 percent of its funding from the federal government. Trump is proposing to end the Community Development Block Grants, one of many federal grants that funds the program. Other cuts to Health and Human Services, the parent agency for Meals on Wheels, could also affect the program negatively, but the magnitude of those cuts is unknown. 

Martin has been the executive director of Meals on Wheels in North Jersey for 12 years. She said she has never seen a federal cut this large.

"I don't see any room for us in that budget," she said. "I haven't seen any positive things coming from [the Trump administration] in the social services or the senior service so far."

"It is going to impact our program," she said. "We're not going to be able to offer the subsidies to our clients that they really need."

Andre Sitbon, a Holocaust survivor in his early 90s, has been using Meals on Wheels for more than five years out of the Westwood seniors complex. Around three years ago Sitbon's wife died and he started having severe eye problems, which interfered with his love of cooking. He said the program "receives you with arms open," with extremely friendly staff and good food. On Monday he received meatloaf, mashed potatoes and mixed greens.

Another senior, a 65-year old mentally disabled man, had virtually nothing in his fridge except the two meals―one hot, one cold―that Martin delivered to him Monday morning. The only other parcels were an apple and a small carton of milk, which were given to him by Meals on Wheels the day before.

Martin estimated that about 30 percent of the seniors under her program are no longer visited by family and, like Lamphier, are isolated. Martin said the 550 local volunteer drivers who deliver the meals are often the ones who report health problems and find fallen or sick seniors. Meals on Wheels, she said, is "more than just a meal."

"We're helping people stay in their homes, which is where they want to stay," she said. "It's keeping people out of nursing homes. And they want to spend the rest of the time they have on this world in their homes and we're doing the best we can to give them that."

When Martin became director there were about 100 seniors in the program. The number has more than doubled during her tenure, though she thinks that there are hundreds more seniors who need assistance but are too isolated or too worried about appearing needy to receive help.

If Martin loses funding she would have to make changes to the program's model. The food is now prepared by four local nursing homes to meet federal guidelines. But if the program no longer receives federal funds, it would be free to receive donated meals from volunteers.

"It seems to me that all of the programs that support our most needy, vulnerable populations are the ones that are being jeopardized," said John Birkner Jr., the mayor of Westwood. He also said that recent comments made by Trump administration officials "trivialize" the importance of programs like Meals on Wheels.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director, called Meals on Wheels a program that is "just not showing any results." 

"We can’t spend money on programs just because they sound good," he said at a news conference last Thursday. "Meals on Wheels sounds great. Again, that's a state decision to fund that particular portion, to take the federal money and give it to the states, and say look, we want to give you money for programs that don't work."

Martin called Mulvaney’s comments "insulting" and said he "couldn’t be more wrong."

Supporters have cited studies to back their case. A University of Illinois review in 2013 of home-delivery programs for seniors found that they "significantly improve" the nutritional quality of diets, as well as increased chances for socialization and an overall "higher quality of life."

Another study in 2015 by Brown University researchers found multiple benefits of Meals on Wheels for senior citizens, including reduced feelings of isolation and loneliness, an increased feeling of security and fewer falls and hospitalizations.

Martin said the cost of a year's worth of meals from her program was $1,500. She compared that to the cost of a one-day hospitalization. 

"So, if we're keeping someone well-nourished and doing a well-check on them, we're saving the government money by keeping them out of the hospital," Martin said. 

Meals on Wheels has about 5,000 local and state delivery programs that supply food to isolated, disabled or poor seniors. In 2016, they served about 2.4 million people, including more than 500,000 veterans.

National Meals on Wheels spokeswoman Jenny Bertolette confirmed to NBC that the program has seen a significant spike in donations since Mulvaney’s comments last Thursday. On a typical day, the nonprofit receives about $1,000 in individual online donations.

Three days after the preliminary budget was released, Meals on Wheels had received about $140,000 in donations. On Tuesday, the nonprofit told The Associated Press that it had received an additional $50,000 donation from NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick. 

Bertolette said the organization was "thrilled about the public’s passionate support" but also said the additional donations could not replace what it gets from the federal government.

The portion of Meals on Wheels' budget that comes from the federal government is part of the Older Americans Act Nutrition Program, which falls under Health and Human Services. Trump is calling for an 18 percent cut to the department.

Each state uses Community Block Development Grants differently, so the amount that funds Meals on Wheels per branch varies widely. For example, one program in the suburbs of Detroit could lose 30 percent of its budget; on the other end, New York City's Meals on Wheels is funded through other grants, so it is not affected by the potential loss of Community Block Development Grants.

The program is also funded by private money.

"Cuts of any kind to these highly successful and leveraged programs would be a devastating blow to our ability to provide much-needed care for millions of vulnerable seniors in America," Ellie Hollander, president and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, said in a statement.

The cuts are no sure thing. Congress must pass the budget that Trump has outlined and there has already been support from both sides of the aisle for Meals on Wheels.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., tweeted that cuts to programs like Meals on Wheels "jeopardizes the health and safety of the poor."

Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., told CNN he would "never vote to cut even one dollar" of Meals on Wheels.

Since Mulvaney's comments last week, Martin has gained three more volunteers and an additional donor. 

Even if the budget doesn't cut as much as the 10 percent that is currently threatened, to Martin "a cut is a cut." 



Photo Credit: Shannon Ho
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<![CDATA[17-Year-Old Girl Dies from Influenza in San Diego County]]> Wed, 22 Mar 2017 12:21:24 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flu+shot+generic1.JPG

A 17-year-old girl who died from influenza is the first pediatric flu death reported this season, health officials said Wednesday.

The teen, who died on Feb. 25 as a result of influenza A/H3, had underlying medical conditions, The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) said. Her death was reported last week. 

In the past week, three others deaths were also reported, bringing the total number of flu deaths this season to 72. 

By this same time last year, 68 people - including a nine-year-old boy and 16-year-old girl - had died from the flu in the county. 

“Influenza deaths are very unfortunate, but a teen dying from the flu is especially tragic,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer, in a statement. “Many people may have spring vacations coming up, and you should get vaccinated at least 2 weeks before your trip.”

The HHSA said influenza activity has reached a new high this season. People aged 17 to 98 years old have died from the flu, though most have been over the age of 65. All but three had underlying medical conditions. 

Wooten said for those with underlying health conditions, influenza can be deadly. This is why health officials recommend getting a flu vaccine, as it is considered the best protection against the illness.

Health officials recommend an annual flu shot; after the vaccination, it takes two weeks for immunity to develop, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.

The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, from the week ending on March 18, says three percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

There were 200 lab-confirmed cases of influenza for the week, down from the 277 the week prior.

To date, there have been 4,944 lab-confirmed cases of the flu in San Diego. Last year at this time, there were 5,437.

Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.

For a list of county public health centers where you can get a flu shot, click here or call 211.



Photo Credit: NBC]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Born With 4 Legs, 2 Spines Survives Risky Surgery]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:59:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/dominique+2.jpg

A 10-month-old baby born with four legs and two spines is recovering well after undergoing a complex and risky medical procedure in Chicago, doctors say.

Young Dominique came to Chicago from the Ivory Coast in West Africa with an extremely rare parasitic conjoined twin.

Doctors say the bottom half of her not-fully-developed twins’ body was protruding from the infant’s neck and back.

“It’s very rare because it was attached at the back of her spine,” said Dr. John Ruge, a pediatric neurosurgeon. “It was as if the twin from the waist down had been attached to the back of Dominique’s neck and there was a pelvis and bladder and functional legs that moved and feet coming out the back of Dominique’s neck. This was very dangerous for Dominique.”

Ruge said the parasitic twin caused Dominique’s heart and lungs to do the work for two bodies and could have ultimately paralyzed her.

The child was brought to Chicago in February with the help of an organization called Children’s Medical Missions West and has been living with a host family while doctors at Advocate Children’s Hospital meticulously studied her case.

“It’s really hard to even put a number on how rare it is,” said Dr. Robert Kellogg.

Despite her condition, her host family said the child had a bubbly personality and was a “very happy baby” when she arrived in the U.S.

“If you can say love at first sight I think that’s true for us,” said Nancy Swabb, who has been caring for Dominique since her arrival.

The Swabbs said the decision to take in the child was made quickly, with Dominique arriving at their home about a week after they learned of her case.

“I saw a picture of Dominique with her extra limbs and one concern that we had before we met her was what can she wear?” Swabb said.

The family later learned Dominique had difficulties balancing and sitting up because of the added weight from the extra limbs.

After weeks of planning, on March 8, Dominique underwent a six-hour surgery that involved five surgeons and 50 clinicians.

“The surgery went very well,” said Kellogg. “There were no complications. We expect her to make a full recovery and live an essentially normal life from here on.”

Dominique continues to recover at her host family’s Edgebrook home. Doctors say once the recovery process is complete, the infant can return home to her family in Africa.

“She is about 2 pounds lighter and she sits up and she’s raising her hands and she reaches for things and she’s doing really well,” Swabb said.

Doctors said Dominique is now “essentially a normal baby” and are confident she can go on to live a healthy life.

“I think it is very unique but it was a unique child that brought us together,” Kellogg said.



Photo Credit: Advocate Children's Hospital
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<![CDATA[Here Are the Republicans Who May Reject Health Care Bill]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 14:25:59 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/649341198-GOP-Health-Care-Bill.jpg

President Donald Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and replace it with "something terrific." Now, House Republicans are in danger of losing a vote on their health care bill, the American Health Care Act — a defeat that would cause setbacks for the party and for the president.

According to a tally by NBC News, as of Tuesday afternoon at least 25 Republicans have said they will vote against or are leaning toward voting against the bill. Voting is expected to occur Thursday.

Republican leadership has been busy trying to secure the 216 votes needed to pass the bill, which means they can lose the support of only 21 Republicans. After traveling to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning in an attempt to close the deal, Trump has invited about nine moderate, undecided Republicans to the White House Tuesday afternoon in another attempt at persuasion.



Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla, Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FDA: Breast Implants Can Cause Rare Form of Cancer]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 13:03:40 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/implants-new.jpg

Breast implants can cause a rare form of cancer that may have killed at least nine people, the Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday, NBC News reported.

The cancer is called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) and the FDA is checking into more than 350 reports linking it with both silicone and saline breast implants.

ALCL, which is a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, can take about 10 years to develop on average after the implant first goes in and usually stays in the area right around the implant, World Health Organization researchers reported last year in the journal Blood. But it can break out and spread.

"All of the information to date suggests that women with breast implants have a very low but increased risk of developing ALCL compared to women who do not have breast implants," the FDA said in a statement.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Infant Mortality Rates Fall 15 Percent in US]]> Tue, 21 Mar 2017 10:58:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/babypacifier_1200x675.jpg

Fewer babies are dying in the United States than a decade ago, according to NBC News.

The U.S. infant mortality rate, which is higher than in other developed countries, is down 15 percent over the last 10 years, federal researchers reported Tuesday.

"Infant mortality is considered a basic measure of public health for countries around the world," wrote Anne Driscoll and T.J. Mathews of the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Researchers pointed to a high teenage pregnancy rate in the U.S. compared to other countries as one of several factors behind the comparatively high rate of babies dying. Teenagers are more likely to have small and premature babies.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Tetra images RF, File]]>
<![CDATA[New Drug Cuts Cholesterol by Half]]> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 14:11:35 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_cholesteroldrug0317_1500x845.jpg

A new drug proven to slash bad cholesterol by more than half of a patient's initial level may prove to be a boon to those worried about heart attacks and strokes. Repatha, a drug that could lower the risk of heart attack or strokes by 20 percent, is a $14,000 a month drug that is injected once or twice a month - a price point health insurance companies may not approve of.

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<![CDATA[NAMI App for Navigating through a Mental Health Crisis]]> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 20:12:39 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/184*120/PHI+kids+holding+hands+cu.jpg

With one in every four people affected in some way by mental illness either personally or through a family member in the U.S., it would be easy to assume there is vast, shared knowledge about mental illness.

But that is not the case.

Stigma and fear of judgment, even discrimination prompts many suffering from mental health problems along with their families to stay quiet while they desperately scramble for information and resources, not always knowing where to turn.

NAMI San Diego (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is out to change that.

The non-profit organization which offers support, mental health education and advocacy to clients and their families has created a smart phone app designed to get help fast to those who need it.

“Fifty percent of all cases of mental illness start at the age of 14 but the actual time frame between the onset of symptoms and getting help for those symptoms is 8-10 years,” said NAMI CEO Shannon Jaccard. “The point of the app is to provide information, resources, what to do next and where to go.”

In fact, the app has a section where users can push a digital button to display information about what to know and do before, during and after a mental health crisis in San Diego county.

It includes everything from psychiatric walk-in center addresses and hours to education about various types of mental illness, from emergency housing assistance to spa music to sooth the mind.

NAMI Communication Specialist Julie Benn said having a clear guide for clients and families to navigate through a crisis is invaluable.

“It sets people up for success on their journey and points them in the right direction for recovery," Benn said.

The Oscer (Organized Support Companion in an Emergency) app is free. Nami also runs a telephone help line at 1-800-523-5933.

If you would like to support NAMI’s innovative efforts, the non-profit hosts an April 5k Walk/Run. You can register here

NAMI is one of three San Diego non-profits awarded a $25k grant by NBC 7 and the NBC Universal Foundation which recognizes organizations implementing new and innovative ways to move the community forward.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[7 More Flu Death Reported in San Diego County]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 23:12:03 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/flue-shot.jpg

The total number of flu deaths in San Diego County for this season is now up to 68, the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) confirmed.

Seven more flu-related deaths were reported last week.

Prior to last week, health officials had reported four more flu-related deaths.

According to HHSA, the total number of flu-related deaths is now the same as the overall number from last season. 

People aged 31 to 98 years old have died from the flu and all but three had underlying medical conditions. Most were over the age of 65.

But the HHSA said the number of lab-confirmed influenza cases has gone down.

“Influenza activity is decreasing, but more deaths are likely to be reported. People should continue to get vaccinated as the flu can last through April and later," said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.

It takes about two weeks for immunity to develop.

The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, for the week ending on March 11 showed three percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.

For a list of county public health centers where you can get a flu shot, click here or call 211.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Critics Warn 'Phase 2' Won’t Save Health Care Plan]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 16:12:06 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/paulryan_healthcare_1200x675.jpg

Things aren't looking great for the Republican health care bill after the Congressional Budget Office estimated it would lead to 24 million more people without insurance and skyrocketing costs for older customers, NBC News reported.

But the White House and GOP leaders say that's only part of the story. 

The Republicans' "American Health Care Act" is only "Phase One" of their plan. In "Phase Two," the White House will lower premiums with tweaks to regulations. In "Phase Three," they'll pass new legislation to fill in gaps that can't be addressed through the budget process.

"The fact of the matter is with our whole plan every single American will have access to coverage," Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said on the "Today" show.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mental Health Groups Worry New GOP Plan Will End Coverage]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 10:19:32 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/naloxone-kit.jpg

Mental health groups say the new GOP health care bill would terminate mental health care and efforts to combat the opioid crisis, NBC News reported.

The Congressional Budget Office released a report on the bill on Monday, stating that billions of dollars would be saved in federal health spending, by way of cutting $880 billion from Medicaid. In addition to health groups, parents of children with special needs are also rallying against the proposed plan.

“Medicaid is the single largest payer of mental health and addiction treatment services in the country, paying 25 percent of all mental health and 20 percent of all addiction care,” the National Council for Behavioral Health said in a statement.

Without Medicaid’s subsidies, said Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the council, people could wind up “homeless, in jail or dead.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said that the bill does not intend to leave states out in the cold in combating the opioid epidemic.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rattlesnakes: What Not to Do ]]> Fri, 17 Mar 2017 11:42:29 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/Rattlesnake-Cowles-Mountain-031017.jpg

Rattlesnake reports surface in San Diego year-round, but the volume of reports increases in the spring and summer.

There are three types of rattlesnakes living in the coastal and mountain areas:  the Southern Pacific Rattlesnake, the Southwestern Speckled Rattlesnake and the Red Diamond Rattlesnake.

In the desert, you may also find the Colorado Desert Sidewinder.

If you were face-to-face with a rattlesnake, would you know what not to do?

“Don’t panic,” is the first thing Valley Center Fire Dept. Fire Marshal, Battalion Chief George E. Lucia Sr. suggests in his list of things not to do when faced with a rattlesnake.

  • Don’t stick hands/feet where you can’t see (over/under rocks)
  • Don't wander around in the dark
  • Don’t walk around barefoot or in open-toed shoes
  • Don’t step over a rock or log in your path, walk around it
  • Don’t run in rocky or bushy places, you may surprise a snake
  • Don't let your guard down near buildings. Snakes will crawl up under doorsteps
  • Don't spend time in specific snake habitats like brush piles, debris mounds, logjams, root systems, and abandoned buildings.
  • Don’t try and catch a snake
  • Don’t throw rocks at or tease a snake
  • Don’t hike alone
  • Don’t let your dog run loose
  • Don't apply ice
  • Don't apply any constricting bands or tourniquets
  • Don't use any suction
  • Don't use any electric shock to the wound

Lucia said most snake bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally touched by someone walking or climbing.

San Diego’s trauma centers are well-stocked with antivenin, Lucia said. He suggests calling 911 and staying put while keeping the victim calm and quiet.



Photo Credit: Bridget Naso, NBC 7 ]]>
<![CDATA[Baby Injuries Rise in Common Infant Products]]> Mon, 13 Mar 2017 16:55:47 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/BabyInjuries0310_MP4-148944776988400001.jpg

 A new study finds a growing number of young children are being injured while using infant products like carriers, strollers and cribs. Researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, looked at the number of kids across the country under age 3 who had to go to an emergency room after such an injury. "There's an average of 128 a day, or about one every eight minutes," says Tracy Meahn of the Center for Injury Research and Policy. "And the concerning thing is that these numbers are going up."


 

 

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<![CDATA[Reported Flu Deaths in San Diego County at 61]]> Wed, 15 Mar 2017 21:11:41 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/209*120/flu+vaccine+generic.jpg

Four more flu-related deaths were reported in San Diego County last week, according to the County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

The total number of deaths this season is 61, officials said.

“The number of lab-confirmed influenza cases reported last week was almost identical to the previous week,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.

Last week, health officials reported eight flu-related deaths.

According to the HHSA, people aged 31 to 98 years old have died from the flu. With the exception of three of them, all had underlying medical conditions and most were over the age of 65.

Still, health officials recommend a yearly flu shot which takes two weeks for immunity to develop.

The vaccination is especially recommended for those at high-risk of experiencing complications with the flu, including people with chronic medical conditions, pregnant women and people age 65 and older.

The HHSA’s latest “Influenza Watch” report, from the week ending on March 4 says three percent of all emergency department visits in San Diego were patients experiencing flu-like symptoms.

Flu season in the U.S. occurs between December and May.

For a list of county public health centers where you can get a flu shot, click here or call 211.

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<![CDATA[Feel Stressed? Stop Checking Your Phone, Study Says]]> Fri, 10 Mar 2017 17:23:11 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/SmartphoneStress0309a_MP4-148918974502400001.jpg

A recent study finds mobile users who check their phones frequently feel more stressed. According to the American Psychological Association, we are a nation of "constant checkers" and it's taking a toll. Some experts consider this a behavioral addiction.

 
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<![CDATA[New Tech Could Change Food Nutrition Labels ]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 13:54:08 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/NC_labels0307_1500x845.jpg

New smart glasses developed by researchers at Colorado State University could change how food labels are printed on boxes and cans in your local grocery store. The FDA is looking to roll out this new tech by 2018.

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<![CDATA[New Blood Test Could Detect Cancer - And Find it in the Body]]> Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:14:16 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/160*120/800px-Bone_marrow_biopsy.jpg

A new blood test developed by bioengineers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) would not only be able to detect cancer, but also find where in the body the tumor is growing. 

The study, published in the March 6 issue of the journal Nature Genetics, could provide a path for doctors to diagnose cancer early on, without having to do invasive procedures. 

The discovery happened as a complete accident, said Kun Zhang, a bioengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and senior author of the study.

“Initially, we were taking the conventional approach and just looking for cancer cell signals and trying to find out where they were coming from," Zhang said. 

Most cancer blood tests will screen for DNA released by dying tumor cells, and these tests are promising for detecting traces of tumor DNA in the blood of cancer patients. 

However, existing tests do not indicate where that tumor may be in the body. 

“Knowing the tumor’s location is critical for effective early detection,” Zhang said.

In this new study, lead by Zhang, the team discovered a new clue in the blood that could detect tumor cells and identify where they are. 

As tumors grow in the body, they compete with regular cells for space and nutrients. In the process, the tumor cells will kill off the regular cells. As those cells die, they release their DNA into the bloodstream. 

The DNA in the bloodstream could identify the affected tissue, locating the area in the body where the tumor is growing. 

"We were also seeing signals from other cells and realized that if we integrate both sets of signals together, we could actually determine the presence or absence of a tumor, and where the tumor is growing," Zhang said.

Here's how the new test would work: it would screen for a particular DNA signature using CpG methylation haplotypes. Each tissue can be identified by its unique signature of methylation haplotypes. 

To create the new method, the team put together a complete database of CpG methylation patterns of 10 different normal tissues - the liver, intestine, colon, lung, brain, kidney, pancreas, spleen, stomach and blood. 

Additionally, the team looked at tumor samples and blood samples from cancer patients at the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center to create a database of cancer-specific genetic markers. 

The team then screened the blood samples from cancer patients, along with blood samples from individuals without cancer. In their screenings, they were looking for signals of the cancer markers and the specific tissue methylation patterns in a dual authentication process. 

Next, researchers hope to move to the clinical stage. 

“This a proof of concept. To move this research to the clinical stage, we need to work with oncologists to further optimize and refine this method,” Zhang said.

Shicheng Guo, Dinh Diep, Nongluk Plongthongkum, Ho-Lim Fung, Kang Zhang and Kun Zhang contributed to the study.



Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo/Mate 2nd Class Chad McNeeley, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sleepy Students Allowed to Nap at Some NM Schools]]> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 13:46:57 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/470425888-pillow-generic.jpg

A handful of high schools in New Mexico are letting their students sleep in school, NBC News reported.

Not during class, though. The schools in Las Cruces are letting students take 20-minute naps between classes in sleeping pods, so they can focus better on their education.

"They wouldn't be listening, they wouldn't be paying attention" if students weren't getting enough sleep, said New Mexico State University sleep researcher Linda Summers.

Teens need a lot of sleep but get little. The National Institutes of Health recommends they get 9-10 hours every night, but only a third of teens are sleeping even 8 hours.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA[Travel Order Could Hit Doctor Supply in Trump Territory: Researchers]]> Tue, 07 Mar 2017 08:17:31 -0700 http://media.nbcsandiego.com/images/213*120/AP_17060083101353.jpg

President Donald Trump's new executive order suspending new visas to the United States for people from six Muslim-majority nations could reduce the number of doctors in areas that voted Trump into office, NBC News reported.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School and MIT looked at data about physicians from those countries in the U.S. and found that swaths of Appalachia and the Rust Belt could be disproportionately affected.

Residency programs are a pathway for foreign-born doctors to become physicians in the U.S. Many work in rural and low-income areas, where they have played a critical role in preventing doctor shortages.

As many as several hundred doctors will be affected by the order, unable to begin medical residencies this year unless granted waivers, Atul Grover, executive vice president of The Association of American Medical Colleges, told NBC News.



Photo Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP]]>