healtheo360 Wellness Blog

Researchers See if Google Glass Can Help Parkinson's Patients

Posted by healtheo360 on Apr 11, 2014 9:41:43 AM

Courtesy of Newcastle University (NEW YORK) -- As rumors swirl about Google Glass finally being available to the public, the device is already being examined for use as a daily aid for people with Parkinson’s disease.

In Newcastle University in Newcastle, England, researchers are examining if Google Glass can help Parkinson’s patients monitor their symptoms and be more mobile.

In one small study, researchers held workshops with patients with Parkinson’s disease and then let them use Google glass at home.

Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurological condition that results in a loss of motor control including rigidty, tremors and ‘bradykinesia’ or slowness of movement. The disease affects up to 10 million people, usually those over 50. Medication can help stop symptoms, but users have to be careful about timing their doses so they don’t risk side effects that can lead to exacerbated tremors.

Lynn Tearse, 50, participated in the study along with her partner Ken Booth. Tearse, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2008, said she was eager to try out the voice-activated device, since tremors in her hand can make it difficult for her to use a phone.

“It’s like working a mobile phone with boxing gloves on,” said Tearse. “[Google Glass] was something I was genuinely interested in…You can take a photograph and take a video and search the Internet. You can make a call and send a text.”

Additionally, Tearse said the arguments people made about how Google Glass could invade privacy, were actually positive arguments for its use as an assistive device.

“It allows people to remain in control of their lives and have confidence to go out on their own,” said Tearse, who hopes to buy the device when they’re available. “If you can sync your Google glass with your computer at home, it can be streamed through to a loved one at home. Keep an eye on and make you feel reassured."

Roisin McNaney, co-author of the study and PhD student in computer science at Newcastle University, said one scary symptom of Parkinson’s is that people can become “frozen” to the ground. McNaney said many users were happy the device was voice-operated so that if they became “stucky” they could call for help without being hindered by tremors.

“One of the main [worries] was the sense of a lack of confidence when going out and about in public themselves,” said McNancey. “[They had] the view that glass could potentially really support this. We find that quite interesting. “

John Vines, senior research associate in computer science at Newcastle University and co-author of the study, said he thought that the participants, between the ages of 46-70, would likely not love the device but was pleasantly surprised by their reaction.

“I was absolutely mesmerized by the hugely positive reaction, I don’t think I had ever come across that in the last five or ten years,” said Vines. “It’s the issue of confidence and sense of reassurance that someone can leave the home on their own.”

Vines said one main focus on using the device would be to try and use it as a way to monitor symptoms. Small sensors in the computer could measure eye and head movement and alert users if they start to exhibit more symptoms so they can either take more medication or get to a safe place before more of their symptoms return and render them immobile.Vines and the study’s co-authors plan on presenting their findings at the Association for Computing Machinery conference in Toronto at the end of the month.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Woman's Own Immune System Helps Fight Cancer

Posted by healtheo360 on Apr 8, 2014 2:12:40 PM

Bhakpong/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- At first, Candace Brown didn’t think too much of the large, lumpy bruise that spontaneously appeared on her leg about a year ago. But when it didn’t heal after a couple of weeks, she decided to get it checked out. Even though her primary care physician told her not to worry, she pushed for a biopsy. The “bruise” was diagnosed as a skin melanoma.

Doctors told the 44-year-old teacher and mother of two that the cancer had already spread to her lungs and lower intestine, a prognosis she said left her feeling terrified and bewildered. When she was told her condition had a five-year survival rate, she stopped listening.

“I refused to hear it,” Brown recalled. “I decided I would do my own research and see what was out there for me that could help.”

Almost immediately, Brown caught a lucky break. A quick review of, a website run by the United States National Library of Medicine, found a study for a new approach to treating melanoma at the Georgetown University Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in Washington, D.C. Brown lives in Maryland, so the trial was being held right in her own backyard.

Instead of chemotherapy, the trial relied on something called immune-checkpoint blockade, a form of immunotherapy. Patients receive medicine that trains their own immune system to rally against cancer with the aid of specialized proteins known as monoclonal antibodies.

Dr. Michael Atkins, the medical oncologist who led the trial and who is also the deputy director of the Lombardi Center, explained that patients are often unable to battle cancer because tumors successfully block the body’s immunoresponse to them. When this happens, tumors can continue spreading and growing without any resistance from the body’s healthy cells. Immune-checkpoint blockade aims to rouse the immune system so it has the strength to do an end run around cancer’s blocking techniques and fight against the disease.

“The antibodies take the brakes off the immune system’s response to a tumor,” Atkins explained. “They unblock the reaction that stops the immune system’s natural attack on invading cancer cell so the body can fight the cancer.”

Brown was accepted into the trial which used a combination of two immune-stimulating drugs, drugs PD1 inhibitor and ipilumumab, to ramp up the body’s natural defense mechanisms. Every few weeks for three months, she endured a five-hour session hooked up to an intravenous drip which she said was similar to chemotherapy but with fewer side effects. In the first part of the trial two drugs were delivered into her bloodstream, then in later sessions just the ipilumumab.

Brown’s initial scan at the end of the trial revealed that most of the tumors had shrunk in size. Many of them were gone. The follow up scan done several weeks after the trial was completed showed no discernable signs of cancer. When Brown saw the scans, they brought tears of relief and joy.

“After the first scan I was dubiously optimistic, but after the second scan, I was overwhelmed. It felt like I was being given a second chance,” she said.

Atkins cautioned that, although Brown seems to be one of the lucky ones, it’s too soon to tell whether her cancer is gone forever. It’s also too early to say whether immunotherapy will be the miracle breakthrough in cancer treatment that everyone hopes for. About half the patients in the trial saw no improvement.

“The next step will be to determine why it isn’t effective for certain patients and figure out a way to make it work for them. Right now therapies use a patient’s own immune system to recognize a tumor, but they can’t yet be customized for each unique immune system or cancer,” he said.

Currently, at least seven drug companies are testing some form of immunotherapy for treating cancer. Atkins said he expected several drugs to be approved for wider use by the end of this year and several more by the end of next year.Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Move Over Statins: Legumes Are Nature’s Cholesterol Busters

Posted by healtheo360 on Apr 7, 2014 4:43:38 PM
iStock/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- A serving of legumes a day may keep bad cholesterol at bay, a new study has found.

Researchers in the United States and Canada have found that daily consumption of non-oil-seed legumes – like chickpeas, lentils or peas – can significantly reduce “bad cholesterol” and cut the risk of heart disease.

People who ate one three-quarter-cup serving of legumes daily had a 5-percent reduction in low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels – a decrease that suggests a 5- to 6-percent reduced risk of major vascular events such as heart attack and stroke.

“Legumes are generally considered healthy, but there [are no guidelines] about their intake from public policy officials,” said Dr. John Sievenpiper of the Clinical Nutrition and Risk Factor Modification Center in Canada, lead author of the study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Sievenpiper added that “legumes can complement statins” in the fight against cholesterol, serving as a crucial ingredient in “a healthy diet portfolio” for the general population, regardless of heart disease.

Nutritionists and preventive cardiologists not involved in the research said the new findings were noteworthy.

“It is a well-known fact that high-soluble, fiber-rich foods, like legumes, produce significant effects on LDL numbers and actually add to the cholesterol-lowering effects of statins,” said Dr. Chip Lavie, medical director of Cardiac Rehabilitation and Preventive Cardiology at Ochsner Heart and Vascular Institute in Louisiana.

Lavie added that while a 5-percent reduction may not seem huge, studies show that for every 1 percent fall in cholesterol, there is a 1- to 2-percent fall in cardiovascular risk.

“People should seriously think about adopting legumes in their diet,” he said. “The LDL-lowering effect aside, it’s a healthy thing to be doing, anyway.”

Dr. Walter Willett, a nutritionist and epidemiologist at The Harvard School of Public Health, agreed.

“[The study] appears to be a useful summary of the literature on metabolic effects of legume consumption and suggests that there are benefits, especially if beans or other legumes replace red meat,” Willett said.

There may be another benefit, as well – to the environment. Willett said that if more Americans replaced some of the red meat they eat with legumes, it could cut greenhouse gas production and other adverse environmental effects linked to livestock production.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Naked Yoga Class: No Clothes Allowed

Posted by healtheo360 on Apr 5, 2014 5:59:04 PM

Hemera/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- Is your yoga routine insufficiently liberating? The yoga studio Bold & Naked in New York City is pushing the workout frontier, offering classes where yogis strip themselves -- literally -- of all their insecurities.

The studio offers all-male as well as all-female naked classes, with co-ed sessions a couple of times a week. Meant to be sensual but “not sexual,” as the website description stresses, the workout is an endeavor to be taken seriously -- or not.

“The naked classes verses the clothed classes are more fun,” says co-owner Joschi Schwarz as he lists the numerous advantages of naked yoga. “You don’t have to worry about pants or what you’re going to wear; you don’t have to buy expensive clothing.”

Though Schwarz and co-owner Monika Werner opened the studio eight years ago, nude sessions were first offered two years ago.

It began with classes for men, among whom research indicated it was catching on the most. Then, at the start of 2014, co-ed classes were scheduled; followed by the more recent inclusion of all-female classes in the last month.

Monika Werner emphasized the particularly psychological benefits no-clothes workouts have for women: “You see real people and see that you don’t have to compare yourself to models,” asserted the yoga instructor.

Naked yoga (Sankrit nagna yoga) is nothing new: most commonplace in DVDs and web series, a few little-known in-person locales and even more rare established ones like Nude Yoga USA in Tempe, Ariz. But after some research on its popularity around the country, and Schwarz’s personal experience of its superior liberating effects, the yoga masters decided to help embolden that community.

“We are all in the same boat,” says Werner. “You get a real sense of community that you don’t get in clothed classes.”

The yogis’ philosophy claims stripping your clothes is like taking off a mask. Then, “there’s nothing left” and practitioners are forced to be more in tune with their core being, which in turn allows them to open themselves to others. “At the end of class, everyone is smiling.”

The duo has been approached about expansion in places as close as Connecticut and as far away as Finland and Sweden.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Five Reasons Your Weight Is Stuck

Posted by healtheo360 on Apr 4, 2014 2:13:53 PM

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Stuck in a weight-loss rut? Turns out you're not alone. Those last five to 10 pounds are often the hardest to lose.

MyFitnessPal -- the largest digital health company with more than 50 million users -- surveyed its users to find out what's keeping them from reaching their ultimate goal. Turns out there's five primary reasons those last few pounds seems to stick around longer than the ones before.

Elle Penner, MyFitnessPal's registered dietician, came up with tips to combat each and every one of those pitfalls that's keeping the number on your scale from going down:

Strong Sweet Tooth

Fifty-four percent of MyFitnessPal users say dessert is a major obstacle to weight loss. Penner said it's important to keep a tally of miniature treats. Three to four "snack-size" treats and a handful of M&Ms can quickly add up to the fat and calories of full-size desserts. "Even if you don't have time to track every morsel of food you eat throughout the day, a little snacking insight can go a long way in preventing sneaky weight gain," she said.

People Hate Veggies

Nearly 1 in 10 people said not eating vegetables is the culprit. Try to get your fruit and veggie servings in early in the day, said Penner. "The oh-so-popular green smoothie is the perfect way to get in a serving of veggies before you even get to the office. Try adding low-fat yogurt, milk or nut butter. It will up the protein and help keep you satisfied and focused throughout the morning," she said.

Carbs Are the Devil

Forty-seven percent say love for bread and pasta keeps them off-track. So, Penner said, consider taking a temporary weight loss vacation. Put it on the back burner for a week or so, just aim not to gain any weight, and come back with a fresh mind to reset your habits, she said. "When life gets really busy or stressful, avoiding additional weight gain is an achievement in itself," she said. "Set yourself up for success and pick back up on your weight loss efforts when you have the time and energy to dedicate to doing it healthfully."

Emotional Eating

Turns out more than half of us blame binges on mood swings. Penner said getting new workout gear could help. It sounds superficial, but nice workout gear really can make you feel better during a workout, and be an incentive to get you moving. "Rather than rewarding yourself with an indulgent meal when you hit a new health goal," she said, "invest in your next one by adding a new item to your workout wardrobe."

No Me Time

More than 20 percent of users report they don't have the time to cook or exercise. Penner said to stock the pantry. "When they're on sale, stock up on canned beans and tomatoes, herbs and spices, nuts and whole grains like quinoa, rolled oats and whole wheat pasta. Having a stash of healthy pantry staples will save time and money," she said. Instead of buying packaged convenience foods, filling your pantry with these healthy staples will give you a solid foundation for preparing more nutritious meals at home.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Woman Says FedEx Lost Her Breast Cancer Sample

Posted by healtheo360 on Mar 28, 2014 10:17:20 AM

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Marline Van Duyne almost underwent chemotherapy without knowing whether she was among the 80 percent of people with her type of breast cancer who don’t need it.

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Supplements No Guard Against Country’s Top Killers

Posted by healtheo360 on Mar 23, 2014 3:32:18 PM

Sorin Popa/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The millions of Americans who take daily supplements may be doing nothing to cut their risk of cancer and heart disease, according to updated guidelines released Monday by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).

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Double Duty Drug: Statins May Fight MS

Posted by healtheo360 on Mar 22, 2014 3:14:46 PM

Jaykayl/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cholesterol-busting statins may have an unexpected benefit for patients with multiple sclerosis, a new study found.

Researchers in the U.K. studied 140 patients diagnosed with the most severe form of the disease, known as secondary progressive MS. They found that high doses of statins -- about double the average amount that patients take to keep their cholesterol levels in check -- reduced the rate of brain shrinkage in these patients.

“I see hundreds of patients with secondary progressive MS in my clinic,” said Dr. Jeremy Chataway, a neurologist at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London and lead author of the study, published Tuesday in The Lancet.

“These patients are physically disabled and have no treatment,” Chataway added, calling the study ”an exciting first step.”

Statin treatment led to a 43 percent reduction in the rate of brain shrinkage in the patients in the study, according to Chataway. The hope is that putting the brakes on this shrinkage will slow the progression toward physical disability.

Neurology experts not involved with the research said the new findings are promising -- but preliminary.

“Patients with secondary progressive MS are usually a step away from a cane, or already bed-bound or in a wheelchair,” said Dr. John Cobroy, professor of neurology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. The study is both well-executed and interesting, he said, but added that he feels the results should be further analyzed in advanced trials before doctors rush to give statins to all patients with MS.

While past research has suggested that the anti-inflammatory properties of statins may curb the damage in the brain seen in MS, researchers are still steps away from a full understanding of this relationship. Still, if statins -- a widely used drug with a good safety profile -- prove to have benefits against MS as well, they may be a welcome option against a disease for which treatments are so sparse.

This study “gives us first indications for treating and helping restore what’s potentially lost,” said Dr. Timothy Coetzee of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “It’s proof of concept that you can take an existing strategy and repurpose it to target something else.”Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Doctor Disputes Benefits of Omega-3 in Fish, Corn and Sunflower Oils

Posted by healtheo360 on Mar 18, 2014 9:58:01 AM

sirastock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Omega-3 may not be the wonderful supplement that health experts have touted for years.

In fact, Rajiv Chowdhury, a cardiovascular epidemiologist from the University of Cambridge, says in a new study that these polyunsaturated fatty acids don't really reduce the risk of contracting heart disease as previously reported.

His research flies in the face of nutritional recommendations by the American Heart Association and other groups that encourage people to consume omega-3, which is found in fish, and omega-6, contained in corn and sunflower oils.

Chowdhury based his findings on a previous study that showed taking fish oil after heart surgery doesn't stop irregular heartbeats that cause blood clots and strokes.

He also pointed to 20 trials over 24 years published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2012 that fish oil had no discernible effect in lowering the risk of heart attacks, strokes and death.

The study on the limited heart benefits of omega-3 and omega-six appears in the latest issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Disease That Killed Harold Ramis Attacks Arteries, Veins

Posted by healtheo360 on Mar 14, 2014 10:35:49 AM

Francois Durand/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The rare disease that killed comedy legend Harold Ramis narrows the blood vessels, slowly starving the organs they supply.

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