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  • Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Despite a rise in opioid dependency in the U.S., a majority of parents who have prescription opioids at home do not report storing them safely, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.Just 32 percent of parents of young children under the age 7 reported storing prescription opioids safely -- in a latched or locked location -- researchers from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in the study. The percentage was even lower for parents of older children between the ages of 7 and 17 -- 11.7 percent. Parents who had children in both age groups leaned closer to those with young children; 29 percent reported storing the medications safely."Our work shines a light on the pervasiveness of unsafely stored opioids in American homes with children," study lead author Eileen McDonald, MS, faculty with the Johns Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, said in a statement Monday. "Unsafely stored opioids can contribute to accidental ingestions among younger children and pilfering by older children, especially high school students."The study included data from 681 adults with children in the home who had been prescribed opioid medications. They were first recruited over the phone and then took a web survey about how they stored the medications.While illicit opioid drugs like heroin and fenatnyl have grabbed headlines, deaths from prescription opioid drugs have more than quadrupled since 1999, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Most parents indicated that they are aware of the dangers these drugs pose to children, with 70 percent of respondents saying that locking up the opioid drugs "is a good way to keep my child from getting the medication" and "would prevent my child’s friends from getting the medication," according to the study.But parents with younger children expressed higher concern about storing their prescription opioids. Almost three-quarters of parents agreed with the statement, "Children can overdose on OPRs more easily than adults," but those with younger children rated the risk higher on the scale.Dr. Donna Seger, the executive director of the Tennessee Poison Center and a professor of clinical medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said many parents know they should keep prescription drugs out of reach for very young children, but may not have the same concerns for adolescents."It's not just a risk in toddlers, it's a huge risk in adolescents," Seger said, explaining that teens may start to experiment with different drugs at home. "The medicine cabinet is going to be an important place to get them."Opioid use among adolescents has continued to be a problem. Prescription opioid drugs are the second most common drugs used by 12- to 17-year-old children, after marijuana, according to the 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health."We know that teens who use these drugs recreationally frequently get them from homes where they are easily accessible, increasing their risk for addiction and overdose," McDonald said in the statement.Seger added that teens' nervous systems are still developing, making them more "vulnerable" to drug use.Overdose fatalities among adolescents and young adults doubled between 1999 and 2008, according to study authors.Parents may be aware of the dangers around opioid drugs, Seger said, but still feel "my kid wouldn't do it" and therefore don't take extra steps to lock up medication.Understanding the many risks associated with opioid medication, even those that are prescribed, is important for parents of both young children and teens, the study authors and Seger said."Both adolescents and parents believe they are prescribed drugs, so they must be safe," Seger said.The study points to the need for more research on ways to store opioids more safely in homes and promoting those methods, especially in homes with children.
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  • iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical ContributorA new study out of Denmark is sparking more debate as to whether mammography can lead to unnecessary treatments in some women. Researchers found that one in three breast tumors discovered through a mammogram may be "over-diagnosed" -- meaning they're identified as more life-threatening than they really are, which leads to unnecessary treatment.Mammograms are not perfect. They sometimes miss cancers or detect cancers that are already advanced. But they are largely helpful and an important part of screening. All the news and controversy on breast cancer screening exist because we’re always reassessing data in medicine in search of better clinical advancements. I feel strongly that this is not a one-size-fits-all issue for women, so talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.
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  • Leave No Paws Behind(NEW YORK) -- What would have been a routine visit to her local animal shelter turned into an emotional experience for Elaine Seamans.A stray cat that had recently been brought to the shelter stopped Seamans in her tracks as she walked past his cage."I saw about four dogs who needed help, and then I saw him," Seamans, who runs the At-Choo Foundation, a nonprofit that provides dogs with medical care, told ABC News. "We don't normally help cats but there's no way I could walk past him."The emaciated cat somehow managed to muster a "meow" and turn toward Seamans."He reached out and so I picked him up," she said. "He was so thin and he was so weak and he just put his little head on my shoulder."What Seamans didn't know at the time was that the cat was suffering from a highly contagious sarcoptic mange, a condition that requires handlers to wear protective gloves. She said she doesn't regret the risk she took that day."There was no way I could leave him here to not get help," Seamans said.Seamans knew the cat, named Valentino, was in bad shape. She texted her friend Toby Wisneski, CEO of Leave No Paws Behind, a nonprofit that specializes in extreme medical cases and terminally-ill animals.Wisneski immediately responded and arrived at the shelter shortly after. She promised Valentino would receive the best care possible."I heard his tiny little meow and that sealed the deal," Wisneski told ABC News.Thanks to these women, Valentino is now recovering under 24-hour care. In addition to the sarcoptic mange, Valentino was suffering from low glucose levels, infections that left his eyes swollen shut, dehydration and possible gastrointestinal bleeding. However, Dr. Michelle Dulake, a veterinarian at The Pet Doctors of Sherman Oaks who has been overseeing Valentino's care, said he is on the road to recovery."I do think we are optimistic, and as long as his glucose goes up and his bacterial infections go away, I think he'll have a really good life," Dulake told ABC News. "He's the sweetest, sweetest cat. I think it was a really great find for Leave No Paws Behind. They did a great job finding a cat that has the potential to live a long and happy life."The support Valentino has received from the public after she began sharing his story has been overwhelming, Wisneski said."The people have been just amazing," she remarked. "We've received donations from people in Sweden, Australia, Austria. Who knew? We were just doing what we normally do — help those that can't help themselves and the ones that nobody wants."She continues to post updates on Valentino's status on her foundation's Facebook page, garnering even more support."He's the sweetest little guy," Wisneski, who named the cat in honor Valentine's Day, said. "He's an internet sensation, he's got a fanbase that is unbelievable, and we're taking it one day at a time."
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  • iStock/ThinkstockDR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical ContributorResearch suggests that 1 in 5 Americans will be diagnosed with some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. But now, researchers from Stanford University have turned to artificial intelligence to develop an app for distinguishing a common form of skin cancer -- carcinoma -- from the deadly melanoma. Their study showed that the app had a 70 percent accuracy compared to a 65 percent accuracy for the 21 board-certified dermatologists used in the study. Despite the results, there is no substitute for a doctor’s interaction and judgement. Here’s my take when it comes to your skin: You should regularly check all parts of your body for changing moles or marks on your skin. Also, ask a friend to check your back, scalp and any areas you can’t see.Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • DigitalVision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you've been spending flu season living in fear of getting sick every time someone near you coughs or sneezes, researchers have good news about the flu vaccine.The current seasonal influenza vaccine has been found to be 48 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits, according to a preliminary report in the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.The researchers looked at data between late November to early February from the 3,144 children and adults, 1,650 of whom were vaccinated, to see who sought medical treatment for flu-like symptoms.While the vaccine was found to be 48 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits for all ages, it provided slightly better protection for young children between the ages of 6 months to 8 years and older adults between the ages of 50 to 64, according to the report. The vaccine was found to be 53 percent effective in preventing flu-related medical visits for the young children and 58 percent effective for the older adults.Meanwhile, it was found to be less effective in children between the ages of 9 to 17 years old (32 percent effective), those 18 to 49 (19 percent effective) and those over the age of 65 (46 percent effective)."We know that influenza vaccine is a good but not perfect vaccine," Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told ABC News.Schaffner pointed out that it is especially important that the elderly, and those who will be around the elderly, get the vaccine, since the dominant flu strain A(H3N2) spreading across the country is more likely to cause severe complications among the elderly.The current flu vaccine has been found to protect against the A(H3N2) strain 43 percent of the time, and it can also lessen the chances of an infected person developing serious symptoms, according to the MMWR report."It disproportionately affects older people and makes them sicker," Schaffner explained of the A(H3N2) flu virus strain. "There is a perfect match between that strain and what is in the vaccine."The flu vaccine is developed every year to try and match the virus strains that are expected to be most common during flu season in the U.S. Currently, the U.S. is in the middle of a flu epidemic, which occurs almost every year. The CDC report found that high levels of flu activity is likely to continue for the next few weeks.Flu can cause symptoms of headache, fever, joint pain and cough. The seasonal flu generally spreads across the U.S. from November through March, with the peak number of cases often occurring in February. The number of people affected every year can vary widely, but generally, the CDC reports that "millions of people are sickened, hundreds of thousands are hospitalized and thousands or tens of thousands of people die from flu every year."
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