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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The only way to test for symptoms of stomach or esophageal cancer is to undergo an upper endoscopy, a test that can be invasive, cost thousands of dollars and has a small percentage of success in actually finding a tumor.Researchers in the U.K. wanted a diagnostic tool that would be easier and cheaper to test for these cancers so they used a noninvasive breath test to collect samples of 500cc of exhaled breath from 335 people, 172 of which they knew had those cancers, after a minimum four-hour fast.The exhaled breath was quickly analyzed for five previously identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs), known to have some association with gastric and esophageal cancers (VOCs happen with other cancers, including lung, bladder, and breast). The researchers were looking for evidence of butyric acid, pentanoic acid, hexanoic acid, butanal and decanal.The results were published in the journal JAMA Oncology.The breath test was able to accurately identify esophageal or gastric cancer about 80 percent of the time.Dr. Raja Flores, chairman of the Department of Thoracic Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System, told ABC News that endoscopy is underutilized in the U.S. Flores, who was not involved in the U.K. study, noted that the breath test is not the current standard of care.If this new diagnostic tool is proven to succeed, many doctors might want to change their approach to patients and how they screen cancer.This article was written by Chantel Strachan, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident from the University of Connecticut who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, is quickly approaching. Local pools and water parks will beckon. While most people will be fine, there’s a health risk you should be aware of if you decide to take a dip in a public or hotel pool this summer.Yearly, since 2005, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has sponsored a campaign the week before Memorial Day. They call it Healthy and Safe Swimming Week, to reduce illness related to recreational water use.Typically, recreational water is treated with chlorine, and most of the time chlorine keeps us from even knowing about all the possible bacteria and parasites that could be brewing. But chlorine isn’t effective if it’s not used properly. The CDC has specific guidelines for water temperature and acidity needed to discourage the growth of pathogens that can cause illnesses.There were over 24,000 outbreaks between 2000 and 2014, infections caused by pathogens in recreational water, most of them in hotel pools and hot tubs during the months of June, July, and August, according to the latest report from the CDC. Additionally, between 2000 and 2014, the CDC recorded 493 disease outbreaks related to treated recreational water, resulting in more than 27,000 illnesses and eight deaths.Over half of the cases were due to a parasite called Cryptosporidium, which causes gastrointestinal symptoms, like diarrhea, with the infection beginning when contaminated water is ingested (so don’t swallow pool water).However, there are some strains of Cryptosporidium that can survive in chlorinated water for over a week. Between 2000 and 2007, outbreaks related to Cryptosporidium increased by about 25 percent per year.But 30 percent of the overall outbreaks were due to two other kinds of bacterial infection: Pseudomonas, which can cause severe skin and ear infections, or Legionella, which can cause pneumonia from inhaled aerosolized water droplets.Pseudomonas, which results in swimmer’s ear or a skin condition known as “hot tub rash,” caused 47 outbreaks and 920 infections.At least six of the eight deaths between 2000 and 2014 were caused by Legionella, the CDC says.“The annual number of outbreaks caused by Legionella increased by an average of 13 percent per year," according to the CDC.Of course, you hope those who maintain your local commercial pool have read the CDC’s Model Aquatic Health Code on pool care. Yet, the mainstay of reducing outbreaks and prevention is watching your own behavior.Here are the CDC's tips:-- Stay out of the water if you or your child has had diarrhea recently.-- Don’t swallow pool water.-- Shower before entering the pool (to get any bacteria off your skin).-- Check the inspection score for the public pool.-- Test chlorine level and pH in your own pool with test strips.Once that’s done, try to forget about the bacteria and enjoy the swim!This article was written by Chantel Strachan, MD, a second-year internal medicine resident at the University of Connecticut who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.
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  • Kristine Squitieri Fitzpatrick/Facebook (NEW YORK) -- This young baseball player was so excited about hitting a home run, he celebrated with some sweet dance moves!Billy, who has Down syndrome, plays in the "League of YES," a Long Island, New York-based organization whose mission is "to establish and sustain baseball programs for people of all ages with disabilities," according to their website. The group runs programs like this to help children with disabilities "develop social skills and increase self esteem."Before he crossed home plate, Billy stopped to do a celebratory dance for all of his friends and the volunteers that cheered him on.One of the group's organizers told ABC News that it was the "best home run ever." Way to go, Billy! Nice moves!
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Over half of the tobacco smoke consumed by young American smokers is inhaled through hookahs, and more must be done to specifically curb this kind of smoking, a new study published in the British Medical Journal Thursday found.In the study, researchers surveyed more than 3,300 American adults aged 18 to 30 and asked them how frequently and how much hookah smoking -- also known as waterpipe tobacco smoking -- and regular cigarette smoking they did in March and April of 2013.Researchers then used statistical analysis to estimate the proportion of toxicants originating from each kind of smoking. They found 55 percent of the volume of smoke inhaled by the people surveyed came from hookah smoking.Ahead, here's what to know about the risks of the craze.What is hookah smoking?Hookah smoking, also known as waterpipe tobacco smoking, started out in India and the Eastern Mediterranean Region, but hookah parlors have gained popularity across the U.S. The practice is especially popular among young American adults -- 5 percent to 10 of young adults reported smoking hookah in the past 30 days, according to the article published in the British Medical Journal. An even larger percentage -- 20 percent to 30 percent -- have taken at least a puff in the past year.Like cigarette smoking, the tobacco is still burned, but is instead drawn out of the hookah through water. Hookah smoke is thought by many to be somehow cleaner and less irritating when compared with cigarette smoking, but it has the significant risks.Is tobacco smoked through a hookah safer than cigarettes?"The vast majority of time, the stuff that is placed in the hookah is called shisha. It is a mixture of tobacco, flavoring, sweetener, and other chemicals. Some people put other things in the head of the hookah, such as marijuana. However, for this particular study, we made it very clear that we were only interested in them telling us how much hookah they used specifically with tobacco," Dr. Brian Primack, professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburg and a lead author of the study, told ABC News.But consider this: smoking a cigarette takes a few minutes, and hookah sessions last longer. A 45-minute hookah session is associated with higher levels of toxicants, including tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine. And an hour of hooking smoking is one hundred to two hundred times the smoke volume inhaled from a cigarette.Smoking studies have found that consuming one cigarette usually involves 10 to 12 puffs of about 50 milliliters of smoke each. On the other hand, one 45-minute to hour-long hookah session can involve up to 100 inhalations, and a total of about 500 milliliters of smoke consumed per person. The amount of smoke in a hookah session is definitely concerning, but because the smoke is less concentrated than smoke from a cigarette, it is hard to draw a direct comparison."I don't think there is an easy answer as to what is 'safer,'" Primack said. "Using either one has been associated with things like heart disease and lung cancer. However, we don't have enough data to make a direct comparison. Part of this is because hookah use is a relatively newer phenomenon, especially in the United States.""If a person decides one night to either smoke one standard hookah session or one standard cigarette, this study shows that they would be getting a lot more smoke volume, carbon monoxide, tar, and even nicotine if they choose the hookah," Primack added.Does hookah smoking contain fewer contaminants than cigarettes?Primack said he and his team were "surprised at the sheer volume of smoke, tar, and other toxins to which hookah smokers are exposed.""This is especially concerning because hookah is often perceived by youth as a harmless alternative to cigarette smoking," he added.The study found that cigarette smoking did have more concentrated contaminants. The proportion of tar attributed to hookah smoking, for instance, was 21 percent, carbon mon
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  • Courtesy Alana Brown(REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio) -- A 10-year-old girl in Ohio is receiving the gift of life from a fourth-grade teacher at her school.Alana Brown said she and her daughter, Eva, are beyond grateful to Tanya Thomas, a teacher at Slate Ridge Elementary School who stepped up and offered to donate a kidney to the little girl."I simply wanted to thank an amazing woman for a selfless act of love kindness,” Brown told ABC News. “I had no idea so many people would care. She is truly an incredible person."Eva's medical problems began last March, her mother said. Thirty minutes after arriving home from dinner at a Japanese restaurant, Eva's whole face began to swell. Alana Brown said she rushed her daughter to urgent care, where she was treated for an allergic reaction. But the swelling came back within an hour, and this time, Eva was rushed to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.Testing revealed that Eva had only 4 percent kidney function could have died within days if it had been left untreated, her mother said.Struggling to find a donorAfter a kidney biopsy, Eva was diagnosed with an incredibly rare disease, collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (cFSGS).With no known cure available, Eva's only hope was a kidney transplant. In August of last year, she was put on dialysis, Brown said, a process that is long and exhausting. Brown said Eva must also take up to thirty pills a day.Brown struggled to find a donor kidney for her daughter. A deceased donor’s kidney would only last ten years, she said, and family members had a different blood type than Eva's, so she could not take one of their kidneys.Eva’s father had the same blood type, O-Positive, but since he has high blood pressure and does not know his family history because he was adopted, he was deemed unable to donate as well, Brown said.Finally, Brown said a friend asked if she could put the word out on Facebook and within minutes, the comments came flooding in."I’m amazed at the human spirit,” Brown said as she recalled the "overwhelming" response to that initial post.But among all those who wished the family well and offered their help, one person continued to stand out –- a woman named Tanya Thomas.'I just started crying'Thomas would consistently comment on posts about Eva and contact the family via text message, telling them about every test she had undergone to see if she was qualified to donate her kidney, Brown said. And it turned out Thomas was a match.But Brown had no idea that they also shared a connection to Slate Ridge Elementary.Then one day while Brown was at the school with Eva, a woman came up and introduced herself. It was Thomas.“I just started crying,” Brown said.Thomas told Brown she was a teacher at the school, but they kept that information from Eva just in case the transplant plan didn’t work out.But when it came time to reveal the donor's name, Eva was ecstatic.Eva is not one of Thomas’s fourth-grade students, "which makes her even more incredible," Brown said.'We will be transplant sisters'Eva and Thomas had never even met. Thomas had simply responded to the Facebook post, and "the rest is history," Brown said.Thomas told ABC-affiliate WSYX in Columbus that she is "blessed with this good health" and wanted to help."We will be transplant sisters and so that's very exciting. She's got a long life ahead of her,” Thomas told WSYX.The transplant operation is currently set for May 30 if Eva is strong enough. She was hospitalized again this week.Brown said she wants to raise awareness that there are generous people, like Thomas, who volunteer to be living donors.When it is time for the transplant, Eva wants to do her part to spread the word as well. to help other kids who may have the same problem.Brown said Eva will document her journey on YouTube to help other kids understand the condition and make their journeys less scary.The family is raising money for Ev
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