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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK CITY) -- Chewing gum isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of weight loss. But with more than 70 percent of adults in the United States overweight or obese, you take good news where you can get it.Exercise and a balanced diet have been shown to be the most effective way to achieve a healthy weight. A small study from Japan, presented at a medical conference in Europe, showed that chewing gum while walking may actually help you burn more energy and potentially help with weight loss.Researchers studied 46 men and women (ages from 21 to 69) with a body mass index (BMI) between 22 and 30. All were habitual gum chewers, chewing gum more than once per week.The people studied were divided into two groups. Group 1 chewed two pieces of gum for 15 minutes while walking. Group 2 drank the same ingredients (minus the actual gum base) mixed in water -- to ensure that there wasn’t some special effect of the gum ingredients -- waited an hour, then walked their 15 minutes. Heart monitors measured heart rate, while a stride sensor measured walking speed; both numbers were used to calculate energy expenditure. Walking, of course, burns calories. But men over the age of 40 were found to burn almost two additional calories per minute when walking while chewing gum. Women in this study, younger and older, did not have significant changes in their energy expenditure.But don’t run to the store for packs of gum just yet. More research will need to be done with a larger group to evaluate whether gum chewing would actually make enough of a difference to shift the weight. Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK CITY) --  Federal investigators have yet to determine the source of the ongoing E.coli outbreak that has so far left 172 people sick after eating romaine lettuce, but they have one glimmer of hope: lettuce wilts.The fact that lettuce is perishable means that while investigators with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) haven't yet figured out what caused the outbreak, the infected romaine from the Yuma growing region has now likely expired and is probably not on store shelves or in restaurant kitchens any longer.CDC officials cited romaine's 21-day shelf life as the reason why any of the infected lettuce, which they believe was harvested on or around April 16 is no longer available.While the immediate threat may have wilted, the larger question of why this outbreak happened lingers."We've thought about the easy explanations for this outbreak and so far they don't explain it, so what I've been saying is whatever happened is either different or very cryptic," said Stephen Ostroff, deputy commissioner for food and veterinary medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration."We are talking to the producers and processors and distributors - and to many folks - to try and get input into that essential question, which is: what explains this outbreak when the usual explanations don't seem to hold?" Ostroff told ABC News.CDC officials reported their latest numbers - 172 reported cases of E.coli in 32 states - on Wednesday. Those cases have resulted one death in California and a total of 75 hospitalizations, agency officials said.The E.coli outbreak was reported just days before a salmonella outbreak in eggs was also reported, but in the egg case investigators were able to quickly crack the case. The 35 cases of salmonella that were reported to the CDC as of May 10 were all traced back to a single farm in North Carolina that provided eggs to multiple companies. A recall was issued and 209 million eggs were withdrawn from the market.The traceback information, or the sourcing of the offending food, coalesced quickly in the salmonella outbreak, pointing investigators to Rose Acre Farms' Hyde County farm in North Carolina, Ostroff said. Investigators have had no such luck with the E.coli outbreak.Ostroff noted that such an investigation is "much more challenging because the supply chain for romaine lettuce is very complex." While the lettuce supplies extend from the farm to the retailer or restaurant, much like eggs do, there are added steps, including processors and bagging, where many types of lettuce can be added into a single bag.The one commonality federal officials were able to find with the infected lettuce is that it stemmed from the Yuma growing region which is largely concentrated in Arizona, though they have not been able to pinpoint a single farm.The harsh climate in Arizona means that the growing season there is over for the time being."If you're talking a place like Arizona in March and April where it's really strong sun and it's really dry, those are generally not conditions that E.coli likes so that makes it more difficult" to counter test against allegedly tainted samples, Ostroff said."E.coli doesn't sort of hang out in the environment in the same way that salmonella does," he said.The work of federal investigators isn't done, however, as they will need to try and solve the yet-unsolvable question before the fall when the Yuma growing region is back in full force."Right now we remain in what I refer to as the acute phase of the investigation," Ostroff said, adding that federal investigators will be working with growers, processors and the many other groups involved in lettuce production "between now and [the fall] to see what we can put in place to see that this doesn't happen again."Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(BRAZZAVILLE, Congo) -- As the deadly Ebola virus rises again in central Africa, health officials have decided to try a different approach to fight back.At least 19 deaths have been tied to the current outbreak of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province. There were 39 confirmed and suspected cases identified between April 4 and May 13, according to the World Health Organization.The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a “ring vaccination” approach, around the epicenter of the oubreak in the Congo."Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease," Dr. Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response for the World Health Organization said in a statement.Here is more information about Ebola and the experimental vaccine the WHO plans to employ.How is Ebola transmitted to people?Outbreaks of Ebola virus appear to begin when a human comes into contact with an infected animal or its body fluids. Subsequent person-to-person transmission happens after physical contact with the body fluids of a living or deceased patient.What are the current treatments for Ebola?The mainstay of treatment for Ebola virus involves supportive care to maintain adequate organ function, giving the immune system time to mobilize and eliminate the infection.Several experimental antiviral therapies were used to treat patients who contracted the virus during the 2014 to 2016 outbreak in West Africa, but it's not clear how effective those drugs were and they are in very short supply.Why this vaccine?This vaccine was developed to help protect people who have not yet been infected with Ebola. It has been proven safe and effective in human trials, but it has not received a license, so it's still considered experimental.In the past, U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted the vaccine what is known as a breakthrough therapy designation -- a status reserved for medicines designed to treat serious or life-threatening illnesses.The vaccine, which is referred to as both VSV ZEBOV and V920, was developed by Merck and has demonstrated the ability to cut the risk of infection in human trials.In September 2014, WHO identified both VSV and the ChAd3 vaccine as the most advanced candidates for use in the West African outbreak, mainly because both appeared to protect people after a single inoculation.More than 3,500 people were vaccinated with VSV in 2015, as part of a large trial at the end of Ebola outbreak in Guinea.  Why is this approach different?This vaccine was designed for use in a so-called “ring vaccination” approach, a strategy used in 1977 to control smallpox. The idea is to vaccinate people who know someone who has been infected and the people who know those people, in an expanding "ring" around the infections.So far, 393 people have been identified as part of the "ring" around people who are known or suspected to have been infected in the Congo. There is enough vaccine to cover those identified and many more; the WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses in Geneva and 300,000 doses in the U.S.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- A Delta flight crew waiting to take off Wednesday was hoping to have a doctor on board who could help with a medical emergency. It turned out there was: the U.S. Surgeon General himself.Dr. Jerome Adams said on Twitter following the incident: "On my @Delta flight to Jackson, Mississippi (by way of Atlanta), and they asked if there was a Doctor on board to help with a medical emergency- why yes- yes there was. Patient doing well and like a good #USPHS officer, I was glad to be able to assist!” Delta said in a statement that the incident took place on Flight 1827, which was traveling from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to Atlanta. The airline said the flight had to return to the gate before takeoff due to a "customer illness."A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told ABC News the flight crew asked for help when a passenger lost consciousness while the flight was waiting to take off, and Adams stepped in and was assisted by two nurses.The spokesperson said that the passenger regained consciousness, but Adams recommended the individual still be taken to a hospital. Adams telephoned the passenger's spouse to explain the situation and helped escort the individual off the plane to medical personnel waiting at the gate.The passenger was last reported in stable condition.Delta also thanked the surgeon general in a statement on Twitter:"When the 'Doctor on board' is THE Doctor. Thanks for your service and assistance today @Surgeon_General." Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK CITY) -- What should men do about prostate cancer screening?For years, men were urged to get a blood test looking for prostate-specific antigen (PSA), which can be elevated by prostate cancer. Then, in 2012, the United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), a government-sponsored but independent network of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine, said that PSA testing produced more harm than good. They stopped recommending it at all.Now, that same group has finalized a tweak on those 2012 screening guidelines. Instead of bypassing PSA entirely, men ages 55 to 69 should have a conversation with their doctor about the risks and benefits before making their own decision on whether or not to get screened. The task force says the change was largely driven by a 2014 study in Europe (European Randomized Study of Screening for Prostate Cancer), according to a new statement and evidence review published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).The European trial showed that a screening saved one prostate cancer deaths for every 1,000 men screened between ages 55 and 69. In four out of the seven countries in the European trial, screening also stopped three cases of prostate cancer from spreading for every 1,000 men screened.Dr. Alex Krist, vice chairman of the USPSTF and a professor of family medicine and population health at Virginia Commonwealth University, says the “extended follow up of 10 plus years in these studies, which was not available in 2012, contributed heavily” to the decision to modify the recommendations.The extended follow up showed some men’s lives would be saved if they chose to be screened between the ages of 55 to 69. Of note, the committee still finds screening for men over the age of 70 to be inappropriate -- the evidence still suggests more harm than benefit in this age group. The committee pointed to research on some populations which may be at higher risk for prostate cancer and death from it. The incidence is 74 percent greater in African American men compared to white men. Having a family history of prostate cancer is also a known risk factor for developing the disease.Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. In 2018, an estimated 165,000 men will be diagnosed and 29,000 will die from prostate cancer.The controversy over prostate cancer screening is because of the blood test developed in the late 1980s, looking for PSA.PSA can be elevated when prostate cancer is present, but can also be elevated for a number of other reasons -- inflammation or infection -- generating a lot of false positives.The men screened in the European trial, which drove the guideline changes, had a false positive rate of 17.8 percent. The problem with false positives is that in order to confirm prostate cancer, a patient has to undergo a biopsy.Biopsies have side effects, such as pain, infection, and bleeding. Even when cancer is present, 20-50 percent of prostate cancers never grow, spread, or cause any harm to the patient, but doctors cannot tell which ones are harmful and which ones are harmless. Treatment also has side effects, and evidence shows that one in five men who undergo prostate surgery will have long-term urinary incontinence, and two out of three men will have long-term erectile dysfunction.The overall message from the USPSTF, according to Krist, is that they recognize this is a complex decision.There is no “right answer," he said.
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