Category Archives: Health

Tips to make couple closer together

Melissa Palmer remembers the struggle she and her husband Justin Ellis faced as soon-to-be newlyweds in late 2014, trying to find clothes that would fit him. They took trips to five different stores in search of a vest, and ended up having to have one custom ordered.

At 330 pounds, Justin was bordering on morbidly obese. He wore size 46 pants and took four different medications to manage a Rolodex of health issues: diabetes, high blood pressure and a high triglyceride count among others. He ate unhealthily and rarely exercised. Melissa, on the other hand, was an avid runner and triathlete. She ate well and kept track of her BMI. But she understood Justin’s troubles.

Both Melissa, 41, and Justin, 36, had struggled with weight from a young age. Melissa’s troubles only increased as a student at the University of South Carolina. By 2001, she weighed more than 230 pounds. She made valiant efforts to lose weight, dropping nearly 100 pounds at one point, but in 2005, back surgery derailed her fitness efforts and the scale crept back up over 200.

In 2009, Melissa began walking and watching her diet again. The feel-good effects from those small changes encouraged her to join a couch to 5K program—and sign up for an actual 5K race to cement her commitment. By the time the race rolled around in October 2009, she was down to 180 pounds.

Ready to Start Running? Check out the Runner’s World Starting Line

“I always thought running was something I could never do,” she recalls. “But something inside of me clicked after that first 5K. I thought, ‘Ok, I can do this.’” She began racking up the miles and within a year dropped another 40 pounds and completed her first half marathon, the Governor’s Cup in Columbia, South Carolina.

Crossing that finish line made her finally consider herself a runner. “It’s like anything in life: you just start,” says Melissa. “Once I ran four miles, I wondered what it would feel like to run five. And every time I ran, I just wanted to run more.” To date, she’s completed 35 races.

Conquering the Challenges
Justin watched Melissa’s transformation, first as a friend and then as a romantic partner. He was proud of her accomplishments, but did not feel inspired himself. “I was a little too young naïve, and cocky to let that motivate me,” he says.

“He’s a very stubborn person,” Melissa laughs. “So while I would encourage him to eat healthier and move more, it would go in one ear and out the other.”

Still, she continued her fitness journey. In 2013 she competed in a duathlon—biking and running—then finished her first triathlon in 2014.

“I never thought I’d get into triathlons because I really hate swimming,” Melissa explains. During that first sprint race, she could only swim backstroke and was the second-to-last person out of the water. “It was embarrassing. But because I’m really competitive with myself, learning how to swim better became another challenge,” she says. With the help of a local sports coach, she tackled this next hurdle, spending hours in the pool correcting her technique and actively working against her deep-seated aversion to water.

Freezing egg or sperm

Angela Thomas thought her breast cancer diagnosis and the double mastectomy that followed were the most traumatic things she would ever experience.

Then, when the 32-year-old actress sought fertility treatment so she could have a baby after the cancer care was finished, her insurance company refused to pay.

“Trying to figure out … how I am going to finance this has been more stressful and more difficult than the actual surgery,” said Thomas, who is being treated at the University of Southern California’s Keck Hospital. “It is really daunting and extremely upsetting.”

Thomas didn’t need chemotherapy, which can affect fertility. But her doctors told her she shouldn’t get pregnant for the next five years, while she was on a cancer-related medication, and that having a healthy baby could be harder in her late 30s.

About 70,000 people between the ages of 15 and 39 are newly diagnosed with cancer each year, and many risk infertility as a result of chemotherapy, radiation, and other treatments. There are a growing number of options to preserve fertility, but they can cost tens of thousands of dollars and are usually not covered by health plans.

“It is not cheap for anybody, but for a young adult this is really tough,” said Pam Simon, a nurse practitioner and program manager at the Stanford Adolescent and Young Adult Cancer Program. “They have just started their career and cancer has thrown a big wrench into that. Not having this covered is a big deal.”

Read more: Some fertility treatments produce more boy babies. Here’s why

California state Sen. Anthony Portantino proposed legislation this month that would require insurers beginning in 2018 to cover fertility preservation services when necessary medical treatments may cause infertility. Covering this type of care is the “right thing to do” for young patients, many of whom are facing life-threatening diagnoses, Portantino said.

“You should think about getting healthy,” said Portantino. “You shouldn’t have to worry about losing your fertility.”

A similar bill passed both houses in 2013 but was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who wrote that he did not want to mandate additional benefits given the “comprehensive package of reforms that are required by the federal Affordable Care Act.”

Legislators across the nation also have proposed bills in recent years to make it easier for patients facing fertility-threatening treatments to get such care. Legislation has been introduced in New York, Hawaii, Connecticut, and elsewhere.

Solving a stress

Forty-eight-year-old Christine Jagde thought she had tried everything to relieve her debilitating migraines, until she stumbled upon a simple holistic therapy: floating in a tank.

“When I walked out of the float the first time, I felt relaxed, my headache felt better, and I thought, ‘OK this is something that I can do as a practice,’” Jagde, who works as an attorney in New York City, told

Floating, or flotation therapy, is one of the latest alternative medicine trends, and it works by depriving the senses to ease stress and aches. Over the past few years, more businesses that offer the therapy have emerged, and some companies are now selling personal tanks that can be used at home.

At Lift Floats in New York, clients float naked for one hour in a water tank filled with 250 gallons of water at body temperature and 1,000 pounds of Epsom salt.

“[It’s] a concentration of salt greater than the Dead Sea so clients float effortlessly,” Lift Floats co-owner David Leventhal, told “Most of our clients have the sensation of not being able to feel hot or cold. They literally can’t tell if their limbs are above or below the water line.”

While growing in popularity, floatation therapy isn’t exactly new. Behavioral scientist John C. Lilly started experimenting with an isolation tank in 1954. In 1972, the first commercial tanks hit the market thanks to computer system programmer Glenn Perry.

Dr. Paul Hokemeyer, a psychotherapist based in New York City and Malibu, said when the mind is deprived of senses, it goes into a state of hyper-arousal.

“It generates a barrage of thoughts, feelings and emotions that emanate from both the conscious and unconscious state of being,” Hokemeyer told Questions that an individual may have during this heightened state of awareness include ‘Where am I’, ‘Why am I doing this?’ as well as questions with deeper conflicts of being like ‘Who am I?’, and ‘Am I safe, loved and lovable?’

Research on floatation therapy has been limited to small study groups, but some reports suggest floating can relieve muscle tension, enhance creativity and induce instant relaxation.

Dr. Teo Mendez, an orthopedic surgeon from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, has floated three times before and said he was skeptical about its mental health benefits at first.

“For about 20 minutes, I was pretty bored, but then I started to get a little bit in-tune with my body,” Mendez told “I felt very creative afterwards, like I was easily able to solve problems. A lot of times in surgery, what we’re doing is trying to solve problems, and being able to think outside the box and think of new ways to do things is critically important, so it’s helped me in that way.”

The scariest things on dermatologists

As women, we put our skin through a lot. Between the shaving, plucking, waxing, picking, popping, and (gah) burning, it’s amazing we have any skin left. Luckily, our trusty dermatologists have been there for us every step of the way—which, naturally, makes us wonder about the other skin bloopers they’ve been asked to help with throughout their careers.

Here, seven dermatologists share a highlight reel of the crazy (and cringe-worthy) consults they’ll never forget:

“An elderly woman came into the office complaining about a changing mole on her chest over the past day that she needed to get checked out. When I initially looked at it, it appeared to be a black, crusted bump, but when I got close and touched it, it started to move! It wasn’t a keratosis at all, but rather an engorged tick that was still alive, squirming around, legs and all. I removed the tick, sent it to the lab, and gave her medicine to make sure she didn’t develop Lyme disease.” —Joshua Zeichner, M.D., New York City-based board-certified dermatologist

“I had a patient come in with orange skin (as in, oompa-loompa orange). It turned out that she was on a juicing program that involved consuming a lot of carrots, which caused a condition called carotenemia. Once she cut back on the carrot juice, her skin color went back to normal.” —Anonymous


“A patient came to the clinic one day and had decided to freeze off all his own spots. We use liquid nitrogen—he decided to use freon, which is used as a refrigerant. He sprayed it on the various spots on his arms and legs, and was covered in burns. I had to treat him for cold burns with prescription burn cream and special bandages.” —Debra Jaliman, M.D., New York City-based dermatologist and author of Skin Rules

“I had a young college student come in who was home from spring break in Mexico. She had fallen asleep on the beach after a night of partying, causing her to have the worst sunburn I’ve ever seen in my career. As we were talking during her visit, two huge sunburn blisters popped on her face, causing the fluid inside them to start dripping down her face and neck. Almost a decade later, we still talk about that visit during her yearly skin-cancer screenings.” —Arash Akhavan, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at The Dermatology & Laser Group in New York

“A patient got filler at a ‘bargain’ storefront clinic and had awful lumps in her face—three weeks before her daughter’s bat mitzvah.” —Neal Schultz, M.D., New York City-based board-certified dermatologist and creator of BeautyRx by Dr. Schultz

Flash before your eyes at death

The idea that our lives flash before our eyes in the moments before we die may sound close to mystical, but neurologists at Hadassah University in Jerusalem say the phenomenon—or at least some version of it—appears to be quite common.

They found, however, that “life review experiences,” or LREs, don’t play out as Hollywood movies might suggest: The images that bombard the brain aren’t chronological. In fact, time itself seems to be distorted as memories, often acutely emotional, rush back simultaneously, the researchers report in the journal Consciousness and Cognition.

As a post at New York puts it: LREs are “a super-concentrated version of mental processes that happen every day.” To investigate, the scientists conducted in-depth analyses of seven accounts of people who reported having LREs.

Participants described time playing out differently, i.e.: “There is not a linear progression, there is lack of time limits. … A moment, and a thousand years … both and neither.” Another common feature: People said they experienced emotions from the perspective of loved ones: “I could individually go into each person and I could feel the pain that they had in their life,” says one.

“I was seeing, feeling these things about him [my father], and he was sharing with me the things of his early childhood and how things were difficult for him.” So what’s going on? Researchers say more study is needed to figure what is happening in the brain at such times, but one theory is that things start going a little haywire in areas where memory is stored as oxygen diminishes.

Whats happen even on the water

Lifeguards who oversee open waters, such as oceans and lakes, may be able to deliver CPR effectively in a moving inflatable boat, according to a small study in Spain.

Surf-lifeguards provided the best cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on land but also delivered good-quality CPR on a small rescue boat, supporting the idea of starting CPR as soon as possible in real-life scenarios, researchers say.

“In cases of off-shore drowning, lifeguards should start CPR immediately and continue along the time required to reach the shore,” said study author Cristian Abelairas-Gomez of the University of Santiago de Compostela.

More research is focusing on out-of-hospital CPR in recent years, particularly lifeguards’ performance, he told Reuters Health by email. The European Resuscitation Council Guidelines put emphasis on open-water resuscitation in 2015, and experts are now investigating how different rescue scenarios affect CPR, he said.

The research team created an experimental simulation with 10 lifeguards on the Spanish island of Tenerife. The lifeguards were asked to perform two-minute CPR on training mannequins in four scenarios: onshore, on a floating boat, on a boat traveling at 5 knots and on a boat traveling at 10 knots. Each lifeguard had at least five years of experience, but none had on-boat CPR experience.

In all scenarios, the quality of CPR was measured by the number and depth of compressions and the degree of chest rise when breaths were administered to the mannequin. In all cases, the lifeguards’ scores surpassed the CPR “success threshold” of 70 percent. However, the quality of CPR did decrease as boat speed increased. In particular, the boat’s movement affected chest compression depth during CPR.

“Until more research is conducted, there may be a trade-off between quality of resuscitation during transport versus rapidly getting a victim to dry land,” said Stephen Langendorfer of Bowling Green State University in Ohio who wasn’t involved in the study.

“Since even highly-skilled professional lifeguards performed worse as speed increased, one could expect less well-skilled lifeguards to perhaps perform below the (CPR success) threshold,” he told Reuters Health by email.

Worldwide, more than 370,000 deaths are due to drowning each year, representing 0.7 percent of all unintentional injury deaths, according to the World Health Organization. In the United States, drowning is the leading cause of injury-related death among children ages 1 to 4, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Drowning is such a big problem and not publicized. The numbers are often underestimated,” said David Szpilman, medical director of SOBRASA, a drowning prevention group in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, who also wasn’t involved in the study.

Health fraud scheme

To prosecutors, Bernard Greenspan saw dollar signs when a blood-testing lab company came to his office seeking referrals several years ago, and he reaped a $200,000 windfall in illegal bribes.

Greenspan’s attorney tells a different story, of an “old-school, solo family practitioner” still practicing while pushing 80 whose transactions were legitimate but who wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time — in the middle of an investigation into a $200 million health care fraud scheme.

More than 40 people, including more than two dozen doctors in New York and New Jersey, have pleaded guilty over the last four years in the scheme. This week, the government’s evidence will be tested for the first time when the 79-year-old Greenspan, who faces maximum penalties that would mean spending the rest of his life in prison, goes on trial.

Opening statements are scheduled for Tuesday in federal court.

“He stands on different footing than the other doctors who have pleaded guilty,” Greenspan’s attorney, Damian Conforti, said Monday. “It differs significantly in that it wasn’t criminal.”

The charges stem from an investigation into Parsippany-based Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services, a previously nondescript New Jersey company that had experienced a large spike in revenues between 2006 and 2013.

There was a reason for the uptick in the company’s fortunes, the U.S. attorney’s office contended when it announced charges in April 2013: the company was bribing a network of doctors in exchange for referrals, often involving unnecessary tests.

The company made $200 million between 2006 and 2013, with more than $100 million as a result of the bribery scheme, according to authorities. U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman estimated Medicare was defrauded out of tens of millions of dollars during that time.

BLS president David Nicoll, who is expected to testify against Greenspan, pleaded guilty in June 2013 to conspiracy and money laundering and faces up to 25 years in prison. Authorities said he used BLS’s profits on a $300,000 Ferrari, $392,000 on tickets to sporting events and $154,000 at a gentlemen’s club and restaurant.

The U.S. attorney’s office alleges one way BLS bribed Greenspan and other doctors was by paying them inflated rents for office space. In one example, BLS allegedly paid a doctor $2,200 per month for about 100 square feet of space.

BLS also paid for Greenspan’s holiday office parties and gave a job to an employee with whom Greenspan was having a sexual relationship, the criminal complaint alleges.

The investigation reflected federal officials’ increased focus on health care fraud over the last 10 years. According to an annual report by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice, in Fiscal Year 2016 the federal government won or negotiated more than $2.5 billion in health care fraud judgments and settlements.

What happen if overdose antidote kits

West Virginia health officials are responding to opioid overdoses by distributing more than 8,000 kits with an antidote — Naloxone — that can get people breathing again if administered in time.

Money for the kits comes from a $1 million federal grant to West Virginia, which has had the nation’s highest rate of overdose deaths.

“Naloxone is a lifesaving antidote that, if administered in a timely manner, can effectively reverse respiratory depression caused by opioid and opiate overdose and revive victims,” said Dr. Rahul Gupta, commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health. “This collaboration represents an essential step toward turning around West Virginia’s staggering overdose statistics.”

Federal data show West Virginia had 725 overdose deaths in 2015, the highest rate of any state at 41.5 per 100,000 people. Last year’s numbers are expected to show little improvement.

“We have seen a significant and steady increase in all drug overdose deaths in West Virginia over the last several years. Unfortunately, based upon the trend we are seeing, the number of overdose deaths has not yet peaked,” Gupta said. “We expect our preliminary data for 2016 to further increase as more toxicology results are recorded.”

Meanwhile local emergency medical services agencies administered 4,186 doses of Naloxone last year, up from 3,351 the year before and 2,165 two years ago. Gupta said that data doesn’t include uses by hospital emergency departments, urgent care centers, first responders and family members.

The project is funded with a $1 million federal grant managed by the state Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities and administered by Gupta’s bureau. West Virginia University’s Injury Control Research Center will implement and evaluate the project.

More than 4,000 of the two-dose kits will go out in the next few weeks to high priority areas, including needle-exchange programs and police and fire departments in the cities of Huntington, Charleston, Wheeling and Morgantown and other urban and rural areas.

Pose poison risk for kids

Parents who store medicines and household cleaners out of reach to protect their kids from accidental poisoning shouldn’t forget to consider any drugs they have for the family pet, a new study suggests.

Children five and under account for 88 percent of calls to poison control centers for exposure to veterinary medicines, researchers report in Pediatrics. In almost all of these cases, kids consumed drugs intended for the family pet.

About one in four of these poisonings happened while someone was trying to give medicine to a pet, the study also found.

“This could have happened if the pet spit the medicine out onto the floor then the child ate it or if the medicine was mixed in with food such as a hot dog or piece of cheese and the child ate the food containing the medicine,” said study co-author Kristin Roberts of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“The good news is that you can help keep everyone in the family a little safer by storing medicine for pets up and away and out of sight, only giving medicine to pets when the children aren’t in the room and by making sure the pet has taken the medicine,” Roberts added by email.

To assess the risk veterinary medicines pose to children, Roberts and colleagues analyzed data on 1,431 calls to a regional poison control center in Ohio from 1999 through 2013.

Most of the calls – 88 percent – related to medicines for dogs, the study found.

In 93 percent of cases, children ate or drank pet medicines. Another 2.3 percent of the calls involved children getting veterinary drugs in their eyes, and 1.1 percent of cases were for skin exposure.

While most instances happened at home and could be managed without a visit to the doctor, children went to a health facility for treatment in about 6 percent of cases.

When children did go to a hospital or health facility, they were evaluated and treated or released in about 60 percent of cases.

When parents were told children needed to see a doctor, the most common exposures were for pet pain medicines, or drugs for parasites, convulsions or other ailments.

In most cases, the children had few or no bothersome symptoms or didn’t require follow-up care because their exposure to the pet medicines was determined to be nontoxic or not that harmful.

The study was limited by the fact that it was done at a single poison center, and recording of different types of veterinary medicines by poison control specialists was inconsistent.

Not all families have pets, and the odds of poisoning from veterinary medicines may be lower than for other things around the house, said Dr. Carl Baum, a researcher at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, who wasn’t involved in the study.

Still, curious toddlers are going to be at risk, Baum added by email.

“Try as you might to teach toddlers not to explore/touch/taste/swallow objects, they will do so,” Baum said.

Scientific facts about twins

Beyoncé is pregnant with twins! The singer and actress, 35, announced the news on Instagram today, posting a photo of her baby bump and writing that she and husband Jay Z “have been blessed two times over.”

Pregnancies with multiple babies aren’t as rare as they once were, but they’re still an uncommon event. So in celebration of the couple’s happy news, here are 10 fascinating things you may not know about twins—identical, fraternal, and otherwise.

Twin births are on the rise

There were 135,336 twin births in the United States in 2014, the latest year for which data is available. That means about 3.4% of all babies born that year were twins—a record high, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The twin birth rate has been climbing steadily since 1980, and experts say that the prevalence of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and other assisted reproductive technologies has likely played a role.

Older moms are naturally more likely to have twins

Even without IVF or other fertility treatments, mothers are naturally more likely to have twins as they get older, says Christine Greves, MD, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Winnie Palmer Hospital for Women and Babies in Orlando.

“It may have to do with evolution,” says Dr. Greves. “Women at an older age won’t be able to have babies for much longer, so it makes sense that they’d have more at one time.”

Twins live longer than singletons—and so do their moms

In a 2016 study from the University of Washington, researchers found that identical twins tend to live longer than fraternal twins, and all twins tend to live longer than the general population. “There is benefit to having someone who is socially close to you who is looking out for you,” said study author and postdoctoral researcher David Sharrow, PhD, in a press release. “They may provide material or emotional support that leads to better longevity outcomes.”

There’s good news for moms of twins, as well: In 2011, University of Utah researchers discovered that women who give birth to twins tend to live longer than other mothers. (It’s not because having twins makes you healthier, say the researchers, but that healthier women are more likely to have twins.)