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FDA approves new leukemia treatment, costs $475k

The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new leukemia treatment that may bring hope to cancer patients, but it comes at a high price.

The therapy is called Kymriah, and it is being made by Norvartis.

It was developed to be used on children and young adults battling B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia who have either relapsed or their disease resisted standard treatment, the New York Times reported.

Kymriah works by training a patient’s cells to recognize the cancer and attack it, CNN reported.

>> Read more trending news

The treatment will only be used once and is made custom for each patient. It also will cost $475,000, but the gamble may be worth it. If a patient receives the treatment, but doesn’t show any response to Kymriah in the first month, Norvartis will not charge them, CNN reported. It will also help families who can’t afford it and are either uninsured or underinsured, the Times reported.

Patients’ white blood cells will be harvested and shipped to Novartis in New Jersey. The lab will preform genetic engineering using a virus and will have the cells multiply before freezing them and shipping back to the hospital, where they will be given to the patient via an IV. It is expected to take 22 days for full product turnaround, the Times reported.

There could be side effects. The manipulated cells could cause a cytokine storm, which could present with high fever, low blood pressure, long congestion and other life-threatening issues.

It is estimated that around 600 patients could qualify for the treatment a year in the United States.

The treatment was developed by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and licensed to Norvartis, the Times reported.

Doctor, midwife brave Hurricane Harvey floodwaters to help their patients

A surgeon from Dickinson, Texas, left his flooded-out home Saturday and made the unlikeliest commute.

>> Hurricane Harvey: How you can help

According to KABC, Dr. Stephen Kimmel guided his canoe through waist-high water for at least a mile to get to a Clear Lake-area hospital to perform surgery on a 16-year-old with a life-threatening condition.

“Sometimes you have to do whatever it takes,” Kimmel provided in a press release. “This young man’s life would have been changed for the worse forever if we hadn’t been able to perform surgery when we did. In the end, it all turned out very well.”

>> On Rare.us: United Airlines provides relief to hurricane victims

The teen, who was suffering from a testicular torsion, will make a full recovery.

>> Watch an interview here

But Kimmel wasn’t the only hero braving the water for patients during Harvey.

According to the "Today" show, Cathy Rude, a midwife of 25 years, made a harrowing journey of her own to get to a patient experiencing labor pains leading up to the brunt of the storm.

>> 8 tips when donating to Hurricane Harvey recovery and relief efforts

“I was concerned, as she was, that if her water were to break, things would happen very quickly,” Rude said in an interview. “So we started asking how I was going to get out of the house if that happened.”

>> Harvey's aftermath: Houston perseveres through immense loss (live updates)

Rude was almost forced to give up after her truck could not make it through the flooded streets, but when her mother-to-be Andrea Haley saw a neighbor with an inflatable swan down her street, she asked the “white horse” if they would be willing to pick her up:

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

“Andrea called me and said, ‘A swan is coming to pick you up.’ I laughed and gathered all my stuff and opened the front door and sure enough there was an inflatable swan with my neighbor behind it,” Rude said. “So I climbed on and she pushed me down the street to the end of the street and I was able to climb off the swan and into the pick-up truck and off we went to the birth center. She had the baby later that evening.”

>> Read more trending news

Rude was anything but after her safe delivery.

“A midwife is not just a care provider, she’s your friend," Rude said. "So of course, she wanted me to be there. I think she was appreciative, but I don’t think she was very surprised, because as midwives, that’s just what we do.”

If you need or would like to help in Houston, read more here.

Popular in high school? You may be miserable as an adult, study says

Were you the cool kid in high school? Adolescent popularity may take a toll on your mental health later on, according to a new study

» RELATED: Study: White teachers less likely to see black students as gifted

A group of researchers from the University of Virginia recently conducted a study, which was published in Child Development, to determine how teenage relationships can affect adulthood over time. 

To do so, they examined 169 racially and socioeconomically diverse individuals over a 10-year period starting at age 15. They assessed their mental health by surveying them annually on their friendships, anxiety, social acceptance and symptoms of depression. They also checked in with participants’ close friends and peers to measure quality of popularity and friendship. 

>> Read more trending news

They defined popularity as the number of peers in the teen’s grade who ranked them as someone they'd hang out with. And high-quality friendships were defined as close friendships that had a degree of attachment and intimate exchanges.

After analyzing the results, scientists found that those who had close-knit relationships at age 15 had a better overall well-being at age 25. Those individuals reported lower social anxiety, increased self-worth and fewer symptoms of depression.

On the other hand, those who were popular in school reported higher levels of social anxiety at age 25.

»RELATED: Study: Instagram spots depression better than general

"Our study affirms that forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience," Joseph Allen, lead researcher, said in a statement. "Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later.” 

»RELATED: Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

While scientists noted that their study was relatively small and did not factor in an individual’s personal characteristics, they believe their findings reveal important information about the significance of fostering relationships.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

“As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority,” Allen said.

Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

Mobile users in the U.S. searching for “depression” in Google may notice a new test option that tells them whether or not they’re really experiencing clinical depression.

>> Read more trending news

The new “check if you’re clinically depressed” feature, Google announced in a news release Wednesday, is a private clinically validated screening questionnaire called PHQ-9.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

The test aims to help determine a person’s depression and his or her need for an in-person medical evaluation.

While the PHQ-9 is not meant to be a singular tool for diagnosis, it can be someone’s first step, Mary Giliberti, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, wrote in the news release.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression.

» RELATED: Study: Vegetarians twice as likely to suffer depression

And it affects more than 15 million American adults (approximately 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population) each year.

» RELATED: Feeling depressed? Hot yoga could help

People experiencing symptoms of clinical depression usually delay treatment for 6 to 8 years after the onset of symptoms.

» RELATED: Is it safe to take ketamine for severe depression?

“We hope that by making this information available on Google, more people will become aware of depression and seek treatment to recover and improve their quality of life,” Giliberti wrote.

Users can find the feature inside the Knowledge Panel, a section that pops up at the top of Google search results and includes key facts, photos and more for any given subject.

Read the full news release from Google.

Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

Do you work at night? It may be healthier to work while the sun is up, because a new study has found a link between night shifts and breast cancer.

»RELATED: Hair dyes and chemical relaxers linked to breast cancer 

A group of researchers from Harvard University conducted an experiment, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, to determine how levels of light can impact the disease. 

To do so, they examined 110,000 women and data from nighttime satellite images of each participant’s residential address. They also factored in night shift work.

>> Read more trending news

Scientists found that women exposed to the highest levels of outdoor light at night had an estimated 14 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to those exposed to lower levels. 

They also saw a stronger link among women who work at night. 

“In our modern industrialized society, artificial lighting is nearly ubiquitous. Our results suggest that this widespread exposure to outdoor lights during nighttime hours could represent a novel risk factor for breast cancer,” lead author Peter James said in a statement.

»RELATED: Study: Daily glass of wine or beer can increase breast cancer risk 

Why is that?

Light affects melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and plays a role in reducing tumor growth. However, exposure to artificial light lowers melatonin levels, preventing it from operating at its full ability. 

Researchers noted that the association between outdoor light at night and breast cancer was only prevalent among premenopausal women and current or past smokers.

They also acknowledged that more research needs to be done to clarify their results and methods. 

»RELATED: Study: Cancer partly caused by bad luck

New treatment could be the end of peanut allergy, study says

Allergic to peanuts? There could be new treatment that would eliminate that allergy for up to four years, according to recent research.

»RELATED: Giving peanut-based foods to babies early prevents allergies 

Scientists from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, to determine how probiotics could keep peanut allergies at bay in the long term.

To do so, they combined a bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is known to calm the immune system and reduce allergic reactions, with a peanut protein in increasing amounts for a process known as peanut oral immunotherapy. The mix was designed to alter the way the immune system reacts to peanuts. 

>> Read more trending news

They then tested it on a group of children, giving some the probiotic and others a placebo once daily for 18 months. 

After analyzing the results, they found that 80 percent of those given the probiotic saw no signs of the allergy after four years, and 70 percent passed an exam that determined that their peanut tolerance was long-term. 

“It would seem that children who have benefited from the probiotic peanut therapy are able to change the way that they live and not have to really worry about peanuts anymore,” Mimi Prang, lead researcher, told the journal. “That’s what’s exciting.” 

Researchers did note, however, that their experiment was limited as it only included a small group. Therefore, more experiments should be done on larger groups. 

Scientists also want to test whether the probiotic could help with other food allergies. 

“Theoretically, it should work for any other allergen that’s also presented with this probiotic,” Prang said. "I think a really important study to do next would be to see if it works in the setting of other food allergies to induce a long-lasting tolerance.”

»RELATED: Allergic college student 'hazed' with peanut butter

Need relief from chronic pain? Marijuana may not help after all, studies say

When it comes to treating chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, an increasing number of people are turning to marijuana for relief. However, those efforts may be in vain, because new research has found little evidence to support its effectiveness.

>> Read more trending news

A group of scientists from the Veterans Health Administration recently completed two meta studies, which were both published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the usefulness of the drug. To do so, they reviewed data that linked the use of cannabis with chronic pain and PTSD alleviation. 

First, they reviewed 27 pain trials that examined the use of the plant as a remedy. They concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove its effectiveness for symptoms related to illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. They did, however, see some improvement for those with neuropathic pain. 

“We found low-strength evidence that cannabis preparations with precisely defined THC–cannabidiol content may alleviate neuropathic pain, but insufficient evidence in populations with other types of pain. Most studies are small, many have methodological flaws, and the long-term effects are unclear given the brief follow-up of most studies,” the report said. 

In fact, they had sufficient evidence linking marijuana use with an increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment. 

The researchers next took a look at five studies and reviews that assessed cannabis use for treating PTSD. They found that the evidence here was also lacking. One portion of a study even showed that symptoms worsened for veterans who used the drug during the assessment. 

»RELATED: Veteran allowed to keep ducks that help with PTSD

“Overall, we found insufficient evidence regarding the benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis preparations for patients with PTSD. The body of literature currently available is limited by small sample sizes, lack of adjustment for important potential confounders, cross-sectional study designs, and a paucity of studies with non–cannabis-using control groups,” the study said. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C., and up to 80 percent of people who request it say they use it for pain management. However, the latest research suggests there isn’t enough proof that it works. 

“The current studies highlight the real and urgent need for high-quality clinical trials in both of these areas,” Dr. Sachin Patel, a psychiatry researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Reuters

“If cannabis is being considered for medical use,” she continued, "it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed.” 

»RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep 

Mom shares heartbreaking photo after daughter dies from heroin overdose

The American opioid epidemic claimed another victim Monday

>> Watch the news report here

The mother of 22-year-old Elaina Towery shared a gut-wrenching photograph of her clutching her daughter just moments before she was taken off life support at a Detroit hospital.

>> See the photo here

Elaina reportedly died due to an overdose of heroin laced with fentanyl. She fell into a coma on Thursday.

Cheryl Towery, 49, told WJBK that her daughter had been battling addiction for seven years.

“She’s my only daughter, my best friend,” Cheryl said. “She was supposed to start her new job today; now she’s on life support.”

>> Doctor saves woman overdosing on flight

She told WJBK that her daughter and a friend had stopped at a Detroit Burger King last week. Elaina went inside to use the restroom. After about 20 to 25 minutes, her friend thought it was odd that she had not returned. Shortly afterward, a Burger King employee found Elaina unconscious on the bathroom floor.

Only moments earlier, Cheryl said, she had received a text message saying her daughter would be home soon.

“By 6 p.m., 6:30, 7, I finally got a message on Facebook,” Cheryl said.

>> How heroin changes our brains and more things to know about the drug

She said her daughter had gone into cardiac arrest.

Elaina had survived five previous overdoses and visits to five different treatment centers, Cheryl said.

“I wasn’t prepared for what I saw in the emergency room,” Cheryl said. “Because that’s the worst I’ve ever seen her.”

She said her daughter’s addiction began in 2010, when she started to abuse prescription drugs to deal with an abusive boyfriend. That boyfriend, who was convicted of domestic abuse and other crimes, is also the father of Elaina’s 5-year-old son, Christopher. She gave up her son due to her addiction, Cheryl said.

Cheryl believes Elaina giving up her baby contributed to her addiction problems. She was also working as a prostitute, Cheryl told WJBK.

“[She was] beat up, being pimped out, being kept in a hotel room on heroin,” Cheryl said.

>> Read more trending news

Cheryl said she made the decision remove Elaina from life support on Monday after it became clear that her daughter's vital organs were failing and that there was no brain activity.

“I’m going to fight for the rest of my life to make sure the people down here on the street selling this to people need to be locked up,” she said.

Read more here.

Report: Aetna in talks with Apple to provide Apple watches to millions of customers

A partnership between Apple and Aetna could bring Apple watches to the insurance company’s more than 20 million customers, according to a report. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two companies held private meetings Thursday and Friday in southern California to discuss options for such a move, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.Aetna already offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of its corporate wellness program and to individuals with Aetna plans under “select large employers.”

According to CNBC, Aetna is negotiating with Apple to try to provide a plan in which its 23 million members could receive an Apple watch for free or at a discounted price.

The perk would benefit both Aetna, which has increased efforts to get its members more health-conscious, and Apple, which has begun to promote health and fitness-tracking as a primary use for the Apple watch.

Apple, which reportedly surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling wearable fitness tracker, may have plans to develop its watch to better cater to wearers with chronic diseases, making the gadget even more desirable and multifunctioning, CNBC reported.

An unnamed source told CNBC that Aetna is pushing to have the plan developed by early next year.

Read more at CNBC.

Doctor saves woman overdosing on flight

A Boston cardiologist saved a passenger who passed out after a believed overdose 30,000 feet in the air.

>> Watch the news report here

Dr. Anil Punjabi was about to fall asleep on his flight from Boston to Minneapolis on Friday when he heard the Spirit Airlines attendant shouting for a doctor.

Other passengers alerted the crew when a woman a few rows back had been in the bathroom for a long time. When she got back, she was turning grey and slumped over, and passengers noticed she didn't have a pulse. Punjabi said he was working with an OBGYN nurse also on the flight to give her mouth-to-mouth CPR when they discovered a needle hidden in her bra.

"We were down on the ground within 25 minutes, but at that time she was completely unresponsive,” Punjabi said.

For those 25 minutes, the crew, Punjabi, the nurse and an EMT trainee all worked to keep the woman alive.

The situation is putting a spotlight on the gravity of the opioid epidemic in Boston.

It’s also raising serious concerns for Punjabi about whether action should be taken by airlines across the U.S. to prevent this from happening again. Punjabi and the crew kept the woman alive until the plane was on the ground 25 minutes later, but in other situations, that may not be possible, he said.

>> Read more trending news

"You need to talk to your union, you need to talk to Spirit, you need to talk to the company. I said the one thing you need to get in your med kit is Narcan,” Punjabi said.

Helen Tederous, the spokesperson for Buffalo Niagara International Airport, said a Boston flight bound for Minneapolis made an emergency landing in Buffalo on Friday night, and a woman was taken to the hospital for an overdose.

Needles are allowed on flights, but must be declared and screened through TSA. Click here for more information.

– WFXT has reached out to Spirit Airlines for comment on the incident and has not yet heard back.

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