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Scientist: All women over 30 should consider breakthrough test

A pioneering Seattle genome scientist from the University of Washington believes all women older than 30 should consider an at-home cancer risk test, despite some national experts who say the tests aren’t for everyone.

Dr. Mary-Claire King is an American Cancer Society professor and genome scientist at the University of Washington School of Medicine. In 1990, she first discovered and named the BRCA 1 gene, showing that inherited mutations in the genes lead to increased breast cancer risk. It revolutionized how doctors detect cancer by changing their screening procedures for thousands of women who are genetically predisposed for higher cancer risk.

>> Read more trending news 

While everyone’s DNA includes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes, having a mutation can increase a woman’s breast cancer risk from about 10 percent to as much as 80 percent.

“It was a game changer,” King said. “It gave us a tool so that women could learn, woman by woman, their actual risk.”

Color Genomics has released two separate at-home tests that simply require a person to send back a tube of their saliva to test their risk for certain hereditary cancers. 

The kits can be ordered online on the Color website and even on Amazon.com. Depending on the test, Color can test the DNA not only for BRCA mutations that can lead to higher breast cancer and ovarian cancer risk, but also for mutations to other genes that lead to higher risks in breast cancer and other cancers.

Jenn Nudelman, a breast cancer survivor from Issaquah, said she wants to take it herself. She does not have the BRCA gene, but she is the eighth woman in her family to be diagnosed with breast cancer. 

“[In 2011, my surgeon] said, ‘It’s likely that your family has a mutation we just haven’t discovered yet,” Nudelman said.

KIRO 7 wanted to know if the Color test actually works and went straight to the expert, King. Her discovery not only paved the way to allowing hereditary cancer risk tests to exist, but she is also an unpaid advisor to Color Genomics who tested the test herself at the request of Color’s founders. 

Her lab sent them 400 of their trickiest DNA samples, challenging them to find the mutations.

“They got every single one correct,” she said. “They even got one mutation that we had missed because it was a gene that back when we first evaluated that patient, that gene hadn’t been known to be a breast cancer gene. So they got 101 percent of the samples correct! They did a perfect job, and I said, ‘OK, you’re serious.’”

She said what’s key is if a test finds any mutations where a person needs to take action, one of Color’s trained genetic counselors will call the patient to deliver the results and walk them through exactly what they mean.

Genetic counselor Nancy Hanson, with Swedish Medical Center's Hereditary Cancer Clinic, told KIRO 7 while many people may expect the results to be clear and easily understandable, they may not be, especially when looking at a larger gene panel. 

That's why she says it's important to go over the results with a genetic counselor. 

Hanson said finding out you have a mutation does not mean you have or will definitely get cancer. And the job of a genetic counselor, by phone or in person, is to help patients understand their options.

“People who have an inherited susceptibility to cancer might never get cancer,” Hanson said. “They just have a dramatically higher risk, and we can make screening recommendations or preventative strategies to help them prevent cancer or catch it early.”

Hanson also looks at other factors, including family medical history, when a woman has had children, and, for example, whether she’s had any hormone replacement therapy. These factors can also modify a person’s risk of cancer over their lifetime.

Preventing and catching cancer early is why King is taking a strong stance when it comes to who should take the Color test.

“I believe that every woman over 30 should consider it,” she said, “and I think we have a choice. We can choose not to do it this year and we can change our minds and do it next year. I don’t think that anyone should be required to have a test, but I think it’s a very good idea. And I think every woman should have the information that enables her to understand what she can learn from such a test."

The Color test analyzes DNA for hereditary cancer risk due to genetic mutations passed down through families, which scientists estimate account for 10 percent to 15 percent of certain cancers.

Most cancers are called “sporadic,” and are not due to any one cause; environmental impacts, exposure to chemicals and pollutants and lifestyle all play a part. So if a person takes the Color test and does not have a mutation in any of the genes tested, it’s not a guarantee they will be free of cancer in their lifetime. 

King recommends the test even though current guidelines from a national panel of experts called the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force say that “testing for BRCA mutations should be done only when an individual has a personal or family history that suggests an inherited cancer susceptibility.” 

These recommendations are echoed on the websites of the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the National Cancer Institute.

But King’s own recent work shows people could have mutations without anyone else in their families ever having cancer. And that’s why, she said, more people should get tested.

“The most common misconception about testing for inherited risk of breast cancer is that only women with a severe family history of breast cancer need worry about it,” she said, “because men have genes, too. And a mutation that increases one's chances of breast or ovarian cancer can be passed from a father who will remain unaffected as frequently as from a mother.”

King believes the guidelines will evolve. She also thinks clinical experts may be concerned about other at-home tests such as '23andMe' and 'Ancestry DNA' that are often confused with the Color test, but which are actually based on very different genetic science.

“[That] recreational testing has nothing to do with risk of breast and ovarian cancer,” King said. “I think that organizations that cast such a very broad inclusive net, like Komen, are very concerned that no one be misled. I think there’s a concern about confusing results of those tests [like 23andMe] with results of test that actually measure whether one has a mutation in BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 or one of the sister genes.”

As of late February, Nudelman told KIRO 7 she had ordered the Color test, taken the test, and sent it away to get her results. She wants to know if other genes pose a cancer risk for her or other family members, and she is ready for whatever the test might reveal.

“The test doesn’t give you all the answers,” she said. “The test gives you the information to get more answers … and then you need to be proactive about what you do with that information.”

Pedestrian fatalities up in states with legal marijuana, study says

A report released Wednesday reveals the number of people being hit and killed by cars is on the rise, specifically in states where it’s now legal to sell marijuana.

In the past several years, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has been aggressively targeting the number of pedestrian strikes in the city.

The initiatives seem to be working; the number of people involved in hits is down slightly, but new numbers just out seem to undo that trend.

>> Read more trending news 

In the seven states that have legalized recreational marijuana, pedestrian fatalities went up more than 16 percent in the first six months of 2017, versus the same time period in 2016.

That’s in direct opposition to all other states, which, collectively, saw about a 6 percent decrease in pedestrian fatalities in that same time.

The study was performed by the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

They said what they found is cause for concern.

Of course, there are many factors that come into play when a pedestrian is hit, including time of day and walkers being distracted by cellphones.

But MassDOT has been investigating a lot of money in initiatives to protect pedestrians. Media campaigns, grants and programs have all been focused on safety.

And the GHSA said the connection in fatalities with the legalization of recreational marijuana is worth another look, even as Massachusetts approaches sanctioning the sale of pot in July.

Kate Middleton has emotional reunion with midwife who delivered Princess Charlotte

Duchess Catherine had a happy reunion with one of the midwives who reportedly helped deliver both of her children.

>> Duchess Catherine sparks outrage by not wearing black at BAFTAs

On Tuesday, the duchess visited the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists as a royal patron when she ran into Professor Jacqueline Dunkley-Bent, who delivered her daughter, Princess Charlotte, and may have even assisted in the delivery of Prince George, according to E! News.

>> Read more trending news 

The duchess received a certificate from Professor Lesley Regan, the president of the college, during her visit and spoke with several nurses about women’s health issues, including the stigma surrounding mental health.

The day wasn’t finished after her visit to the college, as the duchess later received a warm welcome from the Nursing Now campaign. She was taken on a nurse-led tour of St. Thomas’ Hospital, where she met with several nurses and patients at the hospital.

The duchess addressed the crowd to mark the launch of the new campaign during the visit.

She said: “This campaign means a lot to me personally. My great-grandmother and grandmother were both volunteer nurses. They would have learned first-hand from working with the Voluntary Aid Detachment and the Red Cross about the care and compassion that sometimes only nurses can provide.

“Your dedication and professionalism are awe-inspiring. I have been struck today by the enormous range of responsibilities that nurses have, not only in providing access to healthcare, but also in terms of providing a holistic approach to caring for our physical and mental health. You also promote good health and disease prevention. In some parts of the world, nurses are perhaps the only qualified healthcare professionals in their communities, so your work is all the more vital.”

She continued: “I would like to congratulate and thanks all nurses everywhere on what you achieve on a daily basis. The difference you make should not go unrecognized.”

The duchess braved the weather for her day out in London, as it was a snowy day. The palace shared a few photos from the snow-covered estate Tuesday.

Clarence House, the official Twitter account for updates on Prince Charles and Duchess Camilla, also shared a photo of their snowy view.

Nursing mom says she was kicked out of Walmart after taking stand on breastfeeding

A mother is fighting back after she said she was kicked out of a Walmart for taking a stand on breastfeeding her baby in public.

>> Watch the news report here

Sarah Olson, 22, said she was breastfeeding her 5-month-old daughter inside a Subway restaurant in the Monroe, Washington, Walmart store last Friday.

That’s when she said a Subway manager, someone she knows, asked her to cover up or breastfeed at the back of the store.

“He said if it’s my legal right then he could whip out his penis anywhere,” Olson said.

Shocked by what he allegedly said, Olson took her concerns to a Walmart store manager who later asked her to leave the store.

She recorded part of that conversation on her sister’s cellphone and shared it with KIRO.

“Where I am welcome, breastfeeding is welcome, that is state law,” Olson was heard saying on the recording.

To read the state law about breastfeeding, click here.

>> Read more trending news 

Then we heard the manager saying: “Understood, but if you are going to be a distraction or nuisance to people that work here, that’s going to be an issue.” 

Then Olson went on to say, “That’s not my problem; they can turn their heads like this.” Then the manager was heard saying, “Or we can ask you to leave.”

“I was very frustrated,” Olson said. “I wasn’t trying to make a scene, but he thought I was.”

We went to Walmart to get their side of the story. The manager there said she could not comment on the incident and referred us to their corporate office.

This was the statement sent to KIRO:

“We welcome nursing mothers to breastfeed their child in our stores. We apologize to the customer for her experience and appreciate her bringing this matter to our attention.”

KIRO also talked to the owner of the Subway restaurant inside the Walmart. He said he called Olson to apologize and that he gave the Subway manager a warning and educated him on the state’s breastfeeding policy: Women can’t be discriminated against for breastfeeding in public, and the act is not considered “indecent exposure.”

Olson said she has since gone back to Walmart and Subway.

“Yeah, the next day, actually, because I know my rights. I know what I am allowed to do legally,” Olson said.

5-year-old girl died hours after doctor turned her away for being late

A coroner’s inquest into the 2015 death of a 5-year-old British girl found that the child died just hours after a doctor refused to see her for being a few minutes late to her appointment, according to the BBC.

>> Watch the news report here

Shanice Clark has been searching for answers ever since her daughter, Ellie-May, died from bronchial asthma hours after arriving late to an appointment with Dr. Joanne Rowe and being turned away. On Monday, the coroner ruled that Grange Clinic in Newport, Wales “missed” the opportunity to “provide potentially live-saving treatment” to her child, the New York Post reported.

While the clinic has maintained that it operates under a strict “10-minute rule,” Clark insists she and her daughter were only five minutes late after arranging childcare for her infant and catching a bus. However, she claims she had to wait for a receptionist to finish a phone call and for other patients to be checked in, causing her to miss the 10-minute mark, Sky News reported. A clinic worker later indicated that she was 18 minutes late — something Clark disputes.

>> Read more trending news 

According to the coroner, the occasion was the first time the rule had been imposed in regard to an emergency appointment, and Clark was reportedly told to come back in the morning without the doctor even looking at her daughter’s medical records

“From the evidence before me, it is not possible for me to determine with certainty whether an earlier intervention would have altered the outcome for Ellie, but nonetheless Ellie should have been seen by a [doctor] that day, and she was let down by the failures in the system,” the coroner wrote, according to ITV.

Grange Clinic released a statement in response, saying, “Dr. Rowe knows that nothing can be said to Ellie-May’s family to make a difference, but she would like to say how truly sorry she is.”

The Clark family responded by acknowledging the apology and by expressing disappointment “that a finding of neglect was not reached,” saying in a statement via their lawyer, “The family acknowledge an apology from Dr. Rowe, especially as they have been waiting in excess of three years for an outcome and to receive answers to their questions.”

The coroner will now write a report to the clinic and local health board aimed at addressing the incident and preventing similar tragedies in the future. In the meantime, a spokesman for Aneurin Bevan University Health Board said it would be “inappropriate to comment whilst we await the coroner’s report.”

What is the DASH diet? Heart-healthy diet may also reduce risk of depression

People who eat fruits, vegetables and whole grains may experience lower rates of depression over time.

>> Read more trending news

That’s according to new preliminary research published Sunday in the journal American Academy of Neurology, for which scientists examined 964 participants with an average age of 81 for symptoms of depression.

Participants in the study were monitored for symptoms and asked to fill out questionnaires about their eating habits, including how their habits lined up with the traditional Western diet, Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet.

>> On AJC.com: 5 signs you should ask your doctor about depression

The DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) is a plan developed to lower blood pressure without medication. The research involved in its development was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

According to dashdiet.org, the lifestyle meal plan is rich in fruits, vegetables, low fat or nonfat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts and beans.

>> Related: People with depression are more likely to use certain words — here’s how they express themselves

With a high concentration of key nutrients, such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, the diet has been shown to help lower blood pressure, as well as lower the risk of heart disease, bad cholesterol, heart failure, body weight, diabetes, kidney stones and some kinds of cancer.

Now, researchers say the diet can help reduce risk of depression.

"Depression is common in older adults and more frequent in people with memory problems, vascular risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or people who have had a stroke," study author Laurel Cherian said in a news release. "Making a lifestyle change such as changing your diet is often preferred over taking medications, so we wanted to see if diet could be an effective way to reduce the risk of depression." 

>> On AJC.com: What you need to know before starting the keto diet

The participants involved in the study were divided into three groups based on how closely they adhered to the three types of diets. Researchers found those in the two groups that followed the DASH diet most closely were less likely to develop depression than people in the group that did not follow the diet closely.

The people who adhered to the DASH diet most closely were 11 percent less likely to become depressed over time compared to the lowest group, the study found. 

On the other hand, the participants who closely followed a Western diet, which is high in saturated fats and red meats and low in fruits and vegetables, were more likely to develop depression. 

>> Related: Why more US teens are suffering from severe anxiety than ever before — and how parents can help

But Cherian noted that the research shows only an association and does not prove that DASH diets lead to a reduced risk of depression.

"Future studies are now needed to confirm these results and to determine the best nutritional components of the DASH diet to prevent depression later in life and to best help people keep their brains healthy," Cherian said.

>> On AJC.com: Want to try the Mediterranean diet? Study finds it works only for rich people

Cherian and her team will present the research at the American Academy of Neurology's 70th annual meeting in Los Angeles in April.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression, and it’s the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Additionally, approximately 800,000 people die of suicide each year — that’s one person every 40 seconds. From 1999 to 2014, the suicide rate in the U.S. rose by 24 percent. Furthermore, according to recent data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled from 2007 to 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

Drinking this type of tea could ruin your teeth, study says

Do you love sipping teaBeware of the fruity flavors, because they could be bad for your teeth, according to a new report. 

>> On AJC.com: Drink up: Black tea helps you lose weight with gut bacteria

Researchers from King's College London Dental Institute recently conducted a study, published in British Dental Journal, to determine how certain foods and drinks can affect tooth wear. 

To do so, researchers examined a previous study that compared the diet of 300 people with severe erosive tooth wear with the diet of 300 people with healthy teeth.

>> Read more trending news 

After analyzing the results, they found that eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks, especially between meals, increased teeth erosion risk.

In fact, those who consumed acidic drinks, such as sodas, lemon water and hot flavored teas, twice a day were more than 11 times more likely to develop moderate or severe tooth erosion.

>> On AJC.com: The truth about green tea

Furthermore, scientists discovered that drinking hot beverages and sipping or holding acidic liquids in your mouth before swallowing can increase your chances, too.

While they noted some groups of people, such as wine tasters, are accustomed to swishing liquor around, the habit can still be dangerous. 

“It is well known that an acidic diet is associated with erosive tooth wear, however our study has shown the impact of the way in which acidic food and drinks are consumed,” coauthor Saoirse O’Toole said in a statement

>> On AJC.com: Cancer risk linked to hot tea among smokers, drinkers

Now analysts hope to continue their investigations to create preventative measures to combat the issue. In the meantime, they recommend a change in diet to delay teeth damage. 

“With the prevalence of erosive tooth wear increasing, it is vitally important that we address this preventable aspect of erosive tooth wear,” O’Toole said. “While behaviour change can be difficult to achieve, specific, targeted behavioural interventions may prove successful.”

Seasonal allergies could be affecting your pets

The weather in some parts of the country is not helping people with allergies, and your pets could also be feeling the effects of the high pollen (and other allergens) count. 

>> Read more trending news 

Pets are often sniffling grass, other pets and the ground. They are also much closer to where the allergens can sit, so they could be more exposed to more allergens, such as pollen. 

>> On WFTV.com: More weather facts and hacks

Just like humans, dogs and cats can sneeze, get watery eyes and runny noses. Allergies can make these symptoms worse. According to the Humane Society, dogs often express pollen allergy symptoms by itching. The pollen gets on their fur, makes its way down to their skin and irritates it. 

>> On WFTV.com: Interactive: Common medications used to treat your cough

Here are some ways to help your pet cope with seasonal allergies:

  • Consult your veterinarian to make sure the irritation on the skin is not something worse. Your veterinarian can prescribe allergy medicine if needed. 
  • Try to limit activities outdoors, especially in the morning, when pollen levels are the highest.
  • After a walk, wash or wipe your pet's face and paws a wet towel. Just like in humans, the pollen can be washed out. 
  • When you bathe your pets, use warm water when applying shampoo and cool water to wash it off. Cold water helps with the itching. 

Google’s new AI can look into your eyes and predict heart attack risk

Researchers from Google and sibling company Verily Life Sciences have developed a new algorithm using artificial intelligence to predict the risk of heart attack, stroke and other major cardiovascular events.

How does it work? Through the eyes.

» RELATED: Google launches 10,000-person study to predict how and when people get sick

Scientists studied data from 284,335 patients and found the “deep-learning” AI algorithm could identify risk factors based on age, blood pressure, gender, smoking status and others just by scanning the individuals’ retinas.

“The rear interior wall of the eye (the fundus) is chock-full of blood vessels that reflect the body’s overall health,” the Verge reported. “By studying their appearance with camera and microscope, doctors can infer things like an individual’s blood pressure, age, and whether or not they smoke, which are all important predictors of cardiovascular health.”

» RELATED: Google's AI push comes with plenty of people problems

Google’s AI was able to differentiate patients who suffered a major cardiac event in the following five years and those who didn’t with a 70 percent accuracy

>> Read more trending news 

"While doctors can typically distinguish between the retinal images of patients with severe high blood pressure and normal patients, our algorithm could go further to predict the systolic blood pressure within 11 mmHg on average for patients overall, including those with and without high blood pressure," lead author Lily Peng wrote in a Google blog.

» RELATED: Bullied, abused children and teens at higher risk of heart disease, study says

Medical algorithms are traditionally created to redesign experiments to test hypotheses made from observations. But this algorithm found new ways to analyze existing medical data.

“With enough data, it’s hoped that artificial intelligence can then create entirely new medical insight without human direction,” the Verge reported.

» RELATED: Just one cigarette can up your chance for heart disease and stroke, study says

This technology would make it more efficient for doctors to analyze cardiac risk without a blood test, which typically predicts events with 72 percent accuracy. But more tests are necessary before the AI can be used in a clinical setting.

“We look forward to developing and testing our algorithm on larger and more comprehensive datasets. To make this useful for patients, we will be seeking to understand the effects of interventions such as lifestyle changes or medications on our risk predictions and we will be generating new hypotheses and theories to test,” Peng wrote.

The research was published Monday in the journal “Biomedical Engineering.”

Women may be mistaking ovarian cancer symptoms for bloating, study says

According to a new research, women may be suffering from ovarian cancer without even knowing it.

>> On Rare.us: Jury hands down record award in lawsuit linking talcum powder use and ovarian cancer

A study completed by Target Ovarian Cancer (TOC) shared Monday found that instead of visiting a physician after feeling symptoms including bloating and fullness, women are more likely to simply change their diets. By just switching to eating probiotic yogurts or leaving out gluten from their diets, women are putting themselves at risk, because persistent bloating can be a sign of ovarian cancer. According to TOC, ovarian cancer symptoms include a bloated stomach, more frequent urination, continued feelings of fullness and stomach pain.

>> Read more trending news 

The research, which took place in the United Kingdom, found that 50 percent of women opted to change their diets, while only 34 percent would see their doctors over concerns about bloating. Additionally, women over age 55, who have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, were more likely to look up their symptoms online instead of seeing a professional.

After TOC published the findings online, one woman responded with a story of her own mother, who had believed her symptoms of ovarian cancer were caused by Irritable Bowl Syndrome (IBS) or urinary tract infections.

>> On Rare.us: Julia Louis-Dreyfus has defiant message for cancer in post-surgery Instagram photo

The newly released report is meant to raise awareness for the disease, which, according to the American Cancer Society, is the fifth-ranking cause of death among women. Women have a 1 in 79 chance of developing ovarian cancer and a 1 in 108 risk of dying as a result, although the rate of women being diagnosed with it has fallen over the past two decades.

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