Author: Editor - Health News

Marketplace Confusion Opens Door To Questions About Skinny Plans

Consumers coping with the high cost of health insurance are the target market for new plans claiming to be lower-cost alternatives to the Affordable Care Act that fulfill the law’s requirement for health coverage. But experts and regulators warn consumers to be cautious — and are raising red flags about one set of limited benefit plans marketed to individuals for as little as $93 a month. Offered through brokers and online ads, the plans promise to be an “ACA compliant, affordable, integrated solution that help … individuals avoid the penalties under [the health law].” Such skinny plans — sold...

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Controversial MS Treatment Found to Be Ineffective

MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — The main proponent of a controversial treatment for multiple sclerosis now has declared the therapy to be worthless. For nearly a decade, Italian researcher Dr. Paolo Zamboni investigated inadequate blood flow as a potential cause of MS and has promoted reopening the veins that serve the central nervous system as a possible means of treating the progressive neural disease. But his latest clinical trial has convinced Zamboni that the treatment simply doesn’t work. “The procedure cannot be recommended for treatment of patients with MS,” Zamboni and his colleagues concluded in their paper on the clinical trial, published online recently in JAMA Neurology. “No further double-blinded clinical studies are needed.” In 2009, Zamboni reported that he’d found an association between multiple sclerosis and what he called chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI). That refers to compromised blood flow in the veins that drain the brain and spine. No one yet knows exactly what causes multiple sclerosis so any evidence of a potential cause draws a lot of attention. In MS, the fatty sheath that surrounds and protects nerve fibers begins to break down under attack from the immune system. In a statement responding to the study, the National Multiple Sclerosis Society said: “There is an urgent need for therapies that can stop disease activity and progression for everyone living with multiple sclerosis. Since Dr....

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Bullied Teens More Likely to Take Weapons to School

MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Bullied teens are twice as likely to take weapons such as guns or knives to school, a new study reveals. Three factors were linked to greater odds of high school students carrying a weapon during school hours: fighting at school; being threatened or injured at school; and skipping school out of fear for their safety. “If kids were being bullied, but not in fear of their physical safety, then there was not an increased risk of carrying a weapon,” said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Adesman. He is chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in New Hyde Park. However, “almost 50 percent of kids who felt all three threats carried a weapon,” Adesman said. School violence is a serious issue in the United States, with 45 reported school shootings in 2015 alone, the researchers said in background notes. Adesman’s team wanted to see how peer aggression might influence the likelihood of weapons-carrying. The researchers used data from the 2015 U.S. Youth Risk Behavior Survey on more than 15,600 teens in grades 9 through 12. The investigators focused on three types of weapons: guns, knives and clubs. The findings showed that slightly more than one in five students reported being bullied during the past year. Of these kids, a little more than 4 percent said they...

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Zika Nerve Damage May Stem From Body’s Response to the Virus

MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Nerve-related complications of Zika infection may be caused by the immune system’s response to the virus, not the virus itself, according to a new study. Zika is spread primarily via the bite of an infected mosquito, but it may also be transmitted by blood transfusion or sexual contact. Most people who become infected don’t have any symptoms, but some develop serious neurological conditions. And an infection during pregnancy can cause devastating birth defects. The researchers said their findings, based on experiments with mice, may help lead to new ways to treat people with Zika-related nerve complications, such as Guillain-Barre syndrome. The syndrome can cause muscle weakness, tingling and even paralysis. The Yale University research team found that when Zika infection spreads from the blood to the brain in mice, immune cells flood the brain. This limits the infection of brain cells, but it can also trigger paralysis. “The immune cells that are generated by infection start attacking our own neurons,” study leader and immunobiologist Akiko Iwasaki said in a university news release. “The damage is not occurring through the virus infection, but rather the immune response to the virus.” The findings suggest that suppressing the immune system response may be a way to treat Guillain-Barre syndrome. However, research in animals frequently doesn’t produce similar results in humans. The study was published online...

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Arthritis No Longer Just a Disease of the Old

MONDAY, Nov. 27, 2017 (HealthDay News) — More younger Americans experience the aches and pains of arthritis than once thought. Roughly 91 million adults had arthritis in 2015. But the most surprising fact was that nearly one-third of sufferers were aged 18 to 64, a new study found. Those estimates are 68 percent higher than previously reported, said lead researcher Dr. David Felson, a professor of medicine at Boston University. “Arthritis is incredibly common, and we have underestimated how common it is,” he said. This off-kilter count most likely occurred because previous research only included a doctor’s diagnosis of arthritis, Felson explained. “It turns out that especially people under 65 who have arthritis say ‘no’ to that question, so they are never included in the estimates,” Felson said. Obesity and stress on joints from vigorous exercise and sports are likely causes of arthritis among younger men and women. Doctors often miss arthritis in younger patients because they don’t expect to see it, Felson noted. Keeping weight down and exercising safely are the best ways to help prevent arthritis, he suggested. For the study, Felson and his colleague, Dr. S. Reza Jafarzadeh, an assistant professor of medicine at Boston University, collected data on more than 33,600 men and women who took part in the 2015 U.S. National Health Interview Survey. To estimate the true extent of arthritis in the United...

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