<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Health News]]>Copyright 2016http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/health http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.comen-usMon, 23 May 2016 23:14:27 -0700Mon, 23 May 2016 23:14:27 -0700NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hundreds Attend Free Health Screening Event]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 20:13:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/molina_health_event_long_be.jpg

Hundreds of Long Beach residents attended a free, health screening event intended for the under insured and uninsured on Saturday at Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo High School, the first of its kind in the city.

The event called “Care 4 A Healthy Long Beach” was hosted and sponsored by Molina Healthcare and the Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, and drew adults and children in need of health, dental and optical care from health care professionals. 

During the 8-hour event, more than 400 medical, dental, vision and acupuncture services were provided for attendees. Patients also received prescriptions the same day of the event, according to Molina Healthcare.

According to Molina Healthcare, while many attendees may have some form of health care coverage, dental and vision services are the highest demand.

Saturday’s free clinic was the first event of its kind in Long Beach that was hosted by Molina. The organization has held similar events in the Inland Empire and Imperial Valley for several years. 

The health care group has held free health-screening events in areas where there is a large population of individuals may have gaps in their health care coverage, said Leidy Arevalo, a spokeswoman for Molina Healthcare.

Arevalo said “Care 4 A Healthy Long Beach” will likely return to next year.



Photo Credit: Carlos Delgado for Molina Healthcare]]>
<![CDATA[New Prosthetic Arm Offers Life-Like Touch]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 16:12:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/NC_prostheticarm0523_1920x1080.jpg A unique, thought-controlled prosthetic arm developed in part by the Hanger Clinic in Gig Harbor, Washington, uses the the body's nerve signals to control movement.]]> <![CDATA[Fitbit Heart Rate Trackers 'Highly Inaccurate': Study]]> Mon, 23 May 2016 11:47:12 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/579056257-fitbit-charge-hr.jpg

A class action lawsuit against Fitbit may be bolstered by the release of a new study claiming the company's popular heart rate trackers are "highly inaccurate," CNBC reports.

Researchers at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona tested the heart rates of 43 healthy adults with Fitbit's PurePulse heart rate monitors. Results found that the Fitbit devices miscalculated heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute on average during more intensive workouts.

The study, commissioned by the law firm behind a class action suit taking aim at three Fitbit models that use the PurePulse heart monitor, found the trackers "cannot be used to provide a meaningful estimate of a user's heart rate."

But Fitbit said in a statement posted by the blog Gizmodo that the study is "biased, baseless, and nothing more than an attempt to extract a payout from Fitbit."



Photo Credit: Moment Editorial/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Half of US Cancer Deaths Due to Bad Habits: Study ]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 16:23:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SmokingCigarettes-AP_16117589693563.jpg

Researchers say people are in charge of their own risk of cancer — with as many as half of cancer deaths related to things people could easily change, NBC News reported.

Smoking, heavy drinking, being overweight and a lack of exercise were responsible for 20 to 40 percent of cancer cases and for half of cancer deaths, according to a team from Harvard Medical School. 

The group examined data from health professional of 140,000 people and determined that heavy drinking raises colon, breast, liver, head and neck cancer rates. Obesity raises the risk of colon, pancreatic and other cancers. Smoking caused 80 to 90 percent of lung cancer deaths. The risk of cancer was lower in those who exercised, kept a health weight, didn’t smoke and didn’t drink excessively. 

Researchers said health insurance companies should encourage doctors to help patients do what they can to prevent cancer, and that Americans need to believe that cancer can be a preventable disease.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Yellow Fever in Africa Not a Public Emergency: WHO]]> Thu, 19 May 2016 14:31:39 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/YellowFeverMosquitoes-AP_96386058689.jpg

The World Health Organization said the current yellow fever outbreak in central African requires urgent action, but doesn’t amount to a public health emergency, NBC News reports.

The organization’s advisory committee met Thursday and said the outbreak is slowing, not gaining speed.

Most of the cases are in Angola, but the virus has been carried to the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Kenya by migrant workers. Eleven travelers have also carried it to China.

Like Zika, yellow fever is spread by Aedes mosquitoes. Those affected with the virus can’t be treated with drugs, but fluids can help patients survive.

WHO is working with companies that make yellow fever vaccine to build up the current stockpile and is working to vaccinate people at risk.



Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[Health Experts to Test HIV Vaccine in South Africa]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 17:43:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ThaiHIVVaccineTest-AP_09092502984.jpg

Scientists will be testing an HIV vaccine in South Africa that has had some success, NBC News reported.

The risk of infection dropped for 31 percent of volunteers tested in Thailand in 2009 when they were given the experimental vaccine.

The vaccine has been tweaked, and health experts hope they will see a higher success rate in this trial. Experts hope to enroll 5,400 people who aren’t infected with HIV in South Africa.

Health experts say the virus infects 35 million people globally and kills 1.2 million people each year.



Photo Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS]]>
<![CDATA[Cancer Drug Keeps Some Patients Alive for 3 Years]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 16:37:09 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/JimmyCarter-AP_473126061319.jpg

A drug that helped former President Jimmy Carter’s cancer disappear is helping many other patients with similar conditions, NBC News reports.

The drug, Keytruda, stops tumor cells from cloaking themselves against the immune system’s response.

French researchers tested 655 patients with advanced melanoma for the trial. The patients were already given other cancer treatments. 

On average, the patients lived two years, and 40 percent of them are alive three years later. Sixty-one patients stopped taking the drug after their tumors went away — virtually all them are still in remission. 

Melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is easy to treat if caught early. More than 76,000 Americans will be diagnosed with it this year, and it will kill 10,000, according to the American Cancer Society.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cosmetics Can't Claim They Lighten, Plump Up Skin, FDA Says]]> Wed, 18 May 2016 14:50:16 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-464778768.jpg

Reviva Labs, a popular brand of cosmetics, must either prove its products plump skin, regenerate collagen and lighten age spots, or stop claiming they do, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

The FDA issued a warning to the New Jersey-based company over medical claims it makes for a batch of its products sold online and in stores. The government watchdog says if the products can do what the company claims on its website, it has to register as a new drug and go through the formal approval process.

It's the latest in a series of actions the FDA, which cannot regulate cosmetics when they're sold just as cosmetics, has started taking against cosmetics companies in recent years.

"We are in the process of changing our copy and eliminating all claims to which the FDA refers," Reviva President Stephen Strassler said in a statement.



Photo Credit: LightRocket via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Many Sunscreens Don’t Meet SPF Claims: Consumer Reports]]> Tue, 17 May 2016 05:32:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-200535755-001.jpg

Consumer Reports tested 65 water-resistant sunscreens with SPF numbers of 30 or higher and found that nearly half did not meet their SPF claims. Nearly three-quarters of "natural" sunscreens also fell short.

Consumer Reports recommends 17 sunscreens that performed well on the tests, including La Roche-Posay Anthelios 60 Melt-In Sunscreen Milk lotion, Pure Sun Defense SPF 50 lotion, No-Ad Sport SPF 50 lotion, Banana Boat SunComfort Continuous Spray SPF 50+, and Equate Sport Continuous Spray SPF 50.

If you're not using one of the top-rated products, Consumer Reports suggests using a chemical sunscreen with an SPF of at least 40 to get the minimum protection needed. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Heart Attacks Are 'Silent' in Nearly Half of Cases: Study]]> Mon, 16 May 2016 16:33:21 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/medical-GettyImages-57229731.jpg

A new study released Monday found that 45 percent of heart attacks in the United States are "silent" — people don't realize they're having them, NBC News reports.

But even though these heart attacks do not cause the classic symptoms of chest or arm pain, they're doing just as much damage as heart attacks that do.

"The outcome of a silent heart attack is as bad as a heart attack that is recognized while it is happening," said Dr. Elsayed Soliman of Wake Forest Baptist Medical center, who led the study.

Julie Llamas Rickman remembers going to the emergency room five years ago thinking her asthma was acting up — she felt short of breath and tired — but the 41-year-old was shocked to learn she had two blockages in her heart, and had had an attack: "I just started crying."



Photo Credit: Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[ Pfizer Blocks Use of Its Drugs for Executions]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 17:19:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/PfizerLogo-GettyImages-524975736%281%29.jpg

The Pfizer drug company is taking steps to ensure its products do not wind up in cocktails being used to execute prisoners, NBC News reported. 

"Pfizer makes its products to enhance and save the lives of the patients we serve," the company said in a statement. "Consistent with these values, Pfizer strongly objects to the use of its products as lethal injections for capital punishment."

The company is “enforcing a distribution restriction" for several products, including potassium chloride and the powerful anesthetic propofol, which caused the death of Michael Jackson. 

Under new guidelines, wholesalers and distributors must not resell the products to correctional institutions for lethal injections — and local governments must certify that products purchased are solely for medically prescribed patient care. 

The move shuts off the government's last open market source for drugs used in executions. 



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Living Long: Centenarians Share Their Secrets ]]> Tue, 17 May 2016 11:59:24 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_13060501691.jpg

When it comes to living long, people who've lived to be 100 years old get asked is "what's your secret?" But their keys to longevity seems to be as varied as their lives are long.

Though genetics may be the true reason some people lives stretch over a century and those who have lived the longest, past and present, swear by their ways of life. Whether it's eating bacon, getting a lot of sleep or avoiding men, the oldest from around the world credit many lifestyle choices to their success in age.

Emma Morano-Martinuzzi — Raw eggs
The 116-year-old, who became the world's oldest living person on Thursday, credits consuming raw eggs and staying single for her longevity. According to an interview with The New York Times, Morano-Martinuzzi eats three raw eggs a day, a tip she learned as a teenager from her doctor to help with her anemia. And after ending her marriage in 1938, Marano-Martinuzzi never settled down again. "I didn't want to be dominated by anyone," she told the Times.

Alfonso Gonzales — Moderation
"My advice is don't smoke," Gonzales recently told the University of Southern California, who at 96 is the most youthful member of our group. He gets a pass on the 100-year-old criteria because on Friday he became USC's oldest graduate, receiving his BS in zoology. As for further advice on staying healthy into older age, he said, "For the way I eat, I like to quote Benjamin Franklin: 'Eat in moderation and do not drink to elevation.'"

Susannah Mushatt Jones — Lots of sleep
Mushatt Jones, who was the oldest living woman until she died Thursday, was a proponent of living a traditionally healthy lifestyle. According to NBC News, her practice to living to 116 consisted of a good night's sleep and avoiding alcohol and cigarettes.

Violet Brown — Faith
Brown, from Jamaica, is 116 years old and credits her faith for her old age. According to an interview back in 2010 with a local paper, Brown reads the Bible every day and frequents church.

Richard Overton — Good eats (and drinks)
Believed to be America's oldest living war veteran, the 110-year-old told "Today" in a 2014 interview that his tips for living longer included a steady diet of fried catfish, cigars, and butter pecan ice cream. Oh, and a splash of whiskey in his morning coffee.

Eudoxi Baboul — Flour called couac
The 114-year-old who lives in French Guiana consumes a local favorite that her grandson credits to her long life. According to RFI, Baboul's grandson said she eats lots of couac, a cassava flour-based semolina.

Jessie Gallan — Avoiding marriage
Like Morano-Martinuzzi, one of the secrets to Gallan's old age was staying single. The Scottish woman, who died at 109 in March of last year, told the Daily Mail that she eats a bowl of porridge every morning, and avoided marriage because men are "just more trouble than they're worth."

Miseao Okawa — Relaxing
"Eat and sleep and you will live a long time," Okawa has said. "You have to learn to relax," she told the Telegraph in 2014, and apparently it worked for her. Before she died in 2015, Okawa got 117 years under her belt. She said she consumed three large meals a day and made sure to get eight hours of sleep nightly.

Pearl Cantrell — Bacon 
Cantrell died in 2014 at 105. The great-grandmother from Richland Springs, Texas, said her secret to longevity was bacon. "I love bacon," Cantrell told NBC affiliate KRBC in 2013. "I could eat it for every meal — and I do." She encouraged those who wished to live a long life to follow her advice and eat a rasher of bacon with every meal.



Photo Credit: AP Images for Philips Lifeline
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<![CDATA[Senate Strikes Bipartisan Deal Worth $1.1 Billion to Fight Zika]]> Thu, 12 May 2016 17:56:55 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoes-AP_16127497121865.jpg

The Senate struck a bipartisan compromise deal to give President Obama more than half the money he’s asked for to fight the Zika virus, NBC News reports. 

The deal was brokered by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, and Washington Democrat Patty Murray. It will allocate $1.1 billion in emergency funding to help states prepare for the virus before mosquito season starts.

Obama has been pushing for $1.9 billion in emergency funding. Republicans in Congress have balked at giving so much money in a funding stream that gives Congress so little control. Some conservatives worry it will be used as a slush fund to pay for other public health initiatives. 

Zika is spreading quickly across Central and South America. Health officials say there will be cases and outbreaks in the United States once the weather gets warmer and mosquitoes get really active.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[ FDA to Redefine 'Healthy,' 'Natural' Foods]]> Wed, 11 May 2016 15:01:59 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/FDALogo0GettyImages-549010409%281%29.jpg

The Food and Drug Association is redefining what “healthy” really means following years of pressure to make changes to the way it labels food products, NBC News reports. 

Congress is also urging the FDA to update what is healthy and what is not. Under old rules — which were written in the 1990s — “healthy” foods must meet government criteria on fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and nutrients. 

The FDA is also redefining the definition of what a “natural” food is — a definition that has no standards and no verification in place. 

"Consumers want to make informed food choices and it is the FDA's responsibility to help them by ensuring labels provide accurate and reliable nutrition information. In light of evolving nutrition research, forthcoming Nutrition Facts Labeling final rules, and a citizen petition, we believe now is an opportune time to reevaluate regulations concerning nutrient content claims, generally, including the term 'healthy.' We plan to solicit public comment on these issues in the near future," the FDA said in a statement.



Photo Credit: ullstein bild via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Pregnant CrossFit Competitor Responds to Critics]]> Wed, 11 May 2016 12:50:45 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/pregnant-woman-weight-lifter-today-160509-tease_c3701d86f14bf39ef4e4b38803d8cc84.today-inline-large.jpg

A North Carolina personal trainer has come under fire on social media for exercising six days a week while pregnant and completing strenuous workouts even past her due date.

Emily Breeze, a two-time CrossFit competitor, has posted photos and videos of herself lifting weights, performing pull-ups, doing pushups all while pregnant.

"It's all I know and it's what I believe in and I want to have a healthy, fit pregnancy," Breeze, 31, told NBC's "Today" show.

Critics said it's "selfish" and accused her of placing her own fitness goals over the health of her baby.

According to NBC News' Medical Contributor Dr. Natalie Azar, "people who were exercising prior to a pregnancy and feeling good about that, they can continue that activity. She added that any exercise done with too much intensity can hurt the mother and child. She said pregnant women should stay hydrated, avoid excess heat and stop working out on their backs after the first trimester.

Breeze said she is following her doctor's rules. 

"I've been with my same OB-GYN for over 11 years, and he's known me in every stage of my athletic career," Breeze said. "So, he always assured me that pregnancy is not a disease, not an illness. It's also not one prescription for everybody. You have to listen to your body and let your body do what it's comfortable doing. And, most likely, it will allow you to do so, because that's what it's always known."



Photo Credit: Adams Wood / Barcroft Images
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<![CDATA[Walnuts Recalled for Possible Listeria Contamination]]> Wed, 11 May 2016 10:20:56 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-121816140.jpg

United Natural Trading LLC is recalling several walnut and walnut-containing products sold under the Nature’s Promise, Woodstock, Market Basket and Woodfield Farms brands due to a possible listeria contamination.

The recalled items, which were purchased from Gibson Farms, were distributed in limited quantities to retailers and distributors throughout the United States. Only specific lot numbers and sell dates are included in this recall; click here for a full list. 

The recall was issued as a precaution after a single sample was tested positive for listeria monocytogenes. No illnesses have been reported, according to the recall announcement. 

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious infections in children and those that are frail or elderly, or those with weakened immune symptoms. It can also cause miscarriages or stillbirths in pregnant women. Affected individuals may experience fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. 

The Company is working with regulatory officials and has contacted its customers to ensure that any remaining recalled products are removed, the announcement said. 

Consumers who purchased the product should dispose of it, but retain their receipts, packaging or other proof of purchase. They may contact Melissa McCullough at Woodstock Farms Manufacturing customer service at 732-650-9905 with questions. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Meat Inspector Sentenced in E. Coli Case]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 12:54:17 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/generic-beef.jpg

Federal prosecutors say a California meat inspector who falsely certified that contaminated beef was free of E. coli has been sentenced to a year of home detention.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said Monday that Jim Johnson of Downey was also ordered to pay more than $300,000 in restitution.

The 67-year-old pleaded guilty in November to federal charges of falsifying inspection documents.

Johnson worked as a consultant for Huntington Meat Packing, a former processing and distribution company in Montebello.

Prosecutors say he knowingly provided federal food safety inspectors with papers that stated a beef sample had tested negative for E. coli -- when in fact it had tested positive for the pathogen.

Johnson's actions led to the recall of more than five million pounds of beef products.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Swaddling May Increase SIDS Risk: Study]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 08:11:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-74146469-%281%29.jpg

Swaddling may increase the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, or SIDS, if babies are placed on their stomachs or when they sleep on their sides, according to a new study.

Researchers reviewed data from four studies and found that the risk nearly doubled among swaddled infants and the risk doubled in babies found sleeping on their stomachs. Risk of a SIDS death was least in babies sleeping on their backs, but it was still higher among swaddled babies, compared with those who were not swaddled.

The study was published in Pediatrics.

Putting infants on their backs to sleep is considered a key factor in preventing SIDS deaths. It's not known what causes SIDS.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Aurora Creative
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<![CDATA[CRF Frozen Food Recall Affects More Products]]> Tue, 10 May 2016 07:56:52 -0700 said it has destroyed those products it has, and anyone who purchased any may return them for a refund.]]> said it has destroyed those products it has, and anyone who purchased any may return them for a refund.]]> http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/frozen-food-recall-ajinomoto.jpg

More products are being taken from the shelves as part of the expanding CRF frozen food recall over possible listeria contamination, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Among the latest round of recalled products are packages of Trader Joe's chicken and vegetable fried rice, Tai Pei fried rice products, Ajinomoto chicken fried rices and more, the FDA announced Saturday. No illnesses have been reported to Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc., the company that issued the voluntary recall. 

"We urge you to discard the product or return it to any Trader Joe's for a full refund," Trader Joe's wrote in an announcement Monday.

Vegetables in the packages recalled Saturday (full list here) are connected to a larger CRF Frozen Foods recall, the FDA said. 

Last week, CRF expanded its voluntary recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables after several people became sick with listeria infections.

Eight people have been sickened by the strain of listeria since Sept. 13, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last week. Two of those people died, though listeria infection was not listed as the cause of death in either case. 

Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious, occasionally fatal infections in the very young and old or frail, as well as people with weakened immune systems, according to the FDA.

The initial recall issued on April 23 included 15 frozen vegetable items, but the expanded recall covered 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands, including Trader Joe's, Emerald Farms, Safeway Kitchens and Parade. Saturday's Ajinomoto recall adds 68 products.

Consumers with questions should call the Consumer Affairs Hotline at (855) 742-5011, open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PDT, Monday through Sunday.



Photo Credit: Trader Joe's]]>
<![CDATA[Researchers Say 'Second Skin' Tightens Baggy Eyes]]> Mon, 09 May 2016 11:07:00 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/160509-second-skin-eyes-mdl_b07089e163e3774cad54b204caf36f04.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

Dry legs? Saggy eyes? Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have developed a two-step formula that tightens baggy eyes and can keep dry legs from flaking. 

The cream's affects are described in a scientific report in the journal Nature Materials. The formula is being patented and produced at almost the same time.

The cream, which acts as "second skin," is applied in two parts. An initial primer layer is put on and rubbed in, then a secondary layer is applied on top. A process called "cross linking" occurs, creating the new compound that is virtually invisible to the eye.

Not everyone is convinced, though. "Conceptually, it's a great and novel idea," said Dr. Jennifer Lucas of the Cleveland Clinic. But, she said, "for now, there is no magical cream that can make you look younger."



Photo Credit: Olivo Labs, LLC]]>
<![CDATA[Conversation on Child Mental Health]]> Fri, 13 May 2016 14:33:57 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/20150505+ReidEwing.jpg

Caring for children's mental health takes a team approach: Family members, health care professionals and educators.

When that happens, a young person's life can blossom.

That's the goal behind National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day, culminating in a town-hall event Thursday hosted at George Washington University and streamed live across the country.

Parents can tune in to the conversation that started at 7 p.m. -- and use social media to ask their own questions of the panel. (Tweet questions with the hashtag #HeroesOfHope.)

The event, organized by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, is called “Finding Help, Finding Hope.” It's aimed at families of young people who experience mental or substance use disorders.

The panel kicked off with a funny, honest reflection from Reid Ewing, the actor who plays Dylan on "Modern Family." He was recognized by the group for sharing his stories of battling body dismorphic disorder and other challenges.

"I didn't have many friends, and I didn't really have the ability to make friends," Ewing said. "When you are depressed it doesn't really work that way."

But, he said, support of family, therapy and medication helped him learn "how live as a happy person."

Others on the panel include youth, family leaders, educators, law enforcement officials and behavioral health professionals. Among them will be SAMHSA Principal Deputy Administrator Kana Enomoto, Center for Mental Health Services Director Paolo del Vecchio and National Council of Behavioral Health President and CEO Linda Rosenberg.

News4’s Aaron Gilchrist is moderating the event.

Meanwhile, communities around the nation are assembling watch parties and other events for Thursday night's event. Click here to find a watch party near you.

And don't worry if you miss the livestream -- the discussion will be available on demand, too.



Photo Credit: NBC Washington
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<![CDATA[New Robot Surgeon Works on Its Own]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 18:50:43 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/160504-robot-surgery-mn-1506_64766b4b95b687114fdd1811d9967469.nbcnews-ux-2880-1000.jpg

A new type of robot can perform tricky surgery as well as — and in some cases better than — human surgeons, NBC News reported. 

Researchers with Children’s National Medical Center in Washington said the new robot — called Smart Tissue Autonomous Robot, or STAR — could be operated with minimal human supervision. That means it frees up surgeons for work that requires more thought. 

The team, led by Dr. Peter Kim of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, compared the robot to some existing systems and to human surgeons. It was reported to be slow, but accurate, and managed to sew together two ends of a tiny pig intestine.



Photo Credit: Carla Schaffer / AAAS]]>
<![CDATA[Infected Mosquitoes Can't Transmit Zika Virus: Study]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 17:22:19 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Zika-GettyImages-506977656%281%29.jpg

Infecting mosquitoes with a strain of bacteria reduced their ability to transmit the Zika virus, according to Brazilian researchers, NBC News reported.

Mosquitoes infected with the Wolbachia bacteria have been released in several countries including Australia, Brazil, Indonesia and Vietnam to help control dengue — and new findings are showing success with Zika. This raises hopes that it might block transmission of the virus.

The new study, by researchers at Brazil's Oswaldo Cruz Foundation and published in Cell Host & Microbe, takes advantage of the naturally occurring strain of Wolbachia, which live in insect cells and are found in 60 percent of common insects. The method involves inserting the bacteria into mosquito eggs, which pass the bacteria along to their offspring. 

After two weeks in the Zika study, mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia had fewer particles of the virus in their bodies and saliva - making them less able to infect humans with the virus. 

Researchers caution this strategy isn’t 100 percent effective and will not eliminate the virus. But it can be used as part of a control strategy.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Medical Errors No. 3 Cause of Death in US: Experts]]> Wed, 04 May 2016 15:16:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/SurgicalInstruments-GettyImages-511163598.jpg

Two medical experts said Wednesday that medical mistakes — from surgical disasters to accidental drug overdoses — are the No. 3 cause of death in the U.S., NBC News reported.

Dr. Martin Makary and Michael Daniel from Johns Hopkins University said a count of all preventable deaths reveals that between 200,000 and 400,000 people a year die from these mistakes. 

Many health policy experts have been trying to call attention to the problem of medical errors for more than a decade. One problem is that mistakes are not usually put on death certificates. 

Cancer and heart disease are neck and neck as the top cause of death in the United States. In 2012, 24 percent of all deaths were from heart disease — 599,711 to be precise. And 582,623 deaths, or 23 percent, were from cancer.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Not Ready for Zika Virus: Experts ]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 19:56:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_71939457309-zika.png

Zika virus is going to start spreading in the United States and the country's not ready for it, experts said Tuesday.

It probably won't spread much — most areas in the U.S. don't have the right conditions for widespread transmission of the virus — but even a little is too much, the officials said, according to NBC News.

"We have nothing at the national level other than advice from the CDC and most states do not even coordinate their programs at the county level very well," said Scott Weaver, of the University of Texas Medical Branch, at a news conference at the end of a meeting of Zika experts in Atlanta.

Once mosquito season starts, the U.S. could have small, local outbreaks.

"Very likely we will," Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a separate briefing at the Pan American Health Organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[CRF Frozen Foods Recalls 358 Fruit, Veggie Products]]> Tue, 03 May 2016 15:07:32 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-518961258.jpg

CRF Frozen Foods said Monday it's expanding its voluntary recall of frozen organic and traditional fruits and vegetables after several people have become sick with listeria infections.

Eight people have been sickened by the strain of listeria since September 13, 2013, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday afternoon. Two of those people died, though listeria infection was not listed as the cause of death in either case. 

The initial recall issued on April 23 included 15 frozen vegetable items, but the expanded recall covers 358 consumer products sold under 42 separate brands, including Trader Joe's, Emerald Farms, Safeway Kitchens and Parade. 

It includes all frozen organic and traditional fruit and vegetable products manufactured or processed in CRF Frozen Foods' Pasco, Washington, facility since May 1, 2014, the company said in a recall notice. 

The CDC said seven people from three states became ill and were hospitalized due to listeria and some of these illnesses have been linked to consuming CRF products, CRF said in the recall announcement. That information was later updated.

"CDC also informed us that, sadly, two of these individuals later died, but that listeria was not the cause of death in either person," the company said. 

The CDC said Tuesday that six cases originated in California, and the two people found to have listeria infections who died were in Maryland and Washington State.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Symptoms may include high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

All CRF products affected by the recall have the best by dates or sell by dates between April 26, 2016 and April 26, 2018. The products include organic and non-organic broccoli, butternut squash, carrots, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, and strawberries. For a full list of affected products, click here. 

The products being recalled may have been purchased in all fifty states and the following Canadian Provinces: British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan. CRF had suspended operations at its Pasco facility on April 25, 2016, following the initial voluntary recall. The company also said all retailers who received the products have been contacted.

People who bought CRF products are advised to throw them away. They may also return them to the store where they were purchased for a refund. Consumers with questions may call the company's consumer hotline at 844-483-3866, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto]]>
<![CDATA['Biggest Loser' Study Shows How Your Body Fights Against Weight Loss]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 14:17:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DannyCahill-138373183.jpg

Your body doesn't want you to lose all that weight. 

A study that followed 14 of the 16 contestants from Season 8 of "The Biggest Loser" six years after the season ended has detailed just how the body fights against efforts to keep off the pounds. 

"The key point is that you can be on TV, you can lose enormous amounts of weight, you can go on for six years, but you can't get away from a basic biological reality," Michael Schwartz, an obesity and diabetes researcher, explained to The New York Times. "As long as you are below your initial weight, your body is going to try and get you back."

The study, published by the medical research journal "Obesity," focused on resting metabolic rate (RMR), which slows with weight loss, and whether or not slowing of RMR persisted over long periods of time.

The study hypothesized that the degree of that metabolic adaptation would be correlated with weight gain. Virtually all of the contestants put significant weight back on in the last six years, but the troubling part for the researchers was that their RMR remained quite low, not returning to their pre-"Biggest Loser" levels.

Danny Cahill, who won Season 8, dropped from 430 pounds down to 191 pounds during the show. He is now back up to 295. But his metabolism now burns 800 fewer calories per day than would be typical for a man of his size, making it more difficult to maintain or reduce weight.

Dina Mercado had a similar experience. She was 248 pounds before "The Biggest Loser" and 173.5 pounds at the finale. She is now back up to 205, but is, like Cahill, burning calories at a reduced rate relative to her size. She should be able to metabolize an additional 437.9 per day.

The study concluded that "long term weight loss requires vigilant combat against persistent metabolic adaptation that acts to proportionally counter ongoing efforts to reduce body weight."



Photo Credit: NBC via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Zika Birth Defects May Be 'Tip of the Iceberg': Experts]]> Mon, 02 May 2016 04:20:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_670850476149-zika.jpg

The explosion of cases of birth defects caused by Zika virus may be the "tip of the iceberg," experts said Sunday.

Many cases have probably been missed because babies looked normal when they were born, NBC News reported. But hidden birth defects are almost certain to turn up as the babies grow.

"The microcephaly and other birth defects we have been seeing could be the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Sonja Rasmussen of the CDC said at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Baltimore. Brazil has confirmed 2,844 cases of Zika in pregnant women.

But there is some good news coming out of the early observations of the yearlong epidemic in Brazil: Children are rarely infected with Zika.



Photo Credit: AP, file]]>
<![CDATA[A Look at How the Zika Virus Can Kill You]]> Fri, 29 Apr 2016 17:34:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/virus+zika+puerto+rico.jpg

The Zika virus is not usually thought of as a life-threatening virus, but it did kill a man in Puerto Rico. The man, in his 70s, is the first reported U.S. death from the virus, which is spreading across the Americas, according to NBC News. 

Zika can lead to complications like immune thrombocytopenic purpura, as in the case of the man in Puerto Rico. In cases like these, patients can suffer internal bleeding. 

The virus can also cause Guillain-Barre syndrome, severe birth defects and other dangerous nerve conditions in adults. 

There is no specific treatment for Zika infection, and there’s no known way to reverse damage done to a developing baby. A vaccine is in the works, but would be years away from the market.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[FDA Approves First Commercial Zika Virus Test]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 19:38:13 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaBloodTest-GettyImages-508017592.jpg

The Food and Drug Administration approved the first commercial U.S. test Thursday to diagnose the Zika virus, NBC News reported.

Quest Diagnostics will use the same method that government labs use to look for Zika virus in a patient's blood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends testing pregnant women with Zika symptoms, those who have traveled to areas where Zika is spreading while they are pregnant and women who have had sex with someone who has Zika.

Doctors can now order the test through Quest, which says it can get results in three to five days. Until now, patients who wanted the test had to go through their state or local health departments.  

A spokeswoman for Quest said most patients with a health plan may receive some coverage benefits. Uninsured patients can expect to pay $120 for the test, she said. 



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Teen Birth Rates Drop Among Blacks, Hispanics: CDC]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:55:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/TeenPregnancyGettyImages-459016410.jpg

Birth rates among black and Hispanic teenagers have fallen dramatically over the past decade, but they’re still more likely to have babies compared to their white peers, according to a new report, NBC News reports. 

The birth rate among teens aged 15 to 19 dropped 61 percent, from 61.8 to 24.2 births per 1,000, the team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. 

The national teen birth rate declined 41 percent between 2006 to 2014 — and dropped by 51 percent among Hispanics, 44 percent among blacks and 35 percent among whites. But the rate remained about twice as high for Hispanic or black teens, when compared to white teens. The CDC said high unemployment rates, parents who have less education and high poverty levels are the reasons for the gap.

The CDC says most teens do not use effective methods of birth control. Many other researchers have shown that abstinence-only education does not reduce teen pregnancy rates.



Photo Credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cheaper & Designer Sunglasses Give Full UV Protection]]> Thu, 28 Apr 2016 15:07:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Sunglasses-GettyImages-106750577.jpg

Cheap sunglasses and expensive designer eyewear deliver the same amount of UV protection, according to an investigation conducted by the “Today” show.

University of California, Berkeley optometrist Dr. Dennis Fong examined an assortment of cheaper and expensive sunglasses. His sensor found that both sets delivered full UV protection. 

"Bottom line is, at any price point you can get 100 percent UV protection," Fong said. 

The takeaway: Your eyes will be fully protected no matter what the price tag on your sunglasses says. Just look for the sticker that says “100 percent UV protection” or “UV 400.”



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Zika Was in Haiti Before Brazil: Study ]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 16:45:34 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/ZikaMosquitoAP_791168702393.jpg

A new study shows the Zika virus was circulating in Haiti in 2014, long before it became obvious that it was spreading in Brazil, NBC News reported. 

The team checked out three mysterious infections in Haiti caused by the Zika virus. Their study raises questions about when and how Zika arrived in the Americas.

"We know that the virus was present in Haiti in December of 2014," said Dr. Glenn Morris, a professor of medicine and the director of the University of Florida's Emerging Pathogens Institute. "And, based on molecular studies, it may have been present in Haiti even before that date." 

Earlier this year, international experts used a "genetic clock" to show the Zika virus has changed. And it very closely matches a strain that circulated in French Polynesia in 2013. What's not clear is why it's now being seen to cause disease. Tests show it has mutated, but it's not yet clear if the mutations somehow make it more virulent.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[US Health Care Costs All Over the Map: Study]]> Wed, 27 Apr 2016 15:23:11 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/dfw-generic-health-1200-01.jpg

Health care prices vary in different parts of the U.S., according to a new study that digs into the pattern of costs around the country, NBC News reported.

The report from the Health Care Cost Institute finds prices for the same procedures vary even within the same state. 

Some differences make sense: Prices in Alaska are high because medical costs there are 2.6 times the national average. But other differences are hard to explain — a knee surgery in New Jersey costs $24,000, while the same procedure in Oregon can cost $43,000.

Unlike others, this report looked at the price people paid with private health insurance. Most Americans — more than 60 percent — are covered by private health insurance, usually through their employer, while 32 percent have government health insurance.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>