Everything you need to know about Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor

U.S. Sen. John McCain’s brain tumor is a type known as glioblastoma.

So what is a glioblastoma?

It is a highly malignant form of cancer that spreads quickly and is known to be fed by a large network of blood vessels in the brain, according to this NBC News report.

The sad news for the former Republican presidential nominee came out Wednesday after doctors operated on a small clot about McCain’s left eye.

Glioblastoma is a mass of abnormal cells growing in the brain. The tumor grows from star-shaped cells known as astrocytes that make the supportive tissue of the brain. Brain tumors, unlike other cancers, do are not hereditary except in rare cases.

The American Cancer Society estimates that about 24,000 malignant tumors are diagnosed each year — about three in 10 of them are glioblastomas.

Also unlike other cancers, glioblastomas don’t spread to other organs.

McCain’s doctors believe they removed all of the tumor tissue, but cancerous cells could remain and spread to other parts of the brain. It is often difficult to remove glioblastomas because they often spread deep into the brain by the time of diagnosis.

The diagnosis often occurs after a patient suffers a seizure.

McCain also has a history deadly skin cancer known as melanoma. A 2014 study published in the Annals of Epidemiology found glioblastoma was associated with melanoma.were greater among melanoma cases than in people who had never been diagnosed with skin cancer.

The senator’s symptoms may include double vision, forgetfulness or headaches.

Treatment usually is a combination of chemotherapy drugs and radiation on a daily basis. Gene therapy has shown some promise in fighting the tumor.

The prognosis for recovery from glioblastoma is not good.  The median survival rates range from 14 months to three years.

The veteran lawmaker from Arizona fought in Vietnam and was a prisoner of war for more than five years. He is currently recovering at his home.

To read the whole NBC News report click here.

(Featured photo courtesy of Medill DC/Creative Commons)

The case against spanking your children: Study finds it can lead to mental illness

Think spanking will make your child behave?

In fact, a new study discovered that children who receive spankings are more likely to be anti-social, aggressive and suffer from mental health and cognitive difficulties.

The study by the University of Texas and the University of Michigan finds the more a child gets spanked — defined by an open hand on the backside — the more likely they were to defy their parents. Their study, published in the Journal of Family Psychology, analyzed five decades of spanking research representing around 160,000 children, according to the news site Mic.com, a website geared towards millennials.

“Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors,” says Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor of human development and family sciences at The University of Texas at Austin.

“We found that spanking was associated with unintended detrimental outcomes and was not associated with more immediate or long-term compliance, which are parents’ intended outcomes when they discipline their children.”.

“We as a society think of spanking and physical abuse as distinct behaviors,” Gershoff said. “Yet our research shows that spanking is linked with the same negative child outcomes as abuse, just to a slightly lesser degree.”

Spanking of children is still a popular mode of discipline in households. A 2013 poll found that 81% of Americans “say parents spanking their children is sometimes appropriate,” according to NBC News.

“We hope that our study can help educate parents about the potential harms of spanking and prompt them to try positive and non-punitive forms of discipline,” Gershoff said.

To read the whole Mic.com story click here.

When should you take a mental health day off from work?

The mental health day used to be known as playing hooky from work, but more employees are realizing that at times it is necessary to take a day and recalibrate. Think of it as stepping off the gas pedal as your car’s RPMs threaten to overheat and blow the engine.

Still, how does one decide when it’s time to take that day and when to simply power through?

Amy Morin is a psychotherapist and author of the international bestselling book, 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. On Forbes’ website, she helps employees navigate this new area.

She suggests treating mental health like physical health. For instance, if you caught a cold, you might decide to tough it out at work. But if you had the flu, it’s best to stay home for not only are you incapable of doing your job you may infect your co-workers.

And trust me, crazy is just as infectious as H2N2 virus.

Psychotherapist Amy Morin says workers need to treat their mental health just like they do their physical health.

“As a psychotherapist, I’ve helped many people determine whether they were mentally healthy enough to do their job,” Morin writes. “And much of it depends on the mental health issue you’re grappling with and what kind of work you do.”

For instance, if you drive a bus and are having trouble concentrating because of depression that is a bit more concerning than driving your laptop in your cubicle.

So here are Morin’s suggestions:

  • When you’re distracted by something you need to address. If you’re behind on your bills and taking a day off to tackle your budget could help you feel as though you’re back in control, it may make sense to take a day to address it so you can reduce your anxiety.
  • When you’ve been neglecting yourself.  Just like electronic devices need recharging, it’s important to take the time to charge your own batteries. A little alone time or an opportunity to practice some self-care can help you perform better.
  • When you need to attend appointments to care for your mental health. Whether you need to see your doctor get your medication adjusted or you need to schedule an appointment with your therapist, taking a day off to address your mental health needs is instrumental in helping you be at your best.

Morin notes that only 17 percent of the U.S. population is functioning at optimal mental health., according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Employers would be wise to pay attention to this awful statistic. The Center for Prevention and Health estimates mental illness and substance abuse issues cost employers up to $105 billion annually.

Giving a worker a mental health day now and then actually can save money.

Read all of Morin’s piece on Forbes by clicking here.

Health officials: oral sex spreading ‘super gonorrhea’

A dangerous super gonorrhea that’s spread by oral sex has health officials alarmed.

Both CNN and BBC have stories about the World Health Organization’s warning of the bacteria that is rapidly developing resistance to antibiotics.

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at the WHO, in a news release.

Oral sex is producing dangerous gonorrhea and a decline in condom use is helping it to spread, WHO said. About 78 million people pick up the STD each year and it can cause infertility.

“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg,”  Wi said.

Caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhea, the STD is known to infect the genitals and rectum, but it can also infect the throat — which is used to a barrage of antibiotics for common colds and flu.

“When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance,” Wi said.

Thrusting gonorrhea bacteria into this environment through oral sex can lead to super-gonorrhoea.

What makes matters worse is that about one in 10 heterosexual men and more than three-quarters of women, and gay men, have no easily recognizable symptoms.

Dr Manica Balasegaram, from the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, said the situation is fairly grim.

“There are only three drug candidates in the entire drug [development] pipeline and no guarantee any will make it out.”

Fight against Zika draws lawsuit to stop Mosquito spraying

The aggressive fight against the Zika virus is drawing some opposition when it comes to mosquito spraying.

A Miami Beach doctor filed a federal lawsuit, according to The Miami Herald, arguing that using the pesticide naled poses a health risk. It claims Miami-Dade County — the epicenter last summer of Zika in Florida — failed to give residents enough notice to prepare or take proper precautions.

Dr. Michael Hall also says the county failed to follow Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

The lawsuit was filed just before Miami-Dade dosed a large part of the coast in Miami-Dade on Monday with the insecticide.

Naled is not new. It has been used to fight mosquitoes in mangroves and marshes for decades. But with Zika — an illness carried by the Aedes aegypti mosquito that caused birth defects if contracted by pregnant women — the use of the pesticide has been expanded into neighborhoods.

Environmentalists have complained is harmful to fish and pollinators such as birds, bees and butterflies.

Zika, at present, appears to be under control in South Florida. The Centers for Disease Control life all travel recommendations for Miami-Dade and declared the risk low for contracting the disease.
 “Right now, there’s a very low threat of Zika. They’re not finding Aedes aegypti in the traps,” Hall said.

Critics of naled point to a recent study of Chinese babies born to mothers exposed to the pesticide found decreased motor function at nine months. A 2016 study found a 25 percent increase in the rate of autism in areas where aerial spraying is conducted.

“What are we doing to our future generations? We have autism off the charts. Are we not connecting the dots?” Hall asked. “We have less lethal means to take care of Zika.”

Read the whole Miami Herald story by clicking here.

RELATED: Worried about Zika, West Nile? Expert advice to prevent mosquito bites

Beware the tick! Lyme disease on the march thanks to this mouse

So what is the most common disease spread by a blood-sucking insect in the United States?

Malaria, Zika, yellow fever? These mosquito-transmitted diseases don’t come close to the mighty black-legged tick and Lyme Disease. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that a whopping 30,000 cases annually.

And while more prevalent in the Northeast and the numbers are not huge, 30 percent of all Lyme disease is transmitted in Florida. The CDC reports that Lyme disease is the fastest-growing infectious disease in the U.S. with the number of cases reported annually increasing nearly 25 fold since 1982.

And now the concern is not so much the tick itself, but the white-footed mouse that is expanding its territory in the U.S. and is a carrier of the bacterium that is transmitted by the insect. If left untreated, Lyme disease can spread to joints, the heart and the nervous system.

The website fivethirtyeight.com is known for its political acumen, but today it is reporting on rodents of the four-legged variety.

The white-footed mouse is the top reservoir of Borrelia burgdorferi, the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. And the cute little bugger has expanded its range to 41 states and is knocking on the door of Florida.

The white-foot mouse, which carries the bacterium that causes Lyme disease, is expanding its footprint in the U.S.

Scientists have linked an abundance of acorns to an increase in these mice and thus an increase in Lyme disease in people.

Kevin Esvelt, an evolutionary engineer at MIT, wants to edit the mice’s DNA to make them unable to pass bacteria and viruses to ticks.

“When engineering a complex system, you should always make the smallest possible change that could solve the problem,” Esvelt said. “For tick-borne disease, that means preventing the ticks from being infected by white-footed mice.”

Want more information? Check out the extensive report at Five Thirty Eight.com

(Featured photo courtesy of CDC)

FAU aims to prevent dementia with new program

Post-mortem studies confirm that 30 percent of Alzheimer’s disease case can be prevented.

Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton is aiming to find how – and will give patients a plan to follow.

FAU will launch the Dementia Prevention Initiative at the Comprehensive Center for Brain Health. It will take a genetics, biology and the molecular approach to the disease, as well as a personalized approach and precision medicine to reduce risk.

The belief is that the innovative approach developed at Florida Atlantic University turns the “one-size-fits-all” approach on its head when it comes to battling Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other related disorders.

This center is one of only a handful of centers around the world that focuses on dementia prevention.

Dr. James E. Galvin, M.D., M.P.H., a world-renowned neuroscientist,  designed the program to deliver a personalized prevention plan, tailored to each individual’s risk profile based on their genetic traits, biomarkers, socio-demographics, lifestyle choices, and co-existent medical conditions.

Galvin’s work supports the idea that there may be multiple pathways to develop neurological disorders –and therefore multiple ways to treat and prevent these diseases.

The photo above shows  Catherine Robson, a nurse practitioner observing as Dr. James Galvin administers a test using to measure eye movement. is used as an early biomarker sign of Parkinson’s disease.

From death’s door to People magazine for Loxahatchee flu girl

A Loxahatchee girl featured in the Palm Beach Post after nearly dying of the flu is now featured in People Magazine.

Jenny Spell came forward to tell her harrowing story to encourage people to get the flu vaccine. The 18-year-old  ended up on an ECMO heart-lung machine for five days in the fall of 2014 and eventually had to have a kidney transplant.

She is now enrolled at the University of Florida in the fall to study pre-pharmacy. People Magazine covered her graduation from King’s Academy.

“Jenny and I were happy to have had an opportunity to speak to People about her story,” her mother, Anne Spell, said.

“She faced tremendous suffering with both resilience and faith, and I am very proud of her. Together, she and I hope that her story will make a life-saving difference in the lives of others through flu vaccination and organ donation awareness.”

 

The teenager spent 241 days — about two-thirds of a year — at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital after going into cardiogenic shock, meaning the heart can’t pump enough blood to sustain your body. Her organs started failing one by one. Liver. Pancreas. Gall bladder. Kidneys. She contracted a deadly fungal infection and suffered an aneurysm in her abdomen.

“Jenny was the sickest patient I’ve ever cared for with the flu and probably one of the sickest patients I’ve ever cared for,” said Dr. Gerald Lavandosky, managing director at Pediatric Critical Care of South Florida at Joe DiMaggio.

To read the Palm Beach Post’s feature on Jenny click here.

To read People Magazine’s story on Jenny click here.

 

Why do mosquitoes bite you, but not your friend?

You are enjoying a nice glass of chardonnay with your bestie in the back yard when suddenly mosquitoes take aim as if you are a dart board at an insect bar giving away free Bloody Marys.

But your friend remains untouched. It’s as if she has been sweating bug repellent but still smells of that perfume you can’t stand.

“They like you because you are so sweet,” she jests, as you start scratching at the multiple bites on your arms and legs.

In fact, there is a reason why mosquitoes tend to bite some people and leave others alone, according to the website FeedsGuru.com:

You Smell:  Yep, the smellier a person is, the more attractive they are to a mosquito. When a body sweats it produces lactic acid, which is quite tasty to the mosquito. The older the sweat, the sweeter the meal. So you know, take a bath.

Blood Type: Turns out that people with Type O blood are twice as likely to suffer bites than people with Type A blood, according to one study. Also, 85 percent of us secrete a chemical signal that indicates blood type, increasing the chances to get bit since mosquitoes tend to like to know what they are getting.

Bacteria: FeedsGuru reports that the type of bacteria living on our skin varies from person to person. Studies show that people with Staphylococcus and Variovorax present on their skin will likely suffer more mosquito bites. While other bacteria, such as Delftia, tend to keep the pests away.

Carbon Dioxide: Mosquitoes are drawn to the CO2 you exhale, as well. Produce more, get more bug bites. So people who struggle to breathe get bit more. Beer drinkers, for instance, tend to breathe heavier and thus are more prone to bites.

 

<<RELATED: How to Get Rid of Mosquitoes in Your Yard

<<RELATED: TOP MOSQUITO CITIES: Florida cities make the list

 

Algae blooms may be more dangerous than ever believed

Last week, the  American Civil Liberties of Florida issued a report that the state failed to adequately warn the public of the health dangers related to toxic algae blooms on the Treasure Coast communities last year.

The algae bloom in the St. Lucie River and its estuaries caused an overpowering, noxious smell, burning eyes, headaches, flu-like symptoms, respiratory problems, and rashes.

The local hospital weathered a spike in emergency room patients. People were forced to evacuate waterside properties and escape to more distant lodgings.

The bloom came after the Palm Beach Post’s story on how scientists have linked blue-green algae to neurological disorders like Parkinson’s Disease and ALS.

In the past decade, a consortium of 50 scientists around the world led by ethnobotanist Paul Alan Cox found cyanobacteria in blue-green algae produce a toxin called BMAA.

BMAA leaves sticky plaque buildup around nerve cells and causing protein tangles within those neurons. It is the same calling card found in patients with these neurological illnesses.

Even more intriguing is a related discovery by Cox and his team that ingesting the organic compound L-serine reduces the effect of BMAA in Old World monkeys called vervets.

And all this research has strong ties to Palm Beach County, where philanthropists have bankrolled Cox’s research at the Institute for EthnoMedicine in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Douglas and Liz Kinney of North Palm Beach learned of Cox’s research more than a decade ago and have helped raise millions for research.

“It’s a game-changer,” said Liz Kinney, describing how she witnessed L-serine countering a neurological illness in a friend who was paralyzed with Lewy body disease, which has signatures of both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. “Within 10 days, he was speaking. He had much more life.”

Algae formed around the Herbert Hoover Dam on Lake Okeechobee on Friday, July 8, 2016. The algae bloom from Lake Okeechobee has grown since it was first measured in May. Environmentalists believe it stretched more than 200 square miles. (Joseph

The ACLU’s full report is available here: www.aclufl.org/taintedwaters.

The Post’s full report tying cyanobacteria to neurological disorders can be read by clicking here.