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Health

    While scientists do not know what causes cancer, they believe childbirth may increase the possibility of a diagnosis, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Avoid this meat to prevent breast cancer, study says Researchers from the University of North Carolina's Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center recently conducted a study, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the association between the disease and childbirth.  To do so, they gathered data from 15 previous studies that examined a total of 889,944 women. They assessed breast cancer risk after childbirth and considered other factors, including breastfeeding and family history of breast cancer. >> Read more trending news  After analyzing the results, they found younger women who have recently had a child may have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to their peers of the same age who do not have children. In fact, the risk for moms 55 and younger was about 80 percent higher and the chances of developing it was highest five years after giving birth. The risk leveled off 23 years after giving birth. “What most people know is that women who have children tend to have lower breast cancer risk than women who have not had children, but that really comes from what breast cancer looks like for women in their 60s and beyond,” co-author Hazel Nichols said in a statement. “We found that it can take more than 20 years for childbirth to become protective for breast cancer, and that before that, breast cancer risk was higher in women who had recently had a child.” >> On AJC.com: What new breast cancer study means for patients facing chemo Despite their findings, the scientists noted overall risk of breast cancer is still low for mothers after pregnancy. They also discovered their results didn’t apply to all younger women. Risk was higher for women who had their first child after 35, but there was no increased risk of breast cancer after a recent birth for women who had their first child before 25. “This is evidence of the fact that just as breast cancer risk factors for young women can differ from risk factors in older women, there are different types of breast cancer, and the risk factors for developing one type versus another can differ,” Nichols said. The authors now hope their investigations will help improve prediction of breast cancer and lead to greater awareness among young mothers.  >> On AJC.com: Breast cancer treatment may trigger heart problems, study says “There are many ongoing studies that are trying to improve our ability to do breast cancer risk prediction on the individual level,” Nichols concluded. “This is one piece of evidence that can be considered for building new prediction models.”
  • A healthy diet and consistent workout routine can help you avoid high blood pressure. But there’s a simple task that can also lower your risk, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Poor oral hygiene linked to higher blood pressure, study says Researchers from the University at Buffalo recently conducted a study, published in the American Journal of Hypertension, to determine the link between dental hygiene and hypertension, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.  To do so, they examined more than 36,500 older women and assessed their dental and health records each year from 1998 to 2015. >> Read more trending news  After analyzing the results, they found those who lost teeth were 20 percent more likely to develop the condition. They noted the association was stronger among younger women and those with lower body mass index. “These findings suggest tooth loss may be an important factor in the development of hypertension,” coauthor Jean Wactawski-Wende said in a statement.  While scientists are unsure why there is a relationship between the two factors, they believe tooth loss could lead to changes in dietary patterns that could be linked with higher risk of hypertension. “We are continuing to explore the underlying reasons for the association between tooth loss and hypertension,” co-author Joshua Gordon added. “Future studies on the impact of tooth loss on dietary patterns, inflammation and the communities of bacteria that live in the mouth may give us further insight into this association.” >> On AJC.com: Suffer from high blood pressure? Take sauna baths, study says In the meantime, the analysts are encouraging adults to practice good dental hygiene as well as preventive measures, such as dietary modification, physical activity and weight loss, that may reduce the risk of hypertension.
  • Yet another blood pressure medication has been added to the list of recalled hypertension drugs.  >> On AJC.com: Blood pressure medication recalls: Everything you should know, Atlanta doctors, experts say Mylan Pharmaceuticals has voluntarily expanded its recall for its valsartan-containing products, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced. The affected pills include valsartan, amlodipine/valsartan and valsartan/hydrochlorothiazide tablets and were distributed in the United States between March 2017 and November 2018. The FDA has listed additional information about the specifics, including doses, lot numbers and expiration dates, on its site. >> Read more trending news  According to the press release, the drugs contain traces of N-nitroso-diethylamine (NDEA). The impurity, typically found in certain foods, drinking water and air pollution, has been classified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  Mylan is notifying its distributors and customers by letter and is arranging for the return of all recalled products. It is also coordinating returns with retailers, wholesalers and consumers.  Patients on the medications are advised to continue taking the tablets and to contact their doctor for advice. The company said, “the risk of harm to a patient’s health may be higher if the treatment is stopped immediately without any comparable alternative treatment.” The agency recently recalled several other blood pressure medications due to cancer concerns, and another was recalled for mislabeling.  >> On AJC.com: Yet another blood pressure medication recalled over cancer risk Read the full FDA announcement at FDA.gov.
  • A 2-year-old South Florida girl who has cancer needs a very rare type of blood, OneBlood said Monday. >> Cards for Christmas: Family asks for letters for child with brain cancer The blood bank said it has organized a worldwide search for donors who could be a possible match for Zainab. >> See a photo of Zainab here >> Girl asks Santa for kidney for big brother; search for girl, donor begins Potential donors must be exclusively of Pakistani, Indian or Iranian descent, meaning the donor’s birth parents are both 100 percent Pakistani, Indian or Iranian, and they must have Type O or Type A blood. >> Read more trending news  Officials said all donations must be coordinated with the blood bank in advance to ensure that additional compatibility testing is performed. Click here for more information. >> Watch a video about the search here
  • A California man whose growing midsection often drew stares recently learned that what looked like a 'beer belly' was actually a 77-pound tumor. >> See the images here According to The New York Times, Hector Hernandez, 47, of Downey, California, couldn't figure out why he kept gaining weight despite rarely drinking alcohol, exercising and switching to a vegetable-rich diet.  'I just thought I was fat,' he said. A doctor initially said the same during a 2016 checkup, Hernandez said. But after getting another opinion in 2017, he found surgical oncologist Dr. William Tseng with the University of Southern California. >> Read more trending news  Hernandez was surprised to learn that he had a 'retroperitoneal liposarcoma, a cancer that starts in the fat cells at the back of the abdomen,' according to a USC news release. The tumor weighed 77 pounds. In July 2018, Tseng removed the tumor in a six-hour surgery.  “It was very gratifying to see his before and after photos and see him back at the size he was four or five years ago,” Tseng said. “To be able to take it out safely and see him enjoy a good quality of life after, that’s a big thing.” Hernandez said he's almost back to his old self.  'Oh, my God, I feel great,' he told the Times. Friends and family members have started a GoFundMe campaign for Hernandez. Learn more here.
  • Do you go to saunas often? Frequent users may have a lower heart disease risk, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Suffer from hypertension? Sauna baths could help reduce it, study suggests Researchers from universities in Finland recently conducted a study, published in the BMC Medicine journal, to explore the relationship between sauna bathing and cardiovascular disease risk, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes.  To do so, they examined the health data of more than 1,688 adults, with an average age of 63, from 1998 to 2015. The participants then completed surveys, which asked questions about how often they frequented the sauna.  After analyzing the results, they found using saunas four to seven times a week was associated with a lower chance of developing heart disease, compared to those who only went once a week. >> Read more trending news  Furthermore, those who spent more than 45 minutes in a sauna per week had a lower heart disease risk, compared to people who just spent 15 minutes per week in a sauna. “An important finding of this research is that more regular sauna use is associated with a lower risk of death from CVD (cardiovascular disease) in middle-aged to elderly women as well as in men,” co-author Jari Laukkanen said in a statement.  “There are several possible reasons why sauna use may decrease the risk of death due to CVD,” Laukkanen continued. “Our research team has shown in previous studies that high sauna use is associated with lower blood pressure. Additionally, sauna use is known to trigger an increase in heart rate equal to that seen in low to moderate intensity physical exercise.” >> On AJC.com: If you have high blood pressure by this age, you’re more likely to have a heart attack, study says The team noted some limitations. They acknowledged the information they assessed was self-reported and was only from one region. For future investigations, they hope to expand their findings by evaluating other adults across the world.
  • Memory loss isn’t uncommon, but there a few foods you can eat to lower your risk, according to a new report. >> On AJC.com: Work at a desk all day? Sitting too long linked to thinning of brain region critical for memory, study suggests Researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health recently conducted a study, published in the Journal of Neurology, to determine the link between diet and brain function.  To do so, they examined more than 27,000 men with an average age of 51. The participants completed surveys, which asked them questions about the type of food they consumed, and they also took thinking and memory tests. They were followed for about 20 years.  After analyzing the data, they found men who consumed the most vegetables were 34 percent less likely to develop poor thinking skills compared to those who at the least amount of veggies. Men who drank orange juice every day were 47 percent less likely to develop poor thinking skills compared to those who drank less than one serving a month. >> On AJC.com: Inability to smell peppermint linked to dementia, study says Those who ate the most fruit each day were also less likely to develop poor thinking skills. However, the authors said the association weakened once they accounted for other dietary factors, such as consumption of vegetables, fruit juices and dairy products.  >> Read more trending news  “One of the most important factors in this study is that we were able to research and track such a large group of men over a 20-year period of time, allowing for very telling results,” co-author Changzheng Yuan said in a statement. “Our studies provide further evidence dietary choices can be important to maintain your brain health.” The team noted they only evaluated men, so their results may not necessarily apply to women. They also said results do not prove cause and effect. However, they do believe there is a strong link between eating fruits, vegetables and drinking orange juice and a lower memory loss risk.  >> On AJC.com: Study: Diabetes drug 'significantly reverses memory loss' Want to learn more about the assessment? Take a look here. 
  • The University of Washington School of Medicine is one of three sites in the United States enrolling couples in the first clinical trial testing the efficacy of male contraception.  >> Watch the news report here The contraception, in the form of a gel, is applied to the man's shoulders. The study looks at whether application of the gel can prevent pregnancy for a year.  >> On ClinicalTrials.gov: Learn more about the clinical trial here The trial is being conducted jointly by the Population Council, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute.  >> Read more trending news  According to a news release from UW, studies have shown that more than half of men would use a male contraceptive if it is reversible and uncomplicated.  Read the news release here.
  • There are several diets that promote weight loss, including low-carb plans. Now experts have more evidence to prove they work, according to a new report.  >> On AJC.com: Should you avoid carbs? Here's what the science says Researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital recently conducted a small study, published in the British Medical Journal, to determine the link between weight loss maintenance and carbohydrates.  For the first phase of the study, they examined 234 overweight and obese adults, who were fed a weight-loss diet that helped 164 of them drop 10 to 12 percent of their body weight within 10 weeks. During the second phase, those participants, who were tracked for an additional five months, were required to follow one of three diets: one made up of 20 percent carbs, the second made up of 40 percent carbs and the third made up of 60 percent carbs. The protein remained at 20 percent for each diet, and the calorie intake was controlled to help the subjects maintain their previous weight loss. After analyzing the results, they found those on the low-carb diet burned about 250 more calories a day than those on the high-carb diet. >> Read more trending news  “If this difference persists — and we saw no drop-off during the 20 weeks of our study — the effect would translate into about a 20-pound weight loss after three years, with no change in calorie intake,” Cara Ebbeling said in a statement. Those with the highest insulin secretion in the low-carb group had even more dramatic results. They burned about 400 calories more per day than the high-carb group. Furthermore, the low-carb dieters had significantly lower levels of ghrelin, which is known as the hunger hormone. “Our observations challenge the belief that all calories are the same to the body,” Ebbeling said. “Our study did not measure hunger and satiety, but other studies suggest that low-carb diets also decrease hunger, which could help with weight loss in the long term.” Want to learn more about the findings? Take a look at the full assessment here. 
  • Jobs can be stressful, but there are some that cause more of a mental strain than others, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency recently conducted a study to determine the occupational groups with the highest suicide rates. To do so, they examined data from 17 states that participated in the 2012 and 2015 National Violent Death Reporting System.  Overall, the researchers analyzed the suicide deaths of 22,053 Americans of working age, and they identified jobs by using the Standard Occupational Classifications set by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.  >> Read more trending news  After assessing the results, they found the construction and extraction field, which includes jobs such as carpenters, electricians and miners, had the highest rates of suicide for men in 2015, calculating 53.2 suicides per 100,000 working people.  As for women in 2015, careers in arts, design, entertainment, sports and media had the highest suicide rates, with 15.6 suicides per 100,000 working people. Those jobs include illustrators, tattooists and professional sports players. The largest suicide rate increase among males occurred in the arts, design, entertainment, sports, and media occupational group. There was a 47 percent hike between 2012 and 2015. The biggest increase for women between 2012 and 2015 was in the food preparation and serving-related group, where there was a 54 percent surge. >> On AJC.com: US suicide : Rates among teen girls reach 40-year high The education, training and library field, which includes teachers, professors and archivists, had the lowest suicide rates for both men and women. The analysts were unable to pinpoint a specific reason for the link between certain careers and suicide rates, because they believe there are several explanations. “The etiology of suicide is multifactorial, and identifying the specific role that occupational factors might play in suicide risk is complicated,” the team explained. “Both work (e.g., little job control or job insecurity) and nonwork (e.g., relationship conflict) factors are associated with psychological distress and suicide.”  The scientists did note some limitations. They acknowledged the findings were not nationally representative as only 17 states participated. However, they said there should be more knowledge about suicide rates from each career group.  “A better understanding of how suicides are distributed by occupational group might help inform prevention programs and policies. Because many adults spend a substantial amount of their time at work, the workplace is an important but underutilized location for suicide prevention,” the authors said. “Additional and tailored prevention approaches might be necessary to support workers at higher risk.” Want to learn more about the evaluation? Take a look at the full report here.