How black barbershops cut hair and blood pressure

High blood pressure worried Mark Sims, but the 43-year-old law firm clerk wasn’t eager to take part in an unusual project. He doesn’t like taking pills. And he had never thought of his favorite barbershop as a place to get medical treatment.

But Sims succumbed to the persuasive charms of barbershop owner Eric Muhammad and signed up for a trial to see if measuring and treating blood pressure in barbershops could help African-American men.

The experiment, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented to a meeting of the American College of Cardiology, was a resounding success and provides strong evidence that taking medicine to the people — in the places they go regularly, with people they trust — can achieve remarkable results.

At the beginning of the study, Sims felt fine and was startled at how high his blood pressure was.

“It was, like, 175 over, like, 125,” he told NBC News. “I was stroke-bound. That scared me.”

After a few months of treatment, Sims’ blood pressure is now close to optimal, 125 over 95.

"These are very large changes for any high blood pressure trial.”

The barbershop study points to new ways to treat African-American men, the group most at risk from high blood pressure.

The researchers did it by taking the treatment to the men's regular hangout: the barbershop.

“It's always been the meeting place ... a place where you might catch a domino game or a chess game, good conversation,” said Muhammad, who owns A New You Barber And Beauty Salon in Inglewood, California. “For black men, it's always been a great place for us to have time with our sons. It's the man cave.”

Dr. Ronald Victor of the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and colleagues were looking for ways to reach black men, who have extraordinarily high rates of heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure and stroke.

“Black men have the highest rates of high-blood-pressure-related disability and death of any group in the United States,” said Victor.

Only a blood pressure reading by a professional can diagnose the condition.

If blood pressure reaches 180/120 or higher — and either number in the blood pressure reading counts — people are in hypertensive crisis, with need for immediate treatment or hospitalization.

But black men often don’t trust doctors and it can be hard for working people to get to one, anyway. Primary care offices are usually only open during the hours that people have to be at work.

“A lot of the men in our study were working at least two jobs to make ends meet,” Victor said.

“To set a schedule for seeing a doctor, in an inconvenient place, in a medical building, finding a place to park, having to go there to get your blood pressure checked and go to a clinical laboratory maybe three weeks from now at 3:00 in the afternoon just isn't a possibility,” said Victor.

“We made it really convenient. We brought the medicine to them, rather than the usual of having patients come to us.”

And, Muhammad added, men, in general, don't want to go to the doctor. “In the inner cities, it's even worse, because we don't have the best of health care in the inner cities,” he said.

The barbershop team, which included a pharmacist with special training to treat blood pressure, made it convenient for the men.

“So, the men came in and got their hair cut and they got their blood pressure cut at the same time,” Victor said. “We brought the medicine to them, rather than the usual of having patients come to us.”

Over the course of the study, there were large changes in the men’s blood pressure, which fell from an average of 152.8 mm of mercury (the top reading) to 125.8 mm, the team reported.

“A blood-pressure level of less than 130/80 mm was achieved among 63.6 percent of the participants in the intervention group,” they wrote in their report.

“It's humongous,” said Victor. “It's a very large change, more than 20 millimeters of mercury in the top number, which is the systolic number. The bottom number, the diastolic, fell by about — was about 15 millimeters mercury lower.”

The team worked with 319 volunteers. Half were randomly assigned just to get advice about blood pressure, without specific medical treatment. Their blood pressure fell, too — but by far less, from 150 mm to 145 mm.

“We saw nothing but results. Every single one of my clients that was involved in the study, during the time of the study their blood pressure went down,” Muhammad said.

It wasn’t just the interaction and conversation about how to lower blood pressure with a better diet and exercise. It was the treatment, too: the trained pharmacists tended to be more aggressive about using drugs to treat blood pressure than physicians usually are, Victor said.

They followed a set protocol and used drugs that the patients’ health insurance could be counted on to pay for.

Turns out, a comfortable, straight-back barber’s chair, with footrests and arms at heart level, may be the perfect place to measure blood pressure, said Dr. Ronald Victor of the Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

“If you can't relax in a barbershop, you can't relax,” he said.

“I have an eight-year-old son,” he said. "And I need to be here for him."

Now, Sims eats less fast food and more salads and home-made food. He works out every morning.

"I do little routines. Some push-ups. Jogging in place. Some curls,” he said. “It makes me feel better every day.”

“I have high blood pressure myself. And my high blood pressure was diagnosed by a barber,” he said.

"His name is Steve Burrell and he worked at Van Russell's Red Bird Corners Barber Shop in Dallas, Texas.”

Victor, who was training his barber to measure blood pressure, agreed to be tested.

“And so my blood pressure was high," Victor said. "And he said, ‘Now, Doc, you know, if you're going to talk the talk, you'd better walk the walk.’ So I really felt like a damn fool and I went and saw my doctor and got treated.”

 

March 13, 2018

Sources: NBC

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	'Plus-size’ clothing ranges may be normalising obesity

    'Plus-size’ clothing ranges may be normalising obesity

    m may be normalising obesity, it has been warned, as growing numbers of people fail to realise they are overweight.</p><p>A study of more than 23,000 people has found more than half of men do not recognise they are overweight or obese. </p><p>Almost a third of women underestimate their true weight, compared to under a quarter two decades ago.</p><p>A study of 23,000 people has found more than half of men do not recognise they are overweight or obese - and plus-size clothing, as modeled by Ashley Graham, may be to blame</p><p>The University of East Anglia research found only about half of overweight people were making efforts to slim down, which could put them at greater risk of heart attacks, strokes and type 2 diabetes.</p><p>Study author Dr Raya Muttarak said plus-size clothing ranges, such as Marks &amp; Spencer's Curve range for 'curvy' women sized 18 to 32, may be behind people's denial about their weight.</p><p>She said: 'Seeing the huge potential of the fuller-sized fashion market, retailers may have contributed to the normalisation of being overweight and obese.</p><p>'While this type of body positive movement helps reduce stigmatisation of larger-sized bodies, it can potentially undermine the recognition of being overweight and its health consequences. </p><p>'The increase in weight misperception in England is alarming and possibly a result of this normalisation.'</p><p>There has been a rise on the high street in 'vanity sizing', where dress sizes are inflated for women with larger waists and hips and bigger busts, to flatter them that they wear a smaller size. Experts say this can 'undermine' action to lose weight.</p><p>The study analysed the Health Survey for England, to find the answers of 23,459 people asked whether they were about the right weight, too heavy or too light.</p><p>The results, analysed for five years between 1997 and 2015, show the proportion of overweight men in denial has leapt from 48.4 per cent to 57.9 per cent in that period. </p><p>Curvy models such as Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine are helping to shake up the fashion industry and our ideas of beauty.</p><p>And last summer science confirmed that their refusal to conform to ideal body standards is actually good for us.</p><p>Women experience a boost in their mental health after seeing plus size models compared to underweight ones, research found.</p><p>And furthermore, women are more likely to pay attention to and remember models who reflect realistic body shapes and sizes too.</p><p>It's a point the fashion industry – criticised for pedalling unrealistic body images – should take on board, said researchers from Florida State University.</p><p>At the same time, the proportion of overweight women misjudging their weight has jumped from 24.5 per cent to 30.6 per cent.</p><p>The study, published in the journal Obesity, says the normalisation of being large has become 'widespread' in England, with men most likely to ignore their weight problem.</p><p>On the Marks &amp; Spencer range, Dr Muttarak wrote: 'By introducing a new design and styling tailored for plus-size customers and using carefully selected fabrics complementing fuller figures, Curve primarily contributes to promoting body positivity.</p><p>'While this type of body-positive movement helps reduce stigmatisation of larger-sized bodies, it can potentially undermine the recognition of being overweight and its health consequences.'</p><p>Among people who were overweight and obese, 38.5 per cent of men and 17.2 per cent of women thought they were 'about the right weight'. The proportion of obese men misperceiving their weight in 2015 was almost double that seen in 1997.</p><p>People who underestimated their weight were 85 per cent less likely to try to lose it, with only 51.8 per cent of those who were overweight in the study telling the Health Survey they were trying to shed the pounds.</p><p>Almost two-thirds of adults in Britain are overweight or obese, with the study focusing on those with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over, classed as overweight, and of 30 or over, classed as obese.</p><p>Dr Muttarak, a senior lecturer in UEA's School of International Development, said: 'Identifying those prone to misperceiving their weight can help in designing obesity-prevention strategies targeting the specific needs of different groups.'</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 June 22, 2018
  • 
	Boy is first human ever diagnosed with mosquito-borne Keystone virus

    Boy is first human ever diagnosed with mosquito-borne Keystone virus

    a mosquito virus that previously only affected animals, a new study warns.</p><p>The Keystone virus, first identified in Tampa in 1964, is spread by Florida's Aedes atlanticus mosquitoes - a cousin of the mosquito that spreads Zika.</p><p>But it took more than a year of tests to pinpoint Keystone as the cause of the boy's fever and full-body rash. </p><p>It took more than a year to diagnose the Florida boy. The Keystone virus, first identified in Tampa in 1964, is spread by Aedes atlanticus mosquitoes - a cousin of the mosquito that spreads Zika</p><p>'We screened this with all the standard approaches and it literally took a year and a half of sort of dogged laboratory work to figure out what this virus was.' </p><p>The boy was at band camp in northern Florida in the summer of 2016 when he came down with a severe fever and rash.</p><p>While doctors suspected a bite might be involved, he tested negative for every virus on their battery of tests.</p><p>The mystery led to a year of investigations, sending samples to experts in the region.</p><p>Dr Morris said that it is a virus that Floridians should now be wary of. </p><p>It is part of a group of viruses that cause encephalitis, inflammation of the brain which can lead to seizures and hallucination.  </p><p>However, he said that he suspects there may have been many other cases in humans, just that they were left undiagnosed.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 June 22, 2018
  • 
	Solicitor warns of a ‘ticking timebomb’ of talc-related cancer

    Solicitor warns of a ‘ticking timebomb’ of talc-related cancer

    deadly cancer linked to extensive use of talc sold by popular high street brands.</p><p>Many victims are unaware that their diagnosis of life-threatening cancers could be linked to ingredients of the commonly used product, he argues.</p><p>US victims have already sued talc manufacturers for millions after getting ovarian cancer or asbestos-related mesothelioma, and now UK victims could follow suit. </p><p>Mr Gower, of Simpson Millar solicitors, has teamed up with a US attorney, who has a string of court victories for women with talc-related cancer under his belt.</p><p>The news comes after a New Jersey investment banker was awarded $117 million (£88m) in damages in April after developing mesothelioma through asbestos dust in Johnson and Johnson talcum powders.</p><p>There have been thousands of lawsuits filed against Johnson &amp; Johnson and other companies claiming that the talcum powder causes cancer</p><p>Mr Gower, who estimates thousands of British men and women have been affected, told MailOnline: 'It's a massive scandal and is only going to get bigger. </p><p>'There is a big problem out there. So far we are just scratching the surface. This is a ticking timebomb.'  </p><p>'We believe many women were unaware that using talcum powder could have been bad for them and some of them are now seriously ill. </p><p>'Others have unfortunately died and their families only found out about the potential link afterwards.'</p><p>Mr Gower, an expert on asbestos related mesothelioma - heavily linked to the use of talc, added: 'People are rightly worried and concerned. </p><p>'It was an incredibly popular product among women just a few decades ago and now unfortunately they and their children are paying the price. </p><p>'They should have been told about the risks but they were kept in the dark.</p><p>Talcum powder is made from talc, a soft mineral found in deposits often located near asbestos deposits.</p><p>Studies have shown that there is a risk of cross-contamination during mining.</p><p>Exposure to asbestos fibers has been linked to mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen or heart. </p><p>But this potentially toxic ingredient was gradually phased out in the 1980s, due to improved mining techniques.</p><p>Affected brands linked to cases of ovarian cancer and mesothelioma were used by British women in the sixties and seventies as part of their daily beauty regime. </p><p>Joanne Anderson, 66, who claimed she used the baby powder frequently to keep her hands and feet dry for bowling, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure (pictured with her husband Gary)</p><p>Johnson &amp; Johnson was hit in May by yet another multi-million dollar jury verdict in favor of a woman who said asbestos in its talcum baby powder gave her cancer.</p><p>Deborah Giannecchini, of Modesto, California was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and accused the company of 'negligent conduct'</p><p>Joanne Anderson, 66, who claimed she used the baby powder frequently to keep her hands and feet dry for bowling, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure.</p><p>Mrs Anderson, who lives in Williams, Oregon, is one of thousands of people with court cases brought against Johnson &amp; Johnson over talc powder.</p><p>A Los Angeles court awarded $4 million (£3m) in punitive damages to Anderson and her husband after getting $21.7 million (£16m) in compensatory damages.</p><p>And in October 2016, a jury awarded a woman $70 million (£53m) in damages against Johnson &amp; Johnson after the woman claimed talcum powder caused her ovarian cancer.</p><p>Deborah Giannecchini, of Modesto, California was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and accused the company of 'negligent conduct' in making and and marketing the baby powder.</p><p>The lawsuit claimed Mrs Giannecchini contracted the disease after using baby powder in an intimate area.</p><p>To date, brands that have been subject to successful legal action in the US include the market leader Johnson and Johnson's baby powder.</p><p>Old Spice, Desert Flower and Friendship Garden have also had to pay out. Other major brands from the era are also believed to have sold contaminated talcs and have court cases pending. </p><p>US-based attorney Brendan Tully of Phillips Paolicelli attorneys has now teamed up with Mr Gower to help British victims and their families.</p><p>He was the first attorney to successfully highlight the cancer link in New York State and win a case against a talcum powder company for asbestos related cancer.</p><p>Mr Tully won his 76-year-old client Joan Robusto - who died of mesothelioma $7 million (£5.4m) in compensation from talc supplier Whitaker Clark and Daniels.</p><p>The firm's powder product went into brands such as Old Spice, Desert Flower and Friendship Garden.  </p><p>Mr Tully has also won a string of out of court settlements in the US for numerous other women and is now planning similar actions for UK victims. </p><p>Johnson &amp; Johnson is currently facing 6,610 talc-related lawsuits.</p><p>The majority of the cases are based on claims that the company failed to warn women about the risk of developing ovarian cancer by using its products for feminine hygiene.</p><p>In the past two years Johnson &amp; Johnson has been found liable in at least seven lawsuits related to its talcum powder products.</p><p>In August, an Alabama woman who claimed the products gave her ovarian cancer was awarded $72 million (£54m).</p><p>In a similar case in November a California woman was awarded $417 million (£314m) but a judge later reversed the ruling in favor of Johnson &amp; Johnson.</p><p>In five trials in Missouri, juries found the company liable four times and awarded the plaintiffs a total of $307 million (£231m).</p><p>Johnson &amp; Johnson is seeking to reverse those verdicts.</p><p>He said: 'These women deserve justice. They have been using these products unaware of the potential risks. </p><p>'Many of these products were shipped to the UK from America with no health warnings on their packaging.' </p><p>'This is a worldwide problem that affected people across the globe.' </p><p>The majority of the cases have involved women contracting ovarian cancer and have been against market leader Johnson and Johnson for their baby powder. But a string of others have been for asbestos related cancer.</p><p>More than 7,000 women in the UK were diagnosed with cancer of the ovaries in 2015. Cases are highest in women aged between 75 and 79. </p><p>The American Cancer Society warns it isn't clear whether talc products increase a person's cancer risk.</p><p>But the International Agency for Research on Cancer - a branch of the World Health Organization - classifies talc that contains asbestos as 'carcinogenic to humans'.</p><p>And Professor Paul Pharoah, an epidemiologist at Cambridge University, doesn't see a strong link between talc and ovarian cancer.</p><p>He said; 'The evidence of a causal association between genital talc use and ovarian cancer risk is weak.'</p><p>But studies have repeatedly shown the opposite in recent years.</p><p>Harvard University researchers found in 2008 that women who used talcum powders every day were 40 per cent more likely develop ovarian cancer.</p><p>They studied 3,000 women and found using talc once a week raised their risk of cancer by 36 per cent, rising to 41 per cent for those using it every day.</p><p>Dr Maggie Gates, who led the study published in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, urged women to stop using talc until further research is complete.</p><p>Dr Daniel Cramer, an epidemiologist at Harvard University and consultant for one of the trials against Johnson &amp; Johnson, has found similar links.</p><p>Since 1982, he has published a number of studies on the potential links between talc and ovarian cancer. They show some talcum powders raise the risk by 30 per cent.</p><p>Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body's organs. It's usually linked to asbestos exposure.</p><p>It mainly affects the lining of the lungs (pleural mesothelioma), although it can also affect the lining of the tummy (peritoneal mesothelioma), heart or testicles.</p><p>More than 2,600 people are diagnosed with the condition each year in the UK. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 60-80 and men are affected more commonly than women.</p><p>Unfortunately it's rarely possible to cure mesothelioma, although treatment can help control the symptoms.</p><p>The symptoms of mesothelioma tend to develop gradually over time. They typically don't appear until several decades after exposure to asbestos.</p><p>Mesothelioma is almost always caused by exposure to asbestos, a group of minerals made of microscopic fibres that used to be widely used in construction.</p><p>These tiny fibres can easily get in the lungs, where they get stuck, damaging the lungs over time. It usually takes a while for this to cause any obvious problems, with mesothelioma typically developing more than 20 years after exposure to asbestos.</p><p>The use of asbestos was completely banned in 1999, so the risk of exposure is much lower nowadays. However, materials containing asbestos are still found in many older buildings.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 June 22, 2018
  • Can a TB vaccine help treat diabetes?

    Can a TB vaccine help treat diabetes?

    ulosis for 100 years might help people with diabetes.</p><p>Researchers said Monday that a few diabetics who got the vaccine had much better control of their blood sugar after eight years than people who did not get it.</p><p>It’s a small study and many experts are skeptical about it. But if the results hold up in more people over time, it could point to a cheap and easy way to help keep people with type-1 diabetes healthy.</p><p>The team at Massachusetts General Hospital has been testing the bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine, used to prevent tuberculosis and to treat some forms of bladder cancer.</p><p>Tests in animals had indicated that it might help fight the immune system mistakes that cause type-1 diabetes, also known as juvenile diabetes. It’s caused when the body mistakenly destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin, forcing patients to carefully monitor their blood sugar for life and to inject insulin as needed.</p><p>This team in the lab of Dr. Denise Faustman has been following 282 people, including 52 diabetics who got the vaccine.</p><p>“We still have to use insulin, but we’re finally able to get to the nearly normal range,” Faustman said. “Nobody’s been able to do that before.”</p><p>It takes three years for the vaccine's benefits to kick in, and people need two doses, a month apart, to benefit, the team found. But after that, the patients did not receive any more extra treatment.</p><p>They researchers will also present their findings to a meeting of the American Diabetes Association in Orlando.</p><p>The vaccine does not appear to work in the way the research team initially thought it would. It does not cause the damaged pancreatic cells to regenerate, they found.</p><p>Instead, it appears to change the way the body metabolizes sugar. And it appears to do so safely, they said.</p><p>“BCG treatment does not carry the risk of hypoglycemia as is the case for intense insulin therapy,” they wrote.</p><p>The research has been controversial from the beginning and diabetes experts are reluctant to say much about it.</p><p>“If a simple and safe BCG vaccination could improve glucose control in Type-1 diabetes it would be a major advance. Unfortunately this study does not give any strong evidence to say this is the case,” said Andrew Hattersley of the University of Exeter Medical School in Britain.</p><p>The patients also continued their normal self-care, watching their blood sugar levels and giving themselves insulin as needed.</p><p>“This could be something that happened by chance because people were a bit more diligent or leaner or more compliant with diet,” said Dr. Adrian Vella, an endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic.</p><p>The team is recruiting more people with type-1 diabetes for more research to see if the effects can be seen in more people.</p><p>Controlling blood sugar is crucial in type-1 diabetes. Normally, the pancreas does this with insulin but people with type-1 diabetes don’t make insulin any more.</p><p>If blood sugar gets too high, it damages blood vessels, leading to organ damage and damage to the hands and feet, as well as blindness. If it falls too low, people can fall into coma and even die.</p><p>An estimated 3 million Americans have type-1 diabetes, which differs from the far more common type-2 diabetes linked with poor diet and too little exercise. There is no cure, although transplants of pancreatic cells can help.</p>

    1 June 22, 2018

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