TIME Exercise/Fitness

Why Running May Really Be The Fountain of Youth

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Charriau Pierre—Getty Images

Elderly people who run show similar fitness to 20-year-olds

Older people who run several times a week actually expend the same amount of energy when they walk as a 20-year-old, according to a new study published in the journal PLOS ONE.

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder and Humboldt State University picked 30 healthy older volunteer adults around age 69 who either walked or ran regularly for exercise. The participants walked on a treadmill at the speeds 1.6 mph, 2.8 mph, and 3.9 mph while their oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were measured.

People who were runners had similar energy intake to a group of young adults in their 20s from a prior study. However, those elderly men and women who regularly walked did not see that same benefit, and expended up to 22% more energy than the younger crowd.

That could be because runners have better muscle efficiency compared to walkers, or because more vigorous exercise may better train the body. But it doesn’t mean that walking doesn’t have its share of health perks. Walkers still experienced a lower risk for ailments like heart disease and depression.

The researchers say more studies should look at the link between exercise and the effects of age on the body. The authors write that it’s unknown whether there is “an intensity threshold of aerobic exercise that is needed to prevent the decline in walking economy.” But that knowledge could be useful in preventing some of the degenerative side effects of old age.

TIME Cancer

Scientists Develop New Way to Treat HPV-Related Cancer

hpv image
Getty Images

A drug already off-patent may provide better treatment for cervical cancer

A drug called cidofovir that’s already used to target viruses could also be used as part of a novel way to treat cervical cancer.

In new research presented at an annual Symposium on Molecular Targets and Cancer Therapeutics in Barcelona, Spain, researchers tested cidofovir in tandem with chemotherapy and found that the drug caused shrinkage of cervical cancer tumors in all of the trial participants, and in 80% of the patients the tumors disappeared completely. The combination also showed no toxic side effects.

The clinical trial was small with only 15 women, who received doses of the drug weekly for two weeks, and then every two weeks after chemoradiation started.

One of the side effects of cidofovir can be kidney damage, but there was no damage observed in the participants, suggesting the dosage was safe. The researchers hope to move on to a phase II and phase III trial to look at how the drug impacts overall survival.

In the U.S. alone, about 12,000 women get cervical cancer each year. Human papillomavirus (HPV) is a very common STD, and it’s also the most common cause of cervical cancer. But cervical cancer is a common disease worldwide, and the researchers, lead by Eric Deutsch, a professor of radiation oncology at the Institut Gustave Roussy, Villejuif, France, say they see their drug treatment being very cost effective for low-income countries since it’s now available off patent.

That’s another reason it’s hard to get the support for the research. “This is also why it has taken us more than ten years to move from the first preclinical data to a phase I trial,” said Deutsch in a statement. “Due to lack of interest and support from the pharmaceutical industry, the trial had to be performed with 100% academic funding.”

TIME

Ebola Virus In Semen: Everything You Want to Know

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LARRY MULVEHILL—Getty Images/Photo Researchers RM

An Indian man who survived Ebola was quarantined when his blood tested negative but his semen tested positive

An Indian man who survived Ebola in Liberia was quarantined at an airport in Delhi when his semen tested positive for the disease.

What’s confusing is that man had multiple blood samples tested for Ebola and they all came back negative. Based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, that means he’s free of Ebola. Still, the issue raises some questions that perhaps you’re too squeamish to ask. So we asked the CDC for you.

The answers to these questions were provided by CDC spokesperson Salina Smith.

1. So, Ebola can live in semen?
Yes, it can. The CDC says semen can test positive after clinical clearance—a negative blood test for Ebola—for up to three months. The agency recommends those who have survived Ebola abstain from sex, including oral sex, for at least three months. If abstinence cannot be followed, condoms should be worn.

2. Why does Ebola survive in semen longer than blood?
Semen and blood are different types of body fluids, and scientifically, the testes are known as immunologically “privileged” sites. Basically it’s easier for the virus to hide and avoid being attacked by the immune system in the reproductive system.

3. Why is someone deemed “cured” of the virus if it’s negative in their blood, but positive in their semen?
Theoretically it’s possible that Ebola could be transmitted via contact with Ebola-positive semen, but there is no evidence to date that this has ever happened. It may be that the virus is a more efficient transmitter in blood. What we know for a fact is that exposure to blood that’s positive for Ebola can infect other people.

4. Does the CDC explicitly recommend abstinence to every patient who survives Ebola?
The CDC’s guidance in the field is this: If the patient is a man, he should be informed that his semen can still be infectious for three months and that he must avoid or have protected sexual relations during this period. The patient and his partner are well counseled on this, and must have it clearly explained to them. A CDC medical team is supposed to provide them with enough condoms for that period. The CDC recommends this warning also be included on the patient’s discharge papers.

5. Does the CDC ever test patients’ semen?
The CDC does test the semen of patients who are medically evacuated to the United States. The agency also asks if patients in the United States would like to have their semen tested periodically so that the CDC can gain a better idea of how long the virus lasts.

6. Was it unusual that the Indian patient’s semen was tested?
No.

TIME health

Smoking News to Make You Cringe

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Stephen St. John—Getty Images/National Geographic Creative

Read TIME's reports from the era when the medical community thought it was O.K. to smoke

Thursday marks the American Cancer Society’s Great American Smokeout (GASO), a nationwide event encouraging smokers to kick the habit.

We know today that cigarette smoking causes serious diseases in every organ of the body, including lung cancer, diabetes, colorectal and liver cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, age-related macular degeneration, and more. Tobacco use rakes up more than $96 billion a year in medical costs, and it’s estimated that 42.1 million people, or 18.1% of all adults in the U.S. smoke cigarettes.

This year marked the 50th anniversary of the historic 1964 Surgeon General’s report that concluded that smoking caused lung cancer, and should be avoided. Before then, smoking messaging was depressingly inaccurate. Despite concerns — initially from a small minority of medical experts — the tobacco industry boomed in the U.S., and even doctors considered the effects of cigarettes to be benign.

Here are some examples of tobacco-related beliefs that appeared through the years in TIME Magazine:

1923: In an article about a recent compilation of smoking-related data, TIME was mostly concerned with whether smoking made people more or less brainy: “The outstanding fact of this survey is that every man in the literary group smokes, and the majority of the literary women. Moreover, most of them consider its effects beneficial, and claim that their literary and imaginative powers are stimulated by it.” And later: “From the laboratory data, the author concludes that it is impossible to say that tobacco smoking will retard the intellectual processes of any one person, but in a large group it may be predicted that the majority will be slightly retarded.”

1928: Some experts tried early on to warn about the effect of nicotine, but were met with resistance. In an article about a researcher presenting data on nicotine and the brain, TIME writes: “Many U. S. doctors have contended and often hoped to prove that smoking does no harm. In Newark, N. J., five children of the Fillimon family have been smoking full-sized cigars since the age of two. The oldest, Frank, 11, now averages five cigars a day. All of these children appear healthy, go to school regularly, get good grades.”

1935: Questions began to be raised about the effects on infants, though uptake was limited: “Physiologists agree that smoking does no more harm to a woman than to a man, if harm there be. According to many investigators, the only circumstances under which a woman should not smoke are while she has anesthetic gas in her lungs (she might explode), and while she produces milk for her baby. Milk drains from the blood of a smoking mother those smoke ingredients which please her, but may not agree with her nursling.”

1938 Even if there might be adverse health events for some smokers, not all physicians agreed it was a universal risk: “In step with a recent upsurge of articles on smoking, in the current issue of Scribner’s, Mr. Furnas offers several anti-smoking aids for what they are worth. Samples: 1) wash out the mouth with a weak solution of silver nitrate which ‘makes a smoke taste as if it had been cured in sour milk’; 2) chew candied ginger, gentian, or camomile; 3) to occupy the hands smoke a prop cigaret. For many a smoker, however, this facetious advice may be unnecessary, since many a doctor has come to the conclusion that, no matter what else it may do to you, smoking does not injure the heart of a healthy person.”

1949: By the late 1940s, smoking had become a contentious debate in the medical community: “Smoking? Possibly a minor cause of cancer of the mouth, said Dr. MacDonald. But smoking, argued New Orleans’ Dr. Alton Ochsner, can be blamed for the increase of cancer of the lung. Surgeon Ochsner, a nonsmoker, was positive. Dr. Charles S. Cameron, A.C.S. medical and scientific director, who does smoke, was not so sure. For every expert who blames tobacco for the increase of cancer of the lung, he said, there is another who says tobacco is not the cause.”

1962 More evidence was linking tobacco to cancer, and some groups were trying to get pregnant women to quit out of potential risks to the child, but still: “Some doctors, though, see no direct connection between smoking and prematurity; they argue that the problem is a matter of temperament, that high-strung women who smoke would have a high proportion of “preemies” anyway.”

1964 In a historic move, the 1964 Surgeon General’s report officially stated that cigarette smoking causes cancer, giving authority to anti-smoking campaigns. TIME wrote:

The conclusion was just about what everybody had expected. “On the basis of prolonged study and evaluation,” the 150,000-word report declared, “the committee makes the following judgment: Cigarette smoking is a health hazard of sufficient importance in the U.S. to warrant appropriate remedial action.” More significant than the words was their source: it was the unanimous report of an impartial committee of top experts in several health fields, backed by the full authority of the U.S. Government.

Read TIME’s full 1964 coverage of the Surgeon General’s report, here in the TIME Vault: The Government Report

TIME Transportation

Transportation Board Urges Better Sleep Disorder Screenings

Long Island Rail Road; LIRR
A train makes its way to the Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Jamaica Station in the Queens borough of New York City on Nov. 1, 2012. Frank Franklin II—AP

After a fatal derailment last year in which a train engineer was discovered to have undiagnosed sleep apnea

The National Transportation Safety Board approved sleep recommendations Wednesday for train engineers, following a report that the engineer of a New York train that derailed last year, killing four, had undiagnosed sleep apnea.

The safety board looked at five separate safety incidents and concluded that the Metro-North and the Long Island Rail Road should implement regular sleep disorder screenings. The board urged railroad associations and unions to collaborate to create an agreement for how to sleep disorders in personnel and sent recommendations to recommendations to the American College of Physicians and the American Association of Family Physicians to bolster awareness and understanding of sleep disorders in the medical community.

“In the process of preparing this report, we noted a rising trend in incidents and accidents in passenger rail,” said acting chairman Christopher A. Hart in a closing statement. “Today’s recommendations, in combination with those adopted during our investigations and earlier recommendations reiterated today, have the potential to reverse this trend–but only if they are acted upon.”

Since the board does not have the authority to enforce its recommendations, it also encouraged to Federal Railroad Administration to act upon it’s recommendations.

TIME Honduras

Honduras’ Miss World Contestant Found Murdered

Miss World Honduras 2014 and his sister found dead
Miss World Honduras 2014 María José Alvarado in the ceremony of the event in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, on April 26, 2014 EPA

María José Alvarado had been missing for almost a week

Honduras beauty-pageant contestant María José Alvarado, 19, and her sister Sofía, 23, were found murdered and buried in western Honduras on Wednesday.

María José was supposed to participate in the Miss World competition in London this week. The sisters went missing about a week ago and were last seen leaving a party and getting into an unlicensed car in Santa Barbara, Honduras — an area known for drug-gang activity, Reuters reports.

Interior Minister Arturo Corrales told media that Sofía’s boyfriend Plutarco Ruiz was responsible, Reuters reports. Ruiz was arrested with another man on Tuesday.

“We are devastated by this terrible loss of two young women, who were so full of life. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of María José Alvarado & Sofía Trinidad at this time of grief,” said Julia Morley, Chairman Miss World Organization in a statement.

In 2013, Honduras was named the world’s murder capital.

TIME ebola

Nearly Half of Liberia’s Workforce Is Out of a Job Since Ebola Crisis Began

Liberia is the hardest hit nation in the Ebola outbreak

Nearly half of Liberia’s working population at the beginning of the Ebola crisis is no longer doing so, according to a new report released Wednesday.

The West African nation has been the hardest hit in the regional outbreak, accounting for more than 7,000 cases and nearly 3,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. To measure the economic impact of that devastation, the World Bank, Liberian Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services and the Gallup Organization conducted phone surveys and found that not only is a massive part of the country’s work force out of job, but food insecurity is worsening.

Wage workers and the self-employed have taken the biggest hit, the report finds. Prior to the epidemic, more than 30% of working household breadwinners were self-employed, but now that rate is just above 10%. Many people lost jobs because their business or government offices closed.

Agricultural workers were significantly burdened at the start of the outbreak, too, since transportation routes were interrupted and people avoided large gathering spaces like markets, but the report shows Liberians are beginning to return to work as the harvest approaches.

Read the full report here.

TIME Health Care

Don’t Count on Smart Baby Monitors To Prevent SIDS

New "smart" products to monitor babies shouldn't quell parents' fears about SIDS

Parents often rely on home monitoring products to protect babies from sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), an unexplained death that can happen to seemingly healthy babies, often during sleep. But they shouldn’t, argues a new editorial report in the journal The BMJ.

David King, author of the piece and clinical lecturer in pediatrics at the University of Sheffield, wrote that smart baby monitors and infant wearables provide a false sense of security to parents who use the products to keep their babies safe.

Take Owlet, King says, a U.S. company that raised $1.85 million in April 2014 for a smart sock that could measure babies’ vital signs. Other companies like Rest Devices and Sproutling have advertised similarly smart clothing for monitoring babies’ vitals. The problem, King argues, is that while the companies don’t outright claim that their products reduce the risk of SIDS, parents’ fears of the disorder are responsible for spurring the industry’s growth.

In August, Sproutling co-founder and CEO Chris Bruce told TIME the product was developed out of his own need to incessantly check on his baby to make sure she was still breathing. “I’d get nervous,” he said. “I tried to listen at the door and I didn’t want to wake her up…So I sneak in, I try and listen if she’s breathing, and I end up putting my hand on her and waking her up.”

King writes that devices can be helpful in some circumstances. “Home monitoring may be justified in some situations, such as for preterm infants or infants who need oxygen,” he says. “But in these cases parents and other caregivers should be trained in observation techniques, operation of the monitor, and infant cardiopulmonary resuscitation.” These monitoring products do not require premarket approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and King argues that despite the fact that the companies disclose that they are not medical devices, there’s not enough information ensuring parents really know that. He argues that the advertising for these products is confusing.

In the report, King writes:

Owlet states on its website that the device “alerts you if something appears wrong with your baby’s heart rate or the amount of oxygen in his/her body.” Rest Devices claims that its product allows parents to see their “baby’s breathing patterns, in real-time.” Sproutling says that it will let you know “if your baby is sleeping soundly or if something is wrong.” No published data support any of these claims, and because the devices are being sold as consumer rather than medical devices such data are not required. Ideally, manufacturers would be required to undertake observational studies or randomized trials to support any claims they make concerning the utility and efficacy of wearable devices in infants—even if they are categorized as consumer devices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has already said that home cardiorespiratory monitors shouldn’t be used to reduce SIDS risk.

In response to King’s report, the founder of Owlet Kurt Workman says in a statement sent to TIME: “I have hundreds of comments from Owlet testers and none of them focus on SIDS. They just want to know if something is wrong. That’s what pulse oximetry does in hospitals and in homes worldwide. Parents simply want something that can monitor their child pro-actively (something that video and sound can’t do). As parents we’re tired of monitors that only serve a purpose when we’re awake. We want something that can let us rest easier. That’s the purpose of Owlet and for many parents it is worth the expense.”

Rest Devices, the company behind the Mimo Smart Baby Monitor, also responded to TIME:

Mimo was never designed to be a medical device. It’s worth noting that our founding team did clinically validate our sensors when doing early-stage development of adult respiratory diagnostic devices, and we continued to use that knowledge base once we transitioned to baby and family products. We do communicate to our customers in several different forms that our product is a baby monitor, not a medical device. It’s on our website, it’s on our packaging, it’s in our support tools—including the setup booklet that helps a parent get up and running.

Owlet says nearly 3,000 people have pre-ordered their product and that their technology is more advanced than the research King mentions in his piece. “The bigger point is that technology has progressed and we can now fit a pulse oximeter, accelerometer and even temperature sensors comfortably on a baby’s foot without any cords,” says Workman, adding that the company is creating a product that they will submit to the FDA as a medical device to take home from the neonatal intensive care unit.

“Some professionals have the notion that the less parents know the better, we feel the opposite,” he says. “We also feel that they have the right to know more about their child.”

King says medical professionals should not recommended the products to ease parents’ fears, but should instead recommend methods long known to work, like positioning a child on its back to sleep. But in our new age of tracking ourselves, why not keep tabs on the vitals of our dependent kin? Smart monitoring devices won’t hurt as an extra way for parents to track their children—as long as they’re well aware that doing so won’t alert them to SIDS in their babies.

Sproutling did not respond to requests for comment at publication.

TIME ebola

India’s First Ebola Patient Has Been Quarantined

Man was already treated and cured in Liberia

An Indian resident who tested positive for Ebola—and was cured—has landed in Delhi from Liberia.

The 26-year-old man is being isolated in a facility at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport, The Times of India reports.

According to the Times, the man had already been treated for Ebola in West Africa, currently does not have symptoms and tested negative for the virus before he flew. However, his semen tested positive for the virus.

He had a medical clearance certificate from the Liberian government saying the had been treated and was confirmed negative from blood tests—that would deem him Ebola-free, according to the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). His blood also tested negative in India. Semen can test positive after clinical clearance for up to three months, according to the CDC. The agency recommends abstinence from sex—including oral sex—for at least three months. If abstinence cannot be followed, the CDC recommends condoms to prevent disease spread.

The patient in India is being kept in isolation in a health facility at the airport until his semen tests negative.

It’s not likely that he poses a threat, given the negative test from his blood, but experts have long been concerned that a spread of Ebola in India could be devastating given the population size.

TIME Health Care

How Prioritizing Women’s Health Can Lift Countries Out of Poverty

Countries can tap the potential of the world's historic number of youth and adolescents

There are currently 1.8 billion young people between ages 10 and 14, and about 600 million are adolescent girls. Their needs, if addressed, could help countries achieve rapid economic growth, according to a new report from the UN Population Fund.

The global community has never before been home to so many youth, and therefore so much untapped potential, the study says.

It’s possible to turn all that womanpower into prosperity. When it comes to international development, a country can experience accelerated growth during a period if its working-age population grows larger than its non-working age population, typically because fertility and mortality rates have dropped. This allows the country to become a more profitable society, a benefit called the “demographic dividend.” Given the high number of youth and adolescents today, the UN report says several countries are poised for this transition if they can ensure that their young people actually make it into the workforce.

Several factors can contribute to this transition, like increasing living standards and creating transparent regulatory environments, but one of the greatest factors cited by the UN report is if a country significantly prioritizes and invests in women’s health, including sexual health.

MORE: Why It Takes Teens Equipped With Condoms to Encourage Family Planning in Africa

As the report points out, about one in every three girls will be married by the time she turns 18—every day, 39,000 girls become child brides—and an estimated 33 million young women between ages 15 and 24 say they would use contraceptives if they had access to them. Unfortunately, contraceptive use among adolescent females is only 22%, due to limited availability. In many developing countries, once a woman is married off and starts having children, it’s often too difficult for her to enter the workforce, especially if she was married at a very young age and did not finish school. Getting pregnant at a young age also increases the risk of a dangerous pregnancy, once again raising the mortality rates for mothers and children.

“Child marriage, because it usually results in early pregnancy, is linked to deaths from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and married girls are more likely than married women to suffer violence and other abuse at the hands of their husbands,” says the report.

The UN says that some of the most successful ways to make sure women are safe and can enter the workforce are to enforce their reproductive rights via family planning initiatives, to stop child marriage, prevent adolescent pregnancies, stop sexual and gender-based violence and expand access to education. If women can enter the workforce, they can contribute to their local economies.

Family planning programs not only empower women to determine their life’s trajectory, but they mean big payoffs for a country’s workforce and economy—something many countries still need to embrace.

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