beauty

Gross ‘Cinderella Surgery’ Can Make Your Shoe-Dreams Come True

Disney Parks Builds A Giant Ice Castle In Times Square To Announce "Limited Time Magic" For 20113
Disney Princess Cinderella poses Oct. 17, 2012 in front of a 25-foot-tall ice castle sculpture in Times Square in New York City. ( David Roark/Disney Parks via Getty Images) Handout—Getty Images

But really it's the evil stepsisters who cut off their feet to make the shoe fit

It’s like something out of a fairy tale: a New York princess can’t fit into her Louboutuins, so she calls her fairy godmother plastic surgeon and he snips little pieces off her feet until her shoes fit like magic! And then she and her shoes live happily ever after.

As much as this might sound like a plot point in some horror-themed installment of Sex and the City, elective foot surgery is actually a thing that more than a few women are choosing to do. You can get your toes shortened or lengthened, your bunions removed, and even get fat injected into the bottoms of your feet so you have a permanent Dr. Scholls made of flesh, according to the New York Times‘s report on the surgery-for-shoes phenomenon.

Apparently women get surgery to correct “high heel foot” (when your foot is stuck in the shape of a high heel) or “hitchhikers toe,” (when your big toe sticks out.) Some doctors have even gotten requests for toe liposuction, which they’ve denied. Dr. Oliver Zong, who founded NYC Footcare and coined the term “toebesity,” once had a woman ask him to remove her pinkie toe (he didn’t do it.)

“Cinderella surgery” is just the latest in a long line of gross things women do to fit into clothes. Some women elect to have botox injected into their calves to slim them down for certain boots and skinnyjeans (although the process is dangerous, because of the major arteries in the legs). People get butt implants to channel Beyonce and J.Lo. Even guys are getting beard implants so they can participate in the lumberjack fad.

Let’s just take second to remember that in the original Grimm’s fairy tale, the evil stepsisters cut off their heels and toes to try to fit into the glass slipper. Then they got their eyes pecked out by pigeons for being shallow. Just saying.

[NYT]

 

E-Cig Execs Are Actually Thrilled With New FDA Regulations

A woman smokes an "Blu" e-cigarette in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25, 2013.
A woman smokes an "Blu" e-cigarette in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 25, 2013. Jim Watson—AFP/Getty Images

Makers of e-cigarettes have hailed proposed new FDA regulations as fair and moderate and a sign of a business-friendly approach. "They’ve hit the ball right down the middle of the fairway," says Miguel Martin, president of Logic Premium Electronic Cigarettes

“It’s a great day,” says Christian Berkey, CEO of Johnson Creek, a leading maker of electronic cigarette liquid based in Wisconsin.

Berkey was referring to the FDA’s issuance Thursday of proposed federal regulation of electronic cigarettes, a nascent industry that has grown to nearly $2 billion a year in U.S. sales. The move extended the FDA’s authority to regulate new tobacco products, including electronic cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and hookah, among others.

The FDA will take comments from various stakeholders on the rules over the next 75 days, and it could be a year or more before the regulations take effect, but today’s proposed rules were a big step toward bringing the e-cig wild west under control. Currently, there are no federal rules governing e-cigarettes (though many states prohibit the sale to minors).

“People worried the regulations would be unreasonable and onerous,” says Berkey. “What we are seeing is they are not.” Upon seeing the FDA’s proposed rules today, the businesses are cheering. They see the proposal as a signal that the agency plans to take a business-friendly approach.

Craig Weiss, the President and CEO of NJOY, a popular e-cigarette maker, was even more ecstatic in a press statement: “By resisting calls to regulate ahead of – and indeed in opposition to – the science and data, today the FDA has brought NJOY a giant step closer to achieving its corporate mission of obsoleting cigarettes.”

“I would say that there were certain people that went into this thinking the FDA would be a foe — an irrational, illogical opponent to these devices,” says Miguel Martin, president of Logic Premium Electronic cigarettes, another top e-cigarette manufacturer, “[But] they’ve hit the ball right down the middle of the fairway. It is early, I might change opinion,but the original set up on the process seems extremely fair.”

The proposed regulations would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and in vending machines where minors are allowed, require labels that list the ingredients and warn of the addictive properties of nicotine, and require companies to register new products with the FDA with a rigorous application process before they can put them on the market.

The FDA has not yet proposed to ban flavors, which some anti-smoking advocates say appeal to kids, nor have they banned internet sales or advertising of e-cigarettes. And the FDA has given electronic cigarette companies a two-year window after the regulations go into effect to keep their products on the market while they apply to register new products.

Currently, it is illegal for e-cigarette companies to make health claims that their products are healthier than regular cigarettes or can help people quit—a question that needs more thanks to a court decision ruling in 2009. But in today’s deeming regulations, the FDA opened a pathway for companies to make health claims by submitting supporting research to the FDA.

“I suspect that many companies are going to take a run at that,” says Martin.

The proposals are really just a starting point. Mitchell Zeller, the director of the Center for Tobacco Products at the FDA, called the proposed rules “foundational” today in a call with reporters, signaling that future regulations could ban or restrict things like internet sales, flavors, or advertising. And after the first two year grace period, e-cigarettes will still be subject to potentially long application processes for new products that might hurt business, say manufacturers.

“It’s not time for a victory lap,” says Martin. “A lot can change.”

 

 

Food Safety

Which Will Make You Sicker: Four Star V. Fast Food

Which type of restaurant do you think is safer?

Americans love to eat out. Every day, 44% of us have at least one meal at a restaurant. All that convenience of not cooking at home, however, has a price. In a recent report from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), researchers found that 44% of foodborne illness outbreaks were tied to restaurants, compared to 24% that occurred at home. That means that you’re twice as likely to get food poisoning eating at a restaurant than you are at home.

But are some types of restaurants that are “safer” than others when it comes to avoiding illness? The CSPI report didn’t analyze outbreaks by restaurant type, says Sarah Klein, senior attorney for food safety at CSPI, but other data suggests that you shouldn’t jump to the conclusion that the greasy diner and drive-thru are more likely to make you sick than a fine-dining spot. “One of the things that gives nutritionists palpations is that we’ve said at CSPI: That McDonald’s [and other fast food restaurants] may be the safest places to eat out,” says Klein.

MORE: When the World’s Top Restaurant Serves Up a Bug

Unwelcome critters like roaches and rats can certainly carry nasty bugs (and it goes without saying they’re health department no-nos) but they may not always be as bad as, say, using the same cutting board for raw and cooked foods, which can spread salmonella and E. coli, or employees neglecting to wash their hands after they use the rest room, which can introduce E. coli into the kitchen. “There’s a difference between quality and safety,” says Klein. “Things that are likely to gross you out are not necessarily the things that are likely to put you in the hospital.”

And it’s entirely possible that these violations may be more likely to occur in medium-priced or higher end restaurants, just because kitchen staff handle food more than they do fast food chains. Most fast food arrives frozen, in pre-packaged units, and cooking units can’t be turned off until the meat inside reaches the proper temperature.

Large corporations also use their purchasing power to ensure that manufacturers follow strict sanitation practices and provide reliably safe products: If an order for millions of dollars is on the line, growers and food makers are more likely to pay attention to keeping contaminants out.

MORE: How To Stop The Superbugs

At higher-priced restaurants or local facilities run by a family, however, there are more opportunities for contaminants to sneak into food. “Things are cooked to order and there are a lot of handling steps that go into that process,” says Klein of non fast food restaurants. Fresh ingredients are also more prone to contamination by bacteria since they aren’t processed or treated in order to retain their natural flavor. Once in the kitchen, they have to be stored at the appropriate temperature and washed, chopped, or cooked properly as well.

In a 2008 report on food safety, CSPI revealed that there was little difference in health department inspection reports — those letter grades you see in the windows of restaurants in cities like New York and Los Angeles — among lower-priced restaurants and higher-priced ones, suggesting that paying more doesn’t necessarily equal a cleaner kitchen. And across all restaurant types, the most common health department violations involved unclean food surfaces, followed by improper storing temperatures for raw and cooked foods. The third most common violation? Employees not washing their hands after handling raw meat or using the restroom.

For clues on how clean a restaurant is, check online reviews from recent diners (if they report getting sick after eating there, take heed), check the bathrooms for cleanliness, and if your food seems undercooked, don’t be shy about sending it back. Food poisoning is a bad way to end a nice night out.

Infectious Disease

Measles Outbreaks Have Hit 13 States This Year, CDC Says

This year, the U.S. has seen the most measles outbreaks since 1996, the CDC said. Of the 129 people infected, with highest numbers in California, New York and Washington state, the majority were not vaccinated or did not know their vaccination status.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday 129 people in 13 states have been infected with the measles this year, which is the most in the first four months of a year since 1996.

34 people among the 129 infected brought the virus from other countries. The majority of those infected were not vaccinated or did not know their vaccination status. California has 58 cases of measles, New York has seen 24 and Washington state has had 13, the Washington Post reports. So far there have been no deaths reported in the outbreak.

The CDC’s report stresses the effectiveness of vaccines. Measles vaccinations have prevented 322 million illnesses, 21 million hospitalizations and 732,000 deaths over the last 20 years, the CDC says. They’ve also saved the U.S. $295 billion in direct costs like medical expenses.

There are about 60 cases reported in the U.S. on average every year. Most Americans are vaccinated against the measles, but since the disease is still prevent in other countries, travelers can contract it.

“The health security of the United States is only as strong as the health security of all nations around the world,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement. “We are all connected by the food we eat, the water we drink, and air we breathe.”

FDA Approves First HPV Test For Primary Cervical Cancer Screening

A new human papillomavirus DNA test for women aged 25 or older uses samples of women's cervical cells to look for 14 high-risk HPV strains, specifically at the strains with the greatest risk for developing into cervical cancer

The FDA approved Thursday a human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA test for women aged 25 or older for use as a first-line screening method to determine a woman’s risk for cervical cancer.

The new tool samples women’s cervical cells and looks for 14 high-risk HPV strains. The so-called cobas HPV test, developed by Roche, looks specifically for the most dangerous strains, HPV 16 and HPV 18, while also searching for signs of the 12 other strains.

An FDA advisory committee unanimously agreed in March that the test should be approved by the FDA as a primary screening tool for HPV. Some argue the cobas test is a better screening tool than the pap smear. Currently, women are tested for HPV after a Pap smear shows abnormal changes on their cervix or if a physician gives her a test during a standard appointment. But the new test from Roche is a more precise diagnostic because it can identify the risk of cervical cancer in the pre-cancer stages.

The FDA also provided guidelines for how the test should be used. Women who test positive for HPV 16 or HPV 18 should have a colposcopy, which magnifies the cervix so a physician can better assess the abnormal cells. Women who test positive for the other strains should then have a pap test to determine if they need to undergo a colposcopy.

As TIME previously reported, it’s not likely the new test will completely replace the pap smear, as it will take some time for physicians to start implementing it. However, Roche’s trials showed it was better than the Pap smear in detecting cancerous lesions.

HPV is the most common cause of cervical cancer, making screening for the virus extremely important. In most cases, a high-risk infection will go away on its own, but about 10% of infected women become at risk for developing cervical cancer. Almost all cervical cancer cases are caused by HPV.

medicine

FDA Oks First-Ever DNA Alternative to Pap Smear

(WASHINGTON) — Federal health regulators have cleared a genetic test from Roche as the first U.S.-approved alternative to the pap smear, the decades-old mainstay of cervical cancer screening.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Roche’s cobas HPV test to detect the human papillomavirus, or HPV, in women 25 and older. HPV causes nearly all cases of cervical cancer. Such DNA-based tests have been used for several years to confirm results from the pap tests. But Thursday’s decision means Roche can now market the test as a stand-alone option for cervical cancer screening, without the pap test.

The decision comes despite pushback from a number of women’s health groups, who warned regulators that approving the DNA test as an alternative to pap testing could lead to confusion, higher costs and overtreatment.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Reports 4 More MERS Deaths

Asian workers wear mouth and nose masks while on duty during a football match at the King Fahad stadium, on April 22, 2014 in Riyadh.
Asian workers wear mouth and nose masks while on duty during a football match at the King Fahad stadium, on April 22, 2014 in Riyadh. The health ministry reported more MERS cases in the city of Jeddah, prompting authorities to close the emergency department at the city's King Fahd Hospital. Fayez Nureldine—AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 300 people have been infected so far, including a 65-year-old Turkish pilgrim in Mecca, a city to which millions of Muslims will make the Hajj later this year, worrying health experts about the virus's spread internationally

Saudi Arabia has reported four new deaths and 36 more infections within the last day from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), the Associated Press reports.

Among the newly infected is a 65-year-old Turkish pilgrim in Mecca, one of two cities where millions of Muslims from across the world will gather later this year for the Hajj, an annual Islamic ritual. Some health experts are concerned the gatherings will exacerbate MERS’ rapid spread to other countries.

Saudi Arabia has seen a spike in MERS infections in recent weeks, with many health workers among the sick and the dead. The Saudi Health Ministry says there have now been 297 cases and 85 deaths related to the virus since it first appeared in the country two years ago.

MERS is in the same family of viruses as SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and the common cold. MERS has no vaccine or treatment. It’s unclear how the virus is being transmitted, though some scientists theorize that the virus may have spread from camels. The virus does not spread as quickly as SARS. It’s possible MERS will die out on its own, though some are worried it could mutate into a more easily-spreadable disease.

[AP]

Health Care

Advocates React To Mississippi Ban On Abortions After 20 Weeks

The bill signed this week by Gov. Phil Bryant that bans abortions after the midpoint of a pregnancy, and which makes no exception to cases of rape or incest, has quickly provoked adverse reactions from the pro-choice and pro-life communities

A bill signed by Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday that bans abortions after 20 weeks with no exception for cases of rape or incest has provoked typically split reactions from the pro-life and pro-choice communities.

“Today is an important day for protecting the unborn and the health and safety of women in Mississippi,” Bryant said after signing HB 1400, which is set to become a law July 1. The bill bans abortion starting at 20 weeks’ gestational age, or since the beginning of the woman’s last period of menstruation. Pregnancies typically last 40 weeks. While the bill doesn’t provide exceptions to women who have been the victim of rape or incest, it does allow women to abort if they face risks of death or permanent injury or “severe fetal abnormalities.”

Bryant’s remarks were echoed by supporters who believe the law is a crucial step for women’s health. “A woman seeking an abortion at 20 weeks is 35 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester. At 21 weeks or more, she is 91 times more likely to die from abortion than she was in the first trimester,” Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO of Americans United for Life, said in a statement. “I commend the leadership in Mississippi who worked together to achieve commonsense limits on dangerous abortion procedures.”

Opponents, however, called the new restrictions “dangerous” and “unconstitutional.” The Center for Reproductive Rights said that instances of abortions after 20 weeks were “exceptionally rare,” claiming only two were performed in 2012.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, which deals with reproductive health, while 23 percent of American abortion providers offer abortions at 20 weeks, only 1.2 percent of abortions occur after that point. Still, there has been a recent trend of legislation to bar abortion at that period. Several states including Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas ban abortions from the mid-pregnancy point.

But Planned Parenthood claimed that while those bans begin at the point of fertilization — or two weeks after the first day of a woman’s last menstrual cycle — the Mississippi law would start counting the pregnancy at gestation, prohibiting abortions two weeks earlier than most other so-called 20-week bans. “Women who make the deeply personal and often complex decision to end a pregnancy [at its midpoint] should do so in consultation with their physician, not politicians,” Felicia Brown-Williams, director of public policy for Planned Parenthood Southeast, told The Clarion-Ledger.

But Diane Deriz, who owns Mississippi’s only abortion clinic, says that the bill would have little bearing on actual abortion practices in the state. “[The bill is] a totally irrelevant piece of legislation that I’m sure was aimed at the clinic,” Derzis, owner of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, told the Jacksonville Free Press in March. “The clinic goes to 16 weeks, so what difference does that bill make?”

Addiction

5 Sketchy Things We Still Don’t Know About E-Cigarettes

The FDA has cracked down on e-cigs by asserting its regulatory power and proposing a ban on sales to minors

+ READ ARTICLE

On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) flexed its regulatory muscles and extended its authority over more tobacco products, including the highly debated electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes. In the announcement, the agency said it now has jurisdiction over items that meet the statutory definition of tobacco products—which includes e-cigarettes, pipe tobacco, and hookah tobacco, among others. The FDA says it also plans to crack down on e-cigarettes by proposing a ban of their sale to people under 18 and by requiring health warnings on packaging.

The UK already has stiff regulations on e-cigarettes and some cities in the U.S., like Los Angeles, have banned them in several public places. The trouble with e-cigarettes is that they are so new, and there’s not enough evidence to definitively determine either how effective they are at helping people quit smoking—or the health risks associated with inhaling vaporized nicotine. Here are five things we are still scratching our heads over.

1. Do e-cigarettes actually help people quit—or are they a gateway for new smokers?
Some e-cigarette brands claim that they can help people wean themselves off regular cigarettes by supplying would-be quitters with nicotine (but without the carcinogens in conventional cigarette smoke). However, recent research is questioning whether they really help people quit. A recent study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine looked at self-reports from 949 smokers–88 of whom used e-cigarettes at the start of the study–in order to determine if e-cigarettes were helping people kick or cut back on nicotine. Researchers found that e-cigarettes did not help people quit, concluding, for now at least, that the case for e-cigarettes as a cessation tool is flimsy at best. (The study size was small, signaling a need for more research.)

There’s also the worry that e-cigarettes are tempting people into trying the real thing. Another study published in March found that adolescents who use e-cigarettes are more likely to smoke other tobacco products and regular cigarettes, which suggests that e-cigarettes are not always the lesser of two evils, but instead, just another vector for nicotine exposure. According to data from the National Youth Tobacco Survey, the percentage of middle school and high school students who have tried e-cigarettes doubled from 3.3% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2012. Of course, there are still not enough studies to reach a firm conclusion that e-cigarettes make people more likely to smoke tobacco—and the FDA says this is not yet determined.

2. How dangerous is liquid nicotine?
The health risks associated with the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes are not fully understood. A recent New York Times article found that the liquid could be linked to poisonings; the number of poisonings linked to e-cigarette liquids rose to 1,351 in 2013, which is a 300% increase from 2012. The CDC also released a report earlier this month that showed what they called a “dramatic” rise in e-cigarette-related calls to U.S. poison centers. The spike went from one call a month in September 2010 to 215 calls a month in February 2014. Over half of the calls involved kids age five and under, and 42% involved people ages 20 and older. Known symptoms of liquid nicotine ingestion include vomiting, nausea, and eye irritation.

3. Are the vaporizers safe?
Though the numbers are small, there have been a few cases of e-cigarettes exploding and harming users and the people around them. E-cigs contain a small lithium battery that heats up the liquid inside. The liquid is made up of nicotine dissolved in a colorless liquid called propylene glycol, with added synthetic flavor and sometimes dyes. When an e-cigarette exploded in a Florida man’s face, Thomas Kiklas, co-founder of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association, told the Associated Press that the industry does not know of issues with the cigarettes or batteries exploding.

4. Is propylene glycol dangerous?
Propylene glycol is a a clear, colorless liquid that becomes vapor when it’s heated. It can also be found in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical products, and the small amounts people are typically exposed to are largely believed to be benign. However, it’s uncertain whether inhaling propylene glycol could come with unique health risks. “As for long-term effects, we don’t know what happens when you breathe the vapor into the lungs regularly,” Thomas Glynn, the director of science and trends at the American Cancer Society told ABC News. “No one knows the answer to that.”

5. Can you get addicted to e-cigarettes?
As the FDA says, nicotine is “highly addictive.” The FDA says they still don’t know how much nicotine or other potentially harmful chemicals are being inhaled during e-cigarette use. Therefore, it’s hard to tell how much or little damage is being done.

 

TIME 100

TIME 100: The People in Health You Need to Know

The 2014 TIME 100 list–the annual determination of people who influenced the world in the past year for better or worse–is here, and we highlight the leaders making a difference in health.

This year, TIME recognizes innovators who tackled issues from hunger and maternal health to marijuana and aging.

  • Christy Turlington Burns, an ambassador for maternal health. Burns founded Every Mother Counts, which provides poor countries with health education, medicine and emergency care.

“When [mothers] are healthy, everyone thrives. Christy is helping make that happen.” –Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Ertharin Cousin, a Chicagoan who helps feed the world. As head of the U.N.’s World Food Program, Cousin is responsible for feeding over 100 million people each year.

“Her goal is nothing short of eradicating global hunger in our lifetimes, creating a world where no child or adult knows the feeling of an empty stomach” –Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago, served in the Clinton and Obama administrations

  • Aliko Dangote, doing well and doing good for Africa. Dangote is one of the richest men in Africa who also dedicates his time to ridding countries of infectious diseases.

“This year, Nigeria is on pace for its lowest number of polio cases ever. Aliko is a big reason why” –Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Robert Lanza, in the vanguard of stem-cell research. Dr. Lanza is the chief scientific officer at the biotech firm Advanced Cell Technology, and found a way to turn adult cells into stem cells that may soon be turned into new treatments, or cures, for diseases like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

“The controversies may continue, but thanks to Lanza the science will too.” –Alice Park, health and medicine writer for TIME and author of The Stem Cell Hope

  • José Mujica, the revolutionary who legalized pot. As Uruguay’s president, José “Pepe” Mujica signed a law making the country the first to legalize the production and sale of marijuana.

“Uruguay has embarked on a bold and fascinating experiment that will be closely watched by supporters of legalization in other countries–including myself” –Meghan McCain, co-host of Pivot’s TakePart Live

  • Arunachalam Muruganantham, an unlikely health crusader. Muruganantham designed a simple machine to make sanitary napkins after seeing how hard it was for his wife to get access to affordable ones.

“The invention has sparked interest around the world. It’s a truism for a reason: Empathy is the most revolutionary emotion” –Ruchira Gupta, founder of Apne Aap, an Indian anti-sex-trafficking organization

  • David Sinclair, bringing us closer to reversing aging. Sinclair is a genetics professor at Harvard Medical School who discovered a compound that makes old cells act young again.

“Immortality is out of reach, but living more years with a body that’s robust enough to make the most of them is a real possibility” –Dr. David Agus, professor of medicine and author of A Short Guide to a Long Life

  • Alice Waters, pioneer of good food for all. As a respected chef, Waters promotes accessible produce for everyone, including for the youngest eaters, with the Edible Schoolyard Project.

“She proved the power of a chef, showing an entire generation that one passionate person can reshape the eating habits of a nation” --Ruth Reichl, a food writer whose first novel, Delicious!, will be published in May

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