TIME Cancer

Black Men are Twice as Likely to Die of Prostate Cancer as White Men

White man's risk of getting prostate cancer is approximately 1 in 8, whereas for black men the risk was 1 in 4

Black men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with and die from prostate cancer as white men, according to a new study.

The study, published online in BMC Medicine, looked at incidence and mortality data from Public Health England and found that in the U.K., a white man’s lifetime risk of being diagnosed with prostate cancer was approximately 1 in 8, whereas for black men the risk was 1 in 4. Asian men fared the best, with a 1 in 13 risk for diagnosis.

Each group was equally likely to die from the disease once they were diagnosed, so proportionally more black men die from prostate cancer than white or Asian men.

The research does not determine why there are these differences in ethnic groups, but Alison Cooper of Prostate Cancer UK, the lead author of the study, told the Guardian, “The study also provides important absolute-risk figures to help black men better understand their risk of developing prostate cancer. These figures can be used for targeted awareness-raising and to help them make an informed decision about whether or not to have a prostate specific antigen test.”

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK.

TIME Liberia

4 Remaining Ebola Patients in Liberia Have Recovered

However, Liberia cannot be declared Ebola transmission-free again until it goes 42 days without any new cases

(MONROVIA, Liberia) — The four remaining patients infected during Liberia’s recent string of Ebola cases have recovered, meaning there are currently no confirmed cases in the country though more than 100 people are still under surveillance, a health official said Friday.

“There are no Ebola cases anywhere in Liberia as we speak,” Deputy Health Minister Tolbert Nyenswah told The Associated Press.

In an interview earlier with state media, he said the four patients had recovered and would be discharged in a ceremony on Monday.

“It is still too early to say is it is over,” Nyenswah cautioned in the interview, noting that 123 contacts were being monitored.

Ebola killed more than 4,800 people in Liberia before the country was declared Ebola transmission-free on May 9. But in late June, a 17-year-old boy died from the disease. That transmission chain has produced five more cases, including the four patients Nyenswah said had been cured and a woman in her 20s who died earlier this week.

The cases originated in Nedowein, a community about 30 miles (48 kilometers) southeast of the capital, Monrovia. Samples taken from the 17-year-old boy show the virus is genetically similar to viruses that infected many people in the same area more than six months ago, the World Health Organization has said.

That finding by genetic sequencing suggests it is unlikely the virus was caught from travel to infected areas of Guinea or Sierra Leone, where the disease is hanging on, or from an animal, the organization said.

Liberia cannot be declared Ebola transmission-free again until it goes 42 days — twice the maximum incubation period — without any new cases.

TIME

A Brain-Eating Parasite Has Killed a 21-Year-Old California Woman

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Mark Newman—AP 'Do Not Allow Water To Enter Your Nose' Amoeba (Naegleria fowleri) warning sign at thermal pool, Roger's Spring, Lake Mead, Nevada, U.S.A.

This is the second such fatality in the U.S. to occur in the last year

Public health officials have confirmed that a brain-eating amoeba caused the death of a 21-year-old woman in eastern California last month, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The woman contracted the parasite on private property in the town of Bishop, about 60 miles southeast of Yosemite National Park. She awoke from a nap last month with flu-like symptoms; physicians at Northern Inyo Hospital initially diagnosed her with meningitis. When her symptoms worsened, she was transported to a hospital in Reno, where she ultimately died of cardiac arrest.

Naegleria fowleri, as the amoeba is officially known, can thrive in warm freshwater and soil; infections result when contaminated water enters the nose, allowing the parasite to travel to the brain. It manifests itself first in flu-like symptoms — fever, vomiting, headaches — before inducing hallucinations, seizures, and, in more than 95 percent of instances, death.

This is the second naegleria fowleri-related fatality in the U.S. to occur in the last year. In July 2014, nine-year-old Hally Yust died from the infection after water skiing in a contaminated lake in Kansas. The majority of cases in the country have been in the southeast.

Health officials are eager to note, however, that the occurrences of the amoeba are rare and infections even rarer.

“I want to emphasize that there have been no evident cases of amoeba contamination in the U.S. in well-maintained, properly treated swimming pools or hot springs,” Richard Johnson, a public health officer in Inyo County, California, told the Times.

TIME vaccines

Why Jerry Brown Was Right to Sign the California Vaccine Bill

Bad choice: Anti-vaxxers protesting the California vaccine bill
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Bad choice: Anti-vaxxers protesting the California vaccine bill

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

The governor had a chance to protect thousands of children—and he did

Updated: June 30, 2015, 2:32 PM EDT

California does not often make common cause with Mississippi and West Virginia. America’s blue-red divide doesn’t come any wider than it does between the liberal laboratory of the Pacific West and the conservative cornerstones of the old south. But with a single signature on a single bill, California Gov. Jerry Brown ensured that the largest state in the nation joined the two far smaller ones in what ought to be a simple, primal mission: keeping children healthy.

The law, which passed the California legislature with bipartisan majorities, does a straightforward job—removing the religious and personal belief exemptions that allowed parents to refuse to vaccinate their children. The legislation leaves standing the medical exemption—the waiver families receive when a child has a manifest medical condition like a compromised immune system that would make vaccines dangerous. Under the new rules, families without the medical waiver face a choice: get your kids the shots or prepare to home-school them, which ensures they get an education but protects other children from whatever pathogens they may be carrying.

Mississippi and West Virginia are the only other states in the country that currently have such no-nonsense rules and they’ve got the stellar vaccination rates to prove it: fully 99.9% of the states’ kids are up to date on all their shots. California was right to follow the example of those southern-fried smarts. Only 90.4% of the Golden State’s kindergarteners had their full complement of vaccinations in the 2014-2015 school year. The worst offenders are the parents in the too-rich, too-famous, too-smart by half provinces of Silicon Valley, where vaccination rates in some day care centers struggle to crack the 50% mark.

That matters—a lot. When vaccine coverage falls below 95%, communities begin to lose what’s known as herd immunity, the protection a fully inoculated population provides to the relative handful of its members who can’t be vaccinated. California has suffered the consequences of that, with outbreaks of whooping cough and mumps across the state. Earlier this year, more than 100 cases of measles in California and Mexico were traced to a single unvaccinated visitor to Disneyland. That outbreak, at one of the state’s most iconic destinations, at last got Sacramento’s attention, and the new law, though hotly debated, passed.

Brown was vague at first about whether he would sign the bill and that left a lot of health policy experts worried. He had signed an earlier bill that preserved the personal belief exemption but at least made it harder for families to claim one. No longer could parents simply check a box on a form—an awfully easy thing to do without giving the matter much thought. Under the previous law, they would have to visit a health care provider who would sign a statement confirming that the parents had been informed of the benefits (too many to enumerate) and the risks (vanishingly small) of vaccination. Once they’re in the doctor’s office, plenty of parents come around. But Brown, a one-time Jesuit seminarian who has made no secret of his spiritual side over the years, carved out an exception in that law for religious beliefs.

He was right not to make the same mistake this time. There was a time when religious exemptions were no cause for worry. The share of Americans whose faith forbids vaccinations is exceedingly small, and as long as the herd remained intact, those kids would remain safe. But that was before the nonsense factory of the anti-vaccine community went into operation, churning out all manner of misinformation about autism and brain damage and big pharma conspiring with big government to inject unsuspecting children with toxins. The result: Vaccine rates have plummeted nationwide, and children have paid the price.

The tension between religious liberty and civic responsibility is hardly a new issue in the American system. If your religion does no harm to anyone else—least of all kids—you ought to be free to practice it in peace. But if that faith requires prayer to treat pediatric cancer or laying on of hands as a cure for severe pneumonia, the state ought to be able to intervene and provide proper care if you won’t and prosecute you if your child is injured or killed. In some states that’s indeed possible but in others it’s not, and a complex patchwork governs the level of care each state will or won’t mandate.

Mandatory testing for lead levels in blood? OK in most places, but not if you live in Delaware, Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island, where religious exemptions are available. Mandatory eyedrops to help prevent blindness in newborns? An important preventive for kids born to mothers with certain kinds of STDs—but they may be out of luck if they’re born in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, or Pennsylvania.

The kids, it’s worth noting, did not choose to be born in states with weak protections. And they don’t choose either to be born to parents who look at vaccines and see in them something sinister or dangerous or strangely unholy.

Anti-vax parents came into a world of medically rational adults who had seen the wages of polio or diphtheria or smallpox or whooping cough and were grateful for a preventive that could eliminate those horrors. Jerry Brown himself came into that world too. Contemporary children deserve the same kind of wisdom and the same kind of care the grown-ups around them enjoyed. And California children deserve a governor who will see to it that that they get it.

Today Brown lived up to that responsibility.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Disease

South Korea Authorizes Prison Time for MERS Patients Who Break Quarantine

Quarantine tent in Seoul, South Korea
Chung Sung-Jun—2015 Getty Images Visitors wearing masks walk in front of a health advisory sign about the MERS virus at a quarantine tent for people who could be infected with the MERS virus at Seoul National University Hospital on June 2 in Seoul, South Korea.

The country is in the midst of the worst outbreak ever seen outside of Saudi Arabia

South Korea tightened quarantine restrictions on patients at risk of being infected with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome virus, declaring that those who defy orders or lie about their potential exposure are now subject to prison terms.

Health officials announced that violators could face up to two years in prison and a fine of 20 million won, or approximately $18,000. Currently, defying quarantine can result in a fine but not a jail sentence.

The new law, which grants greater authority to public health investigators, does not take effect for another six months. The latest tally for the disease reached 181 confirmed cases and 31 confirmed deaths since the outbreak began last month.

[New York Times]

TIME Yemen

Yemen Crisis: 21 Million People Now in Urgent Need of Food, Humanitarian Aid

A Saudi-led blockade on maritime traffic has limited commercial goods from entering Yemen, forcing prices of food and fuel to skyrocket

The U.N. envoy to Yemen said Wednesday that the conflict-torn nation was “one step away from famine,” with nearly 80% of its population — 21 million people — in need of humanitarian aid.

Following a briefing of the bloc’s Security Council in New York, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed said a cease-fire was a priority and called on all parties involved to broker a truce before the end of the Islamic holiday of Ramadan on July 17, reports Agence France-Presse. Peace talks between Yemen’s political parties, mediated by Ahmed, collapsed last week in the Swiss city of Geneva.

“While we pursue a sustainable long-term cessation of violence, I called on all the relevant parties to agree without delay to a humanitarian truce,” said Ahmed.

Yemen descended further into chaos in March when a Saudi-led coalition began bombing sorties to stop an advance by local Shi‘ite Houthi rebels. They want to restore the former President Ali Abdullah Saleh to power, having driven incumbent President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi into exile.

Over the past three months alone, thousands of people have been killed or injured by air strikes and ground fighting, and 1 million more have been displaced, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Due to a coalition blockade of maritime traffic, commercial goods including food and medical supplies are only trickling into the country. Fuel and food prices have therefore skyrocketed, escalating the humanitarian disaster for Yemen’s citizens.

According to a joint survey by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme, 6 million people in the country are slipping toward severe hunger and desperately need emergency food and lifesaving assistance. A further 6.5 million people are facing a food security “crisis.”

Yemen officials in the southern port city of Aden have called on international aid organizations to deliver more medical supplies as more than 4,000 people have contracted the mosquito-borne and sometimes fatal disease dengue fever, reports al-Jazeera.

TIME National Security

Pentagon Adds U.K. to List of Countries Sent Live Anthrax

anthrax
Getty Images Anthrax Bacterium

68 labs in 19 states and 4 countries mistakenly received shipments

The Pentagon has added one laboratory in the UK and another in Massachusetts to a list of laboratories that recently received shipments of live anthrax samples from a U.S. Army facility.

These shipments may have been the inadvertent result of a quality control oversight at a U.S. Army facility in Utah, Reuters reports. The Dugway Proving Ground facility, which is working with the DoD to research potential bio-weapons, routinely uses radiation to permanently deactivate anthrax spores before sending them, but it is possible for some spores to remain alive through the treatment.

These new shipments bring the total number of laboratories to have received recent live anthrax shipments from Dugway to 68, located in 19 states and 4 countries, including Australia, Canada, South Korea and Britain. The first live sample was identified on the evening of May 27 at a laboratory in Maryland.

This is the second prominent accidental Anthrax scare in recent months; in 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that as many as 75 of its workers had been exposed to a live Anthrax sample after procedures to kill the bacteria were improperly executed.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Pentagon are currently investigating the cause of these recent shipments.

[Reuters]

 

TIME South Korea

6 Dead, 87 Infected, 2,300 Quarantined: South Korea’s MERS Crisis

23 new cases were reported Monday

South Korea’s ongoing outbreak of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) claimed its sixth victim on Monday, with an 80-year-old man dying while being treated at a hospital there.

The country’s health ministry stated that the man had only been diagnosed with the deadly virus earlier in the day, state news agency Yonhap reported.

The ministry also reported 23 new cases, taking the total number of people affected by the disease to 87. Among these was a 16-year-old boy, the first minor to contract the virus since the outbreak began on May 20.

The South Korean government earlier closed thousands of schools and kindergartens in an attempt to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“I’m cautiously predicting, but I think the peak was reached today,” Health Minister Moon Hyung Pyo said at a parliamentary hearing, according to Bloomberg. “It’ll hopefully start looking stable from tomorrow or the day after tomorrow.”

Ten of the people affected by the disease are in unstable condition, the ministry said, but the government remains hopeful about containing it since it has so far only been present in hospitals.

Acting Prime Minister Choi Kyung Hwan called the outbreak “controllable,” adding that “the government will take all preemptive measures necessary to minimize any negative impact on the economy.”

More than 2,300 South Koreans have so far been quarantined—either in hospitals or at home—and Reuters earlier reported that the government was tracking the cellphones of those under quarantine to ensure that they are complying with restrictions on their movement.

TIME neuroscience

Game-Changing Discovery Links the Brain and the Immune System

New research could affect how we approach everything from Alzheimer's to autism

Researchers at the University of Virginia School of Medicine have made a dazzling discovery, published this week in Nature: the brain is directly connected to the immune system by previously unknown vessels.

“The first time these guys showed me the basic result, I just said one sentence: ‘They’ll have to change the textbooks,'” Kevin Lee, chairman of the UVA Department of Neuroscience, told Science Daily. He added that the discovery “will fundamentally change the way people look at the central nervous system’s relationship with the immune system.”

The discovery of these new vessels has enormous implications for every neurological disease with an immune component, from Alzheimer’s to multiple sclerosis. It could open up entirely new avenues for research and treatment alike, all stemming from the kind of discovery that has become extraordinarily rare in the 21st century.

“I really did not believe there are structures in the body that we are not aware of. I thought the body was mapped,” said director of UVA’s Center for Brain Immunology and Glia Jonathan Kipnis, who worked on the research. “I thought that these discoveries ended somewhere around the middle of the last century. But apparently they have not.”

Read more at Science Daily

TIME public health

The Best Way to Treat Food Poisoning

stomach-pain
Getty Images

Don't rush to take over-the-counter drugs

You had an undercooked burger, ate some deviled eggs that were sitting out on the picnic table a bit too long, or sampled something from a dodgy food truck…and now you’re paying the price. Here’s how to spot the signs and symptoms of food poisoning—and how to treat it.

What causes food poisoning

In the majority of food poisoning cases, the technical term for your misery is gastroenteritis—an irritation of the stomach and intestines. It’s typically caused by bacteria (such as Salmonella, E. coli, or Campylobacter) or a virus (like norovirus).

In the case of food poisoning, you likely picked up bacteria in something you ate, but you can also get gastroenteritis from coming in contact with someone who’s infected, or not washing your hands after going to the bathroom. (You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as “stomach flu,” but it has nothing to do with the influenza virus.)

Food poisoning symptoms

The signs of food poisoning can range from very mild (a passing stomachache) to severe (fever and nonstop diarrhea). Depending on which bug you’ve picked up, symptoms start in as little as 8 hours, but you may not start feeling sick for up to 2 weeks. You might have:

How to treat food poisoning

DON’T take an over-the-counter anti-diarrhea drug without a doctor’s OK. Your body is trying to expel the bugs that are making you sick, and you don’t want to interfere with the natural healing process.

DO stay hydrated. You’ll need to replenish all the fluids you’re losing, to avoid serious dehydration. Sip electrolyte-rich liquids, like Gatorade, broth, or coconut water. If you’re keeping down fluids, slowly introduce easy-to-digest foods, like the classic BRAT diet: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast.

If you’re a healthy adult with a solid immune system, most bouts of food poisoning will pass on their own after a couple of, ahem, crappy days. In general, there’s nothing you can really do to speed the healing. The best thing you can do is rehydrate, rest, and try not to dwell on the meal that did this to you.

When to get help

See a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms:
1. You have diarrhea along with a fever higher than 101°.
2. You’re dizzy, light-headed, or intensely thirsty.
3. You haven’t kept anything down for 24 hours.
4. You’ve had diarrhea for five days or more.

Go straight to the ER if you have any of these symptoms, which may point to a life-threatening case:
1. Your stool has a lot of blood in it (i.e., it’s maroon or black).
2. You have a pounding, racing, or skipping heartbeat.
3. You’re sick from shellfish, mushrooms, or a canned item—toxins from these foods can have especially serious consequences.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

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