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Nearly half of US cancer deaths blamed on unhealthy behavior

Published: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 12:29 PM
Updated: Tuesday, November 21, 2017 @ 12:28 PM

            FILE - In this April 21, 2015, file photo, a patron smokes a cigarette inside a bar in New Orleans hours before a smoking ban takes effect in bars, gambling halls and many other public places such as hotels, workplaces, private clubs and stores. Cigarette smoking, over-eating and other unhealthy behaviors can be blamed for nearly half of U.S. cancer deaths each year, according to a new American Cancer Society study released Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
FILE - In this April 21, 2015, file photo, a patron smokes a cigarette inside a bar in New Orleans hours before a smoking ban takes effect in bars, gambling halls and many other public places such as hotels, workplaces, private clubs and stores. Cigarette smoking, over-eating and other unhealthy behaviors can be blamed for nearly half of U.S. cancer deaths each year, according to a new American Cancer Society study released Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

A new look at cancer in the U.S. finds that nearly half of cancer deaths are caused by smoking, poor diet and other unhealthy behaviors.

That's less than commonly-cited estimates from more than 35 years ago, a result of new research methods and changes in American society. Smoking rates have plummeted, for example, while obesity rates have risen dramatically.

The study found that 45 percent of cancer deaths and 42 percent of diagnosed cancer cases could be attributed to what the authors call "modifiable" risk factors. These are risks that are not inherited, and mostly the result of behavior that can be changed, like exposure to sun, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol and, most importantly, smoking.

A British study conducted in 1981 attributed more than two-thirds of cancer deaths to these factors.

The study used 2014 data and was conducted by the American Cancer Society. It was published online Tuesday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

"We thought it was time to redo those estimates," said Dr. Otis Brawley, the cancer society's chief medical officer and one of the study's authors.

Smoking was the leading risk by far, accounting for 29 percent of deaths. Excess body weight was next at 6.5 percent, and alcohol consumption was third at 4 percent.

The authors ran separate calculations for different types of cancer by age group and gender to try to account for how risk factors affect different groups of people, then added them together to understand the national picture.

Among the findings:

— Smoking accounted for 82 percent of lung cancers.

— Excess body weight was associated with 60 percent of uterine cancers and about one-third of liver cancers.

— Alcohol intake was associated with 25 percent of liver cancers in men and 12 percent in women; 17 percent of colorectal cancers in men and 8 percent in women; and 16 percent of breast cancers in women.

— Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds was associated with 96 percent of skin cancers in men and 94 percent in women.

Richard Clapp, a professor emeritus of environmental health at Boston University expects the new numbers to be will widely cited and used to make decisions about how to spend money on cancer prevention, just as the influential British study from 1981 by researchers Richard Doll and Richard Peto has been.

Clapp said there is still room for improvement, however. He said the study doesn't address how two or more risk factors, like smoking and drinking, might work together in some cancer cases and deaths.

Also, aside from secondhand cigarette smoke, the researchers did not to include outdoor or indoor air pollution because the data on the cancer risk from pollution is not detailed enough to understand the national impact, said the study's lead author, Dr. Farhad Islami.

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Austin bombings Q&A: What are the distinctive traits of a serial bomber?

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:47 PM

Common Traits Of A Serial Bomber

What would make a person create a bomb, set it to go off then deliver it to a victim?

A variety of things, according to a forensic psychiatrist who has studied some of the worst killers society has ever seen. 

According to Dr. Michael Welner, a leading forensic psychiatrist and chairman of The Forensic Panel, a person (almost always a male) who would set a bomb to kill someone is interested in “spectacle through destruction,” hoping that news cameras are rolling following the explosion.

>> Read more trending news

Welner is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and is the developer of the Depravity Standard ( ), which delineates traits of the worst of murderers. The Forensic Panel is a practice that works on complex homicides around the United States.

We asked Welner to explain the influences behind what may drive a serial bomber and the traits most common to bombers. 

Q: Are there traits common to serial bombers?

A: Male, detail-oriented, motivated by spectacle through destruction as opposed to merely destructiveness. He takes pride in abilities and planning, is socially isolated and quiet, and feels himself as unsuccessful in intimacy. He has a keen awareness of media and its tendencies in reporting.

>>Austin package bombings: Friends remember victims Draylen Mason, Anthony House

Q: Have you seen anything in the coverage of these bombings that would be helpful in identifying the bomber?

A: The most important aspect of coverage is to enlist the community to be vigilant and to watch their communities, film with their smart phones to capture the out-of-the-ordinary, and to report what is suspicious. Serial violent offenders are often identified by tips from people who spotted something or someone who does not add up. 

Also, the more vigilant a community is to catching such a perpetrator, the harder it is for such an offender to attack without being identified. And the serial bomber does not want to be caught. It is best to keep the focus on the initiatives and collectiveness of a community to work together.

<<Police confirm trip wire used in fourth bomb that injured 2

Q: A different bomb trigger – a tripwire – was used in the bombing on Sunday night. The first three attacks involved suspicious packages left on doorsteps. The bomb in the package that exploded Sunday was left on the side of a road. Would a bomber “stick to his script” and not change the way he delivered bombs, or would you be concerned that there was a “copycat: bomber who put the latest bomb by the side of the road?

A: Both are possibilities. … Historically, a serial bomber with a passion and training in explosives will be able to shift methods to take advantage of materials available and opportunities to offend without being caught. 

Q: Police said the bomber is trying to “send a message.” Do serial bombers want to send a message generally, or are they only interested in destruction and murder?

A: Bombers create a spectacle to draw attention. They may be motivated to draw attention to themselves and their power to hold a community in fear, or may attach to a cause to draw attention to it. The key point is that a spectacle killer is destructively motivated even before the crimes begin, but attaches to a cause that he thinks justifies violence.

Q: The first victims were African American and Hispanic. Do you think the bomber is targeting only those groups? Is that something a serial bomber generally does, or are victims randomly chosen? 

A: Those who have chosen to bomb, pick targets for their own reasons. The rationale may or may not make sense to the rest of us. But it makes sense to them. If ethnicities are targeted, it may be driven by a desire to instigate violent race conflict, as Joseph Paul Franklin (a serial killer who, in addition to murdering several people, also shot and wounded businessman Vernon Jordan and Hustler magazine publisher Larry Flynt) told me he intended when I interviewed him. Likewise, since spectacle murderers are attempting to manipulate the media as much as anything, the bomber and whomever is assisting him may be attempting to manipulate a news cycle by staging violence that inflames racial divisions, or what some call a “false flag.” 

An Austin police officer directs a vehicle away from the scene of an explosion in Austin, Texas, Sunday, March 18, 2018. At least a few people were injured in another explosion in Texas' capital late Sunday, after three package bombs detonated this month in other parts of the city, killing two people and injuring two others. (Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)( )

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Want to lose weight? Give your breakfast an energy boost, study says

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:50 PM

Haylie Duff's Banana Chai Steel Cut Oats is displayed on January 11, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.
John Sciulli/Getty Images for Burt's Bees
Haylie Duff's Banana Chai Steel Cut Oats is displayed on January 11, 2017 in West Hollywood, California.(John Sciulli/Getty Images for Burt's Bees)

Changing up your breakfast menu to include more high-energy foods may help you lose weight, improve your diabetes and decrease the need for insulin.

>> Read more trending news

That’s according to new research from Israel recently published in the medical journal the Endocrine Society. Scientists followed 11 women and 18 men with obesity and Type 2 diabetes for three months.

During the study, the participants were randomly assigned to consume one of two weight-loss diets. Each diet contained the same daily calorie intake.

>> Related: Is a slice of pizza for breakfast healthier than a bowl of cereal?

Participants in the first group (Bdiet) ate three meals: a large breakfast, medium-sized lunch and small dinner. Those in the second group (6Mdiet) consumed six small meals evenly spaced throughout the day, a diet often recommended for traditional diabetes management and weight loss.

Researchers examined participants’ overall glucose levels for 14 days at baseline, during the first two weeks on a diet and at the end of the study.

After three months, they found that participants in the Bdiet group lost 11 pounds. Those in the 6Mdiet group actually averaged a 3-pound gain after three months.

>> On The truth about the Quick Weight Loss program

Researchers also noted that members of the Bdiet group needed significantly less insulin and had significantly fewer carbohydrate cravings compared to the 6Mdiet group.

Additionally, just two weeks into the study, the scientists noticed a significant reduction of overall glycemia on the Bdiet when participants had nearly the same weight as at baseline. This suggested that “a diet with adequate meal timing and frequency has a pivotal role in glucose control and weight loss,” lead study author Daniela Jakubowicz, a professor of medicine at Israel’s Tel Aviv University, said in a news release.

>> Related: These are the best diets for 2018

"This study shows that, in obese insulin-treated type 2 diabetes patients, a diet with three meals per day, consisting of a big breakfast, average lunch and small dinner, had many rapid and positive effects compared to the traditional diet with six small meals evenly distributed throughout the day: better weight loss, less hunger and better diabetes control while using less insulin," Jakubowicz said.

"The hour of the day — when you eat and how frequently you eat — is more important than what you eat and how many calories you eat," she added. "Our body metabolism changes throughout the day. A slice of bread consumed at breakfast leads to a lower glucose response and is less fattening than an identical slice of bread consumed in the evening."

>> On The questions you were too afraid to ask about healthy eating

In 2016, Jakubowicz and her team of researchers also concluded that a large whey protein breakfast may help people manage Type 2 diabetes.

“The whey protein diet significantly suppresses the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin.’ A whey protein drink is easily prepared and provides the advantages of a high-protein breakfast on weight loss, reduction of hunger, glucose spikes and HbA1c,” Jakubowicz said.

Other items to include in a high-energy breakfast, according to Harvard Health: high-fiber, whole-grain cereals and breads, steel-cut oatmeal, Greek yogurt or salmon. 

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How vulnerable is the U.S. power grid to a cyberattack? 5 things to know

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:41 PM

Jean-Christophe Labarre/Getty Images
(Jean-Christophe Labarre/Getty Images)

When the Trump administration announced new and tougher sanctions on Russia last week, officials also said the sanctions were, in part, punishment for attempted Russian cyberattacks on critical U.S. infrastructure, including the United States’ power grid.

>> Read more trending news 

Over the past several years, hackers have targeted a Vermont utility, power grids in Ukraine and Ireland, a nuclear power plant in the U.S. and U.S. energy companies, according to news reports.

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported Monday that it was hacked.

>> Related: Researchers: Hackers develop highly customizable cyberweapon aimed at electric grids

The U.S. electrical grid is highly complex with some 3,300 utility companies that work together to deliver power through 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. The nation also has 55,000 electrical substations and 5.5 million miles of distribution lines that power millions of homes and businesses, according to a report last year.

Just how vulnerable is the U.S. to a cyberattack on its critical infrastructure, like the power grid?

A Con Edison power plant in a Brooklyn neighborhood across from Manhattan in New York City. As US officials step up sanctions on Russian intelligence for its interference in the 2016 elections, members of the Trump administration have accused Russia of a cyber-assault on the domestic energy grid and other key parts of America's infrastructure. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

>> Related: The 2017 Russian sanctions bill: What does it do; what is Russia’s response; will Trump sign it?

In April of 2017, the Council on Foreign Relations released a report on the vulnerability of the U.S. power grid. Because of the importance of electricity to the smooth functioning of society and because of the critical nature of power to the 16 sectors of the U.S economy that make up what’s considered critical infrastructure, a significant attack on the grid could cause serious damage in the U.S., if it were to happen. “Any of the system’s principal elements – power generation, transmission or distribution – could be targeted for a cyberattack,” the agency said.

 Here are 5 things to know:

1- The U.S. power grid has long been considered a target for a major cyberattack; however “carrying out a cyberattack that successfully disrupts grid operations would be extremely difficult, but not impossible,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations’ report.

 2- The U.S. power grid was built for “reliability and safety” and is fairly easy to defend. During winter weather or a hurricane for example, U.S. power crews are good at anticipating problems and can generally move away from computers to manual operations, cyber security expert Robert M. Lee said in an interview with Scientific American magazine.

>> Related: Hackers target European businesses, banks, services in new cyberattacks

3- Because of computer technology and the growing interconnectedness of the digital landscape, and because returning to manual operations is growing more difficult, Lee said that there is cause for concern. “Our adversaries are getting much more aggressive. They’re learning a lot about our industrial systems, not just from a computer technology standpoint but from an industrial engineering standpoint, thinking about how to disrupt or maybe even destroy equipment. That’s where you start reaching some particularly alarming scenarios,” Lee told Scientific American.

4- The director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael Rogers, in testimony before Congress in 2014, said that China and a few other countries likely had the capability to shut down the U.S. power grid. “Rapid digitization combined with low levels of investment in cybersecurity and a weak regulatory regime suggest that the U.S. power system is as vulnerable - if not more vulnerable - to a cyberattack as systems in other parts of the world,” officials with the Council on Foreign Relations said.

>> Related: Homeland Security investigating after massive cyber attacks take down sites across the internet

5- A cyberattack on the U.S. electric grid could cause power losses in large parts of the United States that could last days or up to several weeks in some places, and it would cause a substantial economic impact, the Council on Foreign Relations reported. The report found the U.S. needs to work to put in place measures to prevent a cyberattack on the power grid, and to find ways to lessen the potentially catastrophic impact should one occur.


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Limited edition Crystal Ball Frappuccino in Starbucks’ future

Published: Monday, March 19, 2018 @ 4:52 PM

What You Need To Know: Starbucks

Remember the limited edition, pink-and-blue, cotton-candy-colored Unicorn Frappuccino from Starbucks?

Its colors, which changed with the twirl of a straw, made it an instant hit on Instagram. It was followed by the Dragon Frappuccino, sparked by creative baristas who were out of ingredients to make the elusive Unicorn, and the Zombie Frappuccino around Halloween.

>> Read more trending news 

Starbucks may be at it again. 

According to shops and workers, a new creation, known as the Crystal Ball Frappuccino, will be available on Thursday, March 22, and will only be on the menu for four days, or as long as supplies last, according to Business Insider.

Teen Vogue reported that like the Unicorn Frap, Starbuck’s latest creation will also be optimized to make a stir on Instagram. Though the look and taste is not yet known, Business Insider reported the cream-based drink will utilize peach flavors.

According to baristas who couldn’t wait to experiment and post their photos to Instagram, the Crystal Ball Frappucino appears to include marbled turquoise hues with whipped cream and a crunchy, crystal-like topping.

Coming this Thursday... 🔮 #crystalballfrappuccino

A post shared by Florence Alabama | Starbucks (@florence_alabama_starbucks) on

No matter what the flavor, the look is sure to be eye-catching.

Whether another social media whirlwind is in Starbucks’ future has yet to be revealed.

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