Health Highlights: Oct. 20, 2015

Health Highlights: Oct. 20, 2015

Health Highlights: Oct. 20, 2015

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Oprah Winfrey Buys 10 Percent of Weight Watchers

Oprah Winfrey could make a huge amount of money from her latest effort to lose weight.

She paid about $43 million for a 10 percent share of Weight Watchers and will use the company's mobile app and work with a personal coach as she attempts to shed excess pounds, the Associated Press reported.

Weight Watchers will use her name, image and likeness for its products and services, and Winfrey will make appearances for the company.

The deal may help Winfrey lose weight and pad her bank account at the same time. Shares of Weight Watchers more than doubled after the partnership was announced Monday, boosting the value of Winfrey's shares by about $45 million, the AP reported.


Talk Therapy Highly Effective in Treating Schizophrenia: Study

Talk therapy benefits schizophrenia patients and reduces their need for heavy use of antipsychotic drugs, a large study finds.

Currently, treatment for many of the two million Americans with schizophrenia involves strong doses of antipsychotics, which can cause severe side effects such as significant weight gain or debilitating tremors, The New York Times reported.

This study found that schizophrenia patients whose treatment involved more one-on-one talk therapy and family support and smaller doses of antipsychotic drugs showed greater recovery over the first two years of treatment than those who received the standard drug-centered care.

The earlier patients began the combined treatment after their first symptoms of schizophrenia, the better they did.

The National Institute of Mental Health-funded study began in 2009 and included patients at 34 community care clinics in 21 states. The findings were published Tuesday in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Experts hailed the results.

The study is "a game-changer" in the way the talk therapy-focused approach combines numerous, individualized treatments suited to the stage of schizophrenia, Dr. Kenneth Duckworth, medical director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told The Times.

"I'm very favorably impressed they were able to pull this study off so successfully, and it clearly shows the importance of early intervention," Dr. William Carpenter, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Maryland, said.

Dr. Mary Olson is an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who advocates treatments that are less reliant on drugs. She said, "it's thrilling that this trial got such good results."

The study was released as Congress discusses mental health reforms and the findings are already influencing federal agencies. Last Friday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' guidelines included strong support for the combined therapy approach, The Times reported.

Mental health reform bills in Congress "mention the study by name," according to Dr. Robert Heinssen, who is director of services and intervention research at the centers and oversaw the study.

Last year, Congress offered $25 million in grants to states for use in early-intervention mental health programs. To date, 32 states have started using the grants to fund combined-treatment services, according to Heinseen.

"It's been a long haul, but it's worth noting that it usually takes about 17 years for a new discovery to make it into clinical practice; or that's the number people throw around. But this process only took seven years," Heinssen told The Times.


First Confirmed Case of Cancer in Fukushima Worker

The first case of cancer from radiation exposure in a person who worked at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 disaster has been confirmed by government officials.

The man in his 40s helped install covers on damaged reactors at the plant from October 2012 to December 2013, according to the Health and Labor Ministry, the Associated Press reported.

The plant was destroyed by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The government has approved compensation for the man's radiation-induced leukemia, the AP reported.

Ten other compensation claims have been filed since the Fukushima disaster. Seven were rejected and three are still under consideration.


NY Giant Daniel Fells Shows Progress Against 'Superbug' Infection

National Football League player Daniel Fells' condition is improving after spending nearly three weeks in a hospital fighting an aggressive antibiotic resistant Staph infection, according to the NFL Media Insider.

Fells, a tight end with the New York Giants, has had seven surgeries so far on his infected foot and more operations are scheduled.

However, sources informed of his condition told NFL Insider that recent tests results are "looking good" and there is a chance Fells will be released from hospital this week.

And while amputation had been a serious concern, doctors now believe they will be able to save Fells' foot.
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