The Top 6 Health Stories of 2015
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The Top 6 Health Stories of 2015

Find out the top health stories from 2015, including a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, food poisoning, mammograms, cancer risks, youth sports and STDs.

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From an uncommon disease outbreak in a major city to a surprising cause of tainted food, from a major health organization changing important guidelines to new recommendations for a popular youth sport, the health headlines in 2015 have been interesting. Click through for a recap of six top health stories of 2015.

Legionnaires' Disease

2 / 7 Legionnaires' Disease

The Story: A potentially deadly form of pneumonia called Legionnaires’ disease hit a Bronx neighborhood. More than 120 people fell ill, and at least 20 died from the infection, in the largest outbreak ever in New York City. Outbreaks in Illinois and California also made headlines.

 

The Expert Says: People with Legionnaires’ disease often “get sicker faster than with other types of pneumonias,” says Richard Logue, MD, chief of emergency medicine at Metropolitan Methodist Hospital in San Antonio, Texas. If you have Legionnaires’ expect a hospital stay and intravenous antibiotics.

 

Read more about the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak here.

Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

3 / 7 Foodborne Illness Outbreaks

The Story: If you were following the news this year, it might seem like no food is safe. Cucumbers, cilantro, a popular Mexican fast-food chain and even ice cream were all sources of outbreaks of foodborne illnesses this year.

 

The Expert Says: This year was actually average in terms of outbreaks, according to clinical dietician Jennifer Stephens, MS, RD, of TriStar Hendersonville Medical Center in Tennessee. “Bluebell [Ice Cream] was the most surprising,” she says. It’s hard to avoid food poisoning from contaminated products. But to protect yourself at home, keep cold food colder than 40°F, and hot food hotter than 140°F.

 

See more tips for preventing food poisoning

New Mammogram Guidelines

4 / 7 New Mammogram Guidelines

The Story: The American Cancer Society (ACS) reworked its guidelines for breast cancer screening. The organization now recommends that women have mammograms once a year starting at age 45 instead of 40, then switch to every two years after age 55.

 

The Expert Says: Flexibility is the name of the game, with the ACS building in some wiggle room for doctors who prefer the old guidelines. “I am comfortable with the old guidelines. The benefits of picking up a small cancer in a woman in her early forties far outweigh the potential negatives,” says Bruce Shragg, MD, at West Hills Hospital Women’s Center.

 

Read more from Sharecare experts on the new guidelines.

Meat and Cancer

5 / 7 Meat and Cancer

The Story: The World Health Organization caused a stir in the fall of 2015 when it released a report linking processed meats such as bacon and hot dogs to cancer, particularly colon cancer. Red meat was also flagged as probably carcinogenic. 

 

The Expert Says: "The cooking method is not to be overlooked with regard to pan frying, grilling, etc.," says William Liggett, MD, an oncologist at TriStar Skyline Medical Center. "Well done, charred meat contains carcinogens and should be minimized in most but especially high risk individuals."

 

Find out what Sharecare’s Keith Roach, MD, has to say about the report.

The Dangers of Football

6 / 7 The Dangers of Football

The Story: Football accounts for more than half of all youth sports concussions, according to one study. The American Academy of Pediatrics in 2015 recommended that tackling still be allowed in youth football, but only if proper technique is taught and enforced on the field. 

 

The Expert Says: Concussions can be hard to spot in kids, and some players won’t want to come out of the game no matter how hard they’ve been hit. Parents and coaches should look for “any kind of confusion, anything that doesn’t look right,” says pediatric sports medicine doctor Ricky Pratt, MD, of Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Lafayette, LA.

 

Learn more about head injuries in football.

STDs on the Rise

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The Story: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a spike in syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia in 2014 (the latest data available). The 1.4 million reported cases of chlamydia were the most ever. Cases of syphilis jumped 15%, and gonorrhea increased 5% over 2013.

 

The Expert Says: “People worry less about STDs because HIV is so treatable now, so they are using protection less,” says Keith Roach, MD, Sharecare's chief medical officer. “But for young women, a single episode of gonorrhea or chlamydia can lead to inability to have children. Choose partners wisely and wear a condom, every time.”

 

Test your knowledge of STDs.

Wellness

Wellness

Wellness is a difficult word to define. Traditionally wellness has meant the opposite of illness and the absence of disease and disability. More recently wellness has come to describe something that you have personal control over. ...

Wellness is now a word used to describe living the best possible life you can regardless of whether you have a disease or disability. Your wellness is not only related to your physical health, but is a combination of things including spiritual wellness, social wellness, mental wellness and emotional wellness. Wellness is seen as a combination of mind, body and spirit. Different people may have different ideas about wellness. There is no single set standard for wellness and wellness is a difficult thing to quantify.
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