Plates for Portion Control, U.K. Lifts Ban on Gay Men Donating Blood, and Must

When you break open a durian fruit, it reeks like rotting garbage. So why is it catching on as a new flavor of ice cream? Some claim it’s a natural aphrodisiac! [Fox News Health]

If you’re having trouble implementing the recently released nutrition guidelines in the MyPlate icon, try these handy plates with built-in portion control. [dailySpark]

Thinking about shaking it at a Zumba class for the first time? Check out these tips for beginners from a certified Zumba instructor. [FitSugar]

Does your hair really stop growing when it reaches a certain length? Get the answers to this and other common hair questions. [HuffPost]

The U.K. Department of Health has lifted its ban on men who have sex with other men donating blood. A similar ban is still in place in the U.S., where researchers estimate an additional 219,000 pints of blood could be collected yearly if the rule were overturned. [TIME Healthland]

Seems like celebs will try anything—from the Master Cleanse to gardening nude—when it comes to eating habits. But should their kids follow suit? These seven celebrity kids eat alternative diets. [LilSugar]

Eight-month-old twins Jacob and Joshua Spates were born conjoined at the hip. After a 13-hour surgery in August where doctors successfully separated them, the boys are beginning to crawl. [People]

You’ve probably seen some pretty wild headlines about the HPV vaccine this week. Here are five facts you need to know. [CNN]

Teen Boys Need the HPV Vaccine Too. Why Aren't They Getting It?

By Dennis ThompsonHealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Most boys in the United States aren’t receiving the cancer-preventing HPV vaccine alongside their other scheduled inoculations, largely because doctors fail to recommend it or adequately explain its benefits to parents, a new U.S. government study says.

Experts warned that without vaccination, these boys may face infection with the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, a leading cause of multiple cancers.

Parents most often don’t get the HPV vaccine for their boys because their health care provider didn’t recommend it, according to researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That reason was given by 24 percent of parents whose 13- to 17-year-old sons had not received the shots, when asked as part of the CDC’s annual survey on teen vaccinations. The report was published online Oct. 26 in the journal Pediatrics.

Parents also commonly cite a lack of understanding about the vaccine, said report co-author Shannon Stokley, associate director of science at the CDC’s immunization services division.

About 19 percent of parents felt the vaccine was not needed, 16 percent said they didn’t know enough about it, and 7 percent had safety concerns, the report says.

“We need to work with health care providers so they are making strong recommendations and communicating with their patients about the need for this vaccine,” Stokley said.

All the parents’ reported excuses point to their doctor as the weak link in the chain, said Debbie Saslow, director of breast and gynecologic cancer for the American Cancer Society.

Each year in the United States, an estimated 26,000 new cancers are attributable to HPV, including about 9,000 in men, researchers said in background material.

HPV causes nearly all cervical and anal cancers. The virus also causes about 70 percent of throat cancers, three-quarters of vaginal cancers and 63 percent of cancers of the penis, according the CDC.

Currently, about 79 million people are infected with HPV, and 14 million people will be infected each year.

The first HPV vaccine, licensed in 2006, initially was recommended only for girls, to protect them against cervical cancer. In 2011 the CDC began recommending HPV vaccination for boys as well.

CDC statistics show that nearly 42 percent of boys 13 to 17 had received at least one dose of the HPV vaccine in 2014, up from about one-third in 2013.

Only 21.6 percent of boys that age had received the full three-dose HPV vaccine series in 2014, Stokley said. That is up from less than 14 percent in 2013.

“We know it can go higher. We just need to work more,” she said.

Researchers found that boys are more likely to have received the HPV vaccine if they are black or Hispanic, or in a single-mother household, or in a poorer family.

This could be an effect of federal programs that provide scheduled vaccines for free to low-income families, Stokley said. It also could be caused by the Affordable Care Act, which requires that insurers cover the full cost of vaccinations.

Saslow said some doctors may be reluctant to recommend the HPV vaccine, for fear of offending parents.

“Providers have this perception the HPV vaccine is different than other vaccines,” Saslow said. “They think parents are more concerned about it, and they’re worried parents aren’t going to bring their kids back if they recommend it.”

The vaccine is recommended for boys and girls 11 or 12 years old, and some parents blanch at the prospect of inoculating their child against a sexually transmitted virus at that age, Saslow said.

Unfortunately, taking the HPV vaccine out of the regular immunization schedule drastically lowers the odds that a child will get the full series of shots, she said. It also increases the odds that they will be exposed to HPV before getting the vaccination.

The American Cancer Society and other groups offer training for doctors to help them become more comfortable discussing the HPV vaccine, Saslow said.

Boys need to get the vaccine not only to prevent transmission to girls, but also to protect themselves from genital warts and cancers of the throat, penis and anus, she said.

“This vaccine prevents six or seven kinds of cancer, in boys and girls, men and women,” Saslow said. “That’s huge.”

More information

For more on HPV vaccines, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.


THURSDAY, July 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Cancers linked to the sexually transmitted human papillomavirus (HPV) keep rising in the United States, even though most cases are preventable, health officials reported Thursday.

Cervical cancer, and mouth and throat cancers in men, accounted for most of the nearly 39,000 HPV-associated cancers diagnosed annually from 2008 to 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

HPV vaccination and cervical cancer screening could keep more than 28,000 of these cancers from developing, the agency estimated.

“Most cervical cancers are preventable with regular screening for precancerous lesions among women aged 21 to 65 years, linked with follow-up for abnormal test results,” the CDC researchers wrote in the report.

But cancer experts said that public perception may have to change first, especially with respect to HPV vaccination.

“In order to increase HPV vaccination rates, we must change the perception of the HPV vaccine from something that prevents a sexually transmitted disease to a vaccine that prevents cancer,” said Electra Paskett. She is co-director of the Cancer Control Research Program at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer in Columbus.

“Every parent should ask the question: If there was a vaccine I could give my child that would prevent them from developing six different cancers, would I give it to them? The answer would be a resounding yes—and we would have a dramatic decrease in HPV-related cancers across the globe,” Paskett added.

At current rates, these sexually linked cancers are developing in almost 12 of every 100,000 persons, the CDC said. In the previous five-year period, fewer than 33,500 of these HPV-linked cancers were diagnosed annually.

Using data from national cancer registries, CDC analysts looked for certain cancer types—cervical, head and neck, and anal, among them—that have links to HPV. They found an average of 38,793 such cancers annually from 2008 to 2012.

When looked at closely, researchers confirmed the HPV connection in 79 percent—or 30,700—of cases. This included about 19,200 cancer diagnoses in females and 11,600 diagnoses in males.

The agency estimates that as many as 28,500 of these were preventable with recommended HPV vaccination.

In men, the head and neck cancers mainly involved the tongue, tonsils and pharynx—or “oropharyngeal” cancers, the agency reported. They’re often symptom-free, but may include persistent sore throat, earaches and pain when swallowing, according to the CDC.

Breaking down the figures, whites had higher rates of oral and throat cancers than blacks and Hispanics, the report found.

However, Hispanics and blacks were more likely to have cervical cancer than whites. The state with the highest cervical cancer rate was West Virginia; Vermont’s rate was the lowest, according to the report.

“Full vaccination coverage of the U.S. population could prevent future HPV-attributable cancers and potentially reduce racial and ethnic disparities in HPV-associated cancer incidence,” according to report author Dr. Laura Viens and colleagues.

The findings were published in the July 8 issue of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The CDC recommends routine HPV vaccination at ages 11 to 12 for boys and girls, and through age 26 for females and age 21 for males if they were not previously vaccinated.

Anyone who has ever had sex—genital or otherwise—can get HPV, scientists say.

Oral cancers in particular are HPV-related, said Dr. Jill Rabin of Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y.

“This is important since oral-genital contact may be quite prevalent and teens may not consider this as ‘true’ sexual activity,” Rabin said. Oral-genital sex also places teens at risk for penile, rectal and vulvar-vaginal cancers, she said.

“The reason the vaccine is given to girls (aged 9 to 26) and boys (aged 9 to 21) is that the younger the person is vaccinated, the better they will respond in making antibodies which help fight and prevent the HPV,” Rabin explained.

“We give the vaccine now, in other words, to protect against exposure to HPV later, when they are older,” she said.

More information

The U.S. National Cancer Institute has more on HPV vaccination.

Some Women May Need Just 4 Pap Tests—Ever

In recent years, recommendations for cervical cancer screenings have gone from once a year to once every three to five years for most women. Now, Harvard researchers suggest that women who are vaccinated against human papillomavirus () may only need a screening every five to 10 years—and may also be able to start screenings later in life.

These findings, the result of a study published today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, are not meant to take the place of current guidelines, say the authors—at least not yet. Rather, they hope the study is a first step toward more research that might eventually spark a policy change.

Many women find the Pap test, the go-to method for cervical cancer screening, uncomfortable and unpleasant. But worse than that, abnormal results can lead to more testing, invasive biopsies, and other treatments that may be unnecessary—or even harmful—to patients, some of whom aren’t in real danger of developing cancer.

And while screenings do catch cancers and save lives, cervical cancer tends to be very slow-growing. “We know that in an average woman, the progression from HPV infection into a cervical pre-cancer—before it even gets into the invasive cancer stage—can take decades,” says Jane Kim, PhD, professor of health decision science at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “This very slow disease process makes Pap smear screenings at these lengthened intervals reasonable.”

That’s especially true for girls and women who’ve been vaccinated against HPV, which causes most cases of cervical cancer. “When you take away the acquisition of HPV, you’re removing a lot of the risk and slowing the process even more,” Kim told Health.

RELATED: 17 Important Facts to Know About HPV

Since the vaccine only became available in 2006, and because cervical cancer tends to develop very slowly over time, a definitive link between inoculation and reduced cancer incidence has not yet been established. But the research so far as been promising: Earlier this year, studies on women in New Mexico and Alberta, Canada found that the vaccine reduces cervical abnormalities that can lead to cancer.

The new Harvard study used disease-simulation software to estimate the health and economic effects of different screening protocols on women who’d received three different types of currently available HPV vaccines. The goal was to pinpoint strategies that would provide the biggest health benefit in the most cost-effective way.

“This analysis enabled us to examine what would happen if we shifted from the current way we screen for cervical cancer—essentially, recommending the same type of screening for all women—to screening that takes into account whether women have been vaccinated against HPV and therefore face a substantially lower risk of cervical cancer,” Kim said in a press release.

According to the simulation, women who received a “nonavalent” HPV vaccine (Gardasil 9) would only need screening four times in their lives—once every 10 years, starting at age 30 or 35. (Current guidelines state that women should get their first Pap test at age 21.) This vaccine, which was introduced in 2014, protects against nine strains of HPV that are known to cause cancer.

Those who got earlier vaccines, Gardasil or Ceravix, would need screenings every five years staring at age 25 or 30. These older versions protect against two strains of HPV—16 and 18—that cause about 70% of cervical cancers. 

For vaccinated women, more screenings were not safer. In fact, says Kim, “we found that continuing intensive screening among HPV-vaccinated women yields excessive costs and harms with little to no health benefit.”

RELATED: Could You Have an STD and Not Know It?

The modeling scenario also revealed that screening with HPV testing alone would provide similar health benefits and value as a Pap test or “cotesting,” when both tests are performed at once. Some research suggests that women may one day be able to self-administer HPV tests at home, rather than seeing their doctor, says Kim. But for now, the procedure for HPV and Pap tests is the same, and there’s no difference from a patient’s perspective.

The authors note that their conclusions would only apply to women who received all three doses of an HPV vaccine as pre-teens, as recommended, and have been fully compliant with screening protocols since then. Future studies should take into account real-life scenarios, they say, including women who miss doses, are vaccinated at an older age, or who haven’t stayed up-to-date with their screenings.

And it’s too early to recommend that any women forego a scheduled screening or ignore current guidelines, says Kim, since not enough time has passed to show that the HPV vaccine really does what scientists think it does.

“We expect to see that soon,” she says. “And once that happens, and we are convinced once and for all that cervical cancer risk is diminished for these women, I think there will be a bigger impetus to move forward with changes.”

Even if that happens, though, Kim stresses that having fewer screenings shouldn’t necessarily mean having fewer doctor’s visits. “I think we would still want to preserve the opportunity for women, especially as they’re aging, to intersect with their ob-gyn,” she says. “This shouldn’t be conflated with your regular well-woman visit; we’re talking strictly about whether you need this screening or not.”

Erin Andrews Opens Up About Recovering Her Calm After a Tough Year

Erin Andrews had a whirlwind 2016: She hosted two more seasons of Dancing With the Stars, reported from the sidelines for Fox NFL (and is Super Bowl bound), finally found closure in her horrific hotel-stalker lawsuit, and got engaged to former pro hockey player Jarret Stoll. This week, the sportscaster revealed she has also been battling a serious health issue: She was diagnosed with cervical cancer last year. After undergoing two successful surgeries, she told Sports Illustrated she is now in the clear. In an interview with Health conducted a few weeks before she dropped her health bomb, Andrews described herself as “lucky”—and she clearly has a lot to smile about on the horizon. The new brand ambassador for Orangetheory Fitness, Erin opened up about how she winds down after her most stressful days, what makes her “lose it” at work, and the part of her engagement that surprised her the most.

My morning routine:

“I’m usually up by 7:30, then I go take a workout class. But first I have to have breakfast. That’s one thing about me—I don’t skip a meal. So I’ll go down stairs, have a cup of coffee, turn on SportsCenter or the NFL Network and have a bowl of cereal. After I work out, then I kind of have another breakfast because I need some protein. My guy usually has a smoothie waiting for me when I get home.”

The last big surprise I had was when…

“My guy proposed. The fireworks went off at Disneyland, and it was Christmas time and I just thought, oh my God. It was just so sweet because you always think guys don’t really care. Or they don’t take the time to plan. He really went for it. He actually bought two rings and he let me choose. Isn’t that amazing? I then still made him pick because I said, ‘I want to have the one you want me to have.’ He did a good job.”

RELATED: Couples Who Have the Best Sex Have This Important Thing in Common

Since getting engaged, life has been…

“Awesome. We went through a lot this past year. So yes, this has been truly awesome. He’s cute because I never thought he would be the type of guy who’d want to talk about the wedding so much. To be honest with you, I thought we’d get engaged and not get married for another four years because that’s how long it took us to get engaged! We’re getting married in the summer.”

When it comes to wedding planning…

“I actually feel more like the tomboy with it. He is more the one who wants to talk about planning. I just talked to my stylist this past week and was like, ‘Can you help me? Because I don’t know what to do.’ But I came home the other day and my guy was on Pinterest, and he had a suggestion for what the flower girls could wear. How adorable.”

My definition of me time is…

“Wearing sweats or workout clothes and absolutely no makeup, hair in a ponytail or a high bun, and sneakers or my UGG slippers at home. My fiancé and I always call it ‘Chill McGee.’ I just want to be Chill McGee in my Nike sweats. Face just freshly washed, and then just laying and watching a Sex in the City marathon and checking up on Twitter. Chill McGee days are just so perfect.”

The toughest thing about finding time for fitness…

“I am on the road all the time. I might be home, especially now, two days out of the week. I am living out of a suitcase. I am not eating the way I want to eat. Until I discovered Orangetheory, I was just going on Yelp and seeing if there was a barre class, a yoga class, or a Pilates studio in the area, and I would never know the workout that I was getting. There are over 550 Orangetheory studios across the United States. They do cardio. They do strength training. And what’s amazing is that I could be in Pittsburgh doing a workout, and my girlfriend’s in Florida, and she’s like, ‘Did you go yet today?’ It’s this same workout at the entire studio nationwide that day.”

When I need a little extra motivation on the road…

“I do a Body By Simone online video because I need to be pushed. I can’t be expected to go to a hotel gym. I’ll be in the little gym and I’m on Twitter. I’m picking my face in front of the mirror. That’s what’s happening.”

I know I got a solid workout when…

“I have to go home and wash my wash my hair after. I’m like, OK—you’ve had a good one. That’s when it’s serious.”

The body part I love to tone is…

“My arms. I can get my arms pretty toned before anything else in my body. And then there’s my legs, and I’m like, ‘Please just be like my arms!’ Legs are my problem area.”

RELATED: Get Sculpted Shoulders and Toned Arms With Emily Skye’s Upper Body Workout

My favorite workout leggings are…

“Alo. All the way.”

The career advice I’d give other women is…

“Support each other. Lift each other up. I think it’s so important that girls are supporting other girls no matter what industry they’re in. I’ve had a ton of critics say a lot things to me, and I think the saddest part for me is a lot of them have been females. Listen, I get it: We’re all competitive. You want to be the best in your business. But when I find women that I think are doing an amazing job and are somebody that I look up to in the field, I try to make sure I tell them. You should spread the love and say, ‘Hey, great job,’ or, ‘I look up to you. You’re a huge mentor.'”

I wish I knew when I was younger to…

“Stay out of the sun. Protect my skin. I used to just fry the heck out of myself, like lying out on my roof with baby oil style. Oh dear God!”

One of my biggest motivators is…

“My dad. My dad is my best friend and that’s the reason why I’m in this industry. I lose it when dads come up to me and say something like, “My daughter wants to be like you.” A funny story: We went to Montana for the holidays, but I had to leave to work Christmas Eve night. I left and I was crying on the plane, and this guy looked over me and goes, “My goddaughter is a huge fan of yours, and she’s actually going into the industry because of you.” I turned and sort of cried, “Tell her not to do it because she doesn’t get to celebrate the holidays with her family!” He caught me at a weak moment— clearly.”

I think aging gracefully means…

“Not losing yourself. You should still try to figure yourself out as you get older. And hopefully you actually continue to become better versions of yourself.”

To me, marriage is about…

“Truly learning to grow old with someone. Recently I was driving for an hour with this male car driver, and he told me he had been married 60-something years. I asked him, “What’s the key?” And he said to me, “You have to not just love each other, but you have to like each other.” You have to be friends, and you have to be really good friends. You can love the guy, but you also need to be buddies. My guy and I totally have that. We’ve really been through a ton.”


The prevalence of throat cancers caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) has increased dramatically over the last 20 years, say the authors of a new study in the Annals of Oncology, especially among certain groups of men. But they stress that the overall risk of developing such a cancer is still very low, and that routine screenings would likely do more harm than good.

HPV is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States; almost half of women and one in nine men have a version of the virus. But there are more than 100 different kinds of HPV, and only two “high-risk” types (HPV 16 and 18) are associated with cancer.

RELATED: These Are the Top Causes of Vagina Pain

These high-risk types are known to trigger most cases of cervical cancer in women. But HPV can also be transmitted via oral sex, and can lead to oropharyngeal (head, neck, and throat) cancer as well. Scientists know that most oropharyngeal cancer is caused by HPV 16. They predict that if oropharyngeal cancer rates keep rising the way they have in recent years, it will overtake cervical cancer in the United States by 2020.

Even with the recent increase in cases, the study found that only 0.7% of men—and only 0.2% of women—will develop cancer related to oral HPV in their lifetime. The study does highlight certain risk factors that increase a person’s risk of contracting high-risk HPV, though, like smoking and having multiple oral sex partners.

Men who smoked and had five or more oral-sex partners over their lifetimes were considered at “elevated risk,” with a 15% prevalence of high-risk HPV. In the “medium risk” group, prevalence was about 7% for both non-smokers with five or more partners and smokers with two to four partners. Men who only had one or no oral sex partners were considered “low risk,” with a 1.5% prevalence of high-risk HPV.

RELATED: The Best and Worst Foods for Your Vagina

All of the women in the study were either at “low” or “very low” risk of having high-risk HPV. Among those who had one or no oral-sex partners, 1.8% of smokers and 0.5% of non-smokers were infected. Prevalence rates were similar for smokers and non-smokers with two or more oral-sex partners, at about 1.5%.

Prevalence rates just for HPV 16 were even lower among all groups. And it’s important to remember, say the researchers, that most people with HPV—even the high-risk varieties—won’t go on to develop cancer. That’s true for women and cervical cancer, as well as for men and head and neck cancer.

“We known from previous studies that most people who have an infection will clear those infections within a year or two, and more than three quarters of people will clear their infections within three or four years,” says lead author Amber D’Souza, PhD, associate professor of epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Identifying certain groups that are at elevated risk for developing HPV-related head and neck cancer can be helpful for developing potential screening strategies, D’Souza says. But right now, there is no effective screening test for oral HPV. Even if there was, she adds, most people who tested positive for it would never actually develop cancer—only unnecessary anxiety.

D’Souza and her team are working on more research in young, healthy men to see if they can find better ways to predict who will get head and neck cancer and who won’t. But for now, she says their findings are reassuring. “Most people perform oral sex in their lives,” she says, “and this study really suggests that the risk remains low for oropharyngeal cancer and for oral HPV infection.”

To get our best sexual health tips delivered to you inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter

Oropharyngeal cancer symptoms can include a sore throat that doesn’t go away; trouble swallowing, opening the mouth fully, or moving the tongue; ear pain, or a lump in the back of the mouth, throat, or neck. These types of cancer are often treatable, according to Abie Mendelsohn, MD, assistant professor-in-residence at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, as long as patients are diagnosed and treated when the disease is in its early stages.

“Any throat issue that doesn’t go away after two weeks really should be checked out,” Dr. Mendelsohn told Health in April, after Happy Days actress Erin Moran died of stage IV throat cancer. (It’s unknown whether Moran’s case was related to HPV.) “If we can identify cancer within about 6 to 8 weeks of when somebody first feels something, prognosis is usually excellent.”