Monthly Archives: February 2017

Mexican hospital arrives in US

A baby born three months premature while his parents were on a “babymoon” arrived in the U.S. on Thursday, after a two-day ordeal over payments to the Mexican hospital that he was born in. Beckham Smith-Ralph, who was born on Tuesday, arrived at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health in Indianapolis via medical jet after his family’s plea for help sparked an outpouring of support on their GoFundMe page.

“Beckham is getting the proper medical care that he deserves,” Rebecca Ewert, who has been updating the family’s GoFundMe page, wrote on Thursday. “We will be giving the family some space as they come down from this crazy traumatic past 72 hours.”

Beckham’s mother, Michaela Smith, received approval to travel with her partner, Larry Ralph, from her doctor, as her due date was scheduled for Oct. 15, WXIN-TV reported. But while in Cancun, she began to feel ill and went to Hospiten Cancun, where Beckham was born three months premature.

While they paid an initial $9,000 for the first day of care, they claim another $4,000 was billed in various fees, Fox 59 reported. They said within 24 hours, the bill’s total then tripled.

According to the family’s GoFundMe page, the hospital refused to release Beckham until the couple paid $37,000, which did not include a medical flight to the U.S.

“Literally they’re being held hostage down there,” Larry Ralph Sr., had told Fox 59. “We just want to get him somewhere and get him stable. We need to get him in America.”

The health benefits of everyone’s favorite nightshade

There’s new research on the health benefits of everyone’s favorite nightshade just in time for tomato season. Whether you grow your own or pick them up from your local grocery store or farmer’s market, from May until about August or October (depending on your area’s growing season), you can expect super-fresh local tomatoes that are packed with flavor. And if you need an extra incentive to enjoy them by the cartload while they’re in season, a study published by Scientific Reports in July of 2017 shows that tomatoes may protect us from the most common skin cancers, keratinocyte carcinomas.


These skin cancers are the most common form of cancer in the US and include basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, also sometimes referred to as non-melanoma skin cancers. These cancers are closely linked to cumulative sun exposure. Using a broad spectrum sunblock that protects against both UVA and UVB rays reduces your risk of keratinocyte carcinomas, but since the U.S. Surgeon General’s Call to Action to prevent skin cancer in 2014, researchers have looking more closely at other ways to reduce risk.

This latest study is big news, but it’s not too surprising since studies have shown for years that tomato paste can protect against short-term damage from the sun. One study showed that volunteers who ate tomato paste daily for 12 weeks saw a whopping 33 percent increase in sun protection. (As a bonus, they also found that the study participants had increased levels of procollagen, which is the precursor of collagen, the protein responsible for keeping skin smooth and supple.)


The chemical behind the magic of tomatoes is called lycopene, and it’s a carotenoid found in all tomato products but especially concentrated in cooked tomatoes. One of the primary purposes of carotenoids in plant biology is to protect them from the sun, and it seems that we can cash in on that protective effect when we eat plants that contain high levels of carotenoids such as lycopene. However, because supplementing with lycopene is less effective than eating tomato products, researchers suspect that other phytochemicals in tomatoes may play yet-to-be-identified roles in protecting us from the sun.The catch with the new study showing a link between tomatoes and cancer risk is that it wasn’t a human study. It was found that mice who were given tomato in powdered form developed fewer carcinomas than those who weren’t given tomato products.

A long-term human study would need to be conducted before anyone could say definitively that tomatoes can help prevent carcinomas in humans, but given tomatoes’ proven power to protect us from the sun damage that contributes to carcinomas, it’s a pretty good bet that studies will show at least some protective effect. (And we may not see a human study for quite some time. It would be complicated and expensive—participants would have to be followed over the course of many years, and study authors would have to factor variables like participants’ genetic predisposition to skin cancers, differing levels of sun exposure, and sunblock use into their study results.)


The results look promising, but don’t trade in your bottle of sunblock for a can of tomato paste just yet. You have to consume a pretty significant amount of lycopene to see protective effects, and it doesn’t compare to a heavy-duty sunblock for high-exposure days. But if you’re looking for a little extra daily protection (or an excuse to eat as many tomatoes as you want), tomatoes may help protect you from mild sun damage and possibly carcinomas. Cooked tomatoes have more lycopene than raw tomatoes, and tangerine varieties seem to have lycopene that’s more bioavailable than other varieties. Tomato paste, the most concentrated tomato product, is great on homemade pizza and in simple-to-make tomato sauces.

Studies have also shown that the lycopene in tomatoes may help lower the risk of prostate, lung, and stomach cancers. So don’t forget to enjoy tomatoes while they’re available locally this summer, and remember that the healthy goodness of tomatoes is just a can opener away year-round.

Guitar as doctors perform brain surgery

Musician Abhishek Prasad strummed his guitar throughout his neurosurgery to help doctors zero in on the part of the brain being operated on during the first such procedure in India.

The 37-year-old had been suffering from musician’s dystonia, a neurological movement disorder which leads to involuntary muscle contractions.

Prasad had to be kept conscious during the surgery as the doctors needed continuous feedback to work out exactly which parts of the brain were to be targeted to stop the cramps affecting the three fingers on his left hand.

So the obvious thing was to play his guitar.

It is only the eighth time in the world that such a procedure has been undertaken with the patient being conscious, a statement by Bengaluru’s Bhagwan Mahaveer Jain hospital said on Friday.

“A 14-mm hole was made in the skull and a specialized electrode was passed into the brain under local anesthesia,” Sharan Srinivasan, a stereotactic and functional neurosurgeon at the hospital, said.

Prasad was overwhelmed with the outcome after suffering since October 2015 with the disorder that could have ended his career.

He had tried several hospitals to find a cure, but most doctors could not diagnose the problem or had focused on the cramps rather than the neurological activity causing them.

“It was a very emotional moment for me and my family. This is what I have been waiting for,” said Prasad, who had quit his IT job to pursue a career in music.