Monthly Archives: December 2016

Teen pregnant actually had a rare disease

A 17-year-old girl from Bowling Green, Ohio, is speaking out about her experience with ovarian cancer to let women know that the disease can happen to young people, too.

Caly Bevier tells People that she first developed symptoms in 2015 when her stomach became bloated, she started vomiting, and just felt lousy. At first, her doctor thought she was pregnant. “She said the only other thing it could be is a tumor on your ovaries, and I said, ‘That’s what it has to be then,’” Caly said.

She spent three months in and out of the hospital and had 21 chemo infusions. She’s now been in remission for two years.

“I kept telling myself to just be positive,” she said of her health battle. “I knew everything would be okay in the end. When you’re going through something so hard you realize how important all the little things in life really are. It has changed me”

Now, Caly wants to make people more aware of the signs of ovarian cancer. “I had a lump growing in my stomach for a year and I just ignored it. I didn’t really think anything of it because it wasn’t a problem,” she told People.

It seems crazy that someone Caly’s age would develop ovarian cancer, an illness that typically impacts older women, but women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D., says it’s possible—it’s just very rare.


The problem with ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are often vague, Wider says, so people often don’t realize something is wrong early on. Ovarian cysts are often asymptomatic, Wider says, but symptoms can include abdominal discomfort, back pain, bloating, changes in appetite, changes in bowel habits, nausea, indigestion, and weight loss.

Again, it can be tough to spot the symptoms of ovarian cancer early on, but Wider says if you’re losing weight for no apparent reason and have a change in your bowel habits and appetite, it’s worth flagging your symptoms to your doctor. Ovarian cancer also can be genetic, so know your family history and mention it to your doctor if you experience symptoms.

Werewolf Syndrome, is it real

For centuries, people have documented and depicted human werewolves with great interest. Legends and modern movies characterize these werewolves with fangs, hairy bodies, and danger, but are werewolves just the stuff of legends? Actually, these stories are probably referring to people who suffer from werewolf syndrome, or congenital hypertrichosis lanuginosa (CHL).

Entertained by Werewolves

The big reason you don’t hear about everyday cases of hypertrichosis is that it’s not a common condition. In fact, scientists have documented less than 100 cases worldwide, making it a hard one to study and understand.


The first reported case of werewolf syndrome goes as far back as 1556. Petrus Gonzales of the Canary Islands was born with an abnormally hairy face and body, and his appearance intrigued people in his era.

Gonzales’s condition drew so much curiosity that it brought him to the courts of King Henry II where he became a type of entertainment. Eventually, Gonzales did get married and have two children, both of whom also inherited the skin anomaly.

Throughout their lives, the family continued to draw much curiosity, traveling throughout Europe and making several appearances in kingly courts. Many early cases of CHL repeat such a story, traveling as entertainers individually or with circuses.

Allergic to meat may be spreading

Ticks are out in force this year, and there’s one species in particular you should watch out for if you’d ever like to eat meat again.

Experts say the lone star tick appears to be spreading from its home base in the southeastern US. Whereas other ticks can spread ailments such as Lyme disease, the lone star tick is bothersome because it is believed to trigger a potentially life-threatening and apparently lifelong meat allergy with its bite.

The tick doesn’t technically make people allergic to meat, but rather to a sugar molecule found in red meat known as alpha-gal. This alpha-gal allergy has typically been limited to the southeastern US, where the lone star tick is prevalent, but no more, reports Wired.

Cases—in which the consumption of meat can result in hives, difficulty breathing, or death—have been reported in Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New York, per Inverse.

Long Island has seen at least 100 cases in the last year. Researchers suspect the spread of the allergy coincides with the spread of lone star ticks, though it’s also possible that other ticks are responsible.

Either way, “the nuisance level [for lone star ticks] is much higher than the black-legged tick,” an expert tells the Weston Forum. “It is aggressive and very abundant.” Researchers are currently studying the effect of a lone star tick bite on mice to determine why it triggers the allergy.

Scientists to save her life

When Sonia Vallabh watched her mother die a horrible death in 2010, caught in limbo between sleep and wakefulness that led to severe dementia, she and her husband, Eric Minikel, wanted answers.

The autopsy revealed a harrowing diagnosis: a prion disease called fatal familial insomnia, or FFI, reports the Boston Globe. Not long thereafter, Vallabh, then in her 20s, learned that she carried the genetic mutation as well.

The tiny error in her mother’s DNA—an A where there should have been a G that resulted in a clumping of proteins that killed brain cells and prevented her from falling asleep—lives in Vallabh, reports NPR.

The disease usually rears its head around age 50, though it has surfaced as early as 12; Vallabh’s mother died at 51. And it moves fast: “You’re healthy and then you’re falling off a cliff,” says Vallabh.

To avoid another early death, they decided to find a cure themselves. The two had finished grad school in unrelated fields, but enrolled in night classes for biology and neuroscience.

Today, they’re both doctoral students at a Harvard and MIT lab, trying to find a way to prevent those proteins from misfolding, or from accumulating in the first place, and to have Vallabh, whose brain is producing what her husband calls a “mutant protein,” be a part of the early experiments.

Their lab professor tells the Harvard Gazette they bring “otherworldly intellect” and a “heavy dose of urgency” to their work, and they’ve already been able to stop the disease in their family.

Vallabh is due with their first child in July, a girl who does not carry the genetic mutation because they chose IVF and screened embryos. Vallabh says it’s “tragic” her daughter and mother won’t meet, but her mother’s death helped give her daughter a life without the disease.