(NEW YORK) -- Mini-movies of growing embryos could help boost the success of in vitro fertilization, a new study found. But the number of women who could benefit from the time-lapse technology is unclear.
For the study, British researchers used time-lapse photography to track the earliest stage of embryonic development – a process that unfolds in womb-mimicking incubators for couples using IVF. The researchers then used an algorithm to spot the embryos most likely to grow into babies.
"Embryo selection based predominantly on specific time-lapse derived algorithms could rapidly become routine in IVF treatment," the study authors wrote in the journal Reproductive BioMedicine Online, describing how the healthiest-looking embryos had a 72.7 percent chance of leading to a pregnancy and a 61.1 percent chance of resulting in a live birth.
Embryos deemed to look less healthy by the time-lapse technique had a 25.5 percent chance of leading to a pregnancy and 19.2 percent of resulting in a live birth, according to the study.
But the study was small, with only 69 couples, and some experts say many women lack the luxury of choice when it comes to embryo implantation.
"A lot of the time, we don't have that many embryos to choose from," said Dr. James Goldfarb, director of the University Hospitals Fertility Center in Cleveland and past president of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technologies, who was not involved in the study.
An IVF cycle starts with a woman taking drugs to stimulate the production of multiple eggs. After about two weeks, the eggs are collected and fertilized. Then, the resulting embryos are grown in a lab for up to five days, depending on how many there are and how healthy they look.
The more healthy embryos there are, the more likely an embryologist will watch them for five days to let the weakest die off, leaving the strongest behind. The pregnancy rate for women under 35 with day 5 embryo transfers is 69 percent, compared to 57 percent for women with day 3 transfers, according to data from the Cleveland Clinic's IVF Laboratory.
"For some patients, you might get 15 eggs, and maybe 13 will fertilize and you have enough embryos that look good on day 3 to go out to day 5 without a problem," said Goldfarb. "But at the other end of spectrum, you might have a patient with only six or seven eggs, only three or four get fertilized, and by day 3, you only have two that look reasonable."
In that case, Goldfarb added, "it's better to transfer them on day 3."
The number of embryos transferred depends on the woman's age. But for women 35 and under, it's typically one or two, according to Goldfarb. So if only one or two embryos are thriving on implantation day, there's not much of a choice.
But the new study raises an interesting possibility for women with multiple embryos to choose from. Based on time-lapse imaging, the researchers were able to weed out embryos with an abnormal number of chromosomes – embryos that would likely fail to implant in the womb or result in a miscarriage. None of the embryos deemed the least healthy by the time-lapse technique resulted in a pregnancy or a live birth, according to the study.
"In some ways, it's more of a negative to get pregnant and miscarry," said Goldfarb. "That rollercoaster can be much more traumatic than not getting pregnant at all."
But the study does not break down the couples' ages and explain how that might have impacted their IVF success rate, noting only that they ranged in age from 25 to 47 with an average age of 36. Nor does it detail how long the embryos were observed in culture before being transferred into the womb, instead indicating that they were "cultured until 5 or 6 days" after fertilization. And while the study does suggest that technology can help in the embryo selection process, experts say the decision to undergo IVF and the odds of being successful vary from couple to couple.
"Obviously, the goal is to pick out the best embryos, and this study is certainly not the first to look at this technique," said Goldfarb, explaining how similar studies have found mixed results. "It's something still in play, and we'll how this sorts out in long run."
"But I think the one thing patients want to hear is your best assessment of their individual chance of getting pregnant," he added. "And you can get a pretty good estimate of that based on their age and some other characteristics."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 18:56:28 PM
(NEW YORK) -- With tiger moms, helicopter parents, and permissive and authoritarian models, parenting styles differ as much in the United States as they do in any country.
But can American parents learn something from their counterparts in different parts of the world?
The answer is yes, according to Christine Gross-Loh, author of the recently published book Parenting Without Borders: Surprising Lessons Parents Around the World Can Teach Us. The Harvard-educated mother of four traveled to and researched parenting styles in Finland, Sweden, Germany, France, Japan, China, Italy and other countries.
American parents may not think they need any lessons. According to a study released in March by the Pew Research Center, moms and dads in the U.S. gave themselves good marks for how they raised their children. Almost 70 percent of parents with children under 18 said they have done a very good job or better. Only six percent rated themselves poorly.
In other parts of the world, American parenting styles stand out. When Gross-Loh and her husband were raising their four children in Japan, she noticed something unusual when they were playing in the park.
“I was the only parent following my children around the park and preventing disputes,” she said in an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour.
Japanese parents allowed their children to get into scrapes, she said, and felt that disagreements were character-building.
“Even though we in America prize independence and autonomy and freedom so much, children in Japan were being raised with a lot more of these qualities,” said Gross-Loh.
Without a doubt, good parenting means being involved in children’s lives. But Gross-Loh’s research led her to conclude that being over-involved is detrimental and undermining.
“We like children who can speak their own minds and give their own opinions and be their own person,” she said. “This is a part of being independent. But there’s a whole other part that I think we’ve been neglecting and that’s the idea of self-reliance and self-responsibility. Those are the sorts of ideas that I see being fostered in other countries that are not being fostered as well by many parents in the U.S. It’s not our fault. We’ve been told that it’s good to look out for our children and help them out.”
One facet in developing independent children seemed counterintuitive: co-sleeping. Gross-Loh pointed to a survey showing that out of 100 countries, the U.S. was the only one in which parents provided a separate sleeping place for their children. In other countries, when little children sleep in the same bed, the same room or nearby the parents, their levels of dependence better matched during day and night.
“The idea is that when you allow children to be dependent in this way when they are babies, then they can more easily move into age-appropriate independence as they get older,” said Gross-Loh. “And research does show that even American children who were co-sleeping with their parents were more independent in different ways."
“Parents who have this 24-hour relationship with their kids, in Japan, for example, were not as reluctant to ask more of their children during the daytime,” Gross-Loh added. “They could carry their own bags, walk to school on their own, do chores around the house. In the U.S., we have this tendency to think there are things they can’t handle during the day, but we ask them to do something different at night.”
Another aspect of self-reliance and independence is safety. But Gross-Loh argued that allowing children to take some risks is actually the best sort of protection to give them, something she saw in Japan and certain European countries.
“That is how they will form the judgments to deal with all sorts of situations,” she said.
Gross-Loh recounted visiting a kindergarten in the German forest and coming across a 5-year-old child whittling on a stick with a knife.
“He had been taught how to do it safely,” she said. “Meanwhile, a lot of children in the U.S. are not even allowed to pick up a stick at the school playground because it might hurt someone.”
Through raising her children abroad and her research, Gross-Loh said she has learned her own lessons for her family.
“For me, I learned that I could be more relaxed about parenting because there’s so many ways to be a good parent,” she said. “And a lot of them involve a lot less involvement than we believe we should be doing.”
But what about lessons that American parents can teach the rest of the world?
“One of the things that was really striking is that we strive to raise tolerant children,” said Gross-Loh. “In a way, it’s necessitated because we live in such a diverse society. But it’s the sort of thing I didn’t see in other cultures.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 17:05:37 PM
(NEW YORK) -- How much sleep you get might be at least partially determined by the color of your bedroom.
According to a recent survey, bedrooms decorated with more calm colors, like blue, yellow and green, often offer more sleep than those adorned with more stimulating colors. According to the U.K.'s Daily Mail, the survey showed that people whose bedrooms are blue get the most sleep, nearly eight hours on average. Comparatively, those with purple bedrooms get an average of under six hours of sleep.
Yellow, green, silver and orange bedrooms also offered more than seven hours sleep, which contributes to how a person might feel during the day.
According to the Daily Mail, the data relates to the way the human eye reacts to specific colors. Certain cells in the retina feed information the brain controlling body rhythms. Those cells happen to be most sensitive to the color blue.
Alternatively, purple is considered a stimulating color that drives creativity. With the color of their bedroom prompting the mind to keep working, even at night, people can be depriving themselves of important sleep.
Bedroom decoration can also affect people beyond sleeping patterns, says the Daily Mail. Couples who sleep in a caramel colored have sex three times per week on average, while those in red-colored bedrooms were intimate just once each week.
Similarly, couples with grey bedrooms spend the most time online shopping in bed, while silver bedrooms were often linked with more frequent exercise.
"Room color does influence your mood and set the tone for your living environment," Frances Whitley, in-house interior designer for Travelodge, told the Daily Mail.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 16:58:26 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Fake meat isn’t a new thing, but good fake meat that is almost indistinguishable from real meat could be very big in cleaning up your diet and helping the planet.
Beyond Meat, a Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based food company that specializes in making “chicken” from plant-based protein, claims it is 80 percent of the way toward making real-tasting fake chicken. And you can find out for yourself as their products are now in Whole Foods markets and the Tropical Smoothie restaurants in New York City, where you can substitute its fake chicken for real chicken in burritos.
“What we offer the market is the cleanest form of protein that money can buy,” says Ethan Brown, Beyond Meat’s founder and CEO. “You don’t have any concerns about antibiotics, avian flu, mad cow disease. You have no hormones or steroid use.”
Brown noted that meat consumption has been linked to cancer and heart disease, and that it takes a toll on the environment, too.
“If you look at climate, 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to meat consumption,” he said.
Brown, who is vegan, looked far and wide for the technology his company uses in its fake meat products. He finally stumbled upon two researchers at the University of Missouri in Columbia who had been working for 10 years on a system that heats, cools and pressurizes protein from plants so that it mimics the fibrous structure of meat.
“Now we’re not all the way there,” Brown says, “but I would challenge you in a tortilla or an enchilada to tell me which is chicken and which is not.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 13:46:10 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Aimee Copeland, the 25-year-old who lost her hands, both feet and her entire right leg to flesh-eating bacteria a year ago, has received two new bionic hands.
Copeland spent the week in Ohio at Touch Bionics, where she received two bionic hands free of charge. The hands cost $100,000 a piece, on average, a company spokesperson told ABC News.
Copeland spent the week getting fitted for the limbs and learning how to use them. The prosthetics respond to muscle signals in Copeland’s residual limbs and are capable of 24 different kinds of movements.
She will leave Touch Bionics to return to her Snellville, Ga., home Friday. Touch Bionics offered to donate the prosthetic hands because Copeland had run out of health insurance to pay for them herself, a company spokesperson said.
Copeland cut open her right leg falling from a zip line near the Tallapoosa River in Georgia in April 2012, allowing a deadly bacterium to enter her body. She said she sensed something wasn’t quite right days after receiving 22 stitches to close the wound on her calf because it hurt up to her thigh.
The bacteria advanced undetected until her leg turned “a dark purple color,” Copeland said on the set of ABC’s Katie talk show in September.
“I wasn’t able to walk,” she told show host Katie Couric. “I wasn’t able to speak. The only thing I was able to babble was, ‘I think I’m dying.’”
After being in and out of the emergency room with the painful wound that wouldn’t heal, doctors realized Copeland had necrotizing fasciitis and amputated her leg from the hip. Later, when her hands turned black, doctors amputated them, too.
Copeland spent two months in a hospital and another two months in rehabilitation before returning to her renovated home in late August 2012.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 12:44:58 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Visiting a gynecologist for the first time can be awkward and embarrassing for some teens. But the visit is crucial to help them understand their bodies and lay the groundwork for future health and wellness.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the first visit should be between the ages of 13 to 15. The exam should be an opportunity to educate teens about their bodies and help them establish a relationship with a gynecologist at an early age.
What to Expect
The first visit is an opportunity for teens to get accurate information about the changes in their bodies. A gynecologist will discuss acne, painful or irregular periods, breast changes, pelvic pain, body hair, nutrition, sexual behavior, contraception and sexually transmitted diseases. It is also an opportunity to talk about preexisting conditions and any family history of cancer.
Beyond talking, the visit might also include a breast exam, pelvic exam and a pap test, which screens for cervical cancer. The gynecologist might ask for a relative or nurse to be present during these exams.
While the first visit might be awkward, it’s an important step in the transition from teenage girl to healthy woman. Starting a conversation with a doctor helps you lay the foundation for health and wellness.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 12:33:24 PM
(NEW YORK) -- H&M made headlines last month when it featured plus-size model Jennie Runk in its new swimwear ad campaign.
In an industry where swimwear is traditionally modeled by willowy or waifish models, Runk’s appearance in the retailer’s general -- not plus-size -- swimsuit campaign sent a strong message.
Runk, 24, is 5 feet, 10 inches tall, and wears size 12 or 14.
In an open letter this week posted on her Facebook page, and reprinted by the U.K.’s BBC News, Runk railed against the general obsession with size.
“People assume plus equates to fat, which in turn equates to ugly. This is completely absurd because many women who are considered plus-sized are actually in line with the American average,” she wrote.
Runk, who was discovered when she was 13 years old, had a choice to lose weight and remain a size 4 or gain weight and kick-start her career as a plus-size model.
“I knew I was going to end up gaining weight anyway,” she said in an interview with ABC News’ Bianna Golodryga that aired Friday on Good Morning America. “I was getting hips, I was growing into a woman, so I figured it was easier.”
That kind of confidence has served her well in an industry where some retailers -- most recently Abercrombie & Fitch -- don’t even offer clothing in her size.
Asked how she avoided negative thoughts about her body, Runk said, “I am the only one who can judge me. My opinion is the only one that matters when it comes to me.”
Runk credits her success to the many other so-called plus-size models who blazed the trial before her, including Robyn Lawley, designer Ralph Lauren’s first plus-size model.
“I met a lot of them and they taught me a lot of what I know now,” Runk said.
Runk hopes she has helped start a conversation that may change attitudes about beauty and the so-called “mean girl” culture that sometimes comes along with it.
“Our bodies are built to be naturally different sizes,” she said. “To denote any of these body types negatively is only hurting all of us, because that’s where you get girls of one body type slamming another to make themselves feel better.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 08:47:09 AM
(NEW YORK) -- What do you do after you’ve survived six strokes, beat cancer twice and suffered from osteoporosis, arthritis and diabetes? If you’re 79-year-old Carolyn Meiselbach, you go skydiving.
Meiselbach said she leaped into the upstate New York sky last month to settle some unfinished business.
“When I was young, I went through a 20-week parachute training course. But I was afraid to make the jump because there was no reserve chute,” she said.
The great-grandmother took the leap from more than 13,000 feet up despite three doctors advising against it. She sustained only one minor injury, a bruise on the chest from where her pacemaker mashed up against the parachute harness.
The jump, Meiselbach said, was terrifying. The worst part was sitting on the floor of “the narrow, dinky plane which was not exactly a 747″ waiting for her turn to jump.
“I made the mistake of looking down,” she said.
But as soon as the instructor pried Meiselbach's hands from the plane’s door and led her out into the air, Meiselbach said it wasn’t so bad. She concentrated on keeping her mouth closed so she wouldn’t lose her teeth or look weird in the pictures.
Meiselbach is a 24-year resident of Carroll Gardens, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y. She served six years in the U.S. Navy and raised two sons as a single mom.
Considering all she’s been through, she said getting pushed out of a plane was a piece of cake. She’s planning a second jump for her 80th birthday in October.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 08:41:05 AM
(NEW YORK) -- The changing climate could prove to be very troublesome for allergy sufferers. Here are some of the possible effects:
Attack of Potent Pollen
In the past 53 years, carbon dioxide levels have risen globally, approximately 22 percent. Much has been written about how the rise in greenhouse gases and that it's bad for the environment, but less has been said about how these gases can help some plants flourish.
Unfortunately for humans, these plants -- like poison ivy and ragweed -- tend to be irritating or even harmful to our health. A 2005 study found that when ragweed plants, a prime cause of hay fever symptoms in late summer and fall, were exposed to higher carbon dioxide levels they not only produced more pollen, but the grains of pollen were covered with increased numbers of nose-irritating proteins, supercharging the pollen's allergic properties.
The study subjected ragweed plants in a lab setting to different carbon dioxide levels from three eras -- the preindustrial age, the present day and even the end of the 21st century. The study found that the allergen concentrations increased 20 percent from the preindustrial age to today. But they were projected to rise a startling 60 percent by the end of the century.
So the plants might be flourishing in 90 years, but anyone with a ragweed allergy will be miserable.
"They're growing faster, they're producing more flowers," said Dr. Lewis Ziska, a research plant physiologist at the United States Department of Agriculture and one of the study's authors. "It's a two-edged sword...the [plants] that are responding have implications for public health."
Double Whammy Allergy Season
Traditionally, allergists break up the year into three distinct seasons. In spring, it's the trees that cause the most problems; summer brings flowering grasses that induce sneezing; and in fall, ragweed pollen afflicts allergy sufferers with itchy, watery eyes.
But as temperatures more common for July start showing up in April and May in certain areas of the country, plants react to the weather and not the calendar date.
Increased overlap between allergy seasons means more pollen in the air and little relief for people hoping for a break between seasons. However, even when there are multiple allergy seasons happening at once, allergists say there are things people can do to stave off the worst symptoms.
To keep pollen out of the home, experts recommend washing your face and changing your clothes after you arrive home and using a neti pot daily to help flush out irritating pollen grains.
A Milder Winter Might Mean a Miserable Spring
When the weather is warmer and seasons are milder, some plants will be releasing allergy-inducing pollen for longer periods of time.
A 2011 study looked at the length of the ragweed seasons in cities along different latitudes from Georgetown, Texas, to Saskatoon, Canada, over a 14-year period. During that time, nearly all the cities experienced fewer days with frost and longer ragweed seasons.
Cities further north also had statistically larger increases to their ragweed allergy seasons. The population of Saskatoon had to contend with a ragweed season 27 days longer in 2009 than in 1995.
Marooned on an 'Urban Heat Island' Means More Sneezing
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 80 percent of Americans currently reside in urban areas.
While cities that lack greenery may seem like a safe place for people with pollen allergies, experts say they won't offer much sanctuary during allergy season. That is partly because cities often become what scientists call "urban heat islands," where concrete and pavement soak up heat, resulting in consistently higher temperatures compared with surrounding rural areas.
With warmer temperatures and higher levels of carbon dioxide, some allergen-inducing plants can produce more pollen than the same plants located in rural areas.
A 2003 study on allergen levels in Baltimore found more than three times the amount of ragweed pollen in the city compared with the surrounding rural areas.
Also, densely packed urban areas have higher levels of diesel and car exhaust, which can irritate the nose and throat, making allergy symptoms worse.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/17/2013 06:38:17 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Earlier this week, Angelina Jolie revealed that she’d had a preventive double mastectomy, and her doctor credits the actress’s positive attitude and strength for her quick recovery.
“To a large extent, I believe recovery reflects expectation,” Dr. Kristi Funk writes in an essay on the Pink Lotus Breast Center’s website. “Angelina expected to feel well, to be active.”
In the essay, Funk details Jolie’s treatment, including her initial BRCA gene diagnosis, surgeries and recovery.
“On day four after her mastectomies, I was pleased to find her not only in good spirits with bountiful energy, but with two walls of her house covered with freshly assembled storyboards for the next project she is directing,” Funk reveals.
Funk also credits Brad Pitt for standing by Jolie’s side throughout the three-month ordeal. After Jolie’s first operation, which took place at the Pink Lotus Breast Center, an outpatient facility in Beverly Hills, California, Funk says Pitt “was on hand to greet her as soon as she came around from the anesthetic, as he was during each of the operations.”
Funk also details which medications she prescribed to Jolie, as well as a rundown of the actress’ medical history. She writes that Jolie’s mother, who died of ovarian cancer in 2007, also battled breast cancer, and that Jolie’s grandmother had ovarian cancer as well. As a result, Jolie will ultimately have her ovaries removed too, according to People magazine.
“Many women, unfortunately, do not know that BRCA gene mutations exist and could affect them,” Funk writes. ”Like Angelina, I urge women who feel they may have a reason to be at risk for a BRCA gene mutation — perhaps because of a strong family history of cancer — to seek medical advice and to take control of their futures.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 16:46:49 PM
(HOUSTON) -- Are able-bodied people gaming a system set up for people with limited mobility, and thus taking resources away from those in need?
An increasing number of air travelers are requesting wheelchairs at Houston-area airports, ABC Houston affiliate KTRK reports. An airport manager was quoted as telling the station, "We've handled maybe a hundred wheelchairs a year. Now there are some certain times we can handle a hundred wheelchairs in a day."
American Airlines told ABC News that while they haven't seen a noticeable uptick in wheelchair requests in Houston, the number of requests at New York's John F. Kennedy airport -- now about 600 per day -- has increased recently.
Anecdotal evidence from frequent fliers and advocates for people with disabilities suggests, however, that more people are taking advantage of the system. CEO of FareCompare.com and frequent flier Rick Seaney said he's seen an increase in the number of wheelchairs at the airport.
"I would put it on par with a variety of issues like abusing handicap status for parking, disability," he said. "There are always going to be a few that game the system potentially ruining it for the truly needy."
And that's really the heart of the matter: Not whether an able-bodied person has to wait a little longer in a security line at the airport for a person with a wheelchair to go ahead of them, but the fact that people who abuse the system limit resources for people who actually need them. What's worse, there's the potential that abuse of the system could become so rampant that lawmakers may actually dial back accommodations overall, hurting the people who actually need them.
"We've tried to be very careful about disability policy rights with lawmakers and have tried to find a balance," said Curt Decker, executive director of the National Disability Rights Network. "There should be reasonable service provided to people with disabilities so they can participate in society, but those services shouldn't be a burden to the rest of the community.
"When the system is exploited it raises questions about how services should be restricted [for people who truly need them]."
Travelers request wheelchair services and other special accommodations directly from the airline. For example, the American Airlines website has several pages dedicated to assisting travelers who need special accommodation. But there's no one-size-fits-all policy, which leaves room for people inclined to take advantage to do just that.
"Every person with a challenge or disability is different, and you are the best judge of the service you require," the website reads.
Decker said the airlines don't want to get too deep into their customer's personal lives, which may prevent them from asking probing questions regarding the person's claims about a disability. Plus, "there are a lot of hidden disabilities, sometimes you just don't know."
In other words, don't assume the person in the wheelchair cutting the security line doesn't truly need the assistance, even if they look perfectly capable to stand in line like everyone else.
But if you're tempted to game the system, keep in mind it's not a victimless crime. "If people who don't need the services use them, they take up resources and people who actually do need them won't have them available," said Decker.
"Whenever I'm at the airport I see airline personnel scrambling to find wheelchairs for all the people who need them. Especially on the flights to Florida."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 15:54:36 PM
(NEW YORK) -- In the constant battle of the bulge, pizza would seem to be off-limits. But one British professor of nutrition is aiming to change that with a pizza designed to provide all essential nutrients.
Dr. Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at the University of Glasgow and working physician, designed the Eat Balanced brand pizzas to offer the correct balance of all the nutrients recommended throughout the day. According to Lean, in theory three pizzas a day would give the exact daily recommended amounts of vitamins and minerals based on United Kingdom guidelines.
Lean was inspired to make the pizzas after even he had difficulty putting together meals that had the right mix of vitamins and nutrients.
“We want to make nutritionally balanced meals, we want to eat balanced,” said Lean. “[But] It’s jolly difficult.”
To get the right nutrients in the right amount, Lean worked with the Eat Balanced founder Donnie Maclean and others to figure out how to get the recommended nutrients including vitamin C, iron and zinc into the pizza without losing the pizza taste. The team ended up putting unusual ingredients like seaweed in to the crust and red peppers in the tomato sauce to get all the nutrients. However they made it a priority that the pizza would still taste like pizza.
“[Seaweed is] in the bread mix, the upshot is it had all these nutrients,” said Lean. “People say, ‘Oh it tastes and looks and smells like pizza.’ It’s made by an Italian [chef] with a round tummy who knows who to make pizzas.”
This week the pizza went on sale in the United Kingdom, but Lean has bigger plans.
“I’m going to recommend to NASA [that the astronauts going to Mars] should eat three pizzas every day,” said Lean. “They are going to get all the nutrients [they need].”
However, some nutritionists are skeptical of the “healthy” pizza label. Susan Levin, a registered dietitian and director of nutrition at the food watchdog group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, said the pizzas should not replace actual proven healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
“In fact, these percentages [of total and saturated fat] are not so different than what an American consumes on average,” said Levin, who pointed out that the use of processed meat is linked to other diseases like heart disease and cancer. “I appreciate the niche this company is trying to target. But I wish it did it with really high-fiber, low-fat, cholesterol free offerings.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 15:13:55 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Locks of Love, a charity that makes wigs for children with alopecia and cancer, has become entangled in a dispute with a self-appointed watchdog that claims the charity is wasting millions of dollars worth of donated hair.
Nonprofit Investor claims it has tried to comb through the records of Locks of Love, but has found few documents.
It therefore estimated that the charity accepts 104,000 hair donations per year, enough for more than 2,000 hairpieces, but made only 317 custom wigs in 2011. Nonprofit Investor calculated that a hair-raising $6 million worth of donations were wasted or not being used.
"I have no idea where that number came from," Locks founder Madonna Coffman said referring to the estimate that she receives 104,000 hair donations a year. "We never in 15 years have counted hair donations, and I explained that to him."
"When hair donations come in, they're opened and put in color bins, and we don't count them," said Coffman, who founded the group in 1997 after her daughter lost her hair to alopecia. "I don't have the staff for that. I don't know what the purpose would be to count hair donations."
"We made 317 that year because we had 317 requests," Coffman said. Some of the donated hair is sold to finance the making of its custom wigs. It sold $500,000 worth in 2011, Coffman said. The unused hair stays in inventory until a request comes in, she said.
Nonprofit Investor used a line from a 2004 USA Today article that said Locks of Love received "2,000-3,000 donations a week." Nonprofit Investor used the lower of the two numbers -- 2,000 -- and multiplied it by 52 weeks in a year to conclude that Locks of Love receives 104,000 hair donations a year.
Nonprofit Investor is a 2-year-old group attempting to find its niche among nonprofit evaluators like Guidestar and Charity Navigator. Nonprofit Investor has evaluated about 60 nonprofits under founder Kent Chao, who graduated from the University of Texas in 2006. This is the organization's first negative evaluation.
Chao said he was comfortable relying on the 2004 USA Today article, and called the fact that Locks of Love doesn't count its hair donations "troubling."
Coffman also said that Nonprofit Investor disregarded her explanation.
Coffman said she didn't hear from Chao's organization until February when it emailed an early copy of the report to firstname.lastname@example.org, a mailbox Coffman said is so full that it's lucky anyone saw it. She offered to answer questions, but said Chao only asked her two: how much hair Locks of Love receives and how many wigs it made in each year from 2004 forward.
"The information I gave him was truthful and accurate, but it did not support the report he hoped to release so he elected to ignore it," she said.
Chao, however, said he reached out to Locks of Love many times, but never heard from anyone from the organization until a lawyer threatened to sue if they published their report.
Fraud investigator Gerald Zach reviewed Locks of Love IRS 990 Form and told ABC News that the rules for gifts like hair "aren't as clear as they could be."
Zack said he doubts the organization has $6 million worth of unaccounted hair, but said its IRS Form 990 was "a bit messy."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 15:08:33 PM
(EMORY, Texas) -- At just 15 years old, Charlotte Brown has learned to fly — with a pink pole vault.
She’s not just the best pole vaulter Emory Rains High School, in Emory, Texas, has ever had, Charlotte is one of the best in the nation. She’s cleared 11 feet, 6 inches. And at the Texas state championships last week, the sophomore took eighth place — to a standing ovation.
What’s most amazing, however, is that Charlotte is legally blind. She said her vision was like looking down the inside of little black straws.
“I can’t really make up a blur even,” she told ABC News. “It just blends in for me.”
She frightened her parents, Ian and Stori Brown, when she told them that she’d like to try to jump.
“I said, ‘I have some concerns,’” Ian said.
“We never told her no,” Stori said. “We never told her she couldn’t do something, that we weren’t going to sign her up for an activity or a sport.”
At 16 weeks old, Charlotte started losing her sight. Doctors didn’t know why. She endured several surgeries. Doctors removed cataracts and tried artificial lenses. Nothing seemed to help.
Charlotte now reads and writes in Braille, uses large magnifying glasses and projectors, and has learned to read handwritten letters by feeling the ink.
When it comes to pole vaulting, Charlotte has a system. Her coach lays artificial turf next to her lane — she can see the difference between light and dark — and that helps her run the lane. She counts her steps and then goes for the jump.
She said she’s losing what little sight she has but she’s not letting it hinder her dreams.
“I think a disability is something that stops you or limits you from being able to do the things that you want to do,” Charlotte said. “This story isn’t about me. It’s about all people that struggle with something. I think everyone struggles with something in life. This was my something."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 13:49:00 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A new study, which found DNA fragments from the fecal germ E. coli in 58 percent of public pools, might have you thinking twice about taking a dip this summer.
But experts say there’s no cause for alarm.
“The study did not test for living bacteria,” said ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. “It’s possible and likely that many of these germs were dead. That’s why we put disinfectants in swimming pools in the first place. Our bodies are covered with bacteria, some harmful and some not.”
For the study, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention performed genetic testing on samples scraped from the filters of 161 Atlanta-area public pools. Ninety-three of the samples came back positive for E. coli DNA, which could have come from living germs or germs killed off by chlorine and other disinfecting chemicals.
Either way, the DNA came from bacteria that probably came from human poop -- a fact that might be unsettling for some. Nevertheless, Michele Hlavsa, chief of CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, stressed that swimming is still a great way to get exercise and stay healthy.
“However, pool users should be aware of how to prevent infections while swimming,” she said in a statement. “That’s why it’s important for swimmers to protect themselves by not swallowing the water they swim in and to protect others by keeping feces and germs out of the pool by taking a pre-swim shower and not swimming when ill with diarrhea.”
E. coli wasn’t the only germ floating around in the tested pools. Ninety-five of the pools tested contained DNA belonging to Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bug that can cause skin rashes and ear infections. Sixty-seven of the pools contained DNA from both bacteria, according to the study, but none of the pools were the source of a disease outbreak.
“Although this sounds alarming, we need to be careful here,” said Besser, explaining how the findings should come as no surprise considering that the average swimmer, according to the CDC, has 0.14 grams of fecal material on his or her body that could rinse off into the water. “The only way to remove this is with a vigorous shower using soap and water. And most public pools only provide outdoor showers that let people rinse off while keeping their bathing suits on.”
To make a splash safely this summer, the CDC offers the following tips:
- Shower with soap before you jump in
- Take bathroom breaks every 60 minutes
- Wash your hands with soap after using the toilet
- Check diapers every 30-60 minutes
- Wash your hands with soap after changing diapers in a dedicated changing area
- Take a rinse shower before you get back in the pool
- Do not swim if you have diarrhea
- Don’t swallow pool water
Swimmers can also check the chlorine and pH levels before getting into the water. Chlorine levels should be in the range of 1 to 3 milligrams per liter or parts per million, and the pH of the water should be between 7.2 and 7.8 to maximize germ-killing power, according to the CDC.
“The rules for safely using swimming pools that the CDC lays out make a lot of sense, but it is no surprise that this study found evidence of bacteria,” said Besser. “After all," he added, “our bodies contain more bacteria than human cells.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 13:09:04 PM
(NEW YORK) -- You may remember Danica McKellar from her role as Winnie Cooper on the 1980s hit show, The Wonder Years. Now, she is all grown up and a mother with strong views on parenting, some of which may be deemed unconventional.
McKellar is a proponent of attachment parenting, a style of child-rearing that focuses on forming nurturing bonds through, among other things, extended breastfeeding, co-sleeping (allowing child to sleep in the same bed with parents), positive discipline and constantly being physically close to the child.
“I breastfed my child until he was two and a half,” McKellar, 38, said in an interview with ABC News’ Abbie Boudreau. “That was just, like, a few weeks ago that we stopped. Big transition.”
McKellar said it was a bigger transition for her than for her son, Draco.
“I just sensed that it was time that he needed to be a little more independent,” she said.
McKellar is one of many Hollywood mothers who practice attachment parenting. Others include singer Alanis Morissette and Blossom actress Mayim Bialik.
Boudreau asked McKellar how people perceived her when she was breastfeeding her son.
McKellar said she would “get looks sometimes, from some of the older patrons” in restaurants, but said she didn’t let it get to her.
“I … bring him into the bed with me sometimes at night and we snuggle and go to sleep together which is, the cutest thing in the world. I love being close with him,” she said.
She said she and Draco are so close that they share their own language. Generally, when infants are hungry, they cry. Her older son, she said, asks.
“So he would say, ‘Nam nams?’ Just because I remember seeing some kitten video and they’d put, like, ‘Nam, nam, nam,’ like it was a yummy thing the kitten was eating. It was so cute that I was like, ‘I’m going to call it ‘Nam nam,’” McKellar said.
McKellar, a bestselling author who writes math books for children, said she would take breaks from writing to breastfeed her baby.
“When he was young, I had it mastered where I -- learned to type with one hand for a while...I like to say that the only type of formula I use is in a math book,” she said, laughing.
Although critics warn that extreme attachment parenting can lead to behavioral problems, McKellar isn’t worried.
“Cuddling, being close, you know, sleeping in the same bed sometimes, wearing him in a sling, long-term breastfeeding, all have to have this closeness. On the other hand, doing everything your child wants you to do right when they want you to do it is another thing. Spoiling them is completely different,” she said.
She encourages other mothers to follow their instincts and take cues from their child.
“You can breastfeed as long as it works for both you and your child, you know?” McKellar said. “For me it was two and a half and for you it might be three and a half or three months or whatever it is that works.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 10:37:49 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Actress Zoe Saldana may have bared it all on the new cover of Allure magazine, but it’s the headline emblazoned on the magazine’s cover announcing the actress’ weight that is causing a controversy. It's now leading to a backlash among readers, who are questioning the editors’ decision.
The headline next to the Avatar beauty reads: “Zoe Saldana: 115 Pounds of Grit and Heartache.” While some say it was meant to be positive, many women are now questioning whether a magazine would ever publish a man’s weight.
“This is absolutely ridiculous," one reader told ABC News. “I don’t know what they were thinking. It must have been just for the shock value, because stars never reveal their weight.”
Late Wednesday, the controversy rocketed across the Internet. One person tweeted “Zoe Saldana’s weight revealed on Allure cover. For every step forward, mags take 3 back!” Another posting on a message board read, “I don’t think putting the weight on a magazine cover for a celebrity is a good idea, we have too many young girls with body images already.”
Child and teen development expert body image expert Dr. Robyn Silverman said that reaction among young people may be mixed.
“For some girls, they’ll have very little reaction. For other girls, who may be more susceptible to eating disorder behavior, this may serve as a trigger, making them feel that they need to lose weight,” she said.
Allure magazine is asking for reader comments on Facebook.
”Some people have said citing her weight on the cover was a mistake,” the magazine wrote. “Here’s your chance to sound off: tell us what you think!”
In the post, the magazine wrote: “The girl is a powerhouse. And we were so impressed by what a tough, confident woman Saldana is (on-screen, in her action-movie roles, and off) that we wanted to capture that. But some people have said citing her weight on the cover was a mistake.”
Bonnie Fuller, editor at The Hollywood Life, said Allure may not have intended to cause a media frenzy.
“I really think the editors were setting out to be complimentary,” she said. “They wanted to show that a woman could be small in size, but powerful in spirit.”
Saldana, the star of Star Trek Into Darkness, hasn’t weighed in on the controversial headline, but has said she’s happy with how the photo shoot turned out.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 10:27:15 AM
(NEW YORK) -- One of the most common problems that can plague those who have undergone mastectomies -- such as actress Angelina Jolie -- is lymphedema, a painful swelling of the arm.
Between 5 percent and 20 percent of women develop this chronic and debilitating condition in the first three years after surgery, according to the American College of Surgeons.
Not so long ago, patients with lymphedema were told to lay low. Doctors worried that even something as simple as holding a purse or pushing open a door would overuse the afflicted arm and worsen the swelling.
But the thousands of post-mastectomy patients who've take up the ancient Chinese sport of dragon boat racing -- paddling a large, long canoe with a dragon head at the front and a dragon tail at the back -- have helped change that thinking. Many swear by the sport as a way to help manage their hand and arm swelling.
"When I heard about dragon boat racing, I thought, Oh sure, that's for me," said Kathy Christiansen, a 58-year-old nurse who took up dragon boating in 2006 a few years after undergoing a partial mastectomy in her right breast. "I was told about all these restrictions, but I have always been an athletic person, and I couldn't see following them."
Christiansen said she rarely had lymphedema symptoms and believed it was because of all her physical activity since having surgery, not least of all dragon boat racing. At her last checkup, the doctor noticed her right arm was actually smaller than her unaffected left arm.
Dragon boating was first used for breast cancer recovery in 1996 by a physician trying to test his theory that more, not less, upper-body exercise could help reduce lymphedema. His subsequent studies found that paddlers had less swelling and fewer physical limitations compared with breast cancer survivors who did not exercise.
Since that first boat took to the water, more than a hundred breast-cancer survivor dragon boat teams have formed worldwide. The boats hold up to 20 paddlers plus a caller who sits near the head and someone in the back to steer the boat. In competitions, the caller also beats a ceremonial drum to help paddlers keep to the same rhythm.
Christiansen's team, Pink Paddling Power, was started as a support group by Wheaton Franciscan Cancer Care of the All Saints Hospital in Racine, Wis., and is supported by various grants and donations. There are currently more than 40 women on its active roster.
In 2006, 29 team members, ages 46 to 71, competed in the Club Crew World Championships of Dragon Boat Racing in Hong Kong, in the breast cancer survivors division.
But even with all the potential benefits dragon boating might offer a woman with lymphedema, Katherine Schmitz, an associate professor of epidemiology who studies breast cancer at the Perelman School of Medicine at University of Pennsylvania, advises caution.
"With any type of exercise, all breast cancer survivors need to start slow, progress low and let the symptoms be their guide," Schmitz said. "I'm just not sure how you do this with dragon boat racing."
While Schmitz is fan of dragon boat racing -- and any activity that gets breast cancer patients up and moving -- she said a supervised weight-training program in which the weight is increased gradually over time might be a more judicious approach for many.
In a one-year study of more than 150 women led by Schmitz, weight lifters slashed their risk of developing arm swelling by 35 percent. Only 11 percent of the group developed lymphedema, compared with 17 percent of those in the nonexercising group.
The women who'd had the most lymph nodes removed -- five or more -- experienced a nearly 70 percent risk reduction, with 22 percent of inactive participants developing lymphedema, compared with 7 percent in the exercising group.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/16/2013 06:43:41 AM
(NEW YORK) -- A 65-year-old couple needs $220,000 to cover their health care costs in retirement, according to a study by Fidelity.
While the figure seems mind-boggling to many Americans, especially those in or nearing retirement, the amount a couple needs for health care costs dropped 8.3 percent since last year's $240,000 figure because of lower-than-expected Medicare spending and lower projections for such spending.
"I think most interesting is that this year retirees or those who are going to retire have some good news for a change," said Sunit Patel, senior vice president of Fidelity's consulting group.
This year's figure was calculated for a couple, both of whom have reached the age of 65, including a man who will live to age 82 (with $100,000 needed for him) and a woman who will live to age 85 ($120,000 for her).
"In the health care space, health care costs have been growing faster than most individuals' incomes," said Patel.
Fidelity's annual estimates apply to retirees with traditional Medicare insurance coverage, not higher income-related premiums, and do not include nursing home care.
As part of the estimate, Fidelity looked at monthly expenses associated with Medicare Part B and D premiums, co-payments, co-insurance and deductibles, such as for doctors' office visits and outpatient services. The estimate takes into account out-of-pocket costs for things such as vision and hearing exams, eyeglasses and hearing aids.
Fidelity's estimate increased an average of 6 percent annually between 2002 and 2012. It decreased only once previously. In 2011, the estimate dropped because of lower out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs.
The costs increase, of course, for those who retire in 2013 and live longer than the projected ages for men and women. Men who are 65 years old, retire this year and live to age 85 will need $120,000. Women who retire at 65 in 2013 and live to the age of 88 will need $140,000. That couple has a 50-percent chance of living that long.
Men who are 65 years old, retire this year and live to age 92 will need $170,000. Women who retire at 65 in 2013 and live to age 94 will need $185,000. In total, a couple who meets that criteria, both with a 25-percent chance of living that long, will need $355,000 to cover their health expenses.
Here's how Fidelity's estimates for retiring couples' health care costs have changed since the company started this study in 2002 (with the +/- percentage change from the previous year):
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 23:02:58 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Should you have your ovaries removed if you are BRCA positive?
This is a question that every board-certified gynecologist is used to discussing with a patient who has recently undergone BRCA testing. As with any such discussion, it’s key to explain all the risks, benefits and alternatives. That is to say: What are the risks of doing surgery and the risks of not doing surgery? What are the benefits to doing surgery and the benefits of not doing surgery? In reality, this is a decision that a woman needs to make with her family and her physician, and it’s complicated.
For the average woman, the lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is 1.3 percent (compared to the lifetime risk for female breast cancer of 12 percent in an average woman). It represents the most lethal cancer for women, although it is far from the most common. Part of the reason this cancer is so deadly, and is often referred to as the “silent killer” of women, has to do with anatomy.
The ovaries, which produce sex hormones, are walnut-sized glands that sit free in the pelvic cavity, tethered to the sides of the pelvis. When a cancer develops in the ovary, it can grow to a large size before producing significant signs or symptoms. It can also “seed” the cancer throughout the pelvis and abdominal cavity because the ovaries are not wrapped in any covering that separates them from other organs.
Should You Get BRCA Gene Testing?
The most concerning symptoms of ovarian cancer are bloating, increased urination and pelvic pain/pressure that occurs more than 50 percent of the time for a period of more than a few weeks. Other symptoms include early satiety, increasing abdominal girth and a change in weight or bowel habits.
Now the nitty gritty: What are the risks of the surgery to remove your ovaries? Today, this is a surgery that is done laparoscopically (through 1-centimeter incisions in your abdomen) and typically takes less than one hour in skilled hands. For women who are BRCA positive, the fallopian tubes are removed with the ovaries because they can develop the same cancer as the ovaries. The uterus does not need to be removed, so the surgery is not called a hysterectomy but a bilateral salpingoophorectomy (or BSO). Often, patients go home the same day or the day after surgery.
The risks are similar to any surgery and include bleeding, infection, damage to other nearby organs and those associated with general anesthesia. Recent data has shown that women who have their ovaries removed for benign reasons have a slightly increased risk of cardiovascular issues. Also, a woman having her ovaries removed will go through immediate surgical menopause, and the process may cause hot flashes, vaginal dryness and osteoporosis, among other associated low-estrogen-state side effects. The risk of ovarian cancer following surgery does not drop to zero because cancer cells may have escaped before surgery occurred, and women can develop a variant called peritoneal carcinomatosis.
What about the risks of not having surgery? With a BRCA1 mutation, a woman can have as high as a 50-percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer, and that cancer tends to occur at a younger age than in women who develop the sporadic type of ovarian cancer. Increased surveillance in women who choose watchful waiting include physical pelvic exams, pelvic sonograms and ovarian tumor marker blood tests. But it is important to note that there is no generally accepted screening test for ovarian cancer, the way a mammogram (while not perfect) is an accepted screening test for breast cancer.
Now for the benefits of surgery. Women with a BRCA mutation who remove their ovaries and fallopian tubes have a significantly lower risk of developing ovarian cancer. This risk drops far below that of the average woman.
The benefits of not having surgery is the avoidance of the above-mentioned risks that accompany this procedure.
Options for reducing risk of ovarian cancer include taking oral contraceptives or the birth-control pill, which has been shown to dramatically reduce the risk of cancer by as much as 60 percent in women who have taken the pill for three or more years. There may be a similar protective effect with breast-feeding and full-term pregnancies because of the theory that the ovaries are spared the hormonal stimulation and damage to the ovarian cortex with all of these situations. Diets high in fruits and vegetables have also been associated with a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
The emotional toll of either option can be significant for a woman and her family. Every woman feels differently about living with risk. Every woman is entitled to her opinion and decision. A BRCA-positive woman considering this surgery should discuss these issues with a gynecologist in addition to her general OB-GYN. There is no such thing as minor surgery, even if it is a same-day procedure. All aspects, the physical, psychological, financial and social, should be considered before a plan is made. Understanding the risks, benefits and options/alternatives are at the foundation of any good decision-making process.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 19:11:51 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Many of us incorrectly assume that the vaccines we received as children will protect us for a lifetime. But immunity can fade with time.
Keeping your vaccines up to date can help protect you and your kids, and especially older adults and those with weakened immune systems, who are more susceptible to preventable illnesses.
Between 40,000 and 50,000 adults die each year from vaccine-preventable illnesses, according to a 2010 report from the Infectious Diseases Society of America, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for America’s Health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that adult vaccine-preventable diseases cost about $10 billion annually in direct medical costs.
Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical correspondent for ABC News, hosted a Tweet Chat Tuesday to discuss the importance of adult immunizations with such passionate participants as the Mayo Clinic, the CDC, the American Medical Association, and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, among others.
Read on for the highlights:
Do the elderly still need vaccines?
Older folks are more susceptible to vaccine-preventable diseases. Shingles and the flu, to name two, can be devastating to an elderly person, so immunization is key. Anyone over the age of 65 should receive an annual flu shot. Those over 65 can also benefit from one shot each of the pneumococcal vaccine and whooping cough, plus a shot of the tetanus/diphtheria immunization vaccine every 10 years. For those over 60, getting a shingles vaccine can also pay off.
What vaccines do young adults need?
Younger adults often feel their risk of disease is lower, so their vaccination rates are lower. Young adults need flu, tetanus/diphtheria/whooping cough, chickenpox and human papillomavirus, or HPV, immunizations. Some young adults may also need measles mumps rubella – also called the MMR — and meningococcal vaccines.
Should women receive vaccines during pregnancy?
If possible, women should be up to date on all their vaccines before they become pregnant. During pregnancy, getting the flu and tetanus/whooping cough vaccines are important to protect both mom and baby. There are a few vaccines expectant mothers should avoid, including the shots for MMR, shingles, chickenpox and HPV.
Can some vaccines prevent cancer?
The HPV vaccine can prevent some forms of cervical, anal, penile and oral cancer. It’s only licensed for use for those between the ages of 11-26. Hepatitis B can cause long-term infection and is a common risk factor for liver cancer, so medical experts encourage all adults at risk to get vaccinated against it. Currently, all children who are vaccinated receive the shot for hepatitis B.
Why aren’t more people getting vaccinated?
Not enough adults are receiving recommended vaccinations, and there has been little progress in increasing coverage in recent years, according to the latest CDC statistics.
Doctors can boost immunization rates by checking patients’ vaccination status and offering vaccines. Patients can keep up with their personal medical records and start discussions with their doctors about vaccines. As the national health care system moves toward electronic medical records, automated vaccination reminders may help improve adult vaccination rates. The overwhelming opinion of the medical community is that vaccines for adults are safe, effective and cost-saving.
Please visit the ABC News Medical Unit next week for a tweet chat on the health benefits of yoga and meditation. It’s easy to participate. Here’s how.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 18:49:32 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Last month he revealed that he’d lost 60 pounds, and now, Chaz Bono is down another five.
“I’m feeling really good,” he told People magazine Tuesday, adding that because he’s been steadily losing for so long, it’s becoming tougher to move the numbers on the scale. “I’d love to do Dancing [with the Stars] all over again. I’d do it so much better now than I did then!”
Bono’s weight loss journey began last November, when he announced that he wanted to trim 50 pounds from his then 250-pound frame. Three months (and 43 pounds) later, he upped the goal to 80 pounds. To do this, Bono, 44, said that he’d been avoiding starches and sticking to a diet of mostly meats and vegetables.
“I really feel very satisfied and comfortable with the way I eat now, which is amazing, and for me, kind of a miracle,” he said, adding that he no longer has cravings for unhealthy foods. “I never thought I’d be that kind of a person!”
As a result, the LGBT activist says that his blood pressure and cholesterol levels are low–but his self-esteem is skyrocketing.
“I just have a lot more confidence and that feels really cool,” he said. “I really like what I see in the mirror.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 18:17:03 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Center say that they have used a cloning technique to turn an ordinary human skin cell into an embryonic stem cell.
The breakthrough in stem cell research could potentially cure a wide array of diseases, according to HealthDay News. The stem cells produced in the research are genetically identical to the person from whom the original cell was taken. Once the cell is "reprogrammed" into a stem cell, it can differentiate into a number of different types of tissue.
While HealthDay News points out that the research has some concerned, researchers do not consider the ability to reprogram cells a major breakthrough in terms of actual human cloning.
The researchers managed to take the original cell's nucleus, which contains genetic information, and implant it into an egg cell that had had its DNA removed. After the transfer, the egg develops and produces usable stem cells. Shoukhrat Mitalipov, a senior scientist at the ONPRC, told HealthDay News that "stem cells derived through this technique demonstrated their ability to convert just like normal embryonic stem cells, into several different cell types."
Most notably, this research marks a breakthrough for reproductive cloning in that it did not involve the use of fertilized embryos.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 17:31:42 PM
(NEW YORK) -- Contrary to popular belief, middle age is not too late to start getting fit, says new medical research.
According to HealthDay News, the research not only shows that fitness is an important factor in terms of limiting risk of heart failure, but also that people who improve their fitness -- even in middle age -- diminish their risk of heart failure in the future.
The results of the study were presented on Wednesday at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Baltimore.
Heart failure is the most common reason that older adults are hospitalized, according to the American Heart Association, and as many as five million Americans currently have heart disease. Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles, told HealthDay News that nearly 20 percent of American adults will develop heart failure in their lifetime.
Fonarow did say, however, that "heart failure is preventable by maintaining cardiovascular health and control of heart failure risk factors."
The study analyzed the fitness levels of over 9,000 middle-aged adults, who were tested twice each -- 8 years apart. According to HealthDay News, those people who were not physically fit at the beginning of the study had a higher risk of heart failure later in life. However, those who improved their fitness level had a lower risk of heart failure than those whose fitness remained poor.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 16:31:30 PM
(NEW YORK) -- A new survey found that a startling number of children and teenagers under the age of 18 have been the victims of physical violence in the last year.
According to a survey published in the journal Pediatrics, over 40 percent of U.S. children and adolescents were victims of violence, including more than 10 percent that suffered serious injuries.
The National Survey of Children's Exposure to Violence included data concerning assault with and without weapons, attempted or completed kidnapping, dating violence and bias attacks. Bullying, threats or Internet attacks were considered non-violent problems and were excluded.
The survey found that 13.7 percent of young people experienced repeated violent incidents at the hands of a caregiver.
Additionally, two percent of children under the age of 17 responded saying they have been sexually assaulted or abused in the last year. That number was much higher, almost 11 percent, among girls between the ages of 14 and 17.
The authors of the survey believe that exposure to violence impacts both the individual child as well as having important societal effects. The authors also believe that intense tracking of children's exposure to violence is an imperative first step.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 15:33:58 PM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Rachel Joy Horn's breasts were ticking time bombs. She lost trust in her body and no longer felt comfortable in her own skin.
That is how she felt, she said, when her doctor broke the news to her that she'd tested positive for a gene mutation that put her in the high-risk category for developing breast cancer. So at the age of 21, Horn chose to undergo double-mastectomy surgery to remove both her breasts and, hopefully, the future threat of cancer.
"By the time I was tested, my mom had gone through breast cancer twice so I already had it in my mind that surgery was a possibility for me," the Los Angeles woman, now 23, said.
Horn is certainly not alone in her decision. Stars like actress Christina Applegate, talk-show host Sharon Osborne and, most recently, Oscar-winner Angelina Jolie have revealed that they, too, have chosen to preemptively remove their breasts because of a strong genetic predisposition for breast cancer.
It sounds like an extreme choice, but a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation of either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene is about five times more likely than average to develop breast cancer and up to 40 percent more likely to develop ovarian cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute. Experts increasingly believe that removing as much breast tissue as possible can be a lifesaving strategy.
As Dr. Mehra Golshan, director of Breast Surgical Services at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston explained it, "For women who know in advance there is a good chance they will develop breast cancer sooner or later, having prophylactic surgery can make sense. It lowers the risk of developing cancer by more than 90 percent."
In one recent study that followed nearly 2,500 women who carried one of the two dangerous gene variants, having a double mastectomy did appear to lower their risk of breast cancer. None of the women who opted to have their breasts or ovaries removed were diagnosed with breast cancer in the three decades they were followed, while 7 percent of those who chose not to have surgery were.
Horn said that removing her breasts gave her the sense that she had dodged a bullet.
"I remember waking up after surgery and feeling groggy but happy," she recalled. "I immediately felt relieved that I no longer had this cancer diagnosis hanging over my head."
But even though the data shows a preemptive strike against breast cancer can improve the chances of survival in women with inherited risk, some medical experts are concerned that instead of fighting to save their breasts as they did in the past, many women are choosing to remove them at the slightest whiff of cancer.
The Journal of Clinical Oncology reported a 188 percent jump in the surgery between 1998 and 2005 among women given a new diagnosis in one breast of ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, the "stage zero" cancer. Among women with early-stage invasive disease, the rates soared more than 150 percent.
"Many women choose to have the other breast removed to avoid the trauma of going through breast cancer again even though, in reality, the chances of reoccurrence are very low," said Dr. Julian Kim, chief of surgical oncology at the UH Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland.
Kim stressed that there is no evidence to support the idea that removing both breasts after a diagnosis of breast cancer increases survival rate. And indeed, one recent University of Michigan study found that 70 percent of women who had both breasts removed following a breast cancer diagnosis did not get any benefit from the procedure because their risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast was no greater than in women without cancer.
"For a woman with a gene mutation or a family history, the surgery makes sense," Kim said. "For most other women who are opting to have it, it is very controversial."
Kim said that breast cancer survival is less affected by how much of the breast tissue is removed than by how aggressive the cancer is and how much it has spread at the time of surgery. If the disease has spread into lymph nodes and the blood stream by the time of surgery then removing more breast tissue will not affect a patient's outcome, he noted.
But Kim said he does understand why a low-risk patient might opt for a mastectomy.
"In my mind, if a patient is well informed about risks of having or not having the surgery, it's often more than just survival that influences a person's decisions," he said.
And even when it's a proven cancer-avoidance tactic, Horn said the decision to remove your breasts is not an easy one.
"I wasn't sure if my breasts would ever feel like mine again or how my future boyfriends would feel or if I would feel like I was lacking in any way," she said.
Her doctor told her she could monitor her health with frequent screening to put off the surgery, but ultimately Horn felt it was the only choice she could make.
"Ultimately, I had no second thoughts because with my mom having cancer, I had played out the numbers in my head and knew what I had to do," she said. "I have no regrets. And I really like my new breasts."
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 10:45:47 AM
(LOS ANGELES) -- Angelina Jolie‘s double mastectomy is apparently just the beginning. The Oscar-winning actress will undergo surgery to remove her ovaries as soon as she possibly can, sources tell People magazine.
Jolie implied as much in Sunday’s New York Times op-ed, in which she revealed that she had a double mastectomy after learning that she carries a “faulty” BRCA1 gene, which could dramatically increase her risk for breast and ovarian cancers.
“I started with the breasts, as my risk of breast cancer is higher than my risk of ovarian cancer, and the surgery is more complex,” she wrote.
Jolie, 37, said her doctors told her she has an 87 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent risk of ovarian cancer.
Her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, lost her 10-year battle to ovarian cancer in 2007 at age 56.
Jolie’s partner Brad Pitt praised her decision to share her story.
“She could have stayed absolutely private about it and I don’t think anyone would have been none the wiser with such good results,” he told USA Today. “But it was really important to her to share the story and that others would understand it doesn’t have to be a scary thing. In fact, it can be an empowering thing, and something that makes you stronger and us stronger.”
Through the months-long mastectomies and reconstructive process, Jolie appeared anything but afraid. Two days before her first surgery on Feb. 2, 2013, to remove breast tissue, she was photographed taking her twins, Vivienne and Knox, to the Natural History Museum in New York. In March, she traveled to the Congo on a humanitarian trip. On April 11, she appeared at London’s G-8 summit, just 16 days before finishing the process.
Back home, Pitt told USA Today, the couple’s six children helped ease Jolie’s recovery.
“We set up our own little post-op recovery that became pretty fun. You make an adventure out of it,” he said.
He called the experience “an emotional and beautifully inspiring few months.”
“It’s such a wonderful relief to come through this and not have a specter hanging over our heads,” Pitt told USA Today. “To know that that’s not going to be something that’s going to affect us. My most proudest thing is our family. This isn’t going to get that.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 10:37:59 AM
(NEW YORK) -- Blowout bars offer no cutting or coloring of hair in their salons, just washing and blowing it out. But they’ve become all the rage because they tend to be cheaper and faster than a full-service salon.
A typical blowout costs $35, and many women go as often as three times a week, which, once you add tax and tip, could cost you $500 a month, or $6,000 a year.
But there’s a new upscale salon in New York City that is creating a way for husbands to make themselves extra-useful at home, by offering blow-drying classes that teach men how to style their wives’ hair.
The new beauty school begs the question of whether this can actually be a way to save money.
Arsen Gurgov came up with the idea to teach a class at New York City’s posh Louis Licari Salon, where your husband can learn how to blow out your hair. But six, two-hour classes will cost you $2,400.
“Hold the hair onto the brush, hold it loose, not so tight,” Gurgov explains to one of his clients, husband Jeff Langberg, at his second class.
Langberg, an investment banker, says the most difficult part of learning how to properly blow out his wife’s hair is, “Making sure I don’t burn her.”
But Gurgov says it all comes down to learning how to wield a 2,000-watt machine in one hand and a hair brush in the other.
Langberg said, “It’s just doing stuff together. It’s another activity.”
And a blowout alone can cost you $85 or more in New York (versus about $35 at a blowout bar), so perhaps there is really something to be said in the long run for training your husband in hairstyling.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 09:30:16 AM
(DENVER) -- When Paula Spurlock started to experience itching and pain all over her body, she never dreamed that she was allergic to the metal device implanted into her hip.
Spurlock, 50, experienced migraines, itching and pain for nearly two years before doctors noticed that her right hip lit up on a PET scan. It was the hip that had a metal joint implanted in 2008.
"My entire body itched," she told ABC News. "A regular allergist did some testing that didn't show anything. Not one person along the way said, 'I wonder if you're allergic to your hip.'"
Once her PET scan hinted at a problem with the hip, Spurlock started seeing Dr. Karin Pacheco, an allergist at National Jewish Health in Denver. Pacheco said she administered skin patch tests, which took two days to process and involved looking for an immune system response to the metals and other materials in the artificial joints.
"What was really interesting about her was that she actually had both hips replaced, but they were made of different metal alloys," Pacheco said. "She was allergic to the one but not the other."
Specifically, Spurlock learned for the first time that she had a cobalt allergy, though she'd never experienced metal allergy symptoms before. Her titanium hip didn't cause any problems.
Spurlock said she learned that the cobalt hip became defective about two years after doctors implanted it, causing it to produce tiny metal shavings as she moved. Those spread to Spurlock's bloodstream and caused the allergic reaction, she said. (The replacement hip has not been recalled.)
Doctors removed Spurlock's right hip and replaced it with a ceramic hip. Now, she says she is symptom-free. She said she hopes people can learn from her experience and get tested before surgery.
"There's nothing worse than wanting to just crawl out of your skin because the itching is so bad," she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News RadioPublished: 5/15/2013 06:29:02 AM