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Company Creates Tiny Livers with 3-D Printer to Test Drugs

Company Creates Tiny Livers with 3-D Printer to Test Drugs

Organovo(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego company has created human liver tissue with a 3-D printer designed to be used by drug companies for testing.The feat achieved by Organovo may seem like science fiction but more and more researchers and scientists have been examining how 3-D printers can be used to "create" human tissue for research purposes.The "tiny livers" are "bioprinted" with a specially designed 3-D printer and are composed mainly of three kinds of human liver cells, the company announced this week. In theory the tissue will allow drug companies to test out new medication on liver tissue before they go to human trials.The tissue is technically too small to be called an organ but the small tissue will function similarly to a real human liver and can live for at least 40 days, according to Organovo.Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo, said the tissue could be helpful in developing drugs."Pharma companies can use our bioprinted liver tissue to weed out toxic drugs early in drug development rather than after they have failed expensive clinical trials," Murphy said in a statement.Michael Renard, the company's executive vice president commercial operations, said the tissue is developed by getting the cells from regulated sources, including cadavers, and then processed into "bio-ink."After being printed in a specific pattern to mimic the make-up of a human liver, the tissues matures over three days before it can be used.The main goal of providing a three-dimensional engineered human tissue is to have something "that behaves biochemically...like a human organ," said Renard.

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Biz Markie on Why He Lost 140 Pounds: ‘I Wanted to Live’

Biz Markie on Why He Lost 140 Pounds: ‘I Wanted to Live’

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just two months ago, Biz Markie revealed that he'd lost around 140 pounds after focusing on his health. The rap icon was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago and realized he needed to make a change."I wanted to live," Markie, 50, told ABC News. "Since I have to be a diabetic, If I didn't make the changes, it was going to make the diabetes worse. I'm trying to get off [the Diabetes meds]. The way you gotta do it is lose the weight. I'm off half my meds, I just got to get off the rest."Markie said doctors were straightforward when he was diagnosed and said if he didn't shape up, the results could be terrible."They said I could lose my feet," he said. "They said I could lose body parts. A lot of things could happen."Markie said he's feeling great and spoke to ABC as part of his collaboration with Zevia, a zero-calorie soda that he mixes into his diet."Instead of drinking regular soda, I drink Zevia to make you believia!" he joked. "I love that there's alternatives to eating, because I want to live."Markie said right now he's on tour, but in 2015, he plans to drop even more weight."I'm maintaining but I think at the beginning of the year, I'm going to try and get down another 10 pounds," he added.But don't expect Biz to gain any weight back just because he's on tour."On the Yo Gabba Gabba! Tour, we eat organic," he said, adding that little changes like turkey bacon with eggs for breakfast keeps him healthy. He also keeps the portions down."I don't pig out," he said, adding that he mostly does cardio for his workouts.Markie also said that he has so much more energy now after shedding so much weight."When I used to be on stage, I used to be out of breath, I couldn't walk that far," he said. "Now, I got so much energy. I can do a whole show."Markie is an icon, with close friends like Will Smith, who have been on his back for years to lose the weight. Markie said back in the early 2000s, Smith bet him on the set of Men in Black 2 to get him to lose the weight."It's a great feeling that they care, but it's better to win the bet," he said, laughing.

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Birthday Years Ending in 9 Prompt Big Life Decisions, Study Shows

Birthday Years Ending in 9 Prompt Big Life Decisions, Study Shows

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People whose ages end in 9 tend to be more likely to seek extramarital affairs, run marathons and commit suicide compared with those whose ages ended in other digits, according to a new study.Researchers at New York University's Stern School of Business and University of California's Anderson School of Management conducted six studies to see how people in the last year of their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s changed their behavior.

They found that people they've nicknamed "9-enders" -- people who were 29, 39, 49 or 59 -- were more likely than others to reflect on their lives and make big changes, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences."When people are facing these new decades, that's when they start to step back and question essentially the meaningfulness of their lives," said study co-author Hal Hershfield, a marketing professor at UCLA who was trained as an experimental social psychologist. "We're not saying people don't do that at other points in their lives. Just that it's particularly likely to happen during life transitions."Hershfield and his co-author Adam Alter came up with the idea for their study while discussing greeting cards and the big deal people make around entering new decades of their lives."It's not like anything officially changes," Hershfield said. "It's not like you got married or you can drive now or you're Bar Mitzvahed."Yet they wanted to study how much meaning is attached to these milestones, particularly for people about to cross into their 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s. So they used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as data from extramarital affairs site AshleyMadison.com and athlete site Athlinks.com.Chief of psychology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center Jeff Janata, who was not involved in this research, called the study "clever" because it uses actuarial data to examine a "psychological truth.""I think that people use decades and the crossing from one decade into the next as a marker, a time to reflect on the state of their lives. I think it's very common," he said. "What we're really talking about is anticipation more than we are arrival."On the one hand, Hershfield and Alter reasoned that people could react negatively to their impending milestone birthdays by committing suicide or seeking extramarital affairs. On the other, they could set a healthy goal, like running a marathon. They found 9-enders were more likely to do all of these.And 9-enders ran faster marathons than people two years older or younger than they were, proving they trained harder, according to the study."A lot of different factors go into the decision to run marathon, commit adultery or end one's life," Hershfield said. "We wouldn't expect just facing down the barrel of their 40s, 50s would be enough to change it drastically, but it changes it somewhat enough that we could pick up on it statistically."His co-author, Alter, said he hopes the study gives casual readers pause to think about why they're making the changes in their lives."In general, it's easy to get caught up in big milestones, particularly as we age -- but of course there’s no real difference between turning 30 and turning 29 or 31," he said. "Our culture emphasizes years like 30, 40, 50, and 60, but we shouldn't let that shape how we live our lives."

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Texting the Wrong Way Is a Real Pain in the Neck — and Shoulders

Texting the Wrong Way Is a Real Pain in the Neck — and Shoulders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some experts will tell you that it’s not what you text that might be bad for your health but how you text.A study in the journal Surgical Technology International examined the ways people stand when in the act of texting and how it affects the natural curve of the cervical spine located right above your shoulders.Simply tipping your head at a 60-degree angle to read or send a text puts 60 pounds of pressure on the cervical spine, which is incredible when you think that the typical head only weights ten-to-12 pounds.Study author Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, says that the best way to text is by keeping the head in an upright position and raising the phone upwards. Even moving it downwards just 15 degrees puts 27 pounds of pressure on the cervical spine.Making the effort will take some practice but it’s well worth it, according to Hansraj, since constantly hunching over hour after hour could lead to headaches, neck pain and even possibly surgery to repair the cervical spine worn down by so much added pressure.

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This Giant Treadmill Holds 10 Runners at Once

This Giant Treadmill Holds 10 Runners at Once

Oxford Fitness(NEW YORK) -- With all 50 states inching below the freezing mark this week, runners are hitting the treadmill in droves. Now, 10 indoor athletes can hop on the same treadmill all at once, thanks to this extra-large mill designed by Chilean company, Oxford Fitness.The gargantuan treadmill is built on a scale four times larger than a "run of the mill" machine. It is 5 meters high, 3 meters wide and 6 meters long. Speed increases in increments of just over half a mile per hour all the way up to roughly 10 miles per hour, or a 6-minute per mile pace.Scott Douglas, the senior content editor for Runner’s World magazine, said it was not entirely clear how users reach the control buttons. The company could not immediately be reached for comment, but a video shows someone on a ladder hitting the controls.Over the weekend, Oxford plans to host a pair of two-hour races on the machine in Santiago, Chile, according to Douglas.For the first of two races, the treadmill's speed will be set at a steady 6 miles per hour to test stamina. During the second race things get a little more interesting: Douglas said that organizers will gradually edge up the pace so that runners who can't keep up get ejected off the back. The last runner remaining upright and on board will be declared the winner.Douglas, a 60 mile a week runner who owns a treadmill he hardly ever uses, said he didn't think the XL treadmill was the worst idea."When you run outdoors with a friend, you naturally lock into a pace so I don't see why it would be a big deal to do the same on a treadmill," he said.Oxford Fitness and its creative partner, 10:10, plan a national tour with the machine and hope to lure Erwin Valdebenito, the Chilean holder of a Guinness World Record for running 24 hours non-stop on a regular treadmill, to super-size his efforts on their mill.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

How Zero Gravity Affects Men and Women Differently

How Zero Gravity Affects Men and Women Differently

NASA(NEW YORK) -- With an upcoming mission to Mars, NASA is studying the ways that living in space affects both men and women.In a study published this month in Journal of Women's Health, researchers from NASA and National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) went through decades of data to understand how living in zero gravity takes a toll on both men and women.The team reviewed data on the 534 people to have flown in space at the time of the study, including 57 women, and studied cardiovascular, reproductive, musculoskeletal, immunological and behavioral health.Changes in zero gravity included worse vision problems among some men, calcium loss for both sexes, and for some female astronauts an inability to stand for long periods without fainting after landing back on Earth, according to the study.Dr. Saralyn Mark, a lead author on the study and a senior medical adviser at NASA, told ABC News that one ongoing problem for those flying in space is that the eye and even eyeball can be affected by zero gravity.While only a small portion of astronauts were studied, 82 percent of male astronauts, or 14 out of 17, were found to have suffered from changes to their vision that researchers called visual impairment intracranial pressure, or VIIP.They called the impairment "one of the most serious spaceflight-related health risks."While a large majority of the male astronauts had a problem, statistically fewer women were struck with the same symptoms. Only 62 percent, or five out of eight female astronauts, reported the same symptoms and none had as severe symptoms as some of the male astronauts. Researchers were examining if the women’s age, hormones or vascular health helped them fare better in space.While male astronauts battled to keep their eyesight, female astronauts have faced other difficulties back on terra firma. Female astronauts were more likely to faint while standing when they initially come back to Earth, the study found.Causes for these fainting incidents could range from a loss of plasma volume in space to the different ways men and women’s cardiovascular systems react to stress, Mark said."Some have fainted, some feel like they’re going to faint," Mark said of the female astronauts. “If you’re going to Mars, you need to be able to leave your space vehicle and perform your duties.”In other cases, both men and women have faced similar problems, including “space motion sickness.” Women in space tend to report more motion sickness as they leave Earth and enter the space station, whereas men report feeling queasy more often as they return to Earth, the study found.By reviewing the findings, NASA scientists are hoping to develop devices or medication for specific problems faced by both men and women as they travel into space or even to Mars, Mark said."It's not a question of who is better equipped but really designing specific measures to protect men and women," Mark said.Dr. Bette Sigel, executive secretary for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee and a co-author of the study, said it's important to recognize differences between female and male astronauts to ensure that appropriate and tailored steps are taken to protect the health of everyone in space.“The real point is if we are planning to fly both men and women on long duration [spaceflights] we want to make sure that the countermeasures work for both men and women," Sigel said.

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How to Shovel Snow Without Having a Heart Attack

How to Shovel Snow Without Having a Heart Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fluffy, white snow may be the stuff of holiday greeting cards but, to cardiologists, it's a heart attack waiting to happen.That's why they call it "heart attack snow," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. It's heavy and people try to clear it too quickly for their own good.Already, the season's first big snowstorm in Buffalo, New York, has led to several deaths, including at least three people who had heart attacks while shoveling.Blood vessels are tighter in the cold weather, making it harder for blood to pass through them. Combine that with the stress of physical activity, and it can mean disaster for some unsuspecting shovelers, Yancy said.Yancy, a spokesman for the American Heart Association, advises shovelers not to rush, to do the work in chunks and to avoid alcoholic beverages on the job."It’s a misnomer that people believe having an alcoholic beverage will warm them up," he said. "It puts the heart at more risk."According to the American Heart Association, people also shouldn't eat a big meal beforehand, and, if possible, they should use a smaller shovel to avoid lifting heavy weight.Yancy suggested certain people skip shoveling altogether."If you know you already have heart disease, maybe a little bit of snow in driveway is not so bad," he said.Shoveling may be associated with heart attacks every year, but it's not the only winter heart attack hazard, Yancy said."A number of things are really different in the winter season that can have direct bearing on your heart health," he said. "Winter, itself, is a risk factor."Stress from the holidays and changes in daylight contribute to heart attacks in the winter -- even for people who travel south for the cold months, he said.And people are most at-risk for heart attacks when they wake up in the morning because their hormone levels are different and their blood is "stickier," Yancy said.The flu and hypothermia also can contribute to heart attacks."We should all realize that, over the winter season, we're just more vulnerable," Yancy said. "Take it easy."

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Why Your Mom Was Wrong About Cold Weather and the Flu

Why Your Mom Was Wrong About Cold Weather and the Flu

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Your mom or dad probably told you to bundle up against frigid temperatures like the ones hitting much of the United States right now. That's good advice if you want to stay warm and avoid frostbite or hypothermia -- but they were wrong if they thought they were protecting you against colds and the flu."Grandma was being good-hearted to tell us to put on mittens," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, but a person is not more likely to catch a cold or flu because they're freezing, according to health experts.That's because getting sick has much more to do with how people are exposed to cold and flu viruses.In fact, there are two main theories for why cold and flu season peaks in winter and neither of them revolves around people being cold.When a person with a respiratory virus coughs or sneezes, the virus escapes the host via a small droplet. In colder months, the virus can more easily remain in the air to infect another person, Schaffner said.“When that moisture evaporates, that virus in its little core can be in the air for longer...and then inhaled by party [two], which causes the infection,” he said.It’s also likely that the more people stay indoors or in school, in close contact, the more chances viruses get to spread, Schaffner said.“It may be a combination of those things,” he added. “[Influenza is] picking up right about now. It will usually peak in February.”Dr. Stephen Morse, an infectious disease expert at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, said school rooms, in particular, can lead to outbreaks of the flu because children are packed together and haven't built up an immune response to combat different flu strains.“Certainly, density, having people close together,” can help spread disease, said Morse. “Kids always have runny noses and are playing together.”Schaffner added that that there is no truth to the myth that temperature changes will make people sick."Because cold and flu season occurs during the winter and we see the change in the temperature...we attribute our infection to the change in temperature," Schaffner said. "But they're not causally related."Most medical experts believe flu is spread mainly by droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.About 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population is infected with the flu every year, according to the CDC. Deaths associated with the flu have ranged between 3,000 to 49,000 annually according to the CDC.Schaffner said the best advice for people wanting to avoid getting sick this year is wash their hands often and be sure to get a flu shot.

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Chemical in Antibacterial Soap Promoted Tumor Growth in Mice

Chemical in Antibacterial Soap Promoted Tumor Growth in Mice

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A chemical in antibacterial soap promoted liver tumor growth in mice, researchers found.Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine studied the effects of triclosan -- an antimicrobial found in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, body wash and other common household items -- on mice, and said the results shocked them."It's not a direct carcinogen," said study author Robert Tukey, a professor of chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology at UCSD. "It's a tumor promoter."In other words, exposure to triclosan encouraged existing liver tumors to grow. The mice who were exposed to triclosan had more tumors, bigger tumors and more frequent tumors than mice who weren't exposed to it, according to the study. The mice also developed liver problems, including scarring.But experts not involved in the study cautioned that the mice were eating and drinking the triclosan in their food and water at "super high concentrations" for six months, which isn't comparable to using it for hand or hair washing."There is a little bit of distortion," said Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious diseases specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. "It's 100 times or 1,000 times more than in things we normally see in things like toothpaste or soaps."Tukey said he and his colleagues fed the chemical to the mice to make sure they got an equal, standard dose for their experiment. He said it’s more triclosan than a human is normally exposed to, but it’s not yet clear whether low doses of the chemical would have the same tumor-promoting effect.Esper said the study is a good first step, and that it shows that more research into how triclosan affects humans is needed.Triclosan has been used since 1972, but last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it had no evidence to prove products containing it worked better than regular soap. Indeed, the FDA said some studies showed negative effects of using soaps with triclosan and triclocarban, such as "bacterial resistance and hormonal effects."As a result, companies have until next winter to prove that soaps containing these chemicals are better than old-fashioned bar soap.When it comes to the soap aisle, Esper said he recommends regular soap and good hand-washing techniques. The detergent in normal soap, he said, is enough to kill the germs without paying extra for soaps with added triclosan and other "antibacterial" chemicals.Tukey said he doesn't want to be alarmist, but he won't use products containing triclosan."We don't see a little bit of tumors," he said. "We see very full blown tumorigenesis. It's on the extreme end of a tumor promoter and it does it very rapidly.”The American Cleaning Institute, an industry trade group, said in a statement that the study does not prove triclosan promotes tumor growth in humans."The fact is that overdosing mice with triclosan at levels they would never likely come in contact with does not represent a realistic circumstance for humans," said Paul DeLeo, ACI associate vice president of environmental safety. "We've known for decades that the mouse is not a good model for human risk assessment of triclosan."

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The Germy Perils of a French Kiss

The Germy Perils of a French Kiss

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There is perhaps nothing more romantic than a French kiss. Apparently there is also nothing more disgustingly filthy.A new Dutch study published in the journal Microbiome found that swapping spit for about 10 seconds transfers up to 80 million bacteria between lovers. The shorter partner in the smooch may take on even more germs because, as the researchers noted, saliva travels downward.The longer a couple stays together the more similar the microbes in their mouth become, the study found. And the more than 700 different species of bacteria that live and breed in the mouth are mostly healthy and beneficial.The Dutch study also revealed that couples only exchange about 1,000 germs in a straightforward lip lock. That’s fewer than found in a handshake.

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Watch Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Bono in Powerful Ebola PSA

Watch Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Bono in Powerful Ebola PSA

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A quiet hum plays in the background as Matt Damon stares back at the camera.The theme is waiting -- and what he and other stars are waiting for is action against Ebola."This is what waiting looks like…" flashes across the screen as another icon, Morgan Freeman, stares right back.The public service announcement is sponsored by ONE, Bono's organization and features others like Ben Affleck, Connie Britton and Will Ferrell.The PSA adds, "We waited too long to react."

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New York Woman’s Death Not Related to Ebola, Health Officials Say

New York Woman’s Death Not Related to Ebola, Health Officials Say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A woman in New York City who died while being monitored for possible exposure to Ebola has tested negative for the virus, officials with the city's health department said Wednesday.The woman died Tuesday. The cause of death was not immediately released. She had recently arrived from Guinea, one of three countries that have been designated for special attention to travelers because of outbreaks of the lethal virus. Liberia and Sierra Leone are the other two countries.The Ebola test was performed on the woman's remains due to her travel history and an abundance of caution, a New York City official briefed on the woman's death told ABC News. She had not exhibited any symptoms of the virus before her death and since she was being monitored, she was being checked daily, officials said.There are about 350 people being monitored for Ebola by New York City authorities.

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Couple Adopts Daughter as an Embryo

Couple Adopts Daughter as an Embryo

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — Unable to have biological children of their own, Liz and Kevin Krainman turned to a relatively new and little-known way to adopt their now 4-month-old daughter.The Krainmans, of Austin, Texas, used embryo adoption to bring their daughter, Sammy, into their lives.“When I first discovered embryo adoption, it was like Christmas morning,” Liz Krainman, 33, told ABC News. “Something just clicked that was like I had no idea this existed, [that] I could be pregnant and I could have a child that’s adopted.”The Krainmans got the embryo that became their daughter from a couple, Libby and Tony Kranz, who live almost 1,700 miles away.The Kranzes underwent five rounds of IVF treatments and suffered through five miscarriages before they adopted a child of their own, a daughter they named Jennifer, in 2007.Miraculously, after the adoption, Libby Kranz, 35, got pregnant naturally three times and delivered three healthy babies, now ages 5, 3 and 1.With their family of six complete, the Kranzes were left with four unused embryos.While most unused embryos are either destroyed or used for science, some couples, like the Kranzes, choose to put their embryos up for adoption. These frozen embryos are affectionately called “snowflake babies.”“We gave them a gift and people like to say, ‘Oh, they gave such a generous gift,’ but they gave us a gift too,” Libby Kranz told ABC News. “They gave us the perfect landing spot for these embryos.”The Krainmans’ daughter, Sammy, was actually conceived in 2006. The embryo that became her was on ice in a storage facility for seven years before being adopted.“Just knowing that she was frozen for so long as a little ball of cells and then awakened, that process just blows my mind,” Krainman said. “Love is what made her. The love of so many people went into creating her and bringing her here.”In a sad twist, the Kranzes’ adopted daughter, Jennifer, was diagnosed with cancer around the same time that Krainman became pregnant with Sammy and later died at the age of 6.The Kranzes have since started a non-profit organization, Unravel Pediatric Cancer, to raise awareness and research funds for the disease.The family calls the decision to donate the embryo to the Krainmans a “gift” they are proud of.“This was a gift for Liz and Kevin and it is a gift for us,” said Libby Kranz. “It’s a gift that we gave ourselves, I guess, because we did the right thing and we know it.”“I’m proud of it and it’s a nice feeling to be proud of yourself for something,” she said.Click here, here and here to learn more about the Krainmans’ and the Kranzes’ journey through embryo adoption, courtesy of People magazine.

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Woman Monitored for Ebola Dead; NYC Department of Health Investigating

Woman Monitored for Ebola Dead; NYC Department of Health Investigating

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A woman in New York City who was being monitored for possible exposure to Ebola has died, and her cause of death is being investigated by the city’s Department of Health.The woman had recently arrived from Guinea, one of three countries that have been designated for special attention to travelers because of outbreaks of the lethal virus. Liberia and Sierra Leone are the other two countries.The New York City Health Department said that the last time the woman was checked, she did not have symptoms of Ebola. People who are being monitored are checked daily.There are about 350 people on the city’s list of people being monitored for Ebola.A New York City official briefed on the woman's death told ABC News, "Earlier today, an individual who came to the U.S. from one of the three Ebola-impacted nations in West Africa within last three weeks died of an apparent non-Ebola condition.

This individual at no time showed any symptoms of Ebola. However, due to travel history and an abundance of caution, an Ebola test will be performed on this individual's remains. Test results are expected later tonight or early tomorrow morning."

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Great Dane Gives Birth to 19 Puppies

Great Dane Gives Birth to 19 Puppies

ABC News(YORK COUNTY, Pa.) -- A great Dane in York County, Pennsylvania gave birth to 19 puppies.Brandon and Aimie Terry knew their dog – named Snowy – was pregnant, but they never expected this many puppies.“We had made an appointment to take her into the vet, and they did an X-ray, and found out there were 15 spines in the X-ray,” Brandon Terry told ABC affiliate WHTM.Great Dane litters usually contain about eight puppies.The puppies were born three weeks ago – earlier than the family expected. Brandon Terry was doing yard work when he kept hearing a noise, similar to a kitten’s mewing. When he looked, he saw the first puppy. Six more of the puppies were born at the house, with the rest born at an animal hospital.“It’s a shocker, but I’m glad that they’re all here,” Brandon Terry told WHTM.The puppies recently opened their eyes.“Right now they’re into exploring and playing, fighting with each other,” Aimie Terry said.The puppies are small and cuddly now, but they’ll eventually grow to nearly three feet in height. The family is hoping to find new homes for the dogs.The largest known litter of puppies is 24, born in 2004 to a Neapolitan mastiff in Cambridgeshire, England, according to Guinness World Records.

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Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms May Not Be as Hygienic as You Think

Hand Dryers in Public Restrooms May Not Be as Hygienic as You Think

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- New research finds that hand dryers in public restrooms may not be very hygienic.

Hand dryers may be simple and fast, but scientists at the University of Leeds in England say they found that the dryers spread bacteria into the air, onto users, and onto those nearby.

They also determined that the germs remains present in the air for a considerable time after the dryer has stopped.

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Brittany Maynard’s Mom Defends Her Daughter’s Choice to Die

Brittany Maynard’s Mom Defends Her Daughter’s Choice to Die

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The mother of the young woman who chose to end her life after battling cancer is defending her daughter's right to die, saying critics have no place to comment while her family grieves.Debbie Ziegler, whose daughter Brittany Maynard died earlier this month, also addressed the Vatican official who recently blasted her daughter's decision as misguided suicide."My 29-year-old daughter's choice to die gently rather than suffer physical and mental degradation and intense pain does not deserve to be labelled as reprehensible by strangers a continent away who do not know her or the particulars of her situation," Ziegler wrote in a letter.Maynard, who had been diagnosed with brain cancer, died on Nov. 1 after taking lethal medication prescribed by her doctor.She and her family had previously moved from California to Oregon to take advantage of the state's right to die laws.Her mother said the criticism "is more than a slap in the face.""It is like kicking us as we struggle to draw a breath," she said in the letter, expressing shock that anyone could have negative things to say about her daughter, especially at such a difficult time."Death is not necessarily the enemy in all cases," Ziegler added. "Sometimes a gentle passing is a gift. Misguided doctors caught up in an aspirational belief that they must extend life, whatever the cost, cause individuals and families unnecessary suffering. Brittany stood up to bullies. She never thought anyone else had the right to tell her how long she should suffer. The right to die for the terminally ill is a human rights issue. Plain and simple."Maynard had become the face of the death with dignity movement in recent months through her work with the group Compassion & Choices, and chronicled her final days online, ticking items off a bucket list like a trip to the Grand Canyon.

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New Dating App Vows to Eliminate Creepy Users

New Dating App Vows to Eliminate Creepy Users

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new iPhone dating app claims to be the first of its kind to punish users who misbehave or seem more like spectators than real-world daters.“My female friends were receiving anything from graphic images to downright hostile comments for absolutely no reason,” said Cliff Lerner, CEO of the company behind The Grade. “I thought to myself, there’s got to be a way to build a product where users are accountable for their actions.”The Grade, which launched Monday, allows a user to swipe to "like" a profile. If you find a match, then you can start messaging.The difference from the competition, Lerner said, is that users' interactions are monitored so the site can assess grades.“We use a sophisticated algorithm that scans messages for inappropriate content,” Lerner said. “Users are then graded based on popularity, compelling messages and frequency of response.”Grades are visible to all users. Daters with D grades receive warnings. Daters with Fs can be booted from the app altogether. New users get a grade of pending until a profile is created and they become active.Those with poor grades have one to two weeks to improve their performance. Otherwise, the profile is removed and the user can appeal to the app operators.“We believe we are the first to ever offer this function,” Lerner said. “Our ultimate goal is to create a community of high-quality, articulate daters. We’re committed to expelling low-quality users, not just because someone is offensive, but based on how responsive they are to others.”Frequent dating app user Christiana Padovano, 22, of New York City, said she's willing to give it a try.“When I go on, I’m looking to meet a decent person -- someone that I can have a good time with,” she said.In the past, prospective daters have bombarded Padovano with inappropriate sexual comments, to the point where she decided to unplug for a while.“I deleted my app for three months because I couldn’t deal with the obnoxious messages anymore,” said Padovano. "Now, you’ll find out beforehand so you won’t waste your time.”

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Why E-Smokers Are Rejoicing over 2014 Word of the Year

Why E-Smokers Are Rejoicing over 2014 Word of the Year

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "Vape" is the Oxford English Dictionary's word of the year.If you’re a little hazy on the meaning, it means to inhale and exhale the vapor produced by an electronic cigarette device, which are themselves also sometimes known as vapes. The word was coined as a way of distancing the act of e-smoking from the act of smoking combustible tobacco cigarettes, the OED said in a statement Tuesday.Vapers -- the people who puff away on e-smokes -- are feeling pretty good about their pastime officially entering the lexicon. They've taken to Twitter and other social media sites to celebrate.Word of the year honors were a long time coming for vape. Though the word was just added to the OED's online site this year, electronic cigarettes have been around since the 1960s and the term first came into use around 1980.Vaping, the activity, didn't really catch on until a decade or so ago but now there are more than 250 brands of "e-cigarettes" available in a variety of flavors, including watermelon, pink bubble gum and java.The Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association estimates that about four million Americans now use battery-powered cigarettes. They project sales of the devices to cross the one billion mark by the end of this year.Vape beat out words such as "bae," a term of endearment for a romantic partner, and "slacktivism," which describes getting involved in social causes without expending too much effort.

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Toddlers Who Were Preemies Have Special Picnic

Toddlers Who Were Preemies Have Special Picnic

iStock/Thinkstock(DALLAS) -- It's hard to believe the toddlers walking around the park on tiny, wobbly feat were born at 36 weeks, 33 weeks, 24 weeks.These children were born too early, but on the day of Baylor University Medical Center's preemie reunion, they were doing just fine.It's always a joy just to watch the children color at the reunion after having seen them when they weighed only one or two pounds at birth, said Dr. Vijay Nama, medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.

Families spend weeks or months in the hospital depending on how early their children were born, and as a result, they form a special bond with the nurses and doctors who took care of their newborns."It's almost like you don't just meet them in the hospital," Nama said. "You know them as a family."These toddlers are among the 1 in 9 children in the United States who are born premature, according to March of Dimes.The reunion is tied to World Prematurity Day, which, according to March of Dimes, is a day to raise awareness about the 15 million babies a year who are born before their due dates around the globe.Nama said babies born earlier than 37 weeks gestation are considered premature. The tiniest babies, born between 23 and 27 weeks, have the most difficult road ahead. Like most premature babies, their lungs aren't fully developed. The earlier a baby is born, the less developed it is. As a result, these babies need to be given respiratory support until their lungs can work on their own.After 27 weeks, the preemies' road is a little easier, Nama said, but on average, they still stay in the hospital until what would have been their due dates.He said the hospital staff hears from former patients long after they leave the hospital -- either on the phone or through Facebook. And the mothers form their own support groups while they wait for their babies to be healthy enough to leave the hospital.Prematurity can be caused by a number of factors, including having twins or triplets, an infection in the womb, pregnancy-induced hypertension or a separation of the placenta from the uterus wall. But sometimes, the uterus can begin contracting for no reason at all, Nama said.Although technology has made advancements for preemies over the years, Nama said the biggest tool doctors have learned to use is the mothers themselves. Breast milk and skin-to-skin contact are just as good as or better than much of the medicine in his arsenal."The biggest advancement we've made is really the involvement of the family," he said.Although he couldn't make it to the reunion this year, he usually attends to see the families whose children are only a few months old or up to 6 years old."It's fun to watch them," he said. "Really when you see them weighing one or two pounds, and now they're trying to do painting. ...Imagine when you first see them when they're born."

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