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Why Being Thin Is Not Equal to Being Healthy

Why Being Thin Is Not Equal to Being Healthy

Monkey Business Images/Stockbroker/Monkey Business/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the ongoing war on obesity, health officials have consistently focused on Body Mass Index, or BMI, as a measure of weight appropriate to a certain height. The bad news is that more than a third of Americans, 34.9 percent, are obese, with a BMI of over 30, according to 2014 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Another third of Americans are overweight, according to the CDC, with a BMI of between 25 and 30. But that's not where the bad news ends. Many health experts have long been concerned that BMI does not properly account for people who look svelte but have fat hidden away, making them "normal weight obese." Those people can still store away reservoirs of fat in the body or even in the organs or muscles, leading to serious health consequences similar to those of a person whose BMI indicates they're overweight, experts note. A 2010 study published in the European Heart Journal found that as many as 30 million Americans are suspected of having normal weight obesity. "It’s absolutely true there are some people who seem like no matter what they’re doing, they look really good but looks can be deceiving," Carol Garber, a professor of Movement Science at the Teacher College at Columbia University, told ABC News. Garber said she has seen first hand how even skinny patients can be at risk for heart disease. "We would regularly see people who had heart attacks come to [our] rehab program and look perfectly fine," Garber said. But "if you measured their body fat, they had a greater proportion of fat than they would have thought." It's key to be clear that apparent thinness does not always equal health and that even a skinny person with a low BMI can be unhealthy if fat has built up around their organs, Garber said. "[Fat] affects different kinds of inflammatory substances that have been implicated in heart disease and diabetes," Garber said. "They can cause damage to blood vessel walls and affect how your blood vessel works." Some body fat is essential to stay healthy, Garber emphasized, with a range stretching up to 25 percent of body weight for women and around 15 percent for men. People who are thin and active likely don't need to be afraid that they have normal weight obesity, she noted. "The bottom line is think about your lifestyle ... no matter what your weight is," said Garber. "Irrespective of your weight, everyone is going to benefit to shift your diet and eat more fruits and vegetables, and not smoking and not over-drinking." People who focus on losing weight are often frustrated when the scale refuses to budge, she said, but a healthy lifestyle overall will give tremendous benefit, even if it's not reflected on the scale. "You can be smug and healthy and a little overweight," she said.

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Mom of Pregnant Woman Removed from Life Support Has New Fight

Mom of Pregnant Woman Removed from Life Support Has New Fight

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A Texas woman who fought to get her brain-dead daughter off of life support is hoping a new bill in the state legislature can help families avoid an ordeal similar to the one she went through when making end-of-life decisions.“The state not only tied our hands, but those of the doctors and the hospital too,” Lynne Machado said at a news conference to introduce the new bill, dubbed "Marlise's Law." "What should have been an immensely private and personal moment for our family was used as a political debate. The doctors weren’t practicing medicine. They were practicing politics.”And the politics continue. In addition to "Marlise's Law," introduced by Texas State Rep. Elliot Naishtat, a Democrat, a proposal to move the rules in the opposite direction has been introduced by a Republican.Machado has described the two months her daughter, Marlise Munoz, was on life support as a living nightmare. The young and pregnant mother was just 33 when a pulmonary embolism left her brain dead.Munoz, a paramedic, had told members of her family that she never wanted to be on life support, but the hospital where she was taken refused to remove the support systems because of a Texas law that prohibited removing “life-sustaining” treatment for any pregnant patient.“We felt, in our opinion, that the government was getting involved in something that they didn’t have the right to get involved in,” Machado said.It took two months for Munoz’s family to win the right to remove Munoz from life support based on the fact that she was a deceased person and, therefore, not a patient. But the memories of seeing her daughter’s body deteriorate before her eyes has haunted Machado over the past year.“When I kissed her goodbye, I could smell death,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of experience with death [but] it’s one of those smells you know what it is.”Eventually, Machado said, she, her husband, Ernie Machado, and Munoz’s husband, Erick Munoz, decided they wanted to get involved with changing the law itself. On Thursday, they became the face of “Marlise’s Law.” The bill would remove the pregnancy exclusion from the Texas law that outlines guidelines for end-of-life procedures."This bill would allow women autonomy when planning their wishes regarding extraordinary medical interventions during end-of-life care," Naishtat, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. "Marlise’s Law enables physicians, health care providers and medical institutions to honor a woman's wishes and personal values, and preserve the doctor-patient relationship.”An opposing bill introduced last week by Texas Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican, would make it illegal to stop life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant woman -- even if there is “irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function" -- and would require the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the fetus.Of "Marlise's Law," Kraus said, "It's kind of a 180 from what we're seeking to do. ... I think it would be a mistake to overturn that [current Texas law]. I don’t see a position like that gaining traction in the house."Lynne Machado has said she and her family will testify against Krause’s bill if it is presented at a committee.Machado, whose family's fight will be documented in the upcoming documentary The Pregnancy Exclusion, said she, her husband and son-in-law were so shocked by the hospital's disregard for Marlise Munoz's end-of-life wishes, that they knew they would have to go public to raise awareness and try to change the law.“We were in it to educate people, that was one of our goals,” said Machado. “We could get the word out to people about this little known law and also a pregnant woman’s rights is nullified and the father has no say,” in end-of-life decisions for pregnant women.

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Woman Works to Overcome Vomit Phobia Ahead of Wedding Day

Woman Works to Overcome Vomit Phobia Ahead of Wedding Day

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Jessica Mellen, like over 40 million other Americans, suffers from a terrifying affliction called anxiety disorder. She can undergo intense panic attacks triggered by anything from driving a car or flying in a plane to riding in an elevator.But the one powerful phobia that fills Mellen with the most dread is vomiting.“If someone was like, ‘You can either be shot in the leg or throw up once,’ I would be like, ‘Just shoot me in the leg,’” Mellen, 29, from New Hampshire, told ABC News’ 20/20. “To me, that’s one of the worst things that could happen to me, if not the worst.”The fear of throwing up is called emetophobia, and millions of people in America have it. Mellen’s entire life is choreographed around keeping herself protected against it. She takes every precaution against catching the flu from co-workers and carries antacids, tummy drops, cough drops and hand sanitizer in her purse.“The fear just engulfs, and it swallows everything around you,” Mellen said.Her phobia even once threatened the dream she shared with her now-husband of having children. Mellen was so terrified of getting morning sickness that she refused to try and get pregnant.She and Marvin Graaf met while working at a Philadelphia restaurant they now own together. After they started dating, Mellen told Graaf about her anxiety disorder. At first, he had no issue with it. But when they started planning a wedding and a family, Mellen’s phobia morphed into anxiety about having children. It became a problem for the couple.“I remember towards the beginning we would get into arguments because I said, ‘Can't you just get over it?’” Graaf, from Pennsylvania, told 20/20. “I mean, this is a big deal. You're not willing to even risk throwing up to have a kid with me?"“I don't want to miss out on something that could be really special between the two of us because of my phobia. It's not fair to him either,” Mellen said.Mellen’s phobia was so extreme that she researched hiring a surrogate to have their baby, which she said could cost $40,000 to $90,000.“I would rather pay the money than throw up. I would rather do anything than throw up,” said Mellen.But Mellen decided to fight her fear. Before her wedding, she underwent exposure therapy with Dr. Steven Tsao at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Treatment of Anxiety.For five months, she endured an emotional roller coaster as he worked to desensitize her to her fears through direct confrontation of aspects of the phobia. As part of her exposure therapy, she was shown photos of people who were throwing up. It was an emotional moment, when she remembered what may have caused her phobia.“The last time I got sick when I was younger, I threw up so bad I couldn’t breathe, and it was really scary,” she said.In their therapy sessions, Dr. Tsao also had her eat food from an unregulated street vendor and confronted her with fake vomit made from oatmeal and soup. In an effort to confront her primal fear, Mellen forced herself to touch the fake vomit. Towards the end of her therapy, Tsao even had Mellen attempt to make herself throw up.As the weeks passed by, Mellen realized that her fears were rooted in anxiety and not in reality.“I just have to keep trying my best,” Mellen said.Five months of therapy may not have cured her of her fear. But she now knows how to manage it.“I mean it’s for me, and it’s for him and it’s for us,” Mellen said. “But at the end of the day, it’s for me.”On a bright, fall day earlier this year, despite a brief panic attack, Mellen married Graaf.Watch the full story on ABC News' 20/20 on Friday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET.

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Mom Surprised When Son Says ‘Hello’ at Just 7 Weeks

Mom Surprised When Son Says ‘Hello’ at Just 7 Weeks

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A mother in Northern Ireland was astounded when her son managed to greet her with a tiny "hello" at just 7 weeks old.Toni McCann, of Belfast, Ireland, said her son Cillian, now 9 weeks, has said "hello" twice. The first time she had her camera trained on him as she slowly pronounced the word for her son.The infant appeared to try and unsuccessfully imitate his mother before finally managing a quick "hello" for the first time."He was making a lot of eye contact and that’s why I started filming him," she told ABC News. "I realized he was trying to copy what I was saying it and then it just came out."McCann said she first noticed Cillian trying to mimic sounds at just 5 weeks old when her husband was holding him."Cillian's tongue [was] to come out and...he was trying to imitate to talking," she said. McCann said her son has said "hello" just one other time when one of her daughters was talking with the baby.Gail Murray, director of Audiology Services at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, said the video is a great example of how infants start to learn to speak by focusing on their parent's faces."This is a perfect example of modeling behavior, mom is coaching him to do what she’s doing," said Murray. "It’s an important example of what we want all mothers to do with their baby."Murray said the Cillian's first "hello" may seem impressive, but is part of the normal development for infants as they progress from mimicry to babbling to saying single words with meaning, which usually happens around 11 to 12 months.Murray said Cillian's first word is likely not the same as a 1 to 2-year-old's first word, where they have attached the word to some meaning."They don’t have muscle coordination of the mouth," Murray said of newborn infants. "It’s usually a process of both learning what words mean by hearing them and by seeing mom and by trying to imitate mom over and over again."Murray said new moms should talk to their babies, even if the infants can't say full words yet. She also recommended letting babies "talk back" in the conversation, even if they don't have full words yet.While the video of Cillian saying hello has gone viral, McCann said she has already moved on to a new phrase for the baby."Now I’m saying to him 'I love you,'" McCann told ABC News.

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Friday the 13th and Why It’s Time to Breathe Easier

Friday the 13th and Why It’s Time to Breathe Easier

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just hang on a little longer, you paraskevidekatriaphobics. Surviving your fear of Friday the 13th today would free you until Nov. 13, followed by only one day of dread next year.This year’s February and March occurrence is simply pure luck of the calendar. Friday the 13th popped up only once last year, for instance, with no sign in sight of three in the same year again anytime soon. So people with this debilitating fear can breathe a little easier for a while, assuming they avoid any calamity by midnight.And even if it’s little or no consolation, there’s another reason they are luckier than they think. By comparison, triggers for other phobias -- real or imagined -- are far more abundant.

Here are some of the more unusual ones:

 

Liticaphobia: Fear of lawsuits Euphobia: Fear of hearing good news Soceraphobia: Fear of parents-in-law Deipnophobia: Fear of dining or dinner conversations Nostophobia: Fear of returning home Xanthophobia: Fear of the color yellow or the word yellow Clinophobia: Fear of going to bed Omphalophobia: Fear of belly buttons Arachibutyrophobia: Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth, not to be confused with any legitimate phobia Aichmophobia: Fear of sharp objects Sesquipedalophobia: Fear of long words, which has morphed into the contrived hippopotomonstrosesquipedaliophobia And then, of course, there’s the phobia of all phobias: Phobophobia, or the fear of being afraid.

See more at The Phobia List.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Health Experts Aim for a 2040 Tobacco-Free World

Health Experts Aim for a 2040 Tobacco-Free World

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One billion deaths from tobacco by the end of the 21st century?It could happen, says an international group of health and policy experts, unless the world community takes immediate action to curtail smoking numbers all over the globe.The issue will be addressed by a team of health professionals led by professors from New Zealand at next week’s 2015 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Dubai.What the group is aiming for is a tobacco-free world, which in actuality, means “less than five percent of adults use tobacco.”Rather than trying to restrict advertising to reduce demand, the new initiative will focus more on making it more difficult to obtain cigarettes and other tobacco products by imposing steeper taxes around the world.Another emphasis will be on instituting smoking cessation programs in middle- and low-income countries.The experts are setting 2040 as the target date for making the world tobacco-free.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Advice to Seniors: Keep Moving to Stay Moving

Advice to Seniors: Keep Moving to Stay Moving

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Ideally, people should be exercising both their brains and bodies as they age.Now, a new study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago gives another compelling reason why staying fit can help you function better later in life.According to lead researcher Debra Fleischman, “Daily physical activity may be able to protect motor function from age-related injury to the brain.” This damage often seen in elderly patients called white matter hyperintensities has a direct link to the problems with walking and mobility.However, in a test of more than 160 patients with an average age of 80, those who scored higher in mobility tests were the seniors who exercised the most, even taking into account a high level of white matter hyperintensities and other factors such as weight problems and depression.What’s more, staying active as one ages might also actually help to stave off this brain damage that limits mobility.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Easily Bored People Often Prone to Repetitive Behavior

Easily Bored People Often Prone to Repetitive Behavior

Polka Dot/Thinkstock(MONTREAL) — Have you been so bored that you felt like pulling your hair out? Actually, that’s what certain people do, which is called repetitive behavior, an extreme way of letting out frustration.Other forms of this behavior, according to chief researcher Kieron O'Connor from the University of Montreal, include skin picking and nail-biting.O’Connor says that people prone to repetitive behavior tend to be perfectionists who express frustration, impatience and dissatisfaction when it takes too long to reach their goals. Another manifestation of the behavior is becoming bored easily.O’Connor, who studied 48 participants, half of whom displayed this disorder, says hair pulling and skin picking are ways to satisfy an urge and deliver a kind of reward.It’s believed that these people can benefit from treatments that help to reduce a need for perfectionism while teaching them to feel less bored and frustrated when goals aren’t quickly achieved.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Women Turned On by Heroic Soldiers

Women Turned On by Heroic Soldiers

iStock/Thinkstock(SOUTHAMPTON, England) — 1980’s British pop star Bonnie Tyler might have been speaking for all women in the song “Holding Out for a Hero.”The lyrics go in part, “He's gotta be strong And he's gotta be fast And he's gotta be fresh from the fight.”As it turns out, researchers from the University of Southampton say in a study of 90 U.K. women about what they most desire in a boyfriend, the consensus was they want a guy who’s a hero or does heroic deeds on the battlefield as opposed to soldiers who just do the job they're ordered to do.Soldiers rewarded for bravery under fire ranked first among the participants. Even men in other professions who performed heroically weren’t particularly more attractive to women.Meanwhile in another study, men found women who did heroic deeds in combat or in a disaster zone actually less attractive than women who did not go above and beyond the call of duty.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Homeopathy Doesn’t Work, Major Australian Study Concludes

Homeopathy Doesn’t Work, Major Australian Study ConcludesPat_Hastings/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Homeopathic medicine doesn't work, according to a major Australian study.The country's National Health and Medical Research Council considered 1,800 studies, narrowing them down to 225 that met certain criter...

CDC, AMA Announce Joint Initiative to Tackle Prediabetes

CDC, AMA Announce Joint Initiative to Tackle Prediabetes

IPGGutenbergUKLtd/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Medical Association announced a joint initiative on Thursday to tackle the growing problem of prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.The initiative is titled Prevent Diabetes STAT: Screen, Test, Act - Today. "It's time that the nation comes together to take immediate action to help prevent diabetes before it starts," AMA President Robert Wah said. "Type 2 diabetes is one of our nation's leading cause of suffering and death -- with one out of three people at risk of developing the disease in their lifetime."Wah notes that the initiative is, in part, "about empowering patients to take control of their health." As part of the initiative, the CDC has put up a "Prediabetes Screening Test" online. It also urges patients to speak with their doctors about the risks of prediabetes. The final step, the agencies say, is finding a diabetes prevention program -- a lifestyle change program to help prevent or delay type 2 diabetes -- in your community. A list of some such programs is available online.

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American Health Worker Diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone Headed to NIH

American Health Worker Diagnosed with Ebola in Sierra Leone Headed to NIH

Photo by Andrew Councill/MCT/MCT via Getty Images(BETHESDA, Md.) -- An American health worker volunteering in an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone has been diagnosed with the deadly virus and will be headed to the United States for treatment, according to the National Institutes of Health.The patient, who has not been identified, will be isolated and flown to the NIH Clinical Center Special Clinical Studies Unit in Maryland, which is one of four hospitals in the country with isolation units prepared for Ebola patients. This will be the NIH's second Ebola patient. The patient is scheduled to be admitted on Friday, officials said.The Ebola outbreak is nearing its end in the neighboring West African country of Liberia, with what health officials are calling the final Ebola patient's discharge from an Ebola treatment unit last week. But the World Health Organization on Thursday announced that the virus had claimed more than 10,000 lives in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.Dallas nurse Nina Pham, 26, the first person to catch Ebola on U.S. soil, was flown to the NIH facility in October and was released Ebola-free.

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FDA Issues Updated Guidance for Reusable Devices Linked to ‘Superbugs’

FDA Issues Updated Guidance for Reusable Devices Linked to ‘Superbugs’

ChrisPole/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued final guidance on Thursday on the reuse of medical devices and the possibly resultant spread of infectious agents, partially in response to the reusable endoscopes that are believed to have caused the spread of a "superbug" at a California medical center."Medical devices intended for repeated use are commonplace in health care settings," the FDA statement read. "They are typically made of durable substances that can withstand reprocessing, a multi-step process designed to remove soil and contaminants by cleaning and to inactivate microorganisms by disinfection or sterilization. While the majority of reusable devices are successfully reprocessed in health care settings, the complex design of some devices makes it harder to remove contaminants," the agency noted.In the updated guidance, the FDA calls on device manufacturers to not only consider reprocessing early in the design phase of these devices, but also to conduct testing that proves their cleaning, disinfection and sterilization instructions "consistently reduce microbial contamination."Further, the FDA will request that manufacturers submit scientific data from that testing to the agency. Previous guidelines, implemented in 1996, made no such request. "Despite the recent concerns about multi-drug resistant bacteria infections associated with duodenoscopes," the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health Chief Scientist and Deputy Director for Science William Maisel said, "patients and health care providers should know that the risk of acquiring an infection from a reprocessed medical device is low."

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Tulane Primate Lab Employee Found Positive for Dangerous Bacteria in Initial Tests

Tulane Primate Lab Employee Found Positive for Dangerous Bacteria in Initial Tests

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) — A Tulane lab employee is the first human to test positive for a deadly bacteria that mysteriously escaped a Tulane primate research laboratory, a Tulane University spokeswoman said.At least eight monkeys at the Tulane National Primate Center in New Orleans initially tested positive for exposure to burkholderia pseudomallei, a potentially deadly form of bacteria more commonly found in Southeast Asia and Northern Australia.A federal investigator also tested positive for being exposed to the bacteria, but in that case it wasn't clear if he was exposed at the center or during a visit to an infected region, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.But blood tests from an animal clinic employee at the center showed current or prior exposure to the dangerous bacteria, Tulane officials announced Wednesday. However, the antibodies found in the blood that indicate the positive reading were still very low and the employee showed no symptoms, Tulane officials said, adding that the readings were so low they were within the levels sometimes found among members of the public with no exposure.As a result, the CDC is scheduled to conduct additional tests to confirm the initial result.Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said burkholderia pseudomallei is an usual bacteria because it can remain dormant for a long time and it can infect different organs in the body."It causes all sorts of different infections depending upon the part of the body that it sets up shop in," including tuberculosis, said Schaffner. An infected person can be without symptoms for a long time and then the infection can "suddenly come to the fore and create an illness."In the case the Tulane employee, the person might have already fought off the infection or the bacteria could be multiplying and eventually cause a full-blown infection with symptoms, Schaffner said. Continued blood tests should reveal if the infection is expected to get worse and doctors can then try a cocktail of antibiotics to treat the infection, he said.CDC officials have said there is no risk to the public from the outbreak. It's unclear how the bacteria from the high-tech security lab at the research center initially infected the primates. Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Why ‘Natural,’ Hypoallergenic Products Can Still Cause Allergic Reactions

Why ‘Natural,’ Hypoallergenic Products Can Still Cause Allergic Reactions

Courtesy Diana Wilson(NEW YORK) -- Skin-care products may have labels touting natural and hypoallergenic ingredients, but that doesn't mean they can't cause allergic reactions, doctors say.Studies have shown that some people are allergic to a preservative called methylchloroisothiazolinone that appears in some skin, hair and other personal care products and household goods.

Diana Wilson of Houston said she thinks she's among them because she developed an itchy mystery rash on her hands that doctors at first thought might have been eczema."I was just at my wits' end," Wilson told ABC's Houston station KTRK. "This is when it was at its worst. It was cracking, it was hurting. It was very painful. I couldn't touch anything, couldn't do anything, and it looked awful."She said she found the preservative listed on many products in her home, even her dish detergents. But what struck her as odd was that most of her products were labeled hypoallergenic or all-natural."That was the most frustrating part," Wilson told KTRK.Methylchloroisothiazolinone and its relative methylisothiazolinone -- MCI or MI for short -- have been used in products in the United States for years, experts said. Though allergies to them are considered rare, they've been on the rise, said Dr. Stacy Dorris, a pediatrics professor at Vanderbilt University Medical School who specializes in allergies. The American Contact Dermatitis Society named MI "allergen of the year" in 2013, she noted.Dorris said she sees these allergies most often in adults and children who are using diaper wipes or other wet wipes, and it initially causes what looks like chronic eczema that doesn't clear up on the face, hands or rear-end, she said. Since she's on the lookout for it, she tells parents to stop using the wipes, and the rash clears up in about a month.Hypoallergenic products can be "a little bit of a misnomer," she said, because the label really means these products contain chemicals that aren't likely to cause allergic reactions."It doesn't mean it's absolutely not going to cause allergies," she said.The wipes tend to be a bigger issue than face wash, for example, because it is a leave-on product, she said.Dr. Corey Hilmas, the Natural Products Association's senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said the more MCI or MI a product contains, the more likely it is to cause sensitivity.Neither MCI nor MI are allowed in products that bear an NPA certification seal, he said. But not all natural products are certified."Any time you see the word 'natural,' you always have to ask yourself as a consumer, 'What is the standard they're using?' 'Is it a marketing ploy?'" Hilmas said.Still, Hilmas stressed that preservatives in general are important because they prevent bacteria, fungus and other microbials from growing in personal care products."Having a preserve is not something that’s optional," he said, explaining that they prevent products from growing things like E. coli.But there are alternatives, such as benzyl alcohol. And there are natural alternatives, such as grapefruit seed extract, he said.

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Students Wrongly Think Taking Certain Drugs Can Improve Grades

Students Wrongly Think Taking Certain Drugs Can Improve Grades

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) — Recreational drugs have been on college campuses for generations but one group of stimulants has become increasingly popular in recent years to boost academic performance, or so students think.Based on a meta-analysis of 30 articles on the subject, University of South Carolina researchers Kate Flory and Kari Benson concluded that 17 percent of all college students -- that’s one out of every six -- have used Ritalin, Adderall or similar medications in order to improve their focus while studying.However, Flory and Benson say there is no proof that these Schedule 2 controlled substances, which are used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, can help to improve grades and speculate that overusing these drugs may actually lead to poorer performance.To a lesser extent, Ritalin and Adderall are also used recreationally, often because, like cocaine and methamphetamine, they enable students to party longer while consuming more beer, wine and hard liquor.Benson says this is a dangerous combination because it can result in alcohol poisoning.Another finding of the study is that most times these drugs are obtained through friends, who are prescribed them for legitimate reasons.However, not only is this against the law, but it endangers certain users who could have far different reactions to the drugs than what they are intended to treat.Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Family Uses Bus Ads to Find Kidney Donor for Dad

Family Uses Bus Ads to Find Kidney Donor for Dad

iStock/Thinkstock(RENTON, Wash.) — A family in Renton, Washington, is going all out to find a kidney donor for its patriarch.With a long waiting list for donors, Emmett Smith's family has bought ads on local buses to try and find a match.Their mission has taken on special urgency since Smith's blood type puts him on the longest wait list for a kidney.In order to help out, the bus company has placed the ad on 15 additional buses since the Smiths only had enough money to advertise on five.The ad shows Emmett and their 9-month-old daughter Arianna with the caption "My Daddy needs a kidney."Follow @ABCNewsRadio Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Can Warm Milk Help You Sleep?

Can Warm Milk Help You Sleep?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When dealing with a restless child at bedtime, a parent may serve up a glass of warm milk. But from a physiological perspective, does the warm milk actually cause one to nod off?Proponents of this myth may claim that milk contains tryptophan, which causes sleepiness. However, tryptophan can’t cross the blood-brain barrier unless insulin is present, experts noted. So you’d also have to ingest carbohydrates with the milk to raise your blood sugar to absorb the tryptophan. And even if you do, the amount of tryptophan in milk is so small it has virtually no effect.“What we’re finding actually is that the milk does not have enough tryptophan to help a person fall asleep,” says Dr. Sudeepta Varma, a board-certified psychiatrist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at NYU.The fact that the milk is warm may have a soothing effect, similar to having a warm blanket or snuggling with a teddy bear.Dr. Varma sums it up: “So while a glass of warm milk at bedtime may be comforting, there is no clear evidence to suggest it’s actually going to make you fall asleep.”

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Why More People Are Turning to YouTube Videos for Fitness Classes

Why More People Are Turning to YouTube Videos for Fitness Classes

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For many exercisers, their favorite workout class isn't offered at the gym. It's streaming on one of the thousands of YouTube fitness channels and delivered onto their TV, smartphone or tablet.YouTube doesn't keep official stats on how many videos are tagged “fitness” but the company reported that last year, viewers watched 5,500 years-worth of yoga videos alone. That’s double the number from the previous year, according to the company.The more popular YouTube fitness stars have millions of subscribers and hundreds of thousands of hits per video. Viewers are attracted by their convenience and their low cost, said Carol Garber, a professor of movement science at Columbia University, but they should proceed with caution.“A lot of what’s out there is being done by people with no formal training and they may not be giving you a workout that’s safe,” she said.A buff body isn’t enough of a credential, Garber noted. At a minimum, your video instructor should hold a reputable fitness certification, as do the instructors who lead workouts for the five popular fitness channels highlighted below:Jessica Smith FitnessSmith is a bestselling DVD fitness star who started seriously posting YouTube content about a year ago. To date, the certified fitness instructor has logged over 13 million views. Two of her most viewed videos, low-impact walking and lower body exercises for people with bad knees, are the reason beginners love her.Fitness BlenderThis channel lists hundreds of full-length workouts of every conceivable type, starring the husband-and-wife certified instructor team Daniel and Kelli Segar. All of their content is free with no ads or commercial interruptions. Their channel is closing in on two million subscribers. Videos garner half a million views or more every week.Acacia TVBesides its free YouTube postings, brand new upstart Acacia TV offers low-cost, unlimited streaming workouts featuring everything from gentle yoga to high-intensity boot camp. It’s building a steady viewer base thanks to high-quality production and robust community support from its team of certified instructors on Facebook.BlogilatesCassey Ho is a certified fitness instructor with a degree in biology. With more than two million channel subscribers, viewers flock by the thousands to each of her signature “POP Pilates” video workouts that showcase traditional Pilates moves set to top 40 style tunes.ZuzkalightZuzka Light has attracted more than 300,000 YouTube channel subscribers. Every video she posts gathers hundreds of thousands of hits, often within hours. She is a certified kettle bell instructor but also leads a wide variety of other workouts.

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Rare Medical Condition Is Secret to Contortionist’s Ability

Rare Medical Condition Is Secret to Contortionist’s Ability

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- He’s been called a medical mystery, but Daniel Browning Smith just calls himself “Rubber Boy.”“I can dislocate both arms, both legs, turn my torso 180 degrees and all kinds of crazy stuff,” Smith, 35, told ABC News’ 20/20.Smith holds the Guinness World Record for most flexible person and the record for fastest time passing through an unstrung tennis racket three times. He is also a stuntman, breaking his arms and legs in movies, and performs at NBA halftime shows.The secret to his extraordinary flexibility, Smith said, is a rare medical condition called Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (EDS).“It’s a collagen disorder, and it makes me very, very flexible,” said Smith.The syndrome can cause extreme elasticity of the joints and skin.“Probably one in 1,000 people have it,” Dr. Michael Holick, a physician at Boston Medical Center and professor of medicine, physiology and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine, told 20/20. “Most can show that they are double-jointed so that they could increase mobility of their joints.”“My ribs actually dislocate and poke out of my chest, and I do have some muscle pain, but it’s very minor, so I’ve been very lucky,” Smith said.But despite the negative side effects, there are also numerous upsides to having EDS, Smith said.“I joined a circus when I was 17, and I’ve traveled the entire world,” said Smith. “It’s just been absolutely phenomenal.”

Watch Daniel Browning Smith’s story on ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, March 13, at 10 p.m. ET.

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