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What’s Behind the Hunger for “The Hunger Games?”

What’s Behind the Hunger for “The Hunger Games?”

Lionsgate(SALISBURY, Md.) — No doubt about it, The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Twilight are three of the most popular book and movie series of our age.

However, Lance Garmon, a psychologist at Salisbury University in Maryland, says that the fascination many young adults have with these pop culture phenomena go beyond their sheer entertainment value.

To put it bluntly, Garmon says people who are really into The Hunger Games and the rest may have a fixation with death.

He had college students take surveys that dealt with The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Twilight as well as their own anxiety or obsession with dying. In some cases, the participants read The Hunger Games and Harry Potter books and watched the movies as many as six times.

Garmon and his research team surmised that these young adults were death-obsessed while those who saw the movies multiple times without having read the books had anxieties about death.

As for Twilight, these fans, particularly women, were drawn more by the romance in the series than any death aspect.

The bottom line: the attraction of these series is to satisfy a deep-seated fascination with death or romance, mainly to give fans some inner satisfaction.

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Some Dreamers Are Better Problem Solvers

Some Dreamers Are Better Problem Solvers

iStock/Thinkstock(LINCOLNSHIRE, England) — There are people who dream during sleep who have no idea they’re dreaming.  And then, there are those who dream and realize that they are dreaming. If you fall in the latter category, congratulations. You probably have better problem-solving skills than others.

That’s according to Dr. Patrick Bourke from the United Kingdom’s University of Lincoln.  He calls the ability to know when one is deep in a dream “lucid dreaming.”

Apparently, lucid dreamers have a special insight to know when events in a dream don’t make sense.

Bourke says that if a person has this cognitive ability, they generally have a talent for finding connections and inconsistencies that aren’t obvious to non-lucid dreamers when attempting to solve problems, particularly when they have to do with insight.

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Rate of Decline for Retailers Selling Tobacco Products to Minors Slows

Rate of Decline for Retailers Selling Tobacco Products to Minors Slows

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration released on Wednesday indicated that the last 10 years have seen a slow in the decline of retailers selling tobacco products to minors.

Some states, the SAMHSA says, are better than others at preventing minors from buying tobacco products illegally. In 2013, Oregon had the highest rate of violations, with 22.5 percent of retailers selling to minors. That figure is more than double the national average of about 10 percent.

Despite the new data, the SAMHSA says that those figures are far below the data from 1992 — when the national average for retail violators was 40 percent.

The percentage of underage students smoking cigarettes also reached the lowest point since 1995 — 15.7 percent.

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Constantly Drunk, Without Alcohol: Strange Condition Ferments Food in Gut

Constantly Drunk, Without Alcohol: Strange Condition Ferments Food in Gut

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) –  Nick Hess lives an active lifestyle — biking, swimming and playing volleyball. But three years ago, the 34-year-old waiter practically collapsed onto the floor with intense stomach pain.

“[I] thought maybe I had a stomach bug or something. It was terrible,” Hess told ABC News’ 20/20.

But then there was something else strange happening to Hess.

“We would be watching television … and by the end of the evening, he would start to be confused, and he would start slurring,” Hess’ wife Karen Daw told 20/20. “And he did smell like he had alcohol on his breath.”

Hess said he was not a frequent drinker.

Daw, who works in an office, began filming videos on her phone of Hess appearing to be intoxicated even though he hadn’t been drinking, with the intent of showing doctors the footage. Daw and Hess met with several doctors to try to find out what was happening to Hess.

“The amount of tests I could never tell you. I’ve lost count a long time ago,” Hess recalled. “I’ve had at least three colonoscopies, three endoscopes.”

But some doctors — and even Daw — were suspicious that Hess was a closet alcoholic.

“I went through the entire house looking for alcohol,” Daw said. “Anywhere that I think that maybe you could hide a small bottle or a small flask. The painful part was just doubting him.”

In 2011, Hess was arrested for operating a vehicle under the influence after he called the police when he said he was hit by an oncoming car.

While Hess told police he drank only one beer 12 hours earlier that day, police asked the slurring and wobbly Hess to take a breathalyzer test.

According to the police report, Hess was nearly three times over the legal limit.

“It just made me more determined to try and figure out what was going on with him,” said Daw of the incident.

Matthew Hogg, 34, from Middlesbourough, England, also went through similar experiences. Hogg spent his youth suffering from chronic stomach pain. His family spent over $60,000 in treatments.

“My teen years were spent visiting various doctors and clinics and therapists, psychological therapists, and, like, alternative therapists,” Hogg told 20/20. “I felt at university, things were starting to get really out of control. During these episodes, I’d get so drunk, that I was completely wasted after only a few drinks.”

For Hogg and Hess, the lack of answers was taking a toll on their lives.

“There were times where I actually considered taking my own life,” said Hogg.

“It was crushing me. I never left the couch,” Hess said.

Finally, after years of not knowing what was wrong with her husband, Daw came across an article on auto-brewery syndrome. “It was, like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is what he has. I’m convinced of it,’” said Daw.

Auto-brewery syndrome causes the stomach to use excess yeast in the intestine to ferment carbohydrates and other sugary foods into alcohol.

After being tested for yeast, Hess’ results revealed that he had four times the normal amount of yeast. Hess’ doctor Anup Kanodia had Hess completely change his diet to eliminate foods that break down to sugar, such as breads, pasta and rice. After just four weeks, Hess’ mysterious symptoms vanished.

“I’m the luckiest person alive. I keep getting better and better, and I love it,” Hess said.

Though some might be skeptical, Kanodia said the evidence is clear that auto-brewery syndrome is a real illness.

“Patients don’t want to wait 20 years ‘til I publish all the research. They want help today,” Kanodia told 20/20. It’s not clear how many people suffer from auto-brewery syndrome, but Kanodia is determined to get the word out in order to spare others years of misery.

Hogg also made his own drastic dietary changes in order to relieve his symptoms after he too was diagnosed with auto-brewery syndrome, but his symptoms didn’t completely go away. “They were reduced quite a bit, but they didn’t go away completely,” said Hogg.

As he continues to try and find the best cure for himself, Hogg is hopeful.

“I’m not sure a 100-percent cure is possible after all these years, but I’d like to think maybe I’d get to 75 percent and have a job, get married, maybe have kids, live a normal … life,” Hogg said.

“I’m a very stubborn person, so I’ll never give up.”

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CDC: Over 50 Experts on Ground in West Africa Fighting Spread of Ebola

CDC: Over 50 Experts on Ground in West Africa Fighting Spread of Ebola

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) — More than 50 experts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are in West Africa battling the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed over 1,000 people thus far.

The CDC says that the promised surge of assistance that was expected to happen within 30 days of the announcement was completed in under two weeks. Additionally, the CDC’s Emergency Operations Center is currently operating at its highest level of alert — meaning over 350 U.S. staff members are working to support the agency’s response 24/7.

“We are fulfilling our promise to the people of West Africa, Americans, and the world, that CDC would quickly ramp up its efforts to help bring the worst Ebola outbreak in history under control,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said in a statement.

In total, 55 CDC experts have been deployed to the region, including 14 in Guinea, 18 in Liberia, 16 in Sierra Leone and seven in Nigeria.

“We know how to stop Ebola,” Frieden said. “It won’t be easy or fast, but working together with our U.S. and international partners and country leadership, together we are doing it.”

The CDC is working to stop the outbreak by identifying every individual who is sick with the disease and tracking their contacts to ensure that anyone who may have been exposed is checked for signs of the illness.

The World Health Organization provided an update on Wednesday, saying that there are now a total of 1,975 Ebola cases. The disease has thus far caused 1,069 deaths.

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Husband: American Ebola Patient ‘Making Good Progress’

Husband: American Ebola Patient ‘Making Good Progress’

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) — The husband of an American health worker infected with Ebola said she is “improving” and headed “in the right direction” after contracting the deadly virus last month.

Nancy Writebol, 59, has been treated in a special isolation ward at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta since arriving from Liberia on Aug. 5. Writebol was working as a hygienist in a ward treating Ebola patients in Monrovia, Liberia, when she became infected.

Writebol and another American doctor, Kent Brantly, were evacuated from Liberia to the U.S. for treatment after they were infected with the virus.

Writebol’s husband, David Writebol, told reporters Wednesday that his wife sounded “stronger,” when he talked to her on the phone.

“Her voice is clearer and brighter. I’m imagining she’s getting stronger,” said David Writebol. “It’s moving in the right direction, Let’s say that. From everything I’m hearing, we’re making good progress but we’re not ready to say she’s out of the woods yet.”

David Writebol was living with his wife in Liberia, where they worked with other missionaries from the U.S. aid organization SIM USA.

According to David Writebol, his wife worked in a decontamination role, including teaching proper techniques to health workers in the Ebola ward. There were “strict protocols” in place, David Writebol said, and it’s unclear how or when exactly his wife was exposed to the virus.

David Writebol said after his wife was diagnosed and began to have serious symptoms he tried to comfort her, even through layers of protective gear.

“I patted her to let her know I was there and that I loved her,” he said.

David Writebol has been in isolation along with other SIM USA missionaries since arriving in the U.S. this week. David Writebol and anyone else possibly exposed to the virus will remain in quarantine until medical health officials determine they are not at risk for developing the virus. The incubation period for Ebola can last as long as approximately 21 days. The couple’s sons have been in Atlanta with their mother as she recovers from the virus.

When David Writebol’s quarantine is over, he told reporters, he plans on heading straight to Atlanta to see his wife. He may even get to hold her hand after weeks of being separated by quarantine and protective gear.

“It will be a great day when we get back together,” he said.

The Ebola virus has ravaged west Africa since March with 1,975 cases and 1,069 deaths. Liberia, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea, is one of the hardest hit countries, with 670 cases and 355 deaths.

David Writebol said one of the hardest aspects of working with Ebola-infected patients in Africa was not the fear of being infected, but seeing the vulnerability of those he treated.

“One of the strongest feelings I remember and still somewhat carry is the helplessness,” said David Writebol. “It’s not a disease that has a cure. Helplessness is part of that. You do what you can, but it’s really not enough.”

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Robin Williams’ Death Highlights Rising Risk of Suicide

Robin Williams’ Death Highlights Rising Risk of Suicide

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The death of actor Robin Williams has highlighted the rising rate of suicide among middle-aged men, the most successful of whom are in no way immune to depression.

Williams had spoken candidly about his battle with depression and addiction over his four-decade career. He apparently committed suicide by hanging himself Monday, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. He was 63.

Nearly 40,000 Americans commit suicide each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate among middle age Americans rose 28 percent between 1999 and 2010, landing suicide in the country’s top 10 leading causes of death.

The risk of suicide is highest among white people, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the overall suicide rate is about four times higher among men than among women.

About 90 percent of people who commit suicide are suffering from some kind of mental illness like depression, said Dana Alonzo, director of the suicide prevention research program at the Columbia School of Social Work. But not all of them know it.

“The vast majority don’t know they have depression — men in particular,” said Dr. Joseph Calabrese, who directs UH Case Medical Center’s mood disorders program. “And then when they are told that they have a depression, they are reluctant to accept it due to stigma.”

But depression and mental illness are no different than diabetes or heart disease, according to Calabrese, as there are clear cut symptoms and treatments. To be diagnosed with depression, a person has to feel deep sadness “most of the day, nearly every day,” he said. They are also unable to enjoy life and aren’t motivated to do things they normally enjoy.

Though depressed people may have suicidal thoughts, it usually takes drugs and alcohol to prompt those people to act on them, Calabrese said.

Calabrese said to watch out for three emotions in depressed individuals who may be having suicidal thoughts: helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness.

“If somebody is feeling hopeless about the future, they’re at very high risk,” Calabrese said.

Alonzo said not to be afraid to talk to someone who may be suicidal.

“I think one of the most common myths about suicide is…that the worst thing you can do is ask someone about suicide because it will give them the idea,” said Alonzo. “It’s one of the most helpful things you can do.”

Asking someone whether they’re thinking about suicide lets them know you care and won’t judge them, she said. Mayo Clinic suggests using a sensitive tone and asking questions about what’s going on in the person’s life and how they’re coping.

But it’s important to know that if your loved one does commit suicide, it’s not your fault, Alonzo added.

“I think that that’s actually an overlooked group,” she said of people who have lost loved ones to suicide. “They tend to experience more self-directed anger and shame for missing the signs that this was going to happen.”

There are plenty of resources available to people at risk for suicide and their loved ones, Alonzo said.

The Suicide Prevention Center Hotline is located at (877) 7-CRISIS or (877) or click here for its website.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 or click here for its website.

There’s even a relatively new texting line for people who would rather not talk on the phone called the Crisis Text Line. Text the word “listen” to 741741.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Robin Williams’ Death Highlights Rising Risk of Suicide

Robin Williams’ Death Highlights Rising Risk of Suicide

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The death of actor Robin Williams has highlighted the rising rate of suicide among middle-aged men, the most successful of whom are in no way immune to depression.

Williams had spoken candidly about his battle with depression and addiction over his four-decade career. He apparently committed suicide by hanging himself Monday, according to the Marin County Sheriff’s Office. He was 63.

Nearly 40,000 Americans commit suicide each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate among middle age Americans rose 28 percent between 1999 and 2010, landing suicide in the country’s top 10 leading causes of death.

The risk of suicide is highest among white people, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and the overall suicide rate is about four times higher among men than among women.

About 90 percent of people who commit suicide are suffering from some kind of mental illness like depression, said Dana Alonzo, director of the suicide prevention research program at the Columbia School of Social Work. But not all of them know it.

“The vast majority don’t know they have depression — men in particular,” said Dr. Joseph Calabrese, who directs UH Case Medical Center’s mood disorders program. “And then when they are told that they have a depression, they are reluctant to accept it due to stigma.”

But depression and mental illness are no different than diabetes or heart disease, according to Calabrese, as there are clear cut symptoms and treatments. To be diagnosed with depression, a person has to feel deep sadness “most of the day, nearly every day,” he said. They are also unable to enjoy life and aren’t motivated to do things they normally enjoy.

Though depressed people may have suicidal thoughts, it usually takes drugs and alcohol to prompt those people to act on them, Calabrese said.

Calabrese said to watch out for three emotions in depressed individuals who may be having suicidal thoughts: helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness.

“If somebody is feeling hopeless about the future, they’re at very high risk,” Calabrese said.

Alonzo said not to be afraid to talk to someone who may be suicidal.

“I think one of the most common myths about suicide is…that the worst thing you can do is ask someone about suicide because it will give them the idea,” said Alonzo. “It’s one of the most helpful things you can do.”

Asking someone whether they’re thinking about suicide lets them know you care and won’t judge them, she said. Mayo Clinic suggests using a sensitive tone and asking questions about what’s going on in the person’s life and how they’re coping.

But it’s important to know that if your loved one does commit suicide, it’s not your fault, Alonzo added.

“I think that that’s actually an overlooked group,” she said of people who have lost loved ones to suicide. “They tend to experience more self-directed anger and shame for missing the signs that this was going to happen.”

There are plenty of resources available to people at risk for suicide and their loved ones, Alonzo said.

The Suicide Prevention Center Hotline is located at (877) 7-CRISIS or (877) or click here for its website.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255 or click here for its website.

There’s even a relatively new texting line for people who would rather not talk on the phone called the Crisis Text Line. Text the word “listen” to 741741.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Woman Says She Was Denied Job Due to Peanut Allergy

Woman Says She Was Denied Job Due to Peanut Allergy

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts woman is now without a job after she claims she lost a job offer due to her severe peanut allergy.

Kameela Coleman said she was scheduled to start her job working as scheduling coordinator at a dental outpatient clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital this week. However, before she started the job, she disclosed that she had a peanut allergy, which could result in throat swelling and hives.

After telling hospital administration about her allergy, she said she was asked multiple questions about the severity of her allergy and what conditions could possibly set off a deadly reaction. After a long interview, Coleman said the administration rescinded the job offer telling her they could not offer her a safe work environment, she said.

“I kept saying to them I wasn’t asking them to make any accommodations for me,” Coleman said.

However, in a statement, hospital officials wrote ABC News that the decision was made out of safety concerns for Coleman.

Coleman, 37, said she has not decided if she will pursue legal avenues but experts said the case shows the grey area for employers and employees when dealing with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment.

Experts said that the severity of the allergy could determine if Coleman would be legally covered under the law. Even with a severe allergy, employers can argue that hiring a person with a disability would result in an “undue hardship” for the employer.

Daniel Schwartz, an employment lawyer at the Shipman and Goodwin law firm and publisher of the Connecticut Employment law blog, said the ADA could be applied to a severe food allergy, but that the law is really designed to allow the employer and employee to talk about reasonable accommodations.

“If an employee with a peanut allergy was looking to be hired to work in the warehouse of a peanut butter manufacturer, that may not be realistic,” said Schwartz, who emphasized he was speaking generally because he was not working with Coleman. “A hospital may have some concerns as well. But allergies should be handled on a case by case basis. Just because an employee has a food allergy, doesn’t mean that they can’t be accommodated in some instances.”

Michael Spigler, vice president of education at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), said there are ways for employers to accommodate workers with severe allergies so that no one needs to resort to legal challenges.

“While not commonplace, we do occasionally hear about difficult workplace challenges that adults with food allergies experience,” said Spigler. “Employers can accommodate individuals with food allergies in a variety of ways, from conducting training sessions to educate staff about food allergies and anaphylaxis, to providing designated space in break room areas for an employee’s food, to making adjustments in office events that involve food to ensure the employee can participate”

Children’s Hospital officials said they are an equal opportunity employer and do not “tolerate employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.”

“As the top pediatric hospital in the world, workplace safety is extremely important to us. As Ms. Coleman stated, she has a severe peanut allergy,” hospital officials told ABC News in a statement. “Currently in the U.S. alone there are 3 million people who suffer from peanut allergies which can be life threatening. At BCH the safety for our patients and employees is a guiding principle.”

The hospital administration also said they were working with Coleman to resolve the matter, though Coleman told ABC News she had not spoken to anyone at the hospital as of Tuesday morning and has not sought legal representation.

Coleman said she’s frustrated because her allergies have not been a major issue at previous jobs.

For 13 years, Coleman worked at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, she said, where she worked as a secretary in the Intensive Care Unit, and never had a serious problem with her allergy. She said if people were eating peanuts too close she would sometimes leave the floor because she felt nauseous.

“I recognize people eat peanuts when I’m not there,” said Coleman. “I wipe down my phone and keyboard [at work]. It’s also to protect me.”

Coleman said she carries an epinephrine auto-injector, commonly known as EpiPen, with her at all times, but has only used it once after accidentally ingesting peanuts at a restaurant. The smell of peanuts can make her nauseous, she said, but she can usually leave the immediate area.

During one visit to Boston Children’s Hospital to meet with occupational health officials, a hospital worker was eating peanuts nearby. Coleman said she just moved away and was fine.

Coleman said she had been excited to work at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she would typically work a day shift and get to spend more time with her 15-month-old daughter.

After getting the initial job offer, Coleman said she gave her notice at Beth Israel and enrolled her daughter in daycare near Boston Children’s Hospital. Now, her daughter is at daycare all day, as Coleman waits at home hoping the hospital administration will reconsider, she said.

Coleman said she has yet to hear from Boston Children’s Hospital about any possible accommodations or changes that would allow her to work in the building.

“What I really wanted was my job,” said Coleman. “If they came to me and said it was a mistake … it’s something we can work with. I’d be at work right now. There would be no issue.”

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Woman Says She Was Denied Job Due to Peanut Allergy

Woman Says She Was Denied Job Due to Peanut Allergy

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts woman is now without a job after she claims she lost a job offer due to her severe peanut allergy.

Kameela Coleman said she was scheduled to start her job working as scheduling coordinator at a dental outpatient clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital this week. However, before she started the job, she disclosed that she had a peanut allergy, which could result in throat swelling and hives.

After telling hospital administration about her allergy, she said she was asked multiple questions about the severity of her allergy and what conditions could possibly set off a deadly reaction. After a long interview, Coleman said the administration rescinded the job offer telling her they could not offer her a safe work environment, she said.

“I kept saying to them I wasn’t asking them to make any accommodations for me,” Coleman said.

However, in a statement, hospital officials wrote ABC News that the decision was made out of safety concerns for Coleman.

Coleman, 37, said she has not decided if she will pursue legal avenues but experts said the case shows the grey area for employers and employees when dealing with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment.

Experts said that the severity of the allergy could determine if Coleman would be legally covered under the law. Even with a severe allergy, employers can argue that hiring a person with a disability would result in an “undue hardship” for the employer.

Daniel Schwartz, an employment lawyer at the Shipman and Goodwin law firm and publisher of the Connecticut Employment law blog, said the ADA could be applied to a severe food allergy, but that the law is really designed to allow the employer and employee to talk about reasonable accommodations.

“If an employee with a peanut allergy was looking to be hired to work in the warehouse of a peanut butter manufacturer, that may not be realistic,” said Schwartz, who emphasized he was speaking generally because he was not working with Coleman. “A hospital may have some concerns as well. But allergies should be handled on a case by case basis. Just because an employee has a food allergy, doesn’t mean that they can’t be accommodated in some instances.”

Michael Spigler, vice president of education at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), said there are ways for employers to accommodate workers with severe allergies so that no one needs to resort to legal challenges.

“While not commonplace, we do occasionally hear about difficult workplace challenges that adults with food allergies experience,” said Spigler. “Employers can accommodate individuals with food allergies in a variety of ways, from conducting training sessions to educate staff about food allergies and anaphylaxis, to providing designated space in break room areas for an employee’s food, to making adjustments in office events that involve food to ensure the employee can participate”

Children’s Hospital officials said they are an equal opportunity employer and do not “tolerate employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.”

“As the top pediatric hospital in the world, workplace safety is extremely important to us. As Ms. Coleman stated, she has a severe peanut allergy,” hospital officials told ABC News in a statement. “Currently in the U.S. alone there are 3 million people who suffer from peanut allergies which can be life threatening. At BCH the safety for our patients and employees is a guiding principle.”

The hospital administration also said they were working with Coleman to resolve the matter, though Coleman told ABC News she had not spoken to anyone at the hospital as of Tuesday morning and has not sought legal representation.

Coleman said she’s frustrated because her allergies have not been a major issue at previous jobs.

For 13 years, Coleman worked at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, she said, where she worked as a secretary in the Intensive Care Unit, and never had a serious problem with her allergy. She said if people were eating peanuts too close she would sometimes leave the floor because she felt nauseous.

“I recognize people eat peanuts when I’m not there,” said Coleman. “I wipe down my phone and keyboard [at work]. It’s also to protect me.”

Coleman said she carries an epinephrine auto-injector, commonly known as EpiPen, with her at all times, but has only used it once after accidentally ingesting peanuts at a restaurant. The smell of peanuts can make her nauseous, she said, but she can usually leave the immediate area.

During one visit to Boston Children’s Hospital to meet with occupational health officials, a hospital worker was eating peanuts nearby. Coleman said she just moved away and was fine.

Coleman said she had been excited to work at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she would typically work a day shift and get to spend more time with her 15-month-old daughter.

After getting the initial job offer, Coleman said she gave her notice at Beth Israel and enrolled her daughter in daycare near Boston Children’s Hospital. Now, her daughter is at daycare all day, as Coleman waits at home hoping the hospital administration will reconsider, she said.

Coleman said she has yet to hear from Boston Children’s Hospital about any possible accommodations or changes that would allow her to work in the building.

“What I really wanted was my job,” said Coleman. “If they came to me and said it was a mistake … it’s something we can work with. I’d be at work right now. There would be no issue.”

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Woman Says She Was Denied Job Due to Peanut Allergy

Woman Says She Was Denied Job Due to Peanut Allergy

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts woman is now without a job after she claims she lost a job offer due to her severe peanut allergy.

Kameela Coleman said she was scheduled to start her job working as scheduling coordinator at a dental outpatient clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital this week. However, before she started the job, she disclosed that she had a peanut allergy, which could result in throat swelling and hives.

After telling hospital administration about her allergy, she said she was asked multiple questions about the severity of her allergy and what conditions could possibly set off a deadly reaction. After a long interview, Coleman said the administration rescinded the job offer telling her they could not offer her a safe work environment, she said.

“I kept saying to them I wasn’t asking them to make any accommodations for me,” Coleman said.

However, in a statement, hospital officials wrote ABC News that the decision was made out of safety concerns for Coleman.

Coleman, 37, said she has not decided if she will pursue legal avenues but experts said the case shows the grey area for employers and employees when dealing with the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination and ensures equal opportunity for persons with disabilities in employment.

Experts said that the severity of the allergy could determine if Coleman would be legally covered under the law. Even with a severe allergy, employers can argue that hiring a person with a disability would result in an “undue hardship” for the employer.

Daniel Schwartz, an employment lawyer at the Shipman and Goodwin law firm and publisher of the Connecticut Employment law blog, said the ADA could be applied to a severe food allergy, but that the law is really designed to allow the employer and employee to talk about reasonable accommodations.

“If an employee with a peanut allergy was looking to be hired to work in the warehouse of a peanut butter manufacturer, that may not be realistic,” said Schwartz, who emphasized he was speaking generally because he was not working with Coleman. “A hospital may have some concerns as well. But allergies should be handled on a case by case basis. Just because an employee has a food allergy, doesn’t mean that they can’t be accommodated in some instances.”

Michael Spigler, vice president of education at Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE), said there are ways for employers to accommodate workers with severe allergies so that no one needs to resort to legal challenges.

“While not commonplace, we do occasionally hear about difficult workplace challenges that adults with food allergies experience,” said Spigler. “Employers can accommodate individuals with food allergies in a variety of ways, from conducting training sessions to educate staff about food allergies and anaphylaxis, to providing designated space in break room areas for an employee’s food, to making adjustments in office events that involve food to ensure the employee can participate”

Children’s Hospital officials said they are an equal opportunity employer and do not “tolerate employment discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities.”

“As the top pediatric hospital in the world, workplace safety is extremely important to us. As Ms. Coleman stated, she has a severe peanut allergy,” hospital officials told ABC News in a statement. “Currently in the U.S. alone there are 3 million people who suffer from peanut allergies which can be life threatening. At BCH the safety for our patients and employees is a guiding principle.”

The hospital administration also said they were working with Coleman to resolve the matter, though Coleman told ABC News she had not spoken to anyone at the hospital as of Tuesday morning and has not sought legal representation.

Coleman said she’s frustrated because her allergies have not been a major issue at previous jobs.

For 13 years, Coleman worked at Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital, she said, where she worked as a secretary in the Intensive Care Unit, and never had a serious problem with her allergy. She said if people were eating peanuts too close she would sometimes leave the floor because she felt nauseous.

“I recognize people eat peanuts when I’m not there,” said Coleman. “I wipe down my phone and keyboard [at work]. It’s also to protect me.”

Coleman said she carries an epinephrine auto-injector, commonly known as EpiPen, with her at all times, but has only used it once after accidentally ingesting peanuts at a restaurant. The smell of peanuts can make her nauseous, she said, but she can usually leave the immediate area.

During one visit to Boston Children’s Hospital to meet with occupational health officials, a hospital worker was eating peanuts nearby. Coleman said she just moved away and was fine.

Coleman said she had been excited to work at Boston Children’s Hospital, where she would typically work a day shift and get to spend more time with her 15-month-old daughter.

After getting the initial job offer, Coleman said she gave her notice at Beth Israel and enrolled her daughter in daycare near Boston Children’s Hospital. Now, her daughter is at daycare all day, as Coleman waits at home hoping the hospital administration will reconsider, she said.

Coleman said she has yet to hear from Boston Children’s Hospital about any possible accommodations or changes that would allow her to work in the building.

“What I really wanted was my job,” said Coleman. “If they came to me and said it was a mistake … it’s something we can work with. I’d be at work right now. There would be no issue.”

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A Handful of Scientific Facts About Lefties

A Handful of Scientific Facts About Lefties

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wednesday is International Left-Handers Day.

On the one hand, let’s celebrate the 10 percent or so of the population that favor their left hands for important tasks. On the other hand, this is the perfect time to toss out five little-known scientific facts about lefties:

Lefties can throw a punch

When researchers at the University of Montpellier in France surveyed nine primitive societies in five separate continents, they found a higher percentage of lefties translated into more frequent violent encounters. Furthermore, lefties often had the upper hand in a fight because of the element of surprise. No one expects a punch to come out of left field. This same sneak attack seems to cross over into a sports advantage, the researchers speculated, especially in sports like boxing, tennis and fencing where opponents go head-to-head.

Animals have a paw preference, too

One British study, among others, found that about 40 percent of cats are southpaws, with an additional 10 percent happy to swat a ball of yarn with either paw. Another Brit study found paw preference in dogs is split about evenly. It seems Fido takes sides with his tail, too. Last year, an Italian study suggested that when dogs wag their tails from right to left, it signifies happiness. Wagging from left to right demonstrates displeasure.

We love leftie leaders

The fact that five of our last seven commanders in chief have been lefties is probably a coincidence. However, as one recent Dutch investigation suggested, right-handed politicians may want to fake it to the left. Left-handed people tend to raise their left hands when speaking about something good whereas right handers tend to raise their right hand. But in televised debates, when a person raises his or her right hand, it will appear on a viewer’s left, just as if the person was sitting in a chair in front of them. For this reason, viewers subconsciously interpret left-hand movements as good and right-hand movements as bad.

Lefties use their brains differently

Lefties may use their noggins slightly differently from righties, the research suggests. For example, one Australian study found left-handed people access both hemispheres of their brain more readily than right-handed people, who tend to be left hemisphere-dominant. There are advantages and disadvantages to using the brain with a more even distribution. Some studies find lefties to be more creative and more resilient when recovering from strokes. However, other studies imply lefties are more susceptible to a ttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Lefties are often left out

Scissors and computer mice were designed without a second thought for lefties. That’s inconvenient, but leaving left handed people out of the equation in scientific research may have far-reaching consequences, Dutch scientists have said. Writing in the journal Nature earlier this year, the scientists pointed out that left-handed people have different brains and genes from right-handed people, yet are rarely included as study subjects. As a result, we may be missing out on important information in everything from neuroscience to genetic disorders, the scientists said.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

A Handful of Scientific Facts About Lefties

A Handful of Scientific Facts About Lefties

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wednesday is International Left-Handers Day.

On the one hand, let’s celebrate the 10 percent or so of the population that favor their left hands for important tasks. On the other hand, this is the perfect time to toss out five little-known scientific facts about lefties:

Lefties can throw a punch

When researchers at the University of Montpellier in France surveyed nine primitive societies in five separate continents, they found a higher percentage of lefties translated into more frequent violent encounters. Furthermore, lefties often had the upper hand in a fight because of the element of surprise. No one expects a punch to come out of left field. This same sneak attack seems to cross over into a sports advantage, the researchers speculated, especially in sports like boxing, tennis and fencing where opponents go head-to-head.

Animals have a paw preference, too

One British study, among others, found that about 40 percent of cats are southpaws, with an additional 10 percent happy to swat a ball of yarn with either paw. Another Brit study found paw preference in dogs is split about evenly. It seems Fido takes sides with his tail, too. Last year, an Italian study suggested that when dogs wag their tails from right to left, it signifies happiness. Wagging from left to right demonstrates displeasure.

We love leftie leaders

The fact that five of our last seven commanders in chief have been lefties is probably a coincidence. However, as one recent Dutch investigation suggested, right-handed politicians may want to fake it to the left. Left-handed people tend to raise their left hands when speaking about something good whereas right handers tend to raise their right hand. But in televised debates, when a person raises his or her right hand, it will appear on a viewer’s left, just as if the person was sitting in a chair in front of them. For this reason, viewers subconsciously interpret left-hand movements as good and right-hand movements as bad.

Lefties use their brains differently

Lefties may use their noggins slightly differently from righties, the research suggests. For example, one Australian study found left-handed people access both hemispheres of their brain more readily than right-handed people, who tend to be left hemisphere-dominant. There are advantages and disadvantages to using the brain with a more even distribution. Some studies find lefties to be more creative and more resilient when recovering from strokes. However, other studies imply lefties are more susceptible to a ttention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Lefties are often left out

Scissors and computer mice were designed without a second thought for lefties. That’s inconvenient, but leaving left handed people out of the equation in scientific research may have far-reaching consequences, Dutch scientists have said. Writing in the journal Nature earlier this year, the scientists pointed out that left-handed people have different brains and genes from right-handed people, yet are rarely included as study subjects. As a result, we may be missing out on important information in everything from neuroscience to genetic disorders, the scientists said.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Are You an ‘Um’ or ‘Uh’ Person?

Are You an ‘Um’ or ‘Uh’ Person?

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) — Uh…um…why do people use so much language filler when they speak?

Before answering that question, University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman wanted to determine just who uses these filler words.

After analyzing 14,000 phone conservations by 12,000 people in the U.S., Liberman says men are more prone to say “uh” while women prefer to use “um.”

However, he also noted some variations. For instance, men won’t say “uh” as often when speaking to women than other guys while women will drop in more “ums” when talking to males than other females.

Meanwhile, the use of “um” is about the same for younger women and younger men.

According to Liberman, our choice of fillers, that also include “like,” “you know” and “I mean” is based on gender, intelligence and language fluency.

Another finding: “um” comes in handy when people are trying to figure out what to say next while “uh” fills in the gap as we decide how to say it.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Scientists Know If Your Coffee’s Been Tampered With

Scientists Know If Your Coffee’s Been Tampered With

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDRINA, Brazil) — If your coffee starts tasting differently, blame it on wood, twigs, husks and even clumps of earth. With droughts and plant diseases affecting coffee supplies in countries like Brazil, coffee makers are beginning to dilute their beverages with filler.

That’s not good news for regular coffee drinkers but there is help on the horizon.

Suzana Lucy Nixdorf and researchers at State University of Londrina in Brazil say they’re close to developing a test that can pretty much spot any filler used by unscrupulous coffee makers with 95 percent accuracy.

Beside the fillers already mentioned, other additives include barley, wheat, soybeans, rice, beans, acai seed, brown sugar or starch syrup, which once roasted, can be difficult to ascertain through conventional means.

Nixdorf says her team uses liquid chromatography that has proven effective in detecting coffee that has been tampered with.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Lessens by Walking

Invasive Breast Cancer Risk Lessens by Walking

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — Walking isn’t the most strenuous exercise one can do but that doesn’t matter as long as it provides a life-saving benefit.

According to French researcher Agnès Fournier, women who reach the postmenopausal stage of their lives can reduce their risk of developing invasive breast cancer by ten percent if they walk four hours or more weekly.

In a report for the World Cancer Research Fund, Fournier and her team investigated the lifestyle habits of 59,000 older women over a 12-year span with follow-ups every two years.

Fournier said that the outcome was consistent with previous research that there’s a reduced cancer risk among women following menopause so long as they were involved in regular physical activity such as walking at least 30 minutes a day.

The study cautioned women that it was important to sustain a routine of walking because those women who stop it don’t experience the same decreased risk for invasive breast cancer.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Unmarried Women Giving Birth to Fewer Children

Unmarried Women Giving Birth to Fewer Children

Creatas/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the rate of childbirth in unmarried woman was lower in 2013 than in any year since 2008.

According to data published by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, part of the cause for the statistical drop is likely a large decrease in teen pregnancy. The CDC report showed a 30-percent dip in pregnancy for girls ages 15 to 17, and a 26-percent drop in pregnancy for 18- and 19-year-old girls.

Teens, the CDC said, had the largest percentage drop in pregnancy among any age group between 2007 and 2012.

In adults, unmarried black and Hispanic women saw larger decreases in childbirth rates than white women. Between 2007 and 2012, the rate of childbearing among unmarried black women fell by 11 percent, while the same figure for Hispanic women dropped by 28 percent. Unmarried white women saw just a six-percent drop in childbearing rate.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

FDA Approves Donor Lung Preservation Device

FDA Approves Donor Lung Preservation Device

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a donor lung preservation device that could result in more viable lung transplants.

In a statement on Tuesday, the FDA said that it had approved the XVIVO Perfusion System with STEEN Solution — a device that it says preserves donated lungs “that do not initially meet the standard criteria for lung transplantation but may be transplantable if there is more time to observe and evaluate the organ’s function.” The FDA notes that 1,754 lung transplants were performed in 2012, but 1,616 potential recipients remained on a waiting list for lung transplants at the end of that year.

Christy Foreman, director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, called the device “innovative,” noting that it “addresses a critical public health need.”

By keeping potential donor lungs at normal body temperatures and continuously flushing the lung tissue with a sterile fluid solution, the XVIVO Perfusion System preserves the lungs and removes waste products while doctors can determine if the lung is viable for transplant.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Sleep Drugs May Not Be Effective for Shift Workers, Researchers Say

Sleep Drugs May Not Be Effective for Shift Workers, Researchers Say

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers say that workers who take popular sleep medications after working a night shift may not be receiving the benefits they hope for.

According to a Cochrane Review analysis of 4,651 past studies, melatonin only increased the average length of sleep time after a night shift by approximately 24 minutes. Additionally, the extra sleep workers gained was often low-quality sleep.

Other drugs, meant to help improve a worker’s level of alertness when they are awake, including armodafinil and modafinil, were discovered to be slightly more effective than a placebo in decreasing sleepiness. However, researchers say, the effects of those drugs did not last an entire shift — and side effects for use of both drugs get worse with higher doses.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Scratch Hand Sanitizers Off Your Back-to-School List, Study Suggests

Scratch Hand Sanitizers Off Your Back-to-School List, Study Suggests

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Hand sanitizers are heavily marketed to parents in the weeks leading up to the first day of school. But they may be useless when it comes to preventing school absences due to illnesses, according to a new study.

Researchers in New Zealand observed 2,500 children (from 68 schools) for five months and found that kids who used hand sanitizers in their classrooms had an equal number of sick days — about 1 in every 100 children per day — as those who did not.

All of the kids in the study received a 30-minute educational lesson on hand washing and hygiene, while half also used hand sanitizers.

Until recently, most studies of hand sanitizers in schools have been too small or too biased to answer the question of whether it really helps prevent illness.

This new research may mean that as the school year begins, parents can rely on a little reminder about hand-washing habits and don’t necessarily have to stock up on the sanitizers.

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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