News Pages


Chef Symon’s Seven Tips to Help You Start Gardening this Earth Day

ABC/ Craig Sjodin(NEW YORK) -- You know Chef Michael Symon as the co-host of ABC’s The Chew. But what you may not know on this Earth Day is that Symon comes from a long line of gardeners.

“My grandfather had his own garden, my father had his own garden, and I’ve had my own garden for over 20 years,” Symon said in an interview with ABC News Radio.

“There’s something so soothing about digging in the dirt,” he said. “With the stress we all have in our day-to-day lives, there’s nothing better to me than going out in the morning with a cup of coffee and putzin’ around in my garden.”

Symon’s garden includes multiple varieties of heirloom tomatoes and chilies, eggplants and “every herb under the sun that you could fathom.”

Here are seven tips from Chef Symon that will have you gardening -- and eating! -- in no time:

Take a cue from the sun.
“You always need sun. The best sun is morning sun,” he said. “So when you’re planning on where to put your garden in your yard, stand outside and look where you’re getting the best morning sun. And that’s a very good place to start.”

Mix it up!
Never plant something in the same place two years in a row, Symon said. “Tomatoes take certain nutrients out of the soil that peppers may not, so you want to keep moving things around your garden. There are even parts of my garden that I leave dormant for a year or two to kind of rejuvenate the soil.”

Space ‘em out.
“Plants are like people. If you crowd them a little bit and they actually touch as they’re growing, they tend to grow better. You know, they’re happier. You need less water. You need less fertilizer.  And you could grow more in a compact space.”

Consider composting.
“We always keep a big compost at our house,” Symon said. “We’re using coffee grounds” and other things to create and maintain healthy soil.

Get to know Mother Nature.
“Understand what bugs eliminate other bugs,” he said. For instance, “if you have a lot of slugs (in your garden), let ladybugs in. They’re typically going to eliminate a good amount of those. Eliminate certain pests by adding other pests.”

Get the kids involved.
“It’ll make them less picky eaters because they’ll always want to try to cook things that they’ve grown.”

Use your taste buds.
“Things that taste good together typically grow well together,” Symon said. “Next to my tomatoes will be basil or peppers or eggplant.”

NOTE: some responses have been edited for brevity.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Anti-Thigh Gap Jeans a Hit with the Muscle Set

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A Kickstarter campaign for jeans that cater to strong butts, meaty thighs and curvy calves crushed its funding goal of $15,000 in just 47 minutes.

“These are the anti-thigh gap jeans," said Barbell Denim co-founder Hunter Molzen, adding that the idea hit a nerve among investors. “Athletes work hard for their strong, meaty thighs and they should be proud of them. It’s how human beings were built to function.”

Molzen, who started Barbell Denim with four other lifelong recreational athletes last year, stressed that the jeans aren’t jeggings -- spandex tights designed to look like jeans. Nor are they extra baggy.

The team took the measurements of sporty friends and willing strangers in the gym to come up with average measurements for athletically-built men and women, and then modified the basic proportions of a regular jean to fit a stronger physique.

Adding just a whiff of spandex to a high quality cotton makes the pants more flexible, Molzen said, and double stitching at the seams ensures that all that muscle fiber stays contained.

The campaign, which launched on Monday, already has nearly 800 backers and over $100,000 in funding. Molzen said the company also has designs to accommodate ripped abs and shredded pecs in the works.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Girl Mauled by Raccoon Leaves Hospital with Ear on Arm

Beaumont Children's Hospital(NEW YORK) -- An 11-year-old girl who was mauled by a pet raccoon as a baby is back home Tuesday after a seven-hour surgery to embed a makeshift ear in her arm.

Charlotte Ponce of Spring Lake, Mich., lost her right ear, nose and part of her lip in the attack.

“The raccoon pretty much ate the right side of her face, all the way back to the ear,” Charlotte’s adoptive mom Sharon Ponce told ABC News. “Now, all she wants is to wear two earrings.”

Charlotte left Beaumont Children’s Hospital Monday after a week-long stay with two dangly earrings in her left ear, but not for long. A right ear carefully crafted from her own rib cartilage is growing on her right forearm.

In June, doctors will transplant the makeshift ear to Charlotte’s head in what will be her eighth surgery since 2012.

Charlotte wheeled wagons full of gifts and balloons from the hospital.

“I love the attention,” she told ABC News affiliate WXYZ.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Does Extreme Water-Drinking Make You Healthier?

VladimirFLoyd/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Celebrities swear by it. From Gwyneth Paltrow to Jessica Alba and even Jennifer Lopez, A-listers with glowing skin credit drinking lots of water as one of their beauty secrets.

Health care journalist Sabrina Bachai, of New York City, put the theory to the test, drinking three liters of water a day to see if it would improve her skin.

“I was on Instagram and I saw this girl and I saw that she had beautiful skin and hair and she said she drank three liters of water a day and that was her secret,” Bachai, a reporter with medicaldaily.com, told ABC News. “My skin is kind of dry so I figured it would be a good way to see how it worked.”

For one week, Bachai drank three liters -- 101 ounces of water -- a day. That’s a little bit more than eight 12-ounce glasses of water.

She says she didn’t change anything about her diet, kept her normal gym routine and found it helpful to drink the large quantities through a straw.

“I felt like I was sleeping better,” said Bachai. “And I felt like my skin looked fuller.”

In addition to feeling healthier, she says she lost two pounds. “I wasn’t snacking as much so that helped curb my appetite a little bit,” she explained, “because a lot of times when you’re hungry, you’re not really hungry. You’re just thirsty.”

But there was one pitfall to the experiment.

“Using the bathroom,” she recalled. “I know it’s a natural thing and you have to do it, but using the bathroom seven to eight times during the work day, I was going almost every hour.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Stranger’s Bone Marrow Donation Helps Save Grandfather’s Life

ABC(NEW YORK) -- When Ron Oppedisano received his cancer diagnosis in the winter of 2010, it was shattering.

“Your life stops, literally comes to a standstill,” Oppedisano, then the mayor of Norridge, Ill., said, of the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia.

His daughter, Tena McCullough, agrees. “It was one of the worst days that we’ve had as a family,” she said.

After several grueling rounds of chemotherapy, Oppedisano went into remission. Ron’s wife, Linda Oppedisano, said the family thought he was cancer-free after that. He wasn’t.

Two years later he had to put his re-election plans on hold when he had a recurrence. Without a bone marrow transplant, Oppedisano wouldn’t survive for six months and, with no siblings, the Be the Match donor registry was his only hope.

Waiting to see if someone would step up was tough, he said, and when Samantha Nielsen did, Oppedisano’s entire family was grateful.

Nielsen joined the Be the Match donor registry by, like all other potential donors, giving a swab of cheek cells.  After further testing, Nielsen was deemed to be a “perfect match for Ron,” according to Oppedisano’s doctor, Patrick Stiff.

To prepare for the transplant, Oppedisano underwent what Be the Match calls a “conditioning regimen” of chemotherapy and possibly radiation therapy to prepare his body for the new cells.  Donors donate their cells through either peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation -- a nonsurgical procedure that takes place at a blood center or clinic -- or marrow donation -- a surgical outpatient procedure that takes place at a hospital.

The transplant -- in which Oppedisano received the new cells intravenously through a “central line” -- was a success. One Dec. 4, 2013, Oppedisano -- though technically 58 years old -- celebrated his new “first” birthday.

“No amount of ‘thank yous’ could ever adequately express what I owe,” Oppedisano said. “Every day I wake up, I thank God that I’m here.”

His son, Vince, said it was because of Nielson that his father was still with the family.

Oppedisano’s other daughter, Lisa Oppedisano-Gannon, shared her sibling’s sentiment.

“He’s such a great grandfather and to see him every time with Lia, it’s just amazing, because I know it was a possibility that he would never get to meet her,” she said.

Oppedisano and Nielsen were recently allowed to exchange contact information, and ABC's GMA was there for their reunion.

“Hi Sam,” Oppesidano said when he saw Nielsen, who lives just outside of Houston. “So good to see you and reach out and touch you and know you’re real.”

“You are the real hero, you really are,” he added. “I wouldn’t be here without you, I mean that, you’ve done so much for our family and for me, especially.”

Nielsen thanked him, then added: “I don’t feel like a hero, I just feel like I made a small sacrifice.”

Nielsen and Oppedisano decided to celebrate their meeting by giving back to the organization that brought them together.

Walking side by side, along with family and friends, they attended the Be The Match Walk+Run in Chicago on April 12. The group they dubbed Ron and Sam’s Marrow Mob walked and ran, raising nearly $6,000 for the organization.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


A Close-up Look at Acupuncture for Pain

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A growing number of Americans would prefer to stop popping pills and avoid going under the knife to treat a bum knee, achy lower back or sore hip. Instead, they’re turning to the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture to help ease chronic joint pain.

More than 14 million Americans have tried acupuncture, according to the most recent statistics from the National Health Interview Survey, a large ongoing study that tracks healthcare habits in the U.S. The study found that nearly six percent of Americans have allowed themselves to be pricked with dozens of slender needles to help alleviate chronic pain, up from just one percent of patients a decade ago.

“Use of acupuncture has been percolating for quite a while and it’s now becoming much more mainstream in medicine,” said Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

So mainstream in fact, that it’s one of the few so-called “complimentary” or alternative medicine approaches covered by most health insurance plans. Even the military uses auricular acupuncture, a form of acupuncture that involves gently inserting small needles into various places on the ear that correspond with pain points elsewhere on the body.

Research studies consistently show that acupuncture can be an effective form of pain management, with some studies finding it even more effective than pain relieving drugs or surgery. But exactly how it works remains somewhat of a mystery, Danesh admits.

In theory, acupuncture stimulates the body’s meridian points. By easing pressure on these energy-carrying channels, ancient Chinese physicians believed the needles corrected the body’s imbalances by allowing energy or “chi” to flow more freely. Although traditional Western medicine remains skeptical about the idea of chi, Danesh said that many of the meridian points happen to coincide with trigger points, spots on the body where pain radiates away from the center when pressed.

“Trigger points are widely accepted in modern medicine and one thought is that acupuncture may ease the stress on trigger points thereby lessening pain in that area,” he said.

Meridian points also track closely with major nerve centers, Danesh said. It could be that the needles stimulate the nerves, causing them to release feel-good chemicals known as endorphins. People in pain often have low levels of endorphins, Danesh pointed out, and a release of those endorphins can suppress the sensation of pain.

There are still plenty of Acupuncture skeptics who believe that any pain relief acupuncture offers is strictly psychological. But Danesh said he doesn’t care why it works, so long as it works.

“I’ve had lots of skeptics come in for treatment and when they get better, they believe,” he said.

Chronic pain is one of the most serious health problems in the U.S., affecting an estimated 100 million Americans, according to a 2011 Institute of Medicine report. Nearly 90 percent of respondents to an IOM survey said they coped with some level of pain on a daily basis.

Tuesday’s ABC News Health tweet chat will discuss chronic pain and the best way to manage it. Chat moderator Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News chief health and medical editor, will host the conversation featuring experts, researchers and people experiencing pain.

Are you coping with an achy back, a bum knee or some other source of chronic pain? If so, come share your story with us and get some insight on how to manage your condition. Even if you’re a Twitter novice, joining the conversation is simple. Here’s how: Join: Pain Management Tweet Chat Tuesday at 1 p.m., ET

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Language Problems Pervasive in Youngsters with ADHD

iStock/Thinkstock(VICTORIA, Australia) -- Problems with language are much more common with children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder as opposed to youngsters without the disorder linked to over activity and a lack of focus.

A study from the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Victoria, Australia, looked at 179 youngsters with ADHD, about half of whom didn't take medication, and more than 200 who were ADHD free.

Compared to those without the disorder, ADHD kids were about three more likely to have problems with the ability to listen and understand language as well as speaking and being understood.

Emma Sciberras, a clinical psychologist involved in the study, said these language difficulties among those with ADHD have far-reaching academic consequences that could last throughout a child's education.

Furthermore, language problems also hamper social functioning, which can be a detrimental in young adulthood as social relationships become more complex.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Time Doesn't Heal All Head Wounds

iStock/Thinkstock(ROCHESTER, N.Y.) -- A respite of half-a-year won't clear up structural damage to the brain resulting from hundreds of hits the head might take during a sports season such as football.

Jeffrey Bazarian of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry conducted a study of 10 university football players and expressed concern that "a subsequent season will lead to cumulative brain injury."

The players Bazarian studied had between 431 to 1,850 blows to the head during a single season, which were counted by helmet gauges.

Although none of the players were diagnosed with a concussion, imaging scans showed physical brain damage at the end of the season and again, six months later.

Bazarian says this would suggest that resting players during a game to minimize further head hits may not be enough to undo the damage.

He would not go as far to say that the brain damage over time results in long-term conditions such as the onset of dementia.  However, Bazarian recommended further research to verify this possibility.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


What Can Sabotage a Woman Between the Sheets?

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Chaunie Brusie is 27 and pregnant with her fourth child.

Brusie's other three children are younger than 5. While she is happily married, she has felt a strain on her sex life.

"Pregnancy for me does not feel like a sexy time at all," she said. "It just feels like we really need to get through these nine months…and get this baby out."

Brusie is one of the millions of women who have lost interest in sex. For her, the issue might not be exhaustion, but the pregnancy itself.

Dr. Lauren Streicher, a Chicago gynecologist and author of the new book Love Sex Again: A Gynecologist Finally Fixes the Issues That Are Sabotaging Your Sex Life, says a hormone called prolactin could possibly be dousing the flame.

Other causes could include diabetes, depression and even birth control pills.

"So many women come to me saying I'm their third, fourth, fifth opinion for a problem that has really been impacting on their relationship," Streicher said.

The book aims to shine a light on the physical and medical conditions that affect women between the sheets.

Many women simply live with bad sex instead of searching for an answer.

"They're just embarrassed to bring it up and they also minimize the importance of it," she said. "You go to your doctor once a year and you think, 'This is not a subject that I should be spending my limited time talking about,'" she said.

For Brusie, realizing that her loss of mojo is temporary has helped her get through it.

"It's hormones, it's breast-feeding, it's not just me," she said. "It doesn't mean I don't think my husband is attractive or I don't love him."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Doctors Continue to Prescribe Children Codeine Despite Safety Concerns

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Doctors are still giving out hundreds of thousands of codeine prescriptions to children each year, despite warnings of safety concerns, a new study finds.

There's been a slight decline in hospital emergency department prescriptions, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, but thousands of kids still receive medications with codeine to treat coughs, colds, and injury pain.

Using the National Hospital and Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, the authors analyzed emergency room visits of children between the ages of 3 and 17 from 2001 and 2010. The drop within 9 years was small, with codeine prescribed in 2.9 percent of visits in 2010, compared to 3.7 percent in 2001.

Odds of the prescription were higher for children ages 8 to 12 years old, and among healthcare providers outside the Northeast. National guidelines have recommended against the use, as codeine can lead to fatal toxicity due to children's status as poor metabolizers of the drug.

Two recent studies cited in the report found codeine was the second-most widely used opioid drug in medical practice worldwide, and the most commonly prescribed opioid to children in Europe.

The report's authors advise more effective interventions are needed to prevent the prescription of what they call a "potentially hazardous drug" to children.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio