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Friday
Feb152019

Politics are playing a bigger role in millennial dating preferences

grinvalds/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Over the past several years, millennials have increasingly indicated on their dating app profiles that politics is make-or-break in relationships, said Melissa Hobley, chief marketing officer for the dating app OKCupid, on ABC News' "The Briefing Room."

Hobley said that some people will filter their potential matches by political party, while others are only interested in people who vote in elections.

Fifty-six percent of millennial men and 73 percent of millennial women would prefer to date someone who votes for the same party as they do, according to OkCupid data.

“That’s really really powerful, again thinking about the previous generation, where the advice or the golden rule was don’t talk politics, wait to talk politics until you’re pretty far down the path. Millennials, more than any other demographic, are talking politics before they even match,” Hobley said.

OkCupid has seen this shift more rapidly since the 2016 presidential election. Hobley said she has noticed millennial women taking strong stances on the president and including photos of themselves at the Women’s March in their profiles.

“The stakes feel very high and what we've noticed [is], if you're a millennial, if you're in your 20s, you're going to use dating to show how you feel and to signal what matters to you,” Hobley said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

Young cancer survivor fears anti-vax parents are putting sick kids at risk

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Eighteen-year-old Ethan Lindenberger’s decision to act against his anti-vaccine mother's wishes recently thrust his family into a fiery national debate over the anti-vax movement. But one California family has been fighting against the movement for years and it has successfully lobbied to have the state laws changed.

“We wanted to help because we knew it would have an impact on the community if more people would get vaccinated,” Carl Krawitt, the father of the family that lobbied for the new legislation, told "Nightline."

Followers of this small but loud anti-vax movement believe vaccines can have serious health risks and they refute the scientific consensus that vaccines are safe and good for public health. In Lindenberger’s case, his mother feared he would have a bad reaction to them but ultimately respected his decision to be vaccinated.

“I had grown up hearing that, you know, I wasn't vaccinated because it's better for me and [she] told me that vaccines are bad," Lindenberger told "Good Morning America." "Once I began to look at the evidence and look into what the scientific community at large supported, you know, that's when I started to see that my situation was a little more unique than I had come to believe.”

“My decision was not only the best decision for myself but it was a decision to protect myself and other people from a preventable disease,” he said.

Popularized by the likes of Jenny McCarthy, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Robert De Niro, the movement has become more mainstream than ever and public health experts say it’s having an impact.

“False information, myth and misconception always exist in medicine...and we all fear what we don’t know and we don’t understand," said ABC News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton. "But the reality is in medicine and science we have to make clinical decisions and policy decisions that affect public health based on fact and data and not fear and emotion."

“What we’ve seen recently, not just in the United States but in Europe and other parts of the world, is a resurgence in infectious diseases that were heretofore eradicated,” she added.

Currently, 18 states allow parents to forgo vaccinating their kids based on personal belief, but now, more lawmakers are considering bills that would prohibit non-medical exemptions from vaccines.

Just last month, Washington State declared a state of emergency after a measles outbreak in Clark County, where 7.9 percent of children had gotten exemptions from vaccines for entry to kindergarten in the 2017-2018 school year, according to the Washington Post.

Proponents of the mandatory vaccinations point to California, where state lawmakers removed personal belief vaccine exemptions after a measles outbreak at Disneyland sickened 147 people in 2015.

The Krawitt family was one of the driving forces behind the new legislation in California.

When their son, Rhett, was diagnosed with leukemia at age 2, his immune system was unable to handle vaccines, including one that prevents measles.

“The chemotherapy and all of the toxins that they put in his body to get him well, basically wiped out his immune system,” said Rhett’s father Carl Krawitt. “This is known in the medical community as a medical exception.

It’s a very legitimate medical exemption,” he added. “If the immune system is not strong enough for a vaccine then you can’t get them, they can be harmful.”

During the 2015 outbreak in their home state, the Krawitts were shocked to learn that roughly 7 percent of the kids at their local elementary school were not vaccinated because parents had cited the personal belief exemption.

It meant that sending their son to school would put his life at risk.

“That frankly is the risk we faced each and every day that our son might get sick and he might die,” Krawitt said.

“People who have personal belief exemptions — they believe they are bad and so they choose not to vaccinate their children,” he continued. “People value that individual choice so much that they forget about the impact on the lives of others.”

Shortly after the 2015 measles outbreak ended, the Krawitts went to Sacramento on a mission to lobby for the passage of a bill that would remove the personal belief exemption with the hope that others wouldn’t experience the same fear that they experienced.

Their mission was a success. The new law passed in California, with bipartisan support, eliminating exemptions due to personal beliefs.

“It was a good feeling that I had and I was excited and happy,” Rhett Krawitt said.

This week, Rhett, now 11 and fully vaccinated, celebrates five years of being cancer-free and he has a personal message for other parents.

“I think that you should get your kids vaccinated not only for your kids' sake," he said, "but everybody’s sake.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

This year's flu vaccine is 47% effective, CDC says

Nastco/iStock(ATLANTA) -- The flu vaccine is more effective this year than the past two years, according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC reported Thursday that the flu vaccine is proving 47 percent effective in preventing the strains of the flu that are most prevalent this year.

That number marks a distinct uptick from the past two flu seasons when it was 40 percent effective each year.

"Overall, 47 percent tells us that the vaccine is working. It's encouraging. It's reassuring that the vaccine is doing its job," said Dr. Joshua Doyle, an epidemic intelligence service officer in the CDC's Flu Division.

While the number may appear low to some, Doyle said it's well within the standard range for how effective a vaccine is on any given year. He said that a "typical range" of effectiveness for the flu vaccine is between 40 and 60 percent.

According to CDC data, there has only been one season in the last 14 years -- the 2010-2011 season -- where the vaccine was 60 percent effective.

Doyle said that it's a common misconception that the vaccine effectiveness level suggests that someone has a close to 50-50 chance of getting the flu whether or not they get vaccinated. Instead, he stressed that "people who are vaccinated get the flu 47 percent less than people who are not vaccinated."

He said the 2017-2018 flu season was "so severe," with 79,000 deaths.

The CDC estimates there have been between 10,000 and 16,000 related deaths so far during this flu season, but it's hard to predict how long the season will run.

"Seasons differs year to year. We had a little bit of a later start this year," Doyle said, noting that there has been "increasing activity in the last few weeks."

He added, "We would encourage people to get vaccinated."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

Want love? Swipe right for 'nice' and left for 'neurotic'

Motortion/iStock(NEW YORK) --  Similar interests, similar personality -- that’s what matters for long-term happiness in a relationship. Right? Not so, according to a new study by researchers at Michigan State University.

This Valentine’s Day, many people may be wondering whether there is a special formula to finding a good match -- get set up by a friend or perhaps sign up for a new dating app?

Both online dating sites and smartphone apps tout their ability to match people. Shared characteristics, personality traits, tastes and experiences are put into special formulas to supposedly make a great match, according to their ads. But the solution to finding Mr. or Ms. Right may not be so complicated.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated over 2,500 heterosexual couples over the age of 30 who have been married for an average of 21 years. Like a research-oriented Dating Game, questionnaires were completed separately by each member of the couple.

So what did the researchers discover?

Some things seem to matter more for husbands than for wives. Researchers found that having an extroverted wife appears to be associated with a higher level of well-being for her husband.

Unfortunately, if a man has a higher level of neuroticism (measured by how he agreed with the statement “I worry a lot”), this was associated with lower state of well-being for both the husband and his wife.

Researchers believe they’ve zeroed in on what really matters.

“The more conscientious, agreeable and emotionally stable both you and your partner are, this is associated with a more positive sense of well-being,” the study’s lead author William J. Chopik, Ph.D., director of the Close Relationships Lab, told ABC News. His research group is part of the department of psychology at Michigan State University.

Other research has shown that as you age, the relationship you have with your spouse is important for emotional well-being and even memory, especially in women. The people who are emotionally stable, less neurotic and responsible -- who finish tasks that they start -- have happier relationships. That happy relationship benefits your overall health and longevity.

The researchers from the Michigan State study did not investigate the relationships of same-sex couples, but “the health benefits are likely very similar,” said Dr. Chopik. “It’s shocking that similarity matters so little in relationship happiness.”

So what does this mean for finding love this Valentine’s Day and on into 2019?

Looking at the study’s results, Chopik recommends investing your time seeking out “people who are responsible, nice and emotionally stable.”

So next time you are on a date wondering whether you mesh with the person across from you, you might want to simply ask yourself: Is this person nice? Responsible? Not too anxious? Then they might be a keeper.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

EPA releases plan to limit chemicals chief calls 'very important threat'

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced a nationwide effort to learn more about and better control toxic chemicals in Americans' drinking water across the country.

The EPA announced a national action plan to regulate and clean up a class of chemicals used in everyday products like nonstick pans and carpets, as well as firefighting foam.

The types of chemicals are so common the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says all Americans have some level in their blood but residents in some communities are being exposed to much higher levels that the EPA says are hazardous for their health. High levels of the chemicals have been found in dozens of communities and drinking water systems serving up to 16 million Americans, though the number is likely to grow as the EPA begins a new round of tests.

CDC reports and other research have connected exposure to the chemicals to liver damage, high blood pressure, decreased fertility, testicular and kidney cancers, and immune system disorders.

In an administration that has prioritized rolling back regulations, and after outcry about reports the agency would not regulate how much of the chemicals are allowed in drinking water, acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler says they consider the chemicals a "very important threat" and are moving forward to set a limit for how much is allowed in drinking water.

"What we're doing with this new management plan for PFOS, PFOA. We're protecting Americans drinking water which is very important. We need to make sure that every American regardless of zip code has safe reliable drinking water," he told ABC News Live in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

But in the announcement Thursday, EPA officials said the next step to regulate the chemicals in drinking water will still take months and that doesn't include setting how high the limit should be.

Advocacy groups and communities dealing with these chemicals say they've already been waiting for help and EPA's plan doesn't move fast enough. Advocacy groups have called for an immediate limit in drinking water and bans on the chemicals or new versions seeking approval to stop more people from being exposed.

The mayor of Hoosick Falls, New York, which has been dealing with chemical contamination from a plastics factory, tweeted that he wants the EPA to declare the chemicals hazardous now and do more to take them off the market, saying only announcing next steps isn't enough.

"As Mayor of PFOA contaminated Hoosick Falls, NY, as someone who had over 20x the national average of PFOA in my blood, and as a parent whose children average a higher PFOA blood count than me, I have a lot to say about this," Mayor Rob Allen tweeted Thursday.

"If, like many of us fear, today’s announcement will only be the official 'beginning of the process' of labeling PFOS and PFOA as hazardous chemicals and of defining groundwater guidelines that require action, then this huge endeavor will come off as a joke," he said.

The EPA says it hopes to take the next step to set a limit for how much of the chemicals are allowed in drinking water by the end of the year, but that they have to follow a formal process under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
 
Democrats on the Senate committee with oversight of the EPA said the plan being touted by the EPA does not do enough to protect people, citing an exchange in his confirmation hearing when Wheeler said he could not promise the agency would set a drinking water standard. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has threatened to hold up his nomination to become full administrator over the issue.

Some critics cite former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt's comments last May when he called the issue a "national emergency" and slated the plan to be released in Fall 2018, but it was delayed by the interagency review process and the government shutdown.

"It has taken the EPA nearly a year just to kick the can even further down the road. While EPA acts with the utmost urgency to repeal regulations, the agency ambles with complacency when it comes to taking real steps to protect the water we drink and the air we breathe,” Sen. Tom Carper, the ranking member of the committee, said in a statement.

"I urge Mr. Wheeler to reverse course and treat this public health threat with the urgency it deserves. And I ask my colleagues in the Senate to take note of Mr. Wheeler’s lack of urgency in addressing this threat as they consider his nomination to be EPA’s permanent administrator," Carper added.

The two specific chemicals targeted in the plan, PFOS and PFOA, are known as "forever chemicals" because once they're introduced into the environment they're very hard to remove. Research has connected exposure to the chemicals to health problems like immune system disorders, thyroid issues, reproductive problems, and some kinds of cancer.

High levels of the chemicals have been found in drinking water for more than 16 million Americans, and more communities have found it in the environment near airfields or former industrial facilities.

The EPA's action plan lays out several steps the agency will take on the chemicals, including moving on the next step to regulate them under the Safe Drinking Water Act, releasing guidance for when they need to be cleaned up in other sources like groundwater, and declaring them "hazardous" under the Superfund law -- which governs clean up at contaminated sites -- prompting more cleanup requirements.

The agency says that drinking water systems around the country will be tested for the chemicals at lower levels than an earlier round of testing in 2012, meaning more communities could find out the chemicals are in their water. The plan will also include more research on the health effects of other chemicals in the same category and more communication with communities about the risks of exposure.

In the absence of a national drinking water standard, several states have moved to pass their own laws to regulate the chemicals. State officials have asked the EPA to provide more federal guidance to prevent confusion and make more resources available for drinking water systems to test for and remove the chemicals.

Some advocates have also called for the EPA to do even more to prevent the chemicals from being released into the environment, either by banning them in products or declining to approve new chemicals in the same category.

But Wheeler said the EPA is working quickly and called the new plan "groundbreaking" because it's the first time EPA has ever taken a multifaceted approach to combat chemicals in the environment.

"We haven't slowed down, we've actually speeded up the process. We're continuing research for example, we want to make sure we have the best clean up technologies - that we understand better the health impacts on people and that we can move forward," he told ABC.

"But, we have been cleaning up. We've been helping and assisting the states around the country... dozens of sites around the country, we're making sure that those are cleaned up and we're moving forward with additional authorities under all of our statutes. Again, and this is the first multimedia approach in the agency's 49-year history we've ever taken for a chemical like this," Wheeler said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

Hospital heart patients wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day

Advocate Children's Hospital(OAK LAWN, Ill.) -- These little hospital patients are celebrating Valentine’s Day in the sweetest way.

Children and infants being treated for heart conditions at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois participated a Valentine’s Day photo shoot.

Hospital staff say they put on the photo shoot to make Valentine’s Day memorable for the kids and raise awareness around congenital heart defects -- a condition that affects almost one percent of all births in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It's also the most common disease in newborn babies.

February also happens to be American Heart Month.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

Want love? Swipe right for 'nice' and left for 'neurotic'

Tero Vesalainen/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Similar interests, similar personality -- that’s what matters for long-term happiness in a relationship. Right? Not so, according to a new study by researchers at Michigan State University.

This Valentine’s Day, many people may be wondering whether there is a special formula to finding a good match -- get set up by a friend or perhaps sign up for a new dating app?

Both online dating sites and smartphone apps tout their ability to match people. Shared characteristics, personality traits, tastes and experiences are put into special formulas to supposedly make a great match, according to their ads. But the solution to finding Mr. or Ms. Right may not be so complicated.

In a recent study, researchers evaluated over 2,500 heterosexual couples over the age of 30 who have been married for an average of 21 years. Like a research-oriented Dating Game, questionnaires were completed separately by each member of the couple.

So what did the researchers discover?

Some things seem to matter more for husbands than for wives. Researchers found that having an extroverted wife appears to be associated with a higher level of well-being for her husband.

Unfortunately, if a man has a higher level of neuroticism (measured by how he agreed with the statement “I worry a lot”), this was associated with lower state of well-being for both the husband and his wife.

Researchers believe they’ve zeroed in on what really matters.

“The more conscientious, agreeable and emotionally stable both you and your partner are, this is associated with a more positive sense of well-being,” the study’s lead author William J. Chopik, Ph.D., director of the Close Relationships Lab, told ABC News. His research group is part of the department of psychology at Michigan State University.

Other research has shown that as you age, the relationship you have with your spouse is important for emotional well-being and even memory, especially in women. The people who are emotionally stable, less neurotic and responsible -- who finish tasks that they start -- have happier relationships. That happy relationship benefits your overall health and longevity.

The researchers from the Michigan State study did not investigate the relationships of same-sex couples, but “the health benefits are likely very similar,” said Dr. Chopik. “It’s shocking that similarity matters so little in relationship happiness.”

So what does this mean for finding love this Valentine’s Day and on into 2019?

Looking at the study’s results, Chopik recommends investing your time seeking out “people who are responsible, nice and emotionally stable.”

So next time you are on a date wondering whether you mesh with the person across from you, you might want to simply ask yourself: Is this person nice? Responsible? Not too anxious? Then they might be a keeper.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

1-year-old's birthday photo shoot reaches out to family of his heart donor

Rena and Andy Sickles(NEW YORK) -- Titus Sickles was close to dying before a heart transplant saved his life when he was just 3 months old.

When Titus turned one in January, his parents marked the milestone the way a lot of parents do, with a photo shoot.

Titus’ photographs, though, had a bigger purpose: trying to find the family of the infant whose heart saved his life.

“My child has their child’s heart beating inside of him and he’s thriving and it’s all because of them,” said Titus’s mom, Rena Sickles. “I’d love to thank them in person.”

Due to privacy rules, Sickles and her husband, parents of three sons in addition to Titus, know nothing about the family who chose to have their child be an organ donor.

Rena Sickles, of Toledo, Washington, found out when she was 18 weeks pregnant that Titus would be born with half a heart. When he was born on Jan. 8, 2018, he also had dilated cardiomyopathy, a condition in which the heart fails to pump blood effectively.

The family put their lives on hold while they waited for a donor heart for Titus. He began to decline rapidly right before the transplant came through in April, according to Sickles.

“I hadn’t really had any meltdowns but I just broke down and said, ‘He’s about done fighting,’” she recalled. “[My husband and I] agreed that if he was done, we were going to let him go. We couldn’t watch him suffer anymore.”

“The call for the transplant came the next day,” Sickles said.

Titus underwent a four-hour heart transplant at Seattle Children’s Hospital on April 7, 2018. There was only a one-hour lapse from the time the heart was taken out of the donor's body and transplanted to Titus, so Sickles believes the donor family is likely local.

“I figure if we get the picture out, maybe the parents or grandmother or an aunt or uncle will see it,” Sickles said. “Even if they don’t reach out to us, maybe they’ll see it and get a little healing from that.”

Sickles also hopes the photos raise awareness of organ donation.

Titus is now a happy, healthy 1-year-old who can keep up with his brothers and loves to laugh and dance, according to Sickles.

“We were so close to burying our child and organ donation is the absolutely only reason he’s still here,” she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb142019

ABC's Ginger Zee shares what happened after a month of strength training

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- At the start of 2019, ABC News' Good Morning America meteorologist Ginger Zee, a mother of two and an avid exerciser, set a new wellness goal: to be able to do eight pull-ups and 30 push-ups in great form by the end of January.

Zee used trainer Alexia Clark’s online program for strength and turned to her friend and personal trainer Mark Langowski to help achieve her pull-up and push-up goals.

She explains here, in her own words, her results after spending a month devoted to strength training:

I set a goal...and I didn’t achieve it. And that’s OK.

OK, OK...that’s only half true.

My main goal for January was to get stronger. And I did!

Part of my January challenge was to do 30 push-ups with great form all in a row. I was at a solid 17 and I easily achieved 30. I think I can actually do closer to 40 now!

My other goal was to do eight chin-ups. I could do two. I only got to four.

Granted I was sick for the entire month (I had that terrible respiratory thing that was going around and had to eventually get on antibiotics and steroids to kick it) and traveled much more than anticipated, so practicing my chin-ups wasn’t as easy.

I also realize I did double my strength and the most beautiful part of not making my goal? It makes me want it even more in the coming weeks.

My January challenge has now become my February challenge and that’s OK.

That’s a big lesson I’ve learned in the past decade or so as I have attempted to give myself grace. Perfection is rarely possible. Attaining goals is.

This method of workout goals was never something I had done in the past and it motivated me to achieve my overall goal and that was to get stronger.

I wake up every morning and write what I’m grateful for and my goal for the day on my glass shower door. That helps ground me and keep me motivated. I loved having this goal and will do it again this month.

And I will get those chin-ups!


Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Feb132019

On Valentine's Day, why dark chocolate is better for your health

JulyProkopiv/iStockBY: DR. THERESA SCOTT

(NEW YORK) -- Valentine’s Day may be about romance, but there’s little Americans love more than chocolate. People in the United States consume 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate each year — over 11 pounds per person — but not all chocolate is created equally.

The typical candy bars and boxed chocolates that you might be giving your significant other on Valentine’s Day may taste good, but they also have a lot of ingredients added to them that make them less healthy treats when compared to chocolate in a more pure form: dark chocolate.

“Cocoa by itself may provide some health benefits,” said registered dietitian Lona Sandon, Ph.D., RDN, of UT Southwestern Medical Center, in a statement. “It’s what is added to it that’s not so good for us.”

“Dark cocoa and baking cocoa contain a higher percentage of cocoa solids and less or no added sugar,” she added.

Dark chocolate has more nutritional value than other chocolates.

As Sandon mentioned, it’s what’s added to cocoa (the base) that makes it less healthy. This doesn’t only apply to chocolates with, say, caramel or coconut in them — milk chocolate is just the same. Although the initial calorie counts may look similar between milk and dark chocolate, milk chocolate has morefat and sugar and less of the good stuff. Generally, dark chocolate has quadruple the amount of fiber and more than half of the daily recommended amounts of iron, copper and magnesium — milk chocolate, on the other hand, has no more than 10 percent.

There are also antioxidants in dark chocolate.

The cocoa base of chocolate is a great source of antioxidants, specifically a type called flavonoids.

Antioxidants are man-made or naturally occurring substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Studies suggest they are critical in balancing the body’s physiology, and that without them, the cell damage might trigger certain diseases. Studies have also found that the antioxidants in dark chocolate could potentially protect cardiovascular health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and overall inflammation. They might also reduce the risk of cancer and improve brain function.

“A bar of dark chocolate weighing about 1.5 ounces contains approximately 950 milligrams of antioxidants, while a similar bar of milk chocolate contains only about 400 milligrams. White chocolate is a confection of fat and sugar and contains no antioxidants,” Sandon said.

If you want chocolate, go for it. Just don’t overindulge.

There’s nothing wrong with indulging in some chocolates on Valentine’s Day — just be sure to temper it, Sandon said. Just keep in mind that even though antioxidants might benefit the cardiovascular system, there is no official recommendation for a “heart healthy” serving of dark chocolate. Still, you can maximize your potential benefits by looking for dark chocolate that’s at least 65 percent cacao and enjoy in moderation.

Theresa Scott, DO, MS, is a pediatric resident and member of the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.







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