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Wednesday
May082013

Light Exercise Reduces Kidney Stone Risk in Women, Study Finds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- About 10 percent of U.S. adults will get a renal calculus, or kidney stone. But new research finds that even a little exercise can make a big difference in lowering women's risk for the kidney stone development.
 
The incidence of kidney stones, solid concretions or crystal aggregations formed in the kidneys from dietary minerals in the urine, has risen 70 percent over the last fifteen years, with women accounting for much of the rise.
 
Now a study presented to the American Urological Association finds that even light exercise can significantly lower the risk of kidney stones in women. According to the study, physically active women had about a 30-percent lower risk for kidney stones than women who did not exercise.
 
In one analysis, the risk reduction ranged as high as 80 percent.
 
Furthermore, the researchers found the intensity of the exercise did not matter, and that women who did minimal exercise benefited.
 
Doctors say the exercise likely prevents kidney stones from forming by changing how the body processes vitamins and minerals. Exercise can reduce cardiac risk factors such as
hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and cholesterol, which also lowers kidney stone risk.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Amanda Berry Child's 'Extreme Normal' Put to Test in Recovery

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For 6-year-old Jocelyn, the daughter of Cleveland captive Amanda Berry, the Castro house in which she was raised was her "normal." Based on information pieced together by law enforcement, she knew nothing else.

That, experts say, is the key to understanding the psychological effects on Jocelyn and the kind of help she will need going forward, as she adapts to life in the outside world and forms relationships with more than six people. Mother and daughter arrived home Wednesday, the beginning of a long journey of recovery.

"The harm comes into play when you take a child out of a situation that is normal and into a place that is abnormal," said Chuck Williams, a Drexel University youth counselor in Philadelphia with an expertise in foster care and trauma. "It causes all kinds of stress and trauma that affects the brain and how we think and feel and behavior."

On the other hand, Williams said, "if she was born into this certainly extreme normal, she is not so horrified as we are."

The girl was born in a small inflatable swimming pool during Berry's captivity, Cleveland City Councilman Brian Cummins told ABC News Wednesday. The identity of her father has not yet been revealed.

Berry went missing at age 16 in 2003 while on her way home from a job at Burger King. Police are hailing her as a hero this week because she was able to cry out for help. Police rescued the mother and daughter, as well as two other women who were abducted a decade ago: Gina DeJesus, 23, and Michele Knight, 32.

All the women vanished in separate incidents near their homes and were allegedly held captive in a home owned by 52-year-old former school bus driver Ariel Castro, who was charged in the kidnappings Wednesday.

In a phone call this week between Berry and her grandmother as ABC News affiliate WESW-TV reporters watched, Fern Gentry asked Berry, "Is the little girl your baby?"

"Yeah, she's my daughter, she was born on Christmas," her granddaughter answered.

Sources have told ABC News that Berry's alleged captor, Ariel Castro, was a violent man, "a monster." He was "nice when he was outside but behind closed doors he was an animal," they said.

In an emotional interview with ABC News, Maria Castro Montes, a cousin of the Castro brothers, said the family was overwhelmed with "heartache" from the alleged kidnapping. "I'm a mother, I have a daughter, I can't even begin to imagine..."

When she learned from reporters that Jocelyn is probably the daughter of one of the Castro brothers, she said, "Of course she's a part of our family. What my cousin did was horrible, but this child obviously has no fault in any of this."

"Obviously, this little girl, she will be accepted as a part of this family if that's what they choose to do," she noted. "She may not want any part of the Castros, but I should hope as part of their healing process, they reach out to us so they can see what an amazing family we are."

Police have now released more information about the environment in the home where Amanda Berry's daughter grew up. Cleveland Police Chief Michael McGrath said Wednesday that chains and ropes were recovered from the home on Seymour Avenue, but did not say how they were used.

Psychologist Williams said the adjustment of children born in this environment would be "complicated."

He compared the potential scenario to a home where there is physical or verbal abuse. In such cases, children often find ways of coping.

"The mind is amazing," Williams said. "When a child is young, the mind has a way of developing protective factors that mediate and mitigate the harmful psychological effects. And then you add to that resilience. The mind can protect children from harm and damage."

Working in the field of foster care as a Stoneleigh Foundation Fellow, he said, "we have examples of children who have been through worse situations than this 6-year-old girl."

Williams said some children survive with counseling because of their innate resilience. Other children are not so lucky.

"Some are more susceptible and overwhelmed by the experience and have PTSD [post-traumatic stress syndrome]," Williams said.

They might go on to have drug and alcohol addictions, early pregnancies, drop out of school or engage in promiscuous behaviors, "wandering through life languishing," he said.

Abused children can also develop symptoms of depression and are more likely to act out sexually. Boys can act out physically, "repeating the cycle," he said. Children can blame themselves for causing the trauma. "They internalize and think it's their fault," he said.

But Williams cautions that all abused children do not inevitably have a "downward spiral."

As for the Cleveland women and Berry's daughter, he said, "they will face a lot of challenges."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Frenchman Infected with SARS-Like Virus

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DOUAI, France) -- A Frenchman has been diagnosed with a deadly SARS-like virus after visiting the United Arab Emirates, France's Ministry of Health said Wednesday.

The 65-year-old man, whose name has not been made public, has been placed in an isolated intensive care unit at a hospital in the northern city of Douai, the agency said in a statement.

"This is the first and only confirmed case in France to date," it added.

Since September 2012, at least 30 people worldwide have contracted the novel coronavirus, dubbed human nCoV, according to the World Health Organization. Eighteen people have died.

"The problem with new infectious agents is that usually people have little to no immunity so if they are able to spread easily from person to person, the impact can be devastating," said ABC News' chief health and medical editor, Dr. Richard Besser, who served as acting director for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the 2009 swine flu outbreak.

The new SARS-like virus can cause pneumonia and kidney failure. But unlike the SARS virus, which a decade ago sickened more than 8,000 people and killed 775, it doesn't appear to easily spread from person to person.

"It has spread between family members but little is known beyond that," said Besser.

The new virus was first identified in September 2012 following the infections of a Qatari man in a British hospital and a woman who died in Saudi Arabia. The majority of cases have clustered in the Arabian Peninsula, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"CDC recommends that U.S. travelers to countries in or near the Arabian Peninsula monitor their health and see a doctor right away if they develop fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath. They should tell the doctor about their recent travel," the agency said in a statement.

The French patient travelled to Dubai in mid-April, the Agence France Presse reported. He was hospitalized in Valenciennes on April 23 and then transferred to the Douai hospital April 29, according to the French Ministry of Health.

While the virus is spreading more slowly than SARS, French health officials are trying to reach anyone that might have come into contact with the new patient. They have also established a national hotline to answer questions from the public.

"It is so important to pay attention whenever a new infectious disease appears on the scene," said Besser. "Early on it can be very difficult to tell how big of a health problem it will be."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Dying Maryland Teen Adjusting Well to Classmate's Heart

Nicole Bruns-Kirby | Marion Family Photo(PASADENA, MD.) -- When the doctor showed up at his hospital bed and told Kyle Wilkerson that she had good news -- that she had a heart for the Maryland teenager --  Kyle had a suspicion. Mom Denise Wilkerson says her 15-year-old son looked up at the cardiologist and asked, "Is it Skylar's heart?"

Skylar Marion, a fellow ninth-grader and acquaintance of Kyle's had died from injuries suffered days earlier in a hit-and-run accident. After the accident, Skylar, 15, was rushed to the shock-trauma center at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore, where he was placed on life support.

It was the same hospital where Kyle had spent two months being treated for heart failure. His heart was so badly damaged from a rare genetic condition that he had suffered a stroke from a blood clot, and doctors had to install a heart pump to keep him alive until they could find a donor.

As Skylar's father, Mike Marion, was making the wrenching decision to remove his son from life support, he learned about Kyle, a teen from their town of Pasadena, Md., who needed a heart. Marion didn't know Kyle directly, although it turned out his son did.

Marion said he went into Skylar's hospital room and faced his unresponsive son. "I asked him if it was OK to give that boy his heart, and I just felt a lift come off my shoulders, and I just felt, OK. It seemed like it was fine."

An emotional Wilkerson said, "In my heart, part of it broke. I had already been sad that Skylar didn't make it. It just overwhelmed me thinking this is such a miracle."

Authorities are still looking for the hit-and-run driver.

There are more than 2,000 heart transplants in the United States every year, and so-called directed donations of hearts are extremely rare, only two or three a year, according to the United Network for Organ Sharing.

Baltimore cardiologist Dr. Erika Feller, who treated Kyle, called this "a crazy story." There was no guarantee the heart would work for Kyle. Feller had already rejected a few other hearts that weren't a good match.

"It has to be the right blood type, and it has to be the right size, generally, and it just so happened both were prefect," said Feller, the medical director of heart transplants at the University of Maryland Medical Center.

So, on April 16, Dr. Sunjay Kaushal, the director of Pediatric Cardiac Surgery at the Baltimore hospital, carefully took out Kyle's damaged heart, and replaced it with the heart of a boy who lived just down the street, went to the same high school and shared a love of trick bike-riding with Kyle.

"His prognosis is excellent," Kaushal said. "We are really optimistic."

Denise Wilkerson met Mike Marion this week, the man who donated his son's heart. "He didn't cry," she said. "He hugged me. He thanked me. He thanked me like I did something for him."

Marion said, "It's a gift that her son gets to live. That makes Skylar a part of him, still living."

For the Wilkerson family, this is their second miracle heart. Eight years ago, Kyle's dad, Randy Wilkerson, suffered atrial fibrillation, a sudden irregular heartbeat. That is when doctors discovered that the then 44-year-old man was stricken with familial dilated cardiomyopathy, an inherited disease that causes heart failure.

The family knew then that Kyle would, one day, also likely need a heart transplant, just like his dad. But they never expected his heart to fail at such a young age.

"What is surprising is how quickly he needed the heart," Dr. Kaushal said. "The father needed it in his 40s, and he needed it in teenage years."

Kyle's dad had his own heart pump installed in 2005 and went on the transplant list. His doctor was Erika Feller, the same cardiologist who later treated his son. Months after getting his heart pump, Wilkerson got his own news from Feller: There was a heart waiting for him.

"It is pretty rare that the cardiomyopathy is so bad in both father and son to require something as significant as a heart transplant," Dr. Feller said. "It is pretty unusual."

Her husband's surgery and successful recovery gave Denise Wilkerson great comfort. She thought Kyle was in good hands at the University of Maryland Medical Center, although he would be the first pediatric heart transplant patient there under a new program established by Dr. Kaushal.

She praised the doctors and their care. "I have my two guys because of them," she said.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Texas Woman, 105, Reveals Sizzling Longevity Secret

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SAN SABA COUNTY, Texas) -- At 105, Pearl Cantrell has one “healthy” habit she swears by: a daily dose of bacon.

Cantrell’s son Billy Allen, 81, said that along with a morning cup of “coffee pudding,” or coffee with lots of milk, sugar and a biscuit, the Texas centenarian starts each day with a few pieces of bacon.

“Every day she gets up and [today she] said Bill ‘I’m ready for my bacon,’” Allen told ABCNews.com. “[She] eats two pieces nearly every morning.”

But bacon isn’t the centenarian’s only ‘healthy’ habit, Allen said his mother was active his whole life. She spent her days in the fields of the family farm in San Saba County, Texas,  after Allen’s father died in the 1940s. After her husband’s death she raised her seven children on her own.

Allen said not only was his mother active by picking cotton in the fields during the day, but that she always loved to dance and even waltzed at her 105th birthday for a few dances.

However, it was Cantrell’s daily routine of eating bacon that grabbed attention of the Oscar Meyer company. The company famous for their meat and cold cut products sent free packages of bacon and hot dogs to Cantrell in honor of the great-grandmother’s birthday and even let the great-grandmother ride in the famous Wienermobile through town.

“She really enjoyed it. She went all through town and up by the school house,” said Allen.

In spite of her longevity, Cantrell’s habits are not recommended by the medical community for those looking to survive to 105. A study released last year by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate a daily serving of processed meat, equal to two strips of bacon or a hot dog, had a 20 percent increased risk of death.

“It’s not really surprising because red meat consumption has been linked to an increased risk of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer,” said Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the study, told ABCNews.com last year. “What is surprising is the magnitude of risk associated with very moderate red meat consumption.”

However, Cantrell doesn’t have plans to change her habits. “She’s [slowed] down a bit,” said Allen, who along with his four surviving siblings takes care of his mother. “[But] she’s getting to be a handful.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Giant, Disease Carrying Snail Menaces Houston

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) -- If you live in Houston and you have a garden and you happen to see a giant snail and that giant snail begins oozing towards you -- run. Or walk away slowly. Just don’t touch it.

The sluggish mollusk, recently photographed in the backyard of a quiet Houston neighborhood, has been tentatively identified as a Giant African Snail and wildlife researchers say it’s dangerous.

“The snail harbors a deadly parasite known as rat lungworm, which is a form of meningitis,” said Lori Williams, the executive director of the National Invasive Species Council, the coordinating body for the federal government on invasive species.

Williams warned humans not to go near the snail and said that people who do touch it need to wash their hands thoroughly.

What the insidious creature lacks in speed it makes up for in fertility. It reproduces rapidly and can lay 1,200 eggs a year. If confirmed as a Giant African snail, Williams noted that it’s unlikely there is just one.

The softball-sized beast is also a considerable pest. It has been known to munch its way through stucco, plastic recycling bins, signs and more than 500 species of plants. Its pointy shell is so sharp is can blow out car tires if run over.

First spotted in the U.S. in southern Florida in the 1960s, Williams said it took more than a decade and $1 million to eradicate, but has recently been rediscovered in the sunshine state.

This is the first known possible spotting of the giant snail in Texas. It’s a mystery how it got there. It's current location is also a mystery. Ironically, the snail slipped away and for the moment, has eluded capture. Local wildlife officials are sending teams into the area to search for it.

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Twitter Study Measures Day to Day Happiness of Last Five Years

Hedonometer.org(NEW YORK) -- The death of Michael Jackson, the 2011 Japanese Tsunami and the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Conn. are registered as some of the saddest days on Twitter since 2008, according to a new study led by the Computational Story Lab at the University of Vermont Complex Systems Center.

The project is on display as an online, interactive graph titled the Hedonometer, or, as researcher Chris Danforth has called it, "the Dow Jones index of happiness."

"Happiness is difficult to measure, but we've built the prototype of an instrument that is sensible and improvable," Danforth told ABC News.

"You can think of this instrument as operating in the manner of a thermometer," he explained.  "Each molecule represents one tweet, and in aggregating hundreds of millions of words we get a sense for the emotional temperature of large populations."

The project looks at a "random sampling" of roughly 50 million tweets daily, or about 10 percent of all tweets posted each day.  Researchers created a set of about 10,000 keywords to be detected by the system.  Each keyword is given a score from sad (1) to happy (9), and an average happiness score is then calculated for each date.

So, where do the peaks and valleys of happy tweets lie on this chart?

The Hedonometer shows Christmas and Christmas Eve as being the happiest days of every year included in the study, with keywords like "merry" and "happy" in high occurrence.  Other holidays like Valentine's Day, Easter, Mother's Day and 4th of July each show a spike in joyous tweets, including the words "happy," "love" and "family."

As for the not so happy times on Twitter, those dates and keywords seem to correlate with some of the most tragic events of the last five years.  The single largest dip in happiness was on April 15, the date of the bombings at the Boston Marathon that left three dead and over 200 injured.

On that day, Tweets containing the terms "explosion," "sad," "prayers" and "tragedy" crowded the Twitter-verse.

Other sad dates, according to the Hedonometer: Dec. 14, 2012 (the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn.) and Sept. 29, 2008 (the day a U.S. bailout bill meant to address the recent market crash failed in the House of Representatives).

The graph also shows May 2, 2011, the day the United States announced Osama bin Laden had been killed, as one the saddest days in the study.

"It's clearly a complicated day," said Danforth.  "Regarding public opinion on the event, I think Twitter is one natural place to look for information about how people were feeling that day."

"Many people presume this day will be one of clear positivity. While we do see positive words such as 'celebration' appearing, the overall language of the day on Twitter reflected that a very negatively viewed character met a very negative end," he explained.

"We get news quickly, especially when tragic events happen," Bryan Reuther, postdoctoral resident in clinical psychology at Nova Southeastern University told ABC News.  "Social media platforms such as Twitter provide people with an immediate outlet which, in many ways, is known to reach more people in a shorter time."

Reuther believes that people turning to online social networks to express feelings is becoming more of a new normal.

"Emotional expression is key to being human and emotional expression over social media is becoming part of the 'plugged in' human," said Reuther.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Eyelash Extensions Pose Health Risk

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Eyelash extensions are among the hottest new trends out of Hollywood, but some experts warn that there are risks.

Actress Kristin Chenoweth had an allergic reaction, joking with David Letterman while wearing sunglasses during an interview shortly after the procedure, “It looks like I have lips on my eyelids.”

Experts say eyelash extensions are typically made out of synthetic fibers that are glued to the natural eyelashes, many times with formaldehyde-based adhesives, which can cause allergic reactions for some.

And Consumer Reports is warning women this week that longer lashes might not be worth it.

“The hidden dangers with eyelash extensions include infection, allergic reaction, irritation and loss of your natural lashes,” Dr. Orly Avitzur, a Tarrytown, N.Y.,  neurologist and medical adviser to Consumer Reports, told ABC News.

Tiffany Howard, a mother of two, got eyelash extensions to achieve superstar Adele’s popular cat-eye look.

“I wanted to feel that if I walked out of the house with nothing else, my eyes looked good,” Howard said.

At first, she loved her new lashes, but then they started growing out.

“I needed to take them out and, when I did, unfortunately, out came my lashes with my extensions,” Howard said.

Dr. Neda Shamie, an associate professor of ophthalmology at Doheny Eye Institute in Beverly Hills, Calif., said, “Any chemical exposure to the cornea being so fragile in some ways or susceptible to scarring and irritations and infection, it could be harmful.”

But the Association for Damage-Free Eyelash Extensions defends the practice, saying, “Properly applied eyelash extensions are not dangerous,” and that the “adhesive should not contain formaldehyde,” and “hypoallergenic adhesives are available.”

Howard’s lashes eventually grew back, although she says the beauty treatment was “absolutely not” worth it.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May082013

Government Spends $400K on Cigarette-Sensing Undies

AbleStock.com/Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With most Americans having to tighten their belts in a sputtering economy, taxpayers might be miffed to learn that the government gave more than $400,000 to develop underwear that can detect cigarette smoke.

The dough came in the form of two grants totaling $402,721 to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. The grant allowed researchers to create the Personal Automatic Cigarette Tracker or PACT.

According to the National Institute of Health, the device -- the prototype of which is sized like a vest (an underwear-sized garment is the goal) -- is to better study when and how people smoke, as self evaluations are often inaccurate.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May072013

Cleveland Women Face Trauma, Like Prisoners of War

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While little is known about the conditions in the home where three Cleveland women were allegedly enslaved for a decade, the trio likely suffered from the same kind of deprivation as prisoners of war, according to at least one psychological expert who trained in hostage situations with the FBI.

"Certainly diagnostically, we are looking at post-traumatic stress disorder in its severest form," said Herbert Nieberg, associate professor of law and justice at Mitchell College in New London, Conn. "Not only were they held in captivity, but nobody picked up on it and that makes people feel hopeless."

Gina DeJesus, 23, Amanda Berry, 27, and Michele Knight, 32, vanished near their homes in Cleveland in separate incidents in 2002, 2003 and 2004, but were found Monday night only miles away from where they had disappeared in a home owned by 52-year-old former school bus driver Ariel Castro.

Berry broke through the door of the home with the help of neighbor Charles Ramsey, and called police, who rescued the two other women. They also found Berry's 6-year-old daughter, who was allegedly conceived in captivity.

Police said Castro and his two brothers, Pedro Castro, 54, and Onil Castro, 50, were arrested in connection with the crime.

The Cleveland women are said to have told police they always knew they would be rescued.

"If I had to guess, they are grateful to have been liberated, but what I expect to see is difficulty trusting people," said Nieberg.

The women were allegedly kidnapped in their mid-teens, a time when they are more vulnerable, according to youth psychologist Chuck Williams, founding director of the Center for the Prevention of School-Aged Violence at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

"These young women were kidnapped as teens at a time when they were impressionable, their every move was controlled and dictated to them, and they were most likely told that they would be found and killed if they tried to leave," he said. "They are no longer thinking for themselves. In a sense, the captor has taken over their mind."

John Walsh, host of America's Most Wanted whose son Adam was abducted and murdered in 1981, said the women should "get psychological help and therapy."

"Get ready. Get prepared," he told ABC News. Of Berry's daughter, he added, "Here is a little girl in this mix that looks like she may have been created by a sexual assault of the kidnapper."

But Alan Kazdin, professor of child psychiatry at Yale University and director of the Yale Parenting Center, said media should be careful not to speculate about the effects of even the most severe form of trauma on the victims.

"Post-traumatic stress disorder as we know is a measure of psychiatric impairment in a continuum," he said. "We look for impairment of daily function....Our job is to talk about right now...we don't have to work out the past, and it can even make it worse."

"I am not saying they are unscathed...but we can't make any assumptions unless we have a strong basis for that," he said. "They have been exposed to something really bad and it's horrible and could change anyone. But how did it change you?"

He said there were "really good" treatments for both anxiety and depression.

"Let's give them the help they need and not say they are scathed and ruined."

Dr. Stuart Goldman, a psychiatrist at Harvard University's Children's Hospital in Boston, said that with so few details, it's hard to know the impact of trauma on the Cleveland women and Berry's daughter.

"Whether it's 12 years, 10 years of 24 years, clearly the trauma is extensive," he said. The degree depends on their background, resilience and personal resources not only going into this, but coming out. It's variable. But there is no way that something as horrendous as this is not going to cause some variation of traumatic disorder. Either being imprisoned or being tortured, either way, it will have a long-term impact."

If nothing else, said Goldman, "the pain and sorrow of losing all those years of their lives."

"Most prisoners are wary of people, but if they are able to conjure up an image of a better life, they do better," he said. "People who don't see light at the end of the tunnel, are at greater risk."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio