Study Finds E-Cigarettes Successful in Helping Smokers Quit

iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Smokers are more likely to succeed in quitting the habit if they use electronic cigarettes, compared to those who attempt to stop cold turkey or use replacements such as patches or gum, a new study finds.

A survey of 5,863 people discovered that those attempting to quit without professional help are approximately 60 percent more likely to stop with the help of e-cigarettes. The study, published in the journal Addiction on Wednesday, also found that 20 percent of smokers trying to kick the habit were successful when they used the devices.

Experts suggest that e-cigarettes could play a positive role in reducing smoking rates.

“E-cigarettes could substantially improve public health because of their widespread appeal and the huge health gains associated with stopping smoking,” said Robert West, professor at University College London and senior author of the study.

Still, the strongest evidence for success remains in government services offered for smoking cessation, he added, saying that they almost triple a smoker's odds of quitting.

Another survey from the same team found that most e-cigarette users are partial toward "cigalike" products, instead of devices that use refillable cartridges and flavor variations.

"It is not clear whether long-term use of e-cigarettes carries health risks but from what is known about the contents of the vapour these will be much less than from smoking,” West said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio



High Cholesterol Levels Linked to Infertility, Study Says 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- High cholesterol levels may impact fertility in couples trying to conceive, a new study says.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health, the University at Buffalo, and Emory University in Atlanta found that couples which had a partner with high cholesterol took the longest time to reach pregnancy.

The effect was most apparent in pairs where women had the increased levels compared to couples where both partners had cholesterol levels in the acceptable range. A man with high cholesterol did not significantly impact pregnancy if the woman had normal levels.

Experts studied 501 couples from Michigan and Texas who were not being treated for infertility but were still trying to have a child. Women, ages 18 to 44, and men, who were over 18, provided blood samples. In general, those with high cholesterol either did not become pregnant or took a longer time to conceive. Among participants, researchers also discovered that Hispanic males had the highest cholesterol levels.

The data showed that cholesterol not only affects the risk for cardiovascular disease, but monitoring such rates may help those trying to become pregnant, study author Dr. Enrique Schisterman said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Mice Enjoy Running on Hamster Wheels, Researchers Find, Netherlands) -- In the wheel of life, mice are really enjoying themselves.

Dutch researchers placed hamster wheels in natural settings to conduct an experiment into whether mice would actually run on the wheels for their own enjoyment. And it turns out, they did.

Johanna H. Meijer and Yuri Robbers, of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, placed the exercise wheels outdoors in a yard garden and dune area, and were surprised to find multiple mice,  as well as other animals, who chose to run on the wheels.

“Mice and some shrews, rats and frogs were seen to leave the wheel and then enter it again within minutes in order to continue wheel running. This observation indicates that wheel running may well be intentional rather than unintentional for these animals,” the pair wrote in their study, called “Wheel Running in the Wild.”

The researchers said that they were inspired to look into whether mice enjoyed running on the wheels after controversy over mice being held captive for experiments at research universities.

“Wheel running is often used in the laboratory for triggering enhanced activity levels, despite the common objection that this behaviour is an artefact of captivity and merely signifies neurosis or stereotypy,” they wrote.

“In a time when lifestyle in general and lack of exercise in particular are a major cause of disease in the modern world, research into physical activity is of utmost importance. Our findings may help alleviate the main concern regarding the use of running wheels in research on exercise,” they said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Billboard Pushes Clean Air with Poetry, Pollution-Eating Particles

iStock/Thinkstock(SHEFFIELD, England) -- A poet and a scientist have teamed up to fight air pollution with what they call the world’s first “air-cleansing” billboard.

Poetry professor Simon Armitage and chemistry professor Tony Ryan of the University of Sheffield in England joined forces to create the giant poster, which features a poem by Armitage entitled “In Praise of Air” printed with pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide.

“I wanted to write a poem that was approachable, that might catch the attention of the passer-by and the wandering mind,” Armitage said in a statement. ”I’ve enjoyed working with the scientists and the science, trying to weave the message into the words.”

Titanium dioxide particles purify the air by using sunlight and oxygen to react with nitrogen oxide pollutants, according to Ryan, who said the sign will help scrub the surroundings of pollution caused by cars.

“This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities,” Ryan said. “The science behind this is an additive which delivers a real environmental benefit that could actually help cut disease and save lives.”

The sign will hang in Sheffield for a year, according to the duo, where it will help clean the air of nitrogen oxide pollution created by an estimated 7,300 cars.

ABC US News | International News

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Americans Overestimate Swimming Skills

moodboard/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Think you can swim? Before you say "yes," better think about whether you're capable of saving your own life in the water.

The American Red Cross reports that of the 80 percent of Americans who believe they can swim, only 56 percent can perform five skills necessary to avoid drowning.

So before diving in this summer, the Red Cross recommends reviewing whether you're capable of entering water over your head and subsequently returning to the surface; floating or treading in water for a full minute; able to turn into a full circle to find a way out of the water; swimming at least 25 yards to find an exit; and actually able to get out of the water, even if there's no ladder nearby.

While that all sounds pretty basic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it's important to remember that almost 4,000 people die by drowning in the U.S. every year, many of them under age 14.

What's more, the Red Cross has found that more than half of parents admit their kids don't know the basic skills needed to avoid drowning.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Stress Is Another Part of the Teen Experience

Fuse/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Relax, kids: school will be out soon, if it hasn't already let out for the summer.

The long break is apparently needed, judging by an American Psychological Association survey that says teens are as least as stressed as adults but that their anxieties aren't taken as seriously.

It should be no surprise that adolescents feels most stressed during the school year, which might explain why teens appear to be so irritable, or often on the verge of tears.

The "Stress in America" survey finds that more than a third of stressed teens report sleeping problems, while a quarter treat their worries by overindulging in food.

More girls report feeling stressed than boys, although males may not want to admit feeling overwhelmed, thinking it might make them seem weak.

Another problem: many teens don't realize that stress could be affecting them both physically and mentally.

While there are no easy answers, Norman Anderson, APA executive vice president, recommends parents talk more often to their youngsters. Some ways of relieving anxieties include exercise and more bed rest.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Tough Mudder Rescue Diver’s Heart Stops, in Critical Condition

Stan Grossfeld/The Boston Globe via Getty Images(MANSFIELD, Ohio) -- Tough Mudder, races that have acquired a reputation for dangerous obstacles and bizarre injuries, experienced another setback recently when a rescue diver's heart stopped in the middle of a race in Ohio.

The diver, whose name has not been released, was stationed in the water at the Walk-the-Plank obstacle in Mansfield, Ohio, where racers are required to jump off a 15-foot platform into cold, muddy water, according to Tough Mudder spokesman Ben Johnson. Johnson could not confirm details of what happened to the diver, but race participant Bret Buike said he was the one to notice the diver and helped save his life.

“We just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Buike told ABC News. “We were able to act quickly enough that it seems like we potentially saved this man’s life.”

This was the same type of obstacle where 28-year-old Avishek Sengupta drowned after another racer jumped into the water on top of him in April 2012 during a Tough Mudder race in West Virginia, Sengupta's family claimed in a wrongful death lawsuit filed against Tough Mudder earlier this month.

The race promises to be "Probably the Toughest Event on the Planet," and has obstacles with names like "Fire in Your Hole," "Electric Eel" and "Arctic Enema."

Researchers examined emergency room visits following a Tough Mudder in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in a study published by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2013, and reported that they encountered one Tough Mudder racer who received 13 electric shocks on the course, which caused heart inflammation. Another racer had a stroke and suffered temporary paralysis, according to the study.

Read about the other potential risks associated with obstacle races here.

Buike, a former paramedic who was participating in the Ohio race last weekend, told ABC News he was about to jump off the platform, when he noticed a rescue diver below who didn’t look right.

“I yelled down to see if he was OK,” Buike said, adding that a few other people followed suit. But the diver didn't answer.

When another lifeguard bumped the rescue diver with a flotation device and the diver still didn’t move, Buike said he sprang into action. He jumped off the platform, swam to the diver, and helped pull the man out of the water with help from three other people, he said.

“I wasn’t sure what was wrong with him at first,” he said. “As soon as we got him out of the water, the first thing you do is check for a pulse, and there wasn’t one.”

They started CPR, and cut the man’s wet suit off, Buike said. Soon, someone rushed over with a defibrillator, and another person began breathing for the diver with a mask attached to a squeezable bag called an AMBU bag, he said.

Once Tough Mudder personnel seemed to have the situation under control, Buike said he moved on and finished the race. That night, he learned that the man survived but was in critical condition. The rescue diver’s family passed on their gratitude through the Tough Mudder organization, he said.

Johnson said what happened at the Walk-the-Plank Obstacle was the result of a “personal health issue,” and “not an accident or injury on site.” The diver also wore a “buoyancy compensator device,” which kept his head above water the entire time, Johnson said.

“This type of medical incident could have occurred anywhere on course," Johnson said. "Tough Mudder is conducting an investigation, as is our protocol, and we remain deeply confident in the response from our expert medical staff on-site.”

At the time of Sengupta's death, Tough Mudder said Sengupta’s was “the first fatality in the three-year history of the company,” and that the event “was staffed with more than 75 ALS, EMT, paramedics, water rescue technicians and emergency personnel.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Rent-A-Gent Allows Women to Hire Hunks for Dates, Chores

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  Marina has it all. She has the job, she has the looks, and, depending on her mood, she has her choice of Frankie the acrobatic dancer, Harrison the revolutionary or Eric the actor.

Marina is using a service called Rent-A-Gent. Starting at $200 an hour, users can pick from a list of handsome, intelligent men listed on the service’s website to be their companion, and either book online or call to reserve a “gent.” The men can serve as a date to an event, cook meals or even repair a sink.

But what they are not allowed to do is hook up -- no kissing, and definitely no sex, while on the job.

Marina ended up choosing Eric, whose Rent-A-Gent profile described him as someone who “loves the outdoors, culture and also active and social causes,” for a rock-climbing date -- something she had never done before but always wanted to try.

“It’s very hard to find a man...that has good qualities, and then you have to get to know them, and go through the whole dating process, while this [website] is just a click away,” said Marina.

“You just hang out for two hours, and then you say goodbye, you go your ways, it’s amazing,” she continued. “You have all different types of men that you could choose and you choose how to spend your time with them.”

While this one-and-done date seems like a fun solution to typical dating, relationship expert Donna Barnes said hiring a companion could hurt women’s chances at finding real love.

“It’s really dangerous when you start putting too much emphasis on the package of who someone is,” Barnes said. “I think commonality is what makes relationships work...By hiring someone who is attractive, you start holding up this standard. You might overlook someone who is really wonderful and could make you happy.”

Rent-A-Gent offers services in 11 states and the District of Columbia. Sara Shikhman, the co-founder and CEO of, and a panel of judges carefully select each gent in casting sessions, weeding out many of those who audition and selecting the best of the best.

“The process is very rigorous, because men think they can do it all, and all kinds of men show up,” Shikhman said. “They say to us, ‘Yeah, I’m qualified to be a gent, even though I’m 5-foot-4, bald and I’m 65 years old....That’s not going to happen.”

And the interview process is extensive. Shikhman said they will do “80 to 100” interviews before they find one man acceptable for hire.

“Women are paying $200 an hour....I want to give them something like a fine French restaurant, where it’s going to be amazing,” she said. “We have satisfaction guarantee so I need to stand by it. I can’t give them something crappy where they’re going to be like, ‘I could have met that guy at the bar.’”

Shikhman said she and the other Rent-A-Gent casting ladies are looking for their men to meet three criteria.

“They have to be handsome, they have to be intelligent and educated, and they have to have some kind of talent,” she said.

During the audition, Shikhman has the men show off their bodies, sometimes asking them to take off their shirt, and demonstrate their talent, whether it’s plumbing or dancing.

Again, this is not a sex service, Shikhman said, though she admits that some of the calls to Rent-A-Gent are from clients looking to be promiscuous.

“Some of the calls are like this: ‘Hey, I want to hire a guy and my wife is going to go to dinner with him. ... But I want to meet them after,’” Shikhman said. “And we’re like, ‘Well, what do you want to do? And they’re like, ‘Well, I want to watch my wife have sex with this guy.’ And we say, ‘Sorry, this is not that kind of service.’”

Shikhman said the Rent-A-Gent standard draws the line at making the men do something naked. But install a ceiling fan wearing only their underwear? “That’s fine,” she said.

While it may seem like harmless fun, the service can come off to some as simply objectifying men, but Shikhman disagrees, saying, “It’s the modern world and we have lots of different options.”

Eric, who was selected for Marina’s date, said that he doesn’t get that feeling of being used when he works for Rent-A-Gent.

“I don’t feel used, because I think it’s a different thing than that,” he said. “We’re going there to have fun, and I think so far the people that I’ve encountered have been very fun women.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Teen to Carry Little Brother 40 Miles for Cerebral Palsy Awareness

iStock/Thinkstock(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- Hunter Gandee, 14, big man on campus and big brother to Braden, 7, will piggyback his brother for 40 miles to raise awareness about cerebral palsy.

Hunter, the president of his junior high’s student council and captain of his school’s wrestling team, wants to raise awareness of the challenges his little brother faces in everyday life.

Braden was born with cerebral palsy, a movement disorder that causes physical disability.

Hunter has been carrying Braden around on his back since the two were young. It’s Braden’s favorite form of transportation. “It’s how he gets around,” mom Danielle told ABC News. But this 40-mile hike won’t be like a trip to the grocery store.

Hunter will carry nearly 60-pound Braden from the Bedford Junior High wrestling room to the University of Michigan wrestling room. The duo will leave 8 a.m. June 7, walk for about 25 miles, stay overnight in Milan and finish the last 15 miles the next day.

Community members, wrestlers from all over, and veterans of the Disabled Veterans of America are expected to join the cause. Hunter wanted to make clear that this walk was strictly to raise awareness. Those who have wanted to donate have been pointed to the University of Michigan’s Cerebral Palsy Research Consortium.

Hunter told ABC News he is “very protective” of his little brother.  “If he has any problems, I’m right there by his side,” Hunter said.

Braden told ABC News he was “very, very excited” for the walk.

Through “Cerebral Palsy Swagger,” the Gandee family hopes research and technology will follow so new equipment to aid Braden and others with cerebral palsy will help them, rather than hold them back. “You can’t go on the baseball field with a walker,” Danielle Gandee said.

Mrs. Gandee and her husband hold their children to the same standard, modifying expectations when necessary, but “we’re pretty strict,” the mom said. “They are expected to do well in school, get good grades.”

“We don’t treat him any different. We push him like we push our other kids,” Danielle Gandee said. “Only motor challenges hold him back. We don’t let cerebral palsy be an excuse.”

The mom attributes Braden’s happy life, despite his physical struggle, to the strong community they are surrounded with and the closeness of their family.

“He’s kind of like everybody’s little brother,” she said. “Everyone looks out for him and plays with him, I don’t think we’ve ever had a situation where a kid has been mean to him.”

Braden is also Hunter’s number-one cheerleader and Hunter’s greatest inspiration. Braden is always front row and center at his big brother’s wrestling matches.

“It gives me that extra boost, whenever I’m in the middle of a match, it just makes me want to try harder to pull out the win. It’s a confidence thing for me,” Hunter said.

“Whenever there is a real emotional, close match, Hunter jumps up, slaps the mat, and says, ‘I did that for you buddy!’” Mrs. Gandee said.

“Their connection, they really are that close,” Danielle Gandee explained. “It’s not an act. Hunter knows that Braden’s got to work very hard, he’s the kind of person that is always thinking about other people.”


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Experts Warn of Summer Home-Fire Hazards 

iStock/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- While much attention has been placed on recent wildfires in the West, experts Tuesday warned there could be a grave danger right in your own neighborhood this summer, stemming from barbecue grills, overloaded electrical cords, and backyard fireworks.

Nationwide, home fires cause on average more than 2,500 deaths a year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration and the National Fire Protection Association. The rise in temperatures only adds to the slew of concerns.

“It’s scary,” said Captain Philip Hershey of the Los Angeles Fire Department. “As a captain, the last thing we want to be doing is pulling bodies out of these houses.”

Los Angeles is responding to a record spike in fatal house fires this year with a door-to-door campaign that looks for homes without smoke detectors.

Firefighters say that in seven of the city's nine recent fatal cases, there was not a single functioning smoke detector inside the home.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 5 million households don’t have smoke detectors.

Firefighters advised that in addition to a smoke detector on every floor, households with elderly relatives or children should also have a carefully rehearsed escape plan.


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