Review Category : Health

Sam Smith Weight-Loss Guru Amelia Freer Explains Her Approach

ABC/Lou Rocco(NEW YORK) — Sam Smith is the British pop star who took home awards in four big categories at the Grammy Awards last month. But Smith is also losing big, revealing Tuesday on Instagram he shed 14 pounds in two weeks.

Smith, 22, said his relationship with food has been “completely transformed” and the secret to his weight-loss success is the book Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer, a British nutritionist to the stars.

In an interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Freer said she doesn’t “advocate diets.”

Instead, she proposes 10 principles by which to live, including tips such as cutting out processed foods and sugar, stocking the refrigerator with fresh produce and lean proteins and creating one healthy habit at a time to avoid failure.

“So for me the key is about it being real, getting back in the kitchen, cooking from scratch, making sure they are not relying on junk processed convenience food,” Freer said.

Smith has been vocal about his struggle to lose weight in the past. He posted on Instagram a photo of chubby younger self from elementary school and joked that he was the “vision of health.”

And during one of the “Stay With Me” singer’s acceptance speeches, he said: “Before I made this record I was doing everything to try and get my music heard, I tried to lose weight and I was making awful music.”

Now, Smith is restarting his diet. He’s posting photos of his healthy meals and workout, and sharing the steps he took to lose the weight in a short time.

“It’s not even about weight loss it’s about feeling happy in yourself,” he posted in Instagram.

His transformation has some people wondering whether his approach is safe.

“Fourteen pounds in two weeks is not alarming unless a person losing that weight has any pre-existing medical problems,” ABC News medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton said. “When you talk about eating properly, people who do have weight to lose will see dramatic results.”

Freer’s book, Eat. Nourish. Glow., is available now in the U.K. The nutritionist also shares recipes, videos and tips on her website,

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These Terrifying Parasites Turn Shrimp into Zombies That Eat Their Young

DeAgostini/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — A tiny parasite invades a species of Irish shrimp, turning them into zombies who voraciously eat their own babies, a new British research study found.

Millions of pleistophora mulleri parasites flood into the muscles of the gammarus duebeni celticus shrimp, turning their skin milky white and giving them an insatiable appetite for their young, according to the paper published in the latest issue of the journal, Royal Society Open Science.

On their best day, the shrimp are not entirely innocent of cannibalism, the researchers noted. Even uninfected shrimp routinely feast on their own offspring. But infected shrimp are some scary scampi, scarfing down twice the number of juveniles and much more quickly than individuals who escape the parasitic invasion, the authors wrote.

The shrimps’ awful parenting skills seem to be driven by muscle damage and a demand by the parasite for more food. Snacking on their own provides an easy meal for the shrimp and satisfies the parasite’s cravings, the researchers speculated.

“Nature is filled with parasitic horror stories,” noted Clive Shiff, a molecular microbiologist with Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute, who was not associated with the study.

For example, Shiff described one species of flatworm that annexes a particular species of snail, commandeering its tentacles and blinding it so it no longer tries to hide. Now easy prey, birds swoop down, biting off the mollusks’ heads. This allows the worm to develop into the adult stage inside the bird, Shiff explained.

Another parasite, known as a hairworm, targets grasshoppers, Shiff said, with the larva taking over control of the insect’s brain and nervous system. When the worm reaches adulthood it instructs the grasshopper to commit suicide by jumping into water and drowning itself. There the worm emerges to search for a mate.

The British authors stressed that their research does not suggest any link between the crustacean devastation they describe in their paper and human cannibalism — though they do point out that over 300 species practice cannibalism, including humans.

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Why You Should Care About Your Office Coffee Mug

iStock/Thinkstock(TUCSON, Ariz.) — Nothing like starting your workday off with a nice, hot, heaping cup of germs.

Coffee drinkers who bring in their own mugs to work may or may not want to hear the findings of University of Arizona microbiologist Chuck Gerba, who has earned the nickname of “Dr. Germ” because of his field of concentration.

He tested a batch of workplace coffee mugs and the bad news is that 90 percent of them were tainted with various germs.

The worse news is that Gerba also found fecal bacteria on about 20 percent of the mugs.

And the worst of the worse news is that the fecal bacteria was more common on mugs used by people that were higher up the corporate ladder.

Without trying to explain this phenomenon, Dr. Germ has some recommendations to reduce the chances of your cup turning into a petri dish. For one thing, he advised people not to leave their mugs exposed on the desk where they can turns into magnets for germs and viruses. If you’re lucky enough to have a kitchen, wash mugs with soap and hot water, minus a sponge, and dry off with a paper towel.

Even better, Gerba suggests people bring their mugs home each night to be scrubbed, preferably with a thorough wash and dry in the dishwasher.

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Scientists Working on Hangover-Free Wine

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — A glass of good wine might not be enough to give anyone a hangover although several glasses of the grape might leave you with a pounding headache the next day. Which begs the question: wouldn’t it be great to enjoy wine without worrying about a hangover?

University of Illinois researchers are working on trying to figure out how to make a wine that won’t leave people feeling lousy after a little overindulgence.

Basically, they’ve come up with something called a “genome knife” to genetically alter yeast. This would potentially allow scientists to eventually make healthier versions of wine as well as decrease the toxins that leave drinkers with hangovers.

But don’t get too excited. This ideal wine is probably years away from being perfected and on top of that, researchers can’t say for sure that just by removing toxins, they can guarantee a 100 percent hangover-free experience.

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It Pays to Pamper Yourself with a Pet

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, Mo.) — For all you do, this dog’s for you.

There’s nothing like coming home to a mutt that’s happy to see you after a long day at the office. If it was only possible to get that same kind of unconditional affection at work when times get stressful.

Well, Dr. Paul Rosch, who heads the non-profit American Institute of Stress, says it might be the release people need since “chronic job strain can put both your physical and emotional health at risk.”

New research out of the University of Missouri-Columbia says hormonal changes for the better occur when humans come in contact with dogs.

This, in turn, seems to help people deal with some stress-related disorders and even depression.

What’s more, and this is what the boss likes to hear, it improves productivity of workers.

So what are employers waiting for? Possibly programs that deliver pets to their door such as the one initiated by the Humane Society of Broward County, Florida, that asks for a $150 minimum donation to fill the office with cats and dogs for 90 minutes.

In this way, companies do a double-good deed since the fee goes to benefit homeless animals in the county.

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Early Imaging May Not Be Beneficial for Older Patients Suffering from Back Pain

Catherine Yeulet/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new study indicates early imaging may not be beneficial for older patients suffering from back pain.

Researchers followed more than 5,000 patients over the age of 65 who had an initial primary care visit for back pain between 2011 and 2013. Of those patients, 1,174 had early radiographs, while 349 had early MRI or CT scans. Researchers say that as a result of those early scans, the patients were no better off one year later than the control groups who did not receive imaging.

What researchers say they did find was an increase in cost of care for those who underwent early imaging.

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DEA Issues Nationwide Warning About Dangers of Fentanyl

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a nationwide alert on Wednesday regarding the dangers of fentanyl and similar compounds, which are commonly laced in heroin and have caused significant problems around the country as heroin abuse has increased.

“Drug incidents and overdoses related to fentanyl are occurring at an alarming rate throughout the United States and represent a significant threat to public health and safety,” said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart in a press release. “Often laced in heroin, fentanyl and fentanyl analogues produced in illicit clandestine labs are up to 100 times more powerful than morphine and 30-50 times more powerful than heroin.”

In 2014, the National Forensic Laboratory Information System says state and local labs reported 3,344 fentanyl submissions — up from 942 in 2013.

The DEA statement calls fentanyl “the most potent opioid available for use in medical treatment” and says that it is “potentially lethal, even at very low levels.”

The agency has issued warnings to law enforcement because fentanyl can be absorbed through the skin, as well as through inhalation of airborne fentanyl powder.

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At Least 27 People Test Positive for TB at Kansas High School

iStock/Thinkstock(OLATHE, Kansas) — Health officials reported that eight percent of the students and staff at a Kansas high school have tested positive for a tuberculosis infection.

At least 27 people out of 300 tested at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas, tested positive for the infection, according to a statement from the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment.

The testing started after an active case of tuberculosis was reported on March 5, according to the local health department.

“The number of individuals with TB infection does not exceed what we would anticipate in this setting,” Lougene Marsh, director of the Johnson County Department of Health and Environment, said in a statement. “Of course, we had hoped we wouldn’t find any additional TB cases, but we knew this was a possibility.”

The 27 infected do not have active tuberculosis, meaning they are not contagious. They do not feel sick and do not have tuberculosis symptoms, according to Marsh. Not everyone with a latent tuberculosis infection will get an active infection, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Students and staff will also have a second round of testing in May, since it can take eight weeks for TB bacteria to show up in testing.

Tuberculosis is caused by a bacteria called mycobacterium tuberculosis, which normally attacks the lungs but can also attack the kidneys, spine and brain, according to the CDC. It’s normally spread when a person with an active infection coughs or sneezes in the air and the bacteria particles are breathed in by someone nearby.

While a latent TB infection is usually treated with antibiotics, those with an active infection can face six to nine months of medication, according to the CDC.

Calls to Olathe Northwest High School were not immediately returned.

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Devon Still’s Daughter Hits Happy Milestone in Cancer Fight

Oleg Nikishin/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Leah Still, the 4-year-old daughter of Cincinnati Bengals player Devon Still, got some great news Tuesday from doctors.

“We got Leah’s MIBG Scans back tonight and the doctors told us they didn’t see any active disease in her body!!!,” her dad wrote on Instagram.

“We still have to wait for her MRI and bone biopsy results later this week. But the doctors feel very optimistic about them because of the results from today. So for now we celebrate!!” he wrote.

A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on Mar 17, 2015 at 4:44pm PDT

Leah had been diagnosed with a stage 4 neuroblastoma, ESPN reported, and was undergoing treatment. The cancer develops from immature nerve cells and most commonly affects children younger than 5, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Still had earlier announced on his Instagram account that Leah’s battle with cancer was not yet over. But this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Still, 25, a defensive tackle, had originally been cut from the Bengals roster, but once the team learned his daughter had cancer, they reassigned him to their practice squad. He has since been placed on the active roster.

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Michigan Couple Gets a Surprise When They Meet Their New Baby

Kyle Williams(NEW YORK) — A Michigan couple who were told they were having a girl got the shock of their life when surprise…it was a boy!

“I had been up for 24 hours and I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me,” Kyle Williams, the proud, but confused father, told ABC News.

Danielle Williams had a sonogram back in October 2014, 20 weeks into her pregnancy, her husband told ABC News. The technician informed them they would be adding a second daughter to their family and they were thrilled.

Twenty weeks later, on March 2, 2015, after the mother was in labor for more than 20 hours, she was finally given a C-section. Once he could see the baby was clearly not a girl, Kyle Williams said he kept his mouth shut until the doctor confirmed the facts.

“When the doctor poked his head up and finally announced it was a boy, she thought it was a joke,” he said.

In her 35 years as a practicing Ob/Gyn, she has never seen a mistake like this with one of her patients, said Dr. Laura Corio, a gynecologist with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York.

“The technology is so good nowadays you can really see the baby — especially if it’s a boy” she said.

Studies confirm this. Two separate studies of ultrasounds and sex determination in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology found that between 11 and 14 weeks, the test was already between 80 and 97 percent accurate in its prediction. By 13 weeks none of the subjects in either study had their fetus’ sex incorrectly identified.

While such an error is unusual, ABC News Medical contributor and practicing Ob/Gyn Dr. Jennifer Ashton said she’d never determine the sex of a baby based on ultrasound alone.

“The point of the sonogram at about 20 weeks is to check for the important stuff like brain development and the chambers of the heart,” she said. “Sex is impossible to confirm without a test like an amniocentesis that looks at chromosomes.”

Once the Williams recovered from their shock they decided to have some fun with it. They asked the grandmother to change the child’s diaper and then captured her reaction on video.

“The video pretty much says it all,” Kyle Williams said, adding that the grandmother said her split second thought before she realized the joke was that she hoped the new parents weren’t confused or hadn’t accidentally been given the wrong child.

Their 2-year-old daughter Peyton was also excited to meet her new brother, Bentley, and claim the unused girl name Charlee for her doll. The Williams’ firstborn is one of only 800 known cases in North America to be diagnosed with Diamond Blackfan Anemia, a rare blood disorder.

The family’s non-profit foundation, Peyton’s Pals, raises awareness and money for research.

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