Review Category : Health

Most Americans Pray Once a Day

Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A majority of Americans are living on prayer.

According to the 2014 General Social Survey of about 2,540 adults, mostly funded by the National Science Foundation, 57 percent of people said they prayed at least once a day while three in four admitted praying at least once a week. Meanwhile, a quarter of the respondents said they either prayed rarely or not at all.

While the numbers of Americans praying are essentially unchanged from 30 years ago, being part of an organized religion continues to fall. Just over nine in ten were affiliated with a particular faith during the latter part of the 20th century but now just 79 percent make that claim.

Thirty years ago, 50 percent of Americans said they attended some sort of worship services at least once a month compared to around 40 percent in 2013.

Today, 54 percent described themselves as “very” or “moderately” religious, down from 62 percent in 2006.

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Allergies Are Keeping People Up at Night

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Spring’s right around the corner and so is allergy season.

Not only does this make the day miserable for many suffering from allergies, but it can also disrupt sleep time as well, based on a survey conducted by AllerEase, the maker of allergen barrier bedding products.

In a consumer poll of 1,000 people, 46 percent complained of seasonal and environmental allergies. According to findings by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, around 20 million Americans are allergic to dust mites, which can infest mattresses and pillows.

Over the course of time, mattresses can accumulate anywhere from 10,000 to ten million dust mites if not properly cleaned.

Of all allergy sufferers, a third say their sleep is disturbed by their symptoms while another third complain about being congested right after waking up or throughout the day.

Meanwhile, only 13 percent report washing their bedding frequently. While once a week is recommended, millennials are the worst offenders with most in this group usually only washing their bedding once or twice a month.

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Indianapolis VA Hospital Under Fire for Email Making Fun of Veterans

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) — The Department of Veterans Affairs took another hit Monday as news surfaced that an email had been circulated to staffers at an Indianapolis VA hospital making fun of the mental health problems suffered by returning combat veterans.

The Dec. 18 message included several images of a toy Christmas elf, according to The Indianapolis Star, which obtained the email.

The email was sent by social worker Robin Paul to her staff within the Seamless Transition Integrated Care Clinic at the Roudebush VA Medical Center.

In one photograph, the elf pleads for Xanax, which is prescribed to treat anxiety and panic. The caption reads: “Self-medicating for mental health issues.” In another image, the elf hangs by a Christmas light with the message: “Caught in the act of suicidal behavior (trying to hang himself from an electrical cord).”

The news comes at a time when suicide among military veterans claims an estimated 22 lives a day, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Critics called Monday’s news just another black mark on an agency mired in scandal. In May 2014, VA Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned amid accusations that the department had hid unacceptably long wait times for patient care. In February, his replacement apologized after falsely claiming that he’d served in Special Forces.

“All we want for the VA to do is to be able to fix what’s broken, to hold employees accountable and help restore the faith of veterans in their VA health care system,” said Joe Davis, director of public affairs for the VFW. “This one employee, this one supervisor, violated all three of those….It was [an] extremely poor attempt at humor.”

In a statement released by a facility spokeswoman, Paul, the social worker who sent the email, said: “I would like to sincerely apologize for the email message and I take full responsibility for this poor judgment….I hold all Veterans and military personnel in the highest regard and am deeply remorseful for any hurt this may have caused.”

In an emailed statement, the hospital called Paul’s email “totally inappropriate.”

“The Indianapolis VA Medical is committed to treating our Veterans and the health conditions they face with the utmost respect and compassion,” the hospital said. “We apologize to our Veterans and take suicide and mental health treatment seriously, striving to provide the highest quality.”

The VA would not say whether Paul had been fired, only that the matter had been handled.

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Vaccine Refusal Means More Outbreaks

pyotr021/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Last year saw 23 measles outbreaks, more than 644 cases of the disease, which had been “eradicated” in the U.S. in 2000.

The recent outbreak associated with Disneyland is bringing vaccination refusals into the public eye like never before.

Two doctors at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health argue in a new study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine that many more outbreaks will undoubtedly occur due to vaccine refusal all over the country.

The authors say Americans don’t appreciate how bad measles-related complications can be, that it can be fatal, and they fear that removing religious, philosophical, and/or personal belief exemptions will be challenging.

The study’s authors recommend following the current Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommendations and confirming that health care providers and people exposed to high number of international travelers and children have actually been immunized – verbal reassurance that “I had all my shots” won’t do it anymore.

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Too Much Praise Can Turn Your Kids Into Narcissistic Jerks, Study Finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Make your kid believe he’s a “special snowflake” and you risk turning him into a narcissistic jerk, according to a new Dutch study.

Narcissistic individuals think they’re better than everyone else, live for personal success and expect exceptional treatment, explained the authors of the study that appeared in the latest issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. When narcissists experience failure, they’re not pleasant to be around, sometimes even lashing out violently, the study notes

The study evaluated 565 Dutch children ages 7 through 12 for narcissist tendencies such as feelings of superiority and self-satisfaction. The investigators also questioned the children’s parents about how, when and how often they offered praise and other feedback.

The kids whose parents consistently told them they were superior to other children, no matter what, scored higher on measurements for narcissism compared to kids who were given a more realistic view of themselves, the investigators found. That’s because over-praising children can lead them to believe they are special people who deserve special treatment all the time, explained Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at the University of Ohio and one of the study’s authors.

“Parents should be warm and loving, but not give their child blanket praise,” Bushman said. “We should not boost self-esteem and hope our children will behave well. Instead, we should praise our children after they do well.”

Dr. Gene Beresin, the executive director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, said he was skeptical about some of the study’s conclusions.

“In the first place, parents are just one influence on a child,” he said. “Teachers, peers, siblings and many others influence how a child feels about themselves and how they behave towards others.”

Beresin said American children are not necessarily the same as Dutch children. But what concerned him most is the age of the children in the study.

“I don’t see how you can label kids this young as narcissistic when it’s generally recognized that such personality traits aren’t fully formed until late adolescence, like around age 18,” he said.

Beresin said parents who build a bond of trust with their children by giving them honest feedback mixed with encouragement and support help build a child’s self-esteem and security. Positive feedback, as long as it’s accurate and appropriate, can only help boost a child’s self-worth, he said.

But the investigators said their work builds on a body of research that shows parental “overvaluation” leads to narcissism later in life because children tend to see themselves as the important people in their lives see them. The researchers didn’t rule out the effects of other influences like genetics but said previous work shows that cultivating an unreasonably confident view of self is at the core of narcissism.

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Facebook’s ‘Feeling Fat’ Emoji Leaves Some Users Flat

Facebook(NEW YORK) — Fat is not a feeling and it shouldn’t be an emoji either. So says a group of body-image activists who have started a petition on asking Facebook to remove the “feeling fat” emoticon.

The chubby-cheeked, double-chinned emoji is one of about 50 “feelings” icons the social network’s users can add to their updates. The petition to remove it was initiated last week by Catherine Weingarten of Endangered Bodies, a group that “challenges the current toxic culture that promotes negative body image.”

So far, the petition has 15,500 signatures and counting.

Weingarten said she got the idea after she saw a friend’s status set to “feeling fat,” accompanied by the supersized icon. She didn’t find it amusing.

“When Facebook users set their status to ‘feeling fat,’ they are making fun of people who consider themselves to be overweight, which can include many people with eating disorders,” Weingarten told ABC News.

Weingarten, a 24-year-old graduate student at Ohio State University, said she considered the rounded, red-face icon far from harmless. And, she said, it sends a negative message of people of all shapes and sizes.

“I think we all need to be a little more careful about how we talk about their bodies and learn how to use a more body-positive vocabulary,” she said.

Claire Mysko, the director of programs for the National Eating Disorders Association, said while social media doesn’t cause eating disorders, negative body talk in comments, a status or a share can amplify thoughts and behaviors that can lead to one. NEDA advises Facebook and other social networks on policies that might affect the body image of users.

“When body hatred is normalized, that’s unhealthy for everyone,” she said. “On the flip side, body positivity in social media can be a powerful tool both in recovery and early intervention.”

The social network issued a statement to ABC News, making no promises to remove the controversial emoticon.

“People use Facebook to share their feelings with friends and support each other. One option we give people to express themselves is to add a feeling to their posts. You can choose from over 100 feelings we offer based on people’s input or create your own,” the statement read.

Weingarten said that is not good enough.

“With 890 million users each day, it has the power to influence how we talk to each other about our bodies,” Weingarten said of Facebook. “I dream that one day the platform will actively encourage body positivity and self-esteem among its users, but for now, all I ask is that it stop endorsing self-destructive thoughts through seemingly harmless emojis.”

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Apple ResearchKit Introduced for Medical Research, Use

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — Apple says it wants to turn the iPhone into a “powerful” tool for medical research and collect health data from users.

ResearchKit, unveiled Monday at the tech giant’s San Francisco event, is an open-source software kit designed for medical and health research to help doctors and scientists gather data from willing participants. Research institutions like the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have already used it for studies on breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease, asthma and cardiovascular disease, Apple says.

The Asthma Health app, developed by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and LifeMap Solutions, used ResearchKit to facilitate asthma patient education and self-monitoring among other uses.

ResearchKit also makes it easier to recruit participants for large-scale studies, but users choose in which studies to participate and the data they want to provide in each study, Apple says.

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One in Eight Households May Have Adult Suffering from Confusion, Memory Loss

BananaStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A study conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than one in eight households in the U.S. may have at least one adult dealing with increased confusion and memory loss.

Using data from the 2011 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, the CDC looked at households in 13 states — including over 81,000 residences. Their findings determined that 12.6 percent of those homes had at least one grown adult with confusion and/or memory loss.

From that data, the CDC estimates that four million households in just the 13 state analyzed — and potentially over 10 million people — may suffer from such conditions.

A second study revealed that one in two adults aged 45 and older who’ve experienced memory problems that appear to be getting worse said these difficulties interfered with their daily lives.

Anderson asserted that these problems can “negatively affect the quality of life, personal relationships, and the capacity for making informed decisions about health care and other matters.”

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Could Smart Phones Make Us More Lazy?

LDProd/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Smart phones may make us lazy, a new study indicates.

Published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, the study essentially argues that smart phones and the capabilities they provide may allow users to forego “effortful analytic thinking in lieu of fast and easy intuition.” Researchers found that people who were more intuitive and less analytical were more likely to also be those who relied more heavily on their smart phones for information.

The same association wasn’t drawn to use of smart phones for social media or entertainment purposes.

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Nebraska County Isn’t Sure It Needs a Juice-Bar Strip Club

John Wang/iStock/Thinkstock(SEWARD, Neb.) — A possible chain of juice-bar strip clubs is causing a stir in Seward, Nebraska, where opponents find the reported business plan tasteless.

Shane Harrington, a Lincoln, Nebraska-based pornography site operator for the last 14 years, has set his sights on opening three strip clubs along Interstate 80 and is marketing his ventures as alcohol- and drug-free environments that will serve fresh juices alongside adult entertainment.

But some locals say the possible businesses would go against the family-focused nature of the community.

“I don’t mean any ill will against Mr. Harrington. He has a legal right to make money how he pleases,” the Rev. Andrew Ratcliffe, a pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Seward, Nebraska, told ABC News. “But from the pastoral side and as a family-based community, we’re trying to defend the value of women and to preserve the family-based aspect of the community.”

Ratcliffe was one of more than 20 people who attended a Seward County Planning and Zoning Board meeting Monday night, then raised objections to reporters outside the meeting about the idea of all-nude juice bars after learning the matter wasn’t on the board’s agenda.

The reason it was left off: Harrington hasn’t actually purchased any property for his bars or applied for a zoning application.

The 39-year-old entrepreneur told ABC News he is considering locations in Seward and Grand Island, Nebraska, and a possible third location between Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska.

“I went in a month ago to a zoning meeting saying that I found a location I really liked and was interested in opening this type of business. It was a very unofficial conversation, but word spread fast and over a 30-day span now there are church groups picketing,” he said. “Nebraska is a very Leave It To Beaver, Bible-belt place.”

Harrington told ABC News he is currently eyeballing a 13,000-square-foot space that formerly housed a dinosaur museum, which officials told him was one of the only locations they would consider for the project.

“It’s far removed from churches, far from town,” Harrington said. “I’m actually against strip clubs being in towns where kids can ride their bikes past them. I want to be on the outskirts, where there is nobody around.”

Harrington added that his adult entertainment company already has an established customer base in the area.

“We do a record number of bachelor parties, birthday parties, private parties in Seward County with dancers who have appeared on our site,” Harrington said.

Responses on the business owner’s Facebook page supported that statement, with users writing, “I live in Seward and I support ya,” and, “You have my support.”

Because his businesses won’t serve alcohol, patrons will get more eye candy for their money, Harrington said.

“With a juice bar you can do full nude and actually touch the girls,” he said, adding that when a strip club’s bar serves liquor, pasties and panties are required and guests must stay six inches from the entertainers.

The Seward County Planning and Zoning Board did not immediately respond to an inquiry on whether Harrington’s understanding of the no-alcohol rules were correct, or to say whether or not there were existing strip clubs in the area.

Should he pursue the former museum space, Harrington estimated that he will be up and running his juice-themed gentleman’s club within three months.

“We will open a second location three months after that and then wait a year before opening a third to make sure we’re not over-saturating the market,” he said. “But we’re opening whether they like it or not.”

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