Review Category : Health

People Get Naturally High from the Choices They Make

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — Are you the kind of person who gets a kick out of the things you choose solely on your own, such as movies, restaurants, clothes, car, etc., while ignoring what others might like?

While some might have an unflattering name for that, neurologists at Brown University are willing to cut you some slack.

They call the high you get from making particular selections “choice bias,” which involves the brain rewarding itself with the pleasure hormone called dopamine.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that but due to constant reinforcement, your brain might actually be over-rewarding itself for a decision that isn’t that much of a big deal.

Again, the Brown researchers say this may not be your fault because “choice bias” is actually in your genes, based on DNA samples they’ve taken from saliva of those who exhibit this trait.

Of course, that fact won’t placate those you irritate if you keep ignoring their choices.

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Ebola Virus May Have Spread to a Fourth West African Nation

Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) — The world’s deadliest Ebola outbreak continues to spread in the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and possibly one other.

At least 1,093 people have contracted the deadly virus and 672 people have died, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.

Two American aid workers are among the victims of the growing outbreak, which has taken a heavy toll on health care providers treating the sick and working to contain the outbreak. Meanwhile, a top Liberian doctor also died this past weekend.

Officials are also concerned after an infected man managed to board a plane from Liberia to Nigeria, potentially spreading the deadly virus to a fourth country.

In an effort to stop the spread of the incurable disease, Liberia’s president has closed all but three land border crossings, restricted public gatherings and quarantined communities heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak.

As for what this means for the U.S., Dr. Stephan Monroe at the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions told reporters Monday, “No Ebola cases have been reported in the United States and the likelihood of this outbreak spreading outside of West Africa is very low.”

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Lightning Strike Feels Like Being Cooked in a Microwave, Survivor Says

iStock/Thinkstock(SENECA, S.C.) — A South Carolina man who says he’s been struck by lightning ten times compares the feeling to being zapped inside a microwave.

“When it hits you, it’s like being hit by a freight train. It knocks you out, knocks you down,” Melvin Roberts of Seneca, South Carolina, told ABC News Monday. “You can tell what’s around, you just don’t have any control over your body.”

“It’s like grabbing an electrical cord,” he added. “You don’t feel the burns until it’s over with. It cooks you from the inside out like being in a microwave. And you’ve got a hurting in your bones.”

Roberts made headlines in 2011 when he was struck by lightning for the sixth time, and his wife says he’s been struck four more times since then. If her count is correct, that would make him the world record-holder for most lighting strikes survived, although Guinness World Records still lists Roy C. Sullivan as the record holder.

Sullivan, a park ranger who died in 1983, was struck by lightning seven times. Guinness World Records did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Roberts, a retired heavy equipment operator, can barely remember all the times he’s been struck. There were a couple times when he was on his lawnmower, another time when he was trying to cover the mower up before the rain came, and yet another time when he was helping his aunt hang a tarp on her porch.

“It’s like a big syringe in the sky and when it hits you it puts all this different stuff in your body,” he said. “It turns your insides completely around.”

But it doesn’t hurt — at least not at first, Roberts recalled.

“You’re in shock,” he explained. “Now, when you come to, that’s a different thing. You’ve got big old blisters on you. It takes a long time to get over it.”

As a result, he said he suffers from memory loss, headaches, speech problems and has nerve damage in his hands and left leg because of the strikes. Roberts also can’t hear well, so he doesn’t always know when there’s thunder — that might be a reason he appears to be such a target for lightning, he said.

But John Jensenius, the National Weather Service’s lightning expert, says it’s a myth that once someone is struck, they’re more likely than anyone else to be struck again. He noted that people who work outdoors are more vulnerable.

“Nothing attracts lightning,” he said. “It generally does strike the tallest thing, like trees.”

He recommends people seek shelter if they hear thunder and stay away from tall trees, doors, windows and anything that conducts electricity.

People struck by lightning can suffer neurological damage, burns, memory loss, headaches and changes in personality, and the strike could also stop their heart, Jensenius said.

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Doctors Battling Ebola Are Met with Fear, Mistrust

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Doctors battling Ebola in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia say a mistrust of Western medicine is hampering efforts to contain the outbreak.

At least 1,201 people having contracted the virus and 672 people have died in what health officials are calling the worst Ebola outbreak in history.

Dr. Michel Van Herp of the medical charity Doctors Without Borders said his organization has even been accused of “bringing the disease” into certain villages. He also said Ebola has been mystified by villagers, who fear that “to say ‘Ebola’ aloud is to make it appear.”

“They believe that, but the reverse is also believed to be true,” said Van Herp. “Denying that Ebola exists would mean that it won’t be able to affect you.”

Van Herp and his colleague, Dr. Hilde de Clerck, have been on the front lines of six past Ebola outbreaks, according to Doctors Without Borders.

“To control the chain of disease transmission it seems we have to earn the trust of nearly every individual in an affected family,” said de Clerck, noting that 20 villages in Guinea near the Sierra Leone and Liberian borders still deny access to their medical team.

Medical personnel must wear full-body plastic protective gear, which De Clerck said is uncomfortable and difficult to bear in the region’s high temperatures.

De Clerck said the work also takes an emotional toll, as up to 90% of those who contract the virus die a painful and terrifying death.

“We are the last people to touch them and many of them ask us to hold their hands,” she said.

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Watch the Inspiring Trailer for “Batkid Begins”

Trisha Leeper/WireImage(SAN DIEGO) — Now, more than ever, the world could use a superhero. In November, the city of San Francisco got one. His name is Miles Scott and he had yet to start kindergarten.

Thanks to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the participation of thousands of enthusiastic locals, 5-year-old Miles, who had recently completed chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, spent that fall day racing through city streets to rescue damsels in distress, disarm explosives and defeat his arch-nemeses.

Over 7,000 onlookers came out to cheer Miles on as he patrolled San Francisco in a pint-sized Batman outfit. More than 400,000 people participated in the unprecedented phenomenon on Twitter.

But while the raw footage captivated the nation, filmmaker Dana Nachman wanted to go behind the scenes to find out more. Nachman has been working on a documentary since January.

On Sunday, she premiered the trailer for Batkid Begins at Comic-Con.

“There’s a lot of reasons not to do things that are crazy and big,” Nachman told ABC News. “But here were a lot of people who said, ‘Let’s not be safe for a day. Let’s go crazy and be a little absurd.'”

Nachman cited the spirit of creativity that is characteristic of the City by the Bay as a possible explanation for the reaction that the spectacle prompted.

“It was this big fantasy for everybody,” Nachman said. “It was as much a fantasy for everybody on the ground as it was for Miles.”

The project has launched an Indiegogo campaign on July 15 to help finance the feature film. Over the next three weeks, it hopes to raise $100,000. Nachman plans to finish a rough cut of the movie in time to coincide with the anniversary of the event.

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Equinox Gym Chain Adds to Its Growing Empire

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Equinox, the upscale gym chain, is acquiring another trendy fitness company to add to its growing exercise empire.

Equinox, based in New York, already operates 73 clubs in cities that include New York, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago and London. The company announced that it is acquiring six Sports Club/LA and Reebok Sports Club locations from Boston-based Millennium Partners Sports Club Management.

Equinox said its “long-term vision” is leveraging a portfolio of “complementary fitness brands.” Monthly dues for its various fitness brands range from $25 to around $200 a month.

Equinox was established in 1991 and is known for its racy advertisements with scantily clad models.

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Fist Bumps Spread Fewer Germs than Shaking Hands

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Fist bumps may be the safest greeting during cold and flu season: a new study shows the popular fist bump spreads fewer germs than shaking hands.

Research conducted in Wales found that fist bumps spread only 5% the amount of bacteria that shaking hands does, and high fives pass along about 50% the germs handshakes do.

Results of the study were published online in the American Journal of Infection Control.

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Report: Aspirin May Increase Heart Attack Risk for Some Women

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Women taking daily doses of aspirin may be increasing their risk of suffering a heart attack.

A new study reports that nearly 23% of women carry a gene that — when combined with aspirin — makes them twice as likely to suffer a heart attack.

According to ABC’s Chief Health and Medical Editor Dr. Richard Besser, “There may be genetic tests that identify people who will benefit from aspirin and people who will not benefit from aspirin.”

“That’s important because aspirin has side-effects,” Dr. Besser added. “So before you start taking aspirin, talk to your doctor, understand what is your own personal risk of heart disease, and whether aspirin is right for you.”

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How Ebola Virus Spreads from Sick Animals and Among Humans

Hemera/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The largest-known outbreak of the Ebola virus is currently underway but because so many questions remain about the true source of the disease, it is difficult to understand the timeline of the deadly infection.

There are five different strains of the disease, four of which can spread to humans while the fifth only affects primates. Experts at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention believe that the four strands that effect humans spread largely due to exposure to the blood or bodily secretions of an infected individual.

The Ebola virus was first identified in 1976 in Africa, but how the initial case came to be remains a mystery. The World Health Organization notes that some infected individuals reported having had contact with chimpanzees, gorillas, porcupines or fruit bats that were ill — animals that were later determined to be infected with the Ebola virus.

People now caring for infected individuals — including friends and relatives who may be taking care of infected persons at home or doctors treating the ill in hospitals — are among the most commonly infected. Another major moment of infection, according to WHO, is burial ceremonies if mourners directly contact the corpse.

Symptoms appear anytime between two days and 21 days after infection, meaning that the possible circle of infected bystanders could include a large number of people if the individual doesn’t even know that they are a carrier.

Muscle aches, fevers, headaches, diarrhea, vomiting and overall stomach pain are among the most common symptoms, but some patients also noticed a rash, red eyes, and difficulty breathing or swallowing. Once the infection is in the bloodstream, excessive internal bleeding and the ensuing loss of blood leads to death in the majority of cases. Fatality rates vary by strand and area, but ranges largely between 50 percent to 90 percent mortality rates.

A number of these symptoms overlap with malaria and cholera, which doctors reportedly guess when first treating the patients, creating a serious delay in the proper treatment.

Reston Ebola virus, the fifth strand of the disease, was recorded in Virginia where it spread aerially in a primate research facility in 1990. Researchers were investigating an outbreak of a Simian hemorrhagic fever in monkeys and they discovered the Ebola strand in the primates, but the human handlers did not develop symptoms.

The disease was named after the Ebola River in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo, where researchers believe has connections to the roots of the disease.

All of the known cases involving human infection have been limited to Africa, with reported infections in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Liberia, South Sudan, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Gabon and the Ivory Coast. South Africa has only been connected as a result of the disease being imported and there were laboratory contamination cases in England and Russia.

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Study Finds College Athletes Less Apt to Party than Other Students

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) — College is a time for experimentation as has been well documented, but unfortunately, it often involves underage drinking and illegal drug use. While most who attend an institution of higher learning are intelligent enough to understand the risks involved, it seems that athletes are more cognizant about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

At least that seems to be the upshot of a study released this month by the NCAA. From the statistics gathered by researchers over a nine-year period, those who play sports are less inclined to drink and take drugs than the general student body.

When it comes to smoking marijuana, about 32 percent of the student population admits to trying it as opposed to 21.9 percent of NCAA athletes.

It’s not a huge disparity when it comes to alcohol, however. The student average is 81.4 percent compared to 80.4 percent of those who compete in sports.

The numbers for athletes in Division I are better with 78 percent having used alcohol and 16 percent who smoked pot.

Researchers believes that athletes are more health-conscious, which explains why they’re less apt to abuse booze or drugs.
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