Review Category : Health

Boy, 7, Makes Heartfelt Plea for Help to Fund Sister’s Lifesaving Cure

The O’Neill Family(NEW YORK) — Beckham O’Neill is only 7, but he takes his big brother role very seriously.

Looking into the camera for the family’s second video plea for donations, Beckham explains that his 4-year-old sister, Eliza, has Sanfilippo syndrome, which “clogs up her brain, and that makes her not learn very well.”

“We really need you to help us get my sister’s medicine for her immediately,” he says, before the screen fades to black and the following words appear: “He does not know the disease is terminal.”

Dad Glenn O’Neill said watching the video makes him and his wife cry every time.

Read our story about Eliza’s diagnosis and her parents’ race for a cure.

Eliza has Sanfilippo syndrome type A, a rare genetic disorder that causes a deadly buildup of heparin sulfate in her cells. Soon, Eliza will lose the ability to speak, her parents say. After that, she’ll lose the ability to walk and then she’ll develop seizures.

Most children with Sanfilippo type A don’t live far into their teens.

All varieties of the disease affect one in 70,000 live births, according to the National Institutes of Health, but there is no cure.

Doctors at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, have been working on a cure for 16 years and have found a gene therapy that works in mice. They hope to try it on humans early next year, but they need about $2 million to make a clinical trial happen.

That’s where the O’Neills and other families battling Sanfilippo come in.

Read about how the O’Neill’s first video brought in more than $500,000 in 15 days.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Happy Valley Is Actually a Happy Valley

iStock/Thinkstock(STATE COLLEGE, Pa.) — Pennsylvania’s State College area, home to Penn State University and located in Centre County, is usually referred to as Happy Valley.

However, rather than taking that nickname at face value, a group of Penn students studying public relations decided to poll county residents about just how happy they really are.

So, the poll takers got responses from 412 people to 12 questions designed to measure the happiness factor in Happy Valley.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest in satisfaction, the ranking of how Centre County residents feel right now was 7.5. As far as how happy they are with their lives in general, it was 7.9. In terms of how satisfied they are with Centre County as a place to live, the ranking was 7.8.

If five is the average on the happiness scale, then Happy Valley seems pretty happy. As for the top three things residents are happy with, they were the physical setting of Centre County; their relationship with their neighbors; and their health.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Laughter Helps the Elderly Remember

Photodisc/Thinkstock(LOMA LINDA, Calif.) — Even if you happen to forget the punch line of a joke, the effort you make to amuse an elderly person could be enough to jog their memory.

Dr. Lee S. Berk at Loma Linda University says, “It’s simple, the less stress you have, the better your memory…The act of laughter — or simply enjoying some humor — increases the release of endorphins and dopamine in the brain, which provides a sense of pleasure and reward.”

Berk and his team showed a funny video to groups of healthy seniors and those with diabetes. Both groups showed a drop in the stress hormone cortisol that hinders memory, particularly those with diabetes.

Compared to a group that didn’t watch the video, each group did better on memory tests. In fact, seniors with diabetes managed to get the highest scores.

All in all, says Berk, “laughter is turning out to be not only a good medicine, but also a memory enhancer adding to our quality of life.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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More Women Take Selfies than Men

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — With smartphones available everywhere in the world, it only stands to reason that taking selfies is a global phenomenon.

Selfiecity, a project analyzing these ubiquitous self-portraits that can be found on Instagram, examined 650 selfies out of a total pool of 120,000 from each of the following cities: New York, Moscow, Berlin, Bangkok, and Sao Paulo.

The results? In every city, selfies by women outnumbered those taken by men. In Bangkok, for instance, it was just 1.3 times more. However, Moscow was a different story with women generating 4.6 times more selfies than Russian men.

Other findings included that the average age of the selfie-taker was 23 and that women tend to tilt their heads at a greater angle then men.

Meanwhile, men over 30 uploaded more selfies of themselves on Instagram than women of that same age.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Is Yeast the Answer to Sobriety?

David Becker/Getty Images for Nightclub & Bar Media Group(NEW YORK) — Sam Adams co-founder Jim Koch believes he has a solution for people who want to stay sober while drinking his beer: swallow yeast first.

In an interview with Esquire magazine, Koch, chairman of the Boston Beer Company, claims by mixing some yeast into some yogurt before drinking, he can stay sober all night long.

The ratio, he claims, is “One teaspoon per beer, right before you start drinking.”

Koch said that he learned the trick from a friend with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, who said that enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) in the yeast will break down the alcohol before it enters the bloodstream, keeping the drinker from any embarrassing drunken missteps.

“And it will mitigate — not eliminate — but mitigate the effects of alcohol!” Koch adds as a disclaimer.

However, experts say there’s a lot that can go wrong with Koch unorthodox plan.

Dr. Richard Peek, gastroenterologist and director of the Gastroenterology, Hematology and Nutrition at Vanderbilt University, said different people can have very different reactions and pointed out there’s no medical study that has shown that yeast can help inhibit drunkenness.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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SARS-Like MERS Virus Spreads to New Countries

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Cases of the MERS Coronavirus have significantly increased in the last few months, and in recent weeks there have been reports of the virus in new countries including Egypt, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Indonesia, leaving officials struggling to figure out why infections have increased.

The MERS Coronavirus, which stands for Middle Eastern Respiratory Coronavirus, was first identified in late 2012 and causes acute respiratory illness, shortness of breath and in severe cases kidney failure. The virus is related to the SARS virus and the common cold.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has laboratory-confirmed 254 cases with 93 deaths. Most of the reported infections have come from Middle East countries including Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

While public health experts have been tracking the disease for nearly two years, in recent weeks health officials are reporting a sharp rise in cases. The WHO reported at least 78 confirmed cases since the beginning of the year, and that diagnosed cases sharply increased in mid-March.

This week the WHO released a report, which said that among newly diagnosed cases up to 75 percent could be human-to-human transmission, since a large number of health workers were infected with the disease. However there is evidence that the reason for the increase could be related to increased testing for the virus and a seasonal increase in the disease rather than virus mutation.

Dr. Ian Lipkin, an epidemiologist and professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, has been investigating the virus and said 75 percent of camels in Saudi Arabia have had the disease. Lipkin points out that as camels are born in the spring the virus can spread from the young animals to people who interact with them.

“The younger animals have the virus and become infected and become little virus factories,” said Lipkin, who explained that camels are extremely common in Saudi Arabia and surrounding countries.

“It’s almost like dogs in the U.S. Except they eat the camels … there’s so much opportunity,” for the virus to spread, he said.

Lipkin also pointed out that when patients are treated with invasive pulmonary measures, the virus “deep in the lungs” can come to the surface and infect health care workers treating these patients. Lipkin said to combat the spread, more oversight will be needed to both regulate people’s interactions with camels and to protect healthcare workers from infection.

Currently there is no vaccine for the MERS Coronavirus. There have been no reported cases in the U.S. and the CDC has not issued any travel advisories related to the disease.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Statin Users May Treat Pill as Free Pass to Unhealthy Eating

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — People who take statins to reduce their cholesterol levels may be lulling themselves into a false sense of security in terms of what they can safely eat.

According to a study published on the Journal of American Medicine Internal Medicine website, statin users in 2009-2010 took in nearly 10 percent more calories per day than statin users 10 years earlier.

The study was led by researchers at the University of California-Los Angeles. They found that statin users ingested nearly 200 fewer calories per day than non-users in 2000 (2,000 calories for statin users, 2,179 for non-users). Non-statin users saw very little change in the data from 2000 and 2010, while those taking statins saw significant increases in caloric intake.

Researchers found that statin users saw a similarly increased rate of increase in body-mass index. Researchers fear that those people on statins may feel that the pill allows them to eat however they choose.

Further research is necessary to determine what specific differences exist in the dietary composition of statin users as compared to non-users.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Sam Adams Founder Says Spoonful of Yeast Will Keep You Sober

Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — If you want to stay sober while downing a six-pack of beer, Sam Adams founder Jim Koch thinks he has a solution: a spoonful of yeast.

In an interview with Esquire Magazine, Koch said he takes a spoonful of yeast in order to stay sober as he enjoys his own product. Koch, the co-founder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company, claims by mixing some yeast into some yogurt before drinking, he can stay sober all night long.

“One teaspoon per beer, right before you start drinking,” he reportedly told Esquire Magazine.

Koch said that he learned the trick from a friend with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, who said that enzymes called alcohol dehydrogenases (ADH) in the yeast will break down the alcohol before it enters the bloodstream, keeping the drinker from any embarrassing drunken missteps.

“And it will mitigate — not eliminate — but mitigate the effects of alcohol!” Koch warns.

But experts say there’s a lot that can go wrong with this plan.

Dr. Richard Peek, gastroenterologist and director of the Gastroenterology, Hematology and Nutrition at Vanderbilt University, said different people can have very different reactions and pointed out there’s no medical study that has shown that yeast can help inhibit drunkenness.

Peek said it’s possible that yeast enzymes from a powder will not survive the intense stomach acid, meaning it will not help break down alcohol. Additionally Peed said there might be one more uncomfortable result if the theory is correct: hangovers.

“It’s a double edged sword. If it is actually working like people presume and you’re breaking down more of the alcohol, some of the toxic byproducts of that enzyme [could mean] hangovers could be worse,” said Peek.

However, Peek said the idea was definitely intriguing although he was wary of recommending the practice without more scientific proof.

“There are a lot of questions that [remain.] My summary point is it’s not time to rush out and buy stock in yeast,” Peek said. “[But] if you were going to do a study there would be no shortage of participants.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Scientists Say They’ve Found Funniest City in America

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock Photos(NEW YORK) — Sorry, Seinfeld.

Though it seems like most sitcoms, famous comedy venues, comedians, improv schools, humor writers, and cartoonists exist in New York City and Los Angeles, a professor says these two places are only the sixth and seventh funniest towns in America, respectively.

The top two, instead, are Chicago and Boston, based on an algorithm that takes everything from tweets to the number of comedy clubs per square mile into account, according to a duo at the University of Colorado’s Humor Research Lab (no joke — the University of Colorado has a “Humor Research Lab”).

“I think what ends up happening is that the nature of New York City is at a bit of an advantage when it comes to humor, but it’s also at a disadvantage because there’s a lot of things to do in New York that pulls the population in different directions,” said Peter McGraw, the professor who created the algorithm as part of The Humor Code, a new book about what makes things funny, and why.

New York, McGraw said, did rank highly as a city that prized humor to cope with stress, and its comedic institutions — like Saturday Night Live, the Upright Citizens Brigade improv school, the New Yorker caption contest, and Late Show — are legendary. And McGraw said that New York City was probably the best place to start out as a comedian for the sheer number of its comedy stages.

“‘If you want to continue training, go to New York,’” McGraw recounted comedian Marc Maron telling him. “‘If you think you’re ready to get in the ring, go to L.A.’”

But New Yorkers just don’t love comedy in broad swaths like some other cities do, he said.

“We wanted to look at not just what are the commercial and entertainment aspects of the comedy but how much the locals value it,” McGraw said, adding that though Boston doesn’t have many famous comedy clubs, touring comedians gave the town rave reviews as to the quality of the audience.

And in Chicago, improv comedy theaters like The Second City, iO, and The Annoyance are beloved by locals, along with satirical newspaper The Onion, which moved from New York City to Chicago in 2012.

The rankings were not compiled without a good deal of debate. In particular, McGraw wrestled with how to measure comedy clubs — by the raw number of clubs in the city? The number of clubs per person? Or the number per square mile? He ultimately decided that going by the number alone gave large cities too much of an advantage, while going by the number of clubs per person penalized those cities for the same reason — in other words, Los Angeles might have a lot of comedy clubs, but it also has a lot of people, making its comedy club per person ratio extremely low.

McGraw also wanted to get beyond the professional comedy scene, and so he polled people about how much their workplaces valued humor, or if they enjoyed funny TV shows and movies.

McGraw, along with The Humor Code co-writer Joel Warner, is confident in the rankings, but he hopes that people continue to argue over them — perhaps in a bar after a good stand-up set.

“I want people to want to be number one because this is such an important part of life,” he said. “Who wouldn’t want to live in the city that is ranked as the funniest?”

The Funniest Cities in the Country, Ranked

1. Chicago
2. Boston
3. Atlanta
4. Washington
5. Portland, Ore.
6. New York City
7. Los Angeles
8. Denver
9. San Francisco
10. Seattle

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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Dad with Alzheimer’s Briefly Regains Speech with Family Dog

Lisa Abeyta/YouTube(NEW YORK) — A New Mexico woman whose father gradually lost most of his speech as his Alzheimer’s advanced, says spending time with the family pets often coxes small snippets of conversation from the ailing man.

Lisa Abeyta’s father, Charles Sasser, of Alburqurque, N.M., was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, a degenerative disease affecting memory, about four or five years ago, but only began to lose his speech in the last six months to a year, she said.

Abeyta has written about the family’s struggles with the disease numerous times on her blog, but it was a video Abeyta posted Thursday to YouTube and Reddit that moved thousands of strangers to share their own personal journeys with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

The video captured the moment Charles Sasser, a Korean war veteran, began to speak to the Abeyta’s family dog, Roscoe, at their home. Abeyta, a tech entrepreneur, says that she has seen her father “coo” and talk to his own two dogs, Molly and Cassy, on numerous occasions, but was surprised by “his clarity and the ability to get out a complete sentence, not just a word here and there.”

Abeyta, a mother of three, began to film part of the hour-long exchange between father and dog. With the help of her son, she edited and uploaded the clip to YouTube, primarily for her mother to share with her friends.

But within a day, people had begun emailing and posting thousands of comments on Reddit. The clip has been viewed over 162,000 times at the time of writing.

“I’m touched by the response to the video … They talked about how having a pet or connecting with music really gave them back a loved one with Alzheimer’s,” Abeyta told ABC News. “It’s been quite an amazing thing to hear people’s stories.”

Abeyta credits her mother, Pat Sasser, for taking care of her father on a daily basis.

“The true hero is my mom. This is her life’s work,” Abeyta said. “I shared the video but my mom is the one is the one who takes care of him by herself and I can’t give her enough credit.”

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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