luiscar/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A preliminary study conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center determined that a potential Ebola vaccine researchers have been working on has significant promise.

Researchers published the data from the preliminary study in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. The study contained 20 participants who were given the vaccine and tested about four weeks later for the presence of Ebola-specific antibodies.

According to researchers, the participants were split into two groups, each given different dosages of the vaccine. Four weeks after vaccination, 90 percent of those given the smaller dose and 100 percent of those given the higher dose showed the presence of anitbodies against the Zaire strain of Ebola induced by the vaccine. Even when looking at the strain for which the vaccine was least effective, at least 70 percent of participants showed vaccine-induced antibodies.

None of the participants showed significant side effects, though two of 20 did develop a fever.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking rates are down again.

For the first time, the number of American adults who smoke has dipped below 18 percent, or about 42 million people.

For years, the nation’s smoking rate had stalled at around 20 percent.

Smoking is still the United States’ leading cause of preventable illness.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking rates are down again.

For the first time, the number of American adults who smoke has dipped below 18 percent, or about 42 million people.

For years, the nation’s smoking rate had stalled at around 20 percent.

Smoking is still the United States’ leading cause of preventable illness.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The kitchen is where the holiday meal magic happens, but it can also be a danger zone, especially on Thanksgiving.

Steven McGill, the battalion chief of Engine Company 9 in Jersey City, New Jersey, said Thanksgiving is typically the most dangerous day of the year.

“Everybody’s cooking in the kitchen and it’s one of the few days where almost everyone is preparing a meal,” he said. “The house is more congested than normal. … So you have to control the flow in your kitchen to make sure there’s no accidents.”

More fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home. And on Thanksgiving, in particular, there are three times as many house fires than any other day of the year, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“We’ve had fires where people took the turkey right out of the freezer, put it right in the oven, forgot to take the plastic off and next thing you know, you have an oven fire,” McGill said.

McGill and his five firefighters feasted on Thanksgiving eve, a tradition for his crew, because Thursday is expected to be one of their busiest days.

They shared some safety tips for the holiday:

1. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing around open flames.

2. Don’t leave your food unattended on the stove or in the oven. McGill said to make sure a person is always in the kitchen watching the food that’s cooking.

“You should have a zone, around anything around the stove, within like a 3-feet range for children,” he said.

3. If deep-frying turkey, do it outside.

4. Never put water on a grease fire.

5. Store fire extinguishers in plain sight and near an exit — not under the sink, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Because fires can double every five to 10 seconds — and can consume a room in just one minute — call 911 first.

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Tanya Constantine/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s only natural for adults to slip back into their childhood personas when they get together with family, said Dr. Joe Shrand, a psychiatrist and medical director of the CASTLE treatment center in Brockton, Massachusetts.

“You develop patterns of behavior within the family hierarchy that are a way of jockeying for attention without directly competing in the same way,” he said. “These patterns don’t just go away when you grow up and move away from home.”

Whether you’re the CEO of a large company or a famous actor, Shrand said, that means you might be traveling back in time as you return home for Thanksgiving. Your first relationships are with your family and, presumably, you had at least 16 years to practice within the family dynamic before leaving home, he said.

Surrounded by childhood family and friends, you might revert to your childhood identity as the funny one, the instigator or the victim because the behavior is familiar and ingrained.

Likewise, family members tend to view you the same way they have all your life, even if you’ve changed, Shrand said.

Jeff Brown, a Harvard psychologist, said he considers playing the part of your childhood self at family get-togethers a form of regression.

“We go back to a time in life when we were forming our first memories,” he said.

Lapsing back into behaviors based on good memories and temporarily assuming your place in the family pyramid isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Brown said. As long as you enjoy the inside jokes and reliving past antics only your siblings, parents and cousins can dredge up, there’s no harm. But if your role is based on unhappy recollections and negative stereotypes, it can be damaging.

“If it’s embarrassing to be treated a certain way, you have to remind yourself that you can’t control others but you can control how you react,” he said.

Brown advised not rising to the bait if you’re not fond of the way relatives treat you or how you tend to act when you’re around them. If the dynamic is unpleasant or even unhealthy, consider skipping family gatherings altogether.

But, Shrand said, whenever possible, it’s best to see the humor in your situation.

“Don’t take it too seriously,” he said. “It’s really funny when an older sibling talks over you at the dinner table because he knows more than you do — or thinks he does.”

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Tanya Constantine/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s only natural for adults to slip back into their childhood personas when they get together with family, said Dr. Joe Shrand, a psychiatrist and medical director of the CASTLE treatment center in Brockton, Massachusetts.

“You develop patterns of behavior within the family hierarchy that are a way of jockeying for attention without directly competing in the same way,” he said. “These patterns don’t just go away when you grow up and move away from home.”

Whether you’re the CEO of a large company or a famous actor, Shrand said, that means you might be traveling back in time as you return home for Thanksgiving. Your first relationships are with your family and, presumably, you had at least 16 years to practice within the family dynamic before leaving home, he said.

Surrounded by childhood family and friends, you might revert to your childhood identity as the funny one, the instigator or the victim because the behavior is familiar and ingrained.

Likewise, family members tend to view you the same way they have all your life, even if you’ve changed, Shrand said.

Jeff Brown, a Harvard psychologist, said he considers playing the part of your childhood self at family get-togethers a form of regression.

“We go back to a time in life when we were forming our first memories,” he said.

Lapsing back into behaviors based on good memories and temporarily assuming your place in the family pyramid isn’t necessarily a bad thing, Brown said. As long as you enjoy the inside jokes and reliving past antics only your siblings, parents and cousins can dredge up, there’s no harm. But if your role is based on unhappy recollections and negative stereotypes, it can be damaging.

“If it’s embarrassing to be treated a certain way, you have to remind yourself that you can’t control others but you can control how you react,” he said.

Brown advised not rising to the bait if you’re not fond of the way relatives treat you or how you tend to act when you’re around them. If the dynamic is unpleasant or even unhealthy, consider skipping family gatherings altogether.

But, Shrand said, whenever possible, it’s best to see the humor in your situation.

“Don’t take it too seriously,” he said. “It’s really funny when an older sibling talks over you at the dinner table because he knows more than you do — or thinks he does.”

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Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The turkeys the pilgrims probably encountered when they stepped off the boat were of the wild variety. They were long, lean and somewhat gamey from a life of foraging and fleeing predators.

As for the large-breasted, plump-limbed Thanksgiving turkey we enjoy today, it’s a triumph of modern technology.

In the late 1920s, breeders began tinkering with domesticated turkeys, which still resembled their wild cousins, so that they matured faster and grew larger. The nickname for one popular breed was “bronze Mae West,” according to Modern Farmer, but the industry eventually agreed on calling them broad breasted bronze.

Keith Williams, a spokesman for the National Turkey Federation, said the turkey industry really got cooking in the 1940s and ’50s when farmers realized they could raise turkeys similarly to how they raised chickens.

“Rather than hunting through the woods for eggs, they could incubate them and the animals could be safely housed in large sheds,” he said. “This allowed them to raise animals more efficiently and less expensively.”

Thanks to selective breeding and growing techniques, Williams said, farmers can now produce a bird that has far more white meat and larger, more muscular thighs than its ancestors.

Because the skin of darker birds were speckled with colored dots all over after plucking, the industry eventually shifted to a breed known as the broad breasted white, which doesn’t speckle and now accounts for the majority of birds sold.

In the 1930s, the average-size Thanksgiving turkey was between 7.5 and 10 pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture archives.

Today, families tuck into a bird that weighs an average of about 15 pounds, the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association estimated.

Up until about 1970, turkeys that made it to market arrived in big barrels of ice and were “New York dressed,” Williams said.

“They came with the head, feet and all their organs still intact,” he said.

Most birds sold today come frozen and fully dressed so they are oven-ready, he added.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans will dine on turkey this Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. That’s 46 million birds.

One last turkey fact before you slip yours in the oven: Most Thanksgiving turkeys Americans eat are hens. Americans don’t ordinarily eat the male toms except in the form of the humongous drumsticks sold at Disney and other amusement parks which, Williams noted, are often mistaken for ostrich legs.

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George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Not a yogurt fan? Here’s information that make might you one.

According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, eating yogurt daily might help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

Lead author Mu Chen said her research was based on three separate large studies involving a total of 200,000 men and women ages 25-to-75 for as long as 30 years. About 15,150 people overall were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Although dairy consumption itself was not associated with either an increase or decrease in the risk of contracting diabetes, Chen and her team learned that people who ate 12 ounces of yogurt daily, about two regular containers worth, lowered their risk of developing the disease by 18 percent.

Although Chen said there is no definitive proof that yogurt will prevent type 2 diabetes, “Some mechanisms suggest that yogurt is special,” he said. “There is some research suggesting that the probiotic bacteria in yogurt may be beneficial.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Thanksgiving is every dieter’s nightmare: turkey slathered in gravy, candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and buttery, and calorie-laden pecan pie.

Adults gain about a pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they don’t lose it in January, according to experts. That means that, of the pound or two a year that adults gain as they age, half of it happens over the holidays, said Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the nonprofit American Council on Exercise.

But there are ways you can enjoy Thanksgiving without overdoing it:

Exercise Before or After the Meal

Starting your morning with a turkey trot — a Thanksgiving 5K jog — will help offset some of the effects of a big holiday dinner, Bryant said.

An after-dinner walk or jog is even better.

When you eat the calorie- and fat-laden meal, your triglyceride levels become elevated and your blood sugar spikes. This can lead to a feeling of malaise. Over time, it can contribute to metabolic disorders and type II diabetes.

Light exercise before the big meal decreases your triglyceride levels — the fat in your blood — by 25 percent, Bryant said. Exercising after dinner will decrease triglycerides by 70 percent.

The exercise will also help peripheral tissues, such as muscles, respond to insulin, which controls blood sugar, he said.

Don’t Worry About Disappointing the Host

Research at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab showed that people often overeat at dinners because they’re afraid of offending or disappointing the host or hostess, said the lab’s director, Brian Wansink, who authored the book Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.

“One easy way to do that is just only eat the stuff that’s homemade,” he said. “The hostess isn’t going to be offended if you don’t eat the peanuts or the nuts before dinner or you don’t eat the dinner rolls she bought. She’s going to be annoyed if you don’t eat the dressing or the turkey.”

Hosts in Wansink’s research never remembered how much guests ate, but remembered whether they went back for second helpings, he said.

So, start the meal with extra-small portions, Wansink suggested. That way, when you go back for seconds, you’re not overeating.

Make a Few Thanksgiving Swaps

A few simple substitutions can go a long way on Thanksgiving, Bryant said.

“Choose white meat over dark meat,” he said. “The white with no skin is going to be about half the calories and probably 1/6 to 1/7 the fat of dark meat with skin.”

A six-ounce serving of skinless white meat is only about 180 calories and 3 grams of fat, Bryant said. By comparison, the same serving of dark meat with skin is 370 calories and 20 grams of fat.

Choosing pumpkin or apple pie instead of pecan pie will save about 150 calories, he said.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, serving steamed green beans instead of green bean casserole will also save guests about 100 calories, Bryant said. And serving sweet potatoes with just sugar and spices is better than serving it candied and loaded with marshmallows.

Start at the Healthy End of the Buffet

People load up 60 to 65 percent of their plates with the first three things they see at the buffet, Wansink said. To save calories, start near the salad and vegetables.

And if you’re hosting the dinner and want to save your guests from overindulging, keep the buffet away from the table so people have to consciously get up to get second helpings. People who served themselves from a buffet ate 20 percent less than people who served themselves from the middle of the dinner table, he said.

“Thanksgiving is one of the greatest American holidays of the year,” Wansink said. “It’s probably not the best time to start your diet. To help, eat a little bit less but still enjoy the holiday.”

Eat Slowly and Drink Water

Bryant said absently “shoveling” in food as you catch up with relatives is bound to lead to overeating. Instead, remind yourself to eat slowly and stay aware of what you’re eating.

“Give you brain an opportunity to catch up with your appetite,” he said.

Another helpful trick is to drink water throughout the day.

“Hunger cues and your hydration cues can become confused,” Bryant said. “Making sure to address hydration can certainly help to curb the appetite.”

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Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — It’s the season for a lot of things, but talking about why you’re still not married isn’t one of them. Thanksgiving dinner only happens once a year, so it’s best to leave such uncomfortable conversations for another day, and focus on safe topics like the weather, sports or, most importantly, the turkey — unless it’s burned, but we’ll get to that.

Keep table talk peaceful by avoiding these taboo topics:

“Somebody’s Hungry!”

Sure, people like to indulge on Thanksgiving, but that doesn’t mean you need to point out when someone clears their plate or grabs an extra helping of stuffing.

“You want to avoid commenting on how someone eats,” etiquette expert Daniel Post Senning of the Emily Post Institute said. “The compliment doesn’t always get received that way.”

“But you can always compliment the chef,” he said. “You can say how good you feel, how good the food was, how full you are.”

Religion, Politics and Money

These should be no-brainers: Religion, politics and finances are definitely topics you’ll want to avoid during a holiday celebration.

“You just want to be careful,” Senning said. “It’s not that you’re never allowed to talk about these things, but you need to be prepared for people to have legitimate and valid differences of opinion. By definition, that’s what makes these potentially controversial.”

For some families, heated discussions about politics are almost a holiday tradition. If that’s the case, just save those for after dinner, so people who don’t want to partake can be left out.

Sex and Relationships

We’ve all heard the stories of people whose families’ use holidays as an opportunity to nag about when they’re getting married. Or engaged. Or having kids.

Senning says such “probing questions” should be off limits, but understands they can be hard to avoid when family is around.

“Of course, this is family, people are going to pry,” he said. “A great tactic is to turn around and ask someone else what they think, if a conversation is starting to feel a little too personal. Steer the conversation toward safer territory.”

When the Food Is Bad

Is the turkey overcooked? Pretend it isn’t, and compliment the chef on the mashed potatoes if anyone asks.

“Keep the focus positive,” Senning said. “You’re there to celebrate.”

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