Image Source Pink/Image Source/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A new drug promises to get rid of double chins without surgery, and it’s nearing federal approval.

The drug, an injectable substance that dissolves fat under the chin, was unanimously recommended for approval by a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee, but it’s still awaiting final approval from the agency.

“Options at the moment for submental fat [double chins] are [to] cut it out or suck it out,” said Dr. Susan Weinkle, a dermatologist in Florida who has been working with the drug in trials since 2007. “However, this is going to be a noninvasive in-the-office procedure that can be performed by your dermatologist and excellent results.”

Here’s what you need to know:

What is it?

It’s a version of deoxycholic acid, “a naturally occurring molecule in the body that aids in the breakdown of dietary fat,” according to its manufacturer, KYTHERA Biopharmaceuticals, based in Westlake Village, California. They’re calling it ATX-101 right now.

How does it work?

“It disrupts the fat cell,” said Dr. Derek Jones who gave Kythera’s presentation to the FDA on Monday. “When it disappears, it disappears permanently.”

Jones explained that the drug destroys the fat cell’s membrane, causing it to burst. What remains of the fat cell is absorbed back into the body “via normal metabolic pathways,” he said.

How much is needed?

Weinkle draws a grid of tiny dots beneath her patients’ chin, she said, and injects .2 cubic centimeters into each dot.

“I actually mark the area that I see the max amount of fat,” she said.

How long does it take?

It takes her five minutes to do the injections, she said, adding that she applies a little ice beforehand.

What’s recovery like?

It takes two or three days to heal, Weinkle said. And no bandages are required.

How thoroughly has it been studied?

According to Kythera, it’s been the subject of 19 clinical studies involving 2,600 patients.

Dr. William Stebbins, a dermatologist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who was not involved in the studies, said he has seen Kythera’s presentations at various dermatological meetings.

“I’ve been hearing about this for years and I’m actually really glad it’s coming out,” he said.

Who isn’t a good candidate for it?

“This is not necessarily a silver bullet that will solve the problem for every patient, but it certainly is a good option for appropriate candidates,” said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatology professor at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan. He has not been involved in the drug’s development.

People with a lot of excess skin under their chin and neck aren’t good candidates for this drug, he said.

“That’s not a fat problem,” he said. “It’s a skin problem.”

Are there side effects?

Yes, side effects were bruising, swelling and temporary numbness, Stebbins said.

Will insurance cover it?

Insurance will not cover this procedure, and it’s too soon to say how much it will cost, Zeichner said. In trials, patients received the injections once a month for up to six months before reaching the desired effect.

Why can’t we use this in other areas of the body?

Jones said it would take significantly more product to remove fat from other areas of the body, and liposuction and other options would be more efficient.

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Kenishirotie/iStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) — A British woman got a little more than she paid for when she found the world’s most venomous spider hitching a ride on bananas that she bought at the grocery store, according to local reports.

After shopping at a Tesco grocery story, Maria Layton said she found a web with eggs from a Brazilian wandering spider hiding out in the bananas, according to The Telegraph.

The critter is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most venomous spider, with a neurotoxin so deadly it takes just 0.00000021 ounces to kill a mouse. The spider’s venom made headlines in 2007, when scientists started to research if the venom could treat impotence, according to the BBC.

Layton told The Telegraph her daughter had asked for a banana and when she pulled it out, she found the large web.

“I was so scared — I don’t like spiders at the best of times, but have read about the Brazilian wandering spiders and was very frightened about the potential threat,” she told The Telegraph.

Layton said she put the arachnid-infested banana in a sealed container in the freezer to kill the eggs.

A spokeswoman for the grocery store, Tesco, where Layton bought the bananas, said they’ve apologized to the shocked mother of two.

“We’ve apologised to Mrs. Layton and offered a gesture of goodwill. We’ve asked her to return the product to our store so we can conduct a full investigation,” the company said in a statement.

Richard Pollack, a former public health entomologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and president of IdentifyUs, a Boston company that helps identifies insects and offers guidance on infestations for customers, said that he has started to see reports of similar instances as the use of pesticides has lessened across the globe and as technologies have allowed produce to go from farm to table faster than ever before.

“Imagine the surprise of the spider of being in the field on Tuesday and being in someone’s kitchen on Friday,” Pollack said.

While he said she realized the shock of seeing a venomous spider can be scary for a consumer, he said it’s extremely rare for a spider found in the grocery aisle to be a deadly hazard.

“The risk is incredibly tiny,” said Pollack. “It’s not likely [you’re] going to get bitten. … The best thing to do is probably dispatch the spider.”

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Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is bringing back 10 additional Americans from Sierra Leone who were possibly exposed to Ebola.

None of the 10 people are sick, the CDC said on Saturday, but they all had contact with an American who tested positive for Ebola and was admitted to the National Institutes of Health earlier this week.

“As a result of CDC’s ongoing investigation, CDC and the State Department are facilitating the return of additional American citizens who had potential exposure to the index patient or exposures similar to those that resulted in the infection of the index patient. Currently, none of these individuals have been identified as having Ebola virus disease,” the CDC said in a statement.

The Americans will not travel commercially and will be near the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the National Institutes of Health or Emory University Hospital, the CDC added.

Four of the 10 patients will be quarantined at Nebraska’s hospital for observation, according to officials from Nebraska Medicine.

“These people have been exposed to the virus but they aren’t sick and aren’t contagious,” said Phil Smith, M.D., medical director of the Biocontainment Unit at Nebraska Medicine in a statement. “In the unlikely instance that one of them does develop symptoms, we would take them to the Biocontainment Unit immediately for evaluation and treatment. Because we have individuals to monitor simultaneously, the safest and most efficient way to do that is in a group setting.”

Earlier this week, a U.S. worker tested positive for Ebola and was admitted to the NIH Clinical Center Special Clinical Studies Unit in Maryland.

On Friday, another worker was transported near Emory to be monitored.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Video blogger Rebecca Brown, aka “Beckie O,” won over thousands of fans with her quirky antics.

But what blasted Brown to fame was when she went public with the most private of her secrets: her compulsion to tear out her own hair.

“That video exploded. It had hundreds of thousands of views, and it just, it really opened my eyes to how big the condition was,” Brown, 22, told ABC News’ 20/20. “I thought I was on my own.”

Since she was 13, Brown has been “vlogging” about her struggle with a disorder called trichotillomania, which literally means the mania to pull out hair.

Brown stars in a documentary by Jillian Corsie called “Trichster,” which explores the destructive force of the disorder to both mind and body. The film will be screened at the Soho International Film Festival in May.

As a way of coping with her struggle with trichotillomania, Brown uses art to express herself.

Watch the video below to see Brown draw what she wishes she looked like.

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Marzia Giacobbe/iStock/Thinkstock(WICHITA, Kan.) — An outbreak of listeria in five patients at a Kansas hospital is being connected to ice cream products from Blue Bell Creamery.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Friday the five people sickened were at Via Christi St Francis Hospital in Wichita, Kansas for other medical treatment when officials believe they ate the listeria contaminated ice cream.

Three of the patients who were sickened at the Wichita hospital later died.

The Texas-based company has since stopped production and distribution of several products linked to the deadly illness. A Blue Bell spokesperson said on Friday the outbreak is related to one piece of equipment in a production plant.

The ice cream contaminated was sold to convenience stores and private companies, such as hospitals.

The Kansas hospital was not aware of any listeria contamination in the Blue Bell Creameries ice cream products, and immediately removed all Blue Bell Creameries products from all Via Christi locations once the potential contamination was discovered, according to Maria Loving, Communications Coordinator for Via Christi Hospital St. Francis in Wichita.

Health officials are warning consumers who have purchased the following Blue Bell Creameries novelty items and have not consumed the items to discard them:

  • Chocolate Chip Country Cookie
  • Great Divide Bar
  • Sour Pop Green Apple Bar
  • Cotton Candy Bar
  • Scoops
  • Vanilla Stick Slices
  • Almond Bar
  • No Sugar Added Mooo Bar (regular Mooo Bars are not included)

Potentially contaminated items have been pulled from retail locations by Blue Bell Creameries and are no longer available for purchase.

At this time, officials say no other products from Blue Bell Creameries have been linked to this outbreak.

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Dr. Shafi Ahmed, Medical Realities(LONDON) — A British surgeon wants to make the operating room virtual with the Oculus Rift headset.

Dr. Shafi Ahmed, a laparoscopic and colorectal surgeon, has already worked to integrate Google Glass into his lessons as an associate dean at the Barthes of London Medical School.

As co-founder of the tech company Medical Realities, Ahmed now wants to use the virtual reality system Oculus Rift to create the “Virtual Surgeon,” a pilot program that would allow medical students to practice surgeries inspired by actual operations before setting foot into an operating room.

Ahmed and his team presented Virtual Surgeon at the wearable technology show this week.

“It’s very easy to train people in a correct operation,” Ahmed told ABC News on Friday. “It’s not so easy when things go wrong. … We’re all put in situations where things can go wrong.”

Last month, Ahmed took the first steps towards creating that program by making a 360-degree video of an operation.

Anyone wearing an Oculus Rift headset could then be able to get an immersive view of the laparoscopic procedure when the video is played back.

The virtual reality experience of Oculus Rift is a better simulation for students, Ahmed said, because it can more easily mimic a real operating room.

“It’s as close as you can get to replicating it,” he said, noting that education should always embrace the newest technology and a virtual reality operating room could be the next major tool for students.

The Oculus Rift headset has not been made available to consumers yet, but the company was acquired by Facebook for $2 billion last year. The headsets have already been utilized by a range of people, from real estate agents to driving instructors and fitness companies.

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Monkey Business Images/Stockbroker/Monkey Business/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — In the ongoing war on obesity, health officials have consistently focused on Body Mass Index, or BMI, as a measure of weight appropriate to a certain height.

The bad news is that more than a third of Americans, 34.9 percent, are obese, with a BMI of over 30, according to 2014 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Another third of Americans are overweight, according to the CDC, with a BMI of between 25 and 30.

But that’s not where the bad news ends. Many health experts have long been concerned that BMI does not properly account for people who look svelte but have fat hidden away, making them “normal weight obese.”

Those people can still store away reservoirs of fat in the body or even in the organs or muscles, leading to serious health consequences similar to those of a person whose BMI indicates they’re overweight, experts note.

A 2010 study published in the European Heart Journal found that as many as 30 million Americans are suspected of having normal weight obesity.

“It’s absolutely true there are some people who seem like no matter what they’re doing, they look really good but looks can be deceiving,” Carol Garber, a professor of Movement Science at the Teacher College at Columbia University, told ABC News.

Garber said she has seen first hand how even skinny patients can be at risk for heart disease.

“We would regularly see people who had heart attacks come to [our] rehab program and look perfectly fine,” Garber said. But “if you measured their body fat, they had a greater proportion of fat than they would have thought.”

It’s key to be clear that apparent thinness does not always equal health and that even a skinny person with a low BMI can be unhealthy if fat has built up around their organs, Garber said.

“[Fat] affects different kinds of inflammatory substances that have been implicated in heart disease and diabetes,” Garber said. “They can cause damage to blood vessel walls and affect how your blood vessel works.”

Some body fat is essential to stay healthy, Garber emphasized, with a range stretching up to 25 percent of body weight for women and around 15 percent for men. People who are thin and active likely don’t need to be afraid that they have normal weight obesity, she noted.

“The bottom line is think about your lifestyle … no matter what your weight is,” said Garber. “Irrespective of your weight, everyone is going to benefit to shift your diet and eat more fruits and vegetables, and not smoking and not over-drinking.”

People who focus on losing weight are often frustrated when the scale refuses to budge, she said, but a healthy lifestyle overall will give tremendous benefit, even if it’s not reflected on the scale.

“You can be smug and healthy and a little overweight,” she said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — A Texas woman who fought to get her brain-dead daughter off of life support is hoping a new bill in the state legislature can help families avoid an ordeal similar to the one she went through when making end-of-life decisions.

“The state not only tied our hands, but those of the doctors and the hospital too,” Lynne Machado said at a news conference to introduce the new bill, dubbed “Marlise’s Law.” “What should have been an immensely private and personal moment for our family was used as a political debate. The doctors weren’t practicing medicine. They were practicing politics.”

And the politics continue. In addition to “Marlise’s Law,” introduced by Texas State Rep. Elliot Naishtat, a Democrat, a proposal to move the rules in the opposite direction has been introduced by a Republican.

Machado has described the two months her daughter, Marlise Munoz, was on life support as a living nightmare. The young and pregnant mother was just 33 when a pulmonary embolism left her brain dead.

Munoz, a paramedic, had told members of her family that she never wanted to be on life support, but the hospital where she was taken refused to remove the support systems because of a Texas law that prohibited removing “life-sustaining” treatment for any pregnant patient.

“We felt, in our opinion, that the government was getting involved in something that they didn’t have the right to get involved in,” Machado said.

It took two months for Munoz’s family to win the right to remove Munoz from life support based on the fact that she was a deceased person and, therefore, not a patient. But the memories of seeing her daughter’s body deteriorate before her eyes has haunted Machado over the past year.

“When I kissed her goodbye, I could smell death,” she said. “I don’t have a lot of experience with death [but] it’s one of those smells you know what it is.”

Eventually, Machado said, she, her husband, Ernie Machado, and Munoz’s husband, Erick Munoz, decided they wanted to get involved with changing the law itself. On Thursday, they became the face of “Marlise’s Law.” The bill would remove the pregnancy exclusion from the Texas law that outlines guidelines for end-of-life procedures.

“This bill would allow women autonomy when planning their wishes regarding extraordinary medical interventions during end-of-life care,” Naishtat, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “Marlise’s Law enables physicians, health care providers and medical institutions to honor a woman’s wishes and personal values, and preserve the doctor-patient relationship.”

An opposing bill introduced last week by Texas Rep. Matt Krause, a Republican, would make it illegal to stop life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant woman — even if there is “irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function” — and would require the appointment of a guardian ad litem for the fetus.

Of “Marlise’s Law,” Kraus said, “It’s kind of a 180 from what we’re seeking to do. … I think it would be a mistake to overturn that [current Texas law]. I don’t see a position like that gaining traction in the house.”

Lynne Machado has said she and her family will testify against Krause’s bill if it is presented at a committee.

Machado, whose family’s fight will be documented in the upcoming documentary The Pregnancy Exclusion, said she, her husband and son-in-law were so shocked by the hospital’s disregard for Marlise Munoz’s end-of-life wishes, that they knew they would have to go public to raise awareness and try to change the law.

“We were in it to educate people, that was one of our goals,” said Machado. “We could get the word out to people about this little known law and also a pregnant woman’s rights is nullified and the father has no say,” in end-of-life decisions for pregnant women.

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Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — One billion deaths from tobacco by the end of the 21st century?

It could happen, says an international group of health and policy experts, unless the world community takes immediate action to curtail smoking numbers all over the globe.

The issue will be addressed by a team of health professionals led by professors from New Zealand at next week’s 2015 World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Dubai.

What the group is aiming for is a tobacco-free world, which in actuality, means “less than five percent of adults use tobacco.”

Rather than trying to restrict advertising to reduce demand, the new initiative will focus more on making it more difficult to obtain cigarettes and other tobacco products by imposing steeper taxes around the world.

Another emphasis will be on instituting smoking cessation programs in middle- and low-income countries.

The experts are setting 2040 as the target date for making the world tobacco-free.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) — Jessica Mellen, like over 40 million other Americans, suffers from a terrifying affliction called anxiety disorder. She can undergo intense panic attacks triggered by anything from driving a car or flying in a plane to riding in an elevator.

But the one powerful phobia that fills Mellen with the most dread is vomiting.

“If someone was like, ‘You can either be shot in the leg or throw up once,’ I would be like, ‘Just shoot me in the leg,’” Mellen, 29, from New Hampshire, told ABC News’ 20/20. “To me, that’s one of the worst things that could happen to me, if not the worst.”

The fear of throwing up is called emetophobia, and millions of people in America have it. Mellen’s entire life is choreographed around keeping herself protected against it. She takes every precaution against catching the flu from co-workers and carries antacids, tummy drops, cough drops and hand sanitizer in her purse.

“The fear just engulfs, and it swallows everything around you,” Mellen said.

Her phobia even once threatened the dream she shared with her now-husband of having children. Mellen was so terrified of getting morning sickness that she refused to try and get pregnant.

She and Marvin Graaf met while working at a Philadelphia restaurant they now own together. After they started dating, Mellen told Graaf about her anxiety disorder. At first, he had no issue with it. But when they started planning a wedding and a family, Mellen’s phobia morphed into anxiety about having children. It became a problem for the couple.

“I remember towards the beginning we would get into arguments because I said, ‘Can’t you just get over it?’” Graaf, from Pennsylvania, told 20/20. “I mean, this is a big deal. You’re not willing to even risk throwing up to have a kid with me?”

“I don’t want to miss out on something that could be really special between the two of us because of my phobia. It’s not fair to him either,” Mellen said.

Mellen’s phobia was so extreme that she researched hiring a surrogate to have their baby, which she said could cost $40,000 to $90,000.

“I would rather pay the money than throw up. I would rather do anything than throw up,” said Mellen.

But Mellen decided to fight her fear. Before her wedding, she underwent exposure therapy with Dr. Steven Tsao at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for the Treatment of Anxiety.

For five months, she endured an emotional roller coaster as he worked to desensitize her to her fears through direct confrontation of aspects of the phobia. As part of her exposure therapy, she was shown photos of people who were throwing up. It was an emotional moment, when she remembered what may have caused her phobia.

“The last time I got sick when I was younger, I threw up so bad I couldn’t breathe, and it was really scary,” she said.

In their therapy sessions, Dr. Tsao also had her eat food from an unregulated street vendor and confronted her with fake vomit made from oatmeal and soup. In an effort to confront her primal fear, Mellen forced herself to touch the fake vomit. Towards the end of her therapy, Tsao even had Mellen attempt to make herself throw up.

As the weeks passed by, Mellen realized that her fears were rooted in anxiety and not in reality.

“I just have to keep trying my best,” Mellen said.

Five months of therapy may not have cured her of her fear. But she now knows how to manage it.

“I mean it’s for me, and it’s for him and it’s for us,” Mellen said. “But at the end of the day, it’s for me.”

On a bright, fall day earlier this year, despite a brief panic attack, Mellen married Graaf.

Watch the full story on ABC News’ 20/20 on Friday, March 13 at 10 p.m. ET.

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