iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The recent flurry of air disasters does little to comfort nervous fliers, who suffer from what some experts call a “perfect storm” of fears.

“You start with fear, and then you have evidence that the fear is correct,” said George Everly, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore. “What makes it over the top is when you don’t know why the airplane crashed.”

Just on Thursday, an Air Algerie airliner carrying 116 people disappeared from radar over Mali. The incident comes one week after a Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people was shot down over Ukraine, and four months after Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing with 237 people on board.

Experts say the string of disasters and mysteries is understandably rattling nerves.

“They understand that it is a risk, but what they are doing is blowing it out of proportion,” Everly said, who stressed the risk of a crash was less than “one in a million.”

But despite its impressive safety record, air travel presents a “perfect storm of different fears,” according to Martin Seif, a psychologist at White Plain’s Hospital’s Anxiety and Phobia Treatment Center.

“Fear of heights, social anxiety, claustrophobia,” Seif said. “You can go on and on and on.”

And when there’s a disaster, those fears are amplified, Seif said. “You’ll get temporary increase whenever there’s a catastrophe,” he said.

For those who fear flying, experts say a few simple steps can help curb anxiety. To start, avoid dwelling on the media coverage, Seif said.

“There’s a general rule of thumb: read it once and don’t replay it,” he said, adding that avoiding the news altogether is no better than bingeing. “If you imagine what happened, you’re going to be worse than if you read it.”

But missing flights and unexplained crashes can add another layer of anxiety for wary air travelers, according to Everly.

“If they have to fly, they want as much knowledge of possible so they can build a safety net or defense,” he said, explaining that some nervous fliers might choose to avoid routes involved in the disasters.

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Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Over 15,000 cards have been mailed to Danny Nickerson, the 5-year-old battling cancer who is turning 6 Friday.

The Massachusetts boy was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma in October, one of the most chemotherapy-resistant cancers. Danny has since stopped going to kindergarten.

All this little boy wanted for his upcoming birthday were lots of cards with his name on them, Danny’s mother, Carley Nickerson, told ABC News last Friday

His wish has been heard and granted.

Since ABC News first reported on Danny’s story, the family’s P.O. Box has been flooded with cards and packages from strangers across the country and even outside the United States.

Carley Nickerson says she has received messages from as far as Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Austria, California, Alaska, Norway and Sweden, asking her how to send Danny a card or sending him prayers.

“Today’s total rough count was a little over 8500 cards and 900 packages!!!” Nickerson wrote on a Facebook page he set up for Danny Tuesday.

“We are speechless and don’t have enough words to explain how thankful we are for everyone of you,” Nickerson continued.

It took the family three cars and one rented truck to bring all the cards and packages back home.

“We opened about 200 of them today and he loved seeing them,” Carley Nickerson wrote. “One had a picture of fat cat on it and another with a cat blowing out candles and he laughed so hard at them!”

One man, Matt Sfara of Newton, Massachusetts, decided that he has to make his card stand out, Carley Nickerson noted on Facebook.

Sfara made a card that is 4-feet wide and 6-feet tall when folded, and 8-feet wide when opened up. The card was addressed to “Danny Nickerson, The Coolest 6 Year Old.”

The number of followers on the Facebook page, Danny’s Warrior, skyrocketed to 27,594 Thursday from 2,500 last week.

All cards can be mailed the Nickerson’s home address: Danny Nickerson, P.O. Box 212, Foxboro, Massachusetts, 02035.

His family has also set up a website and a GoFundMe page, which has already reached its $15,000 goal.

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iStock/Thinkstock(HALF MOON BAY, Calif.) — A California man’s death after being trapped inside a collapsed sand tunnel is drawing attention to sand safety as America’s summer tourism season swings into full gear.

Adam Pye, 26, died Monday at Francis State Beach. He dug a 10-foot-deep hole and climbed into it, when the tunnel collapsed.

“The girls came out of their tunnel, his tunnel caved in and they turned around and said, “where’s Adam, where’s Adam?’” said Kevin Pye, the victim’s father.

Dozens of beach-goers frantically used their hands, buckets, anything they could, trying to get to Pye.

But it was too late.

The death was especially difficult for Pye’s relatives given his recent college graduation.

“He graduated to say, ‘Mom, finally, now I have some time, I can rest,’” said his mother, Debra Pye.

Similar situations have been reported on American beaches in previous years. In 2011, it took firefighters 27 minutes to rescue Matt Mina, then 17, in Huntington Beach, California, after the walls of a sand tunnel collapsed on him.

“I went to sleep. I thought I was gonna die,” Mina said later.

A 12-year-old New Jersey boy died in 2012 after becoming trapped in a tunnel he dug with his brother.

Sand’s crumbling, shifting nature contributes to the hazards of cave-ins. Victims such as Pye have been covered in seconds, the sand making it difficult to breathe.

Safety experts say beach-goers should keep two things in mind when digging a hole at the beach — to keep the hole about knee-deep at most and to cover the hole before you leave the beach.

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Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NORMAL, Ill.) — Many adults who can recall their first time having sex probably would just as soon like to forget it. However, things have changed over time, and it seems that the younger generations have fonder memories about losing their virginity than the older crowd.

Illinois State University researchers conducted a survey of 5,000 people over a 23-year period about their first time, which stretched back to 1980.

Based on their results, the experience of losing one’s virginity improved over the years for both sexes. That is, men experience less performance anxiety now while women feel less guilt about having sex for the first time.

As for what’s different, the researchers speculated that losing one’s virginity has become less of a rite of passage for males, while first-timers seem more likely to be in a relationship longer before they “do it,” thus increasing the intimacy that women value more than men.

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Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(LINCOLN, Neb.) — Does grunting serve a purpose on the tennis court other than to psych out one’s opponent?

Maria Sharapova is one of the loudest grunters in the game, making guttural sounds described as loud as a chain saw. Granted, she is one of the hardest hitters in tennis, but Sharapova also seems to be helping her serve by grunting, a University of Nebraska study speculates.

In fact, when players on the University of Nebraska college tennis team grunted, scientists discovered the ball speed picked up by 3.8 percent. They explained the upper body becomes more stable during grunts, which enables a player to transfer more power to the arm.

The extra velocity is particularly helpful because it gives opponents less time to set up their return shots.

The researchers also noted that improvement was almost instantaneous when grunting was added to the college players’ game, suggesting that people with lesser tennis skills might also benefit from a loud grunt.
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iStock/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) — All those lectures about finishing your dinner because there are kids starving somewhere else evidently sunk in as most adults apparently finish what’s on their plates.

And it’s not just Americans who are polishing off their plates of food. People in other countries also belong to what Cornell University researchers are branding the Clean Plate Club.

Study co-authors Brian Wansink and Katherine Abowd Johnson says that in their survey of diners from the U.S., Canada, France, Taiwan, Korea, Finland, and the Netherlands, the average adult will consume about 92 percent of what’s on their plate.

Johnson explains, “Part of why we finish most of what we serve is because we are aware enough to know how much we’ll want in the first place.”

However, before we start patting ourselves on the backs for not wasting food, the same doesn’t hold true for those under 18.

In an accompanying study, Wansink and Johnson found out that younger eaters only managed to finish 59 percent of what’s on their plate, mostly because they’re unfamiliar with some of the food.

If there’s any consolation to parents, according to the researchers, it’s that it seems to be a universal thing among younger children and adolescents.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More teens are looking to drugs to improve athletic performance and their appearance, according to a new national survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids released Tuesday.

The organization reported a significant increase in the lifetime use of synthetic growth hormones, or hGH, among teens.

Eleven percent of respondents in ninth through twelvth grades said they used hGH without a prescription, more than double the amount from 2012.

Researchers say the findings reinforce the need for tighter regulation and more accurate labeling of “fitness-enhancing” over-the-counter products.

While synthetic human growth hormones have been available since 1985, Congress gave the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to approve its medical uses, and also banned any off-label uses.

hGH is approved for adult short bowel syndrome and long-term treatment of short stature in children and adolescents, among other conditions. Still, it is illegally used for muscle building and other athletic performance enhancements.

The study also found that African-American and Hispanic teens are more likely to report use of synthetic hGH, with 15 percent of African-Americans saying they used it at least once in their lifetime and 13 percent of Hispanic teens reporting, compared to 9 percent of Caucasians.

In addition to hormones, the report discovered other trends in teen use, including marijuana (44 percent) and prescription medication (23 percent).

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More teens are looking to drugs to improve athletic performance and their appearance, according to a new national survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids released Tuesday.

The organization reported a significant increase in the lifetime use of synthetic growth hormones, or hGH, among teens.

Eleven percent of respondents in ninth through twelvth grades said they used hGH without a prescription, more than double the amount from 2012.

Researchers say the findings reinforce the need for tighter regulation and more accurate labeling of “fitness-enhancing” over-the-counter products.

While synthetic human growth hormones have been available since 1985, Congress gave the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to approve its medical uses, and also banned any off-label uses.

hGH is approved for adult short bowel syndrome and long-term treatment of short stature in children and adolescents, among other conditions. Still, it is illegally used for muscle building and other athletic performance enhancements.

The study also found that African-American and Hispanic teens are more likely to report use of synthetic hGH, with 15 percent of African-Americans saying they used it at least once in their lifetime and 13 percent of Hispanic teens reporting, compared to 9 percent of Caucasians.

In addition to hormones, the report discovered other trends in teen use, including marijuana (44 percent) and prescription medication (23 percent).

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Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — More teens are looking to drugs to improve athletic performance and their appearance, according to a new national survey from the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids released Tuesday.

The organization reported a significant increase in the lifetime use of synthetic growth hormones, or hGH, among teens.

Eleven percent of respondents in ninth through twelvth grades said they used hGH without a prescription, more than double the amount from 2012.

Researchers say the findings reinforce the need for tighter regulation and more accurate labeling of “fitness-enhancing” over-the-counter products.

While synthetic human growth hormones have been available since 1985, Congress gave the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to approve its medical uses, and also banned any off-label uses.

hGH is approved for adult short bowel syndrome and long-term treatment of short stature in children and adolescents, among other conditions. Still, it is illegally used for muscle building and other athletic performance enhancements.

The study also found that African-American and Hispanic teens are more likely to report use of synthetic hGH, with 15 percent of African-Americans saying they used it at least once in their lifetime and 13 percent of Hispanic teens reporting, compared to 9 percent of Caucasians.

In addition to hormones, the report discovered other trends in teen use, including marijuana (44 percent) and prescription medication (23 percent).

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iStock/Thinkstock(SAN FRANCISCO) — Divorce can be a difficult process. It’s expensive, emotional and can result in years in court. But now, a new website trying to make the transition just a little bit easier.

Wevorce, a San Francisco-based company, uses computer software to connect couples looking to uncouple with lawyers located across the West Coast. While they can’t save your marriage, they can save you time and money.

“The technology allows us, as we continue to build, to make it more and more affordable for families,” Michelle Crosby, the founder and CEO of Wevorce, told ABC News. “We let families go at their own pace.”

While a divorce involving lawyers can cost upwards of $15,000 to $30,000 or more, Wevorce says their average price is about $5,000, and start as low as $1,800.

And it’s not just money. Wevorce also offers counseling and mediation.

“Because of the stressors of divorce, we will always have people available,” said Crosby.

Married for 15 years, Mark Kormylo and Nora Gibson, of Boise, Idaho, say they’d seen enough of their friends go through nasty divorces.

“We had both heard horror stories of screaming across atorney’s tables and this seemed like a much more cordial way to end our marriage,” Kormylo explained.

Therefore, two years ago, they decided to use Wevorce to try to keep the peace, not just for them, but also for their 12-year-old son.

“These guys wanted us to get along in a way that was really healing to everybody in the family, so that we could move on to our next chapter,” said Gibson.

Still, some experts say Wevorce is not for everyone.

“If we have a couple who fight like cats and dogs, then I would strong caution against going the Wevorce route,” Carrozza explained. “They will abandon that process, they’ll each hire their own attorney and it could end up costing them twice as much.”

But for Kormylo and Gibson, they say they have no remorse for their Wevorce.

“I think it would have been drastically different had we gone the traditional route,” said Kormylo. “I’m thankful that we didn’t.”

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