iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — American Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly credited doctors, God and an experimental drug for his recovery Thursday. But experts say it’s unclear whether the drug, known as ZMapp, helped or hindered his recovery.

Brantly and fellow American aid worker Nancy Writebol contracted the virus while working in Liberia with the missionary groups Samaritan’s Purse and SIM. They received ZMapp — a cocktail of three antibodies that attack the virus — and were evacuated from the growing outbreak zone to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they were isolated for at least two weeks.

“Today is a miraculous day,” Brantly said Thursday as he was released from the hospital. “Through the care of the Samaritan’s Purse and SIM missionary team in Liberia, the use of an experimental drug, and the expertise and resources of the health care team at Emory University Hospital, God saved my life — a direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers.”

Brantly was the first human to receive ZMapp, which until recently had only been tested in monkeys. His condition improved within an hour, according to the aid group Samaritan’s Purse. But Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s infectious disease unit, said drug’s role in his and Writebol’s survival is unclear.

“Frankly we do not know if it helped them, made any difference, or even delayed their recovery,” he said.

Out of six people known to have received ZMapp, two have recovered, three have shown improvement and one has died, according to the World Health Organization. Even the drug’s manufacturer, California-based Mapp Pharmaceuticals, acknowledges the lack of evidence that the drug actually works against the Ebola virus.

“We don’t know,” the company’s website reads, stressing that larger trials are needed to determine the drug’s safety and effectiveness.

But those studies might have to wait. Mapp Pharmaceuticals said it has run out of ZMapp after complying with “every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization,” adding that the drug was “provided at no cost in all cases.” The company is currently working with the U.S. government to accelerate scaled up production, it said in a statement.

“The work to date has been funded by grants and contracts that were only sufficient to produce doses for animal safety and efficacy testing,” the company’s website reads. “The present epidemic has changed the picture dramatically, and additional resources are being brought to bear on scaling up.”

Ebola continues to spread through West Africa, where nearly 2,500 people have contracted the virus. Roughly 47 percent those infected have survived, according to WHO, making it difficult to understand the role of any experimental treatments.

In addition to ZMapp, Samaritan’s Purse said Brantly also received a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old Ebola survivor — another unproven treatment with unknown results.

“We have no idea how that might have affected his outcome,” Ribner said, adding that “there is a crying need for research” into experimental Ebola treatments.

A group of 100 doctors, researchers, ethicists and drug developers is scheduled to meet in early September to discuss “the most promising experimental therapies and vaccines and their role in containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa,” WHO announced Thursday, adding that “ways to ramp up production of the most promising products” will be explored.

More than 20 experts from West Africa are expected to attend, the agency said.

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iStock/Thinkstock(CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo.) — A Colorado man plunged 100 feet while hiking but managed an improbable landing, using his gymnastics skills to help keep him alive.

Dylan Schuetz, 21, fell last week at St. Mary’s Glacier, a popular spot for hikers.

He tumbled head-first over the ledge, with death almost certain. But just as he has done at the gym countless times, Schuetz flipped mid-air to land on his feet. That move stunned his friend Cody Tengler.

“He spots his landing and then kind of does a flip, a front flip over himself,” Tengler recalled.

Schuetz broke both of his legs and ankles in the fall. He also punctured a lung. His frightened friends tried desperately to keep him conscious until help arrived.

“We just kept talking to him, do everything that you can to keep him alive and going, and just have hope,” Matthew Campbell, Schuetz’s friend, told ABC News.

Schuetz is recovering at Colorado Hospital, with another surgery scheduled for Friday.

His mother, Stacey Dale-Schuetz, says her son plans to never hike again. But he vows to return to the sport he loves, the one that may have saved his life.

“The doctor said, ‘Do you want to do gymnastics again, Dylan?’ And he said, ‘Yeah!’ He said, ‘Well then, we’ll get you there,’” his mother recalled. “Anything he wants to do, I know he’ll accomplish.”

His family has set up a fundraising page — “Dylan Schuetz Road to Recovery.” Click here to learn more.


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Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Is the secret to weight loss simply tricking your mind into thinking you had gastric bypass surgery? That’s what happened to Julie Evans, an overwhelmed mom of two small children, who at her biggest weighed 287 pounds.

Evans claims hypnosis helped her begin craving healthy foods instead of junk.

“All I wanted was spinach,” Evans, 35, told ABC News. “I wanted salad. It was the creepiest feeling in the whole wide world.”

She admits it sounds crazy, but says hypnosis was her trick to shedding 140 pounds and actually keeping it off.

“I was the biggest skeptic ever,” she explained. “I haven’t had fast food since. I don’t even crave it.”

Back in 2006, however, Evans ate fast food and junk food every day. It wasn’t until a vacation to Hawaii that she realized she was too embarrassed to show her body in a bathing suit and decided it was time for a change.

“I was at that point where this was holding me back from living,” she said.

Evans’ mom convinced her to try hypnosis and, although skeptical, she went to a seminar featuring hypnotherapist Rena Greenberg.

“We have a lot of old patterns that are bombarding the mind and what we’re doing is sort of rewriting the script,” Greenberg said of her tactics.

Greenberg says she has her clients visualize pushing the plate away because you’re no longer hungry or going to the gym instead of binging on cookies. And after only one session, Evans says it changed the way she ate.

“I would pause and think about what I’m putting inside of me,” she recalled.

Still, critics say it won’t work for everyone.

“It’s unproven,” Rebecca Solomon, a dietician and nutritionist, explained. “It doesn’t work for all and the studies do show you have to believe it’s going to work for it to work.”

For Evans however, she’s going to the gym for the first time in her life and listens to her hypnosis CDs when she feels like she’s getting off track. She has successfully kept the weight off for seven years and tells the skeptics not to judge until they’ve tried it.

“It worked for me,” she said. “But I do think you have to have an open mind and be willing to listen.”

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Hemera/Thinkstoc(ATLANTA) — Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantley have been cured of the Ebola virus and released from Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

Both patients were given blood and urine tests to determine whether they still had the virus, and Writebol left the hospital Tuesday. Brantley, 33, was released Thursday.

“After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, the Emory Healthcare team has determined that both patients have recovered from the Ebola virus and can return to their families and community without concern for spreading this infection to others,” Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, said in a statement released Thursday.

Writebol’s husband said in the statement that Writebol left the hospital in a “significantly weakened condition.”

Brantly contracted the deadly virus while working in a Liberian Ebola ward with the aid agency Samaritan’s Purse. He was evacuated to the U.S. earlier this month along with Writebol.

Brantly is the first-ever Ebola patient to be treated in the U.S. and the first human to receive the experimental serum known as ZMapp.

According to reports, Brantly’s condition deteriorated so quickly that doctors in Africa decided to give him the drug in a last-ditch effort to save him.

Brantly’s condition started to improve dramatically within an hour after getting the serum, according to Samaritan’s Purse, but it’s unclear if the improvement was directly related to the medication. After his health stabilized, Brantly was evacuated on a specially outfitted plane to Atlanta in early August to the hospital isolation ward.

Writebol, 59, also survived after getting the serum.

The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the most cases.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEWARK, Del.) — The 2003 RAVE Act is a monumental flop when it comes to discouraging the use of club drugs like Ecstasy and Molly.

That’s the conclusion of Tammy L. Anderson, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware. She says the law, which stands for Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy, has only discouraged club owners and promoters from taking steps to prevent people from becoming ill from club drugs.

Prior to the RAVE Act, free bottled water was provided to help hydrate drug users, while security often roamed dance floors to find anyone who might appear in distress. Outside clubs, independent groups often tested drugs to let people know whether they contained dangerous ingredients.

Yet, because the RAVE Act makes club owners and promoters targets for prosecution, they no longer provide services that benefit the health of their customers, who are going to use club drugs regardless of the law.

What’s more, some clubs won’t even call for medical assistance, feeling that will get them in trouble with the law, according to Anderson.

She calls the RAVE Act just another failure in the War on Drugs, adding, “It never worked in the past, and it’s not working now.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) — Other than Jessica Simpson, who gained a healthy amount of weight during her two pregnancies, celebrities seem to look only slightly different from their usual svelte selves when carrying a baby.

Although keeping their figures under control might be good for stars, Jayne Krisjanous at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand fears that a pregnant woman may undermine the relationship with her unborn child by obsessing over celebrity baby bumps.

Krisjanous points out that one of the drawbacks of clamoring for a possibly unattainable celebrity look during pregnancy is that it could lead to poor body image and depression.

In her research of nearly 500 pregnant women, Krisjanous says that an even greater danger is that when women experience an abundance of celebrity attraction, it “can lead to a reduced level of prenatal attachment.”

Krisjanous recommends that moms-to-be pay less attention to pregnant celebrities and concentrate more on their own health and that of their babies.

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iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — Opponents of Colorado’s legalized marijuana laws think that a new report on vehicular fatalities related to pot use might help them eventually reinstate a ban against the drug.

Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, says that when laws against marijuana use started being relaxed in 2012, deaths involving cars when someone tested positive for grass jumped to 78, compared to 39 fatalities in 2007.

This includes people with marijuana in their system who may have been a motorist, a bicyclist or a pedestrian.

According to Gorman, driving while stoned impairs judgment and reaction time “and when that happens you’re potentially a danger on the road.”

He believes these findings could eventually lead to the re-criminalization of the sale and use of marijuana within four to six years.

However, Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, contends the research Gorman’s group uses is faulty because people can test positive for pot three weeks after smoking it.

Elliott also says that in the actual period covered by the report, overall traffic deaths in Colorado fell by 15 percent.

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iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) — The bigger the wedding guest list, the better the marriage?

As disconnected as that might sound, it’s true, according to University of Denver research professors Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley, who conducted the study with University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project Director W. Bradford Wilcox.

For instance, among couples who invited 150 or more people to their wedding, 47 percent reported a high-quality marriage. Meanwhile, just 31 percent of couples with under 50 guests said they had a quality marriage.

What’s the reason for the disparity? Wilcox explains, “Couples with larger networks of friends and family may have more help, and encouragement, in navigating the challenges of married life.”

Wilcox adds that the expense of the wedding, just because it’s larger, really does not factor into it.

Meanwhile, Rhoades and Stanley say that higher marital quality also may be due to couples having fewer premarital relations, not more. The researchers believe that when people have a lot of experience with other partners, it puts the marriage at a disadvantage because a husband or wife may unfairly compare their spouse to former lovers.

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — There’s a low tech way for smartphone addicts who suffer from nomophobia — the fear of being without their mobile devices — to cope with being away from their beloved electronics.

Introducing the noPhone.

The brainchild of a group of Dutch creatives, the noPhone is designed to ease owners’ separation anxiety from their devices.

Everyone knows someone who texts at dinner, in a movie, sleeps with their phone next to their pillow and basically won’t let it out of their grip until its pried from their cold, dead hands.

The noPhone looks like a smartphone and feels like a smartphone, but that’s where similarities end, Ingmar Larsen, one of the designers of the project, told ABC News.

“What inspired us is the fact that a lot of people around us nowadays are focused on their mobile devices and not on the social environment anymore,” he said. “We wanted to make people aware of their addiction by creating a product that can be used for their addiction. It works as a placebo.”

Larsen said the group is still figuring out “the possibilities” for manufacturing and selling the noPhone and said it’s something they hope to do in the future.

“It’s easy to take it and to play with it,” Larsen said. “It helps [people who use it] to stay calm.”

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just one year ago, Tim Shaw was playing football with the Tennessee Titans. Now, he’s battling ALS, the fatal neurodegenerative disease at the center of the viral ice bucket challenge.

Shaw, 30, revealed his diagnosis in a video posted Tuesday to the Titans website.

“I’m here today to stand up and fight with all of you against this disease,” he said before dumping a Gatorade bucket full of ice water over his head. He then challenged the Titans organization, the Penn State football team and coach James Franklin, and his community in Clarenceville, Michigan, to follow suit.

Shaw is the latest NFL player to be diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, joining former New Orleans Saints safety Steve Gleason, former Baltimore Ravens linebacker O.J. Brigance and former Philadelphia Eagles fullback Kevin Turner, to name a few.

ALS is considered a rare disease, affecting an estimated two in every 100,000 Americans each year, according to the ALS Association. But some studies suggest football players have a higher risk, with one 2012 report finding NFLers were four times more likely to die from the disease. Some evidence points to a higher risk among soccer players, too.

“It remains unclear whether exercise is indeed a risk factor and what types of exercise may be of concern,” the ALS Association’s website reads, noting that “pesticides or some other chemical encountered on maintained playing fields” might also be involved. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE — a neurodegenerative disorder linked to concussions — also shares symptoms with ALS.

Pete Frates, the 29-year-old behind the ice bucket challenge, played baseball, like Lou Gehrig himself.

“The concept that this disease could be over-represented among athletes has been in the medical literature for a long time, and no one underscores that concept more than Lou Gehrig,” Dr. Robert Brown, chair of the Department of Neurology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester and president of the ALS Therapy Alliance said in a 2012 story about Frates’ diagnosis. “But the interesting question is: Does athleticism set the stage for motor neuron degeneration, or does that same property that makes a person a great athlete also make them susceptible to the disease?”

Most people with ALS are diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 70, according to the ALS Association, and only 25 percent of them are alive five years later.

Brown said the “sense of tragedy looms even larger” for people diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, like Frates and Shaw.

“The irony is that at a time when their muscles are wasting away, we see extraordinary courage and motivation, and what can only be called strength,” he said.

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