Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Before you hit the beach this week, the Red Cross would like you to donate some blood.

A recent survey of its regular blood and platelet donors found that more than 40 percent of Red Cross supporters plan to be away over the next two weeks in celebration of the 4th of July holiday. That, combined with fewer blood drives being scheduled due to planned vacations, could potentially contribute to a summer shortage, according to the organization.

“Adding blood or platelet donation to a vacation to-do list can mean so much to patients and their families,” Donna M. Morrissey, director of national partnerships at American Red Cross Biomedical Services said in a statement. “It’s a simple act, taking as little as an hour, but can touch many lives.”

In addition to helping one’s community, donors who schedule an appointment between July 2 and July 6 will receive a Red Cross embroidered baseball cap, while supplies last.

More information is available via the free Blood Donor App, redcrossblood.org or by calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

iStock/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

Listen up makeup mavens: Feeling beautiful is definitely important, but not at the expense of your well-being.

Did you know that something like your mascara could be a hub for health hazards?

While it might be one of the must-haves in your makeup kit, mascara might actually be a must-go when it comes to your health.

Most mascaras contain harmful chemicals that are meant for good but could be bad.

For example, aluminum powder is used to add color but it’s considered more dangerous than mercury. Another ingredient, retinal acetate, could lead to mutations in your genes.

Consider a better alternative: Natural mascara. It provides all the beauty-building effects with almost none of the health hazards.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Francois Durand/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Singer Avril Lavigne said she’s seeing progress in her treatment for Lyme disease, which struck her last year while she was on tour.

Her treatment regimen has included multiple antibiotics and ample rest.

“I’m about halfway through my treatment,” the Canadian singer said in an interview with ABC News’ Jesse Palmer. “I’m doing a lot better. Seeing a lot of progress. … I’m just really grateful to know that, like, I will make [a] 100 percent recovery.”

Lavigne, 30, said trying to get a diagnosis was the worst time of her life.

“I literally became bedridden last October,” the “Complicated” singer said, adding that she saw multiple specialists who failed to get to the root of the problem. “They would pull up their computer and be like, ‘Chronic fatigue syndrome.’ Or, ‘Why don’t you try to get out of bed, Avril, and just go play the piano?’ It’s like, ‘Are you depressed?’”

Lavigne said she would wake up with night sweats and felt as though she had the flu.

“This went on and off for a month,” she said. “And I saw my doctor right away, got blood tests, got swabbed, and they didn’t really know what was wrong with me.”

It wasn’t until two months into the symptoms that she said she suspected Lyme disease.

“I started going to other doctors and, like, specifically telling them and asking, like, ‘I have Lyme disease. I know I do. Can you check me?’” she said. “Then I finally figured out, ‘Find a Lyme specialist.'”

“And the thing is, when you’re a specialist, you also really know the disease inside and out and you can diagnose their symptoms,” Lavigne said.

After getting the diagnosis of Lyme disease, which Lavigne believes she got from a tick bite last spring, the singer was bedridden for five months in her Ontario home.

Lavigne, who is married to Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger, said her family and fans have helped her through her ordeal.

Many fans, she said, made videos and sent her letters and posters and other items to show their support.

“I sat there in my bed and I watched the videos and, like, did exactly what I’m doing now. I cried through the whole thing,” she said, laughing. “Honestly, I felt very, very loved. And it sounds silly saying it, but I really truly did feel my fans through the process.”

She took the opportunity to share encouragement to others with Lyme disease.

“There is hope. Lyme disease does exist. And you can get better,” she said.

She called this period her “second shot at life,” adding: “I really just want to go out there and truly do what I love. So I’m so excited for life after this.”

Lavigne is set to perform her song, “Fly,” on July 25 at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Special Olympics World Games next month in Los Angeles.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

ELizabethHoffmann/iStock/ThinkStock(VIRGINIA BEACH, Va.) — A string of shark bites off the coasts of the Carolinas recently have beach town officials across the country trying to figure out the best ways to prevent shark attacks.

Sharks are looking for food, but they’re not looking to humans as a food source, according to Beth Firchau of the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center.

Experts recommend swimming in groups and going in the water during the time lifeguards are on duty. “Try and avoid dawn and dusk, those are what I call sort of the ocean’s rush hour where critters are looking for their dinners, their breakfasts,” says Firchau.

Firchau also points out, “when we go into the ocean it’s not like going into your neighbor’s or your grandma’s swimming pool. It takes a lot of respect to go into the ocean because you are going into a wild environment.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

herjua/iStock/Thinkstock(HONOLULU) — The Hawaii State Department of Health is taking new action to reduce new cases of HIV throughout the state by use of medication.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) is a prescription HIV medication that can be prescribed to uninfected individuals who are at high risk for HIV infection to prevent them from becoming infected.

PrEP is marketed under the trade name Truvada.

“PrEP is high-impact HIV prevention. Never before has there been a medication that can help prevent HIV infection,” said Peter Whiticar, Chief of the STD AIDS Prevention Branch of the Hawaii State Department of Health in a statement. “It’s important to not only care for our ohana who are living with HIV, but also to help prevent transmission to others. PrEP provides another viable means of prevention.”

In July 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a once-daily pill, marketed under the trade name Truvada, after extensive research in adults supported its use as PrEP. Truvada’s effectiveness to prevent HIV compared with no treatment was found to be up to 92 percent in studies, provided the medication was taken daily. Its effectiveness dropped substantially when the medication was not taken daily.

Condoms should be used with PrEP to be totally safe.

Between 2008 and 2012, there were 456 new HIV cases diagnosed in Hawaii: 77 percent on Oahu and the remainder on the neighbor islands.

Approximately 85 percent of HIV cases in Hawaii occur in men. By the end of 2011, there was an estimated 2,200 persons living with HIV in Hawaii.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Tracy Fox/iStock/Thinkstock(AVON, N.C.) — A teen was hospitalized after being bitten by a shark off of North Carolina’s coast Saturday, the state’s sixth shark attack this month, authorities said.

The 17-year-old male was swimming at 4 p.m. near Waves in Dare County, part of the Outer Banks when he was attacked – suffering injuries to his right calf, buttocks and both hands, the National Park Service said in a press release.

No other swimmers were injured.

The teen was treated at the scene and then airlifted to Norfolk, Virginia for further care, authorities said.

Saturday’s attack comes one day after a 47-year-old man was bitten by a shark while swimming at a beach in Avon.

Four other attacks were reported along North Carolina’s coastline this month. A 13-year-old girl was bitten in the foot at Ocean Isle on June 11. Hunter Treschl, 16, lost his arm in an attack on June 14 at Oak Island, and Kiersten Yow, 12, was bitten in the arm and leg less than 90 minutes before Treschl’s attack. An 8-year-old boy was bitten on Wednesday at Surf City.

Dr. Alistair Dove at the Georgia Aquarium says that calling the incidents shark “attacks” is not fair, as that word implies malicious intent. Instead, he says, these are cases of mistaken identity.

“It’s really just a case of prey confusion. They don’t know what you are,” Dove told ABC News.

“There are things you can do like not splashing around as aggressively,” Dove said, about avoiding sharks when in coastal water. “Going into water in groups is very helpful and avoiding dusk which is a time when sharks tend to be a little bit more active.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

Carlsberg(NEW YORK) — Beer bros rejoice: you can now get more brew in your life.

Carlsberg has launched a beauty series for men that includes shampoo, conditioner and body lotion. Each product in the line contains nearly 17 ounces of real Carlsberg beer.

“The beer is freeze-dried into a powder, and then mixed with organic ingredients in order to create a unique series of products,” Carlsberg brewmaster Erik Lund said in a statement.

A lot of the compounds in beer are good for the skin, according to Carlsberg’s director of research strategy Zoran Gojkovic.

“You have proteins, you have fibers, you have vitamins. Yeast, for example, it’s a big source of vitamin B,” Gojkovic said. “When you put that in the shampoo or whatever beauty series, it’s actually very good compounds for your skin.”

Carlsberg maintains that the main ingredients in a Carlsberg lager — barley, hops and yeast — are rich in vitamin B and silicium, which are “said to have beautifying properties for both hair and skin.”

But Dr. Barney J. Kenet, a dermatologist at New York Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, was skeptical of the beauty claims.

“Their comments that the hops, yeast, B vitamins and silicium are nourishing to the skin is not really relevant to common sense,” he said.

“First of all, skin does not receive its nourishment from the outside. So those added ingredients aren’t nutritive per se. Your vitamin B and silicium comes from diet. The likelihood of adding them to your skin cream for any specific benefit doesn’t make a lot of common sense,” he said. “So it’s a great gimmick. I smiled. I liked it. I might even have it in my house for fun. But I seriously doubt I’d buy a second bottle.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

pashapixel/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A hardy parasite has led federal health officials to warn pool goers to be careful in the water this summer.

Outbreaks related to pools, hot tubs and other recreational uses of water can be dangerous, and according to a new report released on Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 90 outbreaks between 2011 to 2012 resulted in 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death.

A major cause of the outbreaks in treated water, including hot tubs and pools, is a hardy parasite called Cryptosporidium, which is encased in a tough shell and causes acute gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.

Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said the parasite is particularity troubling due to how long it can live in treated water.

“It can survive for 10 days,” Hlavasa told ABC News, noting that other bacteria including E. coli are killed in minutes to hours in a treated pool.

“With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children,” Hlavasa said. “They’re the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs.”

The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.

Because of gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, “you’re losing so much and your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients,” Hlavasa said.

To stay safe, pool goers should look to see if their pool’s most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.

“If you’re worried about the restaurant’s [ratings] … it’s the same thing with pools you’re putting your body in that water,” Hlavasa said.

More information on water safety can be found at here.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

pashapixel/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A hardy parasite has led federal health officials to warn pool goers to be careful in the water this summer.

Outbreaks related to pools, hot tubs and other recreational uses of water can be dangerous, and according to a new report released on Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 90 outbreaks between 2011 to 2012 resulted in 1,788 illnesses, 95 hospitalizations and one death.

A major cause of the outbreaks in treated water, including hot tubs and pools, is a hardy parasite called Cryptosporidium, which is encased in a tough shell and causes acute gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea.

Michele Hlavsa, chief of the CDC’s Healthy Swimming Program, said the parasite is particularity troubling due to how long it can live in treated water.

“It can survive for 10 days,” Hlavasa told ABC News, noting that other bacteria including E. coli are killed in minutes to hours in a treated pool.

“With these outbreaks, we see they disproportionately affect young children,” Hlavasa said. “They’re the ones who can go to a pool and young children tend to carry lots of germs.”

The parasite can be cleared from the body in about two to three weeks, Hlavasa said, but in a person with a weakened immune system the condition may become chronic or even fatal.

Because of gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, “you’re losing so much and your body isn’t able to absorb nutrients,” Hlavasa said.

To stay safe, pool goers should look to see if their pool’s most recent inspection was posted through their local health department or even look into buying their own chlorine tests that can be used to test if the water is properly treated.

“If you’re worried about the restaurant’s [ratings] … it’s the same thing with pools you’re putting your body in that water,” Hlavasa said.

More information on water safety can be found at here.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →

AlexRaths/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Researchers have suspected for decades that too much vitamin B12 can increase the risk of acne – but how it does this has been a longstanding mystery.

Now, a new study published in Science Translational Medicine finds that vitamin B12 changes the natural microorganisms on the skin, potentially tipping the scales toward acne.

Researchers studied the microbes on the skin surface of four people with acne and five with clear skin.

What they found was that vitamin B12 tends to change the microenvironment of the skin in a way that favors acne bacteria.

In a small follow-up study, they gave 10 healthy participants a shot of vitamin B12 – enough to last for weeks – and checked in with these participants after a week. One of the participants who previously had clear skin had developed acne.

These new findings suggest that if acne sufferers don’t need the extra vitamin B12, it might be a good idea to skip it.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Read More →