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YouTube Campaign Urges Women to Share Advice to Their Younger Selves

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- To celebrate International Women’s Day, YouTube has launched a campaign urging women to share advice they would give to their younger selves.

The effort is meant to inspire and empower young girls everywhere who may be struggling with similar issues, and YouTube is soliciting participation in the form of GIFs to be shared under the hashtag #DearMe.

On its dedicated web page, the effort makes this appeal: “Teenagers everywhere know that growing up is tough. But what advice and wisdom would you share with your younger self? You can’t send this GIF back in time, but you can share it with your friends and the world. It all starts with two words. Dear me.”

A video describing the campaign features appearances by popular faces, including actresses Felicia Day and Issa Rae and YouTube stars Lily Singh, Bunny Meyer and Michelle Pham.

Their “Dear Me” messages to their younger selves cover a range of problems, including body insecurity, grades, bullying, relationships and feeling like an outcast.

Their advice: Don’t follow the crowd. Don’t worry so much about not being liked by certain people. Stop trying so hard to be someone you’re not. Embrace your unique qualities. You are good enough.

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Have a Drink, You'll Look Better

iStock/Thinkstock(BRISTOL, England) — Much has been said about how people seem more attractive after you’ve been drinking, i.e., the so-called “beer goggles effect.”

But a new study from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom wanted to know if people who drink alcohol actually look better than when they haven’t imbibed.

Senior researcher Marcus Munafo and his team had 40 heterosexual students look at a series of head shots of men and women taken before the men and women drank, and then pictures of them following a single drink, and then two drinks.

Ultimately, people judged as most attractive were those who'd had one drink. However, two drinks didn’t improve their attractiveness. In fact, participants preferred the sober head shots compared to those taken of people who'd had two cocktails.

What was it about having one drink that seemed to improve a person's looks? Although there’s no conclusive answer to that question, Munafo and his team came up with several theories, including increased pupil dilation, added rosiness to cheeks, and relaxed facial muscles.

Munafo cautioned that the study wasn't trying to encourage drinking as people seek an edge on the dating scene.

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Study Suggests Seniors' Cognitive Function Linked to Sex Life

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just how important is a healthy sex life? Important enough to keep seniors mentally sharp, apparently.

Researchers in The Netherlands tested the cognitive functions of about 1,750 men and women whose average age was 71 while also asking them questions about the importance of sex, both personally and in general, for older people. They also quizzed the participants about their own sex lives and other topics concerning intimacy.

While 25 percent of the participants felt their personal sexuality was important, four in ten didn’t. Forty-two percent also believed sexuality at an older age was important, though about three in ten did not. Two-thirds agreed that intimacy and touching were necessary among the elderly.

As for how this all corresponded to cognitive functioning, the researchers determined people who believed sexuality was important and expressed satisfaction with their sex lives did better in tests than seniors who didn’t think sex was essential in old age.

Although no firm cause-and-effect link was established, the researchers suggested that cognitive decline can be slowed when one is either sexually active, or at least interested in intimacy.

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Happiness Is Eight Hours of Sleep

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Know why singer-songwriter Pharrell Williams is happy? It’s because he and his hat get plenty of sleep every night. But don’t quote us on that.

Seriously, though, getting the recommended amount of sleep does seem to improve the mood of Americans, according to a survey of 7,000 adults conducted by Gallup and Healthways, a well-being improvement company.

Researchers say people who managed to sleep eight hours scored a 65.7 out of 100 in the study’s well-being rating system compared to 64.2 and 59.4 among those who slept seven and six hours, respectively.

The metrics used to determine well-being included sense of purpose, social relationships, financial lives, community involvement and physical health.

The researchers add the caveat that since this was not a long-term study, they couldn’t definitively say whether eight hours of shuteye equates to real happiness.

However, this they do know for sure: just over four in ten American adults get fewer than seven hours of sleep and that can lead to serious health issues.

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Teen Who Woke Up Paralyzed Now Walking and Running Again

Ivanko_Brnjakovic/iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A Nashville, Tennessee, teen is celebrating that she's regained the ability to walk after suffering sudden paralysis.

Just six weeks ago, Jessica Shainberg, 15, woke up with no feeling below her waist.

"She was very calm," her father, Jeff Shainberg, told ABC News. "I didn’t believe her at first, [I said] 'You gotta wake your legs up and we got to go to school.'"

Days earlier, Jessica had felt tingling in her legs, but after a trip to the emergency room, doctors found no signs of anything serious and sent her home, Jeff Shainberg said. But now the family was headed back to the hospital.

Doctors at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital diagnosed Jessica with transverse myelitis, or inflammation of the spinal cord. Doctors then told the teen and her family there was only a one-third chance she would be able to walk normally again, according to Jeff Shainberg.

"They don’t know where or when it occurs," Jeff Shainberg said of the inflammation's cause. "They didn’t have any way to trace it....They didn’t find any infections in the spinal fluid."

The teen's father said doctors told the family that if Jessica wasn't able to walk within about six weeks then she was unlikely ever to be able to walk again.

For a week, Jeff Shainberg said that his daughter showed no improvement. Then, he said, she was suddenly able to feel a tingling sensation in her toes again. While just a small improvement, the teen was sure that she could recover.

"I was like, 'There we go, there we go,'" Jessica Shainberg told ABC News affiliate WKRN-TV in Nashville. "That’s the building block to everything else I’ll be doing."

To help the teen rehabilitate her legs in the short time frame, the family traveled to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital. During the weeks of rehabilitation, the teen surpassed all of her doctor's expectations, according to her father.

"Every day she’s getting better and stronger. It’s a miracle," said Jeff Shainberg. "She just always had a great attitude and was willing to do the work with the therapist. They loved her attitude and they wanted to work with her continuously."

Now the teen, an honor roll student and tennis player, is not only walking, she's been able to do some light running.

In Atlanta, doctors also realized that Jessica had signs of a rare inflammation of the brain, called Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), in addition to her inflamed spinal column, according to Jeff Shainberg. The second diagnosis could explain why she was able to recover relatively quickly, because patients with ADEM tend to have better recovery rates.

"The doctors didn’t expect her to recover like that," said Shainberg. "They were so impressed with her rehab. They hadn’t seen a patient like this in a while."

For now, the high school freshman remains out of school while she gets her strength back. Her father said she has a walker and wheelchair -- but never uses either unless she's standing for a long period of time and needs to sit.

"I’m so blessed and lucky to be able to be walking again," Jessica Shainberg told WKRN-TV.

While the teen is likely to start school in a few weeks, her father said doctors are keeping a close eye on her as she recovers. If the rare symptoms reappear again, there's a chance it could be a sign of multiple sclerosis.


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Chloe Rutzerveld's 3-D Printed 'Snack of the Future' Is Natural and Delicious

Chloe Rutzerveld(NEW YORK) -- Most people don’t associate high-tech, 3-D printed food with health or taste. Dutch food designer Chloé Rutzerveld hopes to change that perception.

Rutzerveld said her new Edible Growth project, which imagines 3-D printing an elegant yet healthy and natural hors d'oeuvre, is truly “food for thought.”

“[It’s] an example of high-tech but fully natural, healthy, and sustainable food made possible by combining aspects of nature, science, technology and design,” she explained.

The basket shapes will be printed using a gelatin-like, vegan-friendly protein known as agar. As it comes out of the printer, the center will be stuffed with seeds, spores and yeast. After a few days the baskets will sprout a tasty crop of seedlings and mushrooms. It is the consumer’s choice at which stage they choose to eat them, Rutzerveld said.

As the appetizers roll out the printer, Rutzerveld said, it is easy to see the straight lines of technology.

"But as it develops, you can see organic shapes. You can see the stages of growth and the development of taste and flavor," she said.

Right now Edible Growth is just a concept. Rutzerveld said 3-D printing is not sophisticated enough yet to produce something quite so complex. She said it will be some time before printed food moves beyond using anything more complicated than sugar, dough or chocolate.

“It seems as if it's easy,” she told ABC News, “but it's not, actually.”

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Scopes that Spread UCLA 'Superbug' Were Awaiting FDA Clearance

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(LOS ANGELES) -- The manufacturer of the scopes that spread a drug-resistant "superbug" to seven California patients had tweaked the scopes' design and was selling them without federal permission to do so, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Seven people have become infected with the drug-resistant "superbug" known as CRE at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center after undergoing endoscopy procedures, and CRE may have played a role in two of those patients' deaths, hospital officials said in February, adding that 179 people were exposed to the germ at UCLA.

The scopes -- called duodenoscopes, which are inserted by mouth to access patients' small intestine, the pancreas and the liver -- were new and had only been in use since June, health officials said last month. Officials added that the scopes were cleaned in accordance with manufacturer guidelines. The hospital said it traced the bacteria back to two endoscopes manufactured by Olympus Corporation of the Americas.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, Olympus had tweaked the design of its duodenoscopes and sold them without seeking clearance from the FDA to do so. Manufacturers are supposed to notify the FDA of design changes 90 days before marketing an altered device, according to the FDA website.

It was not immediately clear what Olympus changed about the scopes' design or whether that change could have made the scopes more likely to harbor bacteria or more difficult to clean and sanitize -- and the FDA was not immediately able to clarify.

In March 2014, the FDA notified Olympus that it needed the additional clearance before selling the altered devices, but the manufacturer did not submit the request for clearance until October, the FDA told ABC News. The submission is still "pending" because the FDA asked for more data.

The FDA noted two other companies make duodenoscopes, and FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley told ABC News, "It's important to understand that we have received reports of infections associated with the duodenoscopes manufactured by all three device companies."

The Food and Drug Administration told ABC News last month that it has been aware of cleaning issues and bacterial transmissions associated with duodenoscopes for more than a year.

"The CDC first alerted the FDA to a potential association of multi-drug resistant bacteria and duodenoscopes in fall 2013," an agency spokesperson told ABC News. "The FDA has been actively working with federal partners, manufacturers and other stakeholders to better understand the issues that contribute to the infections and what can be done to mitigate them."

The FDA issued a safety communication about the duodenoscopes following the UCLA CRE cases, explaining that duodenoscopes are used in about 500,000 procedures a year, but meticulous cleaning and disinfecting "may not entirely eliminate" the risk of transmitting infection. From January 2012 through December 2014, the FDA received reports of 135 patients suspected of contracting germs from reprocessed duodenoscopes, the agency said.

According to the CDC, almost every state has had a confirmed case of CRE, but state health departments are not required to notify the CDC about CRE infections. Duodenoscope-related CRE outbreaks similar to the one at UCLA have occurred recently in Chicago, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

Olympus did not respond to repeated requests for comments about the FDA's assertion that the scopes lacked FDA clearance, but the company said in a statement to ABC News last month that it was aware of reports involving its duodenoscopes, and was working with the FDA, medical organizations and customers to address concerns. It was also making supplemental educational materials available to customers.

"While all endoscopes, including duodenoscopes, require thorough reprocessing after patient use in order to be safe, the Olympus TJF-Q180V requires careful attention to cleaning and reprocessing steps, including meticulous manual cleaning, to ensure effective reprocessing," the company said.

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Family of Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Now Fighting to Change State Law

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- A family that had to go to court to get a brain-dead woman taken off life support is now fighting to change Texas law so other families won’t have to go through the same ordeal.

The family of Marlise Munoz is working with Texas lawmakers to craft a new bill that could make it easier for families to have end-of-life decisions in regards to a pregnant woman, according to a new documentary in production currently titled, The Pregnancy Exclusion.

“I just don’t think the government can make this decision for anybody,” Munoz’s husband, Eric Munoz, says in a clip from the upcoming film.

Eric Munoz did not immediately respond to a request for further comment made through the film producers.

The case of Marlise Munoz made international headlines after the 33-year-old pregnant paramedic was declared brain dead. While Munoz’s family wanted her taken off life support, a Fort Worth, Texas, hospital refused after citing a little-known state law that prohibited removing “life-sustaining” treatment for a pregnant patient.

The family eventually won the case in January 2014 after a judge ruled the law did not apply to Munoz because she was already deceased.

The Pregnancy Exclusion, follows the family as they figure out how to navigate the state legislature system in the hopes they can change the law itself.

Eric Munoz talks in the film about what it was like to see his wife put on life support after being declared brain dead.

“You have a body there and you try to respect it and talk to it, but then at the same time you’re like she’s passed away, she’s dead,” he says in a clip that has been made available in advance. “So you talk in your head like she can listen to you in Heaven.”

Munoz said at some point he could tell his wife was deteriorating under life support.

“Her hands went from being pliable to being very rigid, very stiff," he said. "You’re seeing a body slowly deteriorate.”

Munoz, along with his parents-in-law, faced international scrutiny as both pro- and anti-abortion advocates took on the case.

“You hear people say, ‘You’re a monster to you’re going to hell,’” Eric Munoz says in a film clip. “'Why isn’t he thinking about the baby?’ ...[People] literally accused me of murder.”

The fight over how the law perceives the rights of incapacitated pregnant women is likely to continue for some time. Last month, a Republican state lawmaker introduced a bill that would make it illegal to stop life-sustaining treatment for a pregnant woman even if there is “irreversible cessation of all spontaneous brain function.”

Rebecca Haimowitz, director of The Pregnancy Exclusion, said the family is preparing to testify against that bill once it is brought up in a hearing.

“The family has gone on this journey from their own personal tragedy and to activism,” said Haimowitz. “They certainly didn’t ask for it.”

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Your Gluten-Free Diet May Be a Tax Write-Off

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Cutting bread from your diet could potentially save you some bread on your taxes, financial experts say.

While diet gurus debate the health merits for the average person of avoiding the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and barley grains, no one disputes the extra cost. On average, the gluten-free versions of many foods were 242 percent pricier than the regular products in one National Institutes of Health study.

But Mark Luscombe, a principal federal tax analyst for the tax publisher CCH, said some of the additional expense of going gluten-free may be a legitimate tax write-off.

“If you have a recognized disease where gluten-free foods help manage the condition and you have a certification from your doctor, you may be able to take a deduction," Luscombe said.

This could be good news for the 1 percent of the population with celiac disease, a diagnosed intolerance to gluten that causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms and increases the risk of some cancers. They should be able to write off the extra cost of buying gluten-free items plus the cost of shipping if they buy them online. Foods that contain xanthan gum and sorghum flour can be fully deducted because they have no gluten-filled alternative.

As for the other 30 percent of Americans who, according to the consumer research group NDP, avoid gluten because they believe they have some sort of insensitivity to it? Luscombe said he doubted such a write-off would fly.

Even someone with celiac will have to work hard for the tax break, Luscombe said. They will need a note from their doctor and they will have to keep meticulous track of how much more they spend on gluten-free products than on other similar products, he added.

That means saving all receipts and making notes of price differences. In addition, to get any deduction, all medical expenses must exceed 10 percent of gross adjusted income or 7.5 percent for people older than 65, Luscombe said.

For those who can clear all those hurdles, using medically sanctioned dietary restrictions as a tax write off does have the support of the Internal Revenue Service, Luscombe said. IRS Information Letter 2011-0035 states: "The excess cost of specially prepared foods designed to treat a medical condition over the cost of ordinary foods which would have been consumed but for the condition is an expense for medical care."

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Flat Shoes Linked to Women's Foot Problems

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For many women, sensible, comfortable flats are a wardrobe staple.

Despite the shoes’ popularity, however, some experts have a warning. They say some types of flats can lead to a host of potential health problems, including toe infection, that could even require surgery.

The damage is caused when tight, pointy-toed flats put pressure on toenails, causing them to bend and become ingrown. In some cases, if the situation is left untreated it could lead to bone infection.

It happened to 17-year-old Hannah Butler. The Illinois teen had to resort to surgery to remove an ingrown toenail caused by repeated use of the wrong flats.

“I brought my shoes in to my doctor…he figured that that was causing the multiple ingrown toenails,” she said.

Experts say the problem happens because most women are unaware of what some flats are really doing to their feet.

“It's funny because so many women think they're better off wearing flats than heels but in reality…flats can be worse than heels 100 times over,” Dr. Marlene Reid, a podiatrist and spokeswoman for the American Podiatric Medical Association, said.

But you don’t have to get rid of flats altogether from your wardrobe. Experts say you should wear flats with rounded or squared-shapes toes. It gives toes wiggle room and alleviates pressure on the big toe.

Reid said there are many different styles of flat shoes available.

“Flats come in all different styles, all different types, all different construction,” Reid said. “There are flats that are more flimsy than what we consider regular flats.”

“You have to look at the shoe itself to determine if it's the right shoe for you,” she said.

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Everybody's Gone Biking USA

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Believe it or not, pretty soon it’ll be nice enough in most areas of the country to get outside and do things that don’t involve shivering and shoveling.

One of America’s favorite outdoor pastimes, according to a study commissioned for the nonprofit PeopleForBikes, happens to be bicycling.

Contrary to other reports that indicated participation is far lower, PeopleForBikes says that just over a third of Americans ages three and up rode a bike at least once last year.

PeopleForBikes’ President Tim Blumenthal says its U.S. Bicycling Participation Benchmarking Report is comprehensive whereas other studies seem to focus on single aspects of bicycling. Blumenthal says his study covers recreational biking, transportation riding and other uses for bikes.

But even though 57 percent of people who biked in 2014 did so for recreation, the study found that 48 percent of Americans don’t have access to bikes and 52 percent are concerned about the danger of getting into an accident with a vehicle.

However, Blumenthal says he sees plenty of potential in reaching millions of people who otherwise might not think biking is in their spring and summer plans.

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Doctors Delivering Bad News Seen as Lacking Compassion

iStock/Thinkstock(HOUSTON) — A sign that reads “Don’t shoot the messenger” should be hung on the wall of your doctor’s office along with his or her diplomas.

After all, delivering a particularly upsetting diagnosis shouldn’t be blamed on your physician although some patients seem to think otherwise.

In a study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Dr. Eduardo Bruera says that the bearer of bad news, in this case a doctor, is often viewed as less compassionate than one who has a more positive diagnosis.

Bruera had 100 cancer patients view a video in which a doctor told someone that he had run out of options to treat the disease and another in which some treatment options were available. Overall, the doctor with the better news was viewed as more compassionate than the other doctor.

Meanwhile, 57 patients said they’d personally rather hear their doctor present more optimistic news compared to 22 patients who felt it was better to get the worst case scenario.

Bruera said his findings might explain why physicians tend to be hesitant about delivering bad news even when they try to do so in an empathic way.

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Even a Good Dog Doesn't Have Much of a Good Memory

iStock/Thinkstock(STOCKHOLM) — Your dog might be a good boy but boy, don’t count on him to remember too much.

That’s the advice from Stockholm University and Brooklyn College researchers who conducted memory experiments on various animals as well as birds and insects and yes, people too.

Overall, the average memory for all animals is around 27 seconds. Surprisingly, the memory of chimps only lasted 20 seconds, worse than that of rats. Humans were the best, thankfully, remembering stimulus from two days earlier.

As for dogs, the best they could do was remember an event from two minutes earlier, which was at the high end. Dogs actually are very good when it comes to specialized memories, such as where you hid a treat or toy.

However, don’t expect them to remember a visit to the park. They just don’t have the capacity to recall events, which may be a blessing in disguise if you got chased out of the park for not keeping your mutt on a leash.

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Sad Movies Can Compel Mindless Snacking

iStock/Thinkstock(ITHACA, N.Y.) — If you enjoy movies that bring a tear to your eye, you also enjoy eating. Or perhaps, you don’t realize you’re stuffing your face more while watching sad films as opposed to comedies.

In a Cornell Food and Brand Lab study of movies watched over last Thanksgiving, people consumed 28 percent more popcorn while watching the old tearjerker Love Story than the comedy Sweet Home Alabama.

That particular study was conducted in a lab. Researchers also went dumpster diving outside movie theaters in seven cities where they gathered both emptied popcorn boxes and discarded popcorn and again discovered that 55 percent more popcorn was eaten during a sad movie as opposed to the comedy, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

How does lead researcher Brian Wansink explain this phenomenon? His theory is that eating can be triggered by emotion and people will eat more to compensate for sadness. It doesn’t necessarily have to be junk food either. People will also chow down on veggies and fruits if they’re around.

Therefore, if you are worried about mindless eating, Wansink recommends, “Keep snacks out of arms reach, ideally leave them in the kitchen and only bring to the couch what you intend to eat.”

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Mom With Terminal Cancer Blogs Fight for Her Life

WCIV-TV(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- New mom Whitney Cox's doctors may have put an expiration date on her life, but she's determined to beat their expectations and inspire others with her new, and popular, blog.

The 27-year-old mother of two was diagnosed with stage IV cancer shortly after the holidays. At first, doctors thought it was lymphoma, which would have been curable. But they soon learned they didn't know where the cancer originated, and it was aggressive, she wrote.

They gave her six months to live without treatment, she wrote on her blog. If she underwent chemotherapy, she could have five years.

"I was doing the math in my head about how old they [her children] would be when I was supposed to die and I just -- it broke my heart," she told ABC News Charleston, South Carolina, affiliate WCIV-TV.

Her daughter is 6 and her son is 6 months old. WCIV-TV was there when photographers snapped their first official family portrait as a family of four. Cox said she was hoping to do it before her hair fell out, but she was bald and beautiful for the cameras.

Since Cox started her blog a week ago, more than 12,000 people have viewed the posts about her journey with stage IV cancer. She writes that she hopes to renew others' faith in God through her experience and that she's praying for a miracle.

"I want people to realize how precious life is and how quickly it can be taken away from us," she wrote in a post. "I want them to value their time on this earth with their families. I want them to hug their children a little tighter. I want them to believe in miracles, because I will get my miracle."


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