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Five Thanksgiving Health Hazards to Avoid


Tetra Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Along with turkey and stuffing, Thanksgiving serves up plenty of health hazards.

While the deadliest day of the year is Christmas, according to one University of California San Diego study, Thanksgiving has more than its share of pitfalls.

Read on for five big ones:

Car Accidents

This year, the National Safety Council predicted, there will be 418 traffic fatalities and another 44,700 injuries from car crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. That’s down from a high of nearly 500 crash-related deaths in 2008.

More than 40 percent of holiday car accidents involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Safety Association. But more than 150 lives will be saved by seatbelts, the NSC said.

Holiday Heart Syndrome

Over-indulging on turkey day wine, especially if you’re older and obese, can disrupt regular heart rhythms leading to “Holiday Heart Syndrome” an American Heart Journal study showed way back in 1978.

Further strain on the ticker comes from digesting a massive meal. As a recent University of California study found, cheering for a losing football team resulted in a 15 percent spike in heart attacks among men and a 27 percent spike among women.

Fires

More than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving Day, U.S. Fire Administration statistics revealed.

One culprit: Deep-fried turkeys. Each year, they cause approximately five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes and more than $15 million in property damage, the National Fire Protection Association reported.

Food Safety

Americans will consume 51 million turkeys on Thursday, Food Safety News reported. And if the bird isn’t fresh or properly cooked, many of them also risk serving up a side of salmonella.

Cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is the best way to avoid poisoning, FSN advised. As for leftovers, store them within two hours or toss them.

Pets

Because turkey bones splinter, they can may choke dogs or cats, the Veterinary Medical Association warned.

Dogs should also be kept away from any dish that contains onions, leeks or garlic because they are known to damage canine red blood cells. Likewise, raisins and grapes can induce kidney failure. And chocolate, especially vast amounts of the dark variety, can lead to serious gastrointestinal symptoms and even death in dogs.

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'Bleachorexia': Dentist Warns About Dangers of Overbleaching Teeth


Jose Luis Pelaez Inc./Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Mia St. John is obsessed with getting whiter, cleaner teeth.

The five-time World Boxing Council champion in the super welterweight division said her quest for pearly whites grew so extreme she was brushing and bleaching constantly until her dentist intervened.

“He said my teeth could basically turn to mush just because I was destroying the enamel,” she said.

The obsession for megawatt smiles and using over-the-counter whiteners is now leading to what many dentists are calling “bleachorexia.”

Laurence Rifkin, a cosmetic dentist in Los Angeles, said overbleaching is common and can lead to receding gums and oversensitivity. Too much bleaching can also have a reverse effect, leaving teeth with a darker appearance, he also said.

“Too much of a good thing is really bad,” he said.

In extreme cases, Rifkin said, he’s even heard of people rubbing Clorox bleach on their teeth.

“It's good for surfaces and cleaning, but not in the mouth or even on the skin. It's very caustic,” he said.

The American Dental Association recommends that people who choose to use a bleaching product do so only after consultation with a dentist.

Rifkin said overbleaching can cause irreversible damage. “Once the enamel has been chemically eroded away, then it’s gone, it’s gone forever,” he said.

St. John got the message.

“To say that I'm no longer obsessed with my teeth would be a lie, but I have it under control now,” she said.

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Facebook Envy Leads Moms to 'Financial Insecurity'


Dan Kitwood/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Showing off on social media isn't just for the rich kids of Instagram. New research shows the majority of moms feel pressure to appear well off on social media.

For every day people -- moms included -- a daily visit to Facebook is often an assault of cyber friends' new cars, expensive strollers and pricey family vacations.

"Keeping up with the Joneses is actually keeping up with the e-Jonses, thanks to Instagram and thanks to Facebook," said Laura Gelman, lifestyle contributor for BabyCenter.com.

It all leads to what experts call financial insecurity. BabyCenter's Cost of Raising a Child Report found 60 percent of moms feel pressure to appear well off on social media as well as envy or embarrassment about their own financial situation.

Nicole Perez, mom of a 6-year-old tot, said the constant influx of material possessions on social media "makes you feel as if you are a failure as a mother. It's heartbreaking when your child says 'mom, when you get enough money can I get that toy?'"

Perez said that family trips to Disney are all over her Facebook news feed, something that's just not possible in her current financial situation.

She's not alone. Colleen, a mom of two who preferred to use her first name only, admitted to "a habit of checking out the material 'clues' in the backgrounds of people's Facebook photos: kitchen cabinets or expensive furniture. I suppose it sort of creates a 'keeping up with the Joneses' feeling, and I'm sure I'm projecting all sorts of comparisons that might not even be there."

Gelman said beyond the emotional stress these feeling can cause, there are very real financial concerns.

"There's a lot of maxing out of credit cards and buying things you can't afford. Which is really unfortunate just so you can go online and say 'look what I've done for my kids,'" she said.

Robin Danks is a recently divorced mom of two who tries to see beyond what she sees on social media.

"You take every picture like that on Facebook and I think you uncrop it. And what do you see outside of that? Every one of us is going to have something outside of that, whether it be the child that takes an hour and a half to do 20 minutes of homework or the sick parent in the next room or the empty alcohol bottle. There's something in everyone's life," Danks said.

While quitting social media is always an option, it's not an option for everyone.

"No way could I quit," said Perez. "I'm too nosy. Also there are good things about it -- seeing happy families enjoying themselves, that's a beautiful thing. It's not their fault it makes me feel bad."

Danks also agreed getting off social media wasn't something she wanted to do.

For anyone who has been in the dumps after being on social media, she said, "I would suggest people really think about their life. There's at least one good thing in your life that you can't buy with money and instead focus on how important that is."

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Improper Use of ADHD Drugs Rampant in Colleges


The Image Bank/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- For decades, college students have taken over-the-counter stimulants to stay awake and illegal drugs for recreational use to wind down from their studies.

However, the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids says the latest problem on college campuses involves students using prescription medications to keep up with the demands of the classroom.

All in all, about 20 percent of respondents to the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids survey say they've taken prescription drugs at least once while half in that group admit they do it in an effort to boost grades.

Often, they'll eschew coffee and energy drinks when pulling an all-nighter and instead take Ritalin and Adderall, which are used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

However, while these drugs are known to improve attention and concentration, there have been previous studies that dispute the belief that Ritalin and Adderall also help students improve their grades, whether they suffer from ADHD or not.

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Thanks to Hipsters, "Beard Net" Sales on the Rise


Stone/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Hipsters haven't exactly been known for their hygiene, but that seems to be changing.

The Daily Mail is reporting that sales of “beard nets” have skyrocketed in the U.K. and abroad thanks to scruffy hipster dudes working in the food industry. It seems their penchant for bushy beards poses a problem while preparing and packaging food. One company in particular is addressing it.

Lion Haircare & Disposables said they have invested in more staff and equipment to keep up with demand of the beard guards. The Nottingham-based company supplies the nets globally and they’ve even introduced a new line of them with built-in antibacterial agents. They now sell over three million “beard nets” annually.

“The rise in demand seems to be coming from a combination of factors,” said Adrian Wright, chief operating officer at the firm. “Trends towards more facial hair, whether that is full beard or the stubble look and increasing quality assurance demands during food preparation. The two aspects go hand in hand.”

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Report: Going Gluten-Free Is Not for Everybody


Moment/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- So you're into a gluten-free diet. So what?

Consumer Reports says that many Americans have got the wrong idea if they believe gluten-free foods are always the best choices.

The magazine doesn't dispute the fact that people with Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine, can develop more complications if they consume foods containing white flour, whole wheat flour or semolina, for instance.

However, Laura Moore, a dietitian at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, told Consumer Reports, "If you go completely gluten-free without the guidance of a nutritionist, you can develop deficiencies pretty quickly."

Among the drawbacks about going gluten-free without knowing all the facts is that a diet may cost more plus leave people susceptible to weight gain as well as boost exposure to arsenic.

Ultimately, Consumer Reports says it's important to read the labels of gluten-free products because some may contain more sugar, sodium and calories than other foods.

The right diet, says the magazine, is one that includes whole grains and whole foods like fruit, vegetables, lean meat and poultry, fish, dairy, legumes and nuts.

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It's Good to See Eye-to-Eye with Your Restaurant Chef


Cultura/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Apparently, one way to improve your restaurant experience is by making eye contact with the chef before placing your order.

A small Harvard research project reveals that cooks who can observe their guests dished out markedly better meals than when customers were out of their sight.

The findings were culled after Harvard Business School doctoral student Tami Kim and Chia-Jung Tsay, an assistant professor at University College London, set up four successive experiments in a working cafeteria over a two-week period.

The experiments included diners and cooks who couldn't view one another; diners able to see the cooks; cooks able to see the diners; and finally, diners and cooks making eye contact. Following each meal, diners rated their experience.

Kim and Tsay found that although customer satisfaction increased by ten percent when the cook could see the guests in the dining area, satisfaction went up 17.3 percent and service was 13.2 percent faster when they were able to see one another.

They attributed the improved experience to chefs feeling more motivated and inspired by seeing patrons. Still, not all restaurants should begin breaking down kitchen walls just yet since the researchers acknowledged that much more comprehensive study is necessary.

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Nearly Everyone Sides with Those Forced to Work Thanksgiving


OJO Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thanksgiving Day shopping is just three days away.

With more retailers than ever throwing open their doors on a day which once meant a holiday for everyone, PBS.org has conducted a poll to ask whether retailers should remain open on Thursday.

Apparently, Americans feel a lot of compassion for those who have to work Thanksgiving Day because about 98 percent of the 12,300 respondents have thus far agreed, "No, employees should be able to spend Thanksgiving at home."

"Yes, it's nice to have another option for Black Friday sales" received about 1.5 percent of the vote with the remaining few said they were "Unsure."

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Study: 1.2 Million Veterans Have No Health Insurance


ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Researchers from New York University and the Harvard School of Public Health say that more than one million veterans have no health insurance.

According to the study, published in the journal Lancet, more than 1.2 million veterans have no health insurance and less than 50 percent of U.S. veterans receive benefits through the Department of Veterans Affairs. The lack of veteran insurance is at least in part due to a simple lack of enrollment. A number of veterans, though, have not been able to sign up, as they live in states that have opted out of the ACA Medicare expansion.

The Veterans Affairs health care system doesn't fully pay for health insurance for all veterans.

The study noted that the veterans with the largest risk for remaining uninsured are young, low-income African American veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Still, researchers believe that all veterans can be covered if the resources are used properly.

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Talk Therapy Could Lower Suicide Rate


Credit: Tetra Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Researchers say simple talk therapy could help to noticeably lower patients' risk of suicide.

According to a study published in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, researchers in Denmark analyzed data from over 60,000 patients who had recently tried to commit suicide. Some of the participants were given talk therapy, while others were given no therapy.

Researchers found that both one year and ten years later, those patients who had undergone talk therapy had a decrease in subsequent suicide attempts. In those receiving no therapy, about nine percent tried to commit suicide a second time, compared to about seven percent in those who had talk therapy.

Researchers estimate that for every 44 patients receiving talk therapy, one life would be saved.

It's not clear what aspect of the therapy directly lowered the suicide rate.

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Two Children Test Negative for Ebola in Ohio


Credit: Martin Barraud/Getty Images(COLUMBUS, Ohio) --  Two young children who were admitted to an Ohio hospital today after they developed fevers following a trip to West Africa have tested negative for Ebola, health officials said.

Two sisters, ages 4 and 6, were taken to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus early Sunday morning after they showed signs of a fever, Jose Rodriguez, director of public affairs and communications for the Columbus Public Health Department.

Instead, the girls tested positive for Influenza A, Rodriguez said.

Before the test results came back, the two were kept in isolation and received supportive care, Jose Rodriguez, director of public affairs and communications for the Columbus Public Health Department, said today.

Besides testing the girls for Ebola and flu, doctors also tested them for other respiratory illnesses, including enterovirus D68, Rodriguez said.

The girls' mother was not held in isolation. She was not identified as a high-risk individual, Rodriguez said, because she was not in Sierra Leone as a health care worker.

The girls returned from Sierra Leone 17 days ago, Rodriguez said. Since returning, their temperatures have been monitored twice daily.

The Columbus Health Department was working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state health department on the situation.

Sierra Leone is one of the four countries hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

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Hookah Use Linked to Increased Presence of Chemical Linked to Cancer


Credit: Image Source/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A study conducted by researchers in San Diego found a link between hookah smoking an a toxin that has been known to cause cancer.

According to the study, published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, urine samples taken from a group of hookah smokers and non-smokers were tested to determine the amount of benzene in their body. Benzene, a chemical that has been linked to certain cancers, including leukemia, is often found in higher amounts in the bodies of those who smoke cigarettes.

Researchers said that the participants in their study who had smoked hooked had benzene byproducts in their systems at nearly 30 times the amount as in non-smokers. All participants were tested following a lounge event.

It was not clear whether a link exists between hookah use and an increased risk of leukemia.

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Generic Drug Prices Skyrocketing, Lawmakers Warn


iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The prices of some common generic drugs have skyrocketed in recent years, but the reasons remain murky, lawmakers said.

The hearing of the Senate subcommittee on primary health and aging on Thursday was called after Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings announced they were investigating why some generic drug prices have risen hundreds to thousands of percent -- putting a severe strain on the pocketbooks of many people who rely on generics to reduce costs compared to brand-name drugs.

To combat the rising prices, Sanders said he was introducing a bill that would require generic drug makers to pay a rebate to Medicaid if the cost increases faster than inflation.

The prices of more than 1,200 generic medications increased an average of 448 percent between July 2013 and July 2014, Sanders said during the hearing, citing federal records.

Among the drugs cited by Sanders and Cummings was a popular asthma medication, albuterol sulfate, which increased in price over 40 fold for two tablets, from $11 to $434, between October 2013 and April 2014, according to data from the Healthcare Supply Chain Association, a trade association representing multi-hospital systems, health care provider alliances and purchasing groups, among others.

Another drug, an antibiotic called doxycycline hyclate, rose in price from an average of $20 to $1,849 per bottle between October 2013 and April 2014 -- a more-than 90-fold increase -- according to data from the association.

Other medications for blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart attacks increased in price between three-fold and 40-fold, association data showed.

Sanders and Cummings sent letters in October to various pharmaceutical companies asking for comment about price increases and invited officials from three companies to testify at Thursday's hearing, but none of them agreed to attend, Sanders said.

But in a statement, the CEO of Generic Pharmaceutical Association called the proposed legislation "misguided."

CEO Ralph Neas said the findings were too narrowly focused on just 10 drugs "in a marketplace of more than 12,000 safe, affordable generic medicines."

"In actuality, generic drugs continue to be a resounding success in lowering health care costs and benefiting patients," wrote Neas, who also noted that generic drugs saved consumers $239 billion in 2013 over brand-name drugs, an increase of 14 percent from 2012.

Neas suggested a more competitive marketplace and a more timely review of drug applications by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration could help lower prices.

Rob Frankil, a pharmacist and member of the National Community Pharmacists Association, testified that one patient accused him of price gouging after his heart failure medication went up from $15 to $120 for a 90-day supply.

"That's an increase of 800 [percent]," Frankil told the lawmakers.

A January survey of 1,000 NCPA members found that more than three-quarters of the pharmacists reported higher prices on more than 25 generic drugs, with the prices spiking by 600 percent to 2,000 percent in certain cases.

"I'm seeing it in real dollars and cents on my invoices," Frankil said.

A patient, Carol Ann Riha, of Des Moines, Iowa, testified that her prescription costs have increased from $849 to more than $1,700 due to price increases.

"How can anyone on a fixed income deal with these vagaries in the system?" Riha said in written testimony. "You sure can't budget for costs that change month-to-month. And it's not a few pennies, as you can see. These are significant percentages."

Manisha Solanki, a pharmacy owner who was not at the hearing, told ABC News that he's seen generic medications priced similarly to their name-brand counterparts.

"I've had people postpone getting a medication, so if they're supposed to get it this week and they don't have the funds to pay for it they'll say, 'Okay, let me wait a few days. Let me wait till this comes up. Let me see if I have more funds,'" Solanki said. "So we see them slowly pushing back when they should be taking it."

Panelists and lawmakers debated at the hearing whether regulation by the FDA could be contributing to the price hikes, but Dr. Aaron Kesselheim of the Harvard School of Medicine said that was unlikely to be the sole reason.

"These regulatory issues have been around for a very long time, and this is a new issue so I can't see how this is a regulatory issue," Kesselheim said. "I think we all want high quality, safe drugs and we want the FDA to monitor the safety of our drug supply. ...I see this as a market failure and a bunch of individual market failures, in some cases."

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Wool Workout Wear Warms You Up, Cools You Down


Minus33(NEW YORK) -- You've relied on wool socks and sweaters to stay warm during cold weather months. And now, the natural fiber is making its way from your winter wear into your gym clothes.

It might sound strange, but manufacturers are going full steam ahead with the trend.

"When you think of wool, you think of old scratchy sweaters your grandmother used to give you and that just isn't the case anymore," said Craig Sexton, marketing and assistant sales manager at Minus33, an online shop selling wool workout wear. "Merino wool is ultra-soft, natural and provides ultimate performance in almost any setting."

Typically, athletic clothing is made from man-made materials such as spandex, Lycra and polyester. But according to Sexton, wool workout wear outperforms familiar fitness fabrics in many ways.

"While synthetics are passive, Merino wool is active, reacting to changes in body temperature to keep you warm when you're cold, but releasing heat and moisture when you're hot,” he said, noting that wool performs equally well during indoor and outdoor workouts. "The best part is that wool naturally reduces chafing, odor and dries incredibly fast."

Because of its benefits, high-profile companies are incorporating Merino wool into their fitness apparel.

"Lululemon and Nike are keeping up and other brands will continue to surprise us by pushing the boundaries," said celebrity fitness expert Lacey Stone. "I've seen the trend [Merino wool] worn in my classes and I actually love it."

Other labels, including Adidas and Icebreaker, currently have wool exercise leggings and running shirts in their lines.

Sexton said he is confident that the trend will continue to grow.

"Once consumers try the product, they don't go back," he said.

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Why Heavy Drinking Doesn't Make You An Alcoholic


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Heavy drinking does not make you an alcoholic, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While one out of three adults drink excessively, Dr. William Brewer with the CDC says 90% of adults aren't booze-dependent because they don't have the chronic medical condition of alcohol dependency.

However, he says, "that doesn't mean that the drinking that they're doing isn't still putting themselves and others at risk of harm."

Every year, 88,000 people in the United States die from excessive drinking.

So how many glasses of wine or bottles of beer are safe to drink? For women, that is no more than one drink a day, and for men, no more than two a day.

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