Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- New research suggests we may still be a long way from understanding how the anti-cancer drug bexarotene works in Alzheimer's patients, if at all.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University last year reported in a study that bexarotene improved memory and quickly cleared amyloid plaques from the brains of mice with Alzheimer’s. Since the drug is already approved for use in T-cell lymphoma, a number of doctors began treating their Alzheimer’s patients with the $14,000-per-year drug in an off-label use. But new mouse research that attempts to replicate the results of last year’s study has failed to show similar results.
Out of four mouse studies, three showed no improvements in memory or in the clearance of amyloid plaques. In a fourth mouse study, conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, mice treated with the drug were able to perform as well cognitively as their non-Alzheimer’s counterparts within 10 days after initiation of treatment. Still, this study did not show the same affects on amyloid plaques as the study from last year.
Given the results of the new research, FDA approval of bexarotene in humans with Alzheimer's may be further off than initially thought.
Copyright 2013 ABC News
Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Trans fatty acids -- they're in many of our favorite comfort foods. But nutrition and diet experts will likely tell you to cut back on foods high in trans fats to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and cut heart disease risk. According to a new study, manufacturers of popular food brands could be doing a better job of cutting back on fatty acid content.
Researchers report that progress on eliminating trans fats in processed foods has stalled following years of food manufacturers reformulating products to reduce or eliminate these artery-clogging fats. The rate of reduction in trans fats fell from 30 percent in 2007 to 2008 to 12 percent in 2008 to 2010, and down to three percent in 2010 to 2011.
Even low levels of these fats can promote heart disease by raising LDL (bad) cholesterol and lowering HDL (good) cholesterol. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting trans fat consumption to less than one percent of your total daily calories. In other words, if you need 2,000 calories a day, "no more than 20 of those calories [less than 2 grams] should come from trans fats," AHA says.
The majority of trans fats in the food industry come from produced partially hydrogenated oil, found in foods like French fries, heavily buttered or seasoned popcorn, pies and margarines.
Researchers from the Center for Science in the Public Interest studied 270 brand-name products with at least half-gram trans fat from 2007 to 2011 to track their trans fat content. By 2011, they found two-thirds of the products had reduced their trans fat content, but half the reformulated products still contained some partially hydrogenated oil.
In all products studied, the average trans fat content decreased by about half from 1.9 to 0.9 grams per serving.
So how can you tell whether you're staying within the daily recommended amounts of fatty acids? The AHA suggests you start by reading the nutritional facts panel on foods when grocery shopping and replacing trans fats in your diet with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Dr. Besser does the crow yoga pose to prove you don't have to be flexible to do yoga. (ABC News)
By ABC's Dr. Richard Besser
(NEW YORK) -- I always thought that of yoga as something only done by young, lithe ballet enthusiasts. It was definitely not something practiced by uncoordinated, middle-aged guys who can’t touch their toes. Put me in the latter category and add to that that I’m nearly six-and-a-half feet tall and have had two back operations.
But my wife, Jeanne, is nothing if not persistent when it comes to me and exercise. Twenty years ago she convinced me to try step aerobics, eventually persuading me that it was okay to be the only guy in a class of women who seemed to have stepped from a chorus line. I hid in the back row where it didn’t matter that I was often a beat behind everyone else. And, over time, I learned the moves, got a great workout and improved my sense of timing.
Seven years ago, Jeanne decided that I should try yoga. I’ve had lower back issues since I was a teenager (while extreme height is great for seeing over crowds, it does put strain on the lower lumbar vertebrae), and in my mid-thirties, I blew a couple of disks and ended up having two back operations. What little flexibility I once had pretty much vanished. On a good day, I could touch my knees. But my toes? Well, I could see them, but to touch them I’d have to sit down.
I agreed to try a yoga class and came away totally discouraged. I couldn’t do anything! Then Jeanne got me one of the best birthday gifts I’ve ever received: a six-class pass for a workshop called, “Yoga for the Stiff Guy.” It was taught by two women who could double as stand-up comics, and the class was full of guys like me: tight hamstrings and a lot of pride.
The instructors eased our entry into the world of yoga with laughter as we learned down dog, up dog, mountain and tree. We focused on learning how to breathe and listen to our bodies. We learned to put aside the drive to compete with others and shift the focus to our inner selves.
I took the workshop three times before I felt comfortable launching myself into a class with the flexibly-gifted. Now, I continue to practice yoga. I’m still in the back row where I won’t distract others, and I use a bunch of blocks and straps to modify the poses I have difficulty with. But my back has never felt better and remarkably, my toes are getting a little bit closer.
There is increasing research demonstrating the health benefits of yoga. This week in our twitter chat, #abcDrBchat, we explored the science of yoga and meditation. Check it out here! And maybe I’ll see you in the back row of a yoga class.
“Tell Me the Truth, Doctor” is a weekly column written by ABC News’ chief health and medical editor Dr. Richard Besser. Look for Dr. Besser’s book in stores now!
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Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Patients usually have to wait several years before undergoing face transplant surgery, but after a work accident left a 33-year-old Polish man mauled and at risk for life-threatening infections, doctors needed to act fast.
The man, identified only as Grzegorz, got a new face three weeks after a stone-cutting machine damaged his face so severely that it couldn't be reattached. His jaw was crushed, and his condition was deteriorating so rapidly that doctors said they had no choice other than to give him a face transplant right away.
"Usually, the recipients have to wait between one and seven years," said Dr. Adam Maciejewski, who headed the team of surgeons at the Cancer Center and Institute of Oncology in Gliwice, which is the only facility in Poland licensed to perform face transplants. "For obvious reasons, we had to act much faster, as we were saving this man's life."
Earlier this month, Carmen Blandin Tarleton spoke publicly for the first time since her February face transplant. It came six years after her estranged husband attacked her with lye, blinding her and leaving her disfigured.
Charla Nash, a Connecticut woman who was mauled by a Chimpanzee in 2009, got her face transplant surgery in 2011.
Maciejewski said Grzegorz's surgery was the first transplant undertaken to save a patient's life.
The May 15 operation took 27 hours and also included a bone transplant. Grzegorz needed reconstruction of his face, jaws, palate and the bottom of his eye sockets.
He is still at risk for infection but is expected to recover and live a normal life.
Although post-operation photographs show stitches from above his right eye, under his left eye and around the face to the neck, Grzegorz was able to give photographers a thumbs up six days after surgery.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Hemera Technologies/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- An Institute of Medicine report out Thursday makes some ambitious recommendations for physical education requirements in schools, including at least 30 minutes a day of movement during school hours.
In the report, the Institute estimates that just half of school-age children get 60 minutes of daily moderate-to-vigorous activity. They suggest that schools make physical education a core subject and add the movement time through physical education classes, recess breaks, classroom exercises and commutes to and from classes.
Since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, 44 percent of school administrators have reported cutting significant time from "phys ed" classes and recess to devote more time to reading and mathematics in the classroom, according to the Institute of Medicine, a nonprofit that provides public policy research and recommendations.
As the report suggests, giving kids more physical activity seems like a no-brainer to help lower the prevalence of obesity rates in elementary school kids, with the percentage of children ages 6 to 11 years old in the United States who were obese to nearly 18 percent in 2010 from 7 percent in 1980.
But there was very little proof until Wednesday that increasing activity has an effect on childhood obesity.
A study published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Health Economics provided the first evidence that increasing physical education in kindergarten through fifth-grade does, indeed, reduce the chance of obesity, at least for boys.
The Cornell University researchers looked at data from a national registry, the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, and from states that require minutes spent in physical education to determine whether more gym time translates into lower obesity rates. They found that each additional 60 minutes of physical education time lowered the probability of obesity in fifth-grade boys by 4.8 percent and did so without cutting into academics or harming test scores.
The study found the extra gym had almost no effect on girls' obesity rates.
"What could be happening here is that more time in the gym leads boys to become more active outside of school but girls engage in offsetting behavior like increasing TV watching without spending more time outside of school being active," the study's lead researcher, John Cawely, noted.
The Institute of Medicine report also advocates for increased access to intramural and varsity sports. Despite the recommendation, the effect of afterschool sports on weight is far from clear.
In a recent analysis of 19 studies, no solid connection emerged between obesity rates and afterschool sports participation. While a few of the studies noted some small improvements in body weight in some, but not all, kid athletes, other studies found no differences in body weight at all.
One study in the analysis found that fewer than 25 percent of kids who participated in soccer, baseball and softball leagues met recommended levels of activity during their sport team practice. And a few small studies linked sports participation to higher consumption of fast-food that, of course, highlights overconsumption, the other side of the obesity equation.
This last point has not gone unnoticed by parents like Kim Gorman, who say the post-practice junk food ritual is as pervasive in the afterschool sports culture as spiffy uniforms and participation trophies.
Gorman said that when her oldest son Alex, who is now 16, began playing soccer at age 3, she was appalled to find the typical team treat consisted of a juice box and cupcake.
The mother of three, who also happens to be the weight management program director of the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the University of Colorado in Denver, did some quick calculations and determined the average sports munchie tallied up to nearly 500 sugary, fat-laden calories.
"Even though practice was an hour long, each kid ran around for maybe 15 minutes," she said. "Maybe they burned up 100 calories in that time. So they probably ate 400 calories more than they were burning off."
U.S. dietary guidelines state that moderately active children up to 8 years old should eat no more than 1,600 calories a day. By Gorman's estimates, the average snack, at least like the kind that used to be offered at her kid's team snack tables before she took charge, delivered more than a third of daily caloric requirements.
Gorman does note that the Institute of Medicine recommendations for more physical activity opportunities during the school day is a good move and might help offset the amount of junk food all kids seem to eat regardless of activity level. She's just not sure it will be enough to make a dent in childhood obesity rates.
"There is this perception that Joey is moving a lot because he does sports or he takes PE, but we've lost big chunks of play time in this society and even a kid who goes to a two hour practice may not be doing enough to balance the overconsumption," she said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Nearly one in five Americans suffers from acid indigestion, or gastroesophageal reflux disease, at least once a week, according to the National Institutes of Health. And while for most Americans acid reflux really is just a little heartburn, for those with frequent symptoms, it could mean more.
In a study out Thursday, which looked at more than 600 cancer patients, researchers found that people with frequent acid reflux had a 78-percent increased risk of throat or voice box cancer.
But, according to the study's findings, paying attention to your heartburn may make a difference. Researchers also found that taking non-prescription antacids had a protective effect -- lowering the risk of throat and vocal cord cancers by 41 percent.
And there are also a few simple things you can change in your lifestyle to help with reflux, such as avoiding late meals and eating a healthy diet without greasy and fatty foods. You can also try propping yourself up while sleeping, or try sleeping on your left side at night.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStockphoto(RIVERHEAD, N.Y.) -- A newly married, mentally disabled couple's dream of living together -- up until now beset by legal troubles and care facilities that refused their wishes -- is about to come true. New York State is providing them with a home of their own.
Paul Forziano, 30, and Hava Samuels, 36, who both have mild to moderate mental disabilities, met seven years ago at a day program run by the Maryhaven Center of Hope, which is part of Catholic Health Services of Long Island. After they met, they immediately began telling their parents about their new friend. It wasn't long before they were calling each other "boyfriend" and "girlfriend."
On April 7, 2012, they married on Long Island's North Shore.
The wedding was initially pushed back because the couple wanted to be able to live together once they were married. So before their big day, their parents began trying to find a way for the two, who lived in separate group homes three miles apart, to establish a home together.
"They started dating, and gradually got more and more serious about each other," Paul's mother, Roseann Forziano, told ABCNews.com. "Four years ago they started talking about getting married. At the time I didn't know if people with developmental disabilities could be married. So I started doing research."
Forziano said that she "naively" approached the Independent Group Home Living Program (IGHL), which has housed her son since 2009, and asked if this could be facilitated. She told ABCNews.com that the state-sanctioned nonprofit that ran the home told her that the couple would not be allowed to share a living space within the program.
Eventually the families would file a lawsuit in January 2013, claiming that the IGHL, the Maryhaven Center for Hope, where Hava lived, and the state were violating the couple's rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Fair Housing Act and the 14th Amendment.
According to that suit, IGHL's clinical director had concluded that Paul and Hava were not capable of cohabitation. The director stated that if a person "cannot wash, cook, iron, and take care of money for themselves, then that person cannot take care of another person," according to the complaint.
Undeterred by this conclusion, Forziano and her husband decided to research the rights of their son and his wife-to-be.
"We went to the law library and looked up regulations," she said. "They said that agencies cannot deny people's civil rights. The state has to regulate the agencies, and ensure that they uphold [Paul and Hava's] civil rights."
Forziano said that she and her future in-laws then had her son and his bride-to-be assessed by psychologists at the YAI Agency in Manhattan to determine whether they were emotionally and mentally mature enough for a sexual relationship. The couple attended relationship counseling, and based on this, a psychologist from the Cody Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities at Stony Brook University concluded that the couple's desire to marry was appropriate.
Still, the families continued to hit roadblocks in trying to secure housing for the couple with representatives from IGHL unresponsive to the couple's desires, according to the suit.
Ultimately Forziano and her husband, along with Hava's parents, decided that IGHL, Maryhaven and the state had failed to provide adequate assistance in finding Paul and Hava a home. That's when they decided to sue.
Norman Samuels, Hava's father, told ABCNews.com that he and his wife, Bonnie, were repeatedly told by Maryhaven that they didn't feel Hava was clinically capable of being in a marriage.
"We were led to believe that in order to be married and cohabitate, they'd have to prove that they were [capable]. That is not valid," he said. "We were misled. We spent a year and half going through those steps, because we believed it had to be done that way."
Samuels said that that Maryhaven used an outdated mode of psychological analysis to establish whether Hava was able to consent to marriage and sexual relations -- a tool which he says is invalid. Maryhaven, he said, also refused to educate her.
"They said, 'We don't have the facilities to educate them.' That's not even valid," he told ABCNews.com. "They could have hired someone. They didn't want to do it. In our mind they were just against it all along."
Attorney Robert Briglio, who is representing the families, told ABCNews.com that the homes where Paul and Hava reside are trying to maximize the homes' independent decision making, and that the state of New York must be held responsible for how they're run.
"[The state] funds these homes to provide Medicaid waiver services," he said. "That's the program under which the clients are residing. The New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities is responsible for that program. They use private agencies like these homes. That doesn't mean [the state is] not responsible for how that program is operated."
Representatives from IGHL declined to speak with ABCNews.com regarding the case.
Christine Hendriks, a spokeswoman for Catholic Health Services of Long Island, said in a statement that Maryhaven Center of Hope has "supported and facilitated efforts" in which clients have expressed a desire to build a relationship in the hope it leads to marriage.
"There are instances where facilitating a marriage is not warranted, indicated or appropriate in our clinical setting," she said in a statement. "When a resident in our judgment is clinically incapable or lacks the requisite ability to consent to the marital relationship or requires a level of service and supervision where an accommodation is not possible, we cannot provide the services necessary to facilitate the marital relationship and cohabitation."
After years of the families' battling the system, the state last year finally came through for the couple when a vacancy opened up in a group home for the mentally disabled in Riverhead, Long Island, run by East End Disability Associates. The group home was asked if it could expand their home of eight residents to accommodate Paul and Hava, and it agreed.
This week, the couple was offered their own one-bedroom apartment in the home. They will move in sometime in July, according to Forziano.
"We went Monday to see it," she said. "They're very excited. They met the other individuals living in the home. We didn't want to throw them from the frying pan into the fire. We did research, had a psychologist go over there and to the guys that live there. Hava's figuring out where the TV is going to go!"
Although the state was eventually able to help the couple achieve their dream, the lawsuit will go on. Both IGHL and Maryhaven had a duty to encourage the couple's desire to marry and cohabitate, according to the complaint.
"The suit will continue, so the state will have to clarify its stance on married people with disabilities," Forziano said. "It's not just marriage, it's any civil right. You see that people are allowed to cohabitate, and IGHL won't, because they don't think it's a good idea. It has to be the same services across the board."
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Before your trip to a tropical paradise, you may want to stop at Walmart or Target for the best sunscreen protection.
According to Consumer Reports, the top two sunscreens in their tests were Walmart's Equate Ultra Protection SPF 50 lotion and Target's Up & Up Sport SPF 50 spray, both inexpensive brands.
Consumer Reports says sunscreens should block both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, and should keep working after you've been in the water.
Consumer Reports warns that you can’t always rely on just the SPF number, which is just a measure of UVB ray protection. UVB rays cause sunburn and cancer, while UVA rays tan and age skin, and they contribute to skin cancer as well. The top rated sunscreens protected against both.
Consumer Reports’ sunscreen buying guide notes that top rated sunscreens actually change from year to year. The highest rated one in 2012 came in dead last this year.
“It's hard to explain the changes but our tests did find that there are better choices,” the buying guide reads. “New labeling and test requirements from the Food and Drug Administration could have led sunscreen makers to tweak ingredients, but several manufacturers told us they hadn't changed formulations since our last tests.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Pixland/Thinkstock(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) -- A mystery illness has sickened seven people in southeastern Alabama, killing two of them, according to the state Health Department, but it's not clear whether the patients -- or their symptoms -- are connected.
"At this time, there is no epidemiological link between these patients," an Alabama health department document states in bold type.
The patients' ages range from their mid-20s to their late 80s, Dr. Mary McIntyre, who is leading the investigation, told ABCNews.com in an email. Location aside, McIntyre said the patients had no commonalities other than that the "majority" of them had "co-morbidities like smoking, COPD, morbid obesity."
"Temporal clustering can make something look like an outbreak," said Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor for ABC News. "Good science will tell you whether it is."
The illnesses started with common flu-like symptoms -- shortness of breath, a cough and a fever. But both patients who died had come down with pneumonia, McIntyre said.
Besser said most pneumonia patients are never tested to determine what caused their infection, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could offer "state of the art" diagnostic testing to explain the Alabama cases. Health officials will also question the patients' families and friends to determine common exposures and whether the patients ever had contact with one another.
The first three cases were reported to the health department on May 16 because the patients were on ventilators but had no known cause for their illnesses, according to a health department document. The most recent case was reported May 19.
One of the patients tested positive for H1N1, the "swine flu" that began in spring 2009 and peaked the following October, according to a health department document. Another patient tested for a strain of influenza called AH3.
It's not yet clear whether either flu played a role in this cluster of illnesses, the document states. The five patients who are still living seem to be getting better, McIntyre said. One of them was released Tuesday.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
ULTRA F/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though the practices of yoga and meditation have their roots in ancient cultures, they’ve both become modern day movements. More than 20 million Americans meditate regularly, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. More than 13 million do yoga.
To explore the health benefits of meditation and yoga, Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical correspondent for ABC News, hosted a tweet chat Tuesday. He invited experts from top hospitals and research centers, including the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the University of Wisconsin, the Cleveland Clinic and Harvard Medical School, as well as respected yoga authorities from the Krapula Yoga Center in Stockbridge, Mass., and West Hartford Yoga in Connecticut.
Click here for the full transcript of the chat. Read on for the highlights.
What is meditation and what does the science say about its benefits for the brain and body?
Many forms of meditation evolved from ancient religious and spiritual traditions, said the NCCAM. Although practices vary today, most meditation techniques aim to train attention and awareness to help bring thoughts under control.
Studies show how helpful a regular meditation practice can be for relieving pain, anxiety and stress. Although a series of University of Wisconsin studies have found meditation can benefit patients with chronic inflammatory disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, more research is needed to understand its role in the treatment of chronic health conditions.
What is yoga and how can a regular practice help me keep healthy?
There are more than 200 schools of yoga taught throughout the world. All of them aim to connect the mind and body through careful breathing and movement.
As with meditation, studies find that regularly doing downward dogs and warrior poses can help manage stress and anxiety. There’s even some evidence that yoga can help fight cancer-related fatigue, manage high-blood pressure and ease chronic pain, especially joint pain. For example, studies by the Group Health Research Institute in Seattle found that after several weeks of taking yoga classes, subjects reported fewer backaches and greater lower-back mobility.
Any advice for yoga newbies?
Don’t let an instructor push you past your comfort zone. Listen to your body. All our experts agreed that's the most important advice for yogis at any level. If you’ve got any sort of chronic medical condition, are pregnant or haven’t done any sort of exercise in a while, it’s a good idea to check in with your doctor before taking up a yoga practice.
For people who are stressed out by tragic events in the news like the tornado that ripped through the Moore, Okla., can meditating help?
Since meditation – and yoga for that matter – promote relaxation, it can definitely help manage the emotions that bubble up after hearing bad or disturbing news. There’s some evidence that a few moments of quiet reflection is especially helpful for people who suffer from anxiety and depression to begin with. And the group dynamic of a yoga class can bring people together and not feel so alone after a tragedy.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(POTOMAC, Md.) -- When Clay Metro was 3, he nearly died after falling into a pool.
“My husband and I had gone for a run. We were at the beach at my dad’s house by his community pool,” Clay’s mother, Laura Metro of Potomac, Md., told ABC News Wednesday. “Some friends were watching Clay....We believe that Clay tripped on a towel and fell into the deep end. There were about eight or so other people at the pool and no one saw.”
Metro said that as she and her husband returned, her daughter ran out of the pool area, saying, “I think Clay died.”
Clay had been under the water for just a few minutes.
“He was blue. He had no life,” Metro said. “As bad as you think it was, it was worse.”
On Wednesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission pleaded with parents as the Memorial Day weekend and the start of the summer season approached, to teach children how to swim and to put fences around pools.
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According to the commission, an average of 290 kids under age 5 drown each year. And more than half drown in their family pool. The largest group of victims are just 2 years old.
As Metro and her family waited for the paramedics to arrive, a friend performed CPR on Clay. He was flown by Medivac to a children’s hospital in Wilmington, Del., where he remained in a coma for two days.
Two years later, at the age of 5, Clay is mostly recovered with a few lingering effects — and Metro is now an advocate for pool safety.
Inez Tenenbaum, the commission’s chair, said that simple steps, such as never leaving a child unsupervised near a pool, making sure children learn how to swim, putting fences around pools and learning CPR, could save lives.
The recommendations and warnings are not new but unfortunately the numbers have remained steady.
“Children are drowning,” Tenenbaum said. “It is silent. It’s quick. Someone is at the bottom of the pool and they have been there for a few minutes and you can’t resuscitate them unless you know CPR on the spot.”
Metro said that even though Clay had taken two semesters of swim classes before the incident, he had not learned how to float on his back. She said parents should make sure children learn how to float during swim lessons.
“The bottom line is, he fell in and he sank,” she said. “I wasn’t aware of the dangers. I didn’t know what drowning looked like. I didn’t know it was as fast as it is.”
Olympic swimmer Cullen Jones was underwater for about 30 seconds and nearly became a statistic at the age of 5.
“They had to pull me out and resuscitate me, and my mom got me into swimming lessons really quickly after,” he said.
Now the 2008 gold medal winner says he is trying to inspire and teach children about the importance of knowing how to swim through USA Swimming’s Make a Splash.
“There’s a simple cure: Getting swim lessons is the answer to drownings. It’s just like riding a bike,” he said. “You never forget how to do it....Swimming is fun.”
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Teens on Facebook are increasingly friending other social media sites as their enthusiasm for the service wanes, according to a new survey.
A Pew study shows that teenage users have been moving some of their online sharing to other social media services like Twitter and Instagram to escape the "drama and pressure" of Facebook. The study does still list Facebook as the most often-used service (81 percent of teens answered this way) and number one for active accounts (94 percent of teens said they currently have a Facebook profile).
Of the teens surveyed, 26 percent said they have a Twitter account, but only 7 percent said it's their most used profile. Still, Pew shows that, among their sample, active teen Twitter accounts have grown 14 percent from the year earlier (12 percent in 2011 to 26 percent in 2012), while Facebook only grew 1 percent (93 percent in 2011 to 94 percent in 2012).
"The [social media] platform transitions story is a really interesting one," Mary Madden, senior researcher with the Pew Internet Project, told ABC News. "Our findings suggest that teens are supplementing their Facebook use and shifting their energies, rather than completely abandoning the site."
Madden explained that teens have traditionally been the early adopter demographic, but Twitter was first colonized by adults. Now teens seem to be looking to other platforms to find a break from the "social burden" of Facebook, showing services like Twitter a bit more attention.
Eleven percent of teens said they now have an account with social photo sharing community Instagram (the service didn't appear on the 2011 Pew survey) and 5 percent have a Tumblr media blog account (up from 2 percent in 2011). Madden also said that messaging service Snapchat was mentioned "repeatedly" in focus groups related to the survey.
"While Facebook is still deeply integrated in teens' everyday lives, it is sometimes seen as a utility and an obligation rather than an exciting new platform that teens can claim as their own," said Madden.
"We are always focused on making Facebook a great experience; and we're gratified that more than 1 billion people, including enormous numbers of young people, are using Facebook to connect and share," a spokesperson for Facebook told ABC News.
The Pew survey also asked teens who they "friend" online and if they prefer to keep their posts private.
Of those surveyed, 60 percent of teen Facebook users said they keep their profiles private. Seventy percent admitted to being Facebook friends with their parents, and only 5 percent said they filter which posts their parents can see.
Only 24 percent of teen Twitter users said they keep their tweets private.
Another trend in the study linked the number of Facebook friends a teen has with the likelihood he or she is using additional social networking services. Thirteen percent of teen Facebook users with fewer than 150 friends also had a Twitter account, and of those with more than 600 Facebook friends, 46 percent had a Twitter account.
"Ultimately, teens, like adults, are finding ways to "diversify" their social media portfolio for different purposes," Madden said. "In some cases, it helps them to compartmentalize smaller groups of friends and certain kinds of interactions. In other cases, the newer platforms are appealing for the features and functionality they offer."
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Ralph Orlowski/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Autism advocates are praising a German software company for its plan to hire people with autism as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists.
SAP, which employs more than 65,000 people worldwide, said it sees a "potential competitive advantage to leveraging the unique talents of people with autism, while also helping them to secure meaningful employment." It will partner with Specialisterne – Danish for "The Specialists" – to recruit people on the autism spectrum.
"By concentrating on the abilities that every talent brings to the table, we can redefine the way we manage diverse talents," SAP executive board member Luisa Delgado said in a statement. "With Specialisterne, we share a common belief that innovation comes from the 'edges.' Only by employing people who think differently and spark innovation will SAP be prepared to handle the challenges of the 21st century."
Autism affects one in 50 children, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And while many children often qualify for special services, advocacy groups say adults often struggle to find the support they need.
"There's a significant need to provide better services and more support for children with autism transitioning into adulthood," said Peter Bell, executive vice president for programs and services at Autism Speaks. "We're thrilled that a major global company such as SAP has made this kind of announcement, which sounds like firm commitment to really address a major need in the autism community."
"We're looking forward to seeing how this plays out and whether other companies follow suit," Bell added.
For Specialisterne, a company that primarily employs people on the autism spectrum, the SAP partnership is an important first step in changing the perception of autism as a disability in the workforce.
"We are very excited by this opportunity to enable SAP global access to a huge pool of untapped talent and therefore, help strengthen SAP's position as a global leader in innovation," Specialisterne founder Thorkil Sonne, who has a son with autism, said in a statement. "The partnership will position SAP as thought leader and motivate the ecosystem to follow its example."
The partnership will help overcome one of the biggest obstacles for a person with autism in search of a job: the interview.
"Oftentimes it requires what we call 'soft skills,' like the ability to interact and communicate, and those might not be the skills necessary for the job," said Bell. "I think having someone in the middle to help facilitate the process and prequalify people could be very helpful."
Anka Wittenberg, SAP's chief diversity and inclusion officer, called the hiring plan a "win-win" for the company and the autistic community, stressing that a diverse workforce boosts innovation among employees. And in her experience, people with autism tend to boost morale, too.
"Autistic people don't understand sarcasm and they always speak the truth. Well, really everybody likes that," she said, describing a pilot project conducted last year in Bangalore, India, that served as inspiration for the new hiring plan. "It really helped to improve the climate and culture in the team. The turnover rate went down, employee engagement went up, and we got really positive feedback."
SAP plans to roll out their hiring plan in Germany and extend it to North America later this year. They hope to have people with autism make up 1 percent of their workforce by 2020.
"We're creating win-win situations, and that's what sustainable," Anka said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
frozenpeaz.com(NEW YORK) -- Sir Isaac Newton found his inspiration in an apple. MaryCarol Dolivier found hers in a bag of frozen peas.
After Dolivier tumbled down a flight of stairs a few years ago she was forced to lay on the couch for several weeks with a bag of frozen peas propped on her swollen knee.
The bag leaked when it melted. When she refroze it, the peas formed a lumpy iceberg. The squishy mess they became when microwaved made them a totally unacceptable choice for heat therapy.
Dolivier knew she could do better.
Along with her partner, Arthur Blackwood, Dolivier invented Frozenpeaz, green-tinted, pea-shaped glass beads that heat and cool a lot like frozen peas.
“If you just get a simple bump or bruise, we are not what you are looking for,” Dolivier said. “But if you’re serious about sports or if you have a chronic injury or you are someone who is relying on hot and cold therapy on a regular basis, a bag of peas simply will not do.”
The $65 Frozenpeaz kit improves upon a $.74 bag of frozen peas in the following ways: It can cool or heat an injured area for up to 30 minutes with no messiness or mushiness; it can be reused without losing shape or effectiveness; and it includes an attractive wrap that conforms to any body part, three bags of peaz, a Velcro strap to hold it in place and an insulated compression band that protects the skin from freezer burn.
This last feature is the most important one, Dolivier said, because compression is one of the basic tenants of the R.I.C.E. injury treatment protocol recommended by orthopedic specialists, along with rest, ice and elevation.
“A regular bag of peas or a conventional ice pack doesn’t offer compression to help with swelling,” she pointed out.
Since the virtual pea packs began selling on the Internet in January, Dolivier said sales have been brisk. Beginning this fall, consumers who wish to give Frozenpeaz a chance will be able to purchase them at Walgreen drugstores nationwide.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
SMRC(NEW YORK) -- With companies beginning campaigns to send vacationers to Mars, it’s time to start working out some of the logistics. One concern: How do you pack enough food to supply years-long space missions?
One company, Systems and Materials Research Corporation (SMRC), believes the answer may be in 3-D food printing, and it has been selected to receive a $125,000 grant from NASA to construct a prototype.
“Long-distance space travel requires 15-plus years of shelf life,” Anjan Contractor, engineer with SMRC, told the news website Quartz. “The way we are working on it is, all the carbs, proteins and macro- and micro-nutrients are in powder form. We take moisture out and, in that form, it will last maybe 30 years.”
SMRC would not comment on the project directly to ABC News.
Allard Beutel of NASA told ABC News that the agency is in “contract negotiations” with SMRC.
“As NASA ventures further into space, whether redirecting an asteroid or sending humans to Mars, we will need to make transformation improvements in our life support systems, including how we feed our astronauts during long, deep space missions,” said Beutel.
“[SMRC] has proposed a 3-D printed food system for long duration space missions,” Beutel added. “The proposal was selected for contract negotiation because of its merits in addressing NASA’s advanced food system technology needs as we prepare for long duration human space exploration. In-space and additive manufacturing offers the potential for game-changing weight savings and new mission opportunities, whether ‘printing’ food, tools or entire spacecraft.”
3-D printing is a process that usually involves layering materials like plastics, metals or rubbers as directed by a computer blueprint to construct items from the ground up -- seemingly out of thin air.
Contractor’s vision for printing food is similar but instead of using materials like plastics, the printer would construct the food with different, nutrient-rich materials -- ones that are edible, of course.
Contractor even told Quartz that he will soon begin the development a “pizza printer.”
He believes food printing could be useful outside of spaceships, too. Food printers could easily “program” our foods to meet regular diets, and address allergies or taste preferences.
Because most of the materials used for food printing would come in a powdered form with a long shelf life, methods of food storage would become simple and food waste could be mitigated.
“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” Contractor told Quartz. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”
Hod Lipson, associate professor at Cornell University and co-author of the book, Fabricated: The New World of 3-D Printing, told ABC News that although it’s still a “nascent technology,” his group at Cornell has been experimenting with 3-D food printing, too.
“[3-D food printing] has the potential of making a large amount of food products. … And you can print food that has exactly the nutritional content that is desired,” Lipson said.
His group at Cornell has experimented with things like cube-shaped creations from powdered milk, he said, and it has even printed cookies with controlled sugar levels.
“That fact that food and biomaterials are beginning to enter the realm really brings a lot of new possibilities [to 3-D printing],” he said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
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