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Foods with Flavonoids Shown to Protect Against Smog-Related Heart Disease

iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) — Air pollution can cause a variety of serious health problems, including affecting heart functions.

So Harvard doctoral student Jia Zhong says that if you can’t move away, remember these three words: flavonoids, flavonoids, flavonoids.

These antioxidants, which can protect against cell damage, are found in chocolate, wine, fruits and vegetables and, according to Zhong, also defend against smog-related heart disease, particularly in older men.

Zhong and his mentor, Dr. Andrea Baccarelli, looked at 573 older men from the Boston area over an 11-year period and discovered that their heart’s ability to vary its rhythm was hurt when smog levels rose for 48 hours.

However, men who consumed high amounts of foods loaded with flavonoids did not suffer the same reduction of heart rate variability as their counterparts.

Zhong and Baccarelli had two caveats. One is that people shouldn't overdo it on wine and chocolate, for obvious reasons. And secondly, they could not prove a definitive cause-and-effect link between flavonoids and heart rate variability.

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Birthday Years Ending in 9 Prompt Big Life Decisions, Study Shows

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People whose ages end in 9 tend to be more likely to seek extramarital affairs, run marathons and commit suicide compared with those whose ages ended in other digits, according to a new study.

Researchers at New York University's Stern School of Business and University of California's Anderson School of Management conducted six studies to see how people in the last year of their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s changed their behavior.

They found that people they've nicknamed "9-enders" -- people who were 29, 39, 49 or 59 -- were more likely than others to reflect on their lives and make big changes, according to the study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"When people are facing these new decades, that's when they start to step back and question essentially the meaningfulness of their lives," said study co-author Hal Hershfield, a marketing professor at UCLA who was trained as an experimental social psychologist. "We're not saying people don't do that at other points in their lives. Just that it's particularly likely to happen during life transitions."

Hershfield and his co-author Adam Alter came up with the idea for their study while discussing greeting cards and the big deal people make around entering new decades of their lives.

"It's not like anything officially changes," Hershfield said. "It's not like you got married or you can drive now or you're Bar Mitzvahed."

Yet they wanted to study how much meaning is attached to these milestones, particularly for people about to cross into their 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s. So they used data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as data from extramarital affairs site and athlete site

Chief of psychology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center Jeff Janata, who was not involved in this research, called the study "clever" because it uses actuarial data to examine a "psychological truth."

"I think that people use decades and the crossing from one decade into the next as a marker, a time to reflect on the state of their lives. I think it's very common," he said. "What we're really talking about is anticipation more than we are arrival."

On the one hand, Hershfield and Alter reasoned that people could react negatively to their impending milestone birthdays by committing suicide or seeking extramarital affairs. On the other, they could set a healthy goal, like running a marathon. They found 9-enders were more likely to do all of these.

And 9-enders ran faster marathons than people two years older or younger than they were, proving they trained harder, according to the study.

"A lot of different factors go into the decision to run marathon, commit adultery or end one's life," Hershfield said. "We wouldn't expect just facing down the barrel of their 40s, 50s would be enough to change it drastically, but it changes it somewhat enough that we could pick up on it statistically."

His co-author, Alter, said he hopes the study gives casual readers pause to think about why they're making the changes in their lives.

"In general, it's easy to get caught up in big milestones, particularly as we age -- but of course there’s no real difference between turning 30 and turning 29 or 31," he said. "Our culture emphasizes years like 30, 40, 50, and 60, but we shouldn't let that shape how we live our lives."

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Jill Dillard from '19 Kids and Counting' Talks Her Natural Birth Plan

TLC(NEW YORK) -- It's four months away from the expected arrival of "Baby Dilly" in March.

But 19 Kids and Counting stars Derick, 25, and Jill Dillard, 23, are already getting ready to be the best parents they can be.

"I am learning a lot about birth," Derick told People magazine earlier this week. "We are doing our homework together, and I keep reading new things, the medical aspects are fascinating to me."

Jill added about the birth plan, "We are really on the same page. The more Derick learns about birth, the more he feels that natural childbirth makes sense. ... Derick's great at helping me with relaxation, and really good and supportive."

The couple also keep a journal to one day share with their son.

Also, Jill -- who's doing prenatal workouts -- said, "After the holidays, we'll get started on the nursery."

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Why Kourtney Kardashian Won’t Be Getting a Baby Nurse

Timothy White/ E!(LOS ANGELES) -- With her third child on the way, Kourtney Kardashian will certainly have her hands full, but don’t look for the reality star to hire any extra help.

“I love doing everything myself at the beginning,” Kardashian, 35, told the December-January issue of Fit Pregnancy.

“I’m not getting a baby nurse. I take two months off and no one is allowed to bother me or talk to me about anything work-related, or maybe three months this time.”

Instead, the fashion designer and mother of daughter Penelope Scotland, 2, and son Mason Dash, soon to be 5, will spend the first months bonding with her new baby, including breast-feeding.

“I nursed Mason for 14 months and Penelope for 16, and I loved it,” she told the magazine. “It was built-in time that the two of us could share alone every day. I didn’t have any goals or expectations.”

Kardashian does expect, though, to bounce back quickly after her delivery, just like she did with her first two.

“Both were really easy. I actually pulled both babies out of me!” she told Fit Pregnancy. “I was out of the hospital so fast both times because I just wanted to get home. I stayed in my pajamas for 30 days and kept the house really quiet.”

Said the busy working mom, “It’s the only time I feel I have that excuse to shut everyone out and shut everything off. That time is a gift.”

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Company Creates Tiny Livers with 3-D Printer to Test Drugs

Organovo(SAN DIEGO) -- A San Diego company has created human liver tissue with a 3-D printer designed to be used by drug companies for testing.

The feat achieved by Organovo may seem like science fiction but more and more researchers and scientists have been examining how 3-D printers can be used to "create" human tissue for research purposes.

The "tiny livers" are "bioprinted" with a specially designed 3-D printer and are composed mainly of three kinds of human liver cells, the company announced this week. In theory the tissue will allow drug companies to test out new medication on liver tissue before they go to human trials.

The tissue is technically too small to be called an organ but the small tissue will function similarly to a real human liver and can live for at least 40 days, according to Organovo.

Keith Murphy, CEO of Organovo, said the tissue could be helpful in developing drugs.

"Pharma companies can use our bioprinted liver tissue to weed out toxic drugs early in drug development rather than after they have failed expensive clinical trials," Murphy said in a statement.

Michael Renard, the company's executive vice president commercial operations, said the tissue is developed by getting the cells from regulated sources, including cadavers, and then processed into "bio-ink."

After being printed in a specific pattern to mimic the make-up of a human liver, the tissues matures over three days before it can be used.

The main goal of providing a three-dimensional engineered human tissue is to have something "that behaves a human organ," said Renard.

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Biz Markie on Why He Lost 140 Pounds: 'I Wanted to Live'

Kevin Winter/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Just two months ago, Biz Markie revealed that he'd lost around 140 pounds after focusing on his health. The rap icon was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago and realized he needed to make a change.

"I wanted to live," Markie, 50, told ABC News. "Since I have to be a diabetic, If I didn't make the changes, it was going to make the diabetes worse. I'm trying to get off [the Diabetes meds]. The way you gotta do it is lose the weight. I'm off half my meds, I just got to get off the rest."

Markie said doctors were straightforward when he was diagnosed and said if he didn't shape up, the results could be terrible.

"They said I could lose my feet," he said. "They said I could lose body parts. A lot of things could happen."

Markie said he's feeling great and spoke to ABC as part of his collaboration with Zevia, a zero-calorie soda that he mixes into his diet.

"Instead of drinking regular soda, I drink Zevia to make you believia!" he joked. "I love that there's alternatives to eating, because I want to live."

Markie said right now he's on tour, but in 2015, he plans to drop even more weight.

"I'm maintaining but I think at the beginning of the year, I'm going to try and get down another 10 pounds," he added.

But don't expect Biz to gain any weight back just because he's on tour.

"On the Yo Gabba Gabba! Tour, we eat organic," he said, adding that little changes like turkey bacon with eggs for breakfast keeps him healthy. He also keeps the portions down.

"I don't pig out," he said, adding that he mostly does cardio for his workouts.

Markie also said that he has so much more energy now after shedding so much weight.

"When I used to be on stage, I used to be out of breath, I couldn't walk that far," he said. "Now, I got so much energy. I can do a whole show."

Markie is an icon, with close friends like Will Smith, who have been on his back for years to lose the weight. Markie said back in the early 2000s, Smith bet him on the set of Men in Black 2 to get him to lose the weight.

"It's a great feeling that they care, but it's better to win the bet," he said, laughing.

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Texting the Wrong Way Is a Real Pain in the Neck -- and Shoulders

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some experts will tell you that it’s not what you text that might be bad for your health but how you text.

A study in the journal Surgical Technology International examined the ways people stand when in the act of texting and how it affects the natural curve of the cervical spine located right above your shoulders.

Simply tipping your head at a 60-degree angle to read or send a text puts 60 pounds of pressure on the cervical spine, which is incredible when you think that the typical head only weights ten-to-12 pounds.

Study author Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, chief of Spine Surgery at New York Spine Surgery & Rehabilitation Medicine, says that the best way to text is by keeping the head in an upright position and raising the phone upwards. Even moving it downwards just 15 degrees puts 27 pounds of pressure on the cervical spine.

Making the effort will take some practice but it’s well worth it, according to Hansraj, since constantly hunching over hour after hour could lead to headaches, neck pain and even possibly surgery to repair the cervical spine worn down by so much added pressure.

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This Giant Treadmill Holds 10 Runners at Once

Oxford Fitness(NEW YORK) -- With all 50 states inching below the freezing mark this week, runners are hitting the treadmill in droves. Now, 10 indoor athletes can hop on the same treadmill all at once, thanks to this extra-large mill designed by Chilean company, Oxford Fitness.

The gargantuan treadmill is built on a scale four times larger than a "run of the mill" machine. It is 5 meters high, 3 meters wide and 6 meters long. Speed increases in increments of just over half a mile per hour all the way up to roughly 10 miles per hour, or a 6-minute per mile pace.

Scott Douglas, the senior content editor for Runner’s World magazine, said it was not entirely clear how users reach the control buttons. The company could not immediately be reached for comment, but a video shows someone on a ladder hitting the controls.

Over the weekend, Oxford plans to host a pair of two-hour races on the machine in Santiago, Chile, according to Douglas.

For the first of two races, the treadmill's speed will be set at a steady 6 miles per hour to test stamina. During the second race things get a little more interesting: Douglas said that organizers will gradually edge up the pace so that runners who can't keep up get ejected off the back. The last runner remaining upright and on board will be declared the winner.

Douglas, a 60 mile a week runner who owns a treadmill he hardly ever uses, said he didn't think the XL treadmill was the worst idea.

"When you run outdoors with a friend, you naturally lock into a pace so I don't see why it would be a big deal to do the same on a treadmill," he said.

Oxford Fitness and its creative partner, 10:10, plan a national tour with the machine and hope to lure Erwin Valdebenito, the Chilean holder of a Guinness World Record for running 24 hours non-stop on a regular treadmill, to super-size his efforts on their mill.

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How Zero Gravity Affects Men and Women Differently

NASA(NEW YORK) -- With an upcoming mission to Mars, NASA is studying the ways that living in space affects both men and women.

In a study published this month in Journal of Women's Health, researchers from NASA and National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI) went through decades of data to understand how living in zero gravity takes a toll on both men and women.

The team reviewed data on the 534 people to have flown in space at the time of the study, including 57 women, and studied cardiovascular, reproductive, musculoskeletal, immunological and behavioral health.

Changes in zero gravity included worse vision problems among some men, calcium loss for both sexes, and for some female astronauts an inability to stand for long periods without fainting after landing back on Earth, according to the study.

Dr. Saralyn Mark, a lead author on the study and a senior medical adviser at NASA, told ABC News that one ongoing problem for those flying in space is that the eye and even eyeball can be affected by zero gravity.

While only a small portion of astronauts were studied, 82 percent of male astronauts, or 14 out of 17, were found to have suffered from changes to their vision that researchers called visual impairment intracranial pressure, or VIIP.

They called the impairment "one of the most serious spaceflight-related health risks."

While a large majority of the male astronauts had a problem, statistically fewer women were struck with the same symptoms. Only 62 percent, or five out of eight female astronauts, reported the same symptoms and none had as severe symptoms as some of the male astronauts. Researchers were examining if the women’s age, hormones or vascular health helped them fare better in space.

While male astronauts battled to keep their eyesight, female astronauts have faced other difficulties back on terra firma. Female astronauts were more likely to faint while standing when they initially come back to Earth, the study found.

Causes for these fainting incidents could range from a loss of plasma volume in space to the different ways men and women’s cardiovascular systems react to stress, Mark said.

"Some have fainted, some feel like they’re going to faint," Mark said of the female astronauts. “If you’re going to Mars, you need to be able to leave your space vehicle and perform your duties.”

In other cases, both men and women have faced similar problems, including “space motion sickness.” Women in space tend to report more motion sickness as they leave Earth and enter the space station, whereas men report feeling queasy more often as they return to Earth, the study found.

By reviewing the findings, NASA scientists are hoping to develop devices or medication for specific problems faced by both men and women as they travel into space or even to Mars, Mark said.

"It's not a question of who is better equipped but really designing specific measures to protect men and women," Mark said.

Dr. Bette Sigel, executive secretary for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Committee and a co-author of the study, said it's important to recognize differences between female and male astronauts to ensure that appropriate and tailored steps are taken to protect the health of everyone in space.

“The real point is if we are planning to fly both men and women on long duration [spaceflights] we want to make sure that the countermeasures work for both men and women," Sigel said.

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How to Shovel Snow Without Having a Heart Attack

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Fluffy, white snow may be the stuff of holiday greeting cards but, to cardiologists, it's a heart attack waiting to happen.

That's why they call it "heart attack snow," said Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. It's heavy and people try to clear it too quickly for their own good.

Already, the season's first big snowstorm in Buffalo, New York, has led to several deaths, including at least three people who had heart attacks while shoveling.

Blood vessels are tighter in the cold weather, making it harder for blood to pass through them. Combine that with the stress of physical activity, and it can mean disaster for some unsuspecting shovelers, Yancy said.

Yancy, a spokesman for the American Heart Association, advises shovelers not to rush, to do the work in chunks and to avoid alcoholic beverages on the job.

"It’s a misnomer that people believe having an alcoholic beverage will warm them up," he said. "It puts the heart at more risk."

According to the American Heart Association, people also shouldn't eat a big meal beforehand, and, if possible, they should use a smaller shovel to avoid lifting heavy weight.

Yancy suggested certain people skip shoveling altogether.

"If you know you already have heart disease, maybe a little bit of snow in driveway is not so bad," he said.

Shoveling may be associated with heart attacks every year, but it's not the only winter heart attack hazard, Yancy said.

"A number of things are really different in the winter season that can have direct bearing on your heart health," he said. "Winter, itself, is a risk factor."

Stress from the holidays and changes in daylight contribute to heart attacks in the winter -- even for people who travel south for the cold months, he said.

And people are most at-risk for heart attacks when they wake up in the morning because their hormone levels are different and their blood is "stickier," Yancy said.

The flu and hypothermia also can contribute to heart attacks.

"We should all realize that, over the winter season, we're just more vulnerable," Yancy said. "Take it easy."

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Why Your Mom Was Wrong About Cold Weather and the Flu

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Your mom or dad probably told you to bundle up against frigid temperatures like the ones hitting much of the United States right now. That's good advice if you want to stay warm and avoid frostbite or hypothermia -- but they were wrong if they thought they were protecting you against colds and the flu.

"Grandma was being good-hearted to tell us to put on mittens," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, but a person is not more likely to catch a cold or flu because they're freezing, according to health experts.

That's because getting sick has much more to do with how people are exposed to cold and flu viruses.

In fact, there are two main theories for why cold and flu season peaks in winter and neither of them revolves around people being cold.

When a person with a respiratory virus coughs or sneezes, the virus escapes the host via a small droplet. In colder months, the virus can more easily remain in the air to infect another person, Schaffner said.

“When that moisture evaporates, that virus in its little core can be in the air for longer...and then inhaled by party [two], which causes the infection,” he said.

It’s also likely that the more people stay indoors or in school, in close contact, the more chances viruses get to spread, Schaffner said.

“It may be a combination of those things,” he added. “[Influenza is] picking up right about now. It will usually peak in February.”

Dr. Stephen Morse, an infectious disease expert at the Columbia Mailman School of Public Health, said school rooms, in particular, can lead to outbreaks of the flu because children are packed together and haven't built up an immune response to combat different flu strains.

“Certainly, density, having people close together,” can help spread disease, said Morse. “Kids always have runny noses and are playing together.”

Schaffner added that that there is no truth to the myth that temperature changes will make people sick.

"Because cold and flu season occurs during the winter and we see the change in the temperature...we attribute our infection to the change in temperature," Schaffner said. "But they're not causally related."

Most medical experts believe flu is spread mainly by droplets released when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About 5 to 20 percent of the U.S. population is infected with the flu every year, according to the CDC. Deaths associated with the flu have ranged between 3,000 to 49,000 annually according to the CDC.

Schaffner said the best advice for people wanting to avoid getting sick this year is wash their hands often and be sure to get a flu shot.

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Chemical in Antibacterial Soap Promoted Tumor Growth in Mice

iStock/Thinkstock(SAN DIEGO) -- A chemical in antibacterial soap promoted liver tumor growth in mice, researchers found.

Researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine studied the effects of triclosan -- an antimicrobial found in antibacterial soaps, toothpaste, body wash and other common household items -- on mice, and said the results shocked them.

"It's not a direct carcinogen," said study author Robert Tukey, a professor of chemistry, biochemistry and pharmacology at UCSD. "It's a tumor promoter."

In other words, exposure to triclosan encouraged existing liver tumors to grow. The mice who were exposed to triclosan had more tumors, bigger tumors and more frequent tumors than mice who weren't exposed to it, according to the study. The mice also developed liver problems, including scarring.

But experts not involved in the study cautioned that the mice were eating and drinking the triclosan in their food and water at "super high concentrations" for six months, which isn't comparable to using it for hand or hair washing.

"There is a little bit of distortion," said Dr. Frank Esper, an infectious diseases specialist at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. "It's 100 times or 1,000 times more than in things we normally see in things like toothpaste or soaps."

Tukey said he and his colleagues fed the chemical to the mice to make sure they got an equal, standard dose for their experiment. He said it’s more triclosan than a human is normally exposed to, but it’s not yet clear whether low doses of the chemical would have the same tumor-promoting effect.

Esper said the study is a good first step, and that it shows that more research into how triclosan affects humans is needed.

Triclosan has been used since 1972, but last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it had no evidence to prove products containing it worked better than regular soap. Indeed, the FDA said some studies showed negative effects of using soaps with triclosan and triclocarban, such as "bacterial resistance and hormonal effects."

As a result, companies have until next winter to prove that soaps containing these chemicals are better than old-fashioned bar soap.

When it comes to the soap aisle, Esper said he recommends regular soap and good hand-washing techniques. The detergent in normal soap, he said, is enough to kill the germs without paying extra for soaps with added triclosan and other "antibacterial" chemicals.

Tukey said he doesn't want to be alarmist, but he won't use products containing triclosan.

"We don't see a little bit of tumors," he said. "We see very full blown tumorigenesis. It's on the extreme end of a tumor promoter and it does it very rapidly.”

The American Cleaning Institute, an industry trade group, said in a statement that the study does not prove triclosan promotes tumor growth in humans.

"The fact is that overdosing mice with triclosan at levels they would never likely come in contact with does not represent a realistic circumstance for humans," said Paul DeLeo, ACI associate vice president of environmental safety. "We've known for decades that the mouse is not a good model for human risk assessment of triclosan."

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The Germy Perils of a French Kiss

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There is perhaps nothing more romantic than a French kiss. Apparently there is also nothing more disgustingly filthy.

A new Dutch study published in the journal Microbiome found that swapping spit for about 10 seconds transfers up to 80 million bacteria between lovers. The shorter partner in the smooch may take on even more germs because, as the researchers noted, saliva travels downward.

The longer a couple stays together the more similar the microbes in their mouth become, the study found. And the more than 700 different species of bacteria that live and breed in the mouth are mostly healthy and beneficial.

The Dutch study also revealed that couples only exchange about 1,000 germs in a straightforward lip lock. That’s fewer than found in a handshake.

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Watch Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Bono in Powerful Ebola PSA

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A quiet hum plays in the background as Matt Damon stares back at the camera.

The theme is waiting -- and what he and other stars are waiting for is action against Ebola.

"This is what waiting looks like…" flashes across the screen as another icon, Morgan Freeman, stares right back.

The public service announcement is sponsored by ONE, Bono's organization and features others like Ben Affleck, Connie Britton and Will Ferrell.

The PSA adds, "We waited too long to react."

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New York Woman's Death Not Related to Ebola, Health Officials Say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A woman in New York City who died while being monitored for possible exposure to Ebola has tested negative for the virus, officials with the city's health department said Wednesday.

The woman died Tuesday. The cause of death was not immediately released. She had recently arrived from Guinea, one of three countries that have been designated for special attention to travelers because of outbreaks of the lethal virus. Liberia and Sierra Leone are the other two countries.

The Ebola test was performed on the woman's remains due to her travel history and an abundance of caution, a New York City official briefed on the woman's death told ABC News. She had not exhibited any symptoms of the virus before her death and since she was being monitored, she was being checked daily, officials said.

There are about 350 people being monitored for Ebola by New York City authorities.

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