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NASA Studies Kelly Twins to Understand Space's Impact on Human Body

Peter Kramer/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — NASA will exam­ine how a year of zero grav­ity will affect the human body when Scott Kelly blasts off for an extended stay on the Inter­na­tional Space Station.

But NASA isn’t just going to look at Kelly and fel­low astro­naut Mikhail Kornienko. The team also will be fol­low­ing Scott Kelly’s iden­ti­cal twin brother, Mark Kelly, as an earth­bound con­trol group.

Offi­cials hope to under­stand what exactly hap­pens to a human body hun­dreds of miles above Earth’s surface.

We need to fig­ure out how peo­ple are going to live in space for really long peri­ods of time, espe­cially if we want to send some­body to Mars or maybe we want to build a base on the moon,” Mark Kelly told ABC News’ David Kerley.

There are a num­ber of stud­ies being con­ducted, with col­lab­o­ra­tions among var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties, includ­ing Stan­ford Uni­ver­sity, Col­orado State Uni­ver­sity, Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity and Cor­nell University.

The astro­nauts will be sub­ject to a bat­tery of tests look­ing at things such as mus­cle mass, bone loss and even the shape of their eye­balls. In a pre­vi­ous NASA study, some astro­nauts reported a change in vision after the phys­i­cal shape of their eye­balls changed.

NASA med­ical offi­cer Dr. Steven Gilmore said being able to com­pare sam­ples between iden­ti­cal twins would be help­ful for the research.

You can look at, in detail, how the genes and the pro­teins that are made from them change as a result of this unique envi­ron­ment,” he told ABC News.

Researchers will look at how genes go “on and off” dur­ing space flight and if being away from Earth in the vac­uum of space affects pro­teins in the body.

NASA wants to know how the stres­sors unique to space flight could change the body. This means see­ing how micro­grav­ity, con­fine­ment in the space sta­tion and radi­a­tion changes affects the pro­teins and meta­bolic sys­tems in the body.

NASA also wants to dis­cover how blood flow changes — a result of micro­grav­ity — can have unex­pected effects on the body. One hypoth­e­sis is that astro­nauts’ eyes change shape in space because blood vol­ume on their upper body increases with­out gravity.

Your nose gets stuffy, your eyes get a lit­tle bit of pres­sure,” said Jen­nifer Fog­a­rty, a clin­i­cal tran­si­tional sci­en­tist in a NASA video. “You feel like you have a really bad head cold.”

The study results could be key in find­ing a way to send humans to Mars to cre­ate a per­ma­nent colony on the moon.

That’s one of the things that make it excit­ing and some­thing I’m really happy to be a part of,” Scott Kelly said on ABC News’ This Week.

Scott Kelly is sched­uled to lift off Fri­day for his year in space.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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What Drew Barrymore Said About Her Post-Baby Body

Peter Kramer/NBC(LOS ANGELES) — For every star who seem­ingly bounces back to her pre-pregnancy size weeks after giv­ing birth, there’s Drew Bar­ry­more to keep it real.

After mak­ing two babies, holy cow, does your body do some crazy stuff! It’s hard to stay pos­i­tive and love your­self,” the 40-year-old actress admit­ted about her post-baby body in Glam­our mag­a­zine. “You feel like a kan­ga­roo with a giant pouch; everything’s saggy and weird. But you think about how beau­ti­ful it is that you’re able to make children.”

She added, “When I lose sight of that, I exer­cise, read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go!, and spend time with my kids. Then I start to see things that are big­ger than myself.”

Bar­ry­more isn’t afraid to look less than per­fect in pub­lic, either.

You don’t always have to look stun­ning on Insta­gram,” she told Glam­our. “I’ve been makeup-less, preg­nant, and stuff­ing food in my face in many pic­tures; that makes it all the more excit­ing when I do do some­thing more attrac­tive. I don’t like it when every­one looks so per­fect all the time. Where’s the humor in that?”

Bar­ry­more is mar­ried to Will Kopel­man, with whom she has two chil­dren – Olive, 2, and Frankie, 11 months.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Indiana Governor Declares Public Health Emergency to Battle Worst HIV Outbreak in State History

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indi­ana Gov. Mike Pence Thurs­day declared a pub­lic health emer­gency for an Indi­ana county bat­tling what is believed to be the worst HIV out­break in the state’s history.

Pence said 79 cases have been con­firmed, and, with more test­ing under­way, “We expect that num­ber to go up.”

The cases have either been found in or are con­nected to Scott County, near the Ken­tucky border.

The state health depart­ment has attrib­uted the out­break to an opi­oid painkiller called Opana. It’s believed to be the worst HIV out­break in the state his­tory, a spokes­woman at the Scott County Health Depart­ment said.

For years we’ve been fight­ing Opana in our county,” said Brit­tany Combs, pub­lic health nurse at Scott County Health Depart­ment. “[Doc­tors] won’t give [pre­scrip­tions] for Opana unless absolutely nec­es­sary. Our doc­tors aren’t writ­ing for it. It’s com­ing from out of county.”

Combs said Opana is a painkiller nor­mally given in pill form to patients, and it is used as “last resort” for pain relief. Peo­ple recre­ation­ally using the drug often crush the pill and inject it for a longer-lasting high, accord­ing to Combs.

Every­one who has tested pos­i­tive for HIV has admit­ted to intra­venous drug use, although some have also had sex with other users, mean­ing it is not always clear how the virus was spread, accord­ing to Combs.

A pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign to alert res­i­dents about the increase in HIV cases has started in the region.

In addi­tion to local and state health offi­cials, the CDC has sent a team to the area to assist with the response.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Leah Still's Cancer in Remission, NFL Player Dad Says

Oleg Nikishin/Kommersant Photo via Getty Images(CINCINNATI) — The cancer-stricken 4-year-old daugh­ter of Cincin­nati Ben­gals player Devon Still is in remis­sion, the foot­ball player announced on Wednesday.

Doc­tors diag­nosed Leah Still with stage 4 neu­rob­las­toma on June 2, but they told Devon Still on Wednes­day that Leah was in remis­sion, he said on his Instra­gram account, adding that it was the best day of his life.

After 296 days of day dream­ing about what it would feel like to hear the doc­tors say my daugh­ter is in remis­sion, I finally know the feel­ing,” he wrote. “Funny thing is there is really no way of describ­ing it because I never knew this feel­ing existed. When I look at my daugh­ter all I can do is smile and hug her.”

 

A photo posted by Devon Still (@man_of_still75) on Mar 25, 2015 at 1:29pm PDT

 

Still, 25, a defen­sive tackle, had orig­i­nally been cut from the Ben­gals ros­ter, but once the team learned his daugh­ter had stage 4 can­cer, they re-signed him to their prac­tice squad. He has since been placed on the active roster.

Fans have ral­lied around Leah, who was part of a cer­e­mony in Decem­ber in which the Ben­gals pre­sented the Cincin­nati Children’s Hos­pi­tal with a check for more than $1 mil­lion to go toward pedi­atric can­cer research. She also walked the run­way at the New York Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week in February.

Still said on Wednes­day that he’s proud of how hard Leah fought and “kicked cancer’s butt.” He thanked her doc­tors at the Children’s Hos­pi­tal of Philadel­phia, the Ben­gals and every­one who sup­ported Leah and sent her let­ters of encour­age­ment over the last year.

Leah isn’t done with treat­ment yet, but Still said he knows his “lit­tle war­rior” will power through.

She has made an impact on me and on the world, at the age of four, that I can only wish to make in a life­time,” he wrote.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Brittany Maynard's Family Releases Video in Support of Right-to-Die Legislation

Com­pas­sion & Choices/YouTube(SACRAMENTO, Calif.) — Nearly four months after Brit­tany Maynard’s death, her fam­ily has released a video of her tes­ti­mony for a right-to-die bill in Cal­i­for­nia. She recorded it before her death, and it was pre­sented Wednes­day to the Cal­i­for­nia leg­is­la­ture ahead of a Sen­ate com­mit­tee vote.

May­nard, a 29-year-old new­ly­wed from Cal­i­for­nia, was diag­nosed with ter­mi­nal brain can­cer in early 2014, but had to move to Ore­gon for the legal right to end her own life. Ore­gon is one of five states that gives patients the right to obtain a pre­scrip­tion to die in their sleep. Cal­i­for­nia and New York are con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing sim­i­lar laws.

I am heart­bro­ken that I had to leave behind my home, my com­mu­nity, and my friends in Cal­i­for­nia, but I am dying and I refuse to lose my dig­nity,” she says into the cam­era in the video filmed weeks before her Nov. 1 death. “I refuse to sub­ject myself and my fam­ily to pur­pose­less, pro­longed pain and suf­fer­ing at the hands of an incur­able disease.”

She died at home sur­rounded by fam­ily after spend­ing 11 months com­plet­ing her bucket list. Toward the end of her life, she said in one of the videos that she could feel her­self get­ting sicker. One day, she had two seizures and couldn’t say her husband’s name, she said.

In her leg­isla­tive tes­ti­mony, she said some peo­ple sug­gested that she do pal­lia­tive or ter­mi­nal seda­tion instead, in which a per­son is placed in a drug-induced coma and deprived of nutri­ents and water until death comes on its own. But she feared she would linger and be min­i­mally con­scious and in pain.

Achiev­ing some con­trol over my pass­ing is very impor­tant to me. Know­ing that I can leave this life with dig­nity allows me to focus on liv­ing,” she said. “It has pro­vided me enor­mous peace of mind.”

Cal­i­for­nia is con­sid­er­ing the End of Life Option Act, which would allow ter­mi­nally ill adults who are men­tally com­pe­tent to request med­ica­tion that would allow them to die in their sleep, accord­ing to the non­profit group Com­pas­sion and Choices, which advo­cates for death with dignity.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Optimism May Be Key to Better Heart Health

iStock/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — If you’re one of those Gloomy Gus-types with a per­pet­ual dark cloud hang­ing over your head, knock it off or all those cheery, come-what-may kind of folks will out­live you.

A Uni­ver­sity of Illi­nois study sug­gests peo­ple who main­tain pos­i­tive atti­tudes are des­tined for bet­ter heart health.

Lead author Ros­alba Her­nan­dez and other researchers sur­veyed 5,100 par­tic­i­pants ages 45-to-84 regard­ing their phys­i­cal health, men­tal health and lev­els of opti­mism. The study found that peo­ple with the sun­ni­est out­look on life were twice as likely to have bet­ter car­dio­vas­cu­lar health than their pes­simistic counterparts.

On top of that, the most opti­mistic of the opti­mists were 76 per­cent more likely to have total health scores in what’s con­sid­ered the ideal range.

Whether opti­mism pred­i­cates bet­ter health or vice versa, these peo­ple also exer­cised more, were less likely to smoke and also have health­ier body mass indexes than those with deep cyn­i­cism about life.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Indiana Gov. Will Declare 'Public Health' Emergency in County After HIV Spike

iStock/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) — The gov­er­nor of Indi­ana will declare a “pub­lic health dis­as­ter emer­gency” after a spike of HIV cases in south­ern Indi­ana has alarmed health officials.

 

I will declare a pub­lic health emer­gency for Scott County in the next 24 hours pic.twitter.com/WJFN2nKL0G

— Gov­er­nor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) March 25, 2015

Gov. Mike Pence’s planned dec­la­ra­tion comes after Scott County has seen 71 con­firmed and seven pre­lim­i­nary pos­i­tive cases of HIV. While nation­wide HIV is pri­mar­ily spread through sex­ual inter­course, this out­break has been fueled by intra­venous drug use, accord­ing to the Indi­ana Health Department.

I am deeply trou­bled by this out­break, and stop­ping it is a top pri­or­ity for our depart­ment,” State Health Com­mis­sioner Dr. Jerome Adams said in a state­ment last week. “We are engag­ing local, state, and national part­ners to deter­mine where we can most effec­tively focus our efforts. Extra care is being taken to invest resources in get­ting peo­ple off drugs and into treat­ment, since drug abuse is the clear dri­ving force behind this outbreak.”

On Wednes­day, Pence trav­eled to Scott County to talk to local health offi­cials about the increase in cases and what can be done about it.

 

 

Meet­ing w/ Scott Co. local offi­cials & com­mu­nity mem­bers regard­ing the HIV out­break pic.twitter.com/Sqx9HSuEMt

— Gov­er­nor Mike Pence (@GovPenceIN) March 25, 2015

A team from the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion has been dis­patched to the region to help local and state health offi­cials. The team, includ­ing two med­ical doc­tors and an epi­demi­ol­o­gist, will work with state and local health offi­cials to try and com­bat the ris­ing HIV cases.

A pub­lic aware­ness cam­paign to alert res­i­dents about the increase in HIV cases has started in the region.

Accord­ing to the state health depart­ment the out­break is mainly related to the intra­venous drug use of a pre­scrip­tion opi­oid painkiller called Opana, although some peo­ple reported that unpro­tected sex also led to infection.

Until now, every­body thought they could just do that at will and there was no con­se­quence to it. Now we see so many peo­ple with HIV that never knew they had it,” Scott County Sher­iff Dan McClain told ABC News affil­i­ate WHAS-TV in Louisville, Ken­tucky, about the out­break that started in mid-December.

HIV experts say they hope that the state will con­sider allow­ing a nee­dle exchange pro­gram to help com­bat the grow­ing spread of HIV infections.

Anthony Hayes, man­ag­ing direc­tor of pub­lic affairs and pol­icy at Gay Men’s Health Cri­sis in New York, said that New York’s nee­dle exchange pro­gram has helped to sig­nif­i­cantly reduce HIV infec­tions through intra­venous drug use.

Research has shown over and over again that syringe exchange reduces risky behav­ior,” said Hayes. “What needs to hap­pen is a com­pas­sion­ate reac­tion to what is a clearly a pub­lic health problem.”

Accord­ing to the Gay Men’s Health Cri­sis, the National Insti­tute of Health found that HIV rates dropped by 30 per­cent in areas with safe nee­dle exchanges.

If you clamp down too hard in an uncom­pas­sion­ate way…then what you end up doing is [dri­ving] peo­ple who are using injec­tion drugs under­ground,” he said. “Which will only increase this behavior.”

 

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Simple Rice Cooking Method May Drastically Cut Calorie Count, Scientists Say

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A sim­ple method for cook­ing rice could some­day reduce its calo­rie count by as much as 60 per­cent, the authors of a new research study say.

The tech­nique involves boil­ing the rice with a small amount of coconut oil, plac­ing it in the fridge for sev­eral hours to cool it down and then microwav­ing it briefly.

The hypoth­e­sis is that we turn more of the starch into an indi­gestible form of starch, which reduces the amount of calo­ries the body will absorb,” Dr. Push­para­jah Thavara­jva, the researcher from the Col­lege of Chem­i­cal Sci­ences in Sri Lanka who super­vised the study, told ABC News.

The sci­en­tists looked at 38 vari­eties of Sri Lankan rice and chose to test the one with the low­est amount of nat­u­rally occur­ring starch resis­tant to diges­tion, explained Sud­hair James, the grad­u­ate stu­dent who pre­sented the pre­lim­i­nary research ear­lier this week at the National Meet­ing and Expo­si­tion of the Amer­i­can Chem­i­cal Soci­ety in Den­ver. After try­ing out a vari­ety of cook­ing approaches, they found adding oil dur­ing cook­ing and cool­ing the rice down worked best, he said.

The beau­ti­ful piece is there was a fifteen-fold increase in the amount of resis­tant starch after using this method,” James said in a news con­fer­ence Wednes­day. “This led to a 10– to 15-percent calo­rie reduction.”

Starch mol­e­cules are shaped like dough­nuts, explained Thavara­jva. The added oil seeps into the holes of the mol­e­cules dur­ing cook­ing to help block diges­tive enzymes. Cool­ing the rice then allows the rice mol­e­cules to rearrange and pack together more tightly to increase their resis­tance to diges­tion, he explained.

The tech­nique shows such promise, James said, that one day it might be used in com­mer­cial prepa­ra­tions and could be a low-cost way to help fight obe­sity and type 2 diabetes.

We as sci­en­tists believe that if we are going to do this process on the best vari­eties and if this method is going to work this could be a mas­sive break­through,” James said. “We could lower the calo­ries in rice by 50 to 60 percent.”

But Thavara­jva was quick to point out that the cook­ing tech­nique will not be effec­tive with all vari­eties of rice. He said that they are not clear why it works with some types but not oth­ers and that the team needed to do more research to find out how well their exper­i­ment trans­lated into the real world.

We know that it will increase the amount of resis­tant starch and reduce calo­rie count, that’s true. But it might not lead to any real calo­rie reduc­tion ben­e­fits depend­ing upon how the starch is used by the gut bac­te­ria,” he said.

There is prece­dence for this the­ory, Thavara­jva added. Work done on pota­toes at Har­vard Uni­ver­sity and stud­ies at Indian Uni­ver­si­ties using legumes and cere­als noted sim­i­lar starch-and-calorie reduc­tions using sim­i­lar prepa­ra­tions, he said.

Could we do it with other starches like bread?” he asked. “That’s the real question.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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