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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.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio


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.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
Copy­right 2014 ABC News Radio