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Study Suggests Seniors' Cognitive Function Linked to Sex Life

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Just how impor­tant is a healthy sex life? Impor­tant enough to keep seniors men­tally sharp, apparently.

Researchers in The Nether­lands tested the cog­ni­tive func­tions of about 1,750 men and women whose aver­age age was 71 while also ask­ing them ques­tions about the impor­tance of sex, both per­son­ally and in gen­eral, for older peo­ple. They also quizzed the par­tic­i­pants about their own sex lives and other top­ics con­cern­ing intimacy.

While 25 per­cent of the par­tic­i­pants felt their per­sonal sex­u­al­ity was impor­tant, four in ten didn’t. Forty-two per­cent also believed sex­u­al­ity at an older age was impor­tant, though about three in ten did not. Two-thirds agreed that inti­macy and touch­ing were nec­es­sary among the elderly.

As for how this all cor­re­sponded to cog­ni­tive func­tion­ing, the researchers deter­mined peo­ple who believed sex­u­al­ity was impor­tant and expressed sat­is­fac­tion with their sex lives did bet­ter in tests than seniors who didn’t think sex was essen­tial in old age.

Although no firm cause-and-effect link was estab­lished, the researchers sug­gested that cog­ni­tive decline can be slowed when one is either sex­u­ally active, or at least inter­ested in intimacy.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Happiness Is Eight Hours of Sleep

Wave­break Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Know why singer-songwriter Phar­rell Williams is happy? It’s because he and his hat get plenty of sleep every night. But don’t quote us on that.

Seri­ously, though, get­ting the rec­om­mended amount of sleep does seem to improve the mood of Amer­i­cans, accord­ing to a sur­vey of 7,000 adults con­ducted by Gallup and Health­ways, a well-being improve­ment company.

Researchers say peo­ple who man­aged to sleep eight hours scored a 65.7 out of 100 in the study’s well-being rat­ing sys­tem com­pared to 64.2 and 59.4 among those who slept seven and six hours, respectively.

The met­rics used to deter­mine well-being included sense of pur­pose, social rela­tion­ships, finan­cial lives, com­mu­nity involve­ment and phys­i­cal health.

The researchers add the caveat that since this was not a long-term study, they couldn’t defin­i­tively say whether eight hours of shut­eye equates to real happiness.

How­ever, this they do know for sure: just over four in ten Amer­i­can adults get fewer than seven hours of sleep and that can lead to seri­ous health issues.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Teen Who Woke Up Paralyzed Now Walking and Running Again

Ivanko_Brnjakovic/iStock/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — A Nashville, Ten­nessee, teen is cel­e­brat­ing that she’s regained the abil­ity to walk after suf­fer­ing sud­den paralysis.

Just six weeks ago, Jes­sica Shain­berg, 15, woke up with no feel­ing below her waist.

She was very calm,” her father, Jeff Shain­berg, told ABC News. “I didn’t believe her at first, [I said] ‘You gotta wake your legs up and we got to go to school.’”

Days ear­lier, Jes­sica had felt tin­gling in her legs, but after a trip to the emer­gency room, doc­tors found no signs of any­thing seri­ous and sent her home, Jeff Shain­berg said. But now the fam­ily was headed back to the hospital.

Doc­tors at Van­der­bilt Children’s Hos­pi­tal diag­nosed Jes­sica with trans­verse myelitis, or inflam­ma­tion of the spinal cord. Doc­tors then told the teen and her fam­ily there was only a one-third chance she would be able to walk nor­mally again, accord­ing to Jeff Shainberg.

They don’t know where or when it occurs,” Jeff Shain­berg said of the inflammation’s cause. “They didn’t have any way to trace it.…They didn’t find any infec­tions in the spinal fluid.”

The teen’s father said doc­tors told the fam­ily that if Jes­sica wasn’t able to walk within about six weeks then she was unlikely ever to be able to walk again.

For a week, Jeff Shain­berg said that his daugh­ter showed no improve­ment. Then, he said, she was sud­denly able to feel a tin­gling sen­sa­tion in her toes again. While just a small improve­ment, the teen was sure that she could recover.

I was like, ‘There we go, there we go,’” Jes­sica Shain­berg told ABC News affil­i­ate WKRN-TV in Nashville. “That’s the build­ing block to every­thing else I’ll be doing.”

To help the teen reha­bil­i­tate her legs in the short time frame, the fam­ily trav­eled to Children’s Health­care of Atlanta at Scot­tish Rite Hos­pi­tal. Dur­ing the weeks of reha­bil­i­ta­tion, the teen sur­passed all of her doctor’s expec­ta­tions, accord­ing to her father.

Every day she’s get­ting bet­ter and stronger. It’s a mir­a­cle,” said Jeff Shain­berg. “She just always had a great atti­tude and was will­ing to do the work with the ther­a­pist. They loved her atti­tude and they wanted to work with her continuously.”

Now the teen, an honor roll stu­dent and ten­nis player, is not only walk­ing, she’s been able to do some light running.

In Atlanta, doc­tors also real­ized that Jes­sica had signs of a rare inflam­ma­tion of the brain, called Acute Dis­sem­i­nated Encephalomyelitis (ADEM), in addi­tion to her inflamed spinal col­umn, accord­ing to Jeff Shain­berg. The sec­ond diag­no­sis could explain why she was able to recover rel­a­tively quickly, because patients with ADEM tend to have bet­ter recov­ery rates.

The doc­tors didn’t expect her to recover like that,” said Shain­berg. “They were so impressed with her rehab. They hadn’t seen a patient like this in a while.”

For now, the high school fresh­man remains out of school while she gets her strength back. Her father said she has a walker and wheel­chair — but never uses either unless she’s stand­ing for a long period of time and needs to sit.

I’m so blessed and lucky to be able to be walk­ing again,” Jes­sica Shain­berg told WKRN-TV.

While the teen is likely to start school in a few weeks, her father said doc­tors are keep­ing a close eye on her as she recov­ers. If the rare symp­toms reap­pear again, there’s a chance it could be a sign of mul­ti­ple sclerosis.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Chloe Rutzerveld's 3-D Printed 'Snack of the Future' Is Natural and Delicious

Chloe Rutzerveld(NEW YORK) — Most peo­ple don’t asso­ciate high-tech, 3-D printed food with health or taste. Dutch food designer Chloé Rutzerveld hopes to change that perception.

Rutzerveld said her new Edi­ble Growth project, which imag­ines 3-D print­ing an ele­gant yet healthy and nat­ural hors d’oeuvre, is truly “food for thought.”

[It’s] an exam­ple of high-tech but fully nat­ural, healthy, and sus­tain­able food made pos­si­ble by com­bin­ing aspects of nature, sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and design,” she explained.

The bas­ket shapes will be printed using a gelatin-like, vegan-friendly pro­tein known as agar. As it comes out of the printer, the cen­ter will be stuffed with seeds, spores and yeast. After a few days the bas­kets will sprout a tasty crop of seedlings and mush­rooms. It is the consumer’s choice at which stage they choose to eat them, Rutzerveld said.

As the appe­tiz­ers roll out the printer, Rutzerveld said, it is easy to see the straight lines of technology.

But as it devel­ops, you can see organic shapes. You can see the stages of growth and the devel­op­ment of taste and fla­vor,” she said.

Right now Edi­ble Growth is just a con­cept. Rutzerveld said 3-D print­ing is not sophis­ti­cated enough yet to pro­duce some­thing quite so com­plex. She said it will be some time before printed food moves beyond using any­thing more com­pli­cated than sugar, dough or chocolate.

It seems as if it’s easy,” she told ABC News, “but it’s not, actually.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Scopes that Spread UCLA 'Superbug' Were Awaiting FDA Clearance

File photo. (iStock/Thinkstock)(LOS ANGELES) — The man­u­fac­turer of the scopes that spread a drug-resistant “super­bug” to seven Cal­i­for­nia patients had tweaked the scopes’ design and was sell­ing them with­out fed­eral per­mis­sion to do so, accord­ing to the Food and Drug Administration.

Seven peo­ple have become infected with the drug-resistant “super­bug” known as CRE at Ronald Rea­gan UCLA Med­ical Cen­ter after under­go­ing endoscopy pro­ce­dures, and CRE may have played a role in two of those patients’ deaths, hos­pi­tal offi­cials said in Feb­ru­ary, adding that 179 peo­ple were exposed to the germ at UCLA.

The scopes — called duo­deno­scopes, which are inserted by mouth to access patients’ small intes­tine, the pan­creas and the liver — were new and had only been in use since June, health offi­cials said last month. Offi­cials added that the scopes were cleaned in accor­dance with man­u­fac­turer guide­lines. The hos­pi­tal said it traced the bac­te­ria back to two endo­scopes man­u­fac­tured by Olym­pus Cor­po­ra­tion of the Americas.

Accord­ing to the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion, Olym­pus had tweaked the design of its duo­deno­scopes and sold them with­out seek­ing clear­ance from the FDA to do so. Man­u­fac­tur­ers are sup­posed to notify the FDA of design changes 90 days before mar­ket­ing an altered device, accord­ing to the FDA website.

It was not imme­di­ately clear what Olym­pus changed about the scopes’ design or whether that change could have made the scopes more likely to har­bor bac­te­ria or more dif­fi­cult to clean and san­i­tize — and the FDA was not imme­di­ately able to clarify.

In March 2014, the FDA noti­fied Olym­pus that it needed the addi­tional clear­ance before sell­ing the altered devices, but the man­u­fac­turer did not sub­mit the request for clear­ance until Octo­ber, the FDA told ABC News. The sub­mis­sion is still “pend­ing” because the FDA asked for more data.

The FDA noted two other com­pa­nies make duo­deno­scopes, and FDA spokes­woman Karen Riley told ABC News, “It’s impor­tant to under­stand that we have received reports of infec­tions asso­ci­ated with the duo­deno­scopes man­u­fac­tured by all three device companies.”

The Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion told ABC News last month that it has been aware of clean­ing issues and bac­te­r­ial trans­mis­sions asso­ci­ated with duo­deno­scopes for more than a year.

The CDC first alerted the FDA to a poten­tial asso­ci­a­tion of multi-drug resis­tant bac­te­ria and duo­deno­scopes in fall 2013,” an agency spokesper­son told ABC News. “The FDA has been actively work­ing with fed­eral part­ners, man­u­fac­tur­ers and other stake­hold­ers to bet­ter under­stand the issues that con­tribute to the infec­tions and what can be done to mit­i­gate them.”

The FDA issued a safety com­mu­ni­ca­tion about the duo­deno­scopes fol­low­ing the UCLA CRE cases, explain­ing that duo­deno­scopes are used in about 500,000 pro­ce­dures a year, but metic­u­lous clean­ing and dis­in­fect­ing “may not entirely elim­i­nate” the risk of trans­mit­ting infec­tion. From Jan­u­ary 2012 through Decem­ber 2014, the FDA received reports of 135 patients sus­pected of con­tract­ing germs from reprocessed duo­deno­scopes, the agency said.

Accord­ing to the CDC, almost every state has had a con­firmed case of CRE, but state health depart­ments are not required to notify the CDC about CRE infec­tions. Duodenoscope-related CRE out­breaks sim­i­lar to the one at UCLA have occurred recently in Chicago, Pitts­burgh and Seattle.

Olym­pus did not respond to repeated requests for com­ments about the FDA’s asser­tion that the scopes lacked FDA clear­ance, but the com­pany said in a state­ment to ABC News last month that it was aware of reports involv­ing its duo­deno­scopes, and was work­ing with the FDA, med­ical orga­ni­za­tions and cus­tomers to address con­cerns. It was also mak­ing sup­ple­men­tal edu­ca­tional mate­ri­als avail­able to customers.

While all endo­scopes, includ­ing duo­deno­scopes, require thor­ough repro­cess­ing after patient use in order to be safe, the Olym­pus TJF-Q180V requires care­ful atten­tion to clean­ing and repro­cess­ing steps, includ­ing metic­u­lous man­ual clean­ing, to ensure effec­tive repro­cess­ing,” the com­pany said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Family of Brain-Dead Pregnant Woman Now Fighting to Change State Law

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — A fam­ily that had to go to court to get a brain-dead woman taken off life sup­port is now fight­ing to change Texas law so other fam­i­lies won’t have to go through the same ordeal.

The fam­ily of Marlise Munoz is work­ing with Texas law­mak­ers to craft a new bill that could make it eas­ier for fam­i­lies to have end-of-life deci­sions in regards to a preg­nant woman, accord­ing to a new doc­u­men­tary in pro­duc­tion cur­rently titled, The Preg­nancy Exclu­sion.

I just don’t think the gov­ern­ment can make this deci­sion for any­body,” Munoz’s hus­band, Eric Munoz, says in a clip from the upcom­ing film.

Eric Munoz did not imme­di­ately respond to a request for fur­ther com­ment made through the film producers.

The case of Marlise Munoz made inter­na­tional head­lines after the 33-year-old preg­nant para­medic was declared brain dead. While Munoz’s fam­ily wanted her taken off life sup­port, a Fort Worth, Texas, hos­pi­tal refused after cit­ing a little-known state law that pro­hib­ited remov­ing “life-sustaining” treat­ment for a preg­nant patient.

The fam­ily even­tu­ally won the case in Jan­u­ary 2014 after a judge ruled the law did not apply to Munoz because she was already deceased.

The Preg­nancy Exclu­sion, fol­lows the fam­ily as they fig­ure out how to nav­i­gate the state leg­is­la­ture sys­tem in the hopes they can change the law itself.

Eric Munoz talks in the film about what it was like to see his wife put on life sup­port after being declared brain dead.

You have a body there and you try to respect it and talk to it, but then at the same time you’re like she’s passed away, she’s dead,” he says in a clip that has been made avail­able in advance. “So you talk in your head like she can lis­ten to you in Heaven.”

Munoz said at some point he could tell his wife was dete­ri­o­rat­ing under life support.

Her hands went from being pli­able to being very rigid, very stiff,” he said. “You’re see­ing a body slowly deteriorate.”

Munoz, along with his parents-in-law, faced inter­na­tional scrutiny as both pro– and anti-abortion advo­cates took on the case.

You hear peo­ple say, ‘You’re a mon­ster to you’re going to hell,’” Eric Munoz says in a film clip. “‘Why isn’t he think­ing about the baby?’ …[Peo­ple] lit­er­ally accused me of murder.”

The fight over how the law per­ceives the rights of inca­pac­i­tated preg­nant women is likely to con­tinue for some time. Last month, a Repub­li­can state law­maker intro­duced a bill that would make it ille­gal to stop life-sustaining treat­ment for a preg­nant woman even if there is “irre­versible ces­sa­tion of all spon­ta­neous brain function.”

Rebecca Haimowitz, direc­tor of The Preg­nancy Exclu­sion, said the fam­ily is prepar­ing to tes­tify against that bill once it is brought up in a hearing.

The fam­ily has gone on this jour­ney from their own per­sonal tragedy and to activism,” said Haimowitz. “They cer­tainly didn’t ask for it.”

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


Your Gluten-Free Diet May Be a Tax Write-Off

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Cut­ting bread from your diet could poten­tially save you some bread on your taxes, finan­cial experts say.

While diet gurus debate the health mer­its for the aver­age per­son of avoid­ing the gluten pro­tein found in wheat, rye and bar­ley grains, no one dis­putes the extra cost. On aver­age, the gluten-free ver­sions of many foods were 242 per­cent pricier than the reg­u­lar prod­ucts in one National Insti­tutes of Health study.

But Mark Lus­combe, a prin­ci­pal fed­eral tax ana­lyst for the tax pub­lisher CCH, said some of the addi­tional expense of going gluten-free may be a legit­i­mate tax write-off.

If you have a rec­og­nized dis­ease where gluten-free foods help man­age the con­di­tion and you have a cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from your doc­tor, you may be able to take a deduc­tion,” Lus­combe said.

This could be good news for the 1 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion with celiac dis­ease, a diag­nosed intol­er­ance to gluten that causes severe gas­troin­testi­nal symp­toms and increases the risk of some can­cers. They should be able to write off the extra cost of buy­ing gluten-free items plus the cost of ship­ping if they buy them online. Foods that con­tain xan­than gum and sorghum flour can be fully deducted because they have no gluten-filled alternative.

As for the other 30 per­cent of Amer­i­cans who, accord­ing to the con­sumer research group NDP, avoid gluten because they believe they have some sort of insen­si­tiv­ity to it? Lus­combe said he doubted such a write-off would fly.

Even some­one with celiac will have to work hard for the tax break, Lus­combe said. They will need a note from their doc­tor and they will have to keep metic­u­lous track of how much more they spend on gluten-free prod­ucts than on other sim­i­lar prod­ucts, he added.

That means sav­ing all receipts and mak­ing notes of price dif­fer­ences. In addi­tion, to get any deduc­tion, all med­ical expenses must exceed 10 per­cent of gross adjusted income or 7.5 per­cent for peo­ple older than 65, Lus­combe said.

For those who can clear all those hur­dles, using med­ically sanc­tioned dietary restric­tions as a tax write off does have the sup­port of the Inter­nal Rev­enue Ser­vice, Lus­combe said. IRS Infor­ma­tion Let­ter 2011–0035 states: “The excess cost of spe­cially pre­pared foods designed to treat a med­ical con­di­tion over the cost of ordi­nary foods which would have been con­sumed but for the con­di­tion is an expense for med­ical care.”

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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Flat Shoes Linked to Women's Foot Problems

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — For many women, sen­si­ble, com­fort­able flats are a wardrobe staple.

Despite the shoes’ pop­u­lar­ity, how­ever, some experts have a warn­ing. They say some types of flats can lead to a host of poten­tial health prob­lems, includ­ing toe infec­tion, that could even require surgery.

The dam­age is caused when tight, pointy-toed flats put pres­sure on toe­nails, caus­ing them to bend and become ingrown. In some cases, if the sit­u­a­tion is left untreated it could lead to bone infection.

It hap­pened to 17-year-old Han­nah But­ler. The Illi­nois teen had to resort to surgery to remove an ingrown toe­nail caused by repeated use of the wrong flats.

I brought my shoes in to my doctor…he fig­ured that that was caus­ing the mul­ti­ple ingrown toe­nails,” she said.

Experts say the prob­lem hap­pens because most women are unaware of what some flats are really doing to their feet.

It’s funny because so many women think they’re bet­ter off wear­ing flats than heels but in reality…flats can be worse than heels 100 times over,” Dr. Mar­lene Reid, a podi­a­trist and spokes­woman for the Amer­i­can Podi­atric Med­ical Asso­ci­a­tion, said.

But you don’t have to get rid of flats alto­gether from your wardrobe. Experts say you should wear flats with rounded or squared-shapes toes. It gives toes wig­gle room and alle­vi­ates pres­sure on the big toe.

Reid said there are many dif­fer­ent styles of flat shoes available.

Flats come in all dif­fer­ent styles, all dif­fer­ent types, all dif­fer­ent con­struc­tion,” Reid said. “There are flats that are more flimsy than what we con­sider reg­u­lar flats.”

You have to look at the shoe itself to deter­mine if it’s the right shoe for you,” she said.

Fol­low @ABCNewsRadio
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