Category Archives: Health & Fitness


CDC Discovers New Virus Following Mysterious Death Of Kansas Man

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Summary: After running multiple tests for infectious diseases on a recently deceased Kansas man, the CDC has announced that a fatal new virus has been found in the US.



On Friday the CDC announced the discovery of a new virus that they believe contributed to the 2014 death of a Kansas man.

Named after Bourbon county, where the patient lived, the virus is currently believed to be spread by tick or insect bites because the victim suffered multiple tick bites while working in his yard before falling ill. The Bourbon virus has been categorized as part of a group of viruses called  thogotoviruses, which are linked to tick or insect bites in Europe, Asia and Africa. The agency has stated that the 2014 case is the first time a virus in this group has been known to cause illness in the United States.

The case, as detailed in the CDC article in the agency’s “Infectious Diseases” journal, states:

The patient was a previously healthy man >50 years of age from Bourbon County, Kansas, USA. While working outdoors on his property in late spring 2014, the patient had several tick bites and found an engorged tick on his shoulder several days before he became ill with nausea, weakness, and diarrhea. The following day, a fever, anorexia, chills, headache, myalgia, and arthralgia developed. On the third day of illness, the patient went to his primary care physician, who empirically prescribed doxycycline for a presumed tickborne illness because of his history of tick bites, symptoms, and no reported travel outside the immediate area. The following morning, the patient’s wife found him obtunded (experiencing reduced consciousness) but arousable. He was taken by ambulance to a local hospital.

The CDC press release stated that while the man was hospitalized, test results for many infectious diseases came back negative. After testing blood samples they received, the agency was able to determine that a new virus had been discovered.

While this is only the first case and much remains unknown about the Bourbon virus, all the information the CDC currently has is featured on their website. The limited information means the CDC cannot recommend treatment for the illness so they are currently recommending prevention. Their Bourbon article on the agency’s website encourages people to protect themselves from transmission via tick bites by using insect repellents, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, avoiding bushy and wooded areas and checking for ticks after spending time outdoors.



New Type Of HIV Progresses To Fully Blown Aids In 3 Years

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Summary: An aggressive form of HIV which develops into AIDS in just 3 years has been discovered in Cuba. Doctors fear that the currently successful antiretroviral therapy used in HIV/AIDS treatment may be not be an effective treatment against it.




A new, more aggressive type of the HIV has been found in Cuba. The strain, called CRF19, has been also been spotted in parts of Africa, but has been found to on a larger scale throughout Cuba. Researchers from the Rega Institute for Medical Research in Belgium found the strain is capable of turning from an infection to full-blown AIDS within three years, a lot faster than the average conversion time period of about 10 years that was seen with previous, weaker strains of the virus.


In an article for Voice Of America News, Professor Anne-Mieke Vandamme said she was contacted by Cuban doctors who first encountered the new strain, asking her for help in figuring out why their HIV patients were developing AIDS so quickly. Vandamme – who is a medical professor at the University of Leuvan- and her team, studied a group of about 70 patients and divided them into various groups for testing and observation.


According to Vandamme, HIV progresses to AIDS quickly (or slowly) as a result of the strength of the patient’s immune system rather than the particular subtype of HIV involved. Her studies showed that with the HIV strain in Cuba, that is not so.

“Here we had a variant of HIV that we found only in the group that was progressing fast. Not in the other two groups. We focused in on this variant [and] tried to find out what was different. And we saw it was a recombinant of three different subtypes,” Vandamme told Voice of America News.

The new form of HIV found is Cuba has been found to be a combination of HIV sub-types A, D and G. Patients who suffer from this recombinant strain, called CRF19, also had higher viral loads (the amount of the virus found in their blood). They also had higher levels of RANTES, which are molecules produced by the body as a direct immune response to signal infection. The defining difference between this new form of HIV that is causing it to develop into AIDS faster than ever however, was found to be the speed with which the virus switched co-receptors. The process of the virus switching co receptors usually takes many years while this new strain does it in less than 3.

Vandamme has attributed this to the inclusion of HIV subtype D which contains an enzyme that enables HIV to reproduce in greater numbers and takes proteins from other subtypes and uses them in new virus particles.

Based on her research, CRF19 has been found to respond to most antiretroviral drugs however, because of the speed with which it progresses, people may not realize they have full-blown AIDS until it’s too late for therapy to do any good.


smart phone back problem

New Study Suggests Excessive Smart Phone Usage Could Result In Back Problems

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Summary: A New scientific study suggests that due to the weight of the human head, tilting our faces down to use smartphones may lead to the type of back problems that require surgery.

smart phone users



A new study published in Surgery Technology International states that chronic screen-staring could be adding up to 60 pounds of force to your spine, depending on if smart phone users are eye-shifters or hunchers when it comes to reading texts and scrolling through social media feeds.


According to the study, when one tilts the weighty human head forward, it pulls on their spine in a way that the spine is not intended to move in so frequently. Back surgeon Kenneth Hansraj wrote: “As the head tilts forward the forces seen by the neck surges to 27 pounds at 15 degrees, 40 pounds at 30 degrees, 49 pounds at 45 degrees and 60 pounds at 60 degrees.”
The study concluded that while smart phone users would not destroy their backs in a single heavy day of phone-gazing, the accumulative added stress to the muscles “could deteriorate the back and neck muscles to the point of needing surgery.”

FDA Chocolate Warning

Those With Milk Allergies Beware Of Dark Chocolate This Valentine’s

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Summary: A New FDA study has revealed that many popular brands of dark chocolate have tested positive for traces of milk. The organization is warning consumers with dairy allergies to check labels and call companies to avoid allergic reactions this Valentine’s.

dark chocolate



A new Food and Drug Administration study released Wednesday shows that there are traces of milk in some dark chocolate candy bars which generally aren’t made with milk.


In their investigation, the agency found that 55 of 93 bars of dark chocolate “without any clear indication of the presence of milk” on their labels contained some level of milk. The agency also found that 2 out of 17 dark chocolate bars that were labeled “dairy free or allergen-free” contained milk. The worst part: The bars tested were purchased from different parts of the country and from several different manufacturers.


FDA researcher Binaifer Bedford has explained that the need for caution is very real as even small amounts of products containing milk can result in severe allergic reactions in some people. In spite of the warning of imminent danger however, the agency would not say what brands of bars tested positive for milk.


Instead, they are urging consumers to contact food manufacturers to find out how they control for allergens and in the event that they experience an allergic reaction, they can call the FDA or report it online.


In their article about the study and the findings the FDA states : “Milk is one of eight major food allergens (the others are wheat, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, Crustacean shellfish and soybeans). U.S. law requires foods containing a major food allergen to provide its name—in this case, milk—on the label. This is one of the ways to help ensure consumers know what’s in the food they’re eating. Undeclared (not listed on the label) allergens are a leading cause of food recall requests by the FDA.”


Labels can be confusing however with some foods being labeled with words like “may contain traces of milk,” without telling a consumer how much milk that is, or whether it’s enough to cause a reaction. The FDA stated that of the 100 bars of dark chocolate tested in the study, 6 out of 11 that were labeled as containing “traces of milk” actually contained milk at detectable levels high enough to potentially cause severe reactions in some individuals.


The FDA said milk can inadvertently end up in dark chocolate if it is manufactured on the same equipment that makes milk chocolate. The bottom line of their consumer update article simply stating that consumers should know that a large proportion of the dark chocolate on the market contains milk and take their own measures for caution from there.



9 Uncommon Uses Of Aspirin

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Summary: Anti inflammatory drug aspirin has been found effective for multiple varying purposes. 9 of these purposes are covered and the scientific explanation for aspirin’s effectiveness is given.




Doctors have discovered that aspirin may help to slow the growth of cancer. Maggie Young from Mens compiled this awesome list of things that this common household anti-inflammatory good for. From removing soap scum and patching up drywall, here are some less known and totally useful applications of aspirin.

1. Stain Removal


Marina Gafanovich, M.D., says that aspirin can effectively remove stains, especially the yellowish underarm ones. “Allowing clothing to soak in water with aspirin can help to release stains before they’re washed the conventional way,” she says. Just mix crushed, uncoated aspirin with warm water, let the mixture sit on the stain for a few hours and then throw the clothing in the washing machine as usual.


2. Dandruff Control

The salicylic acid in aspirin is actually what is used in medicated shampoos that are specifically created to control dandruff. Gafanovich recommends simply adding aspirin to your shampoo. “It exfoliates the scalp, removing the dead skin layers that are responsible for dandruff,” she says. Crush two uncoated aspirins into a powder and combine them with a tablespoon of shampoo.


3. Treat Ingrown Hairs or Acne

Aspirin can reduce the inflamed areas within a few minutes. Simply crush aspirin and water into a paste and spread it over the ingrown hair or pimple. Leave it on for a few minutes and then wash the paste off with warm water. The salicylic acid in aspirin helps clear out anything that’s trapped in the hair follicle or pore.


4. Clean The Bathroom

Dissolving two uncoated aspirin pills in warm water and using the paste to on counter grime will surely get rid of it. Gafanovich says “It works on any surface with the same exfoliating properties, removing soap scum or other contaminants from your bathroom or counter surfaces.”


5. Repair Drywall

It can be used to patch up holes in drywall because when aspirin is wetted and then dried, it becomes like an adhesive. Mix crushed aspirin with water and use the paste as needed.


6. Hide A Hickey

Aspirin can calm the irritation caused by a hickey. Simply dissolve one or two uncoated aspirin pills in a half-cup of water and apply the paste to the area. “Adding some aspirin as a mask to your skin will increase the blood flow on the skin’s surface, which can help to quickly hide a hickey,” says Gafanovich


7. Soothe A Bug Bite

The constant itching of an insect bite can be relieved by reducing the irritation with aspirin. Just grab one plain aspirin pill, wet it and rub it on the bite for instant relief.


8. Charge A Car Battery

If you’re stranded without power, you can drop two aspirin pills into the battery cells to jump-start the charging. The sulfuric acid in the battery mixes with acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) to create one charge. It will be enough to rev up your engine and get you to the nearest service station. That being said, it seems like a good idea to stash a bottle of aspirin in your car, just in case it runs out of juice.


9. Protect Your Heart

If you have any of the major risk factors for heart disease, taking aspirin on a regular basis might help keep your ticker in good health, but it’s still not a pill to take lightly. Major risk factors that could potentially warrant aspirin use would include increasing age (65 or older), heart disease in the family or a personal history of heart problems such as a heart attack or stroke. “A heart attack is an acute blockage of a blood vessel that usually comes about due to a platelet plug,” says Ric Saguil, M.D., FAAFP. “Aspirin helps prevent these types of inflammatory responses (platelet plugs), and thins the blood.”


Consult with your doctor to make sure that aspirin would be the right choice for you as there can be serious side effects such as gut bleeding. The risks can potentially outweigh the benefits, so it’s important to have a full evaluation before popping the pill. If you have an ulcer, kidney disease history, bleeding problems, aspirin sensitivity, asthma or a past of hemorrhagic strokes, you definitely should not take aspirin.


Parents Of Obese Children In Puerto Rico May Face Fines

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Summary: A new law being considered by the Puerto Rican government may see the parents of Obese children being fined for not ensuring their children’s health improves.




In a bill aimed at improving children’s health, parents in Puerto Rico will be fined up to $800 if their children are obese. Local senator Gilberto Rodríguez said the bill currently being debated in the legislature will help parents make better health choices if implemented.


Under the proposed bill, schoolteachers must refer potential obesity cases to a counselor, who would then work with the parents of the child to create a diet and exercise program geared at achieving a healthy weight. The child’s progress would then be monitored by monthly visits. The fines come into play if children fail to show improvement within six months to a year and can range between $500 and $800 for the parents.
Obesity is a significant problem in Puerto Rico where over 28% of youngsters are reportedly defined as obese. Several doctors however, including the Puerto Rico chapter president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, have called the initiative unfair.

Man gives birth

Indian “Woman” With 95% Male Chromosomes Births Twins

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Summary: An Indian woman discovered she has a rare intersex condition that caused her to have the physical appearance of a woman in spite of being biologically male. Undergoes hormone therapy to give birth.

Man gives birth



AFP reported on Monday that an Indian “woman” who discovered she had mostly male chromosomes has given birth to healthy twins after intensive treatment in what doctors said Monday was the “rarest of rare cases”.


At 32 years old, the woman discovered that she has a rare intersex condition in which she possesses the physical appearance of a woman but has more than 95 percent XY chromosomes according to fertility specialist Sunil Jindal. Translation? Biologically, she is a man.


“She did not undergo puberty and never menstruated. When we investigated further we found that she had a very small vagina and an infantile uterus,” said doctor Jindal “Even she did not know she had this condition and was flabbergasted when we told her about it. But the husband was very supportive and told her ‘no matter what you continue to be my wife’.”

In spite of her condition, she was very determined to birth children and made the decision to undergo more than 12 months of hormonal and other medical treatments. The treatments were aimed at developing her “infantile uterus” in order to allow her to eventually carry and give birth to children. Her husband’s sperm was used to fertilise a donor egg which was then implanted in the woman’s now developed uterus.


On Friday, she finally gave birth to a healthy boy and girl. The babies were born through caesarean section, weighing 2.25 kilos (4.9 pounds) and 2.50 kilos (5.5 pounds) each.


“This is akin to a male delivering twins,” said Jindal by phone from Meerut city, “It’s nothing short of a medical miracle. We are really happy that we could pull it off.”
AFP reported that in their research, Jindal and his team of doctors discovered that there had only ever been five reported cases of such pregnancies in the world.

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Vending Machine That Sells Medicinal Marijuana Debuts In Seattle

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Summary: A new vending machine called the ZaZZZ that sells medical marijuana and marijuana products began serving customers in Seattle on Tuesday.




American Green Inc’s vending machines that sell medical marijuana opened for business in Seattle on Tuesday. The company is proudly promoting it as a first-in-the-state innovation that it expects to expand to other cities and states where medical marijuana is legal.


Branded as a “ZaZZZ”, the vending machine made it’s first sale inside the Seattle Caregivers medical marijuana dispensary. It was for one gram of a strain dubbed Girl Scout Cookies that cost $15.


“It’s a way to take something that has proven itself as a viable business model throughout the last century, and bring it into the 21st century,” said Stephen Shearin, the president of American Green Inc.


The Seattle vending machine debut comes as lawmakers in Olympia discuss numerous marijuana-related bills, including a wide-ranging proposal to align the medical and recreational industries by phasing out collective gardens and allowing medical dispensaries to transition to recreational-use shops.


Shearin revealed plans for an estimated five ZaZZZ vending machines for Seattle and Washington state, with more in the works for Colorado, California, Michigan, Rhode Island and Alaska, all among the 23 states where medical marijuana is legal.


The machines are upgraded versions of the first ZaZZZ machine that opened last April in Colorado’s Herbal Elements dispensary however that machine only sells edibles. On the other hand the new ZaZZZ in Seattle was stocked with cannabis flower, vaporizer pens, hemp-oil energy drinks and other merchandise. Shearin told Reuters that the machines would carry unique products not available in the dispensaries where they are located.
In order to use the machine, every buyer’s medical marijuana license is checked by a dispensary employee. At a recreational-use pot shop, such a machine would have to be installed behind the counter and operated by an employee, under Washington state law.


70% Of US Employees Hate Their Job

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Summary: A recent poll conducted by Gallup has shown that a vast majority of the US workforce is disengaged in the office and as a result, unhappy.




A Gallup poll published on January 28 revealed that a mere 31.5% of U.S. workers were engaged in their jobs in 2014, the highest the anemic figure has reached since the year 2000. Another 51% of the workforce were “not engaged” according to the poll and 17.5% were “actively disengaged”.


Based on Gallup’s definition of “engaged”, the data reveals that less than a third of the U.S. workforce are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work. Gallup revealed that the highest level of engagement was among managers, executives and officers – those with powerful leadership positions. On the other hand, it revealed that the least engaged people in the workforce work in the manufacturing or production sector, with transportation and service workers also falling well below the national average.


By age demographic, traditionalists were the most engaged with 42% which Gullop attributes to the the tendency among the demographic to work by choice and to do jobs they truly enjoy. Millenials were the least engaged at 28.9% which Gullop citing a consensus among the demographic that they do have the opportunity to do what they do best. This was linked to the high incidence of millenials not getting the job they wanted after leaving college.


An article by Medical daily which analysed the data from Gullop’s poll, featured a long-term solution to the problem of disengagement. Shawn Achor, a Harvard-trained positive psychologist posits that in order to experience more engagement, members of the workforce need to rewire their brains for happiness. Achor gave a TED Talk in 2011 in which he cited research that 25 percent of success at work is predicted by I.Q. He went on to say that the remaining 75 percent is predicted by optimism, social support, and the ability to see stress as a challenge rather than a threat. Achor found in his research that the brain is 31% more productive when it’s at positive as compared to neutral or stressed. He cited examples of improved function due to happiness in sales employees whose performance improved by 37%. He also cited the example of doctors being 19% faster and more accurate when coming up with a correct diagnosis when their minds were in a positive place.


The Medical Daily article featured a quote from Achor saying : “What we’re finding is it’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality and if we can change the lens, not only can we change your happiness, we can change every single educational and business outcome at the same time.”
It should also be noted that Achor has said you can train your brain to be at positive. He outlines the actions necessary to achieve it as two minutes of practicing gratitude, journaling, exercise, meditation, and/or random acts of kindness for 21 consecutive days.

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Sugary Drinks Causing Early Puberty In Girls

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Summary: A new study has revealed that girls between the ages of 9-14 experience their first period sooner when they regularly consume more than 2 artificially sweetened drinks per week.



According to a new study (pdf) out of Harvard Medical School, girls who drink artificially sweetened soda more often are more likely to start their menstrual cycles at a younger age, Quartz reports.

Researchers discovered the link between the soda intake and early periods by analyzing data from 5,583 girls in the Growing up Today Study (GUTS). The study surveyed American children from 1996 to 2001, beginning when they were between the ages of 9 to 14.


The Harvard Medical School study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, found that girls were 24% more likely to start their first menstrual cycle in the next month if they drank a minimum of 1.5 servings of sugar-sweetened drinks a day than if they drank no more than two servings per week.


This correlation applied to carbonated drinks with added sugars, but was not observed for drinks with natural sugars like fruit juice according to Karin Michels, a co-author and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. While the study did not examine the underlying reasons for the different effects both types of beverages had, Michels suggested that is is likely due to effects that the sugars in both types of beverages has on insulin levels. The natural sugar in fruit juice has less of an effect on insulin levels and changes to hormonal metabolism than the sugar added to carbonated drinks often does.


Michels told Quartz that these artificially sweetened sodas also put kids at risk for obesity, which is another cause of early menstruation. The researchers reportedly accounted for obesity in the Harvard study, and found that sugary drinks cause early menstruation regardless of weight.
The article by Quartz also mentioned that the problems linked to earlier menstruation are great and many, highlighting a Newsweek story that detailed the potentially negative psychological and emotional effects on young girls. They also mentioned another study covered by an article published by the Telegraph that highlighted other research showing that for each year a women experiences menstruation, there is an increase to the risk of breast cancer.