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Adequate Sleep at College Is a Precious Commodity


iStock/Thinkstock(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) -- College is a time for classes, studying and socializing, which obviously doesn’t leave much time for snoozing.

In fact, a University of Alabama survey of sleep behaviors and attitudes found that 60 percent of college students aren't getting enough sleep, compared to a third of the general population, which makes the same claim.

Unlike the rest of America, Dr. Adam Knowlden says that it’s not medical problems that keep most students up, but stress and a lack of time. Meanwhile, the majority don’t consider the health benefits of adequate sleep in their decision to burn the candle at both ends while at school.

Knowlden chalks it up to the feeling of independence young adults experience when they’re away from home. Of course, this makes it more difficult to find the right “balance between juggling classes, finances, social lives, athletics, volunteer work, parental expectations and employment.”

If they want to improve their sleep behaviors, according to Knowlden, students need to reduce stress, which can be done by learning how to better manage time and money.

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Botox May Stop Spread of Stomach Cancer


iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Botox is largely considered a vanity drug because it solves non-life-threatening problems, such as wrinkles on the forehead or crow’s feet. However, Botox could one day be a lifesaver when it comes to fighting at least one form of cancer.

Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, reports on a new study that involved injecting mice with Botox to stop the spread of stomach cancer.

What researchers found was that by paralyzing nerves that connect to tumors, Botox appears to stop the spread and progression of tumors while improving the odds of surviving the cancer.

Lichtenfeld admits that the results are only preliminary and it will take some time before researchers know whether Botox will produce the same results in humans.

Cases of stomach cancer have been rising in recent years due to obesity and reflux diseases. Unfortunately, they’re often not diagnosed until after the cancer is advanced, requiring either chemotherapy or surgery.

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Switzerland: The World Leader in Suicide Tourism


iStock/Thinkstock(ZURICH) -- Most people take vacations to get some rest.  But in some cases, it's for eternal rest.

Apparently, Switzerland is a popular destination to end one's life, according to University of Zurich researchers.

One of the chief reasons is that there are six right-to-die organizations, four of which permit foreigners to use their services.

After examining data, the researchers learned that 611 tourists made Switzerland their last-ever destination vacation between 2008 and 2012.

Germany led the way with 268 suicides committed by people from that country, followed by Britain with 126 people who took advantage of so-called "suicide tourism."

Rounding out the top five were France, Italy and the U.S., with 21 nationals who ended their own lives in Switzerland.

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Experimental Ebola Drug's Role in Americans' Recoveries Remains Unclear


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- American Ebola survivor Dr. Kent Brantly credited doctors, God and an experimental drug for his recovery Thursday. But experts say it’s unclear whether the drug, known as ZMapp, helped or hindered his recovery.

Brantly and fellow American aid worker Nancy Writebol contracted the virus while working in Liberia with the missionary groups Samaritan’s Purse and SIM. They received ZMapp -- a cocktail of three antibodies that attack the virus -- and were evacuated from the growing outbreak zone to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they were isolated for at least two weeks.

"Today is a miraculous day," Brantly said Thursday as he was released from the hospital. "Through the care of the Samaritan’s Purse and SIM missionary team in Liberia, the use of an experimental drug, and the expertise and resources of the health care team at Emory University Hospital, God saved my life -- a direct answer to thousands and thousands of prayers."

Brantly was the first human to receive ZMapp, which until recently had only been tested in monkeys. His condition improved within an hour, according to the aid group Samaritan’s Purse. But Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s infectious disease unit, said drug’s role in his and Writebol’s survival is unclear.

"Frankly we do not know if it helped them, made any difference, or even delayed their recovery," he said.

Out of six people known to have received ZMapp, two have recovered, three have shown improvement and one has died, according to the World Health Organization. Even the drug's manufacturer, California-based Mapp Pharmaceuticals, acknowledges the lack of evidence that the drug actually works against the Ebola virus.

"We don’t know," the company's website reads, stressing that larger trials are needed to determine the drug's safety and effectiveness.

But those studies might have to wait. Mapp Pharmaceuticals said it has run out of ZMapp after complying with "every request for ZMapp that had the necessary legal/regulatory authorization," adding that the drug was "provided at no cost in all cases." The company is currently working with the U.S. government to accelerate scaled up production, it said in a statement.

"The work to date has been funded by grants and contracts that were only sufficient to produce doses for animal safety and efficacy testing," the company's website reads. "The present epidemic has changed the picture dramatically, and additional resources are being brought to bear on scaling up."

Ebola continues to spread through West Africa, where nearly 2,500 people have contracted the virus. Roughly 47 percent those infected have survived, according to WHO, making it difficult to understand the role of any experimental treatments.

In addition to ZMapp, Samaritan's Purse said Brantly also received a blood transfusion from a 14-year-old Ebola survivor -- another unproven treatment with unknown results.

"We have no idea how that might have affected his outcome," Ribner said, adding that "there is a crying need for research" into experimental Ebola treatments.

A group of 100 doctors, researchers, ethicists and drug developers is scheduled to meet in early September to discuss "the most promising experimental therapies and vaccines and their role in containing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa," WHO announced Thursday, adding that "ways to ramp up production of the most promising products" will be explored.

More than 20 experts from West Africa are expected to attend, the agency said.

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How Ebola Survivors Have Fought the Stigma


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The recovery and release of two American Ebola patients has spotlighted a lingering side effect of the deadly disease: stigma.

Dr. Kent Brantly and missionary Nancy Writebol contracted the virus while working in Liberia. They received an experimental drug and were evacuated from the growing outbreak zone to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, where they were isolated for at least two weeks.

Brantly was released from the hospital on Thursday. Writebol was released on Tuesday.

In West Africa, where the virus has at least 1,350 of the 2,473 people infected, survivors are feared in their communities.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids. Though it is not known why some people survive and others do not, blood tests can determine when the patient has recovered, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"I think there’s been enough study of previous patients such that once individuals have recovered, their ability to transmit Ebola to someone else is virtually nil," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee.

The virus only tends to linger in semen and vaginal fluid for a few extra weeks, Schaffner added.

"That doesn’t imperil any of their neighbors the people who sit next to them at restaurants, the folks that they meet at church and any other casual person," Schaffner said. "From a public health point of view, they’re of no risk to anybody else. That’s really, really well established or else they would not be releasing these people into the general population."

Still, Schaffner said the general public may be anxious anyway. Words from “people in white coats” alone aren’t enough to change minds, he said, likening the situation to people’s initial fear of AIDS and HIV patients despite scientific proof that they were no danger to the general public.

“I’m reminded of Princess Diana hugging HIV-infected children,” he said. “That’s what you need. You need other validating people to grasp Kent Brantly by the hand, say, ‘Welcome home,’ and then put their arms around him.”

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Gymnastics Skills Help Colorado Man Survive 100-Foot Plunge


iStock/Thinkstock(CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo.) -- A Colorado man plunged 100 feet while hiking but managed an improbable landing, using his gymnastics skills to help keep him alive.

Dylan Schuetz, 21, fell last week at St. Mary’s Glacier, a popular spot for hikers.

He tumbled head-first over the ledge, with death almost certain. But just as he has done at the gym countless times, Schuetz flipped mid-air to land on his feet. That move stunned his friend Cody Tengler.

“He spots his landing and then kind of does a flip, a front flip over himself,” Tengler recalled.

Schuetz broke both of his legs and ankles in the fall. He also punctured a lung. His frightened friends tried desperately to keep him conscious until help arrived.

“We just kept talking to him, do everything that you can to keep him alive and going, and just have hope,” Matthew Campbell, Schuetz’s friend, told ABC News.

Schuetz is recovering at Colorado Hospital, with another surgery scheduled for Friday.

His mother, Stacey Dale-Schuetz, says her son plans to never hike again. But he vows to return to the sport he loves, the one that may have saved his life.

“The doctor said, ‘Do you want to do gymnastics again, Dylan?’ And he said, ‘Yeah!’ He said, ‘Well then, we’ll get you there,'" his mother recalled. “Anything he wants to do, I know he’ll accomplish.”

His family has set up a fundraising page -- “Dylan Schuetz Road to Recovery.” Click here to learn more.


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Woman Credits Hypnosis for 140-Pound Weight Loss


Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Is the secret to weight loss simply tricking your mind into thinking you had gastric bypass surgery? That’s what happened to Julie Evans, an overwhelmed mom of two small children, who at her biggest weighed 287 pounds.

Evans claims hypnosis helped her begin craving healthy foods instead of junk.

“All I wanted was spinach,” Evans, 35, told ABC News. “I wanted salad. It was the creepiest feeling in the whole wide world.”

She admits it sounds crazy, but says hypnosis was her trick to shedding 140 pounds and actually keeping it off.

“I was the biggest skeptic ever,” she explained. “I haven’t had fast food since. I don’t even crave it.”

Back in 2006, however, Evans ate fast food and junk food every day. It wasn’t until a vacation to Hawaii that she realized she was too embarrassed to show her body in a bathing suit and decided it was time for a change.

“I was at that point where this was holding me back from living,” she said.

Evans’ mom convinced her to try hypnosis and, although skeptical, she went to a seminar featuring hypnotherapist Rena Greenberg.

“We have a lot of old patterns that are bombarding the mind and what we’re doing is sort of rewriting the script,” Greenberg said of her tactics.

Greenberg says she has her clients visualize pushing the plate away because you’re no longer hungry or going to the gym instead of binging on cookies. And after only one session, Evans says it changed the way she ate.

“I would pause and think about what I’m putting inside of me,” she recalled.   

Still, critics say it won’t work for everyone.

“It’s unproven,” Rebecca Solomon, a dietician and nutritionist, explained. “It doesn’t work for all and the studies do show you have to believe it’s going to work for it to work.”

For Evans however, she’s going to the gym for the first time in her life and listens to her hypnosis CDs when she feels like she’s getting off track. She has successfully kept the weight off for seven years and tells the skeptics not to judge until they’ve tried it.

“It worked for me,” she said. “But I do think you have to have an open mind and be willing to listen.”

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School Year Set to Kick Off with Relaxed Lice Policies


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- School nurse Mary Beierle is unfazed by flocks of head lice in a young student’s hair. She simply sends the student back to class, she said.

“I alert the parents, but we allow the child to finish out the school day,” said Beierle, district nurse for the Palos Heights School District in Illinois, who thinks back-to-school head lice checks are a waste of time. Kids are usually back to school the next day.

Beierle’s “live and let lice” attitude may surprise any parent whose lice-infested child has been banished from school until the last nit has died off. But this more relaxed policy has the support of top health organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of School Nurses.

“They’re not dangerous and it’s more important for kids to go to school,” said Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics.

There are as many as 12 million head lice infestations each year among American kids, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the bugs -- while a nuisance -- are essentially harmless. The sesame seed-sized critters and their nits, or eggs, can cause itching and discomfort, but they don’t spread disease. They aren’t even particularly contagious, Shu said.

“Just being in same classroom is not going to give you lice,” she said. “You need close head-to-head contact.”

Shu recommends children avoid sharing hats, combs or brushes and steer clear of huddle situations with touching heads. Coats and personal belongings are better-off stored in a personal locker or a bag rather than mingled together on hooks, she added.

Treatment for lice usually involves saturating the hair with an over-the-counter rinse or paying upwards of $100 an hour for a lice removal service. If the bugs survive and continue to move on the head, you need to repeat the treatment or consider a prescription-strength medication, Shu said.

By the time a school has seen a head or two of lice, the critters are already spreading, Shu said. At that point, removing a child from school does little to stop them from making the rounds.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and National Association of School Nurse support the end of “no nit” policies that ban children from school until they’re completely nit-free. And the CDC says that nits remaining after treatment are typically too far from the scalp to hatch into crawling lice.

Many leftover nits are empty shells, known as casings, according to the CDC.

“Getting kids back into class sooner is less traumatic for the child and they don’t miss out on so much class time like they used to in the past,” Beierle said. “It cuts back on the stigma of lice, too.”

Beierle said her school district’s relaxed policy on lice worried some parents at first. But after an intensive campaign that involved meetings and pamphlets, she said she’s seen less pushback.

“Once they get past their misconceptions about lice, most parents understand and agree with the policy,” she said.

And despite the more laissez-faire rules, Beierle’s district sees only a couple cases of lice a year, she said -- a number on par with rates from the zero-tolerance era.

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Americans with Ebola Released from Atlanta Hospital


Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantley have been cured of the Ebola virus and released from Emory Hospital in Atlanta.

Both patients were given blood and urine tests to determine whether they still had the virus, and Writebol left the hospital Tuesday. Brantley, 33, was released Thursday.

“After a rigorous course of treatment and testing, the Emory Healthcare team has determined that both patients have recovered from the Ebola virus and can return to their families and community without concern for spreading this infection to others,” Dr. Bruce Ribner, director of Emory’s Infectious Disease Unit, said in a statement released Thursday.

Writebol's husband said in the statement that Writebol left the hospital in a "significantly weakened condition."

Brantly contracted the deadly virus while working in a Liberian Ebola ward with the aid agency Samaritan’s Purse. He was evacuated to the U.S. earlier this month along with Writebol.

Brantly is the first-ever Ebola patient to be treated in the U.S. and the first human to receive the experimental serum known as ZMapp.

According to reports, Brantly’s condition deteriorated so quickly that doctors in Africa decided to give him the drug in a last-ditch effort to save him.

Brantly’s condition started to improve dramatically within an hour after getting the serum, according to Samaritan’s Purse, but it’s unclear if the improvement was directly related to the medication. After his health stabilized, Brantly was evacuated on a specially outfitted plane to Atlanta in early August to the hospital isolation ward.

Writebol, 59, also survived after getting the serum.

The virus has killed at least 1,229 and sickened 1,011 more, according to numbers released Tuesday by the World Health Organization. Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia have the most cases.


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Anti-Pot Group Claims Roads More Dangerous Since Legalization


iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- Opponents of Colorado’s legalized marijuana laws think that a new report on vehicular fatalities related to pot use might help them eventually reinstate a ban against the drug.

Tom Gorman, director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program, says that when laws against marijuana use started being relaxed in 2012, deaths involving cars when someone tested positive for grass jumped to 78, compared to 39 fatalities in 2007.

This includes people with marijuana in their system who may have been a motorist, a bicyclist or a pedestrian.

According to Gorman, driving while stoned impairs judgment and reaction time “and when that happens you're potentially a danger on the road.”

He believes these findings could eventually lead to the re-criminalization of the sale and use of marijuana within four to six years.

However, Michael Elliott, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Group, contends the research Gorman’s group uses is faulty because people can test positive for pot three weeks after smoking it.

Elliott also says that in the actual period covered by the report, overall traffic deaths in Colorado fell by 15 percent.

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Study: RAVE Act Hurts, Doesn't Help, Club Drug Users


iStock/Thinkstock(NEWARK, Del.) -- The 2003 RAVE Act is a monumental flop when it comes to discouraging the use of club drugs like Ecstasy and Molly.

That’s the conclusion of Tammy L. Anderson, a sociology professor at the University of Delaware. She says the law, which stands for Reducing Americans’ Vulnerability to Ecstasy, has only discouraged club owners and promoters from taking steps to prevent people from becoming ill from club drugs.

Prior to the RAVE Act, free bottled water was provided to help hydrate drug users, while security often roamed dance floors to find anyone who might appear in distress. Outside clubs, independent groups often tested drugs to let people know whether they contained dangerous ingredients.

Yet, because the RAVE Act makes club owners and promoters targets for prosecution, they no longer provide services that benefit the health of their customers, who are going to use club drugs regardless of the law.

What’s more, some clubs won’t even call for medical assistance, feeling that will get them in trouble with the law, according to Anderson.

She calls the RAVE Act just another failure in the War on Drugs, adding, “It never worked in the past, and it’s not working now.”

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Could Quality of Marriage Depend on Size of Wedding Guest List?


iStock/Thinkstock(DENVER) -- The bigger the wedding guest list, the better the marriage?

As disconnected as that might sound, it’s true, according to University of Denver research professors Galena K. Rhoades and Scott M. Stanley, who conducted the study with University of Virginia's National Marriage Project Director W. Bradford Wilcox.

For instance, among couples who invited 150 or more people to their wedding, 47 percent reported a high-quality marriage. Meanwhile, just 31 percent of couples with under 50 guests said they had a quality marriage.

What’s the reason for the disparity? Wilcox explains, “Couples with larger networks of friends and family may have more help, and encouragement, in navigating the challenges of married life.” 

Wilcox adds that the expense of the wedding, just because it's larger, really does not factor into it.

Meanwhile, Rhoades and Stanley say that higher marital quality also may be due to couples having fewer premarital relations, not more. The researchers believe that when people have a lot of experience with other partners, it puts the marriage at a disadvantage because a husband or wife may unfairly compare their spouse to former lovers.


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Pregnant Women Advised Not to Emulate Celebrity Baby Bumps


iStock/Thinkstock(WELLINGTON, New Zealand) -- Other than Jessica Simpson, who gained a healthy amount of weight during her two pregnancies, celebrities seem to look only slightly different from their usual svelte selves when carrying a baby.

Although keeping their figures under control might be good for stars, Jayne Krisjanous at Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand fears that a pregnant woman may undermine the relationship with her unborn child by obsessing over celebrity baby bumps.

Krisjanous points out that one of the drawbacks of clamoring for a possibly unattainable celebrity look during pregnancy is that it could lead to poor body image and depression.

In her research of nearly 500 pregnant women, Krisjanous says that an even greater danger is that when women experience an abundance of celebrity attraction, it “can lead to a reduced level of prenatal attachment.”

Krisjanous recommends that moms-to-be pay less attention to pregnant celebrities and concentrate more on their own health and that of their babies.

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WHO Provides Ebola Update, Notes More Than 200 New Cases in West Africa


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The World Health Organization provided another update on the spread of the ongoing Ebola virus outbreak on Wednesday, noting 221 new cases and 106 additional deaths between Aug. 17 and Aug. 18.

In total the WHO says, there have been 2,473 cases of Ebola reported. The disease has killed 1,350 people thus far in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

Of the new cases, they remain contained to Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with Liberia seeing the most new cases. Between Aug. 17 and 18, there were an additional 126 cases and 95 deaths reported in Liberia.

About 1,460 cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the four countries, and 805 deaths confirmed related to the Ebola virus. The WHO also tallies "probable" and "suspected" cases of Ebola.

Also on Wednesday, the California Department of Public Health said that a possible Ebola patient in Sacramento is being considered a low-risk case, though blood samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention out of an abundance of caution.

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ALS Association Says Ice Bucket Challenge Helped Raise Largest Day of Donations Ever


Fuse/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Association said on Wednesday that donations from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge continue to flow in at a rapid pace, with over $31 million in donations in the last three weeks.

Since July 29, the ALS Association said that is has received charitable donations from 637,527 new donors. The donation total, which has reached approximately $31.5 million is far higher than the $1.9 million in donations received during the same time period last year.

The ALS Association, founded in 1985, said that it has its largest day of donations ever on Tuesday, taking in $8.6 million in donations.

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