Health & Fitness


Longtime Anchor Announces ALS Diagnosis

ABC News(DURHAM, N.C.) -- Little did longtime news anchor Larry Stogner know that when he did the ALS ice bucket challenge last summer, he already had the genetic disease in his body.

Stogner, an anchor on ABC News' North Carolina station WTVD for 40 years, announced that he will be retiring and has been diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

"For nearly four decades, I've met you right here, usually at 6," Stogner began, addressing viewers. "Boy, we've seen a lot of change over those years. But, we have to stop meeting this way."

Before announcing the diagnosis, he drew attention to his voice.

"I am sure that in recent months, you've noticed a change in my voice, my speech [is] slower," he said. "Many of you were kind enough to email me ideas about what it might be, or just to show concern, and I truly appreciate that."

"As it turns out, I have ALS, Lou Gehrig's Disease," he added.

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a an incurable neurological disease that eventually causes the brain to stop communicating with the muscles. Those who have it eventually lose their ability to move and speak, and the condition is fatal. Some, like Stephen Hawking, are able to survive, in part, thanks to breathing mechanisms.

The ALS ice bucket challenge took the nation by storm as people challenged each other to either douse themselves with a bucket of ice water and share it on social media or donate to ALS research.

Stogner took the challenge, too, and said "little did I know it was about to change my life."

He said his career was over, and he was "blessed" to have had such a great job at WTVD. He will take a vacation and return to the air in two weeks to say goodbye to his viewers, he added.

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Super Bowl Parties Hike Calorie Counts

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Forget the New England Patriot’s deflategate. Diet experts say the real Super Bowl story is actually “inflategate” -- the anticipated eating frenzy at Super Bowl parties everywhere.

In fact, the average American will inflate their waistline several inches by gobbling up at least 2,400 calories during the four to five hour football viewing extravaganza, according to the Calorie Control Council, a low calorie food industry group.

That makes it the second biggest day of gluttony after Thanksgiving.

The number is far from scientific. Sylvia Poulos, the registered dietician who is a spokeswoman for the council, said the calorie consumption estimate comes from a list of popular food items people typically purchase for game day parties plus some statistics from other food industry groups.

Whatever the true count, the evidence does suggest a belt popping day of eating for the Feb. 1 game.

Americans will scarf down roughly 11.2 million pounds of potato chips, 8.2 million pounds of tortilla chips, 3.8 million pounds of popcorn, and 3 million pounds of nuts, said the Snack Food Association. They’ll eat nearly 1 billion chicken wings on game day, according to the National Chicken Council. An estimated 48 million Americans will also order takeout, predicted the National Restaurant Association, while another 12 million people during the big game.

The Calorie Control Council’s number assumes eating two slices of pizza, five mini hotdogs, a variety of chips, dip, wings and other snacks, at least three beers and regular sodas plus several desserts.

“You do tend to overeat because you’re so busy paying attention to the game, you don’t realize what’s going in your mouth,” said Connecticut-based exercise physiologist Tom Holland.

Studies by the Cornell University’s Food and Psychology lab confirmed Holland’s theory. Researchers threw a Super Bowl party so they could count up how many chicken wings their guests ate from a buffet. The subjects who had their leftover wing bones swept away ate, on average, seven wings -- an additional 200 calories compared to those who sat at the messier, un-bussed tables. When the wings were boneless, their calorie intake increased by 35 percent.

The lack of bones created a sort of caloric blindness in the party goers, head researcher Brian Wansink speculated.

"All the evidence of what they'd eaten was removed," he explained. "There was nothing left to remind them of how many calories they'd consumed."

Even someone trying to practice restraint can easily lob a calorie bomb at their diet, said Holland.

For example, eating just the two slices of pepperoni pizza and a few beers cross the 1000 calorie threshold and pack nearly a day’s worth of fat, cholesterol and sodium, according to calculations from the USDA nutrition database.

To counteract a Super Bowl spread, Holland recommended having a good offense and a good defense.

“Work out extra hard and really watch what you eat a few days before the game,” he advised. “Then after the game hit the gym harder for a couple of weeks and cut back on your calories.”

Holland also advised focusing your exercise efforts on shorter, higher intensity workouts because they burn a good number of calories in a short period of time and offer a temporary boost to the metabolism.

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Can 36 Questions Create Closeness Between Strangers?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Can you create closeness in 36 questions?

That’s what sociologist Arthur Aron attempts to do. In a study titled “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings,” published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a journal of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Aron and his co-authors seek to discover whether they can “create closeness in a reasonably short amount of time.” The questions are designed to simplify things and help people get to know each other quickly.

Aron, of the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and his co-authors designed these questions based on a lot of research into how friendships naturally develop.

“The questions gradually get more and more personal, so they begin with questions that are almost small talk and then they move to talk about some of the deepest, most intimate things in your life,” he said.

The questions include the following:

  • Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?
  • If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
  • When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

Aron said the the questions gradually get more and more personal.

“They begin with questions that are almost small talk and then they move to talk about some of the deepest, most intimate things in your life,” he said, adding: “There's reason to think that getting close would facilitate love and feeling romantic feelings."

He said he and his co-authors designed the questions for strangers, but added that research suggests sharing personal things -- as long as it’s reciprocated and both parties are responsive -- helps all kinds of relationships.

Samantha Daniels, a professional matchmaker, sees the benefits and drawbacks of the list.

“Well, falling in love really is about chemistry and chemistry is an intangible, but what I say is you need two types of chemistry. You need physical chemistry and then you need mental and emotional chemistry so questions like these help people find that second half, which is the mental and emotional chemistry, but at the same time you have to be careful because you don't want to cross the line too quickly. You don't want to ask too many personal questions or pry because that could send you in the wrong direction,” she said.

On a first date, it’s important to not make your date uncomfortable, she said.

“You know, in the 36 questions there's one asking how you think you're going to die. You know that's a little extreme to be asking on a first date,” she said. “I think that that's off-putting, number one, and it puts you in a really serious, heavy place on a date and you just don't want to be in that place on a first date because it doesn't really help.”

Stuart Kenworthy, 28, and Kyle Godfrey-Ryan, 31, are complete strangers who took the 36 questions. They asked each other the questions, and completed the last part of the exercise by staring deeply into each other’s eyes for four minutes.

Asked how the exercise went, Godfrey-Ryan said there was “a lot more connection” than she expected.

“It was really disarming and I felt very vulnerable but happy and comfortable at the same time," she said.

Added Kenworthy: “I was nervous at first but definitely more comfortable as the questions progressed but I was worried about my answers. ‘Am I smiling too much, do I look nervous’ and as we progressed I became very comfortable with Kyle."

Godfrey-Ryan she would “definitely have coffee" with Kenworthy, and she believes the questions did what they were designed to do.

“They do work -- I believe they work,” she said.

Here are all 36 questions:

Set I

1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?

2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?

3. Before making a telephone call, do you ever rehearse what you are going to say? Why?

4. What would constitute a “perfect” day for you?

5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?

6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year-old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?

7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?

8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.

9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?

10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?

11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.

12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained any one quality or ability, what would it be?

Set II

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?

14. Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

16. What do you value most in a friendship?

17. What is your most treasured memory?

18. What is your most terrible memory?

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?

20. What does friendship mean to you?

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?

22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?


25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “We are both in this room feeling ..."

26. Complete this sentence: “I wish I had someone with whom I could share ..."

27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.

28. Tell your partner what you like about them; be very honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.

29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.

30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?

31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.

32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?

33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?

34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?

35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?

36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.

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Scientists Crack Code on How to Un-Boil a Hard-Boiled Egg

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Scientists have cracked the code for un-boiling hard-boiled egg whites and it could have huge implications for cancer research.

Egg whites are made of proteins that start out with a certain shape, explained Gregory Weiss, a professor of chemistry and molecular biology at the University of California, Irvine, and the experiment’s lead researcher.

“Once you boil them, the proteins stay intact but they change their conformation,” he said.

This is a big deal because even chemists assumed once you hard-boiled an egg it was game over, Weiss explained. But his team has been able to reverse the process so that proteins can be recovered and reused.

In a sort of scientific magic trick, Weiss and his team first peeled the egg whites away from the yolks and soaked them in a chemical called urea to dissolve them. They then placed them in a device called a “vortex fluid machine,” which spins the whites at high speeds to restore them to their original state.

The process is complete in minutes rather than days, Weiss said, and this is good news for those who use similar proteins in cancer research.

Certain proteins are quite useful in the lab but they tend to mis-fold into the wrong format, rendering a large portion of them useless. This new method is a quick and simple way to coax them back into their initial forms and prevent them from clumping up inside lab instruments.

“We are already using it in our cancer research here,” Weiss said, adding that he hoped the technique will be used on a larger scale within the next few years.

However, don’t expect this discovery to revolutionize fine dining. While it’s certainly possible to reverse a hard-boiled yolk, Weiss said they haven’t yet bothered trying. And, he said, it’s also theoretically possible to un-cook a chicken but the process would make it taste awful.

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Watch US Soldiers Work in Hot Zone to Build Ebola Treatment Units

John Moore/Getty Images(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The United States military has completed the last of its 17 Ebola treatment units (ETUs) in Liberia.

Rather than contracting out the construction, American soldiers picked up hammers themselves and worked side by side with the Armed Forces of Liberia for the final ETU under Operation United Assistance.

Working 12-hour days in a remote rainforest brought plenty of challenges but also camaraderie rarely seen on a military mission.

Watch the video below as ABC News was there from start to finish to show the building of bonds as well as Ebola treatment blocks:

Maj. Gen. Gary Volesky, who leads the Joint Command task force on the ground, told ABC News that the Department of Defense will decide this month the future of the operation against Ebola and whether to send troops home. About 450 non-essential service members have already returned to the United States. Unlike neighboring Sierra Leone, the spread of the disease has been steadily decreasing in Liberia.

The U.S. military has not only helped build ETUs in Liberia, but troops have also trained more than 1,500 health workers to go into these hot zones. In a mock ETU in the capital Monrovia and in mobile courses in more remote regions, soldiers drilled doctors and other medical staff on how to tackle and treat the dangers of the deadly disease.

Classes covered everything from confronting uncooperative patients to avoiding contamination from bodily fluids and blood, realistically simulated by red ratatouille sauce from the military's Meals Ready to Eat (better known as MREs).

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Seven in 10 Have a Favorable View of the CDC

James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(WASHINGTON) — During the midst of last fall's panic in the U.S. over Ebola, there was a lot of grumbling about how the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seemed to have dropped the ball in its response to the possible spread of the deadly virus.

However, after all is said and done, the CDC still comes on top when 1,500 adults were asked their opinions about various government agencies in a new Pew Research Center poll.

Seventy percent of respondents expressed a favorable view of the CDC, which has come under some recent fire over the relative ineffectiveness of a vaccine used to battle this winter's flu epidemic. Meanwhile, 23 percent of Americans said they have an unfavorable view of the CDC.

Two federal agencies, NASA and the Defense Department, also received favorable marks of 68 percent and 65 percent respectively.

Of the eight agencies reviewed, only the Internal Revenue Service was reviewed more disfavorably than favorably, 48 percent to 45 percent.

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