Packets of instant noodles, long a staple of the college-kid diet,  can lead to illness if not balanced out with healthy fruits and  vegetables.

College students may be putting their health on a back burner by filling up on instant noodles and baked beans.

By consuming energy-dense foods and instant meals, students are increasing their risk of getting chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, according to a new study in Australia.

“There seems to be an acceptance out there that getting by on less nutritious food is a typical part of being a university student,” said Dr. Danielle Gallegos, who along with Kai Wen Ong surveyed more than 800 university students in Brisbane, Australia. “But a diet of baked beans and instant noodles is not good enough when health and academic results are at stake.”

A quarter of the students who participated in the research reported experiencing “food insecurity” in the year prior to the survey, and some 6% said they were repeatedly hungry.

Gallegos, who presented her findings at a national conference of dietitians in Melbourne, Australia this week, said vulnerable groups such as low income people who can’t afford to buy healthy foods tend to be either underweight or overweight.

Count college kids among these vulnerable people.

“Two thirds of the food-insecure students in our study ate less than two servings of fruit per week and 4% had no fruit at all,” Gallegos said.

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'The Doctors' hosts Dr. Drew Ordon (l.) and Dr. Jim Sears sample  the product while discussing the health benefits of urine.

You've got to pee it to believe it.

The hosts of the syndicated talk show "The Doctors" got down and dirty this week to discuss the benefits of drinking urine or using it as a skin cream.

"Some people drink urine because they believe it has health benefits," said host Dr. Travis Stork, an emergency room physician.

"We've talked about urea and creatinine on the skin actually potentially having some benefits," said plastic surgeon Dr. Drew Ordon, of two of the compounds found in urine.

Putting their theories to the test, Ordon then took a sip from what appeared to be a vial of urine while co-host Dr. Jim Sears, a pediatrician, dabbed some on his face with a cotton ball.

"Do I look younger," Sears asked, while audience members were heard groaning in disgust.

While drinking urine has been known to help people stay hydrated in emergency situations, and "urine therapy" advocate groups exist around the world, medical experts disagree about its benefits in everyday life.

People who believe that urine can improve their complexions are "daft as brushes," nutrition expert Dr. Michael Stroud told Britan's Independent in a 2006 report.

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Raw bok choy contains an enzyme that can be harmful - when three  pounds of the veggie are consumed daily.

The 88-year-old went to an emergency room here in the city last summer when she was unable to swallow or walk, according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

She’d apparently been eating between 2 and 3 pounds of bok choy - also called Chinese white cabbage - daily for several months. The reason? The woman thought eating the equivalent of two or three large heads each day would help keep her diabetes in check.

New York University School of Medicine's Dr. Michael Chu, a resident who took care of her, reported that she’d crunched her way through the boy choy with no seasoning, not even a pinch of salt.

"I am not sure if she had trouble consuming so much bok choy," Chu said. "It never came up that it was difficult to do so."

The woman, who contracted a severe case of hypothyroidism, was diagnosed with a thyroid-induced coma that required potent anti-inflammatory medicines and injections of a synthetic thyroid hormone to treat. The bok choy overload was dangerous since this particular vegetable contains an enzyme that can hinder the thyroid’s ability to function. Cooking the bok choy would have deactivated the enzyme.

The happy ending? She recovered and went to live in a nursing home.

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Bret Michaels' small 'warning stroke' bears much more evaluation,  doctors say.
The mini stroke that sent rocker Bret Michaels back to the hospital resulted in tests that revealed he has a small hole in his heart, according to People magazine. And while doctors think the two conditions aren't related to Michaels' earlier brain hemorrhage, they say such a stroke, called a TIA (or transient ischemic attack) foreshadows a more severe stroke in the future.

"A TIA is a huge risk factor for subsequent stroke," says Dr. Louise McCullough, associate professor of neurology and neuroscience at the University of Connecticut Health Center. "The risk is quite high especially in the first week."

Calling a TIA an important warning sign that should be heeded, Dr. Emil L. Matarese, director of the Stroke Center at St. Mary's Medical Center in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, explains that it's caused by a temporary lack of circulation. It often occurs when an artery is narrowed and then plugged due to hardening of the arteries. Typically, a mini stroke lasts from 5 to 25 minutes, at which point the blood supply to the brain is reinstated.

"But it's a sign that should cause someone to act quickly," says Matarese, who's also a volunteer spokesperson for the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. "I see patients who ignore the warning and go on to have a severe stroke."

About one third of patients who have a mini stroke will go on to suffer a more serious stroke, he says, though it's unpredictable to know whether it will occur within days or weeks.

Matarese says that the hole found in Michaels' heart may be what caused his mini stroke. If there's a small hole in the membrane that separates the right from the left side of the heart, the person runs the risk of having a small blood clot travel into the right side of the heart, shift to the left side and then go to the brain.

"This hole would not be picked up on a normal screening examination, and only after symptoms occur would tests be done," Matarese explains. "Doctors would look at the heart chambers to see if a hole is there."

It's a very treatable condition, he says. Doctors use a catheter to pass a small device through the hole, and "then they pull back and just like an umbrella opening up, this closes the hole," he says.

Sometimes anticoagulants (blood thinners) are used as an alternative treatment, but in the case of Michaels, these would not be prescribed because of his earlier brain hemorrhage, McCullough explains.

The rocker's heart condition is not uncommon, she says. "I would say 1 in 4 people has it," she explains "Everyone has this hole before birth, and after they are born and can breathe in oxygen on their own, the little hole closes up."

One risk factor for a blood clot is when someone has been lying in bed a lot, she says. Michaels had been confined to bed recently while in a coma following the brain hemorrhage and before that, recuperating from an appendectomy.

Now, doctors say, though Michaels is eager to get out of the hospital and on with his life, the best remedy is for him to get treatment, the same advice they give anyone who experiences stroke-like symptoms. These include dizziness, numbness (which is what Michaels experienced, according to People), weakness, trouble with balance and coordination or a sudden headache.

"If you have any of these warning signs, don't wait," Matarese says. "Get to the hospital right away and get evaluated."

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It's highly unusual for an extra set of kidneys to grow, but a  miracle happened for one British child.
Three years ago, doctors caring for a British girl facing surgery made an amazing discovery: she’d actually grown two new kidneys to replace the failed ones that had caused the health problems she’d suffered since birth.

Surgeons at Sheffield Children’s Hospital in England found that Angel Burton's new kidneys had started doing the work of the diseased ones, according to Sky News Online. The youngster, now 8, is no longer facing kidney failure.

The doctors apparently did not see the new kidneys that were perched above the originals. On scans, which had been done for five years, they appeared as one kidney.

"It’s a real miracle," Claire Burton, Angel’s mother, told Sky News Online. "We’re just so grateful to have Angel back to her happy, healthy self."

The little girl had a rare condition called duplex kidney that causes the organs to be fused in the center. Even rarer, in Angel’s case, was to have both organs be duplex, which means she actually had four kidneys and four ureters.

From the time she was born, Angel’s health got worse. Doctors diagnosed her with bilateral reflux, meaning that urine was leaking into her kidneys and infecting them. Tests showed that the kidneys had been severely affected.

During an operation to craft an artificial valve in October 2007, the extra kidneys were discovered. Nearly three years later, Angel’s looking at a bright future and is on track to recover fully.

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Going gluten-free means many breads - including wheat and rye  varieties - are off-limits.

Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham and Rachel Weisz are among the celebs who reportedly stick to a gluten-free diet. But though proponents of the trendy regime say it can boost energy and make it easier to lose weight, some health experts claim it causes a variety of health problems.

A gluten-free diet is advisable for those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which the body triggers gluten to attack the lining of the small intestine. Celiac disease usually is diagnosed with blood tests and a biopsy of the intestines.

But people who follow the diet when they don’t need to may not be doing themselves a favor. Weight gain, headaches and fatigue can be the consequences of eating gluten-free when there’s no medical reason to do so.

Going gluten-free involves cutting out wheat, rye and barley, all of which contain the protein called gluten, and replacing these with carbs like rice, cornmeal and buckwheat flour. In the long run, the switch may actually cause weight gain.

“People assume that by cutting out gluten they are going to lose weight,” dietitian Tanya Thomas told the Daily Mail. “It’s a myth.”

Also, many products that are gluten-free pack in the sugar, fat and salt, according to the Daily Mail.

When wheat flour is fortified with vitamins and iron, it boosts the nutrient content of the diet. When it’s a whole grain, it also adds fiber. But eliminating wheat flour, which means forgoing pasta, bread, and cereals, can cause flagging energy levels and those low-blood-sugar induced headaches that occur when not enough carbs are eaten.

“So many people are needlessly avoiding gluten and spending a small fortune on doing so,” Thomas said. “Not only is it a waste of time and money when there’s no real problem, it can make your attempts to lose weight and get healthier backfire.”

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Vincent Liew died seven months after receiving kidney transplant.  The donor had uterine cancer.
Getting cancer from a donated organ is extremely rare. A 2008 study of 230,000 transplants by the United Network for Organ Sharing discovered 64 instances - far less than 1% - in which cancer from the donor was passed to a recipient.

To prevent that from happening, cancer patients - like people with HIV and other infectious diseases - are weeded out as potential organ donors.

"We don't take organs from people who are dying of cancer," UNOS spokeswoman Anne Paschke said.

Doctors can screen donations for infectious diseases but there is generally no time to screen a specific organ for cancer, Paschke said.

"Mostly it's a time factor," she said. "When somebody dies, time is of the essence, and you have to transplant while the organ is still viable."

Paschke said they question the next of kin about the dead person's medical history before taking an organ.

"If they have a cancer that hasn't shown up, it's almost impossible to know it's there in the donated organ," she said.

Organ donation has saved thousands of lives, but like any medical procedure, it's not risk-free, Paschke said.

"You can't rule out disease transmission, but you have to weigh it against the lifesaving good," she said.

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Dr. Lillian Kim-Schluger says hepatitis C patients often don't  start to show symptoms until they reach end-stage liver disease.
Kim-Schluger, the associate director of the Recanati/Miller Transplantation Institute, is a hepatologist who oversees the running of the multiorgan transplant center and specializes in liver problems.


Hepatitis C is a disease of the liver; there are five hepatitis viruses, and this one has one of the highest rates of progression to chronic disease. “Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes inflammation of the liver that can lead to increased scar tissue and eventually to cirrhosis,” says Kim-Schluger. “About 4 million Americans are infected with hepatitis C — 1.6% of the population.”

Hepatitis C is a blood-borne disease whose underlying virus was only isolated in 1989. “If you look the number new infections through the decades, a large percentage of patients were infected before 1992, when we developed a good test for hepatitis C,” says Kim-Schluger. “Infection rates dropped precipitously after that.” Because the blood supply wasn’t being reliably screened for hepatitis C until 1992, many americans were infected as the result of blood transfusions.

The two groups at highest risk of the disease are people who received transfusions before 1992 and IV drug users. Other groups at risk are people who have used intranasal cocaine, hemodialysis patients, and health-care workers who are pricked by needles. The virus can also be sexually transmitted. “The risk increases with high-risk behaviors like multiple partners,” says Kim-Schluger. “It’s a low risk, but it’s not zero.”


For many patients, the diagnosis of hepatitis C comes without warning signs. “The tricky thing is that the majority of people are asymptomatic, or only have vague symptoms like feeling fatigued,” says Kim-Schluger. “So it is up to the doctor to ask about the risk factors and then screen people who are at risk.”

Up to about 15% of people infected by the hepatitis C virus are able to clear it from their bodies spontaneously. “The other 85% will continue to have virus within their blood,” says Kim-Schluger. “Of that group, about 20% of will develop cirrhosis and 1% to 5% will develop liver cancer related to cirrhosis.” With an infected population of 4 million, these percentages indicate that there will be hundreds of thousands of cases of severe liver disease caused by hepatitis C in the next 10 to 20 years.

Hepatitis C usually has a long latency period, during which the virus lies dormant. “The delay between infection and end-stage liver disease varies a lot, depending on factors like when you were infected and your gender,” says Kim. “It’s usually about 30 years from infection to cirrhosis.” Using alcohol and marijuana shortens this lag. The disease also progresses faster in people who are older than 40 when they get infected. Premenopausal women are slightly protected by estrogen, which may slow fibrosis, the growth of damaging scar tissue in the liver.

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Women in high-pressure jobs face more stress, exhaustion, and even  some illnesses.

Once considered "men’s" diseases, gout, heart attacks and lung cancer now are sickening women, too.

Experts partially blame the exhaustion that comes with stressful jobs, according to the Daily Mail. Women working in high-pressure jobs are twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease as other women, and women under 50 run the highest risk, according to a Danish study.

Out-of-control eating and drinking too much can contribute to certain illnesses, too.

"People who are stressed are more likely to drink too much, to smoke, to eat junk food and to avoid exercise," Fotini Rozakeas, a British Heart Foundation cardiac nurse, told the Daily Mail.

Traditionally, heart disease may have been a man’s disease, says Dr. Holly Andersen at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center, but more women die from it.

"In reality, more women have died of heart disease every year than men since 1984 in this country," she says. "Women develop heart disease about a decade later than men. They also are more likely to die. They are treated much less aggressively than men."

Deaths due to heart disease are on the increase in women age 35 to 44 - the only group that’s facing increasing rates of death from heart disease, Andersen says.

Heart disease isn’t the only disorder that’s becoming a woman’s ailment. Receding hairlines and thinning hair are becoming more prevalent in women as well, according to hair transplant surgeon Dr. Peter Williams. He said stress and low estrogen could be causing hair problems. And an emerging form of hair loss, in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles and causes hair loss from the hairline and the eyebrows, also is turning up in women.

Gout traditionally affects nine times as many men as women, but cases in women have doubled since the 1970s, according to the Daily Mail. The painful condition, which appears when uric acid crystals build up in the joints, is believed to be triggered at least in part by consuming rich food.

"One reason women are more prone to gout is that they are living longer," rheumatologist and UK Gout Society trustee told the Daily Mail. "Women are also drinking more, eating more and are more prone to obesity and diabetes, all of which raise the risk of gout."

Other disorders becoming more common in women? Lowered libido, lung cancer and liver disease, according to the Daily Mail.

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among both men and women in the U.S., according to the National Institutes of Health, and smoking causes the majority of cases. Smoking causes 90 percent of the lung cancer deaths in the U.S. among men and about 80 percent of lung cancer deaths among women, according to the NIH.

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New York is one of the states in which lettuce products from  Freshway and Imperial Sysco brands have been recalled.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says there are 23 confirmed cases of E. coli and seven probable cases connected to the tainted lettuce. That is up from 19 confirmed by CDC earlier this week.

The rest of those sickened live in Michigan, Ohio and New York. Many of them were middle school, high school and college students who ate in school cafeterias. The CDC said there are 10 confirmed cases in Michigan, eight confirmed cases in Ohio, four confirmed cases in New York and one confirmed case in Tennessee. All of those sickened became ill before late April.

The strain of E. coli involved in the outbreak is rare and difficult to diagnose, so there may be more unreported cases, officials have said.

There have been two recalls of romaine lettuce related to the outbreak, both by distributors who bought lettuce from the same Yuma, Ariz., farm. Ohio-based Freshway Foods announced a 23-state recall of romaine lettuce last week, while Vaughn Foods of Moore, Okla., announced a recall Monday.

Vaughn Foods bought its lettuce from California-based Andrew Smith Co., a supply company which shipped the lettuce after purchasing it from the Arizona farm. The Food and Drug Administration, which is investigating the outbreak, has so far declined to give the name of the farm.

Andrew Smith Co. would not say if they supplied romaine lettuce to Freshway Foods. Amy Philpott, a spokeswoman for Andrew Smith Co., said the company did sell the lettuce to an additional distributor in Massachusetts but would not identify that distributor because the lettuce is already past its expiration date.

The FDA said it is still attempting to determine the point in the supply chain where the contamination occurred, since it went through several facilities before it was eaten. As a supplier, Andrew Smith Co. buys bulk romaine lettuce from farms and sells it to distributors. Those distributors, such as Freshway Foods and Vaughn Foods, then sell it to food service outlets or retail customers.

Many of those who became ill were college students in the three states. Middle and high school students in New York were also sickened, including a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, which can cause bleeding in the brain or kidneys. Local health authorities in Dutchess County, N.Y., where the students fell ill, said they are all expected to make a full recovery.

The E. coli was discovered by New York health authorities in a bag of Freshway Foods shredded romaine lettuce last week after they had been investigating the outbreak in the schools for several weeks.

Most of the lettuce recalled was sold to food service establishments. The recall does not affect bagged lettuce in the grocery store.

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The Insight kit from Pathway Genomics allows purchasers to mail in  a saliva sample and receive the results of a genetic test.

The Insight personal genetic testing kit should be in the stores Friday, making Walgreens the first major American chain store to sell at-home health risk assessment kits. In August, CVS will get the kits.

But would you really want to know if you have a good chance at coming down with a dreaded illness? Do-it-yourself kits like these could one day be as common as early pregnancy tests and let consumers get information about their future health prospects before they go to the doctor, according to marketers.

Yet counselors and bio-ethicists worry that shoppers will not understand or that they’ll misuse the test results. Also, the information they glean may be frightening or misinterpreted without a health expert’s guidance.

The Food and Drug Administration is looking into medical claims made by Insight’s manufacturer, Pathway Genomics, according to the Chicago Tribune. But the California-based company says its test meets federal regulations and that it’s not subject to FDA approval.

“The tests conducted are not an in-vitro medical device and are not intended for use in diagnosis, treatment, mitigation or cure of disease,” Pathway’s vice president of product management, Ed MacBean, told The Tribune. “It does provide information that allows a person to learn about their health to make healthier lifestyle choices. If the FDA contacts us, we will discuss it and address any concerns they might have.”

The Insight kit will cost $20 to $30 and will be sold at approximately 6,000 of the retail chain’s 7,500 stores. A customer who buys one receives a vial and mailing envelope. After mailing in a sample of saliva in the vial, buyers get their results online. The report costs anywhere from $79 to $179, depending upon the type of test. Among the diseases that the kit screens for are diabetes, prostate cancer and cystic fibrosis.

Already widely available in drug stores are at-home DNA paternity and gender prediction kits. But in the past, genetic testing was done in conjunction with a visit to the doctor and a consultation with a health professional.

The value of such kits is being questioned by some scientists. For the majority of diseases, no one really knows why some people fall victim and others don’t, according to Peter Kraft, deputy director of the Program in Molecular and Genetic Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

“The company states, everyone has the right to know the secrets hidden within their DNA,” he told the Tribune. “Fair enough, but that is a lot of work. I don’t think this is the way to go.”

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According to the National Kidney Foundation, kidney and urologic diseases affect more than 20 million people. Picture of an elderly man, smiling More than 70,000 Americans die each year from kidney failure. The number of people affected by these diseases is expected to grow as the populations of older adults and racial and ethnic minorities, groups disproportionately affected by the diseases, increase.

The urinary system cleanses the blood and rids the body of excess water and waste in the form of urine. The urinary tract consists of two kidneys, two greeters (one from each kidney), tubes that drain urine from the kidneys into the bladder (a storage sac), and the urethra. Muscles help control the release of urine from the bladder.

Kidney Urinary Problems Causes: -

Conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes, cancer, kidney stones, and abnormalities of the urinary tract can lower your ability to fight off the bacteria that cause kidney infections. Foley catheters (tubes inserted through the urethra to drain the bladder) can also lead to infection if left in place for extended periods. Women sometimes contract kidney infections when bacteria get into the urinary tract following sex.

Kidney Urinary Problems Symptoms: -

Usually symptoms come on very fast. They include fever, chills, pain, upset stomach, low back pain, vomiting, a constant need to urinate or an inability to urinate at all, blood in the urine, and pain or a burning sensation during urination.

Kidney Urinary Infection Treatment: -

The moment you notice any symptoms that may indicate a kidney infection, do not delay visiting your physician. The earlier any kidney infection is diagnosed and treated the better. If left untreated, kidney infection could lead to other serious complications, at times death.

If you are found suffering from pyelonephritis, your physician may prescribe a sulfa drug which is good at clearing off the infection. If you know that you are allergic to sulfa drugs, or get to know after beginning the course of medication, let your doctor know immediately. The course of medication could be changed and could include antibiotics.

You can also do your part in preventing / reducing kidney infection when you notice any of the signs and symptoms of kidney infections. Many doctors advice drinking plenty of water. This not only helps in flushing out the toxins, but will also gradually help flush out the infection causing bacteria.

Many believe in the properties of pure cranberry juice to help avoid a kidney infection.

Other methods that could help avoid a kidney infection could include the following.

• Avoid using the bath-tub. If you have to, avoid a bubble bath. Use the shower instead.

• Always clean the genital area before and after sexual intercourse.

• Urinate after sexual intercourse.

• Urinate as soon as you feel the urge to. Do not hold back the urge to urinate for long periods of time.

• Women should always wipe from front to back, never the other way.

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Married couples over 45 report less satisfaction with sex,  according to a new AARP study.

Americans 45 and older are far more open to sex outside of marriage than they were 10 years ago, but they're engaging in sex less often and with less satisfaction, according to a major new survey.

What's the problem?

Financial stress is a prime culprit, said sociologist Pepper Schwartz, the sex and relationship expert for the American Association of Retired People, which conducted the study.

"The economy has had an impact on these people," she said. "They're more liberal in their attitudes, yet they're having sex less often. The only thing I see that's changed in a negative direction is financial worries."

The survey, being released Friday, is based on detailed questionnaires completed last year by 1,670 people 45 and over. The AARP, which represents 40 million Americans over 50, conducted similar surveys on sexual attitudes and practices in 1999 and 2004.

One of the most pronounced changes over the 10-year span dealt with sex outside of marriage. In the 1999 survey, 41% of the respondents said nonmarital sex was wrong. That figure dropped to 22% in the new survey.

Yet sexual activity marital or not seems to be less frequent overall for this age group. In the new survey, 28% said they had intercourse at least once a week, and 40% at least once a month both categories were down roughly 10 percentage points from 2004.

Asked if they were satisfied with their sex lives, 43% in the new survey said yes, down from 51% in 2004.

One intriguing finding: Respondents who had a partner but weren't married had sex more frequently and with more satisfaction than respondents who were married.

"These long-term married couples may get a little less interested," Schwartz said. "Older people in nonmarried relations work harder at it and enjoy it more."

Schwartz, a professor at the University of Washington and author of 16 books on relationships, said it was notable how even respondents in their 70s and 80s stressed that sex was important to their quality of life.

"The big difference as people age is not that sex becomes less important but that a partner becomes less accessible," she said.

Gender differences were pronounced in several responses. Men think about sex and engage it more often than women, and are about twice as likely as women (21 percent versus 11%) to admit to sexual activity outside their primary relationship.

With many older men likely to have multiple partners, Schwartz expressed concern that only 12% of the survey's sexually active single males reported using condoms. She cautioned that even the elderly should not ignore the risk of sexually transmitted disease.

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Bayarjargal, who lives in Mongolia with his family, is one of four  babies followed from birth to first steps in Thomas Balmès' 'Babies.'

New York mothers could learn a thing or two about child rearing from Thomas Balmes' 'Babies'

Bayarjargal, who lives in Mongolia with his family, is one of four babies followed from birth to first steps in Thomas Balmès' 'Babies.'

In the movie "Babies" (which opened on Friday), a fly-on-the-wall documentary about four infants growing up in four very different countries, 6-month-old Hattie attends a "developmental movement" class in her native San Francisco.

"The Earth is our mother," chants the group of moms and dads, bumping their kids off their knees. Seems like fun.

Except Hattie's father doesn't look as if he's enjoying himself one bit. He seems terrified that Hattie is not responding properly to the "sensory stimulation."

By contrast, every time they appear in the film, the parents of Bayar, a little boy raised in rural Mongolia, are the picture of calm. They don't bat an eyelid when he eats dirt or licks the cat. When a rooster strolls across his crib and a yak drinks out of his bathtub, it's no big deal.

Watching "Babies," I sensed that frazzled Western moms like me have a lot to learn from families like Bayar's.

"The Mongolian children have the freedom to move around, play with animals and explore the space around them," says the movie's director, Thomas Balmes. "The parents are never far away ... and they do not worry."

Balmes selected the babies who appear in the film pretty much at random - his only criterion was choosing families who welcomed their new arrivals "with love." While he insists that the documentary isn't meant to be judgmental, he raises questions about the approach to child care by various cultures. So it's a shame that the cameras didn't follow a baby from New York. There would have been plenty of material here.

In the big city, we are way too busy going to "Mommy and Me" sessions, worrying that our precious bundle isn't "getting" the infant sign language course; that the $40 we spent on "Opera Tots" is wasted money.

For instance, at my daughter's music class recently, a mother threw a tantrum because there weren't enough tambourines to go around. Later, she complained they hadn't sterilized the percussion instruments properly. God forbid her son caught a cold from a plastic rattle.

That manic Manhattan moment played out 7,000 miles from Namibia, Africa, where Ponijao, another child featured in "Babies," lives with her mom and eight sibings. There's no plastic rattles in her village. Instead, Ponijao plays with beads and stray dogs.

Nobody's advocating we trade our apartments for mud huts with no running water. That we flee to a poverty-stricken continent with a high infant mortality rate. But it's certainly time we relaxed the schedule and start to chill out.

In San Francisco, Hattie's permanently hassled-looking mom pores over a self-help book called "Becoming the Parent You Want to Be." Similarly, there is a chic Tokyo couple in the film. They own every baby gadget under the sun.

Meanwhile, back in Mongolia, there's a scene where Bayar's mom rides home from the hospital perched on the back of a scooter, her newborn in her arms. Earlier, a hospital nurse swaddles him in a blanket, fixing it tight with a length of string.

Here in New York, that would be unheard of. Instead, we obsess about car seat specifications and the latest product recall for "unsafe" baby slings. We fret over germs in the sandbox.

Sunday, a mom friend of mine announced she has stopped making chili. Her family practically lives on the stuff, but she's hung up about BPA (bisphenol A, a chemical found in plastic bottles, soda cans and food containers) in canned tomatoes.

So I'm buying her a ticket to see "Babies." Like me, she'll pick up some child-rearing tips from Namibia and Mongolia. You never know, she might even cancel her toddler's French pastry-making classes.

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Oxford University researchers say they have pinpointed common  traits in genes that mark an increased risk of breast cancer.

Oxford University researchers say they have pinpointed common traits in genes that mark an increased risk of breast cancer.

Researchers at Oxford University have identified five common genetic variants that are linked to a slightly increased risk of breast cancer, according to the BBC.

The five "spots" bring to 18 the number of genetic clues that link to a slightly higher risk of the disease, which according to the National Cancer Institute kills more than 40,000 women in the United States each year.

"This is a great finding and potentially very good news," says Dr. Kathie-Ann Josephs, assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University School of Medicine. "It will help more women for whom there is a genetic component for breast cancer."

The research, which could lead to targeted screening of women who are at a higher risk to get breast cancer, involved scanning the entire genetic code of some 4,000 British patients with a family history of the disease. Next, the Cambridge-led researchers looked at the DNA of 24,000 more women, some with and some without breast cancer. The researchers located a total of five "spots" on the human genome that are associated with a family history of breast cancer.

"We know for sure that these gene variations are associated with risk," University of Cambridge's Dr. Douglas Easton, the study's lead author, told the BBC. "It is not the whole picture but it will contribute ultimately to genetic profiling of risk."

While the exact causes of breast cancer are still not known, it's believed that 1 in 20 cases may be linked to family history. Having a grandmother who developed breast cancer in her 80s is not as worrisome as having a mother and sisters who got breast cancer before menopause, Josephs says.

It's thought that diet and lifestyle could play a role in the development of some cases.

The women who could be helped by the newly discovered gene variants are those for whom breast cancer runs in the family, Josephs says.

"In some women, we know there may be a genetic link but we can't identify it," she says. "The tests turn out negative because we haven't identified the genes yet. If women are found to be at risk through testing, they can make certain decisions for diminishing their risk. So this new discovery could help a small but a significant number of women."

The research, which appears in Nature Genetics, was funded by Cancer Research UK and is the biggest project of its kind, the BBC reports.

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The federal government should be doing more to protect us from the  everyday environmental hazards that surround us, according to a  controversial report.
The federal government should be doing more to protect us from the everyday environmental hazards that surround us, according to a controversial report.

Americans are being "bombarded" with chemicals, gases and radiation that can cause cancer, and the federal government must do far more to protect them, presidential cancer advisers said on Thursday.

Although most experts agree that as many as two-thirds of cancer cases are caused by lifestyle choices like smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise, the two-member panel said many avoidable cancers were also caused by pollution, radon gas from the soil and medical imaging scans.

Some of the advisers' points are not in dispute. Several government-sponsored reports have pointed to cancer risks from X-rays and CT scans, and industry and physician groups are already working on ways to lower the doses given to people.

Radon has been a known source for decades, and the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health are studying the possible effects of the common plastics ingredient bisphenal A or BPA.

But other points have little science to back them.

For instance, the panel said that since so little is known about the potential risks of cell phones, people would be prudent to wear headsets and make calls quickly. Many large studies have found no links between cell phone use and cancer.

"The panel was particularly concerned to find that the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated," reads the report, available at www.pcp.cancer.gov.

The report is sure to stun industry and many cancer specialists. It has already delighted environmental groups, which have had hints for more than a week of the report's content and scheduled news conferences for later on Thursday.

The American Cancer Society said the report downplayed known risks that cause most cases of cancer including tobacco, obesity, alcohol, infections, hormones and sunlight.

"The report is most provocative when it restates hypotheses as if they were established facts," the society's Dr. Michael Thun said in a statement.

"For example, its conclusion that 'the true burden of environmentally (pollution) induced cancer has been grossly underestimated' does not represent scientific consensus."

The National Cancer Institute -- whose logo is on the report -- had almost nothing to say.

"As the panel is charged with sending a report directly to the president and I don't believe that anyone at NCI has had a chance to review the report yet, we will probably not have an immediate comment," spokesman Mike Miller said by e-mail.

The two sitting members of the panel -- the third seat is empty -- are Dr. LaSalle Leffall, professor of surgery at Howard University College of Medicine in Washington and Margaret Kripke, an emeritus professor at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

Cancer is the No. 2 killer of Americans, after heart disease.

"The incidence of some cancers, including some most common among children, is increasing for unexplained reasons," the report reads.

"With nearly 80,000 chemicals on the market in the United States, many of which are used by millions of Americans in their daily lives and are un- or understudied and largely unregulated, exposure to potential environmental carcinogens is widespread," it adds.

"The American people -- even before they are born -- are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures," Kripke and Leffall wrote in a letter to President Barack Obama at top of the report.

"The panel urges you most strongly to use the power of your office to remove the carcinogens and other toxins from our food, water, and air that needlessly increase healthcare costs, cripple our nation's productivity, and devastate American lives."


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Shape of things to come? Male mannequins with 27-inch waists are  making their debut in Britain, as doctors report more male patients  being treated for eating disorders.
Shape of things to come? Male mannequins with 27-inch waists are making their debut in Britain, as doctors report more male patients being treated for eating disorders.

A starved-looking male mannequin with a 27-inch waist, from British mannequin maker Rootstein, will make its debut next month, according to New York magazine. The super-skinny figure, dubbed the "Homme Nouveau," with a 35-inch chest and not a millimeter of fat to spare, may look great in tight-fitting clothes. But will “real men” now become fashion victims, aspiring to look like a male version of Kate Moss?

Male anorexia - sometimes jokingly called "manorexia" - seems to be on the increase, says Stuart Koman, Ph.D., president and CEO of Walden Behavioral Care, a treatment center near Boston.

“We are seeing men younger and younger, and we recently treated an 11-year-old,” he says. “It used to be just very occasional that we would treat a man with an eating disorder. Now it’s pretty constant, at a low level.”

And while only 10 percent of eating disorder sufferers were men in 1990, today that number’s jumped to 25 percent, according to New York magazine. Leigh Cohn, author of “Making Weight,” notes that the prevalence rates for men with eating disorders have risen.

Why the increase? Men face the same societal pressure to be thin as do women, Koman says. And whether they look at the fashion magazines or the muscle magazines, the message is the same: thin is in.

“The message is that not only do you have to work out hard to look like them, but you have to lose weight,” Koman says.

Manorexia’s definitely more prevalent in certain sub-cultures, says Dr. Jason Hershberger, chairman of psychiatry at Long Island College Hospital in Brooklyn.

”It used to be just athletes but I am starting to see people in the fashion industry,” he says. ”It’s what happened with women in the last century. The ideal form for a man used to be big and muscular. Now it has shrunk.”

And as the size of the male mannequins shrinks, so do many of the clothes in which they’re attired.

“The body is on display more in men’s clothing today,” says Radford University psychologist Dr. Tracy Cohn. “The cuts aren’t as blousy and there is not as much fabric. Clothes cling to the body. The cuts are called close-fit or tailor-cut. And they taper into the body.”

The maximum waist size of American Apparel’s spandex-cotton denim Slim Slacks is 33 inches, notes New York magazine. Yet the average waist size for am American man in 2006 was 39.7 inches.

Whittling down to skinny proportions isn’t any easier for guys than for girls. Some 40 percent of binge eaters are men, reports New York magazine.

Men are emotional eaters just like women, Cohn says. “When men have sadness, they might consume alcohol but there’s usually a big bowl of potato chips there, too, for self-soothing,” he says. “It can make a man feel better until about the twentieth potato chip.”


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The many names, affectionate and derogatory, we use in reference to female buttocks suggest the range of ambivalent associations they elicit. “Booty” holds the promise of illicit pleasures. “Fanny” desexualizes the female behind, turning it into a sweet but inconsequential body part. The command to “get off your fanny” is less hostile than “get off your ass.” A “tush” is small and tight, a “rump” is round and fleshy, a “can” is fat and lazy. As Sander Gilman points out, the “buttocks are an ever-shifting symbolic site in the body…. Never do they represent themselves.” Female buttocks function as metaphors for traits that a society values or rejects. Their meanings vary between cultures and among ethnic groups; while a bounteous butt may bring out disgust or disdain in some social circles, it evokes a range of positive associations in others.

In mainstream U.S. culture, “bubble butts” have typically been associated with “lowly” subject positions or “vulgar” sexuality. Calling too much attention to one’s behind is considered uncouth in polite society, a nasty reminder of forbidden or distasteful acts. A big butt is associated with “unnatural” sex, excrement, or the excess and physicality identified with “darker” races. This body metaphor helps us constitute social identities and subject positions. Like most females growing up in America, I learned early on that bodily attributes such as butt size, hair texture, skin color, and body shape could convey a woman’s status and desirability. During my teens, achieving the “all American girl” look that graced the covers of fashion magazines meant dieting the butt into submission. A woman’s failure to reign in an unruly butt connoted her lack of discipline and self-control, and by association, her inferior moral character. It also marked her place in the social order: “high class” women did not carry excess baggage in the trunk. A skinny ass identified you with the elegant and never too rich, never too thin social elite, big butts with the mammies and maids.

But growing up in Miami, where Latinos comprise a majority, meant that I also had to negotiate another repertoire of butt metaphors and associations. While my American girlfriends dreamed of acquiring bigger breasts, the Cuban women in my family stressed the value of a bounteous derrière. Thus in my Little Havana neighborhood, a generously endowed backside earned appreciative glances or wolf-whistles. I knew that the size and shape of my butt identified the degree of my cultural assimilation. Thus buttocks registered a cultural divide: flat butts signaled conformity to American beauty standards, voluptuous hips expressed ethnic pride. To my mom, my refusal to put more meat on my bones seemed a deliberate form of rebellion, another sign of my increasing distance from her native culture. Straightening my hair and speaking without an accent helped downplay my ethnicity, but nothing screamed “Latinness” like an unabashedly big ass. After all, my mother and her friends delighted in their fulsome booty. A skinny ass provoked pitying looks from the matronly Cubanas, for whom it portended sterile, passionless marriages and unfaithful husbands. But to their more assimilated daughters, big culos were associated with “cubanazas”—those too loud, too fat, “too Cuban” women who were the butt of our jokes. An older generation of Cuban women considered abundant buns an asset, but to those of us who came of age with Twiggy images, a fat ass was a shameful reminder of our ethnic difference.

J. Lo Curves

In recent years, however, Americans have been enjoying a butt fling. Voluptuous female buttocks have become a valuable commodity, exploited in advertising campaigns, music videos, and specialty men’s magazines. This butt appeal has produced a profitable commercial market for “bootyful” women. What sparked mainstream culture’s lusty fondness for women with big butts? Angharad Valdivia credits the famous J. Lo butt, arguing that Lopez single handedly ushered in a butt focus within contemporary U.S. culture, intervening “into codes of beauty and femininity which until quite recently…relied exclusively on that nearly butt-less look….” One London-based magazine reported that Lopez's rounded posterior made “curvy bottoms trendy” and created “a demand for silicone buttock implants” (Daily Mail 2003). In an article in Vanity Fair, Ned Zeman claims that Lopez “created a phenomenon in which a pair of buttocks became, in and of themselves, a cultural icon. Entire news articles would focus on The Lopez Ass, as if it were a separate life-form.”

What are we to make of this apparent notice of what plastic surgeons call the “gluteal aesthetic”? Commenting on the popularity of Jennifer’s butt, Frances Negron Muntaner contends that it offers “a way of speaking about Africa in(side) America.” In Muntaner’s reading, a big butt is an “invitation to pleasures construed as illicit by puritan ideologies, heternormativity, and the medical establishment through the three deadly vectors of miscegenation, sodomy, and a high-fat diet.” Further, Latinas are said to be embracing another standard of beauty and reclaiming, along with Lopez, “a curvaceous Latin body.” Several critics express this optimism, maintaining along with Mary Beltran that for Lopez “to declare beautiful and unashamedly display her well-endowed posterior . . . could be viewed as nothing less than positive—a revolutionary act with respect to Anglo beauty ideals.” Frances Aparicio notes that the bodies of Jennifer Lopez and Selena (similarly marked by curvy bottoms) have become symbols of ethnic pride. Given J.Lo’s status as Hollywood’s most highly paid Latina actress, her abundant assets represent both figurative and literal “booty.” Thus while Lopez’s remark that she likes to accentuate her “curvaceous Latin body” may express ethnic pride, it also signals the commercial viability of a voluptuous tush.

Racialized Bodies and Sexual Stereotypes

Buttocks have long been a source of cultural capital in the West, serving as emblems of sexual, racial, or ethnic difference. As Gilman and others have noted, difference is that which threatens order and control, the polar opposite of our individual or group identity. Valdivia puts it this way: “We can go so far as noting that Jennifer is represented in terms of her butt, and that her butt represents ethnic difference.” It is therefore not surprising that all the gossip and craze inspired by the J.Lo butt reminded me of another infamous butt—that 19th century colonized rump belonging to Saartje Baartman, dubbed by her masters and impresarios, the “Hottentot Venus.” This young African woman’s steatopygia—large, protruding butt—served as a sign of all that perplexed, fascinated, and horrified Europeans in the early 1800s about their darker others. Displayed throughout Europe, Saartje’s sign value as alien body persisted even after her death at twenty-five. Doctors dissected and preserved her genitals in glass jars, her large buttocks displayed for curious spectators eager to see bodily evidence of the African woman’s propensity to excess, deviant sexuality.

We should not underestimate the symbolic value of buttocks. Butt metaphors helped European cultures categorize and describe their others, ascribing bodily differences certain moral and intellectual attributes. Gilman argues that, “Beginning with the expansion of European colonial exploration, describing the forms and size of the buttocks became a means of describing and classifying the races. The more prominent the more primitive…” (Making the Body Beautiful). British culture, in particular, identified the buttocks with primitive or debased sexuality (Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex). Non-Western women were associated with the “lower regions” of the body and characterized in terms of their abundant backside. Similarly, in American culture, the U.S.-Mexico border marked a figurative divide between Northern mind and Southern body, rationality and sensuality, domestic and foreign. This bodily trope culled associations between the lower body and the inferior, more primitive “under” developed “torrid zones” south of the border; it often served to rationalize U.S. military interventions or corporate exploitation of Latin American labor and resources.

Brazillian Butt Lifts and the Big Booty Look

But in today’s transnational economy, the buttocks have become a precious commodity. Avital Levy’s documentary film, Bootyful World, which explores social attitudes toward female butts, includes a brief interview with Dr. Anthony Griffin, a famous plastic surgeon who claims that requests for his “Brazilian Butt Lift” surgery have surpassed all other surgeries in popularity, despite his $15,000-plus fee. Marketed as a sign of authenticity (of “real women”), big butts also help sell a range of products. Literally expanding their target demographic, Dove’s “real beauty” advertising campaign featured full-bodied women in their underwear, prominent hips and thighs in proud display. Nike’s “Just do it” campaign included a “Big Butts” promotion; full-page ads featured a protruding female butt in profile. Big-butted models have even been gracing the pages of fashion magazines that once catered exclusively to Kate Moss wannabes. As a result, women without a sufficiently endowed behind are getting implants or buying butt reshaping cushions on ebay. Of course, hip-hop culture has consistently celebrated the physicality of a big butt, and many a male rapper has sung the praises of bountiful booty. As Tara Lockhart points out, rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot has earned a hefty profit with his 1992 song, “Baby Got Back” (which was re-released on the 2000 Charlie’s Angels soundtrack). Sir Mix-A-Lot’s lyrics situate the fondness for a big butt “squarely within portions of the black community.”

In this context, as in my Little Havana neighborhood, a woman with a generous posterior signals an invitation to sexual pleasure. Several specialty men’s magazines have sprung up to feed this increasing market demand for models with ample booty. Unlike Playboy or Maxim that cater to “breast men,” magazines like King, Sweets, and Smooth appeal to men who covet women with voluptuous derrieres. They sell “authenticity” as well, turning “booty love” into a sign of ethnic masculinity. “Urban men, we like butts, we like hips. It’s a black and Hispanic thing,” says Antoine Clark, publisher of Sweets. Big booty isn’t just profitable these days for magazine publishers, ad execs, retailers, and rap artists. Some women’s careers now ride, literally, on their butts. African American model Buffie the Body owes her fame and fortune to her huge butt. As a highly paid model in men’s magazines, Buffie has found her calling in life by embodying the fantasies of butt lovers everywhere. “People normally see the light-skinned, small girls…in magazines, and maybe they were just tired of that and wanted to see something different, something real,” she told Ben Westhoff in an interview. “Even white guys are coming out of the closet, admitting their fetish for big butts! They were just always shy about it, sort of scared, before I hit it big. But now there are people from Switzerland, the U.K., Ireland, and Canada who order calendars from me.” Buffie concludes that if it weren’t for her big butt she “wouldn't have made all this money.”

Body Politics of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton

Perhaps, as Erin Aubry Kaplan wrote recently in Salon magazine, “Lord knows, it’s time the butt got some respect.” Noting that a protruding butt has been “both vilified and fetishized as the most singular of all black female features, more unsettling than dark skin and full lips,” Kaplan goes on to celebrate the emergence of Michelle Obama’s “solid, round, black, class-A boo-ta” on the nation’s political stage. With the election of Barack Obama, Kaplan argues, America finally has a First Lady with an unabashedly bounteous behind: “As America fretted about Obama's exoticism and he sought to calm the waters with speeches about unity and common experience…. Here was one clear signifier of blackness that couldn't be tamed, muted or otherwise made invisible.” Kaplan rightly reminds us that, “Black women are not the only ones with protruding behinds…. How many gluteally endowed nonblack women have been derided for having a black ass? Well, Hillary, for one.”

It may well be that America’s butt fling signals a growing acceptance of difference—a desire to broaden the repertoire of acceptable body types and beauty myths. If this celebration of fulsome booty helps women move beyond the self-hatred and anxiety attached to body fat or encourages ethnic pride in women whose bodies have historically been pathologized and denigrated—then power to the butt, indeed. But then again, in a consumer society, fashion trends are short-lived and the demand for novelty fuels profit. Will the buttocks be relegated to the margins of culture once more, disavowed and disowned by a fickle mainstream culture? Either way, I’ll still be dreaming of a time when (to loosely paraphrase Martin Luther King), women will be judged by the content of their character and not the size of their butts. Now that would be truly bootyful.


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Chinen became the world's oldest known person when Gertrude Baines  died in a Los Angeles hospital at age 115 in September.

TOKYO – The world's oldest person, a Japanese woman on the southern island of Okinawa, has died a week before her 115th birthday, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.

Kama Chinen, who witnessed three centuries, died Sunday, according to Kaoru Shijima, a spokeswoman at her care facility.

Petite and gray-haired, Chinen spent her final years at a care center in Nanjo on southeastern Okinawa. She was born on May 10, 1895, according to the Gerontology Research Group , which tracks individuals of extremely old age.

Her family guarded her privacy closely, and details regarding her death were not released to the press — many Japanese newspapers didn't even give her name.

Chinen became the world's oldest known person when Gertrude Baines died in a Los Angeles hospital at age 115 in September.

The oldest human is now 114-year-old Eugenie Blanchard, a French woman born on Feb. 16, 1896, according to the research group. The group has validated 75 "supercentenarians" worldwide who are at least 110 years old, according to its website.

Japan has a high percentage of the world's centenarians, many of whom are from the southern Okinawa region.

There were more than 40,000 Japanese over 100 years old when the government released its annual report in September. Over 86 percent of them were women.

By 2050, Japan's centenarian population is expected to reach nearly 1 million, according to U.N. projections.


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Actress Jessica Alba plays a sexy cleft in the lagoon with curly hair, while singer Katy Perry attention to dress light.

America's 10 sexiest swamp area to attend the Met gala fashion in 2010, according to Foxnews poll:
Siêu mẫu Alessandra Ambrosio nửa kín nửa hở.
Siêu mẫu Bar Refaeli đơn giản nhưng không kém phần gợi cảm trong bộ váy đen ngắn.
Diễn viên Blake Lively trong chiếc váy xanh hở vai được thiết kế độc đáo.
Diễn viên Christina Hendricks khoe vòng một đầy đặn trong bộ đầm xanh.
Ca sĩ Janet Jackson gợi cảm pha chút bí ẩn trong đầm đen.
Diễn viên Jessica Alba chọn bộ đầm hở vai màu đồng kết hợp với kiểu tóc xoăn.
Diễn viên Jessica Biel luôn gợi cảm với đầm lụa mềm mại.
Diễn viên Kate Hudson tự hào khoe đôi gò bồng đảo mới nâng cấp cùng đôi chân dài.
Ca sĩ Katy Perry gây chú ý với bộ váy phát sáng trong bóng tối.
Diễn viên Kerry Washington chọn bộ đầm đỏ rực rỡ.
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