Going for regular walks with your pup is a lifestyle change that also helps shed a few pounds.

Trainer and nutrition expert Andrea Metcalf won't make you strip off your spandex to shed pounds — she'll adjust your negative attitude.

"The book title is referring to my theory that in order to lose weight, you have to strip away your excuses, your bad mind-set, your bad outlook to achieve whatever lifestyle goal you have," she says. "It teaches you how to look at your whole body — and your whole life — in a different way."

Metcalf, whose book features a 28-day workout program, doesn't believe in the doctrine of "no pain, no gain." ("That's no way to live your life," she says.) She insists you can change your body with just 10 minutes of exercise a day.

Chew on that.

'Weight loss is 100% mindset and 100% moving, every day," she says. "Even if it's only for 10 minutes. Doing 10 minutes of movement or strengthening or vigorous walking will make you feel different and cause your metabolism to change."

Still not convinced? Metcalf outlines one of her regimens — walking — below, and promises results.

"If you're honest with yourself about your goals, you will be successful and you WILL be happy," she says. "And then, you'll want to be naked, really naked!"


One secret to success on Naked Fitness is walking two hours a day. You may think, "Two hours
a day? That's not possible!"

But before you protest, let me reassure you that walking two hours a day is not only doable, but honestly is very easy to do. Nor is it time-consuming, because most of the time you'll be "sneaking" your walk into your day.

There are many ways to reach the two-hour target. Some are familiar, but as more of my clients have started walking two hours a day, they've found very inventive ways to do it. They suggest:

- Take the farthest parking space.

- Take the stairs.

- Walk your dog.

- Break up walking into different activities: 30 minutes on a treadmill, 30 minutes on a stair-stepping machine, 30 minutes on an elliptical or 30 minutes of walking during your lunch hour.

- Walk in place or on a treadmill while watching TV.

- Take your clients for a long walk instead of "doing lunch."

- Walk around when you're waiting for a bus, airplane, train or other appointment.

- Schedule walking meetings instead of group sit-downs in stuffy rooms.

- Walk while you shop. Mall walking is a great way to sneak in exercise.

- Take some fun aerobics classes, such as Latin dancing or hip-hop. These count toward your daily walking quota because they are aerobic and help you burn fat.

- Walk while on your cell phone.

- Deliver memos on foot instead of emailing nearby co-workers.

- Compete in charity walks. The moment you enroll, you'll have a new sense of purpose and a concrete goal that will push you to achieve more.
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Jenny McCarthy still believes that vaccines are to blame for development of autism in children.

The actress still firmly believes that vaccines are to blame for development of autism in children, despite last week's British Medical Journal article about a discredited study linking childhood shots to the developmental disorder.

On a blog she wrote for the Huffington Post, McCarthy asked, "Why does one journalist's accusations against Dr. Wakefield now mean the vaccine-autism debate is over?"

"I know children regress after vaccination because it happened to my own son," she stated. "Why aren't there any tests out there on the safety of how vaccines are administered in the real world, six at a time? Why have only two of the 36 shots our kids receive been looked at for their relationship to autism?"

That article charged that the author of the 1998 study, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, hid the fact that some of the dozen children he described in his research already suffered from developmental problems when they were vaccinated.

The British physician had his medical license revoked last year because of "serious professional misconduct," according to Salon.com.

Wakefield had altered the medical histories of the kids whose stories formed the base of his study, CNN reported.

McCarthy's son Evan, was born in 2002 and diagnosed with autism in 2005. Since then, McCarthy, a self-described "mother warrior" has been highly visible as an advocate for autism awareness.

The former model shows no signs of slowing down in her quest to have childhood vaccines looked at more closely.

"Why do other first world countries give children so many fewer vaccines than we do?" she asked. "Vaccines save lives, but might be harming some children. Is moderation such a terrible idea?"

And, referring to the BMJ story, she added, "Last week, this hoopla made us a little stronger, and even more determined to fight for the truth about what's happening to our kids."

McCarthy, who has written books on Evan's condition, including "Louder Than Words: A Mother's Journey in Healing Autism," has said her son is "healed" from autism.
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Gloria LeBlanc, 86, gets a flu shot in October in Hoover, Alabama.

Black and Latino seniors are less likely than whites to get the flu shot - even though they're at higher risk for chronic diseases that make the vaccine crucial, a new report says.

"We're concerned that not only don't seniors get enough flu shots, but there seems to be ethnic and racial disparities," said Dr. Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association.

In New York City, 35% of blacks and 38% of Latinos age 50 and older got the shot in 2009, compared with 49% of whites, the Health Department reported.
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The specialist: Dr. Adolfo García-Sastre on the flu

As director of the Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Adolfo García-Sastre conducts research on the influenza virus, including ways to produce better vaccines and antivirals. He has been working on influenza for 25 years.

Who's at risk

For most Americans, influenza, or flu, is an inevitable yearly visitor. "Influenza is a respiratory disease caused by the influenza virus," says García-Sastre. "It's like a very bad cold, characterized by four or five days of high fever and prostration."

For 10,000 to 50,000 Americans every year, mostly elderly, the symptoms can worsen and lead to death, usually from flu-induced pneumonia.

The groups at highest risk of severe flu are the old and very young, people over age 65 or under age 2.

"The older you are, the higher the risk," says García-Sastre. "One exception was last year's pandemic H1N1, which left most people over 65 unaffected and was more severe in young people." Other factors that put you at ­elevated risk of severe flu are obesity, pregnancy, immuno-suppression and ­respiratory problems like asthma.

Flu spreads in three major ways, all of them respiratory.

"Phomites are surfaces that become contaminated," says García-Sastre. "Then someone touches the surface, gets the virus on the hand, and puts the hand in their nose or their eyes." Shaking hands with someone is a common example of this form.

The other main way flu spreads is through respiratory droplets, which can either be big or small. "Coughing and sneezing often cause big respiratory droplets that cannot fly more than 3 feet because they are heavy and quickly fall to the floor," says García-Sastre. "That's why the recommendation is to stay 3 feet away from people who are sick."

But coughing and sneezing also ­generate aerosol droplets, which are small particles that stay in the air and travel long distances. Doctors haven't ­determined which mode of transmission is most common.

Signs and symptoms

Most people are extremely familiar with warning signs of flu. "The symptoms are very typical of any febrile disease," says García-Sastre. "Most of them are respiratory symptoms: stuffy nose, ­sneezing, high fever, feeling very bad and prostration." Other symptoms can include headaches and GI symptoms. In severe cases, flu causes respiratory failure, which can lead to multiple organ dysfunction and death.

The common cold causes ­respiratory symptoms that can look like flu, but ­severity and timing can help you tell the difference. "Flu typically causes a fever," says García-Sastre. "In general, if you feel very bad and need to go to bed, it's usually flu, not a cold."

Flu also strikes seasonally, and the Centers for Disease Control tracks the number of cases so its researchers can report which states have a high incidence of flu.

"If you get a very bad cold during the peak of the influenza season, it's probably influenza," says García-Sastre.

Traditional treatment

The best treatment for flu is still prevention. "Vaccines work extremely well in healthy adults, but not as well in the elderly," says García-Sastre. "However, the best way to prevent elderly people from getting infected is to decrease infections among the younger people. Kids are the main spreaders of flu."

There are two types of vaccine: an inactivated vaccine, taken as a shot, and flu-mist vaccine, an alive but weakened virus that is taken intranasally.

"The injection is an inactivated vaccine, which cannot make you sick because the virus isn't alive," says García-Sastre. "It's also given intramuscularly so it can't reach the respiratory tract."

Vaccination takes three to four weeks to induce an immune response.

"One problem with the vaccine is that because the virus changes, the vaccine needs to change every year," says García-Sastre. "When a new strain comes, it's very difficult to create a new vaccine in time."

Once you've been infected with ­influenza, antivirals can prevent the ­virus from replicating.

"There are two classes of antivirals. Amantadine and rimantadine belong to the first class, two drugs that target the same viral protein and aren't currently recommended for many patients due to resistance of the circulating strains," says García-Sastre. "Neuraminidase ­inhibitors Tamiflu and Relenza are more effective against the current strains — Tamiflu is an oral product and Relenza is inhaled."

Taking antivirals can reduce death in cases of severe disease. "The problem with antivirals is that they need to be taken very early on to have impact," says García-Sastre. "Right now these drugs are effective, but in the future the virus may develop resistance to them."

Research breakthroughs

The best hope for reducing the burden of influenza is research working to develop new vaccines and antivirals. "New research breakthroughs give hope on the possibility of a next generation of influenza vaccines that are called universal, which means they would protect against more different strains, even all different strains of the virus," says García-­Sastre. "A second avenue of research is the ­development of new antivirals that target different components."

García-Sastre expects that doctors will be able to choose from many more anti-virals within the next five years.
Question for your doctor

If you think you have flu, talk to your doctor over the phone and ask, "Do you recommend Tamiflu?"

Tamiflu can also be used prophylactically.

"For instance, if one person has the disease in a family that lives together, taking Tamiflu can help prevent the rest of the family catching it," says García-Sastre.

What you can do

See a doctor if you have severe flu.

"If you start to feel really bad and have problems breathing, you might be getting severe influenza that could lead into pneumonia," says Dr. Adolfo García-Sastre. "And you might need to be hospitalized."

Watch out for complications.

The normal duration of flu is around one week. Longer bouts can be a sign something is wrong. For example, the flu could have given way to a bacterial infection, or it may not have been flu in the first place.

Get vaccinated.

García-Sastre recommends everybody get vaccinated: "The more people get vaccinated, the less spreading there will be."

Take sensible precautions.

Frequently wash your hands, and don't cough or sneeze into your hands. The use of masks by people who have the disease can help, too.

Stay in bed.

"If you come to work, you are going to spread it," says García-Sastre.

Get informed.

The CDC runs a great website on influenza (cdc.gov/flu) with information on flu prevention, treatment and free resources.
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Anne Ammons, 30, a registered dietitian, explains that there are little things you can do to flatten your belly, even if most exercises can't target fat in parts of the body.

Calorie counters looking to turn the tables on weight gain have just two days left to phone the free Daily News Diet Hotline.

Our diet and fitness experts are taking a bite out of the Big Apple's obesity epidemic, one call at a time.

"People are suffering from information overload," says dietitian Keri Glassman, founder and president of Keri Glassman, Nutritious Life. "Weight Watchers says this, Jenny Craig says that, people read one thing one day and another thing the next, so no wonder they are still confused about what they can or cannot eat."

No diet is one-size-fits-all, so New Yorkers need to customize a plan to fit their lifestyle.

"What they should do is take advantage of the fact that there are options, and figure out what works best for them," says dietitian Lisa Moskovitz of the F-Factor Diet. "People want to be told exactly what to eat, but what they need to learn is how to make choices for themselves."

The Diet Hotline is helping confused callers become educated eaters. Dial (212) 210-2044 or email your questions to DietHotline@nydailynews.com.

The first step is forgetting the diet and fitness myths you've always believed. Start with this one: There's no such thing as targeting weight loss to a specific area.

"The only way to spot-reduce is a thing called liposuction," says trainer Jeff Halevy, CEO of Halevy Life. "That's the only way to suck fat out of just one area."

You've got to work the whole body to shed that stubborn belly fat. "You can't target, but when you lose weight overall, it will also leave your belly," says dietitian Anne Ammons from New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center. "There are little things you can do to help, however, like focus on building core strength or cutting out carbonated beverages, which can make you bloated and puffy."

Next, say our experts: Don't believe the baked-chip hype. Baked Lays aren't better for you than the original fat trap, says dietitian Melissa Rifkin from Montefiore Medical Center Weiler Division. "They're both bad. And Baked Lays actually have more sodium than the regular kind."

For snackers struggling to kick salty cravings, try a healthy take on fries: Make your own "potato chips" by sprinkling thin sweet-potato slices with a salt substitute, like Mrs. Dash or Nu-Salt, and baking them in the oven.

Whatever you do, eat. Starvation diets are never a quick fix. "Missing meals hurts your metabolism. It slows it down," says June Levine, a dietitian and certified diabetes educator. "Eat small meals throughout the day to boost your metabolism." You'll also be less likely to binge when your appetite kicks in.

Eating right doesn't have to mean giving up your favorite local foodie spot. "One caller who needs to cut his daily bagel and cream cheese habit didn't want to give up going to his regular breakfast place," says Allison Fishman, author of the upcoming "You Can Trust a Skinny Cook."

"We went over the menu together and amped up his breakfast to an egg-white omelet with vegetables on rye toast," she explains, "so he can still say hi to his peeps every day, and he doesn't have to leave
his spot."

The experts available on the Daily News Diet Hotline cannot give you medical advice or diagnosis. Any information about nutrition and weight control they offer is not intended as, and is not a substitute for, medical advice, counseling or diagnosis. You should consult your doctor before beginning any weight-loss program. The Daily News makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to information given by the hotline experts and under no circumstances will it be liable to any caller or other person for damages of any nature arising in any way from the use of such information.
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Mount Sinai Doctors Dr. Mark W. Babyatsky.

As chairman of the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Mark Babyatsky is a gastroenterologist who has specialized in inflammatory bowel diseases since 1984. Seventy-five percent of his patients have Crohn's ­disease.

Who's at risk

"Crohn's disease is an inflammation of any part of the digestive tract," says Babyatsky. "It's most commonly located in the small intestine or the large intestine." More than 500,000 people in the U.S. are living with Crohn's disease. An even greater number have ulcerative colitis, a similar inflammatory bowel disease that strikes the colon.

"For reasons that we don't completely understand, these numbers are increasing and Crohn's is becoming more common," says Babyatsky.

Some groups are at higher risk of Crohn's disease than others. "Doctors have long recognized higher incidence of Crohn's in people of Scandinavian descent and the Ashkenazi Jewish population, which is Jews of Eastern European origin," says Babyatsky.

"Western European Jews have a lower incidence." Doctors have recently found other groups at risk, and now agree that any group can get Crohn's.

The biggest risk factor is genetics. "There's a genetic predisposition, but it's not strictly inherited," says Babyatsky. "If your parent or first-degree relative had the disease, your risk is 5% higher."

Doctors are also exploring environmental factors that contribute to the risks, stomach bacteria in particular.
"There's good and bad bacteria in terms of inflammation," says Babyatsky. "But we're not quite there in terms of understanding how that affects Crohn's."

The disease commonly shows up in young people. "The most common age of presentation is 15 to 30 years old," says Babyatsky. "Crohn's tends to be a young person's disease, and can appear even in childhood." There's a second peak of diagnosis from age 60-80.

Signs and symptoms

Crohn's diseases presents itself in different ways, depending on where the inflammation is in the gastro-intestinal tract.

"Abdominal pain, diarrhea and bloody bowel movements are three textbook symptoms," says Babyatsky. "Secondary symptoms can include weight loss, nausea and loss of appetite." In some patients, the disease causes abscesses or fistulas that can affect surrounding tissue or organs.

For most patients, Crohn's symptoms present as sporadic attacks. "These are symptoms that come and go," says Babyatsky. "Some people have one attack and then it doesn't come back, but most people have recurrences." Crohn's attacks are often triggered by factors like stress, smoking, certain foods (especially high-fiber foods and dairy) and nonsteroidal drugs, including aspirin and non-aspirin products.

One challenge of living with Crohn's disease is that it can be difficult to diagnose. "It takes a while to get the correct diagnosis, and Crohn's is often confused with irritable bowel syndrome," says Babyatsky. In milder cases, patients may think they are feeling the effects of a change in diet or bowel habits, or even an infection.

Crohn's is easy to diagnose once the doctor orders screening tests like a colonoscopy, X-ray or CT enterography. "These tests give images of the GI tract's lining," says Babyatsky. "The doctor can actually see abscesses, strictures or inflammation."

Traditional treatment

Doctors now have a powerful array of treatment options for Crohn's disease. "The traditional treatments include a novel class of anti-inflammatory medications, immunosuppressive agents at lower doses, and antibiotics," says Babyatsky. "Most of these drugs are taken orally."

In the past 15 years, a newer generation of drugs have dramatically improved quality of life for Crohn's patients.

"Starting in 1998, we've had anti-TNF (anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor) medicines like Remicade," says Babyatsky. "These drugs are antibodies against an inflammatory substance that is increased in Crohn's patients."

Doctors call these drugs biologic treatments because they're directed against the particular biology of the disease. "Now there's a family of anti-TNF medications and these are used extremely frequently and effectively for many forms of Crohn's," says Babyatsky, "especially for people with fistulas."

Surgery is an option of last resort for most patients because the disease is recurrent and the drugs are so effective.
"Nonetheless, for some people surgery can be a tremendous option," says Babyatsky. "The surgeon removes the inflamed part of the GI tract, strictures or the fistula."

Research breakthroughs

Doctors' understanding of Crohn's disease has increased radically in the past decade. "We've found that there are two major pathways in the disease: the first related to the bacteria in the gut and their relationship to how the body handles them, including autophagy, a particular process of degeneration in the cells. The second is a specific pathway of the body's immune system.

Targets against these factors are being evaluated," says Babyatsky.

"The next step is to use this knowledge to develop the right strategies for treating diseases like Crohn's," he says. One hope is to use good bacteria, called probiotics, to counteract the bad bacteria that cause Crohn's.

Questions for your doctor

If you're diagnosed with Crohn's ask, "What are the triggers I can avoid?" For many patients the answers include nonsteroidal drugs, not smoking and certain foods. Another good question is, "What risk do my family members have of getting the disease?

The third question is, "Is this going to kill me?" Almost without exception, the answer is no.

Babyatsky counsels patients that Crohn's is now a manageable disease. "Under great care, patients have a normal life span and, in some cases, permanent remissions."

What you can do

Comply with medication.
Take your medications as prescribed and have a close working relationship with your doctor.

Keep a dietary chart.
The triggers for Crohn's are different for everyone, and keeping a chart can help identify your pattern. High-fiber foods and dairy are two common triggers.

See a nutritionist.
No single diet fits all Crohn's patients, so working with a nutritionist is key. Most nutritionists will ask you to keep a food log, then design a diet tailored to your specific needs.

Get informed.
The Crohn's Colitis Foundation (ccfa.org) posts excellent, up-to-date information, including search engines for clinical trials and physicians who specialize in the disease.

Ask about colon cancer screening.

Patients with Crohn's in the large intestine can be at increased risk of colon cancer. Most doctors advise colon cancer screening eight-10 years after diagnosis with Crohn's, and repeating it every one to two years.

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Former Vice President Dick Cheney got a mechanical heart pump in July.

He no longer has a pulse, but Dick Cheney has a mechanical heart pump – and a chance for a normal life.

The 69-year-old former vice president is back in action, albeit a little thinner.

"He really doesn't have a pulse, but he has blood pressure because blood is being pumped out from his ventricle into the aorta at a constant pressure," explains Dr. Kirk Garratt, clinical director of interventional cardiovascular research at Lenox Hill Hospital.

But what exactly is beating in Cheney's chest?

Called an implantable left ventricular assist device, it "works like a little centrifugal pump," Garratt said. "It is like a spinning motor that acts like a fan to draw blood out of the pumping chamber, or left ventricle, and it propels the blood into the aorta."

Cheney's device, which is almost like a partial artificial heart, is battery-powered.

Implanted in the patient's chest, the device is connected to a cable that comes out of the body and connects to a mini computer that plugs into a battery pack. The patient wears a vest that holds these in place, and spare batteries must be carried as well.

"With a normal heart, the left ventricle fills with blood and the muscles of the heart all squeeze at once to push the blood out in one quick wave," Garratt said. "The pressure of that blood being pushed out into the arteries is what you feel as a pulse when you put your fingers to your wrist. But the pump works continuously, always drawing blood out of the left ventricle and propelling it into the aorta at a constant rate. So you don’t generate a pulse."

Typically, the pump's batteries last for around six hours, and then they must be changed.

But why does Cheney no longer have a pulse?

The mechanical heart works continuously to push the blood, rather than mimicking a heartbeat.

But don't think that just anyone can get this heart pump. Getting a pump like Cheney’s is major surgery and can require a lengthy hospital stay and recovery time.

"It’s a big surgery that carries with it very real risks," Dr. Mathew Williams, surgical director of cardiovascular transcatheter therapies at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital Columbia told the Daily News. "We tend to put them into people who are going to die without them."

Cheney will likely have this device in place for the rest of his life.

Some patients are given this mechanical heart until they are healthy enough for a transplant. But in older patients like Cheney -- who has had five heart attacks -- a heart transplant is not always an option.

“Hearts are an exceedingly rare commodity,” Garratt says. “It’s hard to make the decision to give a heart to a man who is [close to] 70 when you know that means a 30-year-old may not be able to get it.”

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Researchers found that girls who started their periods before the age of 11.5 were the most depressed by ages 13 and 14.

The younger a girl is when she begins her monthly period, the more likely she is to struggle with depression later in her teen years, according to a study.

British scientists studied a group of girls ages 10, 13 and 14 years old and examined the relationship between the early onset of menstruation and depressive symptoms, according to a recent study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Researchers found that girls who started their periods before the age of 11.5 were the most depressed by ages 13 and 14. Girls who began to menstruate at 13.5 years of age were the least likely to suffer the same symptoms.

Why does this happen?

"Early maturing girls may feel isolated, and faced with demands which they are not emotionally prepared for," said lead researcher Dr. Carol Joinson of the School of Social and Community Medicine at Bristol University.

These changes can include hormonal fluctuations, conflicts with friends and parents and sudden attention from the opposite sex.

"Later maturation may be protective against psychological distress," said Joinson.

The study only examines depression in mid-adolescent girls as opposed to whether girls who menstruate early suffer from depression as adults.

If the link between early onset puberty and depression is a real one, additional counseling can help girls who are struggling with the sudden changes.

"If girls who reach puberty early are at greater risk of psychological problems in adolescence, it may be possible to help them with school- and family-based programs aimed at early intervention and prevention," said Joinson.

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British doctor Andrew Wakefield reportedly hid the fact that some of the children he wrote about in his research already had developmental problems.

It's safe for kids to get their shots. That's the take-away message from medical experts in the wake of a British Medical Journal article about a discredited study linking vaccines and autism.

The study author, Dr. Andrew Wakefield, hid the fact that some of the children he wrote about in his research already had developmental problems when they got their vaccines, according to the Journal story.

The doctor had changed the medical histories of the dozen autistic children whose stories were the basis of his 1998 study, reports CNN.com.

The Journal article "pretty clearly shows that vaccines are safe, and there does not seem to be a clear relationship that vaccines are causing autism," said Dr. Robert Melillo, autism expert and author of "Disconnected Kids."

For worried parents, the idea that autism could be prevented by withholding vaccines held a certain appeal since there are no definitively recognized causes for the disorder.

"Some 95% of the research in the past couple of decades has been spent looking for a bad gene or genes," said Melillo. "There has not been a lot of research looking at environmental factors."

When Wakefield's study came out, Melillo said, "It was the smoking gun, and it gave parents the validation they were looking for as a cause for autism."

With the now-retracted study labeled an "elaborate fraud," according to CNN, Melillo advised parents to let go of any vaccine worries. But, he said, they also should be aware of early signs of autism, such as a baby being unable to roll over by the age of 5 months or to breastfeed successfully.

Jenny McCarthy is just one of the Hollywood celebrities who is adamant about the connection between vaccinations and autism. (Rodriguez/Getty)

Parents worried about a baby's development should get in touch with the child's pediatrician right away, he said.

Vaccine fears have taken hold of parents, but they're unfounded, says Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of the division of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at Cohen Children's Medical Center of North Shore-LIJ.

"There is an overwhelming abundance of research dismissing any credible link between autism and vaccines," he said.

"One of the many wrong presumptions is that there is a singular cause of autism." Instead, he said, it's likely that there are multiple reasons for a child to have autism.

Despite the BMJ story, not all parents are convinced that Wakefield's research has been disproved. "Vaccine injury is real," said Kim Stagliano, a Connecticut mother of three autistic daughters who said that her older two, now 16 and 14, got autism because of vaccines

She subsequently did not have her youngest, now 10, vaccinated.

"The barrage against Dr. Wakefield is an unvarnished attempt to convince the American public that there is an ‘anti-vaccine' movement, while ignoring that American children are chronically sicker than ever and autism now hobbles at least 1% of American children," said Stagliano, who is the author of the book, "All I Can Handle: I'm No Mother Teresa."

She added that parents have the right to demand vaccine safety and "honest science, without those who have a financial interest controlling the conversation."

The actress Jenny McCarthy, whose son has autism, hadn't issued comment on the BMJ article, according to CNN. However, McCarthy, who founded Generation Rescue, a group that backs the idea of a link between vaccines and autism, had supported Wakefield in the past.

Parents now should have much less anxiety about vaccinating their kids, says Dr. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, chairwoman of legislative affairs of the Nurse Practitioner Association of Long Island and a past member of the National Vaccine Advisory Committee.

"The study linking autism with vaccines has decreased the number of children who get vaccinated," she said. "But there was no truth to the study. A mistake was made. The person who did the study has betrayed the public's trust with this, and children have suffered because of it."

Whether previously reluctant parents will now decide to have their kids vaccinated remains to be seen.

New York State requires certain vaccinations before a child can attend school, but a parent can get a religious exemption, Koslap-Petraco said. "It's very difficult to get a medical exemption, and New York City is really strict about what they will allow as a religious exemption."

Not vaccinating kids opens up the possibility of an outbreak of disease, she said. "Unless you have a highly vaccinated population, if you introduce a virus or the bacteria into the community, it puts all children, even the vaccinated ones, at risk," she warned.

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Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher: Docs recommend you not take medical or nutrition advice from these people

Science campaigners laid bare some of the most dubious celebrity-endorsed health tips on Wednesday, rubbishing ideas such as reabsorbing sperm and wearing silicone bracelets to boost energy.

In an annual list of what it sees as the year's worst abuses against science, the Sense About Science (SAS) campaign group debunked diet and exercise suggestions made by actors, pop stars and others in the public eye in an effort "to help the celebrities realize where they are going wrong and to help the public make sense of celebrity claims."

In the health and fitness section, SAS noted that soccer player David Beckham and Prince William's fiancee Kate Middleton have both been spotted wearing hologram-embedded silicone bracelets which makers claim can improve energy and fitness.

It also listed a diet reportedly used by supermodel Naomi Campbell and actors Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore in which followers survive on maple syrup, lemon and pepper alone for up to two weeks. Campbell told U.S. TV host Oprah Winfrey in an interview in May: "It's good to clean out your body once in a while."

Naomi Campbell: Beautiful but not the person to go to for health advice. (Pascal Le Segretain)

But SAS said in a statement: "Many of these claims promote theories, therapies and campaigns that make no scientific sense."

Pop star Sarah Harding told Now magazine in April that she crumbles charcoal over her food, saying: "It's doesn't taste of anything and apparently absorbs all the bad damaging stuff in the body."

Dr John Elmsley, a chemical scientist and writer asked by SAS to comment on this idea, said charcoal is known to absorb toxic molecules when used in gas masks and sewage treatment, but is "unnecessary when it comes to diet become the body is already quite capable of removing any 'bad damaging stuff'."

One of the highlights for SAS was a tip from cage fighter Alex Reid, who told The Sun tabloid newspaper in April that he "reabsorbs" his sperm to prepare for a big fight.

"It's actually very good for a man to have unprotected sex as long as he doesn't ejaculate. Because I believe that all that semen has a lot of nutrition. A tablespoon of semen has your equivalent of steak, eggs, lemons and oranges. I am reabsorbing it into my body and it makes me go raaaaahh," he said.

John Aplin, a reproductive research scientist at the University of Manchester, said sperm cannot be reabsorbed once they have formed in the testes. "In fact sperm die after a few days, and the nutritional content of the ejaculate is really rather small," he said in a comment on the SAS list.

To try and counter the effects of some of the wildest health and fitness tips, SAS published its own "easy-to-remember pointers for celebrity commentators":-

* Nothing is chemical-free: everything is made of chemicals, it's just a case of which ones

* Detox is a marketing myth: our body does it without pricey potions and detox diets

* There's no need to boost: bodily functions occur without boosting

* Energy and fitness come from...food and exercise: there are no shortcuts.

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When the party is over: The drug Nalmefene is aimed at reducing consumption without the abstinence.

BILL: Dave, you heard about this new drug, Nalmefene? Supposed to block brain signals that makes drinking feel good? The promise is that it can curb a drunk's urge to order another after s/he's had that barrier-breaking first shot?

DR. DAVE: "Nalmefene is aimed at reducing consumption without the abstinence that Alcoholics Anonymous and other treatment programs say is necessary," says Adron Harris, director of the University of Texas at Austin's Waggoner Center for Alcohol & Addiction Research . "This less-strict approach may drive more abusers to seek treatment for the first time."

BILL: Drunks like to say booze fills the hole in your belly. I think it's a hole in your heart and soul. How does a chemical fill that?

DR. DAVE: The actual hole that Nalmafene research does fill is the craving among a small group of scientists to develop a path to controlled drinking for alcoholics.

BILL: Where I agree with Adron Harris is that the notion of complete abstinence is so scary it does keep many a drunk from seeking treatment. Why are you so dead set against that?

DR. DAVE: Experience tells me a return to controlled drinking is the holy grail of virtually every alcoholic. The unstated promise behind Nalmafene is maybe you don't have to stop drinking at all. Listen, Bill, are you having a bit of longing yourself for some pill that would allow you to have that "occasional drink or two?"

BILL: Doc, is that what you hear in my interest in Nalmefene? The siren call of relapse? To dance once more with three martinis on the other side of the moon?

DR. DAVE: What I don't like is that Nalmefene's false promise undermines work on medications that actually do support a more comfortable abstinence.

BILL: Such as Naltrexone and Acomprosate?

DR.DAVE: Both already approved by the FDA to alleviate cravings.

BILL: I remember going through bouts of depression in rehab – a feeling I had to have a drink right now or die. One of those proven suppressants would have made it a lot easier to pay attention to aftercare group counseling sessions.

DR. DAVE: And that's where the new advances in medication are at their best! In fact, even in good Minnesota Model treatment programs we see rates of recovery in depressed alcoholics hovering around 30%. Add Naltrexone and a common non-abusable anti-depressant, Zoloft, to the treatment and those research rates jump up above 50%.

BILL: Whoa Doc—aren't you back to pushing pills rather than treatment? Instead of weeks in rehab, wouldn't the temptation be to just go get a prescription from your family doc?

DR. DAVE: The statistics are that doctors who mistakenly prescribe just anti-depressant medication to improve the symptoms of alcoholism are actually choosing the least effective course of treatment.

BILL: We've certainly seen a lot of celebs who actually died trying to find a chemical way out of their alcoholism or addiction—Corey Haim, Anna Nicole Smith, Judy Garland and the pinnacles of old time rock and roll—Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

DR. DAVE: Its called Combined Drug Intoxication, or CDI, and it comes from trying to mix drugs to "get a better high" without so many negative side effects...

BILL: What you are saying is that drugs like Nalmafene could actually be called "Denial in a Bottle?"

DR. DAVE: If family physicians reading us want to see the different medications that can be legitimately used to support an abstinence-based alcoholism recovery, they can go to this medication web site.

BILL: Run by the American Academy of Family Physicians, right? Dave, I have to tell you though, that with the holidays coming to an end, the research I'd like to see would be for those infomercial favorites--Fat Burner pills, followed by two tablets of Exercise-in-a-Bottle. Now, if there had been one to evaporate the contents of a full bladder, I would never have to leave the couch!

DR. DAVE: Well Bill, we've run out of space today; but I'll be glad to reserve next week's column for medication and eating disorders—just in time for your New Years' Resolutions.

Dr. David Moore is a licensed psychologist and chemical dependency professional who is a graduate school faculty member at Argosy University's Seattle Campus. Bill Manville is a Book of the Month novelist; his most recent work of non-fiction, "Cool, Hip & Sober," is available at online bookstores. Bill also teaches "Writing To Get Published" for Temple University and at writers.com.

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