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Sunday
Feb182018

Tiny house on wheels takes minimalist living to the next level

ABC News(PESARO, Italy) -- Having grown up in a tiny room in his family’s home in Pesaro, Italy, 27-year-old architect Leonardo Di Chiara is used to living a minimalist lifestyle.

His latest project, the aVOID tiny house, currently on display -- and inhabited -- by the architect in Berlin, takes the concept of reductionist living to the next level.

Measuring just 96 square feet and equipped with all one needs to live, the home seeks to challenge the concept of traditional housing.

“It’s a tiny house and it’s on wheels, so you can move it wherever you want. You can live wherever you want,” the architect told ABC News.

aVOID is part of the tiny-house social and architectural movement started in the U.S. in the 1980s and has seen a resurgence in the past several years. The concept centers around downsizing one’s home to live a more sustainable and minimalistic lifestyle, using few resources.

Since 1973, the typical size of a U.S. home has doubled -- peaking at just over 2,600 square feet, according to U.S. census data. Tiny houses, meanwhile, are typically 100 to 150 square feet, on wheels, and come in a variety of shapes and sizes.

With furniture such as tables, chairs, a bed and a sofa folding out of the walls of the structure, Di Chiara’s home has been likened to a Swiss Army knife. Yet the project is no novelty -- Di Chiara hopes it will be a model for those who want to live with less, without the burden of paying high rents increasingly plaguing many large cities, including Berlin.

Di Chiara intends for its user to live in unoccupied spaces in the city.

He said he hopes aVOID will be part of what he calls migratory neighborhoods -- clusters of tiny homes on wheels integrated within city centers.

For now, it's a work in progress. "Living in the tiny home is a challenge," Di Chiara admitted, largely because it is still a work in progress. He is constantly discovering problems and finding ways to resolve them, often with the help of products provided by sponsors who believe in his vision, he said.

"I realized that the air inside gets too stuffy, especially during the night," Di Chiara said. To resolve the problem, he partnered with a company that provided a prototype ventilation system.

Despite the challenges, Di Chiara said he plans to live in the house for an entire year, but aims to call it home for life once it is perfected. He said he also allows others to try out living in the house for a night or two, provided they give him feedback.

Di Chiara’s aVOID house is one of over a dozen small structures on the Bauhaus Museum campus in Berlin. It is part of the "Tinyhouse University," a nonprofit founded in 2016 by German architect Van Bo Le-Mentzel that brought together architects, designers and refugees to explore different housing typologies.

“We want to create solutions for living in an innovative way that allow people to be very active in the process of living, including designing, building and living in the house,” said Di Chiara. Some of the tiny buildings are cafes, while others are living spaces and workspaces.

aVOID is a prototype for a single working professional and takes inspiration from the Bauhaus design movement, which combined art with the industrialization process.

Di Chiara is working on lowering the production costs to make aVOID available to anyone who would like to own it, regardless of their income level. The materials for the home cost €45,000 (about $56,000), and it was built and customized by the architect himself. Di Chiara said he hopes to eventually be able to lower total production costs to €30,000 (roughly $37,000) through mass production.

First, though, he'll need to get others onboard. It's currently illegal in Berlin to have a migratory neighborhood along the lines of Di Chiara's vision, so his goal is to first raise awareness of tiny-house living before holding serious discussions with city officials. He said he plans to set his sights on Milan, where rents are higher and there is less empty urban space than in Berlin.

In March, Di Chiara will take the home on a seven-city tour, ending in Rome.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

'Black Panther' and mental health in the Black community

IMDB(NEW YORK) -- Black Panther signals a revolutionary moment –- not only in its implications for Black culture, but also for Black mental health.

“At a very basic level, representation affects people's identity,” said Dr. Ruth Shim, Director of Cultural Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of California, Davis. “Having positive representations and people reflecting the diversity of what they can be and experience can be protective against depression and anxiety stemming from negative images.”

Indeed, Black representation in pop culture has expanded in recent years. Television shows such as "Insecure," "Empire" and "Black-ish" feature predominantly Black casts. Films like the comedy-horror "Get Out" satirize racial disparities, while "Hidden Figures" and "Moonlight" portray different Black realities. But "Black Panther" forms a category all its own: Black superheroes and superheroines in a sci-fi world.

Take Wakanda, the fictional nation in which "Black Panther" is based. Wakanda is particularly evocative because it re-envisions reality. It asks not what is, but what could be. Imagine if racism, poverty, and chronic illness –- all risk factors for depression and anxiety disorders among Black Americans –- simply did not exist. They don’t in Wakanda.

The world depicted in "Black Panther" brings with it an unstated question" “Would the rates of depression and anxiety among Black Americans change if reality were different?”

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and a serious medical illness that can cause specific mood, mental and physical symptoms. It is also associated with higher rates of chronic disease, increased need for health care, and difficulty functioning at work, at home and in social settings.

A 2009-2012 survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that Black people are significantly more likely to have depressive symptoms than whites – and those symptoms are more likely to be severe.

“Sometimes we think of ourselves as weak, hopeless, that we don’t have that light. There’s a dark cloud that’s there,” said Stephanie Grimes, a depression and anxiety survivor who founded the Detroit-based mental health organization Hope360. “But with these superheroes, it shines a light and lets people know that we struggle with some things, but we can feel accomplished and have hope too,” she said. “Things can change. Things can get better.”

Psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark affirmed the negative impact of racism on self-esteem in the 1940s through “The Doll Tests.” These series of experiments demonstrated that, regardless of race, children as early as 3 years old preferred the white doll to a Black one, and attributed positive characteristics to it, while attributing negative characteristics to the Black doll.

“I feel like I just went through the largest therapy session in cinematic form,” said Dr. Italo Brown, a Jacobi and Montefiore Medical Center emergency medicine resident physician who wrote about why he wants to move to Wakanda to practice medicine. “It was group therapy with 100 people – everything from dressing the part, showing up with people you’re comfortable with, and being vulnerable. You saw a representation of what you’re capable of,” he said.

While depression is most effectively treated with a combination of medication and therapy, only 33.6 percent of Black people with severe depression were in contact with a mental health professional within a year. Younger men of color who report daily feelings of depression or anxiety are also less likely to take medication or talk to a mental health professional compared to their white peers, according to the CDC.

That could be because they can’t afford it, because of mental health stigma, or mistrust of a medical system that has a history darkened by racist experimentation, said Dr. Karinn Glover, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

“You're treating a society-wide phenomenon of depression and anxiety wrapped up in racial trauma and oppression. There are so many microaggressions and inequalities embedded in American culture,” Glover said. “That has a subconscious toll on the psyche.”

While there’s more work needed to create communities where people care for each other and distribute the “wealth of the kingdom,” Brown said, Black celebrities, like hip-hop mogul and entrepreneur Jay-Z, are reducing stigma by opening up about their own experiences with therapy.

“Mental health is a path to freedom,” Glover said, noting that as a Black female psychiatrist, “what inspires me is justice, leveling the playing field and restoring the balance of power.”

Immediately after watching "Black Panther," Glover said, “I’m glowing on the inside. I was just thrilled to see such gorgeous and real representations – that spirit and tenderness and bravery.”

This article was written by Christy Duan and Jay-Sheree Allen for ABC News. Duan is a psychiatry resident physician at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York and a resident at the ABC News Medical Unit. Read more of her work at www.christyduan.com. Allen is a family medicine resident physician at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and a resident at the ABC News Medical Unit.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Identical twin brothers propose to identical twin sisters: 'It was amazing'

Courtesy Brittany Deane(NEW YORK) -- Two sets of identical twins are now planning a joint wedding after twin brothers proposed to twin sisters on February 2, or 2-2.

Brittany and Briana Deane met Josh and Jeremy Salyers last August at The Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, which bills itself as the "largest annual gathering of twins (and other multiples) in the world," according to its website.

Although the 31-year-old Deane twins have been trekking to the festival from their home in Virginia since 2011, for the 34-year-old Salyers' twins, it was their first time.

"When we got there it turned out better than we ever expected," Josh Salyers told ABC News, referring to his recent engagement.

Brittany Deane recalled that she and her sister spotted the Salyers twins at one of the festival's welcoming events.

"We were sitting on the bleachers and I saw just these two amazingly handsome young men that looked to be about our age," she recalled to ABC News, "and they were walking across the gym floor below."

Her sister Briana Deane recalls that her sister grabbed her by the wrist, "which we always do when we get excited about something," she said. And after a few moments, she too had spotted the brothers.

"They were stunning," Briana Deane said of her now-fiance and his twin brother.

Sadly, the twin siblings didn't cross paths until the last day of the festival for it's closing night party. "They were there at the end of the hall," Briana Deane said. "They smiled at us and we all started talking."

The Salyers twins sent the Deane twins a message via Facebook saying they couldn't wait to bump into them next year at the festival. But instead, the sisters asked, "Why wait?" The brothers then made a road trip out of it -- driving from their previous home in Clinton, Tennessee to visit the sisters in Virginia. After an amazing trip, the brothers said they knew immediately they'd propose one day.

"You know when you know," Jeremy Salyers said. "We’ve always known our whole life if we were going to be married that it was going to be with twins."

The brothers, who now live in Hagerstown, Maryland, planned a proposal at the same location as their first date -- Twin Lakes State Park in Virginia. They told the sisters the wedding venue on-site wanted to feature the four in a commercial, so they all arrived in matching blue gowns and matching blue ties.

What the Deane sisters didn't expect was for the Salyers brothers to drop down on one knee at the same time. It made it even more special for all of the pairs.

"We have done so much in life together. We’ve gone through ... having twin loves of our lives and to accept their marriage proposal at the same time made it that much more special," Brittany Deane said.

Josh Salyers added, "We’ve always felt blessed to have each other and now we have two other twins who are just like us...but they also add their own contributions that we couldn’t have. Together we can accomplish anything."

The couples now plan to have a double wedding this August at the Twins Days Festival in Ohio. And yes, if you're wondering, the brides will be in identical wedding dresses.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Feb172018

Baby abductors, like Gloria Williams, often fit a similar profile

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- After a South Carolina woman stood in court this week and pleaded guilty to abducting an infant from a hospital nearly two decades ago and raising the girl as her own daughter, many were left asking this: Who would steal a baby? And why?

Gloria Williams admitted she acted alone in 1998 when she walked into a Florida hospital dressed as a nurse and walked out with the newborn, whose name was Kamiyah Mobley. Williams raised Mobley for 18 years as her own daughter in South Carolina, renaming her Alexis Kelli Manigo.

It turns out that dressing as a nurse to make it easier to navigate around hospital nurseries undetected is a common practice among women who have stolen babies from hospitals, John Rabun, the director of infant abduction response at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), told ABC News.

Williams’ crime was first discovered when Mobley told a friend she had been abducted as a baby. That tip was sent anonymously to Rabun’s center in 2016.

In 2016, in the weeks after Mobley’s whereabouts were first discovered, Rabun traveled to the hospital in Jacksonville, Florida, now known as UF Health, where Mobley was born. Nurses there recounted to him their memory of the abduction, including the fact that Williams was nearly caught with Mobley before she was able to escape the hospital successfully.

"As she was leaving the mom’s room with [Mobley] in her arms, two other nurses were rushing down the hall with another mother who was in labor," Rabun said. "They saw Williams, dressed as a nurse, carrying Mobley in her arms -- which was against hospital procedure -- and told her she couldn’t arm-carry the baby. So she went back into the mom’s room and talked to her for a while, waits for the coast to clear in the hallway. Then she takes the baby out."

"That’s how good of con women these women are," Rabun added.

The NCMEC has confirmed 325 cases of infant abduction -- nearly all are female abductors -- over the past five decades. In analyzing those abductions, they’ve discovered that not only do many abductors use similar tactics to steal babies -- like dressing as a nurse, as Williams did -- but also nearly all abductors fit a similar profile.

What should you look for if you fear your loved one might be thinking of stealing a baby?

Many women who steal babies do so in a desperate attempt to keep a boyfriend or husband they fear may leave them if they don’t have a child to bind them together, analysis of past abduction cases has found. They are of child-bearing age and may already have children at home, according to the NCMEC. They may pretend to be pregnant, they may have recently lost a baby due to miscarriage, or they may suffer from a medical condition that prevents them from becoming pregnant themselves, the NCMEC has found.

They may also visit hospital nurseries while they’re planning the abduction to ask questions about procedures and case the layout of the maternity floor. They might become familiar with hospital staff and may even be friendly to the victim’s parents, as Gloria Williams was, Rabun said.

"She’s armed with enough knowledge that when she goes into the hospital, she can walk the walk and talk the talk," Rabun said.

What can hospitals do to prevent this?

Hospitals are aware of this threat and have taken an aggressive, layered approach to safeguard their maternity wards against it in the years since Mobley was abducted, according to Bonnie Michelman, executive director of police, security and outside services at Massachusetts General Hospital and former president of the International Association for Healthcare Safety and Security.

Michelman estimates 80 percent of hospitals in the U.S. now use both electronic tagging for babies and an ID banding system for parents. The electronic tagging system sends an alert if a baby is moved out of the maternity ward, while the ID bands verify parents’ identities. Hospital employees also wear special identification that makes it easy for parents to identify them as someone authorized to hold or transport their baby.

Hospitals have also changed the way they transport babies, requiring them to be moved in bassinets rather than carried in the arms of a nurse. That makes it more difficult for a would-be abductor to carry a baby out of a maternity ward, Michelman said.

At many hospitals, babies are now kept in their mother’s room instead of a nursery, she added.

Hospitals now hold “Code Pink” drills to practice for an abduction attempt, and parents are often instructed on how to keep their babies safe at the hospital in their pre-birthing classes, Michelman said.

"Parents don’t need to be alarmed about the possibility of an abduction," Michelman said. “Hospitals take this very seriously, and the best thing parents can do is ask good questions before the birth about what systems and processes are in place to keep their infant safe."

She also warned parents to think twice about what they’re sharing about the birth of their baby on social media.

"Don’t post where you live. I wouldn’t even post a picture of my child. No details of my personal situation," Michelman said.

"What happened in Jacksonville could happen anywhere in the country," said Rabun, referring to the Williams case. "But it’s a lot harder these days."

One hospital on alert

Those procedures are something one hospital in Ohio knows well. The Cleveland Clinic Fairview Hospital warned the staff of its maternity ward that the wife of a Cleveland police officer who is already under investigation for lying about having cancer while pregnant may try to steal a baby from there.

A clinic spokeswoman told ABC News in a statement, "We have taken extra measures to ensure patients are safe and secure at Fairview Hospital. We take this matter seriously and want to reassure our patients that their safety is our top priority."

Whatever their other sins, women who steal babies often take care of the child as if it were their own, showering them with love and affection, according to Rabun.

"I understand what she did was wrong, but just don't lock her up and throw away the key," Mobley said of Williams on Good Morning America in January. "I still think of her as Mom. She will always be Mom."

Williams faces up to 22 years in prison when she is sentenced in May.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

Here's why performance anxiety before an Olympic event may not be a bad thing

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- Just moments before Mikaela Shiffrin, the world’s top-ranked women’s skier, clipped into her bindings on Friday for the first run in her attempt to defend her Olympic gold medal in the slalom, she vomited.

It was a dramatic physical reaction to the nerves that plague athletes at all levels of competition, but not so rare for Shiffrin. She has been open about the battle she is waging against those nerves with the help of sports psychologists.

In a TV interview between races on Friday, Shiffrin suggested she might have caught a virus, but later acknowledged it was “just nerves again.”

Sports psychologists say extreme performance anxiety like Shiffrin’s is more common than many people think among elite athletes.

What is performance anxiety?

“Performance anxiety is when the mind and the body says, ‘OK, it’s here, whatever we’ve done to prepare, there’s nothing else we can do now aside from try to be successful,” Dr. Neal Bowes, a former Premier League soccer player and sports psychologist who has prepared Olympians for the games, told ABC News. “And it’s more common than you think.”

Amy Baltzell, who competed in the 1992 Barcelona Games as a rower and is now the president of the Association of Applied Sports Psychology (AASP), agrees. “Most athletes feel performance anxiety and as you get better and the results get more uncertain, that anxiety goes up,” Baltzell said.

Shiffrin makes her nerves work for her

What’s more uncommon is becoming physically ill as Shiffrin does, but from observing her perform and also talk about her struggles with nerves, Bowes -- who has never treated Shiffrin -- believes she uses it as a tool that tells her she is ready to compete.

“She’s found a way to believe that getting ill is OK and fairly normal for her,” Bowes said. So when she gets sick, Bowes believes Shiffrin is able to tell herself, “This is normal for me, it’s happened, which means I can now go and ski well.”

“She seems to be able to quickly process the fact that she’s gotten ill, accept as a sign she’s ready to perform and go out and compete,” he added.

What can athletes do to control their nerves?

Sports psychologists have different approaches for how they approach such anxiety among athletes, but all have the same goal.

“You want the butterflies to fly, but we work to get them in formation and have them work for you, not against you,” said Kristen Dieffenbach, an executive board member with AASP and psychologist who has treated a wide range of athletes across disciplines and ages.

Baltzell teaches athletes how to tolerate their anxiety and shift their attention back to the task at hand through mindfulness.

“I have my athletes visualize themselves performing the part of their performance they most need to prepare for and feel the positive emotions that go with executing that part well,” Baltzell said. “It can be quite helpful for athletes struggling with anxiety.”

Dieffenbach focuses on “controlling the controllables” -- helping athletes figure out their optimal pattern for warming up and preparing for a day of competition.

Bowes recommends visualization and breathing exercises and tells athletes who struggle with nerves to be selective with what they eat.

Another chance at gold

After becoming ill, Shiffrin placed off the podium in fourth place Friday in the slalom. She said she was “disappointed,” adding “it just wasn’t there today to ski the aggressive way I need to be worthy of a medal.”

Vomiting before the race may not have been the main cause for her finish, though. Shiffrin said, “It’s hard to put the blame on any one thing. There’s a lot of things that come together to make it.”

Despite her struggles with nerves, Shiffrin already has that gold medal in the giant slalom in these games and will have another chance to snag more hardware next week in the downhill.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

Once bullied, 11-year-old girl now inspires girls to love the skin they're in 

Nakia Bowling(NEW YORK) -- Meet the 11-year-old philanthropist and entrepreneur who is collecting and donating dolls of color to little girls in need, telling ABC News that she wanted to "let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful."

Zoe Terry, 11, and her mother, Nakia Bowling, launched the nonprofit "Zoe's Dolls" in 2011 when Zoe was just 5 years old. The group gives out dolls of color to young girls whose families may not otherwise be able to afford them.

"I started Zoe’s Dolls when I was 5 years old because at that time, I was bullied because the color of my skin and because my hair was so puffy," Zoe told ABC News.

"It really made me feel really bad," she added of the bullying. "It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything."

Bowling, Zoe's mother, told ABC News that she tried to turn the bullying Zoe experienced into a teachable moment and encouraged her to be confident in her own skin.

"When she was bullied, she said, 'I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to do something positive about it,'" Bowling said. "She doesn’t let her situation determine her outcome, she determines her outcome."

Zoe then decided to do something to help make sure no other little girls ever felt the same way she did.

"I really wanted to find a way where I can let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful no matter what anyone else says," Zoe said. "And I thought, 'Dolls in their image would be a great way to show them that.'"

"I think its important that everyone gets a doll that looks like them," Zoe added.

Bowling told ABC News that Zoe will "be the first to tell you it’s not about me, it just has my name on it."

Now a sixth-grader at the same school where she was initially bullied, Zoe is thriving.

“Me and my girl our now friends and she donates to Zoe’s Dolls every year. I think how we came to that was that my school and my mom really helped me and the girl understand that our differences are what make us special and we should celebrate our differences,” Zoe said Friday on “GMA.”

Her work has sparked an important conversation at her school.

"Not only does she spread a message of diversity and inclusion," Karen Davis, a teacher at Zoe's school said. "She really does feel that we are all beautiful."

Zoe told ABC News that she wants "every little brown girl" to "know that nothing is impossible."

"The word itself says I’m possible," she added.

Zoe has already helped collect and distribute 20,000 dolls. In addition, she is creating her own line of "Simply Zoe" dolls, and she said her goal is that for every one sold, one will be given away to a family in need.

Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO of the toy company GoldieBlox, surprised Zoe on "Good Morning America" on Friday with the news that she was going to help Zoe launch her "Zoe's Dolls" line by donating 5,000 GoldieBlox dolls so that Zoe can spend her time focusing on launching her own line rather than collecting donations.

"I wouldn't have as much success today if I didn't have mentors along the way, so today I would like to sign up to be your mentor," Sterling told Zoe on Friday.

In addition, Sterling announced that she would mentor Zoe as she worked to launch her doll line, and pledged that for every doll purchased in February on GoldieBlox's website, the company will donate another doll to Zoe.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Feb162018

DNA kit could give parents a 'glimpse' into their potential baby's characteristics

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- DNA kits, such as those from Ancestry.com, give millions of people a peek into their genetic makeup.  Now, a product called BabyGlimpse is using some of that DNA scanning technology to give you a possible preview of what your baby could be like.

BabyGlimpse reveals "the brighter side of personal genomics," according to its website. It claims to allow two potential parents to see the chances that their future child might have, say, light or dark hair, a sweet tooth or certain allergies.

Like other companies' kits, BabyGlimpse has customers supply their saliva for scanning. After the kit is sent away for analysis, an app lets you see -- via pie-chart graphics -- what Mother Nature could have in store for your offspring in terms of appearance, wellness and genetic heritage.

The creators stress that the scan isn't a medical test; it’s merely a "fun and informational" way to see what "unique characteristics and quirks" they could pass on as a parent -- for $99.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Florida shooting raises awareness of stigma attached to mental illness

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Following Wednesday's shooting rampage at a South Florida high school by a 19-year-old suspect that left 17 dead -- the deadliest school shooting in five years -- Americans are scrambling for answers to make sense of the tragedy.

Interviews after the massacre cast alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz as a troubled loner who made disturbing comments on social media. He told investigators that he heard voices in his head, giving him instructions on what to do to conduct the attack, law enforcement sources told ABC News. The voices were described as "demons" by law enforcement sources. And an attorney for the family who had taken Cruz in after his adoptive mother died said he was "depressed" following her death but had been going to therapy.

Though there may be red flags that predict violence, many are zeroing in on what is assumed to be mental illness. But it's not unusual for a newly orphaned young man to have depressive symptoms. In this situation, seeking mental health care is not only appropriate, but responsible. And though he was expelled from school, thousands of students are asked to leave school each year. It does not mean they return with a gun.

Nevertheless, while tweeting his thoughts and prayers, President Donald Trump wrote, "So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed, even expelled from school for bad and erratic behavior. Neighbors and classmates knew he was a big problem. Must always report such instances to authorities, again and again!"

Florida Governor Rick Scott vowed to keep guns out of the hands of those with mental illness. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions committed to “study the intersection of mental health and criminality and identify how we can stop people capable of such heinous crimes.”

Dr. Liza Gold, a forensic psychiatrist and clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University School of Medicine, disagrees with the snap diagnosis that many have made.

"It's not a mental health problem," Gold said. "It’s a disgrace that our leaders don’t take corrective action and their knee jerk reaction is to go to mental health."

It’s a reaction, Gold believes, that means that fewer people seek help. "They’re a disenfranchised population that is very easy to go after. The stigma attached to mental illness increases so the people who do need help are less forthcoming."

Public opinion and medical research are far apart when it comes to the intersection of mental illness and criminality. A 2009 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association highlighted the discrepancy: 75 percent of people view those with mental illness as dangerous, and 60 percent believe that those with schizophrenia are more likely to commit violent acts. But those numbers have nothing to do with real-world statistics.

The study showed that severe mental illness is quite common, with almost 11 percent of study participants diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depressive disorder. These people are not at increased risk of committing violent acts (though the mentally ill who also abuse substances are).

But the numbers have told us, for years, that mental illness is not generally linked to violence against others, but to self-harm. "Although it is not uncommon that the perpetrator of a mass shooting has a mental illness, it is uncommon for persons with a mental illness to engage in violent behaviors,” Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, clinical professor of psychiatry at University of Colorado School of Medicine and court-appointed forensic psychiatrist in the Aurora theater shooting case, told ABC News. "Further studies are not needed -– adequate funding is needed."

“The mental health system is under-resourced and over-burdened," said Jeffrey Swanson, PhD, sociologist and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. "It’s held together by duct tape."

Even a rise in funding for mental health would not be enough, Gold cautions. “You can dump all the money you want into mental health and you are likely to bring down firearm suicide rate,” she said. “But it won’t make a dent in other types of violence, including mass shootings.”

The majority of gun deaths -– two-thirds -– are from suicide, with mental illness as the strongest causal factor, Swanson said. Of the remaining gun deaths due to violence, only 2 percent can be attributed to mass shootings. The other 98 percent is due to domestic violence and other forms of interpersonal violence, Gold added. “People are missing the forest for the trees. If you do that, you can’t design effective policy,” she said.

These experts argue that there needs to be better gun control policy, saying while the United States Constitution protects Americans’ right to bear arms, there are many levels of intervention that do not infringe on this right.

“I don’t know how many more times it has to happen -– mass shootings, school shootings, etc.," Gold said. "It’s clear that the problem is not being addressed. The government is sending a message to the American people that we’re all potential victims and there’s nothing we can do about it. But there are many things we can do. People in crisis should not have access to firearms. There’s lots of information about risk factors and none of it is being used to craft evidence-based policy that might potentially be effective.”

Swanson said that there are already effective policies in certain states that could be applied elsewhere, identifying Connecticut as a “pioneer” in instituting a law to allow police to temporarily remove guns from those determined to be at imminent risk of harm to self or others. Another solution, Swanson said, would be to develop better criteria at the point of sale, such as limiting gun sales in those with violent misdemeanors or those with temporary orders of protection against them.

“Why would someone like that be able to legally buy an automatic rifle? Why is someone able to buy military weapons that are only used to kill people? Not all guns are the same,” Gold said. “You can have guns to hunt with, unless you’re hunting people.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Feb152018

Pros and cons of plant-based milks: Is a plant-based milk right for you?

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There is no shortage of non-dairy milk alternatives on the market these days, from soy to almond, cashew, coconut and even peanut milk.

One thing to get clear: These aren’t really “milks” but rather liquids that mix ground nuts and water and can substitute for cow’s milk.

Soy milk is the most nutritionally-balanced of the plant-based milk alternatives, according to a new study.

The study, conducted by researchers at Canada’s McGill University, compared the nutritional values of almond milk, soy milk, rice milk and coconut milk to cow’s milk.

It found cow’s milk to be the most nutritional option, followed by soy milk, which had the most protein and tied for the most calcium per serving among non-dairy alternatives.

The study identified the pros and cons of each alternative milk, including soy.

How do you know if a plant-based “milk” is right for you?

If you need or choose to try plant-based milk, the one you choose should depend on a combination of factors including allergies, taste and your diet, according to Cynthia Sass, a New York City-based registered dietitian and the author of "Slim Down Now."

Read below for the pros and cons of different types of plant-based milk, as identified by McGill University researchers, along with Sass's perspective on each.

Soy milk: Great for vegans

Pros: Rich in protein and promotes a balanced diet.

Cons: A beany flavor and the presence of “anti-nutrients," defined in the study as substances that reduce nutrient intake and digestion.

Dietitian's take: Soy is one of the common eight allergens. It can also trigger unwanted symptoms in people who are soy intolerant or soy sensitive, including bloating, digestive pain, fatigue, headache, and skin reactions. It may be best for vegans, who have more limited protein sources (as long as they aren’t allergic or intolerant).

Almond milk: Great for calorie-watchers

Pros: Almonds have a high content of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFA) that are considered helpful in weight loss and weight management.

Cons:
Lacks some essential nutrients.

Dietitian's take: Unsweetened almond milk can provide as few as 30 calories per cup and just one gram of carbohydrates. Most brands are also fortified with calcium and vitamin D. It’s a great replacement for milk in cereal, smoothies, and coffee for people who get plenty of protein from other sources and are watching calories and carbs.

Rice milk: Great for athletes

Pros: Lactose-free and can act as an alternative for patients with allergy issues caused by soybeans and almonds.

Cons: Rice milk varies widely in its nutrient profile, putting infants at risk for malnutrition.

Dietitian's take: Low in protein and fat, rice milk’s calories primarily come from carbohydrates. It’s a good option for athletes or active people, especially pre-exercise (in smoothies, oatmeal, or cold cereal), particularly those with nut, dairy, and soy sensitivities.

Coconut milk: Great for cooking

Pros:
Consumption can help reduce levels of harmful low-density lipoproteins (bad cholesterol) that are associated with cardiovascular diseases.

Cons:
No proteins, rich in (saturated) fat.

Dietitian's take: The richness of coconut milk makes it an ideal dairy replacement for certain recipes, like, soup, cream sauce, pudding, and ice cream. Great for people who enjoy cooking rich dishes but are trying to consume more plant-based meals and less animal fat.

More plant-based alternatives to know about.

Cashew milk: Great for calorie-watchers

One cup of unsweetened cashew milk is low in calories, typically around 25 calories, and fat, usually just two grams.

Cashew milk does not contain the fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein found in a handful of cashews though because all that disappears when the pulp is strained from the milk.

Dietitian's take:
Unsweetened cashew milk is one of the lowest calorie plant options with just 25 calories per cup. Most brands are also fortified with calcium and vitamin D. Like almond milk, cashew milk is a good alternative for those watching calories and carbohydrates who aren’t looking for protein from their milk substitute. Some may prefer the flavor of cashew milk over almond milk if they prefer cashews to almonds.

Peanut milk: Great for fish eaters

Elmhurst, a family-owned company, sells what it bills as America's first peanut milk. The peanuts come from Georgia peanut farms and pack six grams of protein in every eight-ounce glass, according to the company's website.

Each eight-ounce serving also contains 150 calories, five grams of sugar and 11 grams of fat.

Dietitian's take: Peanuts are a common allergen. Peanuts also provide more omega-6 fatty acids. An excess of these fats, unbalanced with omega-3s, may be tied to inflammation and obesity. If you prefer peanut milk, also include healthful sources of omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel.

Hemp milk: Great for vegans

Hemp milk is made from soaking hemp seeds in water and grinding them. One eight-ounce serving has around 100 calories, five grams of sugar and three grams of protein.

Dietitian's take: Hemp isn’t a common allergen and while it’s not the highest in the protein of the plant options, hemp does contain complete protein, meaning it packs all of the amino acids needed for repair and healing of protein tissues in the body. The fat in hemp also includes both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Great for vegans who are soy intolerant.

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Thursday
Feb152018

Alzheimer's disease reversed in mice, offering hope for humans, new research shows

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "Remarkable" -- that’s how researchers are describing the results of a new study done on mice displaying traits associated with Alzheimer's disease.

The deletion of just a single enzyme saw the near total reversal of the deposition of amyloid plaques found in brains of those with Alzheimer's, improving cognitive functions in the mouse subjects, according to the study from researchers at the Cleveland Clinic, published Feb. 14 in the Journal of Experimental Medicine.

These promising research findings center around deleting a gene that produces an enzyme called BACE1, which helps make the beta-amyloid peptides that accumulate abnormally in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have shown that stopping or reducing that enzyme’s activity dramatically reduces production of beta-amyloid peptides, which are toxic to the brain and lead to the symptoms -- including memory loss -- associated with Alzheimer's.

By using BACE1 inhibitors to gradually lower the enzyme's levels, researchers saw reduced neuron loss and better brain function in the mice, offering hope for human subjects down the line, according to the study.

However, researchers urge caution with the results as many Alzheimer’s discoveries seem to hold true in mice, then fail in people.

Cleveland Clinic researcher Riqiang Yan, Ph.D., an author on the study, told ABC News that in the mouse model, the gene that produces the enzyme was deleted, completely stopping the enzyme's production. But in humans, it’s unlikely that BACE1 inhibitors would totally halt the enzyme's production, Yan said.

Nonetheless, five BACE1 inhibitors are being tested in human subjects currently, Yan added.

“BACE1 inhibitors are still hopeful for AD patients if they have no unwanted side effects or can be tolerated for long-term use,” Yan said.

Yan added researchers are currently in phase II and, in some cases, phase III clinical trials for the various compounds.

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