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Can’t seem to lose weight? You may have this special gene

Are you envious of your friends who seem to eat whatever they want without gaining a pound, while a single slice of pizza causes you to gain several? Genetics may be related to the difference, according to a new report. 

» RELATED: How to lose weight: Take a break from your diet for two weeks 

Researchers from Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill recently conducted an experiment, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal, to target mutations in a gene called ankyrin-B, which is associated with weight gain among heavier people. 

To do so, they engineered mice that had human variants of ankyrin-B. They found the mice grew quicker and faster than mice without the gene, even when getting the same amount of exercise and nutrition. 

"We call it fault-free obesity," senior author Vann Bennett said in a statement. "We believe this gene might have helped our ancestors store energy in times of famine. In current times, where food is plentiful, ankyrin-B variants could be fueling the obesity epidemic."

»RELATED: Why this diet praised by Jennifer Aniston could work for you

Why is that?

They discovered these rodents stored calories in fat tissues as opposed to the other tissues that burn the calories and use them as energy. This causes the glucose to produce even more fat, which is unusual. Normally, a special membrane works as a door to keep the glucose from spreading to other cells, but the mutation keeps the “flood gates opened.”

"We found that mice can become obese without eating more, and that there is an underlying cellular mechanism to explain that weight gain," Bennett said. "This gene could enable us to identify at-risk individuals who should watch what kind of calories they eat and exercise more in order to keep their body weight under control."

>> Read more trending news

For future studies, researchers hope to identify humans with the gene to determine how it could affect other variants of health. 

»RELATED: Lose the belly pooch: 7 do’s and don’ts to accomplish a flat stomach

Women less likely than men to get CPR from bystanders -- and more likely to die -- study suggests

New research funded by the American Heart Association and the National Institutes of Health shows gender may play a major role in whether or not someone receives life-saving CPR from bystanders.

And it may come down to a person’s reluctance to touch a woman’s chest in public, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Researchers presented the findings Sunday at an American Heart Association Conference in Anaheim, California.

It’s the first study to examine gender differences in receiving heart help from the public versus professional responders.

The study, which involved nearly 20,000 cases around the country, found only 39 percent of women suffering cardiac arrest in public received CPR, compared to 45 percent of men.

Men were also 23 percent more likely to survive a cardiac arrest occurring in public.

» RELATED: Do heart stents even work? New study finds they fail to ease chest pain

Researchers don’t know why exactly rescuers were less likely to assist women and did not find a gender difference in CPR rates for people suffering from cardiac arrest at home, where a rescuer is more likely someone who knows the person needing help.

» RELATED: Study: Patients who undergo heart surgery during this time of day have better chance for survival

“It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest,” and some people may fear they are hurting her, said lead researcher Audrey Blewer, from the University of Pennsylvania.

And, according to Dr. Benjamin Abella, another study leader, rescuers may also worry about moving a woman’s clothing to get better access or touching breasts to do CPR.

But proper CPR shouldn’t entail that, Abella said.

“You put your hands on the sternum, which is the middle of the chest. In theory, you’re touching in between the breasts,” he said. “This is not a time to be squeamish, because it’s a life and death situation.”

The Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Roger White, who co-directs the paramedic program for the city of Rochester, Minnesota, said he has long worried that large breasts may impede proper placement of defibrilator pads if women need a shock to restore normal heart rhythm.

“All of us are going to have to take a closer look at this” gender issue, he said.

» RELATED: Common painkillers increase risk of heart attack by one-third, new study finds

More than 350,000 Americans who may or may not have diagnosed heart disease suffer a cardiac arrest each year in areas other than a hospital, and about 90 percent of them die. According to the American Heart Association, CPR can double or triple survival odds.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Disneyland Legionnaires' disease outbreak: 5 things to know

The unfortunate common thread between people experiencing an outbreak of a bacterial illness called Legionnaires’ disease in Anaheim, California, is that nine of the 12 visited Disneyland in September, The Associated Press reports. The remaining three live in or traveled to Anaheim.

Here's what you need to know about the disease and the latest outbreak:

>> Disneyland shuts cooling towers after Legionnaires’ outbreak

When were the cases discovered? The Orange County Health Care Agency said the cases of the bacterial illness were discovered about three weeks ago.

One patient, who hadn’t visited the park, has died.

The health agency said there haven’t been any new cases reported.

>> On Rare.us: School cracks down after skin condition infects more than 20 students

How did Disneyland respond? Disneyland said it learned about the Legionnaires’ cases on Oct. 27 and shut down and disinfected two cooling towers that had high levels of the bacteria. The towers will reopen after it’s confirmed they are no longer contaminated.

>> Read more trending news 

What is Legionnaires' disease? The Mayo Clinic describes the illness as “a severe form of pneumonia” caused by a bacterium known as legionella. 

How did it get its name? Legionnaires' disease got its name in 1976 from an outbreak that caused 182 people attending an American Legion convention in Philadelphia to fall ill, Deadline reported. Twenty-nine people died.

“The outbreak was traced to the convention hotel’s air conditioning system, and Legionnaires’ disease has since been sourced to contaminated water or mist,” Deadline added.

What causes it and how does it spread? Legionnaires’ is spread by mist from contaminated water. While Legionnaires’ does not spread person to person, it does spread easily by inhalation. 

The Mayo Clinic also lists the following common sources of outbreak:

  • Hot tubs and whirlpools on cruise ships
  • Grocery store mist machines
  • Cooling towers in air conditioning systems
  • Decorative fountains
  • Swimming pools
  • Physical therapy equipment
  • Water systems in hotels, hospitals and nursing homes

>> On Rare.us: A puppy-borne illness has made almost 40 people seriously ill

– The Associated Press and the Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Woman dying of cancer saved thanks to her ex-husband's new wife

A woman battling stage IV cancer is thanking her ex-husband’s new wife for helping her beat the disease.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

According to The Independent, doctors told Nicola Hitchen, 41, in March that there was nothing else they could do for her. The mother of two from England turned to a pioneering chemotherapy center in Turkey.

>> On HotTopics.TV: Photo of blended family goes viral

After five 10-day sessions, many of the tumors in Nicola’s body shrank significantly, The Mirror reports. But she was running out of money for treatment. The first round of treatment cost the equivalent of over $100,000.

That’s when her ex-husband’s wife, Clare Hitchen, launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise money.

“I feel this is not an option,” wrote Clare on a crowdfunding page. “The boys need their Mum and she deserves the chance to watch them grow into men and have their own families.”

>> Read more trending news 

The family is hoping to raise an additional £50,000, or about $66,000, to pay for further treatments. So far, they’re about halfway to their goal.

“The support I’ve been given is phenomenal, not just from my family but from complete strangers, too,” Nicola told The Mirror.

If you would like to donate, click here.

Just one drink a day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns

Do you enjoy the occasional cocktail? Beware, because even moderate consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer, according to a new report

>> On AJC.com: Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

Researchers from the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, to determine the link between drinking and the disease. 

To do so, they looked at several studies that found a strong correlation between alcohol and cancer.

After gathering all the data, they concluded that about 3.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths were due to alcohol consumption. 

Furthermore, in 2012, they discovered approximately 5.5 percent of all new cancer occurrences and 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide were attributable to drinking alcohol.

"The importance of alcohol drinking as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated," the organization said in a statement. "Associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverages."

>> On AJC.com: 7 surprising things that can increase your risk of cancer

While researchers did note the greatest risk was among those with heavy and long-term use and those who also smoked cigarettes, moderate drinking is risky, too. Scientists described moderate as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

This was particularly the case with oropharyngeal – cancer affecting the throat – and breast cancer.

“A meta-analysis that focused solely on cancer risks associated with drinking one drink or fewer per day observed that this level of alcohol consumption was still associated with some elevated risk for ... oropharyngeal cancer and breast cancer,” the authors wrote. 

>> Read more trending news

But researchers aren’t suggesting you get rid of your booze altogether. They want individuals to recognize “that excessive alcohol use can delay or negatively impact cancer treatment and that reducing high-risk alcohol consumption is cancer prevention,” they wrote. 

To prevent high-risk alcohol consumption, researchers believe lawmakers and health care providers should implement specific strategies and policies.

Some suggestions include limiting youth exposure to advertising of alcoholic beverages and increasing alcohol prices and taxes. 

Scientists also hope to conduct more research.

>> On AJC.com: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

“Systems-based research,” the report said, “including research into successful means for the oncology community to identify patients who are currently using alcohol or who may be at high risk for alcohol relapse, will be critical.”

Too much Christmas music is bad for your health, psychologists say

The holiday season is upon us and that probably means the icicle lights are going up at your local hangouts, your neighbors are starting to set up the decor in their front yards and, of course, Christmas music is likely on a continuous loop everywhere you go — or it will be soon.

» RELATED: Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree

If you’re not all that excited about the last bit, you’re not alone.

In fact, according to some mental health experts, hearing Christmas music can be psychologically draining, especially for those working in retail who have to listen to holiday tunes blasting in their stores regularly. 

» RELATED: 9-year-old battling cancer to celebrate Christmas early this year

“People working in shops at Christmas have to learn how to tune it out -- tune out Christmas music -- because if they don’t, it really does make you unable to focus on anything else,” Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist in the United Kingdom, told Sky News. “You’re simply spending all your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

» RELATED: 7 tips on doing Christmas dinner on a budget

Music tends to bypass rationality and go straight for our emotions, Blair said. "It might make us feel that we're trapped. It's a reminder that we have to buy presents, cater for people, organize celebrations.”

>> Read more trending news

While previous research has shown that adding Christmas music or scents to the shopping experience yields a positive experience for shoppers, it could also lead to impulse buys, due to the music’s emotional influence, Blair said.

» RELATED: Are the holidays the most miserable time of year?

The United Kingdom’s Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers also told Sky News it “ask(s) employers to consider the staff who have to listen to Christmas music all day, because playing the same songs repeatedly can become very irritating and distracting.”

» RELATED: President Trump says you'll be hearing 'Merry Christmas' a lot more this year

Increased stress during the holidays is also a major trend in the U.S., according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Some common holiday stressors could include financial demands of the season, dealing with the interpersonal dynamics of family and maintaining personal health habits, including an exercise regimen, a 2015 Healthline study on consumer health found.

» RELATED: 12 expert-approved tips to avoid holiday weight gain

Ellen Braaten, a psychology professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, shared some tips in a Harvard Medical School report on holiday stress and the brain:

“People who feel stressed during the holidays should evaluate how they spend their time, decide what they want the holidays to mean to them, and keep their expectations for the season realistic.”

“The holidays are just another time of year,” Braaten said, “certainly something to mark, but not the end-all, be-all.”

Read more about holiday stress and the brain at neuro.hms.harvard.edu.

Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

Are you on birth control? If you use an intrauterine device, also known as an IUD, you may have a lower risk of developing cervical cancer, according to a new report

»RELATED: 7 surprising things that can increase your risk of cancer

Researchers from the University of Southern California recently conducted an experiment, published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, to determine the link between IUDs and the disease.

>> Read more trending news 

To do so, they took a look at 16 previous studies that examined more than 12,000 women from around the world. Each study included information about the participants’ IUD use, history of cervical cancer and other health risk factors, including prevalence of HPV and the age of a woman’s fist vaginal intercourse. 

»RELATED: Newborn baby photographed with mother's IUD in hand

After analyzing the results, they found that the rate of cervical cancer was one-third lower in women who used IUDs compared to those who did not. 

“The pattern we found was stunning. It was not subtle at all," lead author Victoria Cortessis said in a statement. "The possibility that a woman could experience some help with cancer control at the same time she is making contraception decisions could potentially be very, very impactful."

»RELATED: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells , study says

Scientists, however, did note that their analysis did not include any clinical work. Therefore, IUDs have not been proven to prevent cervical cancer. 

But they do have a few theories about IUDs’ protective benefits. 

Some believe the placement of the IUD causes an immune response in the cervix that helps the body ward off an HPV infection that could one day lead to cervical cancer. Also, when an IUD is removed, they think it may contain harmful cells that contain the HPV infection. 

Scientists plan to continue their research to understand how IUDs can be used as protection against the illness. 

“The results of our study are very exciting,” coauthor Laila Muderspach added. “There is tremendous potential.”

»RELATED: Just 1 percent of women are aware of this common ovarian cancer symptom, study says

Man who walked miles every day to find kidney donor for wife finally gets his wish

A 74-year-old man who walked several miles every day searching for a kidney donation for his wife finally got what he was looking for.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Utah man uses sandwich board to find kidney donor for his wife

Wayne Winters, 74, of Farr West, Utah, went viral last month as he desperately searched for a kidney donation for his wife, Deanne, who was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure, KSTU reports.

>> On HotTopics.TV: Kind strangers help elderly cancer patient who called 911 for food

“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do something.”

He decided to strap on a sandwich board and walk along a busy road. Dressed in slacks, a jacket, a hat and his sandwich board pleading for kidney donations, Winters walked several miles hoping to catch just the right person’s eye.

Finally, weeks later, Winters’ search has come to an end. He finally got the call he was waiting for, and now his wife is now recovering from transplant surgery.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Although he finally found a match for his wife, Winters says he still plans to take walks with his sign.

“I will spend more of my days walking with my sign to see how many I can get,” Winters said.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. The two main causes of the disease are high blood pressure and diabetes.

Kidney disease causes toxins to build up in the blood, causing people to feel sick. Early detection can cause kidney disease from becoming worse before dialysis or transplants are needed.

Here’s how many sugary drinks a week it takes to increase stroke risk

Do you like to indulge in an occasional soda every once in a while? Be careful, because two sugar-laden drinks a week could up your risk for diabetes and strokes, according to researchers.

Researchers from universities in South Africa recently conducted an experiment, published in Journal of Endocrine Society, to determine the link between sugary drinks, including sodas and juices, and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the chance of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

To do so, they reviewed 36 studies from the last decade that examined people who drank more than five sugary drinks a week, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. With the data, they were able to assess the possibility of disease.

They found that consuming two sugar-sweetened drinks a week could increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 42 percent. And just one sugar-sweetened drink can significantly elevate blood pressure.

“Sugar-sweetened beverage consumption is steadily rising among all age groups worldwide,” lead author M. Faadiel Essop said in a statement. “Our analysis revealed that most epidemiological studies strongly show that frequent intake of these beverages contributes to the onset of the metabolic syndrome, diabetes and hypertension.”

They believe their findings prove there should be more education about the harmful effects of such drinks, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. That’s why they hope to conduct more studies to confirm their results.

“Our understanding of this topic would benefit from additional research to further clarify how sugar-sweetened beverages affect our health,” Essop said. “We do see some limitations in the current research on this topic, including a need for longer-term studies and standardized research methods.”

»RELATED: You can avoid strokes and heart attacks with these two household fruits, study says

Americans more stressed about future of country than work or money, study says

Money and career woes can be triggers for anxiety, but there’s one topic Americans are stressed about the most. It’s the country, according to a new report from the American Psychological Association. 

>> Read more trending news 

The APA determined its results for its 2017 Stress in America study by surveying about 3,400 American adults who were 18 years old and older and resided in the U.S. between Aug. 2 and Aug. 31.

Researchers discovered that 63 percent of U.S. citizens believe the future of the nation is a “very” or “somewhat” significant form of stress. That figure is higher than other stressors, including money, which was a source of stress for 62 percent of the people surveyed, as well as work, a source of stress for 61 percent. 

When researchers dug a little deeper, they found that 59 percent of adults reported the current “social divisiveness” was also stressful. Of that number, 73 percent were Democrats and 56 percent were Republicans. 

“We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” APA’s CEO Arthur C. Evans said in a statement. “The uncertainty and unpredictability tied to the future of our nation is affecting the health and well-being of many Americans in a way that feels unique to this period in recent history.”

These are the political topics Americans are most concerned about:

Health care: 43 percent

Economy: 35 percent

Trust in government: 32 percent

Hate crimes: 31 percent

Wars/conflicts with other countries: 30 percent

Terrorist attacks in the United States: 30 percent

Unemployment and low wages: 22 percent

Climate change and environmental issues: 21 percent

» RELATED: Georgia among the most stressed states in the U.S., study says 

Furthermore, keeping up with the news is also stressful for adults. About 95 percent of people are following the news regularly, but 56 percent say it causes them stress and 72 percent think the “media blows things out of proportion.”

“With 24-hour news networks and conversations with friends, family and other connections on social media, it’s hard to avoid the constant stream of stress around issues of national concern,” Evans said. “These can range from mild, thought-provoking discussions to outright, intense bickering, and over the long term, conflict like this may have an impact on health.”

But despite the stress levels among Americans, 51 percent say they are more inspired to volunteer or support a cause. About 59 percent said they had taken some form of action, such as signing petitions or boycotting companies, within the last year.

Want to learn more about the results? Read the details about the findings here

» RELATED: Talking to yourself can reduce your stress levels

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