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Paris is for walkers and cyclists as city bans cars for day

Published: Sunday, October 01, 2017 @ 8:39 AM
Updated: Sunday, October 01, 2017 @ 8:37 AM

Parisians and tourists were encouraged to stroll through the City of Light on Sunday as officials banned cars from its streets for a day.

Paris has experimented with car-free days in the past, but Sunday marked the first time the entire city was handed over to ramblers, cyclists and roller-bladers.

Only emergency vehicles, buses and taxis were allowed on the streets from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Paris time.

"It's nice for the air quality, for enjoying the city, walking around without any noise, without any risk to be run over by a car," Maxime Denis said as he strolled near Place de la Republique in the city center. "But it should be a real no car day. There are still a few so we are careful."

Another resident, Francois Boillat, noted that "as a Parisian, I only use public transport all the time, even though I have a car buried in a sixth basement car park and I barely use it. It is a bit stupid. I should sell it."

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo was elected on a promise to curb air pollution and reduce car traffic in the French capital, where vehicle emissions are often high.

The car-free day created a potential headache for the organizers of Paris fashion week, who rely on trucks to install and remove lavish, sky's-the-limit shows. Worried fashion houses like Valentino sent out numerous email reminders to guests who planned to arrive by car, reminding them to organize alternative transport.

The Paris couture federation, which supports the initiative, spent months working with police and local authorities to ensure events ran smoothly.

The bigger the pecs: Women definitely prefer buff men, study shows

Published: Thursday, December 14, 2017 @ 2:14 PM

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Well men, if you need more encouragement to hit the gym, here it is.

A new scientific study suggests that women definitely prefer stronger men.

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The research, published this week in Royal Society journal Proceedings B, had 160 women rate faceless images of male bodies. Unanimously, the women chose those that appeared physically stronger, with bigger pecs and larger arms.


"We weren't surprised that women found physically strong men attractive ... what did surprise us was just how powerful the effect was," Aaron Sell, a senior lecturer at Griffith University, Queensland, Australia, who led the study, told The Guardian.


"Our data couldn't find even a single woman that preferred weaker ... male bodies."

For the study, the researchers created a database of photos of shirtless or tank-top wearing men, with their faces obscured. All of the men were university students, but 60 were recruited from the gym while 130 were just normal psychology students. All the men were also given tests with weights, to quantify their physical strength.

Women and men were then asked to judge how strong they thought the men were, on a scale of 1 to 7, based on the images. Their guesses were strikingly accurate, correlating well with the strength tests. Furthermore, the women's ratings of the men's attractiveness correlated directly to their physical strength.

"No one will be surprised by the idea that strong men are more attractive," Aaron Lukaszewski, an evolutionary psychologist at California State University at Fullerton and an author of the study, told The Washington Post. "It's no secret that women like strong, muscular guys."

However, the researchers were less interested in ascertaining the obvious, and more interested in discovering.

"People are going to wonder why scientists needed to study it," Holly Dunsworth, an anthropologist at the University of Rhode Island who was not involved in the research, said. "The answer would be because they want to know how these preferences evolved."

The researchers point to "ancestral cues," an evolutionary relic of ancient human mating rituals. Ancient women would instinctually have chosen men who were better able to provide for and protect them and their families. It's only natural to assume bigger and stronger men would do this more adequately.

But when it comes to male attractiveness, a popular theory says that there's a "sweet spot" for brawn. Beyond a certain point, too much muscle and strength becomes unattractive. This new study seems to prove the opposite.

"The theory is that, yes, there would have been benefits ancestrally, in terms of the ability to acquire resources, protecting offspring, hunting and so on. But at a certain point, mating with highly dominant men, they can exert all this aggressive coercive control and there might be costs," Lukaszewski explained, pointing out that his study shows that women prefer brawnier guys, regardless of the potential downsides.

Even if strength is the key factor that attracts women to men, the research also suggest it's not all about perfect physique and chiseled muscles.

"Our results suggest that even if you're a bit overweight, looking strong can buffer that. Basically, being a strong, fat guy is OK, which I think would bring comfort to many," Lukaszewski said.

RELATED: Study finds bald men are perceived as more attractive, confident and dominant

Despite the findings, less muscular men shouldn't feel too disheartened.

As The Independent points out, several other scientific studies have noted a variety of factors that women apparently find more attractive. Among other things, previous research has shown that women find bald and short men more attractive than their counterparts.

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Why are more black women dying of breast cancer compared to white women?

Published: Friday, October 20, 2017 @ 11:43 AM

People 2 People July 8 & 9, 2017

According to Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women under 60 years old are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women in the same age group. In fact, data from 2015 showed black women had a 39 percent higher breast cancer death rate.

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New research from Emory University, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute points to differences in health insurance as the culprit.

The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, included data from the National Cancer Data Base on 563,497 black and white women between the ages of 18 and 64 who had been diagnosed with stage I to stage III breast cancer between 2004 and 2013.

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The researchers examined five factors for the study: 

  • Demographics (age, stage, state, year of diagnosis, etc.)
  • Comorbidities (other health conditions)
  • Insurance (lack of insurance, private insurance, Medicare/Medicaid, etc.)
  • Tumor characteristics (size, type, stage, etc.)
  • Treatment (chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, surgery, etc.)

» RELATED: FDA approves Lilly pill for common advanced breast cancer

The findings

They found that insurance explained one-third of the additional risk of death among the black women compared to white women diagnosed by early-stage breast cancer.

Additionally, almost three times as many black women (22.7 percent) were either uninsured or had Medicaid insurance compared to white women (8.4 percent).

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“Lack of insurance is a barrier to receipt of timely and high-quality treatment and screening services,” study authors wrote.

Other major factors that explained the differences: tumor characteristics (23.2 percent), comorbidities (11.3 percent) and treatment (4.8 percent).

» RELATED: Black moms three times more likely to die in childbirth than white moms

Nearly 80 percent of the women in the study had the most common type of breast cancer (hormone receptor-positive breast cancer) and according to the researchers, when matched for factors such as insurance, comorbidity and others, those factors accounted for a combined 76.3 percent of the total excess risk of death in black patients.

The authors noted that when it came to treatment differences, black and white women contrasted most for hormone therapy, which, according to ACS, is typically used after surgery to help reduce the chance of recurrence.

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“Several studies reported that black women are less likely to complete chemotherapy and hormone therapy,” study author Ahmedin Jemal told the ACS. “This could be for many reasons, including problems with transportation or the inability to pay for medicine.”

Additionally, previous research has shown that black women get lower quality mammograms and are less likely to have a follow-up appointment after receiving abnormal mammograms.

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And insurance is vital for both high-quality cancer care and for early detection.

“We know so much about cancer prevention and control,” Jemal, who is also vice president of the ACS surveillance and health services research program, said. “But we’re not applying it to the whole population equally. We have to make the standard of care available to everyone, including people with low income. And blacks are disproportionately represented in that group.”

Read the full study at ascopubs.org.

Learn more about the study and more about how women can protect themselves from breast cancer at cancer.org.

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Mother of two dies just day after flu diagnosis

Published: Saturday, December 02, 2017 @ 12:24 PM

5 Reasons to get a Flu Shot

A young mother of two in Arizona died just one day after receiving a flu diagnosis, devastated family members said.

Alani Murrieta, 20, was diagnosed with the flu Monday and died Tuesday in the hospital, family members told KSAZ.

>> Read more trending news

Murrieta, the mother of a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old, was healthy before the sudden illness, with no pre-existing health conditions, according to family. She first experienced symptoms Sunday, when she left work early. On Monday, she went to urgent care, where she was diagnosed with the flu and sent home with medications. She was admitted to the hospital Tuesday morning as her symptoms became more severe and she was having difficulty breathing, KSAZ reported.

At the hospital, doctors performed tests and diagnosed Murrieta with pneumonia. She was placed on a ventilator, but her heart stopped. The efforts to resuscitate her were unsuccessful.

While family members said Murrieta didn't get a flu shot, early results show this year's formula may not be very effective at combatting this year's flu strains.

Is the weather giving you headaches? How to beat those weather pains

Published: Wednesday, November 29, 2017 @ 2:24 PM

Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine 75 percent of those with migraines had attacks associated with the drop in barometric pressure Soaring temperatures are another documented cause of migraines Keep a headache diary to help you determine if you have specific weather triggers Monitor weather changes to avoid the triggers when you can Take migraine meds at the first sign of a migraine Reduce the number and severity by eating healthy foods

If your migraines seem more reliable than the weatherman in predicting storms and more accurate than a thermometer in gauging extreme heat or cold, it's not just in your head, according to Mayo Clinic expert Dr. Jerry W. Swanson. Certain weather changes really do cause migraine headaches.

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"Weather changes may cause imbalances in brain chemicals, including serotonin, which can prompt a migraine," he said. "Weather-related triggers also may worsen a headache caused by other triggers."

A short list of weather-related migraine triggers: Bright sunlight, extreme heat or cold, sun glare, high humidity, dry air and windy or stormy weather.

Barometric pressure  − the amount of force that is being applied to your body from the air − may be another factor, noted the American Migraine Foundation, citing a study that examined headache sufferers and falling barometric pressure during a typhoon in Japan. The study found that 75 percent of those with migraines had attacks associated with the drop in barometric pressure, compared with 20 percent of people experiencing a tension headache in the same period. 

And soaring temperatures are another documented cause of migraines, David Dodick, a neurologist at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona, told The New York Times blog. He cited a study that found a 7.5 percent increased risk of emergency department visits for severe headaches for every 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) increase in temperature.

The stats don't mean migraine sufferers are doomed to another attack merely because thunderstorms or scorching temps are predicted, however. According to the AMF, a single trigger like a storm may not be able to start a migraine attack alone unless it's dramatic. "The weather change may only 'cause' a migraine attack if it is able to add together with another trigger, like a meal containing monosodium glutamate or a glass of red wine," noted the organization. Other contributing causes that can assist a weather event in causing a migraine include fatigue, stress or sleep deprivation.

And not all migraine sufferers are equally weather-sensitive, according to the AMF. "Among those that are, some may be sensitive to one weather pattern and others may be sensitive to another one," it noted. "Additionally, there may be a time delay of a number of hours before the migraine attack follows the trigger."

There are also ways to avoid a migraine, or to minimize it, even in the face of extreme weather changes or in an area known for intense shifts in barometric pressure.

MigraineX, for example, is a new approach that involves a reusable earplug device touted to help a person experience a more gradual change in barometric pressure, along with an app that warns of impending barometric changes in time for a migraine sufferer to insert the device.

The Mayo Clinic also recommended taking these steps to minimize the weather change/headache connection:

  • Keep a headache diary, listing each migraine, when it happened, how long it lasted and what could have caused it. This can help you determine if you have specific weather triggers.
  • Monitor weather changes to avoid the triggers when you can, staying indoors during very cold or windy weather, for example.
  • Take migraine meds at the first sign of a migraine, since a full-blown attack may take several hours to develop.
  • Reduce the number and severity of all migraines, not just those triggered by weather incidents, by eating healthy foods, exercising regularly, staying hydrated, getting ample sleep and controlling stress levels.

Is the weather to blame for your headache?

To discover the difference between a migraine headache and a tension or sinus headache, here's how to determine the difference, according to Health:

Tension headaches are by far the most common, affecting about 90 percent of the population at some time. Tightness of muscles in the scalp and in the back of the neck is usually the cause; dull pressure or a tightness in a band around the head can also be to blame. Fatigue or stress causes this type of headache's mild to moderate pain.

Sinus headaches, in contrast, are surprisingly rare and most people who think they're suffering a sinus headache actually have a migraine, which may involve a runny nose or teary eyes. Symptoms of a genuine sinus headache do involve mild to severe pain around the nose and eyes, usually with a runny nose and often with a fever. Acute sinus infections trigger this type of headache.

Migraine headaches are easily mistaken for the other two headaches, but a migraine is a neurological condition that involves throbbing pain; sensitivity to light, sounds and smells; nausea and other symptoms. Migraines are the result of an overreactive "switch" in the brain stem that causes moderate to severe pain.

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