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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. RYAN GUINNESS

(NEW YORK) -- Imagine smelling something that isn’t there. Now imagine if these smells were always around, persisting through everyday life without any apparent reason.

These "phantom odors" occur when someone smells something, but there is nothing in the environment that corresponds to the often unpleasant odors. Though it may seem like a minor irritation, a persistent problem with smells can come with some risks and indicate other health issues, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

About one in 15 people in the study smelled phantom odors, according to researchers from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders who looked at national health survey records between 2011 and 2014 from more than 7,400 people over 40 years old.

Who is most at risk

A particularly striking find in the thousands of records: About twice as many women as men reported phantom odors, especially those under age 60.

There may be several explanations. Prior research suggests that women are generally better than men at naming odors, and women are more often negatively affected by odors around them. They may also have a heightened sense of smell and more likely to report a problem with phantom smells, according to past research.

Other factors also affect whether people report phantom odors, such as head injury, dry mouth, poor overall health, among a list of other possible issues.

"Chronic nasal inflammation, deviated nasal septum, nasal polyps, and even having a bad cold can cause issues with our sense of smell," Dr. Benjamin S. Bleier, associate professor of otolaryngology and director of endoscopic skull base surgery at Harvard Medical School, told ABC News.

Another surprising factor seemed to be socio-economic status. Researchers think people with lower socio-economic status may be more commonly exposed to environmental pollutants and toxins, or have health conditions that contribute to phantom odors -- and medications treating those health conditions could also cause the phenomenon.

How phantom odors happen

The reasons behind phantom odors are a mystery.

“The condition could be related to overactive odor sensing cells in the nasal cavity or perhaps a malfunction in the part of the brain that understands odor signals,” Dr. Kathleen Bainbridge of the epidemiology and biostatistics program at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health, said in a statement.

Genetic variation may also play a role. Several genes have been implicated this condition. However, further studies are needed to look at potential genetic factors associated with it.

"A good first step in understanding any medical condition is a clear description of the phenomenon," she added. "From there, other researchers may form ideas about where to look further for possible causes and ultimately for ways to prevent or treat the condition."

This study didn't include information on other health conditions that could have helped explains the age, sex and income patterns that were described. It also did not look at anyone below the age of 40. Because it was limited to looking at data only from a specific survey and time period, it could not determine if other issues had occurred before or were diagnosed separately.

Why phantom odors shouldn't be ignored

Phantom odors can decrease quality of life if left untreated.

"Problems with the sense of smell are often overlooked, despite their importance. They can have a big impact on appetite, food preferences and the ability to smell danger signals such as fire, gas leaks and spoiled food," Dr. Judith A. Cooper, acting director the NIDCD said in a statement.

This can especially be problematic for those who work in places that rely on our sense of smell, including those in the food and service industries.

Phantom odors may also be a sign of a more serious health problem. Recent studies show that phantom odors can be an early marker of severe neurological conditions, which highlights the importance of seeking early intervention.

The study found only 11 percent of people who report phantom odors have actually discussed a taste or smell problem with a doctor. "Most people who have this condition don’t go to a physician," Bleier said. "The value of these studies is that they reveal findings of certain disease states that were not as previously well known."

The authors hope that increased awareness of phantom odors could prompt doctors to ask about them more, too, which could help more people with the problem receive accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Ryan Guinness M.D., M.P.H., is an internal and preventive medicine resident physician, currently in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first generic version of the EpiPen and EpiPen Jr auto injector for the emergency treatment of allergic reactions.

The approval is part of the FDA's "longstanding commitment" to providing access to low-cost generic alternatives, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement.

"This approval means patients living with severe allergies who require constant access to life-saving epinephrine should have a lower-cost option, as well as another approved product to help protect against potential drug shortages," the commissioner said.

It is unclear how much the generic product -- manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals -- will cost. In August 2016, Mylan Pharmaceuticals was criticized for raising the price of a two-pack of EpiPens to $600.

The price of two EpiPens was about $100 in 2009. The brand name version is by far the most popular epinephrine auto-injector on the market.

The generic version of "the most widely-prescribed epinephrine auto-injector in the U.S." has been approved for adults and children who weigh more than 33 pounds, Gottlieb said. It can be used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions from insect bites or stings, food medications, latex and other causes, according to the FDA.

The generic auto-injector is also intended for immediate administration of epinephrine, which works by reducing swelling in the airway and increasing blood flow in the veins.

"Combination products," such as epinephrine auto-injectors that include both a drug and a device, are "more challenging than typical drug products" to develop generic versions, according to the FDA.

Complex products are "hard to copy" and often take a long time, Gottlieb said, adding that the FDA is working on more efficient ways to develop generic products.

"We’re advancing new guidance for sponsors to make the development of generic versions of complex products more efficient, and we’re prioritizing review of many complex generic drug applications," he said.

An "authorized generic" is made using the brand name's existing new drug application and uses the same formulation, process and manufacturing facilities used by the brand name manufacturer, according to the FDA. The label and packaging used by the brand name are also changed.

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Courtesy Cowlitz County Sheriffs Office (NEW YORK) -- A hiker missing for six days on Washington state's Mount St. Helens survived on huckleberries and bees that he killed and ate, according to the man's parents.

Matthew Matheny, 40, who was visiting the area from Warren, Ohio, was found alive Wednesday on the side of the mountain leading up to the legendary volcano, the Cowlitz County Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Matheny was conscious and talking when rescue teams found him, authorities said. He was transported to a local hospital by helicopter, but it does not appear that he suffered any life-threatening injuries, according to the sheriff's office.

After visiting him in the hospital, Matheny's parents told ABC Portland affiliate KATU that their son was in good physical condition and had survived by eating huckleberries as well as bees he had killed.

"I don't know where he learned that," his mother, Linday Matheny, said, adding that he was a former boy scout.

 On Tuesday, authorities used cell phone records to determine that Matheny was in the general area of the Blue Lake Trail, near Mount St. Helens. Witnesses also told authorities that they saw a man in gray clothing in the area, according to the sheriff's office, which stated that he may have been wearing a gray Cleveland Browns sweatshirt, shorts and sandals that day.

Matheny had borrowed a friend's Subaru Outback last Thursday to drive to the mountain and go hiking. But after losing contact with him, the friend, Michael Bush, filed a missing persons report, and search and rescue teams began combing the area for him on Saturday morning.

 The gray Subaru was found unoccupied Saturday at the entrance to the Blue Lake Trail, authorities said.

Matheny was found days later in the general area of Blue Lake Trail, and members of his family were waiting at the base camp when he was located, according to the sheriff's office.

Matheny started out his hike with two liters of water and some snacks he had brought with him, but he was all out after Thursday and couldn't find any water sources, his parents told KATU.

At least 40 people participated in the search for Matheny, Cowlitz County Sheriff's Deputy Charlie Rosenzweig told ABC News. A helicopter and drone searched for him from above, KATU reported.

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ABC News(NEW YORK) -- It happens far too often: Drivers struggle to keep their eyes open, putting themselves and other drivers at risk.

Earlier this year, a driver launched nearly 30 feet through his windshield after slamming into a tollbooth in Florida.

Officials later discovered drowsy driving was the cause.

A report from the Governors Highway Safety Association found there's an average of 328,000 drowsy-driving crashes every year in the U.S., with more than half caused by drivers younger than 25.

General Motors has developed a suit to test the effects of driving while drowsy. Senior transportation correspondent David Kerley suited up with 23 pounds of weights on his wrists, ankles, and chest and put on goggles that distorted his vision to recreate the delayed reaction that can accompany drowsiness.

Chevy safety engineer Maureen Short said one of the biggest problems about driving while drowsy is impaired decision making.

"Drowsiness, unfortunately, it generally happens over time," Short said. "The problem is, you as a driver are a very poor judge of how tired you are."

While caffeine may seem like a quick fix, it is highly unpredictable, Short added.

A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that a driver who drinks coffee can still have "microsleeps" or briefly lose consciousness for a few seconds – more than enough time to cause an accident.

The NHTSA also said that drivers who still want to drink coffee can drink one or two cups and then pull over for a 20-minute nap at a safe, designated stop. This has been shown to increase alertness, but only for short periods.

The best thing to do is get consistent rest, especially before longer drives.

"Nothing's going to be as good as six to eight hours of sleep," Short said. "That's the only thing that really helps you."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wednesday is National Relaxation Day.

If you are stuck at work and missing out on a spa day or reading at the beach, relax, literally.

We've got you covered.

"Good Morning America" turned to two experts for tips on how to relax while you're at work.

The good news is that relaxation doesn't mean you have to lay down on a couch or take a nap, two things that would turn heads in the office.

"Simply plopping on the couch doesn’t address the long-held tension in your body," said Jillian Pransky, author of "Deep Listening" and a mindfulness teacher and certified yoga therapist. "True relaxation, conscious relaxation...creates a sense of space, ease, in our body and mind so that we can better handle the daily stressors that arise."

Especially at work, taking time to mindfully relax, as Pransky calls it, can calm your nervous system, give you an energy boost and clear your thinking.

While mindful relaxation can calm you on the inside, simple movements at your desk can relax your body physically too.

"When we are relaxed, we can see things much more clearly, we are quicker to find creative solutions to challenges and we are easier to work with and generally be around," said Bethany Lyons, the founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga.

If you're not able to get up and move, simply playing music at your desk that gives you energy and puts you in a good mood is beneficial, according to Lyons.

Also try to think of time away from your desk, even as little as two minutes, not as a distraction from work, but as break that will make you a better, more productive worker when you return.

With that in mind, try these two mindful relaxation techniques from Pranksy and two yoga moves from Lyons at your office and just, relax.

1. Stretch your hips

The hips tend to hold a lot of tension -- especially from how much we sit during the day, at work, in our cars, etc -- so to ease the physical tension of this area is a great way to find some relief and relaxation.


Standing near a wall or a desk: Bend both legs and then send the right leg across the standing left leg, with the foot flexed and sit back as it sitting down onto a bench.

Use the wall or desk for support so you can relax into the stretch and any resistance you feel. Hold for 10 breaths. Switch sides and repeat.

2. Release tension in your body

Use this technique when you body feels tight and uncomfortable, or when you feel irritable or short-tempered. Plan to do a relaxation pause like this at least three times a day.

Come to a relaxed sitting position, eyes open, or closed. Use three slow exhales to allow the weight of your body to land more heavily on your chair.

On your inhale, gently curly your hand into a fist, firm all the muscles from your hands to your shoulders, and draw your shoulders up towards your ears. Scrunch up your face. Then, as you exhale out through your mouth, completely let go of all tension in your face, shoulders and arms.

On your inhale, gently, progressively, tighten your thigh muscles, seat, belly. And as your exhale, release the muscles of your lower body and allow your belly to soften completely.

On your third inhale squeeze all the muscles of your upper and lower body together, equally everywhere. As your exhale let all your muscles release. Allow your body weight to drop into your chair completely.

Pause and feel your seat on your chair and your feet on the ground. Let your breath fill and refresh your entire body. Slowly shift your awareness back into the space around you.

3. Go upside-down

Flip your vision and clear your head by going upside-down.

Take your feet either hip-width distance or wider (wider stance gives a little more stability).

Fold forward the upper-half of the body over the legs, bending the knees slightly to take any unnecessary pressure out of the lower back and not to strain hamstrings. Let the head hang. Either clasp hand to opposite elbow overhead, which creates added weight.

Take 10 deep breaths in the pose, slowly roll up using hand on the legs for support once complete.

4. Get an energy boost

Step away from your desk to a window or head outside, just be sure you can see the sky.

Soften your face, shoulder, and belly and take three deep breaths.

Think of your mind as open as the sky.

Consider that just as the sky stays open while clouds flow through it, you can relax into the spaciousness of your mind as thoughts flow through it.

To finish, notice your feet on the floor and imagine your mind in the shape of the sky. You'll go back to work more energized, grounded and open.

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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. RICHA KALRA DR. RYAN GUINNESS

(NEW YORK) -- It only takes one sleepless night to ruin social interactions and make people feel lonely, a new study showed.

In 1942 the average American used to sleep about 7.9 hours, according to the National Gallup survey, but now the average American's busy schedule has decreased the average amount of sleep to 6.5 hours.

"Mother nature took millions of years to perfect our sleep and we just shaved off over an hour to fit our lifestyle," Dr. Matt Walker, founder and director of Center for Human Sleep Science at University of California-Berkeley and lead author of the study told ABC News.

But, that reduced amount of sleep can create social problems and increase feelings of loneliness, the study published in the journal Nature Communications said.

To better understand the social effects that poor sleep can create, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, conducted a series of experiments using brain imaging, paired with surveys that helped rate the participants' loneliness and videos that simulated real-life scenarios.

Researchers looked at the social and neural responses of 18 healthy participants after a night of adequate rest, as well as after a sleepless night, in the small study. Participants were asked to view video tapes of individuals with neutral facial expressions walking towards them and push a stop button when the people got too close for comfort. They recorded the distance that participants allowed the individuals get to them and found that more sleep-deprived participants wanted greater distance from the people, indicating a strong social repulsion response.

In other words, the desire for personal space increased as sleep deprivation increased. This type of social aversion, which was also seen in neural activity on brain imaging, is typically what is seen when an individual feels an invasion of personal space.

The fMRI brain images backed up the behavior. After sleep deprivation, brain regions that usually promote socialization, were also seen to been less active on the images.

"Being able to see which parts of the brain were actually shutting down in the sleep deprived population was the most riveting part of the study," Walker said.

In the next part of the study, the authors had more than 1,000 online observers view video clips of study participants discussing common day-to-day topics. They found that sleep deprivation not only made participants come across as lonelier to observers, but that this effect was contagious. After viewing a minute-long clip of a seemingly lonely person, observers reported increased feelings of loneliness and alienation themselves.

Even 10 to 15 minutes of sleep loss triggered loneliness, Walker said, and that's concerning because it can have physical consequences, too.

"Loneliness is not benign and it actually increases your mortality risk over 45 percent," he said.

The irony of loneliness is that individuals are not alone in these feelings. Nearly half of the U.S. population reports feeling lonely or left out in a recent study. Several studies have tied an increased risk of earlier death to loneliness, more than double the risk affiliated with obesity.

This was a small study with few participants, so it's possible that not all the results would be seen in a larger population. Also, the second portion of the study relied on the self-reported survey information, which could have some bias.

However, the authors hope the association between sleep loss and loneliness can help extend the larger conversation about sleep as a primary method to address common physical and mental health conditions.

"On a positive note, just one night of good sleep makes you feel more outgoing and socially confident, and furthermore, will attract others to you," Walker said.



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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- They may not be the fastest or the smartest or even the scariest, but when it comes to beating cancer, elephants are the superheroes of the living world.

It's a phenomenon that has baffled scientists since the 1970s. After all, at their size, they should have a much higher rate of the disease. The larger a living thing, the more the cells, and the more the cells, the more chance one of them turns out to be cancerous -- which is why tall people are more vulnerable to the disease than short people and why Marmaduke is much more likely to get cancer than the Taco Bell Chihuahua.

And yet, cancer rates among elephants is less than 5 percent, comparable to the rates in much smaller animals. The lifetime cancer mortality rate for humans is about 20 percent.

So what gives? With all those cells on their body, why are more elephants not stricken by the disease?

Scientists may have found an answer.

In a paper published in the journal Cell Reports Tuesday, researchers from the University of Chicago announced they may have discovered one of the cancer protection mechanisms the pachyderms have evolved to deal with every time a cell may be corrupted.

"What we found is that elephants have an extra copy of the gene whose job it is to kill the cell when there is the kind of stress that causes cancer," said Vincent Lynch, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of Chicago in Illinois and an author of the study.

The fact that this gene was even functional was extraordinary -- it was supposed to be non-functional or "dead". Yet somehow this "zombie" gene, called leukemia inhibitory factor 6 (LIF6), had evolved in elephants to come back from the dead and slay any cell that showed damage to its DNA, thus preventing it from becoming cancerous.

This is the second study that has found the differences in elephant genome that may explain the animal's ability to resist the disease.

In 2015, two teams of scientists -- one led by Lynch from the University of Chicago and the other from the University of Utah -- found in elephants 20 copies of a major cancer-suppressing gene called p53 that helps damaged cells repair themselves or self-destruct when exposed to cancer-causing substances.

Both these discoveries could have implications for the human fight against cancer, Lynch said.

"If we understand the function of this gene and all the other genes that makes elephants cancer-resistant, maybe we'll be able to develop drugs that mimic those functions and then use that to treat people with the disease," he said.

And there's hope that over time, scientists will come upon more such discoveries. Other creatures, such as some types of whales, bats and mole rats, also show unusual resistance to cancer, and they have none of the extra genes found in elephants -- which means they must have evolved their very own cancer protection mechanisms.

But don't cheer yet. Even if Lynch's findings in 2015 and 2018 are replicated and confirmed, there's still a long way to go.

"Developing new drug treatments is a very complex process and it takes decades," Lynch said. "We always hear the news that there is some discovery and that a new treatment based on that discovery is five to 10 years away but it's never five to 10 years. So this is going to be a very very long process."

"Of course," he added, "I guess we've been dealing with cancer for billions of years, so you know, a couple of decades isn't that long in the grand scheme of things."

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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- People who have been identified as having suffered a traumatic brain injury have almost double the risk of suicide than people without the condition, a new study by researchers in Denmark has found.

The study, published Tuesday in the medical journal JAMA, examined 34,529 deaths by suicide over 35 years from a Danish national registry and people who had medical contact for traumatic brain injury (TBI). Researchers not only found an increased risk of suicide between traumatic brain injury sufferers and the general population, they also found that the risk of suicide was even higher for people who had experienced severe traumatic brain injury and who had numerous medical visits or longer hospital stays related to the condition.

Patients who had longer hospital stays following traumatic brain injuries were at highest risk for suicide in the first six months after being discharged from the hospital, the study found.

The study did have limitations: the kind of medical treatment people with traumatic brain injuries received is unknown, and it does not account for people who have not sought medical treatment after suffering these injuries. But the study is an interesting look into the possible psychiatric effects of traumatic brain injuries.

Traumatic brain injuries have made headlines from the battlefield to the football field. But what are these injuries, how common are they and what other research is needed to understand them? Here's what you need to know.

What is a traumatic brain injury and how common is it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, traumatic brain injuries can be defined as a type of head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. This can be caused by a bump, blow, jolt to the head, or penetrating injury. Everyone is at risk of experiencing a traumatic brain injury, as these most commonly result from motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and falls.

Traumatic brain injuries can affect behavior, emotion, and motor function and lead to problems with memory, attention, learning, and coordination, according to the CDC's report to Congress on traumatic brain injuries. Other signs and symptoms include headaches, fatigue, and sleep disturbances, according to the CDC.

While the physical impact of a traumatic brain injury is immediate and can be quite devastating, the long-term health consequences are only starting to come to light through research. The injuries may cause secondary disorders such as mood disorders and post-traumatic epilepsy and increase a sufferer's risk for dementia, according to the CDC's report.

Every year in the U.S., traumatic brain injuries account for approximately 2.2 million emergency department visits, 280,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Recently, there has been increased attention to the long-term effects of repeated brain injury, especially as it relates to sports injuries and later development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). More research is still needed to better understand the long-term effects of CTE, including psychological disturbances.

How might traumatic brain injuries put someone at an increased risk of suicide?

While the exact mechanism remains unclear, there are some theories.

Dr. Trine Madsen is the lead author of the study and a postdoctoral fellow at the Danish Institute for Suicide Prevention, part of the Copenhagen Mental Health Center. She said that TBIs can impact the brain’s functions by causing inflammation and damage to blood vessels, which may act to increase the risk of mental health disorders and suicide.

Dr. Fadi Tayim is a clinical neuropsychologist and the director of the Brain Mapping Center at the Premier Health Clinical Neuroscience Institute.

"Often times, we have a certain expectation of our ability and performance. Our identities are deeply rooted in what we do," Tayim told ABC News. “When a brain injury occurs, there is a fundamental disruption in a person’s ability to perform at their best. The longer this disruption persists, the greater the anxiety and pressure build up to 'go back to normal.' When that baseline cannot be achieved, especially in the case of more severe TBIs, there is a higher risk of depression and suicide."

How can we help people suffering from traumatic brain injuries?

The key might be in preventing the injuries from occurring in the first place, Madsen said.

"First and foremost, there needs to be a focus on preventing TBI from occurring, such as through promotion of protective helmets in traffic, at workplaces where risk of falls or head injury are higher, and in contact sports like boxing and American football," Madsen told ABC News. "That said, we would encourage any person who develops post-TBI psychiatric symptoms to seek immediate medical help and treatment right away."

While the results of this study may be sobering, there is hope that they may lead to changes.

Moving forward, Madsen said she also hopes to improve the treatment of traumatic brain injuries in order to minimize the long-term consequences that could lead to suicidal behavior. She said she is also interested in examining how traumatic brain injury might be associated with social consequences, such as employment status in the years following the injury.

Tayim said there are many ways medical professionals can help support patients.

"By knowing the link between severity of TBI and increased suicidality, clinicians can proactively address multiple problem areas by implementing early interventions. For example, arranging for counseling services in addition to speech, physical and occupational therapies," Tayim said.

"Establishing strong social support networks are also critical, and there are additional resources and support services available through Brain Injury Association across the United States. It's important for people to know they are not alone while navigating the recovery process, and proactive counseling may help this transition," Tayim added.

In addition to the resources listed above, a National Concussion Surveillance System has been developed by the CDC to improve prevention, care, and recovery efforts for those who have experienced a traumatic brain injury.

Ryan Guinness MD, MPH is an internal and preventive medicine resident physician currently working the ABC News Medical Unit.

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Laura Eskridge(SPRINGBORO, Ohio) -- Some parents despair at the thought of their kids leaving home. But not Vicky and Jeff Piper.

The Springboro, Ohio, couple was so looking forward to their youngest child leaving for college, they celebrated with a photo shoot.

It was her husband's idea, Vicky Piper told "Good Morning America."

"We had just dropped our son at school and I was receiving all these texts asking if we were ok, have I stopped crying, your house is going to be so quiet and what are you guys going to do now?" she said. "We just had a different perspective of empty nest."

The couple's daughter goes to college in Australia and their son in Michigan.

"The kids are cracking up [at the photos]," Piper said. "They are like, 'You are having too much fun,' but they are super happy for us."

Piper said the empty nest "feels amazing."

The photos have been shared widely on Facebook. Piper said she believes the positive reaction is because of the "positive perspective that there is life, hope and love after kids. It's refreshing to see, after all the work you put into raising strong, independent kids, it's time to enjoy your marriage."

She also said that her generation "missed out" on the all the photo opportunities couples do now, like baby announcements.

"Why not join them," she said.

As for the children, of course the Pipers miss them, "but we are looking so forward to spending time together."

"My husband stated for the last three months before our son left how much he just wants to date me all over again," Piper said.

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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. ANNA CHACON

(NEW YORK) --  Young black men expect increased scrutiny, surveillance and even direct targeting when in areas that have more white people than they typically encounter, a study has found.

Researchers from the Department of Sociology at Ohio State University gave 506 black boys aged 11 to 17 smartphones to track their locations every 30 seconds for a week. The boys were asked where they were, with whom and how safe they felt around Columbus, Ohio, on a scale of 1 to 5. The mini survey took place from 2014 to 2016. Researchers received almost 7,400 total surveys.

Christopher Browning, a professor at Ohio State University and the study's lead author, has extensive experience researching how kids’ neighborhoods affect their behaviors and health.

In Columbus, where the study was conducted, Browning said: "There are high levels of segregation and poverty, but a lot of variation in close proximity -- there are affluent suburbs that are next to neighborhoods that are really poor."

His own childhood experience, growing up on the South side of Chicago, included navigating different neighborhoods and environments that inspired him to pursue this study for answers.

"Chicago is a place in which everyone knows where you're not supposed to go," Browning told ABC News. "In social science, this is the area we are interested in -- neighborhood environments. When we think of environments that do not include family, we think about the neighborhood -- potential exposures for youth that may have some important consequences down the line."

As an urban sociologist, he was concerned that maybe kids didn't spend much time in their neighborhoods and the interactions may be more complex -- their environments outside of their homes and immediate neighborhoods may be affecting their outcomes on a day-to-day basis.

Findings showed that young black men felt less safe in areas with more white people than they typically encountered. They also felt less safe in neighborhoods that were poorer than the ones they frequented. In contrast, black girls did not report feeling less safe in whiter areas. Researchers also noticed that white youths tend to self-segregate.

"Their experiences aren't as variable -- they do not spend as much time in black neighborhoods that black youth spend in white neighborhoods," Browning said. "It's the experience of having to navigate places that are whiter that may actually introduce more scrutiny to black male youth -- by police, by residents -- creating the potential for harassment and even victimization."

In particular, Browning and his researchers were concerned about the long-term consequences of the perception of safety.

"This is thought to be one of the reasons why black youth are generally not as healthy as white youth," Browning said. "There could be some physical and mental health trajectories which we could extrapolate to explain healthcare disparities in adult populations."

The old school mentality about African American youth is that they feel less safe because they live in areas of higher poverty and segregation, but the team found that, on average, African American teens didn't feel less safe. They felt less safe only when visiting poorer neighborhoods or whiter neighborhoods.

"We are not arguing that growing up in a poor, segregated neighborhood doesn't present challenges. One of the challenges are that those neighborhoods tend to have higher violence," Browning said

He suggests that youth may eventually learn to control the experiences and typical exposures they have in their own neighborhoods to reduce the likelihood of experiencing violence. However, when they go to different neighborhoods, they cannot control how they are being perceived and received.

"Who knows who is calling the police if someone decides that you don't belong there?" Browning said. "This may lead to feelings of insecurity in those places."

"The study confirmed what I've always known to be true -- given all the things that are going on in the world but also from personal experience, particularly for African Americans and people of color, there is an awareness that there are places that you are seen as not belonging," Dennis D. Parker, director of the ACLU's Racial Justice Program and an adjunct professor at New York Law School, told ABC News. "This study shows that there are serious issues that create a sense of uncertainty and vulnerability in public spaces that should be for everyone. I don't know of black friends who have not spoken to their children, particularly their sons, of dealing with the police. I know of no white parents that have had to do that."

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Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Iskra Lawrence is a 27-year-old body positive model and activist on a mission to change the world.

You may recognize Lawrence from her many lingerie campaigns with Aerie, American Eagle Outfitter’s intimate apparel brand, or from social media, where she has amassed a following of millions preaching about self-love and body acceptance.

Once you notice Lawrence, her fresh face and positive outlook make her hard to forget. But it hasn't always been that way for the English model, who told "GMA" how she developed severe body and mental health issues after hearing she was too curvy or too big from industry insiders to be a professional model.b

"I remember seeing [photos] and being like, 'Why do I have a big stomach?'" she recalled. "'How can I change that about myself?'"

We took a trip down memory lane with the model and activist to learn more about her journey to self-acceptance. From her childhood days in England to becoming the face of Aerie's body-positive brand, this is what advice Lawrence would tell to her younger self.

5 things Iskra Lawrence would tell her younger self

1. You are so much more than your body

"I genuinely thought I was Lara Croft in that photo," Lawrence said, laughing while looking at a picture from her teenage years.

Despite the fierce outfit, Lawrence remembers feeling uncomfortable and getting shamed for her shorts.

"Because I was self-conscious about the size and shape of my body, the only way I was getting appreciated for it was guys and people thinking it was sexy," she said.

"So I would dress in a sexy manner to pretend I was confident about it," she explained. "I was dressing [that way] because I thought that's what I had to be ... because if you’ve got that body, then surely you have to be sexy."

She went on to add a piece of advice she would give to her younger self.

"The advice I would give myself at that age would be -- you are so much more than your body and don’t listen to anyone else’s opinions of you," she said. "Stay true to yourself.”

2. Don’t worry about growing up too quickly

As a child, Lawrence recalls riding horses in her home country of England and not caring about what anyone thought of her, even if her outfit clashed.

"And I said I liked fashion!” she joked looking at the picture. “I think the thing to remember is there, you’re just pure, you’re innocent, you have absolutely zero insecurities because you haven’t been taught to have insecurities yet.

“Just keep having fun, keep trying to be you and be a child.”

3. You are fine just the way you are

Despite being a U.S. size two or four, Lawrence says she was still “too big” for the modeling industry.

“I remember being so hung up on the fact that you could see that shadow so it made me look like I had a big stomach,” she said.

Lawrence said she developed very low-self esteem because she felt like her body wasn't as perfect as traditional commercial models, which sent her into a downwards spiral where she became fixated on how her arms, hips or stomach looked in photos.

“I would say to myself, 'Just stop. Stop torturing yourself. Stop torturing your body. You are good enough,'" she said.

4. Always just go for it

At a roller skating photoshoot, Lawrence said she learned to embrace the idea of how to fake it until you make it.

She admits she exaggerated her roller skating skills to book the gig.

“I was not great at roller skating,” she said, while laughing. "I will always just go for it and fake it 'til you make it sometimes."

5. Being real is good enough

After being told time and time again that she was too curvy or big for the traditional modeling industry, in 2016, Lawrence found a home at Aerie.

"There are so many emotions to this photo because as you can see, I am just living my best life," she said about the ad campaign. "I am just finally at a point of being confident and just happy in my own skin and not giving a crap what anyone else thinks."

Just like Lawrence, Aerie encourages body postivity, using real women, not supermodels, in their ads and promising no digital retouching to showcase their products. Lawrence remembers the "huge" positive reaction she received after the campaign first came out.

“People [were] saying, 'I’ve never seen anything like this in a lingerie campaign before,’" she recalled.

As a body-positive activist and through her responsibility as an Aerie Role Model, Lawrence said she wants to help people recognize their own self-worth.

“I want people who look at my images and instead of wanting to look like me," she said, "I want them to feel as happy as confident as I do."



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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Supermodel Miranda Kerr says she drinks it every morning and actress Busy Philipps has talked about it with her 1.1 million Instagram followers.

Speaking of Instagram, you’ve probably seen it all over your feed.

It is celery juice, the latest wellness trend gaining buzz on social media and with celebrities and health gurus.

“When juicing came back [in trend], it was all about fruit. Now with carb and sugar phobia, I think vegetable juices have taken hold again,” said Cynthia Sass, RD, CSSD, a New York City and Los Angeles based performance dietitian. “Celery does check several boxes in that it’s green, low-calorie, readily-available, has some research behind it and it seems new.”

In addition to being low in calories, celery provides fiber, vitamin K, folate, potassium, and over a dozen types of antioxidants, according to Sass. It also contains natural substances that have been shown to help optimize circulation and boost endurance and enhance strength training when consumed pre-workout.

Celery also contains anti-inflammatory substances that are thought to help support a healthy gut and protect against cellular damage that can lead to premature aging and disease, noted Sass.

So why aren't we all guzzling celery juice -- made in either a juicer or blender with just celery and water -- all the time?

The human research on celery juice is "scant," according to Sass.

"We don’t have a robust picture of its benefits like we do for something like say, avocado or extra virgin olive oil," she said. "This also means we don’t know the optimal amount or frequency to consume, the potential risks for certain people, and possible interactions with medications and supplements."

She continued, "For example, allergic reactions are possible, especially for people sensitive to birch, dandelion, and other plants. Celery juice may also increase sensitivity to sunlight."

Sass's take on the wellness trend is that celery juice is fine, in moderation, as part of an "overall whole foods based eating portfolio."

"It’s fine to drink it daily, just be sure not to overdo it, and mix it up by consuming other green veggies and various colors of produce, too," she said. "In other words, if you sip celery juice in the morning, you haven’t satisfied your vegetable quota for the day."

When it comes to variety, mixing up the vegetables you eat, or drink, does a body good, according to Sass. Celery is not any better or worse than other buzzy vegetables like kale and spinach, just packed with different nutrients and antioxidants.

"When you eat the same few veggies over and over you miss out on the unique nutrients and other protective compounds found in the plants you aren’t eating," Sass said. "Research backs that variety may even trump quantity when it comes to disease protection, but obviously the ultimate goal is to eat enough produce and mix up the types."

The current recommendation for adults is a minimum of five servings, or five cups, of vegetables a day.

Drinking celery as a juice can help you pack in more servings of celery at a time but does not provide any more nutritional benefits than just eating raw celery, according to Sass.

In fact, there is research in other fruits and vegetables that consumption of them in raw-form versus juice-form may be preferable.

Juicing tends to remove a lot of the fiber content in fruits and vegetables, which helps to lower cholesterol and regulate digestion, and may also remove a lot of the nutritional content, according to Dr. Ryan Guinness, a resident physician at Kaiser Permanente and UCSF Medical Center and a fellow in ABC News' medical unit.

"I think the general consensus among the medical community, however, is that consuming fruits and vegetables in juice-form is still better than not consuming them at all," he said.

If you find the taste of celery juice hard to get used to, flavorings like lemon or lime or ginger root can pack a flavor punch without changing the nutritional or caloric values.

If you really don't like the taste of celery juice but still want the benefits, throw it in a smoothie.

Here is a favorite recipe from Sass.

Cynthia Sass smoothie recipe

Ingredients


1/2 cup organic celery juice

1/2 cup chopped kale

1 small frozen banana

1/c frozen mango

1/2 ripe avocado

1 scoop pea protein powder

1 tbsp fresh-squeezed lime juice

1-inch cube fresh ginger root

3 fresh organic mint leaves

Directions

Add ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.



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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. RICHA KALRA

(NEW YORK) -- Thinking positively is often good for brain health -- but a new study shows it's important to proceed with caution.

Positive thoughts seem to increase connections between regions of the brain in favorable ways. But the study, published in The Journal of Neuroscience, showed that optimism can also come with risks.

"We were interested to show the science behind an old phenomenon, called the optimism bias," said co-author, Dr. Bojana Kuzmanovic, Cognitive neuroscientist at Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research, in an interview with ABC News. "What we conclude and believe depends on what we want to believe."

To see how optimistic beliefs influenced their brain activity, researchers from Germany and Switzerland looked at fMRI brain images and analyzed survey responses using computer models from 24 self-described positive thinkers, 10 men and 14 women.

When learning new information, these people were more likely to incorporate good news than bad news into their overall belief systems. The good news increased the activity in the reward region of the participants' brains. When the participants rejected bad news, the same reward region also showed increased activity. Plus, the reward regions of their brains increased connections to other thought-processing, or cognitive, areas of their brains.

The stronger the individual's original optimism bias was, the stronger the connections were between the cognitive areas of their brains.

Although increased activity in the reward centers and increased neural connections might sound great, there was an important caution noted in the study.

The optimism bias -- a thought process that leads people to believe that they are less likely to run into a negative event than other people -- was strong. In other words, optimistic people can believe "bad stuff only happens to other people."

This bias can have a strong unconscious influence, preventing people from taking precautionary measures when making important decisions.

"Even politicians making big decisions could be using this bias," said Kuzmanovic. "It is important to consider an alternative viewpoint, especially when you really care about the outcomes, and there is a lot at stake."

There are some other factors that researchers noted could have influenced the effects on participant's brains. Some ideas could have been especially positive for certain individuals because of their tastes or experiences and it's possible that hearing good news directly after bad news made it even better.

Kuzmanovic acknowledged that the implications of this phenomenon are not all bad. Previous studies have shown that incorporating positive thoughts into beliefs can lead to better cardiovascular health and an improvement in a person's overall ability to cope with stress.

"People do have positive value for their positive beliefs," said Kuzmanovic. "It is just about being aware. These influences are present in all the decisions we make, and may put us in danger of making biased decisions. When making important decisions, we should consider collaborating with others to understand different perspectives."

Richa Kalra, M.D., is a resident physician specializing in psychiatry and working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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iStock/ThinkstockBY: DR. EDITH BRACHO-SANCHEZ and DR. RICHA KALRA

(NEW YORK) -- Adults who hold back-and-forth conversations with young children rather than just talking to them may be helping to strengthen connections between the language regions of the children’s brains, new research shows.

The new study published today in The Journal of Neuroscience found that dialogue with adults may lead to stronger pathways between two brain regions critical for language development in young children.

“Our findings show that the information highways between the language regions of the brain were stronger in children who took turns talking with their parents, and the greater connectivity held true independent of socioeconomic status,” said Dr. Rachel Romeo, postdoctoral research fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of the study, in an interview with ABC news.

The study by a team from Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the University of Pennsylvania was based on results from a relatively small group, 40 children ages 4 to 6.

The researchers recorded the children and their parents for two days to capture the number of different words children heard, the number of words they spoke, and the number of turns they took in back-and-forth conversations with their caregivers. The team then used an MRI to take images of the children’s brains, and performed common office tests to measure the children’s verbal and cognitive abilities.

Children who took more turns in back-and-forth conversation with their parents had stronger connections between the brain regions responsible for comprehension and production of speech, and also scored higher on verbal skills tests, the study found.

It is well known that the quantity and quality of that language that children hear early in life predicts their future verbal and cognitive skills.

In a study in the 1990s, researchers found that by the time children from higher socioeconomic backgrounds reach school age they are exposed to on average 30 million more words than children growing up in lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The findings became known in the medical community as the “word gap.”

Since then, much of the focus of early childhood language development has been on getting children to hear a greater number of words. Romeo believes the word gap is an overly simplistic approach to language development, and her team’s work is part of a movement to think more about the quality of speech children are exposed to as opposed to just quantity.

While other research has linked children's verbal skills to the complexity of conversations they have when young with adults, this is the first study to suggest which specific structural changes in the brain might be responsible for this association. As this is a small study, the connection will need to be proven in broader work.

“This was an early-stage study to determine whether these relationships [between conversational speech and structure of the brain] exist and now that we know they do, we will move to an intervention study where we will bring children and parents in and target those brain regions,” Romeo said.

If the study is confirmed, it’s an inexpensive intervention that any caregiver can do.

“When you engage children in conversation, you can target language for their appropriate level of development … They’re getting that optimal feedback,” Romeo said.

Edith Bracho-Sanchez, M.D., is a pediatrician and consultant for ABC News, and Richa Kalra, M.D., is a resident physician specializing in psychiatry working in the ABC News Medical Unit.

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ABC News(EMPORIA, Va.) -- A 6-month-old boy died after being left for hours in a hot car in a parking lot outside a Domino's restaurant in Virginia, police said.

The baby's mother, an employee at the Domino's in Emporia, Virginia, had dropped off one or two other children at a day care Friday before driving to work, Emporia Police Chief Rick Pinksaw told ABC News Monday.

The baby was in the car for several hours, Pinksaw said, though he declined to specify exactly how long.

Officers responded to the parking lot at about 9 p.m. and performed CPR on the infant before he was taken to a hospital, Pinksaw said. Emergency room staff tried to revive him but the baby was pronounced dead, he said.

The temperature reached 90 degrees in Emporia Friday with a heat index -- or what it feels like -- of 96 degrees.

"We're having a hard time wrapping our heads around how this could occur," Pinksaw said, calling it "such a tragic situation."

"I don't understand how anybody could leave a child in a vehicle. With the way the weather is with the heat, I just think, you know, if you put kids in your car, you need to account for those kids when you get out of the car," Pinksaw said.

"These kids are helpless and they depend on their parents or their caregivers to take care of them."

No charges have been filed against the baby's mother, 30-year-old Blondia Curry, Pinksaw said, adding that the decision will be up to prosecutors.

Autopsy results are pending, he said.

At least 33 children have died from hot cars this year in the United States, according to the organization KidsandCars.org.

This is also the fourth hot car death this year in Virginia, the organization said.

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