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Senate Sends Major Overhaul of Veterans Health Care to Trump

Wednesday’s vote is “the last piece of a great mosaic to reform the benefits for our veterans to make them contemporary with the 21st century,” said Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, the chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. Dozens of military and veterans groups, including the largest congressionally chartered organizations, such as the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, also touted the changes.

But beneath the surface, deep mistrust remains over the Trump administration’s mission to increase the use of private care. Many of the largest veterans groups, as well as Democrats and some moderate Republicans, fear that the White House’s push to unfetter veterans’ ability to choose their care is a backdoor effort to tip the scales in favor of private medicine and to starve the federal government’s second-largest department and its vast government-run health system.

Liberals, including the Democratic Party’s top lawmaker on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a former chairman of the Senate committee, warned that because the bill lacks a long-term funding source, the cost of the program — estimated to be roughly $50 billion over five years — could end up cannibalizing other pieces of the department’s budget.

“It provides nothing to fill the vacancies at the V.A. That is wrong,” said Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, who ran the committee in the aftermath of the wait-time scandal, when lawmakers first created the so-called Veterans Choice Program to relieve pressure on the system. “My fear is that this bill will open the door to the draining, year after year, of much-needed resources from the V.A.”

With veterans organizations supporting the measure, labor groups, including the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 260,000 department employees, have led the opposition, arguing that it will allow the outsourcing of key department health services without addressing the department’s staffing shortages.

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What your poo says about your health

Opening your bowels is a basic function of life. But despite the fact we all do it, pooing is not often thought to be a topic suitable for polite conversation. However, recent popular interest in gut health and the composition of poo – as well as the bacterial populations that live within it – have helped to put bodily functions more on the map. And these days, more and more people are wondering how often you should go, what happens if you don’t go enough and how you can influence the composition of what is passed.

In the late 1980s, Professor Ken Heaton and colleagues conducted a survey of the population in East Bristol, in the UK. They reported the common wisdom that “99% of people defecate between three times per week and three times per day” which was revealed in an earlier study of factory workers and GP patients. In Bristol, they noted that although the most common bowel habit was once daily, it only occurred in 40% of men and a third of women.

How often we go for a number two can differ from person to person. We all have what’s known as a “gastro-colic reflex” – which means that each time we eat food, our large bowel responds and we should go to the toilet. Through a range of hormones we will experience a “call to stool”. Most of us, however – from the time we can walk – suppress this call, so once a day or less has become the new norm.

Urgency, diarrhoea, and constipation can all be features of not going to the toilet enough. And associated with this “relative” constipation are symptoms of bloating, pain and variability of bowel habit. A simple test of how your bowels are working is the “sweetcorn test”. By swallowing a handful of raw sweetcorn – which is not absorbed by the body – the brightly coloured kernels can be easily seen in your motions. This is an easy way to assess your own mouth-to-anus transit time. It should probably be about eight hours.

The composition of poo

Poo is made up of 75% water. The rest, which is the solid stuff, is up to 50% microbes plus cells that are shed from the bowel lining and food residue. The collective name for the microbes that live inside us is the microbiome and at one time, it was thought that the bugs outnumbered our cells by ten to one.

Recent data suggests this may be closer to a ratio of 1.3 to 1 but this will obviously depend on how often you go. Bacteria, viruses, fungi and single cell microbes make up the microbiome and all may be critical to our health and well-being.

Up to 75% of people use their phone on the toilet.

From a positive perspective, the bugs in our guts not only breakdown undigestible foodstuffs, but they also produce critical nutrients, prevent certain infections and contribute to the development of our immune defence systems. However, obesity, type two diabetes, high blood pressure, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disorders and mental health problems have all been linked to dysbiosis – or change of the microbiome.

Gut feelings

Establishment of our microbiome starts at birth and is influenced by the way we are born – either vaginally or by Cesarean – and initially fed. By the time we start eating solid food, we are well on the way to establishing our adult microbiome. What we subsequently eat can have an impact on the composition, although this effect may be modest.

Our diets also may influence the metabolic products of our microbiome – these are the chemicals that the individual organisms produce – which can also have an impact on us as the host. Fibre, fat, sugars, artificial sweeteners have all been shown to modulate the composition of the gastrointestinal microbiota.

You inherited all your human DNA from your parents — but your microbiome is more complicated.

Experimental data suggests that prebiotic fibres change gut microbiota and increase hormones that tell us that we are full. Current ongoing research has also shown that antibiotic induced microbial imbalance is associated with changes in bitter taste expression – which influences the foods we prefer to eat. All these relationships are complex, and scientists are just beginning to understand their full impact.

The ultimate way to alter our microbiome is a faecal transplant, where you take on board the poo from someone else. Unpleasant as this may sound, encouraging data is emerging on the use of poo in the treatment of gastrointestinal infections such as clostridium difficile, early diabetes, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. But it may still be a while before you can buy prized poo over the counter in your local supermarket.

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DMC Pens Men’s Health Article On 25-Year Battle With Addiction

May — being Mental Health Awareness Month — is a time to reflect on and acknowledge the adverse effects that things like addiction and depression (among others) can have on the lives of ourselves, friends, and family.

Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of the iconic trio Run-DMC recently opened in an article written for Men’s Health Magazine about his battle with addiction, and truths he discovered via therapy.

“I want people to get help. I did it. I’m not a genius … I’m not a rocket scientist,” the soon-to-be 54-year-old Hip Hop legend wrote. “All I am is a living, breathing example that anyone can defeat whatever it is that they’re battling.”

“It wasn’t until I went to seek help that I finally understood I had a problem,” he continued. McDaniels admits he was always a functioning alcoholic — but the group’s sudden burst to stardom created new pressures that both enabled and escalated his dependency.

“I had anxiety that I didn’t know was anxiety. I had panic attacks that I didn’t know were panic attacks. Any time I felt something I considered abnormal, I just reached for the bottle,” he explained.

He also explains that he never entirely dealt with the death of his close friend Jam Master Jay. “I never accepted or faced my emotions about that,”’ he stated.

Embed from Getty Images

According to McDaniels, after hitting absolute rock bottom, he finally did what those in his circle had been urging for years — seek help. “Therapy is the most gangster thing anybody can do for themselves,” he said. 

“Going to therapy is the most powerful move that you can make that will help you heal, solve, or alleviate the stress and struggles of the battles with depression.”

The most important takeaway is that DMC wants people to keep talking about mental health — even when May is over. “When you break your calf, you talk about it until the cast is off and the healing is done,” he continurf. “I want people to talk about mental health in the same way.”

Read the his full article, here.

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From AI doctors to 3D X-rays, the future of healthcare is already here

A health check of the world today may seem gloomy – antibiotics are failing, people are dying of easily treatable diseases because they’re poor, and conditions such as dementia are on the rise. The scientists, researchers, investors and startups at the Francis Crick Institute in London were only too aware of the challenges – here’s what we learned.

Femtech needs to get more intelligent

Women account for almost 50 per cent of the world’s population, but women’s health technology hasn’t updated for years – however, Tania Boler, CEO of London- and Berlin-based start-up Elvie, argued that’s about to change. “We are witnessing three big trends,” she told the room. “The big feminist surge, the tech revolution in connected devices and the paradigm shift towards individuals taking charge of their own health.”

Two years ago Boler launched a discrete, mobile-connected, medical-grade silicone pod that helps new mothers – half of whom suffer post-natal pelvic prolapses – strengthen their pelvic floor muscles. Boler has just signed an agreement to supply the devices to the NHS – “Investors finally realise femtech is a huge opportunity,” she said.

Governments must see healthcare as an investment

Governments need to look at healthcare spending in economic not just social terms, Botswana’s minister for health and wellness Dorcas Makgato told the room. The huge African country with a tiny population (2.3m) provided free treatment for every citizen with HIV/AIDS. As a result, Botswana is on course to be free of HIV/AIDS deaths by 2030. “Twenty five per cent of our people had the virus,” she explained. “We had to divert most of our resources to HIV – it was the best investment we ever made.”

We need to use nature’s defences to fight disease

Medicines are of limited use and have too many side effects, Bruce Levine from the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies argued – so it’s time to use nature to treat disease. Levine uses chimeric antigen receptor-modified T cells – a patient’s own white blood cells modified by a disabled form of the HIV virus – to identify and attack cancer cells. “Three patients we treated in 2010 had between 1.3 and 3.5 kg of leukaemia killed by their own T cells,” he told delegates. “We’re seeing patients given three to nine months to live being free of cancer six years later.” With FDA approval for his “bag of cells” granted last August, the next step is tackling solid cancers – a much harder target.

Simba Gill, CEO of Evelo Biosciences, is using gut microbes instead of T cells. “We’ve spent hundreds of years trying to destroy microbes and only now realised they are part of us,” he explained. Gill converts microbes into a white powder that’s taken orally – where they interact with the immune system through the gut-body network, shutting down inflammation. He has isolated different microbes to treat different diseases and is running ten trials on diseases such as melanoma, colorectal and renal cancer, arthritis and inflamed bowel disease. He expects clinical results in the next 12-18 months.

Both have work ahead but, Levine pointed out, “There are three stages to a scientific revolution: 1) You’re crazy; 2) It’s possible but not worth it; 3) I knew it was a good idea all along.”

Diagnosing blindness needs to get easier

Curing blindness is easy and cheap, according to Andrew Bastawrous, co-founder and CEO of Peek Vision, a social enterprise owned by registered charity The Peek Vision Foundation. “It’s diagnosing that’s hard and expensive,” he says. Smartphones may have the answer.

“In schools in the developing world, three children in every 40 are dealing with poor vision and blindness,” he told the crowd of investors, scientists and CEOs. “But no one knows which kids suffer from it, and it’s costly to test everyone in distant rural schools.”

Peek’s smartphone app aims to overcome that problem – offering an optician-style eye test and back-of-the-eye scan that’s so simple that teachers can use it. He’s working on
a hearing test – but, he warned, governments need to step up and
join in to keep this sustainable.

Doctors will be helped by AI

The world needs high-quality healthcare just as it’s running out of doctors, warned Ada Health co-founder Claire Novorol – but AI can help. “In India and China, doctors have two minutes per patient,” she told delegates. “In Bangladesh it’s 43 seconds.” Her solution is Ada – a diagnostic AI built with GPs. It’s human plus machine, she explained. “Doctors are better at patient relationships, but AI has less bias and a better memory.”

Francis Crick Institute researcher Andrew Steele argued that AI’s lack of bias means it’s ideal to answer the dreaded question – how long have I got, doctor? Steele analysed the electronic health records of more than 100,000 patients, checking for diagnosis, prescription and results to arrive at strong prediction models. “Doctors can just press a button, the AI looks at the patient’s health record then spits out immediately – a ten per cent chance of dying in next five years, for instance,” he explained. The next step? Letting AI help prescribe treatment.

3D X-rays will transform surgery

Vascular surgery is so primitive it’s like a mechanic merely guessing which brake pads are worn out on a car, Oxford Heartbeat founder Katerina Spranger told the room. The most common cardiovascular treatment is a stent. While researching her PhD, Spranger watched a surgeon trying to work out which device to use from a 2D X-ray. “It was like they were watching a silent black and white movie,” she explained. Her solution? An image processing 3D visualisation of a patient’s arteries to help choose and deploy the best stent.

Gaming will shake up mental health

Virtual reality is moving into healthcare – and gaming with it can diagnose dementia and help stroke patients recover, said Tej Tadi, founder of Switzerland’s first unicorn, MindMaze. For stroke patients, playing VR games makes physical therapy fun and something they do for them- selves, he explained.

Michael Hornberger, co-creator of the Sea Hero Quest game, showed how players’ spatial perception was measured while playing – with poor spatial perception an early indicator for dementia, it allows diagnosis long before memory loss.

Tadi foresees simple electrodes to decode face movements under headset cameras treating autism, Parkinson’s and cerebral palsy. “It’s time for braintech to take centre stage,” he told the room.

Psychedelics will be taken seriously

Mental illness affects one in four people in the UK, yet mental health makes up just five per cent of research spending, according to Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research, Imperial College London. He researches psychedelics as a possible alternative to antidepressants and the results are promising – after a single dose, patients who experienced an emotional breakthrough report benefits for days, weeks and even years. This autumn, Carhart-Harris is crowdfunding a new charity – Global Psychedelic Research – to tackle science elites and fund new studies.

Existing drugs can cure ageing

We could all live until we’re 115 if we start treating the symptoms of ageing, according to Nir Barzilai, director, Institute for Aging Research, Albert Einstein College of Medicine.“Ageing is the strongest risk factor in heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes,” he explained. Barzilai has identified genes that help cardiovascular health and proteins that may protect against ageing. He’s testing 30 drugs – including rapamycin, which increased mice lifespan by 24 per cent in trials. Increasing life expectancy by 2.2 years could save $7.1 trillion (£5.1 billion) in healthcare costs, he argued.

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Congo Ebola vaccination campaign begins with health workers

Congo began an Ebola vaccination campaign Monday in a northwest provincial capital in a major effort to stem an outbreak that already has spread from rural towns into a city of more than 1 million people.

The vaccination drive started a day after the health ministry announced that a nurse had died from Ebola in Bikoro. The rural northwestern town is where the outbreak announced in early May began. The death toll now stands at 27.

There are 49 hemorrhagic fever cases: 22 confirmed as Ebola, 21 probable and six suspected, according to Health Minister Oly Ilunga.

“We have established surveillance mechanisms and are following all cases and contacts,” he said. “The response is well-organized because we have also put in surveillance measures at the entry and exit points of Mbandaka.”

In a hopeful sign, two patients who were confirmed as positive for Ebola have recovered and are returning to their homes, where they will be monitored, Ilunga said. They have left the hospital “with a medical certificate attesting that they’ve recovered and can no longer transmit the disease because they have developed antibodies against Ebola,” he said.

The virus, however, remains longer in semen in many cases and therefore can be transmitted through sexual contact for some months after recovery.

Congo’s health delegation, including the health minister and representatives of the World Health Organization and the United Nations, have arrived in Mbandaka, the northwestern city of 1.2 million where Ebola cases have been identified, to launch the vaccination campaign Monday.

Dr. Eric Ekutshu, a doctor in the Wangata health zone in Mbandaka, received the vaccine Monday at a ceremony presided over by officials.

“I’m glad I have received the vaccine against Ebola,” he said. “I ask the others (contacts and nursing staff) to get vaccinated to protect themselves. Everyone must adhere to this vaccination campaign with the goal of protection.”

Guillaume Ngoie Mwamba, director of the Expanded Program on Immunization, was the first Congolese to receive the vaccine in Mbandaka.

“This is to give a message of safety and assurance to all of the population exposed to the epidemic,” he said.

Two dozen vaccinators, including Congolese and Guineans who administered the vaccine in their country during the 2014-2016 outbreak, are in Mbandaka to start injecting the 540 doses that have arrived, the health minister said.

It will take five days to vaccinate about 100 registered patients, including 73 health care staff, who have had contact with patients and their relatives in the Wangata and Bolenge health zones of Mbandaka, he said.

The vaccination campaign will then move to the other two affected areas, the Bikoro and Iboko health zones.

More than 7,500 doses are available in Congo, WHO said Monday, adding that an additional 8,000 doses will be available in the coming days.

The vaccine, provided by U.S. company Merck, is still in the test stages, but it was effective toward the end of the Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from 2014 to 2016. A major challenge will be keeping the vaccines cold in this vast, impoverished, tropical country where infrastructure is poor.

Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Cabinet agreed Saturday to increase funds for the Ebola emergency to more than $4 million. The Cabinet also endorsed the decision to provide free health care in the affected areas and to provide special care to all Ebola victims and their relatives.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has said that it has provided an initial $1 million to combat the Ebola outbreak. The funds are going to WHO in support of its joint strategic response plan with Congo’s government.

The spread of Ebola from a rural area to Mbandaka has raised alarm since the virus can spread more quickly in urban areas. The fever it causes can lead to severe internal bleeding that is often fatal.

“It’s concerning that we now have cases of Ebola in an urban center, but we’re much better placed to deal with this outbreak than we were in 2014,” WHO’s director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus, said at the U.N. health agency’s annual meeting in Geneva on Monday. “I am pleased to say that vaccination is starting as we speak today.”

Tedros said he is “proud of the way the whole organization has responded to this outbreak, at headquarters, the regional office and the country office.”

This is Congo’s ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the disease was first identified. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. It is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of those infected.

While Congo has contained several Ebola outbreaks in the past, all of them were based in remote rural areas. The virus has twice made it to Kinshasa, Congo’s capital of 10 million people, but was effectively contained.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.


AP writers Carley Petesch in Dakar, Senegal, and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed to this report.


Follow Africa news at—Africa

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What genetic tests from 23andMe, Veritas and Genos really told me about my health

Direct-to-consumer genetic testing first came on the market about a decade ago, but I resisted the temptation to see what health information is hidden in my DNA — until now.

As a molecular biology writer, I’ve been skeptical that the field of genetics is mature enough to accurately predict health (see related article). What finally motivated me to send away my DNA in the mail was the fact that companies are now offering much more genetic information. Is more better? Would an expensive test that deciphered my entire genetic instruction manual, or genome, reveal more about me than more limited tests? That’s what I wanted to find out.

For health testing, I sent spit samples to 23andMe, Genos and Veritas Genetics, three companies that represent the various levels of DNA testing available to consumers. (I did ancestry testing, too; you can read about my experiences with that in June.) These companies all analyze natural spelling variations in the string of letters that make up DNA. Where most people have, say, a “G,” some might have an “A.” Most of these genetic variants are harmless, but some raise the risk for certain diseases.

Genetic testing goes mainstream

This story is part of a multipart series on consumer genetic testing. See the whole series

Where these companies differ is in how much of the genome they assess and whether they look for only a limited set of known variants or can uncover new ones specific to an individual. 

Getting started

The DNA-testing process starts off the same for all of the companies I tried: ordering a kit online. Genos and Veritas both require a doctor to sign off on the test. 23andMe doesn’t, and as a result, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration limits the medical information the company can report. My doctor reluctantly agreed, but only because I was exploring DNA testing as part of my job. She said there was nothing in my personal health records or family history that would normally lead her to order a genetic test.

The kits all contained the same type of saliva-collection tubes. Sample prep was easy — register the kit’s number online, spit in a tube, mail in the sample. I also opted to let each company use my DNA in research studies, which required an extra step of answering a questionnaire about myself.

Within a couple of months, 23andMe and Genos emailed to tell me my results were available online. Because of a technical glitch, it took about seven months to get results from Veritas. The company says the typical wait time is closer to 12 weeks. Veritas also sent a copy of its report to my doctor.


screenshot from 23andMe

23andMe uses the oldest technology, called SNP genotype testing. SNPs, short for single nucleotide polymorphisms, are the spelling variations in DNA. For $199, 23andMe examines about 690,000 predetermined SNPs. That may sound like a lot, but it’s only 0.01 percent of the 6 billion DNA letters in the human genome. It’s the genetic equivalent of spot-checking a few letters in each chapter of War and Peace and trying to decipher the plot.

Still, the company can tell you interesting things about some physical and physiological traits, like cleft chins, dimples or the ability to taste bitter flavors. And 23andMe has FDA approval to report on a few health conditions linked to specific genetic variants, such as celiac disease and macular degeneration.

The problem is, the company tests only a small subset of all potential SNPs. Getting a report of “variants not detected” doesn’t mean you don’t have any variants related to a particular medical condition. It just means you don’t have the ones tested for.

On the plus side, 23andMe provides clear explanations of what it does and doesn’t test for, and lists other factors that contribute to disease risk. In fact, 23andMe does a far better job than Genos or Veritas of explaining what having specific genetic variants means.


screen capture of Genos genetic test

screen capture of Genos genetic test

screen capture of Genos genetic test

Genos offers broader testing, for $499. It reads, or “sequences,” every letter in a person’s protein-producing genes. By deciphering this Cliffs Notes version of the genome, called the exome, Genos can theoretically find genetic changes that are unique to an individual, though the significance of these finds for health isn’t always clear.

Compared with the other two services, Genos gave me the most data but the least useful information. The company found 44,225 variants in my exome and showed me how many are on each chromosome. But Genos provided information for just 4,294 of them because those variants are in ClinVar, the publicly available database that Genos draws information from.

And even for these variants, Genos gave few details — like how common the variants are and whether they change one of my proteins. The company offered almost no interpretation of what the variants mean for my health, other than to classify how harmful they might be: pathogenic, likely pathogenic, likely benign, benign or unknown significance. Most frustrating, Genos didn’t tell me which diseases these variants are associated with. I would need to explore the scientific literature myself to figure this out. So for most people, Genos’ report wouldn’t be that useful.

The company did, however, have more to say about how my variants influence a variety of my traits, such as hair and eye color, freckling, several characteristics of my ears and my ability to smell cut grass, roses and sweat. Genos also reports how genetics can affect a few behavioral characteristics, such as a tendency to overeat and the propensity to worry.

Veritas Genetics

screenshot from Veritas

Finally, Veritas charged $999 to read nearly every letter in my genome, including portions in between genes that regulate gene activity and parts containing noncoding RNAs, which do a variety of cellular jobs. Those sections between genes are proving to be lush territory for discovering health risks.

Not surprisingly, Veritas gave me the most wide-ranging report. For instance, only Veritas shared “pharmacogenomic” information — how my genetic variants could influence how certain drugs affect me. The list of drugs my genes may or may not play well with is long. I take only one drug on the list, but I’m glad to have all of this information in case it becomes relevant in the future.

While Veritas has nearly the entirety of my genetic information in its data banks, the company told me surprisingly little. Turns out, I’m just not that interesting, genetically speaking. The company screened more than 40,000 genes (including the noncoding RNAs) but found no big health risks — at least, none that scientists can reliably predict today.

The company did cover a more extensive list of physical and physiological traits than either Genos or 23andMe did. Veritas’ focus is on medically relevant information, though, so the traits tended to be practical: for instance, how prone someone might be to tendon injuries, how muscles would respond to exercise, and how one’s genes might affect blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Final assessment

One thing I discovered from all this testing is that the companies don’t necessarily tell you everything they find in your DNA. Veritas, for instance, sometimes doesn’t report certain information that it doesn’t consider medically relevant. But that decision could have medical consequences.

I learned from 23andMe, for example, that I carry a variant linked to hemochromatosis, a disorder in which excess iron in the blood can build up and damage organs. My variant is unlikely to cause me harm, but it could be a problem for any future children if they also inherited a different harmful variant of the gene from their father. So that’s useful information to have if planning a family. (And indeed, my husband carries this variant, though the odds of us having a child with this disorder are still low.) My Veritas report did not mention the variant. When I checked with the company, Veritas said it chose not to report this variant because of its low likelihood of causing me trouble. But I would prefer to have that information.

Overall, none of these genetic testing companies give you complete information about your health and genetics. Veritas may give you the most bang for your health care dollar, but its report is definitely not as user-friendly as 23andMe’s. Unless you’re a hard-core genetics nerd like me, Genos in its current form could be a frustrating experience.

Before you decide to get your DNA tested for medical reasons, talk to a genetic counselor to see which level of sequencing best suits your needs. If testing uncovers something worrisome, the result should be confirmed by a doctor. Keep in mind that genetics is an inexact science. Someday it will be better. If you can wait for that day, you may have a more satisfying experience. If you just can’t wait, take the results with a grain of salt and keep an open mind. As scientists learn more, interpretations may change.

Which test is right for you?

Here’s how the companies compare.

*Not typical

Editor’s note: This story was updated May 22, 2018 to correct the illustration of DNA in the image at the top of the page.


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Georgia Tech’s innovative new police HQ aims to boost health and wellness

Add another innovating building proposal to Georgia Tech’s roster.

The Midtown school’s police department has outgrown its headquarters, and the replacement office has been designed to boost health and wellness, according to Saporta Report.

Blueprints for the department’s new digs, to be developed at the corner of 10th Street and Hemphill Avenue, were sketched in compliance with the relatively new WELL Building Standard—made to improve the health and well-being of its projects’ occupants.

The new structure will replace Tech’s Campus Safety Building, the current police headquarters at 879 Hemphill Avenue, and will offer more meeting space than its predecessor.

The campus police department’s new home will feature “lighting systems that protect the circadian rhythm—so sleep is less disrupted—interior designs and artwork that calm the mind, and air handling systems that reduce air pollutants and airborne germs, according to a list of WELL standards,” per a press release.

In some ways, the WELL standards are more stringent than Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) regulations. Its air quality qualifications, for instance, are tighter than LEED’s.

Among its few WELL-certified projects, Atlanta’s highest-ranking development is Holder Construction’s 52,000-square-foot office in Cumberland.

Georgia Tech’s current police department is slated to be leveled and replaced with green space as part of the school’s Eco-Commons project.

The plot that will host the police department’s new offices is being assessed and is expected to be primed for summer construction.

The building is slated for a quick spring 2019 opening.

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Talking Grievances And Health Care, An Outsider Kentucky Dem Found The Inside Track

So in July, with a bit of money in the bank and desperation beginning to set in, McGrath’s campaign manager, Mark Nickolas, decided that he had to do something crazy. He told McGrath, who hadn’t yet unpacked from her move, to dig her bomber jacket out of a box. He took his fledgling candidate to Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport, stood her in front of a fighter jet, and told Mark Putnam, the ad man who has made Democratic candidates from Missouri to Wisconsin go viral, to start filming.

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The Surprising Link Between Procrastination and Threats to Your Health

We all know the negative consequences of procrastination firsthand; we wait too long to start a project, or delay that important phone call, then end up feeling more pressure than we would had we started things sooner.

Related: 11 Ways to Beat Procrastination

All of us do this from time to time, and, according to research by Joseph Ferrari, about 20 percent of us are what’s known as “chronic procrastinators,” frequently and intentionally delaying work on projects with no gain other than to temporarily delay the inevitable.

In school, we’re taught not to procrastinate because the practice leaves us less time and more pressure, and those issues certainly aren’t good. But, later in life, the consequences of procrastination might go even further than we realize.

The correlation with heart health

Research by Fuschia Sirois, from Bishop’s University in Quebec, suggests that trait procrastination (the tendency to regularly delay  important tasks) is correlated with both hypertension and cardiovascular disease. The correlation exists even when researchers control for variables like age, race, education level and personality factors.

The procrastination habit itself may not directly cause hypertension or damage to your heart, but it’s correlated with other factors that could influence your health:

  • Stress. It’s no secret that procrastination is a major source of stress. People most often procrastinate on their most stressful tasks as a strategy to cope with that stress. But in turn, they prolong the time they spend thinking and worrying about those tasks, thereby increasing the amount of time that they feel stress. In addition, they leave themselves with less time to finish the task, and feel even more stressed than just doing it would prompt.
  • Behavioral disengagement. Sirois’s study also noted the tendency for participants to demonstrate behavioral disengagement; in other words, they procrastinate as a way to distance themselves from a given problem. It’s a coping strategy, and not a healthy one, so chronic procrastinators aren’t able to manage their stress effectively.
  • Self-blame. Procrastinators also tend to feel bad after procrastinating, understanding that this is a bad habit and knowing they’ve put themselves in a difficult situation. But that self-blame can make them even more stressed.
  • Health procrastination. Chronic procrastinators, it’s also worth noting, are also likely to delay health-related tasks; they might avoid seeing the doctor until their health problems are more obvious (and more difficult to correct), or might delay starting a new diet or exercise program because of the perceived discomfort. Those delays leave them in even worse health, and allow years of damage to accrue unabated.

The bright side

Though procrastination’s health consequences are impossible to ignore, it’s not fair to cast all instances in a negative light. For example, one study from the Journal of Social Psychology noted two distinct types of procrastinators: active and passive.

Related: 6 Steps to Go from Procrastinating to Productive

Passive procrastinators delay tasks until absolutely necessary because they find themselves unable to summon the discipline to do them sooner. Active procrastinators intentionally decide to delay their work as a time-management strategy.

As you might suspect, while active procrastinators spend the same amount of time procrastinating, they display a more productive use of time and more adaptive coping skills.

Overcoming procrastination

So, what can you do to overcome procrastination in your own life?

1. Become an active, rather than passive, procrastinator. Instead of allowing procrastination to manifest in your life, make an active decision to procrastinate. Take charge of your delay, and deliberately choose a time to deal with the problem.

2. Think about why you’re procrastinating. If you feel like putting a task off until tomorrow, ask yourself why. Are you doing this because it’s going to genuinely make the task easier to deal with, or just because you don’t want to deal with it now? Recognizing these influences can help you make more logical decisions.

3. Manage your self-blame. If you do procrastinate — and almost all of us do from time to time—avoid the tendency to blame yourself, and try not to feel too guilty. Procrastination happens to all of us, and your lack of action doesn’t have to haunt you the rest of your week.

4. Set tighter deadlines. You could also try setting stricter deadlines for yourself, so you don’t have as much time to fill with procrastination. Unfortunately, self-imposed deadlines won’t do you much good, so you may need to ask a supervisor, coworker or friend to help you stay accountable to your new deadlines.

Procrastination is something that has and will continue to affect all of us from time to time, but it doesn’t have to control your life — nor do you have to let it affect your health.

Related: 4 Reasons People Procrastinate and a Cure for Each One

Understanding the consequences of procrastination, and fighting back against the habits that make you more susceptible to it will keep you productive and in better overall health.

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Alyssa Milano on battling mental illness stigmas: We’re more likely to hurt ourselves than we are other people’

Actress and activist Alyssa Milano spoke on “The View” today about living with anxiety and called for the Trump administration to provide care for others with mental illness.

“I have a mental illness,” Milano said today. “I’m going to say it just like that, because I feel like there is such a stigma around mental illness. I want people to know that if you have anxiety, depression, whatever your mental illness may be, you are not alone.”

Milano said she found comfort in the fact that she was not alone. According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, nearly 44 million Americans experience mental illness in a given year.

She also pointed out that under the latest Trump tax plan passed in December, 13 million Americans could lose health insurance.

“So to me, I think we have to rededicate ourselves to really making mental illness a priority,” Milano said.

Milano called on the Trump administration to fix the problem, especially because the president has cited mental health as a cause for the prevalence of mass shootings in our country.

In February, President Trump tweeted that the accused Parkland High School shooter showed signs of being “mentally disturbed” and after the deadly 2017 church shooting in Texas, Trump said, “Mental health is your problem here. … This isn’t a guns situation.”

“We see this administration blaming these mass shootings on mental illness. … If that’s what you are going to blame it on, you have got to step up to the plate and do something,” Milano said. “Get them the care that they need.”

She also said that if the White House refused to make progress on mental health care, “I think the NRA should stand up there and help us fund mental health programs throughout the country.”

According to the American Psychiatric Association, mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year.

“We’re more likely to hurt ourselves than we are other people,” Milano said.

PHOTO: Alyssa Milano joined The View on May 18, 2018, to discuss her activism with the #MeToo movement and working to get care for those with mental illness.Candice Elle Frank/ABC
Alyssa Milano joined “The View” on May 18, 2018, to discuss her activism with the #MeToo movement and working to get care for those with mental illness.

Milano said today that she had struggled with anxiety her “whole life,” but that “it got really bad” after the birth of her son Milo.

She said she was “overwhelmed” with working, dealing with her role as a new mom and her anxiety’s physical manifestations.

“I get a knot in my stomach or it feels like someone is wringing out a washcloth and I get shaky and I can’t breathe,” Milano said, describing those manifestations. “It’s a panic attack but it’s generalized — so it’s always in that state.”

Milano said she ultimately “went into an emergency room, asked to speak to the psychiatrist and had them drive me” to be “committed … to a mental institution.”

She said that time was particularly frustrating because others were telling her that she looked totally fine.

“I needed help,” she said. “People just kept telling me, ‘You’re fine. Go for a hike. It’s a big change having a baby.’ And I knew I wasn’t OK.”

While Milano acknowledged that she was “blessed” to have the means and insurance for the care she received as well as the support, she said: “What does the woman, what does the mother, do that doesn’t have that?”

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