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Latest News: Firm agrees to refund to settle suit over weight-loss pills

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Salt Lake City-based company has agreed to pay refunds to consumers who purchased its weight-loss tablets to settle a class-action lawsuit that claimed its advertising slogan, "Eat All You Want & Still Lose Weight," was deceptive.

Under the proposed settlement, Basic Research will pay a refund of $25 per box after being sued by law firms on behalf of consumers who purchased the product called Akavar beginning in 2007.

A Basic Research representative didn't respond to requests for comment. But the company has denied any wrongdoing and would still be able to use the slogan under the proposed agreement.

Salt Lake City attorney Jon Harper, who represents consumers, told The Salt Lake Tribune (http://bit.ly/1EWLhIV ) that he couldn't comment other than to say the litigation was resolved "on terms satisfactory to the parties."

In 2007, a proposed class-action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Utah against Basic Research on behalf of consumers who bought Akavar based on the company's advertising. A second similar complaint was filed in state court in California in 2008.

The two lawsuits, which were eventually consolidated into one action in federal court in Utah, said the company lacked a scientific basis for the weight-loss claims and was deceiving consumers.

Akavar was sold by major retailers and marketed as a wonder pill in which consumers could "Eat All You Want & Still Lose Weight ... (And we couldn't say it in print if it wasn't true!)"

The company sold 60 capsules for $39.99 and two bottles for $79.98 with a third one for free, and sales brought in millions of dollars, according to court documents.

In 2006, the Federal Trade Commission fined Basic Research $3 million and reached a settlement requiring the company to have a scientific basis for the claims of its products.

The FTC and Basic Research sued each other in 2009 in federal court in Utah over whether the company was violating the 2006 deal.

But last year, U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups sided with Basic Research, noting two of four case studies done in 2001 suggested the herbal compounds in Akavar helped users to lose weight. His decision is cited in the proposed settlement of the class-action lawsuit, The Tribune reported.

___

Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune, http://www.sltrib.com

Latest News: Chile leader visits ailing 14 year-old who wants to end her life

Chile's President Michelle Bachelet on Saturday visited a 14-year-old girl suffering from cystic fibrosis who made a heart-wrenching video appeal to be allowed to end her life.

Valentina Maureira had addressed Bachelet personally in the message, which she recorded with a smartphone and uploaded to YouTube from her hospital bed without her parents knowledge.

"I ask to speak urgently with the president, because I am tired of living with this disease," she said.

"She can authorize an injection to put me to sleep forever," she said.

Maureira is in "stable" condition from cystic fibrosis, an incurable genetic disorder that attacks the lungs and other vital organs, making it difficult to breath and causing a host of other symptoms.

Her message has been viewed thousands of times on social networks, igniting debate over euthanasia in Chile, where it is forbidden by law.

Bachelet responded to the appeal with Saturday morning's unannounced visit, accompanied by Health Minister Carmen Castillo.

They spent nearly an hour with her at the Catholic University hospital in Santiago, according to the government, which posted a photograph of the encounter on Twitter.

Bachelet's spokesman Alvaro Elizalde had said on Thursday that the government could not comply with Maureira's wishes but would cover the cost of psychiatric treatment for her and her family.

Her father Fredy Maureira said he had to respect his daughter's wishes.

"She is 14 years old and she knows this disease better than anyone," he told the Chilean press.

"It's very tough, I don't want to be going through this, but I have to respect my daughter's decision. She wants to be at rest."

Latest News: Reaction to death of 'Star Trek' actor Leonard Nimoy

(Reuters) - Leonard Nimoy, best known for his portrayal of logic-bound Mr. Spock in the "Star Trek" science fiction television series and movies, died on Friday at age 83 after a battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

The following are reactions to Nimoy's death:

"Long before being nerdy was cool, there was Leonard Nimoy. Leonard was a lifelong lover of the arts and humanities, a supporter of the sciences, generous with his talent and his time. And of course, Leonard was Spock. Cool, logical, big-eared and level-headed, the centre of Star Trek’s optimistic, inclusive vision of humanity’s future. I loved Spock," President Barack Obama, whose unemotional approach to problems has been likened to the character Nimoy portrayed on "Star Trek."

"I loved him like a brother. We will all miss his humour, his talent and his capacity to love," William Shatner, who co-starred on "Star Trek" as Captain Kirk, said in a statement.

"Today, the world lost a great man, and I lost a great friend. We return you now to the stars, Leonard. You taught us to 'Live Long and Prosper,' and you indeed did, friend. I shall miss you in so many, many ways," "Star Trek" fellow cast member George Takei, who played Hikaru Sulu, wrote on Facebook.

"My heart is broken. I love you profoundly my dear friend. And I will miss you everyday. May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest," actor Zachary Quinto, who portrays Spock in the current "Star Trek" film series, said on website Instagram.

"He was a true force of strength and his character was that of a champion," "Star Trek" cast member Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura, said in a statement. "Leonard's integrity and passion as an actor and devotion to his craft helped transport 'Star Trek' into television history. His vision and heart are bigger than the universe."

"I was lucky to spend many happy hours with Leonard socially and in front of the camera. The calibre and serious commitment of his work on 'Star Trek' was one of the things all of us on 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' sought to match and be inspired by. His work will not be forgotten," Patrick Stewart, who played Captain Jean-Luc Picard on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," said in a Facebook post.

"He was a talented actor, director, poet and photographer. But his most enduring quality was his kindness and his desire to make you the most you could be. Like everyone who knew or knew of him, I will miss him," actor Steve Guttenberg, who starred in the Nimoy-directed blockbuster comedy "Three Men and a Baby," said in a statement.

"God Bless You, Leonard Nimoy... May Angels guide thee to thy rest! #agoodman #talented #funny #awesome," actor LeVar Burton, who played Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge in "Star Trek: The Next Generation," said on Twitter.

"RIP Leonard Nimoy. So many of us at NASA were inspired by Star Trek. Boldly go..." the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) wrote on Twitter.

"He lived long, he prospered, and he touched us all. RIP Leonard Nimoy," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said on Twitter.

"Leonard Nimoy created a positive role model who inspired untold numbers of viewers to learn more about the universe," Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham said in a statement. "Many of those people are ardent space supporters and industry leaders today."

(Reporting by Eric Kelsey in Los Angeles, Patricia Reaney in New York and Susan Heavey in Washington, Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis, Christian Plumb and Lisa Shumaker)

Latest News: Why Sam's 'wobbly brain' is important
Six-year-old SamSam Evans was diagnosed with Niemann-Pick type C when he was a baby, but many wait much longer

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Seven-year-old Sam Evans' siblings know he is different. Four-year-old twins Jack and Ellie proudly tell people he has a "wobbly brain".

It's their way of explaining his unsteadiness on his feet, his co-ordination problems and the fact that he sometimes asks the same question over and over again.

Sam is a smiley, sociable boy who goes to school and has one-to-one teaching support - but his life will become progressively more difficult.

"In a year he may not be able to talk and a year after that he may not be able to walk," his mother Miriam says.

Sam's parents Will and Miriam, who live in Leeds, were told the devastating news that their first-born had a rare, inherited disease called Niemann-Pick type C when he was four months old.

They were also told he was unlikely to live past the age of two.

"It was absolutely horrific. I couldn't say the words without falling apart."

Faulty gene

Awful though the diagnosis was, Miriam says many families wait for years and years for a diagnosis - some up to 20 years or more - and this creates its own problems.

Because the disease is the result of two copies of a faulty gene being passed on to a child, any subsequent children have a one in four chance of getting the disease.

Sam and familyMiriam and Will Evans want doctors to be more aware of the symptoms of Niemann-Pick type C

Also, it means people can live for years without treatment or access to any support.

Now a campaign led by the International Niemann-Pick Disease Alliance (INPDA) wants to change all that.

Think Again. Think NP-C aims to cut diagnosis times by helping doctors unfamiliar with the disease to recognise its key signs and symptoms.

Speeding up diagnosis, it says, will help patients and their families manage a particularly horrible disease which can cause a number of wide-ranging symptoms - from progressive physical problems to psychiatric issues and learning difficulties akin to dementia.

And this is precisely what makes it so difficult to diagnose.

The symptoms can also develop at any time from childhood through to adulthood and vary in severity in each individual.

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Symptoms of Niemann-Pick type C can include:

  • jaundice at or soon after birth
  • an enlarged spleen or liver
  • difficulty with upward and downward eye movements
  • problems with walking and clumsiness
  • difficulty in moving limbs
  • slurred, irregular speech
  • learning difficulties and progressive intellectual decline
  • sudden loss of muscle tone which may lead to falls
  • tremors accompanying movement and, in some cases, seizures
  • swallowing problems
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Jim Green, president of INPDA, says there are bound to be more people out there with undiagnosed Niemann-Pick type C.

"Perhaps the biggest cohort are adults, because it's a non-specific condition.

"We've tried to highlight the three key symptoms and we encourage doctors to ask themselves if it could be NP-C."

Sam with his sibling twinsSam and his siblings are very close - they accept him for just the way he is

He explains that there are lots of ways that sufferers and their families can be supported.

And although there is no cure for the disease, drugs are available to help stabilise symptoms and delay the progression of the disease.

Both of Jim Green's sons were diagnosed with Niemann-Pick type C after around three years of tests.

His younger son died at 18, and his elder son is now 38 and "doing extremely well", he says, despite the relentlessly progressive nature of the disease.

Not being able to predict how the disease is going to progress is one of the more terrifying aspects of the condition, he admits.

Eye problems

Children who develop neurological symptoms in early childhood are thought to have a more aggressive form of the disease and may not survive to adolescence.

Others can stay free of symptoms for many years.

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  • Niemann-Pick Type C Disease (NP-C) is a rare, genetically inherited and neurologically progressive, disease
  • It causes fatty substances to accumulate in the brain, affecting the central nervous system, and different parts of the body
  • The liver and spleen are also affected
  • There is a 25% chance of the disease being inherited if both parents are carriers
  • Around 86 people are thought to have NP-C in the UK, and 1,000 people around the world
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Sam's mum Miriam says one of the most obvious symptoms is an abnormality in eye movements, which affects virtually everyone with the disease.

Sam, aged 6, on his scooterSam is quite unsteady on his feet and is being fitted for a helmet

"Sam's eyes don't move around like everyone else's when he's walking about. And if I am talk to him, he can't flick his eyes up to look at me."

This is something called vertical supranuclear gaze palsy which is relatively simple to detect.

At present, it is thought that one in 120,000 people have the disease, but it could be closer to one in 40,000, Miriam says.

"There are definitely more people out there than we know about."

The advantages of picking up these people are numerous. Patients and families can be supported, and researchers can also find out more about the disease.

The trials of three drugs which could be used to treat Niemann-Pick are in the pipeline and could make a difference to many lives.

And the more people with this rare disease who can be enrolled in trials, the more useful the results will be.

Latest News: VIDEO: Improving palliative care in Mexico

Palliative care offers crucial pain relief and physical comfort for people facing the end of their lives.

But Human Rights Watch estimates that in Mexico tens of thousands of terminally ill patients are suffering because they don't have access to proper end-of-life care.

Pain-relieving drugs such as morphine are often difficult to access, and many doctors are unaware of how to navigate the complicated system of prescription.

But now the Mexican government is making changes to help the terminally ill to live and die in the best way possible.

David Villalvazo reports from Guadalajara.

Latest News: Distinct ME stages found, says study
Tired woman

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Distinct changes in the immune systems of patients with ME or chronic fatigue syndrome have been found, say scientists.

Increased levels of immune molecules called cytokines were found in people during the early stages of the disease, a Columbia University study reported.

It said the findings could help improve diagnosis and treatments.

UK experts said further refined research was now needed to confirm the results.

Start Quote

It appears that ME patients are flush with cytokines until around the three-year mark, at which point the immune system shows evidence of exhaustion”

End Quote Dr Mady Hornig University of Columbia

People with ME (myalgic encephalopathy) or CFS (chronic fatigue syndrome) suffer from exhaustion that affects everyday life and does not go away with sleep or rest.

They can also have muscle pain and difficulty concentrating.

ME can also cause long-term illness and disability, although many people improve over time.

It is estimated that around 250,000 people in the UK have the disease.

Disease pattern

The US research team, who published their findings in the journal Science Advances, tested blood samples from nearly 300 ME patients and around 350 healthy people.

They found specific patterns of immune molecules in patients who had the disease for up to three years.

These patients had higher levels of of cytokines, particularly one called interferon gamma, which has been linked to the fatigue that follows many viral infections.

Healthy patients and those who had the disease for longer than three years did not show the same pattern.

Lead author Dr Mady Hornig said this was down to the way viral infections could disrupt the immune system.

"It appears that ME/CFS patients are flush with cytokines until around the three-year mark, at which point the immune system shows evidence of exhaustion and cytokine levels drop."

This shows there are distinct stages to the disease, she said. When the cytokine response starts to settle down, the disease also appears to quieten down.

Drug treatments

Peter White, professor of psychological medicine at Queen Mary University of London, said it was premature to draw any conclusions from the study.

"Only one out of the 51 immune proteins studied was elevated in all cases compared with controls, something that could happen by chance alone.

"I hope the authors will go on to re-examine their data after stratifying their samples by other factors that determine the different sub-groups that most scientists now accept make up this illness.

"Finally, as the authors themselves suggest, we need to see these results replicated independently."

Dr Charles Shepherd, medical adviser to the ME Association, said the research was interesting and useful, and added more support to what is already known about the abnormal immune response in people with chronic fatigue syndrome.

"If distinctive patterns of cytokine abnormality can be linked to both stage and severity of disease, this is a finding which could be used to aid diagnosis and open the door to the use of anti-inflammatory drug treatments that would dampen down the abnormal immune system response."

But he indicated that this was still some way off.

He added: "Although some doctors do still mistakenly believe that ME/CFS is a psychological illness, there is now very robust evidence being produced to show that we are dealing with a physical disease process that includes significant abnormalities involving the brain, muscle and the immune system."

Latest News: Oracle sues Oregon officials in healthcare website dispute

By Shelby Sebens

PORTLAND, Ore. (Reuters) - Oracle America Inc, the software giant in charge of developing Oregon's failed health exchange website, has filed suit against five former staff and campaign advisers to the state's former governor, saying they worked behind the scenes to kill the site for political reasons, court documents showed.

The company also gave notice to state administrators on Thursday, the same day it filed suit in Multnomah County Circuit Court, that it might file similar claims against former Governor John Kitzhaber and his former chief of staff, Mike Bonetto.

Oracle and the state are already fighting in court over who is to blame for the failed $240.3 million system, and the new lawsuit by Oracle seeks about $33 million in damages it says the company lost from the fallout over the Cover Oregon programme.

The lawsuit says Kitzhaber's staffers and advisers, who did not work for Cover Oregon, "improperly influenced" the decision to shutter the site and then blamed Oracle to defuse the political consequences. 

Named in the lawsuit are Kitzhaber's former campaign manager Patricia McCaig, consultants Kevin Looper and Mark Wiener, former business policy director Scott Nelson and former spokesman Tim Raphael.

Oracle argues the website was ready to go before the state decided to switch to the federal exchange in April. 

"The work on the exchange was complete by February 2014, but going live with the website and providing a means for all Oregonians to sign up for health insurance coverage didn’t match the former-Governor's re-election strategy to 'go after' Oracle,” Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger said in a statement. 

"Political operatives Patricia McCaig, Kevin Looper, Scott Nelson, Tim Raphael, and Mark Wiener acted in the shadows and took actions to undermine the ability of Oregonians to receive health coverage; create a false narrative blaming Oracle for the state’s failures; and ultimately interfere with Oracle’s business,” she said. 

Oregon was initially enthusiastic about the federal healthcare plan, known as Obamacare. But the Oracle-built site never worked and Oregonians were forced to submit paper applications. In April, Oregon moved to an exchange run by the federal government.

Kitzhaber resigned last week amid criminal probes into an influence-peddling scandal involving allegations that his fiancée used her position in his office for personal gain.

Kitzhaber’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment. Of those named in Thursday's lawsuit, Wiener and Looper declined comment and the others could not immediately be reached.

(Reporting by Shelby Sebens; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)

Latest News: Mexico captures most wanted drug kingpin, former teacher 'La Tuta'

By Anahi Rama and Lizbeth Diaz

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico has captured the most wanted drug lord in the country, Servando "La Tuta" Gomez, police said on Friday, delivering a boost to a government battered by gang violence.

The 49-year-old former teacher was the prime target of President Enrique Peña Nieto's effort to regain control of Michoacan, a western state wracked by clashes between Gomez's Knights Templar cartel and armed vigilantes trying to oust them.

The arrest comes as Peña Nieto seeks to quell public outrage in Mexico after the late September abduction and apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers by corrupt police in league with gang members.

That incident triggered Peña Nieto's deepest crisis. Attorney General Jesus Murillo, under fire for months over his handling of that investigation, will step down, a senior government official said on Friday.

An announcement about the change would probably come later on Friday, said another official, from Murillo's office.

After months of intelligence work, federal police said they captured Gomez and some people with him early in the morning at a house in the Michoacan state capital of Morelia. No shots were fired.

A police spokesman said Gomez would be brought to Mexico City later in the day to make a declaration.

"With this detention, the rule of law in the country is strengthened, and we continue to move toward a Mexico at peace," Peña Nieto said on Twitter.

Last week, police seized many properties in the area and arrested a handful of people connected to Gomez. Local media reported that those busts had led to his arrest.

A father of at least seven, Gomez is wanted by the United States for trafficking methamphetamine and cocaine. The Justice Department said he was also involved in the 2009 murder of 12 Mexican federal police officers.

Mexican authorities had placed a bounty of 30 million pesos ($2 million) on his head.

Antonio Mazzitelli, Mexico's representative to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, said that although Gomez became less powerful after the capture of many of his lieutenants, the arrest was still welcome news.

"He was a fugitive, living in the jungle," Mazzitelli said. "But it's an important step in terms of (Peña Nieto's) credibility."

Since the Mexican government began a military crackdown in 2007 on drug cartels, more than 100,000 people have been killed in gang-related violence.

IN THE PUBLIC EYE

During the bloodshed, no kingpin sought the limelight as often as Gomez.

Whether railing against political corruption on YouTube or talking to the media from hideouts, Gomez relentlessly baited the government, accusing it of colluding with rival gangs while defending his Knights Templar as a "necessary evil."

"Our only function is to help the people, preserve our state and preserve our country from people causing terror," Gomez said in a video posted online in 2012 as he sat in front of images of Ernesto "Che" Guevara and other revolutionary icons.

Gomez said the cartel followed a strict ethical code. As time passed, though, he became more open about the criminal side of a gang that in 2013 held much of the impoverished, mountainous terrain of Michoacan in a firm grip.

During their ascendancy, the government says, the Knights Templar extorted a broad sweep of businesses, controlled politicians and diversified from drug trafficking into myriad other operations, including the export of iron ore.

Gomez became the front man of the Knights Templar after a split within drug cartel La Familia Michoacana, a pseudo-religious gang in which he was also a leading figure.

Sporting a goatee beard and often wearing a baseball cap, Gomez began smuggling marijuana independently in 2001 or 2002, before later joining La Familia, authorities said.

Gomez's arrest occurred about a year after the capture of Mexico's most notorious drug lord, Joaquin "Shorty" Guzman. He was head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most powerful drug smuggling gangs in the world.

(With reporting by Dave Graham, Elinor Comlay, Reuters Pictures and Mexico Newsroom, writing by Simon Gardner; editing by Kieran Murray and Lisa Von Ahn)

Latest News: Blood biomarkers found for chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is a disease with distinct stages that can be identified through biomarkers in the blood, researchers said Friday, offering hope that earlier diagnosis may improve treatment.

Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health said their findings represent "the first robust physical evidence" that the syndrome is "a biological illness as opposed to a psychological disorder, and the first evidence that the disease has distinct stages."

The report was published in the journal Science Advances.

With no known cause or cure, chronic fatigue syndrome -- known formally as encephalomyelitis (ME/CFS) -- has long puzzled the medical community. It can cause extreme tiredness, headaches, difficulty concentrating and muscle pain.

"We now have evidence confirming what millions of people with this disease already know, that ME/CFS isn't psychological," said lead author Mady Hornig, associate professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School.

"Our results should accelerate the process of establishing the diagnosis after individuals first fall ill as well as discovery of new treatment strategies focusing on these early blood markers."

Researchers tested levels of 51 immune biomarkers in blood plasma samples from 298 patients and 348 healthy controls.

Specific patterns appeared in patients who had the disease three years or less.

These patterns were not visible in healthy controls or patients who had the disease for more than three years.

Those who had been sick for less than three years had higher levels of immune molecules called cytokines.

"The association was unusually strong with a cytokine called interferon gamma that has been linked to the fatigue that follows many viral infections, including Epstein-Barr virus," said the study.

However, cytokine levels did not explain symptom severity, which often fluctuates. Patients may have good days and bad days.

"It appears that ME/CFS patients are flush with cytokines until around the three-year mark, at which point the immune system shows evidence of exhaustion and cytokine levels drop," said Hornig.

Researchers said the findings support the theory that the disease may strike when vulnerable patients fall ill with a common virus like Epstein-Barr, which causes mononucleosis, and they are unable to recover.

"The immune response becomes like a car stuck in high gear," the university said in a statement.

Previous research has ruled out two viruses thought to be causing ME/CFS, including xenotropic murine leukemia virus and murine retrovirus-like sequences.

"This study delivers what has eluded us for so long: unequivocal evidence of immunological dysfunction in ME/CFS and diagnostic biomarkers for disease," said senior author W. Ian Lipkin, professor of epidemiology at Columbia's Mailman School.

"The question we are trying to address in a parallel microbiome project is what triggers this dysfunction."

Latest News: Women athletes have more concussions than men, new study shows

By Steve Ginsburg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Olympic figure skating champion Sarah Hughes vividly recalls falling on her head in practice and suffering her first concussion.

"They carried me off the rink and then I threw up," the 29-year-old Hughes, the 2002 Olympic champion said, her deep blues eyes widening. "We knew something was wrong. It was really, really scary. Incredibly frightening. I was just 11."

While men's contact sports like football and ice hockey are most associated with concussions, women actually have them much more often than men, said Dr. Robert Stevens, an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who specializes in brain injury.

He also said new studies suggest the concussion symptoms in women are also more acute than those suffered by men.

"The incidence of concussions in sports is higher in women than in men, possibly two times higher," he said, adding that concussions in women tend to be "more severe" and it takes women longer to recover than men.

Stevens cautioned, however, that results may be skewed by "reporting bias." He said some researchers believe that the number of concussions in men is "vastly underreported" because they want to remain on the field, while women are generally more apt to report a concussion.

The National Football League is expected to pay out about $1 billion when a lawsuit by ex-players who suffered concussion-related brain damage is settled in court. But it's not football that is producing the most concussions.

Percentage-wise, women's soccer and basketball rank the highest in terms of concussion-inducing sports, followed by football and men's soccer, said Stevens.

The rules in certain sports, like soccer, "need to be reviewed," he said.

Two-time Olympic soccer champion Angela Hucles never suffered a concussion because, she believes, she learned from her father to go up for a header with her arms out to protect herself from banging heads with an opponent.

Hucles said headgear for soccer players has been around for years but never gained traction.

"There should be headgear out there on the market, especially for children, because it's just another way for them to protect themselves," said Hucles, a former eight-year member of the U.S. national team. "They need it."

Stevens said doctors are researching if anatomy plays a role in concussions since women have smaller heads with thinner necks that have less muscle than men.

"It's also very clear that a woman's brain is not the same as a man's brain in many, many respects, not just in terms of the way women think," he said with a chuckle. "It's different in terms of the actual anatomy."

The news is not all bad for women when it comes to brain injuries sustained while playing sports.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease of the brain often found in athletes who suffered repetitive brain trauma, is "almost exclusively" found in men, said Stevens.

Democratic Representative Bill Pascrell Jr. of New Jersey is sponsoring a bill that would, in part, establish guidelines for states to treat concussions suffered by student athletes.

Pascrell recalls a women high school athlete in New Jersey that suffered 10 concussions playing basketball and is now sidelined with concentration issues and headaches.

"This is serious business," he said. "You're talking about people's lives here. Every concussion is brain damage, whether it be little or great. We have to take this very seriously."

Pascrell said despite the high cost, perhaps the best solution is to have doctors attend all games.

"Maybe the answer is not to put your kid in sports," he said. "We're not going to be a nation of wussies. But we're not going to be stupid about it. And we have been."

(Editing by Frank Pingue)

Latest News: One billion young at risk of hearing loss from loud music: WHO

More than one billion young people risk damaging their hearing through listening to loud music, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The WHO estimates that around half of those between the ages of 12 and 35 in middle- and high-income countries are at risk due to unsafe levels of sound on personal audio devices or smartphones.

Another 40 percent are at risk from damaging audio levels at concert venues and night clubs.

"More and more young people are exposed to unsafe levels of sounds. Young people should be aware that once you lose your hearing, it won't come back," said Shelley Chadha, a WHO specialist on hearing impairment.

The UN health agency considers a volume above 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes as unsafe.

Exposure to traffic noise at peak hours can reach 85 decibels.

The vuvuzela, a popular wind instrument used in stadiums during the football World Cup in South Africa in 2010, has a sound intensity of 120 decibels and over nine seconds of exposure could result in irreversible hearing damage.

"It is something we can live without," Chadha said referring to the vuvuzela.

To counter the risks, the WHO recommends that personal audio devices should not be used for more than an hour a day, at reduced sound levels.

The use of ear plugs in loud conditions and regular check ups were part of the recommendations as well.

The WHO also wants governments to play a role by imposing strict regulations on noise in public places.

The UN agency estimates that 360 million people suffer from hearing loss worldwide. In addition to noise related causes and ageing, it is also brought on by infectious diseases, genetic conditions, complications at birth, and use of certain drugs.

Latest News: UN says limit use of personal audio players to 1 hour a day

BERLIN (AP) — The World Health Organization says millions of young people around the world are at risk of hearing loss from loud music.

The U.N. agency said Friday that a review of data from middle- and high-income countries shows almost half of all 12 to 35-year-olds listen to unsafe levels of music on their personal audio devices or cellphones.

And about 40 percent of teens and young adults are exposed to damaging levels of sound at nightclubs, bars and sporting events.

WHO says volumes above 85 decibels for eight hours or 100 decibels for 15 minutes are unsafe.

The Geneva-based agency recommends that young people take listening breaks, use apps to limit the volume on their smartphone and consider using personal audio players for no more than one hour a day.

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