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Study: Skin patch that melts love handles in mice could work on humans 

Scientific researchers have developed a medicated skin patch that dissolves fat in targeted areas of lab mice, and future testing could reveal that the patches can treat obesity and diabetes.

>> Read more trending news 

The patch uses nanotechnology to increase the body’s metabolism and transform energy-storing white fat into energy-burning brown fat, according to the report released Friday by ACS Nano, a publication of the American Chemical Society. During the four weeks of the study, conducted by Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and the University of North Carolina, the mice saw 20 percent reduction in body fat where the patch was applied.

“Many people will no doubt be excited to learn that we may be able to offer a noninvasive alternative to liposuction for reducing love handles,” said study co-author Li Qiang, assistant professor of pathology and cell biology at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

According to Science Daily, to apply the treatment, the drugs are encased in nanoparticles, which are approximately 250 nanometers (nm) in diameter -- too small to be seen by the naked eye. The nanoparticles are then packed into a centimeter-square skin patch containing dozens of microscopic needles. When applied to skin, the needles painlessly pierce the skin and gradually release the drug from nanoparticles into underlying tissue.

"The nanoparticles were designed to effectively hold the drug and then gradually collapse, releasing it into nearby tissue in a sustained way instead of spreading the drug throughout the body quickly," said Zhen Gu, PhD, patch designer, study co-leader associate professor of joint biomedical engineering at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University.

The new treatment approach was tested in obese mice by loading the nanoparticles with one of two compounds -- rosiglitazone (Avandia) or beta-adrenergic receptor agonist -- known to promote browning in mice but not in humans. Each mouse was given two patches -- one loaded with drug-containing nanoparticles and another without it -- that were placed on either side of the lower abdomen. New patches were applied every three days for a total of four weeks. Control mice were also given two empty patches.

Mice treated with either of the two drugs had a 20 percent reduction in fat on the treated side compared to the untreated side. They also had significantly lower fasting blood glucose levels than untreated mice. Even in lean mice, the treatment with either of the two drugs increased the animals' oxygen consumption (a measure of overall metabolic activity) by about 20 percent compared to untreated controls.

Genetic analyses revealed that the treated side contained more genes associated with brown fat than on the untreated side, suggesting that the observed metabolic changes and fat reduction were due to an increase in browning in the treated mice.

The patch has not been tested in humans. The researchers are currently studying which drugs, or combination of drugs, work best to promote localized browning and increase overall metabolism.

Woman gives birth in car to baby still in amniotic sac

A woman’s Instargram post showing a photo of her newborn baby still in its amniotic sac after she gave birth in a car went viral this week.

Raelin Scurry, who lives in the Pittsburgh area, said that on the morning of Aug. 5 she thought she was feeling false labor contractions 29 weeks into her pregnancy.

“After about 45 minutes of consistent contractions that were increasing in intensity I decided I should probably go in,” Scurry said in her Instagram post

She then got into the car with her boyfriend, but a few minutes into the drive Scurry knew she was not going to make it to the hospital in time. 

“The contractions continued to get closer together and more intense and before I knew it I knew it was time to push. I called 911 because I was so scared. They couldn't understand me between the screams with contractions,” she said in her post.  

Once Scurry delivered the baby, she realized her son was still wrapped up in his amniotic sac. Although dispatchers told the couple to pull over, she did not want to wait and they arrived to the hospital seven minutes later. 

(WARNING: Graphic image) READ MORE BELOW

What happened during Scurry’s delivery was a phenomenon called caul birth, which only happens 1 in every 80,000 births, usually by cesarean section, she explained in her post. 

The baby boy, named Ean Jamal Vanstory Jr. (E.J. for short), is doing well, Scurry said in updates on Instagram.

Atlanta's 'third world' HIV epidemic isn't getting any better, CDC says

Black gay men are contracting HIV in Atlanta in epidemic proportions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which stated in 2016 that one in two black men would contract the disease.

>> Read more trending news

Christian Dacus is a youth HIV policy advisor with Georgia Equality. He said personally, the spike in the number of HIV cases for gay black men in Atlanta is not surprising to him because of the stigma.

“It's been spun in such a negative way that HIV is a punishment for your sins,” Dacus said.

Dacus cited non-acceptance from religion and family, and living a life of hiding a secret as the reason why -- despite education and advocacy efforts among gay black men in Atlanta -- numbers are not declining.

“When you're hiding something, you're less prone to go out be more careful, if you will,” Dacus said.

And though condoms are freely handed out in some nightlife venues, Dacus said for those who hide that area of their life, condoms simply don’t come into play.

Even though condoms can protect from HIV, STDs and STIs, “Condoms are used to being used as a contraceptive, as a birth control. When you don't factor in a pregnancy, you don't feel the need to use a condom,” Dacus said.

Along with condoms, Dacus said with medical advances like the PREP pill taken daily, a person can prevent HIV infection. 

“It may prevent you from contracting HIV, but there are a slew of other STIs you don't want, so I think condom usage is still something to be enforced,” Dacus stated.

A May report by WSB-TV cited research that called Atlanta’s HIV frequency an epidemic and compared the city to third-world African countries.

“Downtown Atlanta is as bad as Zimbabwe or Harare or Durban,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, co-director of Emory University's Center for AIDS Research, said at the time. “We should not be having an epidemic of that proportion in a country like ours. This is not Africa, we have resources.”

>> WSB-TV INVESTIGATES: Atlanta's HIV 'epidemic' compared to third world African countries

People are urged to get screened for HIV every six months if they’re sexually active or at least once a year.

Popular in high school? You may be miserable as an adult, study says

Were you the cool kid in high school? Adolescent popularity may take a toll on your mental health later on, according to a new study

» RELATED: Study: White teachers less likely to see black students as gifted

A group of researchers from the University of Virginia recently conducted a study, which was published in Child Development, to determine how teenage relationships can affect adulthood over time. 

To do so, they examined 169 racially and socioeconomically diverse individuals over a 10-year period starting at age 15. They assessed their mental health by surveying them annually on their friendships, anxiety, social acceptance and symptoms of depression. They also checked in with participants’ close friends and peers to measure quality of popularity and friendship. 

>> Read more trending news

They defined popularity as the number of peers in the teen’s grade who ranked them as someone they'd hang out with. And high-quality friendships were defined as close friendships that had a degree of attachment and intimate exchanges.

After analyzing the results, scientists found that those who had close-knit relationships at age 15 had a better overall well-being at age 25. Those individuals reported lower social anxiety, increased self-worth and fewer symptoms of depression.

On the other hand, those who were popular in school reported higher levels of social anxiety at age 25.

»RELATED: Study: Instagram spots depression better than general

"Our study affirms that forming strong close friendships is likely one of the most critical pieces of the teenage social experience," Joseph Allen, lead researcher, said in a statement. "Being well-liked by a large group of people cannot take the place of forging deep, supportive friendships. And these experiences stay with us, over and above what happens later.” 

»RELATED: Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

While scientists noted that their study was relatively small and did not factor in an individual’s personal characteristics, they believe their findings reveal important information about the significance of fostering relationships.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

“As technology makes it increasingly easy to build a social network of superficial friends, focusing time and attention on cultivating close connections with a few individuals should be a priority,” Allen said.

Are you depressed or just sad? New Google test helps find answer

Mobile users in the U.S. searching for “depression” in Google may notice a new test option that tells them whether or not they’re really experiencing clinical depression.

>> Read more trending news

The new “check if you’re clinically depressed” feature, Google announced in a news release Wednesday, is a private clinically validated screening questionnaire called PHQ-9.

» RELATED: Woman breaks for mental health days; boss' reply goes viral

The test aims to help determine a person’s depression and his or her need for an in-person medical evaluation.

While the PHQ-9 is not meant to be a singular tool for diagnosis, it can be someone’s first step, Mary Giliberti, CEO of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, wrote in the news release.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression.

» RELATED: Study: Vegetarians twice as likely to suffer depression

And it affects more than 15 million American adults (approximately 6.7 percent of the U.S. adult population) each year.

» RELATED: Feeling depressed? Hot yoga could help

People experiencing symptoms of clinical depression usually delay treatment for 6 to 8 years after the onset of symptoms.

» RELATED: Is it safe to take ketamine for severe depression?

“We hope that by making this information available on Google, more people will become aware of depression and seek treatment to recover and improve their quality of life,” Giliberti wrote.

Users can find the feature inside the Knowledge Panel, a section that pops up at the top of Google search results and includes key facts, photos and more for any given subject.

Read the full news release from Google.

Work the night shift? You may be at higher risk for breast cancer, study says

Do you work at night? It may be healthier to work while the sun is up, because a new study has found a link between night shifts and breast cancer.

»RELATED: Hair dyes and chemical relaxers linked to breast cancer 

A group of researchers from Harvard University conducted an experiment, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives, to determine how levels of light can impact the disease. 

To do so, they examined 110,000 women and data from nighttime satellite images of each participant’s residential address. They also factored in night shift work.

>> Read more trending news

Scientists found that women exposed to the highest levels of outdoor light at night had an estimated 14 percent increased risk of breast cancer compared to those exposed to lower levels. 

They also saw a stronger link among women who work at night. 

“In our modern industrialized society, artificial lighting is nearly ubiquitous. Our results suggest that this widespread exposure to outdoor lights during nighttime hours could represent a novel risk factor for breast cancer,” lead author Peter James said in a statement.

»RELATED: Study: Daily glass of wine or beer can increase breast cancer risk 

Why is that?

Light affects melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep-wake cycles and plays a role in reducing tumor growth. However, exposure to artificial light lowers melatonin levels, preventing it from operating at its full ability. 

Researchers noted that the association between outdoor light at night and breast cancer was only prevalent among premenopausal women and current or past smokers.

They also acknowledged that more research needs to be done to clarify their results and methods. 

»RELATED: Study: Cancer partly caused by bad luck

New treatment could be the end of peanut allergy, study says

Allergic to peanuts? There could be new treatment that would eliminate that allergy for up to four years, according to recent research.

»RELATED: Giving peanut-based foods to babies early prevents allergies 

Scientists from Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in Melbourne, Australia, conducted a study, which was published in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, to determine how probiotics could keep peanut allergies at bay in the long term.

To do so, they combined a bacteria called Lactobacillus rhamnosus, which is known to calm the immune system and reduce allergic reactions, with a peanut protein in increasing amounts for a process known as peanut oral immunotherapy. The mix was designed to alter the way the immune system reacts to peanuts. 

>> Read more trending news

They then tested it on a group of children, giving some the probiotic and others a placebo once daily for 18 months. 

After analyzing the results, they found that 80 percent of those given the probiotic saw no signs of the allergy after four years, and 70 percent passed an exam that determined that their peanut tolerance was long-term. 

“It would seem that children who have benefited from the probiotic peanut therapy are able to change the way that they live and not have to really worry about peanuts anymore,” Mimi Prang, lead researcher, told the journal. “That’s what’s exciting.” 

Researchers did note, however, that their experiment was limited as it only included a small group. Therefore, more experiments should be done on larger groups. 

Scientists also want to test whether the probiotic could help with other food allergies. 

“Theoretically, it should work for any other allergen that’s also presented with this probiotic,” Prang said. "I think a really important study to do next would be to see if it works in the setting of other food allergies to induce a long-lasting tolerance.”

»RELATED: Allergic college student 'hazed' with peanut butter

Need relief from chronic pain? Marijuana may not help after all, studies say

When it comes to treating chronic pain or post-traumatic stress disorder, an increasing number of people are turning to marijuana for relief. However, those efforts may be in vain, because new research has found little evidence to support its effectiveness.

>> Read more trending news

A group of scientists from the Veterans Health Administration recently completed two meta studies, which were both published in Annals of Internal Medicine, to determine the usefulness of the drug. To do so, they reviewed data that linked the use of cannabis with chronic pain and PTSD alleviation. 

First, they reviewed 27 pain trials that examined the use of the plant as a remedy. They concluded that there was “insufficient evidence” to prove its effectiveness for symptoms related to illnesses, including cancer and multiple sclerosis. They did, however, see some improvement for those with neuropathic pain. 

“We found low-strength evidence that cannabis preparations with precisely defined THC–cannabidiol content may alleviate neuropathic pain, but insufficient evidence in populations with other types of pain. Most studies are small, many have methodological flaws, and the long-term effects are unclear given the brief follow-up of most studies,” the report said. 

In fact, they had sufficient evidence linking marijuana use with an increased risk of car accidents, psychotic symptoms and short-term cognitive impairment. 

The researchers next took a look at five studies and reviews that assessed cannabis use for treating PTSD. They found that the evidence here was also lacking. One portion of a study even showed that symptoms worsened for veterans who used the drug during the assessment. 

»RELATED: Veteran allowed to keep ducks that help with PTSD

“Overall, we found insufficient evidence regarding the benefits and harms of plant-based cannabis preparations for patients with PTSD. The body of literature currently available is limited by small sample sizes, lack of adjustment for important potential confounders, cross-sectional study designs, and a paucity of studies with non–cannabis-using control groups,” the study said. 

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington D.C., and up to 80 percent of people who request it say they use it for pain management. However, the latest research suggests there isn’t enough proof that it works. 

“The current studies highlight the real and urgent need for high-quality clinical trials in both of these areas,” Dr. Sachin Patel, a psychiatry researcher at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Reuters

“If cannabis is being considered for medical use,” she continued, "it should certainly be after all well-established treatments have failed.” 

»RELATED: Here’s what happens to your body when you don’t get enough sleep 

Report: Aetna in talks with Apple to provide Apple watches to millions of customers

A partnership between Apple and Aetna could bring Apple watches to the insurance company’s more than 20 million customers, according to a report. 

>> Read more trending news 

The two companies held private meetings Thursday and Friday in southern California to discuss options for such a move, CNBC reported, citing unnamed sources.Aetna already offers an Apple Watch to its 50,000 employees as part of its corporate wellness program and to individuals with Aetna plans under “select large employers.”

According to CNBC, Aetna is negotiating with Apple to try to provide a plan in which its 23 million members could receive an Apple watch for free or at a discounted price.

The perk would benefit both Aetna, which has increased efforts to get its members more health-conscious, and Apple, which has begun to promote health and fitness-tracking as a primary use for the Apple watch.

Apple, which reportedly surpassed Fitbit as the top-selling wearable fitness tracker, may have plans to develop its watch to better cater to wearers with chronic diseases, making the gadget even more desirable and multifunctioning, CNBC reported.

An unnamed source told CNBC that Aetna is pushing to have the plan developed by early next year.

Read more at CNBC.

Suicide rate for teen girls hits 40-year record high -- is social media to blame?

According to new data released Thursday by Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among 15- to 19-year-old girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, reaching a 40-year high.

» RELATED: Michelle Carter guilty of involuntary manslaughter in boyfriend's suicide, accused of convincing him to commit suicide via text messages 

That means for every 100,000 American girls in 2015, 5 died by suicide.

Additionally, the suicide rate among teen boys in the same age group and year range rose by more than 30 percent.

>> Read more trending news

The analysis mirrors a rising national trend in suicide rates across all age groups, CDC suicide expert Thomas Simon told CNN.

» RELATED: Read the full CDC report

So, what’s going on?

Experts such as Simon and Carl Tishler, adjunct associate professor of psychology and psychiatry at the Ohio State University, said there are a lot of possible factors.

» RELATED: How to keep your kids safe on social media 

Some factors include substance abuse, relationship conflicts, lack of emotional support, the stigma associated with mental health, exposure to violence and economic instability.

Tishler specifically cited the rise of the opioid epidemic as a possible factor.

“Some of the opiate or heroin overdoses in adolescents may be interpreted by emergency departments as suicides. There may be more internet suicides,” Tishler told CNN.

» RELATED: The more social media you use, the lonelier you feel, study says

What about social media?

While some public health studies have shown negative effects of social media on young people’s mental health and well-being, Simon said social media isn’t always negative.

“Social media can help increase connections between people, and it's an opportunity to correct myths about suicide and to allow people to access prevention resources and materials,” he told CNN.

» RELATED: This social media platform is the worst for cyberbullying 

Still, he acknowledges that cyberbullying can greatly impact vulnerable youth.

Additionally, cyberbullying in social media may negatively influence teenage girls more than boys, according to Emory University School of Medicine professor Dorian Lamis.

» RELATED: Should kids be watching new Netflix series on teen suicide? 

“Some research has suggested that the timing of puberty in girls is a contributing factor for the increased suicide rate,” Lamis told CNN.

Lamis said the hormonal, mental and physical changes associated with puberty may leave teen girls “vulnerable to depression, anxiety and other psychiatric disorders earlier on in life.”

“The message for parents, teachers, coaches and religious leaders is to not be afraid to talk to a young person when they are concerned,” Simon said.

Read more from CNN.

If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, or if you are concerned for someone else, here are some helpful resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24 hours)

Call 1-800-273-8255

Online chat

Suicide prevention resources for parents, guardians and families

Suicide prevention resources for teens

Suicide prevention resources for survivors of suicide loss

More resources and programs at the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

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