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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Do you need to eat breakfast every single day?

For decades, the conventional wisdom has been that eating breakfast kick starts one's metabolism.

A new op-ed in The New York Times turns that idea on its head. The author, Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, writes, “Our belief in the power of breakfast is based on misinterpreted research and biased studies.”

In the column titled, “Sorry, There’s Nothing Magical About Breakfast,” Carroll writes that breakfast has “no mystical powers” and should simply be eaten if a person is hungry after waking up.

ABC News Chief Women’s Health Correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton said Tuesday on Good Morning America that Carroll is correct that breakfast is not a one-size-fits-all meal.

“This concept that your body needs to eat as soon as you’re vertical because it’s in a fast, that is a complete myth,” said Ashton, who recently earned a master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University.

“From a medical and nutritional standpoint, we have to understand, the body doesn’t really enter a fasting mode until you’ve been without food for like 36 or more hours,” Ashton said. “Your liver is always supplying glucose into your bloodstream so this is an individual preference.”

Ashton said the studies that have linked breakfast to weight and good health were based on association and not causation -- two different measures in scientific study.

Ashton said her personal preference is to eat in the morning. She usually goes for eggs on Wasa toast, Greek yogurt with Chia seeds or a homemade smoothie.

She has similar advice for her patients.

“I say, ‘Look, if you’re going to make bad choices because you’re ravenous and you don’t eat breakfast, then you should eat breakfast, but it should be smart. It should be simple. It should be sustainable,’” Ashton said.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


TongRo Images/ThinkstockBy DR. JENNIFER ASHTON, ABC News Senior Medical Contributor

If you can't function without your morning coffee, you might be doing more than perking up your energy.

A new study reveals drinking coffee -- even decaf -- can greatly cut your risk of colorectal cancer.

According to researchers at the University of Southern California, a study of more than 5,000 people proved that drinking coffee boosted the chances of not being diagnosed with a deadly disease -- and the more coffee consumed, the lower the risk.

I've been convinced of the overall health benefits of coffee for years. But it's worth noting that this latest study was based on observation, not cause and effect, so we still need to figure out why and how coffee seems to be good for our health.

On another note: If you're pregnant, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no more than 200mg of caffeine a day.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- More Americans seem to be kicking the habit.

A new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the rate of Americans smoking has dropped to 15 percent, falling two percentage points from 2014 in a large national survey.

It's the largest drop-off in more than 20 years. Typically, the rate falls by about 1 percent a year.

The decrease seems to coincide with increased public awareness of the health risks of smoking. About 50 years ago, 42 percent of American adults smoked.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Every pet owner should know this list: azaleas, tulips, chocolates, onions and grapes. Any of these items can make your pet sick. But there’s another dangerous item that most pet owners don’t know about -- and in South Carolina, it’s the top call to Animal Poison Control.

It’s the Sago Palm -- an everyday plant that grows in homes across America. Even taking one small bite of the plant is enough to kill a pet, according to veterinarians.

“Many pet owners don’t know that these can actually be toxic to their dogs and cats,” Dr. Tina Wismer, medical director of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Animal Poison Control Center, told ABC News. “One or two seeds is enough to kill a dog, or even a child.”

A longtime fixture in backyards in the southern U.S., the plant's popularity has spread over the last decade.

“Now you can actually go to your local store or nursery and buy Sago Palms as little potted house plants,” Wismer said. “Many pet owners don't know that these can actually be toxic to their dogs and cats.”

Tiffany and Taylor Smith, of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, say they lost a piece of their heart when their 4-year-old bulldog, Walter, died just two days before Christmas Day in 2014.

“We never knew what happened to Walter,” Taylor Smith said. “The doctor gave us all kinds of different answers. None of them ever made sense.”

But it all made sense when history repeated itself with their new puppy, Wilbur, who suffered seizures just hours after they saw him chewing on a Sago Palm plant.

Taylor Smith said he immediately did a Google search for the plant.

“And the first thing I saw was, poison control and emergency vet,” Smith said.

The Smiths took their dog to the emergency room, where they were given frightening news.

“The veterinarian came in and he said 'he has a 50-50 chance,'" Tiffany Smith said. “He was already in stage-three liver failure.”

This time, their dog survived. But the Smiths said it was one of the most difficult things they’ve ever dealt with.

“It’s like losing a family member or a child,” Taylor Smith said.

Over the last 10 years, more than 1,400 dogs have been poisoned by Sago Palms, according to the ASPCA. Thirty-four of the dogs died.

“The fronds and the bark and the roots, all of it is toxic,” Wismer said.

People are getting sick, too. ABC's GMA Investigates has learned of at least 130 cases of Sago Palm poisoning in humans in the U.S. since 2009. In Florida, more than a quarter of the cases involved children under 5 years old.

But surprisingly, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says it does not have a regulation requiring warning labels on house plants.

In a statement to ABC News, the CPSC wrote: “Data provided to CPSC from hospitals across the country and from the National Clearinghouse for Poison Control Centers indicate that ingestion of household plants by children is infrequent.”

ABC News also found that no federal agency is responsible for warning pet owners about this plant either. That means it’s at each store’s discretion to let you know.

GMA Investigates wanted to find out how often Sago Palms were sold without warning labels, so we sent producers to 11 stores across the country on the hunt for those labels.

At one Walmart and one Home Depot, we found warnings on every plant.

But at the five Lowe's stores we visited, we found varied results from store to store. In one New Jersey store, there were no warning labels on any of the Sago Palms we found, but there were warning labels on each such plant we found at a California location of the chain. And at one location in Texas, we found only some Sago Palms for sale had warning labels.

ABC News producers also visited four independent gardening stores, none of which had warning labels on any Sago Palms. We asked a store clerk about it, and she told our producer that the Sago Palm would be harmful to animals if ingested. But when we asked whether the store cautions people if they’re buying the plant, the store clerk replied: “Only if they ask that question.”

That store did not respond to our repeated requests for comment.

According to a statement provided to ABC News, Lowe’s decided last year to start labeling all Sago Palms.

“It’s our intention that every Sago Palm available at Lowe’s be labeled with this information. It’s come to our attention that the tags may be removed or come off before they are purchased, so we are looking into ways the tags can be more consistently affixed,” the store wrote.

ASPCA officials say ultimately, buyers need to beware.

“We have to be able to protect ourselves and our pets by knowing what we're bringing into the house,” Wismer said.

Taylor Smith offered the following advice to Sago Palm owners.

“Remove the plants. Take them out of your yard, out of your house," he said. "They are not worth it."

If you think your pet ingested this plant, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 1-888-426-4435. This call may incur a charge. People who may have ingested the plant should contact the American Association of Poison Control Centers 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222 for a free consultation.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Parents should beware that predators may be using online gaming to target their children.

“I honestly didn’t think anything like that would ever happen to anybody in my family,” one mother, who requested we not use her real name, told ABC News.

This woman, whom Good Morning America is referring to as Susan, says a stranger approached her son while he was playing “Clash of Clans” online with a group of friends.

Her son, whom Good Morning America is referring to as Simon, was 8 years old at the time, and within a matter of minutes, gave his phone number, last name, and even sent the stranger a picture of himself.

Meanwhile, his mother was at the grocery store and was able to watch this conversation live because her smartphone is synced with the device her son was using at home.

“My son sends a picture, just a goofy little boy picture of his face, and the other person sends a picture of a teenage girl, but it’s a picture of a picture, not a selfie,” she explained of the interaction. “And now I’m starting to realize, OK, this is not good. I think, ‘I have to get him off this game.’ I’m calling my husband at home, just saying, ‘Get the iPad away from him. He’s on with a stranger.’”

And they’re not the only ones. It happened to 10-year-old Olivia, who was playing the popular game “Minecraft.” A person calling himself “Ben” told Olivia he was 12 years old and they texted for weeks.

“He sent me a photo, and it really kind of looked like he was 12,” Olivia explained.

Olivia’s mom, Jessica Stribley, was suspicious that something just wasn’t right, so she took her daughter’s phone one night.

“I said, ‘My mom’s asleep. Send me a picture,’” Stribley recalled. “He said, ‘Well, if I take a picture of every inch of my body, will you do the same?’ And I said, ‘Yes, but I’m running out of time.’ He sent three within 30 seconds.”

According to the FBI’s website, there are 750,000 predators online at any given time and they all could have a virtual key to your house via the Internet.

“A lot of the online games have multiplayer features where you are connected to people all over the world, whether that’s live chat over a microphone or live chat on a keyboard. You can be connected to almost anybody,” child advocate Callahan Walsh of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children said.

“Simon,” who is now 10, says his alarming interaction has changed his gaming experience and how he uses the Internet.

“It just makes me more careful when I’m playing games that can have other people join,” he said. “I always make a code name, like, not a last name or anything that they could find out.”

His mother is grateful for the early warning.

“Whenever I get tired and think, ‘Oh, I can’t figure out another new game or another new way that you’re on,’ I just remind myself we were given a little blessing in a situation that keeps us vigilant,” she said.

The maker of “Clash of Clans,” Supercell, pointed ABC News to the parental guide on its site with tips for families to make sure kids play safely.

Microsoft, which owns “Minecraft,” said in a statement, “Helping keep kids safer online has always been a priority for us at Microsoft. We encourage parents to also play an active role in their children’s online activities.”

ABC News also learned from the Entertainment Software Association that all games come with instructional information from an independent board about how to manage or prevent online game chatting.

Ericka Souter, editor of Mom.me, outlined her top three rules that parents should use with their kids to police these dangers.

Keep personal information private. No last names, locations, school information, phone numbers or photos.

Online friends should be real friends. Only interact with the people that you know in real life. Anyone can lie about who they are online, making virtual conversations with strangers is dangerous.

Never visit random chat rooms. Refuse to engage strangers in online conversations.

Souter also outlined how parents themselves can help prevent such dangerous online interactions.

  • Turn off the location services.
  • No in-app purchases allowed. Do not give your children your passcode.
  • No posting content without consent. They are not allowed to post anything without your knowing it.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.





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