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iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Whether early in the morning or late at night, drivers will often have a cup of coffee or another caffeinated beverage to beat fatigue before driving while another way motorists fight sleepiness is blasting music in the car.

Ergonomics researchers ShiXu Liu, Shengji Yao and Allan Spence set out to learn if these methods really make a difference in the alertness of drivers by designing a simulated driving test.

In the study, 20 people underwent three two-hour driving sessions in which some participants used caffeine, others played music while a third group did neither.

After the sessions, they all scored their fatigue levels and it became obvious that those who used neither caffeine nor music were significantly more tired.

However, the two methods to fight fatigue were not equal. Liu says that the caffeine drinkers performed their tasks much better, resulting in more superior driving performance.

Part of the problem with music, Liu explained, is that it can distract drivers.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


iStock/Thinkstock(CORVALLIS, Ore.) -- Can it be that drinking beer makes you smarter?

Before you get too worked up, Oregon State University researchers say that it’s actually a compound in hops, one of the basic ingredients in beer brewing that has been shown to improve memory in young mice.

In the experiment, both young and old mice were fed the flavonoid xanthohumol that is found in hops for eight weeks. Afterwards, the OSU researchers noted that the young mice demonstrated improvements in spatial memory and cognitive flexibility but not so in the older ones.

So does the experiment give young drinkers license to down their favorite suds as a way of enhancing memory and thought patterns?

Unfortunately, no. The researchers estimate that humans would have to drink as many as 2,000 liters of beer to get the equivalent dosage of the flavonoid the mice received.

What scientists hope to do one day is isolate xanthohumol so that people with cognitive difficulties can be treated.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


luiscar/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers are looking into a new drug that could help patients with hard-to-control bad cholesterol levels.

According to a study published in the Lancet medical journal, researchers say Evolocumab, an injectable drug, could help decrease LDL cholesterol. Many people with difficult-to-manage "bad" cholesterol levels are at higher risk of stroke and heart attack -- making the management of their condition extremely important.

In 380 patients studied, LDL cholesterol was lowered by an average of 30 to 60 percent with minimal side effects. The drug would need to be injected monthly for the rest of a patient's life, making it less likely to be a first course of action.

It is not yet clear how beneficial the drug will be for heart health, as researchers measured cholesterol levels but did not show a direct benefit for prevention of illness or death. Injectable drugs also often bear the risk of infection or intolerance when given over a long period of time.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Creatas/Thinkstock(DALLAS) --  The patient who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States has been identified as a former chauffeur from Liberia who prayed with family members by phone on Wednesday.

The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, is being treated at an isolation unit at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.

Duncan, who is in his mid-30s, spoke on the phone with family members who live near Charlotte, N.C.

“We talked today (with Duncan) and we prayed together with his mother and sister here,” said Joe Weeks, who lives with Duncan's sister Mai.

Weeks said that the family is concerned that Duncan was admitted to the hospital and put in isolation on Sunday, but hasn't received the experimental Ebola drugs.

“I don’t understand why he is not getting the Zmapp,” Weeks said.

The manufacturer of the drug has said they have run out of the experimental medicine.

Duncan's former boss in Monrovia, Liberia, said the patient had been his driver for the last year or two until he abruptly left his job in early September.

"I really don’t know" why he left, Henry Brunson, general manager of Safeway Cargo, told ABC News. "He didn’t resign. He just left the office. He just walked away.”

Brunson didn't know where Duncan went until he saw him on the news as the Ebola patient in Dallas, Texas.


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Pawel Gaul/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MONROVIA, Liberia) -- The World Health Organization provided a new update on Wednesday, confirming that the number of deaths in the West Africa Ebola outbreak is at 3,338, with nearly 4,000 more sickened.

The disease has spread to five countries -- Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone -- infecting 7,178 people. The report also notes that 39 percent of the total number of cases confirmed, probable or suspected in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the three most heavily impacted nations, have been identified within the last three weeks. That figure echoes foreboding predictions from numerous experts that if action isn't taken, the disease will only continue to spread.

The WHO warns that while the U.S. and other nations have sent health care workers and other forms of support, "there are few signs yet that the...epidemic in West Africa is being brought under control." The agency notes that "transmission remains persistent and widespread in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with strong evidence of increasing case incidence in several districts."


Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio





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