Good As New

These words dropped into my childish mind as if you should accidentally drop a ring into a deep well. I did not think of them much at the time, but there came a day in my life when the ring was fished up out of the well, good as new

Sharing everything life has to throw at them: Extraordinary story of conjoined twins charted in new reality show . . . just don't ask about boyfriends - They were never expected to survive beyond a few days

Sharing everything life has to throw at them: Extraordinary story of conjoined twins charted in new reality show . . . just don't ask about boyfriends - They were never expected to survive beyond a few days.

But conjoined twins Abigail and Brittany Hensel have not only proved doctors wrong, they have astonished them with their development into darling children, typical teenagers and, lately, beautiful young adults.

Now the 22-year-olds, who share one body fused at the torso, will be starring in their own reality TV show chronicling their graduation from Bethel University in Minnesota, their post-grad job search and their travels through Europe with friends.

Extraordinary bond: Conjoined twins Abigail and Brittany Hensel have been given their own reality TV show charting their graduation and travels through Europe

Astonishing development: The 22-year-olds, who share one body, have amazed doctors who thought they wouldn't survive the night as newborns

The girls first captivated the world in 1996 when they appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show and the cover of Life Magazine.

Since then they have lived a quiet, normal life with their family in Minnesota, keeping away from the media spotlight until they agreed to appear on a documentary for TLC when they turned 16.

The broadcaster has now given them their own show called 'Abby and Brittany' which will premiere on August 28.

When the Hensel twins were born on March 7, 1990, in Minnesota in the United States, doctors warned their parents Patty, a registered nurse, and Mike, a carpenter and landscaper, that they were unlikely to survive the night.

But that prediction was to prove wildy wrong.

Feat of teamwork: The girls passed their driving test on their 16th birthday, with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel

Remarkable: The girls have two spines, two hearts, two oesophagi, two stomachs, three kidneys, two gall bladders, four lungs, one liver, one ribcage, a shared circulatory system and partially shared nervous systems

When growing up, they, like many twins, had very different personalities and tastes.

Abigail, the feisty, stubborn one, liked orange juice for breakfast, while Brittany, the joker of the family, would only touch milk.

They also stunned doctors with their astonishing co-ordination while playing the piano, with Abigail taking the right-hand parts and Brittany the left.

They enjoyed sports such as bowling, volleyball, cycling, softball and swimming.

And on their 16th birthday they passed their driving test, a mind-boggling feat of teamwork with each twin using one arm to control the steering wheel.

Speaking at the time, their mother Patty, a registered nurse, conceded that could have been a problem.

'I don't know what would happen if they got pulled over for speeding. Would they each get a ticket or just Abby because it's her foot on the accelerator?'

Much-loved: The girls attended a private church school and are popular with their friends, who treat them no differently from anyone else

One in a trillion: The Hensels are believed to be one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy

The Daily Mail first introduced the Hensel twins 16 years ago, when they were six years old, and now their latest escapades show the dramatic progress they have made into early adulthood.

The Hensels are believed to be one of only a few sets of dicephalus twins in history to survive infancy, and when they turned 16, they allowed the cameras into their fiercely guarded private world to share this milestone in their lives.

Speaking back then, Brittany said: 'Believe me, we are totally different people.'

It has not been unknown, however, for the twins to go out in a specially made top with two different necklines - to reflect their unique tastes - and leggings with each leg a contrasting colour and a different shoe on each foot.

Just one set of twins in every 40,000 is born connected in some way to each other and only 1 per cent of those survive beyond the first year.

Unique parenting skills: Their mother Patty has encouraged the girls to develop their own individuality and to ensure that if one of the twins misbehaves, she is careful to only scold the one responsible

In unison: The twins display an astonishing sense of co-ordination, with each using one arm to perform tasks, including playing the piano and sport


The Hensel girls are the rarest form of conjoined twins, the result of a single fertilised egg which failed to separate properly in the womb.
They have two spines (which join at the pelvis), two hearts, two oesophagi, two stomachs, three kidneys, two gall bladders, four lungs (two of which are joined), one liver, one ribcage, a shared circulatory system and partially shared nervous systems.

From the waist down, all organs, including the intestine, bladder and reproductive organs, are shared.

While they were born with three arms, one was removed surgically.

Although Brittany - the left twin - can't feel anything on the right side of the body and Abigail - the right twin - can't feel anything on her left, instinctively their limbs move as if co-ordinated by one person, even when typing e-mails on the computer.

It is rare for twins conjoined the way that Abby and Brittany are to survive into adulthood, but despite this they are in good health, without heart defects or organ failure.
Yet Patty, 46 and Mike, 47, never once considered having the twins separated, through fear that one or both might die or be left with such severe disabilities their quality of life would be compromised and could no longer enjoy all the activities they love.

They would each have just one arm and one leg and be confined to a wheelchair.

Patty had no idea she was carrying twins until the birth at the local hospital where she worked

'The paediatrician said my babies were together but they had two heads,' she recalled in 2006. 'It was blunt, but completely accurate.

'From the first time we saw them, we thought they were beautiful.

'I kissed Abigail and then Brittany and gave them a hug. It's like that every time I pick them up from school, two kisses and one hug for the most beautiful children in the world.'

Both Mike and Patty's families have lived in a small midwestern farming community of 300 people for generations and it is here where they have brought up the twins and younger brother Dakota, 20, and sister Morgan, 18, away from the media spotlight.

Although Brittany is more susceptible to colds and has twice suffered pneumonia, the twins have remained in good health despite a series of operations.

In infancy, a third undeveloped arm was removed from their chest and aged 12 they underwent surgery to correct scoliosis - curvature of the spine - and expand their chest cavity to prevent future breathing difficulties.

They attended a private church school and are popular with their friends, who treat them no differently from anyone else. Only when the family ventures outside this close-knit community does the curiosity of strangers have the potential to wound.

Once Patty heard a child at a swimming pool ask his mother if she had seen the little girl with two heads. 'We have talked about that with Abigail and Brittany,' she said.

'When children ask the girls if they have two heads, they say they don't but that each has their own head. That's what we have encouraged them to do, to develop their own individuality as much as possible.'

Give and take: What is perhaps most touching about Abigail and Brittany has been their ability to get on, despite their different personalities

That has meant buying two seats every time they go to the cinema - even though only one will be used - separate meals and two different birthday cakes with candles each year. If one of the twins misbehaves, Patty and Mike are careful to scold the individual responsible - even if the other has been dragged unavoidably into the misdeed.

Yet, while the twins have developed their own tastes in food, drink, clothes and separate personalities, their body works as one - although they have different urges to eat and sleep.

When they eat, they have separate plates. One of them holds the fork and the other the knife to cut the food, and then take turns to put the meal in each other's mouth.

What is perhaps most touching about Abigail and Brittany, however, is their ability to get on - despite their different personalities. They seldom argue, despite Abigail always wanting to be the leader and - according to their mother - liking 'to rule the whole house'.
Only once have the twins talked about separation, in childhood, when Abigail became bored and restless after Brittany fell ill with pneumonia and was confined to bed. But when Brittany began to cry Abigail reassured her that everything was fine and that they'd never be parted
One twin will scratch an itch the other cannot reach or hold her hand still so the other can count during a maths lesson and when Brittany was ill with pneumonia and couldn't keep the medicine down, Abigail volunteered to take it in the hope of making her twin better.

Only once have the twins talked about separation - in childhood - when Abigail became bored and restless after Brittany fell ill with pneumonia and was confined to bed.

She started to suggest being separated from her sister, but when Brittany began to cry Abigail reassured her that everything was fine and that they'd never be parted.

Despite their optimism, devotion to each other and apparent happiness, what of the inevitable challenges they will face in life? It is not clear if either has yet, but will they fall in love and with whom?

Three years ago, unconfirmed reports claimed Brittany was engaged, but no details were given about the fiance.

What if one of the twins detests the boy the other one likes? Will they have children - a choice they must both make in tandem because they share one reproductive system?

There is no medical reason why they shouldn't be able to have children and they have in the past said they would like to start a family.

Their father Mike certainly believes the girls will at the very least get married one day. ( )

READ MORE - Sharing everything life has to throw at them: Extraordinary story of conjoined twins charted in new reality show . . . just don't ask about boyfriends - They were never expected to survive beyond a few days

Drunk Fruit Flies! Lots of Animals Self-Medicate

Drunk Fruit Flies! Lots of Animals Self-Medicate - The use of medicine can no longer be considered a solely human trait, if it ever was. An ever-growing list of animals use various chemicals to self-medicate and to treat peers and offspring, usually to fight off and prevent infection.

And this list runs the gamut, with the usual suspects — primates chewing on medicinal herbs — as well as some more surprising drug-takers, such as fruit flies, ants and butterflies, a new study finds.
A female monarch butterfly laying eggs on tropical milkweed.

Previously, scientists thought such behavior was unique to primates and more intelligent animals, where self-medication could be learned and passed on from parents to offspring. But according to the study scientists, who examined recent research in the field, animals from insects to chimpanzees may self-medicate as an innate response to parasites and perhaps for other reasons as well.

"Self-medication in animals is really common, more common than previously thought," said study author Jaap de Roode, a researcher at Emory University in Atlanta.

Drunk fruit flies

Medication can be taken either in response to an active infection or to prevent future parasitic attacks of an animal or its offspring, according to the paper, published online today (April 11) in the journal Science.

Fruit flies, for example, will lay their eggs in more alcoholic fruit (produced by natural fermentation) when parasitic wasps are hanging around, said Todd Schlenke, an Emory researcher who wasn't involved in the review paper. "In the flies, increased blood-alcohol content causes the wasp maggot parasites living in their blood to die in a particularly gruesome way, by having their internal organs evert outside their bodies through their anuses," Schlenke told LiveScience.

Whereas the alcohol can have negative effects on the developing flies, it also makes infection less likely. When parasitic wasps are scarce, the flies prefer to lay their eggs in less fermented fruit. Infected larvae can also preferentially seek out areas of a fruit with more alcohol, Schlenke said.

"We think there is a cost-benefit analysis going on here — if you don't need it, don't use it," de Roode said. "If it's very likely you'll be infected, you may use it regardless. If your risk is much lower, it's easier to see how you'd use it only when infected."

Ants have also been found to "medicate" their colonies against infection, bringing back chemicals with antifungal properties. And monarch butterflies fight parasites by laying their eggs in toxic milkweed plants.

Helping humans

Animal medicine can be useful to humans in a variety of ways. For instance, bees collect plant resins with antifungal and antimicrobial properties and bring it back to their hives to help them fight infection. Beekeepers have selected against this trait since resin is sticky and hard to work with; this has likely made bees more prone to infection, de Roode said.

These medicines could also possibly be used to fight infection in humans or other animals. One chemical in bee resin has been shown to have inhibitory effects against HIV-1, de Roode said. Another plant eaten as a medicine by primates is now being used as an antiemetic (to treat nausea and vomiting) in African livestock, said Juan Villalba, a researcher at Utah State University who wasn't involved in the study.

Villalba's work has shown that animals can benefit when artificial medicines are made available to them, to eat when necessary. A polymer called polyethylene glycol helps sheep handle a diet high in tannins, and lambs can learn to eat this medicine from observing their parents doing it, Villalba said.

This paper "will bring more attention to the idea that medication is an important and common kind of immune response that organisms use in nature," Schlenke said. ( )

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Statins tied to lowered liver cancer risk with hepatitis C

Statins tied to lowered liver cancer risk with hepatitis C - People infected with chronic hepatitis C are less likely to develop liver cancer if they are taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, new research from Taiwan suggests.

The report doesn't prove statins ward off cancer, and one researcher not involved in the study says it's not reason enough to recommend using the popular medications solely for liver cancer prevention.

Previous studies have come to ambiguous and conflicting conclusions on the question of statins' cancer-preventing abilities, researchers noted.

"Observational studies do suggest a significant, modest reduction in the risk of (liver cancer) among patients with chronic liver disease who take statins," said Dr. Hashem El-Serag, a liver disease researcher from the Baylor College of Medicine and Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center in Houston.

Those trials, which follow different groups of patients to see who develops cancer over time, can't prove cause-and-effect.

"The downside to the observational studies, including this study, is because they are non-randomized, the decision to give statins to a patient with hepatitis C may or not may depend on factors that have a lot to do with severity of liver disease," El-Serag told Reuters Health.

For their study, Dr. Pau-Chung Chen from the National Taiwan University College of Public Health in Taipei and his colleagues used nationwide data to track about 261,000 people with hepatitis C from 1999 through 2010.

During that span, about 13 percent of them filled a prescription for statins.

A total of 28,000 people were diagnosed with liver cancer by 2011 - or about one percent of those with hepatitis C each year. After the researchers accounted for patients' age, gender and other diseases, they found those who took statins were about half as likely to get cancer as non-statin users.

Higher doses of statins, as well as longer-term use, were linked to a further drop in cancer risk, according to the findings published this week in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The researchers said statins may prevent the hepatitis C virus from replicating or slow the growth of malignant cells. But they can't prove the drugs stopped people from getting cancer.
One limitation, they noted, is that they weren't able to measure other health and lifestyle factors that influence people's risk of liver cancer, including their weight and whether they smoked or drank heavily.

Chen said a large study in which people with hepatitis C are assigned to take statins or not, known as a randomized clinical trial, is needed to clarify the drugs' effects in those patients.
In the United States, about 3.2 million people are chronically infected with hepatitis C, which is spread through blood. Having hepatitis C increases a person's chance of liver cancer up to 20-fold, Chen's team wrote.

The National Cancer Institute estimates 30,640 Americans will be diagnosed with liver cancer in 2013 and 21,670 will die of the disease.

The researchers did not find a link between statins and any serious complications.

"We feel more confident that statins do not cause harm in patients with liver disease," Chen told Reuters Health in an email.

Until recently, El-Serag said, many doctors feared prescribing statins to people with liver disease, believing they might cause liver-related complications. He agreed that the new study should allay those concerns.

"Do not avoid statins because of underlying liver disease, because you may help the statin-related indication, such as cholesterol and heart disease, but you may still get additional benefit for reducing the risk of liver cancer," he advised.

Still, El-Serag said, "I would stop shy of recommending it just to (prevent) liver cancer." ( Reuters Health )

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Statins often prescribed without good evidence

Statins often prescribed without good evidence - Many doctors prescribe statins to people who have little chance of benefiting from the cholesterol-lowering drugs, a new study suggests.

In a survey of 202 primary care doctors and cardiologists, more than 70 percent said they would prescribe a statin to patients who have a very low chance of developing heart disease during the next decade, based on their cholesterol and blood pressure levels and other risk factors.

"With patients who don't have heart disease, talking to their doctor about the risks and benefits of (statins) as well as alternative treatments and ways to change lifestyle is going to be important," said Dr. Michael Johansen, who led the new study at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

He and his colleagues sent anonymous surveys to 750 randomly-selected doctors across the country who treat people with high cholesterol. Those surveys included six clinical vignettes describing hypothetical patients of different ages - from 40 to 75 - and genders.

None of those made-up patients had heart disease. They varied in their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and whether they had high blood pressure or diabetes or smoked.

Of the less than one-third of doctors who responded to the survey, the proportion who said they would prescribe a statin to each hypothetical patient varied from 40 percent to 94 percent.


Among the three people who were deemed to have a very low risk of heart disease - for example, a 40-year-old man with high cholesterol and well-controlled hypertension - doctors said they would prescribe statins 73 to 89 percent of the time.

"We have to consider that the downside in the minds of the physicians is usually fairly low," said Dr. Franz Messerli, who runs the hypertension program at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

"Many physicians are trigger happy, and do just prescribe a statin, which obviously is not necessarily correct," Messerli, who was not involved in the new research, told Reuters Health.
The one patient for whom less than half of doctors said they would prescribe a statin - a 55-year-old woman with diabetes and low LDL - would likely benefit from the drugs due to her diabetes alone, the researchers wrote Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine.

About one-quarter of adults age 45 and older in the U.S. take statins. The drugs run anywhere from $11 to more than $200 per month. Possible side effects include muscle pain, nausea and gas and liver dysfunction.

Johansen and his colleagues say their findings suggest doctors aren't doing a good enough job of considering a patient's heart risks when deciding whether to prescribe a statin.

Although the survey didn't ask participants why they would make a particular treatment decision, Johansen told Reuters Health doctors may get caught up focusing on a patient's LDL levels.

"It seems like people could be treating more of a number than a patient's risk," he said.

Messerli also pointed to the heavy direct-to-consumer advertising around statins and how some of those ads are quite misleading about the medications' benefits.

"Physicians are under pressure from their patients," he said.

Some people who don't really need a statin may want one they saw on television. Others with diabetes and low cholesterol may not see the point of a statin or may want to avoid taking another drug, Messerli added.

"The whole issue is not a simple one," he said. (Reuters Health)

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Dietary Fat: the Good, the Bad and the Ugly - There was a time, not long ago, when all dietary fat was bad for our health. It was not truly bad, of course, but we talked ourselves into believing it was. How we responded behaviorally to that belief never made any sense, but that's a topic for other columns, past and future. For now, it suffices to note that we labeled all fat bad, and we were wrong.

One would think, and certainly hope, that having engendered years of public policy and massive shifts in the food supply and prevailing behavior with a misguided boondoggle, we would be extremely cautious about doing it again. But not so! Repeating the follies of dietary history has become something of an honored vocation, if not a national pastime.

Even in the aftermath of having been wrong about dietary fat in general, competing views about specific members of that large and diverse nutrient class are asserted with undiminished conviction.

The case has been made by one research group, for example, that dietary cholesterol (and therefore eggs) is as harmful as tobacco. This would be astounding, if true, because tobacco has long been recognized as an even more important cause of disease and premature death than poor diet. So, in other words, if this assertion about cholesterol were true, it would leave almost no room for any other aspect of diet to account for any harm, because all dietary harm would be accounted for already. Figuring this out is not rocket science.

The assertion about cholesterol is almost certainly wrong for this reason alone. But there are others. The study was led by an ardent proponent of vegan eating, and cholesterol, of course, is only found in animal foods. The study methods were extremely vulnerable to bias. And, there is a large body of evidence that, in the aggregate, all but eggsonerates the egg. Let's move on.

When we began to recognize that all fat wasn't evil, we needed a new villain. We chose saturated fat, and not unreasonably so. Around the world, diets high in saturated fats are associated with high rates of heart disease. But, of course, diets that derive lots of their calories (and, consequently, saturated fat) from meats, dairy, fried foods and so on, must derive less of their calories from alternatives--such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and so on.

One of the perennial blind spots in nutrition epidemiology is that eating more of A either just means eating more altogether, which brings ills of its own--or eating less of B. And thus, the harms of A may be partly explained by losing the benefits of B. In our perennial rush to judgment, such subtleties are routinely trampled.

Simple reflections of this sort begin to suggest how we might have exaggerated the harms of saturated fat. Switching saturated fat to starch or sugar or trans fat could well be trading sideways, or even down.

But that would not necessarily fully absolve saturated fat, as many voices are now suggesting with unfounded zeal. The evidence we have about saturated fat is not limited to population studies. It includes mechanistic studies showing that certain prevalent saturated fatty acids found in dairy and meat--palmitic acid and myristic acid--induce inflammation and atherogenesis (the process that gums up our arteries).

But the same kind of evidence indicates that other saturated fatty acids such as stearic acid, found prominently in dark chocolate but also in meat, and lauric acid, found in coconut, may be innocuous. All saturated fat is not created equal. We once applied this mistaken "can't differentiate baby from bath water" appraisal to all dietary fat. Instead of learning from it, we now apply the same broken method to classes of fat.

And that now extends to polyunsaturated fat of the omega-6 class. Among my more adamant and persistent of my correspondents are those trying to convince me that what we once thought true of saturated fat--namely, that it's bad--is actually true of omega-6 fat. I am told several times a week that it's this bad polyunsaturated fat that is the REAL cause of heart disease, cancer and our various other prevailing woes. Such thinking has even been distorted to the point of recommending bacon over tilapia.

But this is just the same old misguided nonsense, tossed in a new direction. Omega-6 polyunsaturated fat is, in fact, essential for normal human function. Along with polyunsaturated fat of the omega-3 class, these groups make up the "essential fatty acids."

It's true that omega-6s induce inflammation. Omega-3s, in contrast, tend to be anti-inflammatory. Neither is good nor bad. They are nutritional yin and yang. We need them in balance, and both in balance with other nutrients.

Paleoanthropologists tell us that our native intake of omega-6 and omega-3 was in a ratio of between 1-to-1 and 4-to-1. In modern diets, we eat 11 to 20 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. Is that a problem? Yes. Does it make omega-6 bad? No. Being out of balance is bad.

This situation can likely be improved by eating more omega-3, and/or eating less omega-6, along with eating more monounsaturated fat. But we have no evidence that it would be improved by eating more saturated fat, as many now argue based on next to nothing.

For those preoccupied with omega-6s, cutting them is the one true answer. For those preoccupied with saturated fat or cholesterol, those remain the real problems. Those focused on omega-3s argue that increasing those should be the priority.

Even as factions skirmish over competing views of dietary fats, others see a basis for battle on a different war front altogether. Some contend that the only thing meaningfully wrong with our diets is the sugar, while others argue it's the dairy, and still others, the gluten. Others still argue it's all about carbs, or animal foods, or animal protein, or glycemic load, or lecithin. Some argue it is salt, others calories--while others still seek to exonerate both salt and calories entirely. And everyone, it seems, is sure they're right.

For the most part, those vindicating this or vilifying that are smart and well-intentioned people. The only thing I seem to have latched hold of that they have missed is this: If any one of them is right, then all the others are wrong.

Let that sink in. All of the world's major (and probably minor) religions count among their congregations devout, pious people who believe their group knows the true nature and intentions of the almighty. If any one of those groups is right, then all of the others are wrong. And, so, alas for the equally pious, devout people who happen to be seeking the wrong truth in the wrong temple!

In the parable of the Blind Men and the Elephant, John Godfrey Saxe allows for all of the competing religious views to be a little right, but mostly wrong. What's mostly wrong, of course, is that they don't allow for the possibility that others are at least as right.

For what it's worth, I have the same concerns about privileged claims to absolute truth in the realm of religion. Look at the hatred and troubles competing versions of absolute truth bring us. But religion is not my professional realm, and I will let others wrestle with theology. Epidemiology keeps me plenty busy--particularly as the same problem overtakes us.

It is a mistake--a grave mistake--to infuse the imperfections of an ever-evolving science with religious zeal. Let me state the obvious: No one has claim to absolute nutrition truth, or complete knowledge. No one. And be reminded that the wise and thoughtful and cautious allow for doubt, while hucksters and the deluded have a constant monopoly on certainty.

Renouncing claim to absolute knowledge of every tree does not leave us lost in the woods. We know what diets are associated with the best health outcomes. What do these diets tell us? Is it all fat, or saturated fat? Fructose or carbs? Cholesterol or omega-6s?

None of the above. The problem is imbalance. Bad combinations of questionable foods.

We know that a diet rich in vegetables and fruits; beans and legumes; nuts and seeds; whole, unrefined grains; fish; eggs; with or without seafood, lean meats, and dairy--and variations on such a theme--promotes health. Such a diet is relatively low in saturated fat, but not fixated on it. Such a diet is virtually devoid of trans fat, as that is found preferentially in processed junk.

Such a diet provides a balance of omega-6s (from nuts, seeds, grains and oils) and omega-3s (from nuts, seeds, fish and seafood). It provides monounsaturated oil from nuts, seeds, olives and avocado. It provides little added sugar, because most foods are close to nature. It provides for moderate sodium intake, because most sodium is added during food processing.
Focus on the forest of foods, in other words, and the trees will sort themselves out. Climb a tree, barking mad--and enjoy the show as the forest burns down.

The best way to choose the best fats is to choose the best foods in the right proportions. If you are expecting to find your way to better eating and health by selecting a single villain or savior, well--fat chance.

Some dietary fats are good for us. Balance and proportion are good for us. Some dietary fats are bad for us. Deficiencies, excesses and imbalances are bad for us.

Sweeping generalizations, exaggerated claims and a silly sequence of vindications and vilifications are downright ugly. It's far past time to chew the fat accordingly, and spit out what history abundantly proves is indigestible nonsense. ( U.S.News and World Report LP )

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Celebrity Couples that Have a Kid-Free Marriage

Celebrity Couples that Have a Kid-Free Marriage - Parenthood, that is, bringing a child into this world with your own DNA, is a miracle. Sure, it's an extraordinary undertaking and a definite blessing, but it can also be one giant pain in the butt. As a result, deciding to have children as a married couple is a gargantuan step that will forever change your lives. Although you can expect to lose your privacy and most likely your mind, you can also expect to feel love and gratitude beyond anything you've ever experienced. However great these rewards, and perhaps because of the many potential troubles, these Hollywood couples remain kid-free:

1. Prince William and Kate Middleton: 

As a royal couple, there's undoubtedly a lot of pressure on Prince William and Kate. The whole world is waiting for the confirmation on a baby bump-which despite rumors, still doesn't exist-but no one is anticipating it more than the lovebirds themselves. Although they've only been married for a little more than a year and have been busy on tour for most of that time, they have pregnancy plans to bring a little prince or princess into this world soon. We suspect that the Duke and Duchess will announce their pregnancy by New Year's Eve.

2. Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum: 

Could this couple be more beautiful? After Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan-Tatum first made their debut together in the movie Step Up, they've been married for three years. This dancing couple is in their young thirties, and although they do plan on having children in the future, they're still not sure when. With their hectic lives and crazy schedules, their main focus is on having enough time for each other.

3. Fergie and Josh Duhamel: 

Let's forget about the fact that Josh Duhamel was accused of cheating on Fergie, since she has decided to forget about the matter herself, and instead focus on the dream-fulfilling marriage these two now have-literally. Nine years ago, Fergie read a tabloid about a dream that Duhamel had about her, and she later asked him if it was a good dream. His answer eventually led them to a marriage. Though they've been married for four years now and want to start a family, they still remain kid-free. Time's ticking away, so they'd better hurry before it's too late!

4. Rachel Ray and John Cusimano: 

Lately, the only coverage Rachel Ray and John Cusimano have been getting isn't so happy. Though you can't always believe everything you hear, the rumor mill has been churning up reports of a potential split for this couple. Even before these rumors, however, the two had no plans of parenthood. Ray says that she puts too many hours into her career to even consider having time to raise a child. Parenthood just isn't in the cards for this couple, and if the rumors are true it might be for the better!

5. Jay Leno and Mavis Leno: 

It only took Jay Leno three days after meeting Mavis to know that he wanted to marry her, but she wasn't even sure she ever wanted to marry anyone. After falling in love, she married Leno on the same day his parents were married. In the thirty years they've been married, they have always been sure about keeping their marriage child-free. The couple admits that they simply have zero interest in being parents. ( Cupid's Pulse | Love + Sex )

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Whitney Houston's body 'burnt by scalding hot bath and riddled with scars and bruises'

Whitney Houston's body 'burnt by scalding hot bath and riddled with scars and bruises' - The autopsy on Whitney Houston's body revealed that large parts of the late singer's skin was burnt off from the scalding hot bath in which she was found.

The shocking report states that she had patches of 'skin slippage' from the hot water burns on several parts of her body.

It is thought that Houston could have been so out of it that she did not realise, or feel, how hot the water was. The bath water was 33°C (93.5°F) six hours after she died, showing how incredibly hot it would have been when she first got into it.

Sad end: Whitney Houston's body was riddled with bruises and cuts according to her autopsy report 
Sad end: Whitney Houston's body was riddled with bruises and cuts according to her autopsy report

The I Will Always Love You star was found face down and unresponsive in about 13 inches of water on February 11 and passed away at the age of 48.

The startling revelations of how badly damaged her body is an indication as to how much her lifestyle took a toll on her, leading to her untimely death. Some scars were recent - others from years of neglect.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's report shows that the late singer had a perforated septum, likely to be from the large amounts of cocaine she consumed in her lifetime.

Houston also had scars and abrasions on her arms and legs and bruises on her shoulders and head.

There were two scars under Houston's breasts, believed to be from a breast augmentation procedure. It is also thought she had other cosmetic surgeries going by the marks on her stomach and upper thigh.

The Bodyguard star was seen with blood dripping from her legs just a few days before she died after stumbling out of a nightclub in Los Angeles.

The autopsy report also showed that Houston was wearing a 'maxillary dental prosthesis' and had 11 false teeth.

Whitney's body was discovered face down in the bath tub, 'her eyes were congested and there was a bloody purge coming from her nose.'

There was 'superficial abrasions to the left side of her forehead and the bridge of her nose.' She also had cuts on her left arm, hand and shoulder.

It was a sordid end for the award-winning star, and officials insist there were absolutely no signs of foul play.

The report also confirms details of the drug paraphernalia found among the singer's belongings.

There was a 'spoon with a white crystal-like substance on it' and a 'white powdery substance', which was later tested and determined to be cocaine in the late singer's hotel room.

The report, which gives a detailed description of the state of the Beverly Hilton hotel room when officials arrived, reads: 'Located on the south portion of the counter was a small spoon with a white crystal-like substance in it and a rolled up piece of white paper, along with other miscellaneous items.'

'Located in the top drawer, in the north side of the counter were remnants of a white powdery substance, and a portable mirror on a base.' Officials found more white powder on the base of the mirror.

It also reveals the probable cause of death: '[Whitney] possibly overdosed on a narcotic substance, prescription medications, over the counter medications and alcohol.'

The report also notes that when officials discovered the body, Whitney was wearing a brown wig 'tightly attached to the hair.'

The wig was removed revealing a a full head of wavy black hair with 'no balding.'

Houston also had traces of marijuana in her system as well as Xanax (anxiety medication), Flexeril (muscle relaxer) and Benadryl (allergy medication).

The report also describes a plastic bag ripped open with pills spilling out, medication bottles and an ashtray with cigarette butts all over the place.

When the 48-year-old singer's official cause of death was released in March her heart disease was mentioned, but the new detailed report also cites that she had a hole in her septum and that she was suffering from mild emphysema.

Kristy McCracken of the Beverly Hills Police Department also noticed an old needle puncture wound on Houston's inner left elbow.

On the day she died, Whitney Houston complained of a sore throat, so she decided to take a bath in at her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton before getting ready for Clive's party. ( )

Blog : Good As New

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