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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though the counterculture “High Holiday” on April 20 at 4:20 pm is a play on the “420” police code for marijuana, new analysis found it might have some very serious effects.A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a 12 percent relative increase in fatal crashes on April 20."Twelve percent may not sound like much, but if you consider that a small proportion of Americans celebrate 4/20," the study's author Dr. John Staples said, "it suggests that participation in 4/20 is fairly risky."He described the motivation for the research.“I’m a doctor and I work at a hospital near where a 4/20 festival is held,” the clinical assistant professor of medicine at University of British Columbia said. “Every year, we brace ourselves for a potential surge of patient volume related to the festival. This was a great natural experiment for which we could look at the effects of the festival.”Researchers are also looking at the effects of marijuana, as several states are considering marijuana legalization in 2018 and 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to the Pew Research Center.Drivers appear to be using marijuana more, as well, according to the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. The survey showed that THC, a psychoactive compound in cannabis, was elevated by 46.5 percent in blood and fluid levels between reports in 2007 and reports in 2013-14.Holidays are often associated with higher rates of car crashes. A 2003 research letter to the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 27 Super Bowls and found a 41 percent relative increase in fatal crashes after the telecast. A 1991 CDC report showed a 64 percent relative increase in fatal crashes on New Year’s Day, in a review of 10 years of research.And the 4/20 holiday is specifically connected to marijuana use. For either reason, experts say it may be wise to drive more carefully on April 20, especially for younger drivers."When we focused on a subgroup of drivers younger than 21 years old, they had a 38 percent higher risk on April 20," the study authors said. "This maps onto what we know of younger drivers being more vulnerable because of less experience and more risk taking behavior.”The study looked at the connection between fatal crashes and the holiday 4/20, which is a modern invention that many say was popularized in a High Times article published in 1991.Starting in 1992, researchers looked at 25 years of data from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They focused on fatal crashes where at least one person died within 30 days of the crash. Then, they compared the time between 4:20p and 11:59p on April 20 of each year to “control days” one week earlier and one week later.What they found was the 12 percent increase in fatal crashes during the time period.However, the research does have some limitations. The results do not prove that cannabis is the culprit behind the bump in fatal crashes on April 20.Staples suggests several other possibilities -- participants may be ingesting other drugs or failing to wear their seatbelts, police may be emphasizing drug enforcement over traffic enforcement, and the festival could interrupt usual traffic flows, among other possibilities.While there is a strong relationship between blood alcohol levels and impairment, the same may not be true for most psychoactive drugs, cautioned authors of the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey.“At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment,” the authors said.This new study provides some insight into the potential hazards of marijuana use on the 4/20 holiday for drivers, but the study authors say any drug use while driving is a concern.“My main message to the public is that impairment wit
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  • Courtesy Triple S Day(BOSTON) -- More than 200 college students walked the streets of Boston to distribute 25,000 pairs of socks to the city’s homeless.The day of service was the brainchild of Charlotte Kim, a sophomore at Harvard University.Kim, 20, interned in New York City last summer for Bombas, a sock company that donates one pair of socks for every pair that is purchased.“I’ve noticed that a lot of times college students don’t have a lot of exposure to the homeless population and a lot of college students feel they’re too busy to commit to volunteering,” Kim told ABC News. “I had the idea of bringing Bombas’ spirit to Boston.”Socks are the most requested item at homeless shelters, according to Bombas’ research. The company agreed to donate 25,000 pairs of socks to Kim’s day of service."We started Bombas after learning that socks are the No. 1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters, with a mission of donating a pair of socks for every pair we sell," Dave Heath, Bombas' co-founder and CEO, told ABC News in a statement. "Homelessness remains an important cause to support within every community and we are thrilled that our mission has inspired some of Boston’s most caring students to join forces and make an impact.”The need for socks for homeless people stems from the important role socks play in good health, experts say."Socks are definitely something that people who are living outdoors and on the streets are in desperate need of," said Megan Hastings, director for the National Coalition for the Homeless. "The reason behind this is you can imagine that somebody who doesn’t have a permanent home isn't doing laundry and isn’t changing their socks every day."She continued, "Our feet are one of the things that are most susceptible to illness and spreading illness to the rest of our bodies. When you’re walking around in wet socks or ones with holes in them, it’s something that I think we all take for granted that is an absolute necessity."With the Bombas donation in hand, Kim and six fellow college students recruited more than 200 students from nine universities throughout the Boston area, including Harvard, Boston College, Boston University, MIT, Wellesley and Tufts.On Saturday, the students gathered at a charity pop-up in Boston, where they could learn about volunteering opportunities.From there, the student volunteers set out in groups to visit two dozen homeless shelters throughout Boston and hand-deliver the socks.The students not only distributed the free socks but also spent the day helping the shelters make repairs, organize donations and clean.“It was a different event because it wasn’t just sending over socks, but directly interacting with the residents and showing them that people do care about them,” said Kim, who hopes to turn it into an annual event. “The volunteers said handing the socks to residents were the most moving experiences, to see their reactions.”
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Speedy eaters might finish their food faster, but those calories might linger longer.A new study published in the online journal BMJ Open suggests that eating speed could affect a person's weight.A research team in Japan set out to analyze the effects of eating speed on obesity -- defined as BMI greater than 25 in Japan -- by asking over 59,000 Japanese men and women with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes to rate their own eating speed as fast, normal or slow.The results showed that slower eating speeds were linked to reductions in obesity, BMI and waist circumference.In addition to eating speed, the researchers found a few other eating habits people with obesity showed, such as frequently eating dinner within two hours of going to bed, snacking after dinner and skipping breakfast.The data in this study is based on observed behaviors that had happened in the past, so no firm conclusions can be drawn about whether eating speed is a cause of obesity.However, the authors said that controlling eating speed may be a means of regulating body weight and helping to prevent obesity.A possible reason? Fast eaters may continue to eat even after they are full, even when their bodies have an adequate amount of calories, since the brain takes a little time to interpret chemical signals from the stomach that say "enough." The combined effect of eating quickly and overeating may contribute to weight gain.So methods to help people reduce their eating speed, the authors conclude, could be an effective way to help prevent obesity and lower the many health risks, like diabetes, that come with it.Jay-Sheree Allen is a family medicine resident physician at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and a resident at the ABC News Medical Unit.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration's FY2019 budget released Monday requests more than $30 billion for drug control efforts, while at the same time proposing a sharp cut to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has been leading the fight in the opioid crisis.The administration says it's shifting responsibility for spending on anti-drug programs to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services — and away from the White House office — so it can better focus on policy.While the exact proposed cut was unclear, a report from Politico last month said the plan was to cut the ONDCP by 95 percent.In October, President Donald Trump called the opioid epidemic “the worst drug crisis in American history,” and the ONDCP took the lead in coordinating the federal response across the government.According to the new budget, the White House “drug czar’s” office is “charged with developing policies, objectives, and priorities for the National Drug Control Program.”Last month, a spokesperson at ONDCP told ABC News, “This crisis remains a top priority for President Trump and his administration.”Citing an estimate from the White House drug control office, the FY19 budget says that “more than $7 billion” is needed to confront the opioid crisis for “prevention, treatment, interdiction, international operations, and law enforcement across 14 Executive Branch Departments, the Federal Judiciary, and the District of Columbia.”While the official budget recommends investing “$5 billion in new resources for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) over the next five years, including $1 billion in 2019, to combat the opioid epidemic,” the budget appendix also recommends redirecting the ONDCP’s two main grant programs, the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) grant and the Drug Free Communities (DFC) Act, to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.Despite that recommended funding, the proposed $68.4 billion budget for HHS is a 21 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year.Defending the move, the White House says “This proposal will enable ONDCP to focus resources on its core mission: to reduce drug use and its consequences by leading and coordinating the development, implementation, and assessment of U.S. drug policy.”Office of Management and Budget press secretary Meghan Burris reinforced the White House's decision, saying, "HIDTA and DFC management are resource intensive, forcing ONDCP to focus on administering grants, rather than what should be its primary mission of policy development, implementation and evaluation.”"DOJ and HHS are both major grant management organizations that can look holistically at allocations across law enforcement and drug prevention and treatment resources,” she added.Over the last year, the ONDCP has been operating without a permanent director. Richard Baum has served as acting director since March 2017. On Feb. 9, the president nominated Jim Carroll, who serves as Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff to John Kelly, to head the agency.Despite the sharp cuts to the drug control office's budget, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement last week, “We have full confidence in Jim to lead ONDCP to make significant strides in combating the opioid crisis, reducing drug use, and coordinating U.S. drug policy.”
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  • Courtesy Ray Franklin(BIRMINGHAM, Ala.) -- An Alabama woman who was missing for at least 36 hours after a car crash was miraculously found by rescuers Sunday morning, authorities and her family said.Lisa Holman's vehicle was found wrecked Friday sometime after 9 p.m. off CR 36 between Bent Creek Drive and Brasher Road in Pelham, Alabama, just outside of Birmingham, Shelby County Sheriff's Office told ABC station WBMA-TV.But the 45-year-old Shelby County woman was nowhere to be found.That's when authorities and volunteer rescue teams launched a desperate search to find her.Emergency responders even used a drone to help in the search.Holman remained missing all day Saturday, though, and authorities had to suspend the search.But Sunday morning, the Pelham Police Department released a statement saying she'd been found in the woods -- alive and well, but for some broken bones."While we are still working to piece together the events of the past few days, we do want to let you know Ms. Holman was alert when we found her, and she was able to walk out of the woods to medical professionals standing by to treat her," said Police Chief Larry Palmer.Holman's family said in a statement that her toughness helped her fight through her injuries and stay alive."Her ability to withstand these injuries, the weather conditions, and the length of time in the woods is a testament to her resiliency," they said.They also thanked everyone who chipped in trying to find her."Needless to say, the last two days have been very emotional for our family," the statement read. "Lisa's rescue Sunday morning was definitely an answered prayer."We would like to express our deepest gratitude to the coordinated effort provided by the Pelham Police Department, Pelham Fire Department, and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office," it continued. "They led this rescue mission not only with determined tenacity, but also with true compassion."The family thanked the hundreds of volunteers -- some of whom found Holman Sunday morning -- for their efforts, too."A true community effort and genuine concern for one of our own," Pelham Police told ABC News. "One man literally gave her the shoes off his feet to walk out while he walked out barefoot."Police were still investigating, trying to determine what happened to Holman.
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