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California Woman Celebrates 110th Birthday

moodboard/Thinkstock(IRVINE, Calif.) -- A California woman who turned 110 this week has good genes, a purposely low-stress lifestyle and a farm-fresh diet to thank for her long life, according to her 76-year-old daughter.

Sally Mitchell of Irvine, California, was feted with a birthday party Nov. 25 that featured singing, birthday cake and a city proclamation read by a city council member on behalf of the mayor of Irvine.

“She really kind of held court,” Mitchell’s only child, Suzanne Becker, said of her mother. “I was surprised that she had the staying power but she was right there with balloons and they did a lot of singing which was great because music has been a part of her life always.”

Also celebrating at the party was Mitchell’s youngest sibling, 94-year-old Maxine Baker. The two sisters grew up with four other siblings on a farm in Michigan, something that Becker believes attributes to both of their longevity.

“They breathed good air every day. They ate from the land and from their gardens. Their diet was one that was free of hormones and pesticides,” Becker said.

Mitchell left Michigan for California after her family sold their farm and continued to work for AT&T, where she would eventually meet her husband, and Becker’s father, Howard Mitchell.

Becker remembers her mother as living a “very common life,” one that was very purposely not filled with a lot of stress.

“I realized that she ordered her day in such a way that she didn’t have stress,” Becker told ABC News. “I’d say, ‘Let’s do this,’ and she’d say, ‘No, we have these other things we have to do.’”

Mitchell was also a disciplined exerciser – walking and taking water aerobics classes – a “cover-to-cover” daily newspaper reader and maintained a fulfilling social life.

“She and my father were founding members of a club in Newport Beach, a social organization that met monthly and had lots of activities,” Becker said. “They were very active in the Presbyterian church, too.”

Howard Mitchell died in 2000 at the age of 97, leaving behind his wife of over 60 years.

Mitchell moved in with her daughter, who gave her three grandchildren and one great-grandchild, before moving on to the assisted-living facility nearby.

Even at the age of 110, Becker says, her mom takes no medications and has never suffered from any major health setbacks, like cancer.

“Her long-term memory is pretty darn good and her short-term memory needs to be prompted a lot but when she is prompted, she is right there with you,” Becker said. “One of the big problems is hearing impairment and that makes it far more difficult for her.”

Becker says her mother also voted in every election right up until the past three years or so and often debated with Becker and her husband over political issues.

“She used to question my husband and me about things political and local activities that we didn’t even know about,” Becker said.

“She still has the [news]paper in her lap when I visit,” she said. “I don’t think it’s the old cover-to-cover anymore but if she sees something of interest, she’ll read it.”

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Patient Hospitalized in Arizona After Traveling to Sierra Leone

iStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) -- Phoenix, Arizona experienced an Ebola scare Friday after someone who recently returned to the United States from Sierra Leone fell ill.

The patient was rushed to a hospital where he underwent an evaluation. Doctors quickly determined the patient is most likely sick with something else.

In a news conference, Dr. Robert Fromm, chief medical officer for Maricopa Integrated Health System, said the patient isn't showing enough symptoms to worry doctors.

"This patient's symptoms and presentation aren't strongly suggestive of Ebola disease," Dr. Fromm said.

Phoenix Fire Captain Aaron Ernsberger says the patient was handled by a trained unit of first responders in full HAZMAT gear.

"With this being a scenario with his recent travels to Sierra Leone, we upgraded this to a hazardous situation to protect our members, the patient, and the public as well," Ernsberger said.

Dr. Fromm said the patient could be sent home by the end of the day Friday.

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Researchers Identify Gene Mutations Linked to Blood Cancer Risk

Nikolay Suslov/Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Researchers at Harvard Medical School said that as many as ten percent of adults over the age of 65 may have a gene mutation linked to the development of blood cancers.

According to the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looked at two groups including a total of 29,000 patients. Patients with that particular set of gene abnormalities had a significantly increased likelihood of cancer -- an increase of 11 to 13 percent.

Researchers say it is too early to test for the mutations on a large scale, as there is no perfect treatment for those with the mutation. The mutations are tougher to identify in younger individuals, researchers say.

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Study Shows Promise in Development of Possible Ebola Vaccine

luiscar/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A preliminary study conducted at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center determined that a potential Ebola vaccine researchers have been working on has significant promise.

Researchers published the data from the preliminary study in the New England Journal of Medicine on Wednesday. The study contained 20 participants who were given the vaccine and tested about four weeks later for the presence of Ebola-specific antibodies.

According to researchers, the participants were split into two groups, each given different dosages of the vaccine. Four weeks after vaccination, 90 percent of those given the smaller dose and 100 percent of those given the higher dose showed the presence of anitbodies against the Zaire strain of Ebola induced by the vaccine. Even when looking at the strain for which the vaccine was least effective, at least 70 percent of participants showed vaccine-induced antibodies.

None of the participants showed significant side effects, though two of 20 did develop a fever.

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Five Tips to Avoid Overindulging on Thanksgiving

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Thanksgiving is every dieter's nightmare: turkey slathered in gravy, candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and buttery, and calorie-laden pecan pie.

Adults gain about a pound between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they don't lose it in January, according to experts. That means that, of the pound or two a year that adults gain as they age, half of it happens over the holidays, said Cedric Bryant, chief science officer of the nonprofit American Council on Exercise.

But there are ways you can enjoy Thanksgiving without overdoing it:

Exercise Before or After the Meal

Starting your morning with a turkey trot -- a Thanksgiving 5K jog -- will help offset some of the effects of a big holiday dinner, Bryant said.

An after-dinner walk or jog is even better.

When you eat the calorie- and fat-laden meal, your triglyceride levels become elevated and your blood sugar spikes. This can lead to a feeling of malaise. Over time, it can contribute to metabolic disorders and type II diabetes.

Light exercise before the big meal decreases your triglyceride levels -- the fat in your blood -- by 25 percent, Bryant said. Exercising after dinner will decrease triglycerides by 70 percent.

The exercise will also help peripheral tissues, such as muscles, respond to insulin, which controls blood sugar, he said.

Don't Worry About Disappointing the Host

Research at the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab showed that people often overeat at dinners because they're afraid of offending or disappointing the host or hostess, said the lab's director, Brian Wansink, who authored the book Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life.

"One easy way to do that is just only eat the stuff that’s homemade," he said. "The hostess isn't going to be offended if you don’t eat the peanuts or the nuts before dinner or you don’t eat the dinner rolls she bought. She’s going to be annoyed if you don’t eat the dressing or the turkey."

Hosts in Wansink’s research never remembered how much guests ate, but remembered whether they went back for second helpings, he said.

So, start the meal with extra-small portions, Wansink suggested. That way, when you go back for seconds, you're not overeating.

Make a Few Thanksgiving Swaps

A few simple substitutions can go a long way on Thanksgiving, Bryant said.

"Choose white meat over dark meat," he said. "The white with no skin is going to be about half the calories and probably 1/6 to 1/7 the fat of dark meat with skin."

A six-ounce serving of skinless white meat is only about 180 calories and 3 grams of fat, Bryant said. By comparison, the same serving of dark meat with skin is 370 calories and 20 grams of fat.

Choosing pumpkin or apple pie instead of pecan pie will save about 150 calories, he said.

If you're hosting Thanksgiving, serving steamed green beans instead of green bean casserole will also save guests about 100 calories, Bryant said. And serving sweet potatoes with just sugar and spices is better than serving it candied and loaded with marshmallows.

Start at the Healthy End of the Buffet

People load up 60 to 65 percent of their plates with the first three things they see at the buffet, Wansink said. To save calories, start near the salad and vegetables.

And if you're hosting the dinner and want to save your guests from overindulging, keep the buffet away from the table so people have to consciously get up to get second helpings. People who served themselves from a buffet ate 20 percent less than people who served themselves from the middle of the dinner table, he said.

"Thanksgiving is one of the greatest American holidays of the year," Wansink said. "It's probably not the best time to start your diet. To help, eat a little bit less but still enjoy the holiday."

Eat Slowly and Drink Water

Bryant said absently "shoveling" in food as you catch up with relatives is bound to lead to overeating. Instead, remind yourself to eat slowly and stay aware of what you're eating.

"Give you brain an opportunity to catch up with your appetite," he said.

Another helpful trick is to drink water throughout the day.

"Hunger cues and your hydration cues can become confused," Bryant said. "Making sure to address hydration can certainly help to curb the appetite."

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US Adult Smoking Rate Falls to 18 Percent

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says smoking rates are down again.

For the first time, the number of American adults who smoke has dipped below 18 percent, or about 42 million people.

For years, the nation's smoking rate had stalled at around 20 percent.

Smoking is still the United States' leading cause of preventable illness.

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The Fire-Safety Tips You Should Be Keeping in Mind This Thanksgiving

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The kitchen is where the holiday meal magic happens, but it can also be a danger zone, especially on Thanksgiving.

Steven McGill, the battalion chief of Engine Company 9 in Jersey City, New Jersey, said Thanksgiving is typically the most dangerous day of the year.

“Everybody’s cooking in the kitchen and it’s one of the few days where almost everyone is preparing a meal,” he said. “The house is more congested than normal. … So you have to control the flow in your kitchen to make sure there’s no accidents.”

More fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home. And on Thanksgiving, in particular, there are three times as many house fires than any other day of the year, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission.

“We’ve had fires where people took the turkey right out of the freezer, put it right in the oven, forgot to take the plastic off and next thing you know, you have an oven fire,” McGill said.

McGill and his five firefighters feasted on Thanksgiving eve, a tradition for his crew, because Thursday is expected to be one of their busiest days.

They shared some safety tips for the holiday:

1. Don’t wear loose-fitting clothing around open flames.

2. Don’t leave your food unattended on the stove or in the oven. McGill said to make sure a person is always in the kitchen watching the food that’s cooking.

“You should have a zone, around anything around the stove, within like a 3-feet range for children,” he said.

3. If deep-frying turkey, do it outside.

4. Never put water on a grease fire.

5. Store fire extinguishers in plain sight and near an exit — not under the sink, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Because fires can double every five to 10 seconds — and can consume a room in just one minute — call 911 first.

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Why Your Older Brother Still Gives You Noogies on Thanksgiving

Tanya Constantine/Blend Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s only natural for adults to slip back into their childhood personas when they get together with family, said Dr. Joe Shrand, a psychiatrist and medical director of the CASTLE treatment center in Brockton, Massachusetts.

"You develop patterns of behavior within the family hierarchy that are a way of jockeying for attention without directly competing in the same way," he said. "These patterns don’t just go away when you grow up and move away from home."

Whether you're the CEO of a large company or a famous actor, Shrand said, that means you might be traveling back in time as you return home for Thanksgiving. Your first relationships are with your family and, presumably, you had at least 16 years to practice within the family dynamic before leaving home, he said.

Surrounded by childhood family and friends, you might revert to your childhood identity as the funny one, the instigator or the victim because the behavior is familiar and ingrained.

Likewise, family members tend to view you the same way they have all your life, even if you've changed, Shrand said.

Jeff Brown, a Harvard psychologist, said he considers playing the part of your childhood self at family get-togethers a form of regression.

"We go back to a time in life when we were forming our first memories," he said.

Lapsing back into behaviors based on good memories and temporarily assuming your place in the family pyramid isn't necessarily a bad thing, Brown said. As long as you enjoy the inside jokes and reliving past antics only your siblings, parents and cousins can dredge up, there’s no harm. But if your role is based on unhappy recollections and negative stereotypes, it can be damaging.

"If it’s embarrassing to be treated a certain way, you have to remind yourself that you can’t control others but you can control how you react," he said.

Brown advised not rising to the bait if you’re not fond of the way relatives treat you or how you tend to act when you're around them. If the dynamic is unpleasant or even unhealthy, consider skipping family gatherings altogether.

But, Shrand said, whenever possible, it's best to see the humor in your situation.

"Don't take it too seriously," he said. "It's really funny when an older sibling talks over you at the dinner table because he knows more than you do -- or thinks he does."

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Why the Thanksgiving Turkey Isn't What It Used to Be

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The turkeys the pilgrims probably encountered when they stepped off the boat were of the wild variety. They were long, lean and somewhat gamey from a life of foraging and fleeing predators.

As for the large-breasted, plump-limbed Thanksgiving turkey we enjoy today, it's a triumph of modern technology.

In the late 1920s, breeders began tinkering with domesticated turkeys, which still resembled their wild cousins, so that they matured faster and grew larger. The nickname for one popular breed was “bronze Mae West,” according to Modern Farmer, but the industry eventually agreed on calling them broad breasted bronze.

Keith Williams, a spokesman for the National Turkey Federation, said the turkey industry really got cooking in the 1940s and '50s when farmers realized they could raise turkeys similarly to how they raised chickens.

“Rather than hunting through the woods for eggs, they could incubate them and the animals could be safely housed in large sheds,” he said. “This allowed them to raise animals more efficiently and less expensively.”

Thanks to selective breeding and growing techniques, Williams said, farmers can now produce a bird that has far more white meat and larger, more muscular thighs than its ancestors.

Because the skin of darker birds were speckled with colored dots all over after plucking, the industry eventually shifted to a breed known as the broad breasted white, which doesn’t speckle and now accounts for the majority of birds sold.

In the 1930s, the average-size Thanksgiving turkey was between 7.5 and 10 pounds, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture archives.

Today, families tuck into a bird that weighs an average of about 15 pounds, the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association estimated.

Up until about 1970, turkeys that made it to market arrived in big barrels of ice and were “New York dressed,” Williams said.

“They came with the head, feet and all their organs still intact,” he said.

Most birds sold today come frozen and fully dressed so they are oven-ready, he added.

Nearly 90 percent of Americans will dine on turkey this Thanksgiving, according to the National Turkey Federation. That’s 46 million birds.

One last turkey fact before you slip yours in the oven: Most Thanksgiving turkeys Americans eat are hens. Americans don’t ordinarily eat the male toms except in the form of the humongous drumsticks sold at Disney and other amusement parks which, Williams noted, are often mistaken for ostrich legs.

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What Not to Talk About at Thanksgiving Dinner

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It’s the season for a lot of things, but talking about why you're still not married isn't one of them. Thanksgiving dinner only happens once a year, so it's best to leave such uncomfortable conversations for another day, and focus on safe topics like the weather, sports or, most importantly, the turkey -- unless it's burned, but we'll get to that.

Keep table talk peaceful by avoiding these taboo topics:

"Somebody's Hungry!"

Sure, people like to indulge on Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean you need to point out when someone clears their plate or grabs an extra helping of stuffing.

"You want to avoid commenting on how someone eats," etiquette expert Daniel Post Senning of the Emily Post Institute said. "The compliment doesn't always get received that way."

"But you can always compliment the chef," he said. "You can say how good you feel, how good the food was, how full you are."

Religion, Politics and Money

These should be no-brainers: Religion, politics and finances are definitely topics you'll want to avoid during a holiday celebration.

"You just want to be careful," Senning said. "It's not that you're never allowed to talk about these things, but you need to be prepared for people to have legitimate and valid differences of opinion. By definition, that's what makes these potentially controversial."

For some families, heated discussions about politics are almost a holiday tradition. If that's the case, just save those for after dinner, so people who don't want to partake can be left out.

Sex and Relationships

We've all heard the stories of people whose families' use holidays as an opportunity to nag about when they're getting married. Or engaged. Or having kids.

Senning says such "probing questions" should be off limits, but understands they can be hard to avoid when family is around.

"Of course, this is family, people are going to pry," he said. "A great tactic is to turn around and ask someone else what they think, if a conversation is starting to feel a little too personal. Steer the conversation toward safer territory."

When the Food Is Bad

Is the turkey overcooked? Pretend it isn't, and compliment the chef on the mashed potatoes if anyone asks.

"Keep the focus positive," Senning said. "You're there to celebrate."

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There's a Whole New Set of Wrinkles to Worry About

Image Source Pink/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Frown lines. Crow's feet. Dynamic expression lines. It's enough to send a person running to the Botox needle. And now there's a whole other wrinkle to worry about. The kind that happen while you sleep.

It turns out the notion of "beauty sleep" might be a farce, according to Dr. Goesel Anson, a board certified plastic surgeon.

"Sleep wrinkles are created by the distortion of the face when it's pressed into the pillow surface night after night," she said.

But, unlike expression wrinkles, which can be treated by Botox and fillers, Anson said sleep wrinkles can only be prevented. It's a sentiment that's echoed by the American Academy of Dermatology, which suggests sleeping on your back to reduce premature skin aging. Sleeping on your side or your face causes the lines you may notice on your face when you wake up in the morning, the Academy said on its website.

"In time, these lines turn into permanent wrinkles," she said.

In other words, not even sunscreen can help you here.

Anson said most people move an average of 20 times per night. To prevent this, she created a $180 sleep pillow to prevent mushing of the face during sleep. The JuveRest sleep wrinkle pillow is especially helpful for side and stomach sleepers, the website says.

But do sleep pillows really work? It's definitely possible, though Dr. Lisa Donofrio, associate clinical professor in the Department of Dermatology at the Yale University School of Medicine, said it would "take many years to evaluate their true efficacy."

"The pillows could work," she said, "by re-distributing pressure and preventing creasing. These pillows seem to help."

Donofrio said she recommends the enVy pillow to her patients.

Dr. Patirica Farris said pillows that encourage back sleeping are "definitely beneficial. We see lots of sleep lines that develop on the sides of the cheeks and around the mouth that can be directly attributed to lying on the face."

Another suggestion? "Using linens that are satin and slippery makes you less likely to develop wrinkles," Farris said.

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Babies Can Retain Happy Memories

Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Do you remember anything from when you were five months old? No doubt, you don’t.

In fact, babies that young would be hard pressed to recall things that happened from hour-to-hour. However, Brigham Young University psychology professor Ross Flom says that infants as young as five months old are capable of remembering things that make them happy.

Flom says her study is the among the first to measure how emotions influence memory. To do so, the babies first heard a person on a computer speaking in either a happy, neutral or angry voice. That voice was immediately followed by the visual image of a geometric shape.

The infants were later tested by showing a new shape and one of the old ones. The researchers then watched the babies' eye movements and how long they spent staring at an image.

Invariably, the babies focused more on shapes that they associated with positive voices than the ones linked to negative voices.

Flom says that by heightening the babies' attentional system and arousal, “We heighten their ability to process and perhaps remember this geometric pattern.”

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Yogurt Shown to Reduce Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Not a yogurt fan? Here’s information that make might you one.

According to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, eating yogurt daily might help lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease.

Lead author Mu Chen said her research was based on three separate large studies involving a total of 200,000 men and women ages 25-to-75 for as long as 30 years. About 15,150 people overall were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

Although dairy consumption itself was not associated with either an increase or decrease in the risk of contracting diabetes, Chen and her team learned that people who ate 12 ounces of yogurt daily, about two regular containers worth, lowered their risk of developing the disease by 18 percent.

Although Chen said there is no definitive proof that yogurt will prevent type 2 diabetes, “Some mechanisms suggest that yogurt is special,” he said. “There is some research suggesting that the probiotic bacteria in yogurt may be beneficial."

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CDC: Majority of Americans with HIV Don't Have It Under Control

Credit: James Gathany/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(NEW YORK) -- Most of the 1.2 million Americans infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, did not have the disease under control in 2011, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says that about 70 percent of those with HIV had not achieved viral suppression. What's more, just 13 percent of Americans ages 18 to 24 had it under control.

According to the government, it's not so much ignorance that prevents people from getting the drug therapies necessary to combat the virus but lack of access to medical care and an apparent indifference to the disease, which can become full-blown AIDS if left untreated,

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said Tuesday that besides people with HIV needing to seek treatment, it's also up to health care systems that diagnose patients to make sure that they get the medications and follow-up treatment if for no other reason but to prevent patients from passing on the infection to others.

The CDC says that antiretroviral medication allows people to live longer by keeping HIV at very low levels, provided it's used consistently. This treatment also cuts the transmission of HIV to others by 96 percent.

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The Real Secret to Self-Control

dolgachov/iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Everyone is susceptible to some form of temptation and a lot of people often give in to it, sometimes with disastrous results.

However, as researchers at Florida State University report, it doesn’t have to be that way, provided you know the strategy for success.

It’s pretty simple, actually: just don’t get into a situation where you might lose your self-control, according to a study published in Personality and Individual Differences.

In an experiment with 38 college students, the participants were told to choose between a crowded student lounge to solve a problem or wait for a quiet lab to become available.

Most of the people ranked with low self-control picked the lounge over the lab while a majority of those with more self-control chose the lab over the lounge. Another experiment with people aged 18-60 yielded similar results.

The bottom line, according to the FSU researchers, is that high self-control is more associated with shunning distractions than trying to overcome them.

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