Monday, January 30, 2012

McDonald's scraps "pink slime" from burgers

McDonald's is axing "pink slime" from its burgers, after receiving heat from celebrity chef and food activist Jamie Oliver, CBS This Morning reported.

What is pink slime? It's the name Oliver has given to fatty beef trimmings soaked in ammonium hydroxide, which removes bacteria and makes the beef taste better.

"We're taking a product that would be sold in its cheaper form for dogs," Oliver said on his TV show, Food Revolution, where he demonstrated the practice. "After this process, we can give it to humans."

The technique is approved by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration.

Last week, McDonald's announced it's no longer using the beef product, although the chain said in a statement that this decision "was not related to any particular event." Taco Bell and Burger King have also agreed to stop using the additive, according to the Huffington Post.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Working long hours doubles depression odds

Working long hours appears to substantially increase a person's risk of becoming depressed, regardless of how stressful the actual work is, a new study suggests.

The study, which followed 2,123 British civil servants for six years, found that workers who put in an average of at least 11 hours per day at the office had roughly two and a half times higher odds of developing depression than their colleagues who clocked out after seven or eight hours.

The link between long workdays and depression persisted even after the researchers took into account factors such as job strain, the level of support in the workplace, alcohol use, smoking, and chronic physical diseases.

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Saturday, January 28, 2012

USDA's New Rules for School Lunches to Fight Obesity

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled new nutrition rules for school meals Wednesday in an effort to combat obesity in the U.S.

Students will have to be offered more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and the USDA for the first time is setting calorie limits on what kids eat in school cafeterias.
The new rules, the USDA said Wednesday, are "intended to respond to serious concerns about childhood obesity and the importance for children to consume nutritious school meals within their calorie needs."

First Lady Michelle Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack were expected to discuss the new rules at an elementary school in Alexandria, Va., with celebrity chef Rachael Ray.

A lunch for kindergarten through fifth grade students will contain no more than 650 calories on average. The limit goes up to 700 calories for sixth through eighth grades and 850 calories for ninth through 12th grades.

And schools that participate in the federal lunch and breakfast programs will no longer be able to serve whole milk and must start offering nonfat milk, according to the rules.
Flavored milk will only be allowed if it is nonfat.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Why Home Births Are on the Rise

Nine years ago, my neighbor and I were pregnant at the same time. I was expecting my first child, she her fourth. One day, I returned home from work to find a blue bow on her lamppost. My husband and I grabbed a congratulatory bottle of wine and headed over. We rang the doorbell, and Angie answered, perky as ever.

“Um,” I stuttered, completely confused. “I thought you had your baby, but I guess I was wrong.”

“He’s upstairs,” she responded. “Want to come see him?”

Her home birth hadn’t fazed her one bit. A trained labor and delivery nurse, she’d delivered her son herself that morning; that afternoon, she drove to pick up her girls from school. Clearly not a typical case, but statistics released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that home birth is on the rise.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Man refuses surgery, drops 270 pounds

For years, Bryan worked the night shift at a Verizon call center in Charleston, South Carolina, 20 miles from his home in Moncks Corner.

He skipped breakfast, ate fast food for lunch and dinner, then picked up a pizza or some convenience store snacks on his way home. He often drank more than a gallon of soda a day. By the age of 37, he had a body mass index around 87. A BMI over 30 is considered obese.

"He was very aware that he had a problem," Martha said. "It was out of control."

June 20 was possibly the best thing that could have happened to Bryan, although it certainly didn't seem like it at the time. His "heart attack" was actually a pulmonary embolism, or a blood clot that had traveled to his lungs, blocking his oxygen flow. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "sudden death is the first symptom" in about a quarter of patients who have a pulmonary embolism.

For six days, Bryan lay in a hospital bed, covered in bruises caused by the blood thinners being pumped into his body. The blood thinners slowly cleared the blockage in his lungs, giving him plenty of time to think.

"At first, I felt like a victim, like somebody or something had done this to me," Bryan said in a YouTube video about his experience. "But then reality set in and the pain turned to anger. My condition was unacceptable."

Several doctors tried to broach the subject of weight-loss surgery while he was in the hospital, but Bryan refused. Both he and his mother had friends who had gone through the surgery and were suffering from complications.

If I can make it out of here alive, he thought, I'm not coming back.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Narcissism especially bad for men's health, study says

he inflated sense of self-importance common to narcissism can be toxic to relationships, but a new study suggests the personality trait may also harm men's health.

Researchers from the Universities of Michigan and Virginia determined that men who scored high on two destructive narcissistic traits -- entitlement and exploitativeness -- had markedly higher levels than others of cortisol, a stress hormone that can lead to high blood pressure and heart problems. While men and women are equally narcissistic, study authors said, the cortisol stress response was not noted in female participants.

"We generally see narcissism as a personality trait that's bad for others but not narcissists. It's bad for people in relationships with them," said study co-author Sara Konrath, an assistant research professor at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. "This study was a way of getting under their skin to see if there are physical consequences."

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Nutrition: No Obesity Link to Junk Food in Schools

In the fight against childhood obesity, communities all over the country are banning the sale of sweets and salty snacks in public schools. But a new study suggests that the strategy may be ineffective.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University tracked the body mass indexes of 19,450 students from fifth through eighth grade. In fifth grade, 59 percent of the children attended a school where candy, snacks or sugar-sweetened beverages were sold. By eighth grade, 86 percent did so.

The researchers compared children’s weight in schools where junk food was sold and in schools where it was banned. The scientists also evaluated eighth graders who moved into schools that sold junk food with those who did not, and children who never attended a school that sold snacks with those who did. And they compared children who always attended schools with snacks with those who moved out of such schools.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Can coffee really thwart type 2 diabetes?

Your morning "cup of Joe" may do more than deliver the jolt you need to get going -- it may also help you stave off type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

But, before you pour yourself a second cup know this: The study authors said their research was done with cell cultures and there's no proof yet that coffee has any ability to keep type 2 diabetes at bay.

Past research has suggested a link between coffee and a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and now Chinese researchers behind the new study think they may know why that may be so. They found three major compounds in coffee that may provide potentially beneficial effects: caffeic acid, chlorogenic acid and caffeine.

"These findings suggest that the beneficial effects of coffee consumption on type 2 diabetes mellitus may be partly due to the ability of the major coffee components and metabolites to inhibit the toxic aggregation of hIAPP (human islet amyloid polypeptide)," Ling Zheng, professor of cellular biology at Wuhan University in China, and colleagues wrote.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Definition of Autism Will Exclude Many, Study Suggests

Proposed changes in the definition of autism would sharply reduce the skyrocketing rate at which the disorder is diagnosed and might make it harder for many people who would no longer meet the criteria to get health, educational and social services, a new analysis suggests.

The definition is now being reassessed by an expert panel appointed by the American Psychiatric Association, which is completing work on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the first major revision in 17 years. The D.S.M., as the manual is known, is the standard reference for mental disorders, driving research, treatment and insurance decisions. Most experts expect that the new manual will narrow the criteria for autism; the question is how sharply.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Sleep May Intensify Disturbing Memories

A person's emotional response to an unsettling or traumatic event may actually be heightened by sleep, according to the results of a polysomnography study.

There was a better memory of negative pictures in the group that was exposed to them just before sleep (F=20.87, P<0.001) and no significant interaction in the group x emotional response interaction (F=0.99, P=0.32), reported Rebecca M.C. Spence, PhD, and colleagues from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Recent studies have shown that sleep is an important aspect of consolidation of memories. The authors wanted to investigate how memory processing may relate to changes in emotional reactivity during sleep.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Teen girls' mystery illness now has a diagnosis: mass hysteria

The day after TODAY reported on the baffling case of 12 teenage girls at one school who mysteriously fell ill with Tourette's-like symptoms of tics and verbal outbursts, a doctor who is treating some of the girls has come forward to offer an explanation. Dr. Laszlo Mechtler, a neurologist in Amherst, N.Y., says the diagnosis is "conversion disorder," or mass hysteria.

"It's happened before, all around the world, in different parts of the world. It's a rare phenomena. Physicians are intrigued by it," Mechtler told TODAY on Wednesday. "The bottom line is these teenagers will get better."

On the show Tuesday, psychologist and TODAY contributor Dr. Gail Saltz noted that just because the girls' symptoms may be psychological in origin doesn't make them any less real or painful.

“That’s not faking it. They’re real symptoms,” Saltz continued. “They need a psychiatric or psychological treatment. Treatment does work.’’

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Does Paula Deen Have Type 2 Diabetes?

On Tuesday morning, Food Network star/cookbook author Paula Deen is expected to talk with Al Roker on NBC’s Today show about reports that she has Type 2 diabetes.

Deen, a Savannah, Ga., restaurateur, is well-known, and often criticized, for her butter and mayonnaise laden recipes.

Deen appeared at the Delaware State Fair in 2010.

Her cooking has raised the ire of author/TV host Anthony Bourdain who last August in a TV Guide interview called her “the worst, most dangerous person to America.”

In a TV interview, Deen responded: “I don’t know if it was a publicity thing of if someone had just peed in his bowl of cereal that morning and he was mad.”

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bacon linked to higher risk of pancreatic cancer, says report

Eating two rashers of bacon a day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer by 19% and the risk goes up if a person eats more, experts have said.

Eating 50g of processed meat every day – the equivalent to one sausage or two rashers of bacon – increases the risk by 19%, compared to people who do not eat processed meat at all.

For people consuming double this amount of processed meat (100g), the increased risk jumps to 38%, and is 57% for those eating 150g a day. But experts cautioned that the overall risk of pancreatic cancer was relatively low – in the UK, the lifetime risk of developing the disease is one in 77 for men and one in 79 for women.

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

Running Marathons Won’t Kill You

t’s one of the more puzzling ironies of exercise — tragic news of people dying during or after completing a marathon. In 2009, four runners died during half-marathons in San Jose, Cal. and Detroit, and last year, two runners died at the Philadelphia Marathon, one at the finish line and another about a quarter-mile from completing the race, all from apparent sudden heart attacks.

Isn’t running supposed to improve your fitness and lower your risk of succumbing to cardiac arrest?

In a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers explain the paradox of why a seemingly high number of marathoners have heart attacks. They analyzed heart attacks among 10.9 million racers running either half-marathons or marathons between 2000 and 2010, and found that such long-distance races actually did not lead to an increased risk of heart attack. In fact, the rate was relatively low, and even lower than the risk of having a heart attack and dying while participating in college sports, a triathlon, or even jogging. Of the 10.9 million marathon racers, 59 had cardiac arrest either during or in the hour after their long-distance run and 42 died. That’s a death rate of 1 per 259,000 participants, compared to 1 death per 52,630 participants in triathlons.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Cancer Advocates Campaign for a Bald Barbie Doll

arbie may be known for her long, golden locks along with her slender (albeit completely unnatural) curves, but an online movement is now trying to showcase how beautiful — and bold — Barbie can be without her trademark hair.

It all started, as many online movements do, on Facebook. Friends Rebecca Sypin and Jane Bingham, who have both been personally affected by cancer, launched a page called, “Beautiful and Bald Barbie: Let’s see if we can get it made.” Their goal was to petition toy maker Mattel to create a Barbie that would appeal to young girls who suffer from hair loss due to chemotherapy treatments, or other disorders such as Alopecia and Trichotillomania.

According to the Facebook page, the doll would not only serve as a role model for young girls dealing with hair loss themselves, but also be a way to help them cope with family members who have lost their hair — as Bingham did when she was being treated for non-Hodgkins lymphoma — and bring the topic of baldness into the public conversation.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Inactivity is a universal risk factor for heart attack

new analysis of the INTERHEART study, drilling down into exactly how physical activity and its different components contribute to the risk of MI, doesn't turn up any huge surprises but does confirm that inactivity is "a universal cardiovascular risk factor," lead author Dr Claes Held (Uppsala Clinical Research Center, Uppsala, Sweden) tells heartwire [1]. Held and colleagues publish the results online January 11, 2012 in the European Heart Journal.

In fact, the findings reveal a large discrepancy between physical-activity levels in different economies, Held notes, with close to 70% of individuals in low-income nations being sedentary during leisure time compared with around 40% in higher-income countries. The message here is simple, says Held. "Try to incorporate your activity into your daily life. Take the stairs, and walk when you can. Don't complicate it."

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How Grief Can Break Your Heart

Grief is a powerful emotion, and the latest research shows just how damaging it can be, especially for the heart.
The sobering results, appearing in the journal Circulation, are the first to compare how grief affects an individual’s heart-disease risk within a period of time. Previous studies have documented that people losing loved ones tend to have more heart problems than those who aren’t bereaved. In the current analysis, lead author Elizabeth Mostofsky and her colleagues took a unique approach by calculating an individual’s “average loss” of loved ones over a year, by asking how many people study participants had lost in the past year and comparing that figure to the number of loved ones that same person lost during the study period in question, which included the most recent day and week preceding a heart attack. Because all the participants were heart-attack patients, that allowed her to calculate the effect that losing a loved one had on each individual’s heart-attack risk.

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Integrative Nutrition Scam Claims Are Based on Misconceptions

Accusations about an Integrative Nutrition scam usually assume that health coaches try to assume, fill, or replace the role of registered dietitians, doctors, or nurses. This is not the case, so when considering Integrative Nutrition scam claims, it’s essential to first absolutely clarify the differences between medical professions in the current healthcare model and define which responsibilities are appropriate for whom.

Doctors, nurses, registered dietitians, and nutritionists are the backbone of today’s healthcare system. They undergo many rigorous years of study and training to become medical experts in their field, and have the knowledge to diagnose, prescribe, and treat illnesses. As emphasized by some Integrative Nutrition scam claims, these professionals are indeed the only ones qualified to give medical advice. Yet this current medical paradigm clearly is not enough. Despite the fact that over $2.5 trillion is spent every year on healthcare, America is plagued by preventable illnesses that are caused purely by poor lifestyle choices. The exploding rates of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and some forms of cancer can be remedied simply by changing people’s behaviors. Integrative Nutrition scam claims tend to ignore a crucial fact: the medical professionals who are qualified to prescribe a diet plan to treat diabetes rarely have time to follow up with that diabetic and ask him or her why following that life-saving diet plan is so difficult.

A health coach, who can be trained in just one year, can work in tandem with doctors and other healthcare providers to help patients carry out their prescribed plans. A health coach will help a patient explore and overcome the factors that are preventing them from eating healthily and exercising. They do not dole out and can help people modify their habits in realistic and sustainable ways.

Ultimately, criticisms about the health coaching profession and Integrative Nutrition scam claims are based largely on misunderstandings and misconceptions about the role of the health coach. This is unfortunate, because there are millions of sick people who are in desperate need of an ally who can help them change poor habits and reclaim their health.

ADHD diet study suggests healthy eating might help kids

Do diets that claim to reduce symptoms of ADHD in kids actually work?

A new review of ADHD diets by pediatric researchers suggests healthy eating could actually help kids reduce their ADHD symptoms. But the researchers warn a diet probably shoud not be the first line of defense against ADHD, but merely a supplement to other proven therapies such as medication.

"Supplemental diet therapy is simple, relatively inexpensive, and more acceptable to patient and parent," the authors wrote in the review, published in the Jan. 9 issue of Pediatrics. "Public education regarding a healthy diet pattern and lifestyle to prevent or control ADHD may have greater long-term success."

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Too little protein may equal too much body fat

People who consistently consume more calories than they burn each day will lose lean muscle and accumulate body fat more easily if their diets contain too little protein and too much fat and carbohydrates, suggests a study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study included 25 people who lived in a carefully controlled research facility for up to three months, exercising very little. For two of those months, all of the men and women intentionally ate about 1,000 calories per day more than they needed to maintain their weight, but they consumed different amounts of protein.

People assigned to a low-protein diet gained roughly half as much weight during the experiment as those assigned to a standard or high-protein diet, but body fat—rather than lean body mass, which includes muscle—accounted for a much higher percentage of their weight gain.

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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Citing Drug Resistance, U.S. Restricts More Antibiotics for Livestock

Federal drug regulators announced on Wednesday that farmers and ranchers must restrict their use of a critical class of antibiotics in cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys because such practices may have contributed to the growing threat in people of bacterial infections that are resistant to treatment.

The medicines are known as cephalosporins and include brands like Cefzil and Keflex. They are among the most common antibiotics prescribed to treat pneumonia, strep throat, and skin and urinary tract infections. Surgeons also often use them before surgery, and they are particularly popular among pediatricians.

The drugs’ use in agriculture has, according to many microbiologists, led to the development of bacteria that are resistant to their effects, a development that many doctors say has cost thousands of lives.

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Friday, January 6, 2012

Student's death spotlights food allergies in school

The death of a 7-year-old girl at school from a peanut allergy has raised questions about a school's responsibility in treating kids with food allergies.

Two days ago, Ammaria Johnson died after suffering an allergic reaction at Hopkins Elementary School in Chesterfield Country, Va., WTVR CBS 6 in Richmond reported. The death is still being investigated, but Johnson's mother told WTVR she learned from the school principal and a doctor that the allergy was to a peanut product.

Emergency crews were called to the school on Monday, but by the time they arrived, the child was in cardiac arrest, according to a Chesterfield Fire Department spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore. Johnson was pronounced dead a short time later at CJW Medical Center in Richmond.

Food allergies affect an estimated 6 to 8 percent of children under age 5, and about 3 to 4 percent of adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. Food allergies can cause a number of symptoms, ranging from digestive problems and hives to a life-threatening reaction called anaphylaxis.

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Does your body fight to stay fat? Maybe, research suggests

It’s the first week of January and many of us are gearing up to start our home versions of “The Biggest Loser.”

We’ve got it all planned out: the low calorie meals, the hours pounding the treadmill.

But even if we succeed in slimming down to the size of our dreams, we most likely won’t stay that way. Most people don’t, research has shown.

And why would we expect to? Even contestants from the popular TV show have larded on the pounds in the months and years after slimming down.

The reason for all that weight re-gain, a new article in the New York Times magazine depressingly suggests, is that our bodies are at war with our minds and are working overtime to get back to that plump figure we so despise.

NYT health writer Tara Parker-Pope, who admits she struggles with weight herself, traveled around the country visiting research labs trying to learn why she and so many others have been able to shed flab only to put it back on time and time again. What she learned was discouraging: Our bodies change when we lose weight. Hormones that are supposed to promote satiety become scant. Hormones that stoke hunger flare hotter.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Dash Diet Takes Top Diet Title; Easiest Diets Named

Just in time for New Year's resolutions, dieters have a new list of easy ways to shed pounds or kickstart healthy eating habits.

U.S. News and World Report released the 2012 edition of its annual rankings of Best Diets, this year adding a list of easiest diets to follow.

Weight Watchers took the top spot on the new list, followed by Jenny Craig, the Mediterranean Diet, Slim-Fast and Volumetrics.

An independent panel of 22 experts, including nutritionists, dietitians, cardiologists and diabetologists reviewed 20 popular diet profiles that were developed by reporters and editors at U.S. News and World Report. Categories were then created to rate the nutrition plans, including Heart-Healthy Diets, Weight Loss, Diabetes Diets and Healthy Eating.

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For the Easiest Diets list, programs received points for convenience, ease of initial adjustment, fullness and taste.

Dr. David Katz, co-founder of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and one of the panelists judging the diets, said ease is an important factor in determining how well a diet will work.

"It's one thing to go on a diet for a week, but how confident do you feel you could do this for the rest of your life?" Katz said, noting that he judged a diet plan's ease based on its restrictiveness and any support and guidance the program offers to dieters.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Food firms 'market to children online'

Unhealthy food is being "shamelessly" promoted to children online to get around bans on television adverts, campaigners have claimed.

The British Heart Foundation cited websites by Cadbury's and Nestle as examples of "cynical marketing".

Sites used childish language, games and free gifts to appeal to children, according to the report.

But an Advertising Association spokesman insisted online promotion to children was strictly controlled.

The vast majority of UK children now use the internet at home, often in preference to television viewing.

The Advertising Standards Authority's broadcasting code prohibits adverts for unhealthy food within children's television programmes, or any programme which appeals to under-16s.

However, this code does not extend to material on websites aimed at children, although a separate regulation forbids any advert which might encourage "poor nutritional habits" or an "unhealthy lifestyle" in children.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Fertile Sperm Donor Draws Criticism From FDA, Docs

Physicians and the federal government cited the case of a San Francisco Bay area man who has fathered 14 children as an example of the risks posed by the informal market for sperm donations, which doctors consider unsafe but some people call a civil liberties issue.

Trent Arsenault, 36, of Fremont offers his sperm for free to women he meets through his website. In addition to the 14 already born, he says four more are on the way. In the meantime, he is contesting a U.S. Food and Drug Administration order to cease and desist.

While sperm bank donors remain nameless and some men offer their sperm through anonymous ads on Craigslist, Arsenault's site is filled with photographs of the trim, blond Midwest native. In its letter, the agency describes Arsenault's service as a business. Arsenault disagrees.

"This is not a business or a clinic. It's just people partnering up to have a baby out of compassion," he said.

Arsenault says he donates sperm out of a sense of service to help people who want to have children but can't afford conventional sperm banks. The 36-year-old minister's son has four more children on the way.

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