Jeff Kern via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Jeff Kern via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

Retired Soccer Player Brandi Chastain Plans to Donate Her Brain to Science

Jeff Kern via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0
Jeff Kern via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.0

As the conversation around traumatic brain injury (TBI) continues, more and more professional athletes have come forward to share their concerns and offer their bodies for research. Today, The New York Times reported that retired soccer star Brandi Chastain has arranged to donate her brain to science after she dies in order to further research into a form of TBI called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). 

CTE is a progressive, degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head. It was originally known as dementia pugilistica, or boxers’ dementia, for its prevalence among professional fighters. Like other forms of TBI, CTE can cause memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, aggression, and, eventually, progressive dementia. There's currently only one reliable way to diagnose CTE: a postmortem brain examination.

In the United States, at least, the TBI discussion has recently been dominated by its effects on professional football players. But CTE can affect players of any contact sport, and scientists say that soccer players of all ages put themselves at risk by heading the ball. 

With both professional and youth sports on the line, researchers have ramped up their efforts to pinpoint the precise causes—and possible prevention of—CTE and other forms of TBI. But like so much research, there’s a huge gender imbalance in the study subjects. As The New York Times noted, Boston University CTE researchers have examined 307 brains, and only seven of those belonged to women. 

So Chastain decided to step up. At 47, the soccer star and youth coach has no plans to die anytime soon, but she’s glad to make the arrangements now. “People talk about what the '99 group did for women’s soccer,” she told The New York Times, referring to the 1999 World Cup win by the U.S. women's national soccer team. “They say, 'Oh, you left a legacy for the next generation.' This would be a more substantial legacy—something that could protect and save some kids, and to enhance and lift up soccer in a way that it hasn’t before.” 

Chastain is the second national women's soccer team player to decide to donate her brain; the first was Cindy Parlow Cone. Both brains will eventually go to a brain bank jointly run by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Boston University School of Medicine, the Washington Post reports.

Now Chastain intends to persuade some of her former teammates to do the same. “I’m trying to get [Abby Wambach] to come onboard because I think she will be an interesting brain study, decades from now, as the player who scored 75 goals with her head and probably put her head into places, like Michelle Akers, where they probably didn’t belong. How many times did she hit her head on the ground after being run over by somebody?” 

Learning about the research on CTE has convinced Chastain that heading the ball is a bad idea—especially for children. “My teams, my young team, U-10 Santa Clara Sporting, will not be heading the ball,” she told The New York Times. "And if it means giving up a goal, that’s O.K. Or we don’t score one, no problem.”

[h/t The New York Times]

Recall Alert: Swiss Rolls And Bread Sold at Walmart and Food Lion Linked to Salmonella
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // CC 1.0

New items have been added to the list of foods being recalled due to possible salmonella contamination. According to Fox Carolina, snack cakes and bread products produced by Flowers Foods, Inc. have been pulled from stores in Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

The baked goods company, based in Georgia, has reason to believe the whey powder it buys from a third-party supplier is tainted with salmonella. The ingredient is added to its Swiss rolls, which are sold under various brands, as well as its Captain John Derst’s Old Fashioned Bread. Popular chains that normally sell Flowers Foods products include Walmart and Food Lion.

The U.S. is in the middle of a salmonella outbreak. In June, Kellogg's recalled Honey Smacks due to contamination and the CDC is still urging consumers to avoid the brand. The cereal has sickened dozens of people since early March. So far, there have been no reported illnesses connected to the potential Flower Foods contamination.

You can find the full list of recalled items below. If you have one of these products in your kitchen, throw it out immediately or return it to the store where you bought it to be reimbursed.

  • Mrs. Freshley's Swiss Rolls
  • H-E-B Swiss Rolls
  • Food Lion Swiss Rolls
  • Baker's Treat Swiss Rolls
  • Market Square Swiss Rolls
  • Great Value Swiss Rolls
  • Captain John Derst's Old Fashioned Bread

[h/t Fox Carolina]

97 Percent of Us Are Washing Our Hands All Wrong

Most of us know the importance of washing our hands, but we're still pretty clueless when it comes to washing them the right way. As CNN reports, we fall short of washing our hands effectively 97 percent of the time.

That number comes from a new study conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that looked at 383 participants in a test-kitchen environment. When they were told to wash their hands, the vast majority of subjects walked away from the sink after less than 20 seconds—the minimum hand-washing time recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Many of them also failed to dry their hands with a clean towel.

The researchers had participants cooking and handling raw meats. Because they didn't wash their hands properly, volunteers were spreading potentially dangerous germs to spice jars 48 percent of the time, contaminating refrigerator handles 11 percent of the time, and doing the same to salads 5 percent of the time.

People who don't wash their hands the correct way risk spreading harmful microbes to everything they touch, making themselves and those they live with more susceptible to certain infections like gastrointestinal illness and respiratory infections. Luckily, the proper hand-washing protocol isn't that complicated: The biggest change most of us need to make is investing more time.

According to the CDC, you need to rub your hands with soapy water for at least 20 seconds to get rid of harmful bacteria. A helpful trick is to sing "Happy Birthday" twice as you wash—once you're finished, you should have passed the 20-second mark. And if your bathroom or kitchen doesn't have a clean towel to dry your hands with, let them air-dry. 

[h/t CNN]


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