Blog Posts by Sarah B. Weir, Shine Senior Writer

  • Herbal-Supplement Scam: Tests Reveal Fake and Dangerous Ingredients

    Supplements may contain weeds, toxins, and cheap fillers

    If you are one of the nearly 40 percent of Americans who have tried an herbal supplement, you might want to think twice before spending $10, $20, or more on another bottle. Findings of a recent study, using DNA analysis, suggest that many plant-based remedies on the market today may be made of cheap fillers, such as soy, rice, and wheat, or contain weeds or potentially harmful contaminants.

    Scientists from the University of Guelph in Ontario tested 44 popular herbal supplements (such as St. John's wort and echinacea) that are sold by 12 different companies in Canada and the United States. They found that one-third of the supplements contained none of the plant extracts indicated on the product label. Fifty-nine percent were contaminated with plant species not listed on the ingredients list, including some that were considered toxic or allergy producing, as well as other potentially hazardous substances. Only two out of 12 companies sold supplements that were all completely genuine and

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  • Want to Decode Your Dog? It's All About the Wag

    Dogs' tail wagging reveals their mood to humans—and other dogs (photo by Getty)
    Tail wagging is not merely the sign of a happy dog, new research shows; it's more complex than that. A right wag often means something very different from a left wag. In a study published in the Journal of Current Biology, scientists showed that the direction of the wag signals whether a dog is feeling anxious or amicable. Just as significant, other canines can read those signals and respond accordingly.

    More on Yahoo: Houdini Dog Cleverly Escapes Shelter

    The researchers previously published work that showed dogs wagged their tails predominantly to the right (from the dog's point of view) when they saw something that made them happy, such as their owner approaching, and more to the left when they were stressed out by a larger dog or another stimuli they found threatening. The scientists, in this new study, built on that research by investigating how dogs might respond to the tail wagging of other canines.

    More on Yahoo: Cat Behavior Demystified: Video Translates Feline Language for

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  • Brooke Greenberg: 20-Year-Old "Toddler's" Legacy of Hope and Love

    The Greenberg Family (Photo by Getty)The baffling case of Brooke Greenberg, a 20-year-old who never developed beyond the  toddler stage, may provide clues to help scientists unlock the secrets of longevity and fight age-related disorders, such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and heart disease. Brooke, who passed away last Thursday, had the body and cognitive function of a 1-year-old. She didn't grow after the age of 5 — and basically, she stopped aging entirely.

    "Brooke Greenberg, even after her sad passing, may help to reveal answers to one of the major mysteries in human biology: Why do we age and is there any way to slow or suspend the aging process?" Dr. Eric Schadt, director of the Icahn Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, tells Yahoo Shine.

    Brooke may have been the only person in the world suffering from a mysterious genetic disease that her doctors called Syndrome X. "Finding out that her DNA makeup is completely different than anyone else brought to our attention

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  • Birthday Cake Is the New 'It' Flavor (Bye-Bye, Bacon)

    (Photo by: Getty Images)Everybody likes to feel special, and the one day a year when that's practically guaranteed is your birthday. Now that special feeling is the basis of the trendiest new flavor for sweets. Yes, getting older can be hard and many of us have experienced an "It's my party and I'll cry if I want to" moment, but step into a kitchen where a simple yellow cake is baking and you may just feel like a wide-eyed kid excited to blow out a bunch of candles. "Birthday cake is a time machine to a happy place," New York City's current cupcake queen, Allison Robicelli, who co-authored the new book "Robicelli's: A Love Story, With Cupcakes" with her husband, Matt, tells Yahoo Shine. And that's what manufacturers are betting on with the huge range of birthday-cake flavored items on the market today.

    More on Yahoo: Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte Was Almost Never Created

    There is birthday-cake-flavored yogurt, popcorn, candy, iced blended tea, and more. M&Ms recently announced that it would be releasing a

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  • Student With Down Syndrome Scores Awesome Touchdown

    Simon Roussel, a senior with Down syndrome at Mandeville High School in Louisiana, loves football. And it's a serious sport in his part of the country. "Football is big and competitive in our entire state," varsity coach Guy LeCompte tells Yahoo Shine. LeCompte says he noticed Simon's enthusiasm for the game in a special-education PE class, and so the school made him an assistant to the coaching staff. The school system has the largest population of special-needs kids in the state, and its motto is, "Every child, every day."

    More on Yahoo: Teen Inspires Entire Team of Runners

    For the past six years, Simon has managed Mandeville's freshman team. "The coaches wear visors, a towel around their necks, and carry playbooks, and so does Simon," says LeCompte. He adds that although Simon has a speech impediment, he gives the pep talk before and after the games and the players all cheer like crazy.

    On Wednesday, at the team's final game — and Simon's last game ever as manager because he'll be

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  • Possible New Marines Uniform Dismissed as too 'Girly'

    Far left: current male cover. Center left: possible alternation. Center right: current female cover. Far right: 'Dan Daly cap' (Courtesy USMC)


    UPDATE: Post-publication of this story, the official Marine Corps Facebook page released the following statement:

    "Despite what you may have seen in other headlines, there will be no change to the male uniform cover. Straight from the Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos:

    1. The President in no way, shape or form directed the Marine Corps to change our uniform cover.
    2. We are looking for a new cover for our female Marines for one overriding reason: the former manufacturer went out of business.
    3. The Marine Corps has zero intention of changing the male cover."


    Crank up the defibrillator: The New York Post is having a coronary over what it says is "Obama's plan" to sissify the United States Marines. "A change to the Marine Corps' uniform hats could take the hard-nosed Leathernecks from the Halls of Montezuma to the shops of Christopher Street," gasps the tabloid in what it calls an "exclusive" article headlined "Obama wants marines to wear 'girly' hats." Christopher Street is

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  • Meet the Godparents of Newly Christened Prince George

    Photo by AP Photo/John Stillwell/PoolPrince George Louis Alexander's christening took place on Wednesday in a brief private ceremony at the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace. The baby, who turned 3 months old on Tuesday, looked robust and adorable in a frilly ivory christening robe.

    More on Yahoo: Celebrity Photographer Snapped Up for Royal Christening

    The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge selected two hymns, two lessons, and two anthems for the service, and Prince Harry and Pippa Middleton each recited a reading.

    Catherine Middleton looked chic and feminine wearing a beautifully tailored ivory coatdress by Alexander McQueen—the same house that designed her wedding gown—featuring a dramatic ruffle down the front, which echoed the lace details on baby George’s robe. She wore a fascinator by Jane Taylor Millinery, tilted elegantly on her head with a swish of netting and a large silk rose. Pippa Middleton and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, also wore ivory.

    The chapel where the ceremony was held was built by King Henry the VIII

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  • Want Your Youngest Child to Achieve? Treat Him Like He's Your Oldest

    Brothers (photo: Getty Images)A new study indicates that first-born children perform better in school and also suggests why. It's not that they are smarter or have higher self-esteem, but that their parents are tougher on them. "People shouldn't feel limited because they are the second or third child," V. Joseph Host of Duke University, tells Yahoo Shine. "Yes, there are birth order patterns to what we accomplish, but these accomplishments are influenced by many different factors, including how we are raised by our parents." Host co-authored the paper with Juan Patano of Washington University.

    More on Yahoo: Parents Feel Weighed Down by Kids' Homework Burden

    The authors, who are both economists, looked at data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth, which surveyed more than 12,000 participants. The study controlled gender, divorce, family size, and other factors that might have influenced the outcomes. They found that parents of earlier-born children were harder on them when they brought home poor grades

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  • Amid Suspicion, Europe's Roma Struggle to Find Home

    Roma couple charged with child abduction (Getty) The recent discovery of a pale, blond little girl hiding under a blanket in a Roma encampment in Greece has spotlighted a group perceived by many as "Gypsies," a term without much context and cultural immediacy in America. But for Europeans, issues surrounding of the Romani people — their identity and how they fit into today's society — are very real and extremely controversial.

    Related: Greece Trying to Identify Girl Found in Roma Camp

    The girl, known as Maria and called the "blonde angel" by the Greek media, was found when police raided a settlement near the city of Larissa, about 170 miles north of Athens, looking for drugs, weapons, and other contraband. She was the only fair, blue-eyed child in a family of 13 kids, and her parents offered conflicting stories about how she had ended up in their care. On Monday, Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou were charged with abducting a minor. While there are countless unanswered questions surrounding the case — for one, the births of

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  • Perfect Pizza? There's a Formula for That

    Photo courtesy Stella Barra PizzeriaThere are a lot of pizza geeks out there, but mathematics professor Eugenia Cheng, PhD, has one-upped them all by devising up with a mathematical formula to express the toppings-to-dough-to-size ratio of the perfect pie. Cheng, a professor at the University of Sheffield in England who is currently guest lecturing at the University of Chicago, was contacted by the UK chain PizzaExpress after employees noticed that their new 14-inch pizza was being eagerly gobbled up by diners, despite the fact it used the same exact amount of dough and topping as their classic 11-inch pizza. Cheng previously calculated what proportions comprise the ultimate British "cream tea" (scones with clotted cream and jam). "I love math and food, and I like putting them together," Cheng tells Yahoo Shine. "People find food fun, but math, not so fun."

    More on Yahoo: The Amazing Facts About Domino's Dough

    To dissect her latest culinary challenge, Cheng dug out her favorite cookbook, a worn copy of the British

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