Health Buzz: Father's Age Linked to Autism, Schizophrenia

Gray hair at 25? Here’s what you can do; plus, the hCG diet is still here

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Older Dads Pass Along More Mutations to Kids

Older men are more likely to father kids with genetic mutations, increasing the risk of autism, schizophrenia, and other diseases. That's according to new research published Wednesday in the journal Nature. "Conventional wisdom has been to blame developmental disorders of children on the age of mothers," study author Kari Stefansson, a human geneticist and neurologist at the University of Iceland, told Reuters. "(But) our results all point to the possibility that as a man ages, the number of hereditary mutations in his sperm increases. It is the age of fathers that appears to be the real culprit." Researchers found that about two more gene mutations appeared in kids for every year of increase in a father's age. Past studies support the findings: One, for example, suggested that men over 40 were nearly six times as likely as men under 30 to have an autistic child. 

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  • Gray Hair at 25? Yes. Here's What You Can Do 

    There's something to be said for turning into a silver fox. They're distinguished. Dapper. And … 25? 

    Indeed. Even teens and young adults can go gray, from a few streaks here and there to a full-on head of white. 

    Anne Kreamer was in her 20s when she started noticing gray strands. She spent 20 years concealing it with colors like magenta, until a eureka moment hit when she took a second look at a photo of herself. She returned to her gray roots and says she won't touch hair dye again. 

    "We live in very rough economic times—in an ageist culture," says Kreamer, author of Going Gray: What I Learned about Beauty, Sex, Work, Motherhood, Authenticity, and Everything Else that Really Matters. "Each person has to make their own decision at different points in their lives. If you're 40 and totally gray and unemployed, you might make a different decision than if you're 25 and have just a few gray strands, or if you're 55 and a stay-at-home writer." 

    The bad news: The premature graying problem is largely genetic. Hair follicles contain pigment cells that produce melanin, which gives your tresses their color. When your body stops generating melanin, hair presents itself as gray, white, or silver. (Melanin also provides moisture, so when less is produced, hair becomes brittle and loses its bounce.) "If your parents or grandparents grayed at an early age, you probably will too," says David Bank, director of the Center for Dermatology, Cosmetic, and Laser Surgery in Mt. Kisco, N.Y. "There's not much you can do to stop genetics." [Read more: Gray Hair at 25? Yes. Here's What You Can Do

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    • HCG Diet: You're Still Here? 

      As a registered dietitian, fad diets are one of my pet peeves, writes U.S. News blogger Keri Gans. But thankfully, most of them come and go so quickly that they are but a distant memory. However, the hCG diet just doesn't seem to disappear. I first found out about the hCG diet in April of 2008, when I was asked to speak about it on the Fox Morning Show with Mike and Juliet. Three years later, I was on the Dr. Oz Show once again speaking about this, in my opinion, crazy diet. 

      So what is the hCG Diet? HCG stands for human chorionic gonadotropin, a hormone found in the urine of pregnant women that supposedly works as an appetite suppressant. HCG is injected, typically into the thigh, or taken as a drop under the tongue. Along with a daily dose of this hormone, individuals are also placed on a 500-calorie diet, or more recently, 800 calories per day. 

      The hormone as a weight loss tool has not been substantiated by any conclusive scientific research. In my view, and that of many other health experts, the reason for weight loss is simply because of the diet's restrictiveness. Almost anyone who eats fewer than 1,200 calories per day will lose weight. But at what cost—physically, mentally, and financially? [Read more: HCG Diet: You're Still Here?