Life on steroids: ‘It’s my personal choice’

t’s the first of its kind in the UK, where doctors and nurses carry out blood and heart-function tests on users, while also giving advice about the substances they use.

Stewart came to the clinic because he had issues with his feet. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

He was very open about the drugs he was taking: “I take two injections at least, a week, each will have 500mg testosterone and 220mg trenbolone.”

He sometimes takes a third injection. Stewart’s been taking these doses for two to three years.

He said he decided to start when he reached his mid-30s: “I was always tempted in the gym, it works. I’d been training naturally for a long time, and I thought, ‘Hell, why not? Just try it.'”

‘More confidence’

He said they’re easy to access: “A lot of the boys in the gym, as soon as they get their membership, they get their steroids as well at the same time.”

Despite all the warnings about the long-term effects of steroids, Stewart is convinced that the positives outweigh the negatives.

“It’s my personal choice, and I don’t want to cause major illness to myself but they’ll also cause a lot of benefits. Testosterone makes you feel like a teenager again in terms of sex life, gives you more confidence, so you feel more outgoing. Some people say it’s aggression but it’s not, it’s just that you feel more confident.”

The doctors at the clinic were concerned about Stewart’s kidney and liver function and want to do further tests

According to government figures, at least 300,000 people in England and Wales have taken anabolic steroids.

It’s not illegal to take them, but it is illegal to buy and sell them.

NHS guidelines show that people who misuse steroids risk health problems like infertility and mood swings.

Paul’s story

Paul's arm and legs
Image captionPaul (not his real name) has only recently started taking steroids

‘Paul’ didn’t want to use his real name. He had been weightlifting since he was 15, and now, at the age 36, has just done his first 10-week course of steroids.

“Over the last eight or nine years, I’ve noticed I wasn’t making any gains [in the gym], I couldn’t change my training regime because of family or work commitments, so that’s what made me think let’s give it a go.”

“In those 10 weeks I made gains like I’d never made before, and that surprised me. I can see from that, it’s quite a hook.”

Family support

Paul’s wife is aware that he’s taking steroids: “She’s not 100%, but she said she’d rather be part of it in case something goes wrong, than me do it behind her back.

“She said she’s noticed a change in me. I’ve become happier. And she thinks we’ve become a bit closer because I’ve opened up a bit more.”

Paul had gone to the clinic to have his liver and kidney function tested, because it is weighing on his mind.

He said the only negative he’s noticed is some spots: “My main worry was if I started to get ‘shouty’ and aggressive, especially because I’m a big guy. I didn’t even get frustrated or wound up.”

Dr Greg James and Joanne Hughes

Dr Greg James volunteers at the Newport clinic. He outlined some of the possible side-effects of even a short course of anabolic steroids: “Bruising, rashes from injecting sites, abscess formation… Acute kidney injuries which can lead to long-term kidney problems, liver inflammations and problems. They could also have difficulties with mood swings and erectile dysfunction.”

He said clients react in two very different ways if they do have serious health issues, such as kidney failure.

“We’ve had patients who will see that evidence presented to them, and will do an about-face and say, ‘Right I’m not doing this any more, it’s clearly impacting on my health,’ and they stop.

“And we’ve got clients who will go the opposite direction and say, ‘Oh well, that’s reversible, this isn’t going to affect my long-term health etc’, which is a shame.”

Joanne Hughes is a community nurse at the clinic. She said she thinks steroid use is increasing: “Among whole generations, not just the young generation. We’ve seen patients coming in, in their 50s and 60s who’ve started steroids.”

Paul says he hopes if tests show steroids are having a negative impact on his health, he’d stop: “Hopefully if that ever happens I’ll be clever enough to say, ‘I’ve had my run at it.’ Especially as I’ve got young kids. As much as I love going to the gym, I’d be confident to make the right decision.”

Vagina rejuvenating therapies ‘pose serious risk’

woman in pain

Women are being warned against risky cosmetic “rejuvenating” procedures to reshape and tighten the vagina.

Experts say the “therapies”, offered by some private clinics in the UK and the US, pose a serious risk of burns, scarring and recurring pain.

Typically during these procedures, a probe is inserted into the vagina to heat or laser the vaginal tissue.

Although it is non-surgical and can be done in a lunch hour, it is not necessarily safe, say officials.

Laser and energy-based devices have been approved for use in destroying pre-cancerous cells in cervical or vaginal tissue, as well as genital warts, but they have not undergone testing for rejuvenation therapies.

Serious harm

US regulator the FDA says it will take action if deceptive marketing of the “dangerous procedure with no proven benefit” continues.

It says a growing number of manufacturers have been claiming the procedure can treat conditions and symptoms related to menopause, urinary incontinence or sexual function.

“These products have serious risks and don’t have adequate evidence to support their use for these purposes. We are deeply concerned women are being harmed,” says the FDA warning.

Paul Banwell, consultant plastic surgeon and member of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons, shared the FDA’s concerns: “There has been an exponential rise in the interest in women’s health and sexual well-being and whilst this should be encouraged, it is vital that any educational and treatment initiatives are provided in a sensitive manner free of any misleading or marketing hyperbole.”

Dr Vanessa Mackay, from the UK’s Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG), said: “There is no evidence to suggest that non-surgical ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ devices are effective in improving vaginal muscle tone or reshaping vaginal tissue. If women are concerned about the appearance or feel of their vagina, they should speak to a healthcare professional. It is important to remember, however, that every woman’s vagina is different. Labia are as individual as women themselves and vary in appearance and colour.

“To strengthen the muscles around the vagina, women are encouraged to try pelvic floor exercises which can help to improve muscle tone and sensitivity during sex.”

How to do pelvic floor exercises:

  • Sit or stand comfortably with knees slightly apart and then draw up the pelvic floor muscles as if trying to avoid passing urine
  • It is important not to tighten the stomach, buttock or thigh muscles during the exercises
  • Do 10 slow contractions, holding them for about 10 seconds each
  • The length of time can be increased gradually and the slow contractions can then be followed by a set of quick contractions
  • The whole process should be carried out three or four times a day

Vaginal dryness is a common but treatable problem that many women experience at some point in their lives.

It can be caused by a number of things including the menopause, breastfeeding, childbirth, not being aroused before sex and some types of contraception.

Women are encouraged to try self-help options before seeing a healthcare professional, including vaginal moisturisers and lubricants. If these aren’t effective, a doctor may prescribe vaginal oestrogen, says the RCOG.

Dengue fever outbreak stopped by special mosquitoes

Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying Wolbachia are reared in the Fiocruz laboratory in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Australian researchers say for the first time an entire city has been protected from viral disease dengue.

Captive-bred mosquitoes with a naturally occurring bacteria were released in the city of Townsville, where they mated with local mosquitoes.

By spreading the bacteria Wolbachia, which hinders dengue transmission, the city has been dengue-free since 2014.

Researchers from Monash University also believe their work could stop mosquito-borne diseases Zika and malaria.

“Nothing we’ve got is slowing these diseases down – they are getting worse,” said Scott O’Neill, director of the World Mosquito Program, quoted by the Guardian.

“I think we’ve got something here that’s going to have a significant impact and I think this study is the first indication that it’s looking very promising.”

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Over four monsoon seasons, researchers released the Wolbachia-carrying mosquitoes across 66km sq (25 sq miles) in the Queensland tropical town of 187,000 people.

The community embraced the project, with even school children releasing the special mosquitoes that passed on their bacteria to the local population of mosquitoes.

They have published their results, calling the trial the first citywide success.

“At a cost of around A$15 (£8.50) per person, the Townsville trial demonstrates the approach can be rolled out quickly, efficiently and cost effectively to help provide communities ongoing protection from mosquito-borne diseases,” Professor O’Neill said.

The programme is currently working in 11 countries and aims to deploy the Wolbachia mosquitoes in larger and poorer parts around the world with a target of reducing the cost to just US$1 (75p) per person.

The next step for the team is in Yogyakarta in Indonesia – a city of nearly 390,000 – where a randomised controlled trial is under way.

House of Fraser rescue deal falls through

House of Fraser sign

The future of House of Fraser has been thrown into doubt after its potential new owner walked away from a rescue.

C.banner, which owns the toy store Hamley’s, had planned to take control of the struggling department store chain and inject £70m of cash.

However, the Chinese firm said it would no longer proceed with its investment, plunging House of Fraser into crisis.

That deal would have involved closing 31 of its 59 stores, with the loss of 6,000 jobs.

House of Fraser agreed a controversial restructuring deal with its landlords in June to cut stores and save money. A legal challenge contesting the process has been made by landlords.

The retailer employs 17,500 people – 6,000 direct and 11,500 concession staff.

Andrew Busby, of the consultancy Retail Reflections, said the proposed rescue deal had “always been on fairly shaky ground” and its collapse did not surprise him.

The chain’s only chance of survival could be some type of merger with rival Debenhams. “House of Debenhams is becoming more and more of a reality – that’s the best outcome for House of Fraser,” he said.

“Unless you are Harrods or Selfridges the department store concept is not quite dead, but severely challenged.”

C.banner had been planning to raise the money needed to invest in House of Fraser by issuing new shares.

However, the Hong Kong-listed company’s shares have fallen by 70% in the past two months and it issued a profit warning on Wednesday.

In a statement to the Hong Kong stock exchange, C.banner said the share placing had been “rendered impracticable and inadvisable” and the agreement was therefore being terminated immediately.

House of Fraser Oxford StreetImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionHouse of Fraser’s flagship store on Oxford Street had been threatened with closure under the rescue deal

In response, House of Fraser said it was in talks with other investors and was exploring other financing options: “Discussions are ongoing and a further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

The loss-making department store chain is now understood to be talking to new potential buyers.

On Monday, it emerged that House of Fraser had been approached by Sports Direct founder Mike Ashley over a fresh investment deal.

He controls an 11.1% stake in House of Fraser and a near-30% stake in Debenhams.

E.On plans to cut 500 jobs in the UK

Flags outside German company E.On

German energy company E.On has announced it will cut 500 jobs at its UK operations.

The “big six” energy supplier said the cuts were needed because of rapid changes and “challenges of the UK energy market”.

It said the cuts, part of a £100m savings drive, would be voluntary and in non-customer facing operations.

E.On employs about 9,400 people in the UK, where it has some 4.6 million customers.

“I’m very aware this will be a difficult time for our colleagues, but our aim has always been to keep uncertainty to a minimum and I can assure everyone affected that we’ll be as supportive as we can,” said Michael Lewis, chief executive of E.On UK.

He added: “This is one element of our ongoing transformation which, in total, will help us achieve savings of around £100m across our mid-term plan.”

The company said it is in discussion with unions about the redundancies.

E.On said it was not yet possible to say how many workers at individual sites or specific business areas will be affected by the proposals.

In May, the company said that a fall in the number of UK customers had hit quarterly profits. E.On said its overall revenues were down 7%.

The company added that the lower value of the pound since the Brexit referendum vote had caused “currency-translation effects”.

Lord Mayor says Brexit hit to City less than feared

Canary Wharf skyline

The UK financial services sector will not be hit by Brexit as badly as feared, London’s Lord Mayor has said.

Charles Bowman told website Politico between 5,000 and 13,000 jobs could go by the UK’s departure on 30 March 2019.

The figure, which assumes the UK will secure a transition deal, is based on public Brexit job announcements by City firms and internal staff analysis.

In 2016, the consultancy Oliver Wyman predicted that the UK could see between 65,000 and 75,000 job losses.

That figure was based on the event of no deal being agreed between the EU and the UK – and on financial institutions shedding staff for months after the point that the UK formally leaves the UK.

The Bank of England was thought to have used the 75,000 figure as a “reasonable scenario”, particularly if there is no specific UK-EU financial services deal.

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The Lord Mayor is head of the City of London Corporation and his role it to promote the UK’s financial sector and London’s financial district, known as The City.

Mr Bowman’s new assumption is based on a 21-month transition period will be agreed, which would give the government and business until December 2020 to make Brexit arrangements.

He told Politico that the City feels increasingly confident that “barring dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s,” the transition period is a done deal.

Stephen Jones, the chief executive of lobbying group UK Finance, did not reject the new estimate for March 2019 but said the long term impact would depend on the eventual deal.

He told the BBC that “divorces can be messy or can be reasonable where both parties think of the children”.

Mr Bowman’s forecast comes just over a week after foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt warned of a “very real risk of a Brexit no deal by accident”.

Mr Hunt has warned that such an outcome would harm the EU because of its reliance on financial services provided by UK firms

Identical twin sisters to marry identical brothers, live happily ever after in same apartment

From left to right: Identical twins Krissie Bevier, Zack Lewan, Kassie Bevier and Nicholas Lewan are getting married.

Two sets of 24-year-old identical twins — who had their first date together and became engaged at the same time — are now preparing to tie the knot in Michigan this weekend before living together in a two-bedroom apartment.

Identical twins Krissie and Kassie Bevier, from Michigan Center, will marry Zack and Nick Lewan, from White Lake, in Grass Lake on Aug. 3 and 4, the Jackson Citizen Patriot reported. Krissie and Zack’s wedding will be held on Friday, while Kassie and Nick will get hitched on Saturday. The four will have their reception Saturday night.

From left, Kassie Bevier, Nicholas Lewan, Krissie Bevier and Zack Lewan discuss their wedding plans.  (Nikos Frazier /Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP )

“I’m in disbelief sometimes of just how everything happened,” Nick Lewan told WILX-TV .

The two sets of twins met at Grand Valley State University four years ago in a psychology class; the twins recalled the professor asking the class if there were any twins in attendance.

“Psychology loves twin studies,” Kassie Bevier told Jackson Citizen Patriot. “So the professor was like, ‘Are there any twins in the class? We’re going to talk about twins.’ And we both raise our hands.”

“I was looking around and I looked behind and I was like, ‘Oh. I’m in trouble now,'” Nick Lewan said.

Following class, the twins exchanged numbers and Kassie and Nick had their first date at church one Sunday morning. They also invited Krissie and Zack to tag along.

From left, couple Nicholas Lewan and Kassie Bevier and couple Krissie Bevier and Zack Lewan strike a pose.  (Nikos Frazier /Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP )

“We’re standing there in the church getting ready to sing and [the guys] just start belting it out,” Kassie recalled. “They were actually singing. My sister and I looked at each other like, ‘Who are these guys?'”

Shortly after, Krissie and Zack started dating too.

Last year, Nick and Zack Lewan proposed to the Bevier sisters on a trip to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. The brothers said they did not plan to “propose at the same time,” but it just happened.

“It basically happened at the same time … which is par for the course for us,” Kassie Bevier said. “We do things in twos.”

Kassie, meanwhile, claims the four of them don’t go everywhere together, but “90 percent of their dates turn into double dates.”

Following their wedding, the couples plan to move in together into a two-bedroom apartment in Fenton. But first, a relative gifted the couples with a stay at their house in Florida; both couples said they would go on their own for a few days apart but go to Disney World together.

The Beviers are working toward finishing their doctorates in physical therapy at the University of Michigan. Nick Lewan is pursuing his master’s degree in mental health counseling from Oakland University, while Zack Lewan works in vegetation management for an energy company.

“We’re individuals. We are all individuals,” Zack Lewan said. “We work differently and we have different interests, and just respect each other for those differences.”

From left, Krissie Bevier, Zack Lewan, Nicholas Lewan and Kassie Bevier pose for a photo.  (Nikos Frazier /Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP )

The couples believed they click so well because they were brought up in good families.

“I’m just really thankful that we met two girls — not just because they’re twins, but they grew up the same as we did,” Zack Lewan said.

“We just flow together and it makes sense,” Krissie Bevier said. “There is a special twin bond, and having someone who understands that is huge.”

Pittsburgh dad worked three jobs to surprise teen daughter with ‘dream’ dress

The father of 14-year-old Nevaeha Smith said he couldn't afford the dress she wanted for her 8th grade formal. But the tenacious dad from Pennsylvania worked multiple jobs and saved up enough money to surprise his daughter in an emotional video filmed by her mother.

A hefty price tag for an eighth grade formal outfit was well worth the “priceless” reaction one hardworking Pittsburgh dad earned when he presented his 14-year-old daughter with the dress of her dreams.

In recent days, footage of Nevaeha Smith’s ecstatic reaction to her dad’s special gift has gone viral online, with over 12 million views pouring in for the minute-long clip on Facebook.

According to ABC News, the teen was delighted to find the perfect look for the Ringgold Middle School in Monongahela, Pa. dance back in June, but fretted over the nearly $200 price tag.

“I looked at the price and I was like, “Uh, not really sure, but I can see what I can do,’” Ricky Smith said of the two-piece white-and-floral ensemble his daughter had her heart set on. The 36-year-old, who juggles shifts at McDonald’s, Popeye’s and a Circle K convenience store, made no promises at the time, but was privately determined to make it work.

Picking up extra shifts during his already hectic six-to-seven-day work weeks, Smith was able to make the extra money ahead of the big dance and buy the dress for Nevaeha. Her mom, Kelly Anne Flemming, proposed that the hardworking dad make the big reveal a surprise, so the pair coordinated for an unsuspecting Nevaeha to visit her dad during a shift at work, and Flemming tagged along with a camera.

“I was working at McDonald’s that day and I put the dress in the back,” Ricky told ABC. “She came and I brought it out and told her that her grandmother bought it for her and I told her, “This ain’t the dress you wanted, but I hope you like it.'”

“I was thinking, ‘This is going to be an old lady dress,'” Nevaeha recalled.

As Ricky dramatically unzips the garment bag, the teen’s jaw drops in total shock as she sees the special dress she wished for all along. Jumping to embrace her dad with a big hug, she immediately breaks down in tears.

“To see the look on her face it was priceless. All I can really do was smile,” the dad said.

Soon after, on June 15, Nevaeha was all smiles as she proudly – and appreciatively — wore the dress to the dance.

“I’m grateful that he found a way to get me the dress and I really appreciate how many jobs he worked,” she told CBS News.

“I just don’t want people to think just because you don’t have the money you can’t make your kids happy, because you can,” Ricky added.

Fans, too, chimed in with messages of support online.

“I couldn’t stop crying watching the video. Beautiful and grateful young lady. Her daddy is equally amazing. Believe his little girl will make him proud. Congrats young lady on graduating 8th” one supporter wrote on Facebook.

“Her smile and those tears are what a daddy’s love should be about! Thank you to her daddy for making her know what love really is,” another agreed.

CEO of curve-friendly fashion brand focusing on older demographic next: ‘We are all about body positivity’

The CEO of Babes and Felines (not pictured) first set out to cater to curvier clientele; Kim Kardashian was even a customer during her first pregnancy.

Who run the world? Curvy girls, if you ask Ciera Rogers, CEO of hip-hugging fashion brand Babes and Felines.

“Our bodies change so much as women,” the Instagram influencer-turned-designer tells The Post. “So we are all about body positivity in every shape and size.”

In 2012, the Houston native set out to provide sexy clothing for a then-underserved Instagram demographic: curvy women.

Her ultra-clingy basics are shot on models with all manner of body “imperfections” — back rolls, stretch marks, cellulite, you name it.

Even curve queen Kim Kardashian is a fan: During her first pregnancy with North West, she shimmied into the brand’s clingy styles (similar to this $40 tube dress).

Up next for Rogers and her skintight wares? Clothes for older women. “We want to expand more into a mature market,” she says. “I have so many women who are 50-plus who want my pieces catered to them and their lifestyles.”

Florida barber’s bloody ear prank on 10-year-old boy sparks mixed reactions

One Florida barber pretended to cut off a 10-year-old customer’s ear during a haircut as revenge for a previous prank by the boy.

One Florida barber has gone viral online for a practical joke shared to YouTube, during which he pretends to cut off a 10-year-old boy’s ear during a routine haircut.

Jude Sannicandro of Naples, Fla., successfully pulled the prank on Vito DiPalma, who is a longtime customer and family friend, on July 27. According to Sannicandro, owner of the (somewhat ironically named) barber shop Hair Medics, the gory stunt was well deserved: 10-year-old DiPalma seriously spooked Sannicandro two months ago by placing a fake cockroach in the barber shop.

“It scared the crap out of me, especially because earlier that day, there was a real cockroach in our bathroom. I told Vito that he opened a can of worms, but he said that he wasn’t scared and was too old to cry,” the 43-year-old barber told Yahoo Lifestyle.

After getting permission from DiPalma’s parents, Sannicandro decided to exact his revenge.

In the three-minute YouTube clip, which has since been viewed over 17 million times and shared 326,000 time on Facebook, Sannicandro was cutting the youngster’s hair with an electric buzzer as he reminds him to “be careful, this is a real sharp one.”

Then, he pretends to nick DiPalma’s right ear.

Grabbing paper towels to blot the “cut,” the boy asks “Am I bleeding?” Sannicandro nervously replies, “Maybe a little bit,” as fake blood gushes down DiPalma’s cheek.

“I think we need to call an ambulance,” Sannicandro says, “I’ve never had anything like this happen before, I don’t know what to do. DiPalma asks for his mom and Sannicandro “drops” a fake, bloodied ear on the ground.

“Is that my ear?!” DiPalma cries as his mom rushes over – before Sannicandro grandly reveals it was all a joke.

“Hey, remember that roach prank when you said I couldn’t make you cry? … You’re fine,” he laughs, pulling away the paper towel from DiPalma’s (fully intact) right ear.

“He got you!” DiPalma’s mom chimes in.

“But I did not cry,” the brave youngster declares. “I’m shivering.”

In the days since, the gag has sparked mixed reactions online across multiple platforms.

“Well played Sir!” one YouTube fan wrote. “Epic!!” another agreed.

Facebook users, meanwhile, were more divided.

“You shouldn’t do this to a child,” one critic clapped.

“This terrible. NOT FUNNY,” another agreed.

“Hysterical but mean,” one said.

Sannicandro, meanwhile, is standing by his stunt.

“I wouldn’t have pulled this on anyone else but Vito — he’s a unique old soul, and I’ve been cutting his hair since he was a baby,” he told Yahoo of the prank.