A community for people who want to remain as healthy as possible as we age.

July 4th fireworks: Fun but dangerous, feds warn

(CNN) Before lighting up that patriotic sparkler this weekend, remember to play it safe.

That was the message from the Consumer Product Safety Commission Tuesday, which put out an early July Fourth holiday warning urging families to put safety first when celebrating with fireworks…

According to the latest report from the CPSC, there were seven fireworks-related deaths and roughly 7,000 reported injuries in 2008.

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Increasing Alcohol Use Tied to More Hospitalization

(HealthDay News) -- The more alcohol men drink, the more time they spend in a hospital, research from the United Kingdom has found…

A unit of alcohol, or an average drink, was considered to be half a pint of beer (about a cup) or a 4-ounce glass of wine, for example, according to the study.

The researchers tracked the men's health for an average of 28 years, focusing on the occurrence of heart and respiratory diseases, stroke and alcohol-related illnesses and conditions.

Men who drank more than 22 units of alcohol a week had a 20 percent higher hospital admission rate than non-drinkers, the study found.

Even relatively low levels of alcohol consumption were associated with a higher number of days spent in the hospital, the researchers found. Drinkers of eight or more units of alcohol a week were hospitalized more days than non-drinkers, and the length of stay increased as weekly consumption of alcohol went up.

The heaviest drinkers spent 58 percent longer in a hospital than non-drinkers, according to the study.

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Study: New flu inefficient in attacking people

(AP) With swine flu continuing to spread around the world, researchers say they have found the reason it is — so far — more a series of local blazes than a wide-raging wildfire. The new virus, H1N1, has a protein on its surface that is not very efficient at binding with receptors in people's respiratory tracts, researchers … report.

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Diabetes, Prediabetes, and Metabolic Syndrome

(Arthur Agatston, MD, Everyday Health) If you are an American age 40 to 70, the odds are about 40 percent that you've been diagnosed with prediabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome. Shocked by this statistic? You should be! Not long ago, diabetes and prediabetes were rare. Now they are virtual epidemics in the United States, putting tens of millions of Americans at high risk for heart disease. In fact, diabetes is such a strong risk factor for heart disease that medical professionals define it as a "coronary heart disease risk equivalent." This means that a person with diabetes has the same high risk of a heart attack as someone who has already had one. Up to 70 percent of people in coronary care units have prediabetes or diabetes…

[N]ational guidelines recommend that people with diabetes keep their blood pressure below 130/80. Giving up cigarettes is even more important for people with diabetes than it is for others, because smoking and diabetes are a deadly combination. Type 2 diabetes is also closely linked with obesity (see Chapter 5), which explains why, as the American population gets fatter, the rate of type 2 diabetes is soaring. What is even more alarming is that there are millions more "diabetics in training" in our country today. I am speaking of our children, who, as they grow fatter and less fit, are rapidly becoming prediabetic or even diabetic. Type 2 diabetes can no longer be called an "adult-onset" disease.

Luckily, type 2 diabetes is largely a "man-made" disease that we can unmake if we set our minds to it. Exercise, weight loss, and strategic dietary changes — particularly eliminating the highly processed "bad carbs" found in baked goods, breads, snack foods, and other starchy and sugary favorites — are all very effective in reversing insulin resistance.

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History Of Periodontitis Linked To Cerebrovascular Disease In Men

(Science Daily) The results showed a significant association between periodontal bone loss and the incidence of stroke or TIA, independent of cardiovascular risk factors. This association was much stronger among men younger than 65 years old.

There are several possible pathways that could explain the association found in the study. There could be direct or indirect effects of the periodontal infection and the inflammatory response, or some people may have an increased pro-inflammatory susceptibility that could contribute to both cerebrovascular disease and periodontal disease.

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Prostate Cancer Patients Disease Free After Five Years Likely To Be Disease Free After 10 Years

(Science Daily) Prostate cancer patients who receive brachytherapy and remain free of disease for five years or greater are unlikely to have a recurrence at 10 years, according to a study.

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Alzheimer's Symptoms Reversed: Blood Stem Cell Growth Factor Reverses Memory Decline In Mice

(Science Daily) A human growth factor that stimulates blood stem cells to proliferate in the bone marrow reverses memory impairment in mice genetically altered to develop Alzheimer's disease, researchers … found.

The granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (GCSF) significantly reduced levels of the brain-clogging protein beta amyloid deposited in excess in the brains of the Alzheimer's mice, increased the production of new neurons and promoted nerve cell connections.

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Living Alone Increases Odds of Developing Dementia

(HealthDay News) Middle-aged adults who live alone are twice as likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer's disease later in life compared to those who are married or live with a partner. And the risk is three times higher among those who are divorced or widowed, according to a new study by Swedish and Finnish researchers.

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Community: All the more reason to participate in this community.

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Environmental Cues Control Reproductive Timing And Longevity

(Science Daily) When humans and animals delay reproduction because food or other resources are scarce, they may live longer to increase the impact of reproduction, according to a new study…

The discovery, which explains why starvation can lead to longer life, has important implications for improving human health and lengthening lifespan.

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Community: I, for one, am hoping that the measures for lengthening lifespan don't involve starving ourselves.

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"Boomeritis" hits aging athletes

(Reuters Health) Fifty may be the new thirty, but baby boomers' bodies haven't heard the news.

Orthopedic surgeons are seeing a "tidal wave" of 45- to 64-year-olds suffering from exercise-related injuries they've dubbed "boomeritis," Dr. Ray Monto, a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), told Reuters Health…

These injuries are largely due to people not giving themselves enough time to rest up after tough workouts, according to Monto… "You can't beat yourself up the way you did when you were 20 because it takes longer to recover," he said.

Middle-aged people today are a lot more active than their parents were, he added, which is a good thing. "We're basically fitter and more athletic now longer into our lives than we ever were."

But, he added, older athletes need to take a few precautions to protect themselves from injuries like rotator cuff tears, tendonitis and stress fractures.

Click here to read Dr. Monto’s suggestions for reducing the possibility of injury.

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Growth Hormone May Build Muscle in Older Men

(HealthDay News) -- Elderly men who exercised and received the growth hormone known as "mechano growth factor" (MGF) showed increased muscle mass, according to a British study.

The results suggest that MGF may help treat age-related loss of muscle strength, which causes increased fragility, said [researchers].

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Fight Cellulite Fast With Yoga

(Health Magazine) We asked New York City–based yoga and Pilates instructor (and Health Expert Network pro) Kristin McGee, star of fitness DVDs MTV Power Yoga and the new Weight Loss Pilates, to create a cellulite-busting routine that targets the butt and thighs, the areas most prone to dimpling.

Thanks to all those days spent sitting, fat pushes through weakened spots in the connective tissue beneath skin. But rebuilding muscle tone in those trouble spots and burning excess fat can help smooth out cellulite and prevent future dimpling, McGee says.

Do this 20-minute sequence three days a week—plus 30 minutes of vigorous cardio, four times a week—and you’ll see smoother skin in just six weeks.

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Community: I tend to be leery of claims for ways to reduce cellulite. Have you found anything that works for you?

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Seeking Natural Remedies for Hot Flashes

(New York Times) “Whether or not a product actually contains an ingredient and how much of it, we can’t say,” said Dr. Norman Farnsworth, the principal investigator of a 12-month study of black cohosh and red clover… The study was paid for by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Office of Dietary Supplements. Results are due in the fall, and the study’s researchers are hoping it will help determine the efficacy of the ingredients associated with menopause symptom relief.

But, the fact remains that even if black cohosh, for example, is found to deliver on its promise to reduce hot flashes, women may still find themselves confused when they are about to reach for something off the shelf.

“There could be a lot of sawdust in there,” Dr. Farnsworth said.

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What The Immune System Reveals About Breast Cancer

(Science Daily) Researchers … have unlocked the key to the immune system's significance in cases of breast cancer, thus identifying its long-neglected role in the prognosis of the disease. Their research results … show that patients with certain breast tumors have a better prognosis when more immune cells are present in the tumor.

These results permitted the scientists to extend the "coordinate system" in case of breast tumors to include the immune system as the third important reference point for the prognosis of this disease, in addition to the long-established prognostic factors of estrogen receptor expression and proliferative activity.

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U.S. orders suicide warnings on two anti-smoking drugs

(Reuters) - U.S. health officials on Wednesday ordered Pfizer Inc and GlaxoSmithKline PLC to add strong "black box" warnings on their anti-smoking drugs to highlight the risk of serious mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts.

The warnings, which must be added to Pfizer's Chantix and Glaxo's Zyban, follow more than five thousand reports of depression, hostility and other behavioral changes, the Food and Drug Administration said.

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With Medicare Plan, Drug Spending May Be Up

(HealthDay News) -- Older people who signed up for Medicare's prescription drug coverage, called Part D, spent more on drugs after enrolling than they had before but less on other types of medical care, researchers have found…

"This shows that those who didn't have drug coverage, once they did get it, accessed the medication they needed and that kept them out of doctors' offices and emergency rooms," said Joseph Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, who was not involved in the study. "We always said there would be savings in other parts of the system.

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Salamanders, Regenerative Wonders, Heal Like Mammals, People

(Science Daily) The salamander is a superhero of regeneration, able to replace lost limbs, damaged lungs, sliced spinal cord -- even bits of lopped-off brain.

But it turns out that remarkable ability isn't so mysterious after all -- suggesting that researchers could learn how to replicate it in people.

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Want to Live to 100? Introduce Yourself

(RealAge.com) Researchers recently examined the personalities of grown offspring of centenarians, with the assumption that the offspring have a good shot of living to 100, too. And what did the researchers find? Personality may play a role in longevity. The offspring were not only more outgoing but also had a knack for forming close friendships and for dealing with stress effectively. Makes sense when you consider other research has shown that these particular personality traits are associated with greater happiness, vitality, and longevity in older populations.

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Community: As usual, there’s no indication in this writeup whether you have to have an outgoing personality to begin with to get this benefit, or whether, if you’re naturally an isolater, working to develop friendships will help. It’s very frustrating that so many health studies, at least as reported, note correlations without trying to determine causation.

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How Old Do You Feel? It Depends on Your Age

(New York Times) The older people become, the younger they feel and the more likely they are to see “old age” as a time occurring later in life, according to a national survey on aging released on Monday…

Most adults over age 50 feel at least 10 years younger than their actual age, the survey found. One-third of those between 65 and 74 said they felt 10 to 19 years younger, and one-sixth of people 75 and older said they felt 20 years younger.

On average, survey respondents said old age begins at 68. But few people over 65 agreed; they said old age begins at 75.

Respondents under 30 said 60 marks the beginning of old age.

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Mississippi's still fattest but Alabama closing in

(AP) Obesity rates among adults rose in 23 states over the past year and didn't decline anywhere, says a new report…

And while the nation has long been bracing for a surge in Medicare as the boomers start turning 65, the new report makes clear that fat, not just age, will fuel much of those bills. In every state, the rate of obesity is higher among 55- to 64-year-olds — the oldest boomers — than among today's 65-and-beyond…

Health economists once made the harsh financial calculation that the obese would save money by dying sooner, notes Jeff Levi, executive director of the Trust, a nonprofit public health group. But more recent research instead suggests they live nearly as long but are much sicker for longer, requiring such costly interventions as knee replacements and diabetes care and dialysis. Studies show Medicare spends anywhere from $1,400 to $6,000 more annually on health care for an obese senior than for the non-obese.

"There isn't a magic bullet. We don't have a pill for it," said Levi, whose group is pushing for health reform legislation to include community-level programs that help people make healthier choices — like building sidewalks so people can walk their neighborhoods instead of drive, and providing healthier school lunches.

"It's not going to be solved in the doctor's office but in the community, where we change norms," Levi said.

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Community: You can start changing your own norms by participating in the discussion at Many Years Young.

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Tip of the Week: Surviving the Big BBQ Without Getting Bigger

(Shrink Yourself) The Fourth of July can set off the summer with a bang-fireworks, barbeques, and lots of mayonnaise-laden salads. Here are three quick tips to prepare yourself so that the first holiday of the season doesn't have to set you back for the rest of the summer.

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Choose This Cancer-Fighting Party Dip

(RealAge.com) Want a creamy, buttery party dip that you can serve without guilt at your backyard barbecue? Try some cancer-fighting guacamole…

A review of several studies shows that compounds in avocados may inhibit the growth of -- or even kill -- certain types of cancerous and precancerous cells. And the really good news? These compounds from avocados may be able to target cancer cells without harming normal, healthy cells.

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Smart Snacks From the Convenient Store

(SouthBeachDiet.com) What are the best food choices when you find yourself in a convenience store? First and foremost, don't stress out — even your local mini-mart has many South Beach Diet-friendly options! The most important rule: Bypass the highly processed foods that are filled with sugar and/or artery-clogging trans fats and saturated fats. These include chips, cookies, snack cakes, candy bars, nachos, frozen drinks, and other beverages made with added sugars. Now, take a few minutes to look around, and you'll probably find individual packets of roasted nuts and seeds — a reliable and tasty South Beach Diet snack. Many convenience stores also offer other healthy items, such as fresh fruit, fat-free or low-fat artificially sweetened flavored yogurt, reduced-fat cheese sticks, whole-grain crackers, lean deli meats, and low-fat cottage cheese. Any one of these snacks paired with a bottle of water or a diet soda is a suitable selection.

Another option is to pack a snack ahead of time if you know you'll be on the road. Having a healthy snack on hand is always a safe bet!

See all South Beach Diet Tips.

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Beat Your Stress Hormone

(Prevention Magazine) How managing cortisol can help you think faster, slim down, and even prevent a cold…

Cut Cortisol 20% - Say "Om"…

Cut Cortisol Elevation 66% - Make a great iPod mix…

Cut Cortisol 50% - Hit the sack early--or take a nap

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Statins Might Stave Off Alzheimer's

(HealthDay News) Scientists have long known that nerve cells in people with Alzheimer's die prematurely because they are strongly overstimulated, a process called excitotoxicity.

Theorizing that the cholesterol drug lovastatin might ward off cell death, researchers at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands, conducted animal experiments in which they administered lovastatin (Altoprev, Mevacor) to overstimulated nerve cells. Lovastatin is a first-generation member of a class of drugs, statins, that has revolutionized the treatment of high cholesterol.

Lovastatin did indeed prevent cell death and, just as important, blocked the loss of memory that accompanies excitotoxicity, according to the lead scientist on the project.

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Community: We learned recently that red yeast rice, available at pharmacies and health supplement stores, contains a low dose of naturally occurring lovastatin.

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FDA Panel Urges Ban on Vicodin, Percocet

(HealthDay News) The popular prescription painkillers Vicodin and Percocet, which combine acetaminophen with an opiate narcotic, should be banned, and the maximum dose of over-the-counter painkillers with acetaminophen, like Tylenol or Excedrin, should be lowered, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel urged Tuesday.

The panel's recommendations followed the release of an FDA report last month that found severe liver damage, and even death, can result from a lack of consumer awareness that acetaminophen -- which is easier on the stomach than such painkillers as aspirin and ibuprofen -- can cause such injury.

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U.S. Doctors Treat Heart Attack With Man's Own Stem Cells

(HealthDay News) American physicians say they've performed the first procedure in which a patient received injections of his own heart stem cells to repair heart attack damage.

The 39-year-old man is the first of 16 people who will undergo the procedure as part of a phase 1 clinical trial being conducted at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute in Los Angeles. Another eight people will act as controls.

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Community: Someday, stem cells will be used to grow all kinds of spare parts for the body.

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Depression, Anxiety Bad for the Heart

(HealthDay News) -- Two new studies show that problems with the mind can play a significant role in problems of the heart.

One study found that anxiety and depression can increase the incidence of angina, the chest pain that sends many people to the doctor…

Another report … linked depression with poor outcomes for people with both heart failure, the progressive loss of ability to pump blood, and the abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation.

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Some Mediterranean diet ingredients healthier than others

(HealthScout) Results from a new study suggest that some parts of the Mediterranean diet are more beneficial to good health than others. In a new study at the University of Athens, investigators found that eating large amounts of vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes and olive oil--along with avoiding the overconsumption of alcohol and meat--appears to help extend life. The researchers also found that eating lots of fish or seafood and limiting the intake of dairy products does not seem to increase longevity.

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Cancer boost from whole carrots

(BBC News) The anti-cancer properties of carrots are more potent if the vegetable is not cut up before cooking, research shows.

Scientists found "boiled before cut" carrots contained 25% more of the anti-cancer compound falcarinol than those chopped up first.

Experiments on rats fed falcarinol have shown they develop fewer tumours.

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Antioxidant may boost exercise endurance

(Reuters Health) - Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables rich in the antioxidant quercetin may boost endurance, according to a small study with healthy college students.

The 12 fit college students, who were not regular exercisers, were given quercetin supplements for 7 days, which appeared to boost exercise endurance compared with a similar 7-day period without supplements, researchers report…

Quercetin, a compound abundant in red apples, red onions, berries, cabbages and broccoli, and green and black teas, is believed to have multiple antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and cell-energy activation properties that benefit health.

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47,000 Elderly Hurt in Walker, Cane Mishaps Each Year

(HealthDay News) -- Each year, more than 47,000 elderly Americans are treated at hospital emergency departments for injuries from falls that involve walkers and canes, according to a federal government study released Monday.

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Community: I find my sense of balance deteriorating as I get older, which could increase the likelihood of falling. But I haven’t found any research on how to reduce the problem. Have you seen anything on it?

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Exercise Boosts Your Brainpower; Intensity May Matter

(U.S. News & World Report) In an attempt to hang on to your cognitive function as you age, you may do crossword puzzles, join a book club, or keep up friendships to stay connected. But to do all you can to maintain your mental abilities, you really should be exercising.

That's the conclusion of a review published this week by the Association for Psychological Science. It's not a new idea; the paper surveys the available research on the topic and concludes that cognitive enrichment activities—puzzles, social interaction, and the like—may well help you preserve brain function as you age. But they were especially complimentary towards physical activity. "What is most impressive to us," the authors write, "is the evidence demonstrating benefits of aerobic physical exercise on cognitive functioning in older adults."

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Eating Well On the Road

(HealthDay News) -- Don't let the road to a summer vacation put you on a crash course with an unhealthy, fast-food diet.

"Nowadays, you can eat a healthy, balanced, calorie-appropriate meal no matter where you travel," Duke University's Elisabetta Politi, nutrition director of the North Carolina school's diet and fitness center, said in a news release.

Click here for suggestions on how to eat better on the road.

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Is Coffee Bad for You? Actually, Drinking Coffee May Be Good for You

(U.S. News & World Report) It's believed to improve mood, alertness, and energy. But is coffee bad for you? Despite past concerns about coffee, tea, and other sources of caffeine being detrimental to health, recent research suggests that regular coffee consumption may reduce the risk of health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and liver cancer—and regular coffee drinkers might even live longer. "For most people [who] choose to drink coffee, the benefits probably outweigh the risks," says Donald Hensrud, chair of the division of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

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Eating Animal Fat May Lead to Pancreatic Cancer

(HealthDay News) -- Fat from red meat and dairy products can increase your risk for pancreatic cancer, researchers from the U.S. National Cancer Institute report…

[Dr. Brian M. Wolpin, oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston,] noted that in addition to the possibility of a link between pancreatic cancer and fat, there are other good reasons to limit consumption of red meat and animal fat, including an increased risk for other cancers.

People who eat a lot of red meat tend to engage in other unhealthy lifestyle behaviors, Wolpin said. "Whether it's red meat or a constituent of red meat or your overall lifestyle that matters, these studies cannot tease out to a convincing extent," he said. "But it's clear that lifestyle does impact this disease."

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Constipation May Lead to Other Problems

(HealthDay News) -- A very private health problem, it turns out, is associated with potentially significant and costly complications.

In a review of the scientific evidence, researchers found that constipation might lead to or boost the risk for more serious complications such as hemorrhoids, anal fissures, fecal incontinence, colonic conditions and urologic disorders…

[F]or preventing constipation, [Dr. Nicholas J. Talley, chairman of internal medicine at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville] said he's found that a well-balanced diet, exercise, a regular toileting pattern and not avoiding the urge to go when nature calls can help.

"Lifestyle is key for most," he said.

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Baby Boomers Caring For Elderly Parents - Six Tips For Overcoming Caregiver Stress and Guilt

(Diane Carbo, Aging Home Health Care) Guilt can mentally and emotionally imprison a person into making poor decisions or becoming totally immobilized to make any decision. Some individuals are more inclined to feel guilty than others. Learning to manage guilt is imperative for the physical and emotional well being of the care giver as well as the aging senior that are providing care.

Click here to read tips for dealing with guilt and overcoming caregiver stress.

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'Chemical Nose' May Sniff Out Cancer Earlier

(HealthDay News) -- Doctors may some day be able to sniff out cancer with a "chemical nose," a new report suggests.

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst say they have developed highly sensitive sensors that pick up subtle differences on the surface of a cell that indicate if it is healthy or cancerous, even whether the cancer is metastatic or not.

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