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

Monkeys live longer on low-cal diet; would humans?

(AP) Eat less, live longer? It seems to work for monkeys: A 20-year study found cutting calories by almost a third slowed their aging and fended off death. This is not about a quick diet to shed a few pounds. Scientists have long known they could increase the lifespan of mice and more primitive creatures — worms, flies — with deep, long-term cuts from normal consumption.

Now comes the first evidence that such reductions delay the diseases of aging in primates, too — rhesus monkeys living at the Wisconsin National Primate Center

What about those other primates, humans? Nobody knows yet if people in a world better known for pigging out could stand the deprivation long enough to make a difference, much less how it would affect our more complex bodies. Still, small attempts to tell are under way.

"What we would really like is not so much that people should live longer but that people should live healthier," said Dr. David Finkelstein of the National Institute on Aging. The Wisconsin monkeys seemed to do both.

Read more.

Community: But can a life without any hot fudge sundaes, ever, be worth living?

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Your Guide to Better Sleep

(RealAge.com) Are you getting enough sleep? While everyone’s needs are different, the National Sleep Foundation recommends getting seven to eight quality hours of sleep per night. Yet millions of Americans have trouble sleeping.

The good news is, making small changes to your daily routines could help you get a better night’s sleep at night. Try these tips to get your body ready for bed all day long.

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Study: Great sex is about connection, intimacy

(Canwest News Service) [A new study] suggests that sexual fulfilment has far less to do with technique and perfect bodies -- the elements most often ascribed great significance by popular culture -- and more to do with such factors as presence, connection and erotic intimacy.

"Unfortunately, popular culture tells people that great sex is about varying your routines, trying new positions, buying new sex toys," says Peggy Kleinplatz, lead author of the study…

These findings are significant, she said, because knowing what constitutes great sex is the first step in getting there.

For the study, Kleinplatz and her colleagues interviewed 64 people -- from all over the world but most from the United States -- who said they had experienced great sex. Twenty-five of those were 60 or older -- recruited specifically for their age and experience in long-term relationships.

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Where to Turn Your Eyes for Stress Relief

(RealAge.com) Next time you feel like you’re about to lose it, switch off your computer monitor and take a look out the window.


New research shows it might be just that simple. Looking at a landscape in the middle of a stressful situation helps calm your heart rate.

Read more.

Community: My computer desktop background is a photograph of Mount Fuji that is very beautiful and calming.

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The tea spray that can prevent skin cancer

(The Daily Mail, U.K.) A spray made from green tea could protect your skin against cancer. Experiments have shown the spray reduced the damaging effects of the sun's ultraviolet light…

Powerful disease-fighting chemicals, called polyphenols, are thought to explain tea's beneficial effects on the skin…

Although sunscreens can protect the skin, scientists now believe that tea could help prevent the cellular damage that leads to cancer.

Read more.

Community: When you start to see ads for sunscreen that contain tea extract, remember that you read about it here first.

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Crash Diets Harm Your Health and Heart

That crash dieting doesn’t work and can be dangerous is a message that gets lost in the national clamor over rising rates of overweight and obesity…

Research suggests rapid weight loss can slow your metabolism, leading to future weight gain, and deprive your body of essential nutrients. What’s more, crash diets can weaken your immune system and increase your risk of dehydration, heart palpitations, and cardiac stress.

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Anti-obesity product safe in mid-stage study

(Reuters) Amylin Pharmaceuticals Inc said on Thursday a mid-stage study of its combination obesity product involving versions of hormones linked to appetite and metabolism yielded positive results…

The combination therapy had no suggestion of side effects involving the heart or brain -- issues that have doomed other potential obesity treatments.

Amylin said the results confirm previous mid-stage results with the combination product and "provide a solid foundation for the company's ongoing obesity development program."

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Community: Didn’t they think fen/fen was safe when they first started selling it?

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Getting the Right Diagnostic Tests

(Arthur Agatston, MD, Everyday Health) Doctors now have the diagnostic tools to detect cardiovascular disease in its earliest stages, years if not decades before a heart attack or stroke occurs. Unfortunately, too few people are taking advantage of these tools. For this reason, I encourage you to read this part of the program and discuss what you learn with your doctor. It describes the most up-to-date tests for predicting whether you're a candidate for a heart attack or stroke, as well as the appropriate follow-up tests.

Although sophisticated tests are becoming more and more widely used, there are still some places in the United States where they may not be available. If so, I recommend contacting the nearest major medical center affiliated with a university to seek a referral to a prevention-oriented physician or a prevention clinic…

I believe that getting these tests is one of the best investments you will ever make.

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Study: 1 in 3 breast cancer patients overtreated

(AP) One in three breast cancer patients identified in public screening programs may be treated unnecessarily, a new study says…

Some cancers never cause symptoms or death, and can grow too slowly to ever affect patients. As it is impossible to distinguish between those and deadly cancers, any identified cancer is treated. But the treatments can have harmful side-effects and be psychologically scarring.

Read more.

Community: As a breast cancer survivor myself, I can tell you that when you’re diagnosed with cancer, you want the treatment. You want it out of you. Slow growing or not.

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A pill for longer life?

(Nature) Rapamycin, a drug commonly used in humans to prevent transplanted organs from being rejected, has been found to extend the lives of mice by up to 14% — even when given to the mice late in life…

The researchers caution, however, that using this drug to extend the lifespan of humans might be problematic because it suppresses the immune system — potentially making people who take it more susceptible to infectious diseases.

Read more.

Community: The one hand giveth, and the other hand taketh away.

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More Americans than ever are obese: CDC

(Reuters) - Americans are getting heavier than ever, with more than 26 percent of the population now fully obese, the U.S. government reported on Wednesday

Despite warnings that the population must stop layering on the fat and frightening statistics that show two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, the weight trend continues, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

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Health Tip: Negative Body Image Can Affect Your Health

(HealthDay News) -- Your body image describes your appearance and the way you see yourself.

This isn't a superficial concept, warns Planned Parenthood. The group says a negative body image, if severe enough, can:

• Increase your risk of depression and anxiety.

• Trigger feelings of low self-esteem.

• Make it difficult for you to concentrate.

• Lead you to engage in risky behavior.

• Lead to social isolation.

• Spawn mental health issues, such as an eating disorder.

• Lead you to avoid a healthy lifestyle, including eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise.

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Vegetable Amino Acid Lowers Blood Pressure

(HealthDay News) -- Researchers say they have discovered that one of the most common amino acids in vegetable protein seems to lower blood pressure…

The relationship between higher glutamic acid intake and lower blood pressure seen in the study of 4,680 people in China, Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom was not unexpected, said Ian J. Brown, a … member of the research team.

"It is compatible with earlier findings that a diet high in vegetable proteins, those found in beans, whole grains, rice, soy products and bread, is associated with lower blood pressure," Brown said…

But diet is not the only factor to be considered in attacking high blood pressure, [study author Dr. Jeremiah] Stamler said.

"We must also consider obesity, high salt intake, high alcohol intake and high potassium intake, among other risk factors," he said.

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Meatless Burgers, Hot Dogs Not Always Full of Veggies

(HealthDay News) -- Not all vegetarian burgers and hot dogs are alike. It seems that some, in fact, may not offer much at all in the way of vegetables.

"Arguably, if food doesn't taste good, people are less likely to eat it even if it does wear an impressive nutrition label," registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association, said in a news release from the organization. "While some veggie burgers are meant to look and taste 'like meat,' many popular brands have visible chunks of vegetables, such as mushrooms, carrots and peppers, suggesting that satisfying meatless fare may not depend entirely on a successful imitation."

So before tossing some on the grill this summer, the association advises, read the labels and know the facts.

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It’s Official: Strength Training Helps Older People Function Better

(Katherine Hobson, On Fitness, U.S. News & World Report) You now really have no excuse; a review of research finds that strength training improves strength and the performance of daily activities in older adults. That's the word from the Cochrane Collaboration…

[See a slide show of 10 excuses for not exercising, and why they won't fly.]

Progressive resistance training—training that increases the weight or resistance as you improve—not only strengthens older people but improves their ability to perform activities like walking, climbing steps, and even taking a bath or making dinner, says the review. It also appears to reduce pain from arthritis. The authors' one caveat: The 121 trials whose data they analyzed did not give enough evidence to assess the risks of strength training or the effects over the long term.

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Greater Language Skills in 20s May Guard Against Alzheimer's

(HealthDay News) -- Women with greater language abilities in early adulthood were less likely to have Alzheimer's disease later in life, even when autopsies revealed the clear brain changes that are hallmarks of the disease.

Also, the brains of women without symptoms of Alzheimer's housed bigger neurons, according to a study…

It's possible that the larger neurons compensated for the brain plaques and tangles that are usually indicative of Alzheimer's, the authors stated.

The findings could also mean that language abilities in the early 20s can predict the risk of developing dementia several decades later.

A previous study, this one in men, also found larger neurons in individuals who had plaques and tangles but no clinical evidence of Alzheimer's.

Read more.

Community: The title of this article is another example of a cause and effect assumption that may not be warranted. It’s not clear from the article that the language skill “guarded” against Alzheimer’s. Rather, the bigger neurons could have provided both the greater language skills and the protection against the disease. I really wish science writers would be more careful about this kind of wording.

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Inflammation May Trigger Alzheimer's Disease

(Science Daily) The anti-inflammatory drug indomethacin could hold promise as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease, says a Saint Louis University doctor and researcher.

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Treating Heart Failure: The Smartest Approach

About 5 million people in the United States have heart failure, and 300,000 die from it every year. (Compare that with the 570,000 annual deaths caused by every kind of cancer.) Indeed, heart failure—the heart can't pump enough blood through the body—is the most common reason older folks wind up in the hospital, and more than 1 in 4 heart-failure patients must be hospitalized again within a month of being discharged, according to a recent study… That's despite the fact, the American Heart Association contends, that most of these rehospitalizations are preventable. "We can take the failure out of heart failure if we use all of the available treatment strategies to the best of our abilities," says AHA President Clyde Yancy…

The problem, he says, is that many hospitals and doctors still aren't following the AHA's evidence-based guidelines for treating heart disease, which have been shown to reduce the rate of rehospitalization or death by more than 20 percent in the first two months after patients leave the hospital. The organization says about 460 hospitals in the United States are currently enrolled in its "get with the guidelines" program, whose website allows doctors to enter information about a heart-failure patient and get a recommended course of treatment that might include a combination of medications, dietary restrictions, and possibly an implantable pacemaker.

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Prostate Drug Appears Safer Than Thought

(HealthDay News) -- Doctors don't have to be so cautious in prescribing the drug finasteride to men at risk for prostate cancer, a new study suggests…

[According to the study,] the drug does not increase the risk for aggressive prostate cancer but simply makes it easier to diagnose.

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Diet, smoking, exercise key in colon cancer risk

(Reuters Health) People who want to reduce their risk of colon cancer may want to start exercising more and cutting down on red meat and alcohol, a new research review suggests.

Such measures -- along with not smoking -- may be key lifestyle choices in preventing the cancer, according to the analysis, which looked at more than 100 previous studies on colon cancer risk factors.

Overall, researchers found, high intake of red and processed meats, smoking, obesity and diabetes were all linked to a 20 percent increase in the risk of colorectal cancer. In contrast, people who exercised the most had a 20 percent lower risk of the disease than their sedentary counterparts.

Read more.

Community: And don’t forget that colon cancer is preventable if polyps are caught early, before they become cancerous. Colonoscopy seems to be the best way to detect them and facilitate removal.

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[Restaurant] Calorie counts for better food choices

(Editorial, The Fresno Bee) It's a lot easier to face the nutritional reality of what you're eating if the facts are presented in a place where they're hard to avoid. That's why we're happy that California has become the first state to require chain restaurants to disclose the calorie counts of almost everything on their menus…

It remains to be seen whether being told that the fast-food burger you're about to order has nearly 1,000 calories and several days worth of fat will change our willingness to consume it.

But it seems undeniable that the new requirements will at least reduce our capacity to deny just how fattening many of our favorite foods are. Hopefully, that will be a first step toward making healthier choices.

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Iced Tea: More Than Just a Refreshing Drink

(SouthBeachDiet.com) All black and green teas, iced or hot, contain antioxidants called polyphenols. Research suggests that polyphenols work to track down free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage cell structure. By combating free radicals, antioxidants may be able to prevent widespread cell damage and, therefore, decrease the risk of heart disease and cancer.

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Combating the latest supergerms

(CNN) "Drug-resistant bacteria have developed in large part because of our overuse and misuse of antibiotics -- and it has led us to a crisis point," said Dr. Helen W. Boucher, a specialist in the division of infectious diseases at Tufts Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. "We're even seeing bugs today that are resistant to all antibiotics."

But while some germs may be outpacing our ability to kill them, we're not completely defenseless. In fact, there are plenty of things we can do to slow their spread. Here, five of the scariest threats right now, and what you can do to keep yourself and future generations safe.

Read more.

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Fat-Cell Protein May Reduce Diabetes Risk

(HealthDay News) Higher levels of a protein created by fat cells are associated with a lessened risk of type 2 diabetes.

The protein, adiponectin, appears to have anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing capabilities, according to a study…

"Our finding was that adiponectin is associated with a low risk of type 2 diabetes, and the effect is quite pronounced," said the study's senior author.

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Cholesterol-regulating Genes Identified

(Science Daily) Scientists … have come a step closer to understanding how cholesterol levels are regulated… Besides giving scientists a better idea of where to look to uncover the mechanisms that ensure cholesterol balance is maintained, the discovery could lead to new treatments for cholesterol-related diseases.

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New MRI Technique Could Mean Fewer Breast Biopsies In High-risk Women

(Science Daily) [Researchers] have developed a method that, applied in MRI scans of the breast, could spare some women with increased breast cancer risk the pain and stress of having to endure a biopsy of a questionable lump or lesion.

The universal technology will give radiologists greater confidence in visually classifying a lesion as malignant or benign.

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Md. doctor: Kidney transplant record achieved

(AP) A transplant surgeon who completed an unprecedented eight-way kidney swap this week said Tuesday he believes such intricate, multistate exchanges can drastically reduce the number of patients waiting for eligible donors…

The donor pool in the United States could facilitate 1,500 transplants per year if transplant centers nationwide participated in computer modeling that matches donors with recipients, [Dr. Robert] Montgomery said.

Multiple-kidney transplants occur when several people who need transplants have friends or relatives who are willing to donate kidneys but aren't compatible. A chain of surgeries is arranged in which each donor is matched with a transplant candidate who they don't know but is compatible with the kidney being given up. The chain of transplants typically also involve a so-called altruistic donor, who's willing to give a kidney to anyone and is located through a database.

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Alzheimer's Research Pinpoints Antibodies That May Prevent Disease

(Science Daily) Antibodies to a wide range of substances that can aggregate to form plaques, such as those found in Alzheimer's patients, have been identified in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid of healthy people. Levels of these antibodies decline with age and, in Alzheimer's patients, with increasing progression of the disease.

These findings … raise the possibility that many of us are carrying antibodies in our blood that could be playing a role in staving off or slowing the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

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Risks Linked to Diabetes Medications

For the 200 million diabetics worldwide, the past few years have brought some disturbing findings about risks that may be associated with certain diabetes drugs. Recent concerns that Avandia (rosiglitazone) might cause cardiovascular problems, for example, have led some experts to call for it to be pulled from the market, although it remains available today. And in late June, studies published online by the journal Diabetologia raised questions about a possible link between the diabetes medication Lantus (insulin glargine) and an increased risk of cancer…

The key thing to remember is not to panic when you hear news of safety concerns about a medication you're taking—and definitely don't quit taking a prescribed diabetes drug without asking your doctor first. "Be sure you talk to your healthcare professional before you stop taking any diabetes medication," says Ann Albright, director of the division of diabetes translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "You've got to be sure you're keeping your blood sugar and cholesterol" and blood pressure levels under control, she says.

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Brain Quickly Detects Happiness in Others

(HealthDay News) -- When it comes to picking up emotional signals from others, the brain responds to happiness faster than sadness, a new study has found…

"Positive expressions, or expressions of approach, are perceived more quickly and more precisely than negative or withdrawal ones," study author J. Antonio Aznar-Casanova told a Spanish science news service. "So, happiness and surprise are processed faster than sadness and fear."…

Determining how people make value judgments based on first impressions is important in many areas of society, said Aznar-Casanova, adding that "these inferences can strongly influence election results or the sentences given in trials."

Read more.

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Newer Blood Tests May Not Improve Heart Risk Assessment

(HealthDay News) -- Newer biomarkers of cardiac risk, such as inflammation-linked C-reactive protein (CRP), add little or no predictive power to older, established factors such as smoking, obesity, high cholesterol and physical activity, two major studies find.

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How Not to Have a Heart Attack

(Everyday Health) "I'll let you in on a big secret," says Dr. [Arthur] Agatston. "Physicians who practice aggressive prevention have seen heart attacks and strokes practically disappear from their practice. It's that simple — this approach can literally prevent heart attacks and strokes and save lives. My goal in writingThe South Beach Heart Program was to speed the pace of the cardiac prevention revolution currently taking place in this country." To that end, Dr. Agatston has performed pioneering work in noninvasive cardiac imaging that has resulted in computerized tomography (CT) scanning methods and measures that bear his name: the Agatston Score and the Agatston Method, which are used to screen for atherosclerosis — and are recognized worldwide. The Agatston Score derived from the CT scan is the single best predictor of your risk for a future heart attack.

According to Dr. Agatston, studies like this continue to lend support to a noninvasive, aggressive prevention approach. "All of the latest research and evidence suggests that we already have the tools and knowledge to prevent the majority of heart attacks and strokes. Now we just need to put these methods into practice — and start saving more lives." For more information on Dr. Agatston's life-saving strategies, order your copy of The South Beach Heart Program today, or visit southbeachdiet.com.

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Being Overweight Or Obese In Mid-life Linked To Increased Risk Of Reduced Memory And Thinking Skills In Late Life

(Science Daily) Individuals with higher mid-life Body Mass Index (BMI) in the 1960s have been found to have lower memory and thinking skills and a sharper decline in these abilities in old age, compared to those with lower BMI in mid-life…

“We have extended this knowledge and shown that being overweight or obese in mid-life also negatively affects memory and thinking skills independent of dementia. Moreover, these skills decline more rapidly in old age among those who were overweight or obese in mid-life,” writes Anna Dahl in an article published in the Journal of Gerontology.

Read more.

Community: If any of you has access to this journal and has the time to look at the original article, it would be helpful to know if there are any ameliorating factors. For example, does a change to a healthier lifestyle change the likely outcome?

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TV ads trigger mindless eating

(HealthDay News) -- Watching food ads on TV leads to a boost in snacking among children and adults, increasing the risk of weight gain, U.S. researchers say…

[A]dults who saw TV ads for unhealthy foods ate much more than those who saw ads that featured messages about good nutrition or healthy food…

"Food advertising triggers automatic eating, regardless of hunger, and is a significant contributor to the obesity epidemic. Reducing unhealthy food advertising to children is critical," [the lead author of the study] said.

Read more.

Community: I find myself very susceptible to the food ads. Do you have ways of dealing with them?

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New Evidence That Vinegar May Be Natural Fat-fighter

(Science Daily) Researchers in Japan are reporting new evidence that the ordinary vinegar — a staple in oil-and-vinegar salad dressings, pickles, and other foods — may live up to its age-old reputation in folk medicine as a health promoter. They are reporting new evidence that vinegar can help prevent accumulation of body fat and weight gain.

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Heavy snoring can be a danger sign

(CNN) When snoring starts to affect your daily habits, you should see a doctor, said Dr. Thomas LoRusso, director of the Northern Virginia Sleep Diagnostic Centers.

"A bed partner may notice that the patient stops breathing and snores loudly, " LoRusso said. "And the daytime symptoms are sleepiness, poor concentration, problems waking up in the morning."

LoRusso says a good way to check your sleep habits is to note your levels of fatigue during the day and jot down other symptoms you might be having. And if you have a bed partner, ask whether he or she has noticed any "choking or gasping while you snore," he said. "The person you sleep with, many times, knows your snoring better than you."

Specific lifestyle changes can help you avoid sleep apnea, the sleep foundation said.

LoRusso agrees. "Cut out the alcohol," he said. "It can make the upper airway muscles to relax."

And watch your weight. Losing pounds can "cure" sleep apnea, especially for overweight people, LoRusso said. If you smoke, try to quit, he said. Smoking creates swelling in the upper airway, making apnea worse.

These seemingly small changes can have dramatic results.

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'Nature' And 'Nurture' Variables Early Predictors Of Age-related Macular Degeneration

(Science Daily) A new study shows that multiple genetic, ocular and environmental factors, including six genetic variants, age, smoking and body mass index heavily contribute to the incidence of AMD. Because all of these factors are related to AMD, they were combined and used to develop a predictive and possibly diagnostic model.

"The determinants of the model can be assessed by completing a questionnaire and taking a blood test, and it is a tool which could be used to help guide prevention and treatments" said [the] lead author.

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Statins May Cause Muscle Damage in Some Patients

(HealthDay News) -- Statins, medications widely used to lower cholesterol, may cause structural damage to the muscles of people experiencing muscle aches and weakness, a new study has found.

The damage may occur even when tests for a protein thought to signal injury are normal, and may persist even after statin use is halted, according to the study…

The researchers stressed that people not experiencing significant pain had no cause for alarm and should continue taking the medicine.

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Travelers Face Greater Risk of Leg Clots

(HealthDay News) -- A review of past research confirms what many experts have long believed: People who travel bear a significantly higher risk for developing potentially life-threatening blood clots in their legs.

That risk, the analysis finds, is up to three times higher for travelers when compared to non-travelers. What's more, the risk rises the longer the trip -- 18 percent higher risk for every two hours of travel, and 26 percent higher risk for every two hours of airplane travel.

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Osteoporosis: Not just for women anymore

(Baltimore Sun) Long known to be a concern of aging women, osteoporosis turns out to be nearly as common in older men, a new study suggests…

Another surprising finding: Osteopenia, a less severe form of bone loss, is actually more prevalent in aging men than in aging women.

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Obama administration takes action on food safety

(Reuters) The Obama administration on Tuesday ordered tougher steps to curb salmonella and E.coli contamination in U.S. food processing plants and created a new deputy food commissioner post to coordinate safety in the wake of a salmonella outbreak.

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Early telemedicine try didn't cut Medicare costs

(Reuters Health) A telemedicine program designed to help Medicare beneficiaries with type 2 diabetes take care of their health didn't cut costs, and had only a "modest" effect on patients' health, researchers report.

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Seattle doctors try flat-rate no-limit primary care

(Reuters) - A Seattle clinic for people fed up with insurance, started by doctors fed up with insurance, has gotten $4 million in private venture capital money to expand, it announced on Monday.

Qliance says it has a profit-making solution to the problems of long waits, rushed doctors and cursory care that bother patients, at the same time that it eliminates the paperwork and pressure that plague primary care doctors…

Co-founder Norm Wu said per-patient revenue is triple that of insurance-based clinics. He said many costs are fixed so the firm, now losing money, will turn to profit as business grows.

More than 50 noninsurance clinics operate in 18 U.S. states, based on different business models, Wu noted.

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Dogs Sniffing Out Health Problems

(Well, New York Times) Last year, researchers from Queen’s University in Belfast decided to investigate anecdotal reports from dog owners who said their pets warned them of hypoglycemic attacks. They surveyed 212 dog owners, all of whom had Type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disorder that prevents the body from producing insulin. A regular concern with Type 1 is that blood sugar will drop precipitously low, causing a person to fall unconscious.

Among the dog owners, 138, or 65 percent, said their dog had shown a behavioral reaction to at least one of their hypoglycemic episodes. About a third of the animals had reacted to 11 or more events, with 31.9 percent of animals reacting to 11 or more events. The dogs got their owners’ attention by barking and whining, (61.5 percent), licking (49.2 percent), nuzzling (40.6 percent), jumping on top of them (30.4 percent), and/or staring intently at their faces (41.3 percent). A small percentage of the dogs reportedly tremble in fear at the time of a hypoglycemic attack.

To learn more, watch the three-minute video or read the transcript on the National Geographic Web site.

And for more on dogs detecting cancer read “Moist Nose Shows Promise in Tracking Down Cancer”…

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