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

Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin

(John Cloud, Time) [O]ur herculean exercise over the past 30 years - all the personal trainers, StairMasters and VersaClimbers; all the Pilates classes and yoga retreats and fat camps - hasn't made us thinner. After we exercise, we often crave sugary calories like those in muffins or in "sports" drinks like Gatorade…

Many people assume that weight is mostly a matter of willpower - that we can learn both to exercise and to avoid muffins and Gatorade. A few of us can, but evolution did not build us to do this for very long…

Some of us can will ourselves to overcome our basic psychology, but most of us won't be very successful…

If evolution didn't program us to lose weight through exercise, what did it program us to do? Doesn't exercise do anything?

Sure. It does plenty. In addition to enhancing heart health and helping prevent disease, exercise improves your mental health and cognitive ability…

But there's some confusion about whether it is exercise - sweaty, exhausting, hunger-producing bursts of activity done exclusively to benefit our health - that leads to all these benefits or something far simpler: regularly moving during our waking hours…

The problem ultimately is about not exercise itself but the way we've come to define it. Many obesity researchers now believe that very frequent, low-level physical activity - the kind humans did for tens of thousands of years before the leaf blower was invented - may actually work better for us than the occasional bouts of exercise you get as a gym rat…

Actually, it's not clear that vigorous exercise like running carries more benefits than a moderately strenuous activity like walking while carrying groceries…

There's also growing evidence that when it comes to preventing certain diseases, losing weight may be more important than improving cardiovascular health…

In short, it's what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters more in losing weight. You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain.

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Depressed and Coping: Treating Depression When Medication Fails

(U.S. News & World Report) [M]any mental-health practitioners are coming to believe that adjusting brain chemistry with medication isn't enough—that depression is a complex chronic disease, akin to diabetes, requiring lifestyle changes and ongoing monitoring to address underlying causes. As with diabetes, experts have begun to look for culprits in the 21st-century lifestyle…

Realizing that primitive societies like the Kaluli of Papua New Guinea experience virtually no depression, Stephen Ilardi, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Kansas, has been testing a cave-man-esque approach to treatment with promising results. His 14-week Therapeutic Lifestyle Change program entails large doses of simulated hunter-gatherer living in people suffering from prolonged, unremitting depression. Participants sign up for 35 minutes of aerobic exercise (running, walking briskly, biking) three days a week, at least 30 minutes of daily sunlight or exposure from a light box that emits 10,000 lux, eight hours of sleep per night, and a daily fish oil supplement containing 1,000 mg of the fatty acid EPA and 500 mg of the fatty acid DHA…

They also get plenty of time surrounded by the "clan," in the form of frequent social gatherings with family members, Starbucks dates with friends, and volunteer work. "Hunter-gatherers almost never had time alone," says Ilardi; even a generation or two ago, people grew up supported by extended family and much more engaged with their community. Too much time in isolation, he says, means "opportunities to ruminate," the modern scourge.

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Community: You’re going to hear a lot about Dr. Ilardi from me. Many of his methods I had to discover on my own. And they’re helpful for more than alleviating depression, important as that is.

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Elderly who are single suffer cognitively

(UPI) U.S. researchers suggest seniors who survive a spouse or never marry seem to suffer more cognitive decline…

The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found rates of cognitive decline over a 9-year period were similar across socioeconomic and racial and ethnic groups.

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Community: Those who live alone might do well to find ways to have more social interaction. Like socializing in this community, for example.

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Health Tip: Preventing Complications From Diabetes

(HealthDay News) If you've been diagnosed with diabetes, eating a healthy diet and getting enough exercise could be just what the doctor ordered.

These lifestyle improvements may require some dramatic changes in your routine. But where do you start?

The American Diabetes Association warns against trying to change too much at once. It offers these suggestions:

  • Take a number of small steps, over a sufficient amount of time. This should make accomplishing your goals much easier.
  • Face your bad habits, and realize that you need to change them. Ask for help from family, friends and medical professionals, if you need it.
  • Find a motivating goal -- wanting to be around when your grandchildren grow up, for example.
  • Prioritize your changes. Complete goals that you're comfortable with initially, and save others for later.
  • Look at how much impact these changes will make, and start with those that pack the biggest punch, such as getting more active.
  • Setting goals should include what you'll do, how quickly you can accomplish it, and how to incorporate the task in your daily life.

Source

Community: Sounds like good advice for all of us, not just those who have been diagnosed with diabetes.

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Menopause: Botanicals Have No Effect On Hot Flashes Or Cognition, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Two studies … have found that commonly used botanicals do not have an effect on hot flashes or on cognitive function in menopausal women…

[T]he botanicals black cohosh and red clover were compared to the standard of care -- hormone therapy -- and to placebo for the treatment of hot flashes…

"The important message is that all women improved, but there was a large placebo effect, and the botanicals did not work significantly better than placebo," said Stacie Geller, … lead author of [one of the studies].

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Beetroot Juice May Boost Stamina

(HealthDay News) Beetroot juice can boost physical stamina and increase exercise endurance by up to 16 percent, a new British study shows.

The researchers found that nitrate in beetroot juice reduces oxygen uptake to a degree that can't be achieved by any other means. The findings could benefit endurance athletes, elderly people and those with cardiovascular, respiratory or metabolic diseases, the study authors suggest.

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Drinking Moderately or More Ups Men's Cancer Risk

(HealthDay News) A man who drinks moderate or high amounts of alcohol over the course of his life appears to raise his risk for developing certain -- but not all -- kinds of cancer, a new crunching of quarter-century-old research data suggests.

The study, by Canadian researchers, found that the more men drink, the greater their risk for specific cancers. However, the link appears to involve mostly beer and spirit consumption, not wine. The study did not explore risk among women.

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Antibody Linked To Chemotherapy Drug Inhibits Ovarian Cancer In Lab

(Science Daily) A novel anticancer agent, consisting of a monoclonal antibody linked to a chemotherapy drug, showed substantial antitumor activity in ovarian cancer cell lines and in mice, according to a study

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Breast reconstruction may not boost well-being

(Reuters Health) Women who have a mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer seem [to] have a similar quality of life in the long term whether they have breast reconstruction surgery or not, a research review suggests.

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Brain circuitry linked to obesity

(UPI) -- The weight-loss effect of leptin, a hormone produced by fat tissue, has been linked to higher levels of the brain chemical dopamine, U.S. researchers said…

Martin Myers Jr. … says rat studies suggest that in addition to the area controlling the feeling of fullness after eating, leptin also affects other brain sites of action for drugs of abuse -- as well as for control of motivation for food or sex.

"Some people may over-eat rewarding food because of a perceived 'reward deficit,'" Myers says in a statement. "When leptin is turned up, it might fix that deficit and make us feel better about a lot of things."

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Community: Leptin is not yet available to the general public, either by prescription or over the counter. A number of books claim to have information on how to boost leptin levels by diet, but I can’t vouch for any of them.

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4 Ways to Cook Fish

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Grilling's not the only way to prepare fish. Here are four additional cooking techniques that will help you add more fish to your diet.

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Eat This Crunchy Snack for Your Blood Sugar

(RealAge.com) If you’re looking for a sweet, diabetes-thwarting snack, pick up an apple.

This easy-to-find fruit enhances insulin sensitivity, according to Joseph Maroon, MD, author of The Longevity Factor. And that’s a good thing, because efficiently using insulin helps your body control blood sugar…

Here are some other big benefits that Maroon notes in his book. Apples can help:

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A Juice for Your Bladder

(RealAge.com) On the next hot summer afternoon, forgo the lemonade stand and choose an icy glass of cranberry juice instead.

Your bladder will thank you. A review of research shows that cranberry juice helps to protect bladders from infection.

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The Claim: Cold Temperatures Improve Sleep

(New York Times) Avoiding caffeine, sticking to a schedule and drinking a glass of warm milk are the usual tips for a good night’s rest. But the right room temperature can also play a crucial role.

Studies have found that in general, the optimal temperature for sleep is quite cool, around 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit. For some, temperatures that fall too far below or above this range can lead to restlessness.

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5 Lessons for Over-35 Athletes From Olympic Swimmer Dara Torres

(On Fitness, U.S. News & World Report) "They want to know about the abs and the arms," says 42-year-old swimmer Dara Torres, the five-time Olympian—most recently last summer in Beijing, where she won three silver medals. She's talking about being a role model for those who aspire to athletic success over the age of 35 (which counts as "older" in the world of elite sports)...

More important than inspiring people to get similarly ripped abs is motivating them to push beyond self-imposed limits based on a notion of what's age-appropriate, whether in the arena of exercise and sports or in life. "Don't put an age limit on your dreams," says Torres, who is working on a fitness book, which will be out next year, and is promoting BPs younger for longer campaign.

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Key To Strengthening Immune Response To Chronic Infection Found

(Science Daily) A team of researchers … has identified a protein that could serve as a target for reprogramming immune system cells exhausted by exposure to chronic viral infection into more effective "soldiers" against certain viruses like HIV, hepatitis C, and hepatitis B, as well as some cancers, such as melanoma.

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How to Tell Liver Spots from Moles and Cancer

(The Healthy Geezer, LiveScience.com) Check your skin often. Look for changes in the size, shape, color, or feel of birthmarks, moles, and spots. And don't be reluctant to go to a doctor whenever you see anything on your skin that you suspect might be a problem. Dermatologists recommend that, if you are a fair-skinned senior, you should get a full-body skin exam once a year. This kind of check-up isn't a bad idea for any senior.

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Men With Angina Do Worse Than Women

(HealthDay News) New research shows that men diagnosed with the chest pain called angina did much worse than women, and neither artery-opening angioplasty nor coronary-bypass surgery reduced long-term mortality for either gender…

Lifestyle factors clearly made a difference in outcome. Smoking doubled the risk of a heart attack and death from all causes, as did obesity, the study authors noted.

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Combo Treatment May Ease Depression After Stroke

(HealthDay News) Adding psychosocial therapy to treatment with antidepressants helps improve depression and recovery in people who've had a stroke, a new study suggests.

"One-third of patients who have strokes develop clinical depression, which makes them less able to recover from the stroke, worsens cognitive functioning, impairs social functioning and is associated with other adverse consequences," study co-author Dr. Richard C. Veith…

Development of depression after a stroke "is an important public health problem," Veith said.

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Certain drugs may increase risk of falling

(Reuters Health) In elderly men and women, certain medications can increase the risk of falling, new research shows.

Findings from a 4-year study conducted in France suggest the risk of falling is 1.4 times greater among elderly men and women taking a long-acting benzodiazepine, compared with age-matched men and women not using this type of anti-anxiety medication.

[Researchers] also found a moderately increased risk of falling among elderly men and women who regularly used mood- and behavior-altering "psychotropic" medications.

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TNF Blockers May Help Some With Rheumatoid Arthritis

(HealthDay News) Patients with early rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who respond poorly to standard treatment with methotrexate may benefit from additional treatment with tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, a Swedish study suggests…

A short period of treatment with methotrexate alone, followed by the addition of a TNF blocker only in patients who have an inadequate response to methotrexate, is the best treatment option for patients with early RA, [researchers] concluded.

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Adult Gut Can Generate New Neurons

(Science Daily) The adult lower digestive tract can be stimulated to add neurons to the intestinal system, according to new mouse research… The study shows that drugs similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin increase the production of new neurons in the gut. This is the first research to confirm that an adult intestine can generate neurons in the enteric nervous system, the network of neurons in the gut's wall that controls the gastrointestinal system.

The findings suggest that drugs could be used to treat patients who suffer from intestinal disorders that may be caused by an absence or loss of neurons, which may be congenital or acquired. About 25 percent of adult Americans have some daily hindrance due to gastrointestinal disorders, and the number of employees who miss work because of these ailments is second only to the common cold.

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Men with livelier, more plentiful sperm live longer

(Reuters Health) Healthier sperm may mean longer life, according to a study that followed more than 40,000 Danish men for up to 40 years…

While the findings shouldn't scare men whose semen quality isn't tip-top, they do suggest that these men should be checked out for other illnesses, especially testicular cancer, said [one of the researchers].

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Social Stress Sends Body Fat to the Stomach

(HealthDay News) Social stress may cause the body to deposit more fat in the abdomen, which increases the risk of heart disease, a new study suggests.

The findings could lead to new ways to combat rising rates of obesity in the United States and other Western nations…

Social subordination causes the release of stress hormones that promote fat accumulation in the abdomen, the researchers said. This abdominal (visceral) fat promotes the build-up of plaque in blood vessels that leads to heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.

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U.S. Spending on Mental Health Care Soaring

(HealthDay News) U.S. spending on mental illness is soaring at a faster pace than spending on any other health care category, new government data released Wednesday shows…

[T]he report showed, the number of Americans who sought treatment for depression, bipolar disorder and other mental health woes almost doubled [between 1996 and 2006], from 19 million to 36 million.

The new statistics come on the heels of a study, released Monday, that found antidepressant use among U.S. residents almost doubled between a similar time frame, 1996 and 2005.

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Workplace Yoga And Meditation Can Lower Feelings Of Stress

(Science Daily) Twenty minutes per day of guided workplace meditation and yoga combined with six weekly group sessions can lower feelings of stress by more than 10 percent and improve sleep quality in sedentary office employees, a pilot study suggests…

While the traditional MBSR program practice takes up an hour per day for eight weeks supplemented by lengthy weekly sessions and a full-day retreat, the modified version developed at Ohio State University for this study was designed for office-based workers wearing professional attire.

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Income, education tied to sugar usage

(UPI) Americans with low income and education are particularly vulnerable to diets with high added sugars, U.S. researchers said…

The study … found that blacks had the highest intake of added sugar among men, although white and American Indian/Alaskan Native men were also high. Black women and American Indian/Alaskan Native women had the highest intake among women, the study said.

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MRI May Help Physicians Diagnose, Stage And Treat Diabetes

(Science Daily) Noninvasive imaging (MRI) may aid physicians in the early diagnosis, staging and treatment of diabetes, according to a study performed at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. This is the first study of its kind to apply noninvasive imaging techniques to diabetes research.

“With noninvasive MRI we have the ability to evaluate beta cell mass, a major factor of insulin secretion that is significantly reduced in type two diabetes and almost gone in type one,” said Anna Moore, MD, lead author of the study. “We are also able to detect inflammation of the pancreas and vascular changes associated with type one and type two diabetes. This opens a huge area that is closed right now,” said Dr. Moore.

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Gut Hormone Could be Key to Blood Sugar

(HealthDay News) A gut hormone called cholecystokinin (CCK) plays an important role in the control of blood sugar production in the liver, according to Canadian researchers…

They said their findings suggest that CCK resistance, like insulin resistance, may be a major contributor to high blood sugar often seen in people with a high-fat diet. The results also suggest that drugs that target CCK receptors may help fight diabetes.

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Sex Hormones Associated With Broken Bones In Older Men

(Science Daily) Low levels of estradiol or high levels of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) are associated with an increased risk of osteoporotic fracture in older men, according to a new study… The study also finds that men with low levels of testosterone combined with high levels of SHBG are also at higher risk for bone fracture.

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Surgery, 'Sham' Equal in Treating Compression Fracture Pain

(HealthDay News) Two new studies suggest that vertebroplasty, a widely used surgery to help heal compression fractures, is no better than "sham" surgery when it comes to relieving pain and improving daily function…

One trial, from Mayo Clinic researchers, randomly assigned 131 patients who had had one-to-three osteoporotic vertebral compression fractures to receive either vertebroplasty or a "sham" surgery without cement.

Those in the placebo arm went through the motions of surgery, including being brought into the procedure room and being sedated before surgeons put novocaine in the skin and over the bone, said study author Dr. David F. Kallmes, a professor of radiology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

After one month, both groups had experienced a similar, and significant, reduction in pain.

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Community: The placebo effect is so powerful that it ought to be studied on its own. We ought to be able to capture it and direct it to help alleviate pain.

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Popular Insect Repellent Deet Is Neurotoxic

(Science Daily) The active ingredient in many insect repellents, deet, has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Researchers say that more investigations are urgently needed to confirm or dismiss any potential neurotoxicity to humans, especially when deet-based repellents are used in combination with other neurotoxic insecticides.

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Brain metabolism differs in anorexics

(UPI) Researchers in Germany said changes in brain metabolism explain why anorexic patients have trouble changing their behavior to increase food intake…

MRI images showed that in patients with anorexia compared with healthy subjects, a certain network pathway between two parts of the brain was less activated. This network pathway plays a decisive role in initiating and controlling actions under rapidly changing environmental demands, the study said.

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14-person kidney transplant chain a success

(CNN) Surgeons at two Washington hospitals have performed seven kidney transplants involving 14 recipients and donors who did not match, using a process that virtually eliminates the chances of organ rejection.

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Not-For-Profit Nursing Homes Fare Better in Studies

(HealthDay News) Non-profit nursing homes provide better care than for-profit facilities, say Canadian researchers who reviewed the results of 82 studies from 1965 to 2003…

[N]on-profit homes did better in four important quality measures: more or higher quality staffing; lower rates of pressure ulcers; less use of physical restraints; and fewer deficiencies cited by regulatory agencies.

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How I Get Twice the Workout On My Daily Walk

There are so many reasons to exercise regularly, including feeling better, both physically and mentally. But I’m only willing to spend between 30 minutes and an hour a day exercising. And there are many areas of my body that need toning.

So one day, as I was walking and contemplating the benefit to my bones, my brain, and the big muscles of the leg, it occurred to me that I could do even more during my walk. I’ve incorporated so many other exercises into the walk that I believe I’m now getting at least double the workout than just walking.

The first area I thought of to incorporate was my inner thighs, which tend to accumulate fat. I thought about clenching the muscles of the inner thighs, but found that I couldn’t do it in each step, couldn’t recover quickly enough from the left side to clench those muscles on the right side in the next step.

But I realized that I could stress one side for a number of steps and then stress the other side for a number of steps. I decided on a four-beat rhythm, which corresponds to an affirmation that I repeat with each stressing rotation. After a rotation, I take an extra step before starting the next one.

The rhythm is something like this:

LEFT right LEFT right LEFT right LEFT right left

RIGHT left RIGHT left RIGHT left RIGHT left right … and so on.

It took a whule to get the rhythm down clenching just the one set of muscles, but eventually it became second nature. Then I started concentrating on additional muscles, incorporating each one for at least one day’s walk before I started on the next. Now, these are the muscles I work on, from bottom to top:

Calf

Inner thigh

Butt

Belly

Abdomen

Back of the upper arm

Back muscles under the upper arm—where my saddlebags are

Just recently, I thought about stretching my neck a bit on the stressed side, and so I’ve added that to the routine. Already, I have more flexibility in my neck.

I saw an ad recently for an exercise machine that recommended working the deep muscles of the belly and abdomen, rather than the surface ones. I started doing that a few weeks ago, and am already noticing a difference. I didn’t buy the exercise machine, by the way, because if I did it would stay under the bed or in a closet until I threw it out or gave it away. I’ve learned not to spend money on things like that.

But I’m not finished yet, I have ankle weights that I can add to the daily routine, to get even more benefit!

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Elder Abuse, Neglect Make Early Death Far More Likely

(HealthDay News) When seniors stop taking proper care of themselves, their risk for death increases nearly sixfold, a new study shows.

In addition, elderly people who are abused physically, emotionally, financially or through withdrawal of care don't fare much better. Their risk for dying more than doubles, the researchers report.

"Elder self-neglect and abuse really have severe consequences," said study author Dr. XinQi Dong.

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Community: Taking care of ourselves is the best way to continue to enjoy life, and to have that enjoyable life last as long as possible.

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Mounting Evidence Of Fish Oil's Heart Health Benefits

(Science Daily) There is mounting evidence that omega-3 fatty acids from fish or fish oil supplements not only help prevent cardiovascular diseases in healthy individuals, but also reduce the incidence of cardiac events and mortality in patients with existing heart disease…

"This isn't just hype; we now have tremendous and compelling evidence from very large studies, some dating back 20 and 30 years, that demonstrate the protective benefits of omega-3 fish oil in multiple aspects of preventive cardiology," said Carl Lavie, M.D., … lead author of the article. "The strongest evidence of a cardioprotective effect of omega-3s appears in patients with established cardiovascular disease and following a heart attack with up to a 30 percent reduction in CV-related death."

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Can Red Meat Have a Place in a Healthy Diet?

(U.S. News & World Report) Including some red meat in your diet is "perfectly fine," says Tara Gidus, a nutrition performance coach and American Dietetic Association spokesperson. She says you should pick lean cuts of meat to reduce the saturated fat content and avoid processed meat (which in the recent study was also associated with a higher risk of heart disease and cancer). And "don't char the heck out of it," she says. Some folks also prefer grass-fed beef, saying it not only has health benefits that grain-fed cows lack but that it tastes better and is kinder to the animals and land.

Whatever color of meat you eat, remember that most nutritionists recommend protein occupy only about 25 percent of the real estate on your plate. Another 25 percent can come from whole-grain based foods and a full half from vegetables and fruits.

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Midlife Heart Risk Factors Linked to Later Dementia

(HealthDay News) The things that are bad for your heart in the middle years of life -- high blood cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes -- are bad for your brain in later years, new research indicates.

High cholesterol levels in midlife were associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia many years later, according to scientists in California and Finland, who tracked almost 10,000 men and women for four decades.

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Special Eye Drops May Reverse Glaucoma Damage

(HealthDay News) A new type of eye drop appears to protect retinal and optic nerve cells -- and even reverse some sight loss -- in patients battling glaucoma, a leading cause of blindness, new research suggests.

Italian researchers found that the topical use of nerve growth factor, which is easily absorbed by the eye in drop form, spares retinal ganglion cells from nerve damage caused by the build-up of eye pressure associated with glaucoma.

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Promising Candidate Protein For Cancer Prevention Vaccines

(Science Daily) Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have learned that some healthy people naturally developed an immune response against a protein that is made in excess levels in many cancers, including breast, lung, and head and neck cancers. The finding suggests that a vaccine against the protein might prevent malignancies in high-risk individuals.

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Tumors Effectively Treated With Use Of Nanotubes

(Science Daily) By injecting man-made, microscopic tubes into tumors and heating them with a quick, 30-second zap of a laser, scientists have discovered a way to effectively kill kidney tumors in nearly 80 percent of mice. Researchers say that the finding suggests a potential future cancer treatment for humans.

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Does a Nation’s Mood Lurk in Its Songs and Blogs?

In a new paper, a pair of statisticians at the University of Vermont argue that linguistic analysis — not just of song lyrics but of blogs and speeches — could add a new and valuable dimension to a growing area of mass psychology: the determination of national well-being…

The researchers … analyzed the emotional content of blogs by the age of the blogger, and they found a curious pattern. Teenagers, true to form, rated the lowest, with an abundance of “sick,” “hate” and “stupid.”

With advancing age the tone gradually softened, rising to a high plateau in apparent emotional well-being through the 50s and 60s, then dropping after age 70 — when the word “sick” began to reappear.

“Now, these are bloggers, and they certainly are not representative of everyone,” Dr. [Peter Sheridan Dodds, a co-author of the new paper,] said. “But the pattern is very pronounced.”

As for popular music, the University of Vermont researchers found that within each genre, the emotional charge of lyrics remained stable between 1960 and 2007. But the overall trend was downward, as metal came of age in the 1970s, punk in the 1980s, and later hip-hop, each exploring darker themes more explicitly than their predecessors in the 1960s.

The low point, lyric-wise, was around 2003. Maybe coincidence, but that was the year Darkthrone released its album “Hate Them.”

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Antidepressant Use in U.S. Has Almost Doubled

(HealthDay News) -- Antidepressant use among U.S. residents almost doubled between 1996 and 2005, along with a concurrent rise in the use of other psychotropic medications, a new report shows.

The increase seemed to span virtually all demographic groups…

According to background information in the study, antidepressants are now the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the United States. The expansion in use dates back to the 1980s, with the introduction of the antidepressant Prozac (fluoxetine).

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Community: What’s the alternative? See below for one.

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