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

Seniors most interested in swine flu shot

(AP) Americans are getting more worried about catching swine flu — but the people who most want that vaccine are the age that will be last in line, says a new Associated Press-GfK poll.

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Community: Apparently, there isn’t enough vaccine for everyone. So it makes sense that the first to be inoculated should be the “super-sreaders”, which will help protect all of us.

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Is Happiness Catching?

(New York Times) By analyzing the Framingham [Heart Study data, a pair of social scientists] say, they have for the first time found some solid basis for a potentially powerful theory in epidemiology: that good behaviors — like quitting smoking or staying slender or being happy — pass from friend to friend almost as if they were contagious viruses. The Framingham participants, the data suggested, influenced one another’s health just by socializing. And the same was true of bad behaviors — clusters of friends appeared to “infect” each other with obesity, unhappiness and smoking. Staying healthy isn’t just a matter of your genes and your diet, it seems. Good health is also a product, in part, of your sheer proximity to other healthy people.

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Community: In AA, the advice to newcomers is to socialize with the winners. One of the purposes of this community is to provide a place where those of us who want to remain healthy can socialize with one another.

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Aging Muscles: 'Hard To Build, Easy To Lose'

(Science Daily) Have you ever noticed that people have thinner arms and legs as they get older? As we age it becomes harder to keep our muscles healthy. They get smaller, which decreases strength and increases the likelihood of falls and fractures. New research is showing how this happens — and what to do about it…

The scientists and doctors at The University of Nottingham Schools of Graduate Entry Medicine and Biomedical Sciences believe that a ‘double whammy’ affects people aged over 65. However the team think that weight training may “rejuvenate” muscle blood flow and help retain muscle for older people.

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Community: I started noticing a loss of strength a few years ago. I’ve started doing some strength training, and it’s helping.

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Discovery May Pave Way to Better Diabetes Care

(HealthDay News) A newly discovered gene could give researchers new insight into type 2 diabetes, potentially leading to better treatment for the increasingly common disease.

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Fasting carries risk of overeating

(CNN) Food experts agree that the fast, during which observant Muslims refrain from eating during the day, can actually cause people to overeat. Some people actually take in more calories in one evening meal than they normally would over the course of a normal day during Ramadan, said Joe Regenstein, professor of food science at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.

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Community: In my experience, this observation is also valid for those of us engaging in extreme dieting.

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Dining-Out Strategies

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Going out to dinner this weekend? The best way to eat healthy and still enjoy the foods you love is to arm yourself with smart strategies before heading out to eat. Why? According to a recent study by the American College of Cardiology, most people consume an additional 500 calories when dining out.

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How Not to Have a Heart Attack

(Everyday Health) Following a trial involving more than 2,280 patients, researchers concluded that the use of surgical angioplasty and stenting (coupled with medication) provides no long-term advantage to a patient over a preventive treatment plan that includes appropriate medication, diagnostic testing, and lifestyle improvements.

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Training Apps That Help You Sweat the Details

(New York Times) Smartphones offer an electronic alternative to a personal trainer by putting thousands of exercise programs and videos at your fingertips.

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Exercising Depends on Socializing?

(AARP Bulletin) According to a June study…, the more people do socially, the better they do physically.

Exercise is good for you, but “cognitive and social activity may offer benefits as well,” says lead author Aron Buchman, M.D.

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Community: This is another one of those chicken or egg situations. It could be that higher levels of feel-good brain chemicals drive both the enjoyment of socializing and of exercising. And we know from research that both socializing and exercising increase levels of the feel-good brain chemicals. Doing both of those things regularly sets up a virtuous circle that can help us get and stay fitter and healthier.

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2 Easy Ways to Cut Your Appetite

(RealAge.com) Here are two easy ways to feel full faster on less food: use a smaller fork and chew your food longer.

Turns out these two tactics have some science behind them. In a study, people who snacked on pudding ate less when they took small bites and savored the flavor for a while.

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Try This Tart Treat to Balance Blood Sugar

(RealAge.com) In a study, ingesting just 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar before a high-carb meal helped improve insulin sensitivity in people with type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. Translation: vinegar seemed to help their bodies do a better job of escorting sugar out of the blood and into the body’s cells, where it can be used for energy.

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Size Of Fat Cells And Waist Size Predict Type 2 Diabetes In Women

(Science Daily) When it comes to assessing risk for type 2 diabetes, not only do waistlines matter to women, but so does the size of their fat cells. This new discovery by a team of Swedish researchers was just published online in theFASEB Journal and helps explain why some women of normal weight develop type 2 diabetes, despite not having any known risk factors…

"Despite notions to the contrary, size does matter to women—at least when it comes to her fat cells, her waist-to-height-ratio and her risk for type 2 diabetes," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. "This is a remarkable study that should lead to preventive measures for this most common of serious diseases."

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Roadmap Of Leptin Explains Its Regulation Of Bone And Appetite

(Science Daily) New research from Columbia University Medical Center has illuminated a previously unknown leptin-serotonin pathway in the brain that simultaneously promotes appetite and bone mass accrual…

When the leptin-serotonin pathway is turned on in mice, the researchers found, appetite increases, the animals eat more, gain weight, and their bone mass increases. When the pathway is turned off, mice eat less, lose weight, and their bones weaken. Furthermore, leptin was found to not act in the hypothalamus as previously thought, but in the brain stem acting on serotonin, a hormone that in the brain acts to control appetite, mood and anger.

The identification of this pathway helps explain why, as doctors have long known, obese people tend to have a significantly lower prevalence of osteoporosis.

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Noisy Roads Increase Risk Of High Blood Pressure

(Science Daily) [Researchers found that] "exposure above 60 decibels was associated with high blood pressure among the relatively young and middle-aged, an important risk factor for cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack and stroke."

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Common Mental Disorders May Be More Common Than We Think

(Science Daily) The prevalence of anxiety, depression and substance dependency may be twice as high as the mental health community has been led to believe…

"I think we've got to get used to the idea that mental illness is actually very common," [said Jane Costello, a professor medical psychology at Duke who runs the study]. "People are growing up impaired, untreated and not functioning to their full capacity because we've ignored it."…

"If we're serious about this problem, we need to get serious about preventing it," Costello added. "We do know a lot more about prevention now."

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Sleep Helps Reduce Errors In Memory, Research Suggests

(Science Daily) Sleep may reduce mistakes in memory, according to a first-of-its-kind study…

While previous research has shown that sleep improves memory, this study is the first to address errors in memory.

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Coconut Oil Extract May Be A Weapon Against Food Bacteria

(Science Daily) Monolaurin, an extract from coconut oil could be used as a microbial agent in foods, according to a study…

If used in combination with other antimicrobial agents, monolaurin can present an effective barrier to microorganisms.

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Ways to Avoid Colds and Flu

(Health.com) We’ve consulted dozens of medical experts to bring you … ways to avoid coldsand flu this season.

Every time you shake someone’s hand, wash yours
But don’t stop there. Wash them as much as possible…

Keep your hands off
Touching your nose and your eyes may hurt you, Mengel says. Those are the most common places for germs to get in.

Go to bed
As if getting enough sleep on a normal basis isn’t hard enough, you need more z’s when you’re feeling under the weather…

Get your shot
Finding flu shots should be easier this year, but you should get one early.

Build up with healthy food
You may think it’s hard to eat healthily on a regular basis, but eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables supports your immune system… And that’s a lot easier than fighting off the flu.

Work out
Working out regularly enhances immune function…

Stay away
Keep your distance from people displaying symptoms like sneezing and coughing.

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Helpful ways to boost your memory

(Health.com) [E]xperts say you can instantly boost your chances of remembering where you put your keys--and everything else you keep forgetting--if you start treating your brain right (no matter your age)…

Go fish: Look to the sea for healthy ways to feed your brain. DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in salmon, trout, and some fortified foods such as yogurt, is a super saver for your memory…

Just do it: Elevating your heart rate three times a week for 20 minutes--even just by walking--bathes your brain in oxygen and helps it grow new cells…

Start a bridge club:… The combination of strategy and memory in bridge challenges the brain to learn new information and exercises cells so they don't die…

Plus, socializing while playing cards adds a level of unpredictability that gives your brain a charge--something solo games don't offer…

Use chopsticks: "Studies show that engaging the concentrated areas of nerve cells in your fingertips directly stimulates your brain," says Maoshing Ni, Ph.D., author of "Second Spring: Dr. Mao's Hundreds of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age." Truth is, any fingertip activity--using chopsticks, knitting, or even rolling a pen or pencil between your fingers--also helps your brain by boosting your circulation. And good circulation helps eliminate waste products that can prevent nutrients from reaching your brain.

Play electronic games: No, you're not too old for a Wii or one of the new handheld brain-exercise games. And it may even be good for you, since simply trying something new gets your brain juiced…

Be careful with meds: If you ache every time you work out and never sleep well due to night sweats, there's a pill for that. But be careful: Research in Clinical Interventions in Aging reveals that nonprescription sleep aids may cause some "cognitive impairment"--like confusion-- in older adults.

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Tip of the Week: Do Not Try This Alone

(Shrink Yourself) No one that loses weight does it alone. Whether with the help of a therapist, a friend, or a supportive online community, like-minded people are an essential part of the process…

Sharing your experiences can make you feel heard, understood, and supported. It’s this kind of support that is a critical component of overcoming a pattern of emotional eating. Who is your support network? Who’s on your team? Who is rooting for you? Taking the time to build a foundation of support around you will reduce your feelings of isolation and increase your chances of success. This may include realizing that the people you’re surrounded with are not cut out for the task. If that’s the case, you may have to work a little harder to find the right kind of support. But remember, support is as important as a sensible diet and a regular exercise regime.

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Community: I hope that we can support each other right here on this blog. You’re welcome to post your comments.

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Vet Says Owners Should Exercise With Their Dogs Based On Specific Needs To Prevent Obesity

(Science Daily) People and their dogs both need physical activity to fight obesity, and there are many exercises that owner and pet can do together that can improve their health and their relationship, according to a Kansas State University expert.

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Regular Aerobic Exercise Reduces Health Concerns Associated With Fatty Liver

(Science Daily) Researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia determined that patients with a sedentary lifestyle who engage in routine physical activities lower their risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The lower risk of problems associated with fatty liver was not contingent upon weight loss, but a direct result from the increased aerobic exercise.

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Ascorbic acid, sugar boosts green tea

(UPI) Ascorbic acid [Vitamin C] and sugar added to green tea can help the body absorb helpful catechins found in the tea, U.S. researchers said.

Catechins -- a class of polyphenols common in tea, cocoa and grape -- are anti-oxidants thought to fight heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and other health problems.

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Metabolic Syndrome May Raise Risk of Peripheral Artery Disease

(HealthDay News) Women with metabolic syndrome are at high risk of developing peripheral artery disease, a condition that dramatically raises the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Using data on more than 27,000 women taking part in the Women's Health Study, researchers identified participants with metabolic syndrome, a collection of symptoms including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, low HDL ("good") cholesterol, high triglyceride levels and insulin resistance.

Women were considered to have metabolic syndrome if they had three or more of those symptoms.

Women with metabolic syndrome had a 62 percent increased risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD) compared to those without metabolic syndrome. Each metabolic syndrome symptom raised the risk of PAD by 20 percent, the study found.

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Nicotine Plays Tricks on Brain: Study

(HealthDay News) Researchers have found that nicotine, the addictive component in cigarettes, "tricks" the brain into creating memory associations between environmental cues and smoking behavior. This could help explain why former smokers miss lighting up when they are in a bar or after a meal.

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Community: Every addiction plays tricks on the brain, and so does depression. One of the things I’ve fought hard to learn is how to stop paying attention to the lies my brain tells me.

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Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain

(HealthDay News) Practicing yoga can help ease chronic lower back pain, a new study shows…

At the three-month and six-month marks, a greater proportion of those who'd done yoga reported improvements in their pain and functioning as measured by questionnaires that asked about pain levels, difficulty performing physical tasks and pain medications being taken. Yoga participants also reported fewer symptoms of depression.

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Rats With Part of Brain Deactivated Move Toward Food But Do Not Eat

(Science Daily) Scientists led a rat to the fatty food, but they couldn’t make it eat. Using an animal model of binge eating, University of Missouri researchers discovered that deactivating the basolateral amygdala, a brain region involved in regulating emotion, specifically blocked consumption of a fatty diet. Surprisingly, it had no effect on the rat wanting to look for the food repeatedly…

“The finding that the basolateral amygdala only appears involved in the opioid produced consumption was the most surprising part of the study,” [lead researcher Matthew] Will said. “Normally, if a rat stops eating, they will go lay down and take it easy. In this case, they showed all signs of still wanting to eat, but didn’t.”

In the past when food availability was scarce, humans may have needed this “binge eating” regulation to eat enough food when it was available. Now, when humans have access to foods high in sugar and fat 24 hours a day, this regulation can cause humans to overeat.

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Community: In other words, eating can be an addiction, as most of us overeaters know. Treatments for obesity might be more effective if that fact were taken into consideration.

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High Fruit And Vegetable Intake Linked To Antioxidant Status And Cognitive Performance In Healthy Subjects

(Science Daily) Researchers … investigated the relationship between fruit and vegetable intake, plasma antioxidant micronutrient status and cognitive performance in healthy subjects aged 45 to 102 years. Their results … indicated higher cognitive performance in individuals with high daily intake of fruits and vegetables.

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Cutting 'Hidden' Salt Could Lower Nation’s Blood Pressure

(Science Daily) Many people think twice before adding a dash of salt to their food, but don’t realize that the majority of dietary sodium comes from packaged foods and eating out, according to a new study.

Reducing sodium intake to recommended levels could result in 11.1 million fewer cases of high blood pressure each year and reduce health care costs by as much as $18 billion as an added benefit, say researchers.

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New Role Of Vitamin C In Skin Protection; Relevance To The Cosmetics Industry

(Science Daily) Researchers … studied new protective properties of vitamin C in cells from the human skin, which could lead to better skin regeneration.

The work … found that a form of Vitamin C helped to promote wound healing and also helped protect the DNA damage of skin cells…

These results will be of great relevance to the cosmetics industry. Free radicals are associated with premature skin aging, and antioxidants, such as vitamin C, are known to counter these highly damaging compounds. This new evidence suggest that, in addition to ‘mopping up’ free radicals, vitamin C can help remove the DNA damage they form, if they get past the cell’s defences.

The study has the potential to lead to advances in the prevention and treatment of skin lesions specifically, as well as contributing to the fight against cancer.

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Ways to Ease Those Menopause Symptoms

(U.S. News & World Report) In the years since hormone therapy was dethroned as the best way to adjust to menopause—the transition ranges from a few symptom-free months to six or more life-disrupting years—how have women adapted? While some are simply toughing it out, others are trying numerous approaches, many nonmedical, to manage their hot flashes, chills, vaginal dryness, breast tenderness, sleep disruptions, headaches, and mood swings. Here are [some] strategies that can help you make the transition smoothly:…

Get moving. Many women find that working out for an hour three or more times a week provides relief from hot flashes, though researchers haven't been able to document this in studies…

Keep a hot flash journal. This may help you pinpoint what's triggering those hot flashes. Is it an overheated bedroom? Spicy supper? Stressful day?...

Watch what you eat. In addition to spicy foods, caffeine and alcohol can disrupt sleep and trigger a hot flash. Women who are affected can limit caffeine to mornings and avoid alcohol in the evening…

Stick to a regular schedule. Make it a priority to get seven to eight hours of shut-eye a night, and try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day. If possible, eat your meals and snacks on a regular schedule. All of these help keep your body's systems on an even keel, better able to withstand hormonal changes…

Breathe deeply. Practice slow breathing from the abdomen-taking six to eight deep breaths a minute. This technique can be particularly helpful at the onset of a flash. Carving out 15 minutes twice a day for this type of slowdown can work magic in busting stress, too.

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Splits Form Over How to Address Bone Loss

(New York Times) Some doctors are worried that a disease is being treated unnecessarily with risky drugs.

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Community: I’m worried that a lot of conditions are being treated unnecessarily with risky drugs. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog—to let you know about possible alternatives to those drugs.

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Building Better Bone Replacements With Bacteria

(Science Daily) Bacteria that manufacture hydroxyapatite (HA) could be used to make stronger, more durable bone implants…

Currently bone implant materials are made by spraying-on hydroxyapatite. This does not have good mechanical strength and the spraying only reaches visible areas. [The new] biocoating method reaches all the hidden surfaces as the bacteria can "swim" into hidden nooks and crannies.

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Hairstylists Can Help Identify Older Clients Who Need Health Services

(Science Daily) Hairstylists may have a unique opportunity to help steer their elderly clients to needed health services, according to a small, exploratory study…

“Hair stylists are in a great position to notice when their older clients are starting to suffer from depression, dementia, or self-neglect,” said Keith Anderson, co-author of the study…

“While not expecting too much beyond the scope of their jobs, we may be able to help stylists direct elderly people in trouble to community services.”

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Motivation May Be at Root of ADHD

(HealthDay News) The trouble concentrating that affects people with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might be related to motivation, a new study has found…

The new study "found a disruption in the brain's reward/motivation pathway" in people with ADHD, [lead researcher Nora D.] Volkow said. "We also found that disruption in this area was directly related to the severity of inattention."

The implication of the finding is that ADHD might begin with disruption in motivation, which in turn leads to inattention and hyperactivity, she said.

Volkow described it as "a disruption in interest."

The finding … could have an impact on treating the condition, she said. "My strategy would be rather than exercising the attention network, let me give an intervention that will make the task much more engaging," she said.

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Community: The shows on Animal Planet that teach owners how to deal with hyperactive dogs say that they need a lot of physical exercise and tasks and play that engage their attention. I guess we’re not as different from dogs as we might like to think.

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Blood Test Narrows Down Need for Antibiotics

(HealthDay News) A simple blood test may be able to help doctors determine which patients need antibiotics and which do not.

A new study … found that use of the test resulted in less antibiotic use.

If the protocol winds up in widespread use, it could significantly cut down on side effects associated with antibiotic use, not to mention slowing the spread of "killer" bacteria which become stubbornly resistant to these medications.

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Obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking increase the risk of second breast cancer

(Science Blog) [A new] study adds to a small but growing body of evidence that obesity (a body mass index of 30 kg/m2 or more), alcohol consumption (consuming at least seven drinks a week) and current smoking may be important risk factors for second breast tumors. The research also suggests that current smokers who imbibe at least seven drinks a week may be at particularly high risk of second breast cancer.

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Community: Calculate your body mass index here.

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FDA to Require Faster Reporting of Food-Safety Problems

(HealthDay News) All companies that manufacture, process or distribute food for people or animals to eat must now report any problems that could lead to food-borne illness within 24 hours, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday.

Notification must be made using the online Reportable Food Registry, which was mandated by Congress two years ago in the hope of speeding up the process of alerting the FDA of contaminated foods and cutting down on the distribution of such food.

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Essential Oils From Common Spices Are Possible Allies In Food Safety

(Science Daily) Oregano, allspice and garlic essential oils (EOs) can be effective, natural barriers against E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria… The new study from government researchers revealed that oregano oil was found to be the most effective antimicrobial, followed by allspice and garlic.

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Goofing Off Increases Longevity

(RealAge.com) If not today, goof off soon. Take that vacation, unwind with friends, or spend the day at the beach. "Frivolous" indulgences like these are a must for longevity…

When people in a study were assessed on how frequently they engaged in 10 different types of leisure activities, those who spent ample amounts of time having fun also had lower blood pressure, a slimmer waist, a smaller body mass index, and lower levels of the health-damaging stress hormone cortisol. The funsters also reported better physical function than the all-work-and-no-play crowd.

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How to Walk Away from a Bad Mood

(RealAge.com) When your emotional well-being is in need of a "tune up," follow this simple rule for feeling better: take more walks.

A strong body of research suggests that walking and other forms of regular exercise can turn the dialway down on depression, stress, and anxiety.

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Triglyceride levels provide insight into your heart disease risk

(Arthur Agatston, MD, Everyday Health) Triglycerides are the form in which fat is stored in your body's fat cells. Your triglyceride level is almost always strongly influenced by lifestyle. A low-fat, high-refined carbohydrate actually elevates your triglycerides…

If you have high triglycerides (over 150 mg/dL is borderline high) and low HDL (less than 40 mg/dL if you're a man and less than 50 mg/dL if you're a woman), your risk of heart disease is compounded…

There are a number of ways to lower your triglycerides. In addition to eating the healthy diet that I describe in Step 1 [of the South Beach Diet], losing weight and getting more exercise can help. Medications such as niacin and fibrates are also effective at lowering triglycerides, increasing HDL, and enlarging LDL particle size.

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Prevent Periodontitis To Reduce The Risk Of Head And Neck Cancer

(Science Daily) Chronic periodontitis, a form of gum disease, is an independent risk factor for head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. This suggests the need for increased efforts to prevent and treat periodontitis as a possible means to reduce the risk of this form of cancer.

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Diabetes Advance: Researchers Find Gene That Causes Resistance To Insulin

(Science Daily) A breakthrough by an international team of researchers … has uncovered a new gene that could lead to better treatment of type 2 diabetes, as well as a better understanding of how this widespread disease develops.

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Promising New Target Emerges For Autoimmune Diseases

(Science Daily) University of Michigan scientists say they have uncovered a fundamentally new mechanism that holds in check aggressive immune cells that can attack the body’s own cells. The findings open a new avenue of research for future therapies for conditions ranging from autoimmune diseases to organ transplants to cancer.

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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Improves Sleep And Pain In People With Osteoarthritis

(Science Daily) A study … shows that the use of cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is an effective treatment for older patients with osteoarthritis and comorbid insomnia.

Results showed that treatment improves both immediate and long-term self-reported sleep and pain in older patients with osteoarthritis and comorbid insomnia without directly addressing pain control. Participants who received CBT-I reported significantly decreased sleep latency … and wake after sleep onset…, significantly reduced pain … and increased sleep efficiency… These improvements persisted in CBT-I patients (19 of 23) who were further assessed for sleep quality and perceived pain at a one-year follow-up visit.

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Denosumab Increases Bone Density, Cuts Fracture Risk In Prostate Cancer Survivors

(Science Daily) Twice-yearly treatment with denosumab, a new targeted therapy to stop bone loss, increased bone density and prevented spinal fractures in men receiving androgen-deprivation therapy for prostate cancer.

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Statins May Benefit Patients With COPD

(Science Daily) Statins have been shown to benefit patients with cardiovascular disease and high cholesterol, but now research shows that statins may provide significant benefits for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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New Alzheimer's gene link discovered

(AFP) Scientists working in seven countries announced they had uncovered variants of three genes which play a role in Alzheimer's, a discovery that should throw open many new avenues for tackling this tragic, mind-killing disease.

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How To Boost Value Of Alzheimer's-fighting Compounds

(Science Daily) The polyphenols found in red wine are thought to help prevent Alzheimer's disease, and new research … has shown that some of those compounds in fact reach the brain.

[Researchers] found that the amount of polyphenols from grapeseed extract that can reach a rat's brain is as much as 200 percent higher on the 10th consecutive day of feeding as compared to the first. Many previous experiments, in which absorption was measured after single or sporadic doses, often found very little, if any, of the bioactive polyphenols reaching brain tissues. However, more chronic exposure appears to improve absorption.

"This shows that reasonable and chronic consumption of these products may be the way to go, rather than single, high doses, similar to drugs," said [a collaborator on the study]. "It's like eating an apple a day, not a case of apples over two days every month."

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Community: If you’re a non-drinker, there is a red wine extract you can take.

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Cancer drug may help Alzheimer's patients

(UPI) U.S. researchers suggest a cancer drug may also help restore memory deficits in Alzheimer's patients.

[The study] finds a cancer drug from a family of compounds -- HDAC inhibitors -- improved memory performance in Alzheimer's mice to the level found in normal mice.

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