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

Why we eat too much, and how to get control

(Health.com) We all know we're supposed to eat healthy portions. So why is it that a rough day at the office or even just the smell of chocolate-chip cookies can cause us to throw our best intentions out the window?...

You're not getting enough sleep…

You're sabotaged by stress…

You've got fatty foods (literally) on the brain.

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Community: Click through to read the suggestions on how to get control over each situation that’s pushing you to overeat, and how to recover if you do indulge your cravings. In AA, the advice is to avoid being hungry, angry, lonely, or tired (HALT), as those conditions are most likely to lead an alcoholic to drink. I think the same holds true for those of us fighting the battle of the bulge.

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Diet, Exercise May Slow Kidney Disease Progression

(HealthDay News) Shedding pounds may be good for most people, but especially for those with kidney disease, a new study has found.

A review of previously published studies on weight loss through diet, exercise or surgical intervention found that the weight loss had a positive effect on kidney function in obese kidney disease patients…

Traditional weight loss from dieting and exercising cut down on proteinuria -- the increased output of protein in the urine -- while also preventing kidney function from worsening, the researchers noted in a news release from the American Society of Nephrology. In addition, surgical procedures to induce weight loss helped bring down high filtration rates, a condition that increases disease risk in kidney patients, the studies showed.

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Ways To Quiet Ordinary Snoring

(Science Daily) For ordinary snoring, a doctor will likely discuss conservative treatment options first. Assistive devices or, as a last resort, surgery, can help reduce snoring. Mayo Clinic Health Letter covers these treatment approaches:

Lose weight: Extra bulk narrows airways, contributing to snoring.

Avoid alcohol: Alcohol consumption can cause excessive muscle relaxation. Avoiding alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime may help.

Relieve nasal obstruction: Adhesive nasal strips (Breathe Right, others) or corticosteroid nasal sprays can help reduce nasal obstruction that can contribute to snoring.

Change sleep positions: In back sleepers, the tongue can sag and narrow the airway during sleep. A doctor can suggest techniques to learn to sleep comfortably in other positions.

Stop smoking: Smoking is associated with an increased risk of snoring. People who stop have a lower rate of snoring.

Try assistive devices.

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Suicides Higher in Rural Areas With Bars

(HealthDay News) A new study suggests there's a link between suicide and rural communities that have higher numbers of bars.

However, the research doesn't confirm that more bars mean more suicides because it does not show cause and effect…

"Although one cannot make the strong statement that more bars cause more suicides, our findings are at least consistent with what we would expect if patronizing bars or other alcohol outlets were in fact causally related to suicide," Fred W. Johnson, associate research scientist and corresponding author for the study, said in the news release.

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Community: Well, alcohol is a depressant, but the lack of bars doesn’t have to mean a lack of alcohol.

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Blood Test Helps Guide Treatment And Can Impact Quality Of Life For Breast Cancer Patients

(Science Daily) With the goal of tailoring cancer interventions for the individual, researchers at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown have published the results of a prospective study that validates the use of a simple blood test to help doctors more reliably assess treatment effectiveness for patients with metastatic breast cancer.

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Vaccine To Prevent Urinary Tract Infections Shows Early Promise

(Science Daily) University of Michigan (U-M) scientists have made an important step toward what could become the first vaccine in the U.S. to prevent urinary tract infections, if the robust immunity achieved in mice can be reproduced in humans.

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Topical Cream for Erectile Dysfunction Shows Promise

(HealthDay News) A topical cream for erectile dysfunction shows promise in animal testing and could become an alternative for men who can't tolerate the pill form of the drugs, U.S. researchers report…

The new cream consists of nanoparticles that can carry drugs or other substances, such as nitric oxide, and deliver them in a controlled and sustained manner, according to the researchers… Nitric oxide is the signaling molecule that dilates blood vessels responsible for creating an erection.

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Trouble With Daily Activities Could Point to Alzheimer's Risk

(HealthDay News) Problems carrying out daily chores or enjoying hobbies could predict which people with "mild cognitive impairment" will progress more quickly to Alzheimer's dementia, U.S. researchers report.

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States Helping Aged Leave Nursing Homes

(New York Times) A growing number of states are reaching out to people … who have been in nursing homes for more than six months, aiming to disprove the notion that once people have settled into a nursing home, they will be there forever. Since 2007, Medicaid has teamed up with 29 states to finance such programs, enabling the low-income elderly and people with disabilities to receive many services in their own homes…

States and the federal government hope to save money, though research about cost savings has so far been inconclusive. A recent study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that home care costs taxpayers $44,000 a year less than a nursing home stay — though this number cannot be used to estimate total savings, because often home-based services replace family care, not nursing home care.

About 1.5 million Americans are living in nursing homes.

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Seniors largely spared of swine flu

(AP) Seniors who for years have made flu shots a fall ritual are being sent to the end of the line for the swine flu vaccine. And the reason — their age group seems to have a bit of immunity — appears to have warded off most potential grumbling.

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Middle-Age Heart Risk Factors Shorten Men's Lives

(HealthDay News) Middle-aged men with risk factors for heart disease such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are taking 10 to 15 years off their lives compared to men without these troubles, British researchers say.

Although death from heart disease has been declining, in part due to better control of cardiovascular risk factors and better care, this is the first study that looks at death from heart disease in terms of life expectancy, the researchers said.

"The good news is that all of us can make changes to live a healthy life," said lead researcher Dr. Robert Clarke… "Those changes, we now know, can translate into a 10- to 15-year difference in life expectancy."

Although not the subject of this study, Clarke suspects the same lessons would apply to women.

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More Whole Grains May Mean Less Fat

(HealthDay News) Eating more whole-grain foods may help reduce body fat in older adults, says a new U.S. study…

After adjusting for factors such as levels of physical activity, the researchers found that a higher intake of whole grains was associated with lower amounts of total body fat and abdominal fat.

People who consumed the highest amounts of whole grains had about 2.4 percent less total body fat and 3.6 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate the least. This difference was found to be related to fiber in cereal, but not in fruits or vegetables. When only cereal fiber was taken into account, those who consumed the most had 3.2 percent less body fat and 5 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate the least amount of cereal fiber.

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Community: The other day I met someone in my building who said she was a retired nurse. When I mentioned this website to her, she said that she’d take a look, but that she really likes junk food. I told her that I do better when I add something to my life, rather than subtracting something. Adding whole grains to my diet seems to have lessened the desire for less healthy foods. But when I try to deny myself something, I tend to obsess over it.

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New Evidence That Green Tea May Help Improve Bone Health

(Science Daily) Researchers in Hong Kong are reporting new evidence that green tea — one of the most popular beverages consumed worldwide and now available as a dietary supplement — may help improve bone health. They found that the tea contains a group of chemicals that can stimulate bone formation and help slow its breakdown.

The beverage has the potential to help in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone diseases that affect million worldwide, the researchers suggest.

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Community: But then there’s this from HealthDay: “Bones May Suffer From Green Tea Consumption.” So maybe the effect on bones depends on the formulation of the supplement used.

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New Vitamin K Analysis

(Science Daily) [A new] analysis … suggests the importance of ensuring optimal dietary intakes of vitamin K to prevent age-related conditions such as bone fragility, arterial and kidney calcification, cardiovascular disease, and possibly cancer. Vitamin K is concentrated in dark green plants such as spinach or Swiss chard, and is either not present or present in only small amounts in most multivitamin pills.

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Give your kidneys a break: lose some weight

(Reuters Health) Shedding some excess weight through diet, exercise or surgery may help obese adults with kidney disease ward off further decline in kidney function, research hints.

The kidneys filter waste products from the blood and excrete them in the urine. When damaged, their ability to perform these vital functions is reduced.

More than a third of US adults are either overweight or obese, putting them at increased risk for kidney trouble, not to mention heart trouble and diabetes. Weight loss has been shown to improve control of diabetes, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and reduce the effects of heart disease.

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Why Fitness Pros Criticize 'The Biggest Loser'

(U.S. News & World Report) Television viewers go absolutely gaga over The Biggest Loser, the NBC reality show that takes obese, out-of-shape people away from their regular lives and puts them on a punishing full-time fitness and diet regimen aimed at stripping them of pounds. The finalist who loses the biggest percentage of his or her starting weight is the winner… But some fitness pros cringe when they watch the show, says a new article published in the September issue of IDEA Fitness Journal… They worry that it gives people the wrong idea of what they need to do to lose weight and get fit.

The article, by fitness pro and writer Amanda Vogel, is available only to IDEA members, but here's the gist of her piece:

• The show fosters unrealistic expectations about the pace of weight loss, many fitness pros say. Normal, sustainable weight loss is 1 or 2 pounds a week, not the 15 pounds that some contestants drop…

• From what viewers see, it seems as if the contestants are quickly pushed into very challenging exercises without working through the basics—simpler exercises and shorter distances—first.

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Community: My objection is that the environment is unrealistic, and doesn't build long-term habits that will maintain health over the years.

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Laser Processes Promise Better Artificial Joints, Arterial Stents

(Science Daily) Researchers are developing technologies that use lasers to create arterial stents and longer-lasting medical implants that could be manufactured 10 times faster and also less expensively than is now possible.

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Swine flu death rate similar to seasonal flu: expert

(Reuters) The death rate from the pandemic H1N1 swine flu is likely lower than earlier estimates, an expert in infectious diseases said on Wednesday.

New estimates suggest that the death rate compares to a moderate year of seasonal influenza, said Dr Marc Lipsitch of Harvard University.

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'Soda Tax' Wins Health Experts' Support

(HealthDay News) A national tax of 1 cent per ounce of soda and other sugary drinks could stem the United States' obesity epidemic, while generating $14.9 billion the first year alone, health experts say.

That windfall could help finance proposed health care reform, while also funding programs to prevent obesity, say a group of prominent researchers…

The authors believe such a tax would deter people from buying non-nutritious sweet drinks, thereby helping Americans to lose weight and reduce their health risks…

[S]tudies continue to link consumption of beverages sweetened with sucrose (regular sugar), high-fructose corn syrup or fruit-juice concentrates to obesity, diabetes and heart disease, not to mention dental decay…

"Excise taxes on soft drinks simply do not reduce obesity rates," the American Beverage Association said in a statement issued Wednesday. "West Virginia and Arkansas are two prime examples -- both have excise taxes on soft drinks, yet rank fifth and sixth highest in the nation for obesity rates, " it said.

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Community: This kind of measure might have more impact if the artificially sweetened version of the drinks were NOT taxed, making them more attractive, price-wise. Or maybe just tax the sweeteners, not the drinks directly. Cigarettes at convenience stores in downtown Chicago now cost $8.00 to $9.00 per PACK, and that has to be having an effect on smoking.

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Tasty Foods Send Signal to Brain to Keep Eating

(HealthDay News) Can't stop eating fatty food? Blame your brain, researchers say.

A new study suggests that molecules of some kinds of fat travel to the brain, which then tell the body that it doesn't need to stop eating just yet…

The type of fatty acid that appeared to do the most damage, palmitic acid, is found in beef and dairy products, such as butter, cheese and milk, the study authors noted.

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Brain's Response To Seeing Food May Be Linked To Weight Loss Maintenance

(Science Daily) A difference in brain activity patterns may explain why some people are able to maintain a significant weight loss while others regain the weight, according to a new study…

The investigators report that when individuals who have kept the weight off for several years were shown pictures of food, they were more likely to engage the areas of the brain associated with behavioral control and visual attention, compared to obese and normal weight participants.

Findings from this brain imaging study … suggest that successful weight loss maintainers may learn to respond differently to food cues…

"It is possible that these brain responses may lead to preventive or corrective behaviors – particularly greater regulation of eating – that promote long-term weight control," said [lead author Jeanne] McCaffery… "However, future research is needed to determine whether these responses are inherent within an individual or if they can be changed."

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Tip of the Week: Stress Education Is Now In Session

(Shrink Yourself) The school year has started. You're stressed for your kids, maybe there's a new school, new area, new friends or new challenges. If September brings enough dread to send you into an overeating tailspin this tip is for you…

Next time a craving hits you, step away from the food, and plan something exciting in the future.

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Liquid specs a bold vision for world's poor

(CNN) In the developing world millions of people struggle to operate machinery, read from a blackboard, or just see the world around them, because they don't have access to the eye glasses they need.

But a pair of glasses developed by Joshua Silver, a physics professor at the University of Oxford, offers an affordable solution.

The glasses can be adjusted to the right strength by the wearer, without the need for them to visit an optometrist.

A major reason for that is a chronic shortage of optometrists -- in Ghana, for example, there is just one for every eight million people. That makes it incredibly difficult for ordinary people to visit an optometrist, without which it's impossible for them to get glasses.

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Community: Maybe the next step would be the ability to have two settings that you can easily switch between, rather than having to deal with bifocals.

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Persistent Pain May Accelerate Signs Of Aging By Two To Three Decades In Middle-Aged Adults

(Science Daily) Younger people with pain look similar in terms of their disability to people who are two to three decades older without pain, according to a study… The results of the study uncovered that people with pain develop the functional limitations classically associated with aging at much earlier ages…

“Our study cannot determine whether pain causes disability or whether disability causes pain. We think it is likely that both are true and that pain and disability probably can act together in ways that make both problems worsen in a downward spiral,” said [study leader Dr. Kenneth] Covinsky. “One implication of our study is that pain and disability may not be fully separate processes, but may often be part of the same underlying process. Patients may be better served if pain and disability are evaluated and treated jointly rather than treated as separate issues.”

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Community: Pain and disability both affect quality of life, and quality of life, I believe, is a major factor in longevity.

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Exercise Better Than Shockwave Treatment For Chronic Shoulder Pain, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Supervised exercises are more effective than shockwave treatment to relieve chronic shoulder pain, finds a study…

After 18 weeks, 32 (64%) of patients in the exercise group achieved a reduction in shoulder pain and disability scores compared with 18 (36%) in the shockwave treatment group.

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Muscle loss in elderly can be reversed

(UPI) A British researcher won a prize for work that may help reverse the muscle loss that leaves many senior citizens with too-thin limbs…

"Our team is making good headway in finding more and more out about what causes the loss of muscle with age," [researcher Michael] Rennie said in a statement. "It looks like we have good clues about how to lessen it with weight training and possibly other ways to increase blood flow."

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More Chest Compressions During CPR Improves Survival Odds

(HealthDay News) If you see someone collapse and suspect they are in the middle of cardiac arrest, push on that person's chest and keep on pushing -- the more pushes, the better.

That's the message of a study that finds that survival after cardiac arrest is directly related to the amount of time spent doing chest compressions during efforts at what is formally called cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

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Nanoparticle Treatment For Burns Curbs Infection, Reduces Inflammation

(Science Daily) Treating second-degree burns with a nanoemulsion lotion sharply curbs bacterial growth and reduces inflammation that otherwise can jeopardize recovery, University of Michigan scientists have shown in initial laboratory studies…

The nanoemulsion shows promise in overcoming the limitations of current creams used in burn treatment, which aren't able to penetrate skin to kill sub-surface bacteria and don't have a strong effect on inflammation, says [burn surgeon Dr. Mark R.] Hemmila.

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Scientists Cure Color Blindness In Monkeys

(Science Daily) Researchers from the University of Washington and the University of Florida used gene therapy to cure two squirrel monkeys of color blindness — the most common genetic disorder in people.

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U.S. approves H1N1 vaccine, says enough for everyone

(Reuters) U.S. health officials have approved vaccines from four drugmakers to help prevent the H1N1 swine flu, ensuring there will be enough to inoculate Americans who want the protection, U.S. Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told lawmakers on Tuesday.

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5 Simple Heart-Smart Choices

(RealAge.com) Many factors play a part in determining whether your cholesterol levels are healthy. You have little control over some of these factors, such as age, gender, and family history. However, other factors, such as diet, body weight, physical fitness, alcohol consumption, and stress levels, are very much influenced by choices you make every day…

Control your cholesterol levels with these five healthy choices:

1. Maintain a healthy body weight…

2. Stay active…

3. Kick out saturated fats…

4. Limit your alcohol intake…

5. Take time to relax.

Read more.

Community: You may notice some repetition in the recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. It’s partly because there’s a pretty consistent consensus among experts about how to become and remain healthy. Besides, I post a lot of repeats of the same information because most of us, to change old habits, have to be hit over the head many times.

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What Sort of Exercise Can Make You Smarter?

(New York Times) For some time, researchers have known that exercise changes the structure of the brain and affects thinking. Ten years ago scientists at the Salk Institute in California published the groundbreaking finding that exercise stimulates the creation of new brain cells. But fundamental questions remain, like whether exercise must be strenuous to be beneficial. Should it be aerobic?...

[R]ecent studies provide some preliminary answers. In an experiment published in the journal of the American College of Sports Medicine, 21 students at the University of Illinois were asked to memorize a string of letters and then pick them out from a list flashed at them. Then they were asked to do one of three things for 30 minutes — sit quietly, run on a treadmill or lift weights — before performing the letter test again. After an additional 30-minute cool down, they were tested once more. On subsequent days, the students returned to try the other two options. The students were noticeably quicker and more accurate on the retest after they ran compared with the other two options, and they continued to perform better when tested after the cool down. “There seems to be something different about aerobic exercise,” Charles Hillman, an associate professor in the department of kinesiology at the University of Illinois and an author of the study, says.

Similarly, in other work by scientists at the University of Illinois, elderly people were assigned a six-month program of either stretching exercises or brisk walking. The stretchers increased their flexibility but did not improve on tests of cognition. The brisk walkers did.

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Diabetes Medications Don't Lower Inflammation

(HealthDay News) In people with newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes, the glucose-lowering medications metformin and insulin don't appear to reduce the inflammation associated with heart disease, new research suggests.

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Necklace For Long-term And Robust Cardiac Monitoring In Daily Life

(Science Daily) IMEC and its research affiliate Holst Centre today present a prototype of an electrocardiogram or ECG necklace… The technology enables long-term monitoring of cardiac performance and allows patients to remain ambulatory and continue their routine daily activities while under observation. The embedded beat detection algorithm copes with the artefacts inherent to ambulatory monitoring systems.

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Is there really a skin cancer epidemic?

(Reuters Health) s melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer, on the rise, as is often reported? Maybe not, says a new study: The "melanoma epidemic" may simply represent a change in how doctors are diagnosing the disease.

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Pesticides Linked to Parkinson's

(HealthDay News) People whose jobs bring them in regular contact with pesticides may be at increased risk for Parkinson's disease, a U.S. study finds.

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Phone Assessment Effective For Evaluating Cognition In The Elderly

(Science Daily) Cognitive testing by telephone in elderly individuals is generally as effective as in-person testing, according to a new study…

The results indicated that the telephone and in-person assessment were comparable, suggesting that telephone assessment may be a useful, cost-effective and time efficient alternative to in-person assessment of cognition in the elderly.

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With Soap and Water or Sanitizer, a Cleaning That Can Stave Off the Flu

(New York Times) [T]he Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with other health organizations around the world, urge frequent hand washing with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. (They also repeat some advice you may not have heard from your mother: cough or sneeze into the crook of your elbow, not your bare hands.)

And as hospitals put stricter hand hygiene programs in place, absentee rates during cold and flu season also drop.

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Most Adult Americans at Some Risk for Heart Disease

(HealthDay News) Decades of steady progress against heart disease may be on the wane, experts say, with a new study showing that only 7.5 percent of Americans are now in the clear when it comes to heart disease risk factors.

The continuing U.S. obesity epidemic may bear much of the blame for the downturn, the researchers added.

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Food Habits Are More Important Than Most Important Obesity Risk Gene

(Science Daily) The risk of becoming obese is 2.5 times higher for those who have double copies of the best known risk gene for overweight and obesity. However, this is only true if the fat consumption is high. A low fat diet neutralizes the harmful effects of the gene.

“This means that the critical factor is what you eat. At least in the case of the FTO gene, the most important obesity gene identified so far,” says [study author] Emily Sonestedt.

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Activity adds years to life, even for octogenarians

(Reuters Health) Old people who are physically active are apt to live longer than their couch-potato peers, and are more likely to maintain their independence, new research from Israel shows.

And people who had been sedentary but became active -- even those who started when they were well into their 80s -- cut their risk of dying and lengthened the amount of time they were able to live on their own, Dr. Jeremy M. Jacobs … and his colleagues found.

"The take home message is that even among the very old, it never is too late to start exercising," Jacobs noted.

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In One Study, a Heart Benefit for Chocolate

(New York Times) In a study that will provide comfort to chocoholics everywhere, researchers in Sweden have found evidence that people who eat chocolate have increased survival rates after a heart attack — and it may be that the more they eat, the better…

But before concluding that a box of Godiva truffles is health food, chocolate lovers may want to consider some of the study’s weaknesses. It is an observational study, not a randomized trial, so cause and effect cannot be definitively established.

Even though the researchers controlled for many variables, chocolate consumption could be associated with factors they did not account for — mental health, for example — that might reduce the risk for death.

The scientists did not ask what kind of chocolate the patients ate, and milk chocolate has less available flavonoid than dark chocolate. Finally, chocolate consumption did not reduce the risk for any nonfatal cardiac event.

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Community: And then, of course, there’s the sugar problem. And I think chocolate is too bitter to eat by itself. Any ideas on how to prepare dark chocolate without sugar?

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Common Pain Cream Could Protect Heart During Attack, Study Shows

(Science Daily) New research from the University of Cincinnati shows that a common, over-the-counter pain salve rubbed on the skin during a heart attack could serve as a cardiac-protectant, preventing or reducing damage to the heart while interventions are administered…

[A]pplying capsaicin to specific skin locations in mice caused sensory nerves in the skin to trigger signals in the nervous system. These signals activate cellular “pro-survival” pathways in the heart which protect the muscle.

Capsaicin is the main component of chili peppers and produces a hot sensation. It is also the active ingredient in several topical medications used for temporary pain relief.

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Air Pollution May Raise Blood Pressure

(HealthDay News) Breathing polluted air for even two hours can boost blood pressure, potentially raising the risk of cardiovascular disease in those exposed to smog, a new study suggests.

Although the increase may not mean much for healthy people, "this small increase may actually be able to a trigger a heart attack or stroke," study author Dr. Robert D. Brook … said…

An estimated nearly one in three Americans suffer from high blood pressure, meaning the heart is straining to push blood through the circulatory system.

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