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

FDA warns against fake online H1N1 remedy claims

(Reuters) The U.S. government this week warned against the online marketing of unlicensed health remedies claiming to protect against H1N1 swine flu infection, including fake "Tamiflu" pills from India

In one action, the FDA and the Federal Trade Commission ordered well-known author and doctor Andrew Weil to stop marketing his Immune Support Formula to protect against the H1N1 flu virus.

"Claims that a dietary supplement can prevent, treat or cure human infection with the H1N1 virus must be supported by well-controlled human clinical studies," the regulatory agencies said in a warning letter to Weil.

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Increasing Severity Of Bicycle Injuries

(Science Daily) Record-high gasoline prices, the slowdown in the economy, and increasing environmental sensitivity are leading more people to bike to work or for play. But an adequate infrastructure may not be in place to protect cyclists from serious injury according to surgeons who presented a new study…

The researchers found that the severity of injury and hospital length-of-stay for bicycle injuries at one trauma center has increased significantly over the past 11 years…

Researchers at the University of Colorado hope to obtain funding so they can expand the study nationally and generate data that will support better safety standards and raise community awareness about the lack of cycling infrastructure.

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Looking to achieve balance? Try slacklining

(Los Angeles Times) Proponents call the sport, in which participants maneuver across a flat strip of nylon just a few feet above the ground, a good core exercise and a stress-reliever -- like tai chi on a tightrope.

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Trial Raises Doubts Over Alternative Pain Therapy

(Science Daily) Copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps are ineffective in relieving arthritis pain, according to a new study led by a University of York academic.

Researchers conducted the first randomised placebo-controlled trial on the use of both copper bracelets and magnetic wrist straps for pain management in osteoarthritis – the most common form of the condition.

The devices are used worldwide for helping to manage pain associated with chronic musculoskeletal disorders. The results of this trial conflict with those from previous studies, by showing that both magnetic and copper bracelets were ineffective for managing pain, stiffness and physical function in osteoarthritis.

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Soy foods may curb hip fracture risk in older women

(Reuters Health) Postmenopausal women may lessen their chances of fracturing a hip by adding soy-based foods to their diet, a study from Singapore hints.

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Lamb plant substance could help bones

(UPI) Researchers in South Korea say plant substances may help treat the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis.

[The researchers] say substances from the lamb plant -- Cibotium barmoetz -- show potential as a bone-builder because in the laboratory the substances blocked formation of bone-destroying cells without harmful effects on other cells.

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For SAD Sufferers, Cognitive Behavior Better Than Light Therapy At Preventing Recurrence, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) University of Vermont psychologist Kelly Rohan presents the first published research study of the long-term effects of different treatments for seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a form of severe depression that occurs annually in the fall and winter seasons. The first year Rohan randomized 69 people with SAD into one of four groups: light therapy treatment, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a combination of the two or a wait-list control. She then surveyed participants on how they were doing the next winter – one year later.

Of those treated with CBT, only 7 percent had a recurrence compared to 36.7 percent of people treated with light therapy…

Rohan hypothesizes that such dramatic results for the combination therapy are the result of being in a heavily monitored study with full participation. When people are left on their own to manage symptoms the subsequent winter, follow-through is much more difficult.

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An anti-smoking vaccine fails

(Los Angeles Times) Though the government recently announced that $10 million of stimulus money would be used to fund a phase 3 clinical trial of a promising anti-smoking vaccine produced by Nabi Pharmaceuticals of Rockville, Md., another company working on a similar vaccine has not been so successful. Cytos Biotechnology Ltd. of Zurich, Switzerland, said this week that a trial of its NIC002 nicotine vaccine had failed to meet its primary endpoint, a statistically significant difference in abstinence from smoking between those receiving the vaccine and those receiving a placebo.

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Teeth grinders get some help

(The Healthy Skeptic, Los Angeles Times) Just about everyone clenches and grinds at least a little during sleep, and up to 20% of us do it often or vigorously enough to notice the results, including worn-down teeth, jaw pain, headaches and exasperated bed partners.

Dentists and orthodontists have tried many approaches to stop severe grinding, also known as bruxism. Biofeedback, hypnotherapy, sedatives, jaw exercises and other approaches seem to be mildly helpful at best.

Even if you can't stop grinding, you can try protecting your teeth with the help of a night guard. In theory, a good-fitting guard that keeps your teeth from touching during the night should stop the wear-and-tear.

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Commuity: I used to grind my teeth at night, but my significant other, a light sleeper, started gently scratching the top of my head when my grinding woke him up. After a while, I stopped doing it.

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Hearing loss is frustrating, but family and friends can help

(Lillian Hawthorne, Los Angeles Times) [H]earing loss is a genuine and serious loss, not a mere inconvenience. It means the loss of sounds of music and words of poetry or wit or wisdom -- and the loss of easy conversations and communications with others.

And it brings with it a sense of exclusion and isolation, leaving a person in a silent and lonely place.

What is needed is not so much sympathy but realistic understanding and accommodation. When you speak, you don't have to raise your voice, just speak slowly and clearly, and look at us so we can read your nonverbal communication as well as hear your words.

Check unobtrusively to see whether we are hearing you well enough, and, if not, repeat some words without fuss. Remember that we really want to hear your words as much as you want your words to be heard.

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Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind

(HealthDay News) The closer you live to nature, the healthier you're likely to be.

For instance, people who live within 1 kilometer of a park or wooded area experience less anxiety and depression, Dutch researchers report.

The findings put concrete numbers on a concept that many health experts had assumed to be true.

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Adjust Your Brakes to Lose Weight

(RealAge.com) Here's one key change you can make to help get your high school waist back: Adjust your brakes.

What does that mean? Don't eat until you're full, advises Dan Buettner, author of The Blue Zones. Instead, eat until your stomach is 80 percent full…

Okinawans stop eating when they are no longer hungry, and they're one of healthiest, longest-lived people in the world. Here are some tricks that Buettner says can help you stop eating at the right time:

Get new glasses: Choose tall and narrow over short and wide drinking glasses. You'll drink 25 to 30 percent less. Go smaller with plates and bowls as well. Check out this article to learn how to pick the perfect portion.

Leave food in the kitchen. People who serve themselves at the counter, then walk away, eat about 14 percent less. Here are three more kitchen tricks that can help you eat less.

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Community: We’ve been using 6-oz glasses, instead of 8-oz, for years. And we usually use our salad plates as our dinner plates, except for special occasions like Thanksgiving. But I still have problems knowing when I’m full. I’m getting better at it, though.

I’m glad to finally find a reference to a group of Asians eating only until they’re no longer hungry. I read once that they do so because they believe that being overfull interferes with their spirituality. But I haven’t been able to find a reference to it on the internet.

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7 Things to Learn from Successful Calorie Cutters

(Michelle Fiordaliso, Shrink Yourself) For years now, studies have been done on the benefits of calorie-restricted diets. Animal research has shown that eating less means longer, healthier lives. Now they’re trying to figure out if the same thing applies to humans. An article … by Jon Gertner made some good points about calorie restriction…

If you’re an emotional eater, can you ever expect to benefit from the promises of an eating plan such as this one? Maybe. But it will take some internal work first. What I found so interesting about the article is what we can learn from the kinds of people they believed could be successful in a study such as this one…

Here are some of the things they all had in common:

1.Motivated and Highly Organized
You don’t have to naturally be an organized person. By working on acquiring those traits, you will get better at adhering to a sensible eating plan…

2.Strong Moral Support
If you want to eat well, you need support. Period. End of discussion. Who is on your team?

3.A Stable Job (with some flexibility)…

4.Accountability & Counseling
It is important to have someone to answer to and to have someone to hoist you up when you falter. Having a buddy to check in with can really help you succeed…

5.Bank Your Calories
Look at the big picture instead of just the immediate moment…

6.Discernment
People in the study found that when they had to restrict their calories they actually enjoyed food more…

7.Paradigm Shift
How can you shift your paradigm so that cutting back on food doesn’t give you a feeling of deprivation but rather a feeling of privilege?

Whether or not, we can actually stick to a calorie-restricted diet is not nearly as important as learning how to use these people’s experiences to help us restrict our own caloric intake, if only by a little. In a world, where we have gotten so accustomed to consuming too much time, too much money and too much food, it might be interesting to see what living looks like when we learn to get by on less.

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Community: I’m a big believer in taking small steps, making incremental changes. Whenever I’ve tried to make big changes all at once, I’ve only been setting myself up for failure. Building one small success on another is the only way I’ve ever been able to make needed changes in my life. My next “How I…” post will be on this topic.

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Easy Ways to Eat More Antioxidants

(Lifescript.com) Want something to fight cancer, prevent heart ailments and head off brain drain? Reach for fruits, veggies, even treats, high in antioxidants…

[A]ntioxidant all-stars include: berries, walnuts, pomegranate juice and grape juice, unsweetened baking chocolate, brewed tea and coffee, red wine, artichokes, dried beans, dried cloves, cherries, cabbage, spinach, and many other fruits, vegetables and spices.

You don’t have to munch carrots and raw broccoli from dawn to dusk, but you need to start thinking about fruits and veggies long before dinner to get the recommended daily 4-1/2 cups – equal to nine servings.

Sounds like a lot, but don’t throw in the dishtowel yet. Here are [some] easy ways to boost your antioxidant intake.

Click here to read more, including the suggestions for adding antioxidant rich foods to your daily routine.

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Quick and Simple Ways to Work Out at Work

(SouthBeachDiet.com) While a regular workout routine is an essential part of reaching your weight-loss goals, there will be times when your job or family obligations get in the way of exercising… If you can’t find time for fitness before or after work, here are seven tips to help you squeeze in fitness throughout the day.

Park farther away from the office, or get off public transportation at an earlier stop.

Take the stairs instead of the elevator, especially if you have just a few flights to climb.

Go for a walk during lunch…

Walk over to coworkers’ desks when you need to chat with them or deliver messages rather than using e-mail or the phone.

Instead of meeting friends in the office or over lunch, meet to take a walk instead.

Use your headset or cell phone and walk around while talking on the phone.

Stretch occasionally while sitting at your desk or leave a light pair of weights at work and do some upper-body exercises.

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Community: When I take public transportation, I use the wait time to walk up and down the sidewalk or the platform. And when I have to sit at a desk, I use the swivel of the chair to twist back and forth—I call it chair dancing.

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Smoking Bans Good for Non-Smokers' Hearts: Study

(HealthDay News) Smoke-free policies can reduce the risk of heart attack by up to 47 percent and significantly reduce the likelihood of other heart problems, according to a report released Thursday by the U.S. Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The report also found compelling evidence that even a brief exposure to secondhand smoke can trigger a heart attack.

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Want Sun Protection? Wear Red or Blue

(HealthDay News) -- Deep blue and red cotton fabrics are better than yellow at protecting skin against damaging ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun, according to Spanish scientists.

The researchers said their findings could lead to clothing fabrics that offer improved sun protection.

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Alternative Medicine Cabinet: Thyme for Toenails

(Well, New York Times) It’s not exactly a life-threatening condition, but toenail fungus, known in the medical community as onychomycosis, can be cosmetically unattractive and painful. It is also somewhat prevalent, striking about 15 percent of Americans. And it can be a burden to treat.Conventional treatments are expensive, have a low success rate and can carry significant side-effects…

[T]hose who want a natural alternative can try remedies that contain thymol, the primary oil found in thyme, a well-known herb and antiseptic. Thymol is commonly found in medicated chest rubs, including Vicks VapoRub.

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Placebo effect is in the spine as well as the mind

(Reuters) It's not all in the mind -- the so-called placebo effect is real and reaches right down to the spine, German scientists said on Thursday.

The finding may help in the hunt for better ways to tackle pain and other disorders.

Using modern imaging technology the researchers found that simply believing a pain treatment is effective actually dampens pain signaling in a region of the spinal cord called the dorsal horn, suggesting a powerful biological mechanism is at work.

"It is deeply rooted in very, very early areas of the central nervous system. That definitely speaks for a strong effect," lead researcher Falk Eippert … told Reuters.

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Community: The more we know about the placebo effect, the better. In my opinion, it’s the body’s healing power that healers in primitive tribes, so-called witch doctors, try to tap into.

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'ECG For The Mind' Could Diagnose Depression In An Hour

(Science Daily) An innovative diagnostic technique invented by a Monash University researcher could dramatically fast-track the detection of mental and neurological illnesses.

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Improved Diet And Exercise Alone Unlikely To Cure Obstructive Sleep Apnea In Obese Patients

(Science Daily) A study … found that while a strict diet and exercise program may benefit obese patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), it is unlikely to eliminate the condition.

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Bug Barcode Readers Hold Out Promise Of Universal Vaccines

(Science Daily) Veterinary scientists have made a discovery that promises to deliver a new approach to fast development of cheap vaccines that are effective in all mammals – not just humans or another particular species. They propose that by harnessing the system that reads the biological ‘barcodes’ of infectious microbes such as food poisoning bacteria, flu viruses and protozoa that cause malaria, one vaccine could be made to prevent a particular disease in all mammals.

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Suffering Caused By Dialysis For Nursing Home Seniors May Outweigh Its Benefits, Researchers Find

(Science Daily) Older Americans living in nursing homes experience a significant decline in their ability to perform simple daily tasks — such as feeding themselves, getting dressed or brushing their teeth — after starting dialysis, say researchers.

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Choosing a Policy to Cover What Medicare Doesn’t

(New York Times) People over 65 should buy a Medigap policy, consumer advocates say, but picking a Medigap plan can be difficult…

The plans, which are sold by private insurers, are supposed to help fill the considerable gaps that deductibles and co-payments leave, the difference between what Medicare enrollees receive from the government and what they owe doctors and hospitals. Medigap offerings come in a dozen different varieties, labeled Plans A to L…

A government publication, “Choosing a Medigap Policy,” compares the 12 plans.

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Community: I became eligible for Medicare this past April, and I actually found it easier than expected to choose a medigap policy. I started getting mailings from insurance companies months before I became eligible, and realized right away that Medicare had made it fairly easy for me by prescribing fixed plans for the insurance companies to bid on. After weighing the potential cost vs. the benefit of the alternatives, I chose the plan I wanted (Plan F). Then all I had to do was pick the company that I knew was legitimate and that offered the best price.

Be sure to read the booklet that Medicare sends you, as it lists the tests you’re eligible for, some of which have to be administered within a certain period of time to be free of charge to you.

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Minnesota town gets healthy together

(AP) With organizers' help, [Albert Lea, Minn.] built five years worth of sidewalk and bike trails in just one year to make exercise easier for its 18,000 residents. Restaurants added healthier menus and grocery stores showcased wholesome foods. People snacked on fruits and veggies over and ate less fast food.

Schools stopped celebrating birthdays with sugary treats, and started setting up "walking buses" that allowed kids to walk to and from school together with adult supervision. Employers gave workers time to exercise.

Organizers say the first-of-its kind experiment added an average 3.1 years to the longevity of about 2,300 residents who calculated their lifespans by answering 36 lifestyle questions.

Adventurer and travel writer Dan Buettner hatched the idea and oversaw the project after identifying five areas around the world where people tend to live longer and healthier lives, research he documented in a 2008 book, "The Blue Zones."

The key for Albert Lea was getting the community behind a goal that was not just about weight loss, but also about fostering family relationships, a sense of purpose and healthy living habits, Buettner said.

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Seaweed 'Super-Food' Flavoring Ingredients In Development

(Science Daily) A range of natural flavoursome food products that rely neither on added salt or monosodium glutamate may soon be available thanks to a Cork[ Ireland ]-based company exploring the food potential of a major Irish natural resource – seaweed. The company … is currently researching a suite of products that include mildly processed Irish seaweeds as flavoursome ingredients. In Asia, seaweed already comprises up to 20% of the diet and is recognised not only for its nutritional benefits but also for its unique flavours.

“Irish seaweed is an underexploited, naturally nutritious food which has been labelled as a “super food” in the scientific literature because of its health giving properties,” said Ross Campbell of CyberColloids… “Our company recognised a significant commercial opportunity to develop high-value food products from Irish seaweeds that were not only nutritious, but tasty and appealing to western consumers.”

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Health Tip: Manage Pain Without Drugs

(HealthDay News) Pain-relieving medications offer relief for many people with sudden or chronic pain. But these drugs have their own risks and potential side effects.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine offers this list of pain-relieving alternatives to medication:

Applying heat.

Applying ice or a cold compress.

Massaging the area.

Getting sufficient rest.

Using relaxation techniques.

Using biofeedback.

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'Beneficial' Effects Of Alcohol? Researchers Urge Caution On Recent Results

(Science Daily) According a new study of over 3,000 adults aged 70-79, the apparent association between light-to-moderate alcohol consumption and reduced risk of functional decline over time did not hold up after adjustments were made for characteristics related to lifestyle, in particular physical activity, body weight, education, and income.

The authors of the study … say this suggests that life-style related characteristics may be the real determinant of the reported beneficial effects of alcohol and functional decline.

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Premium Car Research And Cow Dung Point To New High Tech Disease Diagnosis

(Science Daily) Research[ers] … have taken high tech gas sensors normally used to test components for premium cars and applied the same techniques to human blood, human urine, and even cow dung samples from local cow pats. The results could lead to a new high tech medical tool that could provide a fast diagnosis for some of the most difficult gastrointestinal illnesses and metabolic diseases.

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More MRI Machines May Mean More Back Surgeries

(HealthDay News) The analysis of 1998-2005 Medicare data found that patients with new pain in their lower back were more likely to have surgery if they were treated in an area that had a higher-than-average concentration of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) machines…

The study authors also found that two-thirds of MRI scans that may have resulted from increased MRI availability took place within the first month of onset of back pain. However, clinical guidelines recommend delaying an MRI scan until four weeks after onset, during which time most people with low back pain show improvement.

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Gene Blamed For Immunological Disorders Shown To Protect Against Breast Cancer Development

(Science Daily) Researchers … are voicing alarm that drugs to treat a wide variety of allergies, asthma and autoimmune diseases now in human clinical trials may errantly spur development of breast tumors.

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Side Effects in Statin Users Linked to Gene Mutation

(HealthDay News) U.S. researchers have identified a common gene mutation linked to side effects in people taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.

Statins can reduce high cholesterol and lower the risk of heart attack or stroke. But 25 percent to 50 percent of people prescribed the potentially lifesaving drugs stop taking them after a year because of side effects, in particular muscle aches…

"If a genetic test can be developed to determine who will experience side effects that will likely make patients go off their medication, we can target these individuals for counseling about common side effects, monitor them more closely or tailor their medication accordingly," lead author and cardiologist Dr. Deepak Voora said.

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Can Social Networking Help Consumers Get Healthier?

(Science Daily) Can social networking sites help people make wise health decisions? A new study … says it depend on people's willingness to take action on the information they gain from the sites.

In general, [researches] found many benefits to using online communities for health advice. A three-stage process of reflecting, refining, and exploring is the key to effective use of the online sites, they say. The value of the online community is that it "facilitates learning by collectively transforming everyday individual experiences into usable knowledge," they write…

However, the value of online community depends on how individuals choose to act on the information. "Productive inquiry alone is not sufficient to empower individuals," the authors write. "Community inquiry broadens the action choices available to its members. Action, however, is an individual choice."

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Community: In my experience, changing behaviors is difficult. If it weren’t, most of us would always do what’s best for our health. But change starts with knowledge of what’s good for us and what isn’t. And it takes time. Most of these studies have very short time frames, but success in changing behavior takes time and, in many cases, trying, failing, and trying again. Social networking can provide support for that process, in addition to information on healthier behaviors.

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People Who Work After Retiring Enjoy Better Health, According To National Study

(Science Daily) Retirees who transition from full-time work into a temporary or part-time job experience fewer major diseases and are able to function better day-to-day than people who stop working altogether, according to a national study. And the findings were significant even after controlling for people's physical and mental health before retirement.

The study's authors refer to this transition between career and complete retirement as "bridge employment," which can be a part-time job, self-employment or a temporary job.

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Candy Bar Or Healthful Snack? Free Choice Not As Free As We Think

(Science Daily) If you think choosing between a candy bar and healthful snack is totally a matter of free will, think again. A new study … shows that the choices we make to indulge ourselves or exercise self-control depend on how the choices are presented.

Author Juliano Laran … tested subjects to determine how certain words and concepts affected consumers' decisions for self-control or indulgence. He found that consumer choices were affected by the actions most recently suggested to them by certain key words.

The tests involved a word-scramble containing words that suggested either indulgence ("weight") or self-control ("delicious"). "Participants who unscrambled sentences associated with self-control were more likely to choose a healthy snack (a granola bar) to be consumed right now, but an indulgent snack (a chocolate bar) to be consumed in the future," writes Laran. Participants who unscrambled sentences associated with indulgence were more likely to choose an indulgent snack to be consumed right now but a healthy snack to be consumed in the future."

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Community: Sounds like denial: “I’ll indulge myself now, but I’ll do better next time, I promise.”

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Chocolate, Water Reduce Pain Response To Heat

(Science Daily) People often eat food to feel better, but researchers have found that eating chocolate or drinking water can blunt pain, reducing a rat's response to a hot stimulus. This natural form of pain relief may help animals in the wild avoid distraction while eating scarce food, but in modern humans with readily available food, the effect may contribute to overeating and obesity.

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Impaired Vision May Shorten Life Span

(HealthDay News) Untreatable vision problems are associated with a shorter life span, Australian researchers have found.

Their study confirms previous findings that had linked vision impairment with an increased risk of death from such factors as accidental injury, depression, a low body mass index, slow walking speeds, a greater likelihood of falls, lower levels of physical activity, cardiovascular disease, dementia and cancer.

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Community: Here’s more evidence that quality of life has a lot to do with wanting to live, which has an impact on longevity.

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Sleepiness from sleep apnea linked to diabetes

(Reuters Health) Daytime sleepiness caused by the nighttime breathing disorder sleep apnea is nothing to yawn at.

A new study from Canada hints that the risk of diabetes may be two to three times higher among people with severe sleep apnea who also suffer daytime sleepiness.

"This raises the intriguing possibility that sleepiness (or sleep disruption) may have an independent effect on the risk for diabetes," Dr. Willis H. Tsai … noted.

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Risks to cellphone users found in higher-quality studies

(Los Angeles Times) Some studies have found that using cellphones increases the risk of head and neck tumors, but others have not. A new analysis of 23 epidemiological studies, however, has found an elevated risk among the studies that were of higher scientific quality…

“Larger, prospective, cohort studies, independently conducted from the mobile industry, are required to confirm the relationship between mobile phone use and tumor risk,” said Dr. Seung-Kwon Myung, the lead author of the meta-analysis.

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Study Finds Pro and Cons to Prostate Surgeries

(New York Times) Prostate cancer patients who chose minimally invasive surgery rather than more extensive operations to remove the prostate were less likely to experience complications like pneumonia, but reported higher rates of long-term problems, including impotence and incontinence, according to one of the largest studies to compare outcomes to date.

Patients achieved similar rates of cancer control regardless of which surgery they had, the analysis found.

The study, in Wednesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association, is not considered the last word on the subject, several experts agreed. But it raises questions about claims of superiority of minimally invasive laparoscopic and robotic-assisted surgeries, which have led to a surge in their popularity.

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Magnetic Nanotags Spot Cancer In Mice Earlier Than Methods Now In Clinical Use

(Science Daily) Searching for biomarkers that can warn of diseases such as cancer while they are still in their earliest stage is likely to become far easier thanks to an innovative biosensor chip developed by Stanford University researchers.

The sensor is up to 1,000 times more sensitive than any technology now in clinical use, is accurate regardless of which bodily fluid is being analyzed and can detect biomarker proteins over a range of concentrations three times broader than any existing method, the researchers say.

The nanosensor chip also can search for up to 64 different proteins simultaneously and has been shown to be effective in early detection of tumors in mice, suggesting that it may open the door to significantly earlier detection of even the most elusive cancers in humans. The sensor also can be used to detect markers of diseases other than cancer.

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New Step Forward For Stroke Patients

(Science Daily) New research will determine whether an inexpensive drug called L-dopa, widely used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, could also help thousands of stroke patients regain mobility and independence.

The world’s first large scale study of this treatment … will investigate whether L-dopa, when used with conventional physiotherapy and occupational therapy, increases the person’s ability to relearn essential day to day activities such as walking and dressing.

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