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

Medicare Part D: What to Expect This Open Enrollment Period

(HealthDay News) Seniors enrolled in private, standalone Medicare prescription drugs plans (PDP) could encounter significant changes this open enrollment period, which begins Sunday.

Monthly premiums will rise 11 percent to $38.94, on average, according to an analysis published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. That's up 50 percent from 2006, the first year that Medicare Part D drug benefits were offered…

So is Medicare Part D still a good buy? It all depends, experts say.

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Baby Boomers May Prove More Disabled Than Their Elders

(HealthDay News) Baby boomers in the United States may enter their 60s with far more physical disabilities than previous generations, which could spell trouble for an already overburdened health-care system…

The growing levels of disability among people in their 60s "are disturbing," study principal investigator Teresa Seeman, a professor of medicine and epidemiology, said in a news release.

"Increases in disability in that group are concerning because it's a big group," she said. "These may be people who have longer histories of being overweight, and we may be seeing the consequences of that. We're not sure why these disabilities are going up. But if this trend continues, it could have a major impact on [the nation], due to the resources that will have to be devoted to those people."

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Community: Where are those ice floes when you really need them?

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Statins may reduce severe H1N1 death risk

(UPI) U.S. researchers are studying statins, drugs that lower cholesterol, as a way to reduce H1N1 virus-related deaths.

Dr. Gordon Bernard, a critical care pulmonologist, said the statins may reduce flu-related deaths in the intensive care unit by as much as half.

"We know from studying infections that it's not always the bacteria that will kill you, but your own reaction to the bacteria can deal a lethal blow. We're learning that statins have an impact on the immune system and can dampen down that deleterious component of the immune response," Bernard said in a statement.

"Statins are extraordinarily efficient at lowering cholesterol by 30 percent to 50 percent. Like so many drugs, including aspirin, it has many additional potential benefits, which were initially unrecognized."

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Colombia chef school concocts dessert with Viagra

(AP) A Colombian cooking school has concocted a "love dessert" made with passion fruit — and Viagra.

Student chefs at the state culinary school in Quindio province wouldn't give the complete ingredients but say it contains the active ingredientin Viagra.

The pudding-like dessert is garnished with whipped cream and chocolate, and served in a parfait glass.

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Scientists Hope to Re-Grow Human Breasts

(CBS) Tests carried out on pigs have given Australian scientists hope that they will be able to re-grow women's breasts lost to cancer…

[Researchers] have been developing a technique to re-grow fat tissue underneath the breast.

Scientists implant a chamber underneath the skin and then connect a blood vessel to the tissue that enables it to grow in six to eight months…

The procedure would be a new alternative to breast implants.

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Fat Collections Linked To Decreased Heart Function

(Science Daily) Researchers … have shown that fat collection in different body locations, such as around the heart and the aorta and within the liver, are associated with certain decreased heart functions. The study … also found that measuring a person's body mass index (BMI) does not reliably predict the amount of undesired fat in and around these vital organs.

The prevalence of obesity is rising rapidly in the United States. Recent estimates suggest that approximately 30 percent of the adult population meets this criterion. Past studies have shown that fat accumulation in the liver and around the heart are linked to cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

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Gene Knockout May Cheer Up Mice

(Science Daily) A gene in the brain that was not previously linked to mood disorders could have a role in biopolar, depression, and schizophrenic conditions…

[Researchers say] the protein encoded by the gene could be a potential target for development of diagnostic or therapeutic agents that one day might be used for depression, bipolar disorders or schizophrenia. In addition, the knockout mice [without the gene] might be useful as models to study mania. Currently no mania animal model is available.

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Bad Mood May Make Pain Worse

(HealthDay News) If you're trying to get your mind off pain, think of something pleasant.

That's the conclusion of Canadian researchers who have linked mood to pain.

"Emotions or mood can alter how we react to pain since they're interlinked," Mathieu Roy, lead author of the new study…, said in a statement. "Our tests revealed when pain is perceived by our brain and how that pain can be amplified when combined with negative emotions."

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Laser Therapy Seems to Relieve Neck Pain

(HealthDay News) Low-level laser therapy appears to ease a common form of neck pain, a review of studies finds…

Five trials with people suffering chronic, persistent neck pain found that those who got laser treatment were four times more likely to have reduced pain compared with placebo. In 11 trials of chronic pain, 20-point reductions were reported by people given laser therapy.

Seven of those trials provided follow-up data for as long as 22 weeks. Pain relief persisted, with few or no side effects reported.

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Tapping Into Curry's Health Benefits

(HealthDay News) Tiny capsules could increase the body's absorption of the yellow curry ingredient curcumin, which is being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of colon cancer, psoriasis and Alzheimer's disease.

Curcumin, the active ingredient in the spice turmeric, is a potent antioxidant. However, digestive juices in the gastrointestinal tract quickly destroy curcumin, which means little of it actually makes it into the blood…

This encapsulating process could solve the problem of poor absorption of curcumin in humans, the scientists said.

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The Tart and Tasty Cranberry

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Cranberries are much more than just a traditional Thanksgiving side dish. These tart and tiny berries are among the top antioxidant-rich foods you can eat. Research has found that cranberries are a unique source of the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) known as proanthocyanidins. These compounds help prevent harmful bacteria from adhering to the lining of the urinary tract, thereby preventing painful urinary-tract infections…

Cranberries, which are too tart to be eaten raw, become tangy-sweet when cooked. They make a vibrant relish and a tasty addition to salads and home-baked, whole-grain breads. More delicious options: Add cranberries to homemade compotes, toss them into wild rice or other whole-grain salads, or combine them with other fall fruits, like apples and pears, to create delicious, fruity whole-grain crisps.

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Too Much Selenium Can Increase Your Cholesterol

(Science Daily) A new study from the University of Warwick has discovered taking too much of the essential mineral selenium in your diet can increase your cholesterol by almost 10%.

Selenium is a trace essential mineral with anti-oxidant properties. The body naturally absorbs selenium from foods such as vegetables, meat and seafood. However, when the balance is altered and the body absorbs too much selenium, such as through taking selenium supplements, it can have adverse affects.

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Nicotine replacement helps smokers quit

(UPI) Smoking cessation experts at a U.S. cancer hospital advise smokers combine nicotine replacements with counseling to help them kick their addictive habit…

"You really can't go wrong with any nicotine replacement therapy," Damon J. Vidrine … said in a statement. "I recommend, however, trying the patch first. The patch delivers a steady, low-dose stream of nicotine to your system that reduces cravings."…

Another nicotine replacement possibility is gum, which keeps the mouth occupied without a cigarette but needs to be used as directed. Other possibilities to satisfy the craving for nicotine include lozenges -- which may affect breath -- nasal sprays and inhalers.

Read more.

Community: The patches were very helpful to me, but I had to give myself permission, before I started, to stay on each level as long as I needed to.

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Oxidative stress link to hearing loss

(UPI) U.S. researchers link oxidative stress to processes within cells that contribute to age related hearing loss.

The study … linked permanent damage to inner ear cells to oxidative damage caused when the mitochondria -- organelles within the cell that produce energy and regulate cell growth – break down and cause the release of certain proteins…

[Study researcher Christiaan] Leeuwenburgh and colleagues identified a protein -- Bak -- as key in the weakening of the mitochondrial membrane and found mice that were middle-aged, but Bak-deficient had hearing levels comparable to that of young mice.

When the researchers exposed the mice to a chemical that causes oxidative stress Bak deficient mice had only minor loss of inner ear cells, in contrast with the high-level of loss in the mice not deficient in the protein.

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New Way To Biopsy Brain Tumors In Real Time

(Science Daily) A new miniature, hand-held microscope may allow more precise removal of brain tumors and an easier recognition of tumor locations during surgery.

Neurosurgeons at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center are using the new miniature laser confocal microscope to view brain tumor regions during surgery and obtain digital images of the tumor and brain tissue. This was not previously possible without taking biopsies of the tissue…

"As neuropathologists become familiar with the new confocal microscopic appearance of various tumor types and grades, the traditional intraoperative diagnosis may be replaced by the real-time analysis of confocal images by the new microscope," says Mark Preul, MD, Newsome Chair of Neurosurgery Research at Barrow. These images could be analyzed remotely, improving the accuracy of intraoperative diagnosis.

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Natural Ways to Boost Your Immunity

(RealAge.com) [S]teps you take to boost your immunity may also protect you from the chronic diseases associated with aging. See, immune busters -- everything from aging and stress to lack of sleep, too little exercise, and not-so-smart eating -- can pull the plug on how well your white blood cells, natural killer cells, and chemical messengers can attack and destroy foreign invaders… And the very same actions that lessen their ability to fight off bugs also cause trouble by encouraging chronic inflammation -- a hot-button health risk now linked with asthma, heart disease, diabetes, and even some types of cancer.

Read more, including suggestions for getting enough omega 3 fatty acids, resveratrol, stress reduction, sleep, exercise, vitamin D, quercetin, zinc, and vitamin C.

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Stay Calm All Day with This Oatmeal Topper

(RealAge.com) To-do lists always seem to get longer this time of year. But you can add something to your oatmeal that will help you feel less stressed about it: wheat germ.

According to Elizabeth Somer, RD, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness, wheat germ contains an important phytonutrient known to help increase physical endurance and improve the body's ability to handle stress…

Wheat germ's special phytonutrient is called octacosanol. But that's not the only thing the toasty stuff has going for it. Just a half cup of wheat germ also provides you with 100 percent of the folic acid and 50 percent of the magnesium, zinc, and vitamin E you need for the day…

Here are seven more stress-relieving foods you can really feel good about eating.

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How to End Emotional Eating

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Many people eat to fill a void or use food to keep themselves company. Some look to food as a distraction from a traumatic experience, such as the loss of a job, a death, or a breakup. But most who resort to emotional eating find that it can't be traced to one specific cause — it's simply a well-established pattern to fall back on food when they need comforting.

However, it's not impossible to change patterns of behavior. There are other ways to deal with complicated emotions, and it's much healthier to process feelings than to bury them with food. It's important to realize that ultimately we do have power over our actions. Eating is something that can be controlled and enjoyed.

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Community: Click the “read more” link for some practical suggestions on stopping emotional eating.

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Quitting Smoking Simplifies Surgical Recovery

(HealthDay News) Want to boost the odds that you'll thrive after surgery and avoid complications?

The American Society of Anesthesiologists has a recommendation: Drop that butt.

Quitting smoking will make it more likely that you'll recover from an operation without anything going seriously wrong, the society says.

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Progress in Stamping Out Smoking Has Stalled

(HealthDay News) After decades of progress, the number of Americans who smoke hasn't budged over the last five years and actually rose slightly from 2007 to 2008, according to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…

Many experts blame the turnaround on recent cutbacks in funding for state tobacco-control programs, which had proven successful.

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Medicines to Deter Some Cancers Are Not Taken

(New York Times) [T]here is a way to prevent many cases of prostate cancer.A large and rigorous study found that a generic drug, finasteride, costing about $2 a day, could prevent as many as 50,000 cases each year. Another study found that finasteride’s close cousin, dutasteride, about $3.50 a day, has the same effect.

Nevertheless, researchers say, the drugs that work are largely ignored. And supplements that have been shown to be not just ineffective but possibly harmful are taken by men hoping to protect themselves from prostate cancer…

And prostate cancer is not unique. Scientists have what they consider definitive evidence that two drugs can cut the risk of breast cancer in half. Women and doctors have pretty much ignored the findings.

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Less HRT, Fewer Cases of Possible Breast Cancer Precursor

(HealthDay News) Declining use of hormone replacement therapy may be driving down rates of a condition called "atypical ductal hyperplasia," a known risk factor for breast cancer, new research suggests.

This is the first time a link has been found between atypical ductal hyperplasia -- abnormal cells in the breast's milk ducts -- and hormone therapy, said Diana Miglioretti, senior author of a paper…

The findings are in keeping with other recent research showing a decline in breast cancer rates since the release of results from the Women's Health Initiative, a major trial that caused many women to stop taking combined (estrogen plus progesterone) hormone therapy.

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Gene Therapy Brings New Muscle to Monkeys

(HealthDay News) Researchers are reporting that injections of genes into the leg muscles of monkeys helped the animals gain muscle size and strength without side effects.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association, which funded the research, said the gene-therapy findings, though preliminary, might someday lead to better treatment for people who suffer from muscle loss.

The macaque monkeys were given injections of genes for a protein known as follistatin.

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Wireless Phones Alter Levels of Brain Chemical

(HealthDay News) Wireless phones have a biological effect on the brain, but it's too early to say whether this poses any health risks, a Swedish medical researcher reports.

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Love and jealousy linked by hormone

(UPI) Researchers at the University of Haifa said oxytocin, which affects behaviors such as trust, empathy and generosity, also affects opposite behaviors, such as jealousy and gloating. "Subsequent to these findings, we assume that the hormone is an overall trigger for social sentiments: when the person's association is positive, oxytocin bolsters pro-social behaviors; when the association is negative, the hormone increases negative sentiments," Simone Shamay-Tsoory said in a statement.

The hormone is released in the body naturally during childbirth and when engaging in sexual relations.

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For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better

(HealthDay News) Highlighting the importance of staying fit in old age, a French study has found that seniors who walk slowly are three times more likely to die from cardiovascular disease than are fast walkers…

After adjusting for a number of baseline characteristic, the researchers found that seniors with the slowest walking speed were 44 percent more likely to die than the fastest walkers. The slowest walkers also had a three-fold higher risk of cardiovascular death.

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Wearing a pedometer can be a big step in the weight-loss battle

(Washington Post) [B]uying a pedometer is not the first -- or second, or third -- piece of advice you typically receive when you turn to someone and say: "I really need to get in shape, but I hate exercising. What should I do?"

But it probably should be, says Dena Bravata, … who analyzed 26 studies of pedometer use and found clear evidence that people who have them get more exercise, lose weight and lower their blood pressure. In fact, the decrease in blood pressure was equivalent to results achieved through much more expensive interventions that involve doctors and pharmacists, she said. And in a relatively short time, many people were able to lower their body mass index enough to move from the "obese" to "overweight" category.

"What we found was, on average, that wearing a pedometer increased people's physical activity by about 2,000 steps per day," Bravata said. "That's equivalent to about a mile."

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Replenish your energy with the right carbohydrates

(CookingLight) -- Everyone needs carbohydrates, the body's preferred energy source. If you get regular cardiovascular exercise or train for an endurance sport, you need more daily carbs to fuel your workouts and replenish your energy stores…

The best carbs to choose are ones that contribute plenty of other nutrients such as protein, vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants.

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High-fat, high-sugar diet alters bacteria in the gut, making it easier to gain weight

(Los Angeles Times) A high-fat, high-sugar diet does more than just pump calories into your body. It also alters the composition of bacteria in your intestines, increasing the proportion of the little buggers that make it easier for you gain weight and harder to lose it, research in mice suggests. And the changeover can happen in as little as 24 hours, much faster than researchers had suspected, according to a report…

Many different factors play a role in the propensity to gain weight, including genetics, physical activity and the environment, as well as food choices. But a growing body of evidence, much of it accumulated by Dr. Jeffrey I. Gordon…, shows that bacteria in the gut also play a key role. His findings could eventually lead to new ways to induce weight loss or to prevent weight gain in the first place.

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Fasting on Alternate Days May Make Dieting Easier

(HealthDay News) To get down to a healthy weight, obese and overweight people often struggle to cut their daily caloric intake by a necessary 15 percent to 40 percent.

But new research suggests that a twist on alternate-day fasting may make dieting easier to tolerate and boost heart health to boot…

The subjects lost between 10 and 30 pounds [in 10 weeks], well beyond the expected loss of 5 pounds on average. The study participants also managed to lower their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and heart rate.

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Chocolate Reduces Stress, Study Finds

(LiveScience.com) New evidence is in that eating dark chocolate every day can reduce stress.

The study ... found that people who rated themselves highly stressed to begin with had lower levels of stress hormones after eating chocolate every day for two weeks. The study's subjects ate 1.4 ounces (40 g) of dark chocolate daily, or a little less than a regular-sized Hershey's bar, which contains 1.55 ounces (44 g).

The doctors took urine and blood plasma samples from the participants at the beginning, halfway through, and at the end of the two week study, and found lower levels of the stress hormones cortisol and catecholamines in the samples at the end.

The study was small, however — just 30 people — so further research is needed to verify the results.

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Community: I wish someone would make a sugar free dark chocolate bar. Oops! Someone does.

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Guidelines for Nuts and Seeds

(SouthBeachDiet.com) When you’re looking for a mid-morning or mid-afternoon munch, nuts are a healthy go-to choice. These satisfying snacks are low in cholesterol and saturated fat and high in healthy monounsaturated fat, protein, and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals, including folic acid and niacin. Numerous studies suggest that nuts may be effective in preventing heart disease, diabetes, and some forms of cancer…

Try to limit them to one serving per day as specified below, keeping in mind that while nuts are good for you, they are high in calories…

Most nuts are sold shelled or unshelled and can be used both for snacking or in recipes. Shelled nuts turn rancid more quickly and require refrigeration (they will keep for up to four months) or freezing (for up to six months). Unshelled nuts should be stored in a container in the refrigerator or freezer and will keep twice as long as shelled. Top salads, cereal, or yogurt with a few nuts, or … dole out a healthy, satisfying snack for yourself.

Read more, including serving size guidelines.

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Strokes Striking More Boomers

(AARP Bulletin) More men and women under age 65 could be suffering strokes and not be getting enough follow-up care, according to a new nine-year study…

These younger patients often had mild or moderate strokes, so most were not given rehabilitation, according to the study. Although the study … tracked patients at only one hospital, study author Timothy Wolf … says, “This could be a national trend.”

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Chemo-radiation Before Prostate Removal May Prevent Cancer Recurrence

(Science Daily) Researchers … have found a combination of radiation therapy and chemotherapy given before prostate removal is safe and may have the potential to reduce cancer recurrence and improve patient survival.

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Novel Mouse Gene Suppresses Alzheimer's Plaques And Tangles

(Science Daily) A new study reveals that a previously undiscovered mouse gene reduces the two major pathological perturbations commonly associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The research … finds that the novel gene interacts with a key cellular enzyme previously linked with AD pathology, thereby uncovering a new strategy for treating this devastating disorder.

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Stem Cells: Scientists Successfully Reprogram Blood Cells

(Science Daily) Researchers have transplanted genetically modified hematopoietic stem cells into mice so that their developing red blood cells produce a critical lysosomal enzyme -preventing or reducing organ and central nervous system damage from the often-fatal genetic disorder Hurler's syndrome…

The study suggests a new approach to molecular gene therapy.

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Tiny evolutionary mutation led to 'language gene': study

(AFP) Two minute changes in a gene that is otherwise identical in humans and chimps could explain why we have full-fledged power of speech while other primates can only grunt or screech, scientists said on Wednesday.

The findings may also point to new drug targets for hard-to-treat diseases that disrupt speech, such as schizophrenia and autism, they said.

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Experts: Placebo power behind many natural cures

(AP) People looking for natural cures will be happy to know there is one. Two words explain how it works: "I believe."

It's the placebo effect — the ability of a dummy pill or a faked treatment to make people feel better, just because they expect that it will. It's the mind's ability to alter physical symptoms, such as pain, anxiety and fatigue.

In just the past few weeks, the placebo effect has demonstrated its healing powers. In tests of a new drug to relieve lupus symptoms, about a third of patients felt better when they got dummy pills instead of the drug…

The placebo effect accounts for about a third of the benefits of any treatment — even carefully tested medicines, scientists say.

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Community: Yes, indeed. Let’s harness that power. For example, see below.

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Brief Training In Meditation May Help Manage Pain, Study Shows

(Science Daily) A new study examining the perception of pain and the effects of various mental training techniques has found that relatively short and simple mindfulness meditation training can have a significant positive effect on pain management.

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Reduced Muscle Strength Associated With Risk For Alzheimer's

(Science Daily) Individuals with weaker muscles appear to have a higher risk for Alzheimer's disease and declines in cognitive function over time, according to a report…

The basis for this association is unknown, [researchers] note. Possibilities include damage to the mitochondria, which produce energy for the body's cells, that may contribute to loss of both muscle strength and cognitive function. Alternatively, decreased strength could result from stroke or other disorders of the central nervous system that also may reveal subclinical Alzheimer's disease.

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Community: In other words, this study isn’t saying that stopping the muscle loss will prevent Alzheimer’s. But stopping the muscle loss is a good thing, anyway, for preventing falls.

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Health Advice: Can I Prevent Muscle Loss?

(U.S. News & World Report) Studies indicate that up to about age 50 you will lose an estimated 4 percent of strength and muscle mass per decade. After that, the loss increases to about 10 percent per decade. By age 60, the average man will have lost approximately one third of his muscle mass. This dramatic loss can be reduced and to some extent delayed if you increase strength training with age…

To slow down aging, you must eliminate (in this order): (1) cigarette smoking, (2) inactivity, and (3) obesity.

Read more.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup: A Recipe For Hypertension, Study Finds

(Science Daily) A diet high in fructose increases the risk of developing high blood pressure (hypertension), according to a paper… The findings suggest that cutting back on processed foods and beverages that contain high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) may help prevent hypertension.

Over the last 200 years, the rate of fructose intake has directly paralleled the increasing rate of obesity, which has increased sharply in the last 20 years since the introduction of HFCS. Today, Americans consume 30% more fructose than 20 years ago and up to four times more than 100 years ago, when obesity rates were less than 5%.

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Statins May Stave Off Gallstones

(HealthDay News) Long-term use of cholesterol-lowering statins appears to reduce the incidence of gallstones and the need for surgery to prevent the excruciating pain they cause, a new study indicates…

The study indicates that all statins provide the protective effect and that the effect increases with higher doses, the report said.

But the study results do not indicate whether a statin should be prescribed solely to help prevent gallstones in someone who did not have them, said Dr. Farid Kehdy.

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Cholesterol Measurements May Be Made Easier

(HealthDay News) Methods to gauge blood cholesterol to determine vascular disease risk can be simplified, researchers in England say.

Their method measures levels of either total or high-density lipoprotein (HDL, or "good" cholesterol) in the blood or apolipoproteins (proteins that help transport cholesterol), without the need to have patients fast and without regard to another form of blood fat called triglycerides.

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Erectile tissue restored in rabbits, gives hope to men

(AFP) Erectile tissue grown in the laboratory has successfully restored sexual function in rabbits, bringing hope to men sexually impaired by accident or disease, US researchers said Tuesday in a published study…

In the study, … scientists harvested smooth muscle cells and endothelial cells, the same type of cells that line blood vessels, from the animals' erectile tissue.

Grown in test tubes, the replacement cells were injected into a three-dimensional scaffold that later was implanted in the animal's penis where, one month later, organized tissue with vessel structures began to form.

After a time, sexual and reproductive functions were fully restored to the rabbits, the researchers said.

Read more.

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FDA-approved Drugs Eliminate, Prevent Cervical Cancer In Mice

(Science Daily) Researchers … have eliminated cervical cancer in mice with two FDA-approved drugs currently used to treat breast cancer and osteoporosis…

The drugs, which keep estrogen from working in cells, also cleared precancerous growths, or lesions, in both the cervix and vagina, and prevented the onset of cancer in mice that had the precancerous lesions…

The lab studies, which should take one or two years to complete, could be followed quickly with phase-two or phase-three clinical trials.

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Breast cancer pain can last for years

(USA Today) Nearly half of breast cancer survivors suffer from persistent pain, even two to three years after surgery, a study shows.

Almost 60% of the 3,253 women surveyed experience other symptoms of nerve damage, such as numbness or tenderness, according to a study of all Danish women treated for breast cancer in 2005 and 2006.

Women under 40 and those who have more extensive surgery, such as a mastectomy, and radiation are the most likely to report pain, says the University of Copenhagen's Henrik Kehlet, senior author of the report…

Women also have more pain if surgeons remove many of the lymph nodes in their armpits, a common place for breast cancer to spread, the study says.

Read more.

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Drug Shrinks Lung Cancer Tumors In Mice

(Science Daily) A potential new drug for lung cancer has eliminated tumours in 50% of mice in a new study… In the animals, the drug also stopped lung cancer tumours from growing and becoming resistant to treatment. The authors of the research … are now planning to take the drug into clinical trials, to establish whether it could offer hope to patients with an inoperable form of lung cancer.

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Heating, Air-Conditioning And Carpets May Be Hazardous To Your Health

(Science Daily) Damp environments, poorly maintained heating and air-conditioning systems and carpeting may contribute to poor indoor air quality, according to experts… Americans spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, where they are repeatedly exposed to indoor allergens and airborne particles that can lead to respiratory symptoms and conditions…

"If there was just one thing I could do to fix buildings, it would be to change the relative humidity," said Doug Garrett, CEM, CDSM, building scientist… "Moisture leads to conditions that are conducive to dust mites and mold, as well as bacteria, yeast and other living organisms."

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Common Infections May Contribute to Strokes

(HealthDay News) Exposure to several common pathogens may increase the risk of having a stroke, a new study shows…

[T]he research team found that the pathogensChlamydia pneumoniae, Helicobacter pylori, cytomegalovirus and herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 may be implicated in accelerating arterial disease, which in turn increases the risk of stroke.

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Obesity Seems to Alter Heart Structure

(HealthDay News) Obesity is a major risk factor for left atrial enlargement, which increases the risk of atrial fibrillation, stroke and death, a new study shows.

Read more.

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To Feel Better, Low-Fat Diet May Be Best

(HealthDay News) Both a high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet such as the popular Atkins program and a low-fat, high-carb diet appear to help people lose pounds over the course of a year.

But as for mood? Only the low-fat diets will result in long-term improvement in mood, according to a study.

Read more.

Community: But the Atkins diet is a high ANIMAL fat diet, high in omega 6 fatty acids. Dr. Ilardi has told us that omega 3 fatty acids improve mood. It would be interesting to know what would happen if the Atkins diet were revamped to stress the 3s rather than the 6s.

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Diet Switching Can Lead To 'Withdrawal' Symptoms

(Science Daily) In research that sheds light on the perils of yo-yo dieting and repeated bouts of sugar-bingeing, researchers … have shown in animal models that cycling between periods of eating sweet and regular-tasting food can activate the brain's stress system and generate overeating, anxiety, and withdrawal-like symptoms.

Read more.

Community: You heard it here first—overeating is an addiction.

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Trial drug may help smokers kick butts

(CNN) The NicVAX vaccine prompts the immune system to create antibodies that bind to the nicotine molecules in the blood. The now-larger molecules are prevented by their size from crossing the blood-brain barrier. Trapped outside the brain, the bound nicotine can't reach the receptors that trigger the release of dopamine. No dopamine, no pleasure.

It's believed that a smoker's addiction to nicotine will diminish over time because, as the antibodies created by NicVAX continue to bind to the nicotine, the amount of nicotine reaching the brain will gradually decrease. This lack of feel-good reinforcement reduces the urge to continue smoking.

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Foods That Fight Prediabetes and Diabetes

(SouthBeachDiet.com) There are many ways to help prevent the onset of prediabetes and diabetes. Making healthy lifestyle changes, including losing weight and getting regular exercise, is a great place to start. The good news is that weight loss and other healthy lifestyle changes have been found to be more effective than medications for reversing prediabetes…

To reverse prediabetes (and prevent type 2 diabetes), try these … smart-eating guidelines:

  • Eat whole grains, such as brown rice, barley, quinoa, wild rice, bulgur, slow-cooking oatmeal, and whole-grain breads and pastas…
  • Enjoy beans and other legumes frequently…
  • Enjoy plenty of vegetables, prepared without unhealthy fats (like stick margarine and butter) or sweetened sauces.
  • Consume whole, low-glycemic-index fresh fruits…, like berries, apples, and/or citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit halves. Avoid canned or jarred fruits with added sweeteners or syrups.
  • Include nonfat or low-fat dairy in your diet…
  • Focus on lean proteins, like fish and shellfish, skinless poultry breasts, and lean cuts of beef. Use healthy cooking methods, such as baking, roasting, broiling, or grilling.
  • Avoid saturated fats and trans fats; instead, choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in olive oil and canola oil, for example, or foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as fatty fish.

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Ice Cream Researchers Making Sweet Strides With 'Functional Foods'

(Science Daily) A comfort food, a tasty treat, an indulgence -- ice cream conjures feelings of happiness and satisfaction for millions. Ice cream researchers at the University of Missouri have discovered ways to make ice cream tastier and healthier and have contributed to ice cream development and manufacturing for more than a century. Today, MU researchers are working to make ice cream into a functional food, adding nutrients such as fiber, antioxidants and pro-biotics to premium ice cream.

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Community: But the sugar? The fat?

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Retirement Brings Most a Big Health Boost

(HealthDay News) The self-reported health of the newly retired improves so much that most feel eight years younger, a new European study suggests.

This happy news was true of most everyone except a small minority -- only 2 percent -- who had experienced "ideal" conditions in their working life, anyway.

"The results really say three things: That work puts an extra burden on the health of older workers, that the effects of this extra burden are largely relieved by retirement and, finally, that both the extra burden and the relief are larger when working conditions are poor," said Hugo Westerlund, lead author of a study… "This indicates that there is a need to provide opportunities for older workers to decrease the demands in their work out of concern for their health and well-being."

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Weight Training Boosts Breast Cancer Survivors' Body Image And Intimate Relationship Satisfaction

(Science Daily) In addition to building muscle, weight-lifting is also a prescription for self-esteem among breast cancer survivors, according to new … research. Breast cancer survivors who lift weights regularly feel better about bodies and their appearance and are more satisfied with their intimate relationships compared with survivors who do not lift weights, according to a new study.

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Community: You don’t have to be a breast cancer survivor to benefit from teeling good about exercise.

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