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

Swine Flu Declining in Some Parts of U.S.

(HealthDay News) Some areas of the United States are seeing declines in H1N1 swine flu activity, a federal health official said Friday, and while the disease remains widespread in 43 states, that's down from the 46 states reported last week…

Current flu activity is higher than typically seen during the peak of seasonal flu season in mid-winter, [the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Dr. Anne] Schuchat said, adding that she expects a lot more swine flu infections in the weeks and months to come.

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Antioxidant Found in Vegetables Has Implications for Treating Disease

(Science Daily) Scientists… discovered that a dietary antioxidant found in such vegetables as broccoli and cauliflower protects cells from damage caused by chemicals generated during the body's inflammatory response to infection and injury. The finding has implications for such inflammation-based disorders as cystic fibrosis (CF), diabetes, heart disease, and neurodegeneration.

Through cell-culture studies and a synthesis of known antioxidant biochemistry, [the researchers] showed that the antioxidant thiocyanate normally existing in the body protects lung cells from injuries caused by accumulations of hydrogen peroxide and hypochlorite, the active ingredient in household bleach. These potentially harmful chemicals are made by the body as a reaction to infection and injury. In addition, thiocyanate also protects cells from hypochlorite produced in reactions involving MPO, an enzyme released from germ-fighting white blood cells during inflammation.

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New Pap Test Guidelines: Start Later, Have Fewer

(HealthDay News) For the second time in a week, medical experts are revising the advice given women on cancer screenings.

Now women are being told that they should get their first screening for cervical cancer -- including a Pap test -- at age 21. The recommendation appears in guidelines released Nov. 20 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

And, rather than have an annual Pap test, most women need to be screened every other year or less, depending on their age, the guidelines say.

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No Immediate Changes Expected in Mammogram Coverage

(HealthDay News) Women can rest assured, at least for now, that their health plan will continue to pay for an annual mammogram beginning at age 40.

A firestorm set off this week by a federal task force recommendation against "routine screening" of women under 50 is not likely to spur hasty changes in coverage policies, experts say.

"We're not hearing that coverage is going to change. We're hearing that coverage will continue pretty much as it has been," said Susan Pisano, vice president of communications for America's Health Insurance Plans in Washington, D.C.

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Saliva Proteins Change as Women Age

(Science Daily) In a step toward using human saliva to tell whether those stiff joints, memory lapses, and other telltale signs of aging are normal or red flags for disease, scientists are describing how the protein content of women's saliva change with advancing age. The discovery could lead to a simple, noninvasive test for better diagnosing and treating certain age-related diseases in women, they suggest in a report.

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New Cause of Osteoporosis: Mutation in a miroRNA

(Science Daily) Many biological processes are controlled by small molecules known as microRNAs, which work by suppressing the expression of specific sets of genes. [Researchers] have now identified a previously unknown microRNA (miR-2861) as crucial to bone maintenance in mice and humans.

Of clinical importance, expression of functional miR-2861 was absent in two related adolescents with primary osteoporosis.

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On Your Last Nerve: Researchers Advance Understanding of Stem Cells

(Science Daily) Researchers … have identified a gene that tells embryonic stem cells in the brain when to stop producing nerve cells called neurons. The research is a significant advance in understanding the development of the nervous system, which is essential to addressing conditions such as Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders.

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Spinal Cord Injuries: Experimental Drug May Restore Function of Nerves

(Science Daily) Researchers have shown how an experimental drug might restore the function of nerves damaged in spinal cord injuries by preventing short circuits caused when tiny "potassium channels" in the fibers are exposed.

The chemical compound also might be developed as a treatment for multiple sclerosis.

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Older Problem Drinkers Use More Alcohol Than Do Their Younger Counterparts

(Science Daily) Older adults who have alcohol dependence problems drink significantly more than do younger adults who have similar problems, a new study has found.

The findings suggest that older problem drinkers may have developed a tolerance for alcohol and need to drink even more than younger abusers to achieve the effects they seek.

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Too Few Older Adults Get Recommended Screenings

(HealthDay News) Screening for cancer and other preventive health measures can prolong lives, but only 25 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 in the United States are getting these recommended screenings, a new report shows…

[T]he report also lays out ways to improve the health of these adults by increasing the breadth of preventive services…

Areas of special attention in the report include influenza vaccine, cholesterol screening, colorectal cancer screening and for women, breast and cervical cancer screening.

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Community: FYI, Medicare pays for many diagnostic tests. When you qualify, don’t forget to read the manual they send you.

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Cigarettes Harbor Many Pathogenic Bacteria

(Science Daily) Cigarettes are "widely contaminated" with bacteria, including some known to cause disease in people, concludes a new international study…

The research team describes the study as the first to show that "cigarettes themselves could be the direct source of exposure to a wide array of potentially pathogenic microbes among smokers and other people exposed to secondhand smoke."

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Why Consumers Turn to Alternative Medicine

(Science Daily) Alternative health remedies are increasingly important in the health care marketplace. A new study … explores how consumers choose among the many available remedies…

Based on a series of experiments and surveys in the United States, China, and India, the authors found that consumers prefer [Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)] (over Western medicine) when uncertain about the cause of an illness (i.e., diagnosis uncertainty) -- because a holistic medicine tolerates uncertainty better than Western Medicine. Similarly, consumers prefer TCM (over Western medicine) because of lay beliefs that TCM offers an underlying cure (versus symptom alleviation by Western Medicine).

"These findings add to the growing debate over the regulation of health marketing and the delivery of health care, the role of direct-to-consumer advertising, and marketing efforts to promote a healthy lifestyle," the authors conclude.

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Lyme Disease Vaccine? Tick Saliva Found to Protect Mice from Lyme Disease

(Science Daily) A protein found in the saliva of ticks helps protect mice from developing Lyme disease, Yale researchers have discovered. The findings … may spur development of a new vaccine against infection from Lyme disease, which is spread through tick bites.

Traditionally, vaccines have directly targeted specific pathogens. This is the first time that antibodies against a protein in the saliva of a pathogen's transmitting agent (in this case, the tick) has been shown to confer immunity when administered protectively as a vaccine.

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Appalachia, Southeast Hit Hardest by Obesity and Diabetes

(HealthDay News) While rates of obesity are climbing across America, they are especially high in sections of Appalachia and the Southeast, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports in its first county-by-county survey.

Obesity and diabetes "are basically the two conditions of greatest concern for U.S. adults right now," said study lead author Edward Gregg, chief of epidemiology and statistics in the CDC's division of diabetes translation…

Poor diets and sedentary lifestyles, both commonplace in modern American life, are known to contribute to type 2 diabetes and obesity.

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Diet, Cognitive Ability May Play Role in Heart Disease

(HealthDay News) Seniors who eat plenty of fruits and vegetables and who have good cognitive function are much less likely to die from heart disease than those who have poorer cognitive function and eat fewer fruits and vegetables, a new study has found.

Cognitive function refers to the ability to think, remember, plan and organize information.

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Eat These Juicy, Crunchy Treats for More Smarts

(RealAge.com) They add tang and crunch to breads, cereals, yogurt . . . and they do a little something for your brain, too. We're talking about berries and walnuts.

Turns out that the polyphenols in walnuts and berries help quell the inflammation and oxidative stress that can injure the brain and lead to memory problems over time…

In fact, the polyphenols in berries and walnuts -- as well as in grape juice -- are so powerful, some research suggests they might even helpreverse cognitive decline once it occurs. For example, in one study of older adults with mild dementia, the subjects performed better on memory tests after Concord grape juice was added to their diets. So sprinkle some nuts and berries on your breakfast cereal, serve it with a side of grape juice, and let brain-boost begin.

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Surgeon 'Glues' the Breastbone Together After Open-Heart Surgery

(Science Daily) An innovative method is being used to repair the breastbone after it is intentionally broken to provide access to the heart during open-heart surgery. The technique uses a state-of-the-art adhesive that rapidly bonds to bone and accelerates the recovery process.

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Reflux Esophagitis Due to Immune Reaction, Not Acute Acid Burn

(Science Daily) Contrary to current thinking, a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) might not develop as a direct result of acidic digestive juices burning the esophagus, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers have found in an animal study.

Rather, gastroesophageal reflux spurs the esophageal cells to release chemicals called cytokines, which attract inflammatory cells to the esophagus. It is those inflammatory cells, drawn to the esophagus by cytokines, that cause the esophageal damage that is characteristic of GERD..

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Adding Tools Against Breast Tumors

(Science Daily) At the end of a 10-year, coast-to-coast study of women with an unusual form of breast cancer, Richard J. Barth Jr., M.D., and three fellow researchers are making the case for a particular combination of treatments to stop the tumors in their tracks…

Barth, an associate professor of surgery at Dartmouth Medical School (DMS), and his colleagues … recommend using adjuvant radiotherapy on patients who undergo breast-conserving surgery to control borderline-malignant and malignant phyllodes tumors.

Following the progress of 46 women who received follow-up radiotherapy at 30 different institutions in 18 states, the research team found that none developed new tumors in the areas in which surgeons performed margin-negative resection.

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New 'Skin' From Stem Cells

(HealthDay News) Embryonic stem cells, which can turn into a variety of cells in the body, can produce temporary skin that could help burn victims while they're waiting for skin grafts, new research from France suggests.

The findings … could lead to treatments that build on the existing use of cell therapy to help burn patients recover from injuries.

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Insulin Linked to Core Body Temperature

(Science Daily) A team [of scientists has] discovered a direct link between insulin -- a hormone long associated with metabolism and metabolic disorders such as diabetes -- and core body temperature. While much research has been conducted on insulin since its discovery in the 1920s, this is the first time the hormone has been connected to the fundamental process of temperature regulation…

[S]cientists found that when insulin was injected directly into a specific area of the brain in rodents, core body temperature rose, metabolism increased, and brown adipose (fat) tissue was activated to release heat. The research team also found that these effects were dose-dependent -- up to a point, the more insulin, the more these metabolic measures rose…

In addition to suggesting a fresh perspective on diseases such as diabetes that involve the disruption of insulin pathways, the study adds to our understanding of core body temperature -- the temperature of those parts of the body containing vital organs, namely the trunk and the head.

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New Culprit for Viral Infections Among Elderly An Overactive Immune Response

(Science Daily) Researchers at Yale School of Medicine have found that exaggerated responses of the immune system explain why the elderly succumb to viral infections more readily than younger people. Published in the November 19 Cell Host & Microbe, the study bucks the general belief that declining immune responses are to blame for susceptibility to viral infections.

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Solving the 50-Year-Old Puzzle of Thalidomide

(Science Daily) Research into the controversial drug thalidomide reveals that the mechanism through which the drug causes limb defects is the same process which causes it to damage internal organs and other tissues. The article … outlines the challenges surrounding thalidomide research and claims that confirmation of a 'common mechanism' could lead to new treatments for Leprosy, Crohn's Disease, AIDS and some forms of cancer.

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Braking News: Particles from Car Brakes Harm Lung Cells

(Science Daily) Real-life particles released by car brake pads can harm lung cells in vitro. Researchers … found that heavy braking, as in an emergency stop, caused the most damage, but normal breaking and even close proximity to a disengaged brake resulted in potentially dangerous cellular stress.

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Scientists Find Molecular Trigger That Helps Prevent Aging and Disease

(Science Daily) [Researchers have] unraveled a molecular puzzle to determine that within certain parameters, a lower-calorie diet slows the development of some age-related conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, as well as the aging process. How the diet is restricted -- whether fats, proteins or carbohydrates are cut -- does not appear to matter. "It may not be about counting calories or cutting out specific nutrients," said [study leader Dr. Charles] Mobbs, "but how a reduction in dietary intake impacts the glucose metabolism, which contributes to oxidative stress." Meanwhile, a high calorie diet may accelerate age-related disease by promoting oxidative stress…

The team found an optimal dietary restriction, estimated to be equivalent to a 30 percent caloric reduction in mammals, increased lifespan over 50 percent while slowing the development of an age-related pathology similar to Alzheimer's disease…

"Our next step is to understand the exact interactions of CBP [CREB-binding protein] with other transcription factors that mediate its protective effects with age," said Dr. Mobbs. "If we can map out these interactions, we could then begin to produce more targeted drugs that mimic the protective effects of CBP."

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Lifelong Exercise Keeps Seniors Young at Heart

(HealthDay News) Lifelong exercise helps seniors keep their hearts healthy, new research shows…

The more exercise [that study] participants had done during their lives (as measured by the number of days per week of exercise training), the more likely they were to have preserved the youthful characteristics of their heart, said Dr. Paul Bhella.

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Community: It’s never too late to start.

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Mass. stop-smoking program gets results

(UPI) An effort to wean the poor in Massachusetts off cigarettes is working, with smoking among low-income residents down 26 percent, officials said Wednesday.

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Community: How can poor people afford cigarettes? They’re now $9 a pack in downtown Chicago.

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Introverts Experience More Health Problems, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) People who experience a lot of negative emotions and do not express these experience more health problems, says Dutch researcher Aline Pelle. She discovered that heart failure patients with a negative outlook reported their complaints to a physician or nurse far less often. The personality of the partner can also exert a considerable influence on these patients.

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Diuretics Still Best Treatment for High Blood Pressure

(HealthDay News) Tried-and-true diuretics maintain their status as the best first-line treatment in older men and women with high blood pressure, new research concludes.

The thiazide-type diuretic chlorthalidone outshone three other treatments -- a calcium channel blocker, an ACE inhibitor and an alpha-receptor blocker -- in most areas, especially in lowering the incidence of stroke and heart failure, according to the most current data from a large ongoing study.

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Niacin Adds No Benefit for Statin Patients: Study

(HealthDay News) Taking the B vitamin niacin offers no additional benefit to seniors with coronary artery disease who are already prescribed cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, U.S. researchers say…

Patients on the dual niacin/statin therapy had an average 5.4 cubic millimeter per month reduction in plaque buildup in the main neck (carotid) artery, compared with 4.0 cubic millimeters for those who took only a statin, which the study authors noted was not a statistically significant difference.

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Community: This study seems to contradict another one that I posted a couple of weeks ago. They are both fairly small studies, though.

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New Mechanism Identified for Beneficial Effects of Aspirin in Cardiovascular Disease

(Science Daily) [R]esearcher Charles H. Hennekens, M.D. … will present … the first data in humans to show that all doses of aspirin used in clinical practice increase nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is released from the blood vessel wall and may decrease the development and progression of plaques leading to heart attacks and strokes.

Hennekens was the first to demonstrate that aspirin can prevent a first heart attack or a first stroke.

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Common Herbal Medicine May Prevent Acetaminophen-Related Liver Damage, Says Researcher

(Science Daily) A well-known Eastern medicine supplement may help avoid the most common cause of liver transplantation, according to a study by researchers… The finding came as a surprise to the scientists, who used a number of advanced genetic and genomic techniques in mice to identify a molecular pathway that counters acetaminophen toxicity, which leads to liver failure.

"I didn't know anything about the substance that was necessary for the pathway's function, so I had to look it up," said Gary Peltz, MD, PhD, professor of anesthesiology. "My postdoctoral fellow, whose parents and other family members in Asia were taking this compound in their supplements, started laughing. He recognized it immediately."

The molecule was S-methylmethionine, which had been marketed as an herbal medicine known as Vitamin U for treatment of the digestive system. It is highly abundant in many plants, including cabbage and wheat, and is routinely ingested by people.

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Gene Interaction With Saturated Fat

(Science Daily) Tufts University researchers have identified a gene-diet interaction that appears to influence body weight and have replicated their findings in three independent studies. Men and women carrying the CC genotype demonstrated higher body mass index (BMI) scores and a higher incidence of obesity, but only if they consumed a diet high in saturated fat…

"Our findings strengthen support for the science of nutrigenomics and are another step toward the goal of individually tailoring dietary recommendations to lower risk of chronic disease or conditions like obesity."

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Study: New device boosts heart failure survival

(AP) For the first time, a miniature heart pump shows the potential to become a widely used, permanent treatment for many older people with severe heart failure. But can we afford it?...

[T]he HeartMate II costs $80,000 plus $45,000 or so for the surgery and the hospital stay necessary to implant it.

"It will allow older people who are not heart transplant patients to stay alive but at a higher cost. It's all about who's going to pay," said Cleveland Clinic heart chief Dr. Steven Nissen, who had no role in the research.

Even now, "the amount of money spent in the care of advanced heart failure patients is extraordinary," said Dr. Robert Harrington, heart research chief at Duke University, which helped test the device. "These are societal questions — how much is too much?"

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Community: The how much is too much question will come up again and again as Baby Boomers age. Cancer treatment costs at least as much as this treatment, and I don’t see anyone asking the question about whether we can afford to cure cancer.

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Study: CT scans rule out heart attacks faster

(AP) A CT scan — a kind of super X-ray — provides a faster, cheaper way to diagnose a heart attack when someone goes to the emergency room with chest pains, a new study suggests.

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Postmortem genetic tests to help relatives

(UPI) U.S. researchers say postmortem tests to identify genetic mutations could help relatives at risk of heart disease and save money.

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Pain drug morphine may accelerate cancer growth

(Reuters) Evidence is mounting that morphine, commonly used to manage pain, may accelerate cancer growth, but a newly-approved drug that blocks its side effects could also keep tumors from spreading, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

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Detonating Tumor-Killer Drug in Cancers on Command

(Science Daily) Experiments at the Pioneer Valley Life Sciences Institute … confirm that University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineer Neil Forbes' delivery and trigger system has for the first time successfully placed TRAIL, a cancer-fighting protein, directly into solid tumors and on cue, turned it on. The treatment improved the 30-day survival time of mice with mammary tumors from 0 to 100 percent.

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Community: Having been through cancer treatment myself, I like to say that they have to almost kill you to cure you. That’s because the poisons that kill the cancer kill healthy cells, too. So any mechanism that brings the poisons directly to the cancer are a welcome change.

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Cancers' Sweet Tooth May Be Weakness

(Science Daily) The pedal-to-the-metal signals driving the growth of several types of cancer cells lead to a common switch governing the use of glucose, researchers … have discovered…

[They] focused on the enzyme PKM2 (pyruvate kinase M2), which governs the use of glucose and controls whether cells make the switch between glycolysis and oxidative phosphorylation. PKM2 is found predominantly in fetal cells and in tumor cells.

PKM2 could be a good drug target, because both inhibiting it or activating it can slow down cancer cell growth. Biotechnology companies are already searching for ways to do so, [the researchers say].

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Walking Hazard: Cell-Phone Use But Not Music Reduces Pedestrian Safety

(Science Daily) Two new studies of pedestrian safety found that using a cell phone while hoofing it can endanger one's health. Older pedestrians, in particular, are impaired when crossing a busy (simulated) street while speaking on a mobile phone, the researchers found.

The studies, in which participants crossed a virtual street while talking on the phone or listening to music, found that the music-listeners were able to navigate traffic as well as the average unencumbered pedestrian. Users of hands-free cell phones, however, took longer to cross the same street under the same conditions and were more likely to get run over.

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Community: VIRTUALLY run over, that is. While walking a treadmill in a virtual environment. I know you were worried.

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Immune System Activated in Schizophrenia

(Science Daily) Researchers at the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet have discovered that patients with recent-onset schizophrenia have higher levels of inflammatory substances in their brains. Their findings offer hope of being able to treat schizophrenia with drugs that affect the immune system.

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Vaccines on horizon for AIDS, Alzheimer's, herpes

(AP) Malaria. Tuberculosis. Alzheimer's disease. AIDS.Pandemic flu. Genital herpes. Urinary tract infections. Grass allergies.Traveler's diarrhea. You name it, the pharmaceutical industry is working on a vaccine to prevent it.

Many could be on the market in five years or less.

Vaccines are no longer a sleepy, low-profit niche in a booming drug industry. Today, they're starting to give ailing pharmaceutical makers a shot in the arm….

Vaccines now are viewed as a crucial path to growth, as drugmakers look for ways to bolster slowing prescription medicine sales amid intensifying generic competition and government pressure to cut down prices under the federal health overhaul.

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Heart Disease Found in Egyptian Mummies

(Science Daily) Hardening of the arteries has been detected in Egyptian mummies, some as old as 3,500 years, suggesting that the factors causing heart attack and stroke are not only modern ones; they afflicted ancient people, too…

"Atherosclerosis is ubiquitous among modern day humans and, despite differences in ancient and modern lifestyles, we found that it was rather common in ancient Egyptians of high socioeconomic status living as much as three millennia ago," says ... a co-principal investigator on the study. "The findings suggest that we may have to look beyond modern risk factors to fully understand the disease."

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Can Playing Active Video Games Equal Moderate Intensity Exercise?

(Science Daily) Active Wii sports™ video games and some Wii fit™ activities may increase adults' energy expenditure as much as moderately intense exercise, according to research…

The study, funded by Nintendo™, demonstrated that about one-third of the virtual physical activities require an energy expenditure of 3.0 METs or above, considered moderate-intensity exercise. METs are metabolic equivalent values, a standard method of estimating energy expenditure.

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Incidence of High Cholesterol Drops in U.S.

(HealthDay News) The good news is that a new report shows the percentage of American adults with high LDL cholesterol, the "bad" kind that clogs arteries, decreased by about one-third between 1999 and 2006.

The bad news is that too many of those who have dangerously high levels of LDL cholesterol don't know it, said study author Dr. Elena V. Kuklina.

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Obesity Rolling Back Gains in Heart Health

(HealthDay News) Surging obesity rates, especially among children, may be putting the brakes on progress made in the past few decades against heart disease, researchers report.

And it doesn't help that many obese or overweight Americans still consider their weight "normal," as one study found.

One of several studies on the subject of obesity presented [recently] found that adults' blood pressure and blood sugar levels are continuing to rise, fueled in large part by expanding waistlines.

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Benefits of Eating Fish May Depend on Preparation

(HealthDay News) You'll get more heart-healthy benefits from omega-3 fatty acids if you eat baked or boiled fish instead of fried, dried or salted fish, according to a new study, which also found that adding low-sodium soy sauce or tofu is a good idea for women.

"It appears that boiling or baking fish with low-sodium soy sauce [shoyu] and tofu is beneficial, while eating fried, salted or dried fish is not. In fact, these methods of preparation may contribute to your risk," study author Lixin Meng.

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Folic Acid Fortification Might Boost Cancer Risk

(HealthDay News) Although folic acid fortification of foods can prevent many birth defects, it may also increase the risk for developing cancer, Norwegian researchers report…

"The study shows that treatment with folic acid for approximately three-and-a-half years was associated with a 21 percent increased risk of cancer and an increased risk of death after six-and-a-half years of follow-up in a large population of patients with ischemic heart disease living in Norway, where there is no folic acid fortification of foods," [lead researcher Dr. Marta Ebbing] said.

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Your Own Stem Cells Can Treat Heart Disease, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) The largest national stem cell study for heart disease showed the first evidence that transplanting a potent form of adult stem cells into the heart muscle of subjects with severe angina results in less pain and an improved ability to walk. The transplant subjects also experienced fewer deaths than those who didn't receive stem cells…

The stem cell transplant is the first therapy to produce an improvement in severe angina subjects' ability to walk on a treadmill. Twelve months after the procedure, the transplant subjects were able to double their improvement on a treadmill compared to the placebo group. It also took twice as long until they experienced angina pain on a treadmill compared to the placebo group, and, when they felt pain, it went away faster with rest. In addition, they had fewer overall episodes of chest pain in their daily lives.

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Stem Cells May Improve Heart Bypass Results

(HealthDay News) Patients who received bone marrow stem cell transplants during coronary bypass surgery (CABG) experienced "excellent long-term safety and survival," say German researchers, who also noted the first promising results for stem cell transplantation during mitral valve repair.

The study included 35 patients who received CD 133+ bone marrow stem cell transplantation during CABG, 20 patients who received only CABG surgery and 10 patients who received stem cell transplantation after mitral valve repair.

Long-term survival among patients in the stem cell transplant/CAGB group was up to five years.

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Shockwave therapy shows promise for ED

(Reuters Health) It sounds painful, but shockwave therapy may be an effective treatment for men who suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a small study showcased here at the European Society for Sexual Medicine.

Focused shockwaves, generated by a special machine, is an established method of breaking up kidney stones. In patients with heart disease, shockwave therapy is being increasingly used to grow blood vessels.

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Bladder Cancer Risks Increase Over Time for Smokers

(Science Daily) Risk of bladder cancer for smokers has increased since the mid-1990s, with a risk progressively increasing to a level five times higher among current smokers in New Hampshire than that among nonsmokers in 2001-2004, according to a new study… Furthermore, researchers found that among individuals who smoked the same total number of cigarettes over their lifetime, smoking fewer cigarettes per day for more years may be more harmful than smoking more cigarettes per day for fewer years.

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Depression as Deadly as Smoking, Study Finds

(Science Daily) A study by researchers at the University of Bergen, Norway, and the Institute of Psychiatry (IoP) at King's College London has found that depression is as much of a risk factor for mortality as smoking…

In light of the findings, [Dr Robert Stewart, who led the research team,] makes suggestions on the focus of future developments in the treatment of depression and anxiety: 'The physical health of people with current or previous mental disorder needs a lot more attention than it gets at the moment.

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Previous Seasonal Flu Infections May Provide Some Level of H1N1 Immunity

(Science Daily) Researchers ... have found that previous influenza infections may provide at least some level of immunity to the H1N1 "swine" flu...

The findings are based on knowledge that the body's T cells recognize and will launch an attack against viruses -- in this case certain molecular pieces of the swine flu -- that they have seen before.

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Keep Your Muscle

(RealAge.com) Although gradual muscle loss is a natural part of the aging process starting at about middle age, it's not something you have to accept. Research shows that regular exercise, and particularly strength training, helps to halt age-related muscle loss in both men and women and helps them maintain their strength late in life.

Some researchers estimate that age-related muscle loss can begin as early as age 30. In middle age, people lose a certain amount of muscle mass each year and this loss can accelerate into old age. However, resistance exercises can do much to improve the strength of your muscles. Even a small increase in muscle size can make a big difference in strength levels. Use free weights, elastic bands, weight machines, or household items such as soup cans or water jugs to give your muscles a regular workout.

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Bring in the Reinforcements

(RealAge.com) If someone in your family is trying to be more active, your support can help the changes stick long term.

In a study of older adults starting a new fitness program, those who had the support of family and friends were more likely to keep up their exercise efforts for the long haul. Make fitness a long-term priority in your family by organizing walks, runs, or bike rides together each week.

People who work out with a buddy may be more likely to stick to an exercise program compared to people who go it alone.

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Out on the Trail

(RealAge.com) Choose the open trails over the open road for your walks and jogs whenever possible.

An exercise plan that minimizes your risk of injury or accident is best for your RealAge. Choosing designated walking trails over congested roads can help protect you from accidents, traffic debris, as well as car emissions. Grass or dirt trails also will be gentler on your joints than pavement or cement.

Walking on nature trails is not without risks; however, most nature trails and park paths are designed with pedestrian safety in mind. For personal safety, you should follow all park and trail rules. Choose paths that are well lit and have even surfaces, especially if you have balance issues or any muscle weakness. Walk with a buddy if the trail follows any isolated stretches of land.

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Lose More Weight with This Simple Tech Trick

(RealAge.com) You might drop more preholiday diet pounds if you tap into this simple technology: e-mail.

Yep, in a study, dieters who got a little love, support, and motivation through e-mails dropped more weight than the dieters who hadn't received cyber support.

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Transcendental Meditation Helped Heart Disease Patients Lower Cardiac Disease Risks by 50 Percent

(Science Daily) Patients with coronary heart disease who practiced the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation® technique had nearly 50 percent lower rates of heart attack, stroke, and death compared to nonmeditating controls, according to the results of a first-ever study…

The study found:

  • A 47 percent reduction in the combination of death, heart attacks, and strokes in the participants
  • Clinically significant (5 mm Hg average) reduction in blood pressure associated with decrease in clinical events
  • Significant reductions in psychological stress in the high-stress subgroup

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Eat More Ethnic Flavors for Squeaky-Clear Arteries

(RealAge.com) For healthy, flexible, clog-free arteries, add more ethnic flare to your favorite dishes with this spice: turmeric.

Turmeric is a favorite spice in Indian cooking. And the principal component of turmeric -- curcumin -- has been shown to help prevent arterial plaques from gaining a foothold in blood vessels…

Curcumin does more than protect your heart and arteries. Research suggests it may also curb the development of Alzheimer's disease, certain types of cancer, and arthritis -- just to name a few more benefits.

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Moderate-Fat Diet May Be Better at Reducing Heart Risks

(HealthDay News) A moderate-fat diet may work better than a low-fat regimen for people suffering from metabolic syndrome, a collection of conditions putting them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease, new research finds.

Alice Lichtenstein, a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association (AHA) [said,] "Since 2000, the AHA has been recommending not a low-fat diet, but one that is low in saturated fats and trans fatty acids."…

To be diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, you must have three or more of the following risk factors for heart disease: belly fat, high triglycerides, low good cholesterol, high blood sugar and high blood pressure.

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Sweet on Overeating

(RealAge.com) Quenching your thirst with sweet drinks may stimulate your appetite.

Too much fructose in the diet could stimulate a person's appetite and encourage them to overeat, according to a recent study. Fructose is a form of sugar found in corn syrup, and corn syrup is commonly used to sweeten beverages such as soda, bottled iced tea, and fruit cocktails. Choose unsweetened beverages to wet your whistle.

Look for the words "high fructose corn syrup," "fructose corn syrup," or "corn syrup." If any of these terms is listed high in the ingredients list of beverages, consider other options.

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