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

Influences in Social Networks

(Science Daily) Recent studies have shown that behaviors such as happiness, obesity, smoking and altruism are "contagious" within adult social networks. In other words, your behavior not only influences your friends, but also their friends and so on. Researchers … have taken this a step farther and found that the spread of one behavior in social networks -- in this case, poor sleep patterns -- influences the spread of another behavior, adolescent drug use…

They found clusters of poor sleep behavior and marijuana use that extended up to four degrees of separation (to one's friends' friends' friends' friends) in the social network.

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Community: It’s so clear that bad behavior begets bad behavior, and good behavior begets good. It remains a mystery why there’s so much coverage of bad behavior in our media, but almost no coverage of good behavior.

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With Faulty Food Labeling, Who's Minding the Store?

(HealthDay News) Reports in recent months of inaccurate, misleading ingredient lists or calorie-counts on store-bought foods are leading many to wonder if food-product labeling can be trusted, and who -- if anyone -- is checking that it's true…

[A]re willful lies being told on packaging? In most cases, probably not, experts say, but consumers should not take labels as gospel…

"The FDA is supposed to keep assuring accurate nutritional labeling ... but that takes a lot of time and a lot of staffing," noted Susan Kraus, a registered dietitian with Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. "I don't think it's that they're blatantly not doing their job."

"It's not just the FDA," added Dr. Robert H. Sprinkle, associate professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park. "There are a lot of people involved here, a lot of parts of government and a lot of activities that aren't really under government purview, although people might assume they are, such as supplements."

The FDA could be likened to Lucille Ball in the famous "chocolate factory" episode of I Love Lucy -- trying, but failing, to keep up with products speeding down the conveyor belt. "I don't think [the FDA] is able to keep track or keep up with the number of new products out there," Kraus said.

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Community: We shouldn’t take ANYTHING, including gospel, as gospel. Otherwise, we run the risk of being scammed by clever con artists.

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High Fructose Corn Syrup Linked to Liver Scarring

(HealthDay News) New research links consumption of high-fructose corn syrup, the extremely popular sweetener that shows up in food products from ketchup to jelly, to liver damage in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

It's not clear if the sweetener directly causes liver scarring, also known as fibrosis, but those who consumed more of the sweetener appeared to have more liver scarring, according to the report.

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Vitamin D helps fend off flu, asthma attacks: study

(Reuters Health) In a study of Japanese schoolchildren, vitamin D supplements taken during the winter and early spring helped prevent seasonal flu and asthma attacks…

Vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, is more readily absorbed by the body and more potent than vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, the form often found in multivitamins.

During the study…, 31 of 167 children taking placebo caught influenza A, the most common form of the virus, compared with only 18 of 167 taking vitamin D.

The vitamin D group was 58 percent less likely to catch influenza A, the researchers report…

Vitamin D also appeared to suppress asthma attacks in children with a history of asthma.

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Herb shows no added benefits for women's bones

(Reuters Health) - Exercise may help older women maintain their bone density, but adding the supplement black cohosh to the routine does not bring any extra benefits, a new study suggests…

Black cohosh extracts are marketed as a "natural" form of hormone replacement therapy and most commonly used to treat hot flashes and other symptoms of menopause. Some lab research, but not all, suggests the herb may have estrogen-like activity in the body…

The bottom line, according to the researchers, is that the study "again clearly demonstrated" the positive effects of exercise on postmenopausal women's bones. Whether black cohosh has any bone-health benefits, however, remains in question.

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MyRecipes.com

Pasta with Zucchini and Toasted Almonds
Pair flavorful pasta with olive tapenade breadsticks for a superfast and delicious meal in minutes.

5 to Try: Toaster Oven Surprises

A Month of Low-Fat Meals

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Electronic Assistant to Detect Stress

(Science Daily) ETH-Zurich researchers are developing electronic stress assistants that are supposed to monitor stress levels in everyday life -- a step towards preventing burnout and depression more effectively.

In principle stress is a healthy reaction. In the short term, the stress reaction helps the body to adapt to the stressor. However, if the organism has no time to recover and the stress reaction proceeds over longer time, this can have adverse effects like cardiovascular diseases or mental illness. Within the EU, stress is regarded as the second biggest cause of work-related health problems.

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Community: In the Sixties, we called it biofeedback. But think about what a great way this is to get back at an abusive boss, to have a machine that makes a high pitched, annoying sound when the boss gets annoying.

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High-Dose Zocor Boosts Muscle Injury Risk: FDA

(HealthDay News) People taking the highest approved doses of the cholesterol-lowering drug Zocor (simvastatin) may be at increased risk for muscle injuries, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned Friday.

Although muscle pain and weakness, called myopathy, is a known side effect of all cholesterol-lowering drugs classified as statins, such as Zocor, the FDA said that people taking the 80 milligram dose face an especially high risk of developing muscle problems, including rhabdomyolysis, the most serious form of myopathy, which can lead to kidney damage, kidney failure and even death.

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Targeting Blood Vessels, Immune System May Offer Way to Stop Infection-Caused Inflammation

(Science Daily) Treating virulent influenza, sepsis, and other potentially deadly infections long has focused on looking for ways to kill viruses and bacteria. But new research … shows that modulating the body's own overeager inflammatory response to infection may help save more lives…

[R]esearchers … [found] that protecting blood vessels from hyper-inflammatory response to infection reduced mortality rates in mouse models of avian flu and sepsis by as much as 50 percent…

The findings raise the possibility of new broad-range therapies that could be rapidly implemented by public health agencies to fight both viral and bacterial infections, such as pandemic influenza and sepsis, and even potentially deadly human-made biological agents that could cause widespread illness and death… Such therapies would be given along with antibiotics, antivirals, and other drugs.

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Imaging Fat Layer Around Heart Can Help Predict Disease

(Science Daily) Imaging epicardial adipose tissue, or the layer of fat around the heart, can provide extra information compared with standard diagnostic techniques such as coronary artery calcium scoring, according to research.

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Stem Cells Suspended in X-Ray-Visible Microbubbles Build New Blood Vessels

(Science Daily) Bone marrow stem cells suspended in X-ray-visible microbubbles dramatically improve the body's ability to build new blood vessels in the upper leg -- providing a potential future treatment for those with peripheral arterial disease or PAD, say researchers…

"Bone marrow stem cells, which have the ability to renew themselves, could unlock the door to treat peripheral arterial disease (PAD) with cell-based methods. They offer a future novel method to help PAD patients by increasing the number of blood vessels to replace or augment those choked off by plaque buildup," said Frank Wacker, M.D…

"Using an animal model, we found that stem cells in X-ray-visible microbubbles dramatically improve the ability to build new blood vessels when a blood vessel in the upper leg has been suddenly closed or occluded."

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Shutting out Soft Tissue Cancers in the Cold

(Science Daily) Cryotherapy, an interventional radiology treatment to freeze cancer tumors, may become the treatment of the future for cancer that has metastasized in soft tissues (such as ovarian cancer) and in bone tumors. Such patients are often not candidates for surgery and would benefit from minimally invasive treatment, say researchers.

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Weak Laser Can Ignite Nanoparticles, With Exciting Possibilities

(Science Daily) University of Florida engineering researchers have found they can ignite certain nanoparticles using a low-power laser, a development they say opens the door to a wave of new technologies in health care, computing and automotive design…

[The researchers] infused cancer cells in a laboratory with a variety of functionalized fullerenes known to be biologically safe called polyhydroxy fullerenes. They then used the laser to heat the fullerenes, destroying the cancer cells from within.

"It caused stress in the cells, and then after 10 seconds we just see the cells pop."

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Rising Drug Prices Slam Some Medicare Recipients

(HealthDay News) Medicare Part D Plan coverage gap prices for widely used brand name drugs rose in 2010, and price increases since 2006 have far exceeded the rate of inflation, a new study finds…

People enrolled in Part D plans who reach the coverage gap have significant out-of-pocket expenses before they qualify for catastrophic coverage, the researchers said in a Kaiser news release. For example, an elderly women taking Actonel, Aricept and Plavix would spend $448 per month in 2010 after she reached the coverage gap, which would take about six months. She would remain in the coverage gap for the rest of the year.

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Environment May Impact Apes' Ability to Understand Declarative Communication, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) When we notice somebody pointing at something, we automatically look in the direction of the gesture. In humans, the ability to understand this type of gesturing (known as declarative communication) may seem to be an automatic response, but it is actually a sign of sophisticated communication behavior. Numerous studies have tried to determine if great apes (for example, chimpanzees and bonobos) are able to understand declarative communication, but results have been mixed.

Psychological scientists … from the Yerkes National Primate Research Center examined if exposure to different human communicative environments would affect understanding of declarative signals in chimpanzees and bonobos…

The results … indicate interesting differences between chimps and bonobos raised in socio-linguistically rich environments and chimps raised in standard laboratory housing. The bonobos and chimps that had been reared in the highly communicative environments performed significantly better than chimps that had been reared in standard laboratory settings in the pointing, vocalizing, and pointing-and-vocalizing conditions. Further analysis revealed that the best results occurred when the researcher simultaneously pointed and vocalized towards the correct container. This finding supports earlier studies that suggest visual cues enhance performance on auditory tasks.

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How healthcare reform affects consumers

(UPI) A U.S. congressional Web site tells representatives how healthcare reform will impact their district, but it also shows how consumers will be affected.

For example, Rep. John Boozman, Rep.-Ark., can expect the 429,000 residents of his district who receive healthcare from an employer or through policies purchased on the individual market can keep their coverage. However, the bill prohibits annual and lifetime limits, eliminates cutting individuals who become ill while insured, bans coverage denials for pre-existing conditions and reduces the cost of preventive care.

Those who do not receive healthcare through their employer can purchase coverage at group rates through the new health insurance exchange. The bill provides families with incomes up to $88,000 for a family of four with tax credits to help pay for coverage, the Web site says. For a family of four making $50,000, the average tax credit will be approximately $5,800. Those with incomes below 133 percent of poverty receive coverage via Medicaid.

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Looming Unemployment Harms Older Workers' Health

(Science Daily) Downsizing and demotions at the workplace can be a health hazard for people over age 50, according to research…

Job insecurity was not associated with health outcomes for all individuals uniformly. After a period of two years, the men who had faced job insecurity were more likely to experience poorer self-rated health, higher blood pressure, and higher levels of epinephrine (a stress-induced hormone). When faced with the same workplace conditions, women showed higher levels of hostility, loneliness, and depressive symptoms.

The researchers chose to focus on older workers for several reasons. People aged 55 and older have experienced strong growth in the labor market over the past 20 years -- a trend expected to continue in the decade ahead. Additionally, a 2007 AARP study found that a full 70 percent of working adults between 45 and 74 years old planned to work during retirement or to never retire at all.

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Feeling Lonely Adds to Rate of Blood Pressure Increase in People 50 Years Old and Older

(Science Daily) Chronic feelings of loneliness take a toll on blood pressure over time, causing a marked increase after four years, according to a new study at the University of Chicago.

A new study shows, for the first time, a direct relation between loneliness and larger increases in blood pressure four years later -- a link that is independent of age and other factors that could cause blood pressure to rise, including body-mass index, smoking, alcohol use and demographic differences such as race and income.

The researchers also looked at the possibility that depression and stress might account for the increase but found that those factors did not fully explain the increase in blood pressure among lonely people 50 years and older.

"Loneliness behaved as though it is a unique health-risk factor in its own right," wrote researcher Louise Hawkley.

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Community: If you’re lonely and not a people person, you can always get a dog. See below.

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'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue

(HealthDay News) Comfort dogs come to the emotional rescue of people who are suffering in the aftermath of disasters or battling the difficulties of daily life.

Their job is deceptively simple: to get people to open up and talk about what happened.

Amy Rideout, president of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response, a national organization with more than 100 certified dog-handler teams, said engaging in a discussion about an experience is healing and helps a person to overcome a traumatic event.

There are other health benefits the pooches provide. Research has shown the simple act of petting a dog helps to lower blood pressure, lift spirits and reduce stress.

"There are not too many things that we can do that can make an instantaneous impact on somebody, so this is special work," she said.

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The Health Benefits of Decluttering

(RealAge.com) When you're so stressed you can't think straight, take a quick look around. See lots of clutter? Consider it a sign.

In her book, The Superstress Solution, physician and author Roberta Lee writes that a disorganized, untidy, clutter-filled home is not only a symptom of stress but also a source of stress. Clean up the litter and you'll dial up the calm…

According to Lee, research shows that we secrete the stress hormone cortisol when surrounded by disarray. Bad news for your body. But the good news is that you know exactly what to do about it. With a quick tidy-up, you could reclaim both your surroundings and your serenity…

RealAge Benefit:
Not completing nagging unfinished tasks (NUTs) can make your RealAge 8 years older.

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Cloves: The natural food antioxidant

(UPI) Researchers in Spain say cloves scored the highest marks as a natural antioxidant that may help fight the effects of aging.

Researchers at Miguel Hernandez University determined cloves contain high levels of phenolic compounds and other properties key to fighting off the effects of aging. They said these properties make cloves a good candidate for inclusion in food -- especially meat products -- as a natural preservative.

Cloves scored the highest marks when tested on five characteristics of good antioxidants. Other high scorers among the spices of the Mediterranean diet tested included essential oils from oregano, thyme, rosemary and sage.

"These substances exhibit high antioxidant capacity, and could have beneficial effects for health," study co-author Juana Fernandez-Lopez said in a statement.

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Omega-3 May Safely Treat Precancerous Bowel Polyps

(HealthDay News) Treatment with a specific type of omega-3 fatty acid can shrink the number and size of precancerous polyps in people at high genetic risk of developing bowel cancer, British researchers say.

The study authors reported that the new treatment appears to work as well as a drug called celecoxib (Celebrex), which is prescribed for patients with bowel polyps linked to their genetic risk, but it doesn't cause heart-related side effects…

According to the researchers from St. James's University Hospital in Leeds, U.K., omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are safe and have also been shown to be beneficial for cardiovascular health, so this treatment may be a particularly good choice for those at risk of both bowel cancer and heart disease.

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Low-Fat Diet Does Little to Alter Cholesterol Levels (But Can Have Other Benefits)

(HealthDay News) "This diet did not raise triglycerides and didn't lower HDL cholesterol," [study author Barbara V.] Howard said. "It didn't do any of the adverse things that high-fat people have claimed."

In addition, women who lowered intake of specific kinds of fats -- saturated fats and trans fatty acids -- did have lower a lower rate of heart disease, she said.

And eating a low-fat diet might make it easier to lose weight, which is important because of the current American epidemic of obesity, Howard noted.

"If you start out eating too many calories and you cut fat, that automatically makes you eat a higher-carbohydrate diet," she said. "If a person wants to reduce weight and is comfortable with cutting fat, that is a good strategy."

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Curb Hunger With Filling Foods

(SouthBeachDiet.com) The key to sticking to any healthy diet and keeping hunger at bay is to eat nutritious, filling foods. That’s why … we stress eating nutrient-dense, fiber-rich foods (such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans and other legumes), as well as good fats and lean protein.

It’s also why we tell you to avoid the highly processed (essentially fiberless) carbohydrates found in baked goods, many breads, snack foods, and other convenient favorites, which can have the opposite effect on satiety. High-fiber foods, good fats, and lean protein (as well as acidic foods) all help to slow the digestion of the sugars in carbs. When you include a variety of these foods in your diet, your body produces less insulin, and less insulin means fewer swings in blood-sugar levels. It is these swings that are the cause of cravings and constant hunger in the first place. Once your blood sugar is under control, you’ll find that your cravings and hunger greatly diminish and that you’ll feel more satisfied after a meal. Read more about curbing hunger with foods that are filling.

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MyRecipes.com

Chicken and Cashews
Top tender chicken with an inspired Asian sauce loaded with cashews, ginger, honey, and sesame oil. Pair this entrée with a simple rice pilaf.

Pasta with Asparagus, Pancetta, and Pine Nuts
Pasta is the perfect weeknight meal. Your family will love the comforting flavors, and you'll love that it's surprisingly low in calories.

Fix-and-Freeze Recipes

Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake

1 List, 5 Meals Archive

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Smooth Your Skin with a Cup of This

(RealAge.com) [H]ere's a potential new option for keeping face creases away: sipping white tea.

According to a recent lab study, extracts in white tea exert an anti-inflammatory effect that slows the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers -- those super-supportive intracellular structures that skin needs to stay firm and wrinkle-free…

Okay -- so that's what happened in a lab dish. But can drinking tea really fight wrinkles? Research in human skin will be required to confirm it… (White tea may have special fat-thwarting powers, too.)

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Community: See also, “Dr. Amy's 7 Habits for Healthy Skin”.

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Nutritional training for doctors overdue

(UPI) Nutritional training is important to every area of clinical practice but has been long neglected, researchers in Britain said.

The evidence shows healthcare professionals in general know little about how to assess and manage poor nutrition and gastroenterologists in particular need to be able to provide advice and expertise in general nutrition, artificial nutrition support, and intestinal failure, the researchers said.

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Acupuncture can spread serious diseases: experts

(Reuters) Bacterial infections, hepatitis B and C, and possibly even HIV are being transmitted via acupuncture through the use of contaminated needles, cotton swabs and hot packs, experts warned on Friday.

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Many Avandia defenders have drug co. ties: study

(Reuters) Virtually all of the experts who wrote favorably about GlaxoSmithKline Plc's troubled diabetes drug Avandia had financial ties to drug makers, a finding that shows the need for reform of such relationships, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

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Stereotype of frequent ER visitor untrue

(UPI) The stereotype of the uninsured, ethnic minority inappropriately seeking basic primary care at U.S. hospitals pervades, but it is inaccurate, doctors say.

A review of two dozen studies … found frequent users of hospital emergency departments are predominantly white, insured and at greater risk for hospitalization due to serious illness, despite public perceptions of them as abusers of the healthcare system with minor complaints and no health insurance.

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Senator asks drugmakers to explain prices

(Reuters) A Senate Democrat asked top drugmakers on Wednesday to explain why Americans pay higher prices for prescription drugs than patients do in other developed nations.
Senator Herb Kohl, who chairs the Special Committee on Aging, sent letters to AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Pfizer, and Sanofi-Aventis.
Kohl said Americans on average pay twice as much as people in other industrialized countries…
Some Democrats have attacked drugmakers as the U.S. Congress works on an overhaul of U.S. healthcare system.
The pharmaceutical industry has pledged to pay $80 billion over 10 years in price cuts and other concessions to help fund wider insurance coverage as part of a healthcare overhaul under consideration in Congress.
Some lawmakers have criticized that amount as a small price to pay for a $315 billion-a-year industry that stands to gain tens of millions of new customers if insurance coverage expands. Democrats are trying to pass a final bill for President Barack Obama to sign into law in the coming weeks.
Community: Senator Kohl knows very well why we pay more here. It’s because of backroom deals like the one mentioned above that President Obama made with the pharmaceutical companies, which keeps our governmental healthcare providers from negotiating lower prices, the way other countries do.
And why have members of Congress been so reluctant to point out that we pay more than twice for ALL health care than other industrialized nations, yet have worse outcomes? That fact should be hammered into Americans’ brains every single day.
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An Apple a Day? Study Shows Soluble Fiber Boosts Immune System

(Science Daily) A new University of Illinois study touts the benefits of soluble fiber -- found in oats, apples, and nuts, for starters -- saying that it reduces the inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases and strengthens the immune system.

"Soluble fiber changes the personality of immune cells -- they go from being pro-inflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help us recover faster from infection," said Gregory Freund…

"[W]e'd like to find a way to keep some of the anti-inflammatory, positive effects that develop over time with a high-fat diet while reducing that diet's negative effects, such as high blood glucose and high triglycerides. It's possible that supplementing a high-fat diet with soluble fiber could do that, even delaying the onset of diabetes," he said…

Good sources of soluble fiber are oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, lentils, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, and carrots. "We used a citrus-based pectin in our study," Sherry said.

Insoluble fiber, found in whole wheat and whole-grain products, wheat bran, and green, leafy vegetables, is also valuable for providing bulk and helping food move through the digestive system, but it doesn't provide the boost to the immune system that soluble fiber provides.

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Anti-Obesity Drugs Unlikely to Provide Lasting Benefit, According to Scientists

(Science Daily) Scientists at the University of Liverpool argue that anti-obesity drugs fail to provide lasting benefits for health and wellbeing because they tackle the biological consequences of obesity, and not the important psychological causes of overconsumption and weight gain…

Professor Tim Kirkham … said: "Novel, effective anti-obesity treatments must address these different factors. We need to identify drugs that can selectively affect the desire to eat, the enjoyment of eating, fullness and satisfaction. Interventions designed specifically to modulate these processes could help reduce the aversive experience of dieting, and maximize an individual's capacity to successfully gain control over their appetite."

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Difficulty Trusting and Reaching out to Others May Shorten Diabetes Patients' Lives

(Science Daily) Diabetes patients who have a lower propensity to reach out to others have a higher mortality rate than those who feel comfortable seeking support. These are the findings of a five-year study reported by Dr. Paul Ciechanowski, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington…

"Many self-management behaviors related to diabetes are optimally carried out in collaboration with others -- family, peers and health-care providers," Ciechanowski noted. Planning and cooking diabetic-friendly meals, exercising, and quitting smoking are best undertaken, he added, with motivational support. Also, as diabetes gets more severe or complications arise, a self-reliant attitude that worked in the past may become a liability.

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Selenium Protects Men Against Diabetes, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) The role of selenium in diabetes has been controversial, with some studies suggesting that it raises diabetes risk and others finding that it is protective. Now, research published in BioMed Central's open access journalNutrition and Metabolism, has shown that, for men, high plasma selenium concentrations are associated with a lower occurrence of dysglycemia.

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New risk score better predicts heart risk

(UPI) U.S. researchers have devised a better way to determine an individual's risk for heart attack and heart failure.

Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center's Heart Institute in Murray, Utah, said adding the results of blood tests -- complete blood count and metabolic profiles -- to the currently used Framingham Risk Score that measures cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, age and gender substantially improved results.

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Public defibrillators boost cardiac arrest survival

(Reuters Health) Wider dissemination of portable defibrillators in Japan's schools, workplaces and other public venues has increased the number of people who survive cardiac arrest, researchers reported Wednesday.

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Kraft to cut sodium levels in food products

(Reuters) Kraft Foods, the maker of Oreo cookies and Velveeta cheese, said it plans to cut sodium levels in its North American products by about 10 percent over the next two years, making it the latest food maker trying to address health concerns.

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Cooking Light

Our Best Spring Menus
Enjoy the best menus of the season―al fresco entertaining, Easter celebrations, easy picnics, and family meals.

Welcome Spring
Enjoy an elegant dinner of Spring Risotto, Salmon with Fresh Sorrel Sauce, and Fresh Peas with Mint that is surprisingly simple to make. The fresh spring flavors of mint, fava beans, peas, and new potatoes are highlights for this holiday-worthy menu.

Garden Party
Throw an inviting outdoor luncheon fit for a bridal shower or a spring birthday celebration featuring Curried Chicken Salad Sandwiches, fresh Melon, Serrano Ham, and Arugula Salad, and Truffled Asparagus Crostini. Send guests home with Lemon Angel Food Cupcakes as delightful party favors.

Easter Brunch Buffet
This menu features traditional recipes inspired by world cuisines from Ireland to Spain, and several dishes highlight spring flavors. Fresh herbs add definition to classics like Smoked Salmon Dip, Basil-Lime Fruit Salad, and Garlic-Studded Rosemary Roast Rack of Lamb. Recruit young helpers to decorate Easter Egg Cookies or assist in frosting the Ginger Angel Food Cake.

Romantic Spring Picnic
Nothing unites the season and the senses like a picnic, and few alfresco events are as romantic. Choose foods like Barley-Salmon Salad With Arugula Vinaigrette and Blueberry Turnovers that require the least amount of fuss or assembly once at your site.

Easter Dinner
This festive meal is a pleasure to host because you do most of the preparation in advance. Guests will enjoy revamped holiday favorites such as Sun-Dried Tomato and Herb-Stuffed Leg of Lamb, Shrimp and Bacon Deviled Eggs, and Roasted Potatoes with Herb Vinaigrette.

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If You Take Simvastatin to Control Cholesterol, Watch out for Infection, Says New Report

(Science Daily) Simvastatin might help us control our cholesterol, but when it comes to infection, it's an entirely different story says a new research study… In the research report, scientists from Italy show that simvastatin delivers a one-two punch to the immune system. First it impairs the ability of specialized immune cells, called macrophages, to kill pathogens. Then, it enhances production of molecules, called cytokines, which trigger and sustain inflammation…

"Statins are lifesavers, but there might be room for improvement," said John Wherry, Ph.D… "Studies like this help pave the way for researchers to develop newer versions of drugs like statins that are more specific for their intended effect increasing the benefits of these pharmaceuticals."

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UK, Spain close to approving cannabis drug

(Reuters) A pioneering -- but much delayed -- cannabis-based medicine for multiple sclerosis is now on track to win regulatory approval in Britain and Spain in the second quarter of 2010, its maker said on Thursday.

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Could Regulating Intestinal Inflammation Prevent Colon Cancer?

(Science Daily) Every day, our gut comes in contact with bacteria, inducing an inflammatory response that is tolerated and controlled. Sometimes the control of inflammation is lost and this can lead to inflammatory bowel disease that may predispose to colon cancer. Caspase-1, an important protein involved in the mechanism of inflammation, has long been believed to be one of the culprits behind excessive inflammation in the colon. Dr. Maya Saleh … and her colleagues suggest the opposite in their new study…

Their findings … open the door to a greater understanding of and more targeted treatment strategy for preventing diseases linked to inflammation of the intestine as well as certain cancers.

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HPV Vaccine Protects Patients from Cancer Recurrence, Study Finds

(Science Daily) A new study shows that the Gardasil vaccine reduces the likelihood of human papillomavirus (HPV)-related disease recurring after teen and adult women already have had surgery to remove cancer or certain pre-cancerous changes, said Warner Huh, M.D…

Note: Huh maintains a consulting relationship with Gardasil-maker Merck & Co., Inc.

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Breast cancer study aims to speed drugs, cooperation

(Reuters) Researchers launched a unique collaboration on Wednesday aimed at getting cancer drugs to the market more quickly in which three companies will cooperate with the U.S. government and non-profit groups to test five experimental breast cancer drugs.

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'Smart Hip' Monitors Real-Time Performance of Bone Implants, Stimulates Bone Growth

(Science Daily) To monitor the real-time performance of bone implants is the challenge of "Smart Hip," an innovative medical device that aims to reduce the number of surgical interventions in the hip area and regenerate bone tissue by using non-evasive methods. The device -- developed by an engineering doctoral student from the University of Porto in Portugal -- has already been successfully tested on animals…

The Smart Hip is a network of capsules, measuring sensors and actuators that are placed on the hip implant. Once activated by the doctor -- through a computer connected to a Bluetooth device -- the "Smart Hip" components send information that can help prevent eventual problems after surgery.

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Urban Pollution Affects Cardiac Function: Initial Results in the Healthy Rat

(Science Daily) In the healthy rat, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide (CO) under conditions that mimic urban pollution leads to changes to cardiac morphology and function. Compensatory mechanisms develop in these animals to sustain normal cardiac activity, but they become more vulnerable to heart disease…

At a diagnostic level, and if these results can be extrapolated to humans, this study shows that the harmful effects of CO pollution may be difficult to detect using routine clinical investigations.

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Health gap widens in U.S, narrows in China

(UPI) In the United States and China the rich tend to be healthier than the poor, but in China the gap is narrowing, unlike in the United States, researchers found…

The health gap between the advantaged and the disadvantaged has shrunk with each successive (Chinese) generation, [lead author Dr. Feinian] Chen said.

"This is the exact opposite of what has been found in studies of the U.S. population, where the health gap has been shown to widen with each generation," Chen said.

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U.S. health survey: Too few exercise, too many smoke

(USA Today) This is not a nation of teetotalers or regular exercisers, new government data show.

The National Health Interview Survey, based on telephone interviews with 79,000 adults over three years, has found:…

"There has been no progress at all in increasing physical activity since we started doing this report in 1997," says Charlotte Schoenborn, a health statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 40% of respondents were doing nothing then, the same as now, Schoenborn says…

Education makes a difference. The survey found that adults who had higher levels of education were less likely to be smoking, were more active in their leisure time, were less likely to be obese and were less likely to sleep as little as six hours or less in the past 24 hours.

Overall, "having higher levels of education or greater economic resources tends to increase the likelihood of having healthier behaviors," Schoenborn says.

In addition, Schoenborn says, "married adults tend to have healthier behaviors overall than people who are divorced, separated or widowed."

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Novel health plans try to help uninsured

(Kaiser Health News) In historic downtown Pueblo, Colo., business is down at the Gold Dust Saloon, a kid-friendly place known for a hamburger smothered with chili called the "slopper."

Despite the tough financial times, the restaurant recently decided to help cooks and waiters buy health coverage for the first time in its 25-year history…

The restaurant is one of 30 employers participating in a county program to provide low-cost coverage to employees of small businesses. The approach is called "three share" because the $180 monthly premium is divvied up equally among the employer, the worker and the community. In Pueblo, two local hospitals pay the community portion.

The effort is the kind of modest attempt financially strapped states and communities are pursuing to help the uninsured, even as Congress debates a sweeping overhaul of the nation's health care system. Health care analysts say the initiatives show promise and help some people who otherwise wouldn't be covered.

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First lady to food makers: Hurry up on healthy food

(Reuters) Food manufacturers need to work faster to re-formulate and re-package food so that it is healthier for kids, U.S. first lady Michelle Obama said on Tuesday.

Obama, who is spearheading an administration initiative on child obesity, praised members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association for reducing calories and salt in food.

"But I'm here today to urge all of you to move faster and to go farther because the truth is we don't have a moment to waste -- because a baby born today could be less than a decade away from showing the first signs of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Type II diabetes, if he or she is obese as a child," she told the meeting of the trade association.

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Community: We will all benefit from changes in the food industry.

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Study: Doctors need tools to help patients slim down

(USA Today) Physicians know they're on the front lines in the fight against obesity, but many say they don't have staff able to help patients with weight loss, according to a survey of 290 primary-care physicians by Harris Interactive…

Physicians who practice alone or in small groups don't need nutritionists on staff, but they need access to groups in the community that can help patients.

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Blood Vessels Bounce Back Once Smokers Quit

(HealthDay News) Blood vessel function rapidly recuperates after smokers kick the habit, leading to a reduced risk of heart disease and heart attack, new research shows…

"Individuals who quit smoking had improved blood vessel function, even though they gained weight, which is a common side effect of smoking cessation," study author Dr. James Stein [said]… "This confirms that quitting smoking is good for your blood vessels and reduces risk for heart attacks and cardiovascular disease."

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