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

Big Smiles, Longer Lives?

(HealthDay News) If you're always the one in the photo flashing the biggest smile, a new study suggests you can count on living a long life.

Researchers from Wayne State University in Detroit evaluated the photographs of 230 Major League Baseball players who started playing before 1950, rating their smiles as nonexistent to full.

"People who had the most intense smiles lived the longest, compared to the other two," said Ernest L. Abel, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology and of psychology at Wayne State.

"The more intense smile, we infer, indicates an underlying happiness, if you will, a more positive attitude," he said. "It's hard to fake an intense smile."…

On average, the longevity of the non-smilers was 72.9, 75 for the partial smilers and 79.9 for the big smilers.

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Heavy Daily Drinking Linked to Worse Health

(HealthDay News) Heavy drinkers take worse care of themselves than other people, but moderate drinkers actually appear to be healthier than those who don't imbibe, researchers have found.

"The main finding here is that risky drinkers also engage in other behaviors -- such as relieving stress with alcohol and cigarettes, not wearing seatbelts, unhealthy eating and not regularly seeing their doctors -- that put their health at risk," study author Carla Green, a senior investigator at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, said in a news release.

"Physicians should not only be concerned about patients' heavy drinking, but also these other health-related practices," Green added.

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Spoiler Alert: TV Medical Dramas 'Rife' With Bioethical Issues and Breaches of Professional Conduct

(Science Daily) A medical student and faculty directors from the Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics analyzed depictions of bioethical issues and professionalism over a full season of two popular medical dramas -- "Grey's Anatomy" and "House, M.D." -- and found that the shows were "rife" with ethical dilemmas and actions that often ran afoul of professional codes of conduct…

"Incidents related to respect were the most frequently observed across both series, and depictions were largely negative," the authors concluded. The next most commonly observed departure from professionalism was sexual misconduct, with 58 incidents notched by the second season of "Grey's Anatomy" and 11 in "House."

Out of 178 interactions between professionals, across all issues, the authors deemed just nine exemplary in nature.

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Farming reform needed to end hunger without obesity

(Reuters) Agriculture needs revolutionary change to confront threats such as global warming and end hunger in developing nations without adding to the ranks of the obese, an international study showed on Thursday.

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Weight-Bearing Exercise Does Not Prevent Increased Bone Turnover During Weight Loss

(Science Daily) While there are many benefits of losing weight, weight reduction also might negatively affect bones in the body. During weight loss, bones are being remodeled -- breaking down old bone and forming new bone -- at an accelerated rate. As a result, bone density is reduced, causing increased fragility. In a new study, University of Missouri researchers found that weight-bearing exercise, in this case, fast walking or jogging, did not prevent the increased bone turnover caused by weight loss.

"Accelerated bone turnover is not favorable, but the potential negative consequences of increased bone turnover do not outweigh the numerous other health benefits of weight loss," said Pam Hinton…

In previous studies, researchers found that weight-bearing exercise promotes bone building, which suggested that this type of exercise would prevent bone turnover in weight loss, Hinton said. Future studies will examine the ability of high-impact, weight-bearing exercise to maintain normal bone turnover during weight loss.

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Study supports safety of osteoporosis drugs

(USA Today) A new study gives reassuring news about the safety of Fosamax and Reclast, bone-building drugs taken by millions of American women. It found that long-term use does not significantly raise the risk of a rare type of fracture near the hip.

On balance, these drugs prevent far more fractures than any they may cause when used to treat the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis, said the study's leader, Dr. Dennis Black.

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Sex virus blamed for rise in head and neck cancers

(Reuters) The number of head and neck cancers linked to a virus spread by oral sex is rising rapidly and suggests boys as well as girls should be offered protection through vaccination, doctors said Friday.

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Beta Blockers May Slow Spread of Breast Cancer

(HealthDay News) Treatment with blood pressure-lowering drugs known as beta blockers appears to help reduce the spread of breast cancer in women, a team of British and German researchers report.

The drugs are believed to work by preventing stress hormones from stimulating cancer cells. "Beta- blocker drugs compete with stress hormones and bind to the same target receptors [on a cellular level], but unlike stress hormones, do not activate cancer cells," said Dr. Des Powe, a senior healthcare research scientist.

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Preventive Mastectomy May Not Lower Risks

(HealthDay News) Removing a breast after the other breast has been treated for breast cancer does not improve the odds that women with two genetic mutations will be free of disease or live longer, new research has found.

Women with the mutations -- which affect the genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 -- have a much higher risk for developing cancer. Some women choose to have their breasts removed as a preventive measure, called a preventive mastectomy, even without a cancer diagnosis.

Annette Heemskerk-Gerritsen … and her colleagues studied 390 women who had the mutation and had developed cancer in one breast. Of the group, 138 had remaining breast tissue removed as a preventive measure.

The recurrence and survival rates between the two groups of women were similar, the study found.

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Insulin-Like Signal Needed to Keep Stem Cells Alive in Adult Brain

(Science Daily) University of California, Berkeley, biologists have found a signal that keeps stem cells alive in the adult brain, providing a focus for scientists looking for ways to re-grow or re-seed stem cells in the brain to allow injured areas to repair themselves.

The researchers discovered in fruit flies that keeping the insulin receptor revved up in the brain prevents the die-off of neural stem cells that occurs when most regions of the brain mature into their adult forms. Whether the same technique will work in humans is unknown, but the UC Berkeley team hopes to find out.

"This work doesn't point the way to taking an adult who has already lost stem cells and bringing them back mysteriously, but it suggests what mechanisms might be operating to get rid of them in the first place," said Iswar K. Hariharan… "Plus, if you were able to introduce neural stem cells into an adult brain, this suggests what kinds of mechanisms you might need to have in place to keep them alive."

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Of Mice and Memory: 'Working Memory' of Mice Can Be Improved

(Science Daily) Mice trained to improve their working memory become more intelligent, suggesting that similar improvements in working memory might help human beings enhance their brain power, according to research…

"Working memory refers to a short-term memory system used to complete a task, such as remembering a phone number, a grocery list, reading comprehension, or something else not intended to be stored in long-term memory," says corresponding author Louis Matzel…

"There is a lot of evidence from the literature on human intelligence that working memory and intelligence are correlated," Matzel said. "But that doesn't mean that one causes the other. So our question was, does improving an animal's capacity for working memory make him smarter? And the answer, from our experiment, was yes." In fact, mice that underwent this working memory "exercise" exhibited improved proficiency on a wide range of cognitive tests.

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Chronic Disease Linked to Less Internet Usage

(HealthDay News) People who suffer from chronic illness are more likely to be chronically offline: they use the Internet much less than healthier people, a new survey finds…

People with chronic disease even spend less time than healthier people looking up information about health topics: 51 percent of the chronically ill participants reported doing so, compared to two-thirds of the others who were surveyed.

The results showed that there was one way that people with chronic disease stood out regarding Internet use: When statistics were adjusted to account for the influence of factors such as race and age, the researchers found that those with a chronic disease were more likely to write on a blog or contribute to discussions online.

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Breathe easy: A natural fruit compound may help asthma

(New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research) A preliminary study by New Zealand company Plant & Food Research shows that natural chemicals from blackcurrants may help breathing in some types of asthma.

Researchers found a compound from a New Zealand blackcurrant may reduce lung inflammation with a multi-action assault in allergy-induced asthma. The compound was found in laboratory experiments to enhance the natural defence mechanisms in lung tissue by both suppressing inflammation-causing reactions and minimising inflammation.

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6 Foods for a Hot Bod

(MyRecipes.com) Forget the latest tabloid diets and incorporate these six types of food into your eating plan now for an ultra-desirable, beach-worthy bod… Combined with a daily exercise routine, this sensible plan will help you lose pounds, get toned, and keep the weight off throughout the summer.

Lean Protein
New research is showing strong link between weight loss and lean protein (fish, skinless poultry, lean beef and pork, low-fat dairy, and eggs). In fact, it's being suggested that a reduced-calorie diet that's rich in lean protein, combined with a regular exercise routine, can help curb your desire to eat, build muscle mass, decrease fat mass, and increase metabolism.
Recipe:
Mediterranean Salmon with White Beans

Water
The jury's still out on just how much water you need per day, but it's important to fill up on water because of its role in weight loss and appetite suppression. Water keeps the body looking lean by preventing fluid retention and, according to studies, helps the body metabolize stored fat. Fill up on foods with a high water content such as grapefruit, celery, watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, and strawberries. These are low in calories and take up lots of room in your tummy to keep you feeling full longer.
Recipe:
Herb-Infused Spa Water

Whole Grains
Load up on whole grains for a trimmer waistline this summer. The Harvard's Nurses' Health Study (a continuing study of thousands of nurses) found that women who consume more whole grains weigh less than those who don't. Another study found that whole-grain dieters significantly reduced their belly fat. Try oats, brown rice, bulgur, and barley. Because they're high in fiber, they help slow digestion and keep you feeling full.
Recipe:
Wild Rice and Barley Salad

Non-Starchy Vegetables
"Lose weight by increasing your daily intake of non-starchy vegetables" has been the cry of dietitians for decades. And today, that message hasn't changed. These veggies aid in weight loss because you can fill up on them while taking in very few calories. Plus, most are loaded with fiber and cancer-fighting properties. Try asparagus, onions, peppers, green beans, broccoli, leafy greens, spaghetti squash, mushrooms, and okra.
Recipe:
Green Beans with Roasted-Onion Vinaigrette

Dairy
There's been a lot of buzz lately about dairy and its role in weight loss. Some studies suggest that a low-calorie diet that includes three servings of low-fat milk, cheese, or yogurt help you lose more than the same diet without any dairy. However, other studies have found no effect. So, while the results are still uncertain, go ahead and add dairy to your diet and keep your fingers crossed that it also aids in your weight-loss quest. Plus, they're still a good source of calcium and vitamin D to help build strong bones and teeth.
Recipe:
Blackberry Smoothie

Green Tea
Stay tuned for more research, but new human and animal studies are finding that green tea can help burn calories, lower cholesterol, increase metabolism, fight cancer, and regulate blood sugar. Enjoy this beneficial beverage hot or cold, or get creative and use it in recipes.
Recipe:
Green Tea Granita

Source

Community: Well, I don’t know if I’ll ever have a hot bod, or if my body will ever be beach worthy, but this is good advice, nevertheless.

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3 Sweet Ways to Eat Less Sugar

(RealAge.com) Most people take in about 430 calories of added sugar every day. That's a lot of waist-widening, nutrition-void sweetness!...

In their book, The Good Housekeeping Complete Household Handbook, the domestic experts at Good Housekeeping offer these three ideas for taking in the reins on your sugar intake:

1. In your coffee pot: Brew your morning coffee with a cinnamon stick or vanilla bean and ditch the flavored creamers. Just 1 tablespoon of flavored creamer can add 6 grams of sugar.

2. On your breakfast: Maple syrup adds about 50 calories and 12 grams of sugar per tablespoon. For a little sweet, add fresh fruit or pure fruit purees to pancakes and waffles. Or even oatmeal. Use this Healthy Pancake Mix recipe for your next flapjack feast.

3. In cookie recipes: You can generally get away with cutting the sugar by up to a third in recipes for cookies, cakes, or other baked goods. Try experimenting with a little less of the sweet stuff on your next batch of macaroons. Check the "No Added Sugars" option in our recipe finder for recipes that have no added sugars

Extra calories in sugar often turn into extra pounds, but that's not the worst of it. Studies suggest high sugar consumption could also increase the risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer -- particularly pancreatic cancer. (Are you too sweet for your own good? Get the RealAge docs' advice on breaking a sugar habit.)

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New Nutrient News for Carrots

(RealAge.com) We love carrots for their cancer-fighting beta carotene. But there's another fancy compound in this orange-hued root that may need a share of the credit.

We're talking about polyacetylenes. You won't find them on any nutrition labels, but the blow that these compounds dealt to cancer cells in a recent lab study left researchers suspecting there's more to carrots than meets the eye…

Researchers were particularly interested in a type of carrot polyacetylene called falcarinol, as well as a few other similarly structured compounds. They're found not only in carrots but also in parsley, celery, parsnips, and fennel. When human intestinal cells were exposed to these compounds in a study, they exhibited some pretty powerful anticarcinogenic effects. And it bolstered other recent research showing that precancerous cells were less likely to turn cancerous when exposed to the compounds. (Did you know? Carrots are good for your skin cells, too.)

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Community: I had stopped eating carrots for years, because they had gotten to where they tasted bitter. As I began to pay more attention to healthier eating, from time to time I’d buy the baby carrots, which are sweet. And when I decided to add grated carrot to my daily salad, I tried the regular carrots because they’re so much cheaper. Turns out that either my taste has changed or they’ve changed how they grow them, but regular carrots are no longer bitter.

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MyRecipes.com

Twenty-Minute Chili
Serving chili over rice is popular in Texas. We also recommend corn bread sticks.

5 to Try: Dinner Under $1

Week Seventeen: 1 List, 5 5-Star Rated Meals

Community: I prefer my chili over elbow macaroni. With grated sharp cheddar cheese on top. We buy ground white turkey meat when it’s on sale and freeze it, to save it for making chili. But it’s hard to find ground turkey without Italian spices added to it, which don’t go with the chili seasonings.

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A healthy diet may trim breast cancer risk

(Reuters Health) A woman may not be able to change her family history of breast cancer, but she can typically control what she eats and drinks. And consuming more vegetables and whole grains -- and less alcohol -- just might trim her chances of getting the disease, according to an analysis of published studies.

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Shoes: A Treatment for Osteoarthritis in the Knees?

(Science Daily) Flip-flops and sneakers with flexible soles are easier on the knees than clogs or even special walking shoes, a study by Rush University Medical Center has found. And that's important, because loading on the knee joints is a key factor in the development of osteoarthritis…

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and a significant source of disability and impaired quality of life. A higher-than-normal load on the knees during walking is a hallmark of the disease, associated with both the severity of osteoarthritis and its progression…

[According to principal author Dr. Najia Shakoor,] "We've shown in earlier studies that barefoot walking is associated with lower knee loads than walking with conventional footwear. It may be that the flexible movement of the bare foot is mechanically advantageous. The natural flex of the foot when it contacts the ground probably attenuates the impact on the joint, compared to the artificial 'stomping' movement created by a stiff-soled shoe."

In the present study, Shakoor said, flip-flops and the walking shoe were flat, flexible and lightweight and seemed to mimic the mechanics when walking with bare feet…

Shakoor cautioned, however, that knee loading is not the only consideration in any clinical recommendations based on her study.

"For the elderly and infirm individuals, flip-flops could contribute to falls because of their loose-fitting design. Factors like these need to be taken into account," Shakoor said.

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Many Americans Unaware They Have Chronic Kidney Disease

(HealthDay News) Among Americans with prediabetes and undiagnosed diabetes, millions may have chronic kidney disease and not know it, new research has found…

"Persons at risk for diabetes and their health-care providers should be aware that earlier screening for both diabetes and kidney disease may be warranted," [said study author Laura C. Plantinga]. "Earlier screening would allow for appropriate, timely medical care to prevent further progression and poor outcomes."

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Developing a Test to Save Eyesight by Detecting Glaucoma Years Earlier

(Science Daily) Scientists are reporting progress toward a test that could revolutionize the diagnosis of glaucoma -- the second leading cause of vision loss and blindness worldwide -- by detecting the disease years earlier than usually happens at present…

"All too often, these tests detect glaucoma after the disease has been silently causing damage to the optic nerve," [explained Chenxu Yu, Ph.D., who headed the study]. "Years may pass between the first biological change associated with glaucoma inside the eye and diagnosis. We need ways of diagnosing glaucoma earlier, before permanent damage has occurred, so that patients can begin taking medication to control it."

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Memory Decline Linked to an Inability to Ignore Distractions

(Science Daily) One of the most common complaints among healthy older adults relates to a decline in memory performance. This decline has been linked to an inability to ignore irrelevant information when forming memories. In order to ignore distracting information, the brain should act to suppress its responses to distractions, but it has been shown that in older adults there is in fact an increase in brain activity at those times.

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New Test Takes Guesswork out of Diagnosing Early-Stage Alzheimer's Disease

(Science Daily) A new test developed by Japanese scientists may revolutionize how and when physicians diagnose Alzheimer's disease…

"Baby boomers are getting older and Alzheimer's disease will have a tremendous impact on the memory of a generation and the lives of its children," said Gerald Weissmann, M.D… "This test is not only useful for the early detection of Alzheimer's disease, but promises to be a marker for the efficacy of newer treatments that are already on the drawing board."

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Potential New Target for Treating Rheumatoid Arthritis

(Science Daily) By enhancing the activity of immune cells that protect against runaway inflammation, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center may have found a novel therapy for rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. In a new study…, the researchers reveal how treating these immune cells with an investigational drug wards off inflammation by holding a particular enzyme at bay.

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Novel Parkinson's Treatment Strategy Involves Cell Transplantation

(Science Daily) UCSF scientists have used a novel cell-based strategy to treat motor symptoms in rats with a disease designed to mimic Parkinson's disease.

The strategy suggests a promising approach, the scientists say, for treating symptoms of Parkinson's disease and other neurodegenerative diseases and disorders, including epilepsy.

The scientists transplanted embryonic neurons from fetal rats into an area of the adult rat brain known as the striatum, which integrates excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter signals to control movement. In Parkinson's disease, cells that produce the neurotransmitter dopamine are damaged, and thus unable to project their communication wires, or axons, to the region. As a result, the balance of excitation and inhibition in the striatum is lost, causing the motor deficits that are a primary symptom of the disease.

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Surgeons Transplant New Trachea Into Child Using His Own Stem Cells to Rebuild Airway

(Science Daily) UCL scientists and surgeons have led a revolutionary operation to transplant a new trachea into a child, using the child's own stem cells to rebuild the airway in the body…

The application of this technology … should reduce greatly the risk of rejection of the new trachea, as the child's stem cells will not generate any immune response…

We have shown that stem cell-based treatments can save lives and can be used in the creation of living structures which draw upon the body's own natural healing mechanisms for their support."

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Could Robots and Smart Devices Help Older People Look After Themselves?

(Science Daily) Researchers at the University of the West of England, Bristol (UWE) are taking part in a European project aimed at creating an intelligent system comprising a robot and smart sensors that can support independent living for elderly people…

Dr [Pramind] Caleb-Solly says, "This research could have long term benefits in supporting a growing elderly population. We need to look at these systems holistically in the context of real lives and ensure that the support they give to older people living independently matches their expectations and meets a real need. The ethical aspects of using robots with older people will also be considered as part of this research."

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Healthcare costs burden more Americans: study

(Reuters) A growing number of Americans spend more than 10 percent of their income on out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare services and insurance, according to a study published on Thursday.

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People Are Living Longer and Healthier: Now What?

(Science Daily) People in developed nations are living in good health as much as a decade longer than their parents did, not because aging has been slowed or reversed, but because they are staying healthy to a more advanced age…

This leads to an interesting set of policy questions, said [demographer James] Vaupel. What will these dramatically longer lifespans mean for social services, health care and the economy? Can the aging process be slowed down or delayed still further? And why do women continue to outlive men -- outnumbering them 6 to 1 at age 100?

It also may be time to rethink how we structure our lives, Vaupel said…

One way to change life trajectories would be to allow younger people to work fewer hours, in exchange for staying in the workforce to a later age. "The 20th century was a century of the redistribution of wealth; the 21st century will probably be a century of the redistribution of work," Vaupel said.

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Optimism Boosts the Immune System

(Science Daily) Feeling better about the future might help you feel better for real…

[In a study, law] students' general outlook on life — whether they had an optimistic disposition — didn't account for the differences in immune responses between students. But as each student's expectations about law school waxed and waned, their immune response followed along. At more optimistic times, they'd have bigger immune responses; at a more pessimistic time, a more sluggish immune response. So, being optimistic about success in a specific, important domain may promote better immunity against some infections.

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If you feel excluded, reach to the past

(UPI) If you feel excluded, watching a movie you loved in college or eating a food from your childhood may make you feel better, U.S. and Dutch researchers suggest…

The researchers conducted a series of five experiments in which they found the key to preferring nostalgic products is the need to belong.

"Whenever a situation arises in which people feel a heightened need to belong to a group, or generally need to feel socially connected, they will show a corresponding higher preference for nostalgic products," the study authors say in a statement.

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Baldness 'could be good for your health' say scientists

(BBC) A receding hairline can be a good thing, according to US scientists, who say men who go bald by 30 appear to be less likely to develop prostate cancer…

Baldness is caused when hair follicles become exposed to too much dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is a chemical produced by the male hormone testosterone…

Prostate cancer sufferers are often given drugs to reduce testosterone levels because they can accelerate the growth of some tumours once they develop.

But this study suggests that high levels of testosterone from a young age might protect against the disease.

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Food Described as Healthy Makes Consumers Feel Hungrier

(Science Daily) If we don't have a choice in the matter, eating something that's considered healthy might simply lead us to feel hungry and eat something else, according to a new study…

In one experiment, the authors told people their job was to taste a food that was described as healthy or tasty (imposed conditions) or had people choose between the same food samples (free-choice conditions). Then participants rated their hunger.

"People who were given a food sample described as healthy rated they were hungrier than those who were given the same sample framed as tasty and delicious," the authors write. "Those who freely chose the food sample were equally hungry. Thus, only those who were given the healthy food sample (imposed consumption) became hungrier."

In another study, participants were given a sample of the same piece of bread that was described as healthy (low-fat with lots of vitamins) or tasty (delicious with a thick crust and soft center). They also asked people how much they valued watching their weight. "People given the bread described as healthy were hungrier, thus they consumed more of an available snack, than those given the same piece described as tasty," the authors write. But the effect disappeared for those who valued watching their weight; they chose to eat the healthy bread.

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Community: I think most of us think of healthy food as being fruits and vegetables, which don’t assuage hunger as well as fats and proteins. That’s why, when I’m hungry, I eat a snack that has lean protein and a healthy fat.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Spring Clean Your Diet
Fresh fruits and vegetables abound during the spring, so make room for these nutritional powerhouses

Easter Menus
Rain, shine, or out of time, we've got the just-right Easter menu for you.

5-Star Egg Recipes
These high-protein recipes received high marks for versatility and deliciousness.

All About Asparagus
Learn how to choose, prepare, store, and serve this quintessential

MyRecipes.com:

Barbecue Sirloin and Blue Cheese Salad
Lean sirloin steak sits atop a bed of fresh veggies for an easy weeknight main-dish salad. Top with crumbles of rich blue cheese to bring out the bold flavors in the homemade vinaigrette.

15-Minute Scallop Dishes

Weeknight Wines: Garden-Style Lasagna

11 Delicious Beef Slow-Cooker Recipes

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Pure Maple Syrup Contains Medicinally Beneficial Compounds, Pharmacy Researcher Finds

(Science Daily) University of Rhode Island researcher Navindra Seeram, who specializes in medicinal plant research, has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health, 13 of which are newly discovered in maple syrup. In addition, eight of the compounds have been found in the Acer (maple) family for the first time…

Several of these anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.

Prior to the study, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers already knew that its product was full of naturally occurring minerals such as zinc, thiamine and calcium. But it enlisted Seeram to research the presence of plant anti-oxidants.

Read more.

Community: An excuse to eat syrup? I’m for it!

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Study Connects Workplace Turmoil, Stress and Obesity

(Science Daily) A new study that provides a snapshot of a typical American workplace observed that chronic job stress and lack of physical activity are strongly associated with being overweight or obese.

Unexpectedly, researchers also found that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables did little to offset the effect of chronic job stress on weight gain among the employees, who were mostly sedentary. Instead, exercise seemed to be the key to managing stress and keeping a healthy weight.

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Inflammation Molecule Tied to Fat Levels

(HealthDay News) Swedish scientists have discovered that a well-known marker of inflammation may help determine how much fat tissue people carry around.

But the relationship was not present in obese individuals, according to the research…

"For years, we thought of fat as a dormant storer of energy, and now we realize that the fat cells are much more dynamic. They're much more active and much more involved in many processes," [Dr. Mitchell ] Roslin said. "Essentially obesity is an inflammatory state. Obesity activates the immune system and makes [people's bodies] behave as if they're inflamed."

And that leads to the various complications of obesity, such as heart disease.

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New Contact Lenses Could Improve Glaucoma Treatment

(HealthDay News) A team of researchers has created special contact lenses for glaucoma patients that come loaded with vitamin E, using a design that could essentially lengthen the amount of time a medication bathes an afflicted eye.

This strategy could reduce the significant waste of medication that happens with traditional eye drops, but so far the concept has only been tested in beagles.

"Currently, the way we deliver medication to the eye is very bad and very ineffective," said study author Anuj Chauhan, an associate professor in the department of chemical engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville. "And this approach is wonderful because it delivers drugs for a long period of time."

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Virtual Colonoscopy Allows Detection of Unsuspected Cancers Beyond Colon

(Science Daily) A new, large-scale study of more than 10,000 adults found that more than one in every 200 asymptomatic people screened with CT colonography, or virtual colonoscopy, had clinically unsuspected malignant cancer and more than half of the cancers were located outside the colon…

"We are finding that virtual colonoscopy screening actually identifies more unsuspected cancers outside of the colon than within it," said lead author Perry J. Pickhardt, M.D…

Virtual colonoscopy is less invasive than optical colonoscopy and produces precise and detailed "fly-through" images of the entire colon's interior without having to insert a scope. With virtual colonoscopy screening, there is essentially no risk of bleeding or of perforating the colon. There is no need for intravenous sedation, and the procedure is less costly than conventional optical colonoscopy. It also is more convenient, typically taking 10 minutes or less.

Virtual colonoscopy also allows for limited assessment of structures outside the colon (extracolonic), including the abdomen, pelvis and portions of the lungs.

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Gene Holds Key to Embryonic Stem Cell Rejuvenation

(HealthDay News) Scientists have identified a gene in mice that is a key player in what could essentially be called embryonic stem cells' "immortality."

The finding could have a major impact on research into aging, regenerative medicine and the biology of stem cells and cancer, according to the report.

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Tiny Fish Might Help Humans Fix Damaged Hearts

(HealthDay News) An ability to regrow damaged or missing heart tissue makes the lowly zebrafish an ideal model for discovering new ways to repair human hearts, scientists say.

When a part of its heart is removed, the tiny zebrafish is a bit sluggish for a few days, but then appears normal within a month. This remarkable heart repair is achieved by differentiated cardiac muscle cells called cardiomyocytes -- not stem cells, but mature cells that normally supply the contractile force of the heart.

"What the results of our study show is that Mother Nature utilizes other ways besides going all the way back to pluripotent stem cells to regenerate tissues and organs," Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte … said in a news release.

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Busy hospitals have lower death rates: study

(Reuters) Want to survive a heart attack, heart failure or pneumonia? Go to a busy hospital…

Previous studies have shown that patients who receive surgery or other procedures do better if they are treated by doctors with the most experience.

The study is the first to look at common medical conditions in the same way and see if there is a threshold for achieving low death rates.

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End-of-Life Care Planning Eases Stress for Relatives

(HealthDay News) Planning for care at the end of life can make things easier for people as they die, while reducing stress and depression among loved ones, new research suggests.

With advance care planning, often through documents known as "living wills," people set down how they would like to be treated at the end of their lives. They can pinpoint the kinds of medical and resuscitation services they prefer and appoint people to serve as their surrogate decision makers…

[F]amily members reported that they had significantly less stress and depression when their deceased relatives had documented their end-of-life wishes.

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Community: My mother planned everything, including the readings and the music for her funeral. She was obviously ready to die, though I wasn’t ready to let her go.

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Healthy Living Adds Years to Life

(HealthDay News) Americans who smoke, have high blood pressure, high blood sugar and are overweight may be shortening their life expectancy by an average of four years, a new study finds.

In fact, men may be shortening their lives by 4.9 years while women could be shaving 4.1 years off their lives, the researchers say. However, there is even greater variance in the effects of these factors on life expectancy across the United States based on geography, race and income.

"These risk factors are cutting life expectancy for any average American," said lead researcher Majid Ezzati…

"That number is actually quite larger in some groups than others," he said. "It is getting to six or seven years for some of the disadvantaged groups."

The message: Not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, keeping blood pressure down and keeping blood sugar levels low will help people live longer. This will not only save a lot of lives, but benefit the most disadvantaged the most, Ezzati added.

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Community: And the added years are years you WANT to live.

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Bad Habits Explain Class Differences in Health: Study

(HealthDay News) Unhealthy behaviors -- including higher rates of smoking, poor diets and lack of exercise -- can explain almost three-fourths of the higher death rate among people of lower socioeconomic standing, a new study suggests…

"The reason poorer people have poorer health is because they have poorer behaviors," [James Dunn, an associate professor of applied public health,] said. "It's a reason, but it's not the reason."

Many of the skills required to make better choices, including the ability to self-regulate, or delay gratification and plan ahead, may be strongly influenced by early childhood experiences. Programs to change behavior have to take that into account.

"The takeaway message is that we need much more clever models of health promotion than the classic model of education and enlightenment and expecting people to make a rational choice," Dunn said.

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Community: Yes, but the bad habits may be at least partly due to the stress of dealing with their low socioeconomic status. Maybe we need to deal with that issue, too.

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