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

Healthy Treats For Easter

(SouthBeachDiet.com) When you think of Easter morning what comes to mind? Maybe it’s hunting for eggs or heading to brunch with your family. For many, fond childhood memories also include colorful baskets overflowing with chocolate bunnies, caramel-filled eggs, jelly beans, and other sugary sweets. So this year, whether you’re preparing an Easter basket for a loved one or are looking to serve a few treats at a family gathering, why not include … healthier alternatives to candy? Here’s how:

Go for mixed nut assortments or whole-grain animal crackers instead of the usual sugary candy treats…

Choose dark chocolate over milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is not only delicious but also contains heart-healthy antioxidants.

Fill the basket with fruit, by adding a colorful variety of apples, bananas, oranges, and peaches. Fruits are naturally sweet and make beautiful basket presentations…

Pack bags of air-popped or microwavable popcorn as a crunchy snack. There’s a lot more to popcorn than just fiber. Recent research shows popcorn is a great source of antioxidants called polyphenols.

Toss in a few packages of seeds for vegetables and sunflowers, so your loved one can plant a garden and watch it grow.

Add in a few nonperishable items, such as paperback books, seasonal T-shirts and flip-flops, bubble bath, and egg-shaped sidewalk chalk.

And don’t forget the dyed hard-boiled eggs. If the basket isn’t going to be sitting around for long, include some festive colored eggs. One large egg contains six grams of high-quality protein (in both the yolk and white). And the yolk is also a source of zinc, B vitamins, selenium, iron, and other nutrients.

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How to Serve a Healthy Easter Brunch

(SouthBeachDiet.com) There’s no holiday that speaks to the spring season quite like Easter with the cheerful decorations and sumptuous foods that accompany it. This joyous celebration is filled with family traditions that often include a festive brunch. Whether you’re hosting an Easter meal or heading elsewhere to a gathering, check out our healthy tips to help you stick to your weight-loss goals:

Prepare a healthy frittata or quiche instead of creamy casseroles, which tend to be high in saturated fat. A frittata is simply a “crustless” quiche that is easily topped with chopped vegetables, reduced-fat cheese, or other ingredients…

Avoid honey when glazing ham and use sugar-free fruit preserves or jams, such as apricot, orange, or … pineapple…

Season meat using fresh or dried herbs, such as parsley, basil, thyme, mint, oregano, and rosemary, to boost flavor without adding fat. Basil is also great for flavoring baked chicken, soups, and salads.

Add vinegars to flavor marinades. For example, mix balsamic vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, herbs, and garlic to create a delicious steak marinade. Or use champagne vinegar (a soft-tasting wine vinegar made from champagne) for marinating lighter meat dishes, such as fish and poultry.

Roast or grill vegetables using healthy oils, not butter. Extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil are lower in saturated fat and bring out the natural flavors of roasted and grilled vegetables, such as asparagus, snow peas, zucchini, artichokes, sweet onions, and carrots…

Forgo the white rolls and bake some healthy scones. Flaky and flavorful, scones are classic brunch treats; you can bake… scones using healthy ingredients such as whole-wheat pastry flour, granular sugar substitute, trans-fat-free margarine, fat-free buttermilk, and more.

Delight in dessert. Special occasions and dessert go hand in hand. A great choice … is a delicious ricotta cheese custard or crustless cheesecake topped with nuts and a drizzle of pure almond extract… [E]njoy fresh fruit; look for what’s seasonal at the market. If you like the occasional sweet, cut yourself a small piece of cake or select a cookie or a piece of Easter chocolate. Savor it slowly, taking breaks between small bites.

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Breathable chocolate debuts in Harvard Square

(Wicked Local Cambridge) A Harvard professor has found a way to experience the taste of chocolate without the calories and the kick of coffee without the cup — and now you can buy it in Boston…

Le Whif flavors include raspberry, mint, and pure chocolate, along with Le Whif Coffee…

According to a press release, Le Whif – made in collaboration with ArtScience Labs – uses particle engineering to form chocolate and coffee in microscopic sizes that are small enough to become airborne, though too large to enter the lungs…

For more information, visit www.lewhif.com.

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The Skinny on Fats: What the Latest Research Says About What You Should Be Eating

(U.S. News & World Report) A certain amount of fat is essential to your body's functioning. And as you've probably heard, all fats are not alike in their effects on blood cholesterol levels, which can affect heart disease risk. Saturated fat, for example, generally increases levels of LDL, or "bad" cholesterol. But while this information was known when the surgeon general issued the first report on nutrition and health in 1988 and the National Academy of Sciences issued its own report in 1989, public health authorities felt that a message to reduce total fat would be best understood by the public. The thought was, says [Marion] Nestle (who was managing editor of the 1988 report), that since saturated fats from meat and dairy products were the main sources of fat in the American diet, lowering total fat would automatically reduce consumption of saturated fat. That's certainly true, in theory.

But here's the rub in practice:… "People reduced fat and replaced that fat with simple carbohydrates and refined sugar," says Mimi Guarneri, cardiologist and medical director of the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine in La Jolla, Calif.

That switch was aided by food companies, with their lines of "low-fat," yet sugar-filled products…

By contrast, trading saturated fats for polyunsaturated fats—the omega-3 fatty acids found in certain fish and the omega-6 fatty acids in vegetable oils such as safflower and soybean oils—does seem to offer a heart benefit. An analysis of existing research… found that consuming those polyunsaturated fats instead of saturated fats reduces the incidence of heart attacks and cardiac death. Based on the evidence, "polyunsaturated fats are the best...fat to be increasing in the diet," says Dariush Mozaffarian, an author of the study.

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Reeling in the Benefits of Fish

(New York Times) In this week’s Recipes for Health, Martha Rose Shulman cooks up new ways to enjoy the health benefits of fish. Fish typically is a good source of healthful omega-3 fatty acids, and studies show that eating fish regularly is associated with better heart health…

She offers tips on finding safe and sustainable seafood, along with five delicious and easy ways to prepare omega-3-rich fish like sardines, salmon, mackerel and tuna.

Sardine and Chard Gratin: A simplified version of a traditional Provençal dish that is delicious unbelievably easy to make.

Tuna and Pepper Stew: A fisherman’s dish with simple origins, loosely based on a Basque tuna soup called marmitako.

Potato and Tuna Purée: Comfort food at its finest, similar to a tuna noodle casserole but dressed up and simpler.

Baked Trout With Tomatoes and Olives: A Provençal staple that’s a great way to serve farmed trout.

Salmon Fillets With Tomatillo Salsa: Tomatillos have an acidic flavor — and color — that goes beautifully with salmon.

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Marathon Runners Should Pick Cherries for Speedy Recovery

(Science Daily) Dr Glyn Howatson, exercise physiologist…, examined the properties of Montmorency cherries in a study that found that athletes who drank the juice recovered faster after Marathon running than a placebo controlled group…

Inflammation was also reduced in the cherry juice group, as was oxidative stress, a potentially damaging response that can be caused by strenuous physical activity, particularly long distance endurance exercise.

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Choose This Color Chickpea

(RealAge.com) Get more nutrition with every bite when you choose chickpeas that are dark in color.

Black, red, purple -- chickpeas come in more colors than basic beige. And a recent study indicates that dark-hued chickpeas may have as much as 13 times more polyphenols in each serving…

With 6 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and a scant 140 calories per half-cup serving, chickpeas are a dieter's dream. And not only will you get more polyphenols in the darker varieties, but those extra polyphenols pack 31 times more antioxidant power compared to the lighter colored legumes, research shows. In fact, the antioxidant powers of dark chickpeas power right past those of dried fruit, most nuts, and many other legumes.(Find out how many ounces of chickpeas you need per week to lower your cholesterol.)

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Soy supplements show no diabetes benefit in study

(Reuters Health) Adding soy supplements to the diet may not improve blood sugar control in older women who are at high risk of or in the early stages of type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests…

Lab research has suggested that soy proteins and soy isoflavones -- "phytoestrogen" compounds that are structurally similar to human estrogen -- may help control blood sugar levels. But so far, the few small clinical trials that have been done have reached different conclusions as to whether soy foods or soy-protein supplements are beneficial to people with diabetes.

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Chinese Wolfberries May Improve Vision Imperfections Caused by Type-2 Diabetes

(Science Daily) Kansas State University researcher is exploring the use of Chinese wolfberries to improve vision deficiencies that are common for type-2 diabetics.

Dingbo "Daniel" Lin, K-State research assistant professor of human nutrition, is studying wolfberries and their potential to improve damage to the retina. His findings show that the fruit can lower the oxidative stress that the eye undergoes as a result of type-2 diabetes.

"I would not say that wolfberries are a medicine, but they can be used as a dietary supplement to traditional treatments to improve vision," Lin said. "Wolfberries have high antioxidant activity and are very beneficial to protect against oxidative stress caused by environmental stimuli and genetic mutations."

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Should Cholesterol Drugs Be Used By Those Without High Cholesterol?

(HealthDay News) When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in February approved the use of the cholesterol-lowering statin drug Crestor for some people with normal cholesterol levels, cardiologist Dr. Steven E. Nissen cheered the decision.

"You have to go with the scientific evidence," said Nissen, who is chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. "A clinical trial was done and there was a substantial reduction in morbidity and mortality in people treated with this drug."

But Dr. Mark A. Hlatky, a professor of health research and policy and medicine at Stanford University, has expressed doubts about the FDA move. He worries that more people will rely on a pill rather than diet and exercise to cut their heart risk, and also points to studies linking statins such as Crestor to muscle troubles and even diabetes.

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Antiepileptic Drug Phenytoin as a Mood Stabilizer?

(Science Daily) Phenytoin is a well known antiepileptic agent widely used throughout the world. Recent clinical studies in patients with bipolar disorder have suggested that, as for other anticonvulsant drugs commonly used in the treatment of bipolar patients including valproate and carbamazepine, phenytoin may have mood-stabilizing effects in addition to its well-known anticonvulsant properties.

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Obesity’s role in cancer

(Los Angeles Times) Packing on the pounds gets a well-deserved bad rap. Most Americans understand that excess weight contributes to heart disease and diabetes, not to mention the urge to hide behind the kids in family photos. But obesity as a risk factor for cancer?

That seems to be the case. An increasing number of studies are finding that overweight and obese people are more likely to develop cancer of various kinds. At least half a dozen types of cancer are believed to be directly affected by weight.

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Combinatorial Therapy Allows Viruses to Destroy Tumors

(Science Daily) For several years, researchers have been developing a new approach to treating cancer that uses viruses to infect and kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. Recent data have indicated that this approach, which is known as oncolytic virotherapy, has potential.

Now, Richard Vile and colleagues, at the Mayo Clinic, Rochester, have found that this approach can be combined with a standard clinical therapy to provide substantial regression and cure of tumors in mice, leading them to suggest that this combinatorial approach could be of tremendous benefit in the clinic.

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Treatment Checklists May Cut Hospital Deaths

(Science Daily) Patient deaths at three London hospitals have been cut by almost 15% after introducing treatment checklists (known as care bundles), finds a study…

The researchers say their methods could be used to reduce mortality in many other hospitals.

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Long-Term Care Program Debuts In New Health Law

(NPR News) It got precious little debate in either the House or Senate, and President Obama didn't even mention it when he signed the huge health bill into law. But buried within the new health care overhaul is the first-ever federal insurance program to help Americans meet the often crushing costs of long-term care.

The Community Living Assistance Services and Supports Act, better known as the CLASS Act, was one of the last legislative efforts of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA). He added it to the health bill last summer as it was moving through the committee he chaired in the Senate. While some lawmakers questioned whether the program would, as promised, actually pay for itself, it remained in the measure to the end…

The Department of Health and Human Services will determine the exact amount of premiums and benefits, and benefits will vary depending on the level of each person's disability. But benefits will be cash amounts that will be no less than $50 per day.

While that won't pay for a nursing home stay, which averaged more than $76,000 a year in 2008, "the benefit itself is not insignificant," says Al Schmitz, a principal and consulting actuary with the health care consulting firm Milliman. "Somebody getting $1,500 a month, that can still help with getting some home care, getting community assistance," he says.

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Community: $76,000 a year! That’s outrageous! Only the rich can afford to go to a nursing home?

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Drug That Extends Life Span Prevents Alzheimer's Deficits

(Science Daily) If research results continue to be repeated and are turned into clinical trials, a drug already approved for some uses could be marshaled -- sooner than we expect -- to prevent Alzheimer's disease in humans and improve health to the end of life.

A few weeks after a report that rapamycin, a drug that extends lifespan in mice and that is currently used in transplant patients, curbed the effects of Alzheimer's disease in mice, a second group is announcing similar results in an entirely different mouse model of early Alzheimer's.

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Aging Gene Found to Govern Lifespan, Immunity and Resilience

(Science Daily) Scientists … have discovered that a gene called DAF-16 is strongly involved in determining the rate of ageing and average lifespan of the laboratory worm Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) and its close evolutionary cousins. DAF-16 is found in many other animals, including humans. It is possible that this knowledge could open up new avenues for altering ageing, immunity and resistance to stresses in humans.

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Nightly routine helps elderly sleep

(UPI) A nightly routine before going to bed is linked to a reduced rate of insomnia and improved quality of sleep in older adults, researchers in Israel say.

As people age, changes in the circadian system may occur, hurting sleep quality, but routine lifestyle rhythms may serve as a protective factor contributing to the maintenance of high-quality sleep, [Anna] Zisberg said.

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Go Retro to Slim Down

(RealAge.com) What's the quickest way to get the body of your dreams? Eat like it's the 1970s.

Some things about the '70s we definitely don't want to repeat: a cold war, a recession, disco fashions . . . But here's one really great thing we should try to emulate. In 1970, people ate about 500 fewer calories per day…

[R]esearchers think this might help explain why American's are also 19 pounds heavier on average today. Time to figure out where you can cut calories and not miss 'em. Read on for some quick and easy ideas. (Try the YOU Docs' proven four-step plan to whittle your waist!)

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Turning Your Workday Into Weight Loss

(HealthDay News) For decades, the office has been seen as the sedentary, do-nothing enemy of fitness -- a place to sit eight hours a day and slowly pile on weight.

But what if it were a big part of the solution?

One expert believes it can be. In fact, in just six months, the Mayo Clinic's Dr. James A. Levine and colleagues helped 18 Minneapolis office workers lose a total of 156 pounds, just by redesigning the office and the office workday.

"By harnessing a little creativity, one can infuse the workday with movement. And in so doing -- while adjusting the way we think about food -- the pounds will simply start melting off," said Levine…

Weight loss did not come at the price of workplace productivity. In fact, after only three months in the reconfigured office, staffers had boosted corporate revenue by almost 10 percent. Halfway through the study, the firm registered its highest monthly gross to-date.

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Community: The article doesn’t even mention the long-term savings in disease care cost and reduction of human suffering.

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Slimming Soybeans Are on the Horizon

(Science Daily) If you're serious about losing weight, check out recent studies done in Elvira de Mejia's University of Illinois laboratory. Her research provides insight into the way a certain type of soy protein inhibits fat accumulation and reduces inflammation.

"We found that soybeans rich in beta-conglycinins limit lipid accumulation in fat cells by inhibiting an enzyme called fatty acid synthase. What's more, we have identified the specific peptides (digested proteins) that do this, and we are now beginning to understand the mechanism behind it. This is exciting research because it could lead to the development of nutraceuticals to fight obesity," said de Mejia, a U of I associate professor of food science and human nutrition.

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Community: I avoided soy products for a long time because my breast cancer tumor was estrogen receptor positive, and soybeans have a plant estrogen in them. But I kept reading about great health benefits of soybeans and soy products:

How Soy Reduces Diabetes Risk

Soy foods may curb hip fracture risk in older women

Natural Soy Component May Help Treat Colon Cancer

Soy Peptide Lunasin Has Anti-Cancer, Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Soy may lessen risk of endometrial, ovarian cancers

Then I read that the estrogen in soy products acts like the form of estrogen in Tamoxifen, giving the benefits of human estrogen to most parts of the body, but not binding to the estrogen receptors in the breast. So I decided to add soy to my diet. I had read that much of the good stuff in soybeans doesn’t make it to most processed soy products, so I looked for soybeans in the pod at my grocery store. I found them in the frozen food section.

Now, when I’m preparing my breakfast, I wash two small handfuls and microwave them for 3 minutes. By the time I’m ready for my lunch, which consists of a big salad, the beans are cool enough to pop out of the pods onto my salad. They have almost no taste, but a very pleasant texture.

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Bacon or Bagels? Higher Fat at Breakfast May Be Healthier Than You Think

(Science Daily) The age-old maxim "Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper" may in fact be the best advice to follow to prevent metabolic syndrome, according to a new University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) study.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by abdominal obesity, high triglycerides, insulin resistance and other cardiovascular disease-risk factors.

The study … examined the influence exerted by the type of foods and specific timing of intake on the development of metabolic syndrome characteristics in mice. The UAB research revealed that mice fed a meal higher in fat after waking had normal metabolic profiles. In contrast, mice that ate a more carbohydrate-rich diet in the morning and consumed a high-fat meal at the end of the day saw increased weight gain, adiposity, glucose intolerance and other markers of the metabolic syndrome.

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Community: Yes, but the fat doesn’t have to be bacon fat, which is high in saturated fats.

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Short-Term Program for Binge Eaters Breaks New Ground

(HealthDay News) A 12-week, self-guided program to stop binge eating is effective and can save patients money, according to U.S. researchers…

"It is unusual to find a program like this that works well, and also saves the patient money. It's a win-win for everyone," study author Frances Lynch, a health economist at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, said in a news release.

Recurrent binge eating is the most common eating disorder in the United States, affecting more than three percent of the population (nine million people).

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Bone-Strengthening Drug Guards Against Spread of Breast Cancer

(HealthDay News) The bone-strengthening drug zoledronic acid (Zometa) reduces the spread of breast cancer by preventing chemotherapy-related bone loss, a new study suggests.

Tumor cells released from the primary breast cancer site often travel to the bone marrow and spread from there to other areas of the body. Chemotherapy speeds up bone turnover, which releases bone-derived growth factors that can promote tumor growth in breast cancer patients…

Among women who had no tumor cells in their bone marrow at the start of the study, 87 percent of those in the zoledronic acid group were free of tumor cells at three months, compared with 60 percent of those who received chemotherapy alone. One year after treatment, the rates were 40 percent and 33 percent, respectively, the study authors noted.

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Inactivating Gene May Cut Breast Cancer Risk

(HealthDay News) A genetic mutation in the gene known as BRCA1 greatly boosts the risk that a woman will develop breast cancer. But now, researchers report that they've been able to lower the risk of cancer in mice with that gene by deactivating another gene.

Women with the mutation have as much as an 85 percent greater lifetime risk for developing breast cancer than other women. They also have up to a 40 percent greater chance of developing ovarian cancer.

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HIV Drugs Might Combat Two Other Diseases

(HealthDay News) Four anti-HIV drugs inhibit a retrovirus recently linked to prostate cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), say U.S. researchers.

If further investigation proves that the retrovirus xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) causes prostate cancer or CFS, these HIV drugs may be an effective treatment for the two conditions.

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Promising Drug for Inflammation

(Science Daily) Aspirin, ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) remain the most common treatment to relieve symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. But despite their widespread use … these medications are also known to cause severe, sometimes life-threatening adverse effects within the body, particularly in the gastrointestinal tract…

The researchers found that ATB-346 [a derivative of naproxen] was at least as effective as naproxen in relieving inflammation in animal models. They also discovered that ATB-346 was in the order of 100 times safer than naproxen, causing little or no damage to the stomach and small intestine.

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Acupuncture May Help Restore Lost Sense of Smell

(HealthDay News) Acupuncture may help people who lose their sense of smell after a viral infection, researchers say…

Smell function improved in eight patients in the acupuncture group and in two patients in the vitamin B group. The findings suggest that acupuncture may be a new treatment option for patients with PVOD [post-viral olfactory dysfunction], the researchers reported.

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Seeing Letter 'F' May Lower Test Scores

(HealthDay News) Could just being reminded of failure make it a little more likely?

Perhaps, according to a study that found that just seeing the letter "F" prior to a test depressed college students' grades.

Test-takers who saw the letter at the top of their exam, even though it had nothing to do with a grade, scored significantly worse than those who saw an "A" or a "J," the study found.

"The take-home message is that the unconscious is very powerful, and it takes little exposure to make a difference. Little things can set us off in different directions," said study lead author Keith Ciani.

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Researchers Design Self-Test for Memory Disorders

(Science Daily) A self-administered test to screen for early dementia could help speed the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of memory disorders, including Alzheimer's disease. It could also provide health care providers and caregivers an earlier indication of life-changing events that could lie ahead.

The handwritten self-assessment, which can take less than 15 minutes to complete, is a reliable tool for evaluating cognitive abilities…

Many of the assessment tools for cognitive disorders being used today, while accurate, have aspects that deter their use. "Seldom are physicians reimbursed for the time and effort it takes to give such tests, or they tie up personnel to physically administer the test," said [neurologist Douglas] Scharre, who advocates the use of routine screening for cognitive disorders in the primary care setting. Other diagnostic tests require the patient to use a computer, which can add heightened anxiety to some older adults who may be infrequent users of technology.

The SAGE self-assessment is a practical tool for a busy primary care office," added Scharre, who makes the tests available free of charge to healthcare personnel at www.sagetest.osu.edu. It only takes a paper, pen and a few minutes to take the test and because it's self-administered, it doesn't necessarily take time away from the appointment. "They can take the test in the waiting room while waiting for the doctor," said Scharre.

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Simple Forms Help Docs Do Better Breast Exams

(HealthDay News) The quality and accuracy of clinical breast exams can be improved if doctors use a simple form, a new study shows.

Mammograms fail to detect between 8 percent and 17 percent of breast cancers. That's why a clinical breast examination is an important part of protecting women's health. But because of time constraints, many primary-care doctors don't do regular or thorough breast exams, meaning some breast cancers are not detected in the early stages when treatment is most effective, the researchers say.

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Community: There seems to be a trend toward the use of checklists in health care. It helps reduce medical errors.

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Tattletale Pills: Engineers Design Pill That Signals It Has Been Swallowed

(Science Daily) Call them tattletale pills. Seeking a way to confirm that patients have taken their medication, University of Florida engineering researchers have added a tiny microchip and digestible antenna to a standard pill capsule. The prototype is intended to pave the way for mass-produced pills that, when ingested, automatically alert doctors, loved ones or scientists working with patients in clinical drug trials.

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Community: That's what I need. I can't always remember whether I've taken my pills or not.

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Fabled 'Vegetable Lamb' Plant Contains Potential Treatment for Osteoporosis

(Science Daily) The "vegetable lamb" plant -- once believed to bear fruit that ripened into a living baby sheep -- produces substances that show promise in laboratory experiments as new treatments for osteoporosis, the bone-thinning disease…

[Researchers] isolated compounds from C. barmoetz and showed that they blocked formation of bone-destroying osteoclasts formation in up to 97 percent of the cells in laboratory cultures without harmful effects on other cells.

The substances "could be used in the development of therapeutic targets for osteoporosis," the article notes.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Glorious Easter Dinner
What fresh, savory surprises this updated menu for Easter dinner brings! Best of all, it's really doable

Deviled Eggs
Asparagus & Spring Greens Salad
Baked Ham with Rosemary & Sweet Vermouth

MyRecipes.com:

Greek Steak Pitas
Serve a Mediterranean-inspired meal in minutes. These stackers are stuffed with bright flavors including Greek seasoning, lemon juice, red onion, and feta cheese. Creamy hummus rounds out this meal.

Cajun Shrimp Casserole

Healthy Family Meals

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Gastric Pacemaker Offers Hope for Those With Stomach Disorders

(HealthDay News) A pacemaker that electrically stimulates the stomach can help control chronic vomiting in people with severe stomach disorders, says a new study…

Gastric pacemakers are already being used in some diabetes patients who suffer severe vomiting. These new findings suggest that gastric pacemakers may be effective in patients with other difficult-to-treat gastrointestinal disorders.

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Study Revives Debate on Prostate Drug

(HealthDay News) A new study to determine whether a drug prescribed to fight the problems of an enlarged prostate gland can also reduce the risk of prostate cancer promises to prolong a debate that started with an earlier study of a similar drug.

The renewed debate plays out in the April 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, which carries not only a report saying that the drug dutasteride (Avodart) may reduce the risk for prostate cancer but also an editorial that counters the upbeat conclusions of the study point by point…

The cancers detected in the study were found by biopsies that would ordinarily not be done because there were no indications of risk. Biopsies done in the study on men known to be at higher risk because of PSA levels found no difference in cancer incidence between those taking the drug and those taking the placebo, [Dr. Patrick C. Walsh, a professor of urology at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, who wrote the accompanying editorial,] said.

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More Women Urged to Get Radiation After Mastectomy

(HealthDay News) Women who have a mastectomy for breast cancer are less likely to receive follow-up radiation therapy than those who have a lumpectomy, even if the treatment would be potentially lifesaving, a new study has found…

"Even patients who wanted to avoid radiation therapy were very likely to receive it if their surgeons were highly involved in the decision process," [Dr. Reshma] Jagsi added. "We need to do a better job of educating both patients and physicians regarding the benefits of radiation after mastectomy in certain circumstances, and we need to encourage physicians to help their patients as they make these important decisions."

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Scientists Find Therapeutic Target to Stop Cancer Metastases

(Science Daily) Scientists have uncovered what could be a very important clue in answering one of the most perplexing questions about cancer: why does it spread to the liver more than any other organ? In a new research report…, scientists from New York University describe experimental results suggesting that the immune system may be the reason.

"Our work may open a new field of experimental therapeutics as combating the eventual development of liver metastases by targeting immune suppressive cells in the livers in patients with early cancer can have great benefit," said George Miller, a scientist involved in the work.

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Obesity, Hypertension, Alcohol and Diuretic Use: Gout Risk Factors for Women

(Science Daily) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine found that women with serum uric acid levels over 5 mg/dl had a significantly lower[*] risk of developing gout than men. This study, the first to examine the relationship between uric acid levels and gout risk in women, also evaluated purported risk factors for gout and found that increasing age, obesity, hypertension, alcohol use, and diuretic use to be among leading contributors for women…

Gout is a common and excruciatingly painful inflammatory arthritis caused by elevated uric acid levels in the blood. When too much uric acid builds up in joint fluid, uric acid crystals form and cause joint swelling and inflammation. Historically, gout was seen as a male disease, however growing evidence suggests the disease is also a concern for older women.

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*The risk may be lower than that for men, but it must be higher than for women who have lower uric acid levels. The Science Daily wording is the same as the original press release, but later in that press release the authors report: "Our study found that higher levels of uric acid in the blood increase the risk gout risk for women in a graded manner."

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New Insights Into Who's At Risk With Angioplasty

(HealthDay News) Who's most at risk when undergoing the common, artery-opening procedure known as angioplasty?

A major U.S. study may have come up with some answers -- risk factors that doctors can use to gauge the odds of death after angioplasty, also known as "percutaneous coronary intervention" (PCI)…

The risk-factor assessment will be most important for someone who is advised to undergo angioplasty and is then asked to sign a consent agreement, [study co-author Dr. Sunil V.] Rao said. "This allows us to say, 'your risk is X percent,' " he said. "That allows for truly informed consent. It allows us to put an actual number on it."

On the other side, the risk-factor assessment could affect how a physician practices, Rao said. "If it is a higher-risk patient, there might be a need to change the procedure," he said. "So it can change behavior on the part of both the patient and the provider."

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Working-Memory Gene Linked to Schizophrenia

(HealthDay News) Schizophrenia may be caused by a genetic mutation that disrupts communication between the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex regions, areas of the brain involved in working memory, U.S. researchers report…

Delusions and hallucinations are the most widely known symptoms of schizophrenia, but it's the impact on cognitive abilities, such as working memory, that most affects how a person with schizophrenia is able to function in society, the researchers explained.

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Brain Estrogen Shows Promise as Schizophrenia Treatment

(Science Daily) An estrogenic drug that influences neurotransmitter and neuronal systems in the brain is showing promise as an effective therapy for women who suffer from schizophrenia.

A study has found that Raloxifene -- a synthetic estrogen currently used to treat osteoporosis -- has beneficial effects on postmenopausal women with schizophrenia, with a test group experiencing a more rapid recovery from psychotic and other symptoms compared to control groups.

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New Brain Nerve Cells Key to Stress Resilience

(Science Daily) [R]esearchers have found new clues that might help explain why some people are more susceptible to stress than others.

In a study of mice, the researchers determined that weeks after experiencing a stressful event, animals that were more susceptible to stress exhibited enhanced neurogenesis -- the birth of new nerve cells in the brain. Specifically, the cells that these animals produced after a stressful event survived longer than new brain cells produced by mice that were more resilient.

In addition, when researchers prevented neurogenesis in both stress-susceptible and resilient mice, the animals previously susceptible to stress became more resilient…

"We are very eager to see if these results carry over to other models of stress in animals and to explore the mechanisms underlying these changes, as these are critical steps to understanding how adult-generated neurons might be modulated to help humans in stressful situations."

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Help for Depressed Latinos Often Hampered by Stigma

(HealthDay News) Low-income Latinos who have depression but stigmatize mental illness are less likely to take medications, keep scheduled appointments and control their illness, a U.S. study has found…

"Unfortunately, mental health stigma turns out to be one of the most serious barriers for people receiving care or staying in care," lead author William Vega … said in a news release.

Vega added that the findings may help doctors develop a set of questions to help them identify depressed patients who might be resistant to care and then help them understand how treatment works.

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