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

Ninety Percent of Stroke Risk Due to 10 Risk Factors

(HealthDay News) A large international study has found that 10 risk factors account for 90 percent of all the risk of stroke, with high blood pressure playing the most potent role. Of that list, five risk factors usually related to lifestyle -- high blood pressure, smoking, abdominal obesity, diet and physical activity -- are responsible for a full 80 percent of all stroke risk, according to the researchers…

"The bottom line is that the risk factors for low- and middle-income countries seem to be pretty similar to those of Western countries," [Dr. Larry B.] Goldstein said. "The findings reiterate the importance of attention to lifestyle factors in stroke risk -- diet, smoking, physical activity."

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Patients Could Use More Help Quitting Smoking

(HealthDay News) Many U.S. health professionals fail to offer programs, plans or prescriptions to help patients quit smoking, finds a new study…

"We know that [health care] provider advice is one of the simplest and most important things to help a smoker to try to quit and stay quit. Providers are not doing enough. It should be a priority for all health professionals, not just primary care physicians," study author Dr. Elisa K. Tong … said in a UC Davis news release.

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Community: People who have never smoked may not be able to understand how difficult it is to quit.

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Coffee or Tea: Enjoy Both in Moderation for Heart Benefits, Dutch Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Coffee and tea drinkers may not need to worry about indulging -- high and moderate consumption of tea and moderate coffee consumption are linked with reduced heart disease, according to a study…

Researchers suggest that the cardiovascular benefit of drinking tea may be explained by antioxidants. Flavonoids in tea are thought to contribute to reduced risk, but the underlying mechanism is still not known.

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Coffee Might Guard Against Head, Neck Cancers

(HealthDay News) Coffee may help protect against head and neck cancers, a new review finds…

"Since coffee is so widely used and there is a relatively high incidence and low survival rate of these forms of cancers, our results have important public health implications that need to be further addressed," lead researcher Mia Hashibe … said in an American Association for Cancer Research news release.

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Community: BUT . . . There’s so often a “but”, isn’t there? See below.

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Tea drinkers may up arthritis risk

(UPI) Women who drink tea may increase their risk of rheumatoid arthritis, U.S. researchers say.

Drinking any amount of tea was associated with an increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis but the researchers found no increased risk of rheumatoid arthritis in women who drank coffee. Neither the method of coffee preparation -- filtered vs. unfiltered -- nor the presence or lack of caffeine showed any significant associations with rheumatoid arthritis.

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U.S. obesity rates could fall if soda pop prices rise

(Reuters) Raising the price of sugary soft drinks will likely prompt thirsty consumers to seek out cheaper, healthier beverages, U.S. researchers said on Thursday.

They said raising the price of a can of soda by 35 percent cut soft drink sales in a hospital cafeteria by 26 percent, offering some evidence that adding a tax to soda pop may prod consumers into making better choices.

Obesity adds an estimated $147 billion a year in costs to the U.S. health care system and several states, including New York and California, have weighed a tax on sweetened soft drinks to defray the cost of obesity-related diseases.

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MyRecipes.com

Filet Mignon with Fresh Herb and Garlic Rub
The filet mignon comes from the small end of the tenderloin. Serve with roasted red potato wedges and steamed broccoli florets. Place florets in a microwave-safe bowl with a little water. Cover with wax paper and microwave at HIGH three minutes or until crisp tender.

5 to Try: Delicious Salad Dressings

Hot Gifts for the Grill

Sensational Slaws

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Low Calcium Intake Linked With Increased Risk of Osteoporosis and Hypertension in Postmenopausal Women

(Science Daily) Italian postmenopausal women who have a low calcium intake show a higher risk of developing both osteoporosis and hypertension (a chronic medical condition in which arterial blood pressure is elevated) than those who consume higher levels of calcium according to research…

"Our study confirms that there may be a link between hypertension and low bone mass and that a low calcium intake could be a risk factor for the development of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women" said Professor Maria Manara… "Our study has also shown that a low calcium intake from dairy foods may be involved in this association and could be considered a risk factor for the development of hypertension and osteoporosis."

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Low B vitamin levels linked to depression risk in older adults

(Reuters Health) Older adults with relatively low intakes of vitamins B6 and B12 may have a higher risk of developing depression than those who get more of the nutrients, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that among 3,500 older adults they followed for up to a dozen years, the risk of developing depression symptoms declined by 2 percent for every 10-milligram (mg) increase in daily vitamin B6 from food and supplements.

The same was true for every 10-microgram (mcg) increase in vitamin B12 intake.

The findings, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, do not prove that the B vitamins themselves protect against depression. But the results do echo those of some previous studies tying the vitamins -- as well as folate, another B vitamin -- to depression risk.

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Hopes Dashed That Vitamin D Reduces Cancer Risk

(HealthDay News) New research appears to dash hopes that people who consume more vitamin D might be at less risk of developing several less-common types of cancer.

Researchers found no link between higher blood levels of vitamin D and lower rates of non-Hodgkin lymphoma or cancers of the endometrium, esophagus, stomach, kidney, ovary and pancreas.

Vitamin D is obtained by the body through exposure to sunlight, certain foods such as oily fish, fortified foods and nutritional supplements…

However, the researchers did find that people with high levels of vitamin D were more likely to develop pancreatic cancer. It's not clear if there's a cause-and-effect relationship, and the study authors called for more research to assess the possible association.

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Vitamin D Deficiency Confirmed as Common Across a Range of Rheumatic Conditions

(Science Daily) Two separate studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with a range of rheumatic diseases, with over half of all patients having below the 'normal' healthy levels of vitamin D (48-145 nmol/L) in their bodies. A further study assessing response to vitamin D supplementation found that taking the recommended daily dose did not normalise vitamin D levels in rheumatic disease patients…

"The results of our study show that daily 800-1,000 IU supplementation is not sufficient to normalise vitamin D levels in patients with rheumatologic or bone conditions. What is unclear is whether a higher dose would be more effective."

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients Face Double the Risk of Suffering Heart Attack, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients face a two-fold increased risk of suffering a Myocardial Infarction (MI, heart attack) versus the general population, which is comparable to the increased risk of MI seen in diabetes patients, according to results of a new study…

[Dr. Jesper Lindhardsen said,] "This study underlines the importance of … advocating early detection and management of cardiovascular risk factors, as well as providing sufficient RA treatment in order to reduce the significant burden associated with cardiovascular disease co-morbidity and mortality."

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FDA Panel Votes Against Approval of 'Female Viagra'

(HealthDay News) A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday unanimously agreed that a pill dubbed by some as a "female Viagra" did not show strong enough benefits to warrant approval.

Called flibanserin, the drug was aimed at premenopausal women with a diminished sex drive. It is related to the antidepressant family and affects serotonin and other chemicals in the brain. Drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim has been seeking FDA approval of the drug.

According to the Associated Press, the FDA advisers voted 11-0 that benefits linked to the pill did not outweigh side effects such as fainting spells, fatigue and depression.

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CVS/pharmacy offers free health screenings

(UPI) CVS/pharmacy is offering free health screenings in some locations in the Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey, Atlanta and Washington areas officials said.

The "To Your Health" program, which begins this weekend and continues throughout the summer, is part of efforts by CVS/pharmacy to improve access to preventive care in urban communities, the company said…

The full schedule of events through September is at www.toyourhealthusa.com or 888-604-0333.

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Healthy Gifts for Dad

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Father’s Day is just around the corner, and if you haven’t gotten Dad a gift already — there’s still time! Ties, coffee mugs, tools, and playing cards are thoughtful gifts, but why not resist the ordinary and choose a gift that encourages a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few Father’s Day gift ideas that Dad (and an uncle or grandpa too!) is sure to appreciate:

  • A trial membership to the local gym…
  • Golf or tennis lessons…
  • Grilling and barbecue set…
  • A healthy home-cooked meal…
  • Go on a special outing.

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Community: I don’t know about the gym membership. I got them and then never used them. If the objective is to get Dad out of the Barcalounger and doing something physical, it might work better to do the activity WITH him.

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Certain Proteins Extend Life Span in Worms by 30 Percent

(Science Daily) Researchers … have identified a new group of proteins involved in determining the life span of laboratory roundworms. Blocking the expression of one member of the group can extend the worm's life span by up to 30 percent. Because the proteins work in the worms' reproductive systems, the research represents yet another intriguing link between longevity and fertility…

"We've shown here that an epigenetic change can affect the life span of an organism," said Anne Brunet, PhD, assistant professor of genetics, "but only within the context of an intact reproductive system."…

"It makes a sort of sense that the reproductive system would be involved in life span, since that is really the only 'immortal' part of an organism," said Brunet. "In that context, the body is just the mortal envelope."

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Shared Opinions Light Up Brain's 'Reward Center'

(HealthDay News) Finding common ground with others often leads to a sense of satisfaction, and a new study suggests that the reason why is because the "reward" area of the brain is activated when people agree with our opinions.

A research team from England and Denmark used functional MRI scans to monitor activity in the ventral striatum area of the brain in 28 volunteers who listened to two experts' opinions about songs the participants liked. There was increased activity in the ventral striatum when the participant and the expert had a shared opinion, according to the report…

The researchers also found that most participants were likely to increase their positive opinion of a song if the experts also liked it, and lower their rating of a song if the experts didn't like it. This shift in opinion was reflected in ventral striatum activity.

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Community: Sadly, many people today are finding satisfaction in sharing opinions that may make them feel good, but are based on lies and/or bad science.

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Botox May Temporarily Paralyze Emotions, Too

(HealthDay News) For Botox users concerned that the muscle-paralyzing injections will rob their face of its ability to show emotion, a new study suggests that people injected with the toxin might end up with less strong emotion to display in the first place…

The study suggests that facial expressions themselves may influence emotional experiences through a kind of feedback loop. In short, Botox -- a toxin that weakens or paralyzes muscles -- not only changes one's appearance, but also appears to deaden real emotions.

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New Tobacco Regulations to Take Effect

(HealthDay News) As the first anniversary of the signing of the Tobacco Control Act approaches, several key provisions of the law that gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration the power to regulate tobacco products are set to take effect.

On June 22, new restrictions that include a ban on terms such as "light," "low" and "mild" in all advertising, packaging and marketing of cigarettes and smokeless tobacco products will be enacted, John R. Seffrin, CEO of the American Cancer Society, said during a Thursday afternoon news conference. In addition, packages and advertising of smokeless tobacco products will have new and larger warning labels. A similar rule for cigarettes will take effect in 18 months, Seffrin noted.

Also starting on June 22, tobacco companies will no longer be allowed to sponsor cultural and sporting events, distribute logo clothing, give away free samples or sell cigarettes in packages of less than 20 -- so called "kiddy packs."

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New Evidence That Smokeless Tobacco Damages DNA and Key Enzymes

(Science Daily) Far from having adverse effects limited to the mouth, smokeless tobacco affects the normal function of a key family of enzymes found in almost every organ in the body, according to the first report on the topic…

The enzymes play important roles in production of hormones, including the sex hormones estrogen and testosterone; production of cholesterol and vitamin D; and help the body breakdown prescription drugs and potentially toxic substances. Smokeless tobacco also damages genetic material in the liver, kidney and lungs.

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Keep Your Colon Healthy with This Main Course

(RealAge.com) To dodge colon cancer, make sure your dinner plate has plenty of room for fish.

Research suggests that the polyunsaturated fats in our fine finned friends may provide a mighty nice buffer against colon cancer…

Why are omega-3 fatty acids in fish such strong adversaries against colon cancer? Both lab and animal studies suggest omega-3s may curb the birth of new cancer cells, hinder tumor growth, and inhibit the spread of tumor cells to other parts of the body. Try these other gut protectors, too:

Go blue. Discover how this popular blue fruit cools cancer-causing gut inflammation.

Fill up on flavonols. Here's a … party platter that's loaded with them.

Screen like you mean it. A regular colonoscopy could help save your life.

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Blueberry Ameliorates Hepatic Fibrosis, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Conventional drugs used in the treatment of liver diseases inevitably have side effects. An increasing number of natural substances have been studied to explore if they have protective effects on the liver. Blueberries have unique effects on human retinal, brain and tumor cells, but reports about the effects of blueberries on liver diseases are lacking…

[But a new] study showed that blueberries could reduce liver indices…

The authors suggest that blueberry consumption is beneficial for hepatic diseases (including fibrosis).

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More dioxins found in Taiwan free-range eggs: study

(Reuters) A study has found that eggs from free-range chickens in industrialized Taiwan contain almost six times more cancer-causing dioxins than eggs from caged chickens.

"Because free-range hens spend most of their lives in an outside environment, they have a better chance of being exposed to contaminants from the environment," wrote researchers led by Pao-Chi Liao…

Dioxin levels in the free-range eggs were on average 5.7 times higher than those in caged hens, they found.

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MyRecipes.com

Simple Seared Scallops
These sea scallops are crisp and glazed outside, then seared to keep tender and moist inside. For a simple meal, serve with orzo tossed with chopped tomato, feta cheese, basil, salt, and black pepper.

Crowd-Pleasing Hot Dogs

Fabulous Fruit on the Grill

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Iodine Levels a Worry as Salt Use Declines

(HealthDay News) As Americans decrease their salt consumption, thyroid experts worry that some may obtain too little iodine.

"Iodized salt is an important source of dietary iodine in the U.S. and worldwide. Iodine, essential for the synthesis of thyroid hormones, is obtained solely through diet," several members of the American Thyroid Association wrote…

While they agree with calls for reduced salt consumption in order to improve heart health, the ATA members "recommend that all producers of commercially prepared foods -- accounting for up to 70 percent of all salt consumed in the U.S. -- use iodized salt, a step not currently practiced by commercial food manufacturers. Any decrease in salt intake should not cause a reduction in dietary iodine intake."

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Stomach Bacteria Might Trigger Rheumatoid Arthritis

(HealthDay News) In early experiments with mice, scientists have found a bacteria living in the gut may trigger an immune response that can result in rheumatoid arthritis…

While these experiments in mice are still preliminary, and animal studies often fail to produce similar results in humans, the findings could lead to a new way of looking at autoimmune diseases and might even result in new ways to treat or prevent them.

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New Complication Seen in Stem Cell Therapy: Stem Cell Recipient Developed Mysterious Masses at Injection Sites

(Science Daily) Following stem cell therapy, an adult patient experienced a new and previously unrecognized complication, which required removal of one of the kidneys, according to a case report… The report suggests that stem cell therapy may cause patients to develop blood vessel and bone marrow masses, the long term effects of which are unknown.

Stem cell therapy holds great clinical potential for a variety of diseases. Therapy using stem cells from the blood has generally been viewed as safe, and researchers have planned clinical trials to expand this type of therapy to treat different conditions.

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Painkiller may kill cancer cells

(UPI) A painkiller may be capable of causing cancer cells to kill themselves, U.S. researchers suggest.

[They] say the link between taking anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin and lower incidences of some types of cancer led them to determine how one anti-inflammatory used to treat pain and fever -- called Sulindac [Merck’s Clinoril] -- could initiate cell death, apoptosis, in cancer cells.

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Pain drugs abuse requires urgent action: CDC

(Reuters) Emergency room visits tied to the abuse of prescription painkillers have jumped 111 percent over a five-year period, an alarming increase that threatens the American public health system, U.S. government researchers said on Thursday…

"We urgently need to take action," CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said in a statement, noting that trips to the emergency department for nonmedical use of prescription pain drugs are now as common as those for use of illicit drugs.

"These prescriptions medicines help many people, but we need to be sure they are used properly and safely."

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Kathy Myers Shot Herself to Get Medical Care

(AP/CBS) Uninsured and too broke to pay for medical care to treat her painful shoulder injury, a Niles, Mich., woman shot herself in the same shoulder and went to the E.R. in hopes of obtaining free medical care.

By law, hospitals must treat emergency patients even if they don't have insurance…

But her plan didn't work out quite the way she had hoped. Last Thursday doctors treated the bullet wound, but instead of fixing her injured shoulder, they gave her some antiinflammatory drugs and sent her home…

And her problems may only be increasing. Besides being in even greater pain, Myers might have to go before a judge to face a charge of firing a weapon within city limits.

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World Cup Matches Might Boost Your Mental Health

(HealthDay News) If you can't wait to watch the U.S. soccer team take on Slovenia in its next World Cup match on Friday, know that being an avid sports fan may be more than just a lot of fun.

Scientists have shown that fans who feel personally invested in a team or, better yet, who attend games and cheer along with like-minded fans, reap the mental health benefits that come from a feeling of social connectedness.

"The main thing that people achieve via sports fanship is a sense of belongingness, or connectedness, with others," said Edward Hirt, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at Indiana University. "Sharing a common allegiance with others bonds people together in a special way. We can relate to others who share fanship with our team and feel a camaraderie with them that transcends ourselves."

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Community: I never caught that particular fever.

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Get sunglasses that protect eyes

(UPI) A U.S. professor of optometry suggests gray lenses for sunglasses allow for more natural color vision and reduce light intensity.

However, Dr. Jan Bergmanson of the University of Houston, who is also founding director of the Texas Eye Research and Technology Center, says brown or amber lenses are recommended for athletes and the visually impaired, who desire contrast.

Color or lens density are not what protect the eye from sun damage. The degree of darkness, may have little or no effect, Bergmanson says, on what is important -- ultraviolet radiation filtering capabilities…

Any lens claiming to provide UVR protection, Bermanson says, must at least meet the Class 2 standard.

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'Graying' of Drug Users at U.S. Treatment Centers

(HealthDay News) Among Americans aged 50 and older, admissions for drug abuse treatment have nearly doubled between 1992 and 2008, a new study reveals…

"The Administration on Aging supports healthy aging," Kathy Greenlee, the agency's assistant secretary, said in the same release. "A critical aspect of senior health is the ability to be free of alcohol and drug addiction. It is troubling, therefore, to see an increasing number of older Americans struggling with substance abuse. This is a trend we must address for the benefit of each individual now as well as a generation of baby boomers on the doorstep of old age."

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Symptoms of 'Male Menopause' Unzipped

(Science Daily) Scientists have for the first time identified the symptoms associated with what has been termed late-onset hypogonadism or 'male menopause' caused by a reduction in testosterone production in aging men.

But the researchers say that unlike the female menopause, which affects all women, the male menopause is relatively rare, affecting only 2% of elderly men, and is often linked to poor general health and obesity.

The findings … should provide new guidance to physicians prescribing male testosterone therapy.

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More Americans exercise, but they are still obese

(Reuters) More Americans are exercising but rates of obesity and smoking have not changed, according to the latest government data.

A survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released on Wednesday finds obesity rates were frozen last year at around 28 percent of adults compared to 2008.

But 34.7 percent claimed in 2009 they engage in regular leisure physical activity, up from 31.9 percent in 2008…

Health experts and the U.S. government both recommend getting daily exercise -- about an hour a day of moderate exercise for most adults -- to keep weight off and prevent heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Read more.

Community: But even less exercise than this recommendation can make us healthier. The important thing is to get SOME exercise.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Father's Day Cookout
Thrill Dad with a backyard grilling menu that's sure to get him all fired up.

"Guy Foods" Lightened
By making just a few small tweaks, you (and your man) can savor every bite of his favorite foods to the fullest.

Lighter Key Lime Tart
111 fewer calories, 70% less fat. 100% of the cool, tart creaminess of this classic summer dessert.

MyRecipes.com:

Mozzarella Chicken Sandwich
This sandwich provides two grain servings from the ciabatta, a little more than two servings of meat from the chicken, and half a dairy serving from the cheese. Serve with orange wedges and baked chips.

10 Super-Cheap Chicken Recipes

Awesome Avocados

Beef, Cheese, and Noodle Bake

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Eating eggs doesn't seem to up diabetes risk

(Reuters Health) An egg a day for breakfast probably won't increase your likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes, according to a new study…

While eggs are a key source of dietary cholesterol, they also contain a number of other potentially beneficial nutrients, Dr. Luc Djousse … and colleagues point out…

"Because eggs could serve as a readily available and inexpensive source for vitamins, proteins and other nutrients in the United States," they add, "it is important" to figure out the net effects of egg consumption as a whole food on type 2 diabetes risk.

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Why Some Like Things Salty

(HealthDay News) Low-salt chips taste fine to some people but are tasteless to others, and researchers report this is because your genes prime you to like a little or a lot of salt…

[Study author John] Hayes says their research is important because the food industry is attempting to reduce salt content in certain foods because of health concerns. Studies have shown that diets high in salt boost the risk of heart attack and stroke, although the salt industry disputes these findings…

The researchers also found that "supertasters, people who experience tastes more intensely, consume more salt than do nontasters," he said. "Snack foods have saltiness as their primary flavor, and at least for these foods, more is better, so the supertasters seem to like them more."

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Community: But tastes can change. Fruit didn’t taste sweet to me until I stopped eating so much refined sugar. And I never really tasted nuts until I started eating them without tons of salt on them.

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Apple Juice Improves Behavior but Not Cognition in Alzheimer's Patients, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Apple juice can be a useful supplement for calming the declining moods that are part of the normal progression of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to a study…

[A]fter institutionalized AD patients consumed two 4-oz glasses of apple juice a day for a month, their caregivers reported no change in the patients' Dementia Rating Scale or their day-to-day abilities. What did change, however, was the behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with their dementia (as quantified by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory), with approximately 27% improvement, mostly in the areas related to anxiety, agitation, and delusion.

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Women Who Choose Boiled Coffee Run Lower Risk of Breast Cancer, Swedish Study Finds

(Science Daily) Women who drink Scandinavian boiled coffee, which chemically resembles French press and Turkish/Greek coffee, more than four times a day run a lower risk of developing breast cancer than women who drink coffee less than once a day…

A major difference between boiled and filtered coffee is that the boiled version contains up to 80 times as much coffee-specific fatty acids. These fatty acids have previously been shown in animal experiments to inhibit the growth of cancer.

Read more.

Community: That’s LOT of coffee. I don’t think I’d ever sleep.

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Substance in Broccoli Supports Cancer Therapy, Study Finds

(Science Daily) The new cancer medication sorafenib looks promising. Sorafenib is used for advanced liver and kidney cancer and also appears to be effective against cancer stem cells in pancreatic cancer. A team … tested the new substance in mice and pancreatic cancer cells. It inhibits resistant tumor stem cells and is also especially effective in combination with sulforaphane, an organic compound found in broccoli…

The combination treatment reinforces the effect of sorafenib without causing additional side effects. The invasive potential of cancer cells was prevented -- metastasis was completely blocked in cell culture experiments.

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Altered Virus Becomes Medicine

(Science Daily) Dutch researchers Roeland Nolte and Jeroen Cornelissen have successfully converted a virus into a unique drug distributor. They removed all of the dangerous material from the virus so that empty, semipermeable particles remained. They subsequently joined these particles together, yet even more important: they also succeeded in separating them again -- a world first. With this discovery the researchers have blazed a trail for a new use of drugs…

The empty particle can be used in many ways. For example, it can be filled with drugs or growth promoters. After injection into the body you can use a pulse of light to ensure that the complex separates at a specific location, from which the drug can gradually spread. In addition to their use as drug distributors, virus complexes can also be used to construct chips. Then instead of drugs, a viral particle is filled with magnetic particles to make an integrated electronic switch. The researchers will now attempt to apply layers of polymer virus complexes of different compositions to a surface and then, just like for conventional chips, use light to make patterns and structures in this.

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Topical Treatments Provide Effective Local Pain Relief, Review Finds

(Science Daily) Gels, creams and sprays containing painkillers such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, ketoprofen, and piroxicam are safe and effective treatments for local pain, according to Cochrane Researchers. A new systematic review they have conducted shows that topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are more effective than placebos for treating short-term pain and have few side effects…

Topical NSAIDs are considered to pose less risk of adverse effects than oral drugs of the same type because they are rubbed into the skin and therefore do not reach high concentrations in the blood.

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Brain Circuitry May Develop Through Adulthood

(HealthDay News) The brain's wiring isn't fixed in early life, and circuits in the adult brain are continually modified by experience, suggests a new study involving mice…

"We are just beginning to tease apart the mechanisms of adult cortical plasticity," team leader Charles D. Gilbert.

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Community: You can, indeed, teach an old dog new tricks. But the dog, like the light bulb, has to WANT to learn.

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In U.S., 15 percent lack health insurance: survey

(Reuters) A U.S. healthcare overhaul passed in March would allow young adults to stay on their parents' plans longer and would require more Americans to buy health insurance.

Once fully implemented in 2014, the U.S. government projects, the new law will expand insurance coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.

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Community: But I really believe that forcing Americans to pay for private insurance company profits is going to be a big black eye for the Democrats.

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The happiness-health connection

(Harvard HEALTHbeat) Want to improve your health? Start by focusing on the things that bring you happiness. There is some scientific evidence that positive emotions can help make your life longer and healthier.

But to produce good health, positive emotions may need to be long term. In other words, thinking positive thoughts for a month when you already have heart disease won’t cure the disease. But lowering your stress levels over a period of years with a positive outlook and relaxation techniques could reduce your risk of heart problems.

In an early phase of positive psychology research, University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman and Christopher Peterson of the University of Michigan chose three pathways to examine:

  • Feeling good. Seeking pleasurable emotions and sensations…
  • Engaging fully. Pursuing activities that engage you fully…
  • Doing good. Searching for meaning outside yourself.

Through focus groups and testing hundreds of volunteers, they found that each of these pathways individually contributes to life satisfaction…

People tend to be poor judges of what will make them happy. While most people say they want to be happy, they often believe in myths or carry assumptions that actually get in the way. Here are some widely held myths about what will bring happiness:

  • Money and material things. The question of whether money can buy happiness has, for more than 30 years, been addressed by the “Easterlin paradox,” a concept developed by economist Richard Easterlin. His research showed that people in poor countries are happier when their basic necessities are covered. But any money beyond that doesn’t make much difference in happiness level…
  • Youth. Being young and physically attractive has little or no bearing on happiness.
  • Children. Children can be a tremendous source of joy and fulfillment, but their day-to-day care is quite demanding and can increase stress, financial pressures, and marital strife.

Read more.

Community: As with anything else, the three pathways described above can be overdone.

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Tip of the Week: Go to bed when you are tired!

(Shrink Yourself) Sleep is one of the best diet aids out there. Overeating often happens out of exhaustion as opposed to lack of willpower. Getting too little sleep can cause you to gain weight and keep it on…

So many of us have eaten too much for too long and now we can't tell when we're biologically hungry. Similarly, many of us have stopped being able to detect when we're exhausted. In order to push past the tiredness and keep our motors running we overeat or binge. Getting too little sleep also produces hormones that make us hold onto extra weight. In other words, a little extra shut eye will prevent you from consuming late night calories and will also physically help your body to keep weight off. Not to mention when you're well rested you can handle the stressors of life more efficiently and won't turn to food as an escape nearly as much.

Take notice when you're over tired and what you do about it. Ask yourself what it would take to grant yourself permission to go to bed.

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Community: HALT is an acronym in the 12-Step programs. It means never get Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired, because we make such bad decisions when we are in any of those states.

But as the good doctor says above, the important thing is to recognize the conditions when they inevitably occur, and do something about them. Immediately.

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Pollution linked to sleep problems

(UPI) U.S. researchers have linked air pollution and sleep-disordered breathing -- a known cause of heart disease…

"Particles may influence sleep through effects on the central nervous system, as well as the upper airways," [Antonella] Zanobetti said in a statement. "Poor sleep may disproportionately afflict poor urban populations. Our findings suggest that one mechanism for poor sleep and sleep health disparities may relate to environmental pollution levels."

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Molecule results in more stress for women

(UPI) A protein that binds stress signals more effectively in females may result in women having a higher sensitivity to stress, U.S. researchers said.

Rita Valentino… and colleagues say the gender-specific difference in the stress signaling response of rats may be the cause of females being more sensitive to stress hormones and less able to adapt to them than males.

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Community: But again, biology doesn’t have to be destiny. This finding only means that women have to be more careful than men to practice a lifestyle that minimizes and/or dissipates stress.

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Obesity May Harm Your Sexual Health, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Being obese impacts on sexual health, according to research…

The study reports that the rate of unplanned pregnancies is four times higher among single obese women than normal weight women, despite them being less likely to have been sexually active in the past year. Obese women are less likely to seek contraceptive advice or to use oral contraceptives. Obese men have fewer sexual partners in a 12 month period, but are more likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction and develop sexually transmitted infections than normal weight men.

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