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

Should I Pick Up the Pace?

(Arthur Agatston, MD, Everyday Health) Recently, I've begun recommending what's known as interval walking to many of my patients. With interval walking, you alternate between short bursts of intensive effort and easier recovery periods, as opposed to walking at a steady, continuous, and potentially monotonous pace. In fact, studies show that you can get better results in 20 minutes of interval exercise than you would in an hour of steady-state exercise. And you can apply the principles of interval walking to a treadmill or elliptical trainer, to biking or swimming, or even to doing jumping jacks in your living room…

I recommend that you do interval walking every other day, alternating it with some core-strengthening exercises. Not only will this type of walking improve your cardiovascular health, it will boost your metabolism so you burn more calories and fat, and that translates into faster weight loss.

Interval training is not only for the very fit. It works just as well for people who are less fit, and is even being used to help cardiac patients and people with lung disease get back in shape. That said, I do recommend that you talk with your doctor before embarking on this or any other exercise program.

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Community: I prefer to do the same exercises every day, and when I walk, I do it at the same pace—except when I stop to pet a dog or give a peanut to a squirrel. I do what I like to do, and that makes me more likely to exercise consistently. And although consistency may be the hobgoblin of small minds, it’s also the molder of smaller bodies.

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Doctor: To avoid golf pain get swing coach

(UPI) A U.S. physician suggests core strengthening exercise and a swing coach to help prevent pain from playing golf…

To avoid injury, [Dr. Jon-David] Hoppenfeld suggests golfers warm up and stretch before starting play. However, he says, combined with core strengthening, one of the more obvious ways to help prevent injury is to arrange for a lesson from a professional.

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'Mind-body' therapy shows promise for fibromyalgia

(Reuters Health) A form of 'mind-body' therapy that focuses on the role of emotions in physical pain may offer some relief to people with fibromyalgia, a small clinical trial suggests.

The study, of 45 women with fibromyalgia, found that those who learned a technique called "affective self-awareness" were more likely to show a significant reduction in their pain over six months…

The therapy involves an educational component where patients learn about the emotion-pain connection. They learn specific techniques -- including mindfulness meditation and "expressive" writing -- for recognizing and dealing with the emotions that may be contributing to their pain. Patients are also encouraged to get back to any exercise or other activities that they have been avoiding due to pain.

[The research] team found that six months later, 46 percent of the treatment group had at least a 30-percent reduction in their pain ratings compared with scores at the outset. And 21 percent had a 50-percent or greater reduction.

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Don't let food poisoning ruin picnic

(UPI) The food borne illness Salmonella can occur at any time of the year, but it can be most prevalent during hot-weather holiday picnics, a U.S. professor says.

[Dr. Kurt] Kleinschmidt says to outsmart this germ:

-- Refrigerate or freeze perishables immediately and cook food to recommended temperatures in order to kill bacteria.

-- Wash hands in hot, soapy water for at least 20 seconds before preparing, serving or eating food.

-- Thoroughly wash plates, utensils, cutting boards and countertops after contact with raw meat.

-- Avoid leaving food standing for long periods of time.

"Just be smart about how you buy, store, prepare and serve food, and you'll reduce the risk of food borne illnesses," Kleinschmidt says.

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The Word on Watermelon

(SouthBeachDiet.com) At picnics, barbecues, fairs, and farm stands, this juicy melon makes a great treat — whether it's tossed in a fruit salad or eaten right off the rind….

Watermelons are a good source of beta-carotene and vitamin C. Keep in mind that watermelon … may cause a rapid rise in blood sugar, which can lead to cravings. Therefore, it's best to avoid watermelon until you've reached your target weight and have acclimated to your new lifestyle. And when you reintroduce a little watermelon…, be sure to monitor your body’s response to see whether any cravings return.

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Community: Watermelon is also an aphrodisiac.

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MyRecipes.com

Honey-Chipotle Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches
This recipe yields slow-cooked barbecue flavor in less than an hour. The sandwiches need to be broiled at the last minute, but the rest of the menu can be made ahead of time.

5 to Try: Goat Cheese Surprises

7 Ways With Rotisserie Chicken

Stir-Fry for Top Flavor
A hint of oil is all you need to cook an Asian-inspired main dish in minutes.

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Will you lose more pounds at a bigger diet center?

(Reuters Health) Weight loss loves company, hints new research…

Taking into account age, initial body mass index (a measure of weight in relation to height) and sex, the researchers found that 10 more participants at a center translated into a modest half a percent climb in weight loss for the average person at that center. An average 200-pound woman, for example, would have dropped one extra pound over those 2 months.

The idea to investigate such a link came to the team of Danish and Belgian researchers after they noticed the relative performance of weight loss, or bariatric, surgeons. Those who have more experience, they write in the journal Obesity, tend to provide safer and more effective treatments.

Weight loss center size may reflect quality of care in a similar way, [Dr. Arne] Astrup told Reuters Health by email. He noted that investigators, study coordinators and dieticians working at weight loss centers serving large numbers of participants would tend to be more experienced than those at smaller centers…

The researchers, too, point to other possible explanations for their preliminary findings. A larger center may have a larger pool of subjects, for example, allowing them to recruit more highly motivated individuals than smaller centers.

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Complications Shorten Stroke Patients' Lives

(HealthDay News) Complications from stroke, such as pneumonia or a secondary stroke, can shorten the lives of patients by an average of two years, researchers report…

And about 34 percent of patients suffered some type of complication within four weeks of their stroke. This included stroke progression, pneumonia, urinary tract infection, an additional stroke, seizures or heart attack, the researchers explained…

The best way to prevent loss of healthy years is to prevent stroke in the first place, [Dr. Steven R.] Levine said. Stroke remains the leading cause of disability in the United States and the third leading cause of death, he noted.

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Community: The National Stroke Association tells us how to prevent strokes.

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Testosterone may not help memory after menopause

(Reuters Health) Researchers have wondered whether replacing the small amount of testosterone women stop producing after having hysterectomies could improve the memory loss many postmenopausal women experience. But testosterone treatment may not improve women's memory skills after such surgeries, according to a new study, suggesting that it may not help other women after menopause either.

Women who took estrogen and testosterone after having surgery to remove their ovaries and uteruses did worse on one memory test, and no differently on others, than women who took estrogen alone.

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Brain Stem Cells Need Their Rest, Too

(Science Daily) Stem cells in the brain remain dormant until called upon to divide and make more neurons. However, little has been known about the molecular guards that keep them quiet. Now scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified the signal that prevents stem cells from proliferating, protecting the brain against too much cell division and ensuring a pool of neural stem cells that lasts a lifetime…

Adult neural stem cells in the hippocampus -- a memory hub of the brain -- sprout new brain cells throughout life. This particular area of the brain, one of only two for which neurogenesis has been clearly shown, is particularly vulnerable to age-related degeneration. Regular physical exercise not only slows the shrinking of aging hippocampi but also improves learning and memory in mature adults.

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Stem-Cell Therapy May Provide New Approach to Fight Infection

(Science Daily) A new study from researchers in Ottawa and Toronto suggests that a commonly used type of bone marrow stem cell may be able to help treat sepsis, a deadly condition that can occur when an infection spreads throughout the body. The study … shows that these cells can triple survival rates in an experimental model of sepsis.

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Frozen blood a source of stem cells, study finds

(Reuters) Frozen blood from stored samples can be used to make cells resembling stem cells, researchers said on Thursday -- opening a potential new and easier source for the valued cells…

They used cells from blood to make induced pluripotent stem cells or iPS cells -- lab-made cells that closely resemble human embryonic stem cells but are made from ordinary tissue.

These iPS cells have in the past been made from plugs of skin, but blood is much easier to take from people and to store, the researchers reported.

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Stem Cell Scientist Leads Effort to Prevent Fraudulent Treatment

(Science Daily) Leading stem cell researchers from institutions around the world are issuing warnings about unproven stem cell therapies being marketed on the Internet and have launched a website to educate and protect patients seeking such treatments. Often conducted outside of the United States, most of these therapies have little or no benefit -- and can be dangerous as well as costly.

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Minnesota Smoking Bans Didn't Lead to Job Loss

(HealthDay News) Smoking bans in Minnesota's Twin Cities did not lead to job losses at bars and may actually have helped create more jobs at restaurants, a new study finds…

The researchers said their findings disprove critics' claims that smoking bans lead to worker layoffs, loss of customers and business closures in the hospitality industry, especially in bars.

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Tanning tax goes into effect

(UPI) A 10 percent tax on tanning salon services has taken effect, with Florida salon owners saying they are angry over both the idea and the timing of it.

Many tanning salon owners say the federal tax was placed on them without warning and will hurt business in an already depressed economy, Florida Today reported Friday.

The "vanity tax" debated in Congress originally called for a 5 percent levy on cosmetic procedures such as Botox injections and breast implants and 5 percent tax on tanning salons. When it passed Dec. 24, tanning salons ended up carrying the full burden of the tax at 10 percent, with the cosmetic industry coming out tax-free, the publication said.

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Study: 10,000 fireworks injuries avoidable

(UPI) Eleven deaths were reported and nearly 10,000 people were injured by fireworks 2006, the latest available government figures indicate, a U.S. researcher says…

"Fireworks are basically explosives and all are capable of causing severe injuries, but even minor injuries can cause significant disability when it comes to sight and hand function."

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Money Can't Buy You Joy

(HealthDay News) More money may improve people's satisfaction with life, but it won't necessarily help them enjoy it, suggests a new study…

Like other studies have found, the analysis revealed that life satisfaction -- the belief that your life is going well -- increases as income increases, individually and in the country overall. But researchers also found that although overall positive feelings increased somewhat along with rising income, these feelings were much more strongly linked with other factors, such as feeling respected, enjoying autonomy and social support from friends and family and having a fulfilling job.

"The public always wonders: Does money make you happy? This study shows that it all depends on how you define happiness because, if you look at life satisfaction, how you evaluate your life as a whole, you see a pretty strong correlation around the world between income and happiness," Ed Diener, a senior scientist with the Gallup Organization and a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Illinois, said in a university news release. "On the other hand, it's pretty shocking how small the correlation is with positive feelings and enjoying yourself."

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Community: I think I could REALLY enjoy myself if I had plenty of money.

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Write list of things to do before sleeping

(UPI) People write down their things-to-do list before going to sleep carry out their intentions better, U.S. researchers said…

The study ... showed sleep strengthens prospective memory -- things people intend to do such as remembering to buy a birthday card.

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Scientists Spot Gene Variants That Predict Longevity

(HealthDay News) Scientists have grouped together a series of genetic variants that can predict with 77 percent accuracy whether or not a person will live to 100 years of age…

"I think a lot of study needs to be done as to what guidance physicians and health-care providers can give to individuals as to what they do with this information," [study author Dr. Thomas] Perls said. In particular, there could be implications from an insurance point of view.

Twenty-three percent of people who didn't have one of these genetic signatures went on to live to 100, he pointed out, and having bad genes doesn't mean you don't have other good genes that would trump them.

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Community: Surely lifestyle choices, not just genetics, play a part in the longevity of the other 23%.

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Qigong, Tai Chi may help health

(UPI) A U.S. review indicates Tai Chi and Qigong bring significant health benefits among older adults, researchers say…

Linda Larkey of Arizona State University reports there is strong evidence the two interventions offer help for physical function, bone health, heart improvement, lung function improvement and fall prevention, in addition to psychological and quality-of-life benefits.

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High Fructose Diet May Contribute to High Blood Pressure, Study Finds

(Science Daily) People who eat a diet high in fructose, in the form of added sugar, are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure, or hypertension, according to a study… The results suggest that cutting back on foods and beverages containing a lot of fructose (sugar) might decrease one's risk of developing hypertension…

Over the past century, a dramatic increase in the consumption of this simple sugar, which is used to sweeten a wide variety of processed foods, mirrors the dramatic rise in the prevalence of hypertension.

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War on cancer won't be won in the produce aisle

(Harvard Health Letter) [I]n 1990 the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended that people eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables (about 14 ounces worth) to prevent cancer and other chronic diseases…

But since those salad days, study findings have been chipping away at the notion that fruit and vegetable consumption protects against cancer…

[S]tudy results reported … in April 2010 [concluded that] fruit and vegetable intake has a very small effect on cancer risk…

[But cancer] isn't the only foe, and there's good evidence from reliable studies (not just case-control comparisons) that eating fruits and vegetables lowers the risk of having a heart attack, stroke, and some other forms of cardiovascular disease. A large Harvard study found a 30% difference in cardiovascular risk between high and low fruit and vegetable intake.

Nor is it time to give up cancer prevention. We can choose not to smoke — and quit if we do. We can work to stay slim: being overweight is associated with a higher risk for many cancers. In fact, by some measures, extra heaviness now accounts for about the same number of cancers as active smoking. And we can exercise. Physical activity is associated with lower risk of several important cancers.

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Recipes

SouthBeachDiet.com:

Healthy Barbecue Dishes
Planning a Fourth of July barbecue and want to serve South Beach Diet–friendly fare? Well, we’re here to help! Grilling is one of the healthiest cooking techniques, and it makes it easy to stick to your eating plan. From burgers and dogs to grilled veggies and fruits, we’ve given you some great ideas, along with some classic summer-salad makeovers. Check out our healthy barbecue swaps.

How to Prepare Homemade Condiments
Think fast: What is your favorite condiment? If it’s ketchup or barbecue sauce, you’re in luck, since you can easily create your own … versions of these often sugary add-ons.

MyRecipes.com:

Grilled Pork Chops with Two-Melon Salsa
Cover this quick and easy grilled pork recipe with a tasty salsa that uses summer's freshest fruits and flavors to round out the meal.

Independence Day Menus

Enticing Indian Chicken

7 Ways With Vinegar

Grilled Chicken–Hot Off the Coals
Spice up grilled chicken with homemade rubs and sauces for a memorable warm weather meal.

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Acupuncture Improves Exercise Tolerance in Heart Patients, German Study Finds

(Science Daily) Acupuncture can improve exercise tolerance in patients suffering from chronic heart failure, according to new research from Germany…

The needles do not increase the heart's pump function, but they seem to have an influence on skeletal muscle strength and thus can increase the walk distance that heart patients can cover.

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New Drug Restores Hearing After Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in Rats

(Science Daily) Researchers … have discovered that a potent new drug restores hearing after noise-induced hearing loss in rats. The landmark discovery found that injection of an agent called 'ADAC', activates adenosine receptors in cochlear tissues, resulting in recovery of hearing function.

The finding paves the way for effective non-surgical therapies to restore hearing loss after noise-induced injury.

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Antibiotic May Up Risk of Dangerous Potassium Levels in Seniors

(HealthDay News) A new study warns that seniors who take a common antibiotic combination for urinary tract infections are at increased risk of developing potentially life-threatening high potassium levels…

The patients who were most likely to develop the hazardous potassium levels, known as hyperkalemia, took the widely prescribed antibiotic TMP-SMX (a combination of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole).

"Hyperkalemia is a potentially deadly adverse drug reaction," Dr. Matthew A. Weir … said in a news release… "TMP-SMX can decrease the kidney's ability to remove potassium from the body." Since potassium plays a key role in regulating heartbeat, he said, abnormally high levels of potassium "can cause fatal disturbances in the heart rhythm."

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Community: Low levels of potassium can also cause disturbances in heart rhythm. I take a potassium supplement to keep my heart from having fluttering spells.

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Black Cancer Patients Twice as Likely to Die From Disease

(HealthDay News) Black cancer patients in the United States are up to two times more likely to die prematurely from their disease than patients of other races -- a disparity linked to factors that include patients, doctors and hospitals, a new review from the University of Michigan shows…

The researchers said three factors appear to play a role in these disparities: black patients are often diagnosed with more advanced cancer and are more likely to have other underlying health problems; black patients are less likely to be advised about cancer screenings and less likely to receive surgery or chemotherapy; and hospitals that mostly treat black patients tend to have fewer resources and offer lower quality care…

[Dr. Arden] Morris and colleagues recommended a number of policy changes, including expansion of public insurance systems to make cancer care more affordable for patients and changes to pay-for-performance programs for hospitals that meet certain standards.

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Tibetan Adaptation to High Altitude Occurred in Less Than 3,000 Years

(Science Daily) Tibetans have mutations in numerous genes related to how the body uses oxygen. A comparison of the genomes of 50 Tibetans and 40 Han Chinese shows that ethnic Tibetans split off from the Han less than 3,000 years ago and since then rapidly evolved a unique ability to thrive at high altitudes and low oxygen levels.

"This is the fastest genetic change ever observed in humans," said Rasmus Nielsen, UC Berkeley professor of integrative biology, who led the statistical analysis. "For such a very strong change, a lot of people would have had to die simply due to the fact that they had the wrong version of a gene."

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Killer Whales and the Mystery of Human Menopause

(Science Daily) The evolutionary mystery of menopause is a step closer to being solved thanks to research on killer whales.

A study by the Universities of Exeter and Cambridge has found a link between killer whales, pilot whales and humans -- the only three known species where females stop breeding relatively early in their lifespan.

Despite very different social structures between the three species, the research shows that in each case females become increasingly genetically related to those they live with as they get older. Because of this, there is a motivation for older females to do what is best for the survival of those around them.

This creates a 'grandmother' role, where the success rate of breeding in the group can be helped by older females sharing parenting knowledge and stopping breeding to allow younger females easier access to resources.

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Fourth of July most dangerous driving day

(UPI) The vast majority of U.S. adults say winter is the most dangerous time for driving but the Fourth of July weekend is the deadliest time, a survey indicates…

"Americans' sense of seasonal driving risk is skewed," research director Tom Horan says in a statement. "We are wary of winter driving, but let our guard down during summer holidays, when fatalities are most likely to occur."…

To help drivers plan safer trips, the Center for Excellence in Rural Safety created SafeRoadMaps, a Google Maps-based system that allows visitors to saferoadmaps.org to enter a Zip code, municipality name or street address and see a map or satellite image all of the road fatalities that have occurred in the chosen area over the past eight years.

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PSA Test Does Cut Prostate Cancer Deaths, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) Adding to the ongoing debate on the usefulness of the prostate-specific antigen (PSA) blood test for prostate cancer, new research from Sweden finds the screen cuts lives lost to the disease by almost half…

Over 14 years of follow-up, deaths from prostate cancer dropped by 44 percent among the screened men, compared with unscreened men, the researchers found…

Moreover, the risk of over-diagnosis was less than previously thought, with just 12 men needed to be diagnosed to save one life. However, since the benefit of PSA screening requires at least 10 years to be borne out, it still seems questionable to test PSA for men over 70, the researchers noted.

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Testosterone gel linked to heart problems

(Reuters) Testosterone treatments may build muscle mass in older men, but they may carry a risk of heart problems in people with poor mobility, U.S. researchers said on Wednesday.

The Massachusetts study … was halted after six months because the men using a hormone gel were developing so many heart, breathing and skin problems compared to patients applying a placebo gel to their shoulders or upper arms every day.

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Study: Cycling healthier for all

(UPI) Dutch researchers found cycling is healthier than driving, despite the increased risk of a cyclist's injury and exposure to car exhaust.

The study … suggested not only does the health of the individual cyclist improve as he or she drives less and exercises more, the resulting reduction in exhaust emissions benefit the whole community.

"The promotion of walking and cycling is a promising way to increase physical activity across the population by integrating it into daily life," the study authors said in a statement.

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Sleep Seems to Fuel Energy Surge in Rats' Brains

(HealthDay News) Brain energy may replenish itself during sleep, a new study suggests.

Experiments with rats revealed that during the initial stages of sleep there is a dramatic increase in cellular energy levels in brain regions that are active during waking hours. The findings suggest that this energy boost reinvigorates brain processes that are required for normal functioning while awake…

The findings suggest that a certain amount of sleep is necessary for an ATP surge, which may power restorative processes in the brain, the researchers said.

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Pain Foundation releases back pain guide

(UPI) Increased travel, sports and gardening in summer can increase back pain but a guide helps those in pain find relief, a U.S. non-profit group says.

The "Spotlight on Back Pain" guide at www.spotlightonbackpain.org contains articles, worksheets and tips about preventing and managing back pain.

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Key Mechanism Links Virgin Olive Oil to Protection Against Breast Cancer

(Science Daily) Researchers at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, led by Dr Eduard Escrich, have discovered a key mechanism by which virgin olive oil, in contrast to other vegetable oils, protects the body against breast cancer…

The study carried out by UAB researchers decoded the mechanisms operating within the tumour cell and induced by the intake of olive oil, in comparison to those activated by corn oil, rich in n-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which increase the aggressiveness of tumours…

Another result obtained by researchers is the protection of DNA in the cell nucleus. Cells from animals fed a diet rich in virgin olive oil contained less DNA lesions than those fed a control diet.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Fourth of July Menus
No Independence Day gathering is complete without fireworks, so let them begin with dinner. Browse 10 menus.

15 Healthy Grilled Burgers
Find juicy, grilled burgers that are also good for you: not only beef, but salmon, lamb, and turkey, too.

Light Potato Salad (video)
We cut 60% of the calories and 80% of the fat from this summer classic. See how.

How to Make Fruit Cobblers
Stone fruit and berries star in these stunning and deliciously healthy desserts, perfect for your Fourth of July party.

MyRecipes.com:

Chicken Scaloppine over Broccoli Rabe
Serve with baby carrots and roasted new potatoes. If you can't find cutlets, place chicken breast halves between two sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap, and pound to 1/4-inch thickness using a meat mallet.

Garden-Style Lasagna

A Berry Sweet Ending

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Hyperoxia May Slow Formation of Wrinkles; Excess Oxygen Lessens Impact of UVB Radiation, Study Shows

(Science Daily) It's no secret that UVB radiation from the sun causes wrinkles. However, a Japanese study… indicates that oxygen may help combat the formation of wrinkles by lessening tissue damage done by UVB rays.

In the study, mice who were placed in an oxygen chamber after exposure to UVB radiation developed fewer wrinkles and showed fewer signs of tissue damage than mice who were exposed to UVB radiation alone…

The implications for humans remain to be seen, and the researchers note that further studies are required. In the meantime, the best way to avoid wrinkles caused by UVB radiation is to wear sunscreen.

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Ovarian Transplantation Restores Fertility to Old Mice and Also Lengthens Their Lives

(Science Daily) Scientists have discovered that when they transplant ovaries from young mice into aging female mice, not only does the procedure make the mice fertile again, but also it rejuvenates their behaviour and increases their lifespan…

"Women who have ovarian tissue frozen at young ages, perhaps because they are about to embark on cancer treatment, can have their young ovarian tissue transplanted back when they are older. Normally we would be doing this simply to preserve their fertility or to expand their reproductive lifespan. However, our mice experiment suggests that this might also improve overall longevity. Further research has to be conducted before we can know whether or not this is the case."

Dr [Noriko] Kagawa said it was not known why the ovarian transplant increased the lifespan of the mice, but it might be because the transplants were prompting the continuation of normal hormonal functions.

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Experts Optimistic About Solving Puzzle of Alzheimer's

(HealthDay News) Research into Alzheimer's disease has reached a point of significant potential, even as the disease's looming impact on society grows more and more dire, experts say…

Questions … have arisen as to whether Alzheimer's research is getting enough attention. Money spent by the government on Alzheimer's, for instance, lags behind research funding for other major diseases…

This disparity in spending on Alzheimer's stems in part from the fact that the United States does not have a national plan aimed at tackling research and treatment…

Whatever the reason, researchers say that the aging of the U.S. population means that Alzheimer's needs to be tackled now or the United States will face a public health crisis later.

"Alzheimer's is not only an awful disease, it's also very expensive," [William H. Thies, chief medical and science officer for the Alzheimer's Association,] said, noting that a person aging with Alzheimer's disease will require care that costs up to three times as much as care for a person aging normally.

"With the aging of our population, we are going to have an immense increase in Alzheimer's disease over the next 40 years," he said. "If we don't deal with this, it could bankrupt our government and wreck our health-care system."

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US Plan to Pay Hospitals for Performance Could Hurt Those in Less-Advantaged Areas, Study Says

(Science Daily) Pay-for-performance is an increasingly popular approach to improving health care quality. But the planned nationwide implementation of institutional bonuses mandated under federal health care reform threatens to act as a "reverse Robin Hood," potentially causing hospitals in less-advantaged regions to lose funds to health care facilities in more affluent areas of the country, according to a study…

"Pay-for-performance assumes that providers have adequate economic and human resources to perform, or improve their performance, within a short time frame," according to the researchers. "Yet the prevailing distribution of resources in the U.S. health care system makes it difficult for some providers to operate effectively as it is."…

"Holding providers accountable is not an unreasonable approach to quality improvement" the study concludes, but "it must be done in a way that attends to the profound inequalities in local circumstances that shape life in the twenty-first century."

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No more fillings? Gel regenerates teeth

(Discovery Health) Dentists could soon hang up their drills. A new peptide, embedded in a soft gel or a thin, flexible film and placed next to a cavity, encourages cells inside teeth to regenerate in about a month, according to a new study… This technology is the first of its kind.

The new gel or thin film could eliminate the need to fill painful cavities or drill deep into the root canal of an infected tooth.

"It's not like toothpaste," which prevent cavities, said Nadia Benkirane-Jessel, … co-author of a recent paper. "Here we are really trying to control cavities (after they develop)."

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Say “good night” to neck pain

(Harvard HEALTHbeat) As with so many things, when it comes to neck pain, an ounce of prevention may be worth a pound of cure. It’s true that some causes of neck pain, such as age-related wear and tear, are not under your control. On the other hand, there are many things you can do to minimize your risk. One place to start is to look at how you sleep and what effect this may have on neck pain…

Two sleeping positions are easiest on the neck: on your side or on your back. If you sleep on your back, choose a rounded pillow to support the natural curve of your neck, with a flatter pillow cushioning your head…

Emerging research suggests that not just sleep position, but sleep itself, can play a role in musculoskeletal pain, including neck and shoulder pain… One possible explanation is that sleep disturbances disrupt the muscle relaxation and healing that normally occur during sleep. Additionally, it is well established that pain can disrupt sleep, contributing to a vicious cycle of pain disrupting sleep, and sleep problems contributing to pain.

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Manipulating Microbes in the Gut May Remedy Disease and Enhance Health

(Science Daily) We are what we eat, but who are "we"? New, high-powered genomic analytical techniques have established that as many as 1,000 different single-celled species coexist in relative harmony in every healthy human gut…

Each individual's microbial ecosystem is different in its relative composition, with potential implications for our health. Disorders such as inflammatory bowel disease, colorectal cancer and even obesity have been linked to skewed intestinal microbe distributions.

Scientists hope that someday they will be able to manipulate microbial populations in the gut as a way of remedying disease and enhancing health.

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Obesity Rates Jump in 28 States, Report Shows

(HealthDay News) Americans are continuing to get fat, with obesity rates nudging upwards in 28 states over the past year, a new report shows…

Mississippi weighed in for the sixth year in a row as the fattest state, with 33.8 percent of its adults obese, while Alabama and Tennessee tied for second (31.6 percent). The other top 10, also concentrated in the south, were West Virginia, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Arkansas, South Carolina and Michigan tying with North Carolina for 10th place (29.4 percent)…

[I]ncome is a major driver of the obesity epidemic. More than 35 percent of adults bringing in less than $15,000 a year were obese, vs. only 24.5 percent in the over-$50,000 income bracket.

The healthiest states in terms of weight were congregated in the Northeast and West. Colorado (19.1 percent) came in first, followed by Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Vermont, Rhode Island, Utah, Montana and New Jersey…

In addition to geographic and economic differences, this year's report also focused on racial and ethnic disparities, finding that blacks and Latinos bear the brunt of the obesity problem. Blacks and Latinos outweighed whites in at least 40 states plus D.C…

"The link between poverty, race and obesity is undeniable," Glover Blackwell said. "For example, Mississippi, the poorest state in nation with an African-American population of more than 37 percent, has the highest obesity rate of any state and highest proportion of obese children."

Poor and minority neighborhoods lack safe streets and parks in which to exercise and many are also so-called "food deserts."

"Twenty-three million African-Americans do not have access to a grocery store within a mile of where they live, and only 8 percent of African-Americans live in a census tract with a grocery store," [Angela] Glover Blackwell said.

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Impulsive, Weak-Willed or Just Too Much Dopamine?

(Science Daily) It's a common scenario: you're on a diet, determined to give up eating cakes, but as you pass the cake counter, all resolve disappears… Now, scientists … have shed light on the brain processes that affect our will power and make us act impulsively…

The researchers found that every subject was more likely to behave more impulsively -- choosing the 'smaller, sooner' option -- when levels of dopamine in the brain were boosted. . On the whole, the number of sooner options chosen increased by almost a third, although each subject varied on this measure.

[Dr Alex Pine, first author of the study,] believes that this finding may also explain why we tend to behave more impulsively when influenced by external 'cues'.

"We know that sensory inputs -- sights, sounds smells and anticipation of rewards, or even of neutral cues which have been associated with rewards -- momentarily boost dopamine levels in our brains, and our research shows that higher dopamine levels make us act more impulsively," he says.

"But this research is important for more than just explaining our day to day lapses in self-control. It also helps us understand why disorders which are associated with abnormal dopamine functioning can also lead to extremely impulsive behaviour."

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Community: I’m finding that healthy food and exercise can raise my feel-good levels. If it’s because of a rise in dopamine, then maybe that’s the key to influencing people toward more healthy behaviors.

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Smarter Lunchrooms Lead Kids to Eat More Salad

(Science Daily) Providing healthier food choices for our nation's schoolchildren is a hot-button issue in Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign. And a team of researchers from Cornell University have recently identified one simple solution to help schools serve more fresh vegetables and salad items…

In a year-long study in an upstate New York middle school, researchers examined the effect of moving the salad bar to a more prominent location in the cafeteria. Results show that sales of certain salad bar items increased by 250-300%.

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Community: See? Vegetables can look appealing. All we have to do is make them more prominent. Isn’t that what many retailers have done with cakes, cookies, candies, and chips? Aren’t they always near the cash registers? I noticed recently, by the way, that one of our neighborhood Walgreens is putting healthier foods in coolers near the cash registers.

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