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

Why people disagree with scientists

(UPI) U.S. adults disagree on "scientific consensus" because they distrust experts who differ in their cultural view, researchers suggest…

Subjects were much more likely to see a scientist with elite credentials as an "expert" when he or she took a position that matched the subjects' own cultural values.

Read more.

Community: There was a TV show recently on the differences between humans and apes (sorry, I can’t remember the name of it or give you a link—I think it was on the History Channel). The main difference it found was that humans will follow instructions they’ve been taught, even if they can see that there’s a more direct route to solving the problem. Chimps, however, will directly solve the problem, instead of following the instructions. The writers of the documentary claimed that this difference is the reason for our huge success as a species. If so, it is at least a double-edged sword, because as Jared Diamond has so exhaustively documented, cultural biases have destroyed entire groups of people.

There are times when cultural biases are dangerous.

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U.S. invests in drug to protect against radiation

(Reuters) Tiny biotech Cleveland BioLabs Inc has won a $45 million contract from the Department of Defense to conduct clinical trials of a drug to prevent cell damage in the event of nuclear attack…

"There are no drugs which protect humans from radiation," Michael Fonstein, the company's chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview.

The drug works by interfering with a process of programed cell death called apoptosis -- basically a form of cell suicide. This helps the body rid itself of damaged cells,

Fonstein said interfering with this process appears to strengthen the body's ability to recover from radiation exposure.

Read more.

Community: Making nuclear war safer? Is that really a good idea?

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Feeling Introspective? Your Brain Structure May Be Key

(HealthDay News) [R]esearchers report that people who are good at introspection, or "thinking about thinking," have a greater volume of gray matter in the area of the brain that lies directly behind the eyes.

"What this study does is allow us to have a better understanding of the biology of the brain that is linked to quite a high level of thinking, which is our ability to reflect on our thoughts and behaviors," said one of the study's lead authors, Steve Fleming…

Fleming noted that introspection isn't the same as knowing the correct answer. "For example, if you're a contestant on a game show and you're uncertain about your answer, you might choose to ask the audience for help. That kind of introspective knowledge is different from your basic ability to make the right decision."

Read more.

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For Ex-Smokers, Some Cigarette Cravings May Never Leave

(HealthDay News) New research suggests that the seductive power of smoking cues does not diminish over time for those who are trying to kick the habit.

The finding adds a new challenge to efforts to prevent relapse among those struggling to embark on a tobacco-free lifestyle.

"The main point is pretty straightforward," said study author Gillinder Bedi. "When people are exposed to things that they associate with a drug they use, they often feel an increase in craving."

Read more.

Community: I very seldom feel a craving for cigarettes, after almost 12 years as a quitter. The important thing is to remind myself of the negatives when I get those cravings.

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Milk drinkers may be thinner

(UPI) Milk drinkers may have the advantage over others when losing weight, an Israeli researcher says.

Danit R. Shahar … and colleagues say milk contains key nutrients -- such as calcium and vitamin D -- that help in weight loss…

The study … finds at six months that each additional 6-ounce serving of milk or milk products -- about three-quarters of a glass of milk -- was associated with successful weight loss 10 pounds above the average.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Teriyaki Pork and Vegetables with Noodles
The sweet-savory flavor of teriyaki sauce is a centuries-old mixture of soy sauce and mirin (sweet cooking wine). Over time, Japanese Americans added ginger, brown sugar, pineapple juice, and green onions, elements of the bottled teriyaki sauce Americans know today.

Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Teriyaki Pork Lo Mein

Teriyaki-Glazed Burgers

EatingWell:

Smoked Trout Salad
The fast of Yom Kippur is often broken with smoked fish as in this trout salad. This easy dinner, which can be made ahead, is great for any night, holiday or not. Serve it on a bed of greens to dress it up and add a whole-grain bagel to make it a substantial meal.

Tuscan-Style Tuna Salad

Mediterranean Tuna Antipasto Salad

Lemony Lentil Salad with Salmon

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Glaxo kidney cancer drug shrinks thyroid tumors: study

(Reuters) In a small study, GlaxoSmithKline's cancer drug Votrient helped shrink tumors in nearly half of patients with an advanced form of thyroid cancer, U.S. and international researchers said on Friday.

For many, the effect of the kidney cancer pill, known generically as pazopanib, lasted for more than a year, said Dr. Keith Bible of the Mayo Clinic…

"These responses that occur in half of all patients are very durable. The majority, in fact two-thirds, last greater than one year," Bible said in a video interview on clinic's website.

Read more.

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Cancer-Cell Quirk Could Be Exploited to Develop New Drugs That Starve Tumors

(Science Daily) [Researchers have] found that cells can trigger an alternative biochemical pathway that speeds up their metabolism and diverts the byproducts to construct new cells.

The finding could help scientists design drugs that block cancer-cell metabolism, essentially starving them of the materials they need to grow and spread.

Read more.

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Fat Stem Cells Safe for Breast Reconstruction When Cancer Is Dormant, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Fat-derived stem cells can be safely used to aid reconstruction of breast tissue after mastectomy as long as there is no evidence of active cancer, according to researchers…

Plastic surgeons have long moved fat from one part of the body into the breasts for reconstruction, but with some complications and a varying success rate, explained senior author Vera S. Donnenberg, Ph.D… More recently, they have considered adding stem cells derived from adipose, or fat, tissue (ADSC) or the bone marrow to the transferred fat with the aim of supporting graft integration by enhancing new blood vessel formation.

"But it has not been clear whether these stem cells are safe for breast cancer patients because they could send growth signals that promote tumor reactivation or provide new blood vessels for the tumor," Dr. Donnenberg said. "Our research suggests that this risk is real if the patient still has active tumor cells, but is safe when the cells are inactive or resting."

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For Common Warts, Freezing Therapy Works Best: Study

(HealthDay News) When it comes to ridding yourself of common warts, freezing -- also known as cryotherapy -- works better than applying salicylic acid, another common treatment, a new Dutch study finds.

No one treatment cured more than half of cases, however, and better treatments for the stubborn skin malady are needed, experts say.

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Fla. dolphins help with physical therapy

(UPI) Dolphins are being used as part of a rehabilitation swimming program for paraplegics and quadriplegics in Florida, officials said.

Cathy Herring, a recreation therapist at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital, has organized trips to swim with the dolphins for seven years and coordinates the fundraising that pays for the trips, The Miami Herald reported Friday…

Two dolphins named Duffy and Stormy swam with patients at the Theater of the Sea in Islamorada Thursday…

"I don't know how the dolphins know, but they just seem to know when to go a little slower or be a little gentler with people," dolphin trainer Trish Waggoner said.

At the end of the swim at Theater of the Sea, Stormy and Duffy jumped out of the water several times and said goodbye by waving their flippers.

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Health premiums rose 7 percent in 2009: report

(Reuters) U.S. health insurers took in 7 percent more revenue from premiums from individual, group and other policies in 2009 than in the previous year, even as the number of those people with coverage fell, according to a report released on Thursday.

Individual premium revenues rose 15 percent while group premiums, which involve mostly employers, rose nearly 3 percent, according to the report from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), an organization whose prominence has grown following passage of the new U.S. health reform law.

The report was based on company annual financial filings to the NAIC. It was not a complete depiction of the privately insured market, the organization cautioned, because not all health insurers must file with such state departments.

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Hard hit Africa leads fall in new HIV infections: U.N.

(Reuters) African nations whose populations have been devastated by AIDS have made big strides in fighting HIV, with new infections down 25 percent since 2001 in some of the worst hit places, a U.N. report said on Friday.

African countries with the biggest epidemics like Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe are leading the decline, thanks to better use of prevention methods and greater access to life-preserving drugs, the United Nations AIDS program (UNAIDS) report said.

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Placebo Pill Gives Boost to Some Women's Sex Drive

(HealthDay News) About one-third of women given a placebo pill to treat a low libido reported improvements in their sex lives, a finding researchers say is evidence of the powerful and somewhat mysterious mind-body connection surrounding arousal and desire.

After drugs like Viagra and Cialis revolutionized the treatment of male sexual dysfunction in the late 1990s, a flurry of clinical trials were conducted in women in the hopes that the drugs could do the same to revive a woman's flagging sex drive.

The drugs flopped in women. But recently, researchers went back and looked at the old data on Cialis and found that not only did about 35 percent of women given the placebo pill experience significant improvement in psychological aspects of sex such as desire, many reported improvements in the physical aspects of arousal, including better lubrication, more frequent orgasms or more easily attainable orgasms, according to the study.

"Everything across the board improved in some women," said study author Andrea Bradford.

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Community: Well, we already know that the brain is the most important sex organ, at least for women.

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Use of Marijuana, Ecstasy, Methamphetamine on Rise in U.S.

(HealthDay News) Illegal drug use in the United States increased from 2008 to 2009, federal drug officials reported Thursday, citing growing acceptance of marijuana and an upswing in ecstasy and methamphetamine use…

Mike Meno, a spokesman for the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, told the Associated Press the survey is further proof that the government's war on marijuana is failing despite years of enforcement efforts and arrests.

"It's time we stop this charade and implement sensible laws that would tax and regulate marijuana the same way we do more harmful -- but legal -- drugs like alcohol and tobacco," Meno told the AP.

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Broccoli may guard against arthritis

(UPI) British scientists say broccoli -- already known to help prevent cancer -- may fight osteoarthritis.

Scientists at the University of East Anglia say initial laboratory tests find a bioactive compound in broccoli -- sulforaphane -- blocks the enzymes linked to the joint destruction in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.

The scientists are undertaking a research project to see if the compound found in broccoli could slow or prevent osteoarthritis development.

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Community: And that is very good news, because the news on glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate is more and more gloomy. See below.

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More Evidence That Glucosamine, Chondroitin Won't Help Ailing Joints

(HealthDay News) Although millions take supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin to relieve the pain of osteoarthritis in their hips and knees, there is no evidence that these supplements have any healing effect, finds a new analysis of large-scale studies.

This latest report is one of several that have found no beneficial effect of either supplement in relieving arthritic pain. But since there is no evidence that the pills cause harm, the new report's authors say there's no reason to stop taking them if individuals think they are being helped.

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Laughter, Weight Loss and Chocolate

(MyRecipes.com) Weight loss doesn't sound or feel like a laughing matter. But a new study from Vanderbilt University reports that genuine laughter, the kind that lasts about 10 to 15 minutes, burns the same number of calories found in a medium square of chocolate. That translates to about 50 calories, which, if done everyday, can result in about 4 pounds of weight loss at the end of the year (assuming everything else stays the same).

Considering that laughter also produces natural endorphins, those "feel good" brain chemicals that lower your blood pressure, decrease your stress and improve your mood, you have nothing to lose, except maybe a little weight and stress, right? And if that doesn't sound like a bargain, at least you can laugh your way through a daily square of chocolate and even the score.

More Weight Loss Tips:

Weight Loss: 5 Things You May Not Know

11 Simple Ways to Cut Calories

Breakfast Benefits

Go Lean with Protein

Our Collection of Low-Calorie Recipes

Source

Community: Laughter is important to our health, whether or not we use it as a weight loss technique.

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Top Pizza with This to Keep Arteries Clear

(RealAge.com) Turn your pizza into a heart-friendly treat by halving the cheese and loading on this artery-loving topping instead: mushrooms…

In the recent lab study, researchers noticed that bathing human aorta cells in mushroom extract seemed to interrupt two different inflammation-induced cellular processes known to trigger plaque buildup inside blood vessel walls. It's not clear why the extract had this effect, but it could be due to any one of a number of nutrients in the fungi, including polyphenols, selenium, copper, and an antioxidant called ergothioneine. All of these nutrients may play a role in quelling inflammation and blocking the cellular mechanisms that trigger atherosclerosis…

The study used a wide array of varieties, including the very popular white button mushrooms easily found in most grocery stores. Use them to top pizzas, add them to stews for more flavor, or simply saute and serve them on the side of whatever else you're cooking. More research is needed to confirm the artery benefits, but since mushrooms are low-cal and nutritious, you've got little to lose in adding them to your meals. (Find out how mushrooms also help you slash calories.)

Check out this list of other good-for-your-heart edibles.

Read more.

Community: I think I’ll add mushrooms to my daily salad.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Barbecued Flank Steak Sandwiches
Add smoky heat to this quick barbecue sauce with a dash of chipotle chile powder. Look for it in the spice section at the supermarket.

Easy Brunswick Stew

Pasta with Fresh Tomato-Basil Sauce

EatingWell:

Crab Bisque with Avocado, Tomato & Corn Relish
Our light version of classic crab bisque gets its creaminess from a combination of low-fat milk plus pureed vegetables and potatoes. The tangy, chunky relish provides a textural and flavor contrast to the smoky, rich-tasting bisque. Serve with crusty whole-grain rolls and some extra wedges of lime for squeezing.

Curried Corn & Crab Cakes

Cool Fresh Corn Relish

Smoky Corn & Lobster Stew

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Best Bets at a Buffet or Cafeteria

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Whether you’re buying lunch at your office or school cafeteria, or trying to navigate through a buffet at a party or restaurant, arming yourself with smart strategies before you load up your plate will help you make the best food choices. Here are a few healthy eating tips to remember the next time you’re in a cafeteria or at a buffet:

Choose the salad bar.
Eating regularly from the salad bar is a good way to stick to your healthy eating plan. Load up on filling vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower and go easy on the cheese and salad dressing…

Embrace the choose-it-yourself stations.
Some cafeterias and buffets offer individual stations that allow you to select the ingredients for your own omelets or stir-fries.

Say no to hot and greasy.
Most cafeterias offer an endless supply of pizza, french fries, and creamy pasta dishes. While these items are often difficult to resist, you should have them only as occasional treats.

Postpone dessert.
Many of the desserts in cafeterias and buffets are diet busters. Rather than choosing a dessert right then, wait until the end of your meal to select fruit or three bites of one decadent dessert or wait until you get home and have a piece of fresh fruit or sugar-free gelatin.

Ask for it if you don’t see it.
If you'd like your chicken breast without the creamy sauce or you wish there were broccoli on the salad bar, speak up! Many party caterers and food managers at cafeterias can accommodate special orders and meet your requests.

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Diet to Prevent Hypertension Also Helps Prevent Kidney Stones

(HealthDay News) Eating a diet designed to combat high blood pressure may also help prevent kidney stones, researchers report.

They examined the effects of the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, which is high in fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes, dairy products, and whole grains, and low in sweetened beverages and red and processed meats…

Despite similar fluid intake, people who followed a DASH-style diet excreted more urine than those who didn't follow the diet. The higher urinary output may be partly due to the higher food water content in a DASH-style diet.

The study also found that the urine of those on a DASH-style diet contained higher concentrations of citrate, an important inhibitor of calcium kidney stones.

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Beyond Diet and Exercise: How to Protect Your Heart

(SouthBeachDiet.com) [I]f you have a moderate or high risk of heart disease, lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to ensure a healthy heart. While leading a healthy lifestyle is always recommended, your doctor may also suggest certain medications and/or supplements that will help lower your risk of heart disease. Here's a snapshot of some commonly prescribed medications and supplements that protect your heart.

Statin drugs:… Not only can statins reduce levels of the dangerous LDL cholesterol by 20 to 60 percent with few side effects, they can also mildly lower triglycerides and raise good HDL…

Aspirin: Taking aspirin every day or every other day if you are at risk for heart disease thins the blood slightly, making it less sticky and thus less likely to form clots that typically precipitate heart attacks and strokes… Consult with your doctor about whether aspirin therapy is right for you.

Fish-oil supplements:… The AHA recommends combined eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) — the two major types of omega-3 fatty acids — in a dose of approximately 1,000 mg/day in patients with coronary heart disease. For people with high triglycerides, [the South Beach Diet’s Dr. Arthur] Agatston agrees with the FDA recommendations for considerably higher doses of omega-3s in the form of 4 grams of prescription fish oils per day (but Dr. Agatston advises you to be certain your doctor monitors your cholesterol, since prescription fish oils can raise levels of bad LDL in some people).

Niacin: This B vitamin (B3) is available over the counter as a dietary supplement, though [the South Beach Diet’s Dr. Arthur] Agatston recommends higher doses (available by prescription only) for those at risk for heart disease. In combination with a statin, niacin can be a very effective agent for slowing or reversing atherosclerosis and preventing recurrent heart attacks and strokes…

While diet and exercise can go a long way toward improving your health, sometimes medications and/or supplements are also required. Your doctor will help you determine what prevention program is right for you.

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Significant Weight-Loss from Surgery Decreases Risk for Cardiovascular Disease in Women

(Science Daily) Significant weight loss not only improves daily life of morbidly obese woman but also decreases the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, many people can not lose weight or can not maintain weight loss without help. Bariatric surgery is emerging as a valuable procedure to help morbidly obese individuals lose weight, as studies have shown; it can improve many health profiles and lower mortality. Now, researchers have found another positive impact of significant weight loss after bariatric surgery: it can significantly improve the lipoprotein profiles of women within a year following surgery…

Following an initial reduction of HDL at one month post surgery, most likely resulting from an early marked negative energy balance, plasma lipids and lipoproteins changed beneficially over the course of the year. Eventually they showed significant improvements comparable to individuals taking statin drugs.

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Community: We keep seeing articles on the benefits of bariatric surgery, which seems the most extreme way to treat obesity. Why not do a study on eating whole grains before any other food, as a way of reducing weight in the obese? Why promote surgery, which has such greater risks? Who is paying for these studies?

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Scientists Develop Test Providing New Pathway for Identifying Obesity, Diabetes Drugs

(Science Daily) Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have designed a new molecular test that will allow researchers to look for potential drugs targeting a human metabolic enzyme believed to stimulate the appetite and play a role in diabetes.

The new test, which the scientists call a simple assay, will allow researchers to look through hundreds of thousands of compounds for those that have potential to block the action of an enzyme known as ghrelin O-acyltransferase (GOAT). If drugs can be found that safely suppress the action of GOAT, they may help people who have clinical problems with appetite, obesity, and diabetes.

"There hasn't been a simple screen until now," says Kim D. Janda, Ph.D.

Read more.

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Why the Craving for Cocaine Won't Go Away

(Science Daily) Drugs are addictive because they "hijack" the brain's reward system, which is actually intended to make it pleasurable to eat and have sex, behaviors that are necessary for survival and reproduction.

This "hijacking" is extremely long-lived and often leads to relapses into abuse, especially when the individual is exposed to stimuli in the surroundings that are associated with the drug…. [A] research team can now show that a receptor for the signal substance glutamate (mGluR5), in a part of the brain called the striatum, plays a major role in relapses…

[Researcher David Engblom] hopes that these findings and other studies of mechanisms underlying drug addiction can lead to forms of treatment based on what goes wrong in the brain of an addict.

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Acamprosate Prevents Relapse to Drinking in Alcoholism, Review Finds

(Science Daily) Acamprosate reduces the number of patients being treated for alcoholism who return to drinking, according to a new Cochrane Systematic Review. The drug showed moderate benefits in trials when used in addition to non-drug treatments…

Acamprosate prevented relapse in one in every nine patients who had stopped drinking and increased the number of days patients spent not drinking by an average of three days a month…

"Acamprosate is certainly no magic bullet, but it is a safe and effective treatment for patients who are trying to stop drinking," said lead researcher Susanne Rösner.

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Discovery of Key Pathway Interaction May Lead to Therapies That Aid Brain Growth and Repair

(Science Daily) Researchers at the Center for Neuroscience Research at Children's National Medical Center have discovered that the two major types of signaling pathways activated during brain cell development -- the epidermal growth factor receptor pathway and the Notch pathway -- operate together to determine how many and which types of brain cells are created during growth and repair in developing and adult brains…

"By understanding how these cellular signaling pathways operate in the brain, we may be able to develop genetic or molecular approaches that target those signals to facilitate or induce regeneration of the brain from neural stem cells," said Vittorio Gallo, PhD.

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Adult Memory Lapses May Not Be Due to 'Old Age'

(HealthDay News) Forgetting someone's name, losing track of a parked car or misplacing a set of keys may be common occurrences in adulthood, but there is nothing normal about them, a new study claims.

Even mild mental decline is connected to brain lesions associated with Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia, the study found…

Lifestyle factors can protect otherwise vulnerable people from mental decline, said [study author Robert S.] Wilson, who is also a neurology professor at the medical school. These include having an active social life, intellectual pursuits, and moderate alcohol consumption. Research has also shown that higher levels of education protect against dementia, he added.

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Aerobic Exercise Relieves Insomnia

(Science Daily) The millions of middle-aged and older adults who suffer from insomnia have a new drug-free prescription for a more restful night's sleep. Regular aerobic exercise improves the quality of sleep, mood and vitality, according to a small but significant new study from Northwestern Medicine…

"This is relevant to a huge portion of the population," said Phyllis Zee, M.D… "Insomnia increases with age," Zee said. "Around middle age, sleep begins to change dramatically. It is essential that we identify behavioral ways to improve sleep. Now we have promising results showing aerobic exercise is a simple strategy to help people sleep better and feel more vigorous."

The drug-free strategy also is desirable, because it eliminates the potential of a sleeping medication interacting with other drugs a person may be taking, [lead author Kathryn] Reid said.

Sleep is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle, like nutrition and exercise, noted Zee.

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Only 5% of Americans Engage in Vigorous Physical Activity on Any Given Day

(Science Daily) On any given day, most U.S. adults report performing predominantly sedentary and light activities, according to a new study…

While most Americans engage in sedentary activities such as eating and drinking (95.6%), followed by watching television/movies (80.1%), and light activities such as washing, dressing, and grooming oneself (78.9%), and driving a car, truck, or motorcycle (71.4%), most did not engage in moderate or vigorous activities. The most frequently reported moderate activities were food and drink preparation (25.7%), followed by lawn, garden, and houseplant care (10.6%). The most frequently reported vigorous activities were using cardiovascular equipment (2.2%) and running (1.1%).

Read more.

Community: No mention of walking? I’m surprised. As we know, any amount of activity is better than none.

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Seniors most likely to exercise

(UPI) A U.S. fitness company says those most likely to exercise are those age 65 and older.

Experts at Life Fitness -- a designer and manufacturer of exercise equipment -- conducted a survey that indicates people age 65 and older are the age group more likely than any other to exercise daily.

The Life Fitness experts suggest older adults exercise more because activity helps eliminate joint aches and pains, improve balance and flexibility and minimize chances of falling.

However, those who want to begin exercising, need to get clearance from their personal physician and find a program that accommodates their personal needs, Life Fitness experts say.

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Fountain of Youth in Bile?

(Science Daily) The human quest for longer life may be one step closer, thanks to research… [A] new study is the first to identify the role of a bile acid, called lithocholic acid (LCA), in extending the lifespan of normally aging yeast…

"Although we found that LCA greatly extends yeast longevity, yeast do not synthesize this or any other bile acid found in mammals," says senior author Vladimir Titorenko… "It may be that yeast have evolved to sense bile acids as mildly toxic molecules and respond by undergoing life-extending changes. It is conceivable that the life-extending potential of LCA may be relevant to humans as well."

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Tranquil Scenes Have Positive Impact on Brain

(Science Daily) [New research] uses functional brain imaging to assess how the environment impacts upon our brain functions.

The findings demonstrated that tranquil environmental scenes containing natural features, such as the sea, cause distinct brain areas to become `connected´ with one another whilst man-made environments, such as motorways, disrupt the brain connections…

Professor Peter Woodruff, from SCANLab, said: "This work may have implications for the design of more tranquil public spaces and buildings, including hospitals, because it provides a way of measuring the impact of environmental and architectural features on people´s psychological state.

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10 Foods That Sound Healthy (but Aren't)

(Cooking Light) Multi-Grain and Wheat Breads

Read nutrition labels carefully. If the first flour in the ingredient list is refined (it will typically say "bleached" or "unbleached enriched wheat flour") you are not getting a 100% whole-grain bread.

Prepared Salads

Prepared tuna salads, chicken salads, and shrimp salads are often loaded with hidden fats and calories due to their high mayonnaise content. While a lot depends on portion size and ingredients, an over-stuffed tuna sandwich can contain as many as 700 calories and 40 grams of fat…

Reduced-Fat Peanut Butter

Both regular and reduced-fat peanut butter contain about the same amount of calories, but the reduced-fat variety has more sugar… Regular peanut butter is a natural source of the "good" monounsaturated fats. Look for a natural peanut butter with an ingredient list that contains no added oils.

"Energy" Bars

Many energy bars are filled with high fructose corn syrup, added sugar, and artery-clogging saturated fat. Plus, some bars (particularly meal replacement varieties) contain more than 350 calories each―a bit more than "snack size" for most people…

Bran Muffins

Most bran muffins, even those sold at delis and coffee shops, are made with generally healthy ingredients. The problem is portion size… A random sampling of some coffee and restaurant chain bran muffins showed that many topped 350 calories apiece, and that's before any butter or jam…

Smoothies

[D]isproportionately large serving sizes (the smallest is often 16 oz.) combined with added sugar, ice cream, or sherbet, can add up to a high-calorie treat. Some chains serve smoothies that contain up to 500 calories…

Packaged Turkey

[M]any packaged turkey slices are loaded with sodium… If you can't roast your own, the best rule of thumb is to find a brand with less than 350 milligrams of sodium per 2-oz. serving.

Foods Labeled "Fat-Free"

Fat-free does NOT mean calorie-free… [A]lways check the nutrition labels when buying packaged foods to be sure you're getting a nutritious product and not just one that's fat-free. Calories, sodium, fiber, and vitamins and minerals are all aspects you should consider in addition to fat.

Restaurant Baked Potatoes

Many restaurant-style baked potatoes can come "fully loaded" with butter, sour cream, cheese, bacon bits, and other goodies that can add up to around 600 calories and 20-plus grams of fat. Ask for one that is plain and get one or two small-portioned toppings on the side…

Sports Drinks

Many sports drinks contain 125 calories or more per 20-oz. bottle, so spare yourself the extra calories and opt for plain water or a calorie-free beverage to keep you hydrated.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Slow Cooker Favorites
From pork roast to apple butter, these succulent slow cooker recipes earned top marks from our readers.

How To Sauté Chicken
Jazz up a basic chicken breast with a simple pan sauce and put dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Recipe Makeover: Chicken Potpie
Watch how we lighten this classic dish while keeping its delicious, rich flavor intact.

EatingWell:

Quick Guacamole
Use a cup of the Fresh Tomato Salsa to make this easy guacamole. Mash a few avocados, stir in lemon juice and you're done! Guacamole will turn brown if allowed to sit and is best made shortly before serving.

Fresh Tomato Salsa

Roasted Garlic Guacamole with Help-Yourself Garnishes

Guacamole-Stuffed Eggs

Winter Salad with Toasted Walnuts

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Even Very Low Dose of Regular Aspirin Wards Off Bowel Cancer, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Even the lowest possible dose of aspirin (75 mg) can ward off bowel cancer, if taken regularly, finds [new] research…

This protective effect is apparent after just one year and in the general population, not just those considered to be at risk of developing the disease, which is the second most common cause of cancer death in the world, killing almost half a million people every year.

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Mental Illness Stigma Hard to Shake, Survey Finds

(HealthDay News) The level of Americans' prejudice and discrimination toward people with serious mental illness or substance abuse problems didn't change over 10 years, a new study has found.

The findings raise questions about the effectiveness of campaigns to educate people about mental illness and suggest that new approaches may be needed, said the researchers…

Efforts to reduce stigma should focus on the person rather than the disease, and emphasize the abilities of people with mental health problems, [sociologist Bernice] Pescosolido suggested. "We need to involve groups in each community to talk about these issues, which affect nearly every family in America in some way. This is in everyone's interest," she added.

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Training Seems to Close Gender Gap in Spatial Ability

(HealthDay News) A gender gap in the ability of boys and girls to do spatial reasoning -- a divide that appears to favor boys -- can be eliminated through a specialized education program, new Israeli research suggests.

The scientists focused on 100 first-graders, about half of whom were enrolled in an eight-week training program designed to show the children how to think about spatial information from a holistic point of view rather than one based on particular details, and how to think about spatial geometric pictures from different points of view. The control group of children did not receive the training.

By the end of the two-month program the team found that gender differences in place prior to the program had vanished in the first group.

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Community: There are so many things that used to seem immutable, but that we can change if we’re determined to find a way.

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'Type D' Personality Linked to Increased Risk for Heart Problems

(HealthDay News) Heart patients with a pessimistic "Type D" personality may be at increased risk for future cardiovascular problems, according to a new review article.

U.S. researchers analyzed data from more than 6,000 patients in 49 studies that looked at the link between heart and psychological health and Type D personality, which is characterized by negative emotions, pessimism and social inhibition.

The analysis revealed that heart patients with a Type D personality had a three-fold increased risk for future cardiovascular problems, such as peripheral artery disease, angioplasty or bypass procedures, heart failure, heart transplantation, heart attack or death.

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Action-Packed Video Games May Be Good for You After All

(HealthDay News) Fast-action video games may help train people to make quick, accurate decisions in all aspects of life, new findings suggest.

The authors of a study … theorize that action games like Halo encourage players to better use evidence drawn from their senses in decision-making, a skill known as probabilistic inference.

And their decisions are just as accurate as those of non-players, which is evidence that the fast-paced gamers are not responding in a "trigger-happy" fashion, the researchers said.

"They are making more efficient use of the information that is out there," said C. Shawn Green, lead author of the study… "They are pulling more information from the sensory world, related to the decision facing them."

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Benefits of Healthy Lifestyle Factors Stronger in Combination

(Science Daily) [Researchers] report results from a large study quantifying the impact of combining healthy lifestyle factors.

They found that a healthy lifestyle pattern -- being normal weight, having low belly fat, participating in regular physical activity, limiting exposure to secondhand cigarette smoke, and consuming higher amounts of fruits and vegetables -- reduced mortality in Chinese women who do not smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol regularly.

"The results show that overall lifestyle modification, to include a combination of these health-related lifestyle factors, is important in disease prevention," said [Wei Zheng, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H.].

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Doctors' diet/exercise intervention works

(UPI) Primary care physicians who work with at-risk patients to improve diet and exercise can lower diabetes and heart disease risk, researchers in Sweden say.

Margareta K. Eriksson … and colleagues say 71 patients were randomly assigned to the intervention, which included progressive exercise training three times a week, diet counseling and regular group meetings…

The study … finds there was a savings of $384 for healthcare use and a net savings of $47 per intervention participant.

The intervention resulted in a favorable effect on physical activity, fitness, waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, blood pressure and smoking cessation over the three-year study period, the study authors say.

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Consumption of 'Good Salt' Can Reduce Population Blood Pressure Levels, Research Finds

(Science Daily) An increased intake of 'good' potassium salts could contribute significantly to improving blood pressure at the population level, according to new research. The favourable effect brought about by potassium is even estimated to be comparable with the blood pressure reduction achievable by halving the intake of 'bad' sodium salts (mostly from table salt)…

In Western countries, salt consumption can be as high as 9-12 g a day whereas 5 g is the recommended amount according to WHO standards. Most household salt is to be found in processed foods such as bread, ready-made meals, soups, sauces and savoury snacks and pizzas.

An effective way of increasing potassium intake is to follow the guidelines for healthy nutrition more closely, including a higher consumption of vegetables and fruit. In addition, the use of mineral salts in processed foods -- by which sodium is partly replaced by potassium -- would contribute to an improved intake of both sodium and potassium.

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