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

One-Third of U.S. Adults Could Have Diabetes by 2050: CDC

(HealthDay News) [Dr. Mary Ann] Banerji believes that "we need to act now. Immediate changes in diet, physical activity, stress and sleep are known to decrease diabetes and obesity. We can make changes in our physical environment to promote greater physical activity and we should consider changes in national food policy."

Diabetes remains the leading cause of new cases of blindness under age 75, kidney failure, and preventable leg and foot amputation among adults in the United States, according to the CDC.

In addition, people diagnosed with diabetes have medical costs that are more than twice that of those without the disease, the agency reports. The total costs of diabetes in the United States are an estimated $174 billion annually, including $116 billion in direct medical costs.

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Bad neighborhood bad for diabetics

(UPI) Living in a deprived urban neighborhood puts diabetics at a significantly higher risk of losing mobility, a study of African-Americans with the disease found…

"Having diabetes is bad, living under adverse neighborhood conditions is bad, but people with diabetes who live in adverse neighborhood conditions quite remarkably were up to 80 times more likely to develop lower body functional limitations than those having the disease or living under these neighborhood conditions alone," Dr. Douglas Miller, the study's senior author, said in a statement.

"In fact, in our study about 8 out of 10 people who developed lower body functional limitations were diabetics who lived in adverse neighborhood conditions."

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Workaholics have more heart attacks

(RealAge.com) Research shows that people who log lots of overtime may be more likely to experience a heart attack or other signs of serious heart problems…

And it turns out that the added risk didn't necessarily boil down to lifestyle… [I]t wasn't because they avoided fruit, vegetables, and the gym…

Researchers noted that the hard workers got less sleep and tended to come to work even when they were sick. And these were the factors that might have tipped the scales against their hearts -- because the worker bees never gave their bodies a chance to recover from the daily grind.

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Recession May Be Changing Americans' Attitudes Toward Work

(HealthDay News) Recession-linked job insecurity has many Americans questioning the sacrifices they make for work, such as having less time for family, leisure and self-improvement activities, a new study suggests.

Florida State University researchers surveyed more than 1,100 full-time workers with a range of jobs and career stages. Nearly half (48 percent) said the recession had increased their appreciation of family, and 37 percent said the recession triggered thoughts that work isn't as important as it once was in the overall scheme of things.

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Protect Your Kidneys with This Pill

(RealAge.com) The reasons to get your daily dose of the sunshine vitamin just keep piling up. The newest? Kidney protection.

In a study, men who worked outdoors regularly -- and got the most sun -- were 24 to 38 percent less likely to develop renal cell cancer compared with men who got the least sunshine. Experts suspect the link is vitamin D, available in pill or solar-made form…

And there's growing evidence that the vitamin protects against more than one type of cancer. (Here's why D is the "it" vitamin for antiaging.)…

Truth is, if you're relying on sunshine and your diet, you're probably deficient. Thanks to the growing use of sunscreen, weak winter sun, sedentary habits that keep us indoors, sun-filtering clothing, flat-out sun avoidance, and a short list of foods that are rich in D, about 75 percent of people don't get enough. To make up for it, the YOU Docs recommend taking 1,000 international units (IU) of D a day -- 1,200 IU if you're over age 60. (Find out what foods are rich in vitamin D.)

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Why You Should Avoid Refined Foods

(SouthBeachDiet.com) The more a food is refined, the more you should stay away from it. What are refined foods? Refined foods are highly processed foods that have been stripped of their original nutrient content and fiber. Refined white flour, white pasta, and white sugar are just some examples.

Consider a loaf of sliced white bread. First, the wheat is stripped of bran and fiber, and then it's pulverized into the finest white flour. The baking process puffs it up into light, airy slices of bread. No wonder your stomach makes such quick work of it. A slice of white bread hits your bloodstream with the same jolt you'd get by eating a tablespoon of sugar right from the bowl!

Genuine 100-percent whole-wheat or whole-grain bread, on the other hand — the coarse, chewy kind with a thick crust and visible pieces of grain — puts your stomach to work. It too is made of wheat, but the grains haven't been processed to death. And while it contains starches, which are just chains of sugars, they are bound up with the fiber, so digestion takes longer. As a result, the sugars are released gradually into the bloodstream. If there's no sudden surge in blood sugar, your pancreas won't produce as much insulin, and you won't get the exaggerated hunger and cravings for more sugary and starchy carbs.

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6 of the World's Healthiest Spices

(EatingWell) While science has yet to show that any spice cures disease, there’s compelling evidence that several may help manage some chronic conditions (though it’s always smart to talk with your doctor). And of course, seasoning your dishes with spices allows you to use less of other ingredients linked with health problems, such as salt, added sugars and sources of saturated fat. What’s not to love? Here we’ve gathered six of the healthiest spices and herbs enjoyed around the world…

Sage

Today’s herbalists recommend sipping sage tea for upset stomachs and sore throats; one study found that spraying sore throats with a sage solution gave effective pain relief. And whoever gave the herb the wisdom-connoting “sage” moniker may have been onto something: preliminary research suggests the herb may improve some symptoms of early Alzheimer’s disease by preventing a key enzyme from destroying acetylcholine, a brain chemical involved in memory and learning. In another study, college students who took sage extracts in capsule form performed significantly better on memory tests, and their moods improved.

Rosemary

In ancient Greece, scholars wore rosemary garlands to help them study—and one recent study found that people performed better on memory and alertness tests when mists of aromatic rosemary oil were piped into their study cubicles. Rosemary is often used in marinades for meats and poultry, and there’s scientific wisdom behind that tradition: rosmarinic acid and other antioxidant compounds in the herb fight bacteria and prevent meat from spoiling, and may even make cooked meats healthier. In March, Kansas State University researchers reported that adding rosemary extracts to ground beef helped prevent the formation of heterocyclic amines (HCAs)—cancer-causing compounds produced when meats are grilled, broiled or fried.

Turmeric

In India, turmeric paste is applied to wounds to speed healing; people sip turmeric tea to relieve colds and respiratory problems. Modern medicine confirms some solid-gold health benefits as well; most are associated with curcumin, a compound in turmeric that has potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin has been shown to help relieve pain of arthritis, injuries and dental procedures; it’s also being studied for its potential in managing heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Researcher Bharat Aggarwal is bullish on curcumin’s potential as a cancer treatment, particularly in colon, prostate and breast cancers; preliminary studies have found that curcumin can inhibit tumor cell growth and suppress enzymes that activate carcinogens.

Chile Pepper

Chiles, which create sensations of heat, from mild to fiery, are especially prized in hot climates since, ironically, the spice helps trigger the body’s natural cooling systems. Studies show that capsaicin—a pungent compound in hot chiles—revs up the body’s metabolism and may boost fat burning, but the jury is still out on whether that translates to long-term weight loss. Recent research found that capsinoids, similar but gentler chemicals found in milder chile hybrids, have the same effects—so even tamer sweet paprika packs a healthy punch. Capsaicin may also lower risk of ulcers by boosting the ability of stomach cells to resist infection by ulcer-causing bacteria and help the heart by keeping “bad” LDL cholesterol from turning into a more lethal, artery-clogging form.

Ginger

Traditionally used to relieve colds and stomach troubles, ginger is rich in inflammation-fighting compounds, such as gingerols, which some experts believe may hold promise in fighting some cancers and reducing arthritis pain. In a recent study, people who took ginger capsules daily for 11 days reported 25 percent less muscle pain when they performed exercises designed to strain their muscles (compared with a similar group taking placebo capsules). Another study found that ginger extract injections helped relieve osteoarthritis pain of the knee. And ginger’s reputation as a stomach soother seems deserved: studies show ginger extracts can help reduce nausea caused by morning sickness or following surgery or chemotherapy, though it’s less effective for motion sickness.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon was prized by King Solomon and used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to boost appetite and relieve indigestion. A few studies suggest that adding cinnamon to food—up to a teaspoon a day, usually given in capsule form—might help people with type 2 diabetes better control their blood sugar, by lowering post-meal blood-sugar spikes. Other studies suggest the effects are limited at best.

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Recipes

EatingWell:

7 Tricks For a Healthier Thanksgiving
Save 1,300 calories and 92 grams of fat over the traditional version with this healthy Thanksgiving meal makeover

Roasted Garlic & Meyer Lemon-Rubbed Turkey

Citrus Gravy

Creamed Onions

Meringue-Topped Sweet Potato Casserole

Sausage Stuffing

Lemon-Dill Green Beans

Holiday Pumpkin Pie

MyRecipes.com

Turkey Jambalaya
Andouille sausage adds a kick to the Cajun classic from Louisiana. Rice and shredded turkey absorb a flavorful mixture of tomatoes and spices until they're bursting with flavor.

Delta Red Beans and Rice

Cajun Corn Maque Choux

Shrimp and Grits

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Magnesium levels don't predict heart risk

(Reuters Health) The hope that a simple blood test could help doctors identify patients likely to develop high blood pressure or heart disease is dashed by the findings of a new study published in the American Heart Association's American Heart Journal.

After analyzing data from more than 3,500 healthy people followed for as long as 20 years, a team of researchers concluded there is no association between blood magnesium levels and the probability of developing high blood pressure or heart disease in the future.

Researchers are always looking for good markers to identify people at risk of disease that might be forestalled with early intervention.

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Protein Injection Shows Promise in Lowering Elevated Triglycerides

(Science Daily) Injecting a protein that helps break down triglycerides may someday help treat an inherited form of high triglycerides, according to a new study…

Triglyceride is a type of fat in the blood. Elevated levels in the blood -- hypertriglyceridemia -- have been linked to coronary artery disease.

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'Lubricin' Molecule Discovered to Reduce Cartilage Wear

(Science Daily) A team of researchers in North Carolina has discovered that lubricin, a synovial fluid glycoprotein, reduces wear to bone cartilage. This result, which has implications for the treatment of sufferers of osteoarthritis…

Osteoarthritis causes cartilage to be broken down through a vicious cycle of mechanical and metabolic factors, and mechanical wear of cartilage is widely believed to contribute to this process. Eventually, the bones under the cartilage rub together, which can cause a tremendous amount of pain, swelling, and loss of motion at the joint.

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Progress in the Development of New Parkinson’s Drugs

(Science Daily) The side effects of the standard medication for Parkinson's disease have long been a preoccupation of brain researchers. Now Daniella Rylander has presented new findings in a recently defended PhD thesis at Lund University that provide hope of more effective medication for those who suffer from the nerve cell disease…

The new finding of a clear pathological change in the serotonin system can now be utilised to better tailor the individual treatment of patients with Parkinson's disease.

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Origin of Immune Cells in the Brain Discovered

(Science Daily) Mount Sinai researchers have discovered that microglia, the immune cells that reside in the brain, have a unique origin and are formed shortly after conception. It was previously thought that microglia originated at the same time as macrophages, which are other immune cells that are thought to develop at birth. This groundbreaking discovery has the potential to lead to future treatments of degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis…

"This really is a startling discovery," said Miriam Merad, MD, PhD… "We've shown that the precursor cells develop into microglia only during a short period after conception. Now that we know that microglia originate in early embryos, theoretically we should be able to generate microglia from embryonic stem cells to treat brain diseases caused by defective microglia. This is a very good example of why scientists need to be able to conduct research with embryonic stem cells."

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Brain's Pleasure Chemical May Explain Men's Higher Alcoholism Rate

(HealthDay News) Differences in the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine may help explain why men are up to twice as likely as women to develop alcoholism, a new study says.

Dopamine, which plays a number of roles in the brain, provides a feeling of pleasure when it's released by experiences such as having sex or taking drugs…

After consuming similar amounts of alcohol, men showed greater dopamine release than women. The increased release occurred in a part of the brain called the ventral striatum, which is strongly associated with pleasure, reinforcement and addiction formation, according to the researchers.

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Coming Soon: Smoke-Free Apartment Buildings?

(HealthDay News) If you're a nonsmoker who lives in an apartment, your health may be at risk from your neighbors who smoke, says a new study…

The researchers said the best way to protect apartment residents from secondhand smoke is to have smoke-free buildings.

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Low-dose aspirin lowers colon cancer risk: UK study

(Reuters) Low doses of aspirin taken to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes can also lower the risk of colon cancer, British researchers reported on Thursday…

But aspirin itself can be dangerous to many people, causing sometimes deadly bleeding in the stomach and intestines.

Other studies have found that a related painkiller, ibuprofen, can also reduce colon cancer rates among people who take it regularly over the long term.

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Clenching Muscles May Boost Willpower

(HealthDay News) Clenching your muscles may help boost your willpower to achieve certain goals or resist temptations such as unhealthy desserts, a new study suggests.

The study included volunteers who were faced with a number of self-control challenges, such as submerging their hands in an ice bucket, consuming a healthy but foul-tasting vinegar drink, deciding whether to view disturbing information about Haiti earthquake victims and donate money, or making food choices…

[M]uscle clenching only helped when the choice matched the participants' goals (such as a healthy lifestyle) and only helped at the moment when they faced the self-control dilemma, the study authors found.

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The Benefits of Eating Mediterranean Style

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Cuisines from countries like Greece, Lebanon, Israel, and Turkey rely on fresh produce, fiber-rich whole grains and beans, nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, healthy portions of lean poultry, beef, and seafood, and good fats from nuts, extra-virgin olive and canola oils, and avocado…

According to the 2006 Spanish study known as PREDIMED…, researchers found that those who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had better blood sugar, better blood pressure, and better ratios of good HDL cholesterol to bad LDL cholesterol than those in a low-fat diet group. This is why the general population in the Mediterranean has a lower incidence of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

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People Less Likely to Buy Junk Food When Paying Cash

(HealthDay News) People are less likely to buy unhealthy foods if they use cash instead of credit or debit cards to pay for groceries, a new study finds…

If people understood that they're more likely to buy unhealthy foods when paying with credit or debit cards, they might be able to control their buying habits, the study authors suggested.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Casual Chili Party
Place a pot of chili on the sideboard, surround it with simple make-ahead accompaniments, and this no-fuss buffet practically serves itself.

Spicy Southwestern Black Bean Chili

Turkey and Bean Chili

Chili Con Carne

EatingWell:

Quick Shrimp Enchilada Bake
Shrimp enchiladas offer a taste of coastal Mexican cuisine but some versions contain so much cheese, butter and sour cream that they can pack a whopping 50 grams of fat per serving. Our version has vibrant flavor and only half the calories and 6 grams of fat per serving, plus we use precooked peeled shrimp so you can get the dish on your table fast enough for a weeknight supper. The addition of refried beans helps makes these enchiladas an excellent source of fiber as well.

Shrimp Caesar

Warm Shrimp & Arugula Salad

Shrimp Louis Salad Sandwich

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Cholesterol-Lowering Drug Shrinks Enlarged Prostates in Hamster Model

(Science Daily) A cholesterol-lowering drug reduced the enlarged prostates of hamsters to the same extent as a drug commonly used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), report researchers…

"We don't know the mechanism, but the results suggest to us that lowering cholesterol has the potential to reduce BPH in men," says senior author Keith Solomon, PhD, a biochemist… "This brings up the possibility that other cholesterol lowering therapies, including exercise and diet, may prevent BPH from developing."

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New Tumor Proteins May Identify a Range of Cancers Early

(Science Daily) A new study led by Ohio State University cancer researchers describes a novel cancer-specific protein that is present in a broad range of cancer types and at all stages of tumor development, from premalignant cells to metastatic tumor cells.

If verified, the antigen could serve as a marker for the early detection and treatment of primary and metastatic tumors, and provide a target for the development of anticancer therapies, the researchers say.

In addition, a vaccine designed to target these cancer-cell proteins, called Piwil2-like (PL2L) proteins, might prevent still-benign tumors from progressing to cancer and prevent recurrence of malignant tumors following surgery.

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Potential Therapeutic Target Across a Range of Cancer Types Discovered

(Science Daily) Researchers … have found a common link among several malignant tumor types in all grades of cancer. This breakthrough may ultimately provide a new diagnostic or therapeutic target to detect cancer early or stop tumor growth…

The team discovered that a hormone receptor typically found in human reproductive organs is also found in blood vessel cells in a wide range of tumor types. The receptors are not present on the blood vessels of any normal tissues with the exception of reproductive organs, where they are present in much lower concentrations than in tumors.

"This new tumor marker may be used to improve cancer detection. Tumor imaging agents that bind to the new marker could be injected in the vasculature and would make visible early tumors located anywhere in the body using magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography, or ultrasound imaging," said the study's lead author, Aurelian Radu, PhD.

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FDA Calls for New Warnings on Some Prostate Cancer Drugs

(HealthDay News) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday called for new warnings on the labels of widely used hormonal prostate cancer drugs because of evidence of a slight increased risk of heart disease and diabetes in the men who take them…

Hormone-based therapy is not a cure for prostate cancer, because tumors can eventually become resistant to the therapy. However, the therapy can extend survival.

So, should the new label warnings deter men from enrolling on hormone-based treatment? Experts say the cardiovascular risk is something to consider, but the therapy does have real benefits.

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Hormones helpful for younger women?

(Reuters Health) Hormone replacement therapy may pose little risk to younger women, and could even help some aspects of their health - but any benefit appears to disappear as women age, according to a new study…

Given the mix of evidence about HRT, however, it's too soon to say that hormones are good for younger women, cautioned Dr. Graham A. Colditz.

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Cataract Surgery Saves Lives, Dollars by Reducing Auto Crashes, Research Finds

(Science Daily) Cataract surgery not only improves vision and quality of life for older people, but is also apparently a way to reduce the number of car crashes…

Cataract--when the eye's crystalline lens becomes clouded and hardens--is the leading cause of vision impairment in older people. By age 60 many people have some lens opacity, and by 70 nearly all have cataract in one or both eyes. Surgical removal of cataract followed by implantation of intraocular lenses dramatically improves vision for most patients…

"We found cataract surgery reduced the frequency of all crashes by 12.6% after accounting for other potential confounders, " [ researcher Jonathon Ng, MD] said, "and the cost savings from this reduction amounted to AUD $4.3 million. Each operation saved about $150 in crash costs. By including all crashes rather than just fatal and hospitalization crashes, all possible benefits of cataract surgery were taken into account."

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Massive healthcare fraud scheme uncovered in Miami

(Reuters) The top two officials of a leading chain of community mental health centers were among four people arrested in Miami on Thursday in connection with a scheme involving about $200 million in fraudulent medical claims, U.S. prosecutors said…

The indictment alleges American Therapeutic and its senior employees conspired to bill Medicare for group therapy sessions for patients in assisted-living facilities, many of whom suffered from Alzheimer's disease or other severe dementia.

The assisted-living facilities allegedly received kickbacks for the referrals to American Therapeutic.

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Recycling Pacemakers May Alleviate Burden of Heart Disease Across the Globe

(Science Daily) Millions worldwide die each year because they can't afford a pacemaker. Meanwhile heart patients in the United States say they'd be willing to donate theirs after death to someone in need…

Small humanitarian efforts have shown reusing pacemakers is safe and effective with little risk of infection and patients live as long, and as well, with a recycled pacemaker as those who get new ones, authors say.

It's a novel approach for treating cardiovascular disease which remains the world's leading cause of death.

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Eating Mostly Whole Grains, Few Refined Grains Linked to Lower Body Fat

(Science Daily) People who consume several servings of whole grains per day while limiting daily intake of refined grains appear to have less of a type of fat tissue thought to play a key role in triggering cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, a new study suggests.

Researchers at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Researcher Center on Aging (USDA HNRCA) at Tufts University observed lower volumes of Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT) in people who chose to eat mostly whole grains instead of refined grains.

"VAT volume was approximately 10 % lower in adults who reported eating three or more daily servings of whole grains and who limited their intake of refined grains to less than one serving per day," says first author Nicola McKeown, PhD.

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Black Rice Bran May Help Fight Disease-Related Inflammation

(Science Daily) Scientists are reporting evidence that black rice -- a little-known variety of the grain that is the staple food for one-third of the world population -- may help soothe the inflammation involved in allergies, asthma, and other diseases…

Mendel Friedman and colleagues point out that their previous research showed several potential health benefits of eating black rice bran. Bran is the outer husk of the grain, which is removed during the processing … to produce the familiar white rice…

In the new study, they tested the effects of black rice bran extract on skin inflammation in laboratory mice. When they injected the extract into the mice, it reduced skin inflammation by about 32 percent compared to control animals and also decreased production of certain substances known to promote inflammation. Brown rice bran extract did not have these effects, they say. When the scientists fed the mice a diet containing 10 percent black rice bran, it reduced swelling associated with allergic contact dermatitis, a common type of skin irritation.

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Turmeric aids head, neck cancer chemo drug

(UPI) Curcumin, found in the spice turmeric, enhances the head and neck cancer drug Cisplatin by suppressing cancer cell growth, U.S. researchers suggest…

Turmeric is used in cooking, but the amount needed for clinical response is much larger, about 500 milligrams so expecting a positive effect through eating foods spiced with turmeric is not realistic, the researchers warn.

However, curcumin has shown to have suppressive effect on breast, colon and pancreatic cancers and perhaps Alzheimer's disease, the researchers add.

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Community: I don’t know if it’s a therapeutic level, but I put a big dose of turmeric into my daily vegetable juice cocktail.

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Can Coffee, Tea Lower Brain Cancer Risk?

(HealthDay News) Researchers have discovered that coffee and tea might do more than boost your energy levels: Regular consumption of the world's two most popular beverages may also shield you against a form of brain cancer.

In fact, the latest research suggests that those who drink as little as a half cup or so of coffee per day may lower brain cancer risk by as much as 34 percent…

The protective effect appears to be slightly stronger among men, the authors observed, and seems to apply solely to gliomas.

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Vitamin E may help fight prostate cancer

(UPI) An Australian researcher suggests a new vitamin E treatment could improve prostate cancer survival rates.

Dr. Patrick Ling and colleagues …found a particular constituent of vitamin E called tocotrienol or T3 can successfully kill off the prostate cancer stem cells believed to promote tumor regrowth.

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Genetics May Play Role in Vitamin E Levels

(HealthDay News) Scientists have identified common genetic variations that may explain differences in peoples' ability to process vitamin E.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant found in a number of oils, nuts and seeds as well as brightly-colored produce such as peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins. Previous research has found that vitamin E consumption has inconsistent effects on the amount of the vitamin in a person's body.

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Americans' Salt Intake Unchanged Over 50 Years

(HealthDay News) Americans still consume more salt than they should, despite decades of warnings linking high-salt diets with an increase in blood pressure and a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.

A new Harvard study finds salt intake is about the same today as it was nearly 50 years ago, an amount well above recommended guidelines, noted Dr. Adam M. Bernstein, the study's lead author…

[T]here's a call to do more to get Americans to ease up on salt. In April, a report by the Institute of Medicine called for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set national standards for salt added to processed foods. According to that report, 32 percent of U.S. adults have high blood pressure. And the American Medical Association estimates that cutting the amount of salt in processed foods by half could save 150,000 lives in the United States each year.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Fresh Fall Apples
As the weather gets crisp and the crispness of apples signals the sweet, fleeting passage of fall, it's time to get cooking. You may find eight varieties of apples for sale in a good grocery store these days, and a dozen or more in a big farmers' market. There are more than 2,500 kinds of apples grown in the United States alone, with rare, old heirloom varieties on a welcome rebound. All this means you have a bumper crop of fruit to cook with—and apples are a great cooking fruit. We matched some favorite varieties to recipes designed to unlock the unique charm of each fruit.

Open-Faced Turkey Sandwich with Apple and Havarti

Brie, Apple, and Arugula Quesadillas

Fresh Apple Salsa

Apple-Parsnip Soup

MyRecipes.com:

Chicken-Butternut Tagine
Sweet, smoky, and salty flavors blend beautifully in this quick adaptation of a classic Moroccan dish.

Velvety Squash Soup

Roasted Kabocha Squash Bowl with Autumn Vegetables

Roasted Squash Soup with Sage

EatingWell:

Southwestern Rice & Pinto Bean Salad
The slightly chewy texture of ruddy-red Wehani rice makes it perfect for salads. Serve it mounded on a bed of Boston lettuce or curly frisée.

Southwestern Corn & Black Bean Salad

Spiced Pinto Beans

Jamaican Chicken, Rice & Bean Salad

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Fabulous Fall Fruits: Grapes

(SouthBeachDiet.com) The combination of crunchy texture and dry, sweet, tart flavor have made grapes a popular fruit choice… There are thousands of grape varieties, seeded and seedless, some of which you can find in your local supermarkets, farmers markets, and health-food stores. Dark red grapes in particular contain antioxidant-rich compounds known as flavonoids, which have been shown to help improve heart health. American grape varieties usually ripen in the fall and are available from September through October…

Grapes make a great mid-morning or late-afternoon snack. They are best eaten right off the stem. You can also toss them into salads and desserts or use as a garnish for main or side dishes.

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Insulin Sensitivity May Explain Link Between Obesity, Memory Problems

(Science Daily) Because of impairments in their insulin sensitivity, obese individuals demonstrate different brain responses than their normal-weight peers while completing a challenging cognitive task, according to new research…

The results provide further evidence that a healthy lifestyle at midlife could lead to a higher quality of life later on, especially as new drugs and treatments allow people to live longer.

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Elusive Protein May Lead the Fight Against Inflammatory Disease

(Science Daily) A husband and wife research team from Melbourne, Australia, have identified a protein that may be a key therapy for many inflammatory diseases…

Dr Claudia Nold said that they discovered IL37 is one of the rare antiinflammatory cytokines that blocks inflammation throughout the whole body. And, unlike other antiinflammatory cytokines, IL37 does not target just one specific inflammatory agent but acts much more broadly…

"To discover that an obscure cytokine plays a key role in the immune response is a scientist's dream," the Nolds said. "We hope our work will serve as a foundation on which we can propel IL37 to clincial application as fast as possible."

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New Theory Links Depression to Chronic Brain Inflammation

(Science Daily) Chronic depression is an adaptive, reparative neurobiological process gone wrong, say two University of California … researchers, positing in a new theory that the debilitating mental state originates from more ancient mechanisms used by the body to deal with physical injury, such as pain, tissue repair and convalescent behavior…

[I]f chronic depression is proven to be a neuroinflammatory condition, then anti-inflammatory treatments should also have some antidepressant effects. Several small trials with depressed patients have already been published that support this possibility, though Markou cautioned that much more specific research and larger clinical trials are required.

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Animal Study Explores Potential Gene Therapy for Depression

(HealthDay News) A combination of animal and human research is pointing the way towards a novel gene therapy that could ultimately help in the treatment of major depression, researchers say.

The approach is designed to boost levels of a brain protein known as p11. The study authors cite p11 as a key player in the promotion of feelings of reward, pleasure and satisfaction with positive life experiences…

"The laboratory findings are interesting, but the translational step to anything that would benefit a patient is very removed at this point," [Dr. Bernard Carroll] noted.

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Harm Reduction Cigarettes Can Be More Harmful Than Conventional Brands, Researchers Report

(Science Daily) To reduce the toxicity of cigarette smoke, tobacco companies have introduced "harm reduction cigarettes," often marketed as safer than conventional brands.

But stem cell scientists at the University of California, Riverside have found that even sidestream smoke (which burns off the tip of a cigarette) from harm reduction cigarettes impairs growth of human embryonic stem cells more than sidestream smoke from a conventional brand.

"Harm reduction products are not necessarily safer than their conventional counterparts," said Prue Talbot, the director of UC Riverside's Stem Cell Center and the research team leader. "Our analyses show there is significant toxicity in harm reduction products, and our data show that reduction of carcinogens in harm reduction mainstream smoke does not necessarily reduce the toxicity of unfiltered sidestream smoke."

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Drug companies pay 17,000 U.S. doctors, report finds

(Reuters) More than 17,000 doctors and other healthcare providers have taken money from seven major drug companies to talk to other doctors about their products, a joint investigation by news organizations and non-profit groups found…

The payments are not illegal and usually not even considered improper. But the investigation by journalism group ProPublica, Consumer Reports magazine, NPR radio and several publications showed doctors were sometimes urged to recommend "off-label" prescriptions of drugs, meaning using them for conditions they are not approved for.

And the report points to several studies showing that even small gifts and payments to doctors can affect their attitudes, and many companies have stopped giving out once-common gifts such as pens, cups and other objects carrying drug brand names.

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Drug companies influence prescribing, study finds

(Reuters) Doctors tend to prescribe drugs that pharmaceutical companies promote to them and patients end up paying more but not always getting the most suitable medicines, researchers reported on Wednesday.

An analysis of 58 studies in several countries found that information from drug companies influenced the decisions doctors made, and not necessarily in a positive way…

The report found that doctors who accepted briefings or other information from drug companies were more likely to prescribe those products.

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What Changes In Survival Rates Tell Us About US Health Care

(Health Affairs) In 1950, the United States was fifth among the leading industrialized nations with respect to female life expectancy at birth… As of September 23, 2010, the United States ranked forty-ninth for both male and female life expectancy combined. The United States does little better in international comparisons of mortality. Americans live 5.7 fewer years of "perfect health"—a measure adjusted for time spent ill—than the Japanese.

Meanwhile, per capita health spending in the United States increased at nearly twice the rate in other wealthy nations between 1970 and 2002. As a result, the United States now spends well over twice the median expenditure of industrialized nations on health care, and far more than any other country as a percentage of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The observation that Americans are spending relatively more on health but living relatively shorter, less healthy lives has led some critics to allege that the US health care system is "uniquely inefficient."…

We found that none of the prevailing excuses for the poor performance of the US health care system are likely to be valid…

We speculate that the nature of our health care system—specifically, its reliance on unregulated fee-for-service and specialty care—may explain both the increased spending and the relative deterioration in survival that we observed. If so, meaningful reform may not only save money over the long term, it may also save lives.

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Community: But it’s not about saving money, and it’s not about saving lives or even reducing suffering. Stopping sane solutions to our health care problems is about buttressing a dying ideology.

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Low Testosterone May Raise Risk of Early Death: Study

(HealthDay News) Men with low testosterone levels may be at increased risk for premature death from heart disease and all causes, a finding that challenges the current belief that testosterone is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, according to new research…

Low, rather than high, levels of testosterone are associated with obesity, risky blood fats and insulin resistance, all of which are risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, the researchers noted.

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Study Shows HRT Even Riskier Than Thought

(HealthDay News) Not only does prolonged use of hormone replacement therapy raise the risk of breast cancer, new research finds, but it also ups the risk for more severe forms of the disease and increases a woman's chances of dying.

A [new study] is at odds with previous observational studies that had suggested a raised risk of breast cancer, but only for less aggressive and more treatable tumors. The researchers added that this is the first time an increase in mortality has been shown.

The findings apply only to estrogen-plus-progestin, or combined hormone therapy, not estrogen-alone therapy.

"It looks like all categories of breast cancer are increased," said study author Dr. Rowan Chlebowski.

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First Direct Evidence That Response to Alcohol Depends on Genes

(Science Daily) Many studies have suggested that genetic differences make some individuals more susceptible to the addictive effects of alcohol and other drugs. Now scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory provide the first experimental evidence to directly support this idea in a study in mice…

"This study shows that the effects of chronic alcohol consumption on brain chemistry are critically influenced by an individual's pre-existing genetic makeup," said lead author Panayotis (Peter) Thanos.

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Cholesterol-Lowering Snacks

(Dr. Arthur Agatston, Everyday Health) Q: I can't stop snacking between meals, but I want to try to eat things that will help me lower my cholesterol (instead of raising it!). What would you recommend?

A: The good news — or the bad news, depending on what you're snacking on — is that "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol is sensitive to diet, though less sensitive than triglycerides and good high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol. Fortunately, the same foods that can help lower LDL may also improve HDL and triglycerides. So instead of snacking on chips and doughnuts, consider these healthier options:

Nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, pine nuts, flaxseeds, and almonds are particularly high in plant sterols, which can help reduce LDL. But it's easy to overdo it on nuts and seeds (and they are calorie dense), so I suggest limiting your total intake to about one ounce, or 1/4 cup, a day if you are also trying to lose weight.

Apples. Research shows that eating two apples a day can slow down the oxidation of LDL cholesterol and help prevent plaque buildup. The protective antioxidants are in the apples' skin, so don't peel them.

Oat bran. An important source of water-soluble fiber, oats have long been recognized as a potential cholesterol-lowering dietary component…

Grapefruit. Studies show that the phytochemicals called liminoids in pink and red grapefruit make them powerful LDL busters. But this snack is not for everyone. Because grapefruit can interfere with the breakdown of certain medications, including statins and calcium channel blockers, don't eat a lot of grapefruit or drink the juice as a snack if you're on these medications.

Learn more in the Everyday Health High Cholesterol Center.

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