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

Worker wellness program can yield millions

(UPI) Well-designed employee wellness programs can yield savings of as much as $6 for each dollar spent on the health intervention, U.S. researchers say.

[They] say since Johnson & Johnson incorporated a wellness program in 1995, the percentage of its employees who smoke dropped by more than two-thirds.

Those with high-blood pressure or who are physically inactive declined by more than one-half and the wellness program saved $250 million on healthcare costs from 2002 to 2008 -- or a return of $2.71 for every dollar spent, the researchers say…

Of those diagnosed at high heart risk -- for body fat, blood pressure, anxiety and other measures -- 57 percent were converted to low-risk status by the end of a six-month period. In addition, the company's medical claim costs had declined by $1,421 per participant, compared to the costs from the previous year.

In addition, a well-designed employee wellness program can translate into reduced employee turnover.

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Community: Why don’t we have neighborhood wellness programs?

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Jet Lag May Cause Stupidity

(Wired) In addition to making you groggy and dazed, jet lag may make you stupid. A study … finds that hamsters suffering extreme, chronic jet lag had about half the normal rate of new neuron birth in a part of the brain. What’s more, these animals showed deficits in learning and memory.

Jet lag poses a serious health threat, said study coauthor Erin Gibson of the University of California, Berkeley. Studies have shown that people with work schedules that require them to frequently change their sleep patterns have higher rates of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Read more.

Community: So please tell me why our government purposely makes us stupid twice a year by setting our clocks back and forth?

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Some Consumers See Brands as Extensions of Themselves

(HealthDay News) Hardcore aficionados of particular brands feel so strongly about their choice that they can suffer separation anxiety if they have to buy a different brand, a new study suggests.

The findings suggest that these consumers regard brands as extensions of themselves, said the researchers at the Marshall School of Business at the University of Southern California. This, in turn, explains consumers' devotion to particular items, fans' intense responses to celebrity deaths, and the despair of teens who can't have their favorite brand of jeans, the researchers added…

Although their findings were positive, the researchers also noted that some studies have found consumers can have "strong negative dissociations between the brand and self." When this occurs, brand relationships can include "motivations to inflict harm on the brand."

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Community: Good grief! Maybe both the brand lovers and the brand haters are suffering from jet lag stupidity.

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Fight Wrinkles with This Breathing Exercise

(RealAge.com) Take a deep breath. Now let it out. Breathe in again. Breathe out. In. Out. Slowly. Evenly. Feel better? More relaxed?

Good. You might look better when you are done, too, because studies show that stress does more than rumple your mood. It may actually help rumple your face, too…

3 More Feel-Better, Look-Better Tips

Don't skimp on sleep. Sleep deprivation exacerbates stress and a haggard appearance. Try these sleep-inducing tips and tools.

Have more sex. Besides boosting beta-endorphins, making love and cuddling with your significant other increases levels of the tension-squashing, feel-good hormones prolactin and oxytocin. Find out how sex reduced people's blood pressure in a study.

End the love affair with your couch. Exercise jacks up your beta-endorphins, too. And it also releases pent up energy and increases blood flow -- all of which your skin will love. Try this 10-minute workout.

Find more skin-saving strategies at the RealAge Simply Beautiful Skin Center.

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Recipes

SouthBeachDiet.com:

Healthy Stuff for Holiday Stuffing
Hearty and flavorful, stuffing can be a healthy addition to a South Beach Diet–friendly Thanksgiving dinner beginning on Phase 2 if you take care with the ingredients. There are plenty of healthy foods you can easily add to your stuffing recipe. Here are some suggestions:

1. Bread crumbs. Use 100% whole-wheat bread crumbs or bread cubes. Save stale bread and make your own!

2. Whole grains. Consider using whole grains like wild or brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat matzo, or barley instead of bread for a nuttier and grainier texture.

3. Mushrooms. Dice up portobellos or other meaty mushrooms, and mix with the other stuffing ingredients.

4. Nuts. Add chopped toasted walnuts, almonds, or pecans for texture and heart-healthy fat.

5. Fruit. Add dried cranberries (no added sugar) and/or apricots (unsweetened) or fresh pears or apples for their natural sweetness.

6. Acorn or butternut squash. Add peeled and diced squash or other root veggies for extra fiber.

MyRecipes.com:

Peppered Pork and Pears
Ground mixed peppercorns give a slightly sweet, barely hot flavor to the pork and pears. If you don't have pear brandy, substitute regular brandy or additional chicken broth. Serve with egg noodles.

Turkey, Brie and Pear Sandwiches

Roast Chicken with Pears, Shallots, and Walnuts

Braised Pork with Pears and Chiles

EatingWell:

French Onion Beef Tenderloin
We took the comforting flavors of French onion soup and turned them into an easy bistro-style steak dinner. Tender filet mignon gets smothered with sweet caramelized onions and topped by a crispy, Swiss cheese-covered crostini…. Serve with green beans and mashed potatoes with buttermilk and chives.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin & Escarole

Beef Burgers with Caramelized Onions

Peppercorn-Crusted Beef Tenderloin

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Vitamin C May Offer Potential Life-Saving Treatment for Sepsis

(Science Daily) Physicians caring for patients with sepsis may soon have a new safe and cost-effective treatment for this life-threatening illness. Research[ers] have found that vitamin C can not only prevent the onset of sepsis, but can reverse the disease.

Sepsis is caused by a bacterial infection that can begin anywhere in your body. Your immune system goes into overdrive, overwhelming normal processes in your blood. The result is that small blood clots form, blocking blood flow to vital organs. This can lead to organ failure. Babies, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sepsis. But even healthy people can become deathly ill from the disease.

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Bees Take the Sting out of Mouth Ulcers

(Science Daily) The healing properties of propolis -- a mixture of resin and wax made by honey bees to seal and sterilize their hives -- have been known for many years. But its use in medicine and food supplements has been limited because the sticky substance is not water soluble and has a strong, off-putting smell.

Now researchers at the University of Bradford's Centre for Pharmaceutical Engineering Science have developed a way of purifying propolis that retains its medicinal properties, but makes it dissolve in water and eliminates its pungent smell. The technique has already led to the development of a new mouth ulcer gel and opens the door to a huge range of other pharmaceutical and nutraceutical applications for the substance.

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Compound That Blocks Sugar Pathway Slows Cancer Cell Growth

(Science Daily) Scientists at Johns Hopkins have identified a compound that could be used to starve cancers of their sugar-based building blocks. The compound, called a glutaminase inhibitor, has been tested on laboratory-cultured, sugar-hungry brain cancer cells and, the scientists say, may have the potential to be used for many types of primary brain tumors.

The Johns Hopkins scientists, are inventors on patent applications related to the discovery, caution that glutaminase inhibitors have not been tested in animals or humans, but their findings may spark new interest in the glutaminase pathway as a target for new therapies.

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Potential Genetic Target for Heart Disease Discovered

(Science Daily) Researchers at UC have found a potential genetic target for heart disease, which could lead to therapies to prevent the development of the nation's No. 1 killer in its initial stages…

"These findings show that miR765 can down-regulate the expression and reduce contractility of heart cells by decreasing or deactivating a number of proteins that help the heart function at full capacity," [Dr. WenFeng] Cai says. "This leads us to believe that miR765 may play a role in the development of heart failure.

"Hopefully, these findings will lead to future studies, helping researchers and clinicians develop a therapeutic target to stop heart disease where it first starts: in the genes."

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New Approach to Treat Numerous Metabolic Disorders

(Science Daily) Scientists … have identified a novel synthetic activator of a pair of proteins that belong to a protein family playing key roles in human metabolism and immune function. The discovery could provide new and potentially more effective therapeutic approaches to diseases ranging from diabetes to osteoporosis…

"This new compound is particularly important because it works in vivo, and it is selective for certain receptors," said Tom Burris, …. who led the study. "These two properties give it significant potential as a possible therapeutic compound."

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Controlling Cursors With Thoughts

(Science Daily) Using a new brain-computer training approach, 14 volunteers learned in only six minutes how to move a screen cursor with their thoughts. Near-instant feedback helped the people quickly master some of their own brain responses…

Studies show that when people and animals are given feedback about their brain signals, they can gain some control over those signals. It's now possible to acquire that feedback faster than ever before -- in "real time" -- using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which registers blood flow in active brain regions…

Thought-only cursor control may provide more options for people with "locked-in" syndromes -- in which a person is aware but unable to communicate -- and individuals with brain injuries. Previous trials have also shown that people can learn to control pain using real-time fMRI, and researchers believe this same technique may be applied to other conditions. They theorize that if the structures that underlie these diseases can be controlled, the disease itself can be altered.

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Mental Illness Hit 1 in 5 U.S. Adults in Past Year

(HealthDay News) A new survey finds that 20 percent of U.S. adults -- over 45 million people -- experienced mental illness in the past year…

"Too many Americans are not getting the help they need and opportunities to prevent and intervene early are being missed," [the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s] Pamela S. Hyde said in an agency news release.

"The consequences for individuals, families and communities can be devastating. If left untreated mental illnesses can result in disability, substance abuse, suicides, lost productivity, and family discord. Through health care reform and the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act we can help far more people get needed treatment for behavioral health problems," she said.

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Light at Night Causes Changes in Brain Linked to Depression

(Science Daily) Exposure to even dim light at night is enough to cause physical changes in the brains of hamsters that may be associated with depression, a new study shows…

The results are significant because the night-time light used in the study was not bright: 5 lux, or the equivalent of having a television on in a darkened room, said Randy Nelson, co-author of the study and professor of neuroscience and psychology at Ohio State.

"You would expect to see an impact if we were blasting these hamsters with bright lights, but this was a very low level, something that most people could easily encounter every night," said Nelson.

Read more.

Community: I have to have the TV on at night, but when I read that just a small amount of light can contribute to weight gain, I bought a sleep mask. It took me a while to get used to it, but I’ve been sleeping more soundly. An extra added benefit is that my eyes aren’t puffy when I get up.

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Inability to Cope With Stress May Play Role in Depression

(Science Daily) Disrupting the stress response in zebrafish generates behaviors that resemble depression, according to new research…

"Our findings offer a molecular basis for the intuition that long-term emotional well-being depends on an individual's ability to cope with stress," said Herwig Baier, PhD…, who led the study…

[T]his is the first discovery of a zebrafish mutant with an apparent psychiatric disorder. When faced repeatedly with a stressful situation -- isolation from others -- the mutant fish stop swimming and hide in the corner of the tank for many minutes. This abnormal behavior was reversed by bathing the fish in water containing fluoxetine (Prozac), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) commonly prescribed for people with depression.

Baier and his colleagues found that the "depressed" zebrafish had a genetic mutation in the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) gene. One of the functions of GR is to "dial down" the secretion of stress hormones from the brain. Both too much and too little GR activity has been implicated in depression. The zebrafish mutant had little to no GR activity.

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Exhaustion Syndrome Leaves Measurable Changes in the Brain

(Science Daily) Exhaustion syndrome, also called burnout and exhaustion depression, leaves objectively measurable changes in the brain -- including reduced activity in the frontal lobes and altered regulation of the stress hormone cortisol…

Exhaustion syndrome patients proved to have a different activity pattern in the brain when they performed a language test of their working memory, and they also activate parts of the frontal lobe less than healthy subjects and a group of patients who had recently developed depression.

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Body's 'Clock' Gene May Play Role in Depression

(HealthDay News) Depression may be linked to increased activity in the gene that regulates the body's 24-hour (circadian) clock, the results of a study suggest…

"We know that there are a lot of insomnia symptoms in depression, especially early morning awakening," lead author Jean-Philippe Gouin, a graduate student in psychology at Ohio State University, said in a university news release.

"We can't say with this study that there is a direct relationship between this altered gene function and behavior, but the research suggests that over-expression of circadian genes might serve as a biomarker of vulnerability to depression," Gouin added.

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Importance of Exercise for Those at Risk for Alzheimer's

(Science Daily) In a study that included healthy 65- to 85-years-old who carried a high-risk gene for Alzheimer's disease, those who exercised showed greater brain activity in memory-related regions than those who were sedentary. The results suggest that physical activity promotes changes in the brain that may protect high-risk individuals against cognitive decline…

"Our study suggests that if you are at genetic risk for Alzheimer's disease, the benefits of exercise to your brain function might be even greater than for those who do not have that genetic risk," says [J. Carson] Smith.

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How to Outsmart Your Obesity Genes

(RealAge.com) Not a lot of size 6's in your family? Well, then, here's the simple trick to outrunning your obesity genes: movement…

In [a] recent study, researchers found 12 genes that increased the risk of obesity. And every obesity gene people had correlated to extra weight gain. Still, although certain genes made them more susceptible to obesity, participants were not slaves to their DNA. Exercising about an hour a day dropped the risk of weight gain about 40 percent, compared with the couch potatoes…

Only about 30 percent of aging is determined by genetic factors. The other 70 percent you control through your behaviors. Here are just a few examples of how you can alter the way your genes affect your health:

Exercise for 3 minutes. Find out how it can alter a genetic risk for diabetes.

Cook with olive oil. Discover how it helps turn off genes that are bad for the heart.

Write a thank-you note. Find out how it can affect a genetic predisposition to unhappiness.

Did you know? Pictures of your parents can provide clues to your health. Here's how.

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Maximize Antioxidants with This Style of Tea

(RealAge.com) Tea sure is loaded with good-for-your-body nutrients. But to really get your fill of antioxidants from tea, choose brewed over bottled.

New research shows that most bottled teas have few antioxidants to offer, while brewed varieties can provide anywhere from 50 to 150 health-boosting milligrams per cup.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Lamb Pitas with Lemon-Mint Sauce
Load pita pockets with roasted red peppers, ground lamb, and a vibrant three-ingredient sauce for a quick-cooking dinner that's sure to satisfy.

Roasted Lamb

Cranberry-Crusted Rack of Lamb with Rosemary Potatoes

Rosemary-Crusted Rack of Lamb With Balsamic Sauce

EatingWell:

Cashew Salmon with Apricot Couscous
Yogurt sauce flavored with lemon, cumin and cilantro tops this Indian-inspired grilled salmon.

Fish Couscous with Onion T'faya

Salmon Panzanella

Bean & Salmon Salad with Anchovy-Arugula Dressing

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Preventive heart drugs not being taken

(UPI) Many patients at risk for heart disease are not taking preventive medications, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Minneapolis Heart Institute at Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis said patients who have a number of cardiac risk factors were rarely on primary preventive medications when stricken with an acute heart attack.

"For those patients with known coronary artery disease, 100 percent should be taking aspirin and 90 percent on a statin, but we found only 70 percent were taking aspirin and only 61 percent were taking a statin," study investigator Dr. Kevin Graham said in a statement.

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Well-Known Molecule May Be Behind Alcohol's Benefits to Heart Health

(Science Daily) Many studies support the assertion that moderate drinking is beneficial when it comes to cardiovascular health, and for the first time scientists have discovered that a well-known molecule, called Notch, may be behind alcohol's protective effects. Down the road, this finding could help scientists create a new treatment for heart disease that mimics the beneficial influence of modest alcohol consumption…

In the study…, scientists found that alcohol at moderate levels of consumption -- generally considered one to three drinks per day -- inhibits Notch, and subsequently prevents the buildup of smooth muscle cells in blood vessels, which contributes to narrowing of the arteries and can lead to a heart attack or stroke.

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Long-Term Statin Use Won't Up Cancer Risk: Study

(HealthDay News) New research supports the notion that patients who take cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins may not have an increased risk for cancer, as some previous studies suggested.

Statins are the most commonly prescribed drugs for people with high blood cholesterol levels, which are linked to heart disease…

Cancer occurred in 11.4 percent of almost 24,000 patients during the studied time frame. Non-statin users had an incidence of 11.1 percent, essentially the same as users.

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Cough Medicine Could Help Doctors Identify How Breast Cancer Patients Metabolize Tamoxifen

(Science Daily) Cough medicine could be used as way of predicting how well individual patients metabolise tamoxifen used in the treatment of their breast cancer, according to new research…

The findings suggest that it could be possible to use cough suppressant syrup as a probe, which would enable doctors to identify patients with altered metabolism and use this information to improve individual treatment, making it more effective and reducing the chances of side-effects.

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Hormone Therapy Use May Increase or Decrease Dementia Risk Depending Upon Timing

(Science Daily) Compared to women never on hormone therapy, those taking hormone therapy only at midlife had a 26 percent decreased risk of dementia; while women taking HT only in late life had a 48 percent increased risk of dementia, according to Kaiser Permanente researchers.

Women taking HT at both midlife (mean age 48.7 years) and late life had a similar risk of dementia as women not on HT…

Limitations of this most recent study include the fact that HT information in midlife was self-reported and therefore researchers do not know the dose or type of HT involved. Also, because the pharmacy database was initiated in 1994, researchers do not have information on the duration of midlife HT.

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Flipping Estrogen's Switch to Reap Benefits Without Risks

(Science Daily) Estrogen is an elixir for the brain, sharpening mental performance in humans and animals and showing promise as a treatment for disorders of the brain such as Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia. But long-term estrogen therapy, once prescribed routinely for menopausal women, now is quite controversial because of research showing it increases the risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.

Northwestern Medicine researchers have discovered how to reap the benefits of estrogen without the risk.

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Modulating a Protein in the Brain Could Help Control Alzheimer's Disease

(Science Daily) A protein known to exist in the brain for more than 30 years, called 5-lipoxygenase, has been found to play a regulatory role in the formation of the amyloid beta in the brain, the major component of plaques implicated in the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to researchers…

The researchers also found that inhibitors of this protein currently used to control asthma could possibly be used to prevent or treat Alzheimer's disease.

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Hope for Treatment of Cocaine Addiction: Block Memories

(Science Daily) Two separate discoveries by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) offer potential for development of a first-ever pharmacological treatment for cocaine addiction.

In one study, a common beta blocker, propranolol, currently used to treat hypertension and anxiety, has shown to be effective in preventing the brain from retrieving memories associated with cocaine use in animal-addiction models…

Along with the discovery of propranolol's cocaine-memory blocking effects, the researchers also have identified the primary players in the brain responsible for "extinction" learning -- the ability to replace cocaine-associated memories with associations that have no drug "reward."…

Cocaine is one of the worst drug addictions to kick, with about 80 percent of those trying to quit experiencing a relapse within six months.

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Smokers Urged to Join Thursday's Great American Smokeout

(HealthDay News) Get ready, get set, quit! Thursday marks the annual Great American Smokeout, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, which urges all smokers to lay off the habit for at least 24 hours.

There have been dramatic changes in attitudes about smoking and a large decrease in smoking rates since the Smokeout was first held in 1977.

The annual event includes local and nationwide events meant to encourage smokers to quit for at least one day in the hope that they may decide to permanently kick the habit.

The Smokeout has helped focus attention on the dangers of tobacco use and contributed to a "cultural revolution" in tobacco control, says the American Cancer Society.

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Medicare Panel Endorses Vaccine for Prostate Cancer Patients

(HealthDay News) A newly approved therapeutic prostate cancer vaccine won the support Wednesday of a Medicare advisory committee, increasing the chances that Medicare will pay for the drug…

Provenge is a therapeutic (not preventive) vaccine made from the patient's own white blood cells. Once removed from the patient, the cells are treated with the drug and placed back into the patient. These treated cells then trigger an immune response that in turn kills cancer cells, leaving normal cells unharmed. The vaccine is given intravenously in a three-dose schedule delivered in two-week intervals.

"The strategy of trying to harness the immune system to fight cancer has been something that people have tried to attain for many years; this is one such strategy," study lead researcher Dr. Philip Kantoff…

One expert said the therapy, while far from a cure, "looks promising."

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CDC Report Finds Adult Vaccination Rates Still Lagging

(HealthDay News) Although there have been slight increases in some adult vaccination rates, U.S. health officials reported Wednesday that those rates are still not what they should be.

"We needed vaccinations as infants and toddlers, but we also need vaccinations as adults," Dr. Susan J. Rehm, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said…

The rate of coverage for the pneumococcal vaccine, which is recommend for adults over the age of 65 to prevent pneumonia, has remained at 65 percent since 2008, Wharton said. However, the rate of vaccination among blacks and Hispanics is far below this, she added…

Another new vaccine is the herpes zoster vaccine, which prevents shingles and is recommended for adults aged 60 and over. Coverage with this vaccine is up a little from 2008, from 8 percent to 10 percent, [Dr. Melinda] Wharton said.

One important adult vaccine is the hepatitis B vaccine, which can prevent liver cancer. Coverage of this vaccine is now 41.8 percent among high-risk groups, up 6 percent from 2008, Wharton said.

A case in point for getting vaccinated is the ongoing pertussis outbreak in California. There is a children's vaccine for pertussis that also includes a booster for tetanus and diphtheria called Dtap, she said. (The adult version is called Tdap.)

Pertussis, also called whooping cough, is not that serious in adults, but adults who carry the disease are highly contagious and can easily spread the disease to infants and children.

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Community: The shingles vaccine is very expensive. It’s covered by Medicare, but only if you have Part D prescription coverage. Flu and pneumococcal vaccine are covered by Medicare if you carry Part B. To my mind, it’s in the public interest for all of us to get all the vaccinations possible. I think they should all be paid for by taxes.

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Winter Skies Still Pose Sun Danger, Experts Warn

(HealthDay News) Skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts need to be aware that factors such as weather conditions and time of day can cause considerable variation in the levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation during the winter, researchers say…

Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist…, said the research shows that people who engage in outdoor sports are at higher risk for sun damage and skin cancer than they may realize.

"It highlights the importance of counseling patients to wear UV protection every day all year-round, especially if they are participating in outdoor activities at higher altitudes, and especially if they are at higher risk for skin cancer," Day said.

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Resistance Exercise May Offer Different Cardio Benefits

(HealthDay News) Resistance exercise such as weight training affects blood vessels differently than aerobic exercise and offers other cardiovascular benefits, finds a new study…

Resistance exercise produced greater increases in blood flow to the limbs, while aerobic exercise reduced arterial stiffness, but without an increase in blood flow.

Resistance exercise also led to a longer-lasting decrease in blood pressure after exercise, compared to aerobic exercise…

"The present study indicates that an acute bout of resistance exercise shows many favorable cardiovascular benefits and should therefore be considered as part of a daily exercise training program," the researchers concluded.

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Cell Phone 'Telemonitoring' May Help Control Blood Pressure

(HealthDay News) Diabetics may soon find that assistance in controlling their blood pressure is just a cell phone screen away.

Researchers are now exploring the potential of a new mobile phone monitoring system that automatically picks up patients' home blood pressure readings, which is then sent out wirelessly via radio signals from monitoring equipment outfitted with Blue-tooth technology.

The cell phones are pre-programmed to transmit the blood pressure readings and receive appropriate feedback (which appear instantly on the cell phone screen).

Good readings may prompt a message of "Congratulations," while problematic results may trigger a message advising the patients to make a check-up appointment with their doctor. The interactive system may also instruct patients to take more readings over a specified period of time to get a more reliable overall reading.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Plan Your Thanksgiving Feast
Make this year's feast the best ever with these healthy Thanksgiving recipes.

Perfect Roast Turkey Recipes

Healthy Holiday Side Dishes

Our Best Pie Recipes

Vegetarian Holiday Dishes

Recipe Makeover: Holiday Classics
We lightened eight seasonal favorites for a good-for-you holiday spread.

EatingWell:

Apple Turkey Picadillo
This twist on the Latin American staple is made healthier with lean ground turkey and crisp apples. It doubles well. Try tucking it into whole-wheat tortillas or serve over instant brown rice for a quick and healthy supper.

Turkey Cutlets with Parsnips, Apples & Shiitakes

Turkey & Apple Sausage Patties

Picadillo-Style Turkey Chili

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Experimental Drug Raises Good Cholesterol Levels in Early Trial

(HealthDay News) An experimental drug that raises HDL, or "good," cholesterol seems to have passed an initial hurdle by proving safe in preliminary trials.

Although the trial was primarily designed to look at safety, researchers … also report that anacetrapib raised HDL cholesterol by 138 percent and cut LDL, HDL's evil twin, almost in half.

"We saw very encouraging reductions in clinical events," said Dr. Christopher Cannon, lead author of the study.

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Regenerative Stem Cell Therapy Offers New Hope for Treating Cardiovascular Disease

(Science Daily) Northwestern Medicine physician researchers are revolutionizing treatment of cardiovascular disease by utilizing patients' own stem cells to regenerate heart and vascular tissue…

"Traditionally, cardiovascular medicine has focused on repairing damaged tissues with medication or surgery," said [chief investigator Dr. Douglas] Losordo… "For some patients, their cardiovascular disease is advanced to the point that standard treatment options are not effective. Regenerative cardiovascular medicine strives to redevelop cardiac and vascular tissue and stimulate new blood supply to areas like the heart and legs by using stem cells already present in the patient's body."…

"Treatment was associated with a 50 percent reduction in the total amputation rate compared to control. Although further study is needed, these results provide evidence that CD34 cell therapy is an effective treatment for critical limb ischemia."

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Nerve Zap to Kidneys Might Ease Stubborn Hypertension

(HealthDay News) A novel approach to blast away kidney nerves has a striking effect on lowering blood pressure in heart patients whose blood pressure wasn't budging despite trying multiple drugs, Australian researchers report.

Although this study only followed patients for a short time -- six months -- the authors believe the approach, which involves delivering radiofrequency energy to the so-called "sympathetic " nerves of the kidney, could have an effect on heart disease and even help lower these patients' risk of death.

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Laser System Shows Promise for Cataract Surgery

(Science Daily) Imagine trying to cut by hand a perfect circle roughly one-third the size of a penny. Then consider that instead of a sheet of paper, you're working with a scalpel and a thin, elastic, transparent layer of tissue, which both offers resistance and tears easily. And, by the way, you're doing it inside someone's eye, and a slip could result in a serious impairment to vision.

This standard step in cataract surgery -- the removal of a disc from the capsule surrounding the eye's lens, a procedure known as capsulorhexis -- is one of the few aspects of the operation that has yet to be enhanced by technology, but new developments in guided lasers could soon eliminate the need for such manual dexterity.

A paper … presents clinical findings about how one new system for femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery is not only safe but also cuts circles in lens capsules that are 12 times more precise than those achieved by the traditional method, as well as leaving edges that are twice as strong in the remaining capsule, which serves as a pocket in which the surgeon places the plastic replacement lens.

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Development of a Safer Vaccine for Alzheimer’s Disease

(Science Daily) A new vaccine protects against memory problems associated with Alzheimer's disease, but without potentially dangerous side effects, a new animal study reports…

Vaccines against amyloid-beta accumulation in the brain, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease, have long been considered a promising approach to developing a treatment. But finding a vaccine that is both safe and effective has been challenging…

In the current study, researchers at the University of California, Irvine tested a vaccine developed against a non-human protein that had the same shape as amyloid-beta, but a different sequence of amino acid building blocks. The Alzheimer's mice that received the vaccine showed improved performance on memory and other cognitive tests. The vaccine also reduced the clumps of amyloid-beta and tau protein that may be toxic to brain cells…

"We've demonstrated a promising approach to developing a safe, active vaccine -- and one potentially cheaper and easier to distribute than the manufactured vaccines currently in human trials," [senior author Dr. Charles] Glabe said.

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Oxytocin and Social Contact Reduce Anxiety

(Science Daily) Oxytocin reduces anxiety in stressed animals, according to new research, but only if they recover in the presence of a friend…

"When animals receive oxytocin and are given an opportunity to recuperate in the presence of a familiar partner, their bodies may release extra oxytocin, which in turn appears to facilitate a less anxious pattern of behavior," [Jason Yee, PhD] said. The findings suggest that social contact is an important factor in oxytocin's ability to reduce anxiety.

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U.S. study faults aggressive end-of-life cancer care

(Reuters) One third of U.S. patients dying of cancer end up getting costly but futile treatment in hospitals, when hospice care to ease their suffering would be more appropriate, researchers reported on Tuesday…

Last-ditch treatment of dying patients is expensive, upsetting to families and adds to suffering in many cases, cancer experts agree.

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Errors kill 15,000 aged patients a month: study

(Reuters) Mistakes and unavoidable problems kill an estimated 15,000 elderly U.S. patients every month in hospitals, U.S. government investigators reported on Tuesday…

"An estimated 13.5 percent of hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries experienced adverse events during their hospital stays," the [Office of Inspector General at the Health and Human Services Department] said in the report, available here

It said 44 percent of the problems were avoidable.

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Community: We don’t put up with this many deaths in airline accidents. Why do we put up with it in medical accidents?

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Universal Health Care May Lessen Income's Impact on Heart Disease

(HealthDay News) In Australia, where universal health care is available to all, heart disease is not much more prevalent among poor citizens than it is among the rich, a new study has found.

While the researchers say that differences in risk do exist between the socioeconomic groups, the differences are minimal, despite the fact that heart disease is typically thought of as more prevalent in poorer communities…

The investigators found that men living in poor areas had only a slightly greater risk for heart disease than men in richer parts of the country. Risk differences among women were non-existent.

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Steep Co-Pays May Cause Some to Abandon Prescriptions

(HealthDay News) In these tough economic times, even people with health insurance are leaving prescription medications at the pharmacy because of high co-payments.

This costs the pharmacy between $5 and $10 in processing per prescription, and across the United States that adds up to about $500 million in additional health care costs annually, according to Dr. William Shrank, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and lead author of a new study.

"A little over 3 percent of prescriptions that are delivered to the pharmacy aren't getting picked up," said Shrank. "And, in more than half of those cases, the prescription wasn't refilled anywhere else during the next six months."

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Medication color, shape affect efficacy

(UPI) The color and shape of over-the-counter medications can affect how people take the drug, researchers in India find.

R.K. Srivastava and colleagues at the University of Bombay say a survey found people preferred red and pink tablets over other colors…

"Patients undergo a sensory experience every time they self-administer a drug, whether it's swallowing a tablet or capsule, chewing a tablet, swallowing a liquid, or applying a cream or ointment," the researchers say in a statement. "The ritual involving perceptions can powerfully affect a patient's view of treatment effectiveness."

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Homeopathic Consultations, Not Remedies, Linked to Benefits for Patients

(Science Daily) [R]esearchers found that arthritis patients significantly benefited when they received homeopathy alongside conventional treatment over a period of 6 months, but this improvement was due to homeopathy's consultation process and not its remedies.

"Although previous trials have shown homeopathy may help patients with rheumatoid arthritis, this is the first time that we have scientific evidence that these benefits are specifically due to its unique consultation process," comments lead author Dr. Sarah Brien…

"Homeopathic consultations differ from those in conventional medicine in that homeopaths focus on treating the patient, whereas conventional doctors tend to treat the illness. The homeopathic consultation process improves the health of these arthritis patients based on standard rheumatology measurements and does so safely and without side effects.

"What we don't yet know is if it is possible to introduce some of the techniques or approaches used within these consultations into conventional medicine."

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