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

Half of Americans facing diabetes by 2020: report

(Reuters) More than half of Americans will have diabetes or be prediabetic by 2020 at a cost to the U.S. health care system of $3.35 trillion if current trends go on unabated, according to analysis of a new report released … by health insurer UnitedHealth Group Inc.

Diabetes and prediabetes will account for an estimated 10 percent of total health care spending by the end of the decade at an annual cost of almost $500 billion -- up from an estimated $194 billion this year, according to the report titled "The United States of Diabetes: Challenges and Opportunities in the Decade Ahead."…

The authors of the report contend the skyrocketing cost forecasts are not inevitable, however, if the crisis is tackled aggressively, including early intervention to prevent prediabetes from becoming diabetes.

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Disease Prevention Could Save U.S. Billions of Dollars Annually

(HealthDay News) Increased efforts to prevent several lifestyle-related diseases could save the United States billions of dollars a year in medical costs, researchers say…

The study authors concluded that reducing the prevalence of diabetes and high blood pressure by 5 percent would save the nation about $9 billion a year in the near term. In addition, conditions related to those health problems would also be reduced, which would increase the savings to about $24.7 billion a year in the medium term.

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Community: I’m all for reducing costs, but I’m even more in favor of reducing the suffering that comes with these diseases.

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Depression May Be Both Consequence of and Risk Factor for Diabetes

(Science Daily) Diabetes appears to be associated with the risk of depression and vice versa, suggesting the relationship between the two works in both directions, according to a report…

[T]he authors write[:] "All the associations were independent of sociodemographic, diet and lifestyle factors."

The results indicate that lifestyle factors such as physical activity and BMI may partially mediate the association between depression and new cases of diabetes, but since the association remained significant after adjusting for these factors, depression may have an effect on risk for diabetes beyond weight and inactivity. In addition, the findings reinforce the idea that diabetes is related to stress, the authors note.

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Exercise Combo Best for Type 2 Diabetes

(HealthDay News) Variety in your workout routine may be key to optimal diabetes management, new research suggests.

The study found that when people with type 2 diabetes did aerobic exercise some days and resistance training on others, they had lower blood sugar levels after nine months than people who did either type of exercise alone.

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Study: Yoga helps with fibromyalgia pain

(UPI) Yoga that includes gentle stretching exercises combined with meditation can lessen the symptoms of fibromyalgia, a U.S. study found…

The yoga sessions in the study included 40 minutes of gentle stretching and poses, 25 minutes of meditation, 10 minutes of breathing techniques, a 20-minute lesson on applying yoga principles to daily life and coping with fibromyalgia, HealthDay reported.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Greek Sandwich with Feta Vinaigrette
Serve a sandwich piled high with the fresh flavors of the Mediterranean. The vinaigrette adds bright flavor to the stacker and is also tasty on salad greens.

Greek-style Lemon Potatoes

Greek Salad with Shrimp

Greek-Style Potato, Zucchini, and Bean Stew

EatingWell:

Slow-Cooker Black Bean-Mushroom Chili
Black beans, earthy mushrooms and tangy tomatillos combine with a variety of spices and smoky chipotles to create a fantastic full-flavored chili. It can simmer in the slow cooker all day, which makes it perfect for a healthy supper when the end of your day is rushed.

Slow-Cooker Yankee Bean Pot

Zesty Wheat Berry-Black Bean Chili

Southwestern Three-Bean & Barley Soup

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Fresh Seafood Shouldn't Smell Fishy, Food Science Expert Says

(HealthDay News) If seafood is on the menu this holiday, there are a number of ways you can ensure that it's fresh and safe.

A faint sea odor is normal, but fresh seafood should not smell "fishy," according to Kantha Shelke, an Institute of Food Technologists food science expert. Freshly cut fish, peeled crustaceans (shrimp, prawns, rock shrimp, lobster, soft shell crabs) and shucked mollusks (scallops, oysters, clams and mussels) should be moist, not slimy or dry around the edges.

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Fish health benefits may outweigh mercury concerns

(Reuters Health) It may be a red herring to worry over whether people who eat lots of fish may lose whatever heart benefits they might have gained because of an increased exposure to mercury, a new study shows…

"[T]he protective nutrients in fish override any harmful effect of mercury at these low levels of mercury," says Maria Wennberg, a public health researcher at Ume University and a member of the study team.

The American Heart Association recommends that people consume at least two servings of fish a week. Salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna are particularly high in omega-3 fatty acids.

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UK watchdog adviser: Cloned cattle meat likely safe

(Reuters) Meat and milk from cloned cattle show no difference in composition from that of traditionally bred cows and so are unlikely to pose a food safety risk, an advisory committee to Britain's food safety regulator said.

The Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes, following an open meeting on Thursday, said that consumers still may want to see effective labeling of products from clones and their offspring partly due to animal welfare concerns.

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Animals living with or near people fatter

(UPI) U.S. researchers suggest obesity may be much more complicated than the conventional wisdom of too much food and too little exercise.

Obesity researcher David B. Allison of the University of Alabama at Birmingham says he discovered data on small primates -- marmosets -- showed pronounced weight gain over time…

"There was no single thread running through all 24 data sets that would explain a gain in weight," Allison says. "The animals in some of the data sets might have had access to richer food, but that was not the case in all data sets. Some of the animals might have become less active, but others would have remained at normal activity levels. Yet, they all showed overall weight gain."

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Second-hand smoke kills 600,000 a year: WHO study

(Reuters) Around one in a hundred deaths worldwide is due to passive smoking, which kills an estimated 600,000 people a year, World Health Organization (WHO) researchers said on Friday.

In the first study to assess the global impact of second-hand smoke, WHO experts found that children are more heavily exposed to second-hand smoke than any other age-group, and around 165,000 of them a year die because of it.

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Health: It's all about location, location

(UPI) A U.S. sociologist says where people live affects their health and how long they live…

For example, there have been numerous studies on how a concentration of fast-food restaurants in poor, predominantly minority neighborhoods impacts the health of the residents, while other studies show many of these poor neighborhoods may not have a single grocery store offering fresh, nutritious food or safe places to exercise.

"Some parts of the city seemed to be designed to make people sick," the authors say.

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Holiday Drinking Can Kill, Experts Warn

(HealthDay News) Excessive alcohol consumption -- a common problem during the holiday season -- can lead to serious injury and death, warns the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

The group urges people to use good judgment when they get together with family and friends.

"Very few things are more heartbreaking than to see a family suffer the loss of a loved one because of an alcohol-related tragedy, and during the holidays, people take risks. A fun holiday celebration can turn into a nightmare in the blink of an eye, and it can happen to anyone, and we don't want that to happen," Dr. Sandra Schneider, ACEP president, said in a society news release…

"Drunk driving is 100 percent preventable. Don't get behind the wheel of a car if you've had too much to drink. You are not only a danger to yourself, but also to everyone else on the road," Schneider said.

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Retirement May Do a Mind Good

(HealthDay News) Researchers may have spotted another benefit from retirement: reductions in tiredness and depression…

The researchers wrote that "if work is tiring for many older workers, the decrease in fatigue could simply reflect removal of the source of the problem . . . furthermore, retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise."

The study authors concluded that their findings "indicate that fatigue may be an underlying reason for early exit from the labor market and decreased productivity, and redesign of work, health care interventions or both may be necessary to enable a larger proportion of older people to work in full health."

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Tai Chi May Provide Arthritis Relief

(HealthDay News) Arthritis patients may gain physical and emotional relief from the ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi, finds a new study, the largest of its kind.

Patients with osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia felt better and moved more easily after taking twice-weekly classes in Tai Chi, a system of meditative exercise, researchers found…

Tai Chi, a form of mind-body exercise, originated as a martial art in China. It utilizes slow, gentle movements along with deep breathing and relaxation to build strength and flexibility…

If Tai Chi is proven to reduce arthritis symptoms, it could become a cheap and fairly simple treatment for the various forms of the condition. Typically, Tai Chi classes are inexpensive or free, Callahan said, and in this study, people with arthritis could participate even if they preferred to sit rather than stand.

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Excess Fructose May Play Role in Diabetes, Obesity and Other Health Conditions

(Science Daily) More and more people have become aware of the dangers of excessive fructose in diet. A new review on fructose in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (JASN) indicates just how dangerous this simple sugar may be…

The link between excessive intake of fructose and metabolic syndrome is becoming increasingly established. However, in this review of the literature, the authors conclude that there is also increasing evidence that fructose may play a role in hypertension and renal disease. "Science shows us there is a potentially negative impact of excessive amounts of sugar and high fructose corn syrup on cardiovascular and kidney health," explains Dr. [Richard J.] Johnson. He continues that "excessive fructose intake could be viewed as an increasingly risky food and beverage additive."

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More Protein, Fewer Refined Carbs May Keep Weight Off

(HealthDay News) If you've worked hard to shed those extra pounds and want to keep the weight off, a new Danish study suggests that you consider eating more protein and fewer refined carbohydrates.

Based on the findings, the researchers advise consuming mostly what's known as low-glycemic index carbohydrates, such as whole-grain breads. The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of the ability of carbohydrates to increase blood glucose levels; those with a low GI cause blood levels to increase more slowly, explained Dr. Thomas Meinert Larsen, a co-author of the study…

It's not difficult, [Dr. David Ludwig] said, to shift from high-glycemic foods to low-glycemic foods. "It's shifting to somewhat less processed carbohydrates and, importantly, not making the carbohydrate the only thing you are having at the meal."

As for boosting protein, he said, "we're not talking about a 16-ounce slab of prime rib" or the very high levels of protein popularized in some low-carb diets.

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Chronic High Cholesterol Diet Produces Brain Damage

(Science Daily) Research [has] demonstrated that chronic high fat cholesterol diet in rats exhibited pathologies similar to Alzheimer's disease…

[T]he data are in line with earlier studies showing that high fat lipids, including cholesterol, may participate in the development of sporadic Alzheimer's disease. However, since Alzheimer's disease is a complex heterogenous disease, these data do not allow the conclusion that cholesterol alone is responsible for the disease. It can be speculated that chronic mild cerebrovascular damage caused and potentiated by different vascular risk factors (including cholesterol) may contribute to these pathologies.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Turkey Enchiladas with Sour Cream
Use any favorite, good-quality salsa, red or green, for these enchiladas… Serve the enchiladas with a simple Mexican coleslaw of shredded cabbage dressed with lime juice and cumin.

Fiesta Turkey Soup With Green Chile Biscuits

Vietnamese-style Turkey Sub

Jack Quesadillas with Cranberry Salsa

Shredded Five-Spice Turkey with Herb and Noodle Salad

Open-Faced Turkey Croissant with Pan-Fried Oysters

Toasted Turkey and Brie Sandwiches

EatingWell:

Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup
This is a healthier twist on a classic creamy turkey and wild rice soup that hails from Minnesota. Serve with a crisp romaine salad and whole-grain bread.

Picadillo-Style Turkey Chili

Crispy Turkey Tostadas

Cream of Turkey & Wild Rice Soup

Chicken & White Bean Salad

Shredded Turkey & Pinto Bean Burritos

Chicken Potpie (you can substitute turkey for the chicken)

Turkey & Leek Shepherd's Pie

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Salmonella Test Makes Food Safer, Reduce Recalls

(Science Daily) Earlier this year, an outbreak of salmonella caused by infected eggs resulted in thousands of illnesses before a costly recall could be implemented. Now, University of Missouri researchers have created a new test for salmonella in poultry and eggs that will produce faster and more accurate results than most currently available tests. The new test could have prevented the contaminated eggs from being shipped to stores.

"Processors and consumers will benefit from the speed and sensitivity of the new test's results," said Azlin Mustapha… "This will keep companies from shipping contaminated products, and thus, keep salmonella infected products out of consumers' hands."

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Growth-Factor Gel Shows Promise as Hearing-Loss Treatment

(Science Daily) A new treatment has been developed for sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL), a condition that causes deafness in 40,000 Americans each year, usually in early middle-age. Researchers … describe the positive results of a preliminary trial of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1), applied as a topical gel.
Takayuki Nakagawa … worked with a team of researchers to test the gel in 25 patients whose SSHL had not responded to the normal treatment of systemic gluticosteroids…
At 12 weeks after the test treatment, 48% of patients showed hearing improvement, and the proportion increased to 56% at 24 weeks. No serious adverse events were observed. This is the first time that growth factors have been tested as a hearing remedy.
Community: There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of hearing loss.
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Using a Patient's Tumor to Form Vaccine

(Science Daily) A new process for creating a personalized vaccine may become a crucial tool in helping patients with colorectal cancer develop an immune response against their own tumors. This dendritic cell (DC) vaccine … was used after surgical resection of metastatic tumors to try to prevent the growth of additional metastases…

The new research grew dendritic cells from a sample of a patient's blood, mixed them with proteins from the patient's tumor, and then injected the mixture into the patient as a vaccine. The vaccine then stimulated an anti-tumor response from T-cells, a kind of white blood cell that protects the body from disease.

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Reprogrammed Amniotic Fluid Cells Can Generate All Types of Body Cells

(Science Daily) Reprogrammed amniotic fluid cells can generate all types of body cells. High hopes rest on stem cells: one day, they may be used to treat many diseases. To date, embryos are the main source of these cells, but this raises ethical problems. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin have now managed to convert amniotic fluid cells into pluripotent stem cells. These amniotic fluid-derived iPS cells are hardly distinguishable from embryonic stem cells…

Amniotic fluid cells have a number of advantages over other cell types. For one thing, amniotic fluid cells are routinely harvested in antenatal examinations to enable the early detection of disease. In most cases, more cells are obtained than are actually needed. In addition, the amniotic fluid mixture contains different types of cells from the unborn child, including stem-cell-like cells…

[A]mniotic fluid cells could be extracted for cellular reprogramming before the birth of a child and be prepared for their intended use while the pregnancy is still ongoing. "This would make it possible to test which drugs work for a baby and whether they are tolerated, before that baby is born. Moreover, in the future, sick newborns can be treated with cells from their own body," says Adjaye.

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Understanding Aging by Studying Reproduction

(Science Daily) Traditionally, studies on ageing compare elderly individuals with younger individuals or normal individuals with individuals with proven longevity. A [new study] tackled the issue under a conceptually new angle: do examples of rejuvenation exist in nature? They do indeed, quite simply during reproduction! The scientists sought to understand why newborn babies do not inherit the same risks of developing ageing diseases, such as cancers, as their parents…

During reproduction, the proteins in our cells are … "cleansed" and rejuvenated to form new, young individuals.

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Despite Efforts, Study Finds No Decline in Medical Errors

(HealthDay News) Despite intensive efforts to improve patient safety, a six-year study at 10 North Carolina hospitals showed no decline in so-called patient "harms," which included medical errors and unavoidable mistakes…

The researchers … pointed out that several practices proven to improve patient safety take much time and money to implement.

These practices include work-hour limits for medical staff as well as the use of electronic medical records and computerized work-order entries for prescriptions and procedures.

"It takes awhile for these improvements to happen," [study author Dr. Christopher] Landrigan said. "My suspicion is, if we go five years hence, we're going to see these improvements over time."

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Cost-sharing health plans lead poor to make tough choices

(Reuters) Poor families who sign up for high-deductible health plans are more likely to put off needed care than wealthier families, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a finding that suggests such plans may need to be revamped if they are to save health costs…

Enrollment in so-called high-deductible health plans, designed to save health costs by encouraging people to become savvy health consumers, is rising sharply as employers pass along the cost of healthcare to employees…

"As we experiment with ways to increase value in health care, we must favor models that decrease incentives for use of inappropriate care and promote use of appropriate care," [Dr. Victor] Grann wrote.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

From the South Loop of Chicago

Thanksgiving a Good Time to Ask About Family Health History

(5News) As you're sitting around the table with your family this thanksgiving sharing a meal, it's also a good idea to share your family's health history.

Since 2004, the U.S. Surgeon General has designated Thanksgiving day as National Family Health History Day.

Just taking a few minutes to ask your family members some questions could hold clues to your own risk for certain diseases.

Asthma, diabetes, cancer and heart disease are all chronic diseases that run in families.

Your doctor can then suggest which testes and screenings are best to help you know your risks, as well as offer preventative tips.

Source

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Skin moles link to delayed ageing

(BBC) Plentiful skin moles may keep you younger on the inside, say scientists. Researchers at Kings College London found that they not only could mean younger skin, but better bone density as well.

They said that the cells of people with many moles had properties which allowed them to renew themselves more often. However, there may be a price to pay - more moles have been linked to a higher rate of cancer, both skin and other types.

Most people have between 30 and 40 moles, but some have as many as 600.

Read more.

Community: Now, scientists, please figure out how to use this knowledge to confer the benefits of mole-y people to the rest of us.

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Study: Botox boosts self-esteem

(UPI) A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study found Botox boosts overall quality of life and self-esteem, U.S. researchers say…

"We have long known the physically enhancing benefits of Botox treatments, but to now have data that indicates Botox also improves one psyche, self-esteem and quality of life is very significant," [Dr. Steven H.] Dayan of the Chicago Center for Facial Plastic Surgery says in a statement.

Read more.

Community: Go ahead and laugh. But I’m a firm believer in looking good as part of feeling good. I don’t do Botox, but I do take care of my skin.

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1 in 4 Overweight Women Think They're Normal Size: Study

(HealthDay News) Almost one-quarter of young women who are overweight actually perceive themselves as being normal weight, while a sizable minority (16 percent) of women at normal body weight actually fret that they're too fat, according to a new study.

The study found these misperceptions to be often correlated with race: Black and Hispanic women were much more likely to play down their overweight status compared with whites, who were more apt to worry that they weighed too much (even when they didn't).

Although the study looked mostly at low-income women attending public-health clinics in Texas, the findings do mirror other studies in different populations.

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Older gardeners reap healthy benefits

(UPI) A Dutch researcher says gardeners of all ages reap healthy rewards -- besides produce -- but it improves health and well-being in elderly people.

Agnes van den Berg of Wageningen University and Research Center in the Netherlands says allotments -- small plots of land given to community residents to garden fruits and vegetables for personal consumption and recreation -- improve health by adding an extra day of physical activity to a gardener's week during peak gardening times.

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NYC leads effort to reduce salt in food

(UPI) Six companies have joined a nationwide effort to cut the salt in packaged and restaurant foods by 25 percent over five years, New York health officials say.

Dr. Sonia Angell, director of the New York City Health Department's cardiovascular disease prevention and control program, says the New York City-led National Salt Reduction Initiative has developed specific targets to guide company salt reductions across 62 categories of packaged food and 25 categories of restaurant food.

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Recipes

EatingWell:

Last-Minute Holiday Recipes
[I]f you’re scrambling to figure out what you’re bringing to Aunt Martha’s holiday bash or simply need another dish to add to your own menu, try one of these last-minute holiday appetizers, salads, side dishes and desserts. They all take less than 30 minutes of active time to prepare so you can still make something healthy that takes great without resorting to grabbing something pre-made from the supermarket.

Make-Ahead Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Cooking Light:

12 Perfect Turkey Recipes
Pick the perfect centerpiece for your Thanksgiving or holiday meal from our ultimate collection of roast turkey recipes.

Holiday Sides
From stuffing to potatoes, holiday accompaniments are just as important as the main dish

Healthy Airport Eats
Dodging too-rich preflight meals and snacks is much easier at these five airports where fresher, healthier selections are always on the menu.

MyRecipes.com:

Turkey 101

Carving a Turkey

Good Gravy

Thanksgiving in a Slow Cooker

7 Ways With Sweet Potatoes

7 Ways With Pumpkin

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Aerobic Exercise May Reduce Excessive Cocaine Use

(Science Daily) Aerobic exercise may protect against binge-like patterns of cocaine use, suggests a new study. Rats allowed access to running wheels self-administered less cocaine than did rats that were not…

"Our findings represent the first demonstration that exercise reduces binge-like patterns of cocaine intake," said senior author Mark A. Smith, PhD, of Davidson College. "This adds to a growing number of studies reporting that physical activity may have beneficial effects on maladaptive patterns of drug use," he said.

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Community: Could help with eating addiction, too.

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Less Invasive Lung Cancer Staging Looks Promising

(HealthDay News) A less invasive method for finding out whether lung cancer has spread to the lymph nodes could prevent many unnecessary operations, a new study suggests.

This process, called staging, is usually done via a major operation called a thoracotomy. If the cancer is confined to the lung, then the operation can remove the cancer. However, if the cancer has spread, then it is an unnecessary procedure, which only serves to increase the patient's discomfort.

The much less invasive procedure, called an endosonography, combines ultrasound of internal organs with the use of a fiberoptic endoscope, which can also biopsy the lymph nodes.

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Cancer: Thermotherapy as a Chemotherapy Alternative?

(Science Daily) [e]ngineering researchers … unveiled a new method to target and destroy cancerous cells…

The cancer treatment uses hyperthermia to elevate the temperature of tumor cells, while keeping the surrounding healthy tissue at a lower degree of body heat. The investigators used both in vitro and in vivo experiments to confirm their findings.

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Important Mechanism in Hormone-Sensitive Breast Cancer Uncovered

(Science Daily) Two thirds of breast cancers are ERalpha-positive, i.e., many estrogen receptors of the ERalpha- type are found in their cells. "These molecules can interact with the estrogen hormone and, thus, even lead to cancer," explains Dr. Joerg Hoheisel… "The connection between the levels of the estrogen receptor alpha and the occurrence of breast cancer has been known for some time now. Early-stage breast cancer cells already produce too many of these receptors. This is associated with increased cell division, which is ultimately responsible for tumor development," says Hoheisel…

The research group [said:] "[W]e hope to be able to use our results in the future for developing new strategies against tumors with too many estrogen receptors."

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Age Estimation from Blood Has Immediate Forensic Application

(Science Daily) Scientists have devised a method that would allow them to estimate the age of crime suspects or missing persons from blood collected at the scene of a crime.

In principle, the new profiling method could be put to immediate practical use by law enforcement, according to the researchers…

"We demonstrate that human age can be estimated from blood with reasonable accuracy using a simple, robust, and sensitive test assay," said Manfred Kayser… "Our method is applicable in situations where only bloodstains are available, which covers a large proportion of crime cases."

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Perceptual Training Improves Vision of the Elderly, Research Finds

(Science Daily) Elderly adults can improve their vision with perceptual training, according to a study…

After age 60 there is a steady increase in the incidence of falls and automobile crashes that are associated with changes in visual processing. This research indicates that behavioral interventions are likely to be very useful for improving safety and quality of life as we get older, [professor G. John] Andersen said.

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Intervention may help some prevent falls

(UPI) Educational intervention helped some elderly patients avoid falls, an Australian researcher says…

[A]mong the 906 participants who did not have cognitive impairment, falls were less frequent among those who received the complete intervention program group than among those in the materials-only group or the control group.

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Health ins. firms to spend more on care

(UPI) New U.S. regulations require health insurance companies to spend 80 percent to 85 percent of premiums directly for patients and not overhead, officials said…

Consumers will receive more value for their premium dollar because insurance companies will be required to spend 80 percent to 85 percent of premium dollars on actual medical care and healthcare quality improvement, not administrative costs, [Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius] said.

Insurance companies that do not comply will be required to provide a rebate to their customers beginning in 2012, Sebelius said.

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Eat Your Fruits & Veggies for Longer Life

(HealthDay News) Consuming high amounts of beta-carotene's less well-known antioxidant cousin, alpha-carotene, in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of dying from all causes, including heart disease and cancer, new research suggests.

Both nutrients are called carotenoids -- named after carrots -- because of the red, yellow and orange coloring they lend to a range of produce. Once consumed, both alpha- and beta-carotene are converted by the body to vitamin A, although that process is believed to unfold more efficiently with beta-carotene than with alpha-carotene.

However, the new study suggests alpha-carotene may play the more crucial role in defending cells' DNA from attack. This might explain the nutrient's ability to limit the type of tissue damage that can trigger fatal illness, researchers say.

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Varied fruit reduces lung cancer risk

(UPI) To reduce the risk of lung cancer, people should not only eat fruits and vegetables daily, but also increase the variety, researchers in Spain say…

The study found greater variety in fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a lower risk of developing epidermoid carcinoma of the lung -- with an additional two units of fruit and vegetable consumption leading to a 9-percent reduction in risk. The effect was more pronounced among smokers -- the risk fell by 12 percent.

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Can hibiscus flower tea lower blood pressure?

(The People's Pharmacy, Los Angeles Times) I heard a rumor that a drink made from dried hibiscus flowers can lower blood pressure. Is there any truth to this?

Hibiscus flower tea is part of traditional folk medicine in many cultures. Scientific scrutiny shows that its effect on blood pressure is more than a rumor, however. A study published this year in the Journal of Nutrition found that several cups a day can help lower blood pressure in people with mild hypertension.

In a study this year in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, Mexican scientists found that the red pigments in hibiscus flowers, anthocyanins, act like antihypertensive medicines called ACE inhibitors. Such medications are among the most widely prescribed blood pressure pills in the world. We find it fascinating that a folk remedy works through the same mechanism as such beneficial drugs.

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Cranberries are Antibiotic

(Mother Earth News) In addition to its principal role in combating [urinary tract infections], researchers are finding that cranberries may also have broad-spectrum antibiotic value against E. coli and other harmful bacteria…

Dentists in Israel report that cranberries and cranberry juice contain specific compounds that can block the formation of dental plaque and potentially lessen tooth decay and gum disease. Test tube research at the University of Wisconsin indicates that cranberry juice may help keep LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol) from oxidizing. If this is true, it means that the consumption of cranberries or cranberry juice will help prevent the buildup of cholesterol plaque in arteries, the major cause of heart disease and stroke.

Cranberries are an excellent source of vitamins A and C and potassium. Although cranberry juice contains some tannins, it will not interfere with the absorption of minerals. Furthermore, cranberry juice consumption appears to enhance the absorption of vitamin B12, which is good news for older people with too little stomach acid, or those taking acid suppressors, who may find that their ability to absorb the vitamin impaired.

Health professionals recommend one capsule or tablet of a concentrated cranberry juice extract (400 mg) two to four times per day. Two to three large (16 oz) glasses of cranberry juice may also be taken, but avoid the highly sugared cranberry “cocktails.” It’s difficult to drink too much cranberry juice. The only contraindication is that diarrhea may develop with a very high consumption, such as 3 to 4 liters per day.

Source

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Pomegranate Juice Reduces Damage to Tissues, Inflammation and Infections, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Studies in recent years have claimed multiple health benefits of pomegranate juice, including that it is a good source of antioxidants and lowers both cholesterol and blood pressure, especially in diabetic and hypertensive patients. A preliminary study now suggests that it can ward off a number of complications in kidney disease patients on dialysis, including the high morbidity rate due to infections and cardiovascular events…

Laboratory tests showed that patients who drank pomegranate juice experienced reduced inflammation and the damage of oxidative stress caused by free radicals, was minimized. Furthermore, pomegranate juice drinkers were less likely to be hospitalized due to infections. These findings support other studies that suggest pomegranate juice has potent antioxidant properties.

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Ginger: A Natural Remedy

(Mother Earth News) Ginger is a great remedy for motion sickness and troubled tummies…

Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties also have been shown to improve joint pain associated with arthritis. And its blood-thinning properties also may help reduce cholesterol levels by stimulating the secretion of bile and hindering fat absorption, says James A. Duke, Ph.D., in his book, The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook

Take ginger about half an hour before traveling to prevent motion sickness. Duke recommends taking one 480-milligram standardized supplement twice a day, or 2 to 4 grams of dried ginger up to three times a day. To ease joint stiffness, you can soak a towel in ginger tea and apply it directly to your skin.

Those with gallbladder disease should avoid using ginger, and it also may interact with anticoagulant drugs. Pregnant women who wish to use it to prevent morning sickness should first check with their health care practitioner.

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5 underappreciated winter vegetables that will help you lose weight

(Nicci Micco, EatingWell) Slimming down after having my son last May took some work, but I had the season on my side. Summer’s glorious bounty of vegetables made losing weight seem relatively simple: I’d pick whatever veggies looked fresh at the market and then throw them on the grill with a lean source of protein, such as chicken or fish. Then, I’d round out the meal with a reasonable portion of a healthy carb-based side, such as brown rice. But as fall creeps on and winter draws near, I’ve realized that my secret weight-loss weapon—in-season vegetables—works all year round. Incorporating these five fresh-right-now vegetables into your diet plan can help you win the weight-loss battle this winter.

Potatoes: They’ve gotten a bad rap for scoring high on the glycemic index—which reflects how much blood glucose rises after eating a food—but a new study out of the University of California, Davis (funded by the Potato Board) suggests that eating even a potato a day doesn’t sabotage weight loss so long as one is following a healthy calorie-controlled regimen…

Cauliflower: At only 29 calories per cup, cauliflower is a low-calorie side—but, prepared well, it feels substantial. Blend it into a creamy puree, roast it to draw out its nutty flavor, eat it raw in a chopped salad…

Kale: This vegetable is pretty much synonymous with good health—and for good reason: it’s a great source of beta carotene, vitamin C and phytochemicals, called isothiocyanates, that amp up the body’s detoxifying enzymes…

Spaghetti Squash: [T]his seemingly typical vegetable transforms into “noodles.” You’ll learn to love it … once you realize it can save oodles of calories. Serve spaghetti squash with marinara sauce and a sprinkle of Parmesan in place of regular spaghetti for a dish that delivers less than a quarter of the calories…

Brussels Sprouts: Low in calories and a respectable source of fiber (28 calories and 2 grams per half cup), these tender, sweet vegetables are a great side to serve every night—as well as an elegant dish to share at Thanksgiving.

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Thai-Style Stir-Fried Chicken
Curry paste and coconut milk spice up a simple chicken and vegetable stir-fry. Once the ingredients are prepped, the cooking goes quickly, so have everything ready before you heat the pan.

Thai Chicken Saut

Orange Roughy on Rice with Thai-Spiced Coconut Sauce

Chicken Pad Thai

EatingWell:

Sizzled Green Beans with Crispy Prosciutto & Pine Nuts
Sizzling green beans in a little oil helps to bring out their natural sweetness. Prosciutto, pine nuts and lemon zest dress up the flavor without adding a lot of fat - a nice alternative to full-fat, creamy green bean casseroles.

Paprika Shrimp & Green Bean Saute

Green Bean Casserole

Blue Cheese-Walnut Green Beans

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