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

Attitude Important for Reaching 100 Years of Age

(Science Daily) University of Georgia research has provided new clues on surviving to be 100 years old, finding that how we feel about ourselves and our ability to adapt to an accumulation of challenging life experiences may be as or more important than health factors…

The research found that critical life events and personal history, along with how people adapt to stressful situations and cope with them are crucial to explaining successful aging.

"Understanding health in these terms has huge implications for quality of life," said Leonard Poon…, lead author of the study. "What is happening to you matters, but more importantly, it is your perception of what is happening to you that is really important for your individual health."…

An individual confronted with a stressful situation can either find a quick emotional solution or ruminate on the problem, explained Poon. "One is very destructive in terms of general well-being," he said, "and the other is very adaptive."

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Tips for Healthier Holiday Shopping

(SouthBeachDiet.com) With the countdown to the holidays in full swing, chances are you’re logging more time at the shopping mall. Even as you brave the crowds — and try to ignore the tempting aromas from the food court — keep in mind there are many ways you can turn your shopping experience into a healthy outing. Try these tips the next time you’re mall bound.

Plan ahead. Have a [healthy] meal before you hit the mall so you’re not tempted to indulge in the unhealthy choices at the food court. Also, pack easy, portable snacks (such as nuts or some reduced-fat string cheese…; or a few dried apricots, a piece of fresh fruit, or popcorn, … to munch on mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Shop early. Hit the mall early in the morning. Not only will it be less crowded, but you’ll also avoid the tempting smells of lunch at the food court.

Work in extra walking. You may have heard this before, but we’ll remind you again: Parking in a spot that’s farthest from the mall entrance is a great way to log in extra steps. (Just make sure it’s well lit if you’ll be heading home when it’s dark.) And whenever you can, skip the escalator and elevator in favor of the stairs.

Do intervals while you shop. Before you begin shopping or while you’re going from store to store, squeeze in a few intervals of really fast walking. In addition to getting your heart pumping, this will clear your head before diving into the in-store fray.

Boost your self-esteem. Most likely your focus is on finding gifts for friends and family, but if you pass a great outfit, why not try it on in your new smaller size to see just how far you've come on your weight-loss journey? This will not only boost your self-esteem but also your commitment to [healthy eating] as you face the challenges of the holidays.

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Physical activity slows aging

(UPI) Elderly people who remain physically active have a life expectancy almost four years greater than those who are no longer active, researchers in Germany say…

The study … found older runners do not have to train any harder than their younger rivals to maintain their fitness.

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Does Drinking Water Before Meals Help You Lose Weight?

(U.S.News & World Report) Drinking two 8-ounce glasses of water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner may be just the backstop your willpower needs to help you shed pounds permanently in 2011, according to a recent study…

Researchers instructed two groups of overweight or obese men and women to follow a low-calorie diet, asking one group to also drink two cups of water before meals. After 12 weeks, the water drinkers had lost an average of 15½ pounds, compared with 11 pounds for the control group. Those who continued the habit for a year lost an additional 1½ pounds on average.

"I would never promote this as a get-slim-quick scheme," says senior study author Brenda Davy…, who notes that the practice slows the emptying of the stomach. "This is simply an additional strategy that could help people manage their hunger."

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Golden Potato-Leek Soup with Cheddar Toasts
Yukon gold potatoes are the key ingredient to give the soup rich, buttery flavor. This makes a generous amount, so share the bounty with friends or freeze half of the batch for a future meal.

Pan-Roasted Pork Loin with Leeks

Chicken with Lemon-Leek Linguine

Sweet Potato, Leek, and Ham Soup

EatingWell:

Hungarian Beef Goulash
This streamlined goulash skips the step of browning the beef, and instead coats it in a spice crust to give it a rich mahogany hue. This saucy dish is a natural served over whole-wheat egg noodles. Or, for something different, try prepared potato gnocchi or spaetzle.

Flemish Beef Stew

Ultimate Beef Chili

Slow-Cooked Provençal Beef Stew

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Personalized Diets for Elderly After Hospitalization Decreases Mortality Rates, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Intense, individually tailored dietary treatment for acutely hospitalized elderly has a significant impact on mortality, according to a new study…

The intervention study just published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society showed higher death rates six months after discharge (11.6 percent) of the control group compared to the intervention group's death rate of 3.8 percent, which received intensive nutritional treatment designed and implemented by a registered dietician.

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Brittle Bones and Heart Disease Go Hand in Hand

(Science Daily) Norwegian studies indicate that people with osteoporosis have a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease, and vice versa. Now researchers believe they have found a biological system that may influence both disease processes…

In many cases, a person may develop osteoporosis and suffer a heart attack for completely different reasons. But there may be a causal relationship between the diseases. Data from several research groups now indicate that a biological system involving osteoprotegerin (OPG), among other things, may be a common denominator.

"We have found that bone loss is linked to a high level of OPG in post-menopausal women. In addition, we see that a high level of OPG also predicts the development of atherosclerosis in women," [Professor Lone Jørgensen said].

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Scientists Find Protein That May Help Control Prostate Cancer

(HealthDay News) A protein that regulates prostate stem cell self-renewal and also plays a role in the transformation of healthy cells into prostate cancer cells has been identified by U.S. scientists.

The findings, which involve the Bmi-1 protein, could prove important in efforts to find ways to control cancer growth and progression, according to the research team…

"It was encouraging to see that inhibiting this protein slows the growth of even a very aggressive prostate cancer because that could give us new ways to attack this disease," [said study senior author Dr. Owen Witte].

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Molecular 'Switch' Contributes to Cellular Aging Process

(Science Daily) A team of Harvard … scientists reports finding a molecular "switch" that can "turn off" some cellular processes that are protective against aging and metabolic diseases. While more research is needed, the findings may open doors for new drug treatments to halt or slow development of metabolic diseases like type 2 diabetes or heart disease…

"With what we have learned, we believe SMRT is one of the key players that causes age-dependent decline in mitochondrial function by blocking PPAR activity, and we've found a way to boost the body's ability to better handle metabolic and oxidative stress," [senior author Chih-Hao] Lee said. "This finding is significant since increased oxidative stress, coupled with reduced metabolic function, contributes to the aging process and the development of age-related metabolic diseases."

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A Molecular Switch for Memory and Addiction

(Science Daily) Scientists from Germany, UK and Italy identify a molecular switch that leads to a sustained increase of calcium in nerve cells and plays a crucial role in the formation of memory and addictive behaviors.

Learning and memory formation are based on the creation of new connections between neurons in the brain. Also, behaviors such as nicotine addiction manifest themselves in long-term changes of neuronal connectivity and can – at least in this respect – be viewed as a form of learning. [The researchers] have now discovered a molecular switch that plays a crucial role in establishing addictive behavior and memory processes. These results may contribute to new strategies for preventing memory loss or treating addictive behavior.

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Enzyme Responsible for Dental Plaque Sticking to Teeth Deciphered

(Science Daily) [Scientists] have deciphered the structure and functional mechanism of the glucansucrase enzyme that is responsible for dental plaque sticking to teeth. This knowledge will stimulate the identification of substances that inhibit the enzyme…

[Professor Lubbert] Dijkhuizen points out that in future glucansucrase inhibitors may be added to toothpaste and mouthwash. 'But it may even be possible to add them to sweets', he suggests. 'An inhibitor might prevent that sugars released in the mouth cause damage.' However, Dijkhuizen doesn't expect that toothbrushes have had their day: 'it will always be necessary to clean your teeth.'

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Anesthetic Gases Heats Climate as Much as One Million Cars, New Research Shows

(Science Daily) [A]nesthetic gasses have a global warming potential as high as a refrigerant that is on its way to be banned in the European Union. Yet there is no obligation to report anesthetic gasses along with other greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide, refrigerants and laughing gas…

The amount of gas needed for a single surgical procedure is not high, but in the US alone surgery related anesthetics affected the climate as much as would one million cars.

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Species Extinctions May Spell Trouble for Human Health

(HealthDay News) The impending extinction of various plant and animal species is likely to remove an important buffer against the transmission of infectious disease, new research suggests.

The current exploration, funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health's Ecology of Infectious Diseases (EID) program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, focused on how the loss of biodiversity might affect people, and found that the loss of critical forest and field ecosystems could trigger an increase in the spread of viruses, bacteria and fungi that cause disease.

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U.S. Needs National Registry for Joint Replacement Devices: Study

(HealthDay News) A standardized U.S. national registry of joint replacement devices would improve patient safety and quality of care, a new study finds…

[The researchers] concluded that a registry of the more than 600,000 total knee and hip replacements performed each year in the U.S. could improve patient safety and quality of care and provide a foundation for future research projects that would contribute to better outcomes.

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Fountain of Youth in Your Muscles?

(Science Daily) Working out can help you shed pounds -- but that's just the beginning. New research from Tel Aviv University has found that "endurance exercises," like a Central Park jog or a spinning class, can make us look younger. The key, exercise, unlocks the stem cells of our muscles.

Prof. Dafna Benayahu and her team … say their findings explain for the first time why older people who have exercised throughout their lives age more gracefully. They have discovered how endurance exercise increases the number of muscle stem cells and enhances their ability to rejuvenate old muscles. The researchers hope their finding can lead to a new drug to help the elderly and immobilized heal their muscles faster.

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Community: A new drug? How about a prescription for more exercise instead? Exercise doesn’t have to cost anything, and for most people has only beneficial side effects.

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Ideal Body Mass Index Identified in New Study

(Science Daily) A study looking at deaths from any cause found that a body mass index (BMI) between 20.0 and 24.9 is associated with the lowest risk of death in healthy non-smoking adults. Investigators also provided precise estimates of the increased risk of death among people who are overweight and obese…

BMI, the most commonly used measure for body fat, is calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by the square of his/her height in meters (kg/m2).

For a BMI calculator, go to http://www.nhlbisupport.com/bmi/bmicalc.htm.

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Lifestyle Key to Preventing Stroke, Guidelines Say

(HealthDay News) Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can cut your risk for first-time stroke by 80 percent, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association…

A healthy lifestyle, which includes not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising and eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, has the biggest impact on preventing stroke, [Dr. Larry B.] Goldstein said.

"There is nothing we are going to do in medicine to beat that," he said.

Keeping cholesterol and blood pressure low are also important for reducing stroke risk, Goldstein added.

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Walk 20 Minutes, Feel Happy for 12 Hours

(RealAge.com) Spend 20 easy minutes doing this and you could help guarantee a good mood for 12 hours: walk.

That's what a recent study revealed. A short, moderately paced workout produced feel-good brain chemicals that lasted up to 12 hours afterward…

For an ongoing effect on your temperament, you need to exercise all or most days of the week -- not just once in a while. So lace up those walking shoes. It's only 20 minutes out of your day, right? And here are some ways to help those 20 minutes fly by:

Use the buddy system. Find out how an exercise friend boosts endorphin production even more.

Picture yourself breezing through it. Here's how a mental-image pep talk helps.

Wind down first. Discover how a well-rested mind helps your workout.

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Get Happier Today

(BlueZones.com) Five things science tells us we can do today to get happier

1. Say something nice to your partner or family member — Research shows that when the ratio of unkind to kind remarks exceeds 4:1, relationships begin to erode.

2. Eat a plant-based breakfast — A meaty, saturated fat breakfast will inhibit blood circulation to the brain and muscles, sapping both energy and mental sharpness for hours.

3. Move before noon — Just 20 minutes of physical activity--even a walk!--will boost your well-being for 12 hours. Get your workout in before lunch to reap a full day of happiness benefits.

4. Socialize six hours — Results from more than a million Healthways-Gallup survey show that America's happiest people socialize six hours a day. Eat lunch with a friend, organize a happy hour, host a dinner party, join a club.

5. Sleep between 7 and 8 hours tonight — If you're sleeping less than six hours, you're likely to be as much as 30% less happy that sleeping a full night. 7.5-8.5 hours is optimal for most people.

Give Happiness — New York Times best-selling author, Dan Buettner, offers lessons from the world's happiest people in his new book, "Thrive - Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way"…

To get some quick happiness tips, listen to NPR's Weekend Edition's interview with Dan last Sunday.

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Dieting Alters Genes Linked With Stress

(Science Daily) Stressed-out mice with a history of dieting ate more high-fat foods than similarly stressed mice not previously on diets, according to a new study…

"These results suggest that dieting not only increases stress, making successful dieting more difficult, but that it may actually 'reprogram' how the brain responds to future stress and emotional drives for food," [Dr. Tracy] Bale said…

"This study highlights the difficult road that human dieters often travel to attain and maintain their weight loss goals," [Jeffrey Zigman, MD, PhD] said. "It also suggests that management of stress during dieting may be key to achieving those goals."

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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:

Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak
Make a meal with ingredients almost entirely from the pantry. Roasted, simply seasoned potato wedges and a tartly dressed salad topped with smoky bacon complement this satisfying main dish.

Rosemary Grilled Flank Steak

Thai-Marinated Broiled Flank Steak

Flank Steak Sandwiches With Blue Cheese

EatingWell:

Salmon & Eggplant Curry
Salmon and eggplant team up in this one-skillet curry flavored with [“lite”] coconut milk, basil and lime. We love the flavor of Thai yellow curry paste in this dish, but any type of curry paste can be used—be sure to taste as you go because curry blends vary in flavor and heat. If you don't have curry paste, curry powder works well here. Serve with fragrant brown rice, such as basmati or jasmine.

Southeast Asian-Inspired Salmon Soup

Thai Green Curry with Duck

Cioppino

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Weight Watchers embraces healthier food

(UPI) It's not just about counting points at U.S. Weight Watchers anymore, the weight management group says it's focusing on healthier, more satisfying foods.

The successor to Weight Watchers' POINTSweight loss system is the new PointsPlusprogram, which favors foods the body works harder to convert into energy -- resulting in fewer net calories absorbed; foods that create a sense of fullness and satisfaction and are more healthful, and more natural foods rather than foods with excess added sugars and fats.

The new system still allows for indulgences, special occasions and eating out, Weight Watchers' officials say.

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Allergan stomach band works in less obese group

(Reuters) Allergan Inc's already approved stomach band was effective for reducing weight in a broader group of obese patients, U.S. reviewers said in documents released on Wednesday…

In an Allergan study, "there was significant decrease in all measures of weight loss," Food and Drug Administration reviewers wrote in a summary prepared for outside advisers who will consider the wider use on Friday.

The company is seeking FDA approval to promote the Lap-Band for adults with a BMI of 35 or higher, or at least 30 plus one weight-related health problem such as diabetes or high blood pressure.

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Study Suggests That Quitting Smoking Improves Mood

(Science Daily) Quitting smoking is certainly healthy for the body, but doctors and scientists haven't been sure whether quitting makes people happier, especially since conventional wisdom says many smokers use cigarettes to ease anxiety and depression. In a new study, researchers tracked the symptoms of depression in people who were trying to quit and found that they were never happier than when they were being successful, for however long that was.

Based on their results, the authors of the article … recommend that smokers embrace quitting as a step toward improving mental as well as physical health.

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Smoking May Thin the Brain

(Science Daily) Researchers compared cortical thickness in volunteers, both smokers and never-smokers, who were without medical or psychiatric illnesses.

Smokers exhibited cortical thinning in the left medial orbitofrontal cortex. In addition, their cortical thickness measures negatively correlated with the amount of cigarettes smoked per day and the magnitude of lifetime exposure to tobacco smoke. In other words, heavier smoking was associated with more pronounced thinning of cortical tissue.

The orbitofrontal cortex has frequently been implicated in drug addiction. The current findings suggest that smoking-related cortical thinning may increase the risk for addictions, including smoking.

"Since the brain region in which we found the smoking-associated thinning has been related to impulse control, reward processing and decision making, this might explain how nicotine addiction comes about," explained Dr. Simone Kühn. "In a follow-up study, we plan to explore the rehabilitative effects of quitting smoking on the brain."

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Botox Creates Muscle Weakness and Atrophy

(Science Daily) A new study … is raising questions about the therapeutic use of botulinum toxin A.

The study found that animals injected with Clostridium Botulinum type A neurotoxin complex (BOTOX, Allergan, Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada) experienced muscle weakness in muscles throughout the body, even though they were far removed from the injection site. The study also found that repeated injection induced muscle atrophy and loss of contractile tissue in the limb that was not injected with the Toxin.

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New Piece of Alzheimer's Puzzle Identified

(HealthDay News) A problem in the lining of blood vessels may play a role in the development of Alzheimer's disease, according to a new study.

The condition, called endothelial dysfunction, involves a loss of nitric oxide in the endothelium, the layer of cells that line blood vessels. Nitric oxide is crucial to the widening of blood vessels (vasodilation) that improves blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to tissues.

Previous research has linked endothelial dysfunction to cardiovascular disease.

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New Method for Preventing Oxidative Damage to Cells

(Science Daily) The discovery by UCLA biochemists of a new method for preventing oxidation in the essential fatty acids of cell membranes could lead to a new class of more effective nutritional supplements and potentially help combat neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease and perhaps Alzheimer's.

While polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutrients for everything from brain function to cell function, they are the most vulnerable components in human cells because of their high sensitivity to oxidative modifications caused by highly reactive oxygen molecules in the body.

The biochemists … have developed a new method for increasing the stability of polyunsaturated fatty acids. They have discovered a way to make these molecules harder to break apart so that oxidation is less likely to occur, rather than relying on antioxidants to repair damage after it occurs.

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Stigma Deters Those With Alcohol Disorders from Seeking Treatment, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Despite the existence of effective programs for treating alcohol dependencies and disorders, less than a quarter of people who are diagnosed actually seek treatment. In a recent study … researchers report that people diagnosed with alcoholism at some point in their lifetime were more than 60% less likely to seek treatment if they believed they would be stigmatized once their status is known…

[Said Katherine Keyes, PhD,] "Greater attention to reducing the stigma of having an alcohol disorder is urgently needed so that more individuals access the effective systems of care available to treat these disabling conditions."

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Insurance premiums up 41 percent in 6 yrs

(UPI) The cost of employer-sponsored family health insurance increased an average of 41 percent across all U.S. states from 2003 to 2009, a non-profit group says.

A report by the Commonwealth Fund in New York found deductibles per person rose 77 percent, on average, and the combination of higher premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs are putting working families' budgets under stress across the country.

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Longevity Breakthrough

(Science Daily) A new research report … describes how scientists "activated" life extension in the roundworm C. elegans, and in the process discovered a new metabolic state correlating with long life…

"This research on worms shows that the secret to a long life comes from how we extract energy from our food," commented [Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal]. "With any luck, we'll be able to change human life in the same direction: onward and upward!"

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Your level of happiness is hitched to your spouse

(MSNBC.com) For years, people have assumed their happiness was tied to things like personal success, good health, inner peace, or perhaps the ability to finally fit into a pair of size 4 jeans.

Now new research suggests … a person’s individual happiness is closely tied with that of their spouse — at least when it comes to long-term married couples…

“Right now, we know that happiness is tied in marital relationships,” says [Christiane] Hoppmann. “But we don’t know yet whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. We can’t tell if one spouse lifts up the other when there’s trouble or whether one spouse drags the other down. It could be both.”

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Aging With HIV a New Reality for Many Over 50

(HealthDay News) [Co-founder of the National Association on HIV Over 50 Jane] Fowler said that more and more aging Americans find themselves recently divorced (as she did) or widowed and back in the dating game…

Issues of HIV prevention and treatment can be especially tough on older women, said Diane Zablotsky, an associate professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina who's worked on the issue.

In terms of prevention, she noted that it may be tougher for a woman past menopause to negotiate condom use with a partner, when pregnancy is no longer an issue. And in terms of diagnosis and treatment, "if you have a woman experiencing night sweats and other kinds of symptoms -- is that menopausal change? A medication issue? Or is it an HIV-infection issue?"

All of the experts stressed that the key to curbing HIV infection in older Americans is the same as it is for the young: prevention.

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Hair Stylists Mobilize to Snip Away Ignorance of HIV/AIDS

(HealthDay News) Could the prevention of HIV infection and AIDS be a comb, fluff and blow-dry away?

That's the idea behind an innovative new national outreach effort, Hairdressers Against AIDS, which got its launch Tuesday at the United Nations in New York City, ahead of Dec. 1, World AIDS Day…

The goal is to empower America's 500,000-plus hair stylists to use the relationships they have with millions of clients for salon-based chats on the how, why and what of HIV.

"Today there is no vaccine," noted GBC president and CEO John Tedstrom, speaking to 500 hairdressers who'd gathered at the UN for the launch. "There is no cure. We're getting there. But today there is only information. The more we talk, the more we educate, the more we prevent the spread of this epidemic," Tedstrom explained.

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Low folate levels linked to hearing loss

(UPI) Hearing loss in the elderly may be linked to low levels of folate or folic acid, a B vitamin, researchers in Nigeria say.
Study author Akee Olawale Lasisi of the University of Ibadan and colleagues say low levels of the water-soluble vitamin in the blood of elderly people was significantly associated with hearing loss of high frequencies.
"Based on our research, age-related hearing loss may be associated with poor micro nutrient status," Lasisi says in a statement.
Community: There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of hearing loss.
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New Evidence for Eye-Protective Effects of Omega-3-Rich Fish, Shellfish

(Science Daily) A diet rich in omega-3s probably protects against advanced [age-related macular degeneration (AMD)], the leading cause of blindness in whites in the United States, according to … recent studies. High concentrations of omega-3s have been found in the eye's retina, and evidence is mounting that the nutrient may be essential to eye health…

"Our study corroborates earlier findings that eating omega-3-rich fish and shellfish may protect against advanced AMD." Dr. [Sheila K.] West said. "While participants in all groups, including controls, averaged at least one serving of fish or shellfish per week, those who had advanced AMD were significantly less likely to consume high omega-3 fish and seafood," she said.

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Recipes

Cooking Light:

Food Lover's Shopping Guide
Our editors give their top picks for the foodies in your life.

MyRecipes.com:

Penne and Chicken Tenderloins with Spiced Tomato Sauce
Any small pasta will work in this quick, easy entree. Ground fennel and coriander bring a welcome complexity to the chicken and impart their flavor to the sauce.

Spicy Thai Chicken Kabobs

Chicken Breast Cutlets in Lemon Sauce with Proscuitto and Sage

Turkey Tenderloins with Pesto and Provolone

EatingWell:

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
Crispy, Parmesan-flecked chicken tenders dipped in marinara sauce is an easy dinner the whole family will love. Dipping them in a mixture of plain yogurt with chopped fresh basil would be tasty too. Serve with sautéed green beans and roasted sweet potato wedges.

Stir-Fried Spicy Chicken Tenders

Wok-Seared Chicken Tenders with Asparagus & Pistachios

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers

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Your Ultimate Party Checklist

(SouthBeachDiet.com) It’s definitely that crazy time of year again: Between holiday shopping and wrapping presents, sending out greeting cards and traveling to visit family and friends, hosting a holiday party might seem like just too much to take on. But with careful planning and preparation, entertaining with wholesome, delicious [healthy] foods can not only be fun but also inspiration for staying on track throughout the holiday season.

From the time you make the decision to host a party to the moment you see your last guest out the door, there are all kinds of things to consider, including how many people you plan to invite, the selection of dishes to prepare, the decor, and more. Keep this checklist handy to use as a guide to planning a perfect holiday event.

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Common Sleep Complaints May Be Tied to Heart Threat

(HealthDay News) Loud snoring, difficulty falling asleep and unrefreshing sleep are each significant predictors of the development of metabolic syndrome, finds a new study.

Metabolic syndrome refers to the presence of at least three of five risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. The risk factors are: excess abdominal fat; high triglycerides; low HDL ("good") cholesterol; high blood pressure; and high blood sugar…

The findings, published Dec. 1 in the journal Sleep, highlight the importance of screening patients for common sleep complaints during routine doctor visits, according to the researchers.

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New heart scans pose small cancer risk: study

(Reuters Health) The added cancer risk from undergoing state-of-the-art heart scans may be trivial, according to Greek researchers.

Over a lifetime, they estimate, about one in 4,000 women who've had their hearts examined once with the latest generation of computed tomographic (CT) scanners would develop cancer as a consequence.

Among men, the risk was less than one in 13,500. By comparison, about one in three Americans develop some type of cancer during their life.

While the finding could ease concerns about the growing use of CT scans and the extra radiation that entails, the researchers still recommend that patients and their doctors always consider whether a test is really necessary.

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Annual mammogram at 40 reduces mastectomy

(UPI) Annual mammograms greatly reduce the risk of mastectomy following breast cancer for women ages 40-50, researchers in London found.

Lead author Nicholas M. Perry … says the American Cancer Society recommends annual mammography screening for U.S. women beginning at age 40, but last year, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended changing the guidelines to begin screening biennially at age 50.

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Bone Marrow Stromal Stem Cells May Aid in Stroke Recovery

(Science Daily) A research study … determines bone marrow stromal stem cells may aid in stroke recovery…

The study examining the effects of a systematic administration of … bone marrow stem cells (MSC) administered to laboratory rats one day after their simulated strokes found "significant recovery" of motor behavior on the first day. Early administration was found to be more effective than administration seven days after the simulated strokes.

"The timing of stem cell treatment was critical to the magnitude of the positive effects," said the study's lead author, Lorraine Iacovitti, Ph.D… "In the host animals we found profound changes and preserved brain structure along with long-lasting motor function improvement."

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Noninvasive Glaucoma Test Might Speed Up Detection

(HealthDay News) A test that measures the function of nerve cells in the retina may detect glaucoma at an early stage and help doctors evaluate the effectiveness of treatments, a new study has found.

Diagnosing glaucoma as early as possible -- before it destroys the optic nerve -- is key to preventing vision loss, according to the researchers…

The test, known as a pattern electroretinogram optimized for glaucoma screening, measures the electrical activity of the retina as a person looks at an alternating pattern of black and white lines.

The test can detect dysfunction and abnormal changes in retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) that appear early in the glaucoma process, the researchers said, making it potentially valuable as a non-invasive method of detection.

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Virus Switches Off Cancer Cell Surival Signal

(Science Daily) Researchers … have identified a mechanism by which specific viruses acting as oncolytic agents can enter and kill cancer cells. This finding … could help lead to the development of more targeted treatments against many types of cancer…

The virus, known as vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), ... is sensitive to the innate immune response, which causes lymphocytes to release interferon and protect the body from developing an infection. Cancer cells lose the ability to respond in that way, said [Ewan F.] Dunn. "When cancer cells transform, they become non-responsive, leaving them vulnerable to viruses attacking the cell and its function."…

"This study showed the important role of VSV in killing cancer cells through turning off a major survival signal," added [John H.] Connor. "The identification of this mechanism is fundamental to understanding how VSV and other oncolytic viruses function."

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Working With Pesticides May Affect Memory and More

(HealthDay News) Being exposed to pesticides over a long period of time might be linked to dementia, a new study of agricultural workers suggests.

The research effort included 614 vineyard workers in France who were in their 40s and 50s and had worked for at least 20 years in the agricultural sector. Their intellectual abilities were assessed twice, using nine tests designed to measure memory and recall, language retrieval, verbal skills and reaction time.

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Workers With Low Back Pain Benefit From Integrated Care

(HealthDay News) Workers with chronic low back pain can be treated for substantially less cost by using an integrated approach to care instead of traditional medical care, a new study suggests…

Integrated care included workplace assessments, treatment with graded exercise, and reassurance that despite pain, it was safe to move while increasing activity levels. The goal of integrated care was to enable a lasting return to work and improve quality of life…

The patients in the integrated care group sought health care less often, had shorter stays in hospital, were more successful in making a sustained return to work, and had greater improvement in quality of life…

[And] for every $1.55 spent on integrated care, there was a return of an estimated $40.44.

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Study links finger length to prostate cancer risk

(Reuters) Men with long index fingers have a lower risk of prostate cancer, British scientists said on Wednesday…

Researchers at Britain's Warwick University and the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) found that men whose index finger is longer than their ring finger were one-third less likely to develop the disease than men with the opposite pattern of finger lengths…

[Ros Eeles, who helped lead the study,] said the finding, which the scientists believe may be related to levels of the male hormone testosterone, could be used in combination with other factors such as family history or genetic testing to select at-risk men for screening.

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Study Backs 'Active Surveillance' for Low-Risk Prostate Cancer

(HealthDay News) Using a computer simulation model, researchers say they've determined that relying on "active surveillance" to follow men with low-risk prostate cancer is a "reasonable approach" and alternative to immediate treatment, which can cause unwanted side effects such as incontinence and impotence…

But the computer model isn't intended to replace personal decision-making for prostate cancer patients, all of whom have vastly different comfort levels when it comes to how they handle their diagnosis of cancer, the researchers said.

Still, the model might serve as a jumping-off point for doctor-patient discussions, and may provide more impetus for men to choose active surveillance and avoid unnecessary treatment, the researchers added.

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Drop in Breast Cancer Rates Directly Tied to Reduced Hormone Therapy, Large Study Finds

(Science Daily) In a new UCSF study of more than 2 million mammogram screenings performed on nearly 700,000 women in the United States, scientists for the first time show a direct link between reduced hormone therapy and declines in ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) as well as invasive breast cancer…

"We show that the incidence of breast cancer decreases if you take the hormones away,'' said senior author Karla Kerlikowske, MD. "The fact that we're continuing to see a decrease in invasive cancer means that the effects of stopping the hormones may be long-lasting.''

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New Report Ties Diabetes to Shortened Life Expectancy

(Science Daily) Despite medical advances enabling those with diabetes to live longer today than in the past, a 50-year-old with the disease still can expect to live 8.5 years fewer years, on average, than a 50-year-old without the disease…

"Given the rise in diabetes among boomers and seniors, these findings are alarming," said Greg O'Neill, PhD… "They paint a stark picture of the impact of diabetes and its complications on healthy aging."

Indeed, the figures show a marked increase in the percentage of adults over age 50 with diabetes during the past decade: from 11 percent of non-Hispanic whites in 1998 to 18 percent in 2008, and from 22 percent of non-Hispanic blacks in 1998 to 32 percent in 2008.

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Diabetes May Clamp Down on Cholesterol the Brain Needs

(Science Daily) The brain contains more cholesterol than any other organ in the body, has to produce its own cholesterol and won't function normally if it doesn't churn out enough. Defects in cholesterol metabolism have been linked with Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. Now researchers at Joslin Diabetes Center have discovered that diabetes can affect how much cholesterol the brain can make…

[T]he Joslin work showed a connection between the decrease in brain cholesterol synthesis and appetite. When the scientists took normal mice and temporarily reduced cholesterol creation in the hypothalamus with a technique known as RNA interference, the animals started eating more and gained significant weight. Previous studies by other labs have demonstrated that diabetes may affect brain hormones involved in appetite regulation.

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Internal Body Clock Controls Fat Metabolism

(Science Daily) UC Irvine researchers have discovered that circadian rhythms -- the internal body clock -- regulate fat metabolism. This helps explain why people burn fat more efficiently at certain times of day and could lead to new pharmaceuticals for obesity, diabetes and energy-related illnesses…

Twenty-four-hour circadian rhythms regulate fundamental biological and physiological processes in almost all organisms. They anticipate environmental changes and adapt certain bodily functions to the appropriate time of day. Disruption of these cycles can profoundly influence human health and has been linked to obesity, diabetes, insomnia, depression, heart disease and cancer.

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