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

With Age, Body Performance Often Trumps Appearance

(HealthDay News) For older Americans who decide to get more physically active, a new study finds that performance often trumps appearance.
The boost in body functioning that older adults gained from about six months of exercise proved more satisfying than any change in appearance, especially among men, according to the research. This suggest that with advancing years, a shift in emphasis may occur, one that puts a premium on a well-functioning body over a "hot" body, experts said.
"If we can get older adults to become more physically active, there are other benefits related to quality of life," said study author Renee Umstattd… While many adults think of exercise as helping to prevent or delay chronic disease, Umstattd said her study shows there is much more to it than that.
Community: But I still believe that appearance is important. Looking good is part of feeling good. But concern about appearance can go too far. See below.
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1 in 3 Nose Job Patients Has a Mental Illness: Study

(HealthDay News) A new study suggests that about one-third of people who want rhinoplasty, also known as a nose job, also have symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) -- a mental condition in which excessive concern about imagined or minor defects in appearance interferes with daily life…
Symptoms of BDD are particularly common among people who have had previous plastic surgery or mental health issues, the study authors pointed out. In the study, 20 percent of the patients had had a previous nose job, and they were more likely to have significant BDD symptoms, the researchers said. Symptoms were also more common among those with a history of psychiatric problems.
The Belgian team noted that most patients with serious concerns about their appearance had a nose that would actually be considered normal in size and shape. Those surveyed who showed more severe BDD symptoms also had lower quality of life and more problems in their day-to-day life, including trouble in relationships and low self-esteem.
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Weight Loss May Boost Sex Life of Obese, Diabetic Men

(HealthDay News) Weight loss improves the sexual health of obese men with type 2 diabetes, a new study finds…
A modest weight loss of 5 percent led to an easing of erectile dysfunction and improved sexual desire within eight weeks, and these improvements continued for 12 months, according to the study… Problems with urinary tract function also improved, the team added…
The findings support previous research showing that lifestyle changes can have a positive effect on sexual function.
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New Link Found Between Obesity and Insulin Resistance

(Science Daily) Obesity is the main culprit in the worldwide avalanche of type 2 diabetes. But how excess weight drives insulin resistance, the condition that may lead to the disease, is only partly understood. Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center now have uncovered a new way in which obesity wreaks its havoc, by altering the production of proteins that affect how other proteins are spliced together…
"More broadly, this work adds a novel insight into how obesity may induce insulin resistance and diabetes risk by changing critical functions of cells, including splicing," says Dr. [Mary-Elizabeth] Patti. "This information should stimulate the search for other genes for which differences in splicing may contribute to risk for type 2 diabetes. Ultimately, we hope that modifying these pathways with nutritional or drug therapies could limit the adverse consequences of obesity."
Community: How about curbing obesity? That will limit a lot of adverse consequences.
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Americans' Use of Antidepressants On the Rise: Study

(HealthDay News) Americans are popping more antidepressants than ever before to deal with everyday stress, and non-psychiatrists are increasingly willing to prescribe the drugs to patients with no mental health diagnosis, a new study finds…
The study authors said the increases don't necessarily mean that the drugs are being used inappropriately, but it's necessary to understand why antidepressant use is growing and, if necessary, to develop policies that ensure patients get the most effective treatment.
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Believers in benevolent God worry less

(UPI) People who believe in a benevolent God tend to worry less and are more tolerant than those who believe in an indifferent or punishing God, U.S. researchers say…
[T]hose who trusted in God to look out for them had lower levels of worry and less intolerance of uncertainty in their lives than those who had a "mistrust" of God to help them out, [lead author David H.] Rosmarin says.
Community: One of the bases of the 12-Step programs is to encourage a belief in a power greater than ourselves. That power doesn’t have to be called God. What’s important is to get over the feeling of responsibility for all the ills in the world. That’s why the serenity prayer is so significant in those programs:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
I’m not saying we should just throw up our hands at societal problems. But we’re not totally responsible for them, either.
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Supportive co-workers may lengthen life

(UPI) Workers get health benefits when they feel co-workers have their back and spend some time with them at the water cooler, researchers in Israel suggest…
"We spend most of our waking hours at work, and we don't have much time to meet our friends during the weekdays," [Dr. Sharon] Toker says in a statement. "Work should be a place where people can get necessary emotional support."…
The study … found those who had reported having low social support at work were 2.4 times more likely than others to die sometime within the 20-year period.
Community: So much for those who believe that living in a dog eat dog world is good for us.
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Roasted Rosemary Shrimp with Arugula and White Bean Salad
Baked shrimp top a crisp salad for a refreshingly light meal in about 15 minutes. Serve with garlic ciabatta.
Provençal Summer Vegetables
This stunning side dish of layered tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash and leeks bursts with fresh flavor. To make it even more colorful, use half a summer squash and half a zucchini. Try it alongside any grilled meat. Leftovers are delicious sandwiched between slices of crusty whole-grain bread.
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Researchers Discover Natural Food Preservative That Kills Food-Borne Bacteria

(Science Daily) University of Minnesota researchers have discovered and received a patent for a naturally occurring lantibiotic -- a peptide produced by a harmless bacteria -- that could be added to food to kill harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli and listeria…
The lantibiotic could be used to prevent harmful bacteria in meats, processed cheeses, egg and dairy products, canned foods, seafood, salad dressing, fermented beverages and many other foods. In addition to food safety benefits, lantibiotics are easy to digest, nontoxic, do not induce allergies and are difficult for dangerous bacteria to develop resistance against…
In wake of the recent deadly salmonella outbreak, it's important for researchers to continue developing methods to protect foods from dangerous bacteria.
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Turkey recall raises U.S. food safety questions

(Reuters) U.S. food safety advocates are calling for changes to meat recall rules after regulators took months to warn the public about a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 80 people and caused one death…
A government agency that tracks antibiotic-resistant pathogens found evidence of the contamination in Cargill ground turkey in early March, and the five-month lapse of time between that discovery and the recall has sparked a renewed debate about how the United States protects the public from tainted meat.
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GOP hammered for food-safety cuts

(UPI) A leading U.S. House Democrat is citing a recent deadly Salmonella outbreak to slam Republicans for their slashing of food-safety funding.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, senior Democrat on the Appropriations Committee's health subpanel, said GOP budget cuts aimed at the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture could mean more food-borne illnesses like the salmonella linked this week to ground turkey produced by food giant Cargill Inc.
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Guided self-help may ease unexplained nerve symptoms

(Reuters Health) Some people with unexplained dizziness, headaches or weakness may find some relief with behavioral therapy done partly at home, a study out Wednesday suggests…
After three months, 30 percent of patients in the self-help group rated their overall health as "better" or "much better," versus 17 percent in the group that had only standard care.
After six months, that difference was no longer significant between the two groups, but the self-help group was faring better in other ways. Overall, 47 percent said the specific symptoms that had sent them to the doctor in the first place were better or much better, versus 30 percent of the comparison group.
"This is a study that points in a positive direction," said Dr. David Newman-Toker, an associate professor of neurology  at Johns Hopkins University.
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Does Magnet Therapy Really Ease Pain?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you have recurring aches and pains and spend any time surfing the internet, you've probably heard about magnet therapy. Magnets have long been promoted as treatment for a wide variety of disorders. Proponents claim magnets can minimize or slow the progression of pain, anxiety, cancer, heart disease, snoring, incontinence and just about everything else. While most of these claims are unproven, and most magnets on the market are unlikely to do any good at all, several studies do suggest that magnets may have something to offer for pain relief…
However, taken as a whole, studies suggesting that magnets help with pain relief appear to be outnumbered by those that find no benefit.
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After violence, women's mental health suffers

(Reuters Health) Women who have been sexually assaulted, abused by a partner or stalked may face high lifetime risks of depression and other mental health conditions, a new study suggests…
"The strong association with mental disorders shown in this study indicates that violence against women should be considered and responded to as a major public health problem," [lead researcher Susan] Rees said…
For women who've been victimized, Rees said the findings underscore the importance of seeking help right away.
"The reality is that once exposed, women are likely to experience the same form of abuse again or other forms of related abuse," Rees said. "The longer they delay in confronting the problem, the more likely they will incur the adverse consequences."
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Suicide Victims Found to Have Abnormal Brain Cells

(MyHealthNewsDaily) Changes to some of the star-shaped brain cells called astrocytes may play a role in depression, a new study finds.
The findings are based on the postmortem examination of brains of depressed individuals who committed suicide…
The researchers said they don't know whether these alterations are a cause or effect of depression and can only speculate on how the changes would contribute to the mood disorder. It's likely they would affect communication between … parts of the brain.
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Smoking Linked to Raised Risk of Irregular Heartbeat, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) Smoking increases the risk of developing a heart rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation, a new study warns…
The risk of the abnormal heart rhythm was 1.32 times higher in former smokers and two times higher in current smokers, compared to people who never smoked, according to the report.
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Smokers Mistakenly Believe Vitamins Protect Them From Cancer

(HealthDay News) Smokers who take a multivitamin pill may think they can smoke more because the supplement protects them from the harmful affects of cigarettes, according to a new study…
"Smokers who take dietary supplements can fool themselves into thinking they are protected against cancer and other diseases. Reminding health-conscious smokers that multivitamins don't prevent cancer may help them control their smoking or even encourage them to stop," said the study's lead author.
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Need a New Hip? Someday You May Grow Your Own

(HealthDay News) In a decade or so, people now clamoring for metal and ceramic replacement joints may instead be able to have a fully functional biological replacement -- a joint grown within their own bodies to their specific physiology.
To date, researchers have successfully grown replacement shoulder joints in rabbits, using an implanted biological "scaffold" upon which new cartilage developed, according to a study…
 Clinical use of the new technology is still a decade or more away, said [the researchers].
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Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables

(Mark Bittman, New York Times) What will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)
Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.
And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.
Yet the food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem. Their mission is not public health but profit, so they’ll continue to sell the health-damaging food that’s most profitable, until the market or another force skews things otherwise. That “other force” should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix.
Rather than subsidizing the production of unhealthful foods, we should turn the tables and tax things like soda, French fries, doughnuts and hyperprocessed snacks. The resulting income should be earmarked for a program that encourages a sound diet for Americans by making healthy food more affordable and widely available…
The need is dire: efforts to shift the national diet have failed, because education alone is no match for marketing dollars that push the very foods that are the worst for us…
By profiting as a society from the foods that are making us sick and using those funds to make us healthy, the United States would gain the same kind of prestige that we did by attacking smoking. We could institute a national, comprehensive program that would make us a world leader in preventing chronic or “lifestyle” diseases, which for the first time in history kill more people than communicable ones. By doing so, we’d not only repair some of the damage we have caused by first inventing and then exporting the Standard American Diet, we’d also set a new standard for the rest of the world to follow.
Community: There are lots of good ideas in this article. You might want to read the whole thing.
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Response to Bittman’s “Tax Bad Foods”

(Dr John La Puma) As a physician and professionally trained chef, I write recipes on prescription slips. I try to practice what Mark Bittman of the New York Times eloquently preaches in Tax Soda, Subsidize Vegetables [above].
Yet a healthy diet is like penicillin–simple, powerful, and with increasing rates of resistance, from physicians.
Physicians are not trained to speak with patients about diet and nutrition, much less cooking and food shopping.
Physicians are also better paid to prescribe medication and do procedures than to ask patients to switch from soda to water.
Writing recipes on prescription slips changes this dynamic.
Putting foods, recipes and meals in pharmacies and on managed care and hospital formularies might help patients get the food and health care they need, economically.
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Green Tea Plus Tai Chi = Stronger Bones

(RealAge.com) A recent study suggests that combining green tea with tai chi -- two staples of Eastern cultures -- may work synergistically to prevent bone loss that leads to osteoporosis.
In a study of postmenopausal women who had bone thinning but not full-blown osteoporosis, consuming 500 milligrams a day of green tea polyphenols while participating three times a week in tai chi, a traditional Chinese form of mind-body exercise, resulted in improved bone health after just a few months. The women's blood and urine tests showed fewer markers of oxidative stress -- which is a good thing for not only bones but also the whole body…
And here are three additional health benefits you'll reap while you're at it:
Better balance. Tai chi has been shown to reduce the risk of falls and boost balance skills, flexibility, and strength…
Nicer skin. Water in tea keeps your skin hydrated, but green tea polyphenols also keep skin healthy and young…
Smaller belly. Green tea's polyphenols also help burn fat right where you need them to -- in your belly.
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How Chocolate Can Help Your Workout

(Well, New York Times) For those who worry that fitness requires nutritional denial, there is good news, with caveats. Auspicious new science suggests that chocolate can have a surprisingly large effect on the body’s response to exercise, although not in the ways that many of us might expect, and certainly not at the dosages most might hope for.
Researchers have known for some time that chocolate has healthful effects, and recent epidemiological studies have shown that people who regularly indulge in moderate amounts of dark chocolate are less likely to develop high blood pressure or heart disease or suffer strokes. But chocolate’s potential role in exercise performance had not been studied, or probably even much considered, until scientists at the University of California, San Diego, and other institutions gave middle-aged, sedentary male mice a purified form of cacao’s primary nutritional ingredient, known as epicatechin, and had the mice work out. Epicatechin is a flavonol, a class of molecules that are thought to have widespread effects on the body…
The leg muscles of the mice that had been given epicatechin and exercised displayed far more mitochondrial activity than the leg muscles of the control mice. Even the mice that had drunk epicatechin and not exercised contained markers of increased mitochondrial health, suggesting that the flavonol prompts a physiological reaction even among the sedentary. But that response is greatly heightened by exercise, no matter how slight…
Mice are not people, though, and it remains to be seen whether the fitness-boosting effects of epicatechin will be identical in humans, especially since most of us would be getting the substance not in purified liquid form but in chocolate. “Processing destroys epicatechin,” Dr. [Francisco] Villarreal said, so heavily processed milk chocolate contains almost none of the flavonol, while cacao-rich dark chocolate has far more.
And even for those who adore dark chocolate, there is a catch. “A very small amount is probably enough,” Dr. Villarreal said. Extrapolating from his group’s mouse data, he said, five grams of dark chocolate daily, or just a sixth of an ounce — about half of one square of a typical chocolate bar — is probably a reasonable human dose if your aim is to intensify the effects of a workout.
Sadly, “more is not better,” he continued. “More could lessen or even undo” any benefits, he said, by overloading the muscles’ receptors or otherwise skewing the body’s response.
Community: I put powdered cocoa in a healthy cookie that I make. That way, I get my chocolate, but I’m not tempted to eat a whole candy bar.
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Mind Your PQQs for Less Aging

(RealAge.com) Mitochondria, the cellular power plants that generate virtually all the energy your body requires, play a vital role in keeping organs youthful and healthy, too.
So what can you do to keep those mitochondria powered up? Try reaching for the green -- like green pepper, green kiwifruit, and green parsley. Green-pigmented foods like these are rich in pyrroloquinoline quinone -- or PQQ for short -- a powerful antioxidant that shields mitochondria from oxidative damage in such vital organs as the brain and heart.
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Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
One of the most popular Cooking Light chicken recipes, these sweet and spicy grilled chicken thighs are flavored with chili powder, cumin, garlic and cider vinegar.
Watermelon & Goat Cheese Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
The contrasting flavors and textures of crisp, sweet watermelon and creamy, tangy goat cheese are magical partners. Top with sliced grilled chicken to make it a meal.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Mediterranean Couscous
Couscous is a type of pasta that can be prepared in an instant. It's done as soon as the "grains" soak up the hot liquid. This version, with its traditional Mediterranean flavors, is a wonderful accompaniment to fish and a salad of cucumbers, tomatoes and feta cheese. Once you make this dish, you'll find yourself wanting to experiment with other flavorful additions to couscous.
Food as Medicine
Tomatoes, which are featured in this recipe, provide lycopene, which may help protect against prostate, breast and pancreatic cancers.
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Wise Treatment for Arthritis: Frankincense?

(Science Daily) The answer to treating painful arthritis could lie in an age old herbal remedy -- frankincense, according to Cardiff University scientists…
The Cardiff scientists believe they have been able to demonstrate that treatment with an extract of Boswellia frereana -- a rare frankincense species -- inhibits the production of key inflammatory molecules which helps prevent the breakdown of the cartilage tissue which causes the condition.
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'Swamp Gas' Protects Blood Vessels from Complications of Diabetes

(Science Daily) Hydrogen sulfide is a foul-smelling gas with an odor resembling that of rotten eggs. Sometimes called "swamp gas," this toxic substance is generally associated with decaying vegetation, sewers and noxious industrial emissions. And -- as odd as it may seem -- it also plays a critical role in protecting blood vessels from the complications of diabetes, according to a new study…
The researchers [showed] that diabetic rats have lower levels of hydrogen sulfide in their circulatory systems than other animals. Furthermore, the team showed that treating diabetic rats for a month with hydrogen sulfide improved the function of their blood vessels.
"The loss of endothelial cell function in diabetes is a first step that leads to many complications, such as eye disease, heart disease, kidney disease, foot disease and others," [Csaba] Szabo said. "The observation that hydrogen sulfide can control an early checkpoint in all of these processes may open the door for new therapies."
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New Tick-Borne Illness Infects Midwesterners

(HealthDay News) First they spread Lyme disease, and then babesiosis. Now, deer ticks carrying a newly identified bacterium are infecting residents of the midwestern United States with a disease called ehrlichiosis, and experts say it will likely appear in other areas of the country.
The still unnamed bacterium, which causes fever, body aches and fatigue, has been identified in 25 people in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but has probably infected many more, researchers said in a new study…
Ehrlichiosis kills white blood cells, causing a feverish illness. Severe cases can involve the lungs, kidneys and brain, and require hospitalization, but rarely result in death, the researchers said.
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5 Ways to Prevent Mosquito Bites

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) The best remedy for itchy mosquito bites is to prevent them in the first place. Use these tips to help stay bite-free this summer:
1.    Stay indoors at dusk when mosquitoes are out and about.
2.    Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeved tops, and tuck long pants into your socks.
3.    Stay away from black and white fabrics, which seem to drive the little bugs wild.
4.    Try mixtures of essential oils, such as pennyroyal oil and eucalyptus. These are moderately effective if you're not dealing with really thick swarms of mosquitoes.
5.    In places like Alaska or Minnesota, where mosquitoes can be overwhelming, use insect repellants containing geraniol, a plant-derived compound, or neem oil, from the Indian tree Azadirachta indica.
Community: And don’t forget to eat garlic. It keeps vampires away, too! Here are more ideas for avoiding insect bites.
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Living alone after heart attack tied to death risk

(Reuters Health) Living alone after a heart attack is associated with a higher risk of death over the next four years, according to a study…
One year after a heart attack, the risk of death was about the same among people who lived alone as those who lived with others. After four years, however, the risk of death was about 35 percent higher for people living by themselves.
"Social support should be an important consideration after a heart attack," Emily M. Bucholz, lead researcher of the paper…, told Reuters Health by email.
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Post-Heart Attack Exercise May Depend on Where You Live

(HealthDay News) Heart attack survivors who live in poor neighborhoods get less exercise than those in wealthier neighborhoods, a new study finds.
Regular exercise after a heart attack is known to improve the chances of survival, the Israeli researchers noted…
"Recommendations for physical activity should be supported by appropriate infrastructure, and the provision of free or low-cost sports facilities in areas of deprivation," noted lead investigator Yariv Gerber.
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Fat Injections: Safe for Breast Reconstruction After Cancer?

(WebMD Health News) Fat injections to contour the breasts after breast cancer surgery, known as lipofilling, appear safe, according to a new study.
But the researchers add strong caveats to that conclusion. 
"After breast cancer treatment, the patient has to be followed more carefully," says study researcher Jean Yves Petit, MD, of the European Institute of Oncology in Milan, Italy. A surgeon experienced in the technique must do the surgery, he tells WebMD…
While the complication rate was low, Petit says it is too soon to prove safety in terms of cancer recurrence. "We cannot provide the definitive proof of the safety of lipofilling in terms of cancer recurrence or distant metastasis," he writes. Longer studies are need, he tells WebMD. His follow-up lasted about a year and a half.
In another recent study, Petit compared women who had lipofilling after breast cancer with comparison women who did not have the procedure and found it safe, although he still concludes that more study is needed.
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Finding Could Reduce Antibiotic Use in Critically Ill Patients

(Science Daily) Measuring the levels of a natural body chemical may allow doctors to reduce the duration of antibiotic use and improve the health outcomes of critically ill patients.
"Infection is a common and expensive complication of critical illness and we're trying to find ways to improve the outcomes of sick, elderly patients and, at the same time, reduce health care costs," says Daren Heyland…
Prolonged antibiotic exposure is associated with an increase in drug-resistant pathogens. It makes sense, according to Dr. Heyland, to examine ways in which we might make the duration of antibiotic treatment more precise without compromising patient outcome.
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Speed Cameras Save Lives, Money: Study

(HealthDay News) Speed cameras installed on major highways are a cost-effective method of preventing traffic accidents and motor vehicle deaths, researchers say…
Fewer accidents and injuries, the study concluded, translated to big cost savings. The researchers calculated the net savings resulting from the speed cameras totaled $9.8 million over two years.
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Study: U.S. health insurance red tape costs $27 billion

(UPI) The U.S. health insurance bureaucracy costs doctors some $27 billion extra per year compared with Canada's single-payer system, researchers found.
The study, published in the journal Health Affairs, found per-physician costs in the United States averaged $82,975 annually, while physicians in Ontario averaged $22,205 -- primarily because Canada's single-payer healthcare system is simpler.
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FDA balks at medical device shakeup

(Reuters) An advisory group said the U.S. fast-track approval process for medical devices is fatally flawed and should be replaced, but the Food and Drug Administration said the recommendation was a non-starter…
"What we are recommending is that the 510(k) is fatally flawed in terms of it not evaluating safety and effectiveness of a device," said Dr. David Challoner, chairman of the IOM's committee.
But the finding was swiftly rejected by the FDA's top device official.
"FDA believes that the 510(k) process should not be eliminated, but we are open to additional proposals and approaches for continued improvement of our device review programs," Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.
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No Increase in Medicare Drug Premiums in 2012

(HealthDay News) In 2012, the average Medicare premium seniors pay for their prescription drugs will actually drop slightly, U.S. officials announced Thursday.
Overall, the average premium cost of the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan in 2012 will be about $30, a modest decline from $30.76 paid out on average in 2011, representatives of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said during an afternoon press conference.
How is the plan able to keep premiums low? According to officials, Medicare's popular drug benefits program is benefiting from competition between private insurance plans and the growing use of cheaper generic medicines. And they say that situation might even get rosier in the future, as more blockbuster drugs are set to go generic over the next couple years.
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Lifestyles of the Old and Healthy Defy Expectations

(Science Daily) People who live to 95 or older are no more virtuous than the rest of us in terms of their diet, exercise routine or smoking and drinking habits, according to researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.
Their findings … [suggest] that "nature" (in the form of protective longevity genes) may be more important than "nurture" (lifestyle behaviors) when it comes to living an exceptionally long life…
Dr. [Nir] Barzilai and his Einstein colleagues interviewed 477 Ashkenazi Jews who were living independently and were 95 and older (95-112, 75 percent of them women)…
Overall, people with exceptional longevity did not have healthier habits than the comparison group in terms of BMI, smoking, physical activity, or diet…
"Although this study demonstrates that centenarians can be obese, smoke and avoid exercise, those lifestyle habits are not good choices for most of us who do not have a family history of longevity," said Dr. Barzilai. "We should watch our weight, avoid smoking and be sure to exercise, since these activities have been shown to have great health benefits for the general population, including a longer lifespan."
Community: I’m not counting on my genes. Besides, I’m enjoying my healthy lifestyle.
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Childhood hardship tied to adulthood disease risks

(Reuters Health) Children who are abused, lose a parent, or suffer other hardships may have increased risks of chronic health conditions later in life, a new study suggests…
"Early adverse experiences can shape people's behavior and lifestyle," [lead researcher Kate M.] Scott told Reuters Health by email. For example, she said, some people may end up smoking, drinking or over-eating as a way to deal with the stress of those childhood experiences, and the memories of them.
Similarly, Scott explained, young people with depression or other mental health disorders may learn to use smoking or drinking as a way to "self-medicate."
"So both early-life adversities and mental disorders may independently influence health-related behavior," she said.
But it's also possible that lasting and severe stress early in life has more-direct biological effects, according to Scott.
Community: As with the genetic factor, having suffered a lot of stress in childhood doesn’t dictate an unhealthy adulthood. It just means those of us who experienced it need to be even more careful about reducing the stress in our lives and doing the things that will keep us healthy. Smoking, alcohol, and drugs are not the answer.
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Self-medication for anxiety tied to later drug abuse

(Reuters Health) People who drink or use drugs to calm down anxious nerves are at increased risk of developing full-blown substance abuse disorder down the road, Canadian researchers have found…
After taking income, age and other factors into consideration, self-medicating people had 2.5 to 5 times the odds of becoming dependent on alcohol or drugs compared to people who stuck with their doctor's prescription.
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Age and Your Heart

(Arthur Agatston, MD, Everyday Health) For both men and women, age is a major risk factor for heart disease. The older you are, the more wear and tear there has been on your artery walls, the longer and harder your heart has had to work, and the more time you've had to accumulate arterial plaque. It's not surprising, then, that four out of every five deaths due to heart disease occur in people over age 65…
Chronological age alone does not tell the whole story. I want to stress that just because you are in your sixties or seventies doesn't mean that your heart health is deteriorating. Recently, I reviewed the heart scan of a 74-year-old male patient who exercised daily and followed a healthy diet. There was absolutely no calcified plaque in his coronary arteries, which meant that his risk of having a heart attack was extremely low… Some credit must go to his heart-healthy lifestyle.
That same day, I reviewed the scan of a 58-year-old woman who was overweight and sedentary. Her arteries were loaded with plaque, which put her at much greater risk of having a heart attack than my older male patient. My point is that you can have healthy arteries well into old age if you make the right lifestyle and therapeutic choices and take steps to reduce those risk factors that are within your control.
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Scientists Identify What Makes Us Feel 'Bad' When We're Sick, How to Treat It

(Science Daily) A signaling system in the brain previously shown to regulate sleep is also responsible for inducing lethargy during illness, according to research…
This research is particularly meaningful because it implies that a new class of drugs developed to treat sleep disorders can reverse the inactivity and exhaustion brought on by acute illness. Although the sleep drugs were initially designed to treat narcolepsy, they have the potential to restore energy and motivation in patients with acute and chronic disease, the researchers report…
"There is a very exciting opportunity to quickly translate these findings into clinical practice," [principal investigator Daniel L. Marks, M.D., Ph.D.] said. "Because the role of orexin in sleep disorders like narcolepsy has been known for several years, the drug development efforts aimed at restoring orexin signaling are at an advanced state and nearly ready for clinical application."
Community: Now that I’ve stopped eating so much saturated fat and sugar, I no longer feel the lethargy that made me a couch potato. I wonder if this research could help people overcome the logy feeling from a bad diet, to help motivate them to become more active. And that might lead to motivation to change to a healthier diet.
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Obesity Counseling Should Stress Brain, Not Willpower: Study

(HealthDay News) Obesity counseling should focus on neurobehavioral processes -- the ways the brain controls eating behavior in response to biological and environmental factors -- instead of personal choice and willpower, researchers suggest…
Telling patients that their obesity is caused by unhealthy personal choices or lack of willpower can be stigmatizing and is unlikely to motivate them to lose weight, [said lead author Brad Appelhans].
The new model for obesity counseling focuses on three neurobehavioral processes consistently linked to obesity and overeating -- food reward, inhibitory control and time discounting…
Strategies that the researchers recommend include removing high-fat foods from your home and workplace; shopping for groceries online or with a grocery list; practicing stress management to limit emotional eating; and avoiding challenging situations such as restaurants and buffets.
Also, set short-term behavioral goals, such as preparing healthy meals several nights a week, instead of concentrating on long-term weight loss, they advised.
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A High Price for Healthy Food

(Well, New York Times) Healthy eating really does cost more.
That’s what University of Washington researchers found when they compared the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. Calorie for calorie, junk foods not only cost less than fruits and vegetables, but junk food prices also are less likely to rise as a result of inflation. The findings, reported in the current issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, may help explain why the highest rates of obesity are seen among people in lower-income groups…
Although people don’t knowingly shop for calories per se, the data show that it’s easier for low-income people to sustain themselves on junk food rather than fruits and vegetables, says the study’s lead author Adam Drewnowski… Based on his findings, a 2,000-calorie diet would cost just $3.52 a day if it consisted of junk food, compared with $36.32 a day for a diet of low-energy dense foods…
“If you have $3 to feed yourself, your choices gravitate toward foods which give you the most calories per dollar,’’ said Dr. Drewnowski. “Not only are the empty calories cheaper, but the healthy foods are becoming more and more expensive. Vegetables and fruits are rapidly becoming luxury goods.”
Community: We spend about $7.50 a day each on food. And we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. But we take advantage of sales and have a fully stocked freezer.
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