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

Get Your Flu Shot Now, CDC Urges

(HealthDay News) Flu activity levels in the United States are currently low, making it the ideal time to get a flu shot, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
In its first "FluView" report for the 2011-2012 flu season, the federal agency also said there should be plenty of vaccine available this season because the U.S. supply is projected to be at an all-time high.
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Routine Supplements: Help, Hype, Hazard or Hope?

(Dr John La Puma) Three reports this week again show that dietary supplements can act like medicine–they can help, or they can make things worse.
The first large report showed that multivitamins and iron supplements, separately, increased mortality and cancer risk in older women (mean age 61),  The second showed that 400 IU of vitamin E daily increased prostate cancer in healthy men.  And the third, from Institute of Medicine authors, cautioned about overdoing Vitamin D…not more than 600IU daily, vs the Endocrine Society recommendations (1000-2000 IU of vitamin D3 daily).
Lots of info is missing: supplement quality is hard to monitor, and many contain binders, fillers, additives, artificial preservatives, coloring and flavors; dosages matter; so do other interactions.
But supplements are disease-specific. Just not as gently as food (usually), or as sharply as medication (often)…
Some specific supplements improve wound healing, especially important to the post-operative patient and clinician. Others are FDA-approved for lowering triglycerides (omega-3s, making a prescription medication) and macular degeneration (ditto)…
The bottom line: there’s hope.
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Food Day: Urges Americans to 'eat real'

(UPI) U.S. organizers of Food Day say they want to encourage Americans to "eat real," and dump food such as Froot Loops which has no fruit.
Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a non-profit organization in Washington coordinating Food Day, said Food Day -- scheduled for Oct. 24 -- is a celebration of healthy, affordable and sustainably grown food..
More than 1,500 events highlighting real food are planned from coast-to-coast in homes, schools, universities, parks and even in Times Square in New York, that will involve numerous politicians, cooks, farmers, physicians, consumers and celebrities, Jacobson said.
Community: Click here to find activities in your area.
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Foods That Lower Breast Cancer Risk

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) The latest on links between breast cancer and diet suggests that consuming an abundance of vegetables, fruits and legumes may help women cut their risks of one type of breast cancer.
After 26 years of following more than 86,000 nurses in the U.S., researchers have reported that those whose diets were rich in plant foods, while low on meat, sodium and processed carbohydrates had a 20 percent lower risk of developing estrogen-receptor-negative breast cancer, malignancies that account for about 25 percent of all cases…
In other news, a study performed with mice … showed that breast cancer risk dropped significantly when the animals' regular diet included walnuts in an amount that would translate to about 2 ounces a day for humans. Neither of these findings proves that eating vegetables - or walnuts - are directly responsible for the reported risk reductions, but suggest that follow up studies are worth pursuing.
My take? While there's no surefire dietary strategy to prevent breast cancer, we do know that women who gain weight as adults are at higher risk, as are women whose diets include the most meat (compared to women who eat little or no meat).
In addition to watching your weight and eating less meat, I also recommend avoiding alcohol (drinking can raise your risk), eating lots of cruciferous vegetables, which give you protective phytonutrients, exercising regularly, which can help lower your risk of many diseases, and avoiding the long term use of estrogen replacement therapy at menopause.
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Andouille and Red Beans with Rice
With a generous hit of spice and smoke, andouille sausage has long been a favorite ingredient in Cajun recipes. It adds depth of flavor to this simple bean dish.
Chicken, Tomato & Jalapeño Pizza
We forgo pizza sauce and instead brush the pizza dough with garlicky olive oil for this Tex-Mex pizza. Tomatoes and chicken make a simple topping; a sprinkle of fresh jalapeño gives it a little heat. No time to make homemade dough? Look for whole-wheat pizza-dough balls at your supermarket. Check the ingredient list to make sure the dough doesn’t contain any hydrogenated oils. Serve with a big green salad tossed with avocado and red onion.
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Flaxseed may not cool hot flashes: study

(Reuters) Eating flaxseed may not ease menopausal hot flashes after all, despite some promising early evidence that it might, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota found that 188 women who were randomly assigned to eat a daily flaxseed bar saw no more improvement in their hot flashes than women given flax-free "placebo" bars.
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Mixed data on hot flashes drug

(Reuters) Depomed Inc … said its experimental drug to treat menopausal hot flashes showed mixed results in a late-stage study…
On Thursday, the company said the study measured the frequency and severity of hot flashes experienced by patients after four weeks and 12 weeks of treatment with Serada.
The study met three of the four primary goals, but didn't meet its secondary ones.
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Smoking linked to earlier menopause

(Reuters Health) Women who smoke may hit menopause about a year earlier than those who don't light up, according to a new look at past research.
That's important because the age at which women stop getting their periods may influence their risk of bone and heart diseases as well as breast cancer.
Study author Volodymyr Dvornyk … said that women "should be aware of this effect and possible health consequences" of smoking, in addition to its other known risks.
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Association Between Menopause and Cognitive Impairment

(Science Daily) Obesity has been associated with cognitive decline, characterized by a deterioration of mental abilities that involve memory, language, and thought-processing speed. But in a study of 300 post-menopausal women included in the Cardiovascular Prevention Program "Corazón Sano," in Argentina, obese participants in the study performed better on three cognitive tests than participants of normal weight, leading researchers to speculate about the role of sex hormones and cognition.
According to the study's lead author, Judith M. Zilberman, MD…, these results may be attributable to estrogen stored and released by fat cells…
"Where there is increased adipose tissue , there is increased estrogen," said Dr. Zilberman. "My hypothesis is that estrogen may be protective of cognitive function in this case."
According to Dr. Zilberman, the possibility that naturally occurring estrogen from a woman's own fat cells may help preserve cognition flies in the face of current medical advice. "Based on previous studies, many research institutions have decided against recommending estrogens as a preventive intervention in cognitive impairment or dementia," she said. "That's what makes our findings so important."
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First Physical Evidence Bilingualism Delays Onset of Alzheimer's Symptoms

(Science Daily) Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital have found that people who speak more than one language have twice as much brain damage as unilingual people before they exhibit symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. It's the first physical evidence that bilingualism delays the onset of the disease.
"This is unheard of -- no medicine comes close to delaying the onset of symptoms and now we have the evidence to prove this at the neuroanatomical level," said Dr. Tom Schweizer, a neuroscientist who headed the research…
Dr. Schweizer said that bilingual people are constantly using their brain and keeping it active, which may contribute to overall brain health. That's why many physicians encourage older people to do crossword puzzles or Sudoku.
Dr. Schweizer said that because bilingual people constantly switch from one language to another or suppress one language to speak in the other, their brains may be better prepared to compensate through enhanced brain networks or pathways when Alzheimer's sets in.
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Coronary calcium tests not always worthwhile: study

(Reuters Health) Using CT scans of coronary arteries to help determine a person's chance of getting heart disease may be worth the costs and potential risks in men, but doesn't seem to be cost-effective in women…
A CT scan of coronary calcium allows doctors to see how much build-up there is in the blood vessels leading to the heart. A lot of build-up raises a warning flag that a person is more likely to get heart disease, while little build-up means the risk of disease is low.
Being able to better define a patient's risk tells doctors the best way to treat them -- for example, whether they should be taking drugs to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
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MRIs Could Become Powerful Tools for Monitoring Cholesterol Therapy

(Science Daily) MRI scanning could become a powerful new tool for assessing how well cholesterol drugs are working, according to Loyola University Health System cardiologist Binh An P. Phan, MD.
Phan is co-author of an MRI study of patients who had recently begun taking cholesterol medications. The study found that intensive treatment with cholesterol drugs significantly reduced the amount of cholesterol in artery-clogging plaque…
The findings confirmed the researchers' hypothesis that the reason why cholesterol medications shrink the overall size of the plaque is because cholesterol is being removed from within the plaque. Thus, using MRI scans to monitor the amount of cholesterol in plaque may help doctors to better determine how well cholesterol medications are working. If an MRI showed cholesterol was not being reduced, more aggressive therapy might be needed, Phan said.
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Study Could Help Battle Against Superbugs

(Science Daily) Targeting a toxin released by virtually all strains of MRSA could help scientists develop new drugs that can fight the superbug, research suggests.
A study led by the University of Edinburgh has discovered the toxin -- SElX -- which leads the body's immune system to go into overdrive and damage healthy cells…
Dr Ross Fitzgerald … said: "If we can find ways to target this toxin, we can stop it from triggering an over-reaction of the body's immune system and prevent severe infections"
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Genetic Profiling Adds New Dimension to Breast Cancer Treatment

(HealthDay News) New tests are allowing doctors to figure out what genetic or biological factors are driving each individual woman's type of [breast] cancer, and new therapies are being targeted to directly attack those specific factors.
"When it comes to treating breast cancer, we used to throw the book at everyone," said Dr. Christy A. Russell, a board member of the American Cancer Society's California division… "Now it's much more targeted."
Community: When I went through breast cancer treatment 12 years ago, they had to almost kill you to cure you.
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Physical therapy direct access effective

(UPI) Patients making appointments to a physical therapist without a physician's referral may experience lower costs and make fewer visits, U.S. researchers suggest…
In addition, overall related healthcare use -- care related to the problem for which physical therapy was received, but not physical therapy treatment -- was lower in the self-referred group.
"Our findings do not support the assertion that self-referral leads to overuse of care or discontinuity in care, based on a very large population of individuals in a common private health insurance plan with no requirement for physical therapy referral or prohibition on patient self-referral," the study authors said in a statement.
Community: So don’t believe the right-wing crazies when they tell you we have to penalize people for using medical services or they’ll overuse them.
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Pfizer, Humana form research pact on elderly health

(Reuters) Pfizer Inc has formed a partnership with health insurer Humana Inc to research ways to improve healthcare for the elderly…
The companies cited U.S. Census projections showing that over the next 10 years the Medicare-eligible population is expected to grow to 65 million -- a 36 percent increase from 2010. The collaboration also could evolve beyond seniors in the longer term, the companies said.
The companies will seek "to develop an important body of knowledge" to advance their work, said William Fleming, vice president of Humana Pharmacy Solutions.
The companies will seek to study prescription drug use and how it affects areas such as cost and quality of care and patient outcomes, Fleming said.
Community: Rather than concentrate on expensive drugs, why are they not working on ways to promote more healthful living? Seems like everyone is out for the big buck, instead of what might best benefit the most of us.
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Senators propose relaxing FDA conflict rules

(Reuters) A bill that would loosen conflict of interest rules for advisers to the Food and Drug Administration has been proposed by three U.S. senators seeking to speed up review times for medical devices…
A senior FDA drugs office official testified in August that the agency was having difficulty in recruiting highly qualified people for its advisory panels.
The legislation also comes as medical device makers such as Boston Scientific and Stryker have criticized the FDA for strangling innovation with inconsistent regulation and lagging device approvals.
Community: Is everybody on the take?
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Obama administration drops part of healthcare law

(Los Angeles Times) The Obama administration will not implement a new program to provide Americans with long-term-care insurance, abandoning a controversial part of the healthcare overhaul the president signed last year.
The move will not affect other parts of the sweeping law, including preparations for a major expansion of health insurance coverage starting in 2014, according to administration officials.
But the decision to give up on what was once touted as a key benefit of the law marks a major retreat for the administration and a vindication for critics who have voiced doubt about the promises that Democrats made as they fought to enact the law last year.
It also struck a blow at a long-cherished goal of consumer advocates and liberal Democrats, especially the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who championed a government entitlement to help elderly Americans pay for home care or a nursing home.
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U.S. heart disease down, but not in South

(UPI) The overall rate of U.S. coronary heart disease is declining but the South has a higher rate of heart disease than the rest of the country, officials say.
A report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said from 2006 to 2010, those who reported they have been told by a health professional they have coronary heart disease declined nationwide from 6.7 percent to 6 percent…
Coronary heart disease rates in 2010 were lowest in Hawaii [3.7 percent] and Washington [3.8 percent], and highest in Kentucky [8.2 percent] and West Virginia [8 percent].
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Analysis finds how people keep weight off

(UPI) Most people who lose weight by dieting gain it back but an analysis of about 10,000 U.S. adults shows regaining weight may not be inevitable, researchers say…
The latest analysis was of 3,000 people -- mostly women -- who weighed an average of 224 pounds and lost an average of 69 pounds but kept off an average of 51 pounds for 10 years or more, [co-investigator Graham] Thomas said.
Thomas and colleagues studied the questionnaires the participants completed each year and found they:
-- Kept track of what and how much food they ate, and how many calories they consumed.
-- Ate 1,800 calories/day with less than 30 percent from fat.
-- Did not skip breakfast.
-- Hopped on the scale once a week.
-- Ate out an average of three times a week and ate fast-food less than once a week.
-- Kept to eating similar foods daily.
-- Don't watch 10 hours or more of television a week.
Community: Once again, I feel obliged to point out that watching television isn’t unhealthy in and of itself. It’s the inactivity and mindless snacking that accompany TV watching that make it unhealthy for many people.
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Some Basic Principles of Healthy Eating

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Variety and quality are two essentials when it comes to eating well and avoiding chronic disease. In his new book, The South Beach Wake-Up Call, Dr. Arthur Agatston explains that a healthy, nutritious, disease-fighting diet must feature a variety of whole foods, including vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, lean protein, and healthy fats.
While the basic principles of healthy eating are quite simple, unfortunately the majority of Americans fail to follow them, and we’re paying the price in terms of our nation’s current epidemics of obesity, prediabetes, and diabetes. If you want to improve your eating habits, consider these principles, adapted from The South Beach Wake-Up Call:
Embrace variety. Don’t base your diet predominantly on just a few foods. Consuming a wide variety of healthy foods, especially nutrient-dense, high-fiber vegetables and fruits in a rainbow of colors, provides you with the phytonutrients (plant chemicals) you need to stimulate your body’s immune cells and infection-fighting enzymes and prevent disease.
Avoid processed foods. Your diet should consist primarily of whole foods that haven’t been adulterated by processing or the addition of sugars, a lot of sodium, and preservatives. Evaluate the quality of the carbohydrates, protein, and fats you eat and learn how your food is produced. Be aware that the nutrient value of the animal protein that ends up on your plate can vary widely depending on what food was available for that cow, pig, lamb, chicken, or fish to eat. You’ve heard of “you are what you eat” — perhaps it should be “you are what you eat ate.”
Avoid empty-calorie foods and beverages. Some foods and beverages, such as packaged baked goods and sugary sodas, are filled with empty calories to begin with; while others, like white bread and white rice, are stripped of their nutrients and fiber during processing, destroying their nutritional value. Remember that taking vitamin or mineral supplements is not a substitute for a healthy whole-foods diet.
Be aware that calories count, but… stop counting calories, grams of fat, carbohydrates, protein, or anything else. Counting calories and weighing your food is simply not conducive to a pleasurable lifestyle or for keeping extra weight off over the long run. When you make healthy food choices most of the time you will be satisfied with reasonable food quantities, and counting calories becomes superfluous.
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Eat This to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

(RealAge.com) Research has revealed that dietary fiber may help reduce the risk of breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in women.
After analyzing data from 10 large studies, researchers found a clear connection between dietary fiber consumption and risk of breast cancer. In reviewing the research they discovered that women with the most fiber in their diet were 11% less likely to develop breast cancer than those with the least.
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New Breeds of Broccoli Remain Packed With Health Benefits

(Science Daily) Research performed by scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and published recently in the journal Crop Science has demonstrated that mineral levels in new varieties of broccoli have not declined since 1975, and that the broccoli contains the same levels of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and other minerals that have made the vegetable a healthy staple of American diets for decades.
"This research provides data on the nutritional content of broccoli for breeders to consider as they further improve this important vegetable," said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency. "The research demonstrates how ARS is helping to find answers to agricultural problems that impact Americans every day, from field to table."
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Asian Chicken Salad
Use a rotisserie chicken to make dinner prep a breeze in this delicious, Asian-inspired main-dish salad.
Apple, Sauerkraut & Cheddar Quesadillas
The sweet-tartness of the apple, creaminess of the cheese and bite of the sauerkraut work together beautifully in this easy hot sandwich. Serve with oven-roasted potatoes or a green salad.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Penne a la Broccoli
This is one of the fastest and easiest main dishes to make. It's full of flavor and quick - it also has the cancer-fighting protection of broccoli.
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Favorite Fall Fruits: Pears

(SouthBeachDiet.com) Pears are a rich source of soluble fiber and other nutrients. Here are some tips for buying, storing, and enjoying pears:
Most of the pears you find in the supermarket are not yet ripe. This is because ripe pears bruise easily and would probably not survive transport, so they are picked and shipped in an unripened state. When you purchase pears, avoid those with bruises or blemishes. Once you get them home, you can ripen them at room temperature. Ripe pears will yield to gentle pressure at the stem end.
Pears should be kept at room temperature until ripe and then placed in the refrigerator for a few days. Never put pears in a sealed plastic bag: The lack of oxygen will cause the fruit to brown to the core. To speed up the ripening process, place them in a perforated plastic bag. As with any other fruit, be sure to wash pears before eating.
Read more, including ways to prepare pears.
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Gut Bacteria May Affect Whether a Statin Drug Lowers Cholesterol

(Science Daily) Statins can be effective at lowering cholesterol, but they have a perplexing tendency to work for some people and not others. Gut bacteria may be the reason.
A research team led by a Duke University scientist has identified three bile acids produced by gut bacteria that were evident in people who responded well to a common cholesterol-lowering drug called simvastatin…
A blood test that screens for these specific bile acids could provide a way for doctors to determine who would respond to simvastatin and who wouldn't. Additionally, new strategies could be developed to manipulate the gut microbiome using probiotics to spur different gut bacteria, which could then give the drugs a boost.
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1 in 4 With Psoriasis May Have Undiagnosed Arthritis

(HealthDay News) Nearly one in four Americans with the chronic skin condition known as psoriasis may also have undiagnosed psoriatic arthritis, according to a new study.
This is in addition to the 2 million people in the United States who have been diagnosed with the disease, a type of inflammatory arthritis that affects the joints and tendons and can lead to joint destruction and disability…
Among the participants with known psoriatic arthritis, 44 percent said it took a year or longer for them to be diagnosed and nearly 30 percent said it took two years or longer for them to be diagnosed.
"It's vital to diagnose and treat psoriatic arthritis early in order to prevent or slow joint damage," Dr. Mark Lebwohl, chair of the National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board, said in a foundation news release.
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Reversing Smoke-Induced Damage and Disease in the Lung

(Science Daily) By studying mice exposed to tobacco smoke for a period of months, researchers have new insight into how emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) develops…
[T]hey also report a promising new way to reverse the lung damage underlying these conditions…
Mice lacking the iNOS enzyme were protected from both emphysema and pulmonary hypertension. Importantly, existing pharmacological agents can block iNOS activity, and mice treated with one of these drugs were protected from COPD-like changes to their lung vasculature. Treatment with the inhibitor also successfully reversed the course of the disease in the mice.
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Stem Cells from Cord Blood Could Help Repair Damaged Heart Muscle

(Science Daily) New research has found that stem cells derived from human cord blood could be an effective alternative in repairing heart attacks.
At least 20 million people survive heart attacks and strokes every year, according to World Health Organisation estimates, but many have poor life expectancy and require continual costly clinical care. The use of patient's own stem cells may repair heart attacks, although their benefit may be limited due to scarce availability and aging. The researchers have found heart muscle-like cells grown using stem cells from human umbilical cord blood could help repair heart muscle cells damaged by a heart attack.
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New stem cell method makes functioning liver cells

(Reuters) British scientists have developed a new stem cell technique for growing working liver cells which could eventually avoid the need for costly and risky liver transplants…
At a briefing about the work, [Sanger Institute director Allan] Bradley said the technique -- the first success of its kind -- leaves behind no trace of the genetic manipulation, except for the gene correction.
"These are early steps, but if this technology can be taken into treatment, it will offer great possible benefits for patients," he added.
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Researchers Correct Sickle Cell Disease in Adult Mice

(Science Daily) National Institutes of Health-funded scientists have corrected sickle cell disease in adult laboratory mice by activating production of a special blood component normally produced before, but not after, birth.
"This discovery provides an important new target for future therapies in people with sickle cell disease," said Susan B. Shurin, M.D., acting director of the NIH's National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which co-funded the study. "More work is needed before it will be possible to test such therapies in people, but this study demonstrates that the approach works in principle."
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Many cancer survivors struggle with trauma stress: study

(Reuters) A cancer diagnosis can leave lasting psychological scars akin to those inflicted by war, with the impact in some cases lasting for years, U.S. researchers found in a study.
More than a decade after being told they had the disease, nearly four out of 10 cancer survivors said they were still plagued by symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, said lead researcher Sophia Smith…
One in 10 patients also said they avoided thinking about their cancer and one in 20 said they steered clear of situations or activities that reminded them of the disease, a situation that could potentially become a medical problem.
"You worry if the patient is avoiding medical care, you worry they might not be getting follow-ups," Smith told Reuters Health.
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Differences in Jet Lag Severity Could Be Rooted in How Circadian Clock Sets Itself

(Science Daily) It's no secret that long-distance, west-to-east air travel -- Seattle to Paris, for example -- can raise havoc with a person's sleep and waking patterns, and that the effects are substantially less pronounced when traveling in the opposite direction.
Now researchers, including a University of Washington biologist, have found hints that differing molecular processes in an area of the brain known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus might play a significant role in those jet lag differences…
The results suggest that different molecular mechanisms in the suprachiasmatic nucleus are at work when the circadian clocks are advanced than when the clocks are delayed, [Horacio] de la Iglesia said.
That could provide clues for understanding how circadian clocks work in nocturnal animals in natural conditions, and it could help in understanding potential remedies for jet lag.
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Stanford summer course yields touchscreen Braille writer

(Stanford University) Each summer, under the red-tiled roofs and sandstone of Stanford, the Army High-Performance Computing Research Center (AHPCRC) invites a select group of undergraduates from across the country gather for a two-month immersion into the wonders of advanced computing.
Some of the undergraduates are gathered into teams. Some work alone. All are assigned mentors and tasked with a challenge. They compete, American Idol-style, for top honors at the end of the summer…
"We developed a tablet Braille writer," said Dharmaraja, "A touchscreen for people who can't see."…
Duplicating the Braille keypad on a touch-based tablet seemed simple enough, but there was at least one significant challenge: How does a blind person find the keys on a flat, uniformly smooth glass panel?
Dharmaraja and Duran mulled their options before arriving at a clever and simple solution. They did not create virtual keys that the fingertips must find; they made keys that find the fingertips. The user simply touches eight fingertips to the glass, and the keys orient themselves to the fingers…
"No standard Braille writer can do this," said Professor Charbel Farhat, the chair of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and executive director of the summer program. "This is a real step forward for the blind."
Community: Andrew Myers, one of the developers, told me via email that a text to voice capability is included in the app, so that the blind person can read what he or she has written.
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Wells Fargo gives staff tough healthcare choices

(Reuters) Wells Fargo & Co plans to cut costs by moving its workers into insurance plans that encourage them to spend less on healthcare.
The bank told Reuters that it is rolling out a new insurance approach next year that will give employees accounts to help cover medical expenses. They can either put their own pretax dollars in the accounts, or pay higher insurance premiums and have the company fund the account.
If employees opt to put their own money into the accounts, they are on the hook for more of their medical expenses if they get sick. If they stay healthy, they benefit from lower premiums.
These types of accounts are believed to be useful in encouraging consumers to think more about how they are spending healthcare dollars.
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U.S. deficit panel weighs Medicare doctor payments

(Reuters) The congressional "super committee" charged with reducing U.S. budget deficits is considering tackling a measure that could make their job even harder by preventing a steep pay cut for Medicare doctors.
The bipartisan panel that has been tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in budget savings over 10 years has a "strong interest" in taking up the doctor payment issue, sources familiar with panel discussions said on Wednesday.
But doing so would cost hundreds of billions of dollars and thus complicate deficit-reduction work.
The sources stressed that the panel has not yet decided whether to include a so-called "doc fix" in its package of deficit reduction recommendations, which is due by November 23rd.
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Protein May Be Key to Weight Control

(WebMD Health News) Counting calories may not be enough to manage either your appetite or your weight, new research suggests.
Paying attention to the percent of calories from protein may be an important key, according to Alison Gosby, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Sydney. Protein and weight control may go together, suggests her research. It echoes others' findings.
In her study, she found that men and women fed a 10% protein diet ate 12% more calories over four days than they did on a 15% protein diet.
"Any dietary intervention that results in dilution or restriction of protein in the diet will promote overeating in an environment where food is abundant," she tells WebMD…
When protein in the diet goes too low, ''We keep eating in an attempt to attain our target level of protein," Gosby says. This is known as the protein leverage effect. Some think low protein levels in the diet may help drive the obesity epidemic. From 1961 to 2000, other research shows, the U.S. diet declined from 14% protein to 12.5%.
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Walking To Lose Weight

(Reader’s Digest) Want to lose weight [just by walking]? Prepare to walk for 45 minutes at least, and we don’t mean strolling.
While many doctors recommend 30 minutes of walking a day, that’s merely enough to prevent weight gain. Brisk walking for 45 minutes (about three miles) could lead to weight loss without any changes in diet.
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Want to Lose Belly Fat? Start Moving

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) The belly fat you can see may not flatter your figure, but it isn't as harmful to your health as hidden belly fat surrounding internal organs deep in the abdomen. That's the stuff that boosts the risk of heart disease, diabetes and some kinds of cancer.
Now, researchers at Duke University Medical Center have shown that the best way to lose this dangerous fat is with aerobic exercise… They found that aerobic exercise burned 67 percent more calories than resistance training. It also had beneficial effects on known risk factors for diabetes and heart disease, including elevated liver enzymes, fasting triglycerides and fasting insulin resistance… The aerobic exercise performed in the study was equivalent to jogging 12 miles per week at 80 percent of maximum heart rate.
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Exercise Just as Good as Drugs at Preventing Migraines, Swedish Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Although exercise is often prescribed as a treatment for migraine, there has not previously been sufficient scientific evidence that it really works. However, research from … Sweden has now shown that exercise is just as good as drugs at preventing migraines…
"Our conclusion is that exercise can act as an alternative to relaxations and topiramate when it comes to preventing migraines, and is particularly appropriate for patients who are unwilling or unable to take preventative medicines," says Emma Varkey…, who carried out the study.
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Women who exercise a lot hit menopause earlier

(Reuters Health) Women who spend a lot of time exercising or eat a heart-healthy diet appear to reach menopause earlier, a new Japanese study shows…
Those who exercised the most -- about eight to 10 hours a week -- were 17 percent more likely to start menopause during the study than their sedentary peers.
Similarly, women who ate the most polyunsaturated fats -- found in many fish and vegetable oils -- were 15 percent more likely to reach menopause than those who got the least…
[Early menopause] means women have less exposure to high estrogen levels, said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, president of the North American Menopause Society. The hormone promotes breast tumors, and that may explain why early menopause is tied to a lower risk of breast cancer.
On the other hand, Manson told Reuters Health, early menopause has also been linked to increased risks of heart disease and bone thinning.
"I wouldn't want women to be concerned that they would be at higher risk of cardiovascular disease or osteoporosis if they make lifestyle modifications," she cautioned. "The benefits far outweigh any risks."
Community: The cessation of menstrual periods is the greatest gift a woman can receive. We can deal with the other effects of menopause.
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Creamy Fettuccine with Shrimp and Bacon
A dish of shrimp sautéed in bacon drippings and tossed with fettuccine sounds like a no-no for the calorie conscious. But at under 400 calories a serving, indulge! Cook the fettuccine al dente so the strands remain intact and maintain their slightly firm texture.
Caldo Tlalpeño
Although there are many variations of this Mexican chicken soup, spicy chipotle chiles are always part of the broth. Make it a meal: Serve with a Mexican beer and cheese quesadillas.
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No official definition for 'natural' food

(UPI) No government agency, certification group or other entity defines the term "natural" on food labels, a U.S. watchdog group says.
The report by the Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, said there is a growing trend of marketing conventional foods as natural to lure health-conscious and eco-conscious consumers…
Charlotte Vallaeys, director of farm and food policy at Cornucopia, said some companies that started out organic and built brand loyalty as organic brands, switched to non-organic ingredients and "natural" labeling.
One such brand, Peace Cereal, is an example of what Cornucopia calls "bait-and-switch." In 2008, the Peace Cereal brand switched from organic to cheaper conventional ingredients, without lowering its prices, Vallaeys said…
The report is accompanied by a scorecard rating cereal and granola brands for healthy and environmentally sustainable practices at www.cornucopia.org.
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Valerian for Menopausal Sleeplessness

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Valerian, an herb used traditionally for insomnia and anxiety, may help some menopausal women conquer sleeping problems…
[In an Iranian study,] 30 percent of the women who took the herb reported better quality of sleep - they were able to fall asleep faster and woke up less often than they had previously. Only four percent of the women in the placebo group reported these improvements. None of the women complained of side effects from the valerian…
When buying valerian look for products standardized to 1% valerenic acid. The usual dose is one to two tablets at bedtime or one teaspoon of the tincture in one-quarter cup of water. While side effects are rare, you can become psychologically dependent on valerian.
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Melatonin Delays Onset, Reduces Deaths in Mouse Model of Huntington’s Disease

(Science Daily) Melatonin, best known for its role in sleep regulation, delayed the onset of symptoms and reduced mortality in a mouse model of Huntington's disease, say researchers…
Low levels of circulating melatonin have been seen in other neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.
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