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

Depression and Chronic Stress Accelerates Aging

(Science Daily) People with recurrent depressions or those exposed to chronic stress exhibits shorter telomeres in white blood cells…
The telomere is the outermost part of the chromosome. With increasing age, telomeres shorten, and studies have shown that oxidative stress and inflammation accelerates this shortening. On this basis it has been suggested that telomere length is a measure of biological aging, and telomere length has subsequently been linked to age-related diseases, unhealthy lifestyle, and longevity.
The research team shows that shorter telomere length is associated with both recurrent depression and cortisol levels indicative of exposure to chronic stress.
Community: Fortunately, there are ways to prevent or reduce depression and stress.
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3 Steps to Coping with Stress

(RealAge.com) You've read plenty of hard-times headlines. Heck, you've probably had a few yourself. If you're not unemployed or having trouble paying the mortgage, we bet you know someone who is…
Take a deep breath, and don't let tough setbacks do you in. When life hands you a lemon, forget making lemonade. We've found three newly proven ways to help make each day better and get your life back on track.
1.    Give it a positive twist. Experts call it "positive reframing." Translation: Whatever hits the fan, look for the upside. Fault finding and blame games won't fix anything. In fact, they'll make you old fast. Yep. One key to successful aging lies in tapping that positive frame of mind as often as possible. Lost your job? Determine to find a new one with a shorter commute…
2.    Accept what happened. Not so easy? Try this: Acknowledge the problem, but add an upbeat mantra, such as, "Change presents opportunity. Seize it!"…
3.    Inject some humor. Laughing helps by decreasing stress hormones and boosting your immune system. Turn on a funny movie or go to YouTube and watch videos of babies or cats doing crazy things (it never gets old)…
More Stress Busters
Are your worries keeping you up? These anxiety treatments have been proven to work.
Community: I’m keeping a list of ways to reduce stress levels.
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Nut Consumption Boosts Feel-Good Brain Chemicals

(Science Daily) For the first time, scientists report a link between eating nuts and higher levels of serotonin in the bodies of patients with metabolic syndrome (MetS), who are at high risk for heart disease. Serotonin is a substance that helps transmit nerve signals and decreases feelings of hunger, makes people feel happier and improves heart health. It took only one ounce of mixed nuts (raw unpeeled walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts) a day to produce the good effects…
[The researchers]  explain that the rise in obesity around the world means more and more patients have MetS. Symptoms include excess abdominal fat, high blood sugar and high blood pressure, which increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Dietary changes may help patients shed the excess weight and become healthier, among the changes, the regular consumption of nuts -- which are jam-packed with healthful nutrients, such as healthy fats (unsaturated fatty acids) and antioxidants (polyphenols) -- have been recommended to fight the metabolic abnormalities associated with MetS.
Community: And there are more ways to keep feel-good brain chemical levels high.
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Former Football Players' Brains May Benefit From Healthy Lifestyle

(HealthDay News) A healthy lifestyle may help reduce football players' risk of cognitive problems later in life, a new study suggests.
Due to repeated head trauma, football players are more likely than athletes in non-contact sports and non-athletes to suffer cognitive problems as they age.
In this study, University of Missouri researchers assessed former college football players and found that those who ate high-fat foods had greater difficulty with recalling information, orientation and engaging and applying ideas, compared to those who ate less fat and had healthier diets overall.
The researchers also found that frequent, vigorous exercise was associated with higher physical and mental health ratings among former college football players…
"Even years after they're done playing sports, athletes can improve their diet and exercise habits to improve their mental and physical health," [said study author Pam Hinton].
Community: So imagine how much a healthy lifestyle will help those of us who didn’t suffer repeated head trauma!
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Spicy-Sweet Pork Tenderloin
Spooning the soy sauce mixture over the top of each piece of pork lets it soak into the meat like a quick marinade. Round out the meal with mashed potatoes and steamed baby carrots.
Mini Shepherd's Pies
In EatingWell's take on Shepherd's Pie, we replace the potato topping with convenient, delicious frozen squash puree. And they're baked in individual ramekins to guarantee perfectly sized servings and help you get it on the table fast.
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High-Fiber Diet May Help Thwart Colon Cancer

(HealthDay News) Eating a high-fiber diet may reduce your risk of colorectal cancer, especially if the fiber is from cereal and whole grains, according to a new review…
Compared with the lowest levels of fiber consumption, each 10 gram per day increase in intake of total dietary fiber and cereal fiber was associated with a 10 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer…
A previous analysis [found] that a high intake of fruit and vegetables was associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer, which suggests that components other than fiber in fruits and vegetables may play a role, the researchers said.
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11 Joint Supplements You Haven’t Tried

(Lifescript.com) A lot of controversy has arisen over common joint supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, spurred by large studies that questioned their effectiveness at easing osteoarthritis pain.
But those aren’t the only natural arthritis remedies out there. An array of natural supplements reduce pain, stiffness and joint inflammation…
“Whether or not you’re taking prescription or non-prescription osteoarthritis pain relievers, it may be worthwhile to turn to [these] supplements,” says David Pisetsky, M.D., Ph.D…
But just because a supplement is labeled “natural” doesn’t mean it’s safe, Pisetsky warns. Talk to your doctor about proper dosage, potential allergies and drug interactions first.
“It’s possible to take too much, and many supplements can have side effects,” Pisetsky says. “Hiding [them] from your doctor can affect the success of your treatment.”
With that in mind, here are 11 joint supplements worth considering.
Digestive enzymes…
Boswellia serrata…
Propolis …
Green-lipped mussel extract…
Devil’s claw…
White Willow Bark…
Vitamin D…
Vitamin K…
Read more, including descriptions, dosages, and possible side effects and interactions.
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Green or yellow phlegm likely to be bacterial

(Reuters Health) Confirming widespread beliefs by doctors and parents alike, the color of phlegm coughed up by people is indeed a good indicator of whether that person has a bacterial infection, an international group of researchers found.
Green or yellow "sputum," as clinicians call it, more often than not reflects a bacterial infection, whereas clear, white or rust colored phlegm most likely does not, according to the new study.
The results could help doctors determine whether or not a patient would benefit from antibiotics.
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New options for stubborn hypertension

(UPI) As many as 15 percent of all patients with hypertension fail to respond to drug treatment, but German researchers say new options are available…
"Drug treatment must be tailored to the individual patient and reversible or secondary causes of hypertension must be systematically sought and treated," the researchers said in the study. "The important non-pharmacological conservative treatment measures include optimization of weight, a low-salt diet, physical exercise, and abstinence from alcohol."
Minimally invasive renal denervation and baroreceptor stimulation are two alternative treatment options for selected patients with resistant arterial hypertension, the researchers said.
Renal sympathetic denervation is an interventional procedure with a low rate of complications that can bring about a significant and enduring reduction in blood pressure.
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More stroke patients get clot-busting drugs

(Reuters Health) Doctors are getting better at prescribing recommended drugs to stroke patients -- at least in hospitals that participate in a program to ensure treatment guidelines are followed, a new study shows…(Reuters Health) - Doctors are getting better at prescribing recommended drugs to stroke patients -- at least in hospitals that participate in a program to ensure treatment guidelines are followed, a new study shows.
The findings are based on nearly 1,400 U.S. hospitals in the "Get With The Guidelines -- Stroke" program, created by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association to make sure doctors are following up-to-date practices.
"Hospitals participating in this program improved their ability to deliver appropriate stroke care," said lead researcher Dr. William Lewis.
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Cord blood licensed for treatment

(UPI) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first licensed blood forming cell therapy from human cord blood, and FDA official said…
[C]ord blood transplants have been used to treat patients with certain blood cancers and some inherited metabolic and immune system disorders, [Dr. Karen] Midthurn said.
"The use of cord blood hematopoietic progenitor cell therapy offers potentially life-saving treatment options for patients with these types of disorders," Midthun said in a statement.
Read more.
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Parkinsonian Worms May Hold the Key to Identifying Drugs for Parkinson's Disease

(Science Daily) Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have devised a simple test, using dopamine-deficient worms, for identifying drugs that may help people with Parkinson's disease.
The worms are able to evaluate as many as 1,000 potential drugs a year. The researchers have received federal funding that could increase that to one million drug tests a year.
The test is based on the difficulty that these "parkinsonian" C. elegans worms have in switching from swimming to crawling when they're taken out of water.
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PTSD for U.S. veterans similar in all wars

(UPI) Twenty-seven percent of the 1.3 million U.S. veterans who served in Iraq or Afghanistan may have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, experts say.
Psychologist Antonette M. Zeiss … said overall incidence of PTSD does not appear to have changed across the wars we have fought in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, nor has the severity of symptoms.
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Veterans find new purpose training pets

(UPI) A special program in the Buffalo, N.Y., area SPCA helps veterans and pets both readjust to home life, shelter workers say.
The SPCA Paws & Patriots program was developed for veterans in the western New York community in need of giving and receiving special love and attention, and for animals at the SPCA who need exactly the same thing, said shelter officials at the SPCA Serving Erie County in Buffalo…
Using a positive reinforcement method of working with shelter animals, veterans are trained on three tiers of animal enrichment that provide long-term mutual benefits for both pets and people.
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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Could Fall as Population Ages

(HealthDay News) An aging population in the United States and other developed countries may eventually lead to reduced emissions of the greenhouse gas known as carbon dioxide (CO2), according to a German scientist…
For the study, [Emilio Zagheni of the Max Planck Institute] outlined the lifetime changes in individual CO2 emissions. First, they increase with age and income. Middle-aged adults drive cars and fly more often and use more electricity than young people.
But this changes as many people grow older. Elderly people tend to spend more than younger adults, but a growing portion of this spending is for health care. This has a double effect on their CO2 emissions. Health care services generally produce low levels of greenhouse gases and older people have less money to spend on energy-intensive goods and activities.
Older adults tend to spend more time at home, which leads to increased consumption of electricity and gas. This home energy use tends to plateau at about age 80, the researcher said.
The proportion of people 65 and older worldwide is expected to increase from about 8 percent currently to about 13 percent by 2030, according to the United Nations.
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Climate change-related health cost high

(UPI) Climate change-related Health costs from 2000 to 2009 exceeded $14 billion, with 95 percent of the cost due to lives lost prematurely, U.S. researchers say…
"This reflects more than 760,000 encounters with the healthcare system," the researchers said in a study. "Our analysis provides scientists and policy makers with a methodology to use in estimating future health costs related to climate change and highlights the growing need for public health preparedness."
The future health costs associated with predicted climate change -- related events such as hurricanes, heat waves and floods are projected to be enormous, the researchers concluded.
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Carbon Monoxide: The Silent Calmer?

(Science Daily) According to scientists, carbon monoxide (CO), a tasteless, colorless and odorless gas, is not only a danger to the environment but also highly toxic to human beings. Found in the exhaust of vehicles and generators, CO has been dubbed the "silent killer" because excessive inhalation is lethal, poisoning the nervous system and heart.
Now, in a surprising twist, Prof. Itzhak Schnell of Tel Aviv University … has discovered that low levels of the poisonous gas can have a narcotic effect that helps citydwellers cope with other harmful environmental factors of an urban environment, such as off-the-chart noise levels. This finding indicates that CO, in small doses, is a boon to the well-being of urbanites, better equipping them to deal with environmental stress.
Community: But then again, there’s this below.
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The Hidden Toll of Traffic Jams

(Wall Street Journal) Congested cities are fast becoming test tubes for scientists studying the impact of traffic fumes on the brain.
As roadways choke on traffic, researchers suspect that the tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks—especially tiny carbon particles already implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments—may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory.
New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability. "There are more and more scientists trying to find whether and why exposure to traffic exhaust can damage the human brain," says medical epidemiologist Jiu-Chiuan Chen at the University of Southern California who is analyzing the effects of traffic pollution on the brain health of 7,500 women in 22 states. "The human data are very new."
So far, the evidence is largely circumstantial but worrisome, researchers say. And no one is certain yet of the consequences for brain biology or behavior.
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Aggressive Drivers Often Identify With Their Vehicles

(HealthDay News) Viewing your car as an extension of yourself can lead to aggressive driving, a new study warns.
In the United States, aggressive driving leads to one-third of all road crashes that cause personal injuries and two-thirds of all fatal crashes. The study is believed to be the first to take a close look at the link between personality, attitude, values and aggressive driving.
"It explains much of the phenomenon we knew existed," lead author Ayalla Ruvio, an assistant professor of marketing at Temple University Fox School of Business in Philadelphia, said in a university news release. For example, "we know men tend to be more aggressive drivers and we know men tend to see their cars as an extension of themselves more than women."
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Nine steps to cope with a long commute

(Gannett News Service) Motorists across the country are spending more time in their cars for many reasons — construction projects, increasing population and traffic accidents among them. Here are some suggestions to help you cope.
Forgive yourself: “People shouldn’t judge themselves if they feel moments of road rage because we all do — given the right circumstances,” said Darrin Zeer…, who’s written books on relaxation and coping with the frustrations of travel and busy life…
Define the benefits: Figuring out what makes the commute worth it — such as the people you work with, the job itself, a good salary or being able to live in a desirable area — might help, said [marriage and family therapist] Eli Karam…
Take it easy: “It’s important when you’re driving just not to sweat the small stuff,” Zeer said. “Almost try and consider it a break” and decide, “Hey, I want to arrive at work or arrive home feeling good rather than feeling horrible.”…
Create a pleasant environment: Play music, listen to an audio book, or ride in silence, Zeer said. You could “make it a very Zen experience.”
Sing: Enjoy imitating your favorite vocalist, or “if you just need to get downright primal, just growl or scream,” Zeer said. “Definitely, let that road rage and tension go.”
Be productive — maybe: Some people like to use the time to discuss logistics — using a headset! — with their spouse or others, or to touch base with people they might not have time to call later, Karam said. Others will use it as a time to go through a mental checklist of things to do and how to accomplish them, he said.
Beware of relationship discussions:,,, [S]aid Karam, … “You can have conversations about logistics ... but a real heart-to-heart status-of-the-relationship talk, you should not be having in a car or in a confined space like that.”
Move a little:… For people who have long commutes, [physical therapist Chad] Garvey suggests gentle stretching moves. “Try to keep it as uncomplicated as you can” to maintain focus on the road, he said.
Report persistent pain:… “If you’re noticing pain for longer than a week associated with driving, perhaps a consultation with your doctor or physical therapist would be helpful,” he said.
Community: There were some years during the 90s that I had to do a lot of highway driving. I decided that the best thing for me was to give the road to the road hogs and listen to books on tape or DVD.
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Spaghetti Carbonara with Leeks and Pancetta
A small amount of the pasta's cooking liquid is whisked into the egg mixture to prevent the eggs from overcooking when added to the hot pasta. This procedure, called tempering, results in a rich, creamy sauce that easily coats the noodles.
Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts
Roasting salmon on top of Brussels sprouts and garlic, flavored with wine and fresh oregano, is a meal that is simple enough for a weeknight meal yet sophisticated enough to serve to company. Serve with whole-wheat couscous.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Curried Greens
Turmeric, one of the spices traditionally used to make curry, has a long history of medicinal uses in both Chinese and Indian healing systems. Its anti-inflammatory action has been employed by traditional practitioners to treat conditions including flatulence, jaundice, menstrual problems, toothache and bruises. Greens are among the most healthful additions you can make to your diet, and among greens, kale and collard greens are standouts; almost no other foods offer so much nutrition for so few calories.
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Starbucks to open U.S. juice bars in 2012

(Reuters) Starbucks Corp plans to start a chain of juice bars starting next year, venturing into territory staked out by Jamba Inc, in its biggest-ever expansion beyond coffee…
The first juice bars will open on the U.S. West Coast in early to mid-2012, but the company would not say how many were planned. The chain's name has not been revealed and it was not immediately clear whether Starbucks' familiar Mermaid logo -- which recently dropped the word "coffee" from its design -- would be displayed by the new chain.
[Chief Executive Officer Howard] Schultz said the moves announced Thursday were the first of many things the company planned for the so-called health and wellness market.
Community: I’m glad to see that large businesses are becoming more aware of the health and wellness market. Even if they don’t offer the healthiest products possible, it’s a step in the right direction and helps remind Americans of the need to eat and drink healthier.
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Research Shows 'Weak Evidence' for the Benefit of Exercise Referral Schemes

(Science Daily) While it is acknowledged that physical activity promotion is a key public health message, a new study questions the effectiveness of current exercise referral schemes and whether improvements to existing schemes or better targeting should be sought…
There is little doubt that physical activity contributes to the prevention and management of a wide range of medical conditions, including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers and psychological disorders such as depression. The national recommendation is that adults should accumulate at least 30 minutes' moderate intensity exercise on at least five days a week -- but only one third of adults in the UK are active to this level…
Dr. Toby Pavey…, who coordinated the study, said: "…[M]ore work needs to be done to establish how existing referral programmes may be made more effective and who should they be targeted towards."
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Biological Clock Controls Activation of Skin Stem Cells

(Science Daily) A new study reveals the role of the daily biological clock (circadian rhythms) in the regenerative capacity of skin stem cells. Disruption of this rhythm results in premature tissue ageing and a greater predisposition to the development of skin tumours. The proper reestablishment of the biological clock increases the long-term regenerative capacity of the tissue and decreases the probability of developing tumours…
The biological clock (commonly known as the "circadian rhythm") arranges all of our biological functions according to the natural cycles of light and darkness to which we are exposed on a daily basis… As we age, the accuracy of this biological clock tends to fade gradually with changes in our daily routine, specially with those who are exposed to constant changes like jet lag in [frequent] flyers. Researchers believe this may eventually cause failure in the regenerative capacity of our tissues and consequent ageing, and, in addition, a greater propensity to tumour development.
More research will be needed in the future to understand why the biological clock fades as we age, and whether ways to restore a “young” clock can be developed to slow down the tissue degeneration process and reduce the risk of developing tumours.
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Reprogramming Stem Cells to a More Basic Form Results in More Effective Transplant, Study Shows

(Science Daily) Chinese stem cell scientists have published new research that improves the survival and effectiveness of transplanted stem cells…
Research into differentiation has led to a variety of breakthroughs as stem cell researchers harvest cells from one part of the body and genetically adapt them to fulfill a specialized role. However, if the implanted cells are too much like the cells of the targeted area they may not have the plasticity to engraft and repair the injured tissue.
"Stem cell differentiation and transplantation has been shown to improve function in conditions including degenerative diseases and blood supply disorders," said Dr [Hsiao Chang] Chan. "However, the survival rate of transplanted cells in patients limits their overall effectiveness, which is a barrier to clinical use."
To overcome this issue Dr Chan's team explored de-differentiation, a process that reverts specialized, differentiated cells back to a more primitive cell.
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New Target Identified to Stop the Spread of Breast Cancer

(Science Daily) A new potential target to slow breast cancer tumor progression and metastasis has been identified by a team of researchers…
Researchers showed that this particular target called parathyroid hormone-related protein (PTHrP), present at high levels in cancers, is involved in key stages of breast cancer initiation, progression and metastatic spread…
[Said Dr. Richard Kremer:] "The removal of this hormone in the breast and breast tumors block not only the growth of the tumors but also its spread to different organs."
In order to bring this strategy one step closer to the patient, Dr. Kremer and his team developed a monoclonal antibody against PTHrP -- a molecule that mimics the antibodies produced as part of the immune system's response to invaders, which is widely used in cancer treatment. Researchers were able to stop the growth of human breast tumors implanted in animal models and their metastatic spread, paving the way for clinical trials in the near future.
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More Evidence That HPV Vaccine Shields Against Cervical Cancer

(HealthDay News) A new study suggests that the Cervarix cervical cancer vaccine may provide "excellent" protection against a precancerous lesion that is often a forerunner to invasive cervical cancer.
Cervarix, made by GlaxoSmithKline, protects against human papillomavirus (HPV) types 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of cervical cancers. The vaccine is particularly effective when given to adolescent girls before they become sexually active.
Cervarix is one of two HPV vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the other being Merck's Gardasil.
Community: I couldn’t find out who funded this study. I suspect it’s themanufacturer.
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Shortage curbs shingles vaccine expansion

(UPI) The shingles vaccine -- Zostavax -- recently had its license expanded to cover people ages 50-59, but there are supply problems, U.S. health officials said…
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which makes vaccine recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control, declined to expand its recommendation to adults ages 50-59 to make sure there was adequate vaccine for older adults aged 60 and older for whom Zostavax is already recommended and who are at greater risk of shingles, a CDC report said…
Changes by Merck in production processes are expected to increase Zostavax supply in coming years, the report said.
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Save money by ordering drugs from Canada? Not so fast

(Consumer Reports) The most prevalent financial problem Americans face month in month out is the inability to afford their medicines. That’s according to a monthly national poll by Consumer Reports National Research Center. Indeed, medication in the U.S. can cost up to twice as much as it does in other parts of the world, so many bargain hunters turn to the Web seeking discounted, name-brand prescription drugs from Canada or other countries. But recent analysis has found that buyers should beware: Only a fraction of online pharmacies are legitimate. Our medical consultants say that given such risks, ordering from foreign websites should be avoided altogether.
Of the more than 8,300 online pharmacies reviewed in July 2011 by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP), which accredits online drugstores in addition to representing state pharmacy boards across the U.S., just over 3 percent appear to be sound. It considers the rest to be “rogue” operations.
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Electronic medical records rarely encrypted: expert

(Reuters) Electronic medical records, which the Obama administration would like to see widely used, are rarely encrypted so a data breach could be triggered by the simple theft of a laptop or misplaced thumb drive, a privacy expert told lawmakers on Wednesday…
In addition to information about illnesses, electronic medical records contain patients' dates of birth and Social Security numbers and other data that are gold to identity thieves.
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Government reopens doctor data access, with some caveats

(Reuters) The federal government reopened public access to a database of malpractice claims and damages paid by doctors, with new restrictions that would prohibit using it in any way to identify the physicians.
Consumer advocates and journalism groups for the past two months have been fighting a decision by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to cut access to its "public use file" of the database over concerns of a breach of one doctor's confidentiality.
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Are Americans Ready to Start Drinking Their (Treated) Toilet Water?

(Discover Magazine) As the American Southwest reels from one of the worst droughts on record, some parched communities are opting for a once-unthinkable conservation measure: extracting drinking water from urine and other liquid waste. The small Texas city of Big Spring is the latest to take the plunge, announcing that late next year it will begin adding 2 million gallons of recycled water daily to the drinking supply. San Diego recently began a pilot project of its own, hoping to make believers of the one-third of its population who oppose or are unsure about the technique.
While so-called toilet-to-tap ventures certainly sound unpleasant, skeptical citizens should take heed of the rigorous filtration process that makes recycled wastewater as safe to drink as conventional tap water…
So if toilet-to-tap has such a sparkling safety record, why haven’t more communities bought in? Money is one issue. Orange County’s recycling facility costs about $27 million per year to operate. But the bigger obstacle may be psychological. Fortunately, a little education can change minds quickly. “When we offer people a taste, they say, ‘This tastes like water,’ ” [Orange County Water District environmental engineer Mike Markus] says. “I see that a lot: skepticism followed by conversion.”
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Insurance Outrage

Message sent to my elected representatives:
In August, I received notice from my Medigap insurer, United of Omaha, that my premium was going to increase by 36%. It’s possible that $34.88 per month doesn’t mean much to the people who made this decision, but it means a lot to me. And it appears to be excessive, to boot.
Nationwide, the cost of health services paid for by Medicare and other insurers increased only 5.61% between 2010 and 2011, according to the National Business Group on Health. Although costs are expected to increase 7.2% from 2011 to 2012, it’s difficult to imagine how all of that can apply to Medigap, when Medicare is now required to pay 100% of the screening tests that it approves.
Most recently, Medicare has said that it will be reducing the Part B deductible, which means that United of Omaha’s costs will be even lower than they would have been.
I protested to the Illinois Department of Insurance, and found out today that the insurer filled out the proper paperwork, so the increase is valid. But isn’t the premium increase supposed to be based on increased payouts? They have to charge the same for all insured in the same categories, so I would have to believe that the cost to insure female non-smokers living in Chicago and between the ages of 65 and 70 for Medigap Plan F increased 36% in the last year. How could it be so completely out of whack with the national averages?
Who is supposed to police these people, if it’s not the Department of Insurance. I pay taxes for them to protect my interests. If that’s not what they’re doing, then we should abolish the whole department.
I can’t tell you how frightening it is that all the costs in my life keep going up, some stratospherically, while my income stagnates or declines. Something has got to be done, or every elected official is in trouble of losing his or her job.
Trust me.
Carolyn Kay
Chicago, IL
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Money Woes May Drive Some Seniors to Smoke, Drink More

(HealthDay News) Some older adults may turn to alcohol or cigarettes as a way to cope with financial stress, particularly men and people with less education, a new study suggests…
Older men who faced increasing financial stress were 30 percent more likely to become heavy drinkers than those who remained financially stable. This increased risk was similar for older adults with lower levels of education compared to those with more education.
Older women and seniors with higher levels of education tended to reduce their drinking when they encountered financial struggles, according to the study…
The findings don't actually show that financial problems were the reason for changes in smoking and drinking habits, but it is known that some people use alcohol and tobacco as a way of coping with stress, noted lead researcher Benjamin A. Shaw.
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Sick in U.S. more likely to skip care than elsewhere

(Reuters) Americans who have a chronic illness or serious health problems are more likely to struggle to pay their medical bills or have problems getting needed care than adults with similar problems in other high-income countries, a survey released on Wednesday found.
The poll of more than 18,000 adults in the United States and 10 other high-income countries found that Americans were most likely to have problems getting needed care because of the cost, or to medical debt, according to data released by the Commonwealth Fund.
"Despite spending far more on health care than any other country, the United States practically stands alone when it comes to people with illness or chronic conditions having difficulty affording health care and paying medical bills," Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis said in a statement.
"This is a clear indication of the urgent need for Affordable Care Act reforms geared toward improving coverage and controlling health care costs."
Community: We need much more than Obama’s Affordable Care Act. We need single payer insurance, where the government insurance provides health care services only through prestigious nonprofit HMOs like Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente.
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Public employers search for healthcare savings

(Reuters) Public employers can find savings on healthcare costs and still deliver high-quality benefits, according a study released on Tuesday…
[The] Government Finance Officers Association…, along with Colonial Life & Accident Insurance, looked at how local governments are addressing the challenge.
They found that by providing an on-site clinic, public employers can drive down healthcare costs, saving $1.60 to $4 for every dollar invested.
This also provided a "soft-dollar saving such as increased productivity," because employees did not have to take time off from work to travel to doctors' offices.
But the survey found that this only works well for large organizations with at least 800 people.
In the same light, larger organizations can cut healthcare costs 10 percent by turning to self-insurance, with the employer assuming "the risk for providing healthcare benefits, rather than transferring it to a third-party insurer."
Groups with more than 200 employees showed the greatest cost benefits.
Another area in which governments could save is cooperative purchasing of healthcare, even though most use such arrangements for purchasing other goods. [Emphasis added in all cases.]
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Walmart denies plan to build major health platform

(Reuters) Wal-Mart Stores Inc erroneously portrayed its ambitions as a healthcare provider in a document sent to potential vendors recently, leading to the mistaken impression that the world's largest retailer wanted to become a national primary care provider.
The document says that Wal-Mart sought to become "the largest provider of primary healthcare services in the nation."
The retailer on Wednesday said that formal document sent to vendors, known as a "request for information," was "overwritten and incorrect." The retailer did not say how the error occurred.
"We are not building a national, integrated, low-cost primary care health care platform," Dr. John Agwunobi, senior vice president & president of Walmart U.S. health & wellness, said in a brief statement…
[T]here are only about 140 [in-store health] clinics in U.S. Walmart stores, which are run by third parties, not by Walmart itself.
Walgreen Co and CVS Caremark Corp each run many more clinics within their own stores.
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My Recipes.com:
Roasted Salmon with Citrus and Herbs
"Everyone in my family loves salmon, even my four-year-old twin boys. There are never any leftovers when I make this dish." -Karen Ensign, Providence, UT.
Korean Beef Stir-Fry
Inspired by the flavors found in Korean barbecue, this dish is a mouth-watering addition to any weeknight repertoire. A fruity Riesling and rice noodles are perfect accompaniments.
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Cavemen Knew It: Cooked Meat Offers More Energy

(HealthDay News) Cooked meat provides more energy than raw meat and may have helped drive human evolution, according to a new study.
The finding that cooking increases the energy we derive from meat also raises questions about the way modern humans eat, said Rachel Carmody, a student in the department of human evolutionary biology at Harvard University…
Early humans were eating raw meat as early as 2.5 million years ago but they underwent a sudden change about 1.9 million years ago. Their bodies became larger, the size and complexity of the brain increased, and adaptations for long-distance running appeared.
Some theories suggest that increased meat in the diet produced these evolutionary advances, but Carmody's findings point to another reason -- cooking meat provided early humans with more energy.
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New Research Questions Wisdom of Cutting Down on Salt

(HealthDay News) Although cutting back on salt does lower blood pressure, new research finds that it may also increase levels of cholesterol, triglycerides and other risk factors for heart disease.
At this point, though, it's not entirely clear what the findings mean for long-term health, according to the study…
"In my opinion, people should generally not worry about their salt intake," said study author Dr. Niels Graudal, senior consultant in internal medicine and rheumatology.
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