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

Regular, moderate exercise makes for a healthier you

(Scripps Howard) Recently, a woman made national headlines — and made an entire country feel like lazy good-for-nothings — when she finished the Chicago Marathon at 39 weeks pregnant and gave birth hours later.
But take heart, couch potatoes. You don’t have to run a marathon, or run at all, to reap impressive health benefits from exercise.
In fact, if the average adult walked 61/2 hours a month — or about the same amount of time it took that pregnant athlete to finish the marathon — he could add three years to his life, according to a new study.
“It doesn’t take a lot. You don’t have to be super intense, like a triathlon or an Alcatraz swim,” said Dr. Moshe Lewis, a California physician who specializes in pain management and sports medicine…
Doctors are having a rough time just getting people to walk around their neighborhood a few times a week.
That’s a shame, they say, because studies show that those walks could significantly lower their cholesterol, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. They could even help people stop smoking and eat better.
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5 exercises you can do without upsetting your inner couch potato

(Chicago Tribune) Going to the gym is such drudgery. You have to drag your lazy butt off the couch, you need to make yourself presentable, then you have to haul yourself out the door. But what if you didn't have to leave your home? What if you didn't even have to leave your couch? That you can wear a tattered Three Stooges T-shirt and stained sweat pants is just gravy.
Yes, says Selene Yeager, a certified personal trainer and author, you can get something out of a 15-minute session on your couch.
"People see that '15-minute workout' and are skeptical," says Yeager, whose "The Women's Health Big Book of 15-Minute Workouts" (Rodale) came out in October. "To those people I say, honestly, just try it. Do pushups. Are you working? You better believe it. And you can honestly do a few very effective exercises on your couch. Before you snarkily toss them aside, try them. You'll see they work."
So here are five easy and beneficial exercises for you couch potatoes. And they can be done without equipment.
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Quick Tips for Working Out at Work

(SouthBeachDiet.com) While a regular workout routine is an essential part of reaching your weight-loss goals, there will be times when your job or family obligations get in the way of exercising. Although Dr. Arthur Agatston, author of the newly published The South Beach Wake-Up Call, recommends a daily 20-minute exercise routine — alternating days of interval exercise with days of core-strengthening exercises — he suggests that even on those days when your schedule is crammed, you try to get in a 5- or 10-minute walk or simply incorporate more movement throughout the day. After all, some exercise is always better than none. If you can’t find time for fitness before or after work, here are 9 tips to help you squeeze fitness into your workday.
1.    Park farther away from the office, or get off public transportation at an earlier stop and walk the rest of the way to work.
2.    Take the stairs instead of the elevator, especially if you have just a few flights to climb.
3.    Go for a walk during lunch. One way to do this is to pass by your usual salad spot on the corner and find one a little farther away. If you bring your lunch to work, use the time you save to take a walk around the block.
4.    Walk over to coworkers’ desks when you need to chat with them or deliver messages rather than using e-mail or the phone.
5.    Instead of meeting friends in the office or over lunch, meet to take a walk.
6.    Use your headset or cell phone and walk around while talking on the phone.
7.    Stretch occasionally while sitting at your desk or keep a light pair of weights at work and do some upper-body exercises.
8.    Do this simple core-strengthening exercise at your desk: Sit up straight on your chair, keep your feet on the floor, and your knees over your toes. Tighten your abs and straighten your back while keeping your neck relaxed. Hold this position for 10 seconds or longer. Repeat a few times.
9.    If your office allows it, swap your chair for an exercise ball that you can sit on throughout the day. This will help improve your balance and tighten your core.
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More Americans Exercise, but Arthritis Can Get in the Way

(HealthDay News) Exercise is good medicine, and the number of American adults who did no physical activity in their leisure time decreased from 31 percent in 1989 to 25 percent in 2008, researchers have found…
Even though exercise is known to reduce arthritis-related pain and improve function, the researchers found that 53 percent fewer adults with arthritis exercise than adults who don't have arthritis. A state-by-state analysis showed that adults with arthritis accounted for 25 to 47 percent of all adults who did no physical activity in their leisure time.
Among sedentary people, even small increases in physical activity can trigger benefits, the study authors pointed out…
"To reduce the prevalence of no [leisure-time physical activity] among all adults, physical activity promotion initiatives should include interventions such as targeted health communication campaigns and community-based group exercise programs proven safe and effective for adults with arthritis," the researchers wrote in the report.
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Exercises That Reduce Fibromyalgia Pain and Fatigue

(RealAge.com) Move Past the Pain
No doubt about it -- physical activity can sometimes be tough when you've got fibromyalgia. You can't do much on the days you're feeling drained. And on the days you're feeling good, you may be tempted to overdo it. But to cope better with your condition, you've got to exercise, even if it's just a little bit, because grinding to a complete standstill is only likely to make your symptoms worse.
But the trouble is, there's no one-size-fits-all exercise guideline for folks with fibromyalgia. And strenuous activity may set you back. So you've got to be smart. But with a bit of trial and error -- and guidance from your doc -- you can determine what type of physical activities make sense for you, as well as how much, how often, and how intensely to do them.
Try Gentle Water-Based Workouts
Numerous studies report that this form of low-impact exercise -- especially when done in warm water -- can help reduce pain, stiffness, fatigue, and depression in many people with fibromyalgia…
Aerobics for Land Lovers
If working out in water is not your thing, plug into a beginner fitness video a few nights each week. Research suggests that cardio-based aerobic exercise can be an effective way to curb pain, fatigue, anxiety, and depression in people living with fibromyalgia…
Strengthen Your Muscles for Relief
You don't have to be a body builder. But lifting light weights or doing other types of resistance-based strength training might improve your symptoms…
Step Away from Pain
One of the easiest things you can do is lace up your walking shoes and hit the sidewalk. Research suggests that mildly to moderately intense walking may dial down pain and fatigue just as well as other forms of aerobic exercise do. But ask your rheumatologist or physical therapist how fast, how far, and how often you should walk when starting out. And build up your walks gradually…
Stretch It Out
Compared with aerobics and strength training, less research has been done on the benefits of stretching for people living with fibromyalgia. But a smattering of findings do suggest that stretching exercises, including those used in physical therapy and yoga, may help reduce overall stiffness, improve muscular flexibility, and enhance well-being in people with fibromyalgia…
Work with a Physical Therapist
If you're new to exercise or just not sure what kinds are safe for you, ask your doctor or rheumatologist for a referral to a licensed physical therapist -- one who is trained in working with fibromyalgia patients…
Tai Chi and Chi-Gong (Qigong)
These two forms of ancient Chinese medicine combine gentle martial-arts-based movement, postural exercises, breathing exercises, and mindfulness meditation… More study is needed to confirm whether the exercises have a direct effect on pain, but findings do suggest they might enhance the ability to cope with it. And both exercise forms have helped relieve anxiety and depression in people with fibromyalgia. Tai chi seems to enhance balance and lower body flexibility as well.
Stick with It
The best way to ensure exercise improves your fibromyalgia? Don't stop once you start. Getting fit and controlling symptoms does not have a beginning and an end. And being a faithful follower of your exercise program is what brings continuous results.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Steamed Chicken and Vegetables with Soy Dipping Sauce
Believe it or not, you can get your meat and veggies for just 250 calories--leaving room for a glass of wine with dinner.
EatingWell:
Lemon & Oregano Lamb Chops
Juicy lamb chops take a trip to the Middle East with a quick herb-and-lemon rub and a tangy cucumber-tahini sauce. Serve with couscous or rice pilaf and a green salad.
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Tart cherry juice may enhance sleep

(UPI) People who have trouble sleeping may find help by drinking two glasses of tart cherry juice a day, researchers in Britain say.
Researchers at Northumbria University and colleagues found when adults had two glasses of tart cherry juice daily, they slept 39 minutes longer, on average, and had as much as a 6 percent increase in overall sleep efficiency -- significantly less non-sleep time in bed -- compared to when they drank a non-cherry, fruit cocktail.
Community: I’ve started drinking tart cherry juice because Andrew Weil recommends it for gout. I had never had gout, but I’m pretty sure I started suffering from it after an infusion of the bone-building medication Reclast this past January. I started noticing a difference in the pain level the day after I first drank some of the juice. And it does seem to help with sleep, also. We already know that it contains a lot of melatonin, which is the hormone that makes us feel sleepy.
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Vitamin D doesn't prevent heart attack or cancer

(Reuters Health) Among seniors with a high risk of bone fractures, taking vitamin D or calcium pills has no impact on their chances of dying from cancer or vascular disease, researchers say in a new study.
Vitamin D is considered beneficial for bone health, and earlier studies have found that having low vitamin D levels in the blood is tied to a greater chance of dying from heart problems (see Reuters Health reports of November 25, 2011 and June 24, 2011).
The thinking, therefore, has been that taking extra vitamin D might cut that risk…
Peggy Cawthon, a researcher with the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute who was not involved in the new work, said people should be cautious regarding information on vitamin D's alleged heart and cancer benefits.
"A supplement or vitamin might not have the magic bullet to prevent the next disease," Cawthon told Reuters Health. "We've had a lot of examples, and vitamin D is just the latest showing it has no effect on these health issues."
Community: But there are plenty of other reasons to make sure vitamin D levels are high enough. Vitamin D may help to improve mood, prevent Alzheimer’s (see also here), improve pancreas function in diabetics, keep blood sugar under control, and, of course, build bone.
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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…
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. He may have indeed chosen the right parents, but that still doesn't completely account for his good health. 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.
What is really important is the "physiologic" age of your arteries. Just as we are impressed by the sharp minds of many elderly people, we have also seen that they can have young arteries despite their advanced years. In many non-Western societies, where food is not overprocessed and exercise is part of everyday life, the arteries of the elderly are clean and heart attacks and strokes are rarities.
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Gene Mutation Helps Clear Fats From Blood, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) A gene mutation that helps clear fat from the body has been identified by scientists, but they don't know if people with this mutation have a lower risk of heart disease or other health problems…
When they drank pure cream, the people with this mutation were better able to clear those triglycerides than people without the mutation, the study found…
"It looks like this might be something good to have," researcher Jan Albert Kuivenhoven … said in a journal news release.
However, it's not known whether the people in the study will have a lower risk of heart disease or other health problems, he added.
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Obese Patients May Benefit the Most From Surgery for Irregular Heartbeat

(HealthDay News) Overweight or obese individuals who undergo a procedure to treat an irregular heartbeat known as atrial fibrillation may see greater improvements in their quality of life after the treatment than their thinner counterparts…
Atrial fibrilation (AF) greatly increases a person's risk for stroke. Many people with AF are treated with medications to help lower this risk. An alternative to medication, catheter ablation, treats AF by placing a thin tube (catheter) in the heart and burning off the tissue or pathways that are responsible for irregular heartbeat.
In the study, 79 percent of 660 participants were overweight or obese. The ablation procedure was equally successful at controlling the AF in both thin and heavyset individuals, but those who were obese and overweight showed greater gains in their quality of life. They did report a lower quality of life before the procedure than their thinner counterparts.
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MS May Take a Different Pathway Than Previously Thought

(HealthDay News) Multiple sclerosis may begin in the outer layer of the brain and work its way into the deep interior, according to a new study that upends long-held beliefs about the nervous system disease.
The new findings, which could spur changes in the way MS is diagnosed and treated, appear to solidify a theory that's emerged in recent years. This new premise suggests that gray matter, the outer covering of the brain called the cortex, and the fluid that surrounds and cushions it, is where MS originates, not in the bulky white matter that composes most of the brain's core.
It's an "outside-in" process in other words, said study co-author Dr. Claudia Lucchinetti…
Lucchinetti said if scientists can understand the genesis of the disease, better diagnostic procedures and treatments could be developed.
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Structure of Key Protein Associated With Parkinson's Disease Determined

(Science Daily) A team of researchers … [has] produced and determined the structure of alpha-synuclein, a key protein associated with Parkinson's disease.
Their findings … provide information that may someday be used to produce a new kind of treatment for the incurable degenerative brain disorder.
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Rebuilding the Brain's Circuitry

(Science Daily) Neuron transplants have repaired brain circuitry and substantially normalized function in mice with a brain disorder, an advance indicating that key areas of the mammalian brain are more reparable than was widely believed.
[Researchers] transplanted normally functioning embryonic neurons at a carefully selected stage of their development into the hypothalamus of mice unable to respond to leptin, a hormone that regulates metabolism and controls body weight. These mutant mice usually become morbidly obese, but the neuron transplants repaired defective brain circuits, enabling them to respond to leptin and thus experience substantially less weight gain.
Repair at the cellular-level of the hypothalamus -- a critical and complex region of the brain that regulates phenomena such as hunger, metabolism, body temperature, and basic behaviors such as sex and aggression -- indicates the possibility of new therapeutic approaches to even higher level conditions such as spinal cord injury, autism, epilepsy, ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's disease, and Huntington's disease.
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Yawning May Cool the Brain When Needed

(HealthDay News) Yawning helps keep the brain cool, and the sinuses play a role in that process by acting as bellows, a new report suggests.
Yawning isn't triggered because you're bored, tired or need oxygen. Rather, yawning helps regulate the brain's temperature, according to Gary Hack, of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry, and Andrew Gallup, of Princeton University…
During yawning, the walls of the maxillary sinuses (located in the cheeks on each side of the nose) flex like bellows and help with brain cooling, according to the researchers.
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Psoriasis Treatment's Convenience May Be Key for Patients

(HealthDay News) Many people with the skin disease psoriasis put a higher value on a treatment that suits their lifestyle than on out-of-pocket costs and side effects, a new German study finds…
Management of the disease can be frustrating, and many patients object to different facets of treatment, which can involve light-based therapy, creams, pills or systemic medications given by injection or intravenously.
Treatment doesn't work if you don't use it, said Dr. Michele Green, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, who is familiar with the study. "People want to control their own destiny. If someone doesn't want to do light therapy or isn't going to use a cream, we have to talk about other treatments with them."
Green wasn't surprised by the findings. Convenience counts, she said. "We have to meet our patients where they are," she added.
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Some depressed people do worse on medications: study

(Reuters Health) According to a new look at past antidepressant trials, up to a fifth of patients on Cymbalta and similar medications may actually do worse than those given drug-free placebo pills.
Researchers found that patients' symptoms over the first couple months of antidepressant use separated them into "responders," who got progressively better, and "non-responders," who didn't improve with treatment but may still have suffered side effects.
However, "It's difficult to say a priori who will be in which group," Ralitza Gueorguieva, the study's lead author from the Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, told Reuters Health.
The findings highlight the importance of identifying as soon as possible which patients will and won't respond to certain drugs, her team said.
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New Disinfection Technique Could Revolutionize Hospital Room Cleaning

(Science Daily) A Queen's University infectious disease expert has collaborated in the development of a disinfection system that may change the way hospital rooms all over the world are cleaned as well as stop bed bug outbreaks in hotels and apartments.
"This is the future, because many hospital deaths are preventable with better cleaning methods," says Dick Zoutman…
The new technology involves pumping a Medizone-specific ozone and hydrogen peroxide vapour gas mixture into a room to completely sterilize everything -- including floors, walls, drapes, mattresses, chairs and other surfaces. It is far more effective in killing bacteria than wiping down a room…
There are other disinfecting technologies that involve pumping gas into a room, but Medizone's method is the only one that sterilizes as well as surgical instrument cleaning. It also leaves a pleasant smell and doesn't affect any medical equipment in the room. The entire disinfection process is also faster than other methods -- it takes less than one hour.
Dr. Zoutman says the technology could also be used in food preparation areas and processing plants after outbreaks such as listeria and to disinfect cruise ships after an infection outbreak.
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Flexible workplace = improved health

(UPI) Judging an employee not on hours spent in the office, but on output, increases the health of the employee, U.S. researchers found…
Employees were allowed to routinely change when and where they worked based on their individual needs and job responsibilities without seeking permission from a manager or even notifying one, the researchers said.
The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, found the employees got almost an hour more of sleep before work days, were less likely to feel obligated to work when sick and were more likely to go to a doctor when necessary, even when busy. Increased sleep is linked to less risk of obesity and diabetes.
The flexible workplace initiative increased employees' sense of schedule control and reduced their work-family conflict. That led to improved sleep quality, energy levels, self-reported health and sense of personal mastery. It also decreased employees' emotional exhaustion and psychological distress, the study said.
Community: I once had a boss who patrolled the offices at 6:30 at night. He believed that those he saw hunkered over their desks at that time were the most productive employees. He didn’t see those same people fooling around all day, waiting for his rounds before looking busy. And he didn’t believe me when I told him that’s what was going on. That company bit the dust, by the way.
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Healthy Habits Are Most Contagious Among Similar Friends

(MyHealthNewsDaily) Obesity spreads "contagiously" through social networks, claimed a highly publicized 2007 study, and since then, some researchers have been working to use social networks to reverse the nation's obesity epidemic. A study published [recently] suggests that may be possible.
Researchers at MIT found that by bringing people who had similar traits together into a social network, with the aim of increasing physical fitness, they increased how many people picked up a new activity that could bring about healthy lifestyle changes.
Even people who were obese were more likely to pick up the new activity when grouped with other obese people than when grouped with thinner people.
"The most effective social environment for increasing the 'willingness' of obese individuals to adopt the behavior was the one in which they interacted with others with similar health characteristics," the authors wrote in their conclusions…
While not well-studied, Browning noted that researchers have observed that some people who sustain weight loss for a long period also change who they spend their time with — for example, a divorce or a move might be involved.
"Some of those individuals completely change their social network, and get out of one and move into another," he said. "The social network they land in has more of these healthful behaviors."
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Socioeconomic Status Main Predictor of Health Habits: Study

(HealthDay News) Racial and ethnic differences in diet, exercise and weight may be due to differences in socioeconomic status, a new U.S. study suggests.
The researchers found that people with a lower socioeconomic status are more likely to be overweight than those with higher socioeconomic status, regardless of racial or ethnic background. They also found that levels of nutritional knowledge and health awareness weren't associated with significant racial differences in diet and weight…
"The underlying causes of ethnic disparities in eating, exercise and obesity in the United States are complicated," [said Dr. Youfa Wang]. "More well-designed studies with vigorous and comprehensive assessment of related factors are needed to help advance understanding.
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Learning Changes Adult Brain

(HealthDay News) The brains of new taxi drivers change as they learn to navigate thousands of streets and places of interest over several years, a new study shows.
The finding offers more evidence that learning can lead to changes in the adult brain, which is good news for lifelong learning and also for rehabilitation after brain injury, according to the U.K. researchers…
The findings show that the human brain remains "plastic" even in adult life, enabling it to adapt when people learn new tasks and skills, [the researchers said].
They suggested that significant cognitive challenges prompt increased production of new neurons and survival of existing neurons. Learning new things may also strengthen connections between existing neurons.
Community: Which means we can train ourselves to live healthier lives, starting with improving impulse control.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Broccoli and Cheese Soup
Processed cheese melts beautifully, giving this 30-minute broccoli and cheese soup a smooth texture and mild flavor.
EatingWell:
Cod with Tomato Cream Sauce
This silky tomato sauce with a touch of cream makes mild-flavored cod sing. Serve with: Farro or rice and a salad of mixed greens.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Salmon, Watercress & Sencha Soup
This recipe calls for nori seaweed and wasabi - a strong, pungent Japanese green horseradish made by mixing water (or in this case, green tea) with a powdered base. Both are available in the Japanese food section of most major supermarkets or Asian markets.
Food as Medicine
Eating just two servings of omega-3 rich fatty fish such as salmon weekly was shown in one six-month study to lower triglycerides (a form of fat in the bloodstream) better than an equivalent quantity of fat in vegetable oil.
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Ginger May Protect the Colon

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Researchers from the University of Michigan Medical School have reported that supplements of ginger root extract reduced markers of colon inflammation that might lead to cancer.
The investigators recruited 30 patients at normal risk for colon cancer for their study and randomly assigned them to receive either two grams of ginger root supplements or a placebo for 28 days. The researchers then measured levels of colon inflammation in biopsies taken via sigmoidoscopy. They found that some markers showed a statistically significant decline while other markers showed reductions that were smaller. Earlier studies have implicated inflammation as a forerunner of colon cancer.
The research team noted, however, that further investigation will be needed to explore how ginger affects the risk of the disease, and to determine whether supplements can be recommended as a means of prevention.
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Having Coughs and Congestion?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If dry, bronchial coughs and chest congestion are bothering you this winter, consider taking mullein. The flowers and leaves of this small, hardy Mediterranean shrub are safe and effective in addressing many seasonal respiratory concerns. Products are available as tinctures, oils, powders, lozenges, capsules, extracts and even in whole leaf form - select reliable brands that are 100 percent pure mullein.
For congestion and dry cough, try a dropperful of tincture in a little warm water every four hours. Mullein is safe for adults, but do not give mullein to young children for coughs. For adult ear problems, try a few drops of mullein oil, slightly warmed, directly in the ear. As with any supplement, pregnant women should discuss mullein with their doctor before use.
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Starchy Foods May Boost Risk of Breast Cancer Recurrence

(HealthDay News) Increased consumption of carbohydrate-rich foods, especially starches, may boost the risk of breast cancer recurrence, new research finds.
Researcher Jennifer Emond, a public health doctoral student at the University of California, San Diego, looked at changes in the amount of carbohydrates, particularly starchy foods such as potatoes, that breast cancer survivors ate over a one-year period. Then she tracked the number of recurrences.
"Women who increased their carbohydrates and particularly their starch intake had a greater risk of recurrence than the women who decreased [it]," she said.
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Life choices dwarf pollutants in breast cancer risk, report finds

(Los Angeles Times) There's an environmental link to breast cancer — but chemicals in the air and water may be the least of women's worries.
A comprehensive study released Wednesday finds that substances to which women voluntarily expose themselves every day — fattening foods, alcohol, cigarettes, oral contraceptives and hormone replacement drugs — are far clearer drivers of risk than industrial chemicals such as bisphenol A and phthalates and a long list of feared additives and environmental pollutants…
Despite many women's fears of environmental culprits over which they have little control, research linking breast cancer risk to the factors highlighted in the report is far stronger, said breast cancer specialist Dr. Patricia Ganz.
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British Study Suggests Mammograms May Do More Harm Than Good

(HealthDay News) Women aged 40 and older who follow recommendations to have annual mammograms may do themselves more harm than good, British researchers report.
Study author James Raftery, a professor of health technology assessment at the Wessex Institute at the University of Southampton, said that "this is due to reduced quality of life of those who receive diagnoses that turn out to be false and to those who are treated unnecessarily."…
Dr. Julie Gralow, director of breast medical oncology at the University of Washington in Seattle, disagreed strongly with the new study findings.
"The cumulative evidence from randomized clinical trials shows the screening mammograms reduce deaths due to breast cancer," she said. "This is objective fact."
The effects of the harms of a false positive mammogram are very subjective, Gralow added. "A call-back for additional views is expected in a certain percentage of women; many times the extra images are enough to resolve the problem without a biopsy," she said.
"If you want to catch as many cancers at an early stage as possible, you have to follow up on anything of moderate suspicion. Many women understand this and accept it," Gralow said.
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Women Advised to Avoid ZEN Bust-Enhancing Supplements Because of Possible Cancer Risk

(Science Daily) Women who use bust-enhancing dietary supplements containing the mycoestrogen zearalenone (ZEN), a naturally occurring toxin that widely contaminates agricultural products, could be increasing their risk of breast cancer…
The use of ZEN to increase bust size is just one of the key concerns raised by the review focussing on the affects of ZEN and its derivatives on the human reproductive system and breast cancer. It also included the use of ZEN to fatten up livestock, its use in hormone replacement therapy and oral contraceptives, its links with premature puberty and its possible effects on breast cancer.
"ZEN is a toxic non-steroidal mycoestrogen produced by fungi that widely contaminates agricultural products, such as crops, eliciting oestrogenic responses by mimicking the female sex hormones" explains Professor [Ian] Fentiman.
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Heart disease tied to regret after prostate therapy

(Reuters Health) Men with heart problems are more likely to regret prostate cancer treatment than others, according to a recent study…
In the new study, researchers looked at nearly 800 men who had been treated for prostate cancer with surgery, radiation or hormone therapy, but now had signs that their disease might be returning.
Overall, 15 percent of the men said they regretted having been treated for their cancer.
And those with cardiovascular disease such as heart failure or diabetes were 52 percent more likely than others to regret the treatment they'd chosen for their cancer.
[Dr. Timothy Showalter, who was not involved in the research,] called the study "another piece of evidence that supports closely monitoring men with prostate cancer" instead of treating them right away.
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Treating Prehypertension Lowers Stroke Risk: Study

(HealthDay News) A new study found that the risk of stroke dropped about 22 percent in people with prehypertension who took drugs that lower blood pressure.
These people didn't yet have high blood pressure, but they still benefited from taking the medications, although there was no significant reduction in the rate of heart attacks for people taking antihypertensives.
"We know that blood pressure and stroke are closely related, and high blood pressure is an extremely high risk factor for stroke. If we could reduce blood pressure, we thought we could reduce the risk of stroke," said lead researcher Dr. Ilke Sipahi…
"We found a highly statistically significant 22 percent risk reduction in stroke with any kind of antihypertensive that was used," said Sipahi.
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Lower Blood Pressure with Music

(RealAge.com) Eating right and exercising are best bets for better blood pressure. But there's a popular and relaxing pastime that may help, too: listening to music…
When people inhaled and exhaled rhythmically to slow, soothing music for 30 minutes a day, their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a BP reading) fell four points after 6 months. That may not sound like much to you, but medically it's enough to make both your insurance company and your mutually monogamous partner crack a smile. Breathing and listening worked better than just listening to music or quietly reading a good book. Here's another activity you can do in your chair to lower your blood pressure.
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More older Americans have knee pain, replacement

(Reuters Health) Older Americans are increasingly complaining of aching knees, and getting those knees replaced, even though X-ray evidence of knee arthritis is not on the rise, a new study finds…
The nation's growing obesity problem and an aging population seemed to partly account for the increase in knee pain, the study found. But that did not tell the whole story.
"We don't really know what the other reasons could be," said lead researcher Uyen-Sa D.T. Nguyen, of Boston University School of Medicine.
One possibility, she told Reuters Health, is that older adults these days are more likely to admit to having pain.
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Spending on depression up, quality of care lagging

(Reuters Health) Spending on depression has gone up by nearly a third with no clear improvement in the quality of care, according to Medicaid claims data from Florida.
The uptick in spending was fueled mainly by prescriptions of psychiatric drugs, in particular antipsychotics, while the use of psychotherapy and hospitalizations dropped between 1996 and 2006.
"With the decline in use of hospitalization and antidepressants going generic, the cost of treating depression could have been expected to be falling over this period, but this didn't happen," said Thomas G. McGuire, a professor of health economics at Harvard Medical School in Boston.
"Patients were getting more drugs, mainly more antipsychotics, driving total treatment costs up not down," he told Reuters Health in an email…
According to The National Institute of Mental Health, nearly 15 million American adults suffer from major depression.
Community: Fortunately, there are non-medicinal ways to prevent or decrease depression.
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GE, Microsoft in healthcare software joint venture

(Reuters) General Electric Co and Microsoft Corp are forming a joint venture to develop and sell software systems to make it easier for healthcare providers to store, access and share patient information.
The 50-50 venture, which is yet to be named, will initially employ about 700 people and be based near Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, Washington, the companies said on Thursday.
The goal is to develop open software systems that would allow multiple healthcare providers to track patients -- for example, allowing a diabetic patient's primary care physician to see how recently he or she has been to the podiatrist to check blood flow to his or her feet.
"Part of the problem in healthcare is there's so many doctors; there's so much information to bring together. There's not a single place for that," said Michael Simpson, a GE Healthcare executive who will serve as chief executive of the new venture when it begins operations next year. "When you talk about how do you bend the cost curve, it's not about making big monolithic systems; it's about joining systems and aggregating the data together so that people can make better decisions."
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CDC: U.S. influenza activity low

(UPI) Influenza activity is at low levels in the United States early in the flu season, federal health officials say.
Officials at the Centers for Disease Control said the influenza season will last through the winter and spring, so there is still time to get an influenza vaccination -- recommended for all individuals age 6 months and older.
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Real-world holiday weight-control advice

(Jennifer LaRue Huget, Washington Post) It’s here. That year-end onslaught of cookies, candy, cakes and calories. Who better to offer weight-control advice, I thought, than people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off?
I spoke with three Washington area residents: Herbert Walker, 49, of Frederick has lost more than 51 pounds. Dawn Williams, 44, of Lexington Park has lost 205 pounds. And Sam Hardman, 32, of Fairfax has lost 85 pounds. Walker and Williams are in the TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club, a support group for those trying to lose weight. Hardman lost his weight largely with a commercial meal-replacement plan called Medifast. Here are some lessons they have learned to keep from backsliding, especially this time of year.
1. Plan ahead. “I always eat something healthy before I go to a party so I’m not hungry when I get there,” Hardman says…
2. Enjoy what you eat. “You can have anything you want,” Williams says, “but have it when you really want it and enjoy it. You’re more likely to enjoy it in moderation.”…
3. Focus on friends, watch where you stand. “At a party, I focus on talking with friends I haven’t seen in a while, not on food,” Walker says…
4. Stash snacks. Hardman keeps a supply of meal-replacement bars in his car, his desk and even at his parents’ house. That way, if he feels hungry, he has a better option than diving into a plate of cookies.
5. Volunteer to be the designated driver. Alcohol is nothing but empty calories and can contribute mightily to weight gain, especially in the amounts typically consumed during this festive season…
6. Stick to your rules. Williams says it’s important during the holidays to uphold the rules regarding eating that you’ve established for yourself…
7. Share your secret. Tell the world that you’re trying to watch your weight, Williams suggests. “If you keep it a secret, it’s like telling yourself you can’t do it.”…
8. Keep water handy. Williams and Hardman both recommend drinking lots of water. “A lot of times when I feel hunger coming on, I’m just thirsty,” Hardman says.
9. Pick your parties. “You don’t have to go to every party you’re invited to,” Walker says. “Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, if I go here, am I going to be really tempted and succumb? If the temptations are too much, don’t go. You’ll see your friends another time.”
10. Make home a junk-free zone. “Your home has to be your safe haven,” especially when holiday treats are staring at you everywhere else you go, Williams says…
11. Walk it off. Williams attributes much of her weight loss to having started walking, just 30 minutes a day at first. “Walk for 15 minutes away from your house and then 15 minutes back,” she says. “It’s one thing that anybody can do, pretty much,” even during this busy month. In fact, Hardman, Walker and Williams all intend to at least maintain their regular exercise routines during the holidays; Walker, for instance, plans an hour of exercise, six days a week. And Hardman will keep training for his next triathlon.
12. Have faith in yourself. “Believe that you can do anything. That’s the big part,” Williams says.
Community: Once again, we see that a sense of efficacy is important in maintaining our health. And there are more ways to improve impulse control.
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