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

Why layaway angels touch even Grinches

(MSNBC.com) They've been called layaway angels, Secret Santas, good Samaritans and even miracle workers. Whatever you call them, the Frank Capra-esque anonymous donors who have been paying off strangers' layaway bills around the country seem to be touching even the Grinchiest of hearts.
This year's unexpected holiday phenomena of altruism is moving even those inured to pleas for donations from food banks, homeless shelters and other charities to drive to the nearest Kmart or Walmart or Toys R Us and pay off someone’s bill. Many others are moved to tears just hearing reports of these Christmas random acts of kindness…
While the trend appears to have started in Michigan, layaway angels have popped up in South Carolina, California, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Connecticut, Delaware and Nevada and the number of donors -- and states involved -- appears to be growing.
According to one news report, more than 1,000 layaway accounts adding up to more than $400,000 have been paid off by anonymous angels at Kmart alone, with some people donating thousands of dollars. Being a layaway angel, it seems, is contagious.
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All that family togetherness calls for survival strategies

(Dr. Laura Berman) As blissful as the holiday season can be, days of family togetherness can sometimes make you wish that you were as far away as the North Pole.
Consider the following holiday survival guide:
Get out of your persona. Have you ever noticed that when you are around your family you tend to slip right back into your 14-year-old persona?... Make a clear intention to avoid getting stuck in those old patterns when the typical triggers occur. You can use your partner as an ally…
Stay connected to your partner. Instead of allowing your family drama to drive a wedge between you and your partner, come to the holiday season with teamwork in mind…
Let go of perfectionism. We all get sucked into the idea of the perfect holiday and hold ourselves responsible for creating it. Instead of doing what we really want to do, we get caught up doing things we think we “should” do, whether it is baking for hours or commuting to three different family dinners in one day…
Let go of the “shoulds”! If you want to skip holiday cooking in favor of relaxing with the kids in front of a Christmas movie, then save yourself the muss and fuss and visit a bakery for your gingerbread fix. If you want to limit your travel time and stressful commute, tell your in-laws that you will miss dinner but you will be there for dessert and coffee once the kids have finished opening their gifts.
Instead of feeling harried and unappreciated, you will feel calm, relaxed, and in the holiday spirit. And that’s the best gift Santa can give!
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Your Misery Has Company -- Not Realizing it Is Hurting You Even More

(Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D.) It's not at all unusual for people to feel more anxious, exhausted, frustrated or depressed at this time of year than they typically do. As if that's not bad enough, many of us routinely add insult to injury by feeling guilty or ashamed that we aren't bursting with happiness like we "should" be. After all, isn't this the season to be jolly?
And what's more, we feel like we are alone in our unhappiness -- as if everyone else is making merry while we are making misery. This common misperception only adds to our pain…
[R]esearchers found that people routinely underestimate how often their peers are faced with the negative experiences they themselves endure… They also overestimated the frequency of others' enjoyable experiences, like going out with friends or attending parties, by 10 to 20 percent! So not only do we think other people are happier than we are, but we assume their lives are better, too.
Our ignorance has serious consequences. Research shows that the more you underestimate the emotional pain of others, the more isolated and lonely you feel…
They say that misery loves company, and there's good reason for it. There is comfort and wisdom, in knowing that other people share our difficulties and understand our experiences. If you can't take all the headache and stress out of your holidays (and I've yet to meet the person who could), then you can at least do yourself a favor this year, and embrace the very real truth that you are not alone.
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Holidays means there’s booze everywhere

(Gannett News Service) The holidays are in full swing and so are social gatherings where alcoholic beverages are served.
For recovering alcoholics, Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day can be a daunting time of year with temptations and stressors that could lead to a relapse…
Recovering alcoholics need to properly plan to stay sober through the holidays, [Patsy Hillard of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence] says. She offers several tips to maintain sobriety.
† Start by bringing a fellow recovering alcoholic with you to events for support.
† Develop new traditions and routines for the holidays if the old routines involved being around those who drink.
† Ask for support from family and friends. Be responsible for your recovery and remove yourself from situations.
† Have a list of several names and cell phones numbers of friends in recovery you can call.
† Stay away from “slippery places” — former favorite drinking establishments, old drinking buddies, etc.
† Exercise by walking or running instead of taking a nap after eating as a way to promote better health.
† Write a daily gratitude list of at least 10 entries to promote a positive outlook.
† Volunteer your time to charitable organizations.
† Know when meetings are held, and celebrate recovery by being around those in recovery. Go to the Alcoholics Anonymous site, aa.org, to find out how to get to local AA meetings.
† Remember HALT, which reminds those in recovery to address hunger, anger, loneliness or tiredness properly by eating, talking to someone, calling someone or getting rest with sleep. The four issues can lead back to drinking if not properly addressed.
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Take Steps to Keep Healthy During Holidays

(HealthDay News) The holiday season can be especially meaningful for cancer survivors, but they need to take steps to ensure they stay healthy through this often hectic and stressful time…
Karen Syrjala, co-director of the center's Survivorship Program, offers holiday health tips for cancer survivors, including the following:
·         Be prepared for your holiday stress points. Take steps to deal with family conflicts or trying to do too much. For example, if you have to see a difficult relative, plan something fun afterward so you can look forward to doing something enjoyable.
·         Take control of your time and eliminate holiday events or traditions you feel you can do without. Also, try to postpone non-holiday events until the new year.
·         Make sure to schedule time with people who mean the most to you…
·         Keep physically active during the holidays and all through the year…
·         Eat a healthy diet. Focus more on giving your body what it needs (such as fruits and vegetables) and less on trying not to eat certain foods…
·         Avoid alcohol or drink in moderation…
·         Find time to relax your body and mind, and tend to your body's needs.
Community: That sounds like good advice for everyone, not just cancer survivors.
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Foolproof ways not to pack on holiday pounds

(Gannett News Service) Eating healthfully in December can be as difficult as nabbing a prime parking spot on a busy holiday shopping day…
“Nobody wants to just eat chicken and raw carrots at a holiday gathering, but at the same time, you don’t want to go over the deep end and eat anything and everything,” said Sue Ayersman, a clinical nutritionist. “It’s about knowing what to eat and balancing pleasure and health.”
Start with a strategy — and be realistic. This is not the time of year to set ambitious weight-loss goals. Just aim to maintain. It takes an extra 500 calories a day, or 3,500 a week, to gain a pound. Keep these numbers in mind and it will take the guesswork out of what to eat, what to avoid.
Experts offer the following tips for a happy and healthful holiday noshing season:
Spoil your appetite. A high-protein, low-fat snack can reduce how much you eat at a cocktail party or holiday table and quell the temptation to load up on desserts and heavily sauced dishes…
Size matters. The best way to enjoy a sweet or rich appetizer without losing control is by sampling…
Pay attention to preparation and ingredients. Avoid loading up on foods that are fried, buttered or dripping in cheese and cream…
Beware beverages. Classic holiday eggnog is loaded with fat and calories, especially when spiked with brandy…
Eat slowly. It takes at least 20 minutes to reach satiety. Eat slowly to allow your brain a chance to catch up with your stomach.
Stay hydrated. It’s easy to confuse hunger with thirst. Drink water to keep feeling full and energized.
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Flank Steak with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Glaze
The reduced balsamic vinegar sauce gives the flank steak a unique flavor that pairs perfectly with the caramelized onions… Serve with steamed broccoli or asparagus, and drizzle some of the glaze over the vegetable.
Garlic-Stuffed Standing Rib Roast
A beef rib roast screams celebration. The meat is expensive, but rewards minimal effort with amazing, juicy flavor. All you need to do is poke pieces of sliced garlic into the meat, season it with salt and pepper and roast it. Serve with mashed potatoes and greens. Or make it brilliant with savory herb, Parmesan and horseradish breadcrumbs (see variation). Use leftovers in sandwiches or roast beef hash.
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Get hooked on health benefits of fish

(Gannett News Service) The benefits of eating fish are overwhelming. Studies show that just two seafood meals a week can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by about 30 percent. Fish also protects against heart arrhythmias, lowers triglycerides and blood pressure, eases inflammation and keeps blood vessels healthy. Studies also show that eating fish may ward against cancer, help protect skin from sun damage, keep our brains healthy and ease the pain of arthritis.
In addition to seafood’s omega-3 fat, responsible for most of these benefits, fish is a complete package with filling protein and vitamin D, zinc, magnesium and iron…
Some of the best, most economical, seafood choices actually are in the freezer and canned-foods sections. Frozen fillets and shellfish are easy on the wallet, convenient and often “fresher” than what’s at the counter because they are frozen and packaged right after being caught.
On the shelf there’s canned tuna as well as canned salmon and sardines. These fish have all the healthy properties of their fresh counterparts at a fraction of the price…
Fish cooks quickly and is delicious simply seasoned so you don’t need a lot of time or expertise to cook it well. Bake, broil, grill, poach, steam or saute it; just avoid frying. When grilling, choose steak-like fillets that hold together when turned, such as salmon, tuna and halibut. Otherwise use a grilling basket. Broiling works well for thin fillets like flounder, sole and tilapia. Baking at 400 degrees works for just about all types of fish.
You know when fish is done when it becomes opaque and easily flakes with a fork. A handy rule of thumb is to cook it for 10 minutes per inch thickness. There are many ways to season it, but seafood is delightful with just a little salt, pepper and lemon juice. Preparing fish can be basically effortless.
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Where's the Beef: U.S. beef consumption in decline

(Reuters) For the past decade, cattle ranchers and meat packers watched with despair as America's beef consumption steadily declined, ceding ground to leaner meats as well as vegetarian trends among the health-conscious.
Most recently, high unemployment in the world's wealthiest nation had cash-strapped Americans avoiding restaurants where beef is a common entree and had them switching to lower cost non-meat dishes at home…
The beef industry is coping with these changes by developing new cuts that will satisfy appetites for steaks but at a lower cost.
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What to Look For on an Olive Oil Label

(Dr John La Puma) Both NPR and the NYT have had features showcasing why most olive oil sold in the U.S. is not what it claims to be.
There’s a long unsavory history of diluting olive oil (and its healthfulness) with sunflower, corn and not oils. My Brooklyn grandfather used to tell me brewing not bath tub gin, but bathtub oil!
So here is a quick primer on what to look for to make sure you get the real thing: I also posted this on the NPR site, and it has more “likes” than anything else, except the post complaining that brands were omitted!
Look for
a.    extra virgin olive oil in dark green glass or in packaging that shields it from light: not clear plastic. ever.
b.    the words “cold pressed”
c.    a harvesting date on the bottle
d.    for CA oils (my preference, as the CA standards are stricter than international), look for the California Olive Oil Council Seal (COOC): it means
·         Less than .5% free oleic acid
·         No chemicals or excessive heat during a mechanical extraction
·         Blind tasting showing flavor characteristics and no taste defects
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Starch Intake May Influence Risk for Breast Cancer Recurrence, Study Suggests

(Science Daily)  Researchers have linked increased starch intake to a greater risk for breast cancer recurrence…
"The results show that it's not just overall carbohydrates, but particularly starch," said Jennifer A. Emond, M.S., a public health doctoral student... "Women who increased their starch intake over one year were at a much likelier risk for recurring."
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Additive claims to be the boss of sugar, benefiting diabetics

(Chicago Tribune) [W]hat if there was a natural product that effectively reduced blood sugar and calories and could be added to the food supply? That's the premise behind Emulin, a patented formulation of compounds found in fruits, like grapefruit and berries…
Though small independent studies have been conducted, there is no published research on the efficacy or safety of Emulin…
It's not a sugar-replacer, like Splenda. Instead, it's a "carbohydrate manager, so it prevents absorption of sugar to the small intestine and diverts the sugar that is in the blood to the muscles instead of the fat tissue," [Joseph Ahrens, chief executive officer and director of scientific affairs for ATM Metabolics, which created the product] said…
Still, there's a red flag: A lack of any published peer-reviewed research. "It's pretty important to do these studies in humans under normal eating circumstances," said [Susan Percival, a professor of food science and human nutrition], who called Emulin a "very interesting, albeit secretive product."
Experts also say that it's a bad idea to eat sugary foods in general, even if the body is absorbing less sugar. High-sugar foods "generally don't provide much nutrition, vitamins, minerals, protein or fiber," said Susan Weiner, a New York City-based registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. Selecting vegetables, whole grains and fruits as carb choices will allow people with diabetes to better manage their blood sugar levels, she said.
"Spreading carbs throughout the day, eating adequate lean protein, healthy fats, fiber and monitoring blood sugar levels will help control diabetes — and obesity — more than consuming a 'diabetes-friendly' sugar product with unknown long-term side effects," Weiner said. "It will never be a substitute for a nutritious diet and a lot of physical activity in the management of diabetes."
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Viagra Against Heart Failure

(Science Daily)  How sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, can alleviate heart problems is reported by Bochum's researchers in cooperation with colleagues from the Mayo Clinic… They studied dogs with diastolic heart failure, a condition in which the heart chamber does not sufficiently fill with blood. The scientists showed that sildenafil makes stiffened cardiac walls more elastic again. The drug activates an enzyme that causes the giant protein titin in the myocardial cells to relax.
"We have developed a therapy in an animal model that, for the first time, also raises hopes for the successful treatment of patients" says Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Linke.
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Deadly shoulder massager relaxes, strangles

(MSNBC.com) If you think you’ve found the perfect gift for Grandma, and it happens to be a ShoulderFlex massager, buy her something else quick. It turns out to be a device that can lull users into a relaxed state -- and then strangle them.
The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert on Wednesday warning that hair and necklaces can get caught in the massager and cause strangulation. One person has died and another nearly did, according to the FDA.
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Broken arms among boomers likely to rise: study

(Reuters) Broken arms send several hundred thousand U.S. residents to emergency rooms each year, and the number may rise by nearly a third by 2030, when the youngest baby boomers will turn 65, according to a U.S. study.
Arm injuries spike among women after 40 and men after 60, likely because of a combination of falls and osteoporosis, and researchers writing in Arthritis Care & Research called for an increase in fracture prevention programs…
"I think (the findings are) consistent with a lot of other works in the past few years," said Leon Benson, spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons and professor of clinical orthopedic surgery at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine.
"An enormous amount of prevention can be done on a consumer level with a number of things that can be done in the homes," he added, noting that this can include the placement of rugs, clutter on the stairs, walking in the dark and pets.
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New Sensor to Detect Lung Cancer from Exhaled Breath

(Science Daily) Tecnalia, through the Interreg project Medisen, is contributing to develop biosensors capable of detecting the presence of tumour markers of lung cancer in exhaled breath. This is possible because of the changes produced within the organism of an ill person, changes reflected in the exhaled breath of the patient and which enable determining the presence of this type of marker during the initial stages of the disease…
[T]he biosensors will facilitate the diagnosis of certain diseases; mainly those located in the lungs, at the initial stages of the illness, which could increase considerably the chances of survival.
Community: So we won’t need the cancer sniffing dogs any more?
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Poised to Donate Organs, 21-Year-Old Emerges From Coma

(ABC News) Sam Schmid, an Arizona college student believed to be brain dead and poised to be an organ donor, miraculously recovered just hours before doctors were considering taking him off life support.
Schmid, a junior and business major at the University of Arizona, was critically wounded in an Oct. 19 five-car accident in Tucson.
The 21-year-old's brain injuries were so severe that the local hospital could not treat him. He was airlifted to the Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Medical Center in Phoenix, where specialists performed surgery for a life-threatening aneurysm.
As hospital officials began palliative care and broached the subject of organ donation with his family, Schmid began to respond, holding up two fingers on command. Today, he is walking with the aid of a walker, and his speech, although slow, has improved.
Doctors say he will likely have a complete recovery.
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EPA to Crack Down on Dirty Power Plants

(AP) Clean up or shut down.
That's the decision facing hundreds of the nation's oldest and dirtiest power plants under an Environmental Protection Agency rule announced Wednesday that will force plants to control mercury and other toxic pollutants for the first time.
The long overdue national standards rein in the largest remaining source of uncontrolled toxic pollution in the U.S. — the emissions from the nation's coal- and oil-fired power plants, which have been allowed to run for decades without addressing their full environmental and public health costs.
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Prevent a holiday heart attack

(UPI) Heart attacks can spike during the holidays but a U.S. cardiologist says there are ways to reduce the risk of having a holiday heart problem…
The risk of having a heart attack during the holidays can be reduced by sticking to a few common-sense steps, [cardiologist Brandon] Stacey said…
-- Don't be a glutton. Avoid overindulging in food or alcohol.
-- Drinking too much can lead to abnormal heart rhythm, also known as atrial fibrillation, and can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and even heart failure.
-- Stay warm. Cold temperatures can increase blood clotting and cause blood vessels to constrict.
-- Get your flu shot. Illnesses will put extra stress on the heart.
-- Take it easy. Excessive physical activity and emotional stress can have a negative impact on the heart.
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Snow shoveling really does raise heart attack risk

(USA Today) Snow shoveling does increase the risk of heart attack, a new study confirms…
[Researchers] reviewed the records of 500 patients who went to Kingston General Hospital with heart problems over two winter seasons. Of those patients, 35 (7 percent) started experiencing heart symptoms while shoveling snow…
The researchers also identified three main factors that put people at high risk for heart problems while shoveling snow: being male (31 patients); having a family history of premature coronary artery disease (20 patients); and smoking (16 patients).
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How to bring holiday to the hospitalized

(UPI) It may not be much of a holiday for those who are hospitalized, but a U.S. psychologist says friends and family can make a difference for the patient.
"Being in the hospital can be distressing for anybody," Joshua Klapow, a clinical psychologist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, said in a statement. "The holidays are about social interactions, the sharing of emotions and connecting as humans, and there is nothing written that says this cannot occur in a hospital setting. Bring the holidays to the hospital."…
"First and foremost, visit and spend time with your loved one," DeMoss said. "The simple presence of familiar faces is sometimes all the comfort a patient needs while in the hospital."
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How to Survive the Holiday Eating Season

(HealthDay News) Health experts say you can still enjoy the holidays -- and the special food offerings that come with them -- without overeating and gaining weight…
For starters, people interested in maintaining their weight during the holidays should keep eating on a regular schedule, [dietitians Karen Ansel and Jessica Crandall] said. Research has shown that people who skip meals -- particularly breakfast -- end up eating more throughout the day…
Other holiday eating tips, suggested by Crandall and Ansel, include:
·         Eat lots of vegetables, and eat them first before moving on to the other items on your plate.
·         Recognize that many holiday extras, like cheese or cranberry sauce, come loaded with calories. "If those aren't your favorite foods, don't put them on your plate," Crandall said.
·         If your favorite food has a lot of calories, be sure to minimize your portion. "Two bites cure the craving," Crandall said. "After that, you're just really feeding your old habits. It's not really giving you any nutrition, and you're not curing that craving anymore."
·         Keep your portions small. Remember that a portion of meat should be the size of a cellphone or a deck of cards, Crandall said. A serving of carbohydrates like mashed potatoes or bread should be about the size of your fist.
·         After a big holiday meal, don't sink into a recliner or couch. Go for a walk outdoors or participate in some other activity that helps burn off some of the calories you've just eaten.
One final tip: Be ready to turn down offers of food, particularly from loved ones who tend to guilt you into eating more.
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Expert: Some foods can reduce stress

(UPI) It's that frazzled time of year, but a U.S. food expert says one way to reduce holiday stress and anxiety is to choose foods with natural calming effects.
Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of the Web site supermarketguru.com, said certain combinations of foods can leave a person feeling blissful, as well as satisfied and nourished.
To naturally promote relaxation via food and drink Lempert recommends:
-- To eat turkey, which is rich in the essential amino tryptophan; and while it can make people sleepy, it also aids in the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which calms and helps regulate feelings. Production of serotonin can elevate your mood and ward off depression. Serotonin also helps promote adequate sleep.
-- Combining tryptophan-containing foods with complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, because they increase absorption and aids in the production of serotonin.
-- Eating other foods notable for their levels of tryptophan, including shrimp, spinach, chicken, tuna, soybeans, milk, salmon and eggs. Vegetables such as asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflower are also great sources.
-- Drinking chamomile tea, known to promote general relaxation, relieve stress and aid sleep.
-- Eating other foods high in omega-3 fatty acids, including walnuts, salmon, sardines, flax seed and omega-3 fortified eggs.
-- Eating zinc-rich foods such as spinach, lamb and grass-fed beef can have calming effects because they help stabilize metabolic rate, balance blood sugar and aid in the optimal function of the immune system.
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Chicken Cacciatore
This classic dish features chicken pieces that are simmered in a mixture of tomatoes, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and red wine.
Beef & Bean Chile Verde
Chile Verde, usually a slow-cooked stew of pork, jalapeƱos and tomatillos, becomes an easy weeknight meal with quick-cooking ground beef and store-bought green salsa. Make it a Meal: Serve with fresh cilantro, red onion and Monterey Jack. Add your favorite hot sauce.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Black Bean Soup
Black beans, also known as "turtle beans," are an especially tasty variety, and make a lovely soup. As with most dried beans, they are inexpensive while offering a bounty of fiber, protein, folic acid, potassium and magnesium. Do not salt dried beans while they are cooking as the salt slows down the softening process. And a word about the sherry commonly added to this soup: forget "cooking" wines or sherries. They contain lots of added salt and very little in the way of flavor. Do your palate and your body a favor and use a drinkable sherry in this recipe.
Food as Medicine
A recent study … found that, of all beans and legumes, black beans are the most antioxidant-rich (they contain the same anthocyanins found in dark red fruits such as grapes and cranberries). The antioxidants in black beans prevent cholesterol from being oxidized by free radicals in the bloodstream, a process that may, left unchecked, lead to plaque formation on blood vessel walls and, ultimately, atherosclerosis.
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Black foods: Classy and extra nutritious

(UPI) Chefs prepare food that is black in color because the shade is chic and a bit dramatic, but the dishes are also a boost to health, a U.S. food expert says.
Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of the Web site supermarketguru.com, said the dark color is the result of naturally occurring flavonoid pigments called anthocyanins -- which protect the plant against oxidation, pests and from damaging radiation from the sun.
In the body, anthocyanins act as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, protecting against the development of chronic diseases, such as Alzheimer's, diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, as well as contributing to overall good health.
Read more, including information on black rice, black lentils, black beans, blackberries, and black tea.
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Improve Colon Health with This Oil

(RealAge.com) Which is better for your colon -- corn oil or canola oil? Recent research suggests that canola may have the edge.
In an animal study, including canola oil in the diet seemed to do a better job of suppressing the growth of colon tumors, compared with when corn oil was included in the diet.
Canola oil is high in omega-3 fatty acids, while corn oil is richer in omega-6s. And it turns out that this omega difference may really matter when it comes to stifling tumor growth.
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Possible Cure for Leukemia Found in Fish Oil

(Science Daily) A compound produced from fish oil that appears to target leukemia stem cells could lead to a cure for the disease, according to Penn State researchers…
"Research in the past on fatty acids has shown the health benefits of fatty acids on cardiovascular system and brain development, particularly in infants, but we have shown that some metabolites of Omega-3 have the ability to selectively kill the leukemia-causing stem cells in mice," said [associate professor Sandeep] Prabhu. "The important thing is that the mice were completely cured of leukemia with no relapse."
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Breakthrough of the year? AIDS discovery could put virus on the run

(Art Caplan, Ph.D., director for the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania) A clinical trial involving AIDS this year is rightly being called by Science magazine the most important scientific breakthrough of the year.
When the study on the benefits of antiretroviral therapy ran last August in the New England Journal of Medicine, it did not really get the attention it deserved, possibly because news headlines are too often drawn to human failure, evil and the miserable.  However, researchers convincingly showed that people who take antiretrovirals  -- medicine that weakens the HIV virus -- not only benefit from treatment but are far less likely to sexually infect their non-HIV positive wife or partner. 
How much less? Try 95 percent!...
So, at last, after taking a terrible toll on us for decades, we now know how to get the HIV virus on the run. Get anti-retroviral medications to all 7.6 million people who need them, continue aggressive efforts to promote the use of condoms and the avoidance of risky sexual and injection drug behavior, give out clean needles to addicts and we can have our revenge on the virus that causes AIDS.
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Having diabetes ups hepatitis B risk

(UPI) People with diabetes are at increased risk of hepatitis B infection, so infection control during glucose monitoring is essential, U.S. health officials say.
A report published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report said exposure to small -- or even invisible -- amounts of blood from an infected person who had used a shared medical or glucose-monitoring device can cause infection…
For this reason, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which advises the CDC, recommended hepatitis B vaccination for all unvaccinated adults with diabetes through age 59, and hepatitis B vaccination for older, unvaccinated adults with diabetes at the discretion of their physician.
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Metal hip lubricant reduces wear and tear: study

(Reuters) A substance that forms in patients with all-metal artificial hips turns out to contain the common lubricant graphite, a discovery that could help in designing longer lasting implants, researchers said.
Such "metal-on-metal" hips were developed to be more durable than traditional implants that combined metal and polyethylene for its ball-in-socket structure.
But a recent study sponsored by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showed that patients who received all-metal hips were more likely to need repeat surgery than those who got implants made of other materials…
In a new study, U.S. and German scientists have found graphitic carbon in a lubricating layer that forms on the surfaces of the ball and socket in implanted metallic hips as a result of friction when the two surfaces slide together. Previous research had identified the existence of the layer, but it was assumed to be made of proteins…
Their findings could help scientists design future metal hips that are less vulnerable to wear and corrosion, Marks said in an interview. For example, device makers could try to enhance the formation of the graphite or develop a way to make it adhere better to the metal, he said.
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Breast implants: France recommends removal

(BBC News) The French authorities have recommended that 30,000 women have their faulty breast implants removed as a precautionary measure.
The government, which says there is no evidence of a cancer link, will cover the cost.
The implants by French firm Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) were banned last year after they were found to contain a non-medical grade silicone filler.
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Journal Retracts Faulty Chronic Fatigue Study

(HealthDay News) Laying rest to a long-simmering controversy, editors at the journalScience have retracted a paper that pinpointed a specific virus as the likely cause of chronic fatigue syndrome.
The 2009 report suggested that xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) was the probable culprit behind chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), which causes crippling fatigue, aching joints, headaches and other symptoms in about 1 percent of the world's population.
Follow-up findings failed to confirm the report, leading to Thursday's unusual action.
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Motrin pain relief recall

(Daily Mail) Drugs company Johnsons & Johnson has recalled 12million bottles of it's [sic] Motrin pain reliever medicine from stores across the U.S.
The withdrawal of the drug, for at least the sixth time in two years, is the latest in a string of more than two dozen product withdrawals by the healthcare giant in recent years.
The recall, by the healthcare giant's McNeil subsidiary, is not prompted by safety fears, but rather a concern that 'there may be a delay in experiencing relief'.
A statement from the company explained: 'McNeil is recalling these products because testing of product samples showed that some caplets may not dissolve as quickly as intended when nearing their expiration date.
'Out of an abundance of caution, we are recalling all the listed products since there is a chance they could experience a similar problem as they approach expiration.'
The varieties recalled include: Motrin IB 24 count coated caplets, Motrin IB 24 count coated caplets and Motrin IB 24+6 count coated caplets.
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Graphic images found as best way to deter smoking

(Greenville News) An image of someone dying of lung cancer does more to curtail smoking than a written warning and should be allowed on cigarette packages in the interest of public health, a University of South Carolina researcher says.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this year announced graphic new health warnings on cigarette packages and ads beginning next September. They depict diseased lungs, oral and throat cancer, and even a corpse along with warnings, such as “More than 1,200 people a day are killed by cigarettes in the United States alone.”
But in November, a judge suspended those warnings until resolution of a lawsuit brought by the tobacco industry that argues the new warnings are an infringement of their free speech rights.
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Antidepressant, talk therapy fail to beat placebo

(Reuters Health) Neither antidepressants nor "talk therapy" were able to outperform inactive placebo pills in a new clinical trial on depression treatment -- though there were hints that the effects varied based on people's sex and race, researchers report.
The findings, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, add to evidence that people receiving "real" depression treatment in studies -- from antidepressants to St. John's wort -- often do no better than people given a placebo.
A recent review found that a minority of antidepressant users even fared worse than placebo users.
Community: But there are ways to prevent or reduce depression. And we need to know a lot more about the placebo effect, considering how powerful it is.
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Decision sharing tied to lower cost for kids' care

(Reuters Health) Parents who report having an increased involvement in making decisions about their children's medical treatment are more likely to see lower risks of their kids going to the emergency room or being hospitalized, according to a new study.
The researchers, who looked only at families with children who have long-term health conditions, also found that those who joined doctors in making medical decisions had lower costs for their kids' medical care.
"This suggests that if you involve people in decision-making, they may be making choices that lead to decreasing the financial burden on them," said the study's lead author, Dr. Alexander Fiks, a professor at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
Community: I’m thinking that we all need to be more involved in decisions about our medical care.
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Poor better than wealthy at detecting suffering

(UPI) Ebenezer Scrooge's lack of compassion in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is a common trait among those in the upper classes, U.S. researchers say.
Lead author Jennifer Stellar, a social psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, found people in the lower socioeconomic classes are more physiologically attuned to suffering, and quicker to express compassion, than the more affluent…
"It's not that the upper classes are coldhearted," Stellar said in a statement. "They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven't had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives."
Community: Here's a sampling of their own words. Too many of the rich think they got there entirely by their own efforts, when connections and luck very likely played a large part in their success. As Ann Richards said about George H.W. Bush, he was born on third base and thought he hit a triple.

Those who are wealthy and who realize how much luck may have helped them are the ones most likely to believe in giving back.
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Going through some hard times may make people tougher

(Los Angeles Times) During the holidays people can experience an enormous amount of stress, even more so these days with a bad economy thrown in. But a study finds that having some adverse experiences in the past may make you mentally tougher.
A meta-analysis of studies that looked at how traumatic events affect mental health and well-being found a pattern: The number of adverse experiences may determine whether someone becomes more resilient and better able to handle what life throws at him or her. Those on opposite ends of the spectrum -- people who had no or few hardships or many adversities -- generally had worse coping skills than those who had some bad times, such as a serious illness or injury to themselves or a loved one, a death in the family or a divorce…
Why do those with low to moderate levels of hardships have more resilience to handle major or minor difficulties? Study author Mark Seery of the University at Buffalo in New York suggests there could be a number of factors at play, including having a sense of mastering past hurdles, feeling in control, building social support networks and stimulating cell growth in areas of the brain that relate to coping.
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