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

States Crack Down on Drunk Drivers This Holiday Season

(HealthDay News) State highway safety offices are setting up sobriety checkpoints and beefing up road patrols through Monday, Jan. 2, in an effort to target drunk driving.
Member agencies of the Governors Highway Safety Association are teaming up with local police forces to identify more drivers under the influence of alcohol.
"Any person who considers drinking and driving should know that police are out in full force watching for them. The time for warnings has long passed. If you drive drunk this holiday season, there will be consequences," said GHSA Executive Director Barbara Harsha in an association news release.
Drunk drivers claimed 415 lives in the second half of December 2010 alone, according to the release. New Year's Day is among the five deadliest days on U.S. roads, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
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ERs fill with intoxicated at year's end

(UPI) At the end of the year, U.S. hospital emergency rooms fill due to binge alcohol consumption of adults of all ages, a San Francisco physician says…
Typically these patients are so intoxicated that they aren't able to walk or talk and they can lapse into unconsciousness, have trouble breathing and sometimes even die, [Dr. Steven] Polevoi said. Doctors and nurses must monitor them taking time away from non-preventable emergencies.
"There's a lot of morbidity associated with binge drinking and the holidays are an excuse for people to drink too much," Polevoi said in a statement.
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Walking home drunk is no solution

(UPI) Drinking and driving is a dangerous combination, but a U.S. trauma surgeon says walking after drinking isn't any safer.
"Alcohol impairs your physical ability, period," trauma surgeon Dr. Thomas Esposito at Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., said in a statement. "Every movement ranging from driving a car to simply walking to the bathroom is compromised. Alcohol impairs your judgment, reflexes and coordination. Alcohol is nothing more than a socially acceptable, over-the-counter stimulant/depressant and, especially during the holidays, alcohol is frequently abused."…
Injuries can occur whether walking drunk outside or inside.
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Search for hangover remedy remains elusive

(Columbus Dispatch) The first problem that New Year’s Eve partyers might experience in 2012 has probably been around since alcohol was invented.
To cure a hangover, the ancient Greeks believed in cabbage; and the Romans, a snack of fried canaries…
According to the market-research group Mintel, the past decade has seen the launch of 60 hangover-related products in the United States: digestive and detoxifying treatments, pain relievers, vitamins and dietary supplements…
A 2005 article in the British Medical Journal, which reviewed hangover research, concluded that “No compelling evidence exists to suggest that any conventional or complementary intervention is effective for preventing or treating alcohol hangover.”…
Dr. Sam Zakhari calls hangover products “voodoo treatment” sold by companies looking to profit from the suffering of others…
But if you truly drank too much, even a hydrating drink such as Hoist doesn’t relieve a hangover, product spokeswoman Amber Milano said.
“It’ll definitely help you feel better, but it’s not a cure-all,” she said. “I don’t think anything out there is — except not drinking in the first place.”
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Avoiding a hangover

(UPI) Dr. Aaron Michelfelder of the Loyola University Health System says there are several things people can do to avoid the misery of a New Year's hangover.
Before a party, plan to drink moderately -- a maximum of five drinks for men and three drinks for women during a minimum 3-hour period -- and to prevent inflammation, take an anti-inflammatory drug such as ibuprofen or Aleve, Michelfelder says.
During the party, Michelfelder advises, eat first and then drink -- not the other way around -- because food slows the absorption of alcohol. Drink slowly, drink a glass of water after each alcoholic drink to prevent dehydration and take a B vitamin supplement.
After the party Michelfelder reminds everyone to not drink and drive and to get as much sleep as possible.
"The morning after: Take another B vitamin, drink lots of water and exercise if you can. During vigorous exercise, blood circulates three times as fast as it does when you are sitting on the couch and the faster you circulate blood through your liver and kidneys, the faster your body will remove the toxins," Michelfelder said. "However, what won't work is more alcohol or coffee."
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Last-Minute Appetizers
Try these healthy, 5-ingredient appetizer recipes for easy additions to your New Year's Eve menu.
Brunch Recipes Under 300 Calories
Formal sit-down or casual buffet, we've got the perfect brunch recipes for any gathering.
Well, New York Times:
New Year's Recipes to Bring Good Fortune
Martha Rose Shulman, the Recipes for Health columnist, is a firm believer in eating foods that symbolize good luck and expanding fortune at the start of the new year…
Soba With Black-Eyed Peas and Spinach: This comforting dish contains good luck charms from all over the globe: soba (buckwheat noodles) is traditional in Japan, black-eyed peas in the American South, and spinach or other greens pretty much everywhere.
Light Lentil Soup With Smoked Trout: This is inspired by a traditional French combination of lentils and fresh salmon.
Albacore Roasted in a Bed of Lettuce: Inspired by a traditional Provençal tuna dish, this version has a lot going for it as a New Year’s dish, what with all the green leaves and the fish – lots of prosperity.
Red Lentil Kofta With Spinach: These bite-size bulgur and lentil balls can be part of a mezze spread — an assortment of appetizers — or they can be served as a side dish.
Baked Giant Limas With Winter Squash and Sage: This dish is luxuriously creamy (though there’s no cream in it) and comforting.
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Downturn influences meal-planning trends

(UPI) The Great Recession changed many things about U.S. family life, including how families spend their time, what they buy and what they eat, a food expert says…
Economic pressures are resulting in men and women choosing to eat at home to save money, which occurs in any recession, but shoppers are continuing to buy local. They want to know more about how their food is grown and who grows it -- many farmers are staying in touch with their customers via twitter and Facebook pages, [a recent] survey found.
Also, there will be more interest in extreme home cooking -- with families challenging themselves to eat more home-cooked meals, with a goal of cooking the most portions for the least amount of money.
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MP3 Players May Be Major Source of Hearing Loss

(HealthDay News) A new study suggests that about 90 percent of New York City residents may be at risk of hearing loss due to noise exposure, with MP3 players appearing to be a major culprit.
The research has major limitations: It doesn't directly measure what Big Apple residents hear during their daily lives or physically track their activities. Even so, the study's lead author said the findings are a sign that risks to hearing lurk in the urban environment.
"We need to step up our efforts to encourage people to protect their hearing," said Richard Neitzel, an assistant professor of risk science… "Maybe we need to put a little more money into making transit quieter and do a better job educating people that listening to music, if it's loud enough, can hurt you."
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Estrogen helps nighttime hot flashes, not sleep

(Reuters Health) Women who wake up at least three times during the night from bothersome hot flashes wake up less when they take estrogen, but the quality of their sleep remains the same, according to a new study.
"There may be a benefit for treating with estrogen, but in no way does it show that you can use estrogens as a general sleep aid," said lead author Dr. Kathleen Reape, the vice president for medical affairs and women's health at Watson Pharmaceuticals.
Estrogen is already known to reduce hot flashes in women going through menopause, Reape told Reuters Health…
Reape said it's important that women discuss the benefits and risks associated with estrogen therapy to treat their hot flashes.
Studies have found that certain kinds of hormone therapy might increase the risk of stroke and other health problems.
Estrogen can also carry side effects, such as weight gain, breast tenderness and an upset stomach.
Community: Estrogen replacement therapy has been linked to breast cancer, but short-term use may not be to risky.
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Special bike helps lung disease patients get around

(Reuters Health) A modernized version of the world's first bicycle could help some people with emphysema get around more easily, a small pilot study suggests.
The study … looked at the effects of a walking aid dubbed the "modern draisine." The draisine, which was invented in 1817, was a pedal-free prototype for today's bicycle.
Some manufacturers are now making a draisine-like device as a walking aid for people with mobility problems: They sit on the seat and hold the handlebars while using their feet on the ground to propel themselves along.
There are already walking aids for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) -- a group of lung diseases that includes emphysema and chronic bronchitis.
One of those is the "rollator" -- a four-wheeled frame with handles that people push in front of them as they walk. The frame also has a basket so COPD patients can carry their portable oxygen tanks.
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The High Cost of Failing Artificial Hips

(New York Times) The most widespread medical implant failure in decades — involving thousands of all-metal artificial hips that need to be replaced prematurely — has entered the money phase.
Medical and legal experts estimate the hip failures may cost taxpayers, insurers, employers and others billions of dollars in coming years, contributing to the soaring cost of health care. The financial fallout is expected to be unusually large and complex because the episode involves a class of products, not a single device or just one company…
The so-called metal-on-metal hips..., ones in which a device’s ball and joint are made of metal, are failing at high rates within a few years instead of lasting 15 years or more, as artificial joints normally do. The wear of metal parts against each other is generating debris that is damaging tissue and, in some cases, crippling patients.
The incidents have set off a financial scramble. Recently, lawsuits and complaints against makers of all-metal replacement hips passed the 5,000 mark. Insurers are alerting patients that they plan to recover their expenses from any settlement money that patients receive. Medicare is also expected to try to recover its costs.
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New Synthetic Molecules Treat Autoimmune Disease in Mice

(Science Daily) A team of Weizmann Institute scientists has turned the tables on an autoimmune disease. In such diseases, including Crohn's and rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body's tissues. But the scientists managed to trick the immune systems of mice into targeting one of the body's players in autoimmune processes, an enzyme known as MMP9…
[W]hen some members of the [matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) enzyme] family, especially MMP9, get out of control, they can aid and abet autoimmune disease and cancer metastasis. Blocking these proteins might lead to effective treatments for a number of diseases…
[The researchers] decided that, rather than attempting to design a synthetic molecule to directly attack MMPs, they would try coaxing the immune system into targeting MMP-9 through immunization. Just as immunization with a killed virus induces the immune system to create antibodies that then attack live viruses, an MMP immunization would trick the body into creating antibodies that block the enzyme at its active site…
[T]hey created an artificial version of the metal zinc-histidine complex at the heart of the MMP9 active site. They then injected these small, synthetic molecules into mice and afterward checked the mice's blood for signs of immune activity against the MMPs…
As they hoped, when they had induced an inflammatory condition that mimics Crohn's disease in mice, the symptoms were prevented when mice were treated
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FDA approves Pfizer's Prevnar pneumonia vaccine for adults

(Reuters) U.S. health regulators approved the expansion of Pfizer Inc's blockbuster Prevnar vaccine for use in adults 50 and older to fight pneumonia, meningitis and other diseases cause by pneumococcus bacteria.
Prevnar 13 is designed to fight 13 forms of a bacterium called streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus. Pneumonia caused by the pneumococcal organism is one of the biggest causes of death in older people and its incidence begins to increase after age 50.
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Walgreen Begins to Offer a Special Prescription Plan

(New York Times) Walgreen is introducing a national plan it hopes will minimize customer disruption from its contract battle over payments with its pharmacy benefits manager, Express Scripts.
For customers who want to remain, Walgreen’s plan includes a special discount in January to customers for its prescriptions savings club. Though those enrolled in drug plans managed by Express Scripts will have better coverage and pay less by using another pharmacy, Gregory D. Wasson, Walgreen’s chief executive, said the discounts Walgreen would offer through its prescription savings club would be competitive on generic drugs and most therapeutic categories.
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Blue Shield to pay $2 million over dropping of policyholders

(Los Angeles Times) More than a year after the healthcare reform law sought to prevent sick patients from losing medical coverage, insurers are still paying for their alleged abuses.
Blue Shield has agreed to pay $2 million to resolve accusations that the company improperly dropped policyholders after they got sick and needed expensive treatment.
The settlement, announced Wednesday by Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich, ends an investigation into more than 1,000 so-called rescissions by Blue Shield, a San Francisco-based not-for-profit company.
Blue Shield spokesman Steve Shivinsky said the firm settled to avoid litigation.
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Connecticut drops insurers from Medicaid

(USA Today) In the past decade, most states have turned Medicaid over to private insurance plans, hoping they could control costs and improve care. Nearly half of the 60 million people in the government program for the poor are in managed-care plans run by insurance giants such as UnitedHealthcare and Aetna.
Connecticut, the "insurance capital of the world," is bucking the trend.
Beginning Sunday, Connecticut will jettison its private health plans from Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program. Instead of paying the companies a set monthly fee to cover the health costs of more than 400,000 children and parents, the state will assume financial responsibility.
State officials say the companies, including Hartford-based Aetna, did not fulfill their promise of lower costs and better care.
Community: Insurance companies have no incentive to keep medical costs down. Their only concern is making sure they take in a lot more in premiums than they pay out in claims.
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Bring Good Luck with New Year's Food Traditions

(MyRecipes.com) Ring in the New Year with one of these classic dishes from Japan, Spain, Germany, Brazil, and China.
Soba Noodle Salad with Vegetables and Tofu
Japanese tradition calls for eating soba noodles on New Year's Eve to ensure a long life. In this salad, hot soba noodles team up with crunchy cabbage, bean sprouts, shredded carrot, and tofu for a nutritious twist on the traditional bowl of noodles. A homemade dressing featuring classic Asian flavors like soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and ginger adds great flavor to this lucky dish.
Sautéed Grape Napoleons with Port Reduction
In Spain, it's customary to eat twelve grapes at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. This recipe takes this practice to new heights by layering sautéed grapes on top of crisp, baked phyllo dough and drizzling with a port sauce reduction. Top everything off with another phyllo stack, chopped walnuts, and a dusting of powdered sugar.
Pork Loin Braised with Cabbage
For Germans, juicy pork is the lucky food of choice. This dish features fresh herbs, Canadian bacon, cabbage (a must-have on any German table), onion, carrots, and of course–a bottle of dark lager.
Fragrant Red Lentils with Rice
Brazilians associate red lentils with wealth, so it's common to feast on these satisfying seeds at New Year's celebrations in Brazil. An aromatic blend of spices and flavors, from fresh ginger to garam marsala, makes this an extraordinary side dish for any exotic meal and a unique addition to your New Year's table.
Chinese Potstickers
In China, these fried dumplings symbolize wealth since they resemble coins. Stuff gyoza skins with a pork and vegetable mixture, fry in canola oil, and dip in a homemade sauce featuring fresh ginger, green onions, soy sauce, vinegar, cooking wine, chile puree, and dark sesame oil.
Community: Snopes has a list of New Year’s superstitions. The Irish tradition is to eat cabbage (looks like money) on New Year’s Day, and the southern U.S. tradition is black eyed peas. We always eat both, but I don’t know that it has made us any luckier. Then again, who knows how much bad luck we may have avoided!
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Three Foods That May Fend Off Diabetes

(RealAge) These three simple diet tweaks may help you dodge diabetes:…
The Greens Scene
In a study, eating just one serving per day decreased diabetes risk by almost 10 percent…
Keeping your overall fat intake to under 30 percent of your total daily calories will do your pancreas big favors, according to research…
Nuts About Seeds
In a study, middle-aged and older adults who consumed the most alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) -- a beneficial fat found in walnuts and flaxseeds -- lowered their risk of developing diabetes by 20 percent…
Diabetes is a leading killer -- and more than 25 million people in the United States have it. Isn't it great to know that you could avoid being a statistic just by eating the right foods?
Community: And there are other things we can do to prevent or alleviate diabetes.
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Red meat lovers have more kidney cancer

(Reuters Health) People who eat lots of red meat may have a higher risk of some types of kidney cancer, suggests a large U.S. study.
Researchers found that middle-aged adults who ate the most red meat were 19 percent more likely to be diagnosed with kidney cancer than those who ate the least. A higher intake of chemicals found in grilled or barbecued meat was also linked to increased risk of the disease, they reported…
U.S. guidelines call for limiting high-fat foods including processed meat, and instead eating more lean meat and poultry, seafood and nuts.
Eating red meat in large amounts -- even if it doesn't necessarily lead to kidney cancer -- increases the risk of a host of health problems, such as plaque buildup in the arteries, [said epidemiologist Dr. Mohammed El-Faramawi].
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Reduce cancer risk by walking and by eating more vegetables

(UPI) Cancer experts at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston suggest ringing in the New Year by adopting a new health habit -- the easiest of which is walking.
Dr. Jeffrey Meyerhardt, a Dana-Farber gastrointestinal cancer specialist, says staying fit and healthy can be as simple as lacing up a pair of sneakers and going for a walk. Several studies show moderate to intensive aerobic exercise can reduce the risk of recurrence of several cancers, including colon and breast…
Stephanie Meyers, a nutritionist at Dana-Farber, suggests walking past the cookie section of the grocery store and proceeding to the produce section.
"Taking that little detour can provide many health benefits. A diet low in processed sugars, red meat and calories, but high in fruits and vegetables and loaded with antioxidants is one of the simplest ways to help maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of certain cancer," Meyers says.
The overall key is to look for colorful produce like pomegranates, tomatoes, eggplant, grapes, cherries and turnips, because the brighter and richer the pigment, the higher the level of nutrients, Meyers said.
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Budget-Friendly New Year's Eve Blowout
Ring in the New Year in style without spending a fortune. With these frugal appetizers, easy main course selections, and show-stopping desserts, you can mix and match the dishes for a buffet or seated dinner.
Moroccan Chicken with Fruit and Olive Topping
Skinless, boneless chicken breasts are a staple for quick and easy dinners. Here, they're browned in the skillet and topped with a mixture of dried fruits and olives. A Moroccan-style dish like this one is even better when served over a bed of couscous. To fully carry out the Moroccan theme, end the meal with a cup of mint tea.
Spinach & Cheese Stuffed Shells
Our stuffed shells are filled with spinach, sautéed onions and part-skim ricotta and topped with prepared marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese. The shells hold and reheat well, which makes them great for entertaining.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Barley and Vegetable Soup
Barley has been cultivated since the Stone Age and was fermented to make beer soon after. Folk medicine prescribed the use of barley water as a tonic during convalescence. "Pearl" barley is the name of the grain when it's been polished, after the husk and bran have been removed. It's the form most commonly used in soups. Enjoy this healthful, old-fashioned, hearty soup!
Food as Medicine
Barley is high in healthy carbs, has a moderate amount of protein, and contains calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins. With its emphasis on vegetables and absence of meat, this soup is a natural fit for those who want to promote heart health.
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Are Global Market Forces Linked to Obesity Epidemic?

(HealthDay News) Nations with open trade policies have greater densities of fast food restaurants and higher rates of obesity than those with more trade controls, a new study has found…
The effect that market forces have on obesity is largely overlooked, according to [lead researcher Roberto] De Vogli.
"In my opinion, the public debate is too much focused on individual genetics and other individual factors, and overlooks the global forces in society that are shaping behaviors worldwide. If you look at trends over time for obesity, it's shocking," he said in the news release.
"Since the 1980s, since the advent of trade liberalization policies that have indirectly . . . promoted transnational food companies . . . we see rates that have tripled or quadrupled. There is no biological, genetic, psychological or community level factor that can explain this. Only a global type of change can explain this," De Vogli stated.
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Hand-Washing Key to Stopping Spread of Disease

(HealthDay News) There are many ways to prevent spreading germs and disease, but experts say one of the easiest ways is also one of the most important: proper hand-washing.
This is especially true during the holidays when people travel and get together for parties and other celebrations, researchers at the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety noted…
The CDC also recommends washing hands after: handling raw meat and poultry; using the bathroom or changing a diaper; touching animals or pet toys, leashes or waste; coughing, sneezing or nose blowing; treating wounds or caring for a sick person; carrying garbage, chemicals or anything that could be contaminated; using public transportation.
When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol can effectively clean hands, according to the news release.
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Statins tied to lower risk of fatal prostate cancer

(Reuters Health) In a new study of middle-aged New Jersey men, taking cholesterol-lowering drugs was linked to a lower chance of dying from prostate cancer.
The findings don't prove that the drugs, called statins, ward off aggressive cancer. But they jibe with previous studies suggesting that getting cholesterol levels under control might help reduce the risk of life-threatening disease, researchers said.
"People may be on these medications for their heart, but it may actually be doing them some good for their prostate," said study author Dr. Stephen Marcella…
"If a person's on the fence about taking a statin medication for their heart, this is another potential benefit they may have by taking one of these," he told Reuters Health.
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Breast Cancer Survivors Benefit from Practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

(Science Daily) Women recently diagnosed with breast cancer have higher survival rates than those diagnosed in previous decades, according to the American Cancer Society. However, survivors continue to face health challenges after their treatments end. Previous research reports as many as 50 percent of breast cancer survivors are depressed.
Now, University of Missouri researchers in the Sinclair School of Nursing say a meditation technique can help breast cancer survivors improve their emotional and physical well-being.
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Is American Medicine Too Test Happy?

(HealthDay News) "There is clear overuse or misuse of certain kinds of tests for certain patients," said Dr. Steven E. Weinberger, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American College of Physicians…
Experts agree that excessive testing is costing the U.S. health-care system billions through waste. Weinberger said that some estimates have suggested the cost could run as high as $200 billion to $250 billion a year, an amount equal to about 10 percent of the total amount spent on the nation's health care.
But the true cost is borne by patients who face increased health risks associated with diagnostic testing, he said. Dr. Anthony Shih, executive vice president for programs of the Commonwealth Fund, a private health policy research foundation, agreed.
"Although most patients are aware that procedures carry some risks, they are less aware that tests carry risks," Shih said.
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GE Healthcare to pay $30 million to settle False Claims Act

(Reuters) General Electric Co's healthcare equipment unit paid more than $30 million to settle allegations that a company it bought in 2004 provided false information to overcharge Medicare for a drug used to diagnose heart disease, the Justice Department said.
The Justice Department on Thursday said the government alleged Amersham Health Inc violated the False Claims Act as it misled Medicare by showing artificially inflated rates of the drug Myoview.
The False Claims Act allows governments to join lawsuits filed by whistle-blowers who spot fraud involving taxpayers dollars. It also gives a share of the recovery to the whistle-blower.
The whistle-blower in the lawsuit, James Wagel, would receive $5.1 million from the recovery, the DOJ said.
Community: Wow! I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for Medicare fraud.
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Actavis settles Medicaid fraud case for $84 million

(Reuters) Actavis Group has reached an $84 million settlement with Texas to resolve civil claims that it defrauded the state's Medicaid program by artificially inflating prices for its generic drugs.
The sum is just under half the $170.3 million that a Travis County state jury had ordered Actavis, a privately-held Icelandic company, to pay the state in February. Actavis had appealed that verdict, which followed a three-week trial.
In announcing the accord with U.S. units Actavis Elizabeth LLC and Actavis Mid-Atlantic LLC, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said Actavis' inaccurate price reporting caused the Medicaid program to overpay pharmacies for prescription drugs.
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Most favor more U.S. research spending

(UPI) A large majority of U.S. adults -- 86 percent -- say investing in health research is important for job creation and economic recovery, a survey indicates.
The survey, commissioned by Research!America, indicates 54 percent say research is part of the solution to rising healthcare costs, and 77 percent say the United States is losing its global competitive edge in science and innovation.
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New York unions sue over retiree health-care change

(Reuters) Seven New York state unions filed federal lawsuits on Wednesday seeking to prevent Governor Andrew Cuomo from increasing the amount that retired workers pay for health care.
The increases enacted this year were unconstitutional because the state has no authority to unilaterally raise retirees' health-care costs, the unions said. Each union filed a lawsuit in federal court in Albany, they said.
"What the Cuomo administration is trying to do is pull the rug out from under state retirees, many of whom planned their retirements based on when they felt they could afford to retire," Kenneth Brynien, president of the Public Employees Federation, said in a statement.
"These decisions were based on a promise and expectation of what their health insurance costs would be," he said.
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Wyden-Ryan's Unrealistic Assumptions

(Laura D’Andrea Tyson is a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, and served as chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton.) In a surprising year-end act of bipartisanship, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, and Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, offered a proposal to reduce the growth of Medicare spending, envisioning a fundamental transformation of Medicare to a “managed competition” or “premium support” system.
In their plan, the government would provide a subsidy to Medicare beneficiaries to choose among competing insurance plans, including the traditional fee-for-service Medicare program…
No evidence supports the plan’s assumption that a premium-support system with competitive bidding would control Medicare spending more effectively than traditional Medicare.
Nor does the plan contain enforceable cost-containment measures like those in the Affordable Care Act. And the plan’s backup cap on the growth of Medicare delinked from the actual growth of health care costs could shift the burden onto Medicare beneficiaries in the form of higher premiums and reduced access and quality of care.
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U.S. deaths linked to Fukushima

(UPI) An estimated 14,000 excess U.S. deaths may be linked to the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, two researchers say.
Study authors epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, and Dr. Janette Sherman, an adjunct professor at Western Michigan University, said six days after the nuclear reactor meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found levels of radiation in air, water and milk hundreds of times above normal across the United States, the researchers said.
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Vitamins, Omega-3s May Keep Brain From Shrinking: Study

(HealthDay News) Older adults with high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins B, C, D and E in their blood performed better on certain measures of thinking abilities, and also tended to have larger brain volume, a new study finds.
Seniors with high levels of trans fats in their blood fared worse on certain thinking tests than those with lower levels of the unhealthy fats, and also had more brain shrinkage.
Researchers said the findings suggest that nutrients work "in synergy" with one another to be protective of brain health.
Community: And there are many other practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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Choline for a Better Brain

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Your memory might be sharper if your diet contains lots of choline - a micronutrient found in some fatty foods, including egg yolks.
A new study from Boston University School of Medicine suggests that adults whose choline intake was highest did better on memory tests than those whose intake was lowest; they were also less likely to have brain changes linked to dementia… The differences seen between those with high and low choline consumption were small, but the study’s lead author said the data suggested that participants with lower choline intakes were more likely to be on a “pathway” to mental decline than those with higher intakes.
Another clue: choline is a precursor for acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in memory and other cognitive functions; low acetylcholine levels are associated with Alzheimer's. In addition to egg yolks, food sources of choline include beef liver, wheat germ, beef, soy foods, Brussels sprouts, cod, salmon, broccoli, peanut butter and milk chocolate.
Community: And there are many other practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of cognitive decline.
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'Silent strokes' linked to memory loss

(UPI) About 1-in-4 older adults with memory loss has had a so-called silent strokes -- a small spot of dead brain cells, U.S. researchers said…
The study … found people with silent strokes scored somewhat worse than those without silent strokes on memory tests. This was true regardless of whether people had a small hippocampus -- the memory center of the brain -- the study said.
"Given that conditions like Alzheimer's disease are defined mainly by memory problems, our results may lead to further insight into what causes symptoms and the development of new interventions for prevention," [study author Adam M.] Brickman said in a statement.
Community: I’m keeping a list of things we can do to prevent or reduce the severity of strokes and other ways to prevent or delay cognitive decline.
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Smile a lot to prevent stroke

(USA Weekend) One of the keys to a longer, healthier life just might be your smile. In a recent study of more than 6,000 adults over 50, scientists found that those with sunny dispositions had a significantly reduced risk of stroke. Optimistic people tend to make healthier choices about diet and exercise, researchers speculate; some findings also suggests positive thinking has a direct influence on how well your body works.
Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States; heart disease is the No. 1 killer, and a growing body of evidence shows staying positive may help prevent that, too… You're not going to go from Debbie Downer to Pollyanna overnight, but you can learn think more positively. Here are four strategies to help brighten your outlook and boost your health:
Shift one perspective at a time.
Pick a part of your life you tend to cast in an unfavorable light — your daily commute, for example — and focus on fixing your thinking there first. Instead of working yourself into a tizzy sitting in traffic, think of it as uninterrupted alone time to plan something fun for the upcoming weekend or as more time to listen to your favorite radio station.
Let yourself laugh.
You'll feel less stressed, even during difficult times. And that may help protect against heart attacks, research suggests.
Hang out with happy people.
It'll rub off on you — plus, those are the friends you can depend on when you're feeling down.
Negative thoughts, positive talk.
Don't say anything to yourself that you wouldn't say to someone else. And when a negative thought enters your mind, evaluate it rationally and give it a positive twist. For example, instead of thinking "I've never used this computer program before," tell yourself it's a perfect chance to learn something new.
Community: Could a positive attitude be a part of the sense of efficacy we’ve discussed before? That last suggestion has been really important to me. I used to be really hard on myself. Then I asked myself whether I’d treat a child the same way I treat myself, and decided that I wouldn’t. So I’m much more patient now with my failures.
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Want to get happiness? Give it

(The Morning Call) Many religious texts use the adage "give and you shall receive." Two new studies show that adage just might be true, especially when it comes to being happily married.
Researchers have found, for instance, that a reward center activates in our brains when we offer physical comfort to our spouses, especially during times when they are undergoing distress.
And researchers from University of Virginia's National Marriage Project say that husbands and wives who are more generous in their marriages are more likely to report that they are "very happy."
Here are some ways you can be more generous in your relationships:
Listen generously, without sighing, tapping your foot or glancing at your watch.
Touch often.
Rejoice in someone else's good fortune.
Use the words "thank you" often.
Read more, including more ways to give and receive good feelings.
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If you think it’s not about you, angry person won’t bug you

(HealthDay) Telling yourself that an angry person is just having a bad day and that it’s not about you can help take the sting out of their ire, a new study suggests.
This strategy of finding another way to regard an angry person is an approach commonly suggested in cognitive behavioral therapy…
“You can see this as a kind of race between the emotional information and the reappraisal information in the brain: Emotional processing proceeds from the back to the front of the brain, and the reappraisal is generated in the front of the brain and proceeds toward the back of the brain where it modifies emotional processing,” researcher Jens Blechert said in a journal news release.
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Penne and Chicken with Spiced Tomato Sauce
This penne pasta recipe is a simple way to bring Italian flavors to your dinner table.  Serve with a green salad and garlic bread for a hearty, filling meal.
Beef & Portobello Mushroom Stroganoff
Our version of beef Stroganoff tops seared flank steak with a rich-tasting sauce made with a touch of cognac, reduced-fat sour cream and plenty of portobello mushrooms. Serve over whole-wheat egg noodles.
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