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

Weight loss research touts art of slow eating

(NBC2, Fort Myers, FL) If you're looking to lose weight, experts say you should try taking things nice and slow. New research shows that pacing yourself while eating could prove to help your waistline…
"Make it a dining experience where it's, I'm here to eat, this is what we're doing right now and that's it," said Dr. Dareld Morris, a Fort Myers weight loss doctor.
Other tips include:
- Chewing slower
- Drinking plenty of water
- Removing distractions like the TV
- Even dimming the lights and playing soft music while you eat
Another piece of advice is to avoid finishing every last morsel on your plate.
Even though that may go against everything your mom taught you growing up, most nutritionists agree you're probably going to end up eating the food simply because it's there when you really don't need the calories.
Community: This information doesn’t come as a surprise to readers of Many Years Young (see especially here and here).
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Lack of Sleep Makes Your Brain Hungry

(Science Daily) New research from Uppsala University shows that a specific brain region that contributes to a person's appetite sensation is more activated in response to food images after one night of sleep loss than after one night of normal sleep. Poor sleep habits can therefore affect people's risk of becoming overweight in the long run…
[Researcher] Christian Benedict explains: "After a night of total sleep loss, these males showed a high level of activation in an area of the brain that is involved in a desire to eat. Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people's risk to gain weight in the long run. It may therefore be important to sleep about eight hours every night to maintain a stable and healthy body weight."
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Weight Loss Doesn't Have to Be a Losing Battle

(Monica Reinagel, MS, LDN, CNS) Let's say that you have 10, 20, or maybe even 50 pounds to lose. Forget for a moment about how you're going to lose that weight. Instead, picture yourself at your goal weight and shape. Really picture it! And now, think very seriously and specifically about what sorts of habits and lifestyle someone who spends their life in that kind of body would have. For example, to be a person who maintains a healthy body weight throughout life, you'd probably:
• Limit your intake of sweets, refined carbohydrates and fried foods. (Note: I didn't say "eliminate sweets, refined carbohydrates and fried foods.")
• Avoid eating in front of the television or computer.
• Eat more vegetables and fewer starches. (In other words, gravitate toward foods that fill you up for fewer calories.)
• Eat mindfully, taking the time to notice and appreciate both your food and your appetite.
• Stop at a single cocktail or glass of wine.
• Have fruit for dessert -- or no dessert, much of the time.
• Drink water or tea instead of soda or other sweetened beverages.
• Make time most days for a 20-30 minute walk.
• Make time on weekends to shop and do a little cooking so that you're not as dependent on takeout and prepared foods to get you through the busy week…
[Y]ou probably won't lose the pounds as fast as you would on the latest fad diet -- but this means that your body is less likely to "fight back." Best of all, the whole time you are losing weight (without dieting), you're establishing and reinforcing the very habits that are going to help you maintain that healthy weight for a lifetime.
I've gotten dozens of letters over the years from readers and listeners who say that the small changes and healthy habits I advocate in my Nutrition Diva blog and podcast have led to significant (and largely painless) weight loss. If you've lost weight and kept it off, I'd love to hear from you, too. Now more than ever, people need to hear from others who know that weight loss doesn't have to be a losing battle.
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3 healthy ingredients of a get-skinny lunch

(EatingWell) Just as breakfast gives me a much-needed energy boost in the morning, eating lunch fuels the second half of my day—and helps me stay away from the vending machine mid afternoon.
But when you’re trying to lose weight, every meal—and calorie—counts. (Find out how many calories you should be eating to shed pounds here.) You can build a light but filling lunch with these three healthy ingredients—whether you’re brown-bagging it or eating out.
1. Vegetables: Making vegetables the largest portion of your lunch boosts your lunch’s total nutrition (vegetables deliver disease-fighting phytochemicals and essential vitamins and minerals) and gives you a healthy dose of fiber—a must-have when you’re dieting. Why? Fiber helps you stay satisfied longer, plus research shows that upping your fiber intake may help promote weight loss. Find low-cal, high-fiber lunch recipes here.
2. Lean protein: Adding a little lean protein to your lunch (think: tofu, chicken, fish or beans) is an easy way to stay satisfied throughout the afternoon—gram for gram, protein will keep you feeling fuller longer compared to carbohydrates and fat. Pack in the protein with these high-protein, low-cal lunch recipes.
3. Whole-wheat bread: Eating whole-wheat bread in place of refined white bread may help you trim your total body fat, as well as that much-hated belly bulge. A study in the Journal of Nutrition showed that people who ate about 3 servings of whole grains a day had about 2.4 percent less body fat and 3.6 percent less abdominal fat than those who ate barely any whole grains at all. Aim for at least three servings of whole grains daily (a slice of whole-wheat bread equals one serving). Other great sources: whole-grain cereal, oats, bulgur, quinoa and brown rice.
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Chicken, Carrot, and Cucumber Salad
Serve this chunky salad with pita wedges or pita chips. Purchase pita chips or make your own by spraying pita wedges with cooking spray, sprinkling them with a little shredded Parmesan cheese, and baking them at 400° for about 10 minutes.
Shiitake & Noodle Hot & Sour Soup
This vegetarian hot-&-sour-inspired soup is chock-full of tofu and vegetables, plus noodles to make it hearty enough for dinner.
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Fighting Fatigue, Part 1: Nutrition Tips

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) A healthy diet can help the body in its efforts to heal itself, and in some cases, particular foods can lessen the symptoms of disease. To help reduce the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome (such as debilitating fatigue, impaired memory, sore throat, muscle or joint pain, headaches and other maladies), try the following: 
·         Decrease your protein intake to 10 percent of your daily calories.
·         Eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables (preferably organic) for their protective phytochemicals.
·         Eat garlic regularly for its antimicrobial effects.
·         Incorporate immune-enhancing mushrooms into meals, including shiitake, oyster, enokidake and maitake mushrooms.
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Fighting Fatigue, Part 2: Supplements

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you feel worn down or are lacking energy due to a hectic schedule and day-to-day stressors, learn how to fight fatigue naturally. Taking a few minutes for yourself and performing simple breathing exercises can be helpful, as can daily moderate physical activity and getting adequate rest. Certain nutrients, botanicals and other compounds can also help to ward off or lessen the effects of general fatigue. Experiment with the following.
·         Magnesium. Oral magnesium supplementation has been shown to help reduce symptoms of fatigue in persons with low magnesium levels.
·         Eleuthero (Eleutherococcus senticosus). Studies show that eleuthero can help enhance mental activity as well as physical endurance.
·         Coenzyme Q10. This vital nutrient is involved in cellular energy production throughout the body.
·         Ashwagandha, an Ayurvedic herb prized for its ability to help the body deal with stress.
·         Cordyceps, a traditional Chinese medicinal mushroom that may help fight fatigue and boost energy levels.
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Preventing Inflammation, Part 1: Nutrition

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Eating an anti-inflammatory diet (and reaping its numerous benefits) doesn't have to be difficult.  Shopping and eating the anti-inflammatory way can be a snap if you remember the basics:  
·         Fresh is best and buy organic whenever possible! Take advantage of local produce stands or farmer's markets - a good choice for organic, fresh, regional foods.
·         Shop around the block. Typically the perimeter of a grocery store has the freshest foods and produce. Try to focus most of your shopping on this area for the healthiest, whole foods.
·         View preparing and eating meals as a way to enjoy and communicate with family and friends.
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Preventing Inflammation, Part 2: Supplements

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) [T]oday we cover supplements and herbs that can help address inflammation, which appears to be an underlying cause of age-related health conditions including Alzheimer's disease, heart conditions and many cancers.
In addition to eating an anti-inflammatory diet, the following four herbs and medications have powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
·         Ginger. Dried, powdered ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory agent, and capsules are readily available in health food stores. Choose products that are standardized for their content of active components, and start with one gram per day (usually two capsules), taken after a meal to avoid stomach irritation. There is no toxicity and you can stay on it indefinitely.
·         Turmeric.  The principal ingredient in mild yellow prepared mustard and in some curries, turmeric has excellent anti-inflammatory properties. This bright spice may also have a specific preventive effect against Alzheimer's disease and reduce the risk of cancer. Take a whole extract of turmeric, such as those prepared by the process of “supercritical extraction" which uses liquefied carbon dioxide to extract turmeric's beneficial components.
·         Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid). This time-honored pain medication offers a great many health benefits, including down-regulation of inflammation, decreased risk of heart attack, blood-thinning effects and reduced risk of some cancers.  There is a downside to aspirin - a potential risk of irritation and bleeding of the lining of the stomach and lower GI tract - but in general the health benefits of low-dose aspirin regimens greatly outweigh risks. Talk with your doctor to see if a daily aspirin is right for you.
·         NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) other than aspirin. These include ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin and related products. Ibuprofen reduces risk of Alzheimer's disease to a greater degree than aspirin, but has the same risks of gastrointestinal irritation and bleeding.  Dr. Weil recommends daily use only for those with significant family histories of Alzheimer's, or with symptomatic inflammation (such as from arthritis or bursitis), but be sure to speak with your doctor first.
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Are Probiotic Pills a Good Idea?

(Monica Reinagel, Nutrition Diva) Compared with cultured foods like yogurt, probiotic supplements offer both advantages and disadvantages.  On the plus side, they are usually more potent and may contain specific bacterial strains that you might not find in foods.  On the negative side, they are more expensive and somewhat unreliable. Consumer watchdogs have repeatedly busted companies for selling products that were either contaminated with “unauthorized” strains of bacteria or did not contain anywhere near the number of live and active bacteria promised on the label.
In my opinion, it doesn’t make sense to take probiotic supplements on an ongoing basis, like a vitamin. For general health and well-being, I recommend making probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir, fresh sauerkraut or kim-chee a regular part of your diet.  
Probiotic supplements can be helpful for specific medical situations, such as preventing or treating traveler’s diarrhea or following intensive antibiotic therapy, but it’s a good idea to ask a healthcare professional for a recommendation for a trusted brand. I usually suggest Culturelle, which is available in most drug stores.
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Tiny Amounts of Alcohol Dramatically Extend a Worm's Life, but Why?

(Science Daily) Minuscule amounts of ethanol, the type of alcohol found in alcoholic beverages, can more than double the life span of a tiny worm known as Caenorhabditis elegans, which is used frequently as a model in aging studies, UCLA biochemists report. The scientists said they find their discovery difficult to explain.
"This finding floored us -- it's shocking," said Steven Clarke…, senior author of the study…
In humans, alcohol consumption is generally harmful, Clarke said, and if the worms are given much higher concentrations of ethanol, they experience harmful neurological effects and die, other research has shown.
"We used far lower levels, where it may be beneficial," said Clarke, who studies the biochemistry of aging.
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Plant compounds tied to fewer heart deaths

(Reuters Health) Older adults who get a moderate amount of certain plant compounds in their diets are less likely to die of heart disease or stroke, a large study finds.
The research, on nearly 100,000 older U.S. adults, found that those getting the most flavonoids in their diets were less likely to die of heart disease or stroke over the next seven years than those who ate the least flavonoids.
The compounds are found in a range of plant foods, including many fruits (like berries, citrus and apples) and vegetables (like kale, spinach and broccoli), nuts, soy, dark chocolate, tea and wine.
Research shows that flavonoids have a number of benefits, including fighting inflammation and acting as antioxidants -- which means they help protect body cells from damage that may lead to chronic diseases and cancer.
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Tall? That may be good news for your heart: study

(Reuters Health) Tall men are less likely than shorter ones to develop heart failure, suggests a new study of U.S. doctors.
The finding doesn't prove that a few extra inches protect the heart, and it's possible that tall and short people are different in other ways -- including in their diets or diseases growing up -- that could affect heart risks…
"The message certainly shouldn't be: 'If you're tall, don't worry about these sorts of things, or if you're short, you're doomed,'" [cardiologist Dr. Jeffrey Teuteberg] told Reuters Health.
But the study does show that there's more to heart disease risk than the commonly-accepted culprits, he added, such as obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes.
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Study: Sex poses surprisingly low risk to heart patients

(USA Today) Good news: Sex is safe for most heart patients. If you're healthy enough to walk up two flights of stairs without chest pain or gasping for breath, you can have a love life…
In its first science-based recommendations on the subject, the American Heart Association says having sex only slightly raises the chance for a heart attack. And that's true for people with and without heart disease.
Surprisingly, despite the higher risk for a heart patient to have a second attack, there's no evidence that they have more sex-related heart attacks than people without cardiac disease.
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How to Stop a Headache Head-On

(RealAge.com) When your head is pounding or throbbing, do you head straight for the medicine cabinet? Before you pop any pills, try these home remedies to prevent or stop a headache.
Strengthen your neck… To put the brakes on reoccurring headaches, work on strengthening the trapezius muscles in your upper back. It only takes about 5 minutes, three times a week. Try this move to stretch your neck and traps.
Modify your diet. Some foods and ingredients, including caffeine, cheese, smoked meats, sugar, chocolate, and foods containing MSG, are known to trigger migraines in susceptible people. If you regularly indulge in any of these foods, eliminate them one at a time and see if you can figure out the culprit. Find out what other factors might be triggering your headaches.
Push pressure points. Acupressure may help dim headache pain. Try rubbing the two points on either side of your vertebrae at the nape of your neck (right below the ridges at the base of your skull). Massaging the webbed area on the top of your left hand, between your thumb and forefinger, may also relieve your pain.
Keep moving. Regular aerobic exercise means fewer headaches because it helps relieve stress and increases the level of painkilling endorphins in your system. Similarly, yogastretching, and meditation help reduce tension, thus relaxing the chemical cascade that can cause headaches.
Head to bed -- with your significant other! Orgasms often stop headaches in their tracks since they're associated with the release of a vasodilating gas called nitric oxide…
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Drug lobby wants clearer FDA rules for diet pills

(Reuters) The pharmaceutical industry may stop investing in medicines to treat diseases like diabetes or obesity without more explicit guidelines from U.S. regulators, the chairman of the drug trade group said on Thursday…
PhRMA and other groups are gearing up their lobbying strategy ahead of Congressional hearings on FDA user fees, or the funds companies pay to the agency in exchange for faster review times.
Since fees from makers of drugs and medical devices provide more than a third of the agency's funding, the bill often serves as a vehicle for broader FDA-related changes.
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Analysis: Goal for Alzheimer's drug by 2025 too ambitious?

(Reuters) The U.S. government has set a deadline of 2025 for finding an effective way to treat or prevent Alzheimer's disease, an ambitious target considering there is no cure on the horizon and one that sets a firm deadline unlike previous campaigns against cancer or AIDS…
The U.S. plan is meant to galvanize efforts to fight the fatal disease that robs victims of their ability to think and drains the resources of family caregivers.
But some experts say the 2025 deadline is unrealistic.
"No one set a deadline for the 'War on cancer' or in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We make progress and we keep fighting. The same should be true for Alzheimer's," said Dr. Sam Gandy, an Alzheimer's researcher at Mount Sinai School of Medicine.
"In my mind, that provides the unfortunate sense that we will have 'failed' if we don't have a cure by 2025."
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Sebelius: Many unclear on health reform

(UPI) The U.S. secretary of health and human services says the predictions of doom after healthcare reform was passed were unfounded.
"Instead of the economy crashing, we've had steady job growth, with healthcare leading the way. Instead of Medicare crumbling, seniors have seen their premiums fall even as they enjoy key new benefits," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a speech in Washington.
"Instead of providers rebelling, we've seen an unprecedented wave of interest in the new tools the law gives doctors and nurses to improve care."
However, Sebelius said there are still far too many Americans who don't know the basic facts about the law and the benefits available.
"There are too many seniors who are still putting off that colon cancer screening because they don't know they no longer have to pay a co-pay," Sibelius said.
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Top 10 Sex-Life Boosters and Busters

(RealAge.com) Looking for ways to spice up your love life? There's no reason not to since healthy individuals can remain sexually active and interested well into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. (Find out if your sex life is normal for your age.) Since an active sex life may help keep you young, why not maximize your sexual health and give your libido a boost, too? Get ready to have some fun by knowing what can make or break a good time in the bedroom.
1. Watching Rear Window, Not When Harry Met Sally
Flicks that get your heart pumping or your belly laughing do more for your love life than those that calm you down…
2. Talking
Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your partner at all times can be a potent aphrodisiac…
3. Filling Up on These Fruits
Try figs. They're rich in amino acids that may set your desire afire. Or, if you're a guy, eat more bananas. They contain bromelain, an enzyme thought to boost male libido…
4. Eating These Stalks
Asparagus and celery can also help with the horizontal tango. Asparagus is rich in vitamin E, which is essential for hormone-building, and celery contains androsterone, a hormone released in male sweat that turns women on (Seriously. It's been tested.)…
5. Drinking Ginseng Tea
Red ginseng contains little compounds called ginsenosides, which may help with arousal in both men and women…
6. Doing the Little Workout with Big Benefits
Women have long used pelvic exercises for a variety of problems. Recent research found that when men with erectile dysfunction did exercises that strengthen pelvic-floor muscles, about 40% of them regained normal function after 6 months. Get the details on how to do them.
7. Keeping the TV On
TV viewing is associated with an increased prevalence of erectile dysfunction…
8. Too Many Toasts
[W]hile one drink may loosen you up, get you in the mood, and make the sort-of cute person next to you look a little bit like a rock star, too much alcohol diminishes sexual performance and response…
9. Unhealthy Habits
Obesity, high blood sugar, and clogged arteries mess with your love life as well as with your ability to enjoy a long and healthy life. Clean up your act (and maybe get some action?) the easy way, with this simple plan for reversing your body's age.
10. Taking Some Meds
Certain medications, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, chemotherapy, and drug treatments for high blood pressure, may contribute to erectile dysfunction in men, and reduce sexual desire and increase vaginal dryness in women.
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More Americans Practicing Safe Sex, CDC Reports

(HealthDay News) The number of Americans who practice behaviors that put them at risk for HIV infection has declined significantly, federal health officials reported Thursday…
The decline seems to be due to a drop in risky behaviors such as having unprotected sex and having sex with multiple partners, [report author Anjani] Chandra said.
There were, however, differences in behaviors in different groups. For example, men who had recently been in prison were more likely to report engaging in one or more HIV risk behaviors, compared with other men, the researchers found.
There were also significant variations based on race and income level, they reported.
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Use Anti-Smoking Tactics to Combat Obesity

(Harvard Public Health Review) While overall cancer death rates in the United States have decreased over the past two decades, increasing numbers of people are suffering from obesity-related cancers such as esophageal, pancreatic, liver, and kidney cancers, according to the American Cancer Society’s annual report. To fight this trend, Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, suggests instituting policies aimed at getting people to improve their diets—similar to anti-smoking policies.
In a January 7, 2012 Voice of America video interview, Mozaffarian said that just as growing numbers of Americans have quit their smoking habits thanks to successful government policies—such as education campaigns, high taxes on tobacco product sales, and laws against selling tobacco to anyone under age 18—so too can they overcome obesity.
He added, “It’s not going to happen in a year, but in a decade or two, if we really have a sustained understanding of the impact of diet on health in this country and the economic burdens that it causes, we really could have a sea change, and relatively quickly.”
Community: As I’ve been saying, unhealthy eating is an addiction.
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Superfoods boost health, but so do other foods

(UPI) A British dietitian says people should not limit their diet to the 14 foods listed in the popular book, "SuperFoods: 14 Foods that Will Change Your Life."…
Sixty-one percent of food consumers have purchased a specific ingredient because of its superfood label even though the latest tests seem to show that, for example, acai berries are no more beneficial than apples.
[Dietitian Christina] Merryfield pointed out that to make a diet healthier, pay less attention to superfood labels and buy fish, fruit, vegetables, tea, white meat and beans.
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Beef-Broccoli Lo Mein
Serve this lo mein recipe with store-bought egg rolls and fortune cookies for a quick-and-easy Asian meal.
Individual Brussels Sprout & Potato Frittatas
Brussels sprouts and preshredded potatoes make these oversized muffin-shaped frittatas hearty. They’re as good served warm for dinner as they are at room temperature for lunch. Pair with a mixed green salad with cherry tomatoes and buttermilk dressing.
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Study Hints That Statins Might Fight Breast Cancer

(HealthDay News) Amid hints that statins -- cholesterol-lowering drugs -- might also play a role in preventing or treating certain types of cancer, new research sheds some light on how these drugs may help stop breast cancer in its tracks among certain women.
The p53 tumor suppressor gene stops the uncontrolled growth of cancer cells, but some women with breast cancer have mutant forms of this gene. In the new study, when the mutant p53 cells were treated in the laboratory with statins, the cells stopped their erratic growth, and even died in some cases.
It seems that the mutated p53 genes may activate the same pathway that the statins inhibit -- the mevalonate pathway, the study suggests. The mevalonate pathway is important in the body's production of cholesterol.
In the study, the effects of the statin drugs were erased when the mevalonate pathway was reactivated, supporting the potential mechanism…
"This work and other projects like this raise the hope that we will one day be able to cure cancers on a molecular level," [Dr. Stephanie] Bernik said.
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New, Noninvasive Way to Identify Lymph Node Metastasis

(Science Daily) Using two cell surface markers found to be highly expressed in breast cancer lymph node metastases, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center, working with colleagues at other institutions, have developed targeted, fluorescent molecular imaging probes that can non-invasively detect breast cancer lymph node metastases.
The new procedure could spare breast cancer patients invasive and unreliable sentinel lymph node (SLN) biopsies and surgery-associated negative side effects.
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Solving the Mystery of an Old Diabetes Drug That May Reduce Cancer Risk

(Science Daily) In 2005, news first broke that researchers in Scotland found unexpectedly low rates of cancer among diabetics taking metformin, a drug commonly prescribed to patients with Type II diabetes. Many follow-up studies reported similar findings, some suggesting as much as a 50-per-cent reduction in risk.
How could this anti-diabetic drug reduce the risk of developing cancer and what were the mechanisms involved?
In a paper…, researchers from McGill University and the University of Montreal reported an unexpected finding: they learned that exposure to metformin reduces the cellular mutation rate and the accumulation of DNA damage…
"It is remarkable that metformin, an inexpensive, off-patent, safe and widely used drug, has several biological actions that may result in reduced cancer risk -- these latest findings suggest that it reduces mutation rate in somatic cells, providing an additional mechanism by which it could prevent cancer, explained Dr. Michael Pollak.
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Estrogen-Targeting Drug Combo May Help Prevent Lung Cancer

(Science Daily) A combination of drugs that target estrogen production significantly reduced the number of tobacco carcinogen-induced lung tumors in mice, according to results from a preclinical study.
"Antiestrogens have been shown to prevent breast cancer in some women," said Jill M. Siegfried, Ph.D… "If antiestrogens can prevent lung cancer as well, this would be a major advance, because these drugs are safe to give for long periods and there are no approved ways to prevent lung cancer."
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Nanoparticles Refined for More Accurate Delivery of Cancer Drugs

(Science Daily) A new class of nanoparticles, synthesized by a UC Davis research team to prevent premature drug release, holds promise for greater accuracy and effectiveness in delivering cancer drugs to tumors…
Stimuli-responsive nanoparticles are gaining considerable attention in the field of drug delivery due to their ability to transform in response to specific triggers. Among these nanoparticles, stimuli-responsive cross-linked micelles (SCMs) represent a versatile nanocarrier system for tumor-targeting drug delivery.
Too often, nanoparticles release drugs prematurely and miss their target. SCMs can better retain the encapsulated drug and minimize its premature release while circulating in the blood pool. The introduction of environmentally sensitive cross-linkers makes these micelles responsive to the local environment of the tumor. In these instances, the payload drug is released primarily in the cancerous tissue.
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Video consults with dermatologists aid treatment

(Reuters Health) After a live video consult with a dermatologist, almost every patient who'd previously been checked out by a primary care doctor had a change in their diagnosis or in their treatment, in a new study from California.
Researchers also found that having more "teledermatology" appointments meant it was more likely that a patient's condition would improve.
The findings are further evidence, experts said, that video conferencing with a far-away skin doctor might help people who live in remote areas where specialists are hard to come by -- or even those who have a dermatologist nearby, but have to wait a long time for an appointment.
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Roche melanoma pill spurs growth of other cancers

(Reuters) A new study helps explain why up to a third of advanced melanoma patients who take Roche Holding's pill Zelboraf develop a less deadly form of skin cancer known as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma, and points to a potential fix.
Researchers said combining drugs like Zelboraf, which block a mutation known as BRAF, with a second melanoma drug that blocks a different mutation known as MEK helped to solve this problem in lab mice.
GlaxoSmithKline has already shown early promise in a trial combining drugs that block both MEK and BRAF, and the study shows why this duo may be more effective and have fewer side effects than drugs that target either mutation separately.
Both MEK and BRAF are mutations in the same pathway and are used by the cancer to drive tumor growth.
"The combination of BRAF and the MEK inhibitors gives you a better response, and also prevents the emergence of these secondary tumors," said Professor Richard Marais of the Institute of Cancer Research in London.
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Drop in Melanoma Deaths Limited to Educated Whites: Study

(HealthDay News) Recent declines in death rates due to the skin cancer melanoma among white Americans appear to be limited to those with higher levels of education, researchers have found.
The findings reveal a widening education-related disparity in melanoma death rates and highlight the need for early-detection strategies to effectively target high-risk, low-educated whites, the American Cancer Society researchers said…
"The reasons for the widening of the educational gap in mortality rates are not yet understood, but we do know the cornerstone of melanoma control is recognizing the signs of melanoma early. Lower socioeconomic status is associated with suboptimal knowledge and awareness of melanoma, inadequate health insurance, and lower rates of skin self-examination or physician screening," [study leader Vilma Cokkinides] explained.
The researchers said there's a need for more vigilant primary and secondary melanoma-prevention education campaigns that target high-risk people with low socioeconomic status and the doctors who care for them.
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Poorer Folks May Find It Harder to Quit Smoking

(HealthDay News) Quitting smoking is much more difficult for poor people than for those who have greater financial and social status, U.S. researchers have found…
The findings suggest efforts are needed to provide lower socioeconomic status groups with more treatment, and that strategies should target common challenges, such as stress levels and proximity to other smokers, Christine Sheffer, of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock, and colleagues said in a journal news release.
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Patients get half of preventive screens

(UPI) U.S. patients receive half of recommended preventive health services at annual check-up by their doctors, researchers found…
The study … found the services most likely to be delivered were screenings for colorectal cancer, hypertension and breast cancer, but patients were least likely to receive counseling about aspirin use, vision screening and an influenza immunization recommended or delivered.
"It appears that while some preventive services are likely to be received by some patients, several services which are known to reduce disease go undelivered during routine periodic health examinations," [Jennifer] Elston Lafata said in a statement. "Relying on face-to-face interactions between physicians and patients will likely continue to result in less-than-optimal service delivery."
Technological advances that provide patients with easy access to their personal health records, coupled with automated reminders, may be one way patients can work with physicians to increase delivery of preventive services, Elston Lafata said.
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Mobilizing a Revolution: How Cellphones are Transforming Public Health

(Harvard Public Health Review) [There is] a growing movement at HSPH and within the global health community to leverage the explosion in mobile phone availability—and the data cellphones can share and produce—to change how public health and medical problems are identified, prevented, and treated. This burgeoning field, which has expanded exponentially in the last five years, is called “mHealth.”
The variety of mHealth applications under development or available worldwide is staggering and ever evolving. In addition to using Big Data to track people’s movements and predict potential public health threats, mHealth is putting medical records, appointment reminders, health tips, and detailed standards of care literally in the hands of health workers and patients, whether in Tanzania or Tucson. Today, there are mHealth applications that diagnose medical ailments, manage chronic diseases, and support mental health therapies and addiction control.
mHealth has the potential to help patients, doctors, and researchers make healthier, more informed choices by doing what no other technology can do: deliver valuable, actionable information to the right people at the moment it is needed, no matter where they are. And with projects ranging from outbreak prediction to humanitarian aid, HSPH is among the vanguard institutions defining this new terrain.
“Our faculty have always been leaders in developing interventions to improve health,” says Karen Emmons, HSPH associate dean for research. “mHealth provides an important opportunity to explore how to take those interventions to scale, to deliver them in remote places, and to fundamentally change the access of whole populations to evidence-based interventions.”
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U.S. says 28 states took steps on health insurance exchanges

(Reuters) The Obama administration said on Wednesday that 28 states have taken steps to establish insurance exchanges under the 2010 healthcare law, despite the legal and political uncertainties threatening the overhaul.
Fourteen states, including several led by Republican governors, have enacted legislation or already have the authority in place to set up the regulated insurance markets that are a key segment of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services.
An equal number of states have acted through executive orders or authorized studies aimed at demonstrating the value of exchanges, which are intended to extend coverage to 16 million uninsured Americans across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, the report said.
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Don’t take a winter break from exercise

(Washington Post) Although we’ve had a bit of a cold-weather reprieve this year, there’s nothing like rapidly plunging temperatures to encourage hibernation at all costs.
But if you want to maintain your health, there’s no such thing as a winter break from exercise. “You need a consistent, year-round program in order to stay well, not only physically but also psychologically,” says B. Don Franks, professor emeritus of kinesiology at the University of Maryland at College Park. He notes that regular exercise can positively impact mood, weight control, energy level, stress and sleep, among other pluses… Research has also shown that a hiatus from training can result in added pounds that are difficult to shed, even once you start exercising again.
What about fitness levels? “You will lose whatever advantages you’ve gained over time and be back down to couch potato status within three to six months, but the effect of inactivity starts within days,” says exercise physiologist J.P. Hyatt…
For those who worry that being active outdoors in extreme cold also poses a risk to health, sports physiologist Mike Bracko … offers reassurance: “There is no real danger, whether you’re running, cross country skiing, taking a long trail walk or anything else, as long as you’re prepared and dressed appropriately.”
Community: We’ve already had some advice on dressing for exercise in cold weather.
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New app adds incentives to go to the gym

(Reuters) If a bulging waistline isn't enough of a motivator to go to the gym, a new iPhone app adds a financial incentive to provide that extra nudge.
The app called GymPact charges users a fee for every gym commitment they skip. The fee can range from $5 to $50 dollars.
"We decided to motivate people by having money on the line, rather than giving them money, which is a very radical departure from other motivational apps and programs," explained Yifan Zhang, GymPact's co-founder and CEO.
After providing a credit card, GymPact's users make a commitment for the number of times each week they will go to the gym, along with the financial penalty they will incur if they don't.
At the end of the week, the company charges users who did not meet their goals. The money collected is distributed to users who kept their commitments. People who committed to more days get a bigger portion of the pooled money.
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With exercise, the trick is just getting started

(Julie Deardorff, Tribune Newspapers) [F]ollowing a few simple principles may help you start down the road to wellness…
The moment before you begin is always the hardest. Once you get inside the gym — or haul yourself out of bed — the workout will happen. You will have good days and bad days, but you will never regret making the effort.
Be consistent. Exercise is a nonnegotiable part of my daily routine; once you start blowing it off, it's much harder to start again. Fitness is surprisingly easy to lose; it requires a regular investment. It won't happen overnight, but eventually you reach a threshold where exercise stops feeling like torture and starts transforming every aspect of your life. But you have to commit to consistency.
Set specific, manageable goals. Write down a daily goal and a long-term goal. Tell others. Post it on Facebook. If you're a gym-goer, always walk in with a specific workout in mind or in your hand.
Take baby steps. Drink more water, incorporate more fruits and vegetables — this will leave less room for fatty, sweet and salty food — and cook more of your own meals. If you're sedentary, try walking before you advance to running.
Pick several activities you like. You'll be more likely to stick to something you enjoy doing. And variety will keep things fresh and give you options if you get injured or bored. I used to dread swimming until I found it was the only exercise I could do while running injuries were healing. Swimming led to triathlon, and triathlon improved my relationship with food as I realized my body needed better fuel. That was when fitness became a lifestyle.
Think "movement" rather than "workout." Exercise doesn't have to happen in a gym. I often sneak body-weight movements into my day, which saves time and takes the pressure off getting to a health club. I also take the stairs and walk or bike when I could drive. In the kitchen, I might do 15 push-ups while waiting to flip the pancakes.
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