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

Alternative therapies for quitting smoking?

(Reuters Health) Acupuncture and hypnosis are touted as drug-free ways to help smokers kick the habit, and there is some evidence that they work, according to a new research review.
There are still plenty of questions -- including exactly how effective the alternative therapies might be, and how they measure up against standard quit tactics.
But researchers say the alternatives should stand as options for smokers who want them.
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Exercise helps smokers to quit smoking, to remain smoke-free and to reduce the risk of death

(World Heart Federation) Exercise may help smokers to quit and remain smokefree, according to new data presented today at the World Congress of Cardiology. Moreover, exercise increases life expectancy in smokers and non-smokers alike…
"Exercise can help smokers to quit and quitting smoking has been shown to significantly reduce the risk of developing [cardiovascular disease (CVD)] and that must be the goal of all smokers," said Dr. C.P. Wen, National Health Research Institute, Taiwan. "If smokers can continue to exercise, not only they can increase the quit rate, but also they can reduce their mortality for all cause and for CVD in the long run."
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Anti-Tobacco TV Ads Help Adults Stop Smoking, Study Finds

(Science Daily) Anti-tobacco television advertising helps reduce adult smoking, according to a study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago's Institute for Health Research and Policy -- but some ads may be more effective than others…
The researchers analyzed variables such as smoking status, intentions to quit smoking, attempts to quit in the past year, and average daily cigarette consumption.
They found that in markets with higher exposure to state-sponsored media campaigns, "smoking is less, and intentions to quit are higher," [senior scientist Sherry ] Emery said.
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Review finds Chantix may not raise heart risks

(Reuters Health) A review of past research concludes that people taking Pfizer's smoking-cessation drug Chantix do not have a higher risk of heart attacks and other serious heart problems as was reported by a study last year.
The current paper's authors say last year's study could harm people by alarming them to the point of stopping their use of the drug.
"The initial study that came out was misleading. The findings were inflated and they were just focusing on that relative risk. It caused confusion," said Judith Prochaska, of the Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education at the University of California, San Francisco.
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Electronic Cigarettes May Help Smokers' Memory While They Kick the Habit

(Science Daily) Electronic cigarettes -- battery-operated devices that provide nicotine via inhaled vapour -- may help the memory as well as ease cravings as smokers quit their habit…
[Study] results showed that the e-cigarette with nicotine helped men more than women in terms of reducing their craving and improving their mood. The placebo e-cigarette was just as good as the nicotine e-cigarette for women. Those tested for working memory revealed that e-cigarettes with nicotine helped both men and women maintain working memory compared to those in the other groups.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Chipotle Shrimp Tacos
Shrimp tacos are a fun twist and great for a weeknight dinner or entertaining company. They only take about 15 minutes and have a lot of flavor and some heat from the chipotle chile powder. Serve with fresh orange sections.
EatingWell:
Skinny Guacamole
This delicious guacamole recipe replaces half the amount of high-calorie avocado in a traditional guacamole recipe with a stealth, low-calorie vegetable—zucchini—to cut 100 calories and 6 grams of fat so we can eat more guacamole with fewer calories. We use the microwave to cook the zucchini until it’s very tender, but you can steam it on the stovetop if you prefer.
Washington Post:
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Imported Foods Causing More Disease

(WebMD Health News) Foodborne disease from imported foods is on the rise, with more foods from more countries causing more outbreaks, the CDC says.
The most common culprits are fish and spices, particularly peppers, the CDC's Hannah Gould, PhD, said…
Gould's team analyzed foodborne disease data from 2005 to 2010. Over those five years, imported foods caused 39 outbreaks and 2,348 reported illnesses.
About half those outbreaks came in the most recent two years.
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Hunger threatens 1 in 7 U.S. seniors

(UPI) More than 8 million U.S. seniors faced the threat of hunger in 2010 -- a 78 percent increase since 2001, The Meals On Wheels Research Foundation says…
The Senior Hunger Report Card evaluated the nation's performance in reducing food insecurity and eradicating hunger, and assigned grades including:
-- A grade of F for overall performance for the 34 percent increase of senior hunger since the start of the recession in 2007.
-- F for economics, as food insecurity increased among those age 60 and older, primarily with income one to two times the poverty level.
-- F for women's studies, the effects of food insecurity are disproportionately borne by women.
-- F in ethics, in the richest nation on Earth, more than 1 in 7 seniors is threatened by hunger.
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Asthma an Often Unrecognized Risk for Older People

(WebMD Health News) Asthma is not just dangerous for kids.
People over 65 also have asthma and often face an uphill health battle as a result, a new study suggests. Once hospitalized, these individuals are 14 times more likely to die from asthma than younger adults. What's more, asthma increases their risk for impaired lung function and a worse quality of life.
Part of the reason for the poor outcomes is that asthma is often misdiagnosed and undertreated among older adults. When an older person becomes short of breath or has tightness in their chest, they -- as well as their doctors -- may attribute it to age, being out of shape, or even to their heart, instead of asthma…
Louisville, Ky.-based allergist James Sublett, MD, says many times adults with asthma had it as children. "They think they outgrew it, but they didn't," he says. 
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Hepatitis C a latent legacy of baby boomers' youth

(Los Angeles Times) The number of baby boomers dying from a "silent epidemic" of hepatitis C infections is increasing so rapidly that federal officials are planning a new nationwide push for widespread testing.
Three in four of the estimated 3.2 million people who have chronic hepatitis C — and a similar proportion of those who die from the disease — are baby boomers… Hepatitis C is the leading infectious cause of cirrhosis and liver cancer and is the most common reason for liver transplants in the United States, according to the CDC…
Many boomers unknowingly contracted the virus in younger years from using drugs or having blood transfusions before screening was improved during the AIDS crisis…
Concerned about the disease among baby boomers, the CDC plans to issue a recommendation this year that everyone born between 1945 and 1965 be tested. Up until now, the federal agency only urged screening for those believed to be at risk. That strategy hasn't worked, in part because of the stigma — doctors don't ask about previous drug use and patients don't offer up the information.
Community: If you injected drugs in your wild and crazy youth, or had a blood transfusion in earlier years, it might be a good idea to get tested. Recent discoveries may help treat the disease.
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Return of the Clap

(Scientific American) Gonorrhea … has been developing defenses against drug treatment for decades. The latest news from Japan and California is making the disease a priority for public health planners—a status it has not known since before Alexander Fleming and the discovery of penicillin. Once antibiotics became abundant and inexpensive, gonorrhea and syphilis seemed like solved problems.
Neither infection was vanquished, however. Gonorrhea, in particular, held on by borrowing DNA from other bacteria to construct new microbiological defenses. It steadily gained resistance against entire classes of antibiotics…
For any infectious disease, the ultimate control strategy is vaccination, but so far attempts to create a vaccine against gonorrhea have failed. Meanwhile, although infectious disease experts strongly encourage research into new antibiotics for gonorrhea, only one clinical trial is under way, and it is investigating combinations of older drugs, not new compounds. Some older drugs, such as azithromycin, have already started losing effectiveness against gonorrhea bacteria.
All these efforts—to educate physicians and patients, to track resistant strains and to develop new treatments—must be carefully targeted and well coordinated with one another. If not, truly untreatable gonorrhea, and its expensive, destructive consequences, could be the worldwide result. 
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Beehive Extract Shows Potential as Prostate Cancer Treatment

(Science Daily) An over-the-counter natural remedy derived from honeybee hives arrests the growth of prostate cancer cells and tumors in mice, according to a new paper from researchers at the University of Chicago Medicine.
Caffeic acid phenethyl ester, or CAPE, is a compound isolated from honeybee hive propolis, the resin used by bees to patch up holes in hives. Propolis has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for conditions ranging from sore throats and allergies to burns and cancer. But the compound has not gained acceptance in the clinic due to scientific questions about its effect on cells…
[The] proteomics to find that CAPE arrests early-stage prostate cancer by shutting down the tumor cells' system for detecting sources of nutrition.
"If you feed CAPE to mice daily, their tumors will stop growing. After several weeks, if you stop the treatment, the tumors will begin to grow again at their original pace," said Richard B. Jones, PhD…, senior author of the study. "So it doesn't kill the cancer, but it basically will indefinitely stop prostate cancer proliferation."
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Scientists Aim to Kill Lung Tumors

(Science Daily) Lung cancer mainly affects smokers; however the disease can also be caused by contact with carcinogenic substances like asbestos. Chemotherapy or radiotherapy often prove insufficient in treating the disease. Hence, scientists are engaged in an intensive search for ways of halting the growth of lung tumours. The blood vessels that supply the tumour with nutrients offer a potential point of attack…
Werner Seeger … reports: "We were able to show that [the phosphodiesterase molecule] PDE4 plays an important regulation function in cell division in lung tumours and in the development of blood vessels in cancer. Therefore, we hope that we have found a starting point for the development of a treatment here."
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Cord blood donation surges in public programs

(Vitals, MSNBC.com) When Amalia Kessler was pregnant with her first child, Stella, in 2008, she knew she didn’t want to waste the baby’s valuable umbilical cord blood, which can be a life-saving source of stem cells used to treat cancer and other diseases…
But when she tried to donate the cord blood to a public bank for wider use, Kessler was surprised to learn there was no nearby place that could salvage it. “I called all around,” she recalled…
Kessler’s insistence was part of the impetus for the Packard project, one of a growing number of hospital cord blood collection programs nationwide. The programs, which are free to parents, collect cord blood immediately after birth for listing on the National Be The Match Registry operated by the National Marrow Donor Program network…
All told, the banks provide access to some 165,000 cord blood units in the U.S. for people with life-threatening conditions, including leukemia and immune system and metabolism disorders. Counting international partners, the agency has access to some 425,000 cord blood units worldwide.
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Pollution can put minds in a fog

(Chicago Tribune) Researchers recently found that older women are especially vulnerable to air pollution in urban areas, experiencing higher rates of mental decline when exposed to fine and coarse particulate matter over time…
Dr. Victoria Persky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, said the findings were worrisome because air pollution at the exposures studied is so common.
"These are exposures that are seen right now around the country at various levels," said Persky. "The implications are that this is one more potential health effect of air pollution and we should continue to work on decreasing our exposure."
Another article in the same journal issue studied the association between changes in fine particulate matter and the risk of ischemic stroke in patients admitted to a Boston hospital between 1999 and 2008. The authors found that ischemic stroke was 34 percent higher on days with moderate levels of exposure compared with days with good levels.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize cognitive decline.
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Arrests Made In $75 Million Prescription Drug Heist

(Shots, NPR) Two brothers have been charged in connection with one of the nation's largest drug heists, along with 20 other people in an organized crime ring that stretched from Florida to New Jersey and Connecticut. It's the culmination of a three-year FBI investigation in which undercover agents managed to prevent any of the stolen drugs from entering the marketplace…
Drug theft isn't just a financial burden on pharmaceutical companies. It can cause real harm to patients. In 2009 the FDA warned consumers that stolen insulin, which had been improperly stored and was no longer effective, had entered the market. Some patients who used the stolen batches experienced convulsions or dangerous spikes in blood sugar. A similar advisory in 2010 warned of stolen asthma inhalers that had made it to pharmacy shelves…
[T]he pharmaceutical industry has beefed up security and regulators have issued stricter rules to encourage prompt public disclosure of drug thefts… The new measures may be working: transportation security consulting firm Freightwatch reported a significant decline in both the number and value of pharmaceutical thefts in 2011.
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Expensive Hospital Readmissions Linked to Health-Care-Associated Infections

(Science Daily) New research finds a strong link between healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) and patient readmission after an initial hospital stay. The findings … suggest that reducing such infections could help reduce readmissions, considered to be a major driver of unnecessary healthcare spending and increased patient morbidity and mortality…
"The potential to reduce readmissions along with other known benefits -- lower patient morbidity, mortality and healthcare costs -- may provide additional impetus to reduce healthcare-associated infections," [study leader Jon] Furuno said. In addition, the authors suggest patients with positive HAI cultures could be targeted to receive additional discharge planning resources to help reduce the likelihood of readmission.
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Patients leaving hospital against advice fare worse

(Reuters Health) Hospital patients who leave against medical advice may have an increased risk of being readmitted or dying within a month, a study at one New York medical center finds…
Studies have suggested that decision can be unwise: patients hospitalized for asthma, HIV or a heart attack, for example, have been found to have an increased risk of readmission when they leave contrary to doctors' recommendations.
But the new study, reported in the American Journal of Medicine, suggests patients are also at increased risk of dying within 30 days of leaving against medical advice.
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Older Americans Month 2012 - Never Too Old to Play!

(Agency on Aging) May is Older Americans Month, a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for the older adults in our community. Since 1963, communities across the nation have joined in the annual commemoration of Older Americans Month—a proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to celebrating the contributions and achievements of older Americans…
As large numbers of baby-boomers reach retirement age, many communities have increased their efforts to provide meaningful opportunities for older adults—many of whom remain physically and socially active through their 80s and beyond…
Lifelong participation in social, creative, and physical activities has proven health benefits, including retaining mobility, muscle mass, and cognitive abilities. But older adults are not the only ones who benefit from their engagement in community life. Studies show their interactions with family, friends, and neighbors across generations enrich the lives of everyone involved. Young people who have significant relationships with a grandparent or elder report that these relationships helped shape their values, goals, and life choices and gave them a sense of identity and roots.
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Poll: Most say 61 is middle-aged, not old

(UPI) Age 61 seems old or middle-aged to those age 45 and younger, while those older than 61 tend to see it young, a U.S. survey indicated…
The perspective of age depends on what side of 61 one is. The survey indicated 67 percent of Americans age 45 and older said 61 was middle-aged, 20 percent said age 61 was young and only 13 percent called 61 old.
However, 56 percent of adults age 45 and younger said 61 was middle-aged, 7 percent said 61 was young while nearly 37 percent said it was old.
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Health Law Strikedown May Disrupt Medicare

(AP) Tossing out President Barack Obama's health care law would have major unintended consequences for Medicare's payment systems, unseen but vital plumbing that handles 100 million monthly claims from hospitals and other service providers, the administration has quietly informed the courts.
Although the law made significant cuts to providers and improved prescription and preventive benefits for seniors, Medicare has been overlooked in a Supreme Court debate focused on the law's controversial requirement that individuals carry health insurance. Yet havoc in Medicare could have repercussions in an election year when both parties are avidly courting seniors.
In papers filed with the Supreme Court, administration lawyers have warned of "extraordinary disruption" if Medicare is forced to unwind countless transactions that are based on payment changes required by more than 20 separate sections of the Affordable Care Act.
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U.S. Spends Far More for Health Care, but Quality Varies

(The Commonwealth Fund) The United States spends more on health care than 12 other industrialized countries yet does not provide "notably superior" care, according to a new study from The Commonwealth Fund. The U.S. spent nearly $8,000 per person in 2009 on health care services, while other countries in the study spent between one-third (Japan and New Zealand) and two-thirds (Norway and Switzerland) as much. While the U.S. performs well on breast and colorectal cancer survival rates, it has among the highest rates of potentially preventable deaths from asthma and amputations due to diabetes, and rates that are no better than average for in-hospital deaths from heart attack and stroke.
Higher prices and greater use of technology appear to be the main factors driving the high rates of U.S. spending, rather than greater use of physician and hospital services, finds study author David Squires, senior research associate at The Commonwealth Fund. His report, Explaining High Health Care Spending in the United States: An International Comparison of Supply, Utilization, Prices, and Quality, presents analysis of prices and health care spending in 13 industrialized countries.
U.S. health care spending amounted to more than 17 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2009, compared with 12 percent or less in other study countries. Japan’s spending, which was the lowest, amounted to less than 9 percent of GDP.
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ACOs Could Have The Medicare Muscle To Transform Health System

(Kaiser Health News) A radical change just getting underway in the U.S. health system could transform how medical treatment has been paid for since Hippocrates made his first house call. But the new payment method faces conflicting dangers: either it won't be strong enough to upend entrenched incentives or it will be so successful it will prove too politically disruptive to survive.
The "accountable care organization" replaces the idea of reimbursing individual doctors and hospitals by procedure with a lump-sum payment to clinicians working as a formal ACO team. Under the terms of the Affordable Care Act, a Medicare ACO agrees to be responsible for all the care needs of a group of patients and to be paid based on those patients' health outcomes, satisfaction and costs…
ACOs explicitly target the "value versus volume" problem. In an ACO, a group of physicians and a hospital share clinical and financial responsibility for providing all care needed by a group of patients whether in the hospital or outside it. Rather than each procedure propping up the bottom line, the partnership prospers by keeping patients healthy and meeting clinical and cost-effectiveness goals. The intent is to reward quality, not quantity, of care.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Pepperoni, Onion, and Olive Pizza
We're jazzing up a classic pizza favorite by adding olives and thinly sliced sweet onion to the pepperoni.
EatingWell:
Tilapia with Tomato-Olive Sauce
Top tilapia fillets with a savory tomato-olive sauce that comes together in just 5 minutes. Look for tapenade near jarred olives in the supermarket. Serve with sautéed broccolini and farro tossed with toasted almonds.
Andrew Weil, M.D.
Hashed Brussels Sprouts!
Brussels sprouts are, for many, an especially difficult vegetable to love. That's largely because most people have had only steamed-into-mush versions. If that's been your experience, try this recipe, which preserves the sprouts' toothsome texture, and complements their subtle sweet flavor with savory and spicy notes. Sprouts dry out quickly after harvest; make an effort to get the freshest ones you can find for this dish.
Food as Medicine
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of glucosinolates, nutrients that provide building blocks from which the body constructs a variety of cancer-protective compounds. They also provide abundant antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A (as beta-carotene).
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Unmasking Black Pepper's Secrets as a Fat Fighter

(Science Daily) A new study provides a long-sought explanation for the beneficial fat-fighting effects of black pepper. The research … pinpoints piperine -- the pungent-tasting substance that gives black pepper its characteristic taste, concluding that piperine also can block the formation of new fat cells.
Soo-Jong Um, Ji-Cheon Jeong and colleagues describe previous studies indicating that piperine reduces fat levels in the bloodstream and has other beneficial health effects… Their laboratory studies and computer models found that piperine interferes with the activity of genes that control the formation of new fat cells.
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Why Underweight Babies Become Obese: Study Says Disrupted Hypothalamus Is to Blame

(Science Daily) It seems improbable that a baby born underweight would be prone to obesity, but it is well documented that these children tend to put on weight in youth if they're allowed free access to calories. Now, researchers believe they understand why this happens.
A new animal model study at UCLA has found that in low-birth-weight babies whose growth was restricted in the womb, the level of appetite-producing neuropeptides in the brain's hypothalamus -- the central control of the appetite -- is higher, resulting in a natural tendency among these children to consume more calories…
[Dr. Sherin] Devaskar said the next phase of research will look at an intervention to reverse the hypothalamic neuropeptide changes that cause the central control of appetite to be set too high.
Community: Let’s hope this research will help reduce adult obesity, as well.
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Biosynthetic Grape-Derived Compound Prevents Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease in Animal Model

(Science Daily) Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have succeeded in developing a biosynthetic polyphenol that improves cognitive function in mice with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The findings … provide insight in determining the feasibility of biosynthetic polyphenols as a possible therapy for AD in humans, a progressive neurodegenerative disease for which there is currently no cure.
Polyphenols, which occur naturally in grapes, fruits, and vegetables, have been shown to prevent the cognitive decline associated with AD in a mouse model, but the molecules are very complex and are extensively metabolized in the body. This is the first study to determine which specific subfraction of these molecules penetrates the animal brain, and demonstrate that a drug compound similar to polyphenols can exert similar bioactivities.
Community: Well, I’m not sure why we need synthetic polyphenols when we have natural ones that are readily available.
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Vitamins E, C no help against vision disorder

(Reuters Health) Taking vitamins E and C may do nothing to protect aging eyes from macular degeneration -- the leading cause of vision loss in older adults, a new clinical trial finds.
Researchers had been hoping the vitamins, both antioxidants, could shield against the tissue erosion that occurs in macular degeneration. The condition involves damage to the center of the retina, which makes it hard to see fine details.
Studies have found that people who get more antioxidants in their diet have a lower risk of macular degeneration. But that doesn't rule out other possible diet or lifestyle explanations behind the link.
And so far, clinical trials using vitamin E have come up empty.
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Vicks VapoRub Fights Nail Fungus

(The People’s Pharmacy) Q. I use Vicks VapoRub for …nail fungus. I rub it on each nail every day, and my nails are growing out clear…
A. This is not the first time we have heard about using Vicks VapoRub on nails infected with fungus. Several years ago a professional foot care nurse told us that this old-fashioned herbal ointment might be helpful.
The ingredients in Vicks VapoRub include camphor, menthol, eucalyptus oil, cedarleaf oil, nutmeg oil, petrolatum, thymol and turpentine oil. Some of these ingredients have antifungal activity.
Over the years we have suggested this as one possible approach for getting rid of nail fungus. Many health professionals have scoffed that such an old-fashioned remedy could do anything against entrenched fungus in the nail bed.
There is now research to support this remedy, though.
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Always Have to Pee? Here's What to Do

(RealAge.com) What embarrassing health secret do many women of a certain age share but rarely 'fess up to? Bladder problems. We're talking dribbles, sudden leaks, and mad dashes to the bathroom -- all signs of urinary incontinence, including overactive bladder.
If that sounds familiar, you're not alone. More than half of women deal with frequent urination. Aging, hormone changes, pregnancy, childbirth, physical stress (e.g., gymnastics) all play roles in overactive bladder, as do new factors, such as the obesity-diabetes epidemic.
That's a lot of daily difficulties. Incontinence dampens your enthusiasm for exercise, sex, going out, even attending meetings. Yet few women, and fewer men (yes, it's a problem for them, too), ask for help. Here are 5 ways to stop the flow for better bladder control:
1.    Do Kegels. This exercise strengthens the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles…
2.    Skip "urge-to-pee" drinks… Caffeine, fizzy drinks, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, tomatoes, and citrus can all trigger an overwhelming urge to pee…
3.    Take vitamin D. There's a strong link between incontinence and low vitamin D levels…
Treatments for incontinence include bladder retraining techniques, acupuncture, prescription drugs (to calm overactive bladders), and bladder surgery, to tightly shut your urethra (the tube that carries urine out of the body) or reposition a bladder that shifted during childbirth. There's also a plastic ring called a pessary that can help stabilize a shifty bladder or tighten a leaky urethra.
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Do Your Hands Shake?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Essential tremor is a common condition, affecting millions of people worldwide. Characterized by the involuntary shaking of the hands, head or neck, the symptoms and severity can vary from day to day, even hour to hour. Some people experience tremors when in certain positions, or when writing or eating. Unfortunately, no one knows the exact cause, though it is known that stress, anxiety and fatigue may worsen the tremors.
If you experience essential tremor, try the following (each may help to reduce the length and frequency of the tremors):
1.    Eliminate consumption of caffeine…
2.    Limit alcohol…
3.    Know the side effects of prescription drugs or herbs you are taking…
4.    Begin a regular practice of relaxation techniques such as meditation or tai chi.
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Synthetic Stool a Prospective Treatment for C. Difficile

(Science Daily)  A synthetic mixture of intestinal bacteria could one day replace stool transplants as a treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C . difficile is a toxin-producing bacteria that can overpopulate the colon when antibiotics eradicate other, naturally protective bacteria living there.
"A synthetic stool transplant has a lot of potential because we can control what goes in and we can alter, change, or modify it as necessary," says [assistant professor ] Elaine Petrof…
The goal behind [the] synthetic stool project is to offer a single-dose remedy, putting an end to revolving-door hospital visits for patients with recurring symptoms.
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Dental Fillings That Kill Bacteria and Re-Mineralize the Tooth

(Science Daily) Scientists using nanotechology at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry have created the first cavity-filling composite that kills harmful bacteria and regenerates tooth structure lost to bacterial decay.
Rather than just limiting decay with conventional fillings, the new composite is a revolutionary dental weapon to control harmful bacteria, which co-exist in the natural colony of microorganisms in the mouth, says professor Huakun (Hockin) Xu, PhD, MS.
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Drug Shortages Reduced by Half in U.S. After Obama Provides FDA New Power

(Bloomberg) New U.S. drug shortages have fallen by more than half this year after President Barack Obama gave regulators the power to head off potential scarcities, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said.
There have been 42 new shortages in 2012, compared with 90 at the same time last year, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said… Obama directed the FDA Oct. 31 to gather information earlier from drugmakers about potential shortages to help find alternate sources, increase production or start new manufacturing before patients’ lives are threatened.
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US to partner with Big Pharma for drug discovery

(Reuters) The U.S. government will help drug companies find treatments for a host of diseases through a new collaboration in which researchers will test experimental drugs provided by manufacturers.
The National Institutes of Health said on Thursday that Pfizer Inc, AstraZeneca Plc and Eli Lilly and Co have agreed to make 24 compounds available for a pilot phase of the project, the biggest of its kind ever launched in the United States.
All of the compounds have been tried in people and found to be safe, but the drugmakers have abandoned them because they did not work for the disease they were intended to treat. The NIH will provide $20 million in grants each year to researchers trying to find new uses for the compounds.
Community: Then we taxpayers should share in the profits.
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Why Research Should Be 'Hacked'

(Science Daily) Australian researchers are calling for the open sharing of clinical trial data in the medical research community, saying it would be instrumental in eliminating bottlenecks and duplication, and lead to faster and more trustworthy evidence for many of our most pressing health problems.
Moreover, hackers should be role models for freeing up access to the "source code" of clinical trials -- patient-level data -- the researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) argue in a commentary…
Hackers revolutionised the software industry by countering the economic and cultural motivations that drove closed source software and disengagement from user needs.
"Similar roadblocks plague the clinical evidence domain where, despite a rapid increase in the volume of published research, physicians still make decisions without access to the synthesised evidence they need," said paper co-author, UNSW Australian Institute of Health Innovation Research Fellow, Dr Adam Dunn.
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Does Dopamine Explain Why Slackers Slack?

(WebMD Health News) Don't have any motivation at work today? You may be able to blame your brain and its relationship with the chemical dopamine.
The way your brain handles dopamine may predict whether you are a hard worker or a slacker, new research suggests.
"If you look around at the people you know, yourself included, and think of the people always driven to work hard vs. the people who prefer to take it easy, what this study shows is that the range in motivation is in part due to how the dopamine system functions," says researcher Michael Treadway, PhD, a clinical fellow at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The new research reflects and reinforces some previous research, Treadway says. The findings could have important implications to help treat conditions marked by decreased motivation, such as depression or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he tells WebMD.
Community: There are practical ways to raise your dopamine levels.
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Mystery of Human Consciousness Illuminated

(Science Daily) Awakening from anesthesia is often associated with an initial phase of delirious struggle before the full restoration of awareness and orientation to one's surroundings. Scientists now know why this may occur: primitive consciousness emerges first.
Using brain imaging techniques in healthy volunteers, a team of scientists ,,, [has] now imaged the process of returning consciousness after general anesthesia. The emergence of consciousness was found to be associated with activations of deep, primitive brain structures rather than the evolutionary younger neocortex…
The demonstration of which brain mechanisms are involved in the emergence of the conscious state is an important step forward in the scientific explanation of consciousness. Yet, much harder questions remain. How and why do these neural mechanisms create the subjective feeling of being, the awareness of self and environment -- the state of being conscious?
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Research wrests partial control of a memory

(Scripps Research Institute) Scripps Research Institute scientists and their colleagues have successfully harnessed neurons in mouse brains, allowing them to at least partially control a specific memory. Though just an initial step, the researchers hope such work will eventually lead to better understanding of how memories form in the brain, and possibly even to ways to weaken harmful thoughts for those with conditions such as schizophrenia and post traumatic stress disorder…
"The question we're ultimately interested in is: How does the activity of the brain represent the world?" said Scripps Research neuroscientist Mark Mayford, who led the new study. "Understanding all this will help us understand what goes wrong in situations where you have inappropriate perceptions. It can also tell us where the brain changes with learning."
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Changing brains for the better

(University of Wisconsin-Madison)  Practices like physical exercise, certain forms of psychological counseling and meditation can all change brains for the better, and these changes can be measured with the tools of modern neuroscience, according to a review article…
The study reflects a major transition in the focus of neuroscience from disease to well being, says first author Richard Davidson, professor of psychology…
The brain is constantly changing in response to environmental factors, he says, and the article "reflects one of the first efforts to apply this conceptual framework to techniques to enhance qualities that we have not thought of as skills, like well-being. Modern neuroscience research leads to the inevitable conclusion that we can actually enhance well-being by training that induces neuroplastic changes in the brain."…
Davidson says his work has been shaped by his association with the Dalai Lama, who asked him in the 1990s, "Why can't we use the same rigorous tools of neuroscience to investigate kindness, compassion and wellbeing?"
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Action videogames change brains: study

(University of Toronto) A team led by psychology professor Ian Spence at the University of Toronto reveals that playing an action videogame, even for a relatively short time, causes differences in brain activity and improvements in visual attention.
Previous studies have found differences in brain activity between action videogame players and non-players, but these could have been attributed to pre-existing differences in the brains of those predisposed to playing videogames and those who avoid them. This is the first time research has attributed these differences directly to playing video games.
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Recipes

EatingWell:
Healthy Cinco de Mayo Recipes
Whether you’re throwing a Cinco de Mayo fiesta or cooking a Mexican-inspired meal for dinner, our healthy Cinco de Mayo recipes are flavorful, crowd-pleasing recipes. From tacos to enchiladas to burritos, our healthy Cinco de Mayo recipes are lighter versions of Mexican food favorites.
Cooking Light:
25 Mexican Recipes
Tacos, burritos, enchiladas y mas!
7 Best Margarita Recipes
Frozen, fruity, or on the the rocks, find the perfect margarita recipe to fit your taste.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
A Festive Mexican-Inspired Drink
What would Cinco de Mayo be without a fruity and refreshing south-of-the-border style drink? This festive “mocktail” is a healthier alternative to a traditional mojito, which is typically loaded with sugar. It’s perfect for celebrating Cinco de Mayo because it tastes great and it won’t derail your diet.
MyRecipes.com:
Ancho-Rubbed Flank Steak
Make a meal with ingredients almost entirely from the pantry. Roasted, simply seasoned potato wedges and a tartly dressed salad topped with smoky bacon complement this satisfying main dish.
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Omega-3-Rich Diet May Protect Aging Brains, Study Suggests

(WebMD Health News) Early research suggests that eating fatty fish, nuts, and other foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against Alzheimer's disease.
In a newly published study, researchers showed that people whose diets contained the most omega-3 had the lowest blood levels of a protein known as beta-amyloid.
Beta-amyloid deposits are commonly found at autopsy in the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease. Several studies also suggest that high blood levels of the protein may predict Alzheimer's disease before memory loss occurs.
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Eggs and nutrition

(Baltimore Sun) Eggs are affordable, a great source of lean protein, full of vitamins and minerals and low in calories, weighing in at about 70 calories each.
Over the years eggs have received a bad rap for their cholesterol content. While eggs do contain cholesterol, that may not necessarily be a reason to avoid them. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one large egg contains 185 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 14 percent lower than previously thought.
The American Heart Association recommends managing serum cholesterol levels by lowering your trans and saturated fat intakes, not through dietary sources of cholesterol. This means cutting back on full-fat dairy, fatty cuts of meat, butter, pre-packaged snacks and fast foods such as donuts and French fries. Multiple studies have shown that consuming one egg daily is not associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
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