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

Violent Shootings: Are There Warning Signs?

(WebMD Health News) In the wake of the Colorado movie theatre shootings -- with a 24-year-old gunman allegedly opening fire during a premier of the Batman movie The Dark Knight Rises, leaving many dead and wounded -- many Americans may wonder whether a shooter can be spotted before they commit a violent act.
Are there signs, symptoms, a profile?... WebMD turned to Jack Levin, PhD, the Irving and Betty Brudnick Professor of Sociology and Criminology at Northeastern University in Boston. He has written numerous books on violence, including Serial Killers and Sadistic Murderers -- Up Close and Personal, and Extreme Killing: Understanding Serial and Mass Murder.
Is there a profile of these mass murderers?...
[C]ertain characteristics do point to the possibility of being a mass murderer, Levin says.
"The first is chronic depression, over a long period of time," he says. "The second is social isolation -- having no place to turn when you get into trouble. The third is blaming everyone else for your problems."… "There is almost always a catastrophic loss -- the loss of a job, relationship, money in the stock market, being deeply in debt,'' Levin says.
Any specific warning signs in childhood?
"One of the warning signs is animal abuse," Levin says… "There is one kind that is very rare and seems to be a warning sign: inflicting pain and suffering on a dog or a cat, with personal contact -- stabbing, mutilation, suffocating."
"When you see this sadistic cruelty that is inflicted on a dog or a cat, especially when it is repeated, you should take it very seriously," Levin tells WebMD. "It's a rehearsal."
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Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure

(Reuters) Scientists who scanned the brains of men convicted of murder, rape and violent assaults have found the strongest evidence yet that psychopaths have structural abnormalities in their brains.
The researchers, based at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry, said the differences in psychopaths' brains mark them out even from other violent criminals with anti-social personality disorders (ASPD), and from healthy non-offenders.
Nigel Blackwood, who led the study, said the ability to use brain scans to identify and diagnose this sub-group of violent criminals has important implications for treatment.
The study showed that psychopaths, who are characterized by a lack of empathy, had less grey matter in the areas of the brain important for understanding other peoples' emotions.
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Brain Changes Seen in Postpartum Depression

(WebMD Health News) New research points to specific brain changes seen in moms with postpartum depression…
Postpartum depression occurs in up to 20% of new moms. More severe and incapacitating than baby blues, postpartum depression is marked by feelings of hopelessness, severe sadness or emptiness, withdrawal from family and friends, and even thoughts of suicide. These emotions can begin two or three weeks after birth and can last up to a year or longer if it goes unrecognized and untreated…
Although the study was small, and the findings do need to be confirmed, it could change how postpartum depression is treated. New compounds in the works target glutamate and seem to kick in much faster than antidepressants aimed at other neurochemicals. These drugs have not yet been tried in women with postpartum depression, but they may have a role.
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Surprising Symptoms of Adult ADHD

(RealAge.com) According to the American Psychological Association, ADHD is a behavioral condition that makes focusing on everyday requests and routines challenging. (ADD is a type of ADHD with little or no hyperactivity.) Typical ADHD symptoms include having trouble getting organized, staying focused, making realistic plans, and thinking before acting. Adults with ADHD may be fidgety, noisy, and unable to adapt to changing situations. These ADHD symptoms, which have a biological basis, affect every aspect of the adult's life: work, school, relationships, personal finances, sex, and raising children…
Adults with ADHD are more likely to:
·         Lose their jobs
·         Have interpersonal difficulties with coworkers and managers
·         Experience relationship difficulties and breakups
·         Struggle with substance abuse, if they're not treating their condition
Community: RealAge.com’s list of treatments is here.
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Stability Keeps Vets from Violence

(MedPage Today) Combat veterans whose living situation is stable and who feel that they have control over their lives are significantly less likely to commit violent acts once they're out of the service, a national survey showed…
Considerable concern has been raised about episodes of aggression involving veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and clinicians face an urgent need for guidance on how to minimize the risks [Eric B. Elbogen, PhD,] and colleagues wrote.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Moroccan Chicken with Fruit and Olive Topping
The pairing of dried fruit and olives is also characteristic of other North African cuisines, such as Tunisian and Algerian. Serve over Israeli couscous, a pearl-like pasta; sprinkle with chopped green onions.
EatingWell:
Spanish Pork Burgers
This Spanish-themed burger is boldly flavored with sautéed onions (which keep it moist), paprika, garlic and green olives. The creamy mayonnaise spread is tangy with lemon and a hint of earthy saffron.
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Infection expert: 5 second rule a myth

(UPI) Folk wisdom may say a dropped a hot dog or baby's pacifier is OK to put in one's mouth if picked up with 5 seconds, but a U.S. expert says they're contaminated.
"A dropped item is immediately contaminated and can't really be sanitized," Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program at Loyola University Health System near Chicago, said in a statement. "If you rinse off a dropped hot dog you will will probably greatly reduce the amount of contamination, but there will still be some amount of unwanted and potentially non-beneficial bacteria on that hot dog."
Community: But then again, a little contamination may be a good thing. Our immune systems need challenges. My grandmother used to say that a child couldn’t be healthy without eating a few mudpies.
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Colloidal Silver: Avoid It

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Widely promoted as a cure-all for everything from ear infections and shingles to AIDS, colloidal silver is a solution of silver particles suspended in liquid. Promoters claim that colloidal silver is an alternative to antibiotics and can extend life and remedy mineral deficiencies that lead to a weakened immune system. Is any of this true?
I don't think so - the claims are unproven, and colloidal silver is not a substitute for antibiotics, or any other medications. Not only does the human body have absolutely no need for silver, it can be harmful:
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New ‘tightrope’ procedure moves bunion back in place

(Chicago Sun-Times) A bunion develops from the big toe pressing continually against other toes. This pressure forces the main joint of the big toe outward. Over time this joint becomes enlarged and sometimes painful. This hard bump is called a bunion…
[Dr. George] Holmes recommends avoiding pointed-toe shoes. Comfortable shoes like Birckenstocks, Easy Spirits and Rockports provide good support and protection for feet, and help prevent conditions like bunions. Holmes also suggests women wear heels sparingly, about three to four hours per day if they must, to reduce the risk of foot problems.
Typical treatments for bunions include pain relievers, wider shoes and special shoe inserts. But once the bunion reaches a certain point, surgery becomes necessary…
Instead of the traditional bunionectomy or osteotomy, which involve breaking or removal of bones from the big toe, Holmes created the mini-tightrope procedure. In a mini-tightrope, buttons are attached along the outside edge of the big toe between the bunion and the base, and to the opposite side of another toe bone, above the base. String is then tightened between the buttons, drawing the angled joint of the bunion back in line.
Holmes touts the lack of complications from the procedure.
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The Science of Chronic Pain and Complementary Health Practices

(National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine ) As with any treatment, it is important to consider safety before using complementary health products and practices. If you are considering a complementary health practice to help manage your chronic pain, talk with your health care providers first. And get more information on NCCAM’s Web site about the safe use of complementary health products and practices.
Reviews of research on acupuncture, massage, and spinal manipulation for chronic low-back pain have found evidence that these therapies may be beneficial.
According to reviewers who have assessed the research on complementary health practices and fibromyalgia, much of the research is still preliminary, and evidence of effectiveness for the various therapies used is limited. However, research has shown that tai chi may provide a benefit to patients with fibromyalgia.
Some research has shown that acupuncture may help to reduce pain and improve joint mobility, and a small number of studies on massage and tai chi for osteoarthritis symptoms suggest that both therapies may help to reduce pain and improve the ability to walk and move.
There is some evidence that spinal manipulation may help patients suffering from chronic tension-type or neck-related headaches.
In general, there is not enough scientific evidence to prove that any complementary health practices are effective for rheumatoid arthritis, and there are safety concerns about some practices.
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Poor Sleepers More Likely to End Up in Nursing Homes

(MyHealthNewsDaily) Sleeping poorly may increase a person's risk of being placed in a nursing home later in life, a new study suggests.
In the study, older women whose sleep was the most fragmented had about three times the odds of being placed in a nursing home five years later, compared with women whose sleep was the least fragmented.
Previous studies have linked disturbed sleep with disabilities in older adults, and impairment in activities of daily living and mobility, the researchers said…
The study found an association, and not a cause-effect link. But if the findings  are confirmed, it's possible that treating sleep disturbances in older adults could improve their ability to function and reduce their risk of institutionalization, the researchers said.
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New Sleeping Pill Thwarts Brain’s Up-All-Night Neurons

(Bloomberg) [Merck & Co.] is in final testing on an insomnia product, named suvorexant, that works differently than the market leaders. It blocks a tiny group of receptors that keep the body alert, rather than boosting the brain’s complex sleep system. The target is more precise, offering less room for side effects to occur, the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based company said.
The strategy … could also allow people to use the treatments over longer periods…
“It’s not whether you put the patient to sleep or not, it’s how you feel the next day,” said Rafael Pelayo, a professor at Stanford School of Medicine’s Division of Sleep Medicine, in a telephone interview.
About 70 million, or one-third of American adults, have trouble falling or staying asleep, according to the American Psychiatric Association. Pelayo predicts that sleep issues will grow with the stress of modern life and the disruption from ever-present personal electronic devices, such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone, boosting the market for insomnia treatments.
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Express Scripts and Walgreens strike new deal

(Businessweek) After a year-long dispute, Express Scripts and Walgreens announced Thursday that they have struck a new pharmacy network deal.
Beginning Sept. 15, Walgreens drug stores will once again fill prescriptions at "in-network" rates for customers of north St. Louis-based Express Scripts Holding Co., which manages the pharmacy benefit for employers' health insurance plans.
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Rising placebo response seen in schizophrenia trials

(Reuters Health) Studies of schizophrenia drugs are increasingly finding lesser effects because more patients are responding to drug-free placebos used for comparison, according to a new United States government study…
[R]esearchers at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) looked at 32 clinical trials that were submitted to the agency between 1991 and 2008. The trials were all part of companies' applications to the FDA for approval of a new drug for schizophrenia.
The researchers found North American trials done in more recent years turned up smaller treatment effects than older studies. But it was not because drugs in the newer studies were less effective, said Dr. Thomas P. Laughren, head of the FDA's division of psychiatry products and one of the researchers on the study.
What changed was study patients given placebo pills started showing bigger responses.
Exactly why is unclear. One possibility, Laughren said, is that schizophrenia patients in clinical trials might be less sick than in the past -- and those people may be more likely to improve even if they are on a placebo. But Laughren said more research is needed to figure out what's really going on.
Community: The placebo response is extremely powerful, and the more we know about it, the more likely we are to find ways to use it to promote health and fight disease.
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Anemia drugs made billions, but at what cost?

(Washington Post) For years, a trio of anemia drugs known as Epogen, Procrit and Aranesp ranked among the best-selling prescription drugs in the United States, generating more than $8 billion a year for two companies, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson. Even compared with other pharmaceutical successes, they were superstars. For several years, Epogen ranked as the single costliest medicine under Medicare: U.S. taxpayers put up as much as $3 billion a year for the drugs.
The trouble, as a growing body of research has shown, is that for about two decades, the benefits of the drug — including “life satisfaction and happiness” according to the FDA-approved label — were wildly overstated, and potentially lethal side effects, such as cancer and strokes, were overlooked…
The multibillion-dollar rise and fall of the anemia drugs illustrates how the economic incentives embedded in the U.S. health-care system can make it not only inefficient but also potentially deadly.
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Patent Monopolies On Prescription Drugs Lead to Corruption

(Beat the Press) The Post did readers a great service in providing another example [see above] of how the government makes rich people rich. The article is about how a set of drugs intended to anemia, turned out to be both ineffective and potentially harmful.
The two companies that had government-granted patent monopolies on these drugs, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson, gained tens of billions of revenue from these drugs over the last two decades. The article points out that they attempted to conceal evidence that their drugs could be harmful and used their political connections to get politicians to lobby the Food and Drug Administration on their behalf. They also designed a payments system that effectively paid off doctors to use large amounts of their drugs.
This is exactly the sort of corruption that economic theory predicts will result when the government puts an artificial barrier in the market (i.e. a patent monopoly) that allows companies to sell a product at hundreds or even thousands of times their cost of production. It might have been useful if the Post had included the views of an economist who could explain this point to readers.
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Texas Slow To Review Health Insurance Rate Hikes

(Shots, NPR) Few governors have been as vocal and as unequivocal in their opposition to the federal health care law as Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry, a Republican, has vowed not to expand Medicaid and not to create an insurance exchange. Consumer advocates in Texas say the Perry administration has also been dragging its feet when it comes to insurance rate review.
To make insurance more affordable, the federal law requires every state to conduct a special review whenever a health insurer wants to raise premiums more than 10 percent. This rate review would help protect small businesses and individuals who buy their own policies. The provision went into effect last September, and since then, insurers made nine such requests in Texas.
But so far the Texas Department of Insurance hasn't completed any reviews. Officially, they're all pending.
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Medicare Vouchers Increase Costs: That's a Fact

(Beat the Press) Governor Romney's proposal to replace the existing Medicare system with a voucher system … would in fact raise the costs of providing Medicare equivalent policies. This is a conclusion that the Congressional Budget Office reached based on years of studying both the operation of private plans within Medicare, under the Medicare Plus Choice system and the Medicare Advantage system, and the operation of the huge private insurance market outside of Medicare.
In this context, President Obama's assertion that Romney's plan would leave seniors unable to afford traditional Medicare is not just an empty claim. It is a fact.
Responsible reporting would inform audiences of the evidence on this issue, and not leave it as a he said/she said. Reporters have the time to investigate the truth of the candidates competing claims. Their audiences do not.
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Inactivity 'killing as many as smoking'

(BBC News) A lack of exercise is now causing as many deaths as smoking across the world, a study suggests.
The report, published in the Lancet to coincide with the build-up to the Olympics, estimates that about a third of adults are not doing enough physical activity, causing 5.3m deaths a year. That equates to about one in 10 deaths from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and breast and colon cancer.
Researchers said the problem was now so bad it should be treated as a pandemic. And they said tackling it required a new way of thinking, suggesting the public needed to be warned about the dangers of inactivity rather than just reminded of the benefits of being active.
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Meditation, exercise may cut sick days from colds

(Reuters Health) Meditating or exercising could drastically cut the number of days people feel sick and miss work due to respiratory illnesses like colds and the flu, according to new research.
The findings are based on a small study and need to be confirmed. "But if our results turn out to be true... that's monumental," said Dr. Bruce Barrett of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who led the work.
That's because there are few ways people can avoid catching a cold - an illness that, despite being mild, costs society billions every year.
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Get Moving!

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) A healthful diet is not the only factor when it comes to achieving a healthy weight - physical activity plays an important role as well. While it may seem challenging to find time to work out, the long- and short-term health benefits make it a necessary aspect of achieving optimum health and a healthy weight. These five, simple tips can help get you moving and your calories burning!
1.    Change your daily habits. We've all heard the advice to park farther away or take the stairs, because it works. Set a goal to take the stairs at work every other day, then every day.
2.    Join a gym. Make an appointment with a trainer on staff - she or he can help design a plan for your level of fitness, health concerns or time constraints. Then go! (If you think a gym membership is beyond your budget, many healthcare plans now offer reimbursements if you visit the gym a certain number of times per month…
3.    Take care of yourself. Wear the proper footwear, removable layers or light clothing, start slow and work your way up, and avoid dehydration by drinking more water than you think you need.
4.    Get excited to work out. Join an exercise class, rent new exercise videos, hire a personal trainer, or enlist a friend for morning walks. It's more fun if you don't go it alone. And mix up your exercise routine to work different sets of muscles and keep boredom at bay.
5.    Try yoga. It is an effective and enjoyable way to burn calories, increase muscle mass (which in turn burns more calories) and enhance stretching, which is important for keeping joints limber and preventing injury.
6.     Start dancing! Fast-tempo dancing is not only fun (especially when you get some friends to join you) but can burn 400 to 500 calories per hour.
Community: Walking in my neighborhood is free. I feel no need to join a gym.
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Burn More Calories When Walking

(SouthBeachDiet.com) If you hate counting down the minutes on the treadmill or feel like you’re constantly checking your watch when walking outdoors, interval walking can help you keep your workout fun and fresh. Change up your usual walking routine with alternate bursts of fast, intense walking followed by periods of slower strides to allow your body to recover. In fact, by doing interval walking for about 20 minutes every other day (alternating with core-strengthening exercise), you can shift your metabolism into high gear and burn more calories and fat than you would if you were working out twice as long at a steady pace.
And there’s a bonus: With interval walking, the higher the intensity of the exercise, the longer the afterburn. You will keep burning more fat and calories even after you stop exercising! Here are 6 tips to help you get the most out of your interval-walking session:
1.    Wear shoes that will give you proper support, such as walking shoes, cross-training shoes, or running shoes. Avoid cotton socks and choose synthetic athletic socks that will wick away moisture while keeping your feet dry and blister-free.
2.    Begin each session with a short walk at a slow or moderate pace. This allows your muscles to warm up before you start doing your intervals.
3.    Do your best to maintain good posture while you’re walking. Tighten your abdominal and keep your chest lifted. Avoid leading with your chin while walking; it can result in neck and back pain.
4.    With each step, strike the treadmill or ground from heel to toe and feel your buttocks (glutes) contract. This strengthens your buttocks and hamstrings (the backs of your legs) as you walk.
5.    Remember that doing something is better than nothing. Start slowly, and then gradually increase your periods of intensity and total distance.
6.    If you're not up to doing higher-intensity interval training on a given day, be sure to take a recreational walk for 15 to 20 minutes.
Community: I’m a dedicated multi-tasker. I accomplish more than walking when I walk.
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Does Thinking Really Hard Burn More Calories?

(Scientific American) Just as vigorous exercise tires our bodies, intellectual exertion should drain the brain.
What the latest science reveals, however, is that the popular notion of mental exhaustion is too simplistic. The brain continuously slurps up huge amounts of energy for an organ of its size, regardless of whether we are tackling integral calculus or clicking through the week's top 10 LOLcats. Although firing neurons summon extra blood, oxygen and glucose, any local increases in energy consumption are tiny compared with the brain's gluttonous baseline intake. So, in most cases, short periods of additional mental effort require a little more brainpower than usual, but not much more…
If challenging cognitive tasks consume only a little more fuel than usual, what explains the feeling of mental exhaustion following the SAT or a similarly grueling mental marathon?...
Such fatigue seems much more likely to follow sustained mental effort that we do not seek for pleasure—such as the obligatory SAT—especially when we expect that the ordeal will drain our brains. If we think an exam or puzzle will be difficult, it often will be. Studies have shown that something similar happens when people exercise and play sports: a large component of physical exhaustion is in our heads…
[Claude Messier of the University of Ottawa] has related explanation for everyday mental weariness: "My general hypothesis is that the brain is a lazy bum," he says. "The brain has a hard time staying focused on just one thing for too long. It's possible that sustained concentration creates some changes in the brain that promote avoidance of that state. It could be like a timer that says, 'Okay you're done now.' Maybe the brain just doesn't like to work so hard for so long."
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Recipes

Cooking Light:
Garden-Fresh Recipes
Put your homegrown herbs and vegetable bounty to good use this summer with these fresh-from-the-garden recipes.
Easy Quinoa Recipes for 250 Calories
Fear not this grain: Quinoa is fast-cooking and makes tasty salads. You can cook on Sunday, chill, eat over the next few days, and tote to work.
How to Eat the Right Amounts of Healthy Fats
Find delicious ways to work the right amount of healthy fats into your daily diet.
Refreshing Homemade Sorbets
Light, sweet, and easy to make, find 15 recipes for homemade sorbets.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Lemon Ginger Sorbet
A True Food Kitchen restaurant exclusive! This healthier, sunny ice cream alternative has a tangy flair from freshly grated ginger and lemon zest that will leave you sweet tooth satisfied, but your body feeling good. Try serving with fresh fruit or mint leaves instead of traditional ice cream toppings.
Food as Medicine
Ginger, the underground rhizome of the ginger plant, has a long history in traditional medicine of relieving gastrointestinal distress. Modern studies have shown it to be especially effective against motion sickness.
MyRecipes.com:
Chicken and Herb White Pizza
Instead of the usual tomato sauce, make a white sauce for your pizza and top with shredded chicken and fresh oregano, chives, and parsley.
EatingWell:
Tuna Pasta with Olives & Artichokes
Here we toss grilled tuna with pasta, artichoke hearts, green olives and tomatoes. Grilling the tuna gives this ultra-fresh pasta dish a subtle smokiness. But if you’re pressed for time, try canned tuna in place of the grilled fish.
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Restaurant meals a bit healthier after menu law

(Reuters Health) Chain restaurants in the Seattle area seem to have made small changes for the better since a 2009 law forced them to put nutrition information on their menus, a new study finds.
Eighteen months after the law went into effect in King County, Washington, calorie counts were a bit lower, the study found. "Sit down" chain restaurants did better than fast-food joints: their entrees were an average of 73 calories lighter, versus a small, 19-calorie reduction at fast-food places.
There were also some improvements in sodium and saturated fat content.
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Lower High Blood Pressure with These Snacks

If your blood pressure inches into the uh-oh zone (anything over 124/84 makes your RealAge substantially older and increases your chances of suffering disabilities, impotence, and wrinkled skin), should you wait to see if it comes down by itself?
(RealAge.com) Wait-and-see wisdom isn't heart smart at any age, according to two new reports we think should be must-reads in every doctor's office and at every kitchen table…
Aim for what we docs recommend is the healthiest, heart-friendly blood pressure: 115/76. How? Reduce stress, eat smart, get plenty of physical activity, and enjoy these surprising, blood-pressure-lowering foods:
Purple Potatoes…
Raisins…
Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and cashew nuts…
Protein…
Dark chocolate.
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Lowering Cholesterol Naturally

(The People’s Pharmacy) Q. I lowered my bad cholesterol from 147 to 119 over several months by eating an avocado a week and taking two lecithin capsules a day. I found the avocado recommendation on your website. Thank you!
A. Avocados used to be considered forbidden fruit because of their high fat content. Research now suggests that the monounsaturated fats in avocados help lower serum lipids, including LDL cholesterol…
Lecithin is a complex of fatty substances that occurs naturally in foods like soybeans or egg yolks. It isn't clear how well it lowers cholesterol. Although some animal studies seem promising…, there isn't much human research. One study does suggest, however, that soy-derived lecithin can prevent the re-absorption of cholesterol from the intestines, resulting in lower blood fats…
We offer a number of natural approaches to lowering cholesterol in our book, The People's Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies. You'll find a cholesterol-lowering smoothie as well as suggestions on walnuts, vinegar, oatmeal, grape juice, fish oil and cinnamon. 
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Chocolate IS Health Food

(The People’s Pharmacy) Europe has just made it official: There is enough scientific evidence that chocolate can be considered a healthy food. The European Food Safety Authority, the EU's equivalent of the FDA for food, has determined that the flavanol compounds found in dark chocolate are beneficial for circulation. They keep blood platelets from sticking together to form clots, and they help to control blood pressure as well as maintain blood flow.
The agency's decision may result in health claims being made on chocolate products, from beverages to candy bars. The request was put forward by Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut, which has funded research on the physiological effects of cocoa flavanols. The manufacturer has developed a special process that protects flavanol compounds so that at least 80 percent of them remain in the finished chocolate.
Community: I don’t want all the sugar that comes with prepared chocolate products. Most evenings, I drink a smoothie. I put a level teaspoon chocolate powder in it, and the only sweetener is one teaspoon of raw molasses.
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Turmeric May Boost Colon Cancer Treatment

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) British researchers are investigating whether curcumin, a compound found in the curry spice turmeric, can help fight off colon cancer.
The team first noted that Indians and Pakistanis living in the UK were 70 percent less likely to develop colon cancer than non-Asians. They’ve since found in laboratory studies that curcumin can disrupt the growth of colon cancer cells, and animal studies suggest that the compound can impair development of colon cancer by 60 percent. The investigators also reported that animals with established colon cancer that were treated with a combination of chemotherapy and curcumin had over a 100-fold reduction in cancer cells.
In the newly implemented human study, the researchers are giving capsules containing curcumin to a group of patients with advanced colon cancer who are also being treated with a combination of chemotherapy agents. Of the 40 patients to take part, 30 will get curcumin plus chemo and the other 10 will get the chemo alone. The amount of curcumin being used in the study is equivalent to what you would get by eating two big servings of curry daily. The investigators are hoping that the curcumin will increase the effectiveness of chemotherapy and possibly help reduce its side effects.
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Retinal detachment risk from cataract surgery falls

(Reuters Health) The risk of a person's retina detaching after having a cataract removed is dropping, says a new study.
Australian researchers found that the number of people who needed their retina reattached after their cataract was removed fell from about one in 100 between 1989 and 1993 to one in 400 between 1999 and 2001.
[Dr. Jack] Cioffi, who was not involved with the new study, said he thinks the reduction is most likely thanks to improvements in technology and the ability of doctors to adapt to new procedures.
One such improvement, phacoemulsification extraction, was first adopted in the mid-1980s and is now the preferred procedure for cataract surgery. Cioffi said it was a harder method to learn, but allowed doctors to be less invasive compared to the old procedure.
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Trouble Seeing? Signs of Cataracts

(RealAge.com) Have you ever noticed a milky-colored buildup in the middle of someone's eyes? That's what a cataract can look like if it gets to an advanced stage. But early on, it may not be so visible to others. Still, cataracts can begin affecting vision quite early in their development -- and those vision changes are something that millions of people deal with. In fact, more than 50% of us get cataracts or cataract treatment by the time we reach age 80…
Only an eye care professional can diagnose cataracts, but it may be time to schedule an eye exam if you notice any of these common signs:
·         Blurry or fuzzy vision
·         Trouble seeing at night
·         Double vision (single objects appear as two)
·         A glow or halo effect around lights
·         Changes to color vision (colors are less vivid, maybe brownish)…
If cataracts make it hard for you to see, there are lots of ways to compensate for your low vision. A new eyeglasses prescription may help. So might better lighting. And your eye care professional may be able to recommend other types of eyewear that help with glare and other vision problems.
But if these measures don't work well enough, or if your cataracts severely affect your vision, a simple surgery may help improve your eyesight.
Read more, including lifestyle habits that may help prevent cataracts.
Community: I had my first cataract surgery on Wednesday, and now I’m not wearing glasses for the first time in almost 60 years. The world is a different color today than it was on Tuesday, friends.
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Whooping cough could reach highest levels since 1959

(USA Today) As of July, nearly 18,000 cases have been reported, more than twice as many as at this time last year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. At this pace, the number of whooping cough cases will surpass every year since 1959.
Public health officials are concerned the uptick might be due in part to a switch from one vaccine type to another 15 years ago. The change was based in part on now-discredited concerns about the dangers of the older vaccine.
Community: More on whooping cough: “Whooping cough: 8 things you need to know”.
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New health issues tied to low-level lead exposure

(Baltimore Sun) Despite dramatic progress in reducing Americans' exposure to lead over the past 25 years, a growing body of research finds that children and adults still face health risks from even very low levels of the toxic metal in their blood.
A recent government study, prepared with help of researchers from Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, tallies the wide-ranging damage low-level lead exposure can do, beyond the well-documented effects of reducing youngsters' IQ and undermining their ability to learn and control their behavior. Hearing and even the onset of puberty may be affected in children, while in adults, kidneys and blood pressure may be harmed.
"There does not appear to be a really safe level of lead exposure," said Andrew A. Rooney, a senior health scientist with the National Toxicology Program who coordinated the review of existing research. "The best course of action," he added, "is to eliminate all lead exposure from our environment."
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Lab-Engineered Muscle Implants Restore Function in Animals

(Science Daily) New research shows that exercise is a key step in building a muscle-like implant in the lab with the potential to repair muscle damage from injury or disease. In mice, these implants successfully prompt the regeneration and repair of damaged or lost muscle tissue, resulting in significant functional improvement.
"While the body has a capacity to repair small defects in skeletal muscle, the only option for larger defects is to surgically move muscle from one part of the body to another. This is like robbing Peter to pay Paul," said George Christ, Ph.D., a professor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center's Institute for Regenerative Medicine. "Rather than moving existing muscle, our aim is to help the body grow new muscle."
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Hospitals' Readmissions Rates Not Budging

(Kaiser Health News) The nation's hospitals are making little headway in reducing the frequency at which patients are readmitted despite a campaign by the government and the threat of financial penalties, according to Medicare data released Thursday.
The government and health policy experts consider frequent readmissions a sign of the shortcomings of the nation's health care system, with more than one in five Medicare patients returning to the hospital within a month of discharge. Medicare in October will begin to penalize hospitals with higher than expected readmission rates as required by the 2010 federal health law.
"We've put all of this policy effort into this area, and yet we're seeing no movement," said Ashish Jha, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. "Either we have no idea how to really improve readmissions, or most of the readmissions are not preventable and the efforts being put on it are not useful."
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UnitedHealth Faces Profit Pressures on Government Plans, CEO Hemsley Says

(Bloomberg) UnitedHealth Group Inc., the biggest U.S. health insurer, declined after Chief Executive Officer Stephen Hemsley said profit margins are being squeezed in its Medicare and Medicaid plans…
While UnitedHealth raised its 2012 profit forecast, the company is still coping with “minimal” rate increases in Medicare, the U.S.-backed plan for the elderly and disabled, Hemsley told analysts today on a conference call. He said the Minnetonka, Minnesota-based insurer may also consider pulling out of Medicaid markets in states where rates “aren’t sustainable.”
Community: I still don’t know why companies are allowed to profit from our pain and suffering.
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Supercentenarians Show How to Live Longer

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If living a long life is important to you, you may want to adopt some of the habits that supercentenarians have in common. Supercentenarians - people who live to be 110 or older - share four lifestyle characteristics that may help explain their longevity. Throughout their lives, they have remained:
1.    Physically active. Even as you get older, daily physical activity should be a priority. Modify your routine to incorporate small steps, such as daily walks, using the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking up hobbies that involve exercise, such as gardening, playing tennis or hiking.
2.    Positive. Maintaining an optimistic outlook is important to managing stress and preventing related health issues such as heart disease. You can easily train yourself to start looking at the glass as half full. Begin with some simple self-reflection and meditation, and use humor for coping with negative thoughts.
3.    Social. A network of family and close friends is vital to optimum health. You can enjoy the benefits of a well developed social life by spending time with people who make you happy, joining community groups or clubs, volunteering, and participating in support groups.
4.    Spiritual. Regardless of your religious affiliation (if any), feeling a connection with nature, a higher being or purpose cultivates spirituality, and is an important part of graceful aging.
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