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

Falls not a normal part of aging

(UPI) Guidance in Britain advises an intensive exercise program for the elderly at risk of falling including strength training, balance and tai chi, researchers say…
[Dr. Vicki] Goodwin said there are things elderly people can do for themselves to improve their balance and prevent falls including:
-- Stay active, in particular strength and balance training.
-- Get eyes checked because vision can affect balance.
-- Painful feet and poor fitting shoes can affect balance.
-- Check home for potential hazards e.g. loose fitting rugs and poor lighting. Install hand rails in bathrooms.
-- Manage medicines, as some contribute to being dizzy.
-- Boost bone health with exercise, a balanced diet and vitamin D.
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Even the Very Elderly and Frail Can Benefit from Exercise

(Science Daily) A study carried out by Dr. Louis Bherer, PhD…, has shown that all seniors, even those considered frail, can enjoy the benefits of exercise in terms of their physical and cognitive faculties and quality of life and that these benefits appear after only three months…
"We hope to adapt the exercise program used in the study and make it available to the public through the seniors' health promotion centre that the IUGM is developing. We believe that by transferring our research findings to the public, we will help both healthy and frail senior citizens stay at home longer," concluded the researcher.
Community: I do physical therapy three times a week to help build bone density, and I noticed this week that an elderly woman who’s in a wheelchair has made significant progress in strengthening her arms. It’s just amazing what we can do when we decide to.
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A Step Forward–What Walking Has To Do With Your Auto Insurance

(Desiree Baughman, InsuranceQuotes.org) Consumers are constantly getting insurance quotes and looking for ways to save money, but perhaps an answer has been in front of all of us the whole time, or rather, a step ahead of us–literally.
The way to cheaper auto insurance premiums? Put one foot in front of the other, and repeat…
According to the recent series, The Crisis in American Walking, by writer Tom Vanderbilt, Americans walk less than anyone else—even Australia, which’s as much of a car hungry country as the U.S…
It’s possible by taking more walks around the block, maybe we could see significant savings on a variety of insurance products—even auto insurance… [S]imply walking more and driving less factors into complex rating systems and just as simply results in savings, especially with PAYD policies– if you’re in an area conducive to walking you’re probably in an urban setting.
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More Reasons to Exercise

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Many women think that exercise might aggravate hot flashes, but Penn State researchers found just the opposite in a group of women who reported “mild to moderate” menopausal symptoms… The investigators found that the average woman in the study experienced fewer hot flashes after exercising.
(Reuters Health) People whose vision has deteriorated in both eyes are less physically active than people without vision loss, according to a new study, potentially putting them at risk for poor health.
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Barbecue Sirloin and Blue Cheese Salad
Lean sirloin steak sits atop a bed of fresh veggies for an easy weeknight main-dish salad. Top with crumbles of rich blue cheese to bring out the bold flavors in the homemade vinaigrette.
Chicken with Tarragon Cream Sauce
A touch of lemon-tarragon cream elevates simply sauteed chicken breasts. Serve accompanied by whole-wheat egg noodles, rice pilaf or parslied boiled new potatoes.
Washington Post:
Mirin pork chops with apple chutney
Weeknight cooking is all about getting gobs of flavor from just a few ingredients, no special techniques and as little effort as possible.
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Food Safety: Romney and Obama Focus on Different Solutions

(Christine Gorman, Observations, Scientific American) Question #7. Food What steps would you take to ensure the health, safety and productivity of America’s food supply?...
Governor Mitt Romney’s answer to the food safety question was shorter and had many fewer details than his responses to most of the other 13 questions (which we will explore in upcoming weeks). Romney focused on how well the food-safety system works currently. He praised the “businesses and workers in America’s agriculture system, from farmers and ranchers to packager and processors to grocers and restaurants” who “work incredibly hard to provide peace of mind to the hundreds of millions they feed every year.” And he spoke generally about “preventive practices” being the “best tool to reduce the incidence of food-borne illnesses.”…
In his response, President Obama talked about food-borne illness, pesticides and antibiotics, but not hormones or terrorism. He stated that “one in four people were getting sick every year due to food-borne illness” when he took office and that the “comprehensive reform of our nation’s food safety laws” that were enacted during his Administration “have strengthened standards, prevented food from being contaminated with dangerous bacteria, bolstered surveillance used to detect contamination problems earlier” and allowed health authorities to respond “to illness outbreaks faster.”
Obama is on fairly solid ground here. Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the U.S. appears to be making progress on food-borne illness overall, but there is room for improvement.
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September is Fruits & Veggies--More Matters Month

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Research shows that fruit and vegetables are important to promoting good health. Yet, the majority of Americans are not getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables they need each day.
Fruits and vegetables contain essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that may help protect you from chronic diseases, including stroke, other cardiovascular diseases, and certain cancers. However, it can be difficult for many Americans to eat the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables because they might not be easily accessible, available, or affordable.
This month, CDC encourages you to take steps to eat more fruits and vegetables each day. To help you get started, check out CDC's 30 Ways in 30 Days for tips on eating more fruits and vegetables without breaking your budget.
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Are You A Sugar Addict?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) An extraordinary collection of statistics assembled in this infographic (I can't vouch for the accuracy of every figure here, but these roughly align with what I've seen from other sources) suggests just how dysfunctional Americans' relationship with sugar has become… Overconsumption of sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates (like those found in breads, pizza, cold cereals and other baked goods) has been linked to obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
One of the most effective moves you can make to improve your health is cutting back sharply on sugar consumption; in particular, avoid sugared beverages entirely. If this seems daunting, taper off slowly - add slightly less sugar to your coffee or tea, have one fewer soft drink per week, etc. You will quickly discover that the craving for sugar dissipates. Foods that once seemed pleasantly sweet will now taste cloying.
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Stem-Cell-Protecting Drug Could Prevent the Harmful Side Effects of Radiation Therapy

(Science Daily) Radiation therapy is one of the most widely used cancer treatments, but it often damages normal tissue and can lead to debilitating conditions. A class of drugs known as mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors can prevent radiation-induced tissue damage in mice by protecting normal stem cells that are crucial for tissue repair, according to a preclinical study…
"We can exploit the emerging findings for the development of new preventive strategies and more effective treatment options for patients suffering this devastating disease," says senior study author J. Silvio Gutkind.
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Safe, Multi-Functional Anti-Inflammatory/anti-Allergic Drugs Developed

(Science Daily) A synthetic, anti-inflammatory and anti-allergic family of drugs to combat a variety of illnesses, while avoiding detrimental side effects, has been developed by a Hebrew University of Jerusalem researcher…
Inflammatory/allergic diseases present different symptoms affecting different organs… What they have in common is that all of them share biochemical mechanisms. A key one among them is the action of an enzyme family (PLA2) that initiates the production of a cascade of pro-inflammatory mediators involved in the induction and propagation of the diverse inflammatory diseases.
In Prof. [Saul] Yedgar's lab…, he and his associates have designed and constructed an entirely novel synthetic generation of drugs that control the PLA2 activity and the subsequent cascade of pro-inflammatory mediators, thereby providing multi-functional, anti-inflammatory drugs (MFAIDs).
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Video Dial-a-Doctor Seen Easing Shortage in Rural U.S.: Health

(Bloomberg) Until recently, when children in Ware County, Georgia, needed to see a pediatrician or a specialist, getting to the nearest doctor could entail a four- hour drive up Interstate 75 to Atlanta.
Now, there’s another option. As part of a state-wide initiative, the rural county has installed videoconferencing equipment at all 10 of its schools to give its 5,782 students one-on-one access to physicians. Telemedicine sites for adults have also sprung in the area. Instead of taking a full day off from work or school, residents can now regularly see their specialist online.
The program places Georgia among a half-dozen U.S. states turning to telemedicine to address a shortage of doctors in rural areas, a gap the Obama administration has said is a serious health-care shortcoming. At the same time, it is allowing companies such as medical provider Sentara Healthcare and MDLive, a remote technology developer, to get a toehold in a new and growing market.
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Self-Powered Health Monitoring

(Science Daily) North Carolina State University will lead a national nanotechnology research effort to create self-powered devices to help people monitor their health and understand how the surrounding environment affects it, the National Science Foundation announced today…
The NSF Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST)… , funded by an initial five-year $18.5 million grant from NSF, also includes five affiliated universities and about 30 industry partners in its global research consortium.
"Tackling the world's grand challenges is one of NC State's strategic imperatives," said NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson. "The ASSIST center holds the potential to transform health care, leading to advanced environmental health research and enhanced environmental policy."
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Million Hearts Launches New Educational Program to Improve Americans' Blood Pressure Control

(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Customers at drugstores around the nation can get help to improve blood pressure control, through a collaboration among pharmacists, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and other partners. The program, “Team Up. Pressure Down.,” includes educational videos, a blood pressure control journal, and wallet card to track medication use.
The blood pressure initiative, part of the Million Hearts health education program and supported by the Affordable Care Act, was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with practicing pharmacists and national pharmacist groups.  The initiative’s tools will help pharmacists talk about current medications and ways in which patients can use the medications most effectively. The goal of Million Hearts is to prevent 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017.
“This valuable Million Hearts initiative will prevent heart attacks and strokes by bringing pharmacists into the care team to help patients control their blood pressure. Pharmacists are able to talk to patients and families about using medication to manage, high blood pressure, and they can also help patients address barriers to taking their medication,” said Surgeon General, Regina M. Benjamin, MD.
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Sept.: One free week of yoga offered

(UPI) During the month of September, the Yoga Health Foundation, which is coordinating Yoga Month, says it is offering one week of free yoga passes to inspire health…
Whether just beginning or continuing a journey through yoga, Yoga Month provides an opportunity to discover yoga's simple, unique health benefits firsthand, [Johannes R. Salinger, founder of the Yoga Health Foundation,] said.
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Transformation of Health System Needed to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

(Institute of Medicine) America's health care system has become too complex and costly to continue business as usual, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.  Inefficiencies, an overwhelming amount of data, and other economic and quality barriers hinder progress in improving health and threaten the nation's economic stability and global competitiveness, the report says.  However, the knowledge and tools exist to put the health system on the right course to achieve continuous improvement and better quality care at lower cost, added the committee that wrote the report.
The costs of the system's current inefficiency underscore the urgent need for a systemwide transformation.  The committee calculated that about 30 percent of health spending in 2009 -- roughly $750 billion -- was wasted on unnecessary services, excessive administrative costs, fraud, and other problems.  Moreover, inefficiencies cause needless suffering.  By one estimate, roughly 75,000 deaths might have been averted in 2005 if every state had delivered care at the quality level of the best performing state.
Incremental upgrades and changes by individual hospitals or providers will not suffice, the committee said.  Achieving higher quality care at lower cost will require an across-the-board commitment to transform the U.S. health system into a "learning" system that continuously improves by systematically capturing and broadly disseminating lessons from every care experience and new research discovery.  It will necessitate embracing new technologies to collect and tap clinical data at the point of care, engaging patients and their families as partners, and establishing greater teamwork and transparency within health care organizations.  Also, incentives and payment systems should emphasize the value and outcomes of care.
Community: See what happens when there’s profit in the system? Back in the days when there were no HMOs, none of the doctors owned testing facilities, and all of the hospitals were nonprofit, there were many fewer unnecessary procedures.
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My &*%$#!!! Question for Romney and Obama

(John Horgan, Cross-Check, Scientific American) Presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama recently answered 14 science-related questions put to them by Scientific American and ScienceDebate.org. This exchange left me wanting more. If I had the candidates locked in a room with me, I’d ask them…:
What the $%&*#!!! you gonna do about the obscenely big gap between rich and poor Americans?
Over the past few decades the gap between rich and poor and the U.S. has reached Grand Canyon proportions, triggering complaints from prominent scholars and pundits as well as Occupy Wall Streeters…
Let’s disregard the morality of inequality and just consider the issue from a public-health perspective. Psychologists Martin Daly and Margot Wilson have linked higher inequality with higher homicide rates in counties across the U.S. and Canada. The social scientists Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett have correlated a high [inequality] index with other ills, including imprisonment, illiteracy, infant mortality, obesity, cancer, heart disease, mental illness and substance abuse…
See … their website The Equality Trust and Wilkinson’s TED talk (to which one of my students, Marlon Montoya, alerted me).
Inequality is a social sickness, which must be treated.
Community: In case you have a hard time finding it on the chart, the USA is at the very top right, the very conspicuous outlier.
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Planners craft strategies to avoid new U.S. healthcare taxes

(Reuters) Tax planners are developing ways to help well-to-do U.S. clients avoid the full impact of taxes set to take effect next year under President Barack Obama's healthcare overhaul…
Obama's healthcare law imposes a 3.8 percent tax on investment income and a 0.9 boost in payroll taxes, both applying only to individuals earning more than $200,000 a year or households earning more than $250,000.
That is about 4 percent of the tax-paying population, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.
Among ways these taxpayers might be able to avoid the full brunt of the new taxes: cashing in gains this year instead of next; characterizing income as active instead of passive; and moving profits into vehicles or structures not subject to the tax, said a range of tax experts.
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GOP win could shift nursing home costs

(UPI) A Republican victory in November may mean some children of nursing home patients will have to help cover their long-term care costs, a consumer advocate says.
Robyn Grant, director of public policy and advocacy for the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long Term Care, said few Americans buy private long-term care insurance, many do not have the money to stay in a nursing home that can cost $80,000 a year and most people don't know Medicare does not pay for long-term nursing home care, The New York Times reported.
Many people are forced to go on Medicaid to receive nursing home care, but most people don't realize this, Grant added.
Community: But the cross-generational sharing isn’t all one way: “Most grandparents provide care for the grandkids”. Individual families wouldn’t be so hard hit if there weren’t such an intransigence on the right against any efforts to use government to share the risk.
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Longevity linked to good genes, good diet

(UPI) Researchers in Sardinia say the longevity of the world's oldest siblings -- nine brothers and sisters ages 105-78 -- was due to good genes and a good diet…
Researchers at the University of Sassari in Sardinia said the family's longevity might be due to genetics, strong family traditions and the seasonal fruits and vegetables -- particularly pears, prunes, or plums -- that they consumed as part of their Mediterranean diet.
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A Genetic Fountain of Youth?

(National Human Genome Research Institute) As we age our hair turns gray, our skin wrinkles and our muscles lose their tone. Some turn to surgical remedies to combat these less-than-glamorous side effects of aging…
This month's Genome Advance of the Month compares newborns and centenarians to see if epigenetic changes, or alterations in the signals on the genes rather than the genes themselves, could be associated with aging…
[The research findings suggest] that some genes may be inappropriately expressed as a person ages. The consequence of aberrantly expressing, say, a single heart gene in the skin is not clear, but erroneous expression of multiple genes will use valuable cellular resources and may hamper cellular function and survival…
Now that it is clear that these epigenetic changes occur throughout the life cycle, we can more readily probe the mechanisms behind these changes…
If an epigenetic blueprint of aging exists, scientists now have the background and tools to examine it, and the potential to reveal a genetic Fountain of Youth.
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First Holistic View of How Human Genome Actually Works

(Science Daily) The Human Genome Project produced an almost complete order of the 3 billion pairs of chemical letters in the DNA that embodies the human genetic code -- but little about the way this blueprint works. Now, after a multi-year concerted effort by more than 440 researchers in 32 labs around the world, a more dynamic picture gives the first holistic view of how the human genome actually does its job.
During the new study, researchers linked more than 80 percent of the human genome sequence to a specific biological function and mapped more than 4 million regulatory regions where proteins specifically interact with the DNA. These findings represent a significant advance in understanding the precise and complex controls over the expression of genetic information within a cell.
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DNA’s ‘Junk’ Now Seen as Lever Controlling Health

(Bloomberg) Almost a decade after the U.S. human genome project was completed, scientists say they have mapped the underlying regulatory system that switches DNA on and off, potentially spurring a wave of new research into the molecular basis of complex diseases such as Type 1 diabetes.
Many parts of DNA previously termed “junk” by scientists are, instead, levers that control the genetic activity that can lead alternately to health or illness, according to reports published simultaneously in the journals Science and Nature by the Encode international consortium.
Scientists previously thought that only genes, small pieces of DNA that make up about 1 percent of the genome, have a function. The new findings show that an underlying circuitry exists in which 80 percent of the DNA code within each human cell can contribute to disease. This may be why large studies targeting gene variants haven’t identified treatable causes for many complex maladies, the scientists said. The circuitry can be disrupted at several individual waypoints.
“This takes us from a concentration on individual genes to the whole genome,” said Eric Topol, professor of translational genomics at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, in a telephone interview. “This series of articles is amazing, it’s a blitz of information.”
Community: One person’s junk is another person’s genome. I’ve been thinking for a very long time that what was called junk DNA had a purpose. Nature can be wasteful at times, but it’s not that wasteful.
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Cooking Light:
Low-Calorie Lunches
Find healthy ideas for the middle of the day that are all less than 400 calories.
Fresh Tomato, Sausage, and Pecorino Pasta
Ripe, late-summer tomatoes are juicy and delicious in this pasta dish, with no seeding or peeling necessary.
Tuna-&-Tomato Mac & Cheese
Tuna mac & cheese takes a trip to the Southwest with spicy tomato and festive blue tortilla chips on top. Canned tomatoes with green chiles and ancho chile powder add a peppery kick, but if you like, you can keep it mellow by using a 14-ounce can of drained petite diced tomatoes and mild chili powder.
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Non-Alcoholic Red Wine May Boost Heart Health

(WebMD Health News) Much research has touted the health benefits that come from drinking moderate amounts of red wine.
Now, a new study may extend some of these benefits to teetotalers. Non-alcoholic red wine may be even more effective at lowering blood pressure in men who are high risk for heart attack…
When the men [in the study] drank non-alcoholic red wine, their blood pressure went down enough to lower their risk of heart disease by 14% and stroke by as much as 20%...
The real health benefits in red wine may be found in powerful antioxidants called polyphenols, not the alcohol. In fact, the alcohol in red wine may dampen its blood pressure-lowering potential. In the study, the red wine with alcohol and non-alcoholic wine contained equal amounts of polyphenols.
The researchers were able to link polyphenol levels to a boost in men’s levels of nitric oxide, which helps lower blood pressure. Nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax and allows more blood to reach your heart and organs.
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Cranberry juice may beat bladder infections

(Reuters Health) Cranberry juice rich in certain antibacterial substances may help prevent repeat urinary tract infections in kids, a small study suggests.
Researchers found that cranberry juice made with high concentrations of proanthocyanidins (PACs) cut kids' risk of repeat urinary tract infections by two-thirds, versus a comparison juice.
Since the juice on your supermarket's shelves may not have that PAC level, the researchers say their findings are not an endorsement of any product.
But the results, published in the Journal of Urology, do give support to cranberry as a UTI fighter, according to a pediatric urologist not connected to the study.
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Whole Grains, Whole Diet

(Bonnie Taub-Dix, MA, RD, CDN,U.S. News & World Report) More and more Americans are saying yes to whole grains. Since 2010, roughly 55 percent of consumers have ditched white bread for whole-wheat or whole-grain varieties, according to the Shopping for Health 2012 Survey… And 2010 also gave rise to something unprecedented: Sales of whole-wheat bread eclipsed sales of white bread, as noted by supermarket guru Phil Lempert.
Why the trend? Perhaps because consumers are becoming more aware of the health benefits of whole grains over white. Among the reasons to make the switch:
• Whole grains are chock full of fiber, key for proper digestion and bowel function…
• They're heart-healthy. Soluble fibers in whole grains like oats and barley can lower levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood pressure, thereby reducing risk of heart disease.
• They help control diabetes…
• They're packed with nutrients, including protein, B vitamins, calcium, folic acid, iron, zinc, copper, magnesium, and antioxidants…
• They may help ward off cancer…
• They're satiating. Whole grains stave off hunger better than refined grains do…
But buyers beware: The bread aisle is notorious for food label fables. Don't fall for labels that say "100 percent wheat" or "wheat flour." Unless the label reads "100 percent whole wheat," "100 percent whole grain," or "whole wheat," you could be getting a product that's just white and stripped of important nutrients.
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Rare Autism Form May Improve With Diet Change, California Study Suggests

(Bloomberg) A rare form of autism tied to seizures and mental retardation may be treatable with a simple diet change or supplement, according to a study that suggests similar approaches might work for other forms of the disorder.
Researchers identified gene mutations present in two families with the unusual autism and found the mutations caused lower levels of certain amino acids in their blood. In an experiment…, mice bred with same gene mutations that were given a supplement of branched chain amino acids, or BCAAs, had fewer seizures and improved autism symptoms.
The next step is to see if the BCAA supplement does the same for patients with the uncommon autism, researchers said. While the autism found in the two families is extremely rare and may not affect other people, the discovery might help identify other forms of autism, said Gaia Novarino, an author of the study.
Community: Showing, once again, the importance of a healthy diet, no matter our age.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Tests for Silent Neck Artery Narrowing to Curb Stroke Risk: Waste of Resources, Experts Argue

(Science Daily) Tests to screen for "silent" neck artery narrowing in a bid to curb the risk of a stroke result in many unnecessary and costly surgical procedures, and ultimately save very few lives, concludes an editorial…
Those found to have severe (70-99%) carotid narrowing on screening are offered surgical treatment (endarterectomy).
But 133 people with claudication would need to be tested to pick up 20 patients eligible for surgery, and this would only prevent a single stroke, at a cost of around £76, 000, say the authors.
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New Blood Test Detects Potentially Deadly Calcium Deposits

(Science Daily)  A new test could help identify and treat individuals at risk of developing potentially deadly calcium deposits in their tissues and blood vessels, according to a study… Heart disease is the number one killer of patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), and vascular calcification is thought to play a major role…
Andreas Pasch, MD … and his colleagues have developed the first test capable of measuring the propensity for calcification to occur in blood. Using their new assay, the investigators found that both the blood of mice deficient in a protein that inhibits calcification and the blood of CKD patients on dialysis had a reduced ability to inhibit calcification. Blood from healthy volunteers did not.
"Our test may identify patients at risk for the development of calcification, may become an important tool for identifying and testing calcification inhibitors, and may provide the basis for treatment monitoring in patients who receive such inhibitors," said Dr. Pasch.
Community: Maybe a blood test could replace the expensive tests now available—sonograms and CT scans, especially considering the radiation risk with CT.
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Breast Cancer Screening Saves Lives, New Study Shows

(Science Daily) Women who undergo screening halve their risk of dying from breast cancer, a new study from the University of Melbourne has found.
The study … is the largest of its kind in Australia and one of the largest in the world…
Dr Carolyn Nickson and colleagues from the Melbourne School of Population Health said the findings reaffirmed the importance and efficacy of mammography.
Community: However, “Mammograms may raise risk of cancer”. It’s confusing, I know, but what I try to do is to think of all this information going on the sides of a balance scale. In this case, my personal experience weighs heavily in favor of screening.
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Questions remain on value of robot prostate surgery

(Reuters Health) Men who get robot surgery for prostate cancer have fewer short-term complications than men whose procedure is done the old-fashioned way - but the newer treatment is pricier, according to a new analysis of close to 30,000 patients.
Although the findings may help inform decisions about cancer surgery, a gold-standard trial comparing the two methods of prostate removal head-to-head is still lacking, researchers said.
"We don't really have that high-level evidence… that can tell us that one is better than the other, or how one is different than the other," said Dr. Paul Nguyen, who treats prostate cancer at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
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Facing a medical decision? How to discuss it with your doctor.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) When you receive a diagnosis and need to make a medical decision, it’s important to learn as much as possible about your options. When you talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your care, be sure to raise these issues.
Also, watch What to Ask Your Doctor for more tips on getting the information you need from your doctor or healthcare provider.
The information on Talking with Your Doctor was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA).
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Bill Clinton On Medicare: 'There Were No Cuts To Benefits At All'

(Kaiser Health News) Former President Bill Clinton, reminding voters that "I've been there," gave a 50-minute defense of the Obama administration's record Wednesday night at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., In [this video excerpt], Clinton praised Obama's health policies and drew contrasts to Republican proposals….
[From the transcript:]
First, individuals and businesses have already gotten more than $1 billion in refunds from insurance companies, because the new law requires 80 percent to 85 percent of your premium to go to your health care, not profits or promotion.
And the gains are even greater than that, because a bunch of insurance companies have applied to lower their rates to comply with the requirement.
Second, more than 3 million young people between 19 and 25 are insured for the first time, because their parents' policies can cover them.
Third, millions of seniors are receiving preventive care, all the way from breast cancer screenings to tests for heart problems and scores of other things, and younger people are getting them, too.
Fourth, soon the insurance companies -- not the government, the insurance companies -- will have millions of new customers, many of them middle-class people with pre-existing conditions who never could get insurance before.
Now, finally, listen to this. For the last two years -- after going up at three times the rate of inflation for a decade -- for the last two years, health care costs have been under 4 percent in both years for the first time in 50 years.
So let me ask you something. Are we better off because President Obama fought for health care reform? You bet we are.
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Obama Pledges: No Vouchers for Medicare

(MedPage Today) [H]ealthcare continued to be a central theme … as the Democratic Convention wrapped up on Thursday night, from the first speaker right up to President Obama.
Speaking of his opponent, Obama said that Mitt Romney's approach to healthcare could be summed up this way: "since government can't do everything, it should do almost nothing. If you can't afford health insurance, hope that you don't get sick."
"You know what?" he said. "That's not who we are. That's not what this country's about."
Obama also pledged that he would "never turn Medicare into a voucher," referring to Republican vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan's proposal to convert Medicare into a premium support program. "No American should ever have to spend their golden years at the mercy of insurance companies. They should retire with the care and dignity they have earned."
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One-quarter on Medicare spend $101,000 out-of-pocket

(UPI) U.S. seniors on Medicare in the 2000s spent an average of $38,688 for out-of-pocket expenses in the last five years of life, researchers said…
The study … also found more than three-quarters of Medicare households spent at least $10,000 in the last five years of life, while one-quarter made an average contribution of $101,791 and one-quarter spent more than their total household assets on healthcare out-of-pocket expenses…
The study also found out-of-pocket spending for individuals or their spouses dying with dementia was more than twice the average for dying from gastrointestinal disease or cancer.
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Eat Yourself Young

(Appetite for Health) Eat yourself young? These days virtually every beauty product and service is touting “anti-aging” benefits: from creams and lotions to pricy laser treatments.  While some may actually work to reduce the signs of aging, many cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
For some of the most effective (and least expensive!) age erasers, look no further than your local grocery store.  Fruits, vegetables, green tea, and a host of other healthful foods rich in antioxidants and other age-deterring compounds will help give you a gorgeous, youthful glow.
Wild Salmon…
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Green Tea Boosts Brain Cell Production to Aid Memory

(Science Daily) It has long been believed that drinking green tea is good for the memory. Now researchers have discovered how the chemical properties of China's favorite drink affect the generation of brain cells, providing benefits for memory and spatial learning…
"Green tea is a popular beverage across the world," said Professor Yun Bai… "There has been plenty of scientific attention on its use in helping prevent cardiovascular diseases, but now there is emerging evidence that its chemical properties may impact cellular mechanisms in the brain."
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New benefit of coffee: It reduces pain

(Los Angeles Times) Scientists in Norway have more good news for coffee drinkers. Researchers have already found evidence that the drink -- or the beans it’s brewed from -- can help with weight loss, reduce one’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, boost muscle growth, protect against certain types of cancers, and can even reduce one’s risk of premature death, among many other benefits.
Now comes word that a cuppa joe reduces physical pain.
The surprising finding is based on a study involving 48 volunteers who agreed to spend 90 minutes performing fake computer tasks meant to mimic office work. The tasks were known to cause pain in the shoulders, neck, forearms and wrists…
[The researchers] noticed that the 19 people who drank coffee [before the task] reported a lower intensity of pain than the 29 people who didn’t.
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Don't give up on organic food, our experts urge

(Consumer Reports) A new review of previous research on organic food is getting a lot of media attention for concluding that the published literature "lacks strong evidence" that organic food is significantly more nutritious than conventionally grown food. But news reports covering the findings may be oversimplifying or distorting what the study really found, according to our in-house experts, and consumers shouldn't be misled into believing that there isn't a benefit to paying more for organics, particularly for certain populations…
"Organic was meant as a healthier way of farming that is good for the environment—and that has been proven true," [says Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of consumer safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports]. "Fewer pesticides and antibiotics, 100% organic animal feed (which cannot have poultry litter and other animal byproducts), hygiene management on the farm: These are all healthier practices for the environment and in some cases, humans too. In fact, we are learning more and more about the benefits that organic farming and sustainable agricultural practices can have on the health of people."
Bottom line: We stand by our long-held advice. It's worth it to buy organic versions of the foods that are likely to have the highest levels of pesticides when grown conventionally, as well as organic poultry and milk, to reduce exposure to antibiotics. Those choices are especially important for pregnant women and children.
Watch a video about when it pays to buy organic. Learn which items you should buy organic for babies and kids, and which you can skip.
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Weight loss groups back NYC's sugary drinks plan

(USA Today) Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and other diet groups said they are supporting the city's proposed crackdown on super-sized, sugary drinks.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Weight Watchers North America President David Burwick announced the groups join a list of physicians, elected officials and others who have come out in support of the plan…
Opponents, too, are counting their ranks: An opposition group called New Yorkers for Beverage Choices said Friday it has the backing of more than 2,000 businesses and 201,000 individuals. Some City Council members have criticized the plan, which isn't scheduled to come before them for a vote.
The proposal is set to go to a Sept. 13 vote at the city Board of Health. Its members are appointed by Bloomberg.
Community: How dare the mayor try to make his citizens healthier!
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