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

Tweaking Gene Expression to Repair Lungs

(Science Daily) [Ed Morrisey, Ph.D] is looking at how epigenetics controls lung repair and regeneration. Epigenetics involves chemical modifications to DNA and its supporting proteins that affect gene expression. Previous studies found that smokers with [chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)] had the most significant decrease in one of the enzymes controlling these modifications, called HDAC2.
"HDAC therapies may be useful for COPD, as well as other airway diseases," he explains. "The levels of HDAC2 expression and its activity are greatly reduced in COPD patients. We believe that decreased HDAC activity may impair the ability of the lung epithelium to regenerate."…
Since HDAC inhibitors and activators are currently in clinical trials for other diseases, including cancer, such compounds could be tested in the future for efficacy in COPD, acute lung injury, and other lung diseases that involve defective repair and regeneration, says Morrisey.
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Using Fat Tissue Stem Cells to Fight Brain Cancer

(Science Daily) In laboratory studies, Johns Hopkins researchers say they have found that stem cells from a patient's own fat may have the potential to deliver new treatments directly into the brain after the surgical removal of a glioblastoma, the most common and aggressive form of brain tumor.
The investigators say so-called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) have an unexplained ability to seek out damaged cells, such as those involved in cancer, and may provide clinicians a new tool for accessing difficult-to-reach parts of the brain where cancer cells can hide and proliferate anew. The researchers say harvesting MSCs from fat is less invasive and less expensive than getting them from bone marrow, a more commonly studied method.
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Scientists Cure Diabetes with Gene Therapy in Dogs

(Singularity Hub) Scientists have now cured diabetes – at least in a group of dogs – and they used a gene therapy to do it. Amazingly, only a single therapy session was needed to return the dogs’ blood sugar levels to normal. It wasn’t the first time the researchers used the therapy to cure diabetes – they’d done the same previously in a group of mice. But the fact that the treatment worked in the larger canine is a promising sign that it might also one day work in those even much larger animals: humans.
The therapy used in the study actually included two different genes: one for glucokinase, an enzyme that acts as a “glucose sensor” in the muscle, and another for insulin, the hormone that causes sugar in the blood to be absorbed into cells to be used for energy. The genes worked in concert to detect high blood sugar levels and then produce insulin to promote the uptake of blood glucose into cells.
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Artificial ear created using 3D printing and living-cell gels

(The Telegraph) Scientists at Cornell University in the US claim that they can grow a new ear within days by using 3D computer printers and living-cell gels…
The artificial ear could be used for patients who have suffered accidents or assaults and for the hundreds of children born each year missing one or both natural ears.
At present the only reliable method is to take a piece of rib bone and carve and mold it into an ear shape before covering it with skin grafts.
Scientists in New York hope that the new technique will be less invasive for the patient and look more natural.
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More Recent Research on Regeneration, Stem Cells, and Gene Therapies

(Science Daily) New research from BRIC, University of Copenhagen and the Finsen Laboratory, Rigshospitalet, has identified a protein complex that acts as a molecular switch turning on a self-regeneration program in the liver. The protein complex furthermore fine tunes liver metabolism, allowing this to run efficiently in parallel with the tissue damage repair. The new knowledge challenges the current focus on stem cells and may point towards future simplification of treatments used for repairing tissue damage.
(Science Daily) A new approach to bladder regeneration is capitalizing on the potential of two distinct cell populations harvested from a patient's healthy bone marrow, a new study reports… The bone marrow cells are being used to recreate the organ's smooth muscle, vasculature, and nerve tissue. "We are manipulating a person's own disease-free cells for bladder tissue reformation," said [lead author Arun K.] Sharma.
(Scientific American) [Researchers reported] on their work using stretch-grown axons (the long thin "arm" of a nerve cell) to some day connect prosthetic devices to the peripheral nervous systems of people who had to have part of their arm amputated. There wasn't enough room to talk about it in the article, but there is another way that these "living bridges" could be used to help people with devastating injuries. The stretch-grown axons could also be used to treat people with major nerve damage that does not necessarily require amputation.
(Medical College of Georgia) A signaling molecule that helps stem cells survive in the naturally low-oxygen environment inside the bone marrow may hold clues to helping the cells survive when the going gets worse with age and disease, researchers report. Ads by Google 7 Alzheimer's Triggers - These 7 Things Activate Alzheimer's in Your Brain. Read More. - www.newsmax.com Exercise Your Brain - Games You Didn't Know Existed to Fight Brain Decline and Aging. - www.lumosity.com They hope the findings, reported in PLOS ONE, will result in better therapies to prevent bone loss in aging and enhance success of stem cell transplants for a wide variety of conditions from heart disease to cerebral palsy and cancer.
(Science Daily) Researchers at the University of Minnesota's Lillehei Heart Institute have combined genetic repair with cellular reprogramming to generate stem cells capable of muscle regeneration in a mouse model for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD). The research, which provides proof-of-principle for the feasibility of combining induced pluripotent stem cell technology and genetic correction to treat muscular dystrophy, could present a major step forward in autologous cell-based therapies for DMD and similar conditions and should pave the way for testing the approach in reprogrammed human pluripotent cells from muscular dystrophy patients.
Community: This research may also have implications for age-related muscle degeneration.
(Science Daily) University of California, San Diego bioengineers have demonstrated in a study in pigs that a new injectable hydrogel can repair damage from heart attacks, help the heart grow new tissue and blood vessels, and get the heart moving closer to how a healthy heart should… The gel is injected through a catheter without requiring surgery or general anesthesia -- a less invasive procedure for patients.
More . . .

Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Dijon Croque Monsieur
Instead of your usual grilled ham and cheese, try this French-style sandwich that's enhanced by the zip of whole-grain mustard.
EatingWell:
Grilled Eggplant Parmesan Sandwich
Our healthier eggplant Parmesan sandwich uses tender, smoky grilled eggplant instead of fried, so it has a fraction of the fat and calories. To make these sandwiches a cinch to prepare, make sure to have all your ingredients ready before you head out to the grill.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
Whole-Wheat Spaghetti with Ham and Peas
Salty ham and sweet peas are just part of the creamy sauce that makes this spaghetti so enticing. Be sure to scoop out some pasta cooking liquid before draining the pasta — adding this liquid to the sauce gives it extra body and flavor. Crushing dried basil with your fingers before adding it to the dish will release its full flavor.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Seafood Fideo
Fideo means noodle in Spanish and also refers to a Mexican soup made with toasted pasta cooked in the broth. This version combines spaghetti (gluten-free or not) and a selection of seafood. I make the broth a day in advance to allow the flavors to marry. Buy only the freshest seafood from a good source. If you are not able to get the varieties we suggest or if you don't care for clams or mussels, omit them and substitute your own fresh favorites. (True Food Kitchen chef, Michael Stebner)
Food as Medicine
Black cod (Anoplopoma fimbria) goes by many names: sablefish, blue cod, bluefush, candlefish, coal cod and more. But whatever you call it, this denizen of the deep North Pacific is exceptionally high in omega-3 fatty acids, which appear to help support cardiovascular health and alleviate depression.
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The Best Green Foods for St. Patrick's Day (None of Them Artificially Colored!)

(Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., L.D.) It's March -- and that means that stores are filled with green-colored muffins, candy, and other various (and often unhealthy) items to commemorate St. Patrick's Day… Here are eight "pot of green" foods to add to your diet!
Cabbage
Cabbage is high in glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that are found mainly in cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, kale and cauliflower. Glucosinolate consumption has been linked to decreased risk of certain cancers, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of stroke and even a reduced risk of H. pylori infections.
Zucchini
[I]ts four-leaf clover, zeaxanthin [is] a powerful carotenoid that may help you see better -- for longer!...
Seaweed…
A 2011 study found that consumption of seaweeds, high in bioactive peptides (usually found in milk), could have a positive effect on blood pressure and heart health…
Peas
High in fiber as well as protein… A 2010 study in the journal Nutrition found that adding peas in your diet may help with overall management of blood sugar.
Limes
A 2012 study … found that consumption of citrus fruits may be associated with lower overall risk of ischemic stroke in women.
Pistachios
They are low in carbohydrates, high in fiber and, as with all nuts, can help to reduce your overall risk for heart attack by reducing our lousy LDL cholesterol. Pistachios may offer further protection against lung and other cancers as well…
Oregano
Research indicates that oregano tops the list of herbs that can help against the risk of getting sick from E. coli (Escherichia coli O157:H7). Additionally, adding spices to your foods instead of salt can help to reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke.
Avocado
These green wonders are rich in healthy fats, potassium, and fiber… [A]vocados may help to reduce your risk of oral cancer as well.
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Natural Products Expo lays out the latest

(Los Angeles Times) Things seemed simpler this year at the enormous annual trade show for the natural products industry. There was a bit of a back-to-the-old-days vibe among the thousands of things to eat or drink, to use to clean your person or your house, to improve your digestion or your sleep…
"Functional foods," those with a potential benefit beyond straightforward nutrition, were common: teas for digestion or sore throats; probiotics; chia in puddings (Chia Pod from http://www.thechiaco.com), in pouches of fruit purees (Smooch from http://www.smoochsnacks.com), in cereal (Holy Crap from http://www.holycrap.com or Chiarezza from http://www.chia-rezza.com) and in juice or lemonade; chips made with fruit or vegetables. There were bars galore and a line of "fully functional" cookies from the Berkeley-based Cookie Department (www.thecookiedepartment.com). Akiva Resnikoff started out selling his cookies to cafes and now has packaged several varieties, including the Cherry Bomb probiotic cookie and the ginger Snap Back detox flavor.
Another popular theme was what was not in products: sugar, gluten and genetically modified ingredients. "Consumers are demanding" GMO-free certifications on products, and retailers are adjusting, Mast said. In fact, Whole Foods, which for many exhibitors is the holy grail of product placement, recently announced that by 2018 products must be labeled if they contain genetically modified organisms.
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Data Misleading for HRT, Breast Cancer Link

(MedPage Today) The evidence as to whether hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plays a causal role in breast cancer is insufficient to support that hypothesis, and there are major flaws in studies analyzing the data, researchers stated.
In the years immediately following the publication of the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) in 2002, the use of HRT plummeted, but rates of breast cancer have not consistently followed that pattern, explained Samuel Shapiro, MB, of the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and colleagues.
Moreover, two initial studies assessing the effect on breast cancer incidence following that decline -- often cited as providing strong evidence for an association -- do not hold up under scrutiny, Shapiro's group argued.
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Low-dose hormone benefits may outweigh risks

(MyHealthNewsDaily) The safety of taking hormones to treat the symptoms of menopause has been questioned in recent years, but a new consensus statement from several doctors' groups aims to resolve confusion over how the treatment should be used.
Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is the most effective treatment for the symptoms of menopause, such as hot flashes and sleep problems, but the therapy comes with risks, so it should be used on a case-by-case basis, the statement said.
About a decade ago, a large study found that HRT that included estrogen and progestin increased the risk of breast cancer by about 25 percent in postmenopausal women. The finding was so dramatic that researchers stopped the study early and physicians changed how they prescribed HRT.
The new statement says that while the therapy comes with risks, its benefits generally outweigh the harm for women under age 60, or those who've been in menopause for fewer than 10 years. The increased risk of breast cancer also appears to disappear a few years after treatment is stopped, the statement says.
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It's Hard to Undo Cancer Screening Recommendations, Study Shows

(MyHealthNewsDaily) The growing controversy surrounding prostate cancer screening in recent years doesn’t appear to have changed men's attitudes toward the test — many still get screened regardless, a new study suggests.
Between 2001 and 2011, the percentage of men ages 50 to 64 who were screened for prostate cancer with the prostate specific antigen (PSA) test remained stable, the study found. Screening rates among men ages 40 to 49 increased until 2008, after which they flattened out, but didn't decrease.
Meanwhile, there has been increasing concern over the test's benefit.
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HIV: 14 Patients Have ’Functional’ Cure

(MedPage Today) Early and effective HIV therapy may -- in a small fraction of patients -- lead to a so-called functional cure, French researchers reported.
Fourteen patients who were treated within the first 2 months of infection were later able to stop combination antiretroviral therapy without an HIV rebound, according to Asier Sáez-Cirión, PhD, of the Institut Pasteur in Paris, and colleagues in the so-called VISCONTI study.
While all 14 still have HIV, in most cases it can only be detected with ultrasensitive laboratory tests and is undetectable by standard methods, Sáez-Cirión and colleagues reported…
But in all cases, the infection appears to be under control without the use of drugs – the definition of a functional cure, which unlike a "sterilizing" cure does not completely get rid of HIV.
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Humans can catch diseases from pets

(UPI) Pets and people can share more than love and a home, they can also share diseases, a U.S. researcher says…
Pets can give their owners ringworm, cat scratch fever, rabies and toxoplasmosis. Meanwhile, humans can give animals multidrug-resistant staph aureus infection.
"Pet owners should make sure that their animals are vaccinated, especially against rabies. Pet owners should provide protection against external parasites like fleas and ticks," [said Carol Rubin of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] in a statement. "Owners should also test and treat to control the internal parasites."
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U.S. irregular heartbeat treatment inadequate: study

(Reuters Health) A significant number of U.S. patients with irregular heart rhythms do not receive adequate therapy, according to a new study of treatment practices for atrial fibrillation.
"Many patients out there that aren't treated probably should be treated," said lead author Dr. Benjamin Steinberg…
Symptoms include shortness of breath, fatigue, heart racing and chest pains. Because atrial fibrillation causes irregular blood flow, the disease can also lead to clots that increase the risk of stroke…
Controlling a patient's heart rate is relatively simple and includes well-known drugs such as beta-blockers, but may not resolve the irregular heart beat in the long term.
However, controlling a heart's rhythm is trickier since it requires more sophisticated heart monitoring and drugs that can cause severe side effects.
Community: I tend to have a racing heart when I don’t get enough potassium. That’s one of the reasons that I take a potassium supplement.
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Robot Surgery Isn't Most Cost-Efficient Hysterectomy

(Bloomberg) Robotic surgery for hysterectomies doesn't improve outcomes and shouldn't be the first choice for most women, a doctors' group said, sending Intuitive Surgical Inc. (ISRG) to its lowest value in almost 14 months.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which represents 56,000 U.S. physicians, said expertise with Intuitive’s da Vinci robot system is limited and surgeons learning the new technology may have higher rates of complications. Intuitive, based Sunnyvale, California, sells the only robotic system approved in the U.S. for soft tissue procedures that include gynecological surgery…
“There is no good data proving that robotic hysterectomy is even as good as -- let alone better -- than existing, and far less costly, minimally invasive alternatives,” James T. Breeden, the organization’s president, said in a statement.
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Employers Blast Fees From New Health Law

(Wall Street Journal) Employers are bracing for a little-noticed fee in the federal health-care law that will charge them $63 for each person they insure next year, one of the clearest cost increases companies face when the law takes full effect.
Companies and other plan providers will together pay $25 billion over three years to create a fund for insurance companies to offset the cost of covering people with high medical bills…
Insurance companies, which helped put the fee in the law, say the fee is essential to prevent rates from skyrocketing when insurers get an influx of unhealthy customers next year. The fee is part of a new insurance landscape created by the health law that will forbid insurers from denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.
Community: I think this fee should be a permanent feature of the system. Here’s what I’ve long advocated:
Insurance companies really don’t want to cover catastrophic illnesses, so why not have them covered by a national program, either administered by Medicare or some private company? If the whole country were involved, the cost per person should be minimal. Then the insurance companies could compete on basic coverage only.
I’d say $63 per person per year could be considered minimal, wouldn’t you?
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Moody’s: Refusing Medicaid Expansion Will ‘Put Pressure’ On State And Hospital Credit Ratings

(ThinkProgress) Investor services and credit rating agency Moody’s has some news for GOP governors hesitant to expand their state Medicaid programs under Obamacare: either hospitals in states refusing the expansion, or the states themselves, will feel pressure on their credit ratings due to higher uncompensated care costs and cash-strapped budgets.
In a press release ;regarding a new Moody’s report on Medicaid expansion, the agency explains that refusing the expansion would by necessity force one of these institutions or the other to lose out — since the resulting increase in the ranks of uninsured, low-income Americans would put fiscal strains on safety net hospitals or the state at large…
As the press release notes, refusing to expand Medicaid would significantly increase uncompensated care costs for hospitals that cater to low-income Americans because Obamacare institutes deep cuts to reimbursements made to these “disproportionate share hospitals,” or DSHs. This is because lawmakers originally expected the expansion to be mandatory for all states, thus lowering the need for DSH payments — but the Supreme Court ruled that provision to be optional, instead.
Moody’s has consistently argued that Obamacare is a good deal for hospitals and states.
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Want to debate Medicare costs? You need to see this chart first.

(Wonkblog, Washington Post) The White House is out Friday with its annual Economic Report of the President. It contains this chart that shows Medicare as a percent of the economy if it grows on pace with prior projections — or if it grows at the same rate as it has since 2009. The difference is very stark.
The reason for that yawning difference: Health-care costs growth has seen a steep decline over the past few years. Instead of outpacing the rest of the economy, it has grown at the exact same rate. If that cost growth persists, it could make all the difference for Medicare: The entitlement program would, by 2085, make up 4 percent of the economy instead of the previously projected 7 percent.
Community: ThinkProgress has this: “Medicare Spending May Fix Itself, Without Republicans’ Budget Cuts.” And it’s not just Medicare where medical care spending is down: “Growth in Health Prices Slowest Since 1997.”
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Green Tea Or Coffee Habit Cuts Stroke Risk

(The Salt, NPR) Whether it's green tea that warms you up, or coffee that gives you that morning lift, a new study finds both can help cut the risk of suffering a stroke…
Researchers found that the more green tea a person drank, the more it reduced the risk of suffering a stroke.
"It's almost a 20 percent lower risk of stroke in the green tea drinkers" who drank four cups a day, compared with those who rarely drank green tea, explains Dr. Ralph Sacco of the University of Miami. (He's the past president of the American Heart Association, and we asked him to review the study for us.)
And with coffee, researchers found just one cup per day was also associated with about a 20 percent decreased risk of stroke during a 13-year follow-up period.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to reduce the risk of having a stroke.
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Gazpacho for your Blood Pressure

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) We usually think of gazpacho as a refreshing summer treat, but researchers from the University of Barcelona in Spain have shown that the traditional spicy blend of tomatoes, cucumber, garlic and olive oil can help control high blood pressure year round…
[E]arlier studies had demonstrated an associated between the main gazpacho ingredients (when consumed separately) with a reduction in high blood pressure. The new study found that consuming gazpacho regularly does as much good for blood pressure control as eating the ingredient vegetables individually, and that the beneficial effects of gazpacho makes it heart healthy despite the soup’s salt content.
In some cases, the investigators found that consuming gazpacho lowers the risk of high blood pressure by 27 percent.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to lower blood pressure.
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Playing Music May Lower Blood Pressure, Improve Psychological Well-Being

(Medical Daily) Playwright and poet William Congreve once said that "music has charms to soothe a savage beast". That certainly appears to be true, especially if that beast is a person's blood pressure. A pair of studies has found that playing music may lower people's blood pressure and improve their feeling of well-being.
A recent study conducted by researchers from Leiden University Medical Center examined the effect that music may have on blood pressure… [T]he study compared 25 musicians and 28 non-musicians between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. The groups were matched for height, weight, level of physical activity and caffeine and alcohol consumption. In fact, the only difference was that the group of musicians - which consisted of three guitarists, four flutists, five singers and six pianists - practiced their instruments over an average of 1.8 hours each day.
Researchers found that the musicians had lower blood pressure than the non-musicians. Though both groups were young, the researchers maintain that blood pressure levels during young adulthood have been associated with risk of death from a variety of causes, like heart and cardiovascular diseases, during older adulthood. Researchers believe that the musical group fared better than the non-musical group because their somatosensory nerve activity benefited their autonomic nervous system.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to lower blood pressure.
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5 Actions You Can Take Today To Lower Your Blood Pressure

(9NEWS.com) Although age and family history may certainly be risk factors for high blood pressure or hypertension, there are other risk factors that are well within an [individual’s] control.
1.    Stop smoking…
2.    Meditate and Manage Stress…
3.    Interval training…
4.    Eat a plant-based, whole grain diet with lowfat dairy and lean proteins…
5.    Lose weight.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to lower blood pressure.
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More Recent Research on Blood Pressure and Stroke

(MedPage Today) Usual care was no match for a home blood pressure monitoring program for keeping hypertension in check, a randomized trial found… Patients in the home monitoring group used the American Heart Association's web-based Heart360, a free, online tool for tracking heart health. From the site, users can upload blood pressure data and send it to their health providers. Heart360 also provides patients with educational information and allows them to track progress towards their health goals.
(Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine) Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University and Yale University have discovered that a specialized receptor, normally found in the nose, is also in blood vessels throughout the body, sensing small molecules created by microbes that line mammalian intestines, and responding to these molecules by increasing blood pressure. The finding suggests that gut bacteria are an integral part of the body's complex system for maintaining a stable blood pressure.
(MedPage Today) Late-term results from a study of the safety and effectiveness of renal denervation to reduce hypertension mirrored positive results seen earlier in the randomized SYMPLICITY HTN-2 trial, researchers found. The mean reduction in systolic blood pressure at 1 year post procedure was a significant 28.1 mmHg…, similar to the mean 31.7 mmHg drop at 6 months…, according to Murray Esler, MD.
(NIH News) A protein known to regulate iron levels in the body has an unexpectedly important role in preventing a form of high blood pressure that affects the lungs, and in stabilizing the concentration of red cells in blood, according to a study in mice by researchers at the National Institutes of Health… “This insight might lead to progress in treating cases of polycythemia or pulmonary hypertension without a known cause,” said senior author Tracey A. Rouault, M.D…   It’s possible, she added, that human cases of these disorders might result from malfunctioning copies of the gene.
(MedPage Today) Elderly patients with memory problems who suddenly have visual hallucinations may need to stop taking ACE inhibitors, researchers suggested. In four case studies, the hallucinations experienced by patients with various memory deficits disappeared after they discontinued lisinopril, an angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor, reported John Doane, MD, and Barry Stults, MD.
(Science Daily) Difficulty or inability to write a coherent text message, even in patients who have no problem speaking, may become a "vital" tool in diagnosing a type of crippling stroke, according to new research.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to lower blood pressure and to reduce the risk of having a stroke.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Pork Chops with Tangy Red Currant Sauce
For a fast dinner that's ready in 30 minutes, turn to Pork Chops with Tangy Red Currant Sauce--hearty and pleasing.
EatingWell:
Wasabi Salmon Burgers
Bring out the flavors of salmon with a Japanese-inspired infusion of ginger, sesame oil and wasabi. If you serve these patties on whole-wheat buns, consider reduced-fat mayonnaise and sliced cucumbers as condiments. Or skip the buns and set the patties atop a vinegary salad of greens, carrots, radishes and sprouts.
Washington Post:
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Gnocchi with Porcini Mushrooms | Gnocco, NYC
Stolen 'con permesso' from Chef Raffaele Miele, of Gnocco restaurant, (located in what is described as the 'far East Village') the recipe for this homemade version of a restaurant favorite is deceptively simple.
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New Poultry Plant Rule Would Give Food Inspectors 1/3 Of A Second To Examine A Chicken

(ThinkProgress) A new food inspection rule proposed by the US Department of Agriculture would let poultry plants conduct their own inspections, removing federal food inspectors from the assembly line. At a House appropriations oversight hearing on Wednesday, Food Safety and Inspection Service administrators argued the move would save taxpayers money and allow the department to focus on testing for pathogens like e. coli and salmonella.
But other FSIS inspectors working in poultry plants piloting the new rule protest that public health is sacrificed by outsourcing inspections. Poultry plant employees often miss contaminated birds, and are even discouraged from removing the ones they do flag.
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Probiotics Reduce Stress-Induced Intestinal Flare-Ups, Study Finds

(Science Daily) For those with irritable bowel syndrome who wonder if stress aggravates their intestinal disorder, a new University of Michigan Health System study shows it's not all in their head.
Researchers revealed that while stress does not cause IBS, it does alter brain-gut interactions and induces the intestinal inflammation that often leads to severe or chronic belly pain, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
Stress has a way of suppressing an important component called an inflammasome which is needed to maintain normal gut microbiota, but probiotics reversed the effect in animal models, according to findings.
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Goats' Milk With Antimicrobial Lysozyme Speeds Recovery from Diarrhea

(Science Daily) Milk from goats that were genetically modified to produce higher levels of a human antimicrobial protein has proved effective in treating diarrhea in young pigs, demonstrating the potential for food products from transgenic animals to one day also benefit human health, report researchers…
The study is the first on record to show that goats' milk carrying elevated levels of the antimicrobial lysozyme, a protein found in human breast milk, can successfully treat diarrhea caused by bacterial infection in the gastrointestinal tract.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

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More U.S. drivers texting, chatting than Western Europeans: CDC

(Reuters) More U.S. drivers chatted on the phone or used email and text messaging while behind the wheel in 2011 than did their counterparts in several Western European countries, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.
The data showed 69 percent of Americans aged 18 to 64 reported they had talked on their cell phone while driving in the previous 30 days, more than in any European country surveyed. In Europe, rates ranged from 59 percent in Portugal to 21 percent in the United Kingdom.
Additionally, nearly a third of Americans reported they had read or sent text or email messages while operating a car, compared with 15 percent of drivers in Spain. Portuguese and American drivers were on par when it came to texting but full country-by-country data was not immediately available.
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Surgery clinical trial results selectively reported

(Reuters Health) Selective reporting of positive results from drug clinical trials is a well-documented problem, but a new study finds that trials of surgical treatments have an even worse track record…

"It's a huge cultural blindspot for doctors, academics, industry, regulators, and policy makers, but it knocks the legs out from underneath evidence based medicine," said [Dr. Ben] Goldacre, who was not involved in the study.
It's harder for doctors and patients to make informed decisions about which treatment or, in this case, surgical procedure, is best when the evidence from a study is modified or absent, he said.
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Medical bills weigh heavy on more US households

(Face the Facts USA) The high cost of health care adds strain in many American households. One snapshot survey from the first half of 2011 showed one-third of U.S. families spreading out medical payments over time or even giving up entirely. 10.5 percent had given up on ever being able to pay a medical bill.
The burden was heaviest on "near-poor" families: those earning too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to cover their medical bills or buy health insurance. The Affordable Care Act sought to address this gap by requiring the expansion of Medicaid, but the Supreme Court struck down that part of the law in 2012.
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GlaxoSmithKline boss says new drugs can be cheaper

(Reuters) The pharmaceutical industry should be able to charge less for new drugs in future by passing on efficiencies in research and development to its customers, according to the chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline Plc.
"It's not unrealistic to expect that new innovations ought to be priced at or below, in some cases, the prices that have pre-existed them," Andrew Witty told a conference on healthcare in London.
"We haven't seen that in recent eras of the (pharmaceutical) industry but it is completely normal in other industries."
Community: What? They’re not going to be keeping all of the benefit for their stockholders? Maybe they see the writing on the wall. See below.
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Follow Medicare Savings Model, Insurers Told

(MedPage Today) To slow down growth in health spending, health insurers could employ the same strategy Medicare used a decade ago to increase use of generic drugs, a former Medicare czar said.
Medicare's prescription drug benefit created tiers of products, with much higher copays for brand-name drugs compared with their generic counterparts. As a result, seniors accelerated their use of the lower-cost generics and caused Medicare Part D spending to be much less than initially anticipated. Today, generics account for about 80% of all drugs dispensed.
"What we haven't seen is that kind of approach hitting the rest of our healthcare system in any big way," said Mark McClellan, MD, PhD, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) when Part D was implemented in the middle of the last decade. But he added that such changes are starting to occur.
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GOP Governors Refusing To Expand Medicaid Could Cost Their States’ Employers More Than $1 Billion

(ThinkProgress) The Republican governors who are refusing to accept Obamacare’s optional expansion of the Medicaid program typically cite financial concerns; despite all evidence to the contrary, GOP leaders claim that accepting federal funds to extend health coverage to additional low-income American will end up being too costly for their states. According to a new study, however, they have it backwards. Continuing to resist health reform could be significantly financially riskier than simply agreeing to expand Medicaid.
Each governor resisting Medicaid expansion could end up costing the employers in their state over $1 billion dollars, a new Jackson Hewitt Tax Service report finds. That’s because, since the health reform law seeks to ensure that everyone has access to insurance, Obamacare holds businesses with more than 50 employees responsible for making sure their workers have adequate benefits. Employers won’t be penalized for failing to offer health care to their low-wage workers if those employees can access public insurance through Medicaid — but if states don’t expand their Medicaid pools, the workers who have no other way to get health care could end up costing their employers.
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Medicare Revises Readmissions Penalties – Again

(Kaiser Health News) In its effort to crack down on repeat hospitalizations, Medicare has its own readmission: for the second time in six months, it has erred in calculating penalties for more than 1,000 of the nation’s hospitals.
As a result, Medicare has slightly lessened its readmissions penalties for 1,246 hospitals as part of its new program pressuring hospitals to ensure patients stay healthy health after they leave. St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Ky., is seeing its penalty drop the most, from 0.93 percent to 0.72 percent of every payment Medicare makes for a patient during the fiscal year that ends in September, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of the new data, which Medicare published on its website.
Medicare also modestly increased the penalties for 226 hospitals.
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Health care cuts from vaccinations to research

(McClatchy) Sequestration spares Medicaid and almost all of Medicare, but automatic cuts to other federal health care programs will make it more difficult for low-income Americans to get maternal and infant care, vaccinate their children, and receive treatment for mental illness.
The federal government gives states tens of millions of dollars in grant money for health services each year, and all of those programs are subject to sequestration cuts. In addition, Washington will be funneling less public health and research money to states because of automatic cuts to federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health…
It's still unclear how much federal health care money each state would lose as a result of the sequester. But critics say it won't be long before people start feeling the impact.
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Protein May Alter Inevitability of Osteoarthritis

(Science Daily) Few things in life are inevitable -- death, taxes, and, if you live long enough, osteoarthritis.
No treatment will stop or significantly slow the disease, and joint replacement is the only definitive treatment. That may change, however, as researchers such as Dr. Brendan Lee … and his colleagues unravel the effects of a naturally occurring protein called lubricin or Proteoglycans 4 that appears to protect against aging as well as helping with post-injury related changes…
[Lee] and his colleagues plan to test the gene therapy in large animals, such as horses, that suffer from osteoarthritis similar to in humans. If it is effective in horses, the next step would be to test it in humans…
Using a special "chip" or microarray panel, they found that the protein not only lubricated the joint, it also affected metabolism and prevented breakdown of cartilage in the joint.
"What else do we need to do to fix osteoarthritis?" said Lee. Sometimes, stopping the destruction is not enough. Eventually, he would like to find ways to regenerate the joint cartilage.
Community: Other researchers are looking for ways to regenerate cartilage, also.
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Weight Loss May Prevent, Treat Osteoarthritis in Obese Patients

(Science Daily)  Weight loss may prevent and significantly alleviate the symptoms of osteoarthritis, a progressive disease of the joints known as "wear and tear" arthritis, according to a literature review…
According to the article, obesity actually may trigger the biomechanical and inflammatory changes that cause osteoarthritis, and the pain and loss of mobility associated with the condition.
"There's a clear link between obesity and osteoarthritis, and the link is both from biomechanical factors as well as systemic factors. The systemic component appears to be significant," said Ryan C. Koonce, MD, … one of the authors of the literature review. Approximately one half of osteoarthritis cases of the knee could be avoided in the U.S. if obesity was removed as a risk factor, according to the article.
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