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

Spring Clean Your Health

(RealAge.com) Clean your house, and then watch your body's clock turn back: More health benefits of decluttering
Clean the toxic dump, a.k.a. your garage… Usher [old paint cans and other chemicals] out of your home. Today. Just don't throw them in the trash: Go to thedailygreen.com and type your zip code where it says "get local info" to find a collection site near you…
Leave the bleach behind. The chemicals in chlorine bleach evaporate into the air you breathe and aren't good for you or the environment. Instead, use baking soda to clean sinks and tubs; rely on vinegar in a pump spray bottle for an A+ job on windows and mirrors.
Open the windows. The less vulnerable your home is to outdoor air, the more susceptible it is to building up indoor air pollutants…
Lose the shoes. Leave your shoes at the door. You can track in toxins such as lawn-care pesticides, which sink into your carpet and can contaminate the kids who crawl on it.
Forget that "fresh" smell. Know what freshness smells like? It's not "vanilla passion" or "new car." It should smell like nothing. Try this trick to clean up indoor air
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Common Spring Health Myths Debunked

(John Whyte, M.D., MPH) Finally, spring has sprung! That means warmer weather, longer days, more chances to enjoy the outdoors, and -- in my experience as a physician -- health opportunities as well as health challenges… Let's take a look at five common spring health myths and why they are more fiction than fact.
1."It's the change in temperature that comes with the season; it always makes me sick!"
[I]t's more likely that symptoms are caused by exposure to allergens that reappear in our environments with the change of season…
2."I didn't have allergies as a kid, so I'm too old to start getting them now."
Though many people commonly develop allergies in childhood, it's never too late for them to start…
3."I need to get my skin ready for the sun. Those indoor tanning beds are safe, everybody uses them."
Scientific evidence actually does not support the idea that "preemptive" indoor tanning can protect the skin from actual sun exposure…
4. "Now that it's nice outside again, I can go back to running like I used to."
[I]f you've taken a long layoff from running when the cold winter set in, then trying to return immediately to your previous speed and distance can put you at risk for injuries like stress fractures, shin splints and muscle strains. It's safer to start slowly and gradually increase your endurance over weeks…
5. "The ticks won't be out until late summer."
If only that were true. In fact, peak tick season begins coincidentally the same time that most of us head outdoors to enjoy the spring weather!...
The CDC recommends avoiding heavily wooded or grassy areas and using permethrin on clothing and DEET-based repellents on skin to keep the pests away. When you come inside, check your clothing and then your body thoroughly for ticks or have someone else check you everywhere -- and I mean everywhere, including in the ears and nestled among hair. If you find an attached tick, use a pair of tweezers to grasp the head firmly as close to the skin as possible and pull straight out.
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It's spring, so restaurant foods get lighter

(The Supermarket Guru) As we enter spring, when lighter fare suggests carefree times and bathing suit season ahead, restaurants are moving aggressively to feature lighter, lower-calorie options.  Many of these are for a limited time only.  For example:
·         Burger King appeals to the health-conscious with its first-ever turkey burger, grilled and topped with fresh-cut lettuce, tomatoes, red onions and mayonnaise, on an artisanal-style bun.
·         McDonald’s will launch the Egg White Delight in late-April.  Made of egg whites, Canadian bacon and white cheddar cheese on a whole grain English muffin, this new McMuffin sandwich weighs in at 250 calories vs. 300 for the chain’s classic Egg McMuffin…
·         Cracker Barrel … is testing Wholesome Fixin’s for possible launch this summer.  According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, breakfast meals will pack less than 500 calories and lunch/dinner meals less than 600.
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Spring Clean Your Diet

(The Supermarket Guru) Springtime is here and SupermarketGuru wants to help you spring clean your diet and eating habits. Here are some of SupermarketGuru’s favorite healthy eating and pantry makeover tips that will have you eating more nutrient dense foods and less “junk” with minimal effort…
Put the candy away, or at least in an opaque container, where it’s not completely obvious as to what’s inside…
Keep the fruits and veggies visible! Studies demonstrate that people tend to fill their plates with whatever they see first…
Use smaller plates…
Serve salads and healthy foods on green plates and desserts on red. Most people associate red with stop, and this can help curb consumption…
Need to indulge, or make a dessert for guests? Make smaller portions…
What to drink? Try placing water at eye level and other beverages at the bottom of the fridge.
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Recipes

EatingWell:
Fresh New Spring Recipes
These healthy recipes will have you craving asparagus, fresh peas, rhubarb and more spring favorites.
Gnocchi with Tomatoes, Pancetta & Wilted Watercress
We use just a touch of pancetta—cured Italian-style bacon—to balance the sweet tomatoes and peppery watercress. Make it a meal: A salad tossed with a red-wine vinaigrette completes dinner.
MyRecipes.com:
Balsamic-Glazed Filet Mignon
Pair steak with classic sides like mashed potatoes and steamed green beans. This menu comes together easily, but is sophisticated enough to share with guests.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
Mahi Mahi with Citrus
Mahi mahi is a sturdy fish that stands up well to pan or grill cooking. Whatever way you choose to cook it, the tangy citrus and toasty garlic flavors will come through beautifully.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Robust Beet Salad
Beets are a colorful source of anthocyanins, the purple pigments also found in blueberries, red grapes and red cabbage. They are powerful antioxidants and may help protect against cancer and heart disease. This dish brings to mind pickled beets - with a grown-up slant.
The Supermarket Guru:
The Coffee Peppermint Power Lift
This coffee banana smoothie is a smart snack before a workout - or before spring cleaning! Yogurt or ice cream is a stellar source of calcium, the banana adds potassium, wheat germ kicks in extra vitamin E, and coffee contributes some vigor. All the way around, this is a healthy, energy boosting snack!
Steal This Recipe® Turkey Sausage with Rigatoni & Kale | The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge, Los Angeles
This week's stolen recipe comes to us from Chef Anthony Jacquet of The Whisper Restaurant & Lounge in Los Angeles. This classic Italian dish is going to be a big hit when you make it at home!
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Inflammatory Foods: 9 Of The Worst Picks For Inflammation

(Huffington Post) [I]nflammation is the body's totally healthy response to injury and infection, a way of defending ourselves by sending immune cells and key nutrients to the areas that need them most… [But when] inflammation as an immune response is never "shut off," so to speak, the constant production of immune cells can do permanent damage, leading to cancer, heart disease, arthritis and Alzheimer's, among other health concerns…
The foods we choose to eat -- or not to eat -- can … affect inflammation. Getting your fair share of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat and omega-3 fatty acids -- similar, yes, to the Mediterranean diet -- has been suggested to have anti-inflammatory effects…
Here are some of the worst offenders you might want to avoid…
Trans Fats…
Sugar…
White Bread…
Cheeseburgers…
Alcohol…
Omega-6 Fatty Acids…
[Whole, or even 2%] Milk…
MSG
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Healthy Eating on a Budget and Other Nutrition Tips

(USA.gov Team, via email) March is National Nutrition Month. It serves as a reminder that our nutritional habits affect our health.
·         SuperTracker: use this personalized tool to set goals and keep track of what you eat
·         Food Safety: avoid food poisoning at home by following 4 simple rules
·         Healthy Eating on a Budget: get a sample menu and tips for eating healthy without spending a lot
·         Meal Programs: learn about low-cost or free meal programs that help nourish children
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Agriculture Giants Use Emergency Budget Bill To Sneak In Big Gifts For Themselves

(ThinkProgress) On Wednesday, the Senate passed a continuing resolution to fund the federal government through September and avoid a government shutdown — and tucked into the 587-page bill are two brief provisions worth millions of dollars for large agribusinesses. The first blocks basic protections for livestock farmers already passed in the 2008 Farm Bill, effectively giving large meatpacking corporations free rein to manipulate the livestock market. The second exempts biotechnology giants like Monsanto and Dow from judicial review, allowing them to sell and plant genetically engineered crops even if a court of law orders them to stop.
These so-called “riders” often have little to do with the bill they piggyback, but special interests deploy them to avoid the scrutiny of the legislative process. A similar rider to deregulate the biotech industry quietly appeared in the stalled House Farm Bill last year. This time, agribusinesses took advantage of the urgency of averting the impending government shutdown on March 27. No lawmaker has come forward to claim responsibility for the riders.
Sen. Jon Tester (D-MO), the Senate’s only working farmer, introduced two amendments to remove these “corporate giveaways,” but was not allowed to bring his amendments to a vote. Last week, Tester gave a fiery speech eviscerating the backdoor move to further consolidate power among a handful of corporations.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

This Week's Radio Show: Diet Flip Flops
We talk with the scientists who led that research for more insight on fats and heart health. We also discuss the current state of dietary research with Dr. Walter Willett, chairman of nutrition at the School of Public Health at Harvard University.
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Higher dose statins linked to kidney issue

(UPI) Canadian researchers found patients taking higher strength cholesterol lowering statins face a small increase in the risk of acute kidney injury.
Lead author Colin Dormuth … and colleagues found a 34 percent increase in risk of hospitalization for acute kidney injury within 120 days of starting treatment with high potency statins as compared with low potency statins…
For patients on therapy for one to two years, those on the higher strength medications were at 15 percent greater relative risk of kidney injury, Dormuth said.
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FDA: 'Male enhancement' products can be dangerous

(NBC News) Three “male enhancement” products being sold online say they’re all herbal, but they contain hidden prescription drug ingredients and could be dangerous, the Food and Drug Administration said on Thursday.
The three contain compounds similar to the active ingredients in the erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra and Cialis, the FDA said. They can cause serious problems in men being treated for heart disease and should not be taken without a doctor’s supervision.
The names of the three products -- “Rock-It Man”, “Libido Sexual Enhancer” and “Stiff Days” -- leave little doubt what they are supposed to be used for. But while they are marketed as alternatives to the prescription drugs to be used without the guidance of a doctor, they are in fact virtual copies, without any oversight to ensure they are safe.
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Fewer blood pressure screens may be more effective

(Reuters Health) Less may be more when it comes to blood pressure checks, according to a new study.
After analyzing five years' worth of data for more than 400 patients, researchers conclude that the current practice of screening at every visit to the doctor's office - up to several times a year - may result in more people mistakenly diagnosed and unnecessarily treated for high blood pressure than would simple yearly screening.
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Implantable Telescope Lens to Treat Macular Degeneration

(Science Daily) [A]pproximately two million Americans … have the advanced form of [age-related macular degeneration (AMD)], which affects the region of the retina responsible for central, detailed vision, and is the leading cause of irreversible vision loss and legal blindness in people over the age of 65.
Now, a relatively new device, essentially an implantable telescope, … is offering hope for … "aging eyes." The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the Implantable Miniature Telescope (IMT), which works like the telephoto lens of a camera, in 2010.
The surgical procedure involves removing the eye's natural lens, as with cataract surgery, and replacing the lens with the IMT. The tiny telescope is implanted behind the iris, the colored, muscular ring around the pupil.
"While it doesn't cure AMD, it will help improve the vision of patients, … and help them resume their favorite activities and independence," said Oliver D. Schein, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A.
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Teaching compassion to medical students

(Chicago Tribune) Margie Huff … and six other medical students are participating in a seminar titled The Layered Self-Portrait. The students are guided through the steps of creating an anatomically correct self-portrait, drawing the bones of their skulls, then laying down the facial muscles and finally filling in their features.
The point of the class is not to learn anatomy or how to draw, according to instructor Riva Lehrer, an artist and adjunct professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Its purpose is to help the students gain a sense of mindfulness, concentration, self-awareness and respect for human differences — all qualities necessary for the doctors they will become within a few short years, she said.
The class is part of a trend at medical schools that focuses not just on teaching the vast amount of information and clinical skills medical students must know to be good doctors, but also on the humane qualities they need to have.
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Health Insurers Threaten To Increase Premiums, Even As Profits Soar

(ThinkProgress) Some of the nation’s largest health insurance companies are warning investors that they’ll raise insurance premiums by as much as 116 percent next year, as the coverage expansion provisions in the Affordable Care Act go into effect and millions of uninsured Americans begin purchasing coverage.
The threats of premium increases come as the industry is experiencing record profits and are part of a well-coordinated publicity campaign to alarm Americans about the cost of coverage, while downplaying mechanisms in the law that will cushion them from rate shock. The effort comes as insurers seek more favorable regulatory changes that would, in part, allow companies to charge older people more for coverage…
“The insurance industry has also been talking publicly about big potential premium increases in lobbying for tweaks to the law,” the Wall Street Journal reports.
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Will health reform make it easier to buy Medigap plans?

(Consumer Reports) Q. My Medigap policy was cheap when I bought it but it's expensive now that I'm 76. I tried to switch to a cheaper plan but was turned down because of some health conditions. Will health care reform prevent Medigap plans from doing this?
A. It's a perfectly sensible question, but I'm sorry to tell you the answer is no. Medigap (Medicare supplement) policies are not subject to the highly popular provision of the Affordable Care Act that bars health insurance companies from turning people down based on pre-existing conditions.
Outside of certain specified times, insurers can and sometimes do refuse to sell Medigap plans to people with pre-existing conditions. That's why you need to be informed and careful about your Medigap decision when you first sign up for Medicare.
Community: Yes, and Medigap policies won’t be listed on the new health insurance exchanges, either. Who will help me create pressure for a public option for Medigap?
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IOM Panel Raises Concerns About Lowering Medicare Pay For High Spending Areas

(Kaiser Health News) An Institute of Medicine panel on Friday panned an idea that has been raised in Congress to pay Medicare providers in some areas of the country less if their regions are heavy users of medical services.
The idea is an outgrowth of decades of research into why Medicare spends more per beneficiary in some places such as New York City, Florida and McAllen, Texas, and significantly less in parts of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Much of those spending totals—20 to 30 percent by some estimates—cannot be explained by the age or health of residents, leading some analysts to surmise the extra spending is due to unnecessary services and waste.
At the request of members of Congress from lower spending areas, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in 2010 asked the IOM to look into the issue. While not overtly giving advice to lawmakers, the panel's 30-page interim report identified many downsides to adjusting Medicare payments to hospitals, doctors and other providers based on region. Such a practice, it suggested, "would likely mischaracterize the actual value of services" and result "in unfair payments" to physicians and institutions that were careful in using Medicare services but were located in regions marked by heavy spending.
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Commentary: Democrats Should Protect Medicare From GOP

(Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor) Social Security and Medicare are the most popular programs ever devised by the federal government, which is why Republicans hate them so much. If average Americans have trusted the Democratic Party to do one thing it has been to guard these programs from the depredations of the GOP.  
Putting these two programs “on the table” is … tantamount to accepting the most insidious and dishonest of all Republican claims: That for too long most Americans have been living beyond their means; that we are rapidly approaching a day of reckoning when we can no longer afford these generous “entitlements;” and that prudence and responsibility dictate that we must now begin to live within our means and cut back these projected expenditures, particularly if we are to have any money left to invest in the young and the disadvantaged. 
The truth is the opposite: That for three decades the means of most Americans have been stagnant even though the overall economy has more than doubled in size; that because almost all the gains from growth have gone to the top, most Americans haven’t been able to save enough for retirement or the rising costs of healthcare; and that because of this, Social Security and Medicare are barely adequate as is.
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Power of Positive Thinking in Pain Relief

(RealAge.com) [A doctor’s] attitude -- and the patient's expectations based on what the doc said -- changed how well the drug worked. But you may be surprised by how much. For the optimist, the painkiller's effects doubled! But when the patient had a negative expectation, there was no relief… The patient's brain totally erased the potent drug's painkilling powers…
It's a reminder -- for you and for all of us docs -- of how powerful a team we can make. And it's new proof of a truer-than-ever maxim: Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
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Relieve Chronic Pain By De-Stressing, Study Says

(Huffington Post) Living with chronic pain can be truly stressful, but a new study contributes to growing research that managing stress may help reduce discomfort as well. Doctors from the University of Montreal found an association between the intensity of the pain experienced by chronic pain patients and their reported stress levels.
In the small study of just 24 participants, 16 of whom had chronic pain and 18 of whom were healthy control subjects, researchers found that patients who had a smaller hippocampus were more likely to also have higher cortisol levels. And higher levels of the stress hormone, in turn, contribute to increased reported pain scores on a scale of intensity.
"Our study shows that a small hippocampal volume is associated with higher cortisol levels, which lead to increased vulnerability to pain and could increase the risk of developing pain chronicity," lead author √Čtienne Vachon-Presseau said in a statement.
Community: Fortunately, there are many practical things we can do to reduce stress.
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Music facilitates healing, lessens pain

(UPI) A scientific review found music's influences healing -- especially the sympathetic nervous system and the immune system, a U.S. researchers say…
A number of studies showed exposing post-operative patients to music dramatically lowers their cortisol levels, enhancing their ability to heal.
Other studies in the review measured music's impact on congestive heart failure, premature infants, immunity, digestive function and pain perception. In particular, music's effects on the limbic and hypothalamic systems reduced the incidence of heart failure. Other studies showed that surgical patients required less sedation and post-operative pain medication, the review said.
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7-Step Chronic Pain Management Plan

(RealAge.com) You can't get chronic pain relief with a single treatment. It takes a combination approach. First step: work with your doctor. But don't stop there. Try every trick in the book to relieve pain until you've developed a comprehensive action plan that works for you. From adopting a healthy diet and exercise routine to using massage or acupuncture for pain, check out this array of pain relief remedies.
Break Habits That Make Pain WorseHere are 4 painful habits and strategies to break them.
[D]o-it-yourself pain remedies like ice, heat, and analgesics, or mind-body techniques like tai chi, deep breathing, and yoga… Learn how these and other self-care options can enhance your pain management plan.
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More Recent Research on Pain

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Iyengar yoga has been proven to help ease back pain, and researchers in Germany and Austria recently investigated whether it could also help patients with neck pain… The researchers concluded that Iyengar yoga could be as safe and effective a treatment for chronic neck pain as it is for low back pain. They noted that some 20 percent of the population suffers from chronic neck pain and conventional treatment, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, doesn’t always work and can cause side effects including nausea and dizziness.
(Huffington Post) A recent study suggests that a simple regime of daily walking may aid individuals with lower back pain. This is especially relevant research for people who suffer from lower back pain and turn to pricy rehabilitation facilities…  The walking treatment is “as effective as treatment that could have been received in the clinic," [Dr. Michal] Katz-Lerer said in a statement. Another drug-free therapy that could help ease back pain? Yoga, according to a 2011 study.
(MedPage Today) Osteopathic manual therapy (OMT) was effective in alleviating chronic low back pain to a clinically significant degree, a randomized study showed. After six sessions of either true or sham osteopathic treatments over 8 weeks, more patients receiving the actual osteopathic therapy had moderate 30% or more improvements in their symptoms.
(RealAge.com) Here are five excellent ways to keep your knees as strong, flexible, and happily active as they can be: Firm up your thighs… Walk backward… Go low-impact… Feed your knees[:] The inflammation-fighting nutrients in berries, ginger, avocado, flaxseeds, omega-3-rich fish (trout, salmon) or the DHA type of omega-3 supplements all help stifle joint damage… Lose a few [pounds, that is].
(Reuters Health) Weather has long been considered one of many potential migraine triggers, but a new study links lightning, specifically, to the onset of the severe headaches that plague more than 28 million Americans. Based on headache logs and weather data for Ohio and Missouri, researchers found that people were 28 percent more likely to experience a migraine on days when lightning struck within 25 miles of their home.
More . . .

Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Passover Recipes
Find delicious seder and kosher recipes for Passover, including brisket, macaroons, and matzo balls.
Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza
Dollops of ricotta cheese top crispy Sausage, Fennel, and Ricotta Pizza. Use a preheated pizza stone or baking sheet to ensure an extra-crisp crust.
EatingWell:
Healthy Passover Recipes And Menus
These dishes will help make your Seder a memorable gathering for family and friends this Passover.
Quick Coq au Vin
Here’s a quick version of Coq au Vin, a red wine-braised chicken-and-vegetable stew that usually takes the better part of an afternoon to make. Serve with herbed mashed potatoes and green beans.
Washington Post:
Healthful recipe: Asparagus with shallot-honey dressing
The start of spring is just the time to incorporate seasonal ingredients into your diet.
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Crash course in healthy cooking aims to help docs better help their patients

(Harvard School of Public Health) David Eisenberg envisions a time when doctors learn not just biology and chemistry—but cooking in an effort to help more patients live healthier lives. Given recent alarming increases in diabetes and other obesity-related ailments, Eisenberg, a doctor, associate professor of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and executive vice president of the Samueli Institute, thinks schooling doctors and other health professionals in the latest in nutrition science—and giving them hands-on training in how to cook healthy meals—would make them more likely to give their patients sound nutritional advice, and hopefully help improve their patients’ health as well as their own.
Now Eisenberg has study results that suggest he’s on the right track.
Over the past several years, he has helped run a four-day conference, or “crash course,” in healthy cooking, eating, and lifestyle—for doctors, nurses, nutritionists, restaurant chefs, institutional food service directors, fitness professionals and others… He led a study … in which attendees surveyed after the March 2010 conference said they were eating and cooking healthier—and advising their patients to do the same. They said they were more aware of their calorie intake; ate more vegetables, nuts, and whole grains; and were better able to assess their patients’ nutrition status and to successfully advise their overweight and obese patients about healthy eating and lifestyle.
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Energy Drinks May Increase Blood Pressure, Disturb Heart Rhythm

(Science Daily) Researchers analyzed data from seven previously published observational and interventional studies to determine how consuming energy drinks might impact heart health.
In the first part of the pooled analysis, the researchers examined the QT interval of 93 people who had just consumed one to three cans of energy drinks. They found that the QT interval was 10 milliseconds longer for those who had consumed the energy drinks. The QT interval describes a segment of the heart's rhythm on an electrocardiogram; when prolonged, it can cause serious irregular heartbeats or sudden cardiac death…
Researchers also found that the systolic blood pressure, the top number in a blood pressure reading, increased an average of 3.5 points in a pool of 132 participants.
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Potential Immune Benefits of Strong Vitamin D Status in Healthy Individuals

(Science Daily) Research from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) shows that improving vitamin D status by increasing its level in the blood could have a number of non-skeletal health benefits.
The study … reveals for the first time that improvement in the vitamin D status of healthy adults significantly impacts genes involved with a number of biologic pathways associated with cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. While previous studies have shown that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk for the aforementioned diseases, these results go a step further and provide direct evidence that improvement in vitamin D status plays a large role in improving immunity and lowering the risk for many diseases.
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Herbal remedies with deadly ingredient still available online

(Consumer Reports) Some common Chinese herbal remedies contain aristolochic acid, which has been linked to kidney disease and cancer. And despite efforts by the Food and Drug Administration to keep the ingredient out of herbal products sold in this country, you can still purchase products with the dangerous ingredient online, according to a new report.
The FDA first took steps to keep the ingredient out of the U.S. almost 12 years ago. And some countries have banned the ingredient altogether, as we reported in our earlier investigation of dangerous supplements.
"Despite these regulatory measures, there is still cause for concern," because products containing aristolochic acid remain available on the Internet, according to an article published this week.
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Antibiotics not worth risk in most chest colds: study

(Reuters Health) Doctors need to give antibiotics to more than 12,000 people with acute respiratory infections to prevent just one of them from being hospitalized with pneumonia, according to a new study.
And that small benefit is outweighed by the very real risks that go along with antibiotics - both from serious side effects and the promotion of resistant "superbugs," researchers say.
"This study is actually reassuring to both doctors and patients. What we said all along (is) that antibiotics are not helpful or not needed for the upper respiratory infections - I think this supports that," said Dr. Sharon Meropol, the study's lead author.
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Another nationwide recall of compounded medication

(Los Angeles Times) A compounding company in Augusta, Ga., has recalled syringes of the cancer drug Avastin it supplied over five months to physicians treating vision problems after the Food and Drug Administration received word that five patients who received the compounded medication came down with eye infections that could leave them blind.
The FDA announced the recall Thursday after regulators conducted a preliminary inspection of Clinical Specialties Compounding Pharmacy and found "practices at the site that raise concerns about a lack of sterility assurance."
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'Most family doctors' in Britain have given a patient a placebo drug

(BBC News) Most family doctors have given a placebo to at least one of their patients, survey findings suggest. In a poll, 97% of 783 GPs admitted that they had recommended a sugar pill or a treatment with no established efficacy for the ailment their patient came in with.
The … authors say this may not be a bad thing - doctors are doing it to help, not to deceive patients.
The Royal College of GPs says there is a place for placebos in medicine. But they warn that some sham treatments may be inappropriate and could cause side effects or issues such as drug resistance.
For example, one of the placebo treatments identified in the study was antibiotics for suspected viral infections. Antibiotics are powerless against viruses and doctors are told not to use them.
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As "telehealth" grows, experts question cost benefits

(Reuters) Monitoring patients at home using modern technology, so-called 'telehealth', is tipped as the next big thing in healthcare, but a new study by British researchers suggests it may not be worth the extra expense.
The findings will fuel controversy over the economic case for telehealth, which many information technology and telecoms companies are betting on as a multibillion-dollar market opportunity.
Martin Knapp, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics, one of the leaders of the study, said the disappointing results did not mean telehealth was a waste of time but did suggest it needed to be better targeted.
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County Health Rankings Still Show Wide Gaps

(MedPage Today) The disparity between the nation's healthiest and least healthy counties isn't completely disappearing even as public health efforts continue to chip away at the differences, a health ranking of all U.S. counties found.
"That gap is persistent," said Bridget Catlin, PhD, director of county rankings at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.
Although the overall health of the country may be getting better, the unhealthy counties aren't showing as rapid an improvement, the 2013 County Health Rankings showed.
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New Healthcare Data Warehousing Model Gains Favor

(InformationWeek) A method of assembling data from disparate sources just in time for particular analytic "use cases," known as the "late-binding" model of data warehousing, is starting to gain traction in healthcare as many provider organizations gear up for population health management. The advantage of this approach is that it allows users to combine disparate data very quickly for targeted analyses without locking data warehouses into a predetermined data model…
New delivery models such as accountable care organizations have created incentives for healthcare providers to invest in analytics and data warehouses, a recent IDC Health Insights survey found. Because only about 30% of providers currently have data warehouses, Health Analytics expects the market to expand rapidly, [Health Catalyst CEO Dan] Burton said. "Every health system in the U.S. must put in a data warehouse if they're serious about population health management," he said.
Community: I think there should be one big database for everyone. It would help us find out which treatments and procedures work best for each illness.
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FDA seeks to damp criticism over mobile health app proposals

(Reuters) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said its plans for regulating certain healthcare apps used on smartphones and tablets will not impose undue burdens on developers or stifle the growing mobile health industry.
Christy Foreman, director of the FDA's device evaluation division, told a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Thursday that the agency's goal is to foster technological innovation while protecting public safety.
The agency would not, as some had feared, regulate the sale or general consumer use of mobile devices, she said.
Community: Why don’t they set up a voluntary rating system? Like a Consumer Reports system?
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Healthcare Reform in the News

(UPI) The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said those on Medicare saved $6.1 billion on prescription drugs due to the healthcare reform… "By making prescription drugs more affordable, the Affordable Care Act is improving and promoting the best care for people with Medicare," Sebelius said.
(UPI) Two-thirds of the uninsured and a majority of U.S. adults don't know enough about the Affordable Care Act to estimate how it may affect them, a survey says. However, the tracking survey of the Kaiser Family Foundation found many major provisions of the legislation are very popular; 96 percent of Democrats favored the tax credits to small businesses to buy health insurance, but so did 87 percent of Independents as did 83 percent of Republicans.
(Reuters) - The Obama administration on Wednesday said its experiments at controlling healthcare costs could need up to a year to produce results, frustrating congressional lawmakers eager to know if new innovations in care delivery can actually work. Dr. Richard Gilfillan, who is overseeing the initiative at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, told the Senate Finance Committee that his agency is now testing three-dozen care delivery models involving 50,000 healthcare providers and more than 1 million beneficiaries.
(ThinkProgress) As the country prepares to celebrate the third anniversary of health care reform, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) insisted on Thursday that the Affordable Care Act will “kill” vulnerable women and children during a speech on the floor of the House. In a long diatribe against the law, Bachmann predicted that the American people will “pay more” and get less, before suggesting that the provisions of Obamacare will “literally” kill people.
Community: When what will actually kill people is the austerity measures demanded by Bachmann and her right-wing cohorts.
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Big Bellies Bad for Bones

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Men’s big pot bellies are a known risk factor for heart disease, but a new study suggests that this extra tissue is also bad for bones. The belly fat at issue is the “visceral” fat found deep in the abdomen and considered particularly dangerous for heart health.
Investigators at Harvard Medical School … reported that men with the biggest bellies and highest amount of visceral fat had lower scores in measurements of bone strength than men with less visceral fat and smaller bellies. The research team used “finite element analysis” (FEA) to come to this conclusion - an engineering method used to assess the strength of materials to determine where a structure can bend or fail and determine the force necessary cause a break.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to increase bone density.
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Hip Fracture in a Grandfather Is a Risk Factor for Osteoporosis

(Science Daily) Has your paternal or maternal grandfather broken their hip on any occasion? In that case there is a greater risk that your own bones are more fragile as an adult. This has been demonstrated in a thesis at the Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden based on a study of over 1,000 young adults in Gothenburg, which identified those factors increasing the risk of bone fragility in men…
"Previous studies have shown that skeletal health in young adulthood may play a determining role for the risk of suffering osteoporosis and fractures later in life. The studies presented in my thesis identify new risk factors and can hopefully be used to identify, early on, those individuals at risk thereby making it possible to prevent the development of osteoporosis," states Robert Rudäng.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to increase bone density.
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