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

Good Sleep Plus Clean Living Cuts Heart Risk

(MedPage Today) The duration of sleep alone or in combination with four traditional healthy lifestyle factors significantly reduced the risk of heart disease, researchers found.
Those who adhered to sufficient physical activity, a healthy diet, limited alcohol intake, and no smoking had a 57% reduced risk of a composite of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and a 67% reduced risk of fatal CVD compared with those who adhered to none or one lifestyle factor, according to W.M. Monique Verschuren, PhD, … and colleagues.
When a good night's sleep (more than 7 hours) was added to those traditional factors, the risk of CVD and of fatal CVD decreased even further -- 65% and 83%, respectively, researchers wrote.
Community: Sleep tips are available from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Andrew Weil, and The People’s Pharmacy.
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The Consequences of Sleep Deprivation

(Brandon R. Peters, M.D., Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences and Medicine) Animal studies dating back to 1894 demonstrate that total, sustained sleep deprivation can be fatal. Chronic sleep deprivation seems to have a more subtle, yet nevertheless significant, risk. Those who sleep less than five hours per night have two to three times the risk of heart attack. This seems to be related to a pro-inflammatory state that occurs with sleep deprivation that increases the risk of chronic disease. For the same reason, shift workers have an increased risk of developing breast and colorectal cancer.
The greatest danger related to chronic sleep deprivation may be due to traffic accidents. Not only due to drowsy drivers fall asleep behind the wheel, but they are also subject to attentiveness with decreased response time, visual tracking, and hand-eye coordination…
People who work overnight may be particularly vulnerable to accidental harm. Major disasters such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill and the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown have been linked, in part, to errors made as the result of sleep deprivation…
Sleep deprivation clearly has important effects on the quality of our life. There may be chronic, insidious problems as well as immediate risks. In order to avoid the serious consequences associated with inadequate sleep, it is imperative that we meet our individual sleep needs. This will help us to wake feeling more refreshed and preserve the quality and safety of the time we spend awake.
Community: Sleep tips are available from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Andrew Weil, and The People’s Pharmacy.
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Snoring interrupts the sleep of 8-in-10 Americans

(UPI) Snoring interrupts the sleep of 84 percent of U.S. adults and their bed partners but most just suffer through it instead of seeking help, a survey indicates.
The Spring Harris Interactive survey sponsored by ResMed, an innovator in developing products for the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing and other respiratory conditions, found men were twice as likely as women to say their bed partner leaves the room to escape their snoring…
Many were unaware that snoring is one of the leading symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing, the general term for a group of disorders characterized by pauses in breathing during sleep, the most common of which is obstructive sleep apnea.
Community: Sleep tips are available from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Andrew Weil, and The People’s Pharmacy.
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Sleep Apnea and Sudden Cardiac Death

(Michael J. Breus, Ph.D., Psychology Today) There’s important news for people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing: new research has shown OSA may increase the risk of sudden cardiac death…
Apnea episodes occur when, during sleep, muscles at the back of the throat close, temporarily obstructing the airway and interrupting breathing. These episodes, which result in poor and unrefreshing sleep, are the hallmark of OSA. The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is measured by the frequency of apnea episodes, which can vary from a few times to dozens of times in an hour. A rate of 20 episodes an hour is considered moderate sleep apnea. 
An earlier study conducted by some of the same researchers found that among patients with obstructive sleep apnea, sudden cardiac death frequently occurred at night…
This study was the first one to establish a directly link between OSA and sudden cardiac death. The current research both confirms and also expands evidence of this connection.  Neither of these studies established a cause-and-effect relationship between sleep apnea and sudden cardiac death. But they do indicate a strong association between the two. 
Community: Sleep tips are available from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Andrew Weil, and The People’s Pharmacy.
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More Recent Research on Sleep

(Science Daily) A new study suggests that CPAP therapy reduces nightmares in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Results show that the mean number of nightmares per week fell significantly with CPAP use, and reduced nightmare frequency after starting CPAP was best predicted by CPAP compliance.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) [M]ood disorders are strongly linked to abnormal patterns of dreaming. Conversely, dream researchers at Chicago's Rush Medical Center have found that people who dream - and remember those dreams - heal more quickly from depressive moods associated with divorce. Unfortunately, many prescription medications, including sleep aids and antidepressants, suppress dreaming. So I suggest that if you have difficulty sleeping or are not getting enough sleep or sleep of good quality, you need to learn the basics of sleep hygiene, make appropriate changes, and possibly consult a sleep expert.
Community: Sleep tips are available from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, Andrew Weil, and The People’s Pharmacy.
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Blackened Cumin-Cayenne Tilapia
Use your broiler to make already quick-cooking fish fillets an even speedier dinner option.
Tuna & Bok Choy Packets
Steaming fish and vegetables together in a tin-foil packet is a great way to keep the tuna moist and have little to clean up. If baby bok choy is not available, use 8 cups chopped mature bok choy for this quick fish recipe.
The Supermarket Guru:
Steal This Recipe® Pan Roasted Gnocchi, Caramelized White Asparagus, Oyster Mushrooms & Brown Butter Vinaigrette | Forty Four, NY
This recipe calls for a Banyuls vinegar, a vinegar made from a fortified wine from a region in the South of France that borders Spain. It is a gastronomic treat, having been aged in barrels for five years and has a mellow flavor, but if you can't find it you can use red wine vinegar instead, or a good balsamic or sherry vinegar. Banyuls can be purchased at gourmet retailers, or online.
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Anti-Inflammatory Grapes

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Eating grapes may help reduce inflammation in the body. In fact, the benefits may be powerful enough to prevent the organ damage metabolic syndrome can cause – at least in rats. (Metabolic syndrome is combination of risk factors that can lead to diabetes and heart disease.)
Researchers at the University of Michigan looked at the effects of adding grapes to the equivalent of a high-fat American style diet fed to obesity-prone rats. The grapes were freeze-dried into powder and included green, red and black varieties. After 90 days of this diet, the researchers saw a reduction of inflammatory markers in the rats’ bodies, especially in the liver and in abdominal fat…
They credited the polyphenols (antioxidants that benefit health) in the grapes with the improvement.
Community: Not only that, grapes are the sweetest fruit, to me. When I crave sugar, I eat grapes.
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I can't take aspirin to reduce my risk of heart attack and stroke. Is there an alternative?

(Consumer Reports) Yes. But before considering aspirin therapy - or an alternative - you should talk to your doctor about how the risks and benefits apply to you.
A daily low dose aspirin tablet can reduce heart attack and stroke risk in people who have been diagnosed with heart disease or who have already suffered a heart attack, stroke, or near stroke (TIA). But many people can't take aspirin due to an allergy or safety concerns. If that's the case for you, there are a few options you can consider.
If you are allergic to aspirin or have a heightened risk of stomach or intestinal bleeding--because of an ulcer, a clotting disorder such as hemophilia or heavy alcohol use, for example--talk with your doctor about taking clopidogrel (Plavix and generic) instead. Our Best Buy Drugs project calls it a Best Buy for people who can't take aspirin. To learn more, see our free report on antiplatelet drugs at CRBestBuyDrugs.com.
In the case of an allergy, another option is talking to an allergist about undergoing desensitization therapy to make aspirin more tolerable.
If aspirin is safe for you but it irritates your stomach, talk to your doctor about adding a stomach-protecting drug.
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7 Ways to Beat Bloat

(SouthBeachDiet.com) If you suffer from bloating, you know how uncomfortable it is… The good news is that it's possible to remedy and prevent this common problem. Here are some steps you can take to relieve your discomfort.
Cut down on salty foods…
Determine whether you are gluten sensitive…
Gradually increase your fiber intake…
Limit sugar alcohols…
Reduce your intake of carbonated drinks…
Exercise daily…
Try to reduce stress.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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New Method Rapidly Identifies Specific Strains of Illness

(Science Daily) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) and George Washington University (GWU) have developed a method to rapidly identify pathogenic species and strains causing illnesses, such as pneumonia, that could help lead to earlier detection of disease outbreaks and pinpoint effective treatments more quickly…
[The researchers] have created a statistical framework called Pathoscope to identify pathogenic genetic sequences from infected tissue samples.
This unique approach can accurately discriminate between closely related strains of the same species with little coverage of the pathogenic genome. The method also can determine the complete composition of known pathogenic and benign organisms in a biological sample. No other method can accurately identify multiple species or substrains in such a direct and automatic way. Current methods, such as the standard polymerase chain reaction detection or microscope observation, are often imperfect and time-consuming.
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How Much Do CT Scans Increase the Risk of Cancer?

(Scientific American) Ever since physicians started regularly ordering CT (computed tomography) scans four decades ago, researchers have worried that the medical imaging procedure could increase a patient's risk of developing cancer. CT scanners bombard the human body with x-ray beams, which can damage DNA and create mutations that spur cells to grow into tumors.
Doctors have always assumed, however, that the benefits outweigh the risks…
A handful of studies published in the past decade have rekindled concerns…
A growing number of clinicians and medical associations are not waiting for definitive results about health risks and have already begun figuring out how to reduce radiation levels. Two radiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital, for example, think that they can decrease the x-ray dosage of at least one common type of CT scan by 75 percent without significantly reducing image quality. Likewise, a few medical associations are trying to limit superfluous imaging and prevent clinicians from using too much radiation when CT scanning is necessary.
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Fracking Wastewater Disposal Seen Linked to Earthquakes

(Bloomberg) Disposing of wastewater from hydraulic fracturing may make fault zones more prone to earthquakes, according to researchers from Columbia University and the University of Oklahoma.
The researchers found a “profound” increase in the number of earthquakes at three sites where wastewater from fracking was injected into the ground, said Nicholas van der Elst, a scientist at Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, and lead author of an article…
Oil and natural gas producers typically dispose of water and other fluids from fracking by injecting it into the ground. The report found that as subsurface rocks become saturated, fault lines in the area may become less stable, van der Elst said.
“This study helps show the link between the pumping and the earthquakes,” van der Elst said in an interview.
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Are Pipelines Safer Than Railroads for Carrying Oil?

(Scientific American) The glut of new oil in North America has been accompanied by a boom in moving that petroleum by train. Railway traffic of crude oil in tankers has more than doubled in volume since 2011—and such transport led to tragedy in the early hours of July 6. At least 13 people were killed in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when 72 runaway railcars carrying crude oil derailed, crashed and exploded.
Compare that with the leak of diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands in Mayflower, Ark., which left a mess but killed no one. The accidents highlight the differences between transporting oil by rail and pipeline. Train transport spills far fewer barrels of oil, but pipeline accidents tend to be more benign, if also more common.
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Why Is American Health Lagging Behind Other Nations?

(Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today) Heart disease remains the leading cause of death in the United States. Major depressive disorder now ranks fifth as a disablity, up from seventh, and diabetes jumped to eighth from ninth. In an alarming surge, drug disorders saw a more dramatic rise (10th from 17th), as did Alzheimer’s disease (12th from 25th) and chronic kidney disease (17th from 27th).
The number one cause of disease is now linked to a poor diet. Americans aren’t eating enough fruits, vegetables, olive oil, nuts, low-fat dairy and lean meats—instead we are consuming an abundance of junk food that is loaded with trans fats, sodium and gulping sugary drinks. Smoking is the second leading driver of disease, followed by a general association of high body mass index (a measure of obesity which is now classified as a disease), high blood pressure, high blood-sugar levels. A lack of exercise is considered another major driving force in our nation’s poor health.
Dr. [Christopher] Murray and his colleagues report that the gap between life expectancies in the wealthiest and poorest countries has widened since 1985…
Interestingly, changes in a county’s household income, being educated and having insurance coverage didn’t completely explain the changes in a county’s average life expectancy. This suggests that shifts in behavioral drivers of disease—such as diet, exercise and obesity—are the most important predictors of wellness…
What can individuals and policy makers do to reverse the trend of increased illness as we age? There is no silver bullet that could provide a nationwide solution, but making healthy lifestyle choices like exercising more, eating less, getting an education and remaining a non-smoker all make a huge difference.
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Improving Healthcare

(U.S. News & World Report) A few years ago, the idea of turning to your local hospital to get a good workout may have seemed ludicrous. Not anymore. These days, health systems are actively reaching out to their communities with all sorts of programs designed to lessen the impact of chronic diseases, and, by extension, to keep people out of the hospital.
(U.S. News & World Report) Improving patients' comfort and surroundings is one of the more obvious, consumer-friendly ways that Virginia Mason and a growing group of hospitals are retooling for the 21st century. Presented with data from countless studies showing that the physical environment affects outcomes, not to mention an explosion of high-tech innovations from "smart" beds to wearable devices that measure vital signs, these medical centers are aiming to deliver care that is safer, more effective, potentially less costly and a better customer experience.
(U.S. News & World Report) [P]ersonalized medicine … matches treatments to patients based on their genetic and other biological information. "There are now over 80 personalized treatments available," says Edward Abrahams, president of the Personalized Medicine Coalition, an education and advocacy organization. Herceptin and Gleevec, approved in 2001 to treat a certain type of leukemia, are two of the oldest. Just this past May, the Food and Drug Administration approved two drugs for advanced melanoma driven by certain mutations that join a crop of new therapies approved in the last few years. Also, in May, the Mayo Clinic launched an Individualized Medicine Clinic at its three locations in Minnesota, Arizona and Florida aimed at getting cutting-edge guidance to cancer patients who have failed standard treatments and to people with mysterious ailments that may have a genetic cause.
(U.S. News & World Report) Patients around the country can now teleconsult with distant doctors about everything from nausea and fever to cancer treatments. In January, the Federal Communications Commission announced up to $400 million in annual funding for the development of broadband networks to link rural areas and urban medical hubs. Experienced surgeons are mentoring younger practitioners miles away, watching the action on camera and carrying on conversations. And, if you find yourself desperately in need of a specialist in the ICU, don't be surprised if a robot rolls up to your bedside with a doctor working elsewhere speaking to you on a screen. All told, the telehealth market is expected to more than double in just five years, from $11.6 billion in 2011 to $27.3 billion in 2016, according to a 2012 report from BCC Research.
(U.S. News & World Report) Several years ago, the University of Michigan Health System pioneered the Disclosure, Apology and Offer model, in which patients who have been the victim of an error are quickly told, issued an apology and offered a settlement – a stark contrast to the traditional "deny and defend" approach. Since then, legal costs have dropped by 60 percent, and the system has had 36 percent fewer medical claims lodged against it, according to a 2010 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Similarly, a 2011 Institute for Healthcare Improvement study found that Stanford University's hospitals save $3.2 million a year by saying "I'm sorry" to aggrieved patients.
(Forbes) UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurance company, says it will more than double–to $50 billion annually–the value of contracts it has with doctors and hospitals based on quality and cost efficiency measures within five years. The move, disclosed today, is a significant step by those paying for health care in the U.S. to move further away from fee-for-service medicine that rewards treating illness to a system that pays doctors and hospitals to keep patients healthy.
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Affordable Care Act News

(USA Today) Since passage of the health care overhaul two years ago, 5.8 million Medicare patients have saved $5 billion from prescription drug discounts, and the government can now predict lower health care costs based on increased use of these cheaper drugs. The savings are a continuation of the 2010 health care law's attempt to close the "doughnut hole" — or the prescription drug coverage expenses that kick in once Medicare coverage runs out.
(NPR) Wendell Potter, a senior analyst at the Center for Public Integrity, thinks there will be glitches, but he sees that the Affordable Care Act is moving ahead. He believes that getting more people insured will lower costs in the end… Potter worked inside the insurance industry for 20 years, most recently as head of communications for Cigna. He left that job and now advocates for ways the industry can reform.
(UPI) Many state-run health insurance exchanges will provide distinct plan choices exceeding the Affordable Care Act's minimum requirements, U.S. researchers say. A Commonwealth Fund report found state-run health insurance exchanges will exceed federal quality-reporting requirements, offering small-business employees a choice of health plans that won't be available in states with federally run marketplaces until 2015.
(Shots, NPR) The Obama administration's decision to delay an employer insurance requirement in the Affordable Care Act seems like a good idea to Republicans. So good, in fact, that GOP senators and congressmen are saying that the entire health care overhaul should be reconsidered.
(ThinkProgress) Since the vast majority of large American businesses already comply with the ACA’s insurance coverage requirements, the employer mandate actually only affects about 10,000 businesses and one percent of the U.S. workforce. By contrast, the individual mandate applies to every uninsured American (with exceptions for those who can’t afford coverage or don’t have options available to them). If it is delayed, the Americans who would most likely put off getting insurance for another year are the very people whom the law needs to join the insurance pools to keep everyone else’s costs down — the young and the healthy…
That’s why the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that repealing the mandate entirely would raise premiums in the individual market by 15 to 20 percent and increase the number of uninsured Americans by 16 million.
(Shots, NPR) The history of the Medicare drug law, and Medicare itself, suggests that rough launches of health expansions don't necessarily signal a lasting failure. So, proponents say, even a misfire of the health exchanges wouldn't doom the federal overhaul.
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How states can move towards single payer

(Public Citizen) The steps a state would need to take to move toward creating a single-payer health care system are somewhat complicated but are doable, according to a new Public Citizen report that provides states with a road map of how to achieve unified, universal health coverage.
A state could not hope to achieve a pure single-payer system, such as exists in Canada, because of federal programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid. But many of the ambitions of a single-payer system can be realized at the state level, the report explains. A state can accomplish much that the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, does not: provide universal care, greatly increase administrative efficiency and control costs.
Public Citizen distributed the report to state lawmakers throughout the country through the state affiliates of Health Care NOW…
“The facts are simple: We pay far more for health care than any developed country, yet we cover fewer people and get worse results,” said Dave Sterrett, health care counsel for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division. “It’s time for real change.”
Calling for a universal care system in the United States is often painted as a quixotic pursuit because of incessant fear-mongering by conservatives about the supposed evils of a “government takeover” of health care.
But the report, A Road Map to “Single-Payer”: How States Can Escape the Clutches of the Private Health Insurance System, points out that Americans polled in 2012 were nearly evenly divided when asked if they favored a single-payer system, and this was amid the relentless drumbeat of opposition to the ACA. Evidence suggesting support for the single-payer concept also can be found in Americans’ widespread approval of Medicare, the government-run program that provides nearly universal care to those over 65 at far less cost than care that is reimbursed by private insurance companies.
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U.S. Heath ‘Mediocre’, Far Behind Other Wealthy Nations

(ThinkProgress) The people who live in the United States are lagging behind their counterparts in other wealthy nations in most measures of health, according to a new study comparing 20 years of data in nearly three dozen countries…
People living in the United States tended to have higher rates of health issues related to bone and joint disease, mental disorders, and substance abuse than the residents in other rich countries. Leading causes of early death in the U.S. included obesity-related health issues — like heart diseases and stroke — as well as suicide and traffic accidents. Americans’ subpar health is driven mainly by poor diets, closely followed by tobacco and obesity.
The United States spends more on health care than any other nation in the developed world, although it’s consistently been proven to have little to no effect on improving the population’s overall health outcomes.
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Mexico is world fattest nation, United States No. 2

(UPI) Officials at the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization say Mexico with a 32.8 percent adult obesity rate is the most overweight of the industrialized nations.
Previously, the United States with an adult obesity rate of 31.8 percent was the world's fattest nation. Last year, the percentage of U.S. adults overweight went down slightly.
A report by the FAO said Mexico's widely available inexpensive junk food and penetration of U.S. fast-food chains combined with a more sedentary lifestyle all contributed to Mexico's bulging waistline.
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Americans Are Living Longer, but Not Necessarily Healthier, Study Shows

(Wall Street Journal) Americans are living longer than they did two decades ago, but they are losing ground on key measures of health to people in other developed nations, a new study shows.
The findings, from the most comprehensive analysis of the health of the U.S. population in more than 15 years, show progress in reducing death rates, adjusted for age, across a variety of diseases. But death rates from illnesses associated with obesity, such as diabetes and kidney disease, as well as neurological conditions like Alzheimer's disease, are on the rise.
Meanwhile, the number of years of living with chronic disability, an indicator of quality of life, rose for the average American in the past 20 years, partly reflecting increased longevity.
Community: We have it in our power to live longer and healthier.
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Americans exercising more but still not losing much weight

(Tribune Co.) Americans are exercising more, but that has not done much to slim their waistlines, underscoring the immense challenge confronting health advocates fighting the nation's obesity crisis.
In more than two-thirds of the nation's counties - including some of the most unhealthy - men and women became more physically active over the last decade, according to data published Wednesday.
Women made notable progress nationwide, with the percentage who got sufficient weekly exercise jumping from 46.7 percent to 51.3 percent. The percentage of physically active men ticked up a point to 57.8 percent.
But these improvements have done little to reduce obesity, researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation concluded.
Between 2001 and 2009, obesity rates for men or women fell in just nine counties. National rates climbed throughout the decade, although some recent evidence suggests obesity rates may no longer be rising.
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Cooking Light:
75 Fresh Tomato Recipes
Sweet and juicy tomatoes are the star here. We have a collection of recipes that feature this summertime delight.
Mushroom and Provolone Patty Melts
Your family won’t believe this comforting sandwich is light. For the kids, use beef broth instead of beer, and try mild wheat bread.
Oven-Fried Chicken & How to Oven-Fry (video)
EatingWell's Jessie Price shows you how to cook healthy fried chicken by oven-frying instead of deep-frying to reduce saturated fat and cut calories. The healthy cooking techniques she shares on how to oven-fry can help you make other healthier fried recipes and comfort food recipes.
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Are There Really 'Healthier' Processed Foods?

(Yoni Freedhoff) [In a recent survey, nearly] three-quarters of shoppers reported reading food labels for ingredients and "other product information." Well, here's a crazy thought. Perhaps food-label reading has become a barrier in and of itself to eating more healthfully; these days, the jobs of food labels seem to be to dupe consumers into believing that boxes of heavily processed food with a vitamin or two or a few grams of whole grains are suddenly healthful choices.
You know which foods don't need front-of-package claims? The foods that research has thus far identified as being healthful – fruits and vegetables, fish, nuts, legumes, etc…
If you want to improve the health of your home's cooking, the evidence to date would have you do some actual home cooking, where cooking isn't mixing a box of this with a jar of that. Instead, buy foods without packaging and package them together in preparing your meal, ideally with the help of your family. And enjoy the meal around a table together. But don't take a flying leap at this. Don't try to change everything all at once – let your kitchen, like ours, evolve. And, finally remember: If a box, bag or jar needs to tell you its contents are healthful, they're more likely to simply be less bad than actually good for you.
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Link Between Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Increased Prostate Cancer Risk Confirmed

(Science Daily) A second large, prospective study by scientists at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has confirmed the link between high blood concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and an increased risk of prostate cancer…
[T]he latest findings indicate that high concentrations of EPA, DPA and DHA -- the three anti-inflammatory and metabolically related fatty acids derived from fatty fish and fish-oil supplements -- are associated with a 71 percent increased risk of high-grade prostate cancer. The study also found a 44 percent increase in the risk of low-grade prostate cancer and an overall 43 percent increase in risk for all prostate cancers.
The increase in risk for high-grade prostate cancer is important because those tumors are more likely to be fatal.
The findings confirm a 2011 study published by the same Fred Hutch scientific team that reported a similar link between high blood concentrations of DHA and a more than doubling of the risk for developing high-grade prostate cancer. The latest study also confirms results from a large European study…
[Senior author Alan Kristal, Dr.P.H.] said the findings in both Fred Hutch studies were surprising because omega-3 fatty acids are believed to have a host of positive health effects based on their anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation plays a role in the development and growth of many cancers.
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Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Accelerated Aging of Bones

(Science Daily) Vitamin D deficiency is a widespread medical condition that has been linked to the health and fracture risk of human bone on the basis of low calcium intake and reduced bone density. However, [an] international team demonstrated that vitamin D deficiency also reduces bone quality.
"The assumption has been that the main problem with vitamin D deficiency is reduced mineralization for the creation of new bone mass, but we've shown that low levels of vitamin D also induces premature aging of existing bone," says Robert Ritchie, who led the U.S. portion of this collaboration.
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Race Has Role in Vitamin D Link to Heart Risk

(MedPage Today) The relationship between low serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and a greater risk of coronary heart disease varies by race and ethnicity, researchers found…
"Our study suggests that the risks and benefits of vitamin D supplementation should be evaluated carefully across race and ethnicity, and that the results of ongoing vitamin D clinical trials should be applied cautiously to individuals who are not white," [the authors] wrote…
The study "reinforces what we're seeing in medicine, [which] is a push toward personalized medicine where we're really looking beyond what happens to a whole group of people, but how do we understand what's happening at more [of] an individual level," [said Keith Norris, MD].
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Large Study Affirms Safety of Statins

(MedPage Today) An analysis of trials including nearly a quarter of a million people confirmed that statins as a class are well tolerated, although safety profiles vary from agent to agent, researchers found.
Statin therapy was associated with increased odds of diabetes and elevations of liver enzymes compared with placebo, but there were no differences in development of myalgia or cancer, elevations in creatine kinase, or discontinuations because of adverse events, according to Huseyin Naci, MHS, … and colleagues.
When comparing individual statins, simvastatin and pravastatin appeared to have the best safety profiles.
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Air pollution linked to higher risk of lung cancer and heart failure

(The Guardian) Air pollution, chiefly from traffic exhaust fumes in cities, is having a serious and sometimes fatal effect on health, according to two studies that link it to lung cancer and heart failure.
Air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer even at levels lower than those recommended by the European Union, which are also standard in the UK, says a paper… Although smoking is a far bigger cause of lung cancer, a significant number of people will get the disease because of where they live.
Community: You can check the Air Quality Index near you here.
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Smoking Kills

(Science Daily) New insights into why obese cigarette smokers experience a high risk of heart disease suggest that cigarette smoke affects the activity of hundreds of key genes that both protect the heart and lungs and expose them to damage. The study … suggests that the effects may be especially profound in obese nonsmokers who inhale "sidesteam smoke" from cigarettes smoldering nearby.
(New York Times) More than seven months have passed since Australia imposed one of the world’s toughest laws for tobacco warning labels, swapping iconic packaging for graphic images of mouth ulcers, cancerous lungs and gangrenous limbs.
And though experts say it is too soon to know what impact the law has had on tobacco use, one thing is certain: Smokers think the cigarettes taste off. 
(Reuters) In a dry run of one of the biggest legal battles in public health, an advocate for Australia's tobacco policies has delivered seemingly strong rebuttals of objections likely to be mounted in a landmark case at the World Trade Organization… Its defense at the WTO is widely seen as the crucial battle that the tobacco companies must win if they want to halt the advance of anti-tobacco laws globally, which the World Health Organization says will result in a "brave new world of tobacco control".
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Pneumonia vaccine said to reduce US hospitalizations

(Reuters Health) The seven-strain pneumonia vaccine used in the U.S. beginning in 2000 has prevented 168,000 hospitalizations for the disease each year since, and its effectiveness showed no signs of waning, a new study concludes.
The biggest benefit, by far, was seen among people age 85 and older, for whom the so-called 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, marketed as Prevnar, prevented 73,000 hospitalizations annually.
Community: If you have Medicare Part B, this vaccine is covered at no extra charge to you.
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Ford initiates pilot program to help unhealthiest workers

(UPI) A pilot wellness program at the Ford Motor Co. aims to help its unhealthiest workers manage a chronic illness such as diabetes or heart disease, officials say.
Ford officials said 61 percent of its healthcare costs were from employees who have at least one, but often multiple, chronic illnesses such as heart disease, lung disease, diabetes and asthma, Michigan Radio 91.7 FM Ann Arbor/Detroit reported.
Ford and its healthcare trust that covers medical care for retired union workers said the auto company hoped to reduce medical costs, while improving the quality of life for the people burdened by chronic illness.
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High Price of Cancer Drugs 'One of Biggest Issues in Healthcare'

(Medscape Medical News) There is still a buzz around the recent paper that showed that the high prices of cancer drugs are harming patients. The forum article received a huge amount of publicity … a few weeks ago, and has apparently spurred American politicians to action…
The high cost of cancer drugs "has been the elephant in the room when we have been discussing treatment," Dr. Kantarjian told Medscape Medical News
In the paper, the experts draw attention to the very high cost of news drugs for leukemia, but emphasize that their concerns extend to many other types of cancer drugs. The high prices are resulting in nonadherence to treatment; in the United States, about 10% of patients fail to take prescribed drugs, largely because of cost. "This is reducing their chances of survival," the group notes.
"Advocating for lower drug prices is a necessity to save the lives of patients who cannot afford them," the experts conclude.
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How One Oklahoma Hospital Is Driving Down The Cost Of Health Care By Thousands Of Dollars

(ThinkProgress) In Oklahoma City, one surgical center is successfully reducing the price tag for their procedures by thousands of dollars — and encouraging nearby hospitals to follow suit.
What’s the secret?
The two doctors who started the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, Dr. Keith Smith and Dr. Steven Lantier, are committed to charging fair prices, and they founded their hospital with the goal of price transparency. “What we’ve discovered is health care really doesn’t cost that much,” Dr. Smith told KFOR-TV. “What people are being charged for is another matter altogether.”
They have been posting all of their prices online for the past several years, and they charge significantly less than other hospitals in the area.
“When we first started we thought we were about half the price of the hospitals,” Dr. Lantier said. “Then we found out we’re less than half price. Then we find out we’re a sixth to an eighth of what their prices are. I can’t believe the average person can afford health care at these prices.”
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Sick: Scams prey on ‘Obamacare’ confusion

(McClatchy) If a stranger claiming to be from the government calls to offer you an “Obamacare card” or threatens to throw you in jail unless you buy insurance, hang up the phone. It’s a scam.
Fraudsters are poised to take advantage of widespread confusion over the Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – to steal Americans’ credit cards, Social Security numbers and other personal information, consumer advocates and government officials say…
The FTC already has issued a consumer alert about one telemarketing scheme, in which impostors claiming to be from Medicare told consumers they needed to hand over their personal or financial information in order to continue eligibility because “change is on the horizon.”…
The official-sounding calls were just a ploy to steal consumers’ identities and money.
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The Affordable Care Act Battles Keep Raging

(Washington Post Fact Checker) The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is launching a $700,000 ad buy that … sets up a straw man — the notion that people are going to lose access to their doctor. For the vast majority of Americans, that’s not going to be the case. Under the law, millions of other Americans, for the first time, are supposed to gain access to regular health insurance. Certainly it is appropriate to ask questions about this complex law, but focusing an ad on such an emotional — and unlikely — hypothetical goes too far.
(ABC News) Republican leaders in the House of Representatives, poised to take yet another swing at dismantling Obamacare, today strongly hinted that they intend to vote by the end of the month to delay implementation of the individual mandate provision in the Affordable Care Act by one year. Pointing at the Obama administration’s decision last week to postpone implementation of the mandate for businesses, House Speaker John Boehner questioned why President Obama would side with big business but move ahead with the mandate for individuals and families.
Community: When do GOP leaders side with ordinary Americans? Only when it provides another chance to bash President Obama.
(Kaiser Health News) Small business workers in at least 15 states and the District of Columbia may have a menu of health insurance choices next year, something that didn’t seem likely a few months ago… [A]s new marketplaces prepare to open for enrollment Oct. 1, it appears that most of the states creating their own online marketplaces are going ahead with “employee choice” for small business workers, researchers at Georgetown University’s Health Policy Institute found in a report Thursday for the Commonwealth Fund. By doing so, the states hope to make the small business marketplaces — for firms with 50 or fewer workers — more attractive to employers and workers, said co-author Sarah Dash.
(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius [has] announced $150 million in grant awards to 1,159 health centers across the nation to enroll uninsured Americans in new health coverage options made available by the Affordable Care Act… [The] announcement is part of the administration's broader effort to make applying for health coverage as easy as possible. The new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hour-a-day consumer call center help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for health coverage.  These new tools will help Americans understand their coverage options and select the plan that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins Oct. 1, 2013.
For a list of health centers receiving this funding, visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2013tables/outreachandenrollment/.
(ThinkProgress) With less than three months remaining until the Affordable Care Act’s new health care exchanges launch, Walgreens is joining with health care association Blue Cross Blue Shield to educate Americans about the law. The partnership launched a new website Wednesday explaining details and answering questions about how Obamacare will affect Americans. Walgreens will also distribute brochures with similar information at their stores around the country. Educating the public about what will happen as Obamacare is implemented remains crucial, particularly given continued confusion about what the law will do amid Republican attempts to obstruct its implementation.
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