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

Study Finds Seniors Are Living Longer, Healthier Lives

(U.S. News & World Report) [A] recent study by Harvard University and the National Bureau of Economic Research … concludes that longevity is causing healthier lives and what's known as "compressed morbidity" – shorter periods of decline at the time of death….
"Our major conclusion is that time spent in poor physical functioning is being increasingly compressed into the period just before death," the study said. Limitations in daily living such as bathing, dressing and eating are falling for those not near the end of life, as are more severe functional limitations, the study said.
"Less severe functional limitations are constant, and overall disease prevalence is rising," it added. "People have more diseases than they used to, but the severe disablement that disease used to imply has been reduced."…
People who were 65 in the 1991-1993 period could look forward to 17.5 more years of life on average, with 8.8 of those years being disability-free and 8.7 years being spent with some disabling health conditions. By the 2003-2005 period, average life expectancy was 18.2 years, but the healthy-unhealthy split had shifted to 10.4 disability-free years and 7.8 disabled years. Wellness results were more favorable for women than men (although men made greater overall longevity gains during the period), and more favorable for whites than non-whites.
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Aging: Face it!

(Counter Clockwise) [A] significant percentage of the almost $100 billion American anti-aging industry is devoted to the face, from surgeries and muscle paralyzers to fillers and plumpers, from lasers and peels to supplements and salves, to $900 a pot face creams with scientific pedigrees and impossibly exotic ingredients.
The Daily Mail (perhaps not the most trustworthy source) reported recently that Jennifer Anniston spent about $2000 a month on her face, including a $450 ointment that (here’s where the “perhaps not the most trustworthy source” comes in) was made with crystals from Mars.  I so wish that were true.  It would be an awesome reason to increase NASA funding.  Leaf through any magazine devoted to women (and some that are devoted to men) and the first ten pages – more like 20 in some magazines – are face creams that promise incredible anti-aging results which you can plainly see on the studio-lit, airbrushed, poreless faces of the 25-year-old models staring out at you, doe-eyed.
So…my answer to those questions circling around “Does anything work?”  Yes. Staying out of the sun works.  Not smoking works.  Staying hydrated works.  Eating clean works.  Exercising works.  Can you erase wrinkles with surgery, fillers, plumpers?  Yes.  But you are NOT erasing age.  You are not turning back your biological clock.  That ticks from the inside.
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Seeking Longevity? Eat Real Food

(Andy Bellatti, Registered dietitian) [E]very dietary "tribe" has its own example that it can point to as "evidence" that the eating patterns they espouse are, indeed, the best. The low-carb camp, for instance, often references the Inuit and their high-fat diet; those who prefer a "Mediterrasian" diet point to the Okinawans; others consider the Maasai tribe nutrition all-stars.
Usually, these groups of people's characterized-as-enviable health is attributed to one or two particular food items unique to their culture (e.g., whale blubber, seaweed, and goat's blood, respectively)…
The problem with this framework is that a very important detail -- perhaps the most important detail -- often goes unspoken. While these healthful groups of people may appear to have widely different diets (some are high-fat and low-carbohydrate, others are high-carbohydrate and low-fat), there is one common thread: Their intake of processed foods, added sugars, trans fats, and artificial ingredients is minimal, if at all existent…
Rather than trying to pinpoint what "superfood" holds the key to longevity, we should aim to foster a more healthful food environment…
1.    Eat more whole fruits and vegetables…
2.    Consume fermented foods…
3.    Eat unprocessed fats…
4.    Eat enough fiber, and eat it from real food…
5.    Limit processed foods…
I can't promise you these guidelines will enable you to celebrate your 123rd birthday, but I would bet your health and quality of life will vastly improve.
Community: Even my mood improves when I eat right.
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Longevity Increases With Nut Consumption

(Food Product Design) Individuals who consumed nuts—especially walnuts—more than three times a week have a reduced risk of dying from cancer or cardiovascular disease, according to a study…
Nut consumption was associated with a significantly reduced risk of all-cause mortality. Compared to non-consumers, subjects consuming nuts  more than three servings week had a 39% lower mortality risk.
“Quite how nuts are able prevent premature mortality is not entirely clear, nor why walnut should be better for you than other nuts. Walnuts have particularly high content of alpha-linoleic acid and phytochemicals, especially in their ‘skin’ both of which, along with fibre and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, may contribute to their healthy effect," said Prof Jordi Salas-Salvadó…, who led this study.
Previous studies have shown the same effects regarding cardiovascular disease and walnut consumption.
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More Recent Research on Aging and Longevity

(Science Daily) A team of Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers … has found that deficiency of a protein called RbAp48 in the hippocampus is a significant contributor to age-related memory loss and that this form of memory loss is reversible. The study, conducted in postmortem human brain cells and in mice, also offers the strongest causal evidence that age-related memory loss and Alzheimer's disease are distinct conditions.
(Science Daily) [A] study showed that those older women who had set exercise as one of their personal goals were more likely to exercise actively and also maintained their exercise activity higher in an eight-year follow-up. Personal goals related to cultural activities and to busying oneself around home further increased the likelihood for high exercise activity. Being generally active in life also seems to be beneficial for exercise activity.
(LiveScience) [A] group of researchers … found that damaged DNA in the mitochondria — also known as the powerhouse of the cell, because this is where sugars break down into usable energy — partly control the rate of aging in experimental mice… Mitochondrial DNA contains genes only from mothers.
Community: The key word here is “partly.” We can still control a lot of our own destiny by living a healthy lifestyle.
(Institute of Cancer Research) A gene that helps control the ageing process by acting as a cell's internal clock has been linked to cancer by a major new study. Scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, found a genetic variant that influences the ageing process among four new variants they linked to myeloma – one of the most common types of blood cancer.
(LiveScience) The longest-living bat species may owe its exceptional life span, at least in part, to its genes, a new study suggests… Genes for two proteins involved in growth — called growth hormone receptor (GHR) and insulinlike growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) — showed changes that also appear among other long-lived bat species. Previous studies in mice and other animals suggest genetic changes in GHR and IGF1R are linked with longevity.
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Grilled Chicken Sliders
Mini sliders are a fun weeknight meal the whole family is sure to love. Dijon mustard gives the apricot chutney the perfect amount of peppery tang to complement the grilled chicken.
Vegetable Lover's Chicken Soup
Classic comfort food is yours, in just slightly more than half an hour. Serve with some crusty whole-grain bread and top with grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.
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Intestinal Flora Determines Health of Obese People

(Science Daily) New research shows that there is a link between richness of bacterial species in the intestines and the susceptibility to medical complications related to obesity. Researchers demonstrated that people with fewer bacterial species in their intestines are more likely to develop complications, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. A flora with decreased bacterial richness appears to function entirely differently to the healthy variety with greater diversity…
Jeroen Raes: "We were able to distinguish between two groups based on their intestinal flora: people with a large richness of bacterial species in their intestines and people with a few less bacterial species. A species-rich bacterial flora appeared to function differently compared to the poorer variety. It was surprising to see that obese and non-obese people were found in both groups."
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New Approach to Celiac Testing Identifies More at Risk

(Science Daily) Australian researchers have developed a new approach to detecting coeliac disease, revealing this immune disorder is far more common than previously recognised.
In a study of more than 2500 Victorians the researchers combined traditional antibody testing (measuring the immune response to gluten) with an assessment of specific genetic risk markers. They found more than half of Australians had genetic risk factors for developing coeliac disease…
Dr [Jason] Tye-Din said the newly developed testing strategy showed coeliac disease potentially affected at least one in 60 Australian women and one in 80 men. Previous estimates had the number of Australians with coeliac disease as no more than one in 100. Although this study is the first to reveal that more than half of Australians have genetic risk factors for developing coeliac disease, it is not yet known why the disease develops in only some people.
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Conspiracy Theories May Put Children's Health at Risk

(Science Daily) A belief in conspiracy theories may influence parents' intentions to have their children vaccinated against diseases such as measles. That is the conclusion of research … by Daniel Jolley and Karen Douglas…
Jolley and Douglas asked a sample of 89 parents about their views on anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and then asked participants to indicate their intention to have a fictional child vaccinated. They found that stronger belief in anti-vaccine conspiracy theories was associated with less intention to have the child vaccinated…
Daniel Jolley said: "The recent outbreak of measles in the UK illustrates the importance of vaccination. Our studies demonstrate that anti-vaccine conspiracy theories may present a barrier to vaccine uptake."
Community: There was also a measles outbreak in Texas that was due to an anti-vaccination pastor. And vaccination fear doesn’t just affect children. See below.
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Stomach bug hospitalization rates fell in adults, too, after children vaccinated

(Reuters Health) Fewer older children and adults were hospitalized for severe diarrhea once the U.S. started vaccinating babies against rotavirus in 2006, according to a new study.
Rotavirus is one cause of the "stomach flu," or gastroenteritis, and introduction of the rotavirus vaccine has already been tied to a drop in related hospitalizations among preschoolers. But whether vaccinating babies would also confer protection for older people was unclear, researchers said.
"This study confirms the benefits of the rotavirus vaccine program, but it also shows there's an unexpected benefit to the population at large," Ben Lopman, who worked on the study at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said.
Community: And we saw recently that “Pneumonia vaccine for children also protects older adults.”
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Sleepless in the states: Nearly 9 million pop pills for shut-eye

(NBC News) Desperate for rest in a frenzied world, at least 8.6 million Americans take prescription sleeping pills to catch some Zzzs, according to the first federal health study to focus on actual use.
Between 2005 and 2010, about 4 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 and older popped popular prescription drugs such as Lunesta and Ambien in the previous month, say government researchers who tracked 17,000 people to their homes and peered into their medicine cabinets.
About a quarter of those studied suffered sleep problems serious enough to report to their doctors, said Yinong Chong, an epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…
The report provides the latest evidence that a good night’s sleep is becoming more elusive.
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Migraine May Permanently Change Brain Structure

(Science Daily) Migraine may have long-lasting effects on the brain's structure, according to a study…
"Traditionally, migraine has been considered a benign disorder without long-term consequences for the brain," said study author Messoud Ashina, MD, PhD, with the University of Copenhagen in Denmark. "Our review and meta-analysis study suggests that the disorder may permanently alter brain structure in multiple ways."
The study found that migraine raised the risk of brain lesions, white matter abnormalities and altered brain volume compared to people without the disorder. The association was even stronger in those with migraine with aura.
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Miniature 'human brain' grown in laboratory

(BBC News) Scientists have grown a miniature "human brain" the size of a pea, in a feat they hope will transform the study of neurological disorders.
The structures have reached the same level of development as that of a nine-week-old foetus, but are incapable of thought.
The team from the Austrian Academy of Sciences have already used the technique to study certain developmental defects, and say they hope to be able to use it to research disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
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Florida Congressman Visits A Cancer Research Center, Gets An Earful About Damaging Sequester Cuts

(ThinkProgress) When Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) toured Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center on Monday, he was likely hoping to connect with his constituents during the August recess. Instead, he ended up hearing quite a few critiques from cancer researchers who say that deep sequester cuts are currently undermining their work.
Since Congress failed to reach a deal to avert the sequester, deep across-the-board cuts are currently compromising everything from fighting wildfires to enrolling kids in Heart Start. Thanks to an 8.2 percent cut to the National Institute of Health (NIH), medical research has been similarly undermined. Before the sequester cuts kicked in this spring, scientists warned that slashing NIH’s funds could set back scientific innovation for a generation.
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Affordable Care Act News

(Bloomberg) Bill Clinton agreed to lend his weight to President Barack Obama’s effort at educating people about the U.S. health-care overhaul, a helping hand needed to combat confusion as key parts of the law begin Oct. 1.
(ThinkProgress) Some large companies are blaming Obamacare for their decision to slash workers' hours and cut employee benefits. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz says he won't follow suit.
(Kaiser Health News) The National Business Group On Health's annual survey of large employers asked whether they expected various groups currently covered by their plans to choose the health law's new coverage in 2014.
(UPI) Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, says time is short to defund the Affordable Care Act because people will get "addicted" to the subsidies to buy health insurance.
Community: Maybe they should just rob banks. See below.
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Sick Oregon Man ‘Robs’ Bank For One Dollar To Get Health Care In Jail

(ThinkProgress) Nobody sticks up a bank for a single dollar unless he has a particularly compelling reason. Tim Alsip had one: the only way he could afford health care was to get it in jail.
On Friday morning, 50-year-old Alsip walked into a Portland-area Bank of America and calmly handed the teller a note: “This is a hold up. Give me a dollar.” Alsip then took his single dollar bill and sat quietly in the lobby, waiting for police to arrive. According to The Oregonian, he has a history of mental illness, addiction, and dental problems that seem to have gone untreated. Sacrificing his freedom was the price Alsip felt he had to pay to receive medical care.
Alsip is currently homeless and has no past criminal record in the state. He was arrested without incident and charged with second-degree robbery and bail set at $250,000.
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Healthcare Needs to Lead the Fight Against Climate Change (Op-Ed)

(LiveScience) Given that healthcare is underpinned by an ethical imperative to "first, do no harm," it has a responsibility to reduce all of its pollution and lead our society toward renewable energy, energy efficient products, local and sustainable food systems, safer chemicals and other mitigation efforts that support healthier people in healthier communities.
Healthcare represents 18 percent of the entire economy and is growing. If people can harness the purchasing power of that critical sector and invest in "climate positive" energy sources, they can drive the entire economy toward a more sustainable future. This low carbon development path simultaneously will reduce the rising disease burden and reduce the globe's spiraling healthcare costs.
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Exercise Is Medicinal

(Lauren Pecorino, PhD, Univ. of Greenwich) Physical activity/exercise is often viewed as a recreational activity to be engaged in by the young, or those who delight in the luxury of free time. This could not be more wrong! Physical inactivity is now the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. My message is clear: Physical activity is medicinal and absolutely vital to good health.
This message is not new, as illustrated by a quote from Hippocrates 460 BC: "If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health."…
One of the most extensive evidence-based reports on exercise and cancer prevention … states that there is convincing evidence that physical activity helps decrease the risk of colorectal cancer and probable evidence that it helps decrease the risk of post-menopausal breast and endometrium cancer…
Few people know about the studies that report that a high level of physical activity seems to delay the onset of dementia or that exercise helps to delay cognitive impairment…
A recent 20 year follow-up study … showed that mortality risk in older men (age 65-92) is 38 percent lower for those who achieved exercise capacity of 5.1-6.0 metabolic equivalents (approximately an hour of brisk walking).
Exercise creates highly-reactive intermediates of oxygen (reactive oxygen species (ROS), also known as free radicals). The role of free radicals in disease and aging is well documented…
My advice for a healthy life is to get out and be active: Get back on a bicycle, jump in the pool, battle the ocean waves, pick up a paddle, jog through the park, or pick up a racket. Think of it as investing in what I call a "health pension" -- investment in your health now for the years ahead. It could be the best thing you can do for your future. And take your friends and family. Enjoy staying healthy and live longer by being active.
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Exercise may cut endometrial cancer risk for heavy women

(Reuters Health) Overweight and obese women who get plenty of exercise may have a lower risk of endometrial cancer than if they were sedentary, according to new research.
Strenuous and moderate physical activity were linked to lowered risk for heavy women, but there was no association between activity level and endometrial cancer risk for thinner women, Christina M. Dieli-Conwright … and her colleagues found.
"Physical activity is a good thing, however its involvement in reducing the risk specifically with endometrial cancer does need to be further investigated," Dieli-Conwright told Reuters Health.
While the evidence is strong that both vigorous and moderate physical activity can reduce breast cancer risk, she added, "with endometrial cancer it's not so straightforward."
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Exercise helps those with peripheral artery disease

(UPI) Exercising at home can help those with peripheral artery disease walk longer distances, U.S. researchers say…
Study participants who did the home-based treadmill exercise program increased their walking distance over 6 minutes by nearly 150 feet, compared with a decline of 36 feet among patients in a "control" group who did not do the exercise program.
Participants in the exercise group also improved their maximum treadmill walking time by nearly 1 1/2 minutes, while the change in the control group was about 30 seconds, [study leader Mary] McDermott said.
Community: You don’t need to buy a treadmill to exercise at home.
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Exercise Boosts Heart Health in Renal Disease

(MedPage Today) Regular exercise improved cardiac functioning in patients with chronic kidney disease in the largest CKD intervention study to date.
Patients who engaged in a closely supervised exercise program for 12 months had an 11% increase in their maximal aerobic capacity compared with a 1% decrease among patients who were not in the exercise intervention group…, according to Erin J. Howden, PhD, … and colleagues.
The exercise intervention group also lost a modest amount of weight (-1.8±4.2 kg versus 0.7±3.7 kg…), but no significant reductions were achieved in their blood pressure or lipid levels, the researchers wrote.
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More Information and Recent Research on Exercise

(Chatelaine) Get toned like our fitness expert James Fell by following his simple three-day routine for maximum results in a minimum amount of time.
(Chicago Sun-Times) “Your body is constantly moving, and your heart rate is up. Especially when you dance from slow to fast tempo songs, it can feel like those moments of sprints in your circuit training,” says Sol Solis, owner/instructor of Latin Rhythms Academy of Dance & Performance… “Salsa dancing gives you a full body cardio workout ... for all those women out there dancing for hours in their heels, I would also add it gives you a good leg workout as well, (i.e. quads, calves and your gluteus maximus).”
(Science Daily) Watermelon juice's reputation among athletes is getting scientific support in a new study, which found that juice from the summer favorite fruit can relieve post-exercise muscle soreness.
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Follow-up on Obesity

(Scientific American) New science shows that overeating is not a behavioral disorder, such as a lack of self-control, and is not caused by a hormonal imbalance. Instead foods rich in fat and sugar can supercharge the brain's reward system, which can overpower the brain's ability to tell an individual to stop eating. In these cases, the more someone eats, the more he or she wants.
(Scientific American) Too much sugar can lead to weight gain. But for certain people, poor production of the hormone dopamine in their brain might also promote overeating, pushing them toward diabetes and obesity. The finding complements the latest understanding of how foods high in sugar and fat can hijack the brain’s reward system, motivating people to overeat.
Community: Livestrong has a list of ways to increase dopamine naturally, and Natasha Turner, N.D., at Chatelaine, has some supplement suggestions.
(Science Daily) Reduced levels of inflammation may explain how some obese people are able to remain metabolically healthy, according to a recent study… Obesity generally is linked to a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease. Some people who are obese, however, do not develop high blood pressure and unfavorable cholesterol profiles -- factors that increase the risk of metabolic diseases. This phenomenon is described as metabolically healthy obesity. Although estimates vary widely, as much as 35 percent of the obese population may be metabolically healthy.
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Lemon Basil Shrimp and Pasta
A zesty one-pot shrimp and pasta dish is complete after tossing with capers, basil, olive oil, and lemon juice. Serve with focaccia or crusty baguette.
Grilled Rosemary-Scented Chicken
Grilling chicken breasts on a bed of rosemary sprigs is an effective and easy way to infuse them with flavor. Savory black olive paste, contrasted with a sweet confit of caramelized onion, provides a sophisticated finish.
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Broccoli slows arthritis, researchers think

(BBC News) Eating lots of broccoli may slow down and even prevent osteoarthritis, UK researchers believe.
The University of East Anglia team is starting human trials following on from successful lab studies.
Tests on cells and mice showed that a broccoli compound - which humans can also get from Brussels sprouts and cabbage - blocked a key destructive enzyme that damages cartilage.
They are asking 20 patients to eat a daily dose of "super-charged" broccoli.
This special cruciferous vegetable has been bred to be extra rich in nutrients - it is a cross between standard broccoli and a wild relative from Sicily.
Our body takes this glucoraphanin compound and turns it into another, called sulforaphane, which appears to protect the joints.
Community: Sulforaphane may also fight cancer.
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45 Bing cherries a day may keep the doctor away

(UPI) U.S. researchers say cherry consumption -- 45 Bing cherries a day -- selectively improved circulating blood levels for nine biomarkers of inflammatory disease…
The researchers evaluated protein levels in fasting blood samples before, during and after cherry supplementation at days 7, 21, 35 and 63 to obtain baseline, intervention and post-intervention data.
The study … found 45 sweet Bing cherries added to the diet each day were shown to have lower levels of a variety of indicators for chronic inflammatory diseases such as arthritis, high blood pressure, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
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What can be done about gout? Find out here.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) Gout is a form of arthritis that causes a sudden onset of intense pain and swelling in the joints. It occurs most often in older men, and frequently affects the lower body -- knees, ankles, heels, and toes. Learn how gout is treated and take quiz to learn what causes gout.
The information on Gout was provided by NIHSeniorHealth and developed by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at NIH.
Community: Dr. Weil has more. I took his advice on tart cherry juice, and it was quite effective.
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Disaster preparedness: How to be ready for the next big storm

(Consumer Reports) There’s no telling whether the rest of this hurricane season will bring anything like Superstorm Sandy, which flooded more than 150,000 homes, killed more than 140 people, and left about 8.5 million homes in 20 states without power. A relatively minor storm can also cause major damage if it includes high winds, heavy rain, or tree-snapping ice or snow.
Even a simple blackout can happen at any time and last for days. More than a half-million New Jersey residents were still without power two weeks after Sandy. And if you think most home-insurance policies cover disasters, think again: Flood insurance is just one of the “extras,” assuming it’s available in your area.
This report lays out the essentials you’ll need to help protect your home and the people in it before disaster strikes. (Read "Lessons Learned From Superstorm Sandy" for more information on disaster preparedness.) Here’s where to start.
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Drug Blocks Light Sensors in Eye That May Trigger Migraine Attacks

(Science Daily)  For many migraine sufferers, bright lights are a surefire way to exacerbate their headaches. And for some night-shift workers, just a stroll through a brightly lit parking lot during the morning commute home can be enough to throw off their body's daily rhythms and make daytime sleep nearly impossible. But a new molecule that selectively blocks specialized light-sensitive receptors in the eyes could help both these groups of people, without affecting normal vision.
"It took almost ten years to find and test a molecule that fit all the properties and acted in vivo as we wanted," says senior study author Satchidananda Panda…
Once more effective compounds are developed, Panda expects that they could eventually have utility in a variety of clinical settings.
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Evaluating Medical Research: New Treatments Better Than Standard Ones Just Over Half the Time

(Science Daily) USF Distinguished Professor Benjamin Djulbegovic, MD, PhD, has studied the ethics of randomized clinical trials and their effectiveness in evaluating the outcomes of new treatments for decades.
Now, in a paper…, Dr. Djulbegovic and colleagues report that on average new treatments work better than existing ones just over half the time. On scientific and ethical grounds, they say, the randomized controlled trial (RCT) system's little more than 50-50 success rate over the past half century is evidence that the system is working as intended.
Community: Shouldn’t our goal be to have a much better success rate than that?
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Online doctor visits offer convenience and often lower costs

(Los Angeles Times) A number of websites offer face-to-face consultations of the virtual kind to anyone with a credit card and access to a webcam-equipped computer. The services are intended for patients with relatively minor problems that don't require hands-on diagnoses or treatments, not for people who need stitches, MRIs or casts on broken limbs…
Some e-visit sites charge per-consultation fees: MedCareLive.com, $45; MeMD, $44.95; Teladoc, $35. Others charge different rates for different services: At Online USA Doctors, single consults start at 99 cents. As for insurance, some plans cover e-visits at some sites, but not all.
Although MedCareLive.com does not contract with any insurance companies, co-founders Dr. David Tashman and nurse practitioner Sigi Marmorstein set out to make their service a good deal — for people who have insurance and people who don't. "We set our price point at $45 for a reason," Tashman says. "Most co-pays run from $30 to $50."
"We want to help people stay away from the ER and urgent care," Marmorstein adds. "We want to save people money."
So far, hard data on e-visits are limited.
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Can a phone app help you find cheaper drugs?

(Consumer Reports) With all the mobile apps out there claiming to help cut your costs at the pharmacy counter, it can be tough to distinguish the money savers from the time wasters. To find out whether they really work, we tried four of them—GoodRx, LowestMed, Mobile Rx Card, and WeRx—to price a month’s supply of the cholesterol-lowering drug Lipitor (40 milligrams) and its generic equivalent, atorvastatin, using a ZIP code near our offices in Yonkers, N.Y.
We also tested whether the apps would tap into generic discount plans by pricing another cholesterol drug, pravastatin (Pravachol and generic). And we priced an over-the-counter pain reliever Advil and its generic, ibuprofen (200mg). GoodRx and WeRx worked well, and LowestMed is worth a try, but we suggest that you skip the other one. Here’s why.
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Near record low price growth in U.S. healthcare sector

(UPI) U.S. healthcare prices grew 1.1 percent in July compared to July 2012, only a tenth above the May rate, the lowest since January 1990, a non-profit group says.
The data comes from the monthly Health Sector Economic Indicators briefs released by Altarum Institute's Center for Sustainable Health Spending.
The 12-month moving average -- at 1.6 percent -- represents a new low for the data, the Altarum Institute said. National health expenditures grew 4.3 percent in June, and spending growth averaged 4.1 percent for the first half of the year, barely above the record low levels seen annually since 2009.
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Mobile Doctors CEO, physician charged with Medicare fraud

(Chicago Tribune) The head of a Chicago-based company that manages physicians who make house calls and one of its most prolific doctors were arrested Tuesday on charges the company fraudulently billed Medicare for millions of dollars by inflating the level of care given patients.
A criminal complaint charged Dike Ajiri, chief executive officer of Mobile Doctors, with health care fraud and Banio Koroma, a physician who has worked for the company since 2007, with making false statements.
Federal agents raided Mobile Doctors' headquarters in Chicago and branch offices in Detroit and Indianapolis and also sought to seize about $2.6 million in alleged fraudulent proceeds from various bank accounts, prosecutors said.
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Affordable Care Act News

(Reuters) The Obama administration has delayed a step crucial to the launch of the new healthcare law, the signing of final agreements with insurance plans to be sold on federal health insurance exchanges starting October 1… Nevertheless, Joanne Peters, a spokeswoman for HHS, said the department remains "on track to open" the marketplaces on time on October 1.
(Kaiser Health News) Accountable care organizations (ACOs) may actually be the unicorns we’ve been waiting for, spreading their cost-saving magic throughout the health system. An early cost-sharing program in Massachusetts designed to cut costs for private Blue Cross Blue Shield patients also lowered costs for Medicare patients who were seen by the same providers, according to a study published Tuesday.
Community: ACOs are an integral part of the Affordable Care Act.
(Kaiser Health News) The public’s awareness of new marketplaces is growing, but potential customers are getting much of their information about the health law from sources they don’t trust very much,  according to a poll released Wednesday…. Overall, the views about the health law remain constant. The public is basically split on it, with 42 percent opposing and 37 percent supporting. But 57 percent oppose cutting off funding, something that some congressional Republicans have been pushing in negotiations over raising the federal debt limit. Only 36 percent favor defunding the law. The most popular reason for opposing defunding is a procedural one: that if lawmakers want to get rid of the law, they should repeal it, not undermine it by cutting off funds.
Community: And some of the people opposed to the law don’t like it because it doesn’t go far enough.
(Kaiser Health News) As congressional Republicans push for a delay in the 2010 health law’s individual mandate, the Obama administration Tuesday announced final regulations implementing the requirement that most Americans have health insurance coverage by Jan. 1 or pay a fine… The regulations specify nine categories of individuals who are exempt from the mandate, including people who can’t afford coverage or taxpayers whose income is so low they don’t have to file a tax return, according to a fact sheet from the agencies. People in jail or who are not in the country lawfully are also exempt, as are individuals who experience a coverage gap of three months or less. When filing 2014 taxes in 2015, individuals must indicate on their returns if they have health insurance coverage and, if not, pay a fine.
(Kaiser Health News) If they qualify, consumers can opt to receive the tax credits in advance, and the exchange will send the money directly to the insurer every month. This subsidy will reduce how much people owe up front. Consumers can also choose to receive their credit when they file their taxes the following year.
(PBS) Lawmakers are headed for a clash of political will over funding the implementation of President Barack Obama's signature health care law. The government is funded through Sept. 30, which means there is little time to craft a new spending plan, and it seems the only agreement on the topic is that it's going to be an ugly fight. 80 House Republicans have signed a letter to Speaker John Boehner demanding the funds for Obamacare be left out of the next continuing resolution to keep the government funded after Oct. 1.
(Reuters) The Michigan state Senate on Tuesday voted 20-18 to approve a bill to expand Medicaid, the health program for the poor, under President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder broke with other Republican governors this year to support Medicaid expansion through Obamacare.
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Obesity problem is all but entirely fixable

(David L. Katz, MD, Yale Prevention Research Center) The annual "F as in Fat" report, issued jointly by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is hot off the presses for 2013. The punch line is this seemingly welcome news: Obesity rates in the United States, overall, have leveled off…
A 2012 projection by the CDC that obesity rates could rise to 42 percent by 2030 at a cost of some $500 billion is still potentially valid…
Obesity is all but entirely fixable. We are talking about a toll in both years from life and life from years, that we could avoid with systematically better use of our feet and our forks.
Strategies to get us there from here are accessible to us. They are hard, perhaps, but not complicated. We could immunize ourselves and our children against obesity at the level of our culture. But we still have a long way to go.
We won't get there if we decide prematurely that the crisis is over. Recent encouraging news about obesity rates indicates that if we take arms against this sea of troubles, we have some hope that by opposing them, we may eventually end them. It does not suggest that the end is in sight.
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Great food cited as driver of Louisiana's spot at top of obesity rankings

(Alexandria, LA, Town Talk) Louisiana cuisine is celebrated across the country. In fact, it’s one of the state’s biggest selling points to tourists.
But fried seafood, buttery sauces and andouille sausage are not as friendly to the waistline as they are to the palate. Perhaps not surprisingly, Louisiana was recently named the most overweight state in the nation.
“F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2013” ranks states annually for their obesity rates. Louisiana took the “top” spot at 34.7 percent.
“Any time you see something about food on TV, they always describe Louisiana as having the very best,” said Ronnie Schwartz, fitness manager at Louisiana Athletic Club. “Most of that food they talk about is bad for you.”
“I don’t think these days it’s a lack of knowledge,” said Sandy Couvillon, clinical nutrition manager at Rapides Regional Medical Center. “We see it on TV, we read it in magazines, it’s taught in schools. It’s just so easy to succumb to junk food.”
Community: Cajun food can taste good and be healthy, too.
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Blue Zones Aim To Help Reduce Iowa Obesity Ranking

(KCRG.com) Gov. Branstand wants the state to be the fittest in the nation by 2016, and people with the Cedar Rapids Blue Zones Project say that means they have their work cut out for them.
In January, the project picked Cedar Rapids as a demonstration site.
The aim is to improve the city's surroundings and turn Cedar Rapids into a place where people live healthier, longer and happier lives. One Blue Zones Project leader says Iowa's hefty obesity ranking means the state has an opportunity for a major change.
"The more we get people thinking differently about there choices, and thinking about their health and well being, the better they're off," Blue Zones Project Engagement Lead, Will Lenzen Jr., said.
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