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

Diet Rich in Tomatoes May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

(Science Daily) A tomato-rich diet may help protect at-risk postmenopausal women from breast cancer, according to new research…
Breast cancer risk rises in postmenopausal women as their body mass index climbs. The study found eating a diet high in tomatoes had a positive effect on the level of hormones that play a role in regulating fat and sugar metabolism.
"The advantages of eating plenty of tomatoes and tomato-based products, even for a short period, were clearly evident in our findings," said the study's first author, Adana Llanos, PhD, MPH…
"Eating fruits and vegetables, which are rich in essential nutrients, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals such as lycopene, conveys significant benefits. Based on this data, we believe regular consumption of at least the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables would promote breast cancer prevention in an at-risk population."
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High-Fat Diet Influences Metabolism Through Circadian Rhythms, Study Finds

(Science Daily) A high-fat diet affects the molecular mechanism controlling the internal body clock that regulates metabolic functions in the liver, UC Irvine scientists have found. Disruption of these circadian rhythms may contribute to metabolic distress ailments, such as diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure.
There's good news, though. The researchers also discovered that returning to a balanced, low-fat diet normalized the rhythms. This study reveals that the circadian clock is able to reprogram itself depending on a diet's nutritional content -- which could lead to the identification of novel pharmacological targets for controlled diets.
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US Salt Intake Drops Slightly, But Americans Still Eat Too Much

(LiveScience) The amount of sodium Americans consume has decreased very slightly over the last decade, but most people still eat too much of the stuff, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
On average, Americans consumed 3,424 milligrams of sodium per day during 2009 and 2010, which is down slightly from the 3,518 mg per day they consumed on average during 2003 and 2004, according to the report, which looked at people older than age 1.
But most people still consume more than the recommended levels of sodium: Between 2007 and 2010, about 80 percent of children ages 1 to 3, and 90 percent of people ages 4 and older consumed too much sodium, the report said.
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Chemists Use Sugar-Based Gelators to Solidify Vegetable Oils

(Science Daily) Researchers at The City College of New York have reported the successful transformation of vegetable oils to a semisolid form using low-calorie sugars as a structuring agent. The findings portend the development of alternatives to structured oil products produced using saturated/trans fatty acids, which have been linked to coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes.
The team, led by City College Professor of Chemistry George John, tested two sugar alcohol-based gelators, mannitol dioctanoate (M8) and sorbitol dioctanoate (S8), as structuring agents for four refined vegetable oils purchased at local grocery stores: canola oil, olive oil, soybean oil and grape seed oil. Both are amphiphiles -- i.e. molecules that are attracted to water and fats -- consisting of two octanoic acid chains (C8) appended to a sugar alcohol molecule…
"We have demonstrated the first sugar-based thickening agents for oil," said Professor John, whose previous investigations into the use of amphiphiles to solidify oil in the presence of water demonstrated their potential use in oil spill cleanups. He added that the two agents meet both Food & Drug Administration and GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) safety specifications, so they can be used for food processing.
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Smoky Shrimp and Parmesan-Polenta Cakes
Invite company over for this gourmet-inspired dish that's a snap to make. Smoked paprika, available in supermarkets, is nice to spice up sour cream, eggs, or rice. Its pungency offsets the shrimp's sweetness. Serve with bagged prewashed salad greens splashed with vinaigrette.
Seared Salmon with Green Peppercorn Sauce
A simple sauce of piquant green peppercorns, lemon juice and butter top this seared salmon recipe. Green peppercorns come from the same plant as black ones, but are harvested before they mature. Typically packed in vinegar, they have a refreshingly sharp flavor. Look for them near the capers in most supermarkets. Serve with smashed red potatoes and sautéed kale.
Cooking Light:
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Are lawyers to blame for rising food costs? (Video)

(The Lempert Report) Forget weather, harvests or corn production... is the rising cost of food prices a result of... Legal fees?
A new report, The New Lawsuit Ecosystem, from the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform suggests it is. The report notes that "an unprecedented surge in consumer class actions against food and beverage manufacturers... alleging trivial violations of federal regulations and...[seeking] millions of dollars where no reasonable consumer was deceived."
According to the report,  this trend is part of a "litigious culture" with many of the Lawyers gaining traction from issues like,  whether ingredients are "natural," technical issues with labeling, or any suggestion that food provides a health benefit.   Some of the law firms behind this food-lawsuit surge were active in the state attorneys general tobacco litigation. The report suggests lawyers generally have the same playbook in mind, proposing a multistate attack on Big Food.
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This Stanford Ph.D. Became A Fruit Picker To Feed California's Hungry

(The Salt, NPR) At first glance, Sarah Ramirez's decision to leave a bright future as an epidemiologist with a doctorate from Stanford University to become a fruit picker might seem downright crazy. To understand her motivations, you first need to know a little about the economics of California's Central Valley, where Ramirez grew up, the daughter of farmworkers.
Many farms in the Central Valley supply fruits and vegetables for major supermarket chains across the country. Farmer Peter Mesias says those stores demand perfect produce to meet consumer's expectations…
Ramirez has made it her mission to rescue produce from commercial fields and people's backyards. And as an individual, she can sign a liability waiver saying she won't sue if she gets hurt picking crops…
This year, Ramirez and her tiny band of volunteers have gleaned 20,000 pounds of produce from farms and backyards.
And Be Healthy Tulare is doing more than just picking fruit. On weekends, Ramirez ties a colorful bandana on her head and gets out her sharp knives to hold "food labs" — nutrition classes to teach people how to incorporate more produce into their diets. They whip up delicacies like peach-cucumber gazpacho in the community kitchen of the Pixley trailer park.
They've also started a community garden to grow their own produce, and it's equipped with an outdoor propane stove.
That's where Maria Arevalo is sauteing some eggplant she just harvested. She worked in the fields for some 40 years before recently retiring.
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An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away, And Statins Do, Too

(Shots, NPR) Could you eat an apple a day?
Adding in that one piece of fruit could improve cardiovascular health on a par with prescribing of cholesterol-lowering statins for everyone over age 50, according to a report…
"Prescribing either an apple a day or a statin a day to everyone over 50 years old is likely to have a similar effect on population vascular mortality," the article concludes.
Apples cost more than statins, the scientists note; generic statins are pretty darned cheap, and apples aren't covered by health insurance. But people taking statins would have to consider the risk of rare side effects including muscle damage and an increased risk of diabetes. And the researchers did not factor in the risk of choking while biting on that apple…
Talk with your doctor to find out if statins are right for you. But you're probably safe trying that apple without a prescription.
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The Latest from the People’s Pharmacy

Multivitamins Failed to Protect Against Cardiovascular Disease or Dementia
“[W]e think it is premature to dismiss vitamins as having no value whatsoever.”
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Outlandish Vitamin Editorial Sparks Controversy

(Swanson Health Products) Are the millions of Americans who take a daily multivitamin just throwing their money away? That’s the question raised by news outlets across the nation echoing the opinion expressed by five doctors in a recent editorial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
The title of their editorial, “Enough is Enough: Stop Wasting Money on Vitamin and Mineral Supplements,” pretty much sums up what they have to say about the matter, an opinion that they claim is based upon the latest research, including three articles appearing in the same publication. However, when we look more closely at the articles in question, they don’t appear to support the strident conclusions espoused by the editorial, which appears to be the type of hatchet piece one might expect from someone with an ax to grind…
[O]ne study cited by the editorial authors involved 1,708 patients aged 50 years and older who had all suffered heart attacks. The study found that multivitamin use did not produce statistically significant reductions in further heart attacks within this population. Obviously this is a study population with severe cardiovascular disease, and it would be irresponsible to extrapolate data from this study and apply it to the general population…
One of the other studies cited in the editorial involved 5,947 male physicians aged 65 years and older, a population that could hardly be considered a representative cross-section of the general population…
Among the study limitations [of the other article] noted by the authors, the “studies were conducted in older individuals and included various supplements and doses” and the “duration of most studies was less than 10 years.” Once again, the authors of the study demonstrate an appreciation for the limitations of their findings not shared by the authors of the editorial.
To sum it up, the research clearly does not support the sweeping condemnation of multivitamins expressed in the editorial.
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Half of U.S. adults take vitamins, supplements routinely

(UPI) Research this week indicated vitamins do not provide health benefits, but a U.S. survey conducted earlier in the month shows half of Americans takes vitamins…
About a third of 18- to 29-year-olds say they regularly take vitamins or mineral supplements. Vitamin use increases among older U.S. adults, with regular use climbing higher than 50 percent in the 50-64 age group and continuing upward to encompass a solid majority of seniors at 68 percent.
Forty-three percent of those with no more than a high school education said they take vitamins regularly, but vitamin use steadily increases with college experience.
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High Blood Pressure Goals Eased for People 60 and Older

(Bloomberg) People 60 and older don’t need to be treated as aggressively for high blood pressure, according to new physician guidelines that may help lower the number of medicines taken by Baby Boomers.
The recommendations, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, suggest treatment goals for older people should be set at 150-over-90 mm Hg, based on studies showing these patients fare just as well over time at this higher level. The goal for other groups is 140 over 90, according to the new guidelines by a panel convened by the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Hypertension increases the risk of heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide. Studies show about 90 percent of people may eventually develop it. While the changes probably won’t reduce how many people are treated for hypertension, the new goals may help reduce the number and types of pills taken by older patients, doctors suggested.
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How To Make Sense Of Confusing, New Blood Pressure Advice

(Shots, NPR) "This is a funny situation," says Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a cardiologist at the Yale School of Medicine. "What's good here is that they're really adhering to evidence and being honest about what we don't know. I think in earlier guidelines there's been this false sense of security."
People with very high blood pressure, like 160 or 170 systolic and above, clearly benefit from aggressive treatment with medication to lower blood pressure, Krumholz says. But the evidence shows that people with moderately elevated blood pressure don't gain the same reduction in risk of heart attacks and stroke, even if they manage to lower their numbers.
"We should be going after people with marked elevation to make sure they're all getting treated," Krumholz told Shots. "People with mild risk, you have to be honest with them, and say, 'I don't know if I'm doing much for you.' "…
If this isn't confusing enough for you, stay tuned. Next year the AHA and the ACC are scheduled to release their own updated guidelines.
Community: I’m going to stay on my blood pressure medication. My mother and her mother both suffered from mini strokes that affected their mental capacity. I think I’ll have less chance of that happening to me if I keep my blood pressure down.
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3-D Tissue Printing: Cells from the Eye Inkjet-Printed for the First Time

(Science Daily) A group of researchers from the UK have used inkjet printing technology to successfully print cells taken from the eye for the very first time.
The breakthrough … could lead to the production of artificial tissue grafts made from the variety of cells found in the human retina and may aid in the search to cure blindness.
At the moment the results are preliminary and provide proof-of-principle that an inkjet printer can be used to print two types of cells from the retina of adult rats―ganglion cells and glial cells. This is the first time the technology has been used successfully to print mature central nervous system cells and the results showed that printed cells remained healthy and retained their ability to survive and grow in culture.
Community: Might there be an opportunity for creating lenses from natural materials, to replace those clouded by cataracts? If so, might that kind of replacement also overcome the problems with the increasing rigidity of the lens with age?
In other words, might it be possible to reduce age-related short sightedness with a more natural kind of lens replacement?
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Lab-grown Kidney a Potential Game-changer for Renal Patients

(Scientific American) Australian researchers have grown a rudimentary kidney in the laboratory from human stem cells. The development could pave the way for vastly improved treatments for kidney disease patients.
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Wash. Hospital CEO Gets Pay Cut — To Just Over $1M A Year

(Kaiser Health News) Washington’s highest-paid public-hospital executive has won a new two-year employment contract that will pay him more than $1 million a year in salary and bonuses.
But for longtime Valley Medical Center Chief Executive Rich Roodman, the deal amounts to a pay cut.
Roodman’s contract was the focus of a Kaiser Health News story last June, which looked at how incentives for hospital CEOS were driving the kind of hospital profits and expansion that many say are no longer affordable for patients, employers and taxpayers.
The 30-year CEO of the Renton hospital — whose soaring pay has stirred local controversy for years — won unanimous approval for the contract extension Tuesday from the Valley Medical board of trustees.
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Affordable Care Act News

(UPI) Although the Affordable Care Act has been blamed for increased health insurance premiums, little is attributed to healthcare reform, U.S. researchers say.
(UPI) Some in politics and media say the Affordable Care Act will fail, but top U.S. healthcare executives say healthcare will improve, a survey says.
(Reuters) The Obama administration made a major last-minute policy shift on Thursday, saying the change would help Americans meet a looming deadline to replace insurance plans canceled because of new standards under Obamacare reforms. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that this group of people - estimated by the administration to be fewer than 500,000 in number - will be allowed to claim a "hardship exemption" from the requirement in the 2010 Affordable Care Act to buy insurance.
(McClatchy) April Capil has mixed feelings about the national outcry over canceled health insurance policies. Five years free of the stage III breast cancer that nearly claimed her life, the Boulder, Colo., resident is once again healthy, but she's still struggling to put her life back together. Like millions of Americans, Capil thought she had solid individual health insurance. Then she got sick and found that her coverage was woefully inadequate.
(Washington Post) The nation’s health insurance industry decided Wednesday to extend the deadline until Jan. 10 for Americans to pay for coverage that starts on New Year’s Day, as enrollment through the new federal and state insurance marketplaces appears to be surging. After meager participation during the first two months, more than half a million people have chosen plans in the federal exchange since the beginning of December, according to government figures that have not been made public. Several states running their own exchanges are reporting sizable enrollment upswings, as well.
(CBS News) More than two months after the health care exchanges opened, a new CBS News/New York Times poll reveals most uninsured Americans - 58 percent - say they have not looked up information about applying for insurance, while four in 10 have done that. Forty-nine percent of uninsured Americans who looked up information were able to get the information they needed, but about as many – 48 percent - were not.
(Consumer Reports) Some reminders and tips for last-minute shoppers. 1. Use our free online tool  HealthLawHelper.org… 2.  Check our FAQs… 3. Gather your documents… 4. Don't be surprised if your children are eligible for extra help… 5. Don't be surprised if you're eligible for Medicaid… 6. Pay your premium promptly.
More . . .

Medicare News

(ProPublica) Medicare is wasting hundreds of millions of dollars a year by failing to rein in doctors who routinely give patients pricey name-brand drugs when cheaper generic alternatives are available. ProPublica analyzed the prescribing habits of 1.6 million practitioners nationwide and found that a tiny fraction of them are having an outsized impact on spending in Medicare’s massive drug program.
(Shots, NPR) After a decade of kicking the ball down the road, Congress appears ready to repeal its payment formula for Medicare and replace it with a whole new system. This time, doctors would be paid according to the quality of results they produce, rather than the number of services they provide.
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Colonoscopy today

Wish me luck!

12/20/13 update: No polyps, yay! The doc says I'll never need another screening colonoscopy. I'll die of something else before I'll die of colon cancer, even if I get it. Woo hoo!

Can Diet Help Ease Joint Pain?

(U.S. News & World Report) Osteoarthritis is the most common reason for joint pain, affecting millions of older Americans… The most common supplement used for pain reduction and improvement of joint function is glucosamine – commonly marketed in combination with another compound called chondroitin. It is also one of the most studied dietary supplements.
The research on glucosamine and chondroitin is surprising. A three-year study of glucosamine alone (in the form of glucosamine sulfate) at 1500 milligrams per day appeared to have a significant benefit in preventing the loss of joint space in the knee among 45-to 70-year olds with mild to moderate knee osteoarthritis in comparison with a placebo – thereby slowing the progression of osteoarthritis.
Similarly, chondroitin alone has shown a benefit in hand pain and function at 800 milligrams per day, although the benefit appears more modest, and data are less conclusive. But interestingly, when the two compounds are combined into a single supplement in the form of glucosamine chondroitin, multiple studies have found no clinical difference in reported pain relief or function among patients over age 40 with painful osteoarthritis of the knee when compared with a placebo!...
Tart cherry juice is rumored to be another cure-all for arthritis pain, due to an anti-inflammatory effect from its high antioxidant content, but no research studies to date have been conducted with osteoarthritis patients to prove this claim. Similarly, others have claimed a link between vegetables in the nightshade family – like tomatoes, peppers and potatoes –and arthritis pain. However, no scientific trials exist to support a benefit for dietary elimination in people with osteoarthritis.
Community: The article also discusses rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and fibromyalgia.
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7 Surprising Back Pain Fixes

(Darria Long Gillespie, MD, MBA, Sharecare.com) If you’re struggling with back pain, it’s not surprising -- the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that 80% of us will have back pain issues at some point in our lives. But before you turn to narcotics, muscle relaxants, or other therapies, check out today’s list. You may be surprised at what could be contributing to your back pain -- and what you can do to ease it.
1. Lighten that load. I see so many people in the ER with sudden, severe back pain after lifting something heavy… So when lifting, don’t lift and twist -- lift and TURN (including turning your feet and legs)…
2. Get a move on!... [R]esearch has shown that continuing activity, even gentle things like walking and moving around, will facilitate healing…
3. Give it a good night’s rest… The best sleep positions for the back are either (a) lying on your back with a pillow behind your knees, with head and shoulders slightly elevated or (b) on your side, with your upper knee bent and a pillow between your knees.
4. Stand at ease. If your job ever requires you to be in one place for long periods, try this technique: place a block of wood or a yoga block (about 4-6 inches in height) at your feet -- and place one foot on the block. Periodically alternate feet to reduce the static strain on your spine. Use this same technique anytime you’re standing for long periods if, for example, there’s a step you can put one foot on.
5. Change your seat. Sitting in the office all day?... Two tricks: first, get up and walk around for a few minutes every one to two hours (your brain will also thank you for the break!). Second, try to readjust your chair when you sit back down -- even if it’s just a little. Avoid sitting in the exact same position all day to minimize muscle stiffness.
6. Keep the stroller! I know -- it’s just another thing to bring along. But if you’re perpetually carrying your toddler, you may not be aware of how much extra stress you’re putting on your back…
7. Kick the habit. Ok, you know that smoking was bad for your lungs and heart -- but your back too? Yep. Smoking can cause those little vertebral discs to breakdown even faster, leaving you with unremitting back pain. 
Most back pain will resolve on its own in three to six weeks (and sooner, for most people). If you’re still in pain, or your back pain is so severe that it is keeping you from your regular activities, then I’m afraid that it is time to seek the help of your doctor.
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Migraine News

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) To help prevent migraines without resorting to medications, I suggest: 1. Keeping a diary to help you identify your own triggers. Food sensitivity can be a common cause, so be sure to match up migraines to certain foods as a possible connection. 2. Learning and practicing relaxation techniques regularly. 3. Trying biofeedback - this training can teach you how to influence autonomic functions in the body and may help alter blood-flow patterns, including those that can cause migraines.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Butterbur (Petasites hybridus) is one natural treatment that may be especially beneficial for migraine sufferers… Other natural alternatives include dietary measures, such as identifying and avoiding foods that trigger your headaches, as well as taking prescription strength doses of vitamin B2 to reduce the frequency and duration of migraines. Daily magnesium supplementation can be helpful as well. Be sure to talk with your physician about the risks and benefits of any therapy.
(Sharecare.com) Over-the-counter and prescription medications for headaches -- including migraines -- can relieve and sometimes prevent pain, but to be pain-free, you may need to make over your diet. We suggest: Change your diet to eat more foods rich in magnesium and riboflavin (vitamin B2)… Make sure you are not vitamin D deficient… Identify food triggers.
(MedPage Today) The Cerena single-pulse transcanial magnetic stimulation device may be sold for relieving migraine pain, the FDA said late Friday.
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Fibromyalgia News

(USA Today) [Neurologist Anne Louise Oaklander] published two studies this year showing that half or more of the cases of fibromyalgia are really a little-known condition affecting the nerves. People with this small-fiber neuropathy get faulty signals from tiny nerves all over the body, including internal organs, causing an odd constellation of symptoms from pain to sleep and digestive problems that overlap with symptoms of fibromyalgia. Neuroscientist Frank Rice and a team based at Albany Medical College also discovered that there are excessive nerve fibers lining the blood vessels of the skin of fibromyalgia patients — removing any doubt that the condition is physically real.
(Richard Horowitz, MD, Psychology Today) Lyme disease is the number one vector borne spreading epidemic worldwide, and mimics common diseases such as Fibromyalgia (FM), Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (myalgic encephalomyelitis), autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and MS, as well as psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety.
(Sharecare.com) [F]ibro fatigue … can intensify your pain and make it harder to cope. The good news is that you can break or at least minimize this cycle… Get daily exercise… Keep Your Schedule Simple… Pace Yourself… Develop the Art of Napping… Eat a healthy diet… Foster a positive attitude… Ask for support.
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Other Pain News

(Express.co.uk) A pill that costs just 14p a day could help millions of Britons beat the pain of crippling osteoarthritis. UK scientists believe it could offer a cheap and safe way to ease patients’ ­suffering without the dangerous side-effects of some painkillers. The drug called spironolactone was ­ developed more than 40 years ago to treat high blood pressure and heart failure.
(Herald Sun) A group of enzymes that become active in animals suffering ongoing pain has been discovered by Monash University scientists, who are now teaming up with doctors at The Alfred hospital to determine if they can stop chronic pain in humans… Head of The Alfred's Pain Service, Dr Nicholas Christelis, said the discovery opened up potential new treatments and drug targets for people suffering chronic pain, where their body becomes conditioned to suffering intense feelings of agony even after their injury has healed.
(Medical News Today) [S]cientists claim they have developed a new technique that could result in better ways to relieve pain and monitor healing. It may also help doctors pinpoint the exact location of pain… By attaching a signal to a small molecule called saxitoxin - a naturally occurring molecule produced by certain types of microscopic marine creatures - scientists were able to track its progress through the body using PET imaging.
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Spanish Chicken and Rice
Simmer seasoned chicken breast pieces, veggies, and rice together in a tomato and wine-based sauce for a flavorful and low-fat one-dish meal. Top the dish with chopped olives for a Spanish flair.
Quick Pork & Chile Stew
The potatoes in this quick, Tex-Mex-style pork stew are cooked until they are falling apart to add body to the stew. Poblano peppers vary in heat: if you want a stew without any heat, use 2 small green bell peppers in place of the poblanos. Serve with: Warm corn tortillas or cheese quesadillas.
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Amid Fields Of Plenty, Farmworkers Struggle To Feed Their Families

(NPR) California's San Joaquin Valley is one of the most productive farm regions in the world. But many farmworkers struggle to feed their families fresh and healthy food because they can't afford to buy the produce that grows all around them…
Jessica Ortiz dropped out of high school her senior year after getting pregnant with their first child. The family's job prospects might be better in a bigger city. But here the only work is seasonal, often part-time field work. Oscar Ortiz averages $170 a week.
Jessica Ortiz pays the rent with cash aid from the government that varies depending on Oscar's income in the fields…
Their monthly food stamp allotment of $800 goes quickly at the local mini-mart in Raisin City. Ortiz walks there with her kids to pick up groceries. She can rattle off the price of almost everything the market sells, part of her careful calculation to balance the household budget for seven people. "For a gallon of milk, it's like $4.99. For eggs, it's like $3.50. A loaf of bread is $3.50," she says. These prices are much higher than in big grocery stores.
But getting to big grocery stores in the nearby city of Fresno isn't easy. It's a 25-mile trip that turns into an all-day task, since the Ortizes don't have a car, and the bus only comes once a day…
Food banks have become a primary source of nutrition for residents in dozens of rural towns, including Raisin City.
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An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

(Science Daily) Prescribing an apple a day to all adults aged 50 and over would prevent or delay around 8,500 vascular deaths such as heart attacks and strokes every year in the UK -- similar to giving statins to everyone over 50 years who is not already taking them -- according to a study…
The researchers conclude that the 150 year old public health message: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" is able to match more widespread use of modern medicine, and is likely to have fewer side effects. The research takes into account people who are already appropriately taking statins to reduce their risk of vascular disease and therefore the authors stress that no-one currently taking statins should stop, although by all means eat more apples.
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Importance of Food as Key Provider of Vitamins and Nutrients

(Science Daily) While dietary supplements can help some people meet their nutrition needs, eating a wide variety of nutrient-rich foods is the best way for most people to obtain the nutrients they need to be healthy and reduce their risk of chronic disease, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
Two newly published studies … indicate there is no clear benefit for most healthy people to consume vitamin supplements.
"These findings support the evidence-based position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that the best nutrition-based strategy for promoting optimal health and reducing the risk of chronic disease is to wisely choose a wide variety of foods," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy spokesperson Heather Mangieri. "By choosing nutrient-rich foods that provide the most nutrients per calorie, you can build a healthier life and start down a path of health and wellness. Small steps can help you create healthy habits that will benefit your health now and for the rest of your life."
The Academy's position on supplements also acknowledges that nutrient supplements may be necessary in special circumstances.
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Daily glass of wine boosts the immune system

(The Telegraph) A daily glass of wine could be beneficial to health after scientists discovered moderate alcohol consumption boosts the immune system and could help fight infections.
For some time scientists have known that a chemical in red wine, revesterol, is beneficial for the heart and protects against cancer.
But now it is thought that the alcohol itself has protective qualities after scientists discovered ethanol boosts the effectiveness of vaccinations.
"For the average person that has, say, a glass of wine with dinner, it does seem in general to improve health and cardiovascular function in particular,” said Ilhem Messaoudi, an associate professor of biomedical sciences in the School of Medicine at the University of California.
“Now we can add the immune system to that list."
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Take Aspirin at Night to Reap its Health and Beauty Benefits

(Michael F. Roizen, MD, Cleveland Clinic) You're probably already aware of aspirin's ability to ward off cardiovascular catastrophes such as heart attack and stroke. Maybe you wake up every day and pop an aspirin with breakfast, along with whatever other vitamins or supplements you take daily. And you probably know it has powerful cancer-preventive effects, including against colon and rectal cancer, esophageal cancer and even prostate and breast cancer. And it helps prevent deep vein thromboses (DVTs) or clots in your leg veins if you take hormone therapy.
But here are two fun facts about making this over-the-counter medicine a part of your daily ritual that you might not know: It can slow down skin aging and prevent acne.
Oh, and a third: The time of day that you take it might help intensify its cardiovascular benefits…
[And in a recent study, morning] platelet activity was reduced significantly more when the medicine was taken at night as opposed to taken first thing in the morning.
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Nicotine in e-cigs, tobacco linked to heart disease

(CNN) The nicotine delivered by cigarettes — even the electronic versions — may still contribute to heart disease, a new study suggests…
Nicotine is an highly addictive substance found in tobacco and is also found in vegetables in the nightshade family like eggplant and tomatoes. The substance itself has a powerful impact on the body. It elevates your mood, suppresses your appetite and stimulates your memory; however, it also speeds up your heart rate and blood pressure.
E-cigarettes satisfy a smoker’s craving for nicotine and mimic the physical movements of smoking, but were viewed as a healthier alternative by some since they don’t contain the cancer-causing toxins of regular cigarettes.
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Chemicals used in fracking disrupt hormone function

(Daily Mail) Researchers from the University of Missouri found greater hormone-disrupting properties in water located near drilling sites in Colorado than in areas without drilling.
Hormone-disrupting chemicals can be found in man-made products, some foods, water and soil and can interfere with the body's endocrine system, which controls numerous body functions with hormones such as the female hormone oestrogen and the male hormone androgen.
‘More than 700 chemicals are used in the fracking process, and many of them disturb hormone function,’ said Susan Nagel, associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and women's health at the University's School of Medicine.
‘With fracking on the rise, populations may face greater health risks from increased endocrine-disrupting chemical exposure.’
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U.S. hospital admissions weakest in a decade: Citi analyst

(Reuters) U.S. hospital admissions in November were the weakest in more than a decade, under pressure from a change in reimbursement rules for Medicare patients and confusion tied to the problem-ridden rollout of Obamacare, according to a survey by Citi Research.
New billing rules for the Medicare program for the elderly and disabled require hospitals to treat patient stays lasting less than "two midnights" as an outpatient visit.
"In addition, it is reasonable to conclude that the cumulative impact of changing physician employment and payment models is beginning to play a role, as well as the paralyzing effect of the impotent Obamacare rollout," Citi analyst Gary Taylor said in a report.
Community: Cheap shot, Mr. Taylor. I fail to see how the rollout of Healthcare.gov could have affected hospital admissions.
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Affordable Care Act News

(Reuters) - A threat to America's health insurance overhaul has been that young people would not buy coverage in new marketplaces, possibly pushing the program into a disastrous spiral of falling enrollment and rising premiums. But this worst-case scenario is looking more far-fetched, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which sees just slight increases in premiums in 2015 even though enrollment of younger people so far is well below the Obama administration's target.
(ABC News) Public opposition to the new health care law has eased in the past month, enough to help level off Barack Obama's falling popularity – but not to turn it around. Fifty-five percent of Americans in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll disapprove of the president's job performance overall, unchanged from last month's reading as the worst of his career. Forty-three percent approve, a scant percentage point from 42 percent in November.
(Reuters) Insurance companies are struggling with a new request by the Obama administration to make sure people receive medical benefits under healthcare reform come January 1, even if they miss a sign-up deadline set for next Monday… Insurers are worried that some consumers will sign up for retroactive January plans only if they have incurred a hefty medical bill. It is unclear what the costs of that would be or how many shoppers might take advantage of the policy.
(Reuters) Rhode Island's new insurance marketplace said on Tuesday it will extend its deadline until the end of the year for consumers to sign up for private coverage plans under President Barack Obama's healthcare law and still get benefits on January 1. Medical insurance carriers participating in the Maryland Health Connection also agreed to extend the enrollment deadline to December 27 from December 23 to have coverage that begins on January 1, Governor Martin O'Malley's office said on its blog on Tuesday.
(Kaiser Health News) Even in California, the path to finalizing new insurance coverage can be long and arduous.
(Kaiser Health News) Consumer columnist Michelle Andrews reminds readers that details make all the difference.
(McClatchy) A tweet by N.C. State Sen. Bob Rucho comparing Obamacare to the toll of America’s wars set off a firestorm on the social networking website on Sunday.
More . . .

More than 25 million Original Medicare beneficiaries received free preventive services through November 2013

(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) According to new data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today, more than 25.4 million people covered by Original Medicare received at least one preventive service at no cost to them during the first eleven months of 2013, because of the Affordable Care Act. Today’s news comes after last month’s announcement showing that the health care law also saved seniors $8.9 billion on their prescription drugs since the law’s enactment. 
“Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, millions of seniors have been able to receive important preventive services and screenings such as an annual wellness visit, screening mammograms and colonoscopies, and smoking cessation at no cost to them,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner.  “Prevention and early detection are so vital to ensure that Americans are healthy and Medicare is healthy. The Affordable Care Act makes Medicare stronger and improves the wellbeing of millions of beneficiaries who have taken advantage of preventive services and wellness visits.”
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Yes, we CAN get up

(Lauren Kessler, Counter Clockwise) Are you as weary, disgusted and pissed off as I am about the unrelentingly dismal messages we’re bombarded with that equate getting older with getting feeble – and feeble-minded.
I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!
Really?  Okay, some older people do fall, and falling is not good.  And not a joke. But that weird, whiney, clueless and off-putting woman in the laughable commercial is a joke… Yes, some older people fall in their bathrooms.  But some older people run 10Ks.  Or, geez, walk the damn dog twice a day…
If you expect aging to mean the diminution of, well, everything – energy, vitality, health, curiosity, the ability to “go for a walk and sit comfortably while reading a book”), then you actually (factually, scientifically) pre-dispose yourself to go down that road. If you accept all the awful stereotypes about what aging means, the ones popular culture surrounds us with, you become what you imagine you will become.  If you expect, instead, good health, useful work, engagement with the world, new adventures, you work to make that happen.
Because sure, we fall.  But absolutely, we can get up.
And then go to Pilates class.
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