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

Everyday Access to Nature Improves Quality of Life in Older Adults

(University of Minnesota) Natural environments are known to promote physical, mental, and spiritual healing. People can attain health benefits by spending time outside, often in remote places to "get away from it all." Now research conducted by a University of Minnesota graduate student with a team in Vancouver, B.C., shows that green and "blue" spaces (environments with running or still water) are especially beneficial for healthy aging in seniors.
[T]he study … demonstrates that by incorporating smaller features, such as a koi pond or a bench with a view of flowers, public health and urban development strategies can optimize nature as a health resource for older adults. Throughout the research, green and blue spaces promoted feelings of renewal, restoration, and spiritual connectedness. They also provided places for multi-generational social interactions and engagement, including planned activities with friends and families, and impromptu gatherings with neighbors.
Community: We’re a few blocks from Lake Michigan, and we have neighbors who plant beautiful flowers to entice us outside.
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Beach yoga to boost your bliss and health

(CNN) Soothing, inspiring and restorative: That's how beachgoers and yogis alike describe their favorite pastimes. Rightfully so, as there can be stress-busting health benefits of both. Why not take your yoga practice to the coast to boost your beach bliss and your overall well-being?
Over the past decade, numerous studies have shown that yoga can quell our stress response, enhance our mood and improve our health. Now, emerging research is revealing the ocean's power to do the same.
"It's not a new idea that spending time by water calms us, reduces stress, boosts creativity ... but neuroscientists and psychologists are beginning to study the science behind why this is true," said Wallace J. Nichols, author of The New York Times best-seller, "Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do."…
To leverage the power of our "blue mind" along with the stress-relieving properties of practicing yoga, here are 10 basic, accessible poses most anyone can do at the beach without feeling like an exhibitionist.
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The Simple Idea That Could Make America’s Poorest Neighborhoods Healthier

(ThinkProgress) This week, the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a nonprofit that transforms open space in communities throughout the Big Apple, announced plans to revitalize the Mott Haven and Port Morris neighborhoods of the South Bronx as part of its “Haven Project.” Changes include visible street crossings, new bike and pedestrian routes, improved access to the waterfront, the planting of 800 trees, and the installment of public art in a network of trails.
Deborah Marton, NYRP’s executive director, told ThinkProgress that these efforts could pave the way for an influx of social and economic activity in one of New York City’s most underserved neighborhoods.
“These residents deserve a network of green spaces that’s just as good as anywhere else in the city. Our goal is to turn this neighborhood into a model of what connected green spaces can do for communities,” Marton said. “Recent studies have tied a disorderly environment to poor brain development in children, diabetes, poor air and tree quality, and a decline in economic vibrancy. If people have green space, they can live a better life,” she added.
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How to Engage the Population With Climate Change? Frame It as a Public Health Issue

(Taylor & Francis) Little [media] coverage has raised public health consequences of climate change such as higher incidence of asthma, allergies, disease and heat stroke amongst many. Would US citizens alter consumer decisions and seek solutions to climate change if they realised the implications for human health in their own communities as well as the Arctic? The authors conduct a multi-year content analysis of 270 US climate change news reports in a public health context to assess quantity and style of reporting delivered to Americans…
Climate change articles were classified into public health related issues; general health, heat, weather, respiratory problems, water/food borne disease and vermin borne disease. Despite a drop in coverage, those framed in a public health context sharply increased, especially in relation to heat and general health, evidence of public health framing as an effective means to communicate climate change.
The authors urge increased coverage of climate change in a public health context to bridge the knowledge gap between the public health community and the general public to encourage mitigating steps.
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Why Not Build Houses the Environmentally Friendly Way?

(Springer Science+Business Media) The green building movement has taken off in the past 10 years. According to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED(r)), which certifies green building standards, over 3.6 billion square feet or 69,000 buildings have so far been certified in 150 countries. By definition, the design of green buildings minimizes impact on the environment by reducing the use of energy and water. Environmental disturbance is also limited during the building process and by the choice of the building site…
Occupants of green buildings are in general more satisfied with indoor air quality, their workspace, building cleanliness and maintenance in general. The indoor environmental quality measured in green buildings is better compared to typical buildings and, as a result, occupants have less exposure to allergens, pollutants and environmental contaminants such as the harmful gas formaldehyde found in some building materials. Green building occupants in one study for instance reported lower absenteeism and fewer lost work hours because of asthma and allergies.
On the whole, the better indoor environmental quality translates into occupants' reporting that they suffer from fewer symptoms of sick building syndrome and that they enjoy better physical and mental health. Working in a green building is also associated with higher productivity, lower employee turnover and a decrease in the length of open staff positions. Green hospitals benefit patients and the medical staff working in them alike. One study, for instance, noted improved quality of care, fewer blood stream infections, improved record keeping and a lower number of deaths among patients.
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It's Not What You Do, but How You Get Yourself to Exercise That Matters, Study Finds

(Iowa State University) Developing any habit -- good or bad -- starts with a routine, and exercise is no exception. The trick is making exercise a habit that is hard to break. According to a new Iowa State University study, that may be easier to accomplish by focusing on cues that make going for a run or to the gym automatic.
Some interventions designed to help people start and continue exercising may focus on the execution habit, or an exact routine to follow at the gym, said Alison Phillips, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State. However, Phillips' research … found that it's the instigation habit -- or cues that prompt people to automatically go to the gym -- that increases exercise frequency.
Community: Except that you don’t have to go to a gym for exercise, and as we saw above, it might be better for us not to go to a gym.
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Nutrition Researchers Develop Healthy Beverage Index

(Elsevier Health Sciences) Researchers at Virginia Tech have developed a new scoring method for assessing beverage intake, the Healthy Beverage Index (HBI). In a report … they describe how this tool can be used to more accurately evaluate dietary consumption of all types of fluids. They found that higher HBI scores were associated with more favorable lipid profiles, decreased risk of hypertension; and, among men, better C-reactive protein (CRP) levels…
[Kiyah J. Duffey, PhD] and co-investigator Brenda M. Davy, PhD, developed the HBI, a 10-item scoring index that captures total energy from beverages, total fluid requirements, and recommended limits for beverage subgroups, such as low-fat milk, fruit juice, and alcohol. They weighted some components of the HBI more heavily because of their recognized contributions to good health, such as water contributing at least 20% of total fluid intake, and others less heavily, for example, consuming no more than 8 oz. of fruit juice…
Duffey and Davy found that people with better HBI scores had more favorable cardiometabolic outcomes…
The authors would like this technique to be developed into a rapid assessment tool that might be used online to provide patients, doctors, and dietetics practitioners with accurate consumption information that could be used to encourage better eating behaviors. Also, they will continue to refine the index over time as new information about healthy beverage choices becomes available.
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How accurate are online symptom How accurate are online symptom checkers?

(CBS News) When you feel a pain in your side or scratch in your throat, your first reaction may be to go online and use a symptom checker to diagnose yourself. But how good is the information and advice these online programs dole out?
In the first large-scale study of the accuracy of online symptom checkers, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that these programs correctly identified the illness on the first attempt only about one-third of the time…
Symptom checkers, which are hosted by medical schools, hospitals, insurance companies and government agencies, prompt users to input their symptoms using multiple choice or manual methods. Using computer algorithms, the program then offers a list of potential health problems that might cause those symptoms and makes a recommendation as to whether the user should seek immediate medical attention, see a doctor in the next couple of days, or stay at home and rest.
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Elderly want to control what health information families see

(Reuters Health) Elderly patients may be willing to let family members access their medical records and make decisions on their behalf, but they also want to retain granular control of their health information, a study suggests.
“Respecting and preserving the autonomy of the elder is critical,” said lead author Dr. Bradley Crotty. “Elders and families should have honest discussions about preferences for information sharing and decision-making, and share these conversations with healthcare providers.”…
While the study is small, it points for the need for online patient portals to be designed with the needs of both elderly patients and their family caregivers in mind, said Crotty.
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Aggressive Cancer Treatment Near End of Life Persists Despite Rise in Advance Planning Efforts

(Johns Hopkins Medicine) In a review of nearly 2,000 surveys with people whose loved ones died of cancer, researchers led by Johns Hopkins experts say they found a 40 percent increase over a 12-year period in the number of patients with cancer who participated in one form of advance care planning -- designating durable power of attorney privileges to a loved one -- but no corresponding impact on their rates of aggressive medical care received in the last weeks of life.
In addition, the investigators say that despite the substantial increase in patients who designated a durable power of attorney, nearly 40 percent of the survey respondents also said their loved ones did not discuss end-of-life care preferences with them.
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FDA Strengthens Nonaspirin Pain Reliever Warning for Heart, Stroke Risks

(Medscape) The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has strengthened an existing label warning that nonaspirin nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may increase the risk for heart attack or stroke, according to an agency alert…
Following a comprehensive review of new safety information, the FDA is requiring the drug labels of all prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) NSAIDs to be updated to reflect the increased risk. Prescription and OTC nonaspirin NSAIDs already include information about the risk for heart attack and stroke with NSAIDs, either of which can lead to death, the FDA states in a news release…
Although the risk was previously thought to be similar for all NSAIDs, more recent information calls this into question. The FDA now says that there is insufficient information to determine whether the risk is higher or lower for one NSAID compared with another.
Community: The People’s Pharmacy warns that NSAIDs are also implicated in deep vein thrombosis.
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Some Pain Relievers Might Slow Healing from a Bone Fracture

(The People’s Pharmacy) [T]here is substantial animal research to suggest that NSAIDs like ibuprofen, naproxen, diclofenac or indomethacin can slow the healing of certain fractures…
It appears that inflammation plays an important role in recruiting stem cells to help heal fractures. Suppressing inflammation with an NSAID could be counterproductive.
Short-term use to ease discomfort seems relatively safe, but longer-term reliance on NSAIDs may affect your recovery. You probably don’t want to take anything that would slow healing from a bone fracture.
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Moderate to heavy drinking may raise women’s blood pressure

(Reuters Health) Just two drinks a day could raise a woman’s blood pressure enough to put her at risk for hypertension, Australian researchers say.
Past studies have shown that drinking alcohol raises men’s blood pressure, but results for women have been mixed. In the new trial, when women had 14 to 21 standard servings of red wine each week they had higher pressure than when they drank less or consumed non-alcoholic wine.
“If (women) are not drinking within national guidelines when drinking (no more than seven drinks in a week and three on any day) they should cut down, switch to non-alcoholic drinks after reaching this level,” said Dr. Barbara J. Turner, director of the Research to Advance Community Health (ReACH) Center at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, by email.
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Women Are More Aggressive on Statins

(The People's Pharmacy) Statin-type cholesterol-lowering drugs may increase aggression in postmenopausal women. That is the finding of a new study from the University of California, San Diego…
The researchers found that women over 45 years old were more aggressive on statins. Those who were least aggressive at the start had the greatest increase in aggressive behavior.
Statins had the opposite effect for most men. That may due to the lower testosterone levels they experienced on statins.
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Knee surgery for pain may not be worthwhile

(Reuters Health) Middle-aged and older adults with torn cartilage or painful arthritis in their knee are not likely to benefit from so-called arthroscopic surgery, and could be harmed by it, a review of past studies suggests.
Researchers reviewed nine previous studies with a combined 1,270 patients and found the surgery no better than other options like exercise for improving physical function, and only temporarily more effective at easing knee pain.
“Patients and doctors should seriously consider if this treatment is the right choice given that only a short-term marginal benefit can be expected and the procedure comes with risk of serious complications,” lead study author Jonas Thorlund, a sports science and biomechanics researcher at the University of Southern Denmark, said by email.
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U.S. chain restaurants get one more year to display calorie count

(Reuters) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it would extend the deadline for chain restaurants to disclose calorie counts on menus by a year to Dec. 1, 2016.
The FDA set a national standard for restaurant chains with 20 or more outlets late in 2014, to raise awareness about the risk of obesity posed by fatty, sugary foods as part of the Affordable Care Act…
The calorie rule covers meals at sit-down restaurants, take-out food, bakery items, ice cream from an ice-cream store and pizza, which will be labeled by the slice and whole pie.
They were required to display calories on all menus and menu boards by Dec. 1, 2015. (reut.rs/1vJgqzw)
The rule also includes movie theaters, amusement parks, large vending machine operators and alcoholic beverages served in restaurants, but not drinks mixed or served at a bar.
Community: Some of the chains have great info on their websites. You can build your plate on Panda Express or Chipotle to get a really good estimate of the number of calories. Mostly when I eat out at lunch, I can skip supper altogether.
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New Program Using CT Technology Helping Doctors Better Detect Lung Cancer

(Intermountain Medical Center) Long-time smokers and past smokers now have a more accurate way of detecting whether or not they have lung cancer thanks to a comprehensive lung cancer screening program that uses CT scan technology at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City.
The program is based on the findings of the National Lung Screening Trial, a study that compared CT scans and standard chest X-rays in detecting lung cancer. CT scans use X-rays to obtain a multiple-image scan of the entire chest, while a standard chest X-ray produces a single image of the whole chest.
Results from the study showed that patients who received CT scans had 15 to 20 percent lower risks of dying compared to those who received a standard X-ray.
Community: And fortunately, for those of us 65 and older, Medicare pays for a CT scan for current and previous long-term smokers.
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Most Americans 40 and older not saving for long-term care, poll says

(Dallas Morning News) After age 65, government figures show that nearly 7 in 10 Americans at some point will need long-term care — from a relative, home aide, assisted living or nursing home.
Yet the AP-NORC Center poll found that overall, most Americans 40 and older — 54 percent — have done little or no planning to get ready for this often pricey reality. Only a third reports setting aside money for those needs. That’s even though Medicare doesn’t pay for the most common types of long-term care, and a nursing home can cost more than $90,000 a year.
Drill down to the 9 percent of this age group who make up the sandwich generation, and their experience leaves them far more concerned about their own senior years.
About half worry about being able to pay for their future care needs or having to move into a nursing home, compared with just over a third of other adults, the poll found. Also, 44 percent of sandwichers fear leaving debts to family, compared with 28 percent of others polled.
Read more.                                
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House Medical Bill Sparks Drug-Safety Debate

(Wall Street Journal‎ ) The House plans to vote [today] on a bill to boost federal funding for medical research, but the measure’s changes to drug approvals have drawn the ire of medical-safety advocates, who contend it would jeopardize safety by lowering scientific standards…
The measure generally attempts to speed up, and ease, FDA approvals of new drugs. Among other things, it would require the FDA to consider doctors’ clinical experience of a drug instead of just using randomized clinical trials. It also would encourage the FDA to rely more on factors such as biomarkers—early proxies of disease in the blood—instead of longer-term trials to assess effectiveness of drugs and devices.
John J. Castellani, president of the drug-industry trade group PhRMA, said in a letter this week to Energy and Commerce Chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R., Mich.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D., N.J.), the committee’s top Democrat, that it “strongly supports” the bill and that it will “accelerate availability of new treatments.”
Data from the Center for Responsive Politics show that the drug and medical-products industries have donated heavily to the campaigns of many congressmen on that committee. Members on average received $69,419 in the two-year period (2013-2014) that included the 2014 election. Mr. Upton got $302,700, and Mr. Pallone received $174,072.
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CMS proposes major initiative for hip and knee replacements

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) Hip and knee replacements are some of the most common surgeries that Medicare beneficiaries receive. In 2013, there were more than 400,000 inpatient primary procedures, costing Medicare more than $7 billion for hospitalization alone. While some incentives exist for hospitals to avoid post-surgery complications that can result in pain, readmissions to the hospital, or protracted rehabilitative care, the quality and cost of care for these hip and knee replacement surgeries still vary greatly among providers.
For instance, the rate of complications like infections or implant failures after surgery can be more than three times higher at some facilities than others, increasing the chances that the patient may be readmitted to the hospital. And, the average Medicare expenditure for surgery, hospitalization, and recovery ranges from $16,500 to $33,000 across geographic areas.
The Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement payment model CMS is announcing … proposes to hold hospitals accountable for the quality of care they deliver to Medicare fee-for-service beneficiaries for hip and knee replacements from surgery through recovery. This proposal furthers the administration’s commitment to transform our health system to deliver better quality care and spend our health care dollars in a smarter way.
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Healthier meals do cost families more [But don’t have to]

(Reuters Health) Shopping for healthier groceries, like whole wheat bread instead of white bread and lean meat instead of fattier cuts, would cost a family of four about $1,500 more a year at their regular stores, according to a new U.S. study.
The small survey focused on 23 families of children with type 1 diabetes. Parents are urged to feed kids with diabetes a low-fat diet, but they may need help with problem-solving skills to provide healthy foods without a heavy burden of extra costs or prep time, researchers say.
Community: But they don’t have to cost more: 7 Simple Ways to Save Money on Healthy Food
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Lack of education can be as deadly as smoking

(The Telegraph) A lack of education can be as deadly as smoking, researchers have found, with the potential to knock 10 years off a person’s lifespan.
Researcher at the University of Colorado said leaving school without decent GCSEs or A levels left people at risk from a life time of poor diet, long manual working hours and worsening mental health.
The team examined population data in the US going back to 1925 to determine how education levels affected mortality over time.
"Our results suggest that policies and interventions that improve educational attainment could substantially improve survival in the U.S. population, especially given widening educational disparities," said study co-author Dr Patrick Krueger, assistant professor in the Department of Health & Behavioral Sciences at the University of Colorado Denver,
“Unless these trends change, the mortality attributable to low education will continue to increase in the future."
Community: So the move toward free community college is a good thing: “Free Community College Catches On”.
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Internet-based tools help ease chronic pain

(UPI) With the help of an Internet-based program, people with chronic pain were able to manage their symptoms and reduce their reliance on opioids by changing negative thinking patterns, increasing physical activity and using relaxation techniques.
The techniques taught by the program can help make patients more confident about their ability to manage pain, which has been linked to higher levels of activity and a higher quality of life, as well as eliminating some of the potential dangers of pain management that is primarily drug-based.
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More evidence menopause symptoms may affect overall wellbeing

(Reuters Health) Women who experience moderate to severe menopause symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats are more likely to suffer from poor overall wellbeing, an Australian study suggests.
Researchers examined the severity and impact of hot flashes and night sweats among roughly 1,300 women aged 40 to 65 and found just 11 percent described them as bothersome and moderate or severe. But the worst and most persistent symptoms were linked to significantly worse overall psychological general wellbeing.
Other factors that independently impacted wellbeing included being single, obese and a current smoker, while paid or unpaid work was associated with better wellbeing.
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The 3 hot spots in the US with the highest colon cancer death rates

 
(Washington Post) Although the risk of death from colorectal cancer in the United States has dropped dramatically in recent decades, there are three "hot spots" in Appalachia and the rural South where death rates are "unnecessarily high," researchers said.
The highest colon cancer death rates are in the lower Mississippi Delta, where rates were 40 percent higher than the rest of the country during 2009 to 2011, according to a study published Wednesday…
The other two hot spots are western central Appalachia and eastern Virginia/North Carolina, where rates were 18 percent and 9 percent higher, respectively, than elsewhere in the country for that same time period…
Researchers don't know why rates in these three primarily rural regions are so much higher than the rest of the United States. But they tick off several underlying factors: high poverty, unemployment, obesity rates; low education and health literacy levels, poor access to health care, and lower cancer screening rates.
Community: The good news, though, is this: “Study: Colon Cancer Incidence Rates Decreasing Steeply in Older Americans.”
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Drug could help slow half of breast cancers, study suggests

(BBC News) A cheap and safe drug could help half of women with breast cancer to live longer, scientists suggest.
Their study … is in its early stages, but hints that the hormone progesterone could be used to slow the growth of some tumours.
The UK and Australian researchers say the findings are "very significant" and they are planning clinical trials.
Cancer Research UK said the study was "highly significant" and could help thousands of women…
Cancer cells growing in the laboratory grew to half the size when treated with progesterone and tamoxifen than when given tamoxifen alone.
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Type 2 diabetes diminishes mental performance

(Los Angeles Times) Losing keys and forgetting names are real enough worries for anyone growing older. But for those with Type 2 diabetes, the prospect of cognitive decline is very real. Those who develop the metabolic disorder have a roughly 75% higher risk of developing some form of dementia than do those without the metabolic disorder.
Underscoring that reality, new research suggests that insulin resistance and elevated levels of sugar in the blood — both hallmarks of Type 2 diabetes — unleash a cascade of events that, over time, impair the brain's blood vessels.
With remarkable speed — over two years during which researchers tracked a group of older adults with diabetes — those changes can sap the brain's ability to react flexibly to daily mental challenges.
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Playing Tetris Could Help Prevent Traumatic Memories From Forming, Study Suggests

(ABC News) In the search to help trauma victims through painful memories and flashbacks, researchers in the U.K. are investigating if a simple computer game like Tetris might be helpful…
In the experiment, those who played Tetris 24 hours after seeing a film containing disturbing video footage of real traumatic incidents -- including a car accident and a drowning -- reported fewer “intrusive” memories in the days after their first viewing.
The researchers theorized that playing the game re-configures the visual memory, as the brain focuses on both the visual game and memory of the film.
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Fat people 'imagine smells more vividly than their slimmer peers'

(Daily Mail‎) Researchers believe that having a vivid imagination when it comes to smell may intensify desire for food by conjuring stronger thoughts of flavours and aromas.
They said most people can imagine the view of a favourite location or sing a song to themselves, but not so with imagining smells.
People are known to vary greatly in their ability to imagine aromas of all kinds, whether it be coffee, bacon, chocolate or the sweet scent of roses.
In the study, volunteers completed a series of questionnaires that asked them to imagine both visual and odour cues and then rate their vividness.
Participants with a higher body mass index (BMI) reported a greater ability to imagine both food and non-food odours vividly.
Read more.                            
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Gene therapy for deafness moves a few steps closer

(Reuters) Gene therapy for deafness is moving closer to reality, with new research on Wednesday showing the technique for fixing faulty DNA can improve responses in mice with genetic hearing loss.
Separately, a clinical trial backed by Novartis is under way to help a different group of people who have lost their hearing through damage or disease.
After missteps in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when safety scares set back research, gene therapy is enjoying a renaissance, with positive clinical results recently in conditions ranging from blood diseases to blindness.
"We are somewhat late in the auditory field but I think we are getting there now," said Tobias Moser of the University Medical Center Gottingen, Germany, who was not involved in the new research. "It's an exciting time for gene therapy in hearing."
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A wise step: Medicare to pay doctors for end-of-life counseling

(Brookings Institution) In a proposed regulation announced on July 8th the Medicare program plans to reimburse physicians for their time spent in conversations with patients about how and whether they wish to be kept alive if they become too sick to express their wishes. Today physicians can only receive payment under Medicare if such conversations are part of a routine annual wellness examination.
This is a welcome proposal, and reflects a growing recognition among Americans that the health system too easily goes on autopilot, undertaking invasive procedures that often do little to improve the quality of a patient’s life. This is particularly troubling for many families when a loved one reaches the final weeks of life and there is uncertainly of disputes about the patient’s wishes. Physician-authors like Atul Gawande have drawn attention to the “overmedicalization” of dying. The National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institute of Medicine) is one of many medical research bodies that have examined the issue. And organizations such as AARP have been raising the importance of families and their physicians discussing end-of-life options and making appropriate plans to have wished known and honored.
Community: This step might have been taken sooner, and saved taxpayers a whole lot of money, had it not been for the crazed right-wing “death panel” scare—one of the tactics they tried to use to derail the Affordable Care Act.
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Here’s Why You May Be Aging Faster Than Your Friends

(TIME) We all have friends who were born in the same year but look years younger (or older) than we do. Now researchers say that such perceptions aren’t just about outward appearances but about something deeper—the different pace at which each of us ages, and what that means for our health.
In a study…, scientists led by Daniel Belsky, an assistant professor of medicine at the Duke University School of Medicine’s division of geriatrics, describe a panel of 18 measures tested in 20- and 30-year olds that showed how quickly they are aging. The markers proved to be a good indicator of physiological age; they mirrored the biological effects of aging found in older people. But they were also good markers of physical age, meaning that those who aged faster also looked older, according to unbiased assessments by random people looking at their photos…
Though some people really were biologically older than they are, the good news is that some were younger than their chronological age and aging more slowly than they should be. Comparing the slower and faster aging groups should reveal some hints about how to keep aging in check. And of the factors that influence aging, says Belsky, the vast majority, as much as 80%, aren’t genetic and therefore well within our control. (Even the 20% that’s DNA-based is modifiable to some extent.)…
Some of those keys to youth likely won’t be surprising; given the 18 factors that the scientists studied, they will probably involve habits like having a healthy diet that’s low in fat and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, reducing stress, having a strong immune system and getting regular exercise. Not smoking, or quitting smoking may also play a role.
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Foodies Tend To Be Healthier And More Adventurous, According To Study

(Huffington Post) Adventurous eaters have a lower BMI and might be healthier than those less likely to eat outside of the box.
The Cornell Food and Brand Lab study … surveyed 501 U.S. women about their eating habits. Those who had eaten the most eclectic variety of foods, like kimchi, beef tongue and seitan, rated themselves as more physically active, interested in nutrition and healthier than those with non-adventurous diets. The braver eaters had lower BMIs and a greater love for cooking. "They also reported being much more likely to have friends over for dinner,” said the study's lead author, Dr. Lara Latimer.
"There's a real advantage of liking a wide variety of food and being adventurous," Dr. Brian Wansik, a co-author of the study and the director of Cornell's Food and Brand lab said in a video about the foodie findings. "If nothing else, you seem to have a lot more fun in life, and it might even get you a little healthier."
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Step away from the burger: Why a 'Western' diet is bad for your health

(CNN) "The biggest features [of a Western diet] are overconsumption of over-refined sugars, highly refined and saturated fats, animal protein and a reduced intake of plant-based fibers," says Ian Myles, from the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. This translates to a diet high in fat, red meat, salt and sugars, and low in fiber.
"Too many calories in general," says Myles -- a trend aided by the move towards a culture of fast food…
The global increase in diets high in fat and calories is seeing rates of obesity and diabetes rise rapidly across the world…
Recent studies have linked Western diets with increased risks of colon and prostate cancer.
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Lifestyle factors can halve heart failure risk after 65

(Reuters Health) Older people who walk briskly, are moderately active in their free time, drink moderately, don’t smoke and avoid obesity may be half as likely to develop heart failure as people who don't engage in these healthy habits, a new study suggests…
“A key finding is that physical activity among older adults does not have to be strenuous to reduce heart failure risk,” [lead author Liana] Del Gobbo told Reuters Health by email.
“We saw benefits for adults who walked at moderate or brisk pace (more than 2 or 3 miles per hour) and burned calories through leisure activity, like house or yard work, walking, engaging in outdoor activities, or other forms of physical activity, equivalent to about 30 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity,” she said.
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'Smell flowers, not smoke': Seattle curbs cigarettes in parks

(Reuters) Smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products in Seattle's parks became illegal on Monday, as the U.S. Pacific Northwest's largest city joined other American metropolises in restricting puffing in public.
Seattle's Parks and Recreation officials voted in May to ban smoking in all of its 465 parks. It had previously required smokers to maintain 25-feet minimum distances from other visitors in any publicly accessible park land, the city said.
On Monday, the city, on its website, encouraged park goers to "smell flowers, not smoke."
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CVS Health quits U.S. Chamber of Commerce over tobacco stance

(Reuters) CVS Health Corp said it was withdrawing its membership from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after media reports that the trade group was lobbying globally against anti-smoking laws.
The No. 2 U.S. drugstore chain said it was "surprised" to read recent reports on the chamber's position on tobacco products outside the United States…
"CVS's purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we fundamentally believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose," CVS spokesman David Palombi said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
The chamber, however, said that it did not support smoking and it called the report "a concerted misinformation campaign."
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WHO urges governments to raise tobacco taxes to beat smoking

(Reuters) Too few governments make full use of tobacco taxes to dissuade people from smoking or help them to cut down and quit, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, recommending that at least 75 percent of the price of a pack of cigarettes should be tax…
"Raising taxes on tobacco products is one of the most effective - and cost-effective - ways to reduce consumption of products that kill, while also generating substantial revenue,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said in the report.
She urged all governments to look at the evidence and "adopt one of the best win-win policy options available for health".
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Indoor tanning rates dropping

(Reuters Health) Use of indoor tanning is on the decline, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Cancer Institute…
“We think the increasing awareness about the dangers of indoor tanning may be partly responsible for the decrease in indoor tanning,” said lead author Gery P. Guy Jr., a health economist at the CDC in Atlanta. “Studies repeatedly show that indoor tanning increases skin cancer risk. And the more you tan, the more the risk goes up.”
There still is a perception that tanning beds are safer than sunbathing, but Guy pointed out in an email that there is no evidence to support this idea.
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More men with prostate cancer are opting for surveillance

(Reuters Health) Men with early-stage prostate cancer are increasingly opting for regular monitoring and holding off on treatment unless the disease progresses, a new study suggests…
Many men whose tumors are confined to the prostate do not die of the cancer, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They also likely won't have symptoms…
Men using active surveillance may undergo tests or biopsies to make sure the cancer isn't growing, the [American Cancer Society] says.
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'Hypertension' doesn't mean 'too much tension'

(Reuters Health) Not everyone understands what “hypertension” means, and as a result, some patients may not take their blood pressure medications as directed or manage lifestyle factors effectively, a new paper suggests.
More than half of people with high blood pressure do not have the condition well controlled, which may in part be because patients often believe hypertension means “too much tension,” or too much stress, the authors write…
These patients may focus more on stress management instead of taking effective blood pressure medications, like diuretics, calcium-channel blockers or ACE inhibitors.
“It’s always good to manage stress, that’s always good for your health writ large, but for hypertension in particular stress management will not be enough,” Bokhour told Reuters Health by phone.
Community: Yet in my case, my hypertension seems to have been driven by stress. Since our dog, whose poor health was a major stressor for me, died, my blood pressure has gone down to the point where I’m no longer taking medication for hypertension.
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