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

Exercising 300 Minutes Per Week Better for Reducing Total Fat in Postmenopausal Women

(The JAMA Network Journals) Postmenopausal women who exercised 300 minutes per week were better at reducing total fat and other adiposity measures, especially obese women, during a one-year clinical trial, a noteworthy finding because body fat has been associated with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, according to an article…
Physical activity is an inexpensive, noninvasive strategy for disease prevention advocated by public health agencies around the world, with recommendations to be physically active at least 150 minutes per week at moderate intensity or 60 to 75 minutes per week at vigorous intensity for overall health. Postmenopausal women may derive unique benefit from exercise because body fat, abdominal fat and adult weight gain have been associated with increased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer, according to background in the study.
Community: So that’s a 50 minute walk six times per week. Most of us have the time, ladies, what are we waiting for?
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Cannabis May Be Used to Treat Fractures

(American Friends of Tel Aviv University) Cannabis -- marijuana, hashish -- was used as a go-to medical remedy by societies around the world for centuries. But the therapeutic use of marijuana was banned in most countries in the 1930s and '40s due to a growing awareness of the dangers of addiction. The significant medical benefits of marijuana in alleviating symptoms of such diseases as Parkinson's, cancer, and multiple sclerosis have only recently been reinvestigated.
A new study … by Tel Aviv University and Hebrew University researchers explores another promising new medical application for marijuana. According to the research, the administration of the non-psychotropic component cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) significantly helps heal bone fractures. The study, conducted on rats with mid-femoral fractures, found that CBD -- even when isolated from tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the major psychoactive component of cannabis -- markedly enhanced the healing process of the femora after just eight weeks…
The same team, in earlier research, discovered that cannabinoid receptors within our bodies stimulated bone formation and inhibited bone loss. This paves the way for the future use of cannabinoid drugs to combat osteoporosis and other bone-related diseases.
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Did reports of side effects contribute to drop in bone drug use?

(Reuters Health) Media reports raising safety concerns about osteoporosis drugs known as bisphosphonates may have contributed to a sharp drop in their use - even though U.S. doctors and drug regulators haven’t recommended against taking them, a study suggests.
Fosamax (alendronate sodium) won U.S. marketing approval in 1995. Widespread use of the drug and others like it over the next two decades coincided with a dramatic drop in hip fractures, the researchers note in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research.
Starting in 2006, a series of media reports highlighted research linking the drugs to rare but serious side effects, including unusual fractures of the thigh bone, death of bone tissue in the jaw and esophageal cancer.
Community: I had a terrible reaction to an infusion of Reclast. I spent a weekend in the worst pain of my life.
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Americans want Medicare to help negotiate down drug prices: poll

(Reuters) A vast majority of Americans say the Medicare health program for the elderly should be able to negotiate with drug companies to set lower medication prices, a practice currently prohibited by law, according to a survey released on Friday.
The poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 87 percent of people surveyed want Medicare to have the authority to press drugmakers for greater discounts. The skyrocketing prices for crucial medicines have hit both health insurers and consumers, who are being asked to cover a higher proportion of their medications’ cost.
"People don't understand why these drugs cost so much, and they don't understand why, in America, you can't negotiate for a better price," said Mollyann Brodie, executive director of public opinion and survey research at Kaiser Family Foundation.
Community: But it doesn’t matter what we want, because the Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex has a money hold on our lawmakers.
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U.S. fracking linked to higher hospitalization rates: researchers

(Reuters) People who live in areas near hydraulic fracturing are more likely to be hospitalized for heart conditions, neurological illnesses and cancer, according to researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University.
Fracking is an oil and gas extraction technique using a mixture of water, chemicals and sand to break apart underground rock formations. It has triggered a surge in U.S. energy production in recent years, along with a debate over whether the process causes air and water pollution.
The study … looked at hospitalization rates in parts of Pennsylvania from 2007 to 2011 and found them significantly higher in areas with fracking compared to those without.
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Common Mental Health Drug Could Be Used to Treat Arthritis

(University of Queen Mary London) Lithium chloride which is used as a mood stabiliser in the treatment of mental health problems, mainly bipolar disorder, could be used to treat arthritis according to a new study.
The research carried out at Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) in collaboration with scientists at the University of Otago in New Zealand, tested the effects of lithium chloride on cartilage and found that it slowed the degradation associated with osteoarthritis.
Community: Yes, but you have to have frequent blood tests for toxicity when you take lithium. And it made me depressed.
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Magnetic pulses may ease ringing in the ears

(Reuters Health) People with tinnitus - a ringing or other "phantom" sounds in their ears - may benefit from a treatment that sends electromagnetic pulses into the brain, suggests a new study.
Transcranial magnetic simulation (TMS) is not currently available for the average person with tinnitus, but the study's lead author hopes it will someday be used along with existing therapies like hearing aids and symptom management strategies.
"I don’t see TMS replacing all that, but I see it as another option for helping some patients," said Robert Folmer of Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center and Oregon Health and Science University.
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Aerobic exercise helpful for asthma

(Reuters Health) People with moderate to severe asthma who add aerobic exercise to their treatment regimen may have an easier time controlling common symptoms than people who rely on drugs alone, a small study suggests.
Patients randomly assigned to a three-month treadmill exercise regimen showed decreases in two aspects of the illness that make it difficult to breathe: inflammation and heightened sensitivity in the airway.
While it’s not surprising that asthma patients may benefit from aerobic exercise, the findings offer new evidence that physical activity can help even in patients who are already controlling symptoms with medication, said lead author Dr. Celso Carvalho, a researcher at the University of Sao Paulo School of Medicine in Brazil.
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Study: Family caregivers provide $470B in unpaid services

(USA Today) A study released Thursday by AARP says that family caregivers in the United States provided an estimated $470 billion in unpaid services and care to their loved ones in 2013 — more than total Medicaid spending in the same year.
The study from AARP's Public Policy Institute found that in 2013 there were 40 million family caregivers in the United States providing an average of 18 hours of care per week. Forty-six percent of those workers provide complex care activities, such as wound care, managing medications, giving injections and operating medical equipment.
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Physicians Testified for Tobacco Companies Against Plaintiffs With Head, Neck Cancers, Study Finds

(Stanford University Medical Center) Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, a small group of otolaryngologists have repeatedly testified, on behalf of the tobacco industry, that heavy smoking did not cause the cancer in cases of dying patients suing for damages, according to a study by a Stanford University School of Medicine researcher.
"I was shocked by the degree to which these physicians were willing to testify, in my opinion in an unscientific way, to deny a dying plaintiff -- suffering the aftermath of a lifetime of smoking -- of a fair trial," said Robert Jackler, MD, professor and chair of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery, referring to the physicians cited in the study as a "pool of experts willing to say over and over again that smoking didn't cause cancer."
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Prozac In The Yogurt Aisle: Can 'Good' Bacteria Chill Us Out?

(The Salt, NPR) Scientists have documented that the mix of bacteria that populate our gut influence our susceptibility to — or our immunity against — allergies, eczema and asthma.
Now, researchers are turning their attention to our emotional health. It turns out that there's a lot of communication between our guts and our brains…
Take, for instance, a recent study… Researchers at Leiden University in The Netherlands recruited 40 healthy volunteers. (The study was funded in part by a probiotics manufacturer, but the company had no say in its design or execution.)
"And out of those 40 people, we made two groups," explains Laura Steenbergen, a neuroscience researcher who worked on the study. Twenty people took a probiotic containing a mix of eight strains of bacteria for one month. The other 20 volunteers got a placebo that looked exactly the same. So no one in the study knew what they were getting…
After one month, what Steenbergen and her colleagues found is that the participants taking the probiotics answered [questions about their mood] significantly differently than they had at the beginning.
"What was different is that they reported less aggressive thoughts and less ruminative thoughts," Steenbergen told us by phone.
So, bottom line, they were a little more chill? "Yes, it means they were less reactive to negative thoughts and feelings."
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Diversifying Your Diet May Make Your Gut Healthier

(Institute of Food Technologists) A loss of dietary diversity during the past 50 years could be a contributing factor to the rise in obesity, Type 2 diabetes, gastrointestinal problems and other diseases, according to a lecture by Mark Heiman, vice president and chief scientific officer at MicroBiome Therapeutics…
Heiman said diet is the principal regulator of the GI microbiome, the ecosystem of the human GI tract. The microbiome contains trillions of bacteria (microbiota) in a solution of unabsorbed macro- and micro-nutrients. The microbiota use the remnants from digestion to create new signaling molecules that allow the microbiota to communicate with a person's metabolic and GI regulatory system.
The microbiome needs a diverse diet to function optimally. However, current agricultural practices as well as climate change have contributed to a loss of that diversity.
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Health Effects of a Diet that Mimics Fasting

(NIH Research Matters) A team led by Dr. Valter Longo at the University of Southern California studied diets designed to mimic the beneficial effects of fasting while minimizing the risks and difficulty associated with complete food restriction…
People on the diet had improvements in blood glucose and decreased body weight compared to the control group. Those with initially elevated C-reactive protein levels (a marker of heart disease risk) had lower levels, while those with normal levels had no change. Reports of side effects were low and included fatigue, weakness, and headache.
“Strict fasting is hard for people to stick to, and it can also be dangerous, so we developed a complex diet that triggers the same effects in the body,” Longo says. “It’s not a typical diet because it isn't something you need to stay on.”
More research will be needed to determine the long-term impact of the diet on human health and provide information on when and how such a diet might be applied.
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Restaurant food not much healthier than fast food

(Reuters Health) Home cooking is still the best way to control the calories, fat, sugar and other nutrients that families consume, a new U.S. study suggests.
Researchers found that eating food from restaurants - whether from fast food places, or better establishments - led to increases in calories, fat and sodium compared to meals made at home.
Public health interventions targeting dining-out behavior in general, rather than just fast food, may be warranted to improve the way Americans’ eat, says the study’s author.
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The Obesity Fix

(David L. Katz, MD, MPH, Yale University Prevention Research Center) In the world as it is, forget about fixing obesity, because the fix is in.
We live in a world where adults look on and shrug as multicolored marshmallows are marketed to children as part of a complete breakfast. (“What part?” one might constructively wonder.) We live in a world where knowledge that food companies literally engineer food to be as nearly addictive as possible produces no outrage. Perhaps we are all too busy eating to protest…
But the world could change. As daunting as that may sound, all that is really required is to see things differently…
If we simply committed to seeing, and treating, health more like wealth- it would go a long way toward fixing obesity, and the metabolic mayhem that follows in its wake…
If … we treated obesity more like drowning, we would tell the truth about food. We would not market multicolored marshmallows to children as part of a complete breakfast. We would not willfully mislead about the perilous currents in the modern food supply. We would not look on passively as an entire population of non-swimmers started wading in over their heads.
Read more.                                       
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Fat Fish Illuminate Human Obesity

(Harvard Medical School) Blind cavefish that have adapted to annual cycles of starvation and binge-eating have mutations in the gene MC4R, the same gene that is mutated in certain obese people with insatiable appetites, according to a new study…
The mutations appear to reduce the gene's activity in the cavefish, taking the brakes off their appetite suppressor. Although this can be disastrous for people--children with MC4R mutations can't stop eating--it has proven advantageous for the fish.
Once upon a time, it might have been advantageous for humans, too. Even before the modern obesity epidemic, humans as a species were, relatively speaking, "very fat," [co-first author Nicolas] Rohner pointed out. "There was selection for that in our evolution, but we don't know why. Understanding how these fish became fat might eventually help us understand how we did."
"That's something that bothers me a lot--that we have to fight against this urge to eat and drink sweet and fatty things all the time and that it's because of our evolutionary history," he added. "The possibility that we can find out why that is, perhaps by using these cavefish as a model system, makes me confident that one day we will find a way to resist that urge."
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BuyMeBy Saves Food from the Landfill with Discounts as Expiration Dates Loom

(FastCompany) New Yorker Carlos de Santiago … has a plan to prevent food from going to waste. It doesn't require a law, and it could even save you money. De Santiago and four colleagues are developing an online service, called BuyMeBy, which allows stores to publish discounts on items that are approaching their expiration date.
The closer to the date, the lower the price; but at least the store makes some money, rather than throwing the food out after it expires. (BuyMeBy is working on a formula for the rates of discount, but wasn't ready to share details yet.) Shoppers could check for deals nearby on a mobile app or look up marked-down groceries online and book delivery from the store or a service like Delivery.com.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

How to Handle Ear Pain During Flights
Using a nasal decongestant and steroid spray before and during airplane travel can help reduce ear pain during flights; pressure-regulating ear plugs help.
Could Biotin Relieve Tinnitus?
Could the B vitamin biotin relieve tinnitus? There are no studies, but one reader offers his testimonial.
Is Your Medication Causing Nightmares?
When sleep is disrupted with terrifying dreams, it makes sense to consider medication causing nightmares.
Drug Interaction Could Lead to Disastrous Osteoporosis and Bone Fracture
Antidepressants (SSRIs), bone drugs (BPs), plus acid suppressing meds (PPIs) will likely increase the risk for bone fractures. Be careful of the combo.
Some Drugs Should Not Be Given to an Elderly Person
Certain drugs should not be given to an elderly person because they can cause confusion and memory problems or interfere with balance, leading to a fall.
Radio Show: The New Germ Theory of Disease
Examining the connections between pathogens and chronic conditions could lead us to a new germ theory of disease.
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Intellectual Pursuits May Buffer Brain Against Addiction

(University of California – Berkeley) Challenging the idea that addiction is hardwired in the brain, a new UC Berkeley study of mice suggests that even a short time spent in a stimulating learning environment can rewire the brain's reward system and buffer it against drug dependence.
Scientists tracked cocaine cravings in more than 70 adult male mice and found that those rodents whose daily drill included exploration, learning and finding hidden tasty morsels were less likely than their enrichment-deprived counterparts to seek solace in a chamber where they had been given cocaine.
"We have compelling behavioral evidence that self-directed exploration and learning altered their reward systems so that when cocaine was experienced it made less of an impact on their brain," said Linda Wilbrecht, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at UC Berkeley and senior author of the paper.
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Hand Exercises Help Women With OA Get a Grip

(MedPage Today) A simple, home-based program of exercises for women with hand osteoarthritis (OA) was effective for improving function and pain in this potentially disabling condition, a randomized trial found.
After 3 months, women who performed the exercises had a change in the Patient-Specific Functional Scale (PSFS) of 1.8 points compared with a change of 0.2 among controls, for a mean difference of 1.4 … on this primary outcome measure, according to Ingvild Kjeken, PhD, of Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Oslo, and colleagues…
"Functional consequences of hand OA are pain, reduced mobility and grip strength, activity limitations and participation restrictions, including loss of income and increased dependency," [the researchers ] explained.
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Glasses that make cancer glow

(Reuters) It's better than x-ray vision, according to Dr. Samuel Achilefu, a professor of radiology at Washington University, who developed the technology.
Achilefu says that in a conventional lumpectomy, a procedure to remove a portion of the breast to treat cancer, surgeons rely on scans taken before the operation to decide how much tissue to remove. He says differentiating between healthy cells and cancer cells is hard, which is why surgeons remove an excess amount of healthy tissue when operating, and even when erring on the side of caution, up to 25 percent of patients need a repeat procedure to remove more cancerous tissue.
"The primary goal of the technology is to make sure that the surgeon does not operate in the blind, it's to make the cancer cells light up like Christmas trees," said Achilefu.
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Stem Cells Provide Lasting Pain Relief in Mice

(Duke University) Chronic pain caused by the nerve damage of type 2 diabetes, surgical amputation, chemotherapy and other conditions is especially intractable because it resists painkilling medications.
But in a study on mice, a Duke University team has shown that injections of stem cells from bone marrow might be able to relieve this type of neuropathic pain…
The team used a type of stem cell known as bone marrow stromal cells (BMSCs), which are known to produce an array of healing factors and can be coaxed into forming most other types of cells in the body.
Stromal cells are already being tested in small-scale clinical studies of people with inflammatory bowel disease, heart damage and stroke. They have also shown promise for treating pain.
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Stem Cells Might Heal Damaged Lungs

(Weizmann Institute of Science) Collectively, such diseases of the airways as emphysema, bronchitis, asthma and cystic fibrosis are the second leading cause of death worldwide. More than 35 million Americans alone suffer from chronic respiratory disease. Weizmann Institute scientists have now proposed a new direction that could, in the future, lead to the development of a method for alleviating some of their suffering. The study's findings … show how it might be possible to use embryonic stem cells to repair damaged lung tissue…
The embryonic lung stem cells managed to find their way through the blood to the lungs and settle into the proper compartment. By six weeks, these cells were differentiating into normal lung tissue. The damaged lungs healed in the mice, and their breathing improved significantly.
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'Surgeon scorecard' measures docs by complications

(USA Today) Surgeons around the country are now scored against their peers in a new statistic developed by a non-profit news organization that goes beyond hospital-level data, providing a never-before-available tool for consumers and generating debate and some angst in the surgical community.
Nearly 17,000 doctors performing low-risk, common elective procedures such as gallbladder removal and hip replacements are measured in the new calculation, which the non-profit news outlet ProPublica calls an "Adjusted Complication Rate." The data, derived from government records collected about Medicare patients, is now available online for anyone to search.
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On research review boards, conflict-of-interest reporting improves

(Reuters Health) Many doctors who serve on hospital panels overseeing the ethics and safety of human research trials have industry relationships that may compromise their objectivity, but reporting these conflicts has become more common over the past 10 years, according to a new study…
Having a relationship with the company funding the research may mean you have more experience with the area of study and can be an expert judge of whether a study protocol is safe and ethical, but it could also bias your decision in favor of the company, [lead author Eric G. Campbell of Massachusetts General Hospital] told Reuters Health by phone.
“It’s important to disclose their relationships and also to not vote on protocols for which they have conflicts,” he said. “Universities have gotten much better at disclosing conflicts,” but many physicians still vote on protocols they have a relationship with, he said.
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What Do-Gooding Does for Your Brain

(Sharecare.com) Are you a do-gooder? If you are, chances are you'll stay sharp as a tack as you age.
Volunteering in a social setting -- tutoring kids in a library or school, for example -- can help reverse or delay declines in brain function that happen with aging, research shows…
[Y]our brain is plastic [which means that it can] change and form new connections between neurons in response to novel situations. Unfortunately, it's natural to lose a little of this plasticity over time. And when you don't use your brain, the sluggishness gets worse. So it's essential to stay active -- not just mentally but physically and socially…
Volunteering fits the bill on many fronts. It challenges the brain to think critically and learn new things. It creates a social outlet (also good for the brain). And getting involved in a good cause can add meaning and a sense of purpose in life -- all good things for mental well-being.
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Stroke Hastens Cognitive Decline

(MedPage Today) Stroke is associated with accelerated cognitive decline and a higher onset of cognitive impairment, researchers found…
Stroke survivors were 32% more likely to have cognitive impairment acutely after stroke than immediately before it, which wasn't statistically significant … but was followed by a significantly accelerated rate of cognitive impairment incidence by a relative 23% per year…
Key cognitive functions also dropped acutely (new learning by 1.80 points on a 30-point scale and verbal memory by 0.60 points on a 10-point scale, respectively) but didn't decline faster thereafter.
Community: Fortunately, there are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of stroke AND there are practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of cognitive decline.
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Alzheimer's spurs the fearful to change their lives to delay it

(Washington Post) Perhaps the only thing as bad as Alzheimer’s disease is the fear among a growing number of older Americans that they may be at risk of the neurodegenerative disorder, which robs memory and cognitive ability and is the leading cause of dementia…
But as scientists shed more light on possible causes and risks, a number of studies have pointed to possible, if not fully proven, measures that may at least postpone the appearance of symptoms.
“We have data from epidemiological studies and some biological studies that suggest, but do not prove, that certain factors might reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” [said  Eric M. Reiman, executive director of the Banner Alzheimer’s Institute in Phoenix].
One such study … found that a 36-point therapeutic program reversed symptoms of memory loss among participants.
Their carefully prescribed regimen included dietary changes, vitamin supplements, stimulation with online brain teasers, physical exercise, optimized sleep and some medications. The researchers acknowledged that their study sample was small but also suggested that the results were worthy of further explanation.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of cognitive decline.
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15-year-old schoolboy develops test for Alzheimer's disease

(The Telegraph) A 15-year-old British boy has developed a potential test for Alzheimer’s disease which could allow the condition to be diagnosed 10 years before the first symptoms appear… Krtin Nithiyanandam, of Epsom, Surrey, has developed a ‘trojan horse’ antibody which can penetrate the brain and attach to neurotoxic proteins which are present in the very first stages of the disease…
“The main benefits of my test are that it could be used to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease before symptoms start to show by focusing on pathophysiological changes, some of which can occur a decade before symptoms are prevalent,” Krtin told The Daily Telegraph. “This early diagnosis could help families prepare for the future and ensure that existing drugs are used to better effect.
“Another benefit is that due to the conjugated fluorescent nanoparticles, my diagnostic-probe can be used to image Alzheimer’s disease non-invasively.”
“Some of my new preliminary research has suggested that my diagnostic probe could simultaneously have therapeutic potential as well as diagnostic,” said Krtin who attends Sutton Grammar School.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of cognitive decline.
Please bear in mind that this young man’s genius might not have been discovered if his forebears hadn’t taken the opportunity to migrate from India to England.
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CDC Study: A Very Low Number of Americans Eat Enough Fruit and Vegetables

(GovExec.com) Only 13% of adult Americans ate the recommended 1.5-2 cups of fruit each day in 2013, and fewer than 9% ate the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables. That’s the result of a new survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which analyzed responses from 373,580 adults across all 50 US states.
“It’s not that hard,” one of the study’s coauthors, Latetia Moore, told Quartz. “A banana and half or a medium sized apple is one and a half cups of fruit.”
The results varied across the country, but they were discouraging in all states. The lowest vegetable intakes were in Mississippi (only 5.5% of those surveyed) and Oklahoma (5.8%). Even in California, the most salad-loving state, only 17.7% were getting enough fruit and 13% were meeting their vegetable requirements.
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Organized programs help prevent or delay diabetes

(Reuters Health) Organized diet and exercise programs can stave off diabetes for those at risk, according to a new recommendation.
The Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, unpaid group of public health and prevention experts who develop recommendations for community health, commissioned a review of 53 studies describing 66 combined diet and physical activity promotion programs. The studies were done between 1991 and 2015.
The Task Force found strong evidence that these programs are effective at reducing the number of new cases of diabetes, according to a report.
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8 Ways to Trick Yourself Thin

(Sharecare.com) The formula for weight loss may be simple -- take in fewer calories than you burn, and increase your exercise to burn even more calories -- but oftentimes, it’s easier said than done. The best way to make this formula work for you is to create solutions to your biggest challenges and find ways to make the process enjoyable. If you want to improve your results, try some of my strategies to trick yourself thin.
1. Find your favorite exercise
Out of all the forms of exercise out there, find one you just love. Get really specific. Don’t just say “yoga”; instead, discover what type of yoga is your favorite … and you just may be excited to do it.
2. Go from a scarcity to abundance mindset
Instead of thinking about what you can’t have or what you shouldn’t do, tell yourself you can have anything you want and you don’t have to give up anything, you just can’t have it all the time.
Community: These are some very sensible suggestions.
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Breast cancer warning signs 'not always a lump'

(BBC News) A campaign by Public Health England, called Be Clear on Cancer, is urging older women to visit their doctor if they notice breast changes, such as a lump or a change to the nipple, skin or the shape of the breast…
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research's director of early diagnosis, said: "This campaign highlights two important facts that aren't well known - that breast cancer isn't just about lumps, and that older women are most at risk."
"We hope these latest Be Clear on Cancer adverts will encourage women, especially older ones, to tell their GP about any unusual or persistent changes to their breasts, be that a lump, or something else like discharge, or a change to the skin or nipple.
"An early diagnosis, regardless of age, usually makes breast cancer more treatable," she added.
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Engineering A Shingles Vaccine That Doesn't Wimp Out Over Time

(Shots, NPR) A new vaccine that offers nearly complete protection against the painful shingles rash may be on the market as early as 2017.
The vaccine, developed by the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, has proven to be effective more than 97 percent of the time regardless of age, says Dr. Leonard Friedland, GSK's director of scientific affairs and public health. That study involved more than 16,000 patients aged 50 and over, with some patients well into their 80s. The high degree of efficacy was there for all ages, Friedland says.
What's different about this vaccine is something called an adjuvant— a chemical added to the vaccine with the sole job of "waking up" the immune system. The technology has been used in other vaccines.
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Modern Doctors’ House Calls: Skype Chat and Fast Diagnosis

(New York Times) The same forces that have made instant messaging and video calls part of daily life for many Americans are now shaking up basic medical care. Health systems and insurers are rushing to offer video consultations for routine ailments, convinced they will save money and relieve pressure on overextended primary care systems in cities and rural areas alike. And more people … fluent in Skype and FaceTime and eager for cheaper, more convenient medical care, are trying them out…
But telemedicine is facing pushback from some more traditional corners of the medical world. Medicare, which often sets the precedent for other insurers, strictly limits reimbursement for telemedicine services out of concern that expanding coverage would increase, not reduce, costs. Some doctors assert that hands-on exams are more effective and warn that the potential for misdiagnoses via video is great.
Legislatures and medical boards in some states are listening carefully to such criticisms, and a few, led by Texas, are trying to slow the rapid growth of virtual medicine. But many more states are embracing the new world of virtual house calls.
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Thirty Cities Where the Price of a New Hip Can Double Across Town

(Bloomberg) In Dallas, a 15-mile trip can save a patient $12,000 on joint replacement surgery. Coloradans who come down from the mountains for treatment in Denver can save $19,000. And in Maryland, a 9-mile drive from Baltimore to the suburbs can save $36,000.
Hospitals sometimes just a few miles apart get paid wildly different prices for hip or knee replacements in much of the U.S., according to an analysis of Medicare data. The public health insurance program for Americans over 65 spends $7 billion on more than 400,000 joint replacements each year.
A study of Medicare’s hospital data shows 30 cities where the agency’s average payment for uncomplicated joint replacements at the most expensive hospital is at least twice as much as it is at the cheapest.
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