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

More Americans Practicing Yoga, Meditation To Control Pain

(Pain Medicine News) Although herbal supplements continue to be the most used complementary health approach in the United States, more Americans are rolling out their yoga mats to improve their health and manage various conditions, particularly pain, according to a new national survey.
The practice of yoga has approximately doubled since 2002, with 21 million adults and 1.7 million children reporting that they practiced yoga in 2012. In addition, nearly 20 million adults and 1.9 million children had chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation and 18 million adults and 927,000 children practiced meditation.
“One important finding [of the survey] is how often people turned to complementary practices for management of pain, and the growing interest from Americans in mind and body approaches, particularly for pain management but also other symptoms,” said Josephine P. Briggs, MD, director of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), in Bethesda, Md. The high rates of use might be related to a growing body of research that shows that some mind and body practices can help manage pain and reduce stress, according to Dr. Briggs.
“The mind–body approaches, including osteopathic manipulation and yoga, are part of Americans’ strategies to manage pain,” she added.
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Expert: Nondrug Therapies May Be Most Effective Treatments for Fibromyalgia Pain

(Pain Medicine News) Given that fibromyalgia pain stems primarily from the central nervous system (CNS), nonpharmacologic therapies may provide greater benefits than opioids and narcotic analgesics, according to a presenter at the 2015 American Pain Society Annual Scientific Meeting…
The condition is believed to be associated with how the brain processes pain and other sensory information, so opioids and narcotic analgesics are usually not effective because they do not reduce the neurotransmitter activity in the brain, according to [Daniel Clauw, MD, professor of anesthesiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor].
“These drugs have never been shown to be effective in fibromyalgia patients, and there is evidence that opioids might even worsen fibromyalgia and other centralized pain states,” he said.
Dr. Clauw recommended a combination of pharmacologic treatments (e.g., gabapentinoids, tricyclic antidepressants and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and nonpharmacologic approaches (e.g., cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise and stress reduction).
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Retirees Represent Major Marijuana Market

(Benzinga‎) As marijuana legalization spreads across the U.S., the public perception of a marijuana user is slowly changing from a young, unambitious kid to an elderly person with a cup of tea.
That's right, marijuana use is becoming more and more common among retirees who say the drug helps them deal with some of the ailments associated with growing older.
Retirees have long flocked to states with sunshine and great healthcare in order to live out their golden years, but marijuana legalization is becoming a top priority for many seniors who use the drug to cope with things like chronic pain or insomnia. Oregon has seen an influx of new residents over the past year as its relaxed marijuana laws drew in people who want to get high without worrying about legal consequences.
Many dispensaries say at least 50 percent of their clientele is made up of elderly people suffering from varying illnesses and looking for relief.
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Marijuana cookie death highlights need for warning labels, CDC says

(CBS News) New details are emerging about the case of a 19-year-old who died in Colorado last year after eating six times the recommended dose of a marijuana cookie and then jumping off a fourth-story balcony.
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reviews his case and recommends that marijuana edibles should have clear labels and limited portion sizes according to dosage guidelines.
The recommendation comes after several recent deaths related to marijuana overdoses.
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Eye drop gives hope for knifeless cataract cure

(AFP ) An eye drop tested on dogs suggests that cataracts, the most common cause of blindness in humans, could one day be cured without surgery, a study said Wednesday.
A naturally-occurring molecule called lanosterol, administered with an eye dropper, shrank canine cataracts, a team of scientists reported…
Currently the only treatment available for the debilitating growths, which affect tens of millions of people worldwide, is going under the knife.
While surgery is generally simple and safe, the number of people who need it is set to double in the next 20 years as populations age. And for many, it remains prohibitively costly.
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FDA revises proposed Nutrition Facts label rule to include a daily value for added sugars

(U.S. Food and Drug Administration) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration [on Friday] proposed including the percent daily value (%DV) for added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label of packaged foods, giving consumers additional information for added sugars similar to information they have seen for decades with respect to nutrients such as sodium and certain fats. The percent daily value indicates how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet and would help consumers make informed choices for themselves and their families. The percent daily value would be based on the recommendation that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of total calories…
The FDA’s initial proposal to include the amount of added sugars on the Nutrition Facts label is now further supported by newly reviewed studies suggesting healthy dietary patterns, including lower amounts of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages, are strongly associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. When sugars are added to foods and beverages to sweeten them, they add calories without providing additional nutrients.
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Quitting smoking may ease hot flashes

(Reuters Health) Ex-smokers may have fewer and less severe hot flashes during menopause than women who continue to smoke, a small study suggests.
Women who hadn't smoked for at least five years were 45 percent less likely to have severe or frequent hot flashes than current smokers, researchers found. But they were still more likely to have symptoms than women who had never smoked.
“While the effect was strongest if women quit at least five years before the onset of menopause, even women quitting later did have a better outcome than women who continued to smoke,” lead author Rebecca Smith, a researcher in epidemiology at the University of Illinois, said by email. “I hope that this encourages women to quit smoking, the earlier the better.”
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Drugs' Breast Cancer Benefits Confirmed

(MedPage Today) Two separate meta-analyses of breast cancer treatment with two different adjuvant therapies -- aromatase inhibitors and bisphosphonates -- provide compelling evidence that each has a significant role to play in reducing recurrence rates and breast cancer mortality in postmenopausal women with early breast cancer.
Reports based on these meta-analyses, prepared by the Early Breast Cancer Trialists' Collaborative Group (EBCTCG), have been published online.
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'Brain-Eating' Amoeba Reappears in Louisiana Parish's Water Supply

(ABC News) A potentially deadly amoeba has been found in the water supply of a parish outside New Orleans for the second time in two years, officials said.
Water from St. Bernard Parish, five miles outside of downtown New Orleans, has tested positive for Naegleria fowleri and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals ordered a 60-day chlorine "burn" starting Thursday to ensure the pathogen would be eradicated from the water supply, officials said…
Jacob Groby, quality control chief for St. Bernard Parish Water and Sewer Division, said water was being flushed and retested to see if the amoeba was present anywhere else in the 225-mile water system…
The lowered population post-Katrina and increased use of eco-friendly devices have led to less water being treated for the same water system, Groby said. As a result, water is standing in the pipes for longer and possibly losing some of its chlorination, he said.
The Naegleria fowleri is a naturally occurring pathogen in freshwater and can be deadly if it enters the body through the nose and makes its way into the brain. It does not harm people if they drink it or if it gets on their skin.
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We Don't Need Patent Monopolies to Finance Drug Research

(Dean Baker, Beat the Press) This NYT article on various state bills calling for drug companies to reveal their spending on research for high-priced drugs might have been a good place to mention that we have alternatives to patent financing for prescription drug research. For example, the federal government already spends more than $30 billion a year on research through the National Institutes of Health. If this sum were doubled or tripled, it could likely replace the patent supported research now being done by the drug industry.
And, since the research was all paid for upfront, the great new drugs developed for cancer, AIDS, and other diseases could all be sold as generics. Then we would not face tough decisions about whether to pay for expensive drugs for people who need them. We also would have eliminated the incentive for drug companies to mislead the public about the safety and effectiveness of their drugs.
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Jeb Bush defends Medicare comments

(CNN) At a town hall Thursday, Jeb Bush refused to back down to criticism from Democrats, and one animated local voter, who charged him with "attacking the seniors" over his push for entitlement reform…
"I think a lot of people recognize that we need to make sure we fulfill the commitment to people that have already received the benefits, that are receiving the benefits. But that we need to figure out a way to phase out this program for others and move to a new system that allows them to have something, because they're not going to have anything."
Democrats seized on the comments, saying they show Bush is out of touch with middle class families.
"I am sick and tired of Republicans who say that the only way to save Medicare is to destroy it. But my frustration is nothing compared to what it must be like for hardworking Americans who have their peace-of-mind and well-being threatened every time Republicans want to score a few political points," DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said on a call with reporters Thursday.
Community: Folks, if you were only hurting yourself when you vote Republican, I’d say go right ahead. But your hurt a lot of people besides yourself when you vote for those who would destroy any common effort to better our lives. Stop doing it. PLEASE.
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Do you plan to age in place? See what’s involved.

(NIH Senior Health, via email) If you decide to “age in place” -- live independently in a home of your choice for as long as possible -- you’ll need to plan ahead to make sure you have the necessary supports and resources.
For more information, see “There’s No Place Like Home – For Growing Old,” a Tip Sheet from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH.
The information on Long Term Care was developed for NIHSeniorHealth by the Administration on Aging (AoA), a part of the Administration for Community Living (ACL).
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Social Determinants of Health

(Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion) A range of personal, social, economic, and environmental factors contribute to individual and population health. For example, people with a quality education, stable employment, safe homes and neighborhoods, and access to preventive services tend to be healthier throughout their lives.1 Conversely, poor health outcomes are often made worse by the interaction between individuals and their social and physical environment.
Social determinants are in part responsible for the unequal and avoidable differences in health status within and between communities. The selection of Social Determinants as a Leading Health Topic recognizes the critical role of home, school, workplace, neighborhood, and community in improving health.
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Lifestyle changes may guard aging brain against memory loss

(AP) The latest Alzheimer's research has a clear theme: Change your lifestyle to protect your brain…
Here are five tips to guard your brain against memory loss, based on research at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference:
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Why Is Making The Healthy Choice So Hard?

(Allison Bloom, Editor of The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science) Why is making the healthy choice so hard? The obesity epidemic is now part of our nation’s fabric, our very essence…
We know there are a lot of reasons for our growing waistlines, and these reasons are complex and multi-faceted. There are socioeconomic contributors, like food deserts (living in a neighborhood that does not have a grocery that provides fresh produce), and the fact that an apple costs three dollars while a cookie costs one. The prevalence of obesity in preschoolers is greater among those from low-income families. Education factors in here as well…
It occurred to me that we are missing one important message when it comes to retraining our youth – and ourselves – to eat healthier and become more active. Making the healthy choice is hard, and while we can try to make the right choices more obvious by popping a banana in our bags before we leave for work, or fitting a 30-minute work out into our morning, we can’t expect the decision process to be easy. It takes work to stay healthy. It takes work to make the healthy choice. We have to commit to it.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to improve impulse control.
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Reach Your Goal Weight Your Way with the NIH Body Weight Planner and USDA’s SuperTracker

(Sarah Chang, MPH, RD, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion) Many people want to do a better job managing their weight but aren’t sure how. Whether you’re trying to maintain your weight, lose weight, or gain weight it can be challenging to figure out how to get started.
USDA and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) teamed up to bring you a simple new tool that can help you set, reach, and maintain your goal. Using science-based technology, the NIH Body Weight Planner calculates how many calories you need to eat and how much exercise you need to achieve a goal weight within a specific time period. You set the goal and decide what timeframe makes sense for you.
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Yes, This Super Healthy Seaweed Really Does Taste Like Bacon (We Tried It)

(Fast Company) It sounds like the holy grail of vegetables. Packed with iron, calcium, magnesium, and protein, a type of seaweed called dulse also happens to taste like bacon. Well, sort of. When the little-known algae started making headlines for its flavor, we tried frying some up.
The verdict: Yes, with its savory, umami, and salty taste, it's sort of like bacon. A smoked version is even more bacon-like. It probably wouldn't be mistaken for meat in a blind taste test. But pan-fried in a little oil? It's crispy and delicious.
Researchers at Oregon State University, who have patented a variety of the seaweed that's extra quick to grow, hope to soon begin farming it and creating a new commercial industry for what they see as the next superfood.
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Protein Rich Breakfasts To Satisfy You All Week

(The Supermarket Guru) At the recent Institute of Food Technologists annual meeting in Chicago, Heither Leidy, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, School of Medicine at the University of Missouri, presented findings of a study that demonstrates that a protein rich breakfast is key to satiety and even weight loss…
So what should you eat for breakfast to keep you satisfied throughout the day, and maybe even drop a few pounds? You’ll want to shoot for at least 20 grams of protein. Here are five protein rich options:
·         Plain yogurt or cottage cheese with granola or berries.
·         Eggs or a vegetable omelet with whole grain toast, and a side of sausage
·         Plain yogurt-based fruit and veggie smoothie
·         Melting cheese or some smoked salmon atop a whole grain bagel, English muffin, or toast with eggs.
·         Nut and seed butters with berries, bananas or strawberries mixed in with oatmeal and chia or hemp seeds.
Have leftovers? Use them for breakfast! Who said breakfast had to be sweet? Chicken, steak or fish with some veggies makes for a perfect protein rich breakfast.
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New Tools Would Advance Efforts to Ensure the Safety of Imported Foods

(U.S. Food and Drug Administration) The FDA has published a proposed rule and a draft guidance document to support a new program under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) that will help eligible foreign entities demonstrate that imported food meets U.S. food safety requirements. Audits and certifications for eligible foreign entities under this program will be used by importers applying for expedited review through the Voluntary Qualified Importer Program (VQIP), and may also be required by FDA as a condition of granting imported food admission into the United States when certain food safety risks have been identified…
Participation in the third-party accreditation program will facilitate food safety protections, benefit trade, improve efficiency of FDA oversight of imported foods, and increase efficiency and reduce costs for importers with a high level of control over the safety and security of their supply chains.
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Nonprofit snags $5.2M grant to investigate U.S. drug pricing

(FiercePharma) As drug costs continue to rise, payers and the public are calling for more transparency in how Big Pharma sets its prices for new meds. The benefits of the drugs do not outweigh their costs, some groups say, and more needs to be done to make sure companies are pricing accordingly. Now industry-watchers have a new ally, as a nonprofit nabbed $5.2 million in private funding to investigate drug pricing in the U.S.
Houston, TX-based research organization the Institute for Clinical and Economic Review (ICER) got a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) to look at how new drugs are priced and evaluated. As part of the program, ICER will create public reports after a drug is approved by the FDA, including information on the drug's cost-effectiveness and how it might impact healthcare budgets…
The way ICER sees it, the public can't be too sure that it's getting the most bang for its buck with the high costs of new meds. Under the new initiative, the organization will be able to track how much a drug actually improves patients' lives and delivers value to the healthcare system.
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Do Dollars Form the Backbone of Osteoporosis Recommendations?

(MedPage Today) Conflicts of interest are driving vitamin D and calcium recommendations for osteoporosis, according to two endocrinologists.
Despite more than enough data that strongly suggests calcium and vitamin D supplements have little to no effects in preventing osteoporosis, and may even pose harmful risks to consumers, both the U.S. National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) and the International Osteoporosis Foundation (IOF) continue to recommend these products, stated Andrew Grey, MBChB, and Mark Bolland, MBChB, from the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Both NOF and IOF are heavily funded by supplement and supplement-enriched food companies, they pointed out in an analysis.
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NIH study identifies gene variant linked to compulsive drinking

(National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) Carrying a gene variant that affects the release of a specific brain protein may put one at greater risk of developing an alcohol use disorder, according to the results of a recent animal study. The study was led by Professor Dorit Ron, PhD, Endowed Chair of Cell Biology of Addiction, Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, and was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Scientists found that mice carrying the Met68BDNF gene variant, which reduces the release of brain-derived neurotrophic (BDNF) factor, would consume excessive amounts of alcohol, despite negative consequences…
“Genetic factors play a role in determining who develops alcohol problems,” said Dr. George Koob, PhD, NIAAA Director. “By understanding the genetic underpinnings of alcohol use disorder, we will be better able to develop targeted treatment and prevention strategies.”
Read more.                 
Community: Ditto compulsive eating?
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Medicaid at 50: Restructuring Would Be Unpopular, Unjustified

(Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) As Medicaid turns 50, its critics will likely continue to call for fundamentally restructuring the program, by capping federal Medicaid funding through a block grant or establishing a per capita cap. But these kinds of changes are unpopular and unjustified -- and harmful, as they would shift significant costs to states, low-income beneficiaries, and health care providers and leave millions of people uninsured and underinsured, as we've warned.
The public strongly opposes these types of proposals. When respondents to a new Kaiser Family Foundation poll were asked about the future of Medicaid, the overwhelming majority (62 percent) supported continuing it as it is today, including its financing structure. Only 32 percent favored limiting federal Medicaid funding by converting it into a block grant (see chart).
Medicaid spending trends don't warrant such radical changes. Medicaid is already efficient, as our recent analysis points out. Its costs per beneficiary are substantially lower than for private insurance (after adjusting for differences in health status). Over the past decade, Medicaid has grown slower than per-beneficiary costs under private employer coverage and is expected to grow no faster through 2023 than for people with private insurance.
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A Saliva Test for Alzheimer's Disease?

(Medscape) A new Canadian study shows that metabolites in salivary samples may be able to discriminate normal aging from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) and can predict neurocognitive performance.
Contrary to currently used AD biomarkers, such as amyloid-β and tau, saliva is easy and cheap to collect and to transport. "Saliva, which is a noninvasive biofluid, holds much promise for Alzheimer's research," Shraddha Sapkota, MSc, a PhD student in the Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada, told Medscape Medical News.
Her research is in line with the focus on detecting AD as early as possible, but a routine saliva test is a long way from routine clinical practice. "We are at the very early stages and much more work is needed before we can predict when and if it will be used clinically," said Sapkota.
Community: And why would anyone want to know if they’re developing Alzheimer’s disease? See below.
Plus, there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.

Lilly says drug slows Alzheimer's in patients with mild disease

(Reuters) Patients with mild Alzheimer's disease who took Eli Lilly and Co's experimental drug solanezumab early in the course of their disease preserved more of their cognitive and functional ability, according to new Lilly data released on Wednesday…
In 2012, the original 18-month studies of solanezumab, called Expedition and Expedition 2, each included about 1,000 patients with mild to moderate disease. The drug failed to slow cognitive declines or loss of abilities of daily living for the entire patient population.
But when Lilly analyzed results only for mild patients, the data suggested solanezumab caused a significant 34 percent slowdown in mental decline and an 18 percent slowdown in loss of functional abilities compared to placebo, researchers said.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Kids' School Grades Tied to Late-Life Dementia Risk

(MedPage Today) School performance at age 10 was a dominant risk factor for later diagnosis of dementia in a long-running Swedish study, which subsequent education and high-complexity jobs in adulthood could not fully overcome, a researcher said…
Using data from a cohort study that ran for more than 90 years, Serhiy Dekhtyar, PhD, and colleagues from the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, found that participants with low grades at age 10 were at 21% higher risk for an eventual dementia diagnosis…
[A]s in previous studies, educational attainment and "data-complex" employment reduced the risk of late-life dementia…
[H]aving employment in midlife that involved expertise with numbers appeared to be modestly protective against dementia … versus other job types.
A similar association was seen for individuals with university degrees or professional education.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Iron-Containing Inflammatory Cells Seen in Alzheimer's Brains

(Stanford University Medical Center) Examining post-mortem tissue from the brains of people with Alzheimer's disease, Stanford University School of Medicine investigators identified what appear to be iron-containing microglia -- specialized scavenger cells that sometimes become inflammatory -- in a particular part of the hippocampus, a key brain structure whose integrity is critical to memory formation.
In post-mortem brain tissue from people not diagnosed with Alzheimer's, neither the iron deposits nor the scavenger cells engulfing them were present in that brain region…
[The researchers] said they don't know how the iron gets into brain tissue, or why it accumulates where it does. Micro-injury to small cerebral blood vessels there was one possibility, they speculated.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Wireless Brain Implant Enables Neuron Control, Drug Delivery

(Med Device Online) Scientists funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) have developed an optofluidic implant that, when inserted into the brain, can wirelessly deliver drugs and control neurons.  The minimally-invasive device offers a “revolutionary tool” to mapping the brain circuitry that controls a number of different neurological disorders, according to its makers.
A major obstacle for neuro-scientists is the size of tools available to them. Bulky metal tubes or fiber-optic wires can damage surrounding brain tissue and inhibit researchers’ understanding of the fundamental neural workings of pain and disorders like depression, stress, and addiction. By miniaturizing their methods, scientists could get a clearer, unimpeded look at neural functions.
The project — a team effort between Washington University School of Medicine and the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign — created a wireless implant that is 80 µm thick and 500 µm wide, one-tenth the size of a human hair. The device is remote controlled and made of soft materials to minimize tissue displacement and damage, said scientists in a NIH press release.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Almonds to Lower Cholesterol and Blood Sugar
Snacking on almonds to lower cholesterol is a smart idea with experimental evidence to back it up.
Is Ginseng Safe for Cancer Patient?
Cancer patient wonders, is ginseng safe? In most cases, the answer appears to be yes.
Elimination Diet and Home Remedies for Rosacea
Eliminating trigger foods can help relieve the redness of rosacea for some. Others benefit from inexpensive home remedies that are surprisingly simple.
Why Does Benadryl Wake Her Up?
Some people find the over-the-counter sleep aid diphenhydramine can wake them and make them feel uncomfortably alert instead of putting them to sleep.
Cortisone Shot Won’t Help Tennis Player’s Knee
A cortisone shot into a stiff knee promises relief, but a recent study shows it doesn't really help pain brought on by exercise. Other tactics are needed.
Patients Detect Drug Side Effects Before FDA Does
The Food and Drug Administration can take decades to discover really serious drug side effects. Patients can help detect problems far more quickly.
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Plant 'milkers' seek molecules for medicines and make-up

(Reuters) Farmers at the site in Laronxe, about 100 km (60 miles) from Strasbourg, are growing plants in an unconventional way so they can "milk" them for rare molecules that could be used in medicines, cosmetics and agrochemicals…
In a process similar to vaccination, farmers spray on liquids containing traces of a bacteria, insect or fungus that attack the plant - to activate its defenses - before submerging the roots in a solvent to extract the desired molecules. The operation is repeated several times a year.
"Plants generate defense molecules naturally," said Frederic Bourgaud, a PAT vice president. "We ensure they produce as many of them as possible," he said.
PAT is not alone in seeking to extract commercially promising ingredients from plants - the field includes firms such as Italy's Indena and France's Pierre Fabre and Naturex. But it is the only company to use the "milking" technique to harvest molecules.
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Death Rates from Invasive Breast Cancer Fall

(MedPage Today) From 1973 to 2010 in the U.S., large reductions in breast cancer-specific death hazards were experienced in women diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, a comprehensive analysis of breast cancer survival data now shows.
Although overall age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rates were stable initially, they decreased by almost one-third, from 33.5% in 1988 to 23.5% in 2010, reported Mitchell Gail, MD, PhD, senior investigator, biostatistics branch, division of cancer epidemiology and genetics, National Cancer Institute, Rockville, Md., and colleagues…
Gail told MedPage Today[:] "Little of the improvement could be explained by changes in tumor size or estrogen-receptor (ER) status over time in women under age 70. This suggests a major contribution from treatment for these women."
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Experts support call for lower cancer drug prices

(Reuters) A group of 118 leading cancer experts have developed a list of proposals designed to reduce the cost of cancer drugs, and support a grassroots patient protest movement to pressure drug companies to charge what they deem a fair value for treatments.
The experts include former presidents of the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society of Hematology.
"It's time for patients and their physicians to call for change," said Mayo Clinic hematologist Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, lead author of the paper published on Thursday in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
Tefferi said an insured cancer patient who needs a drug that costs $120,000 a year would pay as much as $30,000 in out-of-pocket costs, which is more than half of the average U.S. household income of $52,000.
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Despite Advance Directive Gains, End-Of-Life Cancer Care More Intense

(Kaiser Health News) Conversations about end-of-life care are difficult. But even though most people now take some steps to communicate their wishes, many may still receive more intensive care than they would have wished, a study this month found…
Over the study period, the use of durable power of attorney assignment, sometimes called a health care proxy, grew from 52% to 74% among participants…
At the same time, the proportion of patients who were reported to have received "all care possible" at the end of their lives increased substantially over the study period, from 7% to 58%, even though such intensive treatment may have been counter to their stated wishes.
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Some public hospitals win, others lose with Obamacare

(Reuters) In states like Illinois that have opted to accept federal money to expand Medicaid, some large, public hospitals are finding themselves on solid financial footing for the first time in decades, and formerly uninsured patients are now getting regular care.
But in states that did not expand the government medical program for the poor, primarily ones with conservative electorates opposed to Obamacare, including Georgia, the impact of the Affordable Care Act on public hospitals has been negligible.
While the public exchanges established by the federal government and 14 states have brought coverage to many previously uninsured people in all parts of the country, the effect on the poorest Americans varies drastically from state to state.
Nearly four million low-income, uninsured Americans living in states that didn't expand Medicaid would have qualified for coverage had their states chosen to expand it, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And public hospitals in those states, many of which rely on bond markets for funding, are likely to feel the pinch even more acutely over time, experts said.
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Main fund for Medicare program to run out of money in 2030: trustees

(Reuters) A slowdown in healthcare spending has shored up the funding outlook for the federal program that pays elderly Americans' hospital bills, trustees of the program said on Wednesday.
The Medicare program's trust fund for hospital care will run out of money in 2030 the trustees said in a report. That was the same year as in their previous estimate, although the trustees said the program now appears on better footing over the longer term.
When the fund runs out of money, Washington would only be able to partially cover its obligations. 
The trustees urged U.S. politicians to enact new laws to keep that from happening, though they said the funding gap over the longer run appears narrowed thanks to signs that healthcare costs would be lower in the future.
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Panel: More Public Health $$ Will Save $$ -- and Lives

(MedPage Today) Prevention is the key to shrinking our nation's exploding healthcare costs said panelists at a briefing hosted by the National Coalition on Health Care (NCHC), a nonprofit focused on health system reform, at the House of Representatives on Thursday.
But public health is "chronically underfunded," said Richard Hamburg, deputy director of Trust for America's Health (TFAH), a nonprofit focused on disease prevention and community health…
At the briefing, health experts spoke of three ways to bend the healthcare spending curve: tackling obesity, increasing cancer screening and cutting tobacco use.
All of the panelists support the Affordable Care Act's Prevention and Public Health Fund, which would invest $15 billion in community health projects over the next decade.
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Neighborhood Revitalization Motivated Exercise

(Brown University) When the HOPE VI community revitalization project in the disadvantaged Birmingham, Ala., neighborhood of Ensley reached the phase of building walking and biking paths, green spaces, and improved lighting in 2010, two things happened, according to a new study: First, residents developed specific expectations that leisure exercise would become more plausible, and then they followed through and got out there…
In different versions of the statistical analysis, residents' senses of improved neighborhood walkability and of personal physical safety were associated with increases in physical activity at the six-month followup.
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With help from bystanders, cardiac arrest outcomes improving

(Reuters Health) More people are stepping up to the plate when they see others suffer cardiac arrest, according to two new studies.
And the increase in the number of bystanders providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) has been tied to better outcomes of the usually fatal condition, researchers report…
"In terms of outcomes we saw survival with good brain function increase by 37 percent, which is a very remarkable result," said Dr. Carolina Malta Hansen of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina.
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Acupuncture Impacts Same Biologic Pathways in Rats That Pain Drugs Target in Humans

(Georgetown University Medical Center) In animal models, acupuncture appears to impact the same biologic pathways ramped up by pain and stress, analogous to what drugs do in humans. Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) researchers say their animal study … provides the strongest evidence to date on the mechanism of this ancient Chinese therapy in chronic stress.
"The benefits of acupuncture are well known by those who use it, but such proof is anecdotal. This research, the culmination of a number of studies, demonstrates how acupuncture might work in the human body to reduce stress and pain, and, potentially, depression," says the study's senor investigator, Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, LAc, associate professor in the department of nursing and the department of pharmacology and physiology at GUMC.
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Sugary drinks 'harmful even for slim people'

(BBC News) Having regular sugary drinks may increase the chance of developing type 2 diabetes, even for slim people, researchers say.
And they suggest that cutting down on sugar-sweetened beverages could make a dent in the number of people developing diabetes in the UK.
Other experts, however, warn that being overweight and inactive are likely to play a stronger role in the disease.
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Milk May Slow Knee Arthritis in Women

(Sharecare) Here’s a refreshing way to protect your creaky knees: Reach for a bottle of milk. Preliminary research says that milk can be a useful tool for women to slow the progression of osteoarthritis of the knee.
In a study led by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, more than 2100 men and women with knee arthritis completed a diet questionnaire. The participants also had their knees x-rayed at the beginning of the study, and again at intervals of 12, 24, 36 and 48 months. The study showed that drinking more fat-free or reduced-fat milk slowed joint damage in women, but not in men. Women who drank the most milk—more than 7 glasses per week—had the least progression.
But not all dairy foods were as helpful.
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Sitting For Long Periods Of Time May Increase Cancer Risk

(CBS) As Dr. Mallika Marshall reports, there is even more reason to get up and move. A new study finds that sitting on your duff for long periods of time can raise a woman’s risk of cancer.
Researchers at the American Cancer Society looked at almost 150,000 men and women over 17 years. They found that women who spent more time sitting during leisure time, that is time not working, were at a 10% higher risk of developing cancer, especially multiple myeloma, breast and ovarian cancer. Lack of exercise didn’t seem to play a role, and they did not find the same increased risk in men.
The study had some flaws but it supports other evidence that sitting for too long promotes disease.
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More evidence smoking raises risk of death from breast cancer

(Reuters Health) Long-time smokers may face an increased risk of death if they develop breast cancer, according to a Japanese study that adds to a growing body of evidence highlighting the lethal effects of cigarettes.
Among more than 800 women with breast cancer, those who had smoked for more than two decades had at least triple the odds of dying of any cause, or from breast cancer in particular, compared with women who never used cigarettes.
Fewer years of smoking were also linked to an increased risk of death from breast cancer, but the extra risk was so small that it might have been due to chance.
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Radiation Treatment Defeats High Risk Prostate Cancer

(MedPage Today) Dose-escalated external beam radiation treatment (EBRT) ≥75.6 Gy is associated with improved overall survival in men with intermediate and high-risk prostate cancer although not in men with low-risk disease, a retrospective comparative effectiveness study suggested…
Among men with high-risk disease, dose-escalated EBRT was associated with a statistically significant decreased hazard of death at an IPW-PS adjusted HR of 0.82 … compared with standard-dose EBRT.
In contrast, the association between dose-escalated EBRT and reduced hazard of death was not significant in men with low-risk disease
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Radiation Doses in Mammography Lower than Expected: Study

(MedPage Today) Women receiving mammography receive much less radiation than was thought, according to a simulated model based on a small cohort of women.
Graduate student Andrew Hernandez, BS, of the University of California Davis, and colleagues found that by examining radiation doses across a simulated average of breast CT scans, radiation doses for mammography have been overestimated by ~30%.
"Our findings suggest that the harms of screening mammography are smaller than perceived by a significant amount and its efficacy therefore is that much greater," said Hernandez in a statement. "Our research now suggests that the risk of developing cancer from screening mammography is 30% lower than previously thought."
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Pee Buddy helps women avoid dirty toilets

(Reuters) A New Delhi based start-up aims to help women across India overcome the problems of urinating in unhygienic public toilets, a common problem across the populous country.
Made from waterproof cardboard, Pee Buddy is a single use funnel which allows women to micturate without having to squat on a dirty toilet seat and risk infection. The user simply needs to hold Pee Buddy between her legs, directly under the flow area. They should tilt their hips slightly forward, ensuring the funnel is tilted downwards. Having poured the urine into the toilet, they should dispose of Pee Buddy in the nearest bin.
Community: Great idea. How about expanding it to help women provide a urine sample for medical testing?
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‘Organs-on-chips’ go mainstream

(Nature) Researchers who are developing miniature models of human organs on plastic chips have touted the nascent technology as a way to replace animal models. Although that goal is still far off, it is starting to come into focus as large pharmaceutical companies begin using these in vitro systems in drug development.
“We are pretty excited about the interest we get from pharma,” says Paul Vulto, co-founder of the biotechnology company Mimetas in Leiden, the Netherlands. “It’s much quicker than I’d expected.” His company is currently working with a consortium of three large pharmaceutical companies that are testing drugs on Mimetas’s kidney-on-a-chip. At the Organ-on-a-Chip World Congress in Boston, Massachusetts, last week, Mimetas was one among many drug and biotechnology firms and academic researchers showing off the latest advances in miniature model organs that respond to drugs and diseases in the same way that human organs such as heart and liver do.
Community: Good. Maybe we can stop torturing animals.
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Trees Make People Feel Healthier

(Discover Magazine) What’s a tree worth to you? According to a large study in Toronto, trees may increase both how healthy you feel and how healthy you really are. Having some extra foliage on your block could be as good for your health as a pay raise–or an anti-aging machine…
From a large-scale, ongoing project called the Ontario Health Study, the authors collected data on over 31,000 adult residents of Toronto… Ten extra trees per city block increased subjects’ health perception as much as $10,200 in extra income, or being 7 years younger. Trees were also linked to gains in actual health measurements. People in neighborhoods with more trees reported significantly fewer “cardio-metabolic” diagnoses such as high blood pressure, heart disease, or diabetes…
Although the study shows a strong relationship between trees and health, [says University of Chicago psychologist Marc Berman], it can’t prove cause and effect. Another limitation is the self-reported health data, which might not be accurate.
Assuming trees do lead to better health, researchers don’t know exactly why. Is it because trees create cleaner air? A more attractive environment? Better motivation to exercise? “My guess is that a few different mechanisms are at play,” Berman says. He hopes to get some answers in future research.
Meanwhile, he says, we can all take advantage of whatever trees are available to us.
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Coffee drinking may lower inflammation, reduce diabetes risk

(Reuters Health) Coffee drinkers in a long-term study were about half as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as those who didn't drink coffee, and researchers think an inflammation-lowering effect of the beverage might be the key…
“An inverse relation between coffee intake and diabetes has been reported in many prospective studies whereas some have yielded insignificant results,” [Demosthenes B.] Panagiotakos, a co-author of the new study, told Reuters Health by email.
Since he and his colleagues merely observed the study participants, and didn't assign them randomly to drink or abstain from coffee, they still can't be sure that drinking coffee helps prevent diabetes, but their findings might help form the basis of a cause-and-effect hypothesis, Panagiotakos said…
We are not yet sure that coffee helps prevent diabetes, but “what is sure and remains more effective is exercise and body weight control,” Donath told Reuters Health by email.
Community: The article doesn’t say, but I’m betting that consuming coffee that has a lot of fat and sugar added isn’t going to provide this same benefit.
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You can lower your risk for heart failure

(NIH Senior Health, via email) Heart failure is a common condition among people 65+, and it’s the number one reason older people are hospitalized.   Its symptoms are shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, and swelling in the ankles, feet and legs. Heart failure develops over time as the pumping action of the heart gets weaker, but it’s not a normal part of aging.
The information on Heart Failure was developed for NIHSeniorHealth by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) at NIH.
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Some Foods Can Help Prevent Stroke

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Besides minimizing common risk factors such as smoking and unhealthy stress, you can help to prevent a stroke by adding magnesium-rich foods to your grocery cart…
1.      Green leafy vegetables…
2.      Nuts and seeds…
3.      Whole grain products…
4.      Beans…
5.      Fish.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the effects of stroke.
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