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

Social Factors Linked to Heart Disease for All

(New York Academy of Medicine) "Poverty and the many stresses that come with social disadvantage have long been linked to cardiovascular disease, but how we live, work, and play has a great impact on heart health for people from a broad range of economic and cultural backgrounds," explains David Siscovick, MD, MPH, Senior Vice President for Research at The New York Academy of Medicine and Chair of the American Heart Association's (AHA) Council on Epidemiology and Prevention…
"The [AHA] statement underscores the need for better metrics on the social determinants as well. Of particular interest to clinicians, the statement emphasizes the benefits of including information on socioeconomic position in cardiovascular risk prediction models."
Siscovick calls for a new approach to population health that closely examines all populations with an eye toward eliminating disparities in cardiovascular health, advancing prevention, and promoting healthier aging.
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Older Heart Attack Survivors Missing Out on Cardiac Rehab

(MedPage Today) Barely 5% of older heart attack survivors eligible for cardiac rehabilitation actually completed a rehab program, authors of a large registry study…
Key findings included the following:
      Of the 58,269 eligible patients, 36,376 (62.4%) were referred for cardiac rehabilitation
      13,657 patients (23.4%) attended at least one session
      3,175 patients (5.4%) completed 36 sessions or more
"Cardiac rehabilitation improves survival after AMI [acute myocardial infarction] and is associated with improvements in lifestyle, functional capacity, and quality of life for older adults. Despite these benefits, rates of referral and participation have traditionally been low, especially among older adults," the researchers wrote in a research letter.
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Low scores on thinking-skills tests may signal heart attack risk

(Reuters Health) For older people without dementia, fuzzy thinking and lack of self control may be signs of higher risk for heart attack or stroke, a new European study suggests.
Older people who scored badly on a test of decision making and problem-solving - so-called executive function skills - had nearly double the risk of heart attack and 50 percent higher risk of stroke compared to people who did better on the tests.
Since lower scores on cognitive function tests might indicate previous vascular damage in the brain, the researchers expected a connection to stroke risk, but were surprised to see an increased risk for heart attack as well, said Dr. Behnam Sabayan of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.
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Diabetes Drug Modulates Cholesterol Levels

(German Research Centre for Environmental Health) Besides affecting the blood sugar levels, the substance Metformin, also has an impact on blood fat levels…
[Researchers] found that the administration of Metformin in patients suffering from Type 2 Diabetes led to a change in metabolite levels. According to the authors, this was associated with a significantly decreased level of LDL cholesterol, which is under strong suspicion to promote cardiovascular diseases by causing atherosclerosis…
"Our study suggests that Metformin might indeed have an additional beneficial effect with regards to cardiovascular diseases among the Diabetes patients," says first author Dr. Tao Xu. Moreover, the Helmholtz scientists aim to elucidate how Metformin, which is used in the clinic for over 50 years, works on the molecular level.
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Frequent Travel Is Damaging to Health and Wellbeing, According to New Study

(University of Surrey) Researchers from the University of Surrey and Lund University (Sweden) investigated how frequent, long-distance travel is represented in mass and social media. They found that the images portrayed do not take into account the damaging side effects of frequent travel such as jet-lag, deep vein thrombosis, radiation exposure, stress, loneliness and distance from community and family networks…
"A man in a sharp suit, reclining in a leather chair, laptop open in front of him, a smiley stewardess serving a scotch and soda. This is often the image of travel, particularly business travel portrayed in TV ads and glossy magazines. But there is a dark side to this 'glamorised' hypermobile lifestyle that the media, and society ignores," explains lead author Dr Scott Cohen from the University of Surrey.
"The level of physiological, physical and societal stress that frequent travels places upon individuals has potentially serious and long-term negative effects that range from the breaking down of family relationships, to changes in our genes due to lack of sleep.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Radio Show: How Bowel Bacteria Affect the Brain
The ecological relationships of our bowel bacteria have a profound impact on inflammation, which in turn affects many organ systems including the brain.
Brits Told to Take Vitamin D Pills
British public health authorities now recommend vitamin D pills for everyone.
Remedies Offered for Troublesome Under-Breast Rash
Many women suffer from uncomfortable under-the-breast rash, but they don't have to.
Treating Sleep Apnea with an Oral Appliance
A custom-fitted, adjustable oral appliance reduced snoring and sleep apnea, but volunteers still suffered from daytime sleepiness.
Contrave Side Effects: Benefits and Complications of Weight Loss Pill
Contrave is a hot new weight loss pill. How well does it work and what are the side effects? Is this the magic answer to obesity or an overhyped drugs?
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3-D Printed Dinner?

(youris.com) Over the next years 3D printers may become a household kitchen appliance, helping people save time when preparing meals or adding specific nutritious ingredients to their diet.
Several tests are already underway: for four years Barilla, the Italian corporation specialised on producing pasta, sauces and baked products, together with TNO, a research centre in the Netherlands, has been testing additive manufacturing prototypes to produce new shapes of pasta.
“After three years of efforts, we have developed our device,” explains Michela Petronio, R&D deputy head at Barilla. “At the moment, it is still a prototype allowing us to print pasta in shapes that otherwise can't easily be replicated. This is important because, you feel differently when eating spaghetti or penne and 3D printing opens a largely unexplored horizon in the field of food design”.
The next steps will  be about the consistency and balance of different ingredients: “There is still a quite long way to go,” adds Petronio, “but our aim is to consider which applications are the most interesting for our consumers”.
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Star Trek-style home elevator could replace stairlifts

 
(Sydney Morning Herald) For people living in a house with more than one storey, stairlifts or home elevators are often a necessity of life as they get older and find it harder to get up and down the stairs. Normal stairlifts have the disadvantage of being a permanent and visible addition to a staircase, while traditional home elevators are bulky and impractical for most homes.
A company in England is hoping their novel design will fill the gap in the market for a new kind of home elevator. Terry Lifts, based in Cheshire, have built a futuristic-looking elevator that can fit into the corner of a room and ascends through a hole in the ceiling with no lift shaft required.
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Confirmed: walking while texting slows you down

(Reuters Health) Texting while driving is clearly a bad idea, but it may be dangerously distracting while walking, too, a new study suggests.
Researchers asked 30 people to navigate an obstacle course three times and found they were significantly slower while texting and walking than when completing the route without any distractions.
When the researchers had people walk, text and do math quizzes on an iPhone all at the same time, it also slowed them down by about the same amount.
The lower speed was expected, said senior study author Conrad Earnest, an exercise researcher at Texas A&M University in College Station. What was surprising, however, is that staring at the tiny screen didn’t make people any more likely to crash into things.
Community: They don’t run into people BECAUSE WE STOP AND SIDESTEP THEM. They’re really annoying.
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Nicotine-Chomping Bacteria May Hold Key to Anti-Smoking Therapy

(The Scripps Research Institute) A new study from scientists at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) explores a bacterial enzyme that might be used as a drug candidate to help people quit smoking. The research shows that this enzyme can be recreated in lab settings and possesses a number of promising characteristics for drug development.
“Our research is in the early phase of drug development process, but the study tells us the enzyme has the right properties to eventually become a successful therapeutic,” said Kim Janda, the Ely R. Callaway Jr. Professor of Chemistry and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at TSRI.
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Tenofovir Vaginal Gel Cuts Herpes Risk

(MedPage Today) A gel containing an anti-HIV drug protected women against infection with herpes simplex-2 virus (HSV-2), a pathogen regarded as increasing the risk of HIV, researchers reported.
In a substudy from a randomized trial, a tenofovir-containing gel used pericoitally cut the risk of HSV-2 by about half, according to Salim Abdool Karim, MBChB, PhD, of the Centre for the AIDS Programme of Research in South Africa, and colleagues.
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Pfizer, Bristol revive cancer drugs that rev up immune system

(Reuters) Some of the most heralded new cancer drugs fight the disease by removing brakes on the immune system. Now a few leading drugmakers are paying attention to a second, opposing force: medicines that accelerate the immune system's attack.
Pfizer Inc, which is lagging rivals in the lucrative field of cancer immunotherapies, has been the first to report early data of an "accelerator" treatment that targets a protein called 4-1BB. It has at least five other Phase I studies underway or in planning stages in solid tumor cancers and lymphomas, which are blood cancers.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co is hot on Pfizer's heels with a handful of early-stage trials of its own 4-1BB antibody. Others, including Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie Inc are doing early testing of their antibodies prior to starting human trials, company executives and researchers told Reuters.
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Mere sight of a gun makes police – and public – more aggressive, experts say

(The Guardian) hen police officers put on their badges and blues, do they somehow change inside? Surrounded by stories of pepper-sprayed protesters, threats at traffic stops, and sudden bursts of violence sometimes causing deaths, the US has spent a year asking itself about police misconduct, circling the question, “why?”
Psychology may give some clues. For decades psychologists have looked for evidence that weapons affect behavior, and a large body of research has borne out their suspicions: simply seeing a weapon – whether a sword, hand grenade, tank or gun – makes people more aggressive.
Speaking to the Guardian, Ohio State psychology professor Brad Bushman compared the so-called “weapons effect” to humans’ rapid recoil from snakes or spiders, though unlike that impulse the effect must be at some level learned.
“Weapons increase all of those aggressive thoughts, feelings, hostile appraisals and the type of thinking that somebody’s out to get you, or wants to hurt you,” Bushman said.
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Banned Medicaid providers still participate in some states, report says

(Reuters) Hundreds of medical providers banned from a Medicaid program in one state are able to take part in another state's program despite regulations designed to stop them, according to a report by an independent federal auditor to be released on Wednesday.
The continued participation of banned providers leaves state Medicaid programs for the poor and disabled vulnerable to fraud, waste and abuse, according to the study, which says the problem reflects a struggle by states to communicate with one another.
The study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG), also found that about half of the states were unable to terminate providers enrolled in privately run Medicaid managed care programs. Some refuse to terminate providers still licensed by a medical board, it found.
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CDC To Congress: Raise Our Budget Or Americans Will Die Needlessly

(Maryn McKenna, National Geographic) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning that illnesses and deaths from antibiotic resistance will rise in the US unless specific changes are made in the US public health system—and coupling the prediction with a blunt challenge to Congress to give it the money it needs to make the changes happen.
In a new report, published Tuesday afternoon, the CDC estimates that infections caused within healthcare institutions by the most problematic superbugs will rise by 10 percent over the next five years, from 310,000 to 340,000. (Those infections are a subset of the 2 million antibiotic-resistant infections that the CDC estimates occur each year in the United States.) That rise could be reversed, the agency said, if healthcare institutions could identify patients who carry dangerous bacteria with them as they check in and out of acute care hospitals, long-term care and rehab, and work together to keep their infections from being transported from one place to another…
[I]n launching the report, the agency’s director Dr. Thomas Frieden was unusually direct about the need for money to make the interventions happen.
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Medicare rule may needlessly extend some hospital stays

(Reuters Health) A decades old Medicare rule requiring a three-day hospital stay before patients can transfer to skilled nursing facilities may needlessly prolong hospitalizations, a study suggests.
Researchers compared the average time patients were hospitalized between 2006 and 2010 in privately administered Medicare Advantage health plans that either stuck to this rule or allowed people to transfer to skilled nursing facilities sooner.
Lengths of hospital stays increased with the rule in place and declined when it was waived, the study found.
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The spice must flow: will chili powder extend your life?

(F. Perry Wilson, MD, Yale School of Medicine) An article … purports to show a link between higher consumption of spicy foods and lower overall mortality.  Let’s get something out of the way right up front. I am rather dubious about any study that claims that a single dietary element has any long-term effects.  Dietary “patterns”, sure.  But bacon, probably not…
The study excluded individuals with pre-existing cancer, stroke, or heart disease, so death rates were rather low: around 1 death per every 160 person-years of follow-up in the no-spice group and 1 death per every 170 person-years of follow-up in the spice-every-day group.  If you do the math, you’d find that you’d need to take around 2800 mild food eaters and turn them into spice-aholics to save one life.
Speaking of spice-ahol, I should mention that this effect was only seen in those who didn’t drink alcohol – the one thing that makes spicy food worthwhile…
Community: Um, those of us who love spicy food don’t need alcohol to make it worthwhile.
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Study: Coffee is good for your brain

(Atlanta Journal Constitution) A study found possible links between coffee intake and improvement of cognitive abilities in seniors, CBS News reports via Healthday.
The risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) seemed to decrease for people “who consistently drank about one or two cups of coffee per day,” according to Healthday. Overall, however, researchers found that "older individuals who never or rarely consumed coffee as well as coffee drinkers who increased their coffee consumption habits had a higher risk of developing MCI" compared to coffee drinkers who kept their intake consistent and moderate.
So how does coffee effect neurological health? Authors of the study believe that the caffeine in coffee protects the brain from “the buildup of amyloid protein plaques, long linked to Alzheimer’s disease.” Researchers also found that moderate coffee drinking may help an older brain by increasing insulin sensitivity thereby "decreasing the risk for type 2 diabetes."
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These foods were made to go together

(Ellie Krieger, registered dietitian, nutritionist, Washington Post) [T]hese food pairings have unbeatable chemistry.
Tomatoes and olive oil
The oil makes it possible for your body to absorb the tomato’s potent fat-soluble antioxidants, such as lycopene, which benefits every organ in the body, especially the skin and heart…
Salad and eggs
[E]ating a whole, cooked egg with a raw vegetable salad also helps you absorb the carotenoids (a class of antioxidants) from the vegetables…
Yogurt and fruit
Once you get the probiotics into your system, you need to feed them so they stay and thrive. Their food of choice is fiber, and fruit is one of the best sources of it…
Grilled meat and spice rubs
[W]hen meat is cooked over high heat some of its fat forms a compound called malondialdehyde, which has been linked with chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. It turns out that pairing meat with herbs and spices can significantly reduce concentrations of this damaging compound because the antioxidants in the spices neutralize it…
Fish and curry powder
[T]wo compounds in food that are thought to be potent cancer inhibitors, DHA (the healthy fat in fish) and curcumin (an active compound in yellow curry) work much more effectively together than they do separately.
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3 Foods for Arthritis Pain

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If your mornings begin with stiffness, pain and swollen joints, you may be experiencing symptoms of osteoarthritis. In addition to getting regular exercise (low-impact is the best) and maintaining a healthy weight, consider the following nutritional strategies to help prevent or lessen symptoms.
1.      Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Fresh fruits and vegetables are good sources, and may help reduce tissue damage from inflammation. Plus they fill you up, leaving less room for the processed stuff.
2.      Get enough omega-3s. The omega-3 fatty acids provided in oily fish (such as wild Alaskan salmon), walnuts and freshly ground flaxseed may help reduce the inflammation and pain of arthritis.
3.      Regularly use ginger and turmeric for their natural anti-inflammatory properties.
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Inexpensive Protein Alternative: Beans

(The Supermarket Guru) Besides being delicious and versatile, virtually all types of beans are nutrition powerhouses. They are rich in protein, folate, magnesium, and protective phytochemicals. Darker colored beans are richest in heart-healthy, cancer-protective antioxidants, but all beans are beneficial to those looking to improve the nutrient density of their meals. Most beans are high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, and slowly digested carbohydrates have a gentler, even beneficial, effect on blood-sugar.
Beans are inexpensive and offer at least six cups of cooked beans for six to twelve servings. Most packages are 16 ounces, but some are 12 ounces, so check the label if the quantity is right for your recipe.
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A Green Light for Red Palm Oil as Health Aid?

(Wall Street Journal) The Claim: Red palm oil, a deep orange fat pressed from the palm tree fruit, is a superfood—packed with healthy antioxidants and good for the heart, say companies who sell it.
The Verdict: The colorful oil is rich in tocotrienols, nutrients in the vitamin E family, and carotenoids, which the body converts into vitamin A. Several studies suggest possible benefits in stroke and liver disease from vitamin extracts made from the oil, but so far there isn’t proof that consuming the oil can ward off disease, scientists say.
“There’s not enough evidence to say that it’s good for health, but if you like the flavor of it, now and then for an indulgence, I think it’s OK,” says Penny M. Kris-Etherton, a professor of nutrition at Pennsylvania State University.
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What Is a Personal Food Computer?

(Smithsonian.com) The personal food computer looks like a fish tank. It’s the right shape and size, but there’s no water. Inside the two-foot-long box, under glowing purple LED lights, lettuces and legumes sprout up, their roots, free of dirt, misted by digitally-controlled sprayers. It’s a tiny, low-water, climate-controlled agriculture system, designed for growing food in cramped city quarters. The machine is plugged into a network, so all the environmental information runs into a database, where other farmers can see how much water and light the plants are getting, and use that data to tweak the way they grow their own crops.
Call it open-source farming or data-driven agriculture. Either way, it’s a way to program how we grow what we eat. Caleb Harper, an engineer with a background in architecture and design, developed the personal food computer. He also runs the City Farm group, which looks at innovative ways to grow food in urban areas, at MIT’s Media Lab. He thinks his contraption is the future of food…
The food computer plugs into the water and electricty in any building, and doesn't need any other resources, which is why it makes sense in a house or a classsroom. It uses shallow water culture and raft hydroponics to spray the plants' airborne roots instead of saturating soil. Farmers can grow just about anything that they could in the ground, as long as it doesn't get taller than four feet. Harper says his team has had good luck with greens and berries. He's trying to get the cost of the system down to around $300, so it would make sense for a classroom to buy one.
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4 Ways to Help Prevent Gout

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) out is a painful arthritic condition of the joints marked by elevated blood levels of uric acid. Historically considered a disease of excess, gout is associated with the consumption of protein-rich foods, certain prescription drugs, frequent alcohol consumption, and being overweight. If you have been diagnosed with gout, or have a strong family history of gout, I recommend: 
·         Avoiding meats that are particularly rich sources of protein, such as organ meats, sardines and anchovies
·         Eliminating coffee and all other caffeine sources from the diet
·         Avoiding excess alcohol consumption (which promotes dehydration and influences protein metabolism)
·         Maintaining a healthy weight
·         Recent data shows a connection between dietary fructose and uric acid levels. Curb intake of fruit juices and foods with added sugars
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Gut Microbes Affect Circadian Rhythms and Metabolism in Mice

(Argonne National Laboratory) Researchers found that mice with a normal set of gut microbes showed evidence of a regular daily microbial cycle, with different species flourishing in different parts of the day and producing different compounds as a result. These compounds appear to act on the liver -- they affected how circadian clock genes were expressed in the liver. A high-fat diet reduced the variation in the microbial cycle; the circadian clock genes were disrupted, and the mice gained weight.
Meanwhile, "germ-free" mice raised without a normal gut microbiome showed evidence of a disrupted circadian clock cycle, but did not gain weight even on a high-fat diet.
The researchers hypothesize that high-fat diets change the compounds that microbes produce, thus disrupting the liver's circadian clock signaling.
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Yo-Yo Diet Not a Cancer Risk

(MedPage Today) Weight cycling -- more commonly referred to as "yo-yo dieting" -- does not increase overall cancer risk or the risk of any of 15 site-specific cancers independent of body mass index (BMI) in men or in women, a large prospective US cohort study has found.
Based on analyses from subjects involved in the CPS-II Nutrition Cohort, investigators found that in "both men and women combined, and in women only, weight cycling was associated with an overall cancer risk before but not after adjustment for BMI at baseline."
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Are flip-flops ruining your feet?

(Chatelaine) “The purpose of shoes is to protect your feet—the only thing flip-flops may protect you from are fungal infections around pools,” says Dr. Axel Rohrmann, a Regina-based podiatrist. Flip-flops shouldn’t be worn for long periods of activity or in crowded areas such as amusement parks or shopping malls because they leave your feet vulnerable to being stepped on—or having your toes stubbed.
The mechanics of flip-flops also force your toes to claw down and grip them in an effort just to keep them on. Not only do they not offer any support for your feet, but eventually your foot musculature will become overstrained as well. This could affect the way you walk which can lead to painful problems like bunions and plantar fasciitis. “Any closed-toe shoe is better than a flip-flop because it usually offers more protection and stability,” says Dr. Rohrmann.
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Mandatory Life Jackets Could Cut Odds of Recreational Boating Deaths 80 Percent, Experts Say

(Society for Risk Analysis) Requiring recreational boat operators to wear life jackets would increase the odds of surviving a boating accident by 80 percent, according to a new study that uses recent data from a key U.S. Coast Guard database to conclude that life jacket use is one of the most important factors in determining whether boaters die as a result of accidents.
The study contributes to the research that would be necessary to implement what would be a far-reaching and controversial policy of mandating life jacket use.
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Hypnosis for Medical Purposes

(National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) One of the goals of the NCCIH Integrative Medicine Research Lecture Series is to provide overviews of the current state of research and practice involving complementary health approaches. Recently, we were delighted to host David Spiegel, M.D., who presented on “Tranceformation: Hypnosis in Brain and Body.”…
Dr. Spiegel opened with a brief history of hypnosis, explaining that it is “a state of aroused, attentive, focal concentration with diminished peripheral awareness.” The brain has “an amazing ability” to alter not only how a person reacts to perceptions but what it is that the person perceives, which is very useful in many aspects of medical care, Dr. Spiegel said. During the lecture, he described research showing that hypnotizability is a stable trait over time; about 15 percent of the population is highly hypnotizable. Dr. Spiegel also highlighted a few examples in which hypnosis was used as an adjunct approach to address pain, anxiety, somatic complications, and smoking cessation.
Learn more about the research on hypnosis by watching Dr. Spiegel's lecture on NIH Videocast: “Tranceformation: Hypnosis in Brain and Body”
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What Would the World Look Like to Someone With a Bionic Eye?

 
(University of Washington) [R]esearchers used simulations to create short videos that mimic what vision would be like after two different types of sight recovery therapies. Lead author Ione Fine, a UW associate professor of psychology, said the simulations are unprecedented.
"This is the first visual simulation of restored sight in any realistic form," she said. "Now we can actually say, 'This is what the world might look like if you had a retinal implant.'"
Fine said the paper aims to provide information about the quality of vision people can expect if they undergo sight restoration surgery, an invasive and costly procedure.
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Urine test for pancreatic cancer could save hundreds

(Irish Times) A simple urine test that could help detect early-stage pancreatic cancer, potentially saving hundreds of lives, has been developed by scientists.
Researchers say they have identified three proteins which give an early warning of the disease, with more than 90 per cent accuracy.
The discovery could lead to a non-invasive, inexpensive test to screen people at high risk of developing the disease.
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Potential New Therapy Approaches to Reverse Kidney Damage Identified

(University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center) Most organs revert to methods that led to their creation when faced with conditions such as diabetes, cancer or infections. The adaptations, while potentially protective, come with a price and can lead to further long-term organ damage.
Scientists at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center have revealed new information about one such disorder, kidney fibrosis, which impacts millions of people worldwide.
Their study demonstrated the importance of an embryonic cellular process called EMT (epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition) as a potential therapeutic target for reversing kidney disease.
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The Uneasy, Unbreakable Link of Money and Medicine

(Brown University) Even after centuries of earnest oaths and laws, the debate about whether money compromises medicine remains unresolved, observes Dr. Eli Adashi in a new paper… The problem might not be truly intractable, he said, but recent reforms will likely make little progress or difference.
"This is one of those things we have to appreciate as being with us for a long time," said Adashi, former dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown University. "It will probably be with us forever. It's probably not entirely fixable unless one really made a concerted effort driven by consensus to do so, but that doesn't exist. I think it's a useful exercise to call it as it is."
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Obama’s energy plan 'step in right direction' for asthma sufferers, doctors say

(FoxNews.com) President Barack Obama unveiled the final version of his plan to cut emissions from U.S. power plants Monday, flanked by parents of pediatric asthma patients, medical professionals and Environmental Protection Agency officials. Calling it the “single most important step” America has taken to fight climate change, Obama outlined a plan that the White House said will help to reduce 90,000 asthma attacks in children by 2030, as well as prevent premature deaths related to power plant emissions and cut down on missed school and work days…
Dr. Amy Shah, an asthma, allergy and immunology specialist at Valley E.N.T. in Arizona told FoxNews.com that older, coal-fired power plants that burn coal without any pollution control emit large amounts of sulfur dioxide, a known respiratory irritant associated with asthma attacks…
Dr. Sumita Khatri, co-director of the Asthma Center at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, who was named by Obama during his speech for her pulmonary research, echoed Shah and told FoxNews.com that in addition to family history and other predispositions, poor air quality and extreme temperatures play a large role in triggering asthmatic episodes.
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What Is the Solution to Obesity?

(James S. Fell, Body For Wife) A big part of the solution to obesity involves governments growing a damn spine and protecting the citizens who elected them from the soulless corporations looking to exploit our hunger.
I have an MBA and I know that the #1 goal of any corporation is this: maximize shareholder value. They will do so by any legal means necessary, and they must, because if they don’t, their competitors will destroy them. The “ethical” food corporation that decides not to market to children or make food “fun” and doesn’t use brain science to make their products hyper palatable leading to overeating and repeat business goes out of business.
Again, food corporations will push the limits of what is legal in order to sell calories, because those that don’t go out of business.
Unrestricted capitalism would have allowed cheap tobacco sold and marketed to everyone to smoke everywhere, and we’d still have those high smoking rates. It changed because the government decided to intervene to rein in a profitable business.
Governments did it before with smoking because it was a public health issue, and they can do it again. Libertarian thinkers may protest, but the reality is that unless you stand to directly profit from exploitative practices from food corporations, government intervention and tighter regulation in this regard actually enhances individual freedoms; it provides freedom from the influence of unethical corporations that profit from making people obese. It gives people the freedom to have access to better food choices and better information about those choices…
But if you have weight to lose now, what is your solution?... [T]here is a lot of information available in my book, which provides a comprehensive strategic plan for losing weight and keeping it off. As a selling point, it has the words “brutally honest” in the subtitle. It tells people what they need to know, not what they want to.
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How to Change Harmful Behavior

(TIME) [It's] hard to change [people’s] minds on the topic of vaccines. Public service campaigns don’t work; nor do one-on-one explanations of why the rumors about a vaccine-autism link are wrong. In some cases, there is even a backfire effect: the greater the effort expended to persuade the anti-vaxxers, the more convinced they become that they’re right.
So it’s extremely good news that researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign may at last have come up with a way to cut through the misinformation and get the truth across: Don’t just tell parents to vaccinate their children, show them what happens if they don’t…
“Rather than attempting to dispel myths about the dangers of vaccinations,” the researchers wrote, “we recommend that the very real dangers posed by serious diseases like measles, mumps and rubella be emphasized.”…
The power of the show-don’t-tell approach is nothing new. It’s the reason behind the anti-tobacco shock ads showing people dying of lung cancer, as well as the surgery fund-raising ads showing photos of babies with cleft lips. The trick in all of these cases is getting people to act fast. If too much time elapses between image and potential action, the power of the message is lost.
Community: Could ads similar to the anti-smoking ones be used to fight obesity?
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Trying to Quit Smoking? First Strengthen Self-Control

(Cell Press) The desire to quit smoking--often considered a requirement for enrolling in treatment programs--is not always necessary to reduce cigarette cravings, argues a review of addiction research… Early evidence suggests that exercises aimed at increasing self-control, such as mindfulness meditation, can decrease the unconscious influences that motivate a person to smoke…
Mindfulness meditation is of course one strategy to strengthen self-control. While this is early evidence that such programs can change the brain so people are less motivated to smoke, there are still unanswered questions about how often this therapy would need to be conducted, how long the benefits last, and whether some individuals benefit more than others. We also need to learn whether such treatments can be applied to other forms of addiction, such as over-eating or drinking.
"Even though one therapy works on something, you cannot say this therapy is better than others," [says lead study author Yi-Yuan Tang]. "We can only get a full picture through systematic research and practice but I think this is a field with a lot of promise and that we should be open minded."
"Mindfulness meditation, as well as other strategies that are aimed at strengthening self-control, are likely to be useful for the management of addiction, but not necessarily for everybody," Volkow adds. "However, understanding how our brain works when we do interventions that strengthen self-control can also have multiple implications that relate to behaviors that are necessary for health and well-being."
Community: Couldn’t hurt to try it for other needs for self control improvement. And there are many other practical things we can do to improve impulse control.
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Sausage or broccoli on your pizza?

(New York University) [Researchers]  conducted several experiments with university students who were unaware of the objective of the study. They wanted to know whether people would end up with overall healthier selections either when choosing food elements in an √† la carte situation or when rejecting items from a pre-prepared set of options. The researchers considered the extent to which people are driven by an overall goal of eating healthy diets or by their relative pleasure in less healthy choices and found that it was apparently harder for people to reject unhealthy items than to choose healthy ones.
The results show that an individual's decision frame influences the relative number of healthy versus unhealthy items included in the food they order, and that this influence is further contingent on the nature of the food to be customized - e.g., "healthy" salad or "unhealthy" pizza.
"Our research demonstrates that food preference is quite malleable," the authors concluded. Managers of food retailers can influence customers' preference for products with tasty (less healthy) and/or healthy features by offering the option to build up or pare down their selections.
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The Science of Why You Crave Comfort Food

(Alexandra Sifferlin, TIME) Summer is the season for nostalgic eating: Hot days in the park call for a trip to the ice cream truck, concerts call for corn dogs, baseball games call for hotdogs and beer, ice-cold movie theaters call for popcorn. And it’s not just me. Researchers suggest that when we associate foods with happy memories, the effects are profound, impacting how good we think foods taste as well as how good those foods make us feel.
It makes intuitive sense that positive experiences with a given food could influence our craving for it later on, but recent research also suggests something else is at play, too: comfort foods remind us of our social ties, which means they may help us feel less lonesome when we feel isolated. In a recent July 2015 study, Jordan Troisi, an assistant professor of psychology at Sewanee, The University of The South, and his colleaguesfound that people with strong relationships preferred the taste of comfort food when they experienced feelings of social isolation.
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Effects of Spinach Extract on Satiety: Feel Full, Curb Cravings

(Taylor & Francis) A new study … examines how consuming the concentrated extract of thylakoids found in spinach can reduce hunger and cravings…
The results showed that the spinach extract containing thylakoids increased satiety over a two-hour period compared to a placebo. There were no differences in plasma lipids and energy intake at dinner, but males showed a trend toward decreased energy intake. Thylakoid consumption may influence gender-specific food cravings -- in a previous study, it was found that in women, a reduced urge for sweets was significant after a single dose of the spinach extract and the reduced urge for sweets was sustained throughout the study.
Article co-author, Frank L. Greenway MD, summarizes: "The reduction in hunger and the desire for salty food that we saw in this study might make thylakoids particularly useful for people with high blood pressure and associated weight problems."
Community: I could definitely use some help on cravings for sweets. The product used in the study was a Swedish supplement called Appethyl, which is available for ordering online, but it’s really expensive. Maybe a cheaper spinach extract might help, as well. And, of course, it never hurts to eat more of the real stuff.
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Could a Sugar Tax Help Combat Obesity?

(BMJ) Following the BMA's call for a 20% sugar tax to subsidise the cost of fruit and vegetables, experts in The BMJ this week debate whether a sugar tax could help combat obesity.
Sirpa Sarlio-L√§hteenkorva, adviser at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health in Finland, says that a specific tax on sugar would reduce consumption. "Increasing evidence suggests that taxes on soft drinks, sugar, and snacks can change diets and improve health, especially in lower socioeconomic groups," she writes…
In Finland, the Sugar Tax Working Group recently concluded that the current system of using excise duty is most practicable. "A combination of excise duty for key sources of sugar with tax adjusted based on sugar content would optimally promote health -- and product reformulation."…
Jack Winkler, emeritus professor of nutrition policy at London Metropolitan University, argues that such taxes would be a positive development in principle, but are politically unpalatable and would have to be enormous to have any effect…
He suggests that cutting product margins on sugar-free soft drinks would be a positive alternative, which would make the healthy choice the cheaper choice -- and would would boost companies' profit.
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FDA approves balloon for weight loss

(UPI) An inflatable balloon device has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to help obese patients lose weight without surgery.
Unlike LAP-band and gastric bypass, the new device, called the ReShape Dual Balloon, does not change the shape of the stomach. Instead, a balloon is inserted through the mouth, into the stomach, and inflated with a sterile solution. By filling space in the stomach, triggering feelings of fullness, and possibly by other mechanisms researchers said they don't yet understand, the balloon can be left in for up to six months to help patients lose weight…
When the device was removed six months after insertion, participants in the group that received the balloon had on average lost 14.3 pounds, while members of the control group lost about 7.3 pounds each. Six months after the device was removed, patients who'd had the balloon inserted kept off an average of 9.9 pounds of the 14.3 they lost with the implant.
"For those with obesity, significant weight loss and maintenance of that weight loss often requires a combination of solutions including efforts to improve diet and exercise habits," said Dr. William Maisel, acting director of the Office of Device Evaluation at the FDA's Center for Devices and Radiological Health, in a press release.
Community: Surely this technique is better than surgery.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

Lemon Juice Soothed the Pain of a Hornet Sting
A reader offers personal experience on a remedy to take the pain out of a wasp or hornet sting.
Going Barefoot Cleared Up Athlete’s Foot
Exposing the feet to light and air by going barefoot instead of wearing shoes all summer helped eliminate an athlete's foot infection.
Is Tonic Water Really Toxic?
Some individuals are so sensitive to quinine that even the small amount in a glass of tonic water could trigger a life-threatening reaction.
Is Soy Milk Unsafe for the Thyroid?
A person with low thyroid function should be cautious about consuming soy milk every day. Moderation would be wiser.
Finding Sunscreens That Don’t Make You Itch
Sunscreens help protect skin against dangerous ultraviolet exposure, but finding one that doesn't cause dermatitis can be a challenge.
Gabapentin for Pain Drove Patient to Brink of Suicide
Gabapentin is prescribed for pain and many other health problems. But the drug can trigger serious side effects including depression and suicidal thoughts.
Metformin (Glucophage) Side Effects & Complications
Metformin is recognized as a first line treatment to control blood sugar, but it drug does cause a number of side effects, especially related to the GI tract.
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Extra vitamin D may not benefit postmenopausal bone health

(Reuters Health) High doses of vitamin D may not help strengthen bones in postmenopausal women, a study suggests…
“We conclude that there is no reason to take more than the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D,” lead author Dr. Karen Hansen of the University of Wisconsin in Madison said by email…
For most adult women, the recommended daily intake of vitamin D is 600 IU (international units), or 800 IU after age 70, according to the U.S. National Institutes of Health. While few foods provide vitamin D, it can be found in beef liver, canned salmon or sardines, cheese and egg yolks as well as fortified milk and orange juice.
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New Research Opens the Door for Treatment of Relapsing Bacterial Infections

(Northeastern University) An estimated 150 million UTIs occur each year worldwide, accounting for $6 billion in healthcare costs, according to the American Urological Association. The bacterium E. coli is responsible for the majority of them. Antibiotics are the standard treatment, but often the infection returns when treatment is stopped.
[Professor Kim] Lewis' lab had spent years trying to learn why, and in 2001 published a paper that brought the answer into the light of day: A subpopulation of bacterial cells called "persisters" was conferring antibiotic "tolerance."…
"There's a small subpopulation of persisters that are formed by all pathogens we've studied so far," says Lewis. Because antibiotics attack only actively functioning bacterial cells, he says, persisters escape the onslaught.
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Seniors Get Mental Health Drugs at Twice the Rate of Other Adults, See Psychiatrists Less

(University of Michigan Health System) Older Americans receive prescriptions for mental health medications at more than twice the rate that younger adults do, a new study finds.
But they're much less likely to be getting their mental health care from a psychiatrist, the results also show.
That raises questions about whether they could be at risk of problems caused by a collision of multiple medications -- and about whether primary care doctors may need more support to care for older people with depression, anxiety and other conditions.
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First 3D-printed pill approved by US authorities

(BBC News) In a world first, the US Food and Drug Administration has given the go-ahead for a 3D-printed pill to be produced.
The FDA has previously approved medical devices - including prosthetics - that have been 3D printed.
The new drug, dubbed Spritam, was developed by Aprecia Pharmaceuticals to control seizures brought on by epilepsy.
The company said that it planned to develop other medications using its 3D platform.
Printing the drugs allows layers of medication to be packaged more tightly in precise dosages.
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New analysis underscores improving pharma R&D productivity

(Reuters) Drug industry productivity is continuing to improve, with a bumper haul of new products being launched and companies proving more successful in the final stages of clinical testing, according to a new analysis.
Data from Thomson Reuters published on Tuesday showed the number of innovative medicines, or new molecular entities, launched globally in 2014 hit a 17-year high of 46, up from 29 in 2013…
As well as launching a lot more new medicines, the industry has also been enjoying higher success rates in the costly final stage of clinical development, with the number of projects failing in Phase III falling markedly over the last six years.
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As Obamacare Takes Hold, Unpaid Hospital Bills Vanish

(Forbes) As hospital operators begin to report second period earnings — the sixth consecutive quarter of new revenue from once uninsured patients — the number and size of unpaid medical bills continues to fall thanks to the Affordable Care Act.
The health law last year began to provide subsidized private health insurance coverage on public exchanges and expanded Medicaid for poor Americans. With increasing numbers signing up to private coverage and more states opting to expand Medicaid in the last 18 months, hospital companies are seeing expenses for charity and uncompensated care fall.
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The moral imperative for bioethics

(Steven Pinker, professor of psychology, Harvard University) Biomedical research … promises vast increases in life, health, and flourishing. Just imagine how much happier you would be if a prematurely deceased loved one were alive, or a debilitated one were vigorous — and multiply that good by several billion, in perpetuity. Given this potential bonanza, the primary moral goal for today’s bioethics can be summarized in a single sentence.
Get out of the way.
A truly ethical bioethics should not bog down research in red tape, moratoria, or threats of prosecution based on nebulous but sweeping principles such as “dignity,” “sacredness,” or “social justice.” Nor should it thwart research that has likely benefits now or in the near future by sowing panic about speculative harms in the distant future…
[S]lowing down research has a massive human cost.
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Why Do New Yorkers Live Longer?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) According to the New York City Department of Health, a New Yorker born in 2004 can expect to live 78.6 years, nine months longer than the average American. Add this to the fact that the life expectancy of New Yorkers is lengthening faster than that of other Americans, and it's worth taking a look at some reasons why: 
1.      Less smoking
2.      Healthier food options
3.      Walking. Perhaps most importantly, New Yorkers walk far more than do most suburban Americans, or even residents of other large cities… They also tend to walk faster.
The good news is you don't have to move to New York to avail yourself of these advantages. Anyone, anywhere, can decide to stop smoking, walk more and seek out healthy foods (the number of farmers' markets has doubled in the last decade, making fresh produce more available everywhere).
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Get up, stand up: stand up for your waist!

(AFP) A study of nearly 800 men and women in Australia revealed a clear association between less sitting and better health markers.
"An extra two hours per day spent standing rather than sitting was associated with approximately two percent lower average fasting blood sugar levels and 11 percent lower average triglycerides (fats in the blood)," said a press statement.
It was also associated with higher levels of "good" cholesterol, HDL.
Replacing two hours of sitting time with actual activity in the form of "stepping" was even better -- with lower blood fat and sugar scores as well as an 11 percent lower average Body Mass Index (BMI -- a ratio of height to weight) and a 7.5-centimetre (three-inch) smaller average waist circumference.
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