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

Global life expectancy rises, but people live sicker for longer

(Reuters) People around the world are living longer, but many are also living sicker lives for longer, according to a study of all major diseases and injuries in 188 countries.
General health has improved worldwide, thanks to significant progress against infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS and malaria in the past decade and gains in fighting maternal and child illnesses.
But healthy life expectancy has not increased as much, so people are living more years with illness and disability, according to the analysis.
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Anti-Aging Tricks from Dietary Supplement Seen in Mice

(Emory Health Sciences) In human cells, shortened telomeres, the protective caps at the ends of chromosomes, are both a sign of aging and contribute to it. Scientists at Emory University School of Medicine have found that the dietary supplement alpha lipoic acid (ALA) can stimulate telomerase, the enzyme that lengthens telomeres, with positive effects in a mouse model of atherosclerosis [(hardening of the arteries)].
The discovery highlights a potential avenue for the treatment for chronic diseases…
ALA appears to exert its effects against atherosclerosis by spurring the smooth muscle cells that surround blood vessels to make PGC1 (peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma co-activator 1)-alpha. PGC1-alpha was already well known to scientists as controlling several aspects of how skeletal muscles respond to exercise. While the Emory researchers did not directly assess the effects of exercise in their experiments, their findings provide molecular clues to how exercise might slow the effects of aging or chronic disease in some cell types.
"The effects of chronic diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes on blood vessels can be traced back to telomere shortening," Alexander says. "This means that treatments that can restore healthy telomeres have great potential."
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Drinking a problem for many older adults, study finds

(CBS News) When it comes to the problem of drinking to excess, the senior citizen population may not immediately come to mind. But a new study finds that many older adults are drinking too much alcohol, putting them at risk for major health problems…
The researchers looked at anonymous electronic health records from a sample of almost 28,000 people from one area of London. They identified 9,248 older people who had reported consuming alcohol and found that 1,980 of them did so at unsafe levels…
"As the Baby Boomer generation become seniors, they represent an ever increasing population of older people drinking at levels that pose a risk to their health," Dr. Tony Rao, lead author from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College London, said in a statement. "This study shows the need for greater awareness of the potential for alcohol related harm in older people, particularly those of higher socio-economic status, who may suffer the consequences of ill health from alcohol at an earlier age than those in previous generations."
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Weak Doses of Radiation Prolong Life of Female Flies, Scientists Find

(Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology) Scientists at MIPT have revealed that weak doses of gamma radiation prolong the life of drosophila flies (fruit flies), and that the effect is stronger in females than in males. These findings could reveal the genes that enable the prolongation of life and in the future lead to the creation of a means to prevent aging in humans…
It is a commonly accepted view that there can be no safe doses of radiation, as any radiation will damage the molecules of DNA. An acceptable background is considered to be that at which the risk of cancer is negligibly small.
However, a number of experiments have demonstrated an improvement "under radiation" of indicators of life expectancy in mice and cell cultures. Indirect confirmation of radiation hormesis can be seen in cases of accidental irradiation of large groups of people over extended periods of time.
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Colorful Potatoes May Pack Powerful Cancer Prevention Punch

(Penn State) Compounds found in purple potatoes may help kill colon cancer stem cells and limit the spread of the cancer, according to a team of researchers.
Baked purple-fleshed potatoes suppressed the growth of colon cancer tumors in petri dishes and in mice by targeting the cancer's stem cells. Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. and responsible for more than 50,000 deaths annually, according to the American Cancer Society.
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Eco-Friendly Start-Up Sells Ugly Fruits and Veggies

(Discover Magazine) They’re ugly. They’re misshapen. They’re perfectly edible. But these fruit and veggies will never make it to the produce section in your grocery store.
Vast quantities of asymmetrical fruit and veggies are cast aside on the farm simply because we like our roughage to look beautiful before we chew it up in our mouths. Now a new start-up, called Imperfect, hopes to change that. The company plans to collect rejected produce and ship 10-14 pounds of oddball deliciousness to your doorstep, and it’ll only cost $12.
Community: Great! This idea could reduce waste and make healthier eating more affordable.
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Fish Oil-Diet Benefits May Be Mediated by Gut Microbes

(Cell Press) Diets rich in fish oil versus diets rich in lard (e.g., bacon) produce very different bacteria in the guts of mice, reports a study… The researchers transferred these microbes into other mice to see how they affected health. The results suggest that gut bacteria share some of the responsibility for the beneficial effects of fish oil and the harmful effects of lard.
In particular, mice that received transplants of gut microbes associated with a fish oil diet were protected against diet-induced weight gain and inflammation compared with mice transplanted with gut microbes associated with a lard diet. This demonstrates that gut microbes are an independent factor aggravating inflammation associated with diet-induced obesity and gives hope that a probiotic might help counteract a "greasy" diet.
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Lemon Juice Disinfects Against Human Norovirus

(German Cancer Research Center) Noroviruses are the predominant cause of gastroenteritis outbreaks in community settings such as hospitals, cruise ships, and schools. The virus is extremely contagious and is mostly transmitted via "fecal-oral-route," i.e., through contaminated hands or contaminated food. Symptoms include violent and sudden onset of diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea.
"It is therefore important to provide a safe and harmless disinfectant against human norovirus," explains Grant Hansman, head of CHS junior research group at the German Cancer Research Center noroviruses and the University of Heidelberg…
This current study was a continuation of an earlier project conducted at the National Institutes of Health in the United States, where they discovered that citrate from a commercial company could bind to the norovirus capsid protein…
These new results may explain why citrate reduces the infectivity of noroviruses. "Maybe a few drops of lemon juice on contaminated food or surfaces may prevent the transmission of these viruses," speculates Hansman. With his staff, he now plans to investigate if citric acid could reduce symptoms in those already infected with noroviruses.
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Probiotics Show No Impact Preventing Gastrointestinal Colonization With Drug-Resistant Bugs in ICU

(Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America) Probiotics show no benefit for preventing or eliminating gastrointestinal colonization with drug-resistant organisms in patients in the intensive care unit compared to standard care, according to new research…
"Our research suggests that probiotics do not help prevent gastrointestinal colonization with multidrug-resistant organisms in critically ill patients," said Jennie H. Kwon, DO, lead author of the study.
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Flu Remedies Help Combat E. Coli Bacteria

(University of Zurich) If the intestinal bacteria level becomes unbalanced, it can cause diseases. Physiologists now reveal how a specific carbohydrate in the intestinal mucosa heavily multiplies certain E. coli bacteria and thus causes inflammations. These could be treated with flu remedies, which opens up new therapeutic possibilities…
Thierry Hennet, a professor from the Institute of Physiology at the University of Zurich … and his colleagues succeeded in demonstrating the complex chain of events involved in a severe inflammation triggered by E. coli: An injury to the intestinal mucosa initially causes the increased multiplication of a non-pathogenic bacteria, which emits sialidase. This increased enzyme production releases sialic acid, which facilitates an overproduction of E. coli and can thus cause intestinal inflammation.
Sialidase inhibitors combat intestinal inflammations
The researchers also discovered that the intake of a sialidase inhibitor prevents the excessive formation of E. coli and was thus able to alleviate the disease symptoms. Interestingly, such sialidase inhibitors were already developed against the influenza virus. "Derivatives of known flu agents such as Tamiflu and Relenza could therefore also be used for inflammatory intestinal diseases, which opens up new therapeutic possibilities," says Hennet.
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No, You Do Not Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day

(Aaron E. Carroll, The Upshot, New York Times) If there is one health myth that will not die, it is this: You should drink eight glasses of water a day.
It’s just not true. There is no science behind it.
And yet every summer we are inundated with news media reports warning that dehydration is dangerous and also ubiquitous…
Many people believe that the source of this myth was a 1945 Food and Nutrition Board recommendation that said people need about 2.5 liters of water a day. But they ignored the sentence that followed closely behind. It read, “Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods.”…
Contrary to many stories you may hear, there’s no real scientific proof that, for otherwise healthy people, drinking extra water has any health benefits.
Community: However, see below.
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Glass of Water Before Each Meal Could Help in Weight Reduction

(University of Birmingham) Researchers from the University of Birmingham have shown that drinking 500ml of water at half an hour before eating main meals may help obese adults to lose weight. They believe that the simple intervention could be hugely beneficial, and be easily promoted by healthcare professionals and through public health campaigns.
Obese adult participants were recruited from general practices and monitored over a 12 week period.
Each of the participants, all adults with obesity, were given a weight management consultation, where they were advised on how to adapt their lifestyle and improve their diet and levels of physical activity. 41 of those recruited were asked to preload with water, and 43 were advised to imagine that they had a full stomach before eating.
Those in the group who were instructed to 'preload' with water lost, on average, 1.3kg (2.87lbs) more than those in the control group.
Community: Still, that’s a lot of water. 500 ml is almost 17 ounces. That’s two big glasses of water before each meal.
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Some Really Good Ideas That May Improve Safety and Health

(Scientific American) DJI, a company based in Shenzhen, China, makes the world's most popular small drones, with its Phantom models costing about $1,000 apiece. Since 2014, DJI has pushed out drone firmware updates to clearly show operators the restricted airspaces around airports, Washington, D.C., or national borders. Operators who ignore the software warnings about restricted airspace and try flying forward will find their drones simply refusing to move. “It's like flying into an invisible wall,” DJI's Michael Perry says.
Community: Here’s why this firmware is important - U.S. Pilots Have Had Nearly 700 Close Calls With Drones.
(Scientific American) Adding aerosols to the atmosphere to reflect more sunlight might slow the loss of glaciers but not stop it.
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Cancer sniffing dogs to aid British doctors

(Reuters) They're known as man's best friend; but dogs could soon also be their greatest ally in the fight against prostate cancer. Britain's National Health Service recently approved a trial for dogs capable of sniffing out prostate cancer in the hope that it could show up inaccuracies in the current PSA (prostate specific antigen) test.
It's long been known that a dog's remarkable sense of smell can detect minute odors known to be associated with many cancers which are understood to be linked to volatile organic compounds produced by malignant cells.
"Dogs have got this fantastic sense of smell; three-hundred million sensory receptors, us humans have five million. So they're very, very good at finding minute odors. What we now know is that cancer cells that are dividing differently have different volatile organic compounds -- smelly compounds -- that are associated with the cells. And dogs with their incredible sense of small can find these in things like breath and urine," said Dr. Claire Guest who co-founded charity Medical Detection Dogs in 2008 to train specialist dogs to detect human diseases.
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Growth Hormone Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis Fractures in Older Women

(The Endocrine Society) For years after it was administered, growth hormone continued to reduce the risk of fractures and helped maintain bone density in postmenopausal women who had osteoporosis, according to a new study…
A decade after the study began, the women who received the larger growth hormone dose still had higher bone mineral density levels than the participants who received the lower dose or the placebo. The rate of fractures in the treated women who had osteoporosis declined by 50 percent during the 10-year-long study. More than half of the participants had fractured bones prior to the start of the study. In contrast, the rate of fractures rose four-fold in the control group as some of those women were diagnosed with osteoporosis.
"The findings indicate the beneficial effects of growth hormone remained long after the treatment ceased," [said one of the study's authors, Emily Krantz, MD, of Södra Älvsborgs Hospital in Borås, Sweden].
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Dental device promises pain-free tooth repair

(Reuters) [A] new technology developed by British scientists could dramatically reduce the need for unpleasant dental drilling.
Based in the Scottish city of Perth, Reminova say their patented technology can painlessly repair teeth by 'supercharging' the remineralization of tooth enamel…
Remineralization is a natural process where minerals present in saliva and some foods enter the tooth enamel to make it stronger and more dense. But Reminova's prototype device can speed up this process to the same amount of time it would take to have a filling -- but painlessly, without injections and drilling…
A patient's tooth is first conditioned and cleansed to separate any decayed tissue or organic material that has built up in the lesion. Once clean, the tooth enamel is ready for the treatment. They've called this process Electrically Assisted Enhanced Remineralisation (EAER). It uses a tiny electrical current of a few micro Amps, that don't cause any physical sensation in the patient, to introduce natural minerals back into the clean lesion. The electrical field pushes the mineral ions into the cavity, triggering remineralization from the deepest part of the lesion.
Community: We’ve been told that teeth can’t be remineralized. But this process shows that they can. We have to wonder if this invention might reduce tooth loss considerably.
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Medicare ACOs Continue to Improve Quality of Care, Generate Shared Savings

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services [on Tuesday] issued 2014 quality and financial performance results showing that Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) continue to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries, while generating financial savings.  As the number of Medicare beneficiaries served by ACOs continues to grow, these results suggest that ACOs are delivering higher quality care to more and more Medicare beneficiaries each year. 
“These results show that accountable care organizations as a group are on the path towards transforming how care is provided," said CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt. “Many of these ACOs are demonstrating that they can deliver a higher level of coordinated care that leads to healthier people and smarter spending.”
ACOs are one way that the administration is working to provide Medicare beneficiaries with high-quality, person-centered care. Medicare ACOs are groups of doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who voluntarily come together to provide coordinated care, with the goal of giving Medicare beneficiaries – especially the chronically ill – the right care at the right time, while avoiding unnecessary duplication of services and preventing medical errors. 
The results shared [on Tuesday] demonstrate significant improvements in the quality of care ACOs are offering to Medicare beneficiaries.
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Hot Peppers May Unlock a New Treatment for Obesity

(University of Adelaide) University of Adelaide researchers have discovered a high-fat diet may impair important receptors located in the stomach that signal fullness…
"The stomach stretches when it is full, which activates nerves in the stomach to tell the body that it has had enough food. We found that this activation is regulated through hot chilli pepper or TRPV1 receptors," says Associate Professor Amanda Page, … lead author on the paper…
Dr Stephen Kentish says these findings will inform further studies and the development of new therapies.
"It's exciting that we now know more about the TRPV1 receptor pathway and that the consumption of capsaicin may be able to prevent overeating through an action on nerves in the stomach."
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Eating 'on the Go' Could Lead to Weight Gain, New Research Finds

(University of Surrey) In a new study…, researchers from the University of Surrey have found dieters who eat 'on the go' may increase their food intake later in the day which could lead to weight gain and obesity. The findings from the study also showed that eating while walking around triggered more overeating compared to eating during other forms of distraction such as watching TV or having a conversation with a friend…
[Said lead author Professor Jane Ogden from the University of Surrey:] " When we don't fully concentrate on our meals and the process of taking in food, we fall into a trap of mindless eating where we don't track or recognise the food that has just been consumed."
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Obesity Breakthrough: Metabolic Master Switch Prompts Fat Cells to Store or Burn Fat

(Massachusetts Institute of Technology) Obesity is one of the biggest public health challenges of the 21st century. Affecting more than 500 million people worldwide, obesity costs at least $200 billion each year in the United States alone, and contributes to potentially fatal disorders such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
But there may now be a new approach to prevent and even cure obesity, thanks to a study led by researchers at MIT and Harvard Medical School… By analyzing the cellular circuitry underlying the strongest genetic association with obesity, the researchers have unveiled a new pathway that controls human metabolism by prompting our adipocytes, or fat cells, to store fat or burn it away…
"By manipulating this new pathway, we could switch between energy storage and energy dissipation programs at both the cellular and the organismal level, providing new hope for a cure against obesity," [said senior author Manolis Kellis].
The researchers are currently establishing collaborations in academia and industry to translate their findings into obesity therapeutics. They are also using their approach as a model to understand the circuitry of other disease-associated regions in the human genome.
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'Good fat' implants reduced weight gain in mice

(UPI) Researchers grew "healthy" beige fat and injected it into mice, finding that it slashed the amount of weight they gained while on a high-fat diet, as well as lowering their levels of blood glucose and circulating fatty acids.
Beige fat is similar to the better known energy-burning brown fat, but is produced within white fat after exposure to cold and other situations. Brown fat serves as a heat generator, burning calories along the way…
"This is a feasibility study, but the results were very encouraging," [said Andreas Stahl, an associate professor of nutritional sciences and toxicology at the University of California Berkeley]. "It is the first time an optimized 3D environment has been created to stimulate the growth of brown-like fat. Given the negative health effects of obesity, research into the role of brown fat should continue to see if these findings would be effective in humans."
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Study: Doctor support makes weight loss easier

(UPI) People who are working to lose weight are more successful when they have the support of their healthcare provider, according to a new two-year study.
Researchers said physician-guided weight loss programs are almost never reimbursed by either Medicare or private insurance, despite the health benefits to obese people losing weight.
"This trial supports other evidence that providers are very important in their patients' weight loss efforts," said Dr. Wendy Bennett, an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in a press release. "Incorporating physicians into future programs might lead patients to more successful weight loss."
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Low-Carb Diet Helps People with Diabetes
Following a low-carb diet is one way people with diabetes can improve blood sugar control and reduce their medication costs.
Melon Reaction Could Signal Deadly Latex Allergy
A bothersome reaction to eating melons could presage a potentially lethal latex allergy that might develop with little or no warning.
Certo Recipe for Joint Pain
Using the Certo recipe for plant pectin in grape juice offers relief from joint pain that is safe for daily use.
Reader Praises Voltaren Gel
Smearing Voltaren Gel on knees provides joint pain relief while minimizing (not eliminating) the risk of systemic adverse reactions to diclofenac.
Is It Safe to Use Testosterone to Boost Sex Drive?
If a man appears to have little or no interest in sex, try to figure out why before requesting a prescription for testosterone to boost sex drive.
Pharmacist Speaks Up About Statin Side Effects
A pharmacist urges fellow health professionals to acknowledge statin side effects such as muscle pain, memory problems, neuropathy and constipation.
Generic Drugs Banned in Europe But Not in the US
Why have European regulators banned so many generic drugs? What do they know that we do not? The FDA says don't worry, be happy. Really?
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Omega 3 is still good for the brain. But ‘fish oil supplements just don’t cut it.’

(Washington Post) Consumers may want to rethink popping fish oil pills if they're hoping those supplements full of omega-3 fatty acids will keep their brains healthy.
A new study--one of the largest and longest in duration of its kind--finds that taking omega-3 supplements did not slow cognitive decline among 4,000 participants…
A much better bet for all-around brain and heart health, she said, is eating foods naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, flaxseed and walnuts.
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Chestnut Leaves Yield Extract That Disarms Deadly Staph Bacteria

(Emory Health Sciences) Leaves of the European chestnut tree contain ingredients with the power to disarm dangerous staph bacteria without boosting its drug resistance, scientists have found.
[A] chestnut leaf extract, rich in ursene and oleanene derivatives, … blocks Staphlococcus aureus virulence and pathogenesis without detectable resistance.
The use of chestnut leaves in traditional folk remedies inspired the research, led by Cassandra Quave, an ethnobotanist at Emory University.
"We've identified a family of compounds from this plant that have an interesting medicinal mechanism," Quave says. "Rather than killing staph, this botanical extract works by taking away staph's weapons, essentially shutting off the ability of the bacteria to create toxins that cause tissue damage. In other words, it takes the teeth out of the bacteria's bite."
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'Universal' Flu Vaccines Work in Animals

(MedPage Today) Vaccines that protect against multiple influenza strains are possible, according to two studies, raising hopes for more persistent immunization than current products can provide.
Using different approaches, the research groups showed that a relatively unchanging part of the virus can be used to elicit an immune response that blocks infection by several different types of flu.
But outside experts cautioned that the studies were conducted in the lab and in experimental animals and it will likely be some time before a "universal" vaccine is available for human use.
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Flu Vaccinations Make Sense for Elderly, Study Suggests

(Brown University) A new study of the records of millions of nursing home residents affirms the value of influenza vaccination among the elderly. The Brown University analysis found that between 2000 and 2009, the better matched the vaccine was for the influenza strain going around, the fewer nursing home residents died or were hospitalized…
[A]mong about 1 million elderly persons living in nursing homes each year, a 50-percentage point increase in the match rate for a flu season would save the lives of 2,560 people and prevent 3,200 hospitalizations.
"That's saving lives," [said corresponding author Vincent Mor]. "That's really a profound effect."
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Influenza Vaccines Provide Moderate Protection Throughout the Entire Flu Season

(American Society for Microbiology) Individuals who received the flu vaccine were protected for up to 6 months post-vaccination, the duration of most flu seasons, according to a study…
The results showed that administering influenza vaccines early in the fall, before influenza begins circulating, may still prevent the greatest number of infections. The researchers also saw a marked decline in protection after 6 months, when the vaccine offered little to no protection, suggesting that yearly vaccination may be prudent.
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Skipping blood pressure pills may raise heart failure risk

(Reuters Health) Patients who frequently fail to take prescribed blood pressure-lowering medications may be more likely to wind up hospitalized for heart failure than people who only miss pills occasionally, an Italian study suggests.
While plenty of previous experiments have proven that daily medications to treat hypertension, or high blood pressure, can help minimize the risk of heart failure, less is known about real-world outcomes for people who don’t always take their pills, the researchers note.
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Use of statins rising among very elderly

(Reuters Health) Between 1999 and 2012, the use of cholesterol-lowering statin drugs increased among people over age 79 with no history of coronary heart disease, stroke or vascular disease, according to a new study.
People who have had a heart attack, stroke or diabetes are often prescribed a statin like atorvastatin (Lipitor) to reduce their risk of another event in the future, but there is little evidence for using the drugs preventively in the oldest old who have not had a heart attack or stroke, the authors write in a research letter…
“Statins have numerous well known side effects, such as muscle aches,” [said Dr. Michael E. Johansen of the department of family medicine at The Ohio State University in Columbus, who coauthored the research letter]. “Perhaps the biggest risk of statins is that they could lead individuals to neglect other aspects of their cardiovascular health such as quitting smoking, eating a good diet, or getting regular exercise.”
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Giving Pharmacists the Power to Combat Opioid Overdoses

(Boston University Medical Center) In response to the growing opioid crisis, several states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have granted pharmacists the authority to provide naloxone rescue kits without a prescription to at-risk patients. This model of pharmacy-based naloxone (PBN) education and distribution is one of the public health strategies currently being evaluated at hundreds of pharmacies in both states to determine the impact on opioid overdose death rates…
"We are encountering an unprecedented public health crisis related to opioid abuse and overdose," said Traci Green, PhD, MSc, deputy director of BMC's Injury Prevention Center and associate professor of emergency medicine at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, who served as the article's first author. "Given that nearly every community has a pharmacy, there is a tremendous opportunity to help save lives by allowing pharmacists to provide naloxone rescue kits to those at risk for overdose."
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New Drug Protects Against the Deadly Effects of Nuclear Radiation 24 Hours After Exposure

(University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston) An interdisciplinary research team led by The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston reports a new breakthrough in countering the deadly effects of radiation exposure. A single injection of a regenerative peptide was shown to significantly increase survival in mice when given 24 hours after nuclear radiation exposure…
The peptide drug TP508 was developed for use in stimulating repair of skin, bone and muscle tissues. It has previously been shown to begin tissue repair by stimulating proper blood flow, reducing inflammation and reducing cell death. In human clinical trials, the drug has been reported to increase healing of diabetic foot ulcers and wrist fractures with no drug-related adverse events.
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Jimmy Carter, Melanoma And The Promise Of Immunotherapy In The Elderly

(Forbes) The relevance of the news that former president Jimmy Carter’s melanoma is being treated partially with Keytruda, the Merck & Co drug that stimulates patients’ immune systems to fight cancer, goes far beyond simply demonstrating how important immunotherapy has become in oncology treatment. Carter is almost 91 years old—making him perhaps the most high-profile patient yet to show how these treatments are offering new options for elderly people facing the most serious stages of cancer…
In the past, cutting-edge drugs were often out of reach for elderly patients because the harsh side effects were considered too big a risk for people who might be frail or suffering from other health conditions. But compared to chemotherapy, which usually causes toxic effects like extreme nausea and hair loss, immunotherapy drugs have proven to be quite mild. Only 6% of patients in clinical trials stopped taking the drug due to side effects, according to the patient information Merck provides…
Although immunotherapy holds promise for many types of cancer, it has already proven to be a game-changer in melanoma.
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Light/moderate Drinking Linked to Increased Risk of Some Cancers in Women, Male Smokers

(BMJ) Even light and moderate drinking (up to one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men) is associated with an increased risk of certain alcohol related cancers in women and male smokers, suggests a large study…
Overall, light to moderate drinking was associated with minimally increased risk of total cancer in both men and women.
However, among women, light to moderate drinking (up to one drink per day) was associated with an increased risk of alcohol related cancer, mainly breast cancer.
Risk of alcohol related cancers was also higher among light and moderate drinking men (up to two drinks per day), but only in those who had ever smoked. No association was found in men who had never smoked.
Heavy alcohol consumption has been linked to increased risk of several cancers.
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4 Ways to Slash Your Risk of Colon Cancer

(Sharecare) When it comes to preventing colon cancer, screenings are a must. That’s because during a screening test, your doctor can detect and remove precancerous polyps many years before they would have turned into cancer. But scheduling regular screenings isn’t the only decision you can make to help lower your risk of colon cancer. There’s plenty of evidence that the lifestyle choices you make every day -- including what you eat and how active you are -- can also play an important role. Here are 4 things you can start doing now to help slash your risk of colon cancer.
1. Eat More Veggies, Less Red Meat…
2. Get Your Heart Rate Up…
3. Lose Excess Pounds…
4. Get Enough Calcium and Vitamin D
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Prostate Cancer: Optimism, Caution for Active Surveillance

(MedPage Today) Two-thirds of men with newly diagnosed prostate cancer met criteria for active surveillance, including a subset of higher-risk patients, data from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) suggest…
[Said the researchers:] "We know from several well-described surveillance cohorts that the risk of progression to metastatic disease and dying of prostate cancer with expectant management is low, but not zero. Novel tools will undoubtedly improve risk assessment with time and change the way we treat men with prostate cancer, but the ultimate goals of any treatment and patient priorities must be identified upfront."
"Therefore, the criteria for patient selection should be individualized instead of combined in a one-size-fits-all strategy based solely on avoiding prostate cancer mortality."
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6 Simple Ways to Protect Your Breasts

(Robin Miller, MD) It is estimated that over our lifetime women in the US have a one in eight chance of developing breast cancer…
Certain things such as family history and gene mutations we cannot change. However, there are a few simple things that we can do to decrease the chances that we will develop breast cancer. Here is what I have found.
1. Exercise…
2. Eat a healthy diet that includes ground flax seed...
3. Eat mushrooms…
4. Drink green tea…
5. Eat your veggies especially the cruciferous ones such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower…
6. Take your vitamin D and calcium.
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Tool Boosts Accuracy in Assessing Breast Cancer Risk

(University of California, San Francisco) A national risk model that gauges a woman's chance of developing breast cancer has been refined to give a more accurate assessment. The revised figures, based on data from more than one million patients, reveal a 300 percent increase in a subset of women whose five-year risk is estimated at 3 percent or higher.
In a study … researchers updated their current breast cancer risk model, which includes density categories -- an important factor in determining the possibility of developing the disease -- to one that also includes benign biopsy results.
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Imaging Software Could Speed Up Breast Cancer Diagnosis

(BioMed Central) New software could speed up breast cancer diagnosis with 90% accuracy without the need for a specialist, according to research… This could improve breast cancer management, particularly in developing countries where pathologists are not routinely available.
"To evaluate fresh breast tissue at the point of care could change the current practice of pathology," says Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Rice University, Houston, Texas. "We have developed a faster means to classify benign and malignant human breast tissues using fresh samples and thereby removing the need for time consuming tissue preparation."…
The researchers used high speed optical microscopy of intact breast tissue specimens to analyze breast tissue. This automated method for diagnosing breast cancer from tissue samples is performed without the need for complex tissue sample preparation or assessment by a specialist pathologist.
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Doubt Is Raised Over Value of Surgery for Breast Lesion at Earliest Stage

(New York Times) As many as 60,000 American women each year are told they have a very early stage of breast cancer — Stage 0, as it is commonly known — a possible precursor to what could be a deadly tumor. And almost every one of the women has either a lumpectomy or a mastectomy, and often a double mastectomy, removing a healthy breast as well.
Yet it now appears that treatment may make no difference in their outcomes. Patients with this condition had close to the same likelihood of dying of breast cancer as women in the general population, and the few who died did so despite treatment, not for lack of it, researchers reported Thursday in JAMA Oncology.
Their conclusions were based on the most extensive collection of data ever analyzed on the condition, known as ductal carcinoma in situ, or D.C.I.S.
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New tool will compare costs and benefits of cancer treatments

(Reuters) As options for cancer patients become increasingly complicated, and expensive, the most influential source for U.S. oncology treatment guidelines will for the first time offer a tool to assess the costs versus benefits of available therapies.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) says its new tool will provide a clearer picture of the relative value of medication options, particularly in cases where a very expensive therapy does little to improve survival.
Doctors developing the measures expect them to shift demand away from less effective treatments, influencing the prices drugmakers are able to charge. They say they are responding to the needs of patients who are having to pay much more for their own care, with higher health insurance premiums, co-payments and deductibles, and want to know the value of their treatments.
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Change in Process of Disinfecting Spinach, Salad Greens Could Reduce Illness Outbreaks

(American Chemical Society) Cross contamination in commercial processing facilities that prepare spinach and other leafy greens for the market can make people sick. But researchers are reporting a new, easy-to-implement method that could eliminate or reduce such incidents…
[T]he researchers are optimizing an inexpensive titanium dioxide (TiO2) photocatalyst that companies could add to the rinse water or use to coat equipment surfaces that come into contact with the leaves as they are processed. When TiO2 absorbs light, it produces a strong oxidant that kills bacteria.
The scientists now plan to conduct more studies on the photocatalyst, and they will look at a broader range of foods, engineered surfaces and pathogens.
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New Research Backs Belief That Tomatoes Can Be a Gout Trigger

(University of Otago) Once a person has gout, eating certain foods can cause their gout to flare up in a painful attack. A group of Otago Department of Biochemistry researchers noticed that a large number of gout sufferers believe tomatoes to be one of these gout trigger foods.
The researchers surveyed 2051 New Zealanders with clinically verified gout. Of these people 71% reported having one or more food triggers. Tomatoes were listed as a trigger in 20% of these cases…
[T]he authors pooled and analysed data from 12,720 male and female members of three long-running US health studies. This data showed that tomato consumption is linked to higher levels of uric acid in the blood, which is the major underlying cause of gout.
[One of the study authors, Genetics PhD student Tanya Flynn,] … emphasised that the most important thing that people with gout can do to prevent attacks is take a drug--such as Allopurinol--that is very effective at reducing uric acid levels. "Avoiding tomatoes may be helpful for people who have experienced a gout attack after eating them, but with proper treatment this doesn't have to be a long-term avoidance," she says.
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Something to Chew On: Millions of Lives Blighted by Smokeless Tobacco

(University of York) More than a quarter of a million people die each year from using smokeless tobacco, researchers at the University of York have concluded.
Millions more have their lives shortened by ill health due to the effects of chewing tobacco-based products, the study reveals.
Researchers say it is the first time the global impact of smokeless tobacco consumption on adults has been assessed.
The team, which included collaboration from the University of Edinburgh and Imperial College, London, says governments and public health bodies need to consider incorporating the regulation of smokeless tobacco into policy frameworks.
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New Compounds Could Reduce Alcoholics' Impulse to Drink

(American Chemical Society) Alcoholism inflicts a heavy physical, emotional and financial toll on individuals and society. Now new discoveries and promising animal studies are offering a glimmer of hope that a new class of drugs could treat the disease without many of the unwanted side effects caused by current therapies…
[University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, graduate student Phani Babu Tiruveedhula] has made several … promising beta-carboline compounds that could represent the future of alcoholism treatment…
In tests using rats bred to crave alcohol, the scientists found that administering these compounds drastically diminished the rats' drinking. What's more, they observed very few of the side effects common to alcoholism treatment drugs, such as depression and losing the ability to experience pleasure. The drugs appeared to reduce anxiety in "alcoholic" rats, but not in control rats. Because this is different from what is seen with current drugs, the researchers think the result hints that the new compounds work much differently than opioid antagonists. As such, the beta-carbolines may also be less addictive.
"What excites me is the compounds are orally active, and they don't cause depression like some drugs do," says [advisor  James Cook, Ph.D.].
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Intractable Pain May Find Relief in Tiny Gold Rods

(Kyoto University) A team of scientists at Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) has developed a novel technique using tiny gold rods to target pain receptors.
Gold nanorods are tiny rods that are 1-100 nanometers wide and long. In comparison, a human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide. The team coated gold nanorods with a special type of protein that transports fat within the body known as a lipoprotein. This allowed the nanorods to bind efficiently to nerve cell membranes bearing a pain receptor called TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1). Near-infrared light was then applied to the nanorod-coated pain receptors. The nanorods heated up, activating the pain receptors to allow an influx of calcium ions through the membrane. Prolonged activation of TRPV1 is known to subsequently lead to their desensitization, bringing pain relief.
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Gut Microbes Linked to Major Autoimmune Eye Disease

(Cell Press) One major cause of human blindness is autoimmune uveitis, which is triggered by the activation of T cells, but exactly how and where the T cells become activated in the first place has been a long-standing mystery.
A study … reveals that gut microbes produce a molecule that mimics a retinal protein, which most likely activates the T cells responsible for the disease. By shedding light on the cause of autoimmune uveitis in mice, the study could contribute to a better understanding of a broad range of autoimmune disorders and pave the way for novel prevention strategies in the future…
If researchers are able to identify the bacteria and signals that activate the retina-specific T cells, [says senior study author Rachel Caspi of the National Institutes of Health]. "we may be able in the future to use this knowledge to selectively eliminate the responses that lead to the development of this disease."
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Study of Holocaust survivors finds trauma passed on to children's genes

(The Guardian) Genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations.
The conclusion from a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital led by Rachel Yehuda stems from the genetic study of 32 Jewish men and women who had either been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or experienced torture or who had had to hide during the second world war.
They also analysed the genes of their children, who are known to have increased likelihood of stress disorders, and compared the results with Jewish families who were living outside of Europe during the war. “The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” said Yehuda.
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Uninsured Texans Are Twice as Likely to Delay Seeking Primary Care, Mental Health Care, Report Shows

(Rice University) Texans without health insurance are twice as likely to skip seeking primary and mental health care because of cost. That's one of the findings of a new survey released by Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy and the Episcopal Health Foundation.
The report found that in the past year 32 percent of uninsured adult Texans said they had skipped primary care due to costs, compared with 16 percent of adults who have health insurance. When it comes to mental health care or counseling, 12 percent of uninsured Texans said they had delayed care, compared with 6 percent of adults with insurance.
"Lack of access to affordable primary and mental health care services are well-documented problems for all Texans, especially the uninsured," said Elena Marks, president and CEO of the Episcopal Health Foundation and a nonresident health policy fellow at the Baker Institute. "In the case of primary care, the uninsured may be waiting to seek care when they're sicker and need more intensive and expensive care. That's concerning because basic health care services are usually less expensive and can help prevent more serious health problems. Untreated mental illness is also associated with a number of adverse outcomes, including physical illness."
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Industry Funded Research: Conflict, or Confluence?

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) The great public health imbroglio disclosed over recent weeks, in which widely, highly-regarded scientists were found to be running on Coca-Cola funding to enlighten the world about calories and energy balance, continues to reverberate through all forms of media…
I propose that industry-funded research is not the problem; conflict of interest is the problem. And I would propose that confluence of interest is very different from conflict, but the two are routinely conflated.
If there are generally understood or expected health effects of any given product, and an entity with a vested interest- be it a pharmaceutical company, a technology company, or a food company -- funds research to explore the particulars of those effects, i.e., how much, how often, for whom, and by what mechanisms? -- that is a potential confluence, rather than conflict, of interest. To ensure it is so, rules of research engagement must apply. The researchers must be authorized to publish results be they favorable or unfavorable to the company's interests. The researchers must be autonomous; methods must defend against bias; and there can be no quid pro quo. Given suitable, contractual terms, private entities can, and do, participate in advancing our understanding.
If, however, the marketing, messages, and aspirations by any given private entity for its product or service are at odds with the generally understood or expected health effects, then that company is, ipso facto, conflicted with regard to the unvarnished truth. That entity is an unsuitable funder of research, the goal of which must be true understanding, however stuttering the course to that ideal may prove to be.
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