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

Larger-sized portions, packages and tableware lead to higher consumption of food and drink

(Wiley) A new review has produced the most conclusive evidence to date that people consume more food or non-alcoholic drinks when offered larger sized portions or when they use larger items of tableware…
Dr Gareth Hollands from the Behaviour and Health Research Unit, who co-led the review, says: "It may seem obvious that the larger the portion size, the more people eat, but until this systematic review the evidence for this effect has been fragmented, so the overall picture has, until now, been unclear. There has also been a tendency to portray personal characteristics like being overweight or a lack of self-control as the main reason people overeat.
"In fact, the situation is far more complex. Our findings highlight the important role of environmental influences on food consumption. Helping people to avoid 'overserving' themselves or others with larger portions of food or drink by reducing their size, availability and appeal in shops, restaurants and in the home, is likely to be a good way of helping lots of people to reduce their risk of overeating."
However, the researchers point out that large reductions are likely to be needed to achieve the changes in food consumption suggested by their results.
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Diet in a Taubesy-Turvy World

(David Katz, M.D., Yale Prevention Research Center) I am not interested in advocating for the restriction of one macronutrient rather than another. I am interested in wholesome foods in sensible combinations that can allow people to lose weight, and find health. I am interested in variations on the theme of eating well that can empower people to love food that loves them back. I am interested in wholesome foods that help people achieve satiety with a reasonable intake of calories, and the avoidance of willfully engineered junk designed to do the converse. I am interested in sustainability, which arguments for eating more meat ignore entirely – as did [science writer Gary] Taubes in his column. I am interested in using what we know to advance the human condition, rather than pretending that progress must forever await the erudite answer to a silly question.
Calories count. So does hunger. Weight can be lost cutting carbohydrate, or fat, dependently or independently of the direct actions of insulin. None of this alters the fundamentals of healthful eating actually associated, in actual people in the actual world, with the very outcomes we all desire: vitality, longevity, weight control without want and even – importantly – pleasure from food.
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Why eating late at night may be particularly bad for you and your diet

(Washington Post) Studies tend to show that when food is consumed late at night — anywhere from after dinner to outside a person’s typical sleep/wake cycle — the body is more likely to store those calories as fat and gain weight rather than burn it as energy, says Kelly Allison of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine’s Center for Weight and Eating Disorders.
Some animal studies have shown that food is processed differently at different times of day. This could be due to fluctuations in body temperature, biochemical reactions, hormone levels, physical activity and absorption and digestion of food, says Steven Shea, director of the Oregon Institute of Occupational Health Sciences at Oregon Health & Science University.
“The studies suggest that eating out of our normal rhythm, like late at night, may prompt weight gain” and higher levels of blood sugar, which can raise the risk of chronic disease, Allison says.
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5 Tips to Help Curb Mindless Eating

(SouthBeachDiet.com) To help you stay on track on the South Beach Diet, follow these tips to avoid eating without thinking…
Eat healthy, and often.
It's important to enjoy three well-balanced meals — and at least two snacks (see Slide 3) — daily to help curb hunger, regulate your metabolism, and stay energized…
Snack at least twice a day.
Enjoying a fiber- and protein-rich snack midmorning, midafternoon, and after dinner, if need be, will help keep you satisfied and prevent mindless noshing on less-than-healthy foods…
Sit down to eat.
Mindless eating — and weight gain — go hand in hand with not sitting down at a dining table to enjoy and savor your food…
Keep temptation at bay
Keep foods you might overdo it on up high in a cabinet or in an inconvenient drawer…
Take breaks throughout your workday.
If you have a stressful schedule and find yourself thoughtlessly eating to relax at the office, get up from your desk and take an exercise break instead.
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Diet beverage drinkers balance benefit with unhealthy food

(UPI) Drinkers of diet beverages were found to obtain more of their daily caloric intake from discretionary "junk" foods, likely canceling out the benefits of lower-calorie drinks, according to a new study.
Nearly all of the participants in a large review of nutrition data at the University of Illinois consumed discretionary foods, though researchers said the explanation for some consumers of diet drinks may be tied to guilt for other eating habits.
Discretionary foods are foods that do not belong to the major food groups and are not essential to the human diet, including things like french fries, cookies, ice cream, chocolate and pastries.
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Best and Worst Drinks for Weight Loss

(WebMD) Many of us watch what we eat but not what we drink when on a diet. That’s a mistake. The average American drinks one out of five of their daily calories. Choosing the right drinks can tweak your metabolism, curb your appetite, and help cut calories. Which drinks are spoilers and which are helpers on the path to weight loss?
Spoiler: Soda…
Helper: Water…
Jury’s Out: Fruit Juice…
Helper: Vegetable Juice…
Jury's Out: Smoothies…
Jury’s Out: Low-Fat Milk…
Spoiler: Energy Drinks…
Helper: Black Coffee…
Spoiler: Fancy Coffee…
Helper: Green Tea…
Spoiler: Coolers…
Spoiler: Cocktails…
Helper: Light Beer
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Obesity in mid-life increases the risk of developing dementia

(Alzheimer's Society) Obesity in mid-life is linked to a heightened risk of dementia in later life, concludes an observational study…
[R]esearchers at the University of Oxford found that the age at which a person is obese seems to be a key factor - with an apparent tripling in the risk of developing dementia for people who are obese in their thirties. The increased risk of dementia declined as obesity was diagnosed later in life, and those who were obese over the age of 70 were not more likely to develop dementia than those without obesity.
Given that this is an observational study, no definitive conclusions can be drawn about cause and effect. However, the findings support existing published studies which report an increased risk of dementia in people who are obese under the age of 60, but a reduced risk in older obese people.
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Immune Cells May Help Fight Against Obesity

(Cell Press) While a healthy lifestyle and "good genes" are known to help prevent obesity, new research … indicates that certain aspects of the immune system may also play an important role. In the new study, scientists observed that mice lacking a particular type of immune cell gained excess weight and developed metabolic abnormalities even when they consumed a standard diet…
In studying the immunological mechanisms that underlie metabolic control of fat tissue, Yair Reisner, of the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, and his colleagues discovered that mice that lacked certain dendritic immune cells that release a toxic molecule called perforin progressively gained weight and exhibited features of the metabolic syndrome…
The findings indicate that perforin-expressing dendritic cells are critical for protecting against metabolic syndrome and autoimmunity, and shifting the abundance of these cells in relation to other immune cell populations may help prevent or treat such conditions.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Surprising Remedy: Chili Peppers to Combat Migraines
It may seem strange to use chili peppers to combat migraines, but many people find this remedy works if used at the first sign of a headache.
Apple Cider Vinegar for Acid Reflux
Taking apple cider vinegar for acid reflux may seem like an odd remedy, but it quelled heartburn symptoms and a troublesome cough.
Wife Seeks Solution For Hubby’s Smelly Gas
Perhaps the most interesting solution for smelly gas is good old-fashioned Pepto Bismol
Why Does My Shoulder Still Hurt So Much After a Flu Shot?
People have experienced long lasting severe shoulder pain and reduced range of motion after a flu shot. Did you know there is compensation for the injury?
Drug for Overactive Bladder Linked to Dry Eyes
Taking Myrbetriq for overactive bladder seems to have caused a long-lasting complication of dry eyes. What should we know about drugs before using them?
Pain with Switch from Celebrex to Celecoxib
Switching from brand-name Celebrex to celecoxib resulted in more pain and swelling and threatened to ruin this reader's golf game.
Anti-Anxiety Drug Causes Problems in the Bedroom
The impact of an anti-anxiety drug on sexual interest and performance can aggravate differences between partners.
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Skip the Anti-Bacterial Soap: Regular Suds Work Just as Well

(Live Science) Regular soap is just as effective as anti-bacterial soap at getting rid of germs through hand washing, a new study finds.
This is hardly the first study to find no difference between the two types of soap, but it is the first to test regular and anti-bacterial soaps against 20 strains of bacteria in a lab, the researchers said. The investigators also tested the soaps on people's dirty hands.
In both the lab and the real-life trials, regular soap performed just as well as anti-bacterial soap, which contained the controversial chemical triclosan, according to the study from researchers in South Korea
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USPSTF Backs Aspirin for CVD, Colon Cancer Prevention

(MedPage Today) Low-dose aspirin was recommended for primary prevention of both cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer for 50- to 59-year-olds by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
The draft recommendation applied to only people at 10% or greater 10-year cardiovascular disease risk who aren't at increased risk for bleeding and who are willing to take low-dose aspirin daily for at least 10 years and expect to live that long.
For people ages 60 to 69, those at greater than 10% 10-year cardiovascular disease risk might get a small net benefit but should consider use on an individual basis, the USPSTF group suggested, giving it a "C" recommendation.
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Acetic Acid, Found in Vinegar, Shown to Be Effective Against Bacteria Found in Burn Wounds

(University of Birmingham) Highly diluted acetic acid, an active ingredient of household vinegar, has been shown to be an effective alternative agent to prevent infection and kill bacteria found in burn wounds…
Infections of burn wounds are difficult to treat with traditional antibiotics as they do not effectively reach the wound, and the infecting organisms are often highly antibiotic resistant…
The current use of acetic acid in clinical settings has been limited due to concerns of patient tolerability. The finding that it is effective at far lower concentrations than previously thought therefore offers hope for the development of novel treatments.
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25 Fast Food Chains Ranked on Antibiotics Usage

(TIME) Antibiotic resistance is one of the top five health threats facing Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 2 million people in the U.S. get infections every year that are resistant to antibiotics, and around 23,000 people die from these infections. Contributing to that problem is the unrestricted use of antibiotics in animal rearing; drugs are used to fatten up livestock and prevent illness, and their routine application has contributed to the rise of so-called superbugs resistant to the drugs designed to kill them.
Responding to public pressure, some major fast food chains and meat suppliers have pledged to use fewer antibiotics. And now, a new report analyzed the practices and policies of 25 of the largest fast food and fast-casual restaurants in the U.S. to see how companies were faring. The paper, authored by several public interest groups, gave each chain a letter grade based on their use of antibiotics—and their transparency about it…
In the report card, only Panera and Chipotle received an A.
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Online refill tools help people take meds more often

(Reuters Health) Diabetes patients in the Kaiser Health System spent more days with their prescribed statins on hand if they used Kaiser's online refill tool, a study shows.
Researchers looked specifically at racial and ethnic minorities and found that while these groups had poorer medication adherence than white patients before using the online refills, using the online refills conferred the same benefit for every group.
“Many other systems are implementing online portals other than Kaiser,” said lead author Courtney Lyles in a phone interview. “The key message that our study puts forward is that providing tools to help with medication adherence is critical.”
“Any time you give people a tool to make this easier it helps,” she added.
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Los Angeles prosecutors charge surgeon, others in $150 million scam

(Reuters) An orthopedic surgeon and more than a dozen associates bilked insurance companies out of more than $150 million in a scheme that included an assistant who never attended medical school but operated on patients, Los Angeles prosecutors said.
A Los Angeles Superior Court indictment unveiled on Tuesday accused the surgeon, Dr. Munir Uwaydah, and his staff of deceiving nearly two dozen patients into believing he would perform their surgeries, when instead they were done by the physician's assistant, Peter Nelson.
Without Uwaydah present, patients were left with lasting scars and many required additional surgeries, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a statement.
Uwaydah, his former attorney and Nelson were among 15 people who prosecutors said fraudulently billed insurance companies $150 million in a scheme that Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey called one of the largest of its kind ever carried out in California.
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International Team Discovers Natural Defense Against HIV

(Michigan State University) Researchers at Michigan State University were part of a team to discover a new natural defense against HIV infection.
The team's discovery … focuses on ERManI, a protein that prevents the HIV virus from replicating.
"In earlier studies, we knew that we could interfere with the spread of HIV-1, but we couldn't identify the mechanism that was stopping the process," said Yong-Hui Zheng, MSU associate professor of microbiology and molecular genetics and co-author of the study. "We now know that ERManI is an essential key, and that it has the potential as a antiretroviral treatment."
Antiretroviral treatments are not vaccines; they simply keep HIV in check in low levels in the body. While it could be decades before an ERManI-based treatment can be prescribed for HIV-1 patients, these results provide a strong path for future research involving human cells, and later, clinical tests.
The next steps will be to test if HIV resistance can be promoted by increasing ERManI levels, said Zheng.
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England Improving Health Performance Compared to Other Wealthy Countries

(The Lancet) In 2013, England performed better than average on a variety of key health outcomes compared with 18 other high-income countries in the European Union, and Australia, Canada, Norway, and the USA (EU15+), according to new research..
The research shows that improvements in life expectancy in England have been driven by declines in deaths from cardiovascular disease and some cancers. But, increases in death rates from liver disease, drug and alcohol misuse, and neurological conditions -- which are highest in the most-deprived areas -- have diminished these benefits…
According to Professor [John Newton from Public Health England, London, UK], "England has had some success finding solutions for cardiovascular diseases and some cancers, but it has yet to make the same kind of progress with the leading causes of ill health and disability. Health policies must address the causes of ill health, as well as those of premature death, with a particular focus on tackling the effects of deprivation in all regions."
He adds, "If England can make progress with smoking, alcohol, dietary risk factors, physical inactivity, and obesity, it will see massive reductions in disability. This will require new approaches to support healthy behaviours, modify known risk factors, and alleviate the severity of chronic disabling conditions."
Community: So the next time your hear some right winger rail against socialized medicine, tell them it’s working well in England. And costing a lot less than what we pay, too. Less than half, as of 2012, in fact.
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Surgeon General: National Call to Action on Walking

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) The United States Surgeon General [this week] issued a call to action to address major public health challenges such as heart disease and diabetes. Step It Up! The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Promote Walking and Walkable Communities articulates the health benefits of walking while addressing the fact that many communities unacceptably lack safe and convenient places for individuals to walk or wheelchair roll…
Data consistently show there are safety and accessibility issues that make communities less walkable. A 2013 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, for example, found that 3 out of every 10 Americans reported that no sidewalks existed along any streets in their neighborhood. In many communities violence – and the perception of violence – may prove a barrier to walking.
The Surgeon General calls on community planners and local leaders to create more areas for walking and wheelchair rolling and to prioritize the development of safe routes for children to get to and from schools. The call to action suggests that these designs should include sidewalks, curb cuts, crosswalks, safe crossings for the visually impaired and more green spaces. The Surgeon General further calls on city managers, law enforcement and community and public health leaders to address safety concerns by better maintaining public spaces, working with residents to promote a shared sense of community ownership, ensuring proper street lighting and fostering neighborhood watch programs.
The Surgeon General’s report discusses the health benefits of walking and calls on individuals to make walking a priority in their lives.
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GirlTrek is Transforming Lives of Black Women Through Walking

(NBC News) Vanessa Garrison co-founder with Morgan Dixon of GirlTrek, a national movement to get black women walking called walking a "powerful healing tradition" with a big impact.
Garrison estimates that there are 35,000 black women and girls involved in GirlTrek chapters, led by 400 neighborhood-based organizers, hitting the streets in their neighborhoods and communities every day.
"I know lives are being transformed through walking," said Garrison. "A woman facing tremendous odds in her life is still lacing up her shoes to walk with us."…
[Karmen Curry, a member of the Detroit GirlTrekkers] sees walking as more than just a part of her toolkit for staying healthy. "It is about sisterhood and support," she said. "In our group there are mostly middle aged ladies that come together. We are connected, and nobody gets left behind. No matter who lags behind there is always someone to walk with you."
And in terms of the commitment to walking, she says it builds more than physical endurance, "it forces you to move out of your comfort zones."
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No, Vitamin C Does Not Replace Exercise

(Peter Lipson, Forbes) The LA Times is reporting that vitamin C may have the same benefits as exercise. The Times headline was a bit circumspect, but some outlets have been a bit more enthusiastic… I’m sure this study was of some interest, but not enough to justify newspaper headlines…
[I]t is just a tiny study, with no clinical significance of any kind. To be clinically significant, it would have to be a much larger study, it would need a control group of subjects who did not get exercise or vitamin C, and it would have to measure a clinically relevant outcome, something like blood pressure, heart attacks, strokes—something that would tell us if the findings can help real patients.
The only way to decrease the risks of being sedentary and obese is to eat healthier and to get moving.
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Is TV Lethal or Just a Marker for a Sedentary Life?

(MedPage Today) People who spend more than 5 hours a day watching television appear to be at an increased risk of suffering fatal pulmonary embolism, researchers said…
In reporting his findings…, [Toru Shirakawa, an undergraduate public health research fellow at Osaka University] said that the greatest risk was observed in people ages 40-59. In the overall population of 40-79 years, however, the risk still was 2.36 times greater for people watching TV for 5 hours or more…
"Leg immobility during television viewing may in part explain the finding," Shirakawa said. "To prevent the occurrence of pulmonary embolism, we recommend the same preventive behaviour used against economy class syndrome. That is, take a break, stand up, and walk around during the television viewing. Drinking water for preventing dehydration is also important."
Community: SouthBeachDiet.com show us some Simple Stretches You Can Do While Sitting.
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Physical Activity Linked to Greater Mental Flexibility in Older Adults

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) One day soon, doctors may determine how physically active you are simply by imaging your brain. Physically fit people tend to have larger brain volumes and more intact white matter than their less-fit peers. Now a new study reveals that older adults who regularly engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity have more variable brain activity at rest than those who don't. This variability is associated with better cognitive performance, researchers say…
The researchers also found that, on average, older adults who were more active had better white-matter structure than their less-active peers.
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More Physical Activity May Improve Arthritis Patients' Mood

(MedPage Today) Being more physically active on days when patients with either rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis are feeling especially fatigued buffers the negative effect of fatigue on positive mood, the Dunedin Fatigue Study suggested.
In a cohort of 70 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and 72 patients with osteoarthritis (OA), investigators confirmed that an increase in daily fatigue was associated with reductions in positive mood and an increase in negative mood when controlling for pain and physical activity.
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High-Intensity Interval Training Improves Diabetic Hearts

(Medscape Medical News) A UK study has found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) improves cardiac structure and function in patients with type 2 diabetes. Control of diabetes also improved with the training, but to a lesser extent…
"Our data highlight the importance of exercise, beyond solely thinking about diabetes control and HbA1c. Exercise can begin to target key organs, like the heart, and help adapt their physiology," commented senior author Michael Trenell, PhD, professor of metabolism and lifestyle medicine at the University of Newcastle.
Patients with diabetes represent nearly one-quarter of all hospital admissions for heart failure in Westernized countries, making heart disease the leading cause of death and illness in type 2 diabetes.
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Pilates linked to better balance in older women with back pain

(Reuters Health) Older women with lower back pain who add pilates to their physical therapy routine may see improvements in balance and reductions in fear of falling that don't result from other types of exercise, a Spanish study suggests.
Researchers followed about 100 women aged 65 and older, offering all of them physiotherapy twice a week with 40 minutes of nerve stimulation and 20 minutes of massage and stretching exercises. Half the women also received hour-long pilates sessions twice a week.
After six weeks, the women who did pilates reported a reduced fear of falling, while the other women didn't. Pilates was also linked to greater improvements in balance and reductions in back pain.
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Spotlight on a Modality: Tai Chi

(National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health) Tai chi is sometimes referred to as “moving meditation”—practitioners move their bodies slowly, gently, and with awareness, while breathing deeply.
Tai chi appears to be a safe practice.
Scientific research on the health benefits of tai chi is ongoing, but several prior studies have focused on benefits in older adults, including tai chi's potential for preventing falls, and improving cardiovascular fitness, symptoms of pain associated with rheumatologic diseases (e.g., fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis), and overall well-being. A 2007 study on the immune response to varicella-zoster virus suggested that tai chi may enhance the immune system and improve overall well-being in older adults. Tai chi has also been studied for improving functional capacity in breast cancer patients and the quality of life in people with HIV infection…
Research Spotlights
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Scientists have discovered why running makes you happy

(Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post) If you're a big runner like me you know what I'm talking about when I describe that euphoric feeling you get in the middle of your workout — when your feet feel like they are floating over the ground and you can almost hear the air dancing past you.
It turns out it's not all in your mind.
Scientists at the University of Montreal have discovered that the hormone leptin — nicknamed the "satiety  hormone" — may be at play.
The primary purpose of leptin is in regulating energy stores. It signals to the body when it has enough fuel and energy, and in previous studies researchers have found that levels of leptin appear to fluctuate in people suffering from obesity, starvation, sleep deprivation and emotional stress. When you're in motion, your leptin levels may fall, and the researchers said this could "send a hunger signal to the brain's pleasure center to generate the rewarding effects of running."
Community: I can tell you from personal experience that running doesn’t make everyone happy. I hate doing it. But walking does make me feel good. My conclusion is that not every healthy behavior affects every person equally.
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Improving Cardiorespiratory Fitness Reduces Risk of Arrhythmia Recurrence

(American College of Cardiology) Obese atrial fibrillation patients have a lower chance of arrhythmia recurrence if they have high levels of cardiorespiratory fitness, and risk continues to decline as exercise capacity increases as part of treatment, according to a study…
Cardiorespiratory fitness gain provides an incremental gain over weight loss in long-term freedom from arrhythmia.
"While weight loss is important for heart disease patients, especially those with arrhythmia, our study shows it's beneficial to have high cardiorespiratory fitness and continue to improve on that," said Prashanthan Sanders, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., senior author of the study… "An ideal treatment plan would include a focus on both."
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Bike injuries are on the rise, but there's still reason to ride

(CNN) Injuries among adult bicyclists are up since 1998, according to a study…, with injuries to cyclists older than 45 fueling the increase…
The increase reflects a rise in the popularity of cycling, especially among older people, according to Benjamin Breyer, an associate professor of urology at University of California, San Francisco, and an author of the study. Since the late 1990s, there's been an uptick in bike commuting on urban streets and sport cycling that takes place at higher speeds, he said…
But it has risks, especially for older riders…
Breyer's advice for cyclists: "Take all the safety measures you can." Cyclists need to understand the rules of the road and wear safety gear such as helmets and reflective clothing, he said. Bike lanes and other infrastructure improvements require more research and investment from communities, as well, he said.
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Activity Trackers Not as Accurate for Some Activities

(Iowa State University) Activity trackers can provide a good overall estimate of calories burned, but an Iowa State University study finds they're less accurate when measuring certain activities, such as strength training.
In this latest round of testing, a team of researchers in ISU's Department of Kinesiology tested four consumer fitness trackers -- Fitbit Flex, Nike+ FuelBand SE, Jawbone UP 24 and Misfit Shine -- to see how well they measured sedentary, aerobic and resistance activity. Two research monitors -- the BodyMedia Core and Actigraph GT3X+ -- were also included in the study.
Overall, the BodyMedia Core was the top performer with a rate of error of 15.3 percent. The Misfit Shine was the least accurate with a 30.4 percent error rate.
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Arthritis may increase risk of poverty, especially for women

(Reuters Health) An arthritis diagnosis increases the risk of falling into poverty, according to an Australian study.
Arthritis is a very debilitating disease and likely impacts labor force participation, either forcing people to retire early due to the pain or physical restriction of arthritis, reducing the hours they can work or changing to a lower-paid job, said lead author Emily Callander, a research fellow at the University of Sydney.
“For those who are already in retirement it may be that the costs of treatment or costs of accessing aids or career services have required them to draw down some of their assets, which would lower the income they derive from their assets,” Callander told Reuters Health by email.
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Prosthetic hand 'tells' the brain what it is touching

(CNN) [R]esearchers worked with a 28-year-old man who is paralyzed. They implanted an electrode array in both his motor cortex and sensory cortex, the brain region that recognizes tactile sensations such as texture and pressure. Wires from the motor cortex array controlled the hand, as they did for the female volunteer, and sensors in the hand also conveyed information, via another set of wires, back to the array in the sensory cortex.
The researchers showed that this feedback system allowed the hand to communicate directly with the brain. In a video…, a researcher blindfolded the man and then gently pressed on different fingertips in the prosthetic hand. The volunteer was able to identify which fingertip was being touched with "nearly 100 % accuracy" even without seeing it, according to a DARPA press release about the research.
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CDC appoints new safety czar to improve handling of dangerous pathogens

(Reuters) The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday tapped Dr. Stephen Monroe, a longtime lab scientist and agency insider, to oversee the safe handling of dangerous pathogens by more than 2,000 scientists in the agency's more than 150 labs.
Monroe becomes the CDC's first permanent associate director of lab safety, reporting directly to the director.
Creating a new high-level safety position was a key recommendation of a months-long internal investigation into the mishandling of anthrax, bird flu and Ebola in CDC labs in 2014, according to an internal CDC memo obtained by Reuters in December.
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New Obamacare Money for Health Centers Will Treat Substance Abuse

(National Journal) As the na­tion’s at­ten­tion in­creas­ingly turns to a sub­stance-ab­use epi­dem­ic and a surge of over­dose deaths, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is pump­ing $500 mil­lion in­to com­munity health cen­ters in part to bet­ter equip them to help pa­tients with al­co­hol and drug prob­lems.
Us­ing fund­ing au­thor­ized by the Af­ford­able Care Act, the Health and Hu­man Ser­vices De­part­ment an­nounced Tues­day that it was award­ing $350 mil­lion in grants to nearly 1,200 com­munity health cen­ters across the coun­try to ex­pand their ser­vices. An­oth­er $150 mil­lion is be­ing giv­en to 160 cen­ters to pay for con­struc­tion and renov­a­tion.
The ex­pan­ded-ser­vices grants could pay for a vari­ety of ser­vices, from or­al health to phar­macy care, help­ing cen­ters stay open longer and hire more staff. But a par­tic­u­lar aim is to bol­ster their abil­ity to treat people with al­co­hol and sub­stance-ab­use prob­lems, said Jim Mac­rae, act­ing ad­min­is­trat­or at the Health Re­sources and Ser­vices Ad­min­is­tra­tion with­in HHS, in an in­ter­view.
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Efforts to drive quality improvement inadvertently penalize hospitals serving vulnerable populations

(Harvard Medical School) To encourage hospitals to improve quality of care, Medicare penalizes those with higher than expected rates of readmission within 30 days of discharge. The logic behind the penalties is that if patients receive high quality care, including proper discharge planning, they should be less likely to end up back in the hospital…
In 2014, Medicare levied penalties totaling $428 million on 2,600 hospitals with higher than expected readmission rates. The fines were concentrated among hospitals that serve disadvantaged communities. The researchers wanted to find out if that was because these hospitals do a worse job of treating their patients or because the people who use the hospital have a higher risk of readmission due to their socioeconomic and clinical status.
"Hospital readmissions are complex and can result from any number of factors, like poor health literacy or lack of access to transportation," [said Michael Barnett, research fellow in medicine at HMS and Brigham and Women's and lead author of the study]. "Therefore, it's crucial to have a comprehensive picture of patients' social and clinical context when assessing hospital quality."
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The biggest cause of early death - what you eat

(The Independent) Unhealthy eating has been named as the most common cause of premature death around the globe, new data has revealed.       
A poor diet – which involves eating too few vegetables, fruits, nuts and grains and too much red meat, salt and sugar - was shown to be a bigger killer than smoking and alcohol…
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) in the US has found that high blood pressure, to which diet, exercise and obesity are key factors, is the biggest cause of premature death in countries across the world.
And unhealthy eating overall, characterised by high consumption of red meat and sugar-sweetened beverages, contributed to more deaths than any other factor - because they contribute towards ischemic heart disease, strokes and diabetes.
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Shift Focus from Calorie Counting to Nutritional Value for Heart Health, Say Experts

(BMJ) It's time to stop counting the calories, and instead start promoting the nutritional value of foods if we are to rapidly cut illness and death from cardiovascular disease and curb the rising tide of obesity, say experts in an editorial…
Drawing on published evidence, Drs Aseem Malhotra and James DiNicolantonio and Professor Simon Capewell argue that rather like stopping smoking, simple dietary changes can rapidly improve health outcomes at the population level.
For example, boosting omega 3 fatty acid (from fatty fish), olive oil, and nut intake have all been associated with reductions in deaths from all causes and from cardiovascular disease, within months, they say…
Daily consumption of a sugary drink (150 calories) is associated with a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes whereas daily consumption of a handful of nuts (30 g of walnuts, 15 g of almonds and 15 g hazelnuts) or four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (around 500 calories) is associated with a significantly reduced risk of heart attack and stroke.
It has been estimated that increasing nut consumption by two servings a week could stave off 90,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease in the US alone.
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Mediterranean Diet With Extra Olive Oil May Lower Breast Cancer Risk

(The Salt, NPR) By now, surely you've heard of the Mediterranean diet.
It's a pattern of eating that emphasizes fish, nuts, legumes, fruits, vegetables and olive oil — lots of olive oil.
The evidence of its benefits has been piling up. For instance, a 2013 study … showed that the diet can protect against heart disease. Another study published earlier this year revealed it can help fend off memory loss.
Now, researchers say that eating a Mediterranean diet supplemented with four tablespoons per day of extra-virgin olive oil reduces the risk of breast cancer.
"We found a strong reduction in the risk of breast cancer," says Miguel Martinez Gonzalez, an author of the study and a leading researcher on the preventive health effects of the Mediterranean diet at the University of Navarra in Spain.
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Fish diet could ward off depression

(BBC News) Eating a lot of fish may help protect against depression, research suggests.
An analysis of 26 studies of more than 150,000 people in total indicated a 17% reduction in the risk of depression among those eating the most fish.
One potential reason given by the researchers was the fatty acids found in fish may be important in various aspects of brain activity…
[T]he omega-three fatty acids found in fish may be key in the activity of dopamine and serotonin - two signalling chemicals in the brain thought to be involved in depression.
Another possibility is that people who eat a lot of fish may have a healthier diet in general - which in turn could help their mental health.
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Are Carbs The Best Brain Food?

(The Supermarket Guru) Carbs, particularly long chains of the simple sugar glucose or starches, are an ideal food for fueling the brain, says evolutionary geneticist at University College London Mark Thomas. "The brain has an absolute requirement for glucose.” And with carbohydrate-rich food, the body doesn't need to spend extra energy converting the other macronutrients into glucose to feed the brain.
So what are some of SupermarketGuru’s favorite healthy carbs?
Sweet Potato…
Quinoa…
Khorasan Wheat also called Kamut…
Buckwheat…
Brown rice
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Survey: Two-thirds of Americans Make Half Their Grains Whole

(Whole Grains Council) Whole grain consumption is up.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) have increased whole grain consumption "some" or "a lot" in the last five years. Useful to know, since the most recent official USDA data are from 2010.
Almost one-third of respondents (31%) say they nearly always choose whole grains. Five years ago, only 4% would have said this.
Another third (32%) choose whole grains about half the time. Combined with the "nearly always" group, this makes 63% making half or more of their grains whole, in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
We eat about 37% of our whole grains at breakfast, 27% at dinner, 22% at lunch, and just 14% as snacks. One possible reason? It's often harder to find whole grains outside of the home, where most lunches and snacks are generally eaten.
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Better Nutrition Every Day

(NIH News in Health) Try the GO, SLOW, WHOA approach to food. GO foods are great to eat anytime. They have lots of nutrients and are low in unhealthy fats, sugar, and calories. GO foods include fruits; vegetables; whole-grain cereals, breads, and pastas; fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese; fat-trimmed and lean meats; fish; beans; and water. SLOW foods should be eaten less often. These include non-whole-grain bread, rice, and pasta; peanut butter; granola; pretzels; and fruit juices. WHOA foods are only for once in a while—foods like french fries, doughnuts, whole milk, full-fat cheese, hot dogs, fried fish and chicken, candy, and soda.
“Healthier diets don’t have to cost more, provided that you have the right attitude, make the right food choices, and try to cook at home,” says Dr. Adam Drewnowski, a nutrition expert at the University of Washington in Seattle. With some planning, he says, you can prepare meals that are tasty, affordable, and nutrient rich.
Get the whole family to help slice, dice, and chop. NIH has developed several resources to help you learn how to cut unhealthy fats and calories (see the Web Links box). You might be surprised how easy healthy cooking and snacking can be.
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Low vitamin D levels linked to faster memory loss in older adults

(Reuters Health) Older adults with low vitamin D levels – and that accounts for most of them – may lose their memories and thinking abilities faster than those with normal vitamin D levels, researchers say.
“We were not particularly surprised by our findings because there is a recent and growing literature on the associations between vitamin D status and risk of Alzheimer's disease/dementia, cognitive decline, and brain atrophy,” Dr. Joshua W. Miller from Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey told Reuters Health by email…
“Low vitamin D status is very common in older adults and is associated with accelerated rates of cognitive decline,” Miller said.
So far, he added, there have been no careful studies to determine whether taking vitamin D could slow or prevent memory loss, but he suggested measuring your vitamin D level to see whether you need more vitamin D.
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New York City to require chain restaurants to label high-sodium food

(Reuters) New York City health officials unanimously voted on Wednesday to require chain restaurants to add a warning label to menu items that contain more than the daily recommended amount of sodium, making it the first city in the United States to do so.
The rule requires restaurants to add a salt-shaker symbol next to food items that contain more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium, the maximum daily amount recommended by U.S. health officials. The rule will go into effect on Dec. 1.
Americans consume 3,400 mg of sodium on average every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The rule aims to improve the overall health of New Yorkers and contribute to Mayor Bill de Blasio's plan to reduce premature mortality by 25 percent by 2040, the city's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene said.
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U.S. fast-food meat still mostly raised on antibiotics: consumer groups

(Reuters) Most large U.S. fast-food chains still serve meat from farm animals that have been routinely fed antibiotics, consumer groups said in a new report, which concluded that many companies have not yet laid out plans to curb the practice.
Subway, Starbucks, KFC and Domino's Pizza were among the industry leaders graded "F" for their antibiotic policies in the report from consumer and health groups, titled "Chain Reaction," released on Tuesday.
The groups, which did not release results to companies prior to publication, based their grades on public statements, survey responses and correspondence with individual chains. As a result, companies given failing grades were not immediately able to comment.
An estimated 70 percent of antibiotics important to human health are sold for use in meat and dairy production.
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Paleo People Were Making Flour 32,000 Years Ago

(The Salt, NPR) Oatmeal is generally considered a no-no on the modern paleo diet, but the original paleo eaters were definitely grinding oats and other grains for dinner, according to new research.
That finding comes from new investigations of an ancient stone recovered in a cave called Grotta Paglicci in Puglia, in southern Italy. It was used by the Gravettian culture — a paleolithic people who also left behind spectacular cave paintings, evidence of burial and distinctive stone tools.
The stone, which is "pale brown and not much bigger than my hand, " was clearly used as a combination pestle and grinder, says Marta Mariotti Lippi, a botany professor at the University of Florence in Italy, who led the research team. It dates back some 32,000 years, she says, providing the earliest evidence of food processing in Europe.
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U.S. task force narrows recommendation for aspirin use

(Reuters Health) People between the ages of 50 and 59 years at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke should take daily low-dose aspirin, according to proposed, narrower recommendations from a U.S.-backed panel of independent medical experts.
In addition to preventing heart attacks and strokes, those people may reduce their risk of colon cancer if they take aspirin for at least 10 years, according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, or USPSTF.
The proposal is narrower than the group's previous recommendations, which separated guidelines by sex and also recommended the drug for people outside ages 50 to 59.
The changes are based on the inclusion of colon cancer risk into the recommendation and the addition of four clinical trials on the use of aspirin since 2009.
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'Lab-on-a-Chip' Technology to Cut Costs of Sophisticated Tests for Diseases and Disorders

(Rutgers University) Rutgers engineers have developed a breakthrough device that can significantly reduce the cost of sophisticated lab tests for medical disorders and diseases, such as HIV, Lyme disease and syphilis.
The new device uses miniaturized channels and valves to replace "benchtop" assays -- tests that require large samples of blood or other fluids and expensive chemicals that lab technicians manually mix in trays of tubes or plastic plates with cup-like depressions.
"The main advantage is cost -- these assays are done in labs and clinics everywhere," said Mehdi Ghodbane, who earned his doctorate in biomedical engineering at Rutgers and now works in biopharmaceutical research and development at GlaxoSmithKline.
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Diet and Lifestyle May Play a Role in Prostate Cancer Risk

(Sharecare) Who doesn’t love getting something for free -- an upgrade on your business flight, maybe, or a free glass of wine at dinner or a free ticket to a sellout concert -- especially when you’re not expecting it? Well, here’s a health benefit that’s kind of like that. Turns out, the same healthy habits that are great for your heart and waistline also may slash your risk of prostate cancer…
You know the drill
Eat smart. Exercise. Watch your weight. Log good sleep. You hear the same message time and time again because it's just the right thing to do -- and ultimately, it may be the best thing you can do to prevent prostate cancer. Here are more smart ways to lower your risk.
·         Ditch the paunch by remaking your diet. Here are a bevy of tasty eats that can help you slim down and whet your appetite.
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An aspirin a day – for years – may keep colon cancer away

(Reuters Health) Taking one or two baby aspirins a day for at least five years was tied to a lower risk of colorectal cancer in a study from Denmark.
Earlier studies had suggested that aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen may help protect against colorectal cancer, but it wasn't clear how much had to be taken, and for how long, to achieve those benefits…
In the new study from Denmark, taking low-dose aspirin continuously for at least five years appeared to reduce the risk of colorectal cancer by 27%, and using nonaspirin NSAIDs for at least five years appeared to reduce it by 30%.
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Scientists turn to aspirin to turbo-charge cancer immunotherapy

(Reuters) Giving cheap aspirin to cancer patients may turbo-charge the effectiveness of expensive new medicines that help their immune systems fight tumors, experiments on mice suggest.
Immunotherapy promises to revolutionize cancer care by offering a better, longer-lasting response with fewer adverse side effects than conventional treatment, but the new drugs do not work well in all cases.
One reason is that cancer cells often produce large amounts of the molecule prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which turns down the immune system's normal attack response to tumor cells, according to scientists at London's new Francis Crick Institute. 
Aspirin blocks PGE2 production and the researchers found that adding it to an immunotherapy treatment called anti-PD-1 substantially slowed the growth of bowel and melanoma cancers in mice when compared with treatment by immunotherapy alone.
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