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

Swap Couch for a Walk to Avoid an Early Death

(University of Sydney) Swapping just one hour of sitting with walking or other physical activity each day decreases your chance of an early death by 12 to 14 per cent, according to a University of Sydney study of over 200,000 Australians.
The landmark study … is the first to examine the impact of swapping time spent on activities like sitting, standing, sleeping or walking on mortality.
It reveals that swapping even one hour of daily sitting with standing is linked to a five per cent reduction in the risk of premature death.
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For seniors, hearing trouble linked to greater risk of death

(Reuters Health) Older adults with hearing impairment may have a higher risk of dying than people with normal hearing, a recent study suggests.
The reasons for the connection are not clear, researchers say, but the results point to hearing impairment at least as a sign of, and possibly a contributor to an older person’s survival odds.
“In the simplest terms, the worse the patient's hearing loss, the greater the risk of death,” lead author Kevin Contrera said of the study’s findings.
Past research has linked hearing problems to a variety of negative health effects, but few studies have looked directly at mortality risk, Contrera and his colleagues write…
Two thirds of adults over 70 experience hearing impairment, said Contrera, a medical student at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland.
Community: Consumer Reports has a Hearing aid buying guide.
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US startups aim to help seniors 'age in place'

(Reuters) As more American seniors plan to remain at home rather than enter a nursing facility, new startups and some well-known technology brands are connecting them to family and healthcare providers.
The noninvasive devices sit in the background as users go about their normal routine. Through Bluetooth technology they are able to gather information and send it to family or doctors when, for example, a sensor reads that a pill box was opened or a wireless medical device such as a glucose monitor is used.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute, at-home options like these will disrupt roughly $64 billion of traditional U.S. provider revenue in the next 20 years.
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Mobile Robots Could Help the Elderly Live Fuller Lives, Experts Say

(University of Lincoln) Mobile service robots developed by computer scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK, could soon be helping elderly people stay independent and active for longer.
A new international project will test the ability of robots to support our aging populations by assisting residents of care homes in three European countries.
ENRICHME (ENabling Robot and assisted living environment for Independent Care and Health Monitoring of the Elderly) will see service robots integrated with smarthomes -- residences which incorporate advanced automation systems to provide inhabitants with sophisticated monitoring and control functions -- in order to provide round-the-clock feedback to carers and health professionals. This will enable people with mild cognitive impairments to live more independently, and the robots will also help with activities that can improve quality of life, such as exercise and social visits.
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Smart Walkers for Elderly With New Technology

(Technical Research Centre of Finland) VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland has developed a smart walker prototype that supports independent living among the elderly.
VTT has made the traditional walker smart by retrofitting it with sensors and digital software that analyse user's physical condition and daily activities. This allows the device to collect useful information on user's daily rhythm, walking distances, duration and speed of walking, in addition to hand grip strength. Such information can then be used to monitor user's wellbeing and physical condition.
"Other features can also be developed, such as monitoring of motoric state or fall alarm. The measured data can be compared to the user's own goals and those of a reference group or a friend. Emerging trends can be monitored on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis," explains VTT's Senior Scientist Olli Kuusisto.
It is possible to have the information forwarded to other people, such as family members or care personnel.
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4 Foods for Healthy Aging!

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) With growing evidence that prolonged inflammation raises the risk of many diseases, including Alzheimer's disease, there is no doubt that diet is an important factor. The following are healthy ways to reduce inflammation through diet:
1.   Eat a diet rich in omega-3s, including wild Alaskan salmon, sardines, freshly ground flaxseed and walnuts.
2.   Incorporate plenty of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables into your meals.
3.   Reduce your intake of polyunsaturated vegetable oils (such as sunflower, corn and safflower oils), replacing them instead with extra virgin olive oil.
4.   Use healing spices in your cooking: turmeric, ginger and red pepper can add zing to meals and are all naturally anti-inflammatory.
Read more.
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Significant Differences in Frailty Found by Region, by Race Among Older Americans

(Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health) A large-scale survey of older Americans living at home or in assisted living settings found that 15 percent are frail, a diminished state that makes people more vulnerable to falls, chronic disease and disability, while another 45 percent are considered pre-frail, or at heightened risk of becoming physically diminished.
The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study found frailty to be more prevalent in older people and more common among women and the poor. In addition, the study found wide regional differences in the U.S., with older people in central southern states more than three times as likely to be frail than those in the western states. The researchers also found significant racial differences, with blacks and Hispanics nearly twice as likely to be frail as whites…
Understanding frailty, and finding ways to prevent its onset or slow its progression, could improve older people's quality of life by extending their so-called robust years.
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Diet, Exercise, Smoking Habits and Genes Interact to Affect Age-Related Macular Degeneration Risk

(NIH/National Eye Institute) People with a genetic predisposition for age-related macular degeneration (AMD) significantly increased their odds of developing the blinding eye disorder if they had a history of heavy smoking and consistently did not exercise or eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to an observational study of women funded by the National Eye Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health.
Eating a healthy diet and getting exercise have been shown in earlier studies to protect against AMD, a leading cause of vision loss among people age 50 and older. Findings from this latest study, conducted by a team of investigators at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, suggest that genetic and lifestyle factors may contribute to AMD in a synergistic way.
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Secrets of longevity may lie in long-lived smokers

(Washington Post) In an intriguing study…, researchers delved into the genetic makeup of long-lived smokers … and found that their survival may be due to an innate resilience they were born with.
Morgan E. Levine, a post-doctoral fellow in human genetics and biostatistics at the University of California-Los Angeles, and Eileen Crimmins, a gerontology professor at the University of Southern California, discovered a set of genetic markers in these smokers that they believe may allow them to better withstand and mitigate environmental damage from stressors…
"There is evidence that these genes may facilitate lifespan extension by increasing cellular maintenance and repair," Levine said…
Levine told The Washington Post that the work is important because "the more we know about why we age, the more equipped we will be to intervene."
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Rare 'healthy' smokers' lungs explained

(BBC News) The mystery of why some people appear to have healthy lungs despite a lifetime of smoking has been explained by UK scientists.
The analysis of more than 50,000 people showed favourable mutations in people's DNA enhanced lung function and masked the deadly impact of smoking.
The Medical Research Council scientists say the findings could lead to new drugs to improve lung function.
But not smoking will always be the best option, they say.
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Deadly piglet virus may have entered U.S. on 'reusable' feed bags: USDA

(Reuters) The deadly piglet virus that killed millions of U.S. pigs over the past two years may have entered the country on large bags typically used to transport feed and other bulk products, the Agriculture Department said.
The report, released on Wednesday and dated Sept. 24, said the agency does not have definitive proof of how Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv) initially arrived in the United States. The virus was first identified in the country in the spring of 2013.
The most likely scenario was that the virus came from the use of Flexible Intermediate Bulk Containers - also known as FIBCs or "tote bags", according to the report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
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GAO: More Oversight Needed Over Medicare Advantage Provider Networks

(Kaiser Health News) The federal government needs to increase its oversight over private Medicare health plans to make sure seniors have adequate access to doctors and hospitals, according to a report released this week by congressional auditors.
The General Accountability Office study found the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which administers Medicare Advantage plans, primarily relies on complaints from consumers to determine if they are having trouble getting appointments with providers.
The government reviews less than 1 percent of the information filed annually by provider networks for adequacy and accuracy. It looks only at the networks of plans entering new markets and not at those in existing markets, the GAO said.
The congressional watchdog also found that the government approves more than 90 percent of requests from health plans for exemptions from federal rules on network adequacy, which determine how far a consumer has to go to find a doctor.
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Negative Spiritual Beliefs Associated With More Pain and Worse Physical, Mental Health

(University of Missouri Health) Individuals who blame karma for their poor health have more pain and worse physical and mental health, according to a new study from University of Missouri researchers. Targeted interventions to counteract negative spiritual beliefs could help some individuals decrease pain and improve their overall health, the researchers said.
"In general, the more religious or spiritual you are, the healthier you are, which makes sense," said Brick Johnstone, a neuropsychologist and professor of health psychology in the MU School of Health Professions. "But for some individuals, even if they have even the smallest degree of negative spirituality -- basically, when individuals believe they're ill because they've done something wrong and God is punishing them -- their health is worse."
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Yoga May Help RA, OA Patients Get Moving

(RheumNow) Researchers in the U.S. and Canada recruited 75 sedentary people with either knee OA or RA, and randomly assigned them to 8 weeks of twice-weekly yoga classes, plus a weekly practice session at home, or to a wait list.
After 8 weeks, the yoga group noted significant improvements … in health-related quality of life, pain, general health, vitality, and mental health. Significant decreases in tender and swollen joint counts and patient global assessments were also noted, and lasted out to 9 months.
Yoga appeared to be a safe option for sedentary patients with OA and RA, the authors stated.
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Walking while working may ease muscle pain

(Reuters) For many office workers, their job has literally become a pain in the neck. While standing desks are becomingly an increasingly popular option for those who suffer physical discomfort at work, a researcher at McGill University in Quebec says her study of treadmill workstations show them to be potentially more beneficial and able to help diminish work-related musculoskeletal disorders…
McGill professor Julie …Cote's lab asked 20 healthy participants to complete a 90-minute typing task on a computer while sitting or walking on a treadmill. This typing task measured both speed and accuracy.
"We found out that in terms of performance - typing performance - there was no difference between how fast or how many mistakes people were making whether they were walking or seated," said Cote…
"We found in terms of muscle activity there were patterns that seemed to be healthier in the neck and shoulder while people were walking," said Cote.
They discovered that there was lower, but more variable, muscle activity when subjects were walking compared with sitting, all of which translated into less discomfort.
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Dance That Pain Away

(Sharecare) Don’t let that knee and hip pain keep you down. Instead, put on your dancing shoes. It could help you find joint relief and improve your walking.
A small study at St. Louis University followed 34 seniors who had pain or stiffness in their knees or hips…
At the end of the 12-week study, participants in the dancing group not only had less knee and hip pain, but they were able to walk faster as well. The dancers’ use of pain medicine dropped by 39%, while people who didn’t dance needed 21% more medicine. The improvement in walking speed wasn’t dramatic, but still could greatly improve seniors’ lives, the researchers say. Older adults who can no longer walk well are more likely to suffer falls, be hospitalized or need care by others.
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Muscle Power Predicts Pain in Knee Osteoarthritis

(MedPage Today) Dynamic leg muscle power is an independent determinant of pain and quality of life in knee osteoarthritis (OA), and it appears to outperform muscle strength as a measure of muscle performance, according to researchers from Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center, Boston.
Skeletal muscle power, distinct from muscle strength, is defined as the product of dynamic muscular force and muscle contraction velocity. Compared with muscle strength, lower extremity muscle power is a better predictor of performance on tasks such as walking, rising from a chair, or climbing a flight of stairs.
Community: We just recently learned that apple skin and green tomatoes may help reduce muscle loss.
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Spinal injections of steroids only temporarily ease low back pain

(Reuters Health) Spinal epidural injections of steroids may relieve low back pain from a ruptured disc, but only briefly, a new study shows.
And the injections offer no significant relief for pain related to narrowing of the spaces around the spinal cord, the researchers say…
“I think the important thing is for patients and clinicians to be able to make informed decisions,” [Dr. Roger] Chou told Reuters Health by email. “Epidural corticosteroid injections are perceived as being more effective than they are.”
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A Yoga Pose for Back Pain

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you are looking for a quick pick-me-up, skip the coffee and instead try the Downward-Facing Dog yoga pose! It is a revitalizing pose that is traditionally used to:
·         Calm the brain and relieve stress and mild depression
·         Energize the body
·         Stretch the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches and hands
·         Strengthen the arms and legs
·         Prevent osteoporosis
It is also said to help improve digestion and to relieve headaches, insomnia, back pain and fatigue. Learn how to do the Downward-Facing Dog.
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Fish Oil in Osteoarthritis: Low-Dose Beats High

(MedPage Today) Contrary to expectations, fish oil taken in low doses was more effective than when given in high doses for improving pain and function in knee osteoarthritis (OA), a randomized study found.
At 2 years, the difference on the Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Arthritis Index (WOMAC) pain score favored low-dose fish oil over high-dose by 3.3 points … and by 3.1 points with adjustment for gender…, according to Catherine L. Hill, MD, of the University of Adelaide in Australia, and colleagues.
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Tailored safety training may help reduce work-related pain

(Reuters Health) Blending behavior-modification tactics with ergonomics may help workers avoid occupational pain and injuries, according to a report from Australia.
Laborers in a variety of jobs who got safety training tailored to their degree of awareness and motivation to prevent injury were 60 percent less likely to report lower back pain than workers who got standard ergonomic interventions.
Workers at companies that communicated about safety and made it a priority also reported lower levels of joint and muscle pain.
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HHS advances development of novel drug to treat influenza

(U.S. Department of Health & Human Services) A monoclonal antibody therapeutic drug, a novel approach to treating patients with influenza, will advance in development with funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR).
No monoclonal antibody antiviral drugs to treat patients with influenza have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Monoclonal antibodies bind to specific parts of the virus, neutralizing the virus and decreasing the amount of virus in the body.
The drug VIS410 is being developed by Visterra Inc. of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and targets a part of the influenza virus that is common to a wide range of flu strains. The target area evolves much more slowly than areas targeted by currently approved drugs, which could allow VIS410 to be effective against flu strains that become resistant to current antiviral drugs.
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Scientists Identify Promising Drug Candidate to Treat Chronic Itch, Avoid Side Effects

(Scripps Research Institute) If you have an itch, you have to scratch it. But that's a problem for people with a condition called "chronic intractable itch," where that itchy sensation never goes away--a difficult-to-treat condition closely associated with dialysis and renal failure.
In a new study, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) describe a class of compounds with the potential to stop chronic itch without the adverse side effects normally associated with medicating the condition.
"Our lab has been working on compounds that preserve the good properties of opioids and eliminate many of the side effects," said TSRI Professor Laura Bohn. "The new paper describes how we have refined an aspect of signaling underlying how the drugs work at the receptor so they still suppress itch and do not induce sedation. Developing compounds that activate the receptors in this way may serve as a means to improve their therapeutic potential."
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Human reproduction, health broadly damaged by toxic chemicals: report

(Reuters) Exposure to toxic chemicals in food, water and air is linked to millions of deaths, and costs billions of dollars every year, according to a report published Thursday by an international organization of medical professionals.
Among the poor health outcomes linked to pesticides, air pollutants, plastics and other chemicals, according to the report from the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), an organization representing obstetrical and gynecological associations from 125 countries, are miscarriage and still births, an increase in cancer, attention problems and hyperactivity.
"Exposure to toxic environmental chemicals during pregnancy and breastfeeding is ubiquitous and is a threat to healthy human reproduction," the report states.
The piece was written by a team of physicians and scientists from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, including from the World Health Organization.
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New Portable Device Counts Leukocytes Through the Skin

(Plataforma SINC) A novel way to count white blood cells without a blood test, simply by applying a small device on the fingertip, is being developed by a team of young bioengineers. The technology, that combines an optical sensor with algorithms, has already three prototypes on the go and is specially designed to be used on chemotherapy patients, who could know their immune system levels in real time. It could also serve to detect serious infections.
A group of young bioengineers from various countries, including Spaniard Carlos Castro, is developing a portable device capable of counting white blood cells in real time, without requiring a blood test. The system includes an innovative optics sensor through the skin that can observe white cells as they flow past a miniature lens. This new device -potentially on the market in 2019- could be applied to improve the treatment of patients who are left immunosuppressed after chemotherapy treatments and to prevent sepsis.
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Wearable Electronic Health Patches May Now Be Cheaper, Easier to Make

(University of Texas at Austin) A team of researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has invented a method for producing inexpensive and high-performing wearable patches that can continuously monitor the body's vital signs for human health and performance tracking, potentially outperforming traditional monitoring tools such as cardiac event monitors…
The team's breakthrough is a repeatable "cut-and-paste" method that cuts manufacturing time from several days to only 20 minutes. The researchers believe their new method is compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing -- an existing method for creating devices in bulk using a roll of flexible plastic and a processing machine.
Reliable, ultrathin wearable electronic devices that stick to the skin like a temporary tattoo are a relatively new innovation. These devices have the ability to pick up and transmit the human body's vital signals, tracking heart rate, hydration level, muscle movement, temperature and brain activity.
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Portable Device Can Quickly Test for Sickness-Causing Toxins in Shellfish

(American Chemical Society) Mussels, oysters, scallops and clams might be ingredients for fine cuisine, but they can also be a recipe for diarrhetic shellfish poisoning (DSP). That's a gastrointestinal illness people can get if those tasty morsels contain marine toxins. Now, researchers are reporting … the development of a portable, inexpensive device that can quickly and easily screen freshly caught shellfish for these substances…
The researchers adapted a test called a lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA), which is like a home pregnancy test strip. This LFIA combines simple test procedures with an antibody previously shown to specifically bind to three OA toxins. The small, portable device can accurately screen for presence of these substances in less than 20 minutes on a boat, before it goes further into the supply chain. If the test is positive, then the shellfish would not be sold. If the LFIA readout is negative, then an additional, easy-to-use test could be conducted dockside for "total toxins," which would include detection of a fourth type of OA.
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CDC awards $22.8 million to states for colon cancer screening

(UPI) The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control announced it has awarded $22.8 million to increase screening for colorectal cancer among people most at-risk for the disease and least likely to be tested…
The $22.8 million in grants was awarded to 24 state health departments, six universities, and one American Indian tribe…
Each of the organizations is required to target colorectal screening at adult men and women between the ages of 50 and 75 who have no symptoms of the disease. Members of at-risk populations, such as low-income, under- or uninsured, racial and ethnic groups disproportionately affected or who have geographic barriers to screening, are the ideal recipients of screenings as a result of the funds.
"Screening saves lives, and funds we are providing the states will support doctors, nurses, and others to save lives," said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC.
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Nursing Homes Bill for More Therapy Than Patients Need, U.S. Says

(New York Times) Nursing homes receive far more in Medicare payments than it costs them to provide care, exploiting the billing system in some cases by giving patients more therapy services than they need, federal investigators said in a new report.
The report … said that nursing homes regularly filed claims for the highest, most expensive level of therapy, regardless of what patients required.
In recent years, said the inspector general, Daniel R. Levinson, nursing homes have been classifying more and more patients as needing the highest level of therapy and providing exactly the amount required to qualify for high payments.
“Skilled nursing facilities must provide therapy for 720 minutes or more during a seven-day assessment period to bill for ultrahigh therapy,” and they “increasingly provided exactly 720 minutes,” Mr. Levinson said.
Medicare payments to nursing homes are increasing for reasons unrelated to the condition or characteristics of patients, the report said.
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Sleep apnea treatment alleviates depression symptoms

(UPI) Depressive symptoms were alleviated in sleep apnea patients treated with continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, researchers found a new study.
Researchers said the study suggests depression patients be asked about experiencing sleep apnea symptoms during diagnosis and treatment.
"Effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea resulted in substantial improvement in depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation," said Dr. David R. Hillman, a clinical professor at the University of Western Australia, in a press release. "The findings highlight the potential for sleep apnea, a notoriously underdiagnosed condition, to be misdiagnosed as depression."
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A small Implantable device is changing the lives of people with sleep apnea

(ABC Action News) The Inspire device is about half the size of your cellphone. Doctors implant the device around your collar bone. Its main purpose is to send a stimulus to your tongue.
 "When you take a breath in, it will help push the tongue forward, opening up the back of your throat and allowing oxygen to travel back and forth freely," [Dr. Tapan] Padhya said…
"It's had amazing results," Padhya said.
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Late night Coffee can disturb internal body clock and sleep pattern: Research

(NYC Today) The results of a preliminary and small study suggest that a cup of coffee at bedtime seems to disturb the natural internal clock of the body…
The amount of the caffeine was adjusted according to their body size. In addition to this these people were exposed to bright or dim light. People usually want to go to bed earlier when exposed to bright light.
Researchers during the study noted that the coffee seemed to push the body clocks of the study participants by 40 minutes. This was almost 50 % of the delay related to exposure to bright light.
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Long Sleep and High Blood Copper Levels Go Hand in Hand

(University of Eastern Finland) People who sleep fewer than 6 hours or more than 10 hours per night suffer from low-grade inflammation more often than people who sleep 7-8 hours per night…
The study is the first to analyse the association between sleep duration and serum micronutrient concentrations in a large sample, and it found a link between high serum copper concentration and long sleep duration. Serum micronutrient concentrations are affected by many factors, including an individual's general health and diet.
"Based on this study, however, it is impossible to say whether sleeping long results in high serum copper concentrations or vice versa," Luojus says.
It has been suggested that high serum copper concentration associates with pro-oxidative stress.
Community: So maybe getting more copper in the diet could help with sleep disorders.
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Sleep Topics from Chatelaine

The quest for sleep: 3 signs you have insomnia
Tired, grumpy and highly caffeinated? Join the club. Here’s what you can do about it.
How sleep deprivation affects your body
A head-to-toe look at the hits your body takes when you forfeit those precious zzzs.
How to have better dreams
A sleep expert explains how to get more out of your dreams. (Ryan Gosling appearances not guaranteed.)
How to build a sleep-friendly bedroom
From paint colour to bedding to the room temperature, a sleep-boosting decorating plan.
A yoga routine to help you relax
Stressed? Instructor Aude Rioland demonstrates yoga postures for relaxation (and a better night’s sleep).
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13 All-Natural Ways To Fall Asleep Faster

(Huffington Post) These all-natural sleep aids will have you drifting off in no time, no Rx necessary.
1. Consider Cognitive Behavioral Therapy…
2. Get Out Of Bed…
3. Try Progressive Muscle Relaxation…
4. Take A Warm Bath…
5. Meditate…
6. Break A Sweat…
7. Do Yoga…
8. Sniff Aromatherapy…
9. Set Your Bedroom Up For Success…
10. Consider A Supplement…
11. Switch To Herbal Tea…
12. Cut Caffeine Earlier…
13. Quit Smoking
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Twin Study Suggests Genetic Factors Contribute to Insomnia in Adults

(American Academy of Sleep Medicine) A new study of twins suggests that insomnia in adults is partially explained by genetic factors, and this heritability is higher in females than in males.
Results show that the genetic influences on insomnia symptoms in adults were substantial and largely stable over time while differing significantly by sex. In the longitudinal model, the estimated heritability of insomnia was 59 percent for females and 38 percent for males.
"This study indicates that genes may play a larger role in the development of insomnia symptoms for women than for men, providing some of the first formal evidence for sex differences in an adult sample," said first author Mackenzie Lind, a doctoral candidate at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. "Given the evidence for sex differences, it may be useful to specifically target females for sleep interventions."
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Berberine Lowers Blood Sugar AND Cholesterol
Berberine is a little recognized natural component of Oregon Grape and goldensea. It hasl some very impressive biological activity.
Knee Pain Disappears After Turmeric Treatment
It may be hard to believe that the active ingredient in turmeric called curcumin could ease long-standing knee osteoarthritis, but our readers says it works
Knocking Out Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus can be stubborn and hard to treat, but with patience prescription drugs or home remedies may work.
Old-Fashioned Face Cream Soothes Itchy Bottom
The maddening itch from hemorrhoids disappeared upon treatment with Noxzema cream.
Will Pain Reliever Prevent Heart Attacks?
Acetaminophen can relieve pain and reduce fever, but unlike aspirin, it does not appear to prevent heart attacks.
Trouble Raising Low Levels of Vitamin D
Low levels of vitamin D are associated with a range of health problems, but why some people respond to supplements and others do not is still a mystery.
Save Money Safely With Authorized Generic Drugs
Have you had problems with some generic drugs? If so, authorized generics may be the answer to your problems. Find out what makes an authorized generic drug
Antidepressants Linked to Violence: Rape, Robbery and Homicide
A study from Sweden has found an association between antidepressants and convictions for assault, robbery, arson, sexual offense or homicide.
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No Ebola found in year of screening at O'Hare, other airports

(Chicago Sun-Times) After screening more than 30,000 travelers for Ebola as they arrived at O’Hare Airport and other U.S. airports from West African countries over the past year, federal health authorities say they never detected a single case of the often-fatal disease.
But at least one person incubating the disease — but not yet showing symptoms — slipped into the country without drawing notice.
Screening “doesn’t really pick up Ebola,” said Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin, a director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law and Human Rights. “When Ebola struck in the United States, there was widespread — I would say irrational — fear and panic. This was a political compromise.”
Calls for airport screenings and quarantines arose after Thomas Eric Duncan, 42, became ill from Ebola after arriving in Dallas on Sept. 20, 2014, from Liberia. Doctors diagnosed Duncan on Sept. 30, and he died Oct. 8.
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Chip-Based Technology Enables Reliable Direct Detection of Ebola Virus

(University of California - Santa Cruz) A team led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz has developed chip-based technology for reliable detection of Ebola virus and other viral pathogens. The system uses direct optical detection of viral molecules and can be integrated into a simple, portable instrument for use in field situations where rapid, accurate detection of Ebola infections is needed to control outbreaks.
Laboratory tests using preparations of Ebola virus and other hemorrhagic fever viruses showed that the system has the sensitivity and specificity needed to provide a viable clinical assay.
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WHO: Nigeria no longer on polio endemic shortlist

(UPI) The World Health Organization announced Friday it has taken Nigeria off the list of polio endemic countries.
In an announcement made in New York, the WHO reports no new "wild" cases of the paralyzing disease have been reported in the country for a full year.
The country is still not certified polio-free, however, and must remain polio-free for two more years to achieve certification. Nigeria's being taken off the endemic list, however, proves a feat as it was in 2012 the home of over half of the world's polio cases.
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UK scientists start stem cell trial of potential blindness cure

(Reuters) The first patient has been treated in Britain in a pioneering trial of a new treatment co-developed by Pfizer and derived from embryonic stem cells designed for patients with a condition that can cause blindness.
Specialists at London's Moorfields Eye Hospital said the operation, described as "successful", was the first of 10 planned for participants in a trial of the treatment for a disease called 'wet' age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
The trial will test the safety and efficacy of transplanting eye cells known as retinal pigment epithelium, which have been derived from embryonic stem cells.
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Not Much to Show for Nation's High Cost of Care

(Caroline Poplin MD, JD) American health costs are high because the for-profit system has only driven prices higher: radically restructuring healthcare delivery and reimbursement is unlikely to change that. Indeed, one could argue that the U.S. healthcare community favors the new theory precisely because it allows prices -- and profits -- to stay high.
Other developed countries fare better than we do because they keep healthcare prices reasonable, by regulation or negotiation. Insurance is public, non-profit, or tightly regulated. Insurance benefits are comprehensive and largely standardized, reducing transaction costs and confusion, while ensuring necessary care. Meanwhile, reimbursement remains mostly fee-for-service, and healthcare delivery remains decentralized.
We can't achieve European results without European methods. We should build on traditional Medicare, which currently regulates fees for doctors and hospitals. Congress should authorize the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to negotiate prices for drugs and other medical services, and then gradually extend Medicare to younger Americans.
Community: My comment:
The ACA could have been a one-paragraph bill: Medicare for everyone, price to be set by CMS, allowing CMS to negotiate all medical products and services. It wouldn't even have to be mandatory. People would sign up in droves. And there would have been very little need to subsidize low-income folks.
But no, we had to continue insurance company profits, and even make it mandatory that all Americans support them. There's not even a public OPTION, for those who don't want to support the bureaucratic inefficiency of Big Insurance. You could even say that for those whose premiums are subsidized, the GOVERNMENT is actually paying the profits to the insurance companies. And getting nothing in return.
I'm really sick and tired of our tax money supporting businesses and getting taken advantage of, with taxpayers footing the bill.
And as to one of the comments, claiming a lack of good research showing that we Americans pay more and get less for health care, that's just nonsense. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (http://rwjf.ws/1QJyD5K) isn't a good enough source? Anyone who doubts the numbers is just burying his or her head in the sand, and maybe even paid to do so.
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Medicare Audit: $30 Million Spent On Undocumented Ambulance Rides

(Headlines & Global News) Federal auditing records were released Wednesday, showing Medicare records have risen more than a couple financial concerns. 
The auditors found a particular discrepancy where $30 million was spent on patients that rode in an ambulance never received any medical services where they were picked up or where they were dropped off at.
They also found that urban ambulance rides consisted of an average of 10 miles being driven, however there are instances where the ambulance was paid while they drove more than 100 miles.
Community: See what the profit motive does? It leads to fraud, which helps inflate our healthcare costs.
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FBI: Perps used fake sweepstakes to cheat elderly out of $695,000

(CNNMoney) An FBI investigation uncovered a sweepstakes scheme that allegedly cheated seven elderly victims out of $695,000, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
The U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn charged three people with mail and wire fraud and conspiracy.
Prosecutors say the perps told their victims, in calls or letters, to say they had received huge winnings in a sweepstakes -- as much as $3.5 million. They asked for money via check or wire transfer to cover taxes and fees. The defendants sometimes said the sweepstakes was run by the federal government.
Of course, there was no sweepstakes. Just three alleged wrongdoers on the other end ready to steal their victims' money.
Community: Do not EVER send anyone money unless you know for certain exactly who they are. I don’t usually approve of giving advice, but this is one time that I feel comfortable doing so.
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More Men at Risk for Prostate Cancer as a Result of Less Regular Screening

(Elsevier Health Sciences) The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation against regular prostate specific antigen (PSA) screening for prostate cancer is controversial. While it may reduce the risk of over diagnosis and overtreatment, the reduction in intermediate and high risk cancer diagnoses raises concern because of the potential for delayed diagnoses of important cancers in men who may benefit from treatment, according to investigators…
"While some of the effects of this guideline may be beneficial in terms of reducing harms of over diagnosis and overtreatment, the reduction in intermediate and high risk cancer diagnoses raises concern for delayed diagnoses of important cancers associated with inferior cancer outcomes," noted Dr. Barocas. "Future research should focus on prostate cancer screening paradigms that both minimize harms and maximize the potential benefits of screening, as well as accounting for individual patient risk factors and preferences."
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Fungi May Lead to Cheaper Cancer Treatment, Study Suggests

(University of Guelph) Cheaper anti-cancer drugs for humans might ultimately stem from a new study by University of Guelph scientists into a kind of microbial "bandage" that protects yew trees from disease-causing fungi.
A new paper … is the first to show how beneficial fungi living naturally in yew trees serve as a combination bandage-immune system for the plant, says study co-author Prof. Manish Raizada, Department of Plant Agriculture.
Taxol is harvested from yew bark for use as an important cancer-fighting drug, but efforts to make synthetic taxol in the lab have been unsuccessful.
Raizada said the research team's findings might point drug makers to a less expensive synthetic process for making more of the substance. Drug companies might one day harness beneficial fungi to pump out more taxol cheaply and easily to meet demand -- what he calls a "holy grail" for cancer drug makers.
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Dried Plums Can Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer, Research Shows

(Texas A&M AgriLife Communications) Researchers from Texas A&M University and the University of North Carolina have shown a diet containing dried plums can positively affect microbiota, also referred to as gut bacteria, throughout the colon, helping reduce the risk of colon cancer.
The research was funded by the California Dried Plum Board…
"Through our research, we were able to show that dried plums promote retention of beneficial bacteria throughout the colon, and by doing so they may reduce the risk of colon cancer," said Dr. Nancy Turner, Texas A&M AgriLife Research professor.
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Could aspirin treat breast cancer?

(Dana-Farber Cancer Institute) Researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI) have received [funding] to test whether aspirin helps women with breast cancer avoid recurrence and live longer. This is the first ever randomized trial in the United States testing aspirin in the disease, which impacts more than 3 million American women who are living with a breast cancer diagnosis.
The Aspirin for Breast Cancer (ABC) Trial will recruit 3,000 women with Stages II and III breast cancer… Half of the women participating in the trial will be randomly assigned to receive aspirin and half to receive a placebo pill.
Previous observational research, where scientists observe peoples' behavior, and correlate that behavior with their health, has found that breast cancer survivors who were regular aspirin users had a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer recurrence and death compared to those who did not use aspirin. This, along with other promising preclinical research, has led to intense interest among physicians and survivors to explore the therapeutic benefits of aspirin.
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Antidepressants + Blood Thinners Kills Cancer?

(Cell Press) In a study…, Swiss researchers find that antidepressants work against brain cancer by excessively increasing tumor autophagy (a process that causes the [cancer cells] to eat themselves). The scientists next combined the antidepressants with blood thinners--also known to increase autophagy--as a treatment for mice with the first stages of human glioblastoma. Mouse lifespan doubled with the drug combination therapy, while either drug alone had no effect.
"It is exciting to envision that combining two relatively inexpensive and non-toxic classes of generic drugs holds promise to make a difference in the treatment of patients with lethal brain cancer," says senior study author Douglas Hanahan, of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL). "However, it is presently unclear whether patients might benefit from this treatment. This new mechanism-based strategy to therapeutically target glioblastoma is provocative, but at an early stage of evaluation, and will require considerable follow-up to assess its potential."
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Excess Fat Tied to Risk of Some Brain Cancers

(MedPage Today) Adiposity is related to enhanced risk for meningioma but is not associated with risk for glioma, a comprehensive meta-analysis has demonstrated.
While the analysis suggested that maintaining a normal body weight and engaging in physical activity is associated with reduced risk of meningioma, adult adiposity and physical activity appear to have no significant impact on the risk of developing glioma, Gundula Behrens, PhD, of the University of Regensburg in Germany, and colleagues reported…
The analysis showed that when compared to peers of normal weight, overweight people, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9, had a 21% increased risk of meningioma. In obese people, defined as having a BMI of 30 or more, this increased risk more than doubled, to 54%.
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FDA: Start-up's cancer blood test may be harmful

(UPI) A San Diego company selling an early cancer detection test was notified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration it can find no evidence the test actually works, and is concerned it could prove to be harmful for some people.
Pathway Genomics debuted its CancerIntercept test in early September with claims it can detect cancer cell DNA in the blood, picking up mutations linked to as many as 10 different cancers. The goal is to catch cancer early in people who are "otherwise healthy" and not showing symptoms of the disease.
"Based on our review of your promotional materials and the research publication cited above, we believe you are offering a high risk test that has not received adequate clinical validation and may harm the public health," said FDA Deputy Director James L. Woods in a letter to the company.
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Gene Test Helps Some Breast-Cancer Patients Skip Chemo, Study Says

(Wall Street Journal) A gene test used to guide treatment for early-stage breast cancer proved effective in enabling certain women to safely forgo chemotherapy, in a study that illustrates how genomic information is reshaping cancer care.
Researchers said the findings provide validation for the test, called Oncotype DX, which is already in use helping women decide whether chemotherapy should be part of their treatment. The test provides a score based on a tumor’s genetic signature that describes the risk that the cancer will recur.
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Roche says new drug shows benefits in lung, bladder cancer tests

(Reuters) Roche 's new immune-system boosting cancer drug has given positive results in tests on patients suffering from some lung and bladder cancers, according to data released on Sunday at the European Cancer Congress in Vienna that the company hopes will help it win quick regulatory approval.
In its Phase II trial targeting advanced or metastatic bladder cancer, Roche said its atezolizumab immunotherapy drug shrank tumors in 27 percent of people who expressed medium and high levels of PD-L1, a protein that appears to help cancers evade the immune system.
In two separate Phase II trials targeting advanced non-small cell lung cancer, Roche said patients getting atezolizumab lived 7.7 months longer than those who got chemotherapy. The drug also shrank tumors in up to 27 percent of lung cancer sufferers whose disease had progressed with other treatments and who expressed the highest PD-L1 levels, the Swiss company said.
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'Remote Control' of Immune Cells Opens Door to Safer, More Precise Cancer Therapies

(University of California, San Francisco) UC San Francisco researchers have engineered a molecular "on switch" that allows tight control over the actions of T cells, immune system cells that have shown great potential as therapies for cancer. The innovation lays the groundwork for sharply reducing severe, sometimes deadly side effects that have been a significant hurdle to advancing T cell-based treatments.
"Right now we put engineered T cells into patients and just hope for the best," said Wendell Lim, PhD, professor and chair of UCSF's Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, and senior author of a new paper on the work. "This is the first of a series of 'control knobs' our lab is trying to create so doctors might have additional command over these cells once they're inside the body."
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Drug Combination Improves Progression-Free Survival in Melanoma Patients

(European CanCer Organisation) Patients with advanced melanoma skin cancer survive for longer without their disease progressing if they have been treated with a combination of two drugs, nivolumab and ipilimumab, than with either of these drugs alone. New results show that these patients also do better regardless of their age, stage of disease and whether or not they have a cancer-driving mutation in the BRAF gene.
Dr James Larkin, a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden, London, UK, told the 2015 European Cancer Congress [1], that results from the CheckMate 067 phase III clinical trial had already shown that the combination of the two drugs, which target two different pathways that regulate the immune system, improved the progression-free survival in patients with melanoma who had not received any other treatment. However, until now it was not known whether this remained the case when the results were analysed according to genetic status, age and how advanced was their disease.
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