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

Anti-aging effects seen in experimental Alzheimer's disease drug

(UPI) Most drugs used to treat Alzheimer's disease are aimed at amyloid plaque in the brain that builds up over time. Researchers at the Salk Institute found an experimental drug aimed at reducing the effects of aging reversed symptoms of the disease in mice.
The researchers opted to target aging because it is one of the major causes for development of Alzheimer's disease. They said to correct some of the effects of aging made sense because while plaques are a hallmark of the disease, many treatments developed against them have proven to be less than effective.
"Initially, the impetus was to test this drug in a novel animal model that was more similar to 99 percent of Alzheimer's cases," Dr. Antonio Currais, a research assistant at the Salk Institute, said in a press release. "We did not predict we'd see this sort of anti-aging effect, but J147 made old mice look like they were young, based upon a number of physiological parameters."
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Eye Drops Could Clear Up Cataracts Using Newly Identified Chemical

(University of California, San Francisco) A chemical that could potentially be used in eye drops to reverse cataracts, the leading cause of blindness, has been identified by a team of scientists…
Identified as a "priority eye disease" by the World Health Organization, cataracts -- caused when the lenses of the eyes lose their transparency -- affect more than 20 million people worldwide. Although cataracts can be successfully removed with surgery, this approach is expensive, and most individuals blinded by severe cataracts in developing countries go untreated…
[T]he newly identified compound is the first that is soluble enough to potentially form the basis of a practical eye-drop medication for cataracts.
"If you look at an electron micrograph at the protein aggregates that cause cataracts, you'd be hard-pressed to tell them apart from those that cause Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, or Huntington's diseases," [said Jason Gestwicki, PhD]. "By studying cataracts we've been able to benchmark our technologies and to show by proof-of-concept that these technologies could also be used in nervous system diseases, to lead us all the way from the first idea to a drug we can test in clinical trials."
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Study: Leading cause of blindness could be prevented or delayed

(UPI) Investigating why people with Parkinson's disease taking the drug L-DOPA appear protected from developing age-related macular degeneration, or AMD, researchers found the drug may be able to delay or prevent the vision-taking condition.
AMD is the progressive damage of the macula, an area near the center of the retina used for sharp, central vision. Over time, blurred areas starting in the middle of the macula and growing outward make it difficult to complete everyday activities, even if it does not lead to blindness…
The researchers said the data indicates L-DOPA could help to at least delay AMD with plans to launch a clinical trial to further test this specific use for the drug.
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Protein Movement of Hair Bundles in the Inner Ear May Preserve Hearing for Life

(Case Western Reserve University) Hearing is made possible when hair bundles protruding from the tops of hair cells capture the energy of sound waves, converting them into electrical signals that stimulate the auditory nerve to the brain. These hair bundles are made up of individual hair-like projections, or stereocilia, which sway in unison with other stereocilia, and remain permanently with us throughout our lives. Extremely loud noise can force whipsaw motion of the stereocilia, causing them to be damaged and the resulting hearing loss to be permanent. The prevailing theory had been that these hair bundles were made up of cellular scaffolding proteins that do not change or circulate.
Scientists at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine have discovered that the movement of protein within hair cells of the inner ear shows signs of a repair and renewal mechanism…
The discovery paves the way for one day therapeutically manipulating the movement of these proteins in a way that could reverse hearing loss, a condition that affects approximately 15 percent of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69.
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Progress reported on drug to regrow hair

(CBS News) Researchers are reporting progress in the quest for a drug that can regrow hair.
In a study published Friday in the journal Science Advances, Dr. Angela Chistiano and colleagues at Columbia University Medical Center said they were able to grow hair in laboratory mice using two drugs already approved by the FDA.
One of the drugs, tofacitinib (Xeljanz), is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, and the other is a blood cancer treatment called ruxolitinib (Jakafi). They're part of a class drugs known as JAK inhibitors.
Researchers discovered that when JAK inhibitors were applied as a topical solution directly to the skin, instead of taken orally, they triggered hair growth by activating cells in hair follicles…
[T]he treatment has not yet been tested on humans, and results that seem promising in lab animals don't always turn out to work in people. It's too early to know how the treatment would be formulated, how much a person would need to use, or what it would cost.
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Study Compares Traditional, Modern Views of Aging

(Cornell University) Traditional societies may see the aging process in a more positive light than modern societies, according to a Cornell researcher in a recent study…
The researchers found that Tsimané Amazonian forager-farmers viewed old people as having better memories than young people, while people in Poland and the United States viewed the young as having better memories. They found that across the different societies there was consensus that older people are more respected and perceived as wiser than younger people, and that in general, participants perceived aging as more detrimental to women than men, [researcher Corinna] Löckenhoff said. But Tsimané participants differed from their industrial counterparts in perceptions of memory. While the participants from industrialized nations held negative beliefs of aging and memory, the Tsimané people felt the elderly had better memories.
"There are reasons to think that traditional societies would have more positive beliefs about aging and memory," Löckenhoff said. Modern societies no longer rely on oral traditions where older people serve as repositories of culture and knowledge, she said, whereas traditional societies still value experience-based knowledge. The findings are important for traditional societies to ensure their attitudes toward older adults do not suffer as they increasingly modernize, Löckenhoff said. And for modern societies, the findings shed light on how culture and context can have an influence on the way that aging is seen and that in turn can affect how people age, she said.
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Black-white gap in life expectancy is narrowing as African Americans get healthier

(Washington Post) The gap in life expectancy between U.S. whites and blacks has narrowed considerably as African Americans make progress against major killers such as heart disease, cancer and HIV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.
Average life expectancy for blacks was 5.9 years less than for whites in 1999. That gap shrank to 3.6 years in 2013, the National Center for Health Statistics reported, as longevity rates for African Americans increased faster than they did for whites.
The gains would have been even larger "if not for increases in death rates for the black population [from] aortic aneurysm, Alzheimer's disease and maternal conditions."
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Watching Too Much TV Linked To 8 Leading Causes of Death In The US

(University Herald) The number of hours spent watching TV is associated with an elevated risk of death, according to a recent study.
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that many hours of TV viewing was associated with eight of the leading causes of death in the United States, such as, diabetes, influenza/pneumonia, Parkinson's disease, and liver disease, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. About 92 percent of Americans have a television at home and watching TV consumes more than half of their available leisure time, potentially displacing more physical activities.
"We know that television viewing is the most prevalent leisure-time sedentary behavior and our working hypothesis is that it is an indicator of overall physical inactivity. In this context, our results fit within a growing body of research indicating that too much sitting can have many differentadverse health effects," Sarah K. Keadle, lead investigator of the study, said in a statement.
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Researchers Reduce Inflammation in Human Cells, a Major Cause of Frailty

(Mayo Clinic) Chronic inflammation, closely associated with frailty and age-related diseases, is a hallmark of aging. Mayo Clinic researchers have discovered that inhibiting key enzyme pathways reduces inflammation in human cells in culture dishes and decreases inflammation and frailty in aged mice… While further studies are needed, researchers are hopeful that these findings will be a step toward treatments for frailty and other age-related chronic conditions.
In the study, researchers found that Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, drugs that work to block activity of JAK enzymes, decreased the factors released by human senescent cells in culture dishes. Senescent cells are cells that contribute to frailty and diseases associated with aging. Also, these same JAK inhibitors reduced inflammatory mediators in mice.
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Muscle Loss Linked to Falls, Fractures in Elderly

(University of Southampton) Older people with an age-related loss of muscle mass and strength may be at greater risk of falling and bone fractures, according to new research led by the University of Southampton.
A study by an international team of researchers into sarcopenia -where muscles lose form and function with age -- found that those with the condition reported higher numbers of falls in the last year and a higher prevalence of fractures.
The decline in muscle mass between the ages of 40 and 80 has been estimated to range from 30 to 60 per cent and is associated with disability, sickness and death…
"The IWGS definition of sarcopenia appears to be an effective means of identifying individuals at risk of adverse musculoskeletal events, such as falls and fracture," says Dr [Michael] Clynes. "The findings enable us to more effectively predict those at increased risk of falls and fractures. By defining sarcopenia, health care professionals can target treatment to at-risk individuals."
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Trial Results Show That 'Health Risk Assessment' Benefits Non-Disabled Elderly People

(PLOS) Implementation of a collaborative care model among community-dwelling older people using a health risk assessment instrument resulted in better health behaviors and increased use of preventative care, according to a study… The trial, conducted by Andreas Stuck from the University Hospital Bern and University of Bern, Switzerland, and colleagues, demonstrated improved 8-year survival among recipients of the intervention…
Certain aspects of the trial design may limit the interpretation of these findings. Some participants may have given socially desirable answers on questionnaires, the study was undertaken at a single site, and long-term follow-up information was limited to survival. Overall, however, these findings suggest that the use of regionally adapted approaches for health risk assessment combined with individual counseling might be an effective and relatively low-cost way to improve health and survival among non-disabled older people. The authors state, "Our study may also serve as a model for low- and middle-income countries, given the importance of the demographic challenge of rapidly growing populations of older individuals in these countries."
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Antipsychotics use among older adults increases with age

(National Institute of Mental Health) Despite known risks of serious side effects, especially in older adults, the fraction of seniors treated with antipsychotic medications increases with age, researchers have found. Such medications may be appropriate for treating certain mental disorders, yet more than three-quarters of seniors receiving an antipsychotic prescription in 2010 had no documented clinical psychiatric diagnosis during the year. Further, among those who did have a diagnosed mental disorder and/or dementia, nearly half of the oldest patients had dementia, regardless of FDA warnings that antipsychotics increase mortality in people with dementia.
Known side effects of antipsychotic medications include metabolic problems and weight gain. For older adults receiving antipsychotics, the risks of dangerous side effects such as strokes, fractures, kidney injury, and mortality are increased. Despite concerns, researchers found that the percentage of people receiving an antipsychotic prescription in 2010 increased with age after age 65. The percentage with an antipsychotic prescription was approximately twice as high among people 80 to 84 as among those age 65 to 69.
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Looking for a Cheap Way to Stay Healthy?

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Want to help keep your body running smoothly? Eat more vegetables and fruits!
The antioxidants in produce help counter oxidative stress, boost your immune system and decrease your risk of illness. The best source of antioxidant vitamins and minerals is a wholesome, varied diet - concentrate on eating plenty of fresh (preferably organic, if you can afford it) fruits, vegetables and nuts. After dinner, try fruit and nuts instead of a traditional, calorie-laden dessert.
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If you’re going to make one change to improve your health, it should be one of these

(Ellie Krieger,  registered dietitian) Change your mind-set
“Ask yourself why — ‘Why am I making these diet, exercise and lifestyle changes?’ Finding the true purpose — whether it’s for your physical health or other goals for personal success — identifying your motivation is like a light switch going on and provides the inner strength and inspiration needed to maintain healthy habits over the long haul.”
— Carolyn O’Neil, author of “The Slim Down South Cookbook: Eating Well and Living Healthy in the Land of Biscuits and Bacon”…
Make breakfast count
“Start your day off with a healthy breakfast. It sets the tone for the day. Be sure to add a source of protein — eggs, nut butters, yogurt parfait, or milk — to keep you fuller longer.”
— Janet Helm, dietitian and blogger at Nutrition Unplugged…
Eat plants
“Have a beautiful and colorful salad with most dinners and build it according to the rainbow — think tomatoes, carrots, peppers, spinach or leafy greens, and eggplant. Save time by choosing pre-washed lettuce, cut-up carrots, mini cucumbers, pepper slices and cherry tomatoes. Feeling fancy? Add in some nuts, berries or chia seeds for a little crunch. Enjoy!”
— Debra Wein, chief executive of Wellness Workdays
Eat less, enjoy more
“Most of my clients would prefer to eat the foods they love, but eat less of them, rather than to cut out their favorites and feel deprived. Eating less, eating slowly and eating mindfully could help you appreciate the texture, temperature, taste and aroma of the food you enjoy. Smaller portions can also make you feel better physically by preventing the gastrointestinal upset that often follows excessive indulging.”
— Bonnie Taub-Dix, owner of BetterThanDieting.com and author of “Read It Before You Eat It”
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Supermarket coupons, sales could promote healthier foods

(Reuters) Grocery stores use sale circulars to draw shoppers into the store, but the featured foods generally don’t rate high for health value, U.S. researchers say.
A study in the Midwest analyzed the health quality of foods featured in a year’s worth of supermarket circulars and found it was lower even than the average American diet, which is already fairly low quality.
Grocery stores could serve public health by promoting healthier choices that are more in line with healthy eating guidelines, the authors conclude.
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Study Finds Existence of Protein in Blood Can Be Early Predictor of Kidney Disease

(Mayo Clinic) For the first time, [a new] study identified the presence of a specific protein in the blood used to look for heart damage. This protein can be an early indicator of end-stage renal disease -- and ultimately death -- in people with hypertension, regardless of race or baseline kidney function…
"Early intervention and treatment can be key to stopping kidney disease progression and, potentially, preventable death events," says [lead author LaTonya Hickson, M.D.]. "This study demonstrates for physicians everywhere that we are getting closer toaccurately predicting future disease and death by examining this one marker. This is important, because, as with many diseases, accurate, early detection means we can more quickly recognize and efficiently treat the disease before it fully manifests -- potentially improving a patient's quality and quantity of life."
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Many seriously ill Americans lack access to palliative care

(Reuters Health) Millions of Americans suffering from serious illness lack access to care that could improve their quality of life by relieving pain and other symptoms, a study finds.
Access to so-called palliative care is greatest in the New England, Pacific and mid-Atlantic regions of the U.S., researchers report in the Journal of Palliative Medicine. Far fewer hospitals have palliative care programs in the Southern states.
People who live near larger hospitals are also more likely to have access to palliative care – it’s offered in 90 percent of hospitals with at least 300 beds but just 56 percent of hospitals with fewer beds…
“Considerable data now demonstrates that when patients receive palliative care in addition to traditional medical care, they have improved quality of life, greater satisfaction with their medical care, are less likely to be re-admitted to the hospital or have to visit an emergency department, and in certain diseases (i.e. cancer) have greater survival,” [senior author Dr. Sean] Morrison said by email.
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How wireless “X-ray vision” could power virtual reality, smart homes, and Hollywood

(MIT News) Since 2013, CSAIL researchers have been developing technologies that use wireless signals to track human motion. The team has shown that it can detect gestures and body movements as subtle as the rise and fall of a person’s chest from the other side of a house, allowing a mother to monitor a baby’s breathing or a firefighter to determine if there are survivors inside a burning building.
Next up? Seeing a person’s silhouette and even distinguishing between individuals.
In a paper …, the team presents a new technology called RF Capture that picks up wireless reflections off the human body to see the silhouette of a human standing behind a wall…
Researchers say the technology could have major implications for everything from gaming and filmmaking to emergency response and eldercare.
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Exercise, Counseling, and Omega-3 May Slow Cognitive Lapse

(MedPage Today) A combination of exercise, nutrition, and cognitive counseling along with omega-3 fatty acid supplementation slowed cognitive decline in older adults with memory impairment, researchers found.
In the MAPT trial, the combination of supplements and "multidomain" training -- as well as multidomain training alone -- was significantly more effective at stalling cognitive decline than supplements alone or placebo, reported Bruno Vellas, MD, PhD, of the University of Toulouse in France, and colleagues…
These treatments seemed to be most helpful to ApoE4 carriers, who were already at increased risk for Alzheimer's disease, as well as those who had more severe cognitive impairment at baseline, Vellas said.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Strength of brain connectivity varies with fitness level in older adults

(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) A new study shows that age-related differences in brain health -- specifically the strength of connections between different regions of the brain -- vary with fitness level in older adults. The findings suggest that greater cardiorespiratory fitness -- a measure of aerobic endurance -- relates to stronger brain connections and likely improves long-term brain function in aging populations…
Michelle Voss led the study while a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Illinois with Beckman Institute director Arthur Kramer and kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley. Voss now is an assistant professor at the University of Iowa.
"Our study provides the strongest evidence to date that fitness in an older adult population can have substantial benefits to brain health in terms of the functional connections of different regions of the brain," Kramer said.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Memory complaints linked to dementia diagnosis many years later

(Reuters Health) In a U.S. study that followed older women for nearly 20 years, those who complained of memory lapses were more likely than others to later be diagnosed with mild thinking problems or dementia.
The subjective sense that one has more memory lapses than peers could be an early sign of a long term process leading to dementia, researchers say.
“We do not know why some older adults develop concerns about their memory even though they are not showing memory problems on tests of thinking skills,” said Allison R. Kaup of the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California San Francisco. “One possibility is that an individual may be noticing changes in their memory that are so subtle that clinical tests do not detect it.”
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Hearing aids may slow mental decline in hard-of-hearing elderly

(Reuters) Seniors with hearing loss who use hearing aids may experience cognitive decline at a rate more like their peers without hearing trouble, according to a French study that followed thousands of seniors for 25 years.
Past research has shown a link between hearing loss and steeper cognitive decline in old age, but few have tracked that relationship over a quarter century.
“With a large sample size and 25 years of follow-up of participants, this study clearly confirms that hearing loss is associated with cognitive decline in older adults,” said the study’s lead author, Helene Amieva. “Using hearing aids attenuates cognitive decline in elders presenting with hearing loss.”
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Old drug may help keep Alzheimer's patients out of nursing homes

(Reuters) A cheap off-patent drug that relieves some symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may also help keep people at an advanced stage of the illness out of nursing homes, at least for a while.
Research published on Tuesday showed that withdrawing the commonly used drug donepezil in moderate-to-severe patients doubled their risk of moving into nursing care within a year, although it made no difference during the following three years.
Donepezil, originally sold by Eisai and Pfizer as Aricept and now available generically for just over 20 pounds ($30) a year, works by raising the levels of chemicals within the brain that allow nerve cells to communicate.
Like other existing Alzheimer's treatments, it cannot slow the disease process itself.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Brain's Immune System Could Be Harnessed to Fight Alzheimer's

(University of Rochester Medical Center) A new study … suggests that the brain's immune system could potentially be harnessed to help clear the amyloid plaques that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease…
The findings are the culmination of years of investigation that were triggered when [M. Kerry] O'Banion and his colleagues made a surprising discovery while studying mouse models of Alzheimer's disease. They observed that amyloid beta plaques -- which scientists believe play a major role in the disease -- were being cleared in animals with chronic brain inflammation…
The researchers conducted a series of experiments to see if they could replicate the phenomenon of amyloid beta clearance absent brain inflammation. This required that they "trick" the microglia into action which was accomplished by injecting a specific protein molecule, a cytokine, into the brain. Cytokines play important roles in cell signaling and the researchers were able to replicate the mechanisms that instruct the microglia to activate an anti-inflammatory response.
Once the microglia were mobilized in mouse models of Alzheimer's disease, the researchers observed a more than 60 percent reduction in amyloid beta in the brain.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Alzheimer's Is Probably a Collection of Diseases That Should Be Classified and Treated Separately

(Hebrew University of Jerusalem) A new study suggests that Alzheimer's disease can emanate from more than one mechanism and is actually a collection of diseases that should be classified and treated separately.
The study proposes that the failure to develop efficient Alzheimer's therapy emanates from the pooling, in clinical experiments, of patients who suffer from distinct disorders that eventually lead to Alzheimer's symptoms. Therefore it is essential to carefully characterize and classify the mechanisms that underlie Alzheimer's disease, in order to allow for the development of novel therapies that can be prescribed to the individual patient according to their relevant disease subtype.
The new insights may reinforce the efforts to develop novel therapies to the different subtypes of Alzheimer's disease, providing new hope to those who suffer from this incurable disorder and to their families.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or minimize the severity of cognitive decline.
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Liquid Crystals Show Potential for Detection of Neuro-Degenerative Disease

(University of Chicago) Liquid crystals are familiar to most of us as the somewhat humdrum stuff used to make computer displays and TVs. Even for scientists, it has not been easy to find other ways of using them.
Now a group of researchers at the University of Chicago's Institute for Molecular Engineering (IME) is putting liquid crystals to work in a completely unexpected realm: as detectors for the protein fibers implicated in the development of neuro-degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's. Their novel approach promises an easier, less costly way to detect these fibers and to do so at a much earlier stage of their formation than has been possible before -- the stage when they are thought to be the most toxic.
"It is extremely important that one develop techniques that allow us to detect the formation of these so-called amyloid fibrils when they're first starting to grow," said Juan de Pablo, whose group did the new work.
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Researchers Investigate if Woman Can Smell Parkinson's Disease

(ABC News) Researchers from the UK-based Parkinson's Foundation are hoping that one woman's powerful sense of smell will help them find a breakthrough for diagnosing patients with Parkinson's disease…
In an early pilot study with 24 people, Joy Milne was able to discern who had the disease and who did not nearly 100 percent of the time. Researchers are hoping they can definitively report that smell can be a way to diagnose the disease, according to the Parkinson's Foundation.
In a new study involving 200 subjects, researchers will look at the skin swabs of subjects for specific molecules that cause a distinctive smell. The study also includes "human detectors" who will use their noses to discern which subjects have the disease. If researchers discover a specific "biomarker" that indicates Parkinson's, it could mean helping patients get diagnosed and treated more quickly.
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Formation of New Blood Vessels May Explain Intractable Symptoms of Parkinson's Disease

(Lund University) Unwanted formation of blood vessels (angiogenesis) in the brain is likely to be the cause of intractable walking and balance difficulties for people who suffer from Parkinson's disease. This conclusion is supported by new research from Lund University in Sweden.
Many people with Parkinson's disease eventually experience walking and balance difficulties, despite adequate medication. Moreover, some patients cannot fully take dopamine-based medication, as dopamine can lead to side effects.
The current research findings verify similar data from a previous study by other researchers, which was performed on brain tissue from a small number of deceased patients…
"Medication for angiogenesis already exists. If we can confirm our results in further studies, these drugs can be tested on Parkinson's patients in the future," says Oskar Hansson.
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Super-strong, genetically-engineered dogs -- Could they cure Parkinson's disease?

(CNN) In a medical breakthrough that is as terrifying as it is extraordinary, scientists in China say they have created dogs that are twice as strong as they would be naturally, through genetic engineering.
The process used could help prevent human diseases, according to scientists who led the study…
"There is certainly the potential for this model to help fight human diseases. The process we have been developing could help prevent muscular dystrophy and Parkinson's disease," Professor Xiang Gao told CNN.
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Targeting Mutant Proteins Might Be Silver Bullet for Neurodegenerative Diseases

(Salk Institute) Scientists have unraveled how mutant molecules damage the nervous system of people with Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease, a group of disorders that hinder people's ability to move and feel sensation in their hands and feet, according to a paper…
In laboratory testing, the researchers were able to improve symptoms of the disease in mice, raising hopes that they may have found an avenue for treating people with CMT.
The research, a collaboration between scientists from the Salk Institute and The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), offers promising targets for developing new drugs for the disease. The findings may offer clues to understanding and treating other neurodegenerative disorders, including other forms of CMT.
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Ultrasound Helps Drugs Sneak Past the Blood-Brain Barrier

(Gizmodo) A new ultrasound technique uses microbubbles and focused sound waves to help chemo medication sneak past the the stubborn blood-brain barrier. Developed by Canadian surgeons, the technique could eventually be used to treat such conditions as Alzheimer’s and depression.
The blood-brain barrier (BBB) protects the brain from all sorts of nasty things, like disruptive hormones, neurotransmitters, and foreign substances. Unfortunately, this same barrier also prevents doctors from using the bloodstream as a conduit for delivering essential medicines.
Last year, doctors from Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris were the first to use an innovative technique in which microbubbles were used to open a rift in the BBB with ultrasound waves. This surgery was used on patients with glioblastoma—an aggressive type of brain tumor—to deliver chemotherapy drugs directly into the brain. The technique, though promising, wasn’t very targeted, and it required an ultrasound inducer to be implanted into the skull during surgery.
The revised technique, developed by Dr. Todd Mainprize, Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, and their team at Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto, is very similar to the one developed in Europe, but it’s more targeted and much less invasive.
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Eye Drops Deliver Gene Therapy for Brain Disorders

(National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering) A research team including NIBIB-funded scientists has developed a simplified approach for delivering and monitoring gene therapy for brain disorders.
The group used eye drops to deliver the gene for a growth factor called granulocyte colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) in a mouse model of brain ischemia, which refers to a lack of blood and hence, oxygen, to the brain. The treatment led to a significant reduction in brain atrophy, neurological deficits, and death in the mice. The research team also devised a system to monitor the success of the gene delivery using MRI.
The combination of simple delivery and non-invasive monitoring has the potential to contribute to improved studies of experimental gene therapy in animal models of stroke, Alzheimer's dementia, Parkinson's disorder, and ALS. The system also offers the intriguing possibility that acute brain injury may someday be treated by emergency medical workers through the simple delivery of eye drops carrying a therapeutic gene.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

Grilled Meat Contributes to Kidney Cancer
Cancer-causing compounds formed when meat is cooked at high heat increase the risk of kidney cancer, especially in vulnerable people.
Using Green Tea and Cocoa Flavonoids for Glaucoma Prevention
Drinking green tea and consuming some cocoa daily provides promising flavonoids for glaucoma prevention.
Using Vanilla as a Burn Remedy
Some people report that they pour on vanilla as a burn remedy to ease pain and prevent blistering.
Boswellia Fights Pain at a Price
The Indian herb Boswellia has anti-inflammatory activity and may help with pain relief, but it can cause heartburn for some users.
Chronic Hives Disappeared with the Elimination of Gluten from the Diet
Thorough avoidance of gluten has completely eliminated the hive problem.
Afrin Nasal Spray Helped Stop Persistent Bleeding
Putting a vasoconstrictor such as Afrin Nasal Spray on a cut or scrape can help shrink blood vessels and reduce bleeding.
Stents Ease Angina but Fail to Stretch Survival
PCI techniques to place stents can reduce pain from angina but don't help people with stable heart disease live longer than those being treated with drugs.
Calcium Blocks Thyroid Absorption
Researchers have found that calcium interferes with thyroid absorption just as iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and aluminum hydroxide can. Levothyroxine (Synthroid) should be taken at least two hours before these minerals.
Does Cytotec Ease Acid Reflux?
For people who must take NSAID pain relievers such as aspirin or naproxen, Cytotec can help protect the digestive tract from damage and ease discomfort.
How Much Money Can You Really Save Buying Drugs from Canada?
Can people really save money buying drugs from Canada? Is it worth the challenge? Find out about the price discrepancy between U.S. and Canadian pharmacies.
Doctors Often Ignore Deadly Drug Interaction Warnings
Millions of Americans swallow five or more pills daily. Doing so dramatically increases the risk of a deadly drug interaction that prescribers may miss.
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2016 Medicare Parts A & B Premiums and Deductibles Announced

(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) As the Social Security Administration previously announced, there will no Social Security cost of living increase for 2016. As a result, by law, most people with Medicare Part B will be “held harmless” from any increase in premiums in 2016 and will pay the same monthly premium as last year, which is $104.90.
Beneficiaries not subject to the “hold harmless” provision will pay $121.80, as calculated reflecting the provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act signed into law by President Obama last week. Medicare Part B beneficiaries not subject to the “hold-harmless” provision are those not collecting Social Security benefits, those who will enroll in Part B for the first time in 2016, dual eligible beneficiaries who have their premiums paid by Medicaid, and beneficiaries who pay an additional income-related premium. These groups account for about 30 percent of the 52 million Americans expected to be enrolled in Medicare Part B in 2016…
CMS also announced that the annual deductible for all Part B beneficiaries will be $166.00 in 2016. Premiums for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug plans already finalized are unaffected by this announcement.
To get more information about state-by-state savings, visit the CMS website [here.]
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How to Pick the Right Medicare Part D Plan

Here are six tips for finding the best Medicare Part D plan for you:
Do the research every year…
Be willing to change pharmacies…
Couples should shop separately. ..
Check for any restrictions on the drugs you take…
Call the plan you choose to verify coverage…
Look at all the costs…
Weigh your Medicare Part D options against those offered in a Medicare Advantage plan.
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How to Protect Yourself Against Common Medicare Scams

(Sharecare) In addition to the challenge of sifting through the dizzying array of plan options, experts say Medicare open enrollment is also prime time for Medicare scams…
There are a few quick tips when it comes to protecting yourself against scams, experts say.
First is to guard your Medicare number – which in most cases is your Social Security number – the same way you would protect your bank and credit card information…
Second, keep in mind that Medicare will never call or email you with product offers…
Also, if an insurance agent calls or visits your home to sell or endorse any Medicare product, he or she is acting illegally…
Finally, keep an eye out for these five common Medicare open enrollment scams:
1.      Switching plans is a must… "Don't ever believe somebody who says you have to change your Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan," [says Micki Nozaki of the California Senior Medicare Patrol]…
2.      Medicare is changing cards. [James Quiggle, director of communications at the nonprofit Coalition Against Insurance Fraud] says to be on the lookout for anyone who tells you Medicare cards are changing and that to get your new card you just need to update your information…
3.      For you, a special price. High-pressure pitches for Medicare insurance policies that come with especially low costs are common during open enrollment…
4.      Health fair scams. Health fairs or other events that take place during Medicare open enrollment can be ripe with opportunities for fraud…
5.      Phony organizations. Finally, experts say to be on the alert for any calls from people saying they're from your doctor's office, or state or local health agencies that are often given a phony, official-sounding name.
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Chrondroitin Outperforms Celecoxib in Knee Osteoarthritis Study

(American College of Rheumatology) For the first time, chondroitin sulfate has been more successful than celecoxib in reducing the long-term progression of knee osteoarthritis (OA), according to new research findings…
Chondroitin sulfate, more commonly called chondroitin, has long been the subject of debate when it comes to its usefulness in treating OA. Canadian researchers recently explored how this treatment would affect how OA progresses as well as how it compared to celecoxib (Celebrex®) -- an often used first-line symptomatic treatment in the disease.
"We felt the present study was necessary in order to establish -- using the most recent imaging technology available, quantitative magnetic resonance imaging (qMRI) -- whether chondroitin sulfate can truly and effectively reduce the progression of the disease in patients suffering from knee OA," says lead investigator in the study, Jean-Pierre Pelletier, MD…
At both one and two years, the researchers found a better reduction of cartilage loss in the whole knee, and more particularly in the inner half, of the participants on chondroitin when compared to those on celecoxib. Additionally, there was a decrease in synovial membrane thickness in some of the participants on chondroitin, showing far better results for this group.
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Exercise eases knee osteoarthritis, temporarily

(Reuters Health) A therapeutic program of weight-bearing exercise reduces pain and improves joint function, at least for two to six months, for people with osteoarthritis, according to a review of previous trials.
“We had a systematic review for Cochrane from 2008 and 2009, but there were much less articles,” said Dr. Martin Van der Esch, who coauthored the review. Since then, many more studies have been published, and confirm the benefits of exercise for arthritis pain, he told Reuters Health by phone.
Osteoarthritis, the breakdown of joint cartilage over time, causes pain, swelling and reduced motion, usually of the hands, knees, hips or spine. Joint injury, excess weight and older age increase the risk for osteoarthritis, which affects more than 50 million adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Tai Chi Found to Be as Effective as Physical Therapy for Knee Osteoarthritis

(American College of Rheumatology) Both Tai Chi and physical therapy positively impact pain, function and other symptoms of knee osteoarthritis -- making Tai Chi a viable treatment alternative for people suffering with the degenerative disease, according to research…
Based on [the] findings, Dr. [Chenchen] Wang believes Tai Chi should be considered a beneficial therapeutic option to treat knee OA. "Patients and their physicians should discuss Tai Chi as a therapy option, but it is important that patients work with a seasoned instructor with five to 10 years of experience working with people who have OA to ensure they are receiving proper instruction," says Dr. Wang.
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Tai chi can help build strength, relieve pain

(Reuters Health) For people with chronic illnesses ranging from cancer to arthritis, Tai chi exercises may improve walking, build strength and reduce pain, according to a new analysis of past research.
The slow and gentle movements of Tai chi, a modified form of an ancient Chinese martial art, may be especially suitable for middle aged and older people with multiple health conditions, the authors write in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
“Given the fact that many middle-aged and older persons have more than one chronic condition, it is important to examine the benefits of treatment/exercise interventions across several co-existing conditions,” lead author Yi-Wen Chen, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, told Reuters Health by email.
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Yoga Poses for Arthritis Pain Relief

(Sharecare) If you suffer from arthritis, stretching and flexing on a yoga mat may seem like the last thing you’d want to do. But gentle yoga poses may be just what you need to help ease the joint pain that comes with arthritis. In a report…, researchers reviewed the results of nine studies conducted between 2010 and 2013. They found that in the majority of the cases, arthritis sufferers who took yoga classes saw benefits such as less pain, swelling, stiffness -- and less stress.
With your doctor’s okay, try this sequence designed to reduce arthritis pain and improve flexibility.  
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Physical Therapy May Help For Back Pain, But Time Works Best

(Shots, NPR) Most people are going to have lower-back pain at some point in their lives — roughly 70 percent of us. But what do you do when that aching back strikes? The answer is, take it slow.
Getting into physical therapy right away may help, a study finds, but so will the passage of time. The key is not to jump into expensive, invasive procedures that could make things worse.
Researchers have learned in recent years that treating back pain too aggressively early on adds to health care costs without helping patients recover more quickly.
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Muscle relaxants, opioids offer no benefit for low back pain

(Reuters Health) In a new study, people who arrive at the emergency room with severe low back pain didn’t experience more relief with muscle relaxants or opioids than with over-the-counter painkillers.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) alone offered as much relief as more powerful painkillers.
This was surprising, said lead author Dr. Benjamin W. Friedman of Montefiore Medical Center at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx, New York.
“I think it was generally believed that opioids and skeletal muscle relaxants are useful therapy when combined with NSAIDs for acute low back pain,” Friedman said.
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Pedometers: The New Prescription for Rheumatoid Arthritis

(American College of Rheumatology) Using a pedometer to measure the number of steps one takes in a day has been linked to lower fatigue in persons with rheumatoid arthritis, according to research…
While all groups noted their fatigue decreased the more they moved, it was the participants who were the least active at the beginning of the study who noticed the biggest change in fatigue at the end. This finding, explains [lead investigator Dr. Patricia] Katz, suggests that people who [had been] the least active gained the most from the intervention.
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Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia? Try This for Pain

(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia - a chronic condition characterized by generalized aching pain - take heart. There are several lifestyle and therapeutic methods for managing its symptoms. One of the most effective treatment methods to reduce the pain of fibromyalgia is exercise. Although muscle pain may increase during exercise, the discomfort usually dissipates within 30 minutes. 
Try low-impact aerobic activities such as swimming, walking or yoga, or use cardiovascular machines like stationary bikes or elliptical trainers for the best way to ease into exercise. Stretching can also help to reduce pain and fatigue while increasing muscle strength and a sense of well-being.
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Exercise Program in Senior Centers Helps Decrease Participants' Pain and Improve Mobility

(Hospital for Special Surgery) It may seem counterintuitive that exercise could help people with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions, but a new study finds that a low-impact exercise program is improving quality of life for many older adults with these conditions.
The program, offered by Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in senior centers in New York City's Chinatown and Flushing, Queens communities, has helped decrease pain, improve mobility and enhance the overall health of many participants…
"Getting seniors to be active in any way will generally improve their quality of life and help them function better in their everyday activities," said Linda Russell, MD, a rheumatologist and chair of the Public and Patient Education Advisory Committee at Hospital for Special Surgery. "People believe that if you have arthritis you shouldn't exercise, but appropriate exercises actually help decrease pain."
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How Chronic Pain May Change Your Brain

(TIME) New research on people with arthritis suggests that the ability to withstand more pain may be an adaptive response. In a small new study…, researchers used brain imaging on 17 people with arthritis and nine people without who served as controls. The researchers were trying to better understand the underlining reasons why there appears to be variability in pain tolerance, which could provide insights for people dealing with chronic pain.
The researchers looked specifically at the prevalence of receptors in the brain that respond to natural opiates like endorphins—feel-good chemicals in the brain often released during hard exercise, stress, orgasm and pain.
When the researchers used heat on the men and women’s skin to induce pain, they found that the more opioid receptors they had, the greater their ability to handle pain. These receptors were higher among the people with arthritis, which the researchers say suggests that this increase is an adaptive response, possibly to make it easier to deal with the chronic pain that comes with such a condition.
The researchers did not prove that arthritis pain increases the numbers of these receptors, but lead study author Christopher Brown, a senior research associate at the University of Cambridge, said in a statement that “although the mechanisms of these adaptive changes are unknown, if we can understand how we can enhance them, we may find ways of naturally increasing resilience to pain without the side effects associated with many pain-killing drugs.”
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People Can Raise Their Pain Threshold by Altering Brain Chemistry, Study in Arthritis Patients Shows

(Manchester University) Scientists at The University of Manchester have shown for the first time that the numbers of opiate receptors in the brain increases to combat severe pain in arthritis sufferers.
Chronic pain -- pain which lasts for more than six months -- is a real problem for many people with approximately 46% of the UK population estimated to suffer from it (comprising 20% of consultations in general practice). However, some people seem to cope better than others with pain, and knowing more about how these coping mechanisms work might help to develop new ways of treating this distressing symptom.
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Placebo Effect Grows in U.S., Thwarting Development of Painkillers

(Nature magazine) Drug companies have a problem: they are finding it ever harder to get painkillers through clinical trials. But this isn’t necessarily because the drugs are getting worse. An extensive analysis of trial data has found that responses to sham treatments have become stronger over time, making it harder to prove a drug’s advantage over placebo…
One possible explanation is that direct-to-consumer advertising for drugs—allowed only in the United States and New Zealand—has increased people’s expectations of the benefits of drugs, creating stronger placebo effects. But [researcher Jeffrey] Mogil’s results hint at another factor. “Our data suggest that the longer a trial is and the bigger a trial is, the bigger the placebo is going to be,” he says.
Longer, bigger US trials probably cost more, and the glamour and gloss of their presentation might indirectly enhance patients’ expectations, Mogil speculates.
Community: I’ve mentioned before how powerful the placebo effect is. The more we know about it, the better.
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The Latest from The People's Pharmacy

Tincture of Thyme Fended Off Cold
Sipping a cup of thyme tea can help ease symptoms of a cold, especially a troublesome nighttime cough, so the sufferer can get some sleep.
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Even though most cold and flu remedies contain fever reducers, there is little evidence that they speed healing. Such products may even be counterproductive.
Grapefruit Lowers Blood Pressure
Both animal and human research suggests that grapefruit may indeed have an impact on blood vessel flexibility and lower blood pressure… Other foods that can help lower blood pressure include beets, green leafy vegetables and dark chocolate.
Eggplant Stars in Unusual Blood Pressure Remedy
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Over the last couple of decades we have collected lots of remedies for leg cramps.
Pine Bark Extract Cools Hot Flashes
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Prescribed Medicines Led to Vitamin B12 Deficiency
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Off-Label Prescriptions Linked to Bad Reactions to Drugs
Patients taking a medication prescribed off-label are more likely to experience side effects, particularly if the off-label use is not evidence-based.
Overtreatment for Blood Sugar and Blood Pressure Is Common
Overtreatment for diabetes and hypertension puts older patients at risk of dizziness, falls and brain damage, but few prescribers reduce medication.
Generic Sertraline (Zoloft) Problems Lead To Anxiety and Panic
Sertraline (Zoloft) is an antidepressant taken by millions of people every day. Reports are cropping up that some generic formulations may pose problems.
PPI Use Linked to Chronic Kidney Disease
Long term use of certain heartburn medicines may increase the possibility of developing chronic kidney disease and its attendant complications.
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