Many Years Young

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

Quality of US Diet Improves

The quality of the U.S. diet showed some modest improvement in the last decade in large measure because of a reduction in the consumption of unhealthy trans fats, but the gap in overall diet quality widened between the rich and the poor.
An unhealthy diet is closely linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers. Eating a healthy diet is an important part of the strategy to prevent adverse health outcomes…
"Our study suggests that the overall dietary quality of the U.S. population steadily improved from 1999 through 2010. This improvement reflected favorable changes in both consumers' food choices and food processing, especially the reduction of trans fat intake, that were likely motivated by both public policy and nutrition education. However, overall dietary quality remains poor, indicating room for improvement and presenting challenges for both public health researchers and policy makers. Furthermore, substantial differences in dietary quality were seen across levels of [socioeconomic status (SES)], and the gap between those with the highest and lowest levels increased over time," researchers noted.
In a related commentary, Takehiro Sugiyama, M.D., Ph.D., … and Martin F. Shapiro, M.D., Ph.D., … write: … "How could we close the dietary quality gap? First, we could restrict benefits to more healthful foods, as has been done by the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), which restricts purchasable foods with the benefit," they continue.
"Other strategies to improve dietary quality include providing healthful foods to students and residents in underserved areas," they note.
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Brain scans suggest people can learn to like healthy foods

(Medical News Today) A small study using brain scans suggests the addictive power of unhealthy, high- calorie food can be reduced and the brain retrained to prefer healthy, lower calorie foods. Participants who followed a 6-month behavioral weight-loss program showed significant changes in the way the reward centers in their brains responded to the two types of food…
Something scientists are uncertain about is when people become addicted to unhealthy foods, does this mean the brain circuits that reinforce the addiction are fixed for good, or can they be reversed? If they are fixed then people trying hard to lose excess weight face a lifetime of battling temptation and ignoring food cravings…
But this study - although small and still to be confirmed by longer-term research with much larger groups - offers hope. It suggests that the brain is "plastic" when it comes to food addiction: the circuits can be reversed with training.
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Is fast food making us depressed?

(BBC News) The people entering Felice Jacka’s offices over the next few months will be in the throes of depression. She wants to help them – but her approach is unorthodox. Her team at Deakin University in Australia won’t be trying out a new cocktail of drugs. Nor will they be mulling over the patient’s childhood, their jobs, or their marital difficulties to help them cope with their problems. Instead, she wants them to talk about food.
If Jacka is right, changing their eating habits could be a key part of these people’s recovery. She has good reason to believe this; over the last few years, a series of striking findings have begun to suggest that fatty, sugary diets are bad for the mind, as well as the body. The result is a cascade of reactions in the brain that can eventually lead to depression.
Although the link is by no means proven, the fear that we are eating our way to depression is already prompting governments to take action. The US Department of Defence is now funding a trial that will deliver daily nutrient-rich food parcels to a group of former soldiers, to see if it can reduce suicide rates in army veterans. And at the start of this year, the European Union launched the 9m euro MoodFood project to further explore the way different nutrients may influence our minds. Certainly, no one is suggesting that a new diet should immediately replace existing treatments; Jacka’s volunteers will still be taking their medications as well as changing their eating habits.
[I]f healthier eating can improve their recovery rate – or prevent some people developing symptoms in the first place – it would make for a simple, complementary way to help tackle mental illness.
Community: And Reader’s Digest lists more ways junk food affects us:
(Reader’s Digest) You probably know it can blow up your waistline, but fast food may also have a surprising impact on your mood and mind. You feel more impatient… You splurge more… You may be prone to depression… You eat too fast, and too much… Your brain gets hooked on sugar… You may be more vulnerable to media messages.
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Foods That Fight Depression

(Appetite for Health) Here are five ways to help fend off depression by choosing healthier foods:
1.  Eat fish or seafood at least twice a week. The omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish may play a role in reducing risk for depression.
2.  Avoid fast food—’nuf said.  Burgers, fries and other fast food faves are loaded with additives and preservatives and they cause a rapid rise in blood sugar as the buns are highly refined carbs.  If you must have fast food, eat a salad, baked potato, chili or grilled choices wrapped in lettuce rather than in a bun. Excess calorie intake is also linked to depressive symptoms, so avoid all foods that you’re likely to overeat
3.  Go Mediterranean.  It’s unclear why or how, but research suggests that the Mediterranean diet reduces one’s risk for depression.  Maybe it’s the wine with meals? The seafood-rich choices and lack of sweets?
4.  Strive to eat at least 7 servings per day of produce.  Try to get 3-4 servings of veggies and at least 2-4 servings of fruit  A recent study in Hong Kong found that those who ate the most fruits and vegetables were 45% less likely to suffer from symptoms of depression, compared to those eating the fewest servings of produce.
5. Get more zinc. Population-based studies suggest that dietary zinc may help fend off the blues. Foods rich in zinc include spinach, beef, shellfish, beans and seeds.
For more ways to feed your brain, read this.
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9 things this family learned by giving up junk food

(Lisa Leake, TODAY) After reading Michael Pollan’s book "In Defense of Food," my husband and I both knew we needed to overhaul our family’s diet. So we made a pledge to eat real food for 100 days, which I chronicled on my blog, www.100DaysofRealFood.com. Our goal was to prove that a typical suburban family (that doesn’t live on a farm) could in fact survive on real food — and real food only! 
We spent the 100 days avoiding all white flour, white sugar, and anything out of a package with more than five ingredients. Here, nine lessons our family learned about eating real food:
1.  It’s easier than it looks. Switching to a real food lifestyle may seem intimidating and even downright overwhelming at first, [but] before long, avoiding processed food will eventually became your “new normal.” Simply getting started is key!
2.  Always read the ingredient label. Reading the ingredient list (as opposed to the Nutrition Facts) is the only way to truly know what’s in your food and how highly processed it is…
3.  I am not depriving my children
4.  We’re much healthier now
5.  Planning ahead is key. If you don’t have a plan for your next snack or meal, then you may get caught off-guard…
6.  Eating real food doesn’t have to break the bank… Be sure to create and stick to a meal plan, minimize food waste, maximize cheap foods (like bananas, beans and pasta) and reduce the consumption of “nice to haves”…
7.  It’s OK to break the rules (sometimes)
8. Real food simply tastes better
9. Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid the temptation to scarf down a bag of deep-fried snacks or a bag of candy by keeping it out of the house.
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Food Shopping Tips

(National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute) Buying healthy foods for your family is easier when you know what types of food to shop for in the store. Take a shopping list… with you to stay on track. Look at the Nutrition Facts label to find healthy choices.
Once you know how to use the Nutrition Facts label, be sure to read them as you shop. Look at the serving size and servings per container of the foods you may buy. Compare the total calories in similar products and choose the lowest calorie items.
Why the Nutrition Facts Label Is Important
·         Check servings and calories. Look at the serving size and how many servings the package contains. If you eat one serving, the label clearly outlines the nutrients you get. If you eat two servings, you double the calories and nutrients, including the Percent Daily Value (% DV). The Daily Value is how much of a specific nutrient you need to eat in a day. Percent Daily Value tells you how much of a nutrient is in one serving of food compared to the amount you need each day.
·         Make your calories count. Look at the calories on the label and note where the calories are coming from (fat, protein, or carbohydrates). Compare them with nutrients (like vitamins and minerals) to decide whether the food is a healthy choice.
·         Don't sugar-coat it. Sugars add calories with few, if any, nutrients. Look for foods and beverages low in added sugars. Read the ingredient list and make sure that added sugars are not one of the first few ingredients. Some names for added sugars include sucrose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maple syrup, and fructose.
·         Know your fats. Look for foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol to help reduce the risk of heart disease (5% DV or less is low, 20% DV or more is high). Keep total fat intake between 20% to 35% of calories.
·         Reduce sodium (salt), increase potassium. Research shows that eating less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (about one teaspoon of salt) per day might reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Most of the sodium people eat comes from processed foods, not from the salt shaker. Also, look for foods high in potassium (tomatoes, bananas, potatoes, and orange juice), which cancels out some of sodium's effects on blood pressure.
Community: And watch out for food label lies:
(Diane Kress, RD, CDE, Appetite for Health) Food marketers often mislead consumers by using flimsy health and nutrition claims on packages that often serve as a distraction from what’s more important on the Nutrition Facts Panel. This post will highlight some of the most shameful tactics some food brands are using to create a health halo around a product that doesn’t necessarily live up to its bold claims.
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More Food News

(Science Daily) Drinking tea reduces non-cardiovascular mortality by 24 percent, reveals a study in 131,000 people. "Tea has antioxidants which may provide survival benefits. Tea drinkers also have healthier lifestyles so does tea drinking reflect a particular person profile or is it tea, per se, that improves outcomes -- for me that remains an open question. Pending the answer to that question, I think that you could fairly honestly recommend tea drinking rather than coffee drinking and even rather than not drinking anything at all," one researcher said.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) When life gives you lemons… use them! Lemons are not only a tasty warm weather fruit, but offer health benefits as well. A citrus fruit, lemons are a good source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that helps to keep the immune system strong.
(Reader’s Digest) They aren't trendy, but the myriad health benefits of carrots—from lowering cholesterol to preventing memory loss—are unbeatable. Lower cholesterol… Reduce risk of cancer… Keep your vision sharp… Stop memory loss… Prevent diabetes… Bolster your bone health.
(Reuters Health) For people who may be headed for type 2 diabetes, regularly eating pistachios might help turn the tide, according to a new trial from Spain.
(The People’s Pharmacy) Evidence confirms that cinnamon can help control blood sugar… We caution you that common (cassia) cinnamon that lowers blood sugar may also contain coumarin, a compound that can harm the liver or interact with medications. You will learn how to avoid this danger in our Guide to Managing Diabetes.
(Reader’s Digest) Cinnamon can do more than flavor your food. The spice can end bug woes, soothe an achy neck, and more. Cure acne… Soothe neck pain… Treat bug bites… Repel moths… Help digestion… Get rid of ants… Plump your lips… Freshen your home.
(Mayo Clinic) Whole grains have been linked to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. Isn't it time you added more whole grains to your diet?
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Clams
Inspired by salsa cruda, or "raw sauce," this dish features a simple and delicious combination of tomatoes, chives, garlic, and balsamic vinegar.
EatingWell:
Tilapia Corn Chowder
This light soup is a great way to slip fresh corn (and tilapia, of course!) into your late-summer menu. Make it a meal: Enjoy with a mixed green salad and oyster crackers.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
White Bean Spread
When thinking of great taste accompaniments to bread, challenge the butter and olive oil and balsamic vinegar routine with this herby spread. What you have here is a versatile accompaniment for toasted baguettes or warm crepes. You can also use it as a dip made for thick chunks of French bread or pita sandwiches. Plan one day in advance in order to soak the beans overnight. Of course, you always have the option of using canned beans if you're really pressed for time.
Food as Medicine
White beans are an especially good source of fiber. Eaten as part of a meal, they slow the metabolism of glucose, making these beans an excellent dietary choice for diabetics or pre-diabetics.
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The Latest from The People’s Pharmacy

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Quick Takes

(LiveScience) Detecting and treating patients before they have a cardiac arrest isn’t rocket science, but it’s a life saver.
A man who suffered a heart attack on an airplane was saved by a three passengers — a doctor, a policeman and a pharmacist — with the aid of resuscitation equipment and drugs.
(European Society of Cardiology) A new method to predict the optimal number and location of automated external defibrillators was presented at ESC Congress today by Dr Benjamin Dahan from France. According to the predictive method, Paris needs 350 AEDs located in public places for optimal prevention of out of hospital cardiac arrest.
(Eat + Run, U.S. News & World Report) Clinical research, published in the last few years, seems to indicate that there just may be a pill or powder for younger looking skin. At least preliminary speaking, researchers have found that hydrolyzed collagen supplements may help in reducing fine lines and wrinkles. For the skeptics out there (and many exist), a quick look at the science behind collagen and youthful skin is needed.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) Stress incontinence - urinary leakage that results from sudden pressure on the bladder by abdominal muscles - is often brought on by coughing, laughing, lifting, or exercise. Many women experience stress incontinence, particularly after menopause, but it can also occur when pelvic muscles have been weakened by childbirth or abdominal surgery. There are a number of effective treatments: 1. Kegel exercises… 2. Biofeedback… 3. Electrical stimulation.
(Reuters Health) Drinking alcohol has been tied in the past to a higher risk of high blood pressure, but in a new analysis of past studies, researchers found that a drink or two a day seemed to protect even those with hypertension from heart disease and death.
(HHS HealthBeat) A preliminary study indicates overweight or obese postmenopausal women who got hormone therapy in breast cancer treatment were less likely to have the cancer recur – or for it to recur later – if they took aspirin or another non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug… Learn more at healthfinder.gov.
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Environmental News

(Los Angeles Times) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency staff said Friday that the nation should tighten smog rules significantly… Federal standards for ground-level ozone, the main ingredient in smog, have proved deeply contentious because they would compel many states, cities and industries to adopt new measures to cut air pollution at a cost of billions of dollars.
Community: Well, we pay one way or another. Air pollution increases suffering from health problems and spending health care dollars to address those problems.
(Los Angeles Times) The federal government will resume oil and gas leasing in California following a report released Thursday that found little scientific evidence that fracking and similar extraction techniques are dangerous… The study was conducted by the California Council on Science and Technology, a nonpartisan scientific research organization established by the state Legislature to advise state officials. Its authors noted that they had little time and scant information on which to base conclusions, citing widespread "data gaps" and inadequate scientific resources for a more thorough study.
Community: So we don’t know if fracking will kill you, Californians, which means we can frack at will.
(Reuters) The California state legislature enacted a ban on plastic grocery bags on Friday near the end of its two-year session, a measure that if signed into law would become the first of its kind in America. A number of cities and counties in California and other U.S. states, including Hawaii's Maui County, have made it illegal for grocery stores to pack purchases in plastic. But at the state level, opposition from plastic bag makers has usually prevailed.
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The role of health care in preventing climate catastrophes

(Josh Karliner, Global Projects, and Gary Cohen, Health Care Without Harm) This week, leading health authorities are huddled at World Health Organization headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, discussing how to confront one of the most urgent threats to humanity. It's not Ebola. And it's not HIV/AIDS, malaria, cancer, obesity, heart disease or diabetes.
The problem - a changing climate - doesn't fit the traditional definition of health hazard and yet it threatens to undermine the health of individuals and communities in nearly every nation…
[W]hat can the ministers of health, WHO officials and health organizations gathered in Geneva do about this crisis? We urge them to quickly transform the role of health care to take on climate change threats in three fundamental ways.
First, the health care sector must lead by example and reduce its own carbon footprint…
Second, we need to build more resilient health systems. We need to move from building gleaming towers of chronic disease to developing appropriate scale hospitals and clinics that serve community health on a daily basis and provide support during disasters…
Third, we all have an interest in transforming our energy systems to reduce pollution. Doing so will protect health, while saving lives and money…
Climate change is no longer a future challenge, affecting only polar bears in the Arctic and coral reefs in the tropics. Climate change is an urgent, complex health threat that impacts everyone on the planet. The health care sector must expand its mission to slow climate change enough to protect the natural systems that support all life on Earth, including ours.
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Infectious Disease News

(ABC News) Louisiana officials have cautioned residents to be careful after a deadly brain-eating amoeba was found in a parish water supply. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals announced that the Naegleria fowleri amoeba was found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The microscopic amoeba can be deadly if contaminated water travels through the nose to the brain. The microscopic pathogen can cause a deadly form of meningitis that or a swelling of the brain and surrounding tissues. The amoeba cannot be contracted from drinking contaminated water, officials said.
Community: So don’t snort your water, Louisianians!
(Reuters) The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa could infect more than 20,000 people, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Thursday in a bleak assessment of the deadly disease. The United Nations health agency issued a strategic plan to combat the outbreak in four West African nations where it said the actual number of cases could already be two to four times higher than the reported 3,069. The death toll stands at 1,552.
(AFP) More than 120 health workers have died of Ebola across west Africa, the World Health Organization said on Monday, claiming the epidemic had affected an "unprecedented number of medical staff". In a statement, the WHO said more than 240 health care workers working in Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone have developed the disease with "more than 120" succumbing to the epidemic.
(Thomson Reuters Foundation) Doctors and nurses fighting the world's biggest outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa should get incentives including better pay, insurance and access to the new Ebola drug ZMapp, an international health expert said.
(LiveScience) Wearing full-body hazardous material suits around patients with the Ebola virus may be counterproductive to treating the disease, some researchers say. But other health experts, wary of wearing less protective gear, disagree.
Community: What I want to know is, how do they get out of those suits without getting any germs on their skin?
(Reuters) The world's worst Ebola epidemic has put harvests at risk and sent food prices soaring in West Africa, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said on Tuesday, warning the problem would intensify in coming months.
More . . .
World Food Programme boosts operations to Ebola-hit W.Africa
(AFP) The World Food Programme is planning to boost its emergency aid in the west of Africa, saying the region faces a "tsunami" of need caused by the Ebola outbreak. "We know how to do conflict, we know how to do earthquakes and we know how to do tsunamis. This is like a tsunami that is already at its peak," said Denise Brown, the WFP's regional director for west Africa. Speaking in Dakar after returning from Liberia and Sierra Leone -- the countries most seriously affected by the outbreak -- she said there was a "need to scale up" to ensure that air access, materials, body bags, and food were reaching those most in need.
(Reuters) The experimental Ebola drug ZMapp cured all 18 of the lab monkeys infected with the deadly virus, including those suffering the fever and hemorrhaging characteristic of the disease and just hours from death, scientists reported on Friday. Even monkeys not treated until five days after infection survived.
(NBC News) U.S. government scientists will start testing an experimental vaccine against Ebola in people next week, starting out with 20 healthy adults. The same vaccine, made by GlaxoSmithKline in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, will be tested in the coming weeks in Britain, Gambia and Mali. It’s one of several Ebola vaccines in the pipeline.
(ABC News) A CDC study of blood samples collected during a 2000 Ebola outbreak in Uganda found that people who survived tended to have smaller viral loads and altered levels of immune biomarkers compared to people who perished. “That’s valuable information because it gives you insight into the immunobiology of the disease,” said [virologist Thomas ] Geisbert. “Then you can try to dissect what it means and look at treatments or interventions that mimic the response of a survivor.”
(NIH Common Fund) Scientists used advanced genomic sequencing technology to identify a single point of infection from an animal reservoir to a human in the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This research has also revealed the dynamics of how the Ebola virus has been transmitted from human to human, and traces how the genetic code of the virus is changing over time to adapt to human hosts.

Pharma News

(MedPage Today) In a study of more than 8,400 heart failure patients treatment with a novel drug known as LCZ696, an angiotensin-neprilysin inhibitor, reduced the risk of cardiovascular death by about 20% compared with treatment with enalapril (711 versus 835…), researchers reported.
(Medscape) Treatment with alirocumab (Sanofi/Regeneron Pharmaceuticals), an investigational proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 9 (PCSK9) inhibitor, resulted in significant reductions in LDL cholesterol in various groups of patients who received the drug, including individuals at high risk for cardiovascular events currently taking a maximally tolerated statin dose.
(MedPage Today) The investigational PCSK9 inhibitor evolocumab dramatically lowered LDL cholesterol whether given once or twice a month and across statin insufficient and statin intolerant populations, phase III trials showed.
Community: But I’m betting that the drugs mentioned above will be prohibitively expensive. See below. I’m not the only person wondering about the price of these “blockbuster” drugs.
(Reuters) Doctors looking at highly encouraging clinical trial results for new heart drugs at the world's largest cardiology meeting this week are missing one piece of data that will be critical to their success - the price. While new treatments on show in Barcelona are certainly moving cardiovascular medicine forward after a series of setbacks in recent years, cardiologists say that cost will be key in determining how widely they are used.
(Reuters) U.S. regulators are likely to approve Merck & Co's highly anticipated immuno-oncology drug, pembrolizumab, as a treatment for melanoma well ahead of a late October deadline, according to three sources familiar with the situation. If approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the drug would be the first in a promising new class designed to help the body's own immune system fend off cancer by blocking a protein known as Programmed Death receptor (PD-1), or a related target known as PD-L1, used by tumors to evade disease-fighting cells.
(MedPage Today) A 10-year analysis of patients with type 2 diabetes treated with pioglitazone (Actos) found no statistically significant increased risk of bladder cancer, either with any exposure or for long duration of use, the drug's manufacturer said.
(Science Daily) Scientists searching for new drugs for malaria have identified a number of compounds -- some of which are in clinical trials to treat cancer -- that could lead to new ways to fight the disease. Researchers identified 31 enzyme-blocking molecules, called protein kinase inhibitors, that curb malaria before symptoms start. By focusing on treatments that act early, the researchers hope to give drug-resistant strains less time to spread.
(The Scripps Research Institute) In a new study that could ultimately lead to many new medicines, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have adapted a chemical approach to turn diseased cells into unique manufacturing sites for molecules that can treat a form of muscular dystrophy.
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Medical Technology News

(Singularity Hub) While progress is being made in genetic testing, diagnosis of many conditions occurs only after symptoms manifest, usually to the shock of the family. A new algorithm, however, is attempting to identify specific syndromes much sooner by screening photos for characteristic facial features associated with specific genetic conditions, such as Down’s syndrome, Progeria, and Fragile X syndrome.
(Science Daily) Unexpected trips to the hospital are inconvenient and worrisome for anyone, but for congestive heart failure sufferers, they can be all too frequent. Cardiologists can now implant a new tiny, wireless monitoring sensor to help doctors and patients manage heart failure while eliminating the need for frequent surprise hospital visits.
(European Society of Cardiology) A new batteryless cardiac pacemaker based on an automatic wristwatch and powered by heart motion was presented at ESC Congress 2014… The prototype device does not require battery replacement.
(Reuters) For a growing U.S. aging population, tracking heart health via a smartphone can mean the difference between life and death. This week, two Silicon Valley startups received a green-light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for mobile applications that monitor patients from home, a step forward for a nascent digital health industry that has pressed for more clarity from the agency on regulations.
(The Atlantic) The Argus II works not by seeking to replicate that complexity, but by tapping into the eye’s natural abilities. It bridges the gap between visual signal and brain—or, as Mark Humayun, the Argus’ creator and an opthamologist at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, puts it: “The software speaks in the biological language.” The device relies on a small video camera affixed to a pair of sunglasses, which sends visual data to an electrode-covered microchip implanted at the back of the eye. The electrodes stand in for the damaged retinal cells, transmitting electrical signals straight to the optic nerve. The user receives the information in the form of a 60-pixel, black-and-white image.
(UPI) President Obama is backing a unique program aimed at developing computer chip implants that well monitor and augment an injured soldier's nervous system.
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Medical Research News

(Phys.org) A trio of researchers at Stanford University has shined a light on a problem many in the social science research arena are aware of but tend to ignore: the problem of null result papers not being written or published. In their paper published in the journal Science, Annie Franco, Neil Malhotra and Gabor Simonovits suggest that not publishing null result papers produces a bias in the literature, skewing the reliability of papers with strong results that are published. Jeffery Mervis offers an In Depth piece on the team's work in the same journal edition.
(Reuters) International Business Machines Corp on Wednesday launched a computer system that can quickly identify patterns in massive amounts of data, an ability that IBM said should hasten breakthroughs in science and medical research. The computer system, Watson Discovery Advisor, understands chemical compound interaction and human language and can visually map out connections in data, the company said in a statement… Johnson & Johnson is teaching the system to read and understand trial outcomes published in journals to speed up studies of effectiveness of drugs. Sanofi, a French pharmaceutical company is working with Watson to identify alternate uses for existing drugs.
(Science Daily) [A] team of scientists … has screened a library containing hundreds of natural products against a panel of [hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)] cells to search a better drug candidate. The screen uncovered a compound named triptolide, a traditional Chinese medicine isolated from the thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii (Latin) or lei gong teng (Chinese)) which was found to be far more potent than current therapies… However … the increased potency was coupled with increased toxicity as well.
Prof. [Taeghwan] Hyeon et al. endeavoured to alleviate the toxic burden by increasing the specific delivery of the drug to the tumor using a nanoformulation. The designed formulation … show[ed] greater efficacy against the tumor and decrease[d] the overall toxicity.
(Stanford Medical Center) Fruit flies and roundworms have long been used as model organisms to learn more about human biology and disease. Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found that although many aspects of regulatory networks are conserved among the three distantly related organisms, other differences have emerged over evolutionary time… “We’re trying to understand the basic principles that govern how genes are turned on and off,” said Michael Snyder, PhD… “If we can learn how the rules of gene expression evolved over time, we can apply that knowledge to better understand human biology and disease.”
(Science Daily) Scientists have created an artificial, network-like cell system that is capable of reproducing the dynamic behavior of protein synthesis. This achievement is not only likely to help gain a deeper understanding of basic biological processes, but it may, in the future, pave the way toward controlling the synthesis of both naturally-occurring and synthetic proteins for a host of uses.
(USA Today) Less medical privacy may be good for your health. A growing body of research has found that information Americans share on social media websites about their health and lifestyle is more up to date and accurate than what they share with doctors, employers, insurance companies and government agencies. In other words, we're more honest with our friends than we are with those who control our access to medical care.
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Urgent Care Centers Opening For People With Mental lllness

(Kaiser Health News) Hoping to keep more people with mental illness out of jails and emergency rooms, county health officials opened a mental health urgent care center Wednesday in South Los Angeles…
The center can take people in severe crisis and expects many will be brought in by police and paramedics, said Connie Dinh, vice president of nursing services for Exodus [Recovery]. But she said it cannot accept people who are incoherent, extremely aggressive or need emergency medical attention. They will still need to be treated at hospitals or inpatient psychiatric facilities.
Staff will be able to place people on 72-hour psychiatric holds if they are a danger to themselves or others.
Mental health urgent care centers, also known as crisis stabilization units, are opening throughout California in response to the shortage of psychiatric beds and the increase in patients with mental illnesses showing up at hospital emergency rooms with nowhere else to go, experts and advocates said. In Los Angeles County, four such centers have opened and several more are planned.
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Health Insurance News

(Kaiser Health News) The Affordable Care Act prohibits insurers from charging more for out-of-network emergency care, but your bill could be higher if you’re admitted to the hospital. 
(New York Times) Just as employers replaced pensions with retirement savings plans, more large companies appear to be in the midst of a similar cost-sharing shift with health plans. Besides making workers responsible for more of their care, employers hope these plans will motivate employees to comparison-shop for medical services — an admirable goal but one that some say is hard to achieve.
(Kaiser Health News) While average compensation for top health insurance executives hit $5.4 million each last year, a little-noticed provision in the federal health law sharply reduced insurers’ ability to shield much of that pay from corporate taxes, says a report out [Thursday]. As a result, insurers owed at least $72 million more to the U.S. Treasury last year, said the Institute for Policy Studies, a liberal think tank in Washington D.C… Under the 2010 law, insurers can deduct only the first $500,000 of annual compensation per employee from corporate taxes, down from $1 million allowed before the law’s passage.
(Kaiser Health News) When Congress passed the Affordable Care Act, it required health insurers, hospitals, device makers and pharmaceutical companies to share in the cost because they would get a windfall of new, paying customers. But with an $8 billion tax on insurers due Sept. 30 -- the first time the new tax is being collected -- the industry is getting help from an unlikely source: taxpayers.
Community: Why do we continue to use taxpayer money to subsidize corporate profits?
(Kaiser Health News) The Treasury Department has clarified its rules as a deadline looms for people asked to confirm their citizenship or immigration status.
(Longview News-Journal) Because of complicated connections between the new health care law and income taxes, the Department of Health and Human Services must send out millions of new tax forms next year. They’re like W-2s for people getting health insurance tax credits under President Barack Obama’s law. The forms are called 1095-As, and list who in each household has health coverage, and how much the government paid each month to subsidize those insurance premiums.
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Pennsylvania To Purchase Private Care For Its Poor
(New York Times) Pennsylvania will become the 27th state to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, the Obama administration announced Thursday, using federal funds to buy private health insurance for about 500,000 low-income residents starting next year. Gov. Tom Corbett, a Republican, had proposed the plan as an alternative to expanding traditional Medicaid under the health care law, which he opposes. Now that federal officials have signed off, Pennsylvania will join Arkansas and Iowa in using Medicaid funds to buy private coverage for the poor.
(Kaiser Health News) Capital Public Radio’s Pauline Bartolone, working in collaboration with Kaiser Health News and NPR, reports: "A bill passed by the California legislature this week is putting Gov. Jerry Brown in a delicate position: Sign the measure and support consumer demands for a change in the state’s policy on recovering assets from Medicaid enrollees or keep the current system that generates about $30 million used to provide Medicaid benefits to more residents.
(New York Times) Five years after it exploded into a political conflagration over “death panels,” the issue of paying doctors to talk to patients about end-of-life care is making a comeback, and such sessions may be covered for the 50 million Americans on Medicare as early as next year. Bypassing the political process, private insurers have begun reimbursing doctors for these “advance care planning” conversations as interest in them rises along with the number of aging Americans.
(New York Times) Sharply criticized by Congress and others, Medicare quietly announced on Friday that it would settle hundreds of thousands of hospital appeals over bills for short-term care, by offering deals that could add up to several hundred million dollars.
(MedPage Today) The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is again taking the Open Payments database, which details payments made to physicians by drug and device companies, offline for maintenance, the agency has announced… On Thursday, word came that the system will be offline on two different days for routine maintenance: Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, Sept. 5 for an indeterminate period of time. Physicians will also now have until Sept. 10 to review and, if necessary, dispute their data before it is made public.