Many Years Young

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

Sugary drinks boost risk factors for heart disease, study shows

(UC Davis) Beverages sweetened with low, medium and high amounts of high-fructose corn syrup significantly increase risk factors for cardiovascular disease, even when consumed for just two weeks by young, healthy men and women, reports a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.
The study is the first to demonstrate a direct, dose-dependent relationship between the amount of added sugar consumed in sweetened beverages and increases in specific risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
The data reinforce evidence from an earlier epidemiological study showing that the risk of death from cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death in the United States and around the world — increases as the amount of added sugar consumed increases.
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Novo Nordisk says Saxenda obesity drug to cost $1,068 per month

(Reuters) Novo Nordisk's new obesity drug Saxenda, which has been launched in the United States on Wednesday, will cost $1,068 per month in the country, the company told Reuters in an email on Wednesday.
"The amount paid by the individual patient will depend on whether Saxenda is covered by the person's health insurance," a Novo Nordisk spokesman said in the email.
Community: Why do they charge so much? Because they can.
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Muscle-wasting for elderly on statin may outweigh benefits

(Daily Mail) Statins can prevent heart attacks in the elderly – but side-effects of muscle weakness and ‘brain fog’ may outweigh the benefits, warn US researchers.
Even a small increase in the risk of these problems could affect the independence of older people, particularly because they are more sensitive to the effects of drugs, it is claimed…
The study found statins could be a cheap way of preventing heart attacks, strokes and cardiovascular incidents in the elderly population in general.
Assistant professor of epidemiology Michelle Odden said: ‘Statins look promising as an intervention in this population, but there are concerns about potential physical or cognitive side-effects. It’s not all good or all bad; we’re in a grey area. 
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Hepatitis B Infection 100% Eliminated With Cancer Drug Combination In Preclinical Model

(Medical Daily) A cancer drug was 100 percent successful in clearing away hepatitis B infections in preclinical models for an Australian study. If researchers successfully replicate the results in human clinical trials, the drug may become the first-ever cure to the hepatitis B virus and may serve as a model for treating other viruses, such as HIV and herpes.
Researchers at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Australia used a combination of the cancer drug birinapant and the antiviral drug entecavir to completely eliminate hepatitis B infections in “hundreds of tests in preclinical models,” lead researcher Dr. Marc Pellegrini explained.
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Could broccoli hold the key to head and neck cancer prevention?

(Medical News Today) Vegetables such as broccoli are mainly recognized as being healthful on account of their vitamins and fiber content. However, a new study suggests that broccoli sprout extract could also be protective against head and neck cancer…
Sulforaphane reduced both the incidence of oral cancer and the number of tumors that developed in the mice significantly. This finding led the researchers to test a mixture of fruit juice and broccoli sprout extract rich in sulforaphane on 10 healthy human volunteers.
No ill-effects occurred, and at the same time, the researchers detected certain protective changes in the lining of the volunteers' mouths, suggesting that the compound was absorbed and directed toward the tissue in this area.
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'Very exciting' prostate cancer drug originally meant for women could cure 30% of all tumours

(The Mirror) Men with advanced and deadly prostate cancer driven by certain genetic defects may benefit from a pioneering drug originally intended for women, research has shown.
Olaparib, the first cancer drug to target inherited genetic mutations, was licensed last December to treat women in Europe with ovarian cancer.
Now trial findings described as "very exciting" have indicated that it could be highly effective at fighting 30% of advanced prostate cancers.
If approved as a new therapy, men would have to undergo genetic testing to qualify for olaparib.
Those eligible would have defects in genes responsible for DNA repair, including BRCA 1 and 2 and ATM.
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Cancer Group Clarifies Confusing Mammography Recommendations

(ABC News) Women between the ages of 40 to 49 should get a mammography to screen for breast cancer if they’ve weighed the risks and benefits, the United States Preventative Services Task Force said in a statement.
“The group’s top level recommendations that women should begin mammogram testing at age 50 and only schedule them every two years until about age 74 have not changed,” Dr. Michael LeFevre, the immediate past chairman of the task force told ABC News. “We’ve also said in the past that the decision to start screening mammography in women prior to age 50 years should be an individual one, he added.
The group wanted to clarify their position on younger women and mammography which he admitted might be confusing for some, said LeFevre.
“Younger women should work with their doctors to balance the pros and cons of mammography and make a determination that best fits their situation and values,” LeFevre said. “There is some small benefit but there is also some risk.”
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Best Ways to Protect Your Heart From Atrial Fibrillation

(Health Hub from Cleveland Clinic) If you’re over 40 and your heart flutters, there’s a good chance you’re one of the millions who suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF). This condition, which can cause the upper chambers of the heart to race for minutes, hours or days, is the product of a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system.
Now, there’s good news that taking control of certain risk factors for heart disease may prevent AF or lessen its impact…
Obesity is major risk factor for AF.  A new study found that AF often disappears in obese patients who lose weight.  The more extra pounds they lose, the more likely their AF will resolve…
High blood pressure, diabetes, heart failure and sleep apnea are other risk factors for AF. Recent studies have shown that aggressive, medically monitored lifestyle changes that significantly lower weight and blood pressure and improve blood sugar control can reduce the risk of developing AF. That’s better than trying to treat AF, say Cleveland Clinic researchers.
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Depression: 'Mindfulness-based therapy shows promise'

(BBC News) A mindfulness-based therapy could offer a "new choice for millions of people" with recurrent depression, a Lancet report suggests.
Scientists tested it against anti-depressant pills for people at risk of relapse and found it worked just as well.
The therapy trains people to focus their minds and understand that negative thoughts may come and go.
In England and Wales doctors are already encouraged to offer it.
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Drugs that activate brain stem cells may reverse multiple sclerosis

(National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke) Two drugs already on the market — an antifungal and a steroid — may potentially take on new roles as treatments for multiple sclerosis… [R]esearchers discovered that these drugs may activate stem cells in the brain to stimulate myelin producing cells and repair white matter, which is damaged in multiple sclerosis.
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Medicare to Cover Lung Cancer Screening

(NBC News) Medicare said Thursday it will pay for lung cancer screening for people at the highest risk — a decision advocates say will save tens of thousands of lives.
It's been a controversial issue and some doctors question how many people will benefit from pricey, computed tomography scans to look for early evidence of lung cancer — by far the No. 1 cancer killer in the United States. But Medicare, the federal health insurance plan for people over 65, says the benefits are clear.
Community: Why did the committee not consider several cheaper alternatives? I notified them about these below.
Breath temperature measurement
Breath chemicals testing
Testing respiratory mucous

It's time to get mad about the outrageous cost of health care

(Consumer Reports) Person for person, health care in the U.S. costs about twice as much as it does in the rest of the developed world. In fact, if our $3 trillion health care sector were its own country, it would be the world’s fifth-largest economy. 
If you have health insurance, you may think it doesn’t matter because someone else is paying the bill. You’d be wrong. This country’s exorbitant medical costs mean that we all pay too much for health insurance. Overpriced care also translates into fewer raises for American workers. And to top it off, we’re not even getting the best care for our money…
[T]he “medical industrial complex” continues going for as much gold as it can, as the following examples show all too clearly.
Outrage No. 1: Why do just one test when you can bill for three?...
Outrage No. 2: The $1,000-per-pill hepatitis drug…
Outrage No. 3: Pushing the new and flashy…
3 ways you can help rein in expenses
1. Find out the real cost of your treatment…
2. If you want the celeb doctor, pay extra…
3. Seek out a smaller medical network…
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Most Expensive Cost in Health Care? The Doctor

(Kaveh Safavi J.D., M.D., Accenture Health) Professional labor, which accounts for up to two-thirds of total cost, is the single most expensive component of health care. Complicating the issue is the fact that millions of newly insured patients will soon expand demand for medical services, which has the potential to drive a scarcity of skilled workers.
Producing enough clinicians to meet this demand using our existing came model is unlikely. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Reversing this trend starts with shifting work (not costs) back to patients, less-costly workers and technology. Digital technology will play a role in all three strategies, either as an enabler or delivery mechanism. Let’s explore how this would work.
Make the patient a player: The patient remains the most underused resource in medicine. Outside of healthcare, when we talk about shifting work to the customer, it typically has two benefits: reducing the cost of delivering services and engaging the customer in the process…
Let nurses and others take some work of doctors: Shifting work to less-costly resources requires that U.S. health care systems use a different mix and quantity of workers to engage in higher-value activities. This model enables doctors and nurses to delegate some tasks to other capable workers, providing opportunities for cost savings and increased productivity…
Make technology work for patients:… Tech-enabled productivity tools, such as using iTriage for self-guided decision making or ZocDoc for appointment scheduling, reduces the cost of providing services and enables experts to reach more patients.
While additional steps could be taken to make the delivery of health care more efficient, the key is to unlock innovations that reduce – not reinforce – the labor intensity. Unless we do more to shift much of the day-to-day work to the patient, from high-cost workers to lower-cost labor and from people to technology, we will not be able to control the spiraling costs of health care.
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After Surgery, Surprise $117,000 Medical Bill From Doctor He Didn’t Know

(New York Times) In operating rooms and on hospital wards across the country, physicians and other health providers typically help one another in patient care. But in an increasingly common practice that some medical experts call drive-by doctoring, assistants, consultants and other hospital employees are charging patients or their insurers hefty fees. They may be called in when the need for them is questionable. And patients usually do not realize they have been involved or are charging until the bill arrives.
The practice increases revenue for physicians and other health care workers at a time when insurers are cutting down reimbursement for many services. The surprise charges can be especially significant because, as in Mr. Drier’s case, they may involve out-of-network providers who bill 20 to 40 times the usual local rates and often collect the full amount, or a substantial portion.
“The notion is you can make end runs around price controls by increasing the number of things you do and bill for,” said Dr. Darshak Sanghavi, a health policy expert at the Brookings Institution until recently. This contributes to the nation’s $2.8 trillion in annual health costs.
Insurers, saying the surprise charges have proliferated, have filed lawsuits challenging them. In recent years, unexpected out-of-network charges have become the top complaint to the New York State agency that regulates insurance companies.
Community: Consumer Reports is fighting this ridiculousness. You can help.
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'Perverse Incentives' Add Costs to Dying When Patients and Families Want Less

(American Journal of Managed Care) Sweeping changes to the way America delivers care at the end of life would better serve patients and their families while bringing healthcare savings that managed care has long sought, according to the Institute of Medicine report, “Dying in America”…
[D]ata in the report show that a portion of patients at the end of life account for some of the highest medical spending. Of the estimated 18.2 million persons each year who are in the top 5 percent for healthcare costs, 11 percent, or 2 million, are in the final year of life. Of the 2.5 million deaths in the United States each year, 80 percent were among those who incurred health care costs that put them in the top 5 percent of healthcare spenders. Some of the highest spending takes place in the realm of cancer care, where discussions about palliative care can be especially beneficial…
Reinventing the way end-of-life care is designed holds the key to both better quality care and savings. “The bottom line is the health care system is poorly designed to meet the needs of patients near the end of life,” said David M. Walker, a former United States comptroller general, who was a chairman of the panel, told The New York Times. “The current system is geared towards doing more, more, more, and that system by definition is not necessarily consistent with what patients want, and is also more costly.”
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Health insurance plans that help hold down costs

(Consumer Reports) The PDF chart linked to here shows rankings for all private plans (those you buy on your own or get from your employer) in each state plus Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C, and also identifes plans that earned our check mark in Avoiding Overuse…
To earn a check in Avoiding Overuse, plans must have sufficient data, score higher overall, and do better in at least three of these areas:
·         Avoiding inappropriate use of antibiotics…
·         Limiting imaging tests for lower-back pain…
·         Reducing hospital readmissions…
·         Reducing overuse of invasive heart procedures…
·         Avoiding overuse of emergency rooms.
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More News on the Cost Problem

(Reuters) U.S. regulators on Friday approved a new hepatitis C pill from Gilead Sciences Inc, which said it will charge $94,500 for an improved 12-week course of treatment to rid patients of the liver-destroying viral infection. The daily pill, to be sold under the brand name Harvoni, combines Gilead's $84,000 pill Sovaldi with another drug, ledipasvir, and eliminates the need for two older, side-effect-laden treatments that needed to be taken along with Sovaldi.
(ThinkProgress) A new study provides a glimpse into the inner workings of an industry that often thrives on patients’ lack of knowledge.
(Kaiser Health News) These high-priced medications are often shifted to the top tiers of drug plans, so consumers dealing with cancer, multiple sclerosis, HIV and other complicated diseases can end up paying thousands of dollars for their prescriptions.
(AP) They have health insurance, but still no peace of mind. Overall, 1 in 4 privately insured adults say they doubt they could pay for a major unexpected illness or injury. A new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research may help explain why President Barack Obama faces such strong headwinds in trying to persuade the public that his health care law is holding down costs.
(The Upshot, New York Times) It is common wisdom that patients don’t like to think about cost when it comes to health care. But what if the problem is that they’re so rarely even given that information? A recent study in the Annals of Surgery found that parents who were asked to decide which form of surgery their children should undergo and told about the price difference tended to select the cheaper option.
(Kaiser Health News) Without much fanfare, Massachusetts launched a new era of health care shopping last week. Anyone with private health insurance in the state can now go to his or her health insurer’s website and find the price of everything from an office visit to an MRI to a Cesarean section. For the first time, health care prices are public.
(U.S. News & World Report) Despite good news in recent weeks about the future of health care spending, a daunting reality remains: The projections may turn out to be true for the next decade, but in the more-distant future, what can be done as Americans get older?... For participants at a workshop held … by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council the answer was clear: Home health for seniors and people with disabilities can not only rein in costs, but can give people better health outcomes and the kind of care they want.
More . . .


Trent Hamm, My Money, U.S. News & World Report:
4 Slow Cooker Meals for Chilly Fall Evenings
My philosophy with slow cooker meals is that you should be able to prepare them before you leave in the morning, adding everything to the slow cooker, and then leave it on low all day, which allows you to come home to a finished meal. Here are four great recipes my family loves to find in the slow cooker at the end of a crisp autumn day.  
Slow Cooker Chili
Hearty Slow Cooker Lasagna
Slow Cooker Beef Roast
Crockpot Corn Chowder
Cooking Light:
Flavorful Fall Recipes
When the air is crisp and the leaves start to fall, you'll love these recipes that showcase the season's best flavors.
Heartwarming Fall Recipes
There's no better time than fall to enjoy warming, satisfying dishes featuring produce from this year's harvest. Besides being comfort food, autumn-inspired dishes offer a wealth of health-boosting antioxidants. Here are some of our favorites.
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Food as Medicine

(Science Daily) New research focused on mental wellbeing found that high and low mental wellbeing were consistently associated with an individual's fruit and vegetable consumption. 33.5% of respondents with high mental wellbeing ate five or more portions of fruit and vegetables a day, compared with only 6.8% who ate less than one portion.
(HHS HealthBeat) Fruits such as bananas, as well as leafy green vegetables, salmon and other foods with lots of potassium are good for pretty much everyone’s health. And one study indicates a particular benefit for postmenopausal women. At Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, researchers SylviaWassertheil-Smoller and Arjun Seth saw it in 11 years of data on more than 90,000 women: “Women who ate a potassium-rich diet had substantially lower risks of stroke and all-cause death.”
(Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD) Aim for what we docs recommend is the healthiest, heart-friendly blood pressure: 115/76. How? Reduce stress, eat smart, get plenty of physical activity, and enjoy these surprising, blood-pressure-lowering foods: Purple Potatoes… Raisins… Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and cashew nuts… Protein… Dark chocolate.
(Reader’s Digest) Pumpkins: Their vitamin- and nutrient-rich flesh and seeds can improve your love life, promote weight loss, and smooth out your skin.
(Andrew Weil, M.D.) If you are looking for a tasty food that can help lower cholesterol, regulate blood pressure, and protect against heart disease and stroke, reach for an avocado… It's a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium and folate. While avocados are very low in sodium and cholesterol-free, don't overdo it, as they do contain fat, albeit the heart-healthy, monounsaturated kind.
( Research shows that foods with lycopene, the carotenoid that gives foods a red or pinkish color, may help lower your risk of developing breast cancer, among other types of cancers. Other antioxidants like polyphenols, which are also responsible for giving certain foods their red or pink color, have been shown to help protect against cancer as well. Tomatoes… Grapefruits… Strawberries… Radishes… Cranberry beans (Roman beans)… Peaches.
More . . .

More Food News

(UPI) The USDA will be allotting $31.5 million in grants for getting fruits and vegetables to the tables of those receiving SNAP benefits.
(Mayo Clinic) Menu planning makes healthy eating easier — and it can save you time and money. Learn tips so you won't have to wonder what's for dinner.
(Appetite for Health) When it comes to the Mediterranean Diet, there is only good news to report. Not only are Mediterranean foods tasty, they’re also some of the healthiest. And you don’t need to be  a world traveler to enjoy the benefits of this way of eating. Healthy dishes with the delightful flavors of Spain, Greece, Morocco, Italy and Turkey can be simple. Here are 5 must-eat foods that will help you “go Mediterranean”. Walnuts… Chickpeas… Olive Oil… Salmon… Tomatoes.
(The Supermarket Guru) The season of the festive squash has started! Here’s what you need to know about your favorite fall and winter squash varieties.
(Mayo Clinic) Pumpkins are much more than decorations. They're delicious when roasted and are packed with nutrients.
(Whole Grains Council) Jaclyn, from North Dakota, wrote the WGC asking if hulled millet is whole grain or not. She’d read that hulling removes the bran, so she figured the answer would be no – hulled grains are no longer whole. Happily we were able to assure her that hulled grains can still be whole grains, and we thought you all might like to understand why.
More . . .