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

What the doc doesn't say: You're overweight

(Valerie Ulene, Los Angeles Times) A National Consumers League survey conducted by Harris Interactive in 2007 found that adults consistently identify themselves as being less severely overweight than they actually are…

Some of the blame can go to doctors. Many don't properly evaluate patients to determine if they're overweight, routinely failing to measure body-mass index. BMI takes height and weight into consideration and is thought to be a more reliable indicator of total body fat than weight alone.

Even when physicians do screen for obesity, many don't discuss the importance of weight loss. A 2005 study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only about 40% of obese people are actually advised by their healthcare professional to lose weight.

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Community: Some doctors, however, are starting to help patients realize their weight problem and overcome it. See below.

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Doctors join fight against obesity‎

(USA Today) [I]nternist William Bestermann Jr. … is helping develop recommendations for physicians on how to guide and treat overweight patients on a committee for the STOP Obesity Alliance, a coalition of professional groups, businesses, unions, insurers and health care providers whose goal is to figure out how to best attack obesity.

"He has been a phenomenal advocate to convince patients and physicians that they are a team attacking this problem together," says Christine Ferguson, director of the alliance…

He's trying to fine-tune his approach so it can be replicated by other primary-care doctors. "This is one of the great opportunities to really improve health and lower costs simultaneously."

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"Good" dietary fats trim body fat in diabetic women

(Reuters Health) Eating certain kinds of fats may actually help obese women with diabetes trim some body fat, a small study suggests.

The study, of 35 older women with type 2 diabetes, found that supplements containing two types of fats -- conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) or safflower oil -- led to healthy changes in body compositionover four months.

With CLA, the women saw a dip in body mass index (BMI) -- a measure of weight in relation to height -- and in their total level of body fat.

With safflower oil, the women's BMI did not change, but they typically shed a couple pounds of fat from the trunk area; they also showed improvements in their blood sugar levels, which signals better diabetes control.

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What You Can Do to Find the Cause of Breast Cancer

(Deborah Kotz, On Women, U.S. News & World Report) Now women can join the effort to help researchers identify what leads to breast cancer—with the ultimate goal of preventing it. All you need to do is fill out a free online form to join the "Army of Women." (It took me five minutes.) You'll then receive twice-monthly E-mails telling you about research studies looking for participants.

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Skin cancer can be inherited, two new studies say

(Reuters Health) - Want to reduce your risk of skin cancer? Wear sun screen, of course. But two new studies suggest that choosing your relatives carefully could also be helpful.

One found that having an identical twin with melanoma increased a person's own risk of developing the disease much more than having a fraternal twin with this type of skin cancer. The other found that having a sibling or parent with one of several different types of non-melanoma skin cancer increased risk as well.

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New Tumor Suppressor Destroys Key Link In Cancer Chain

(Science Daily) A tumor-suppressing protein snatches up an important cancer-promoting enzyme and tags it with molecules that condemn it to destruction, a research team … reports this week.

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One Small Step For Neurons, One Giant Leap For Nerve Cell Repair

(Science Daily) The repair of damaged nerve cells is a major problem in medicine today. A new study … is the first to show that nerve cells will grow and make meaningful, functional contacts, or synapses - the specialized junctions through which neurons signal to each other - with an artificial component, in this case, plastic beads coated with a substance that encourages adhesion, and attracts the nerve cells.

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Patients Who Received Donated Pacemakers Survive Without Complications, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Patients who received refurbished pacemakers donated from Detroit area funeral homes survived without complications from the devices, according to a case series reported by the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center.

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis May Involve A Form Of Sudden, Rapid Aging Of The Immune System

(Science Daily) Premature aging of the immune system appears to play a role in the development of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease, according to research scientists…

A study … shows that CD4+ T cells, which grow and mature in the thymus before entering the bloodstream, are reduced in number in patients who have ALS as the thymus shrinks and malfunctions. Theoretically, devising therapies to support or replace these cells could be a strategy in treating the disease.

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Major Step Forward In Cell Reprogramming, Researchers Report

(Science Daily) A team of Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI) researchers has made a major advance toward producing induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells, that are safe enough to use in treating diseases in patients.

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New Procedure Chills Victims of Cardiac Arrest

(AARP Bulletin Today) It used to be that few patients survived out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, which usually results from a massive disruption of the heart’s rhythm. Of the estimated 300,000 people who suffer cardiac arrest in the United States each year, fewer than 10 percent survive. And even with the best treatment—shocking the heart back to a normal rhythm and administering drugs like atropine and epinephrine—many survivors never fully recover.

That’s because once blood flow has been restored, oxygen-deprived cells release chemical distress signals that trigger further organ damage throughout the body. But researchers have found that lowering a patient’s body temperature to 89 to 93 degrees Fahrenheit inhibits this wave of cell death…

[T]he latest analysis of studies looked at nearly 500 patients who suffered cardiac arrest, underwent CPR and had their hearts restarted. It found patients who are cooled within six hours are 40 to 80 percent more likely to leave the hospital without a major handicap after cardiac arrest than those who don’t have the therapy.

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Community: I believe that stroke victims also have the problem of cell death due to oxygen deprivation. Maybe they could also benefit from this therapy.

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Stroke Rehabilitation Technology That's Fun And Can Be Used At Home

(Science Daily) Stroke rehabilitation technology which patients can operate in their own homes while playing computer games, is being developed by academics at the University of Southampton.

Therapists, doctors, engineers and psychologists at the University have come together to set up ARM (Assessment, Rehabilitation, Movement) – a unique initiative that is using ideas from industrial robots to help patients regain and control movement of the arm and hand after a stroke.

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American Heart Association Guidelines Save Lives

(HealthDay News) Heart attack and heart failure patients are less likely to die if they're treated in hospitals that have received performance awards from the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) quality improvement program, a new study shows.

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A Cure for All That Annoys

(RealAge.com) Has the week gotten on your last nerve? Here's a way to turn your mood around tonight. Break out a clever comedy.

Clever is the key here. Researchers say that humor is a very effective way to assuage negative feelings -- if it takes a little mental muscle to figure out the punch line…

When researchers set out to see why humor is such a mood booster, they discovered something interesting. Highly demanding stimuli were more effective in tempering bad moods than less demanding stimuli were. In other words, it's the thinking that people do to "get" jokes that helps take their mind off their troubles…

Did you know? Spending time with happy people increases your chances of happiness by about 15 percent.

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Control Cholesterol with This Crunchy Snack

(RealAge.com) You could do wonders for your cholesterol profile by crunching on three of these a day: apples.

According to Maoshing Ni, PhD, author of Secrets of Self-Healing, eating three apples a day for 3 months could help lower cholesterol by as much as 20 points…

Ni points to a Finnish study on nutrition and heart disease in which the apple effects on cholesterol were observed. And because of the almighty apple's low-cal, high-fiber profile, this fruit is one of his favorite home remedies for good cardiovascular health.

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Community: I don’t know if I could manage three apples a day, but it’s good to know that apples can be added to the list of foods that are helpful in bringing cholesterol levels down. I’m trying to figure out the best way to add apples to my morning oatmeal.

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Fat city: W.Va. town braces for TV show depiction

(AP) Weary of being stuck with what they call the false label of America's unhealthiest city, Huntington residents are offering a wary welcome to a celebrity TV chef who hopes to help them shape up.

Jamie Oliver is starring in a reality TV show slated to be broadcast next year on ABC. In his native Britain, Oliver has done shows focused on improving school lunch meals and other dietary matters with an aim toward getting people eating healthier and living better.

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Exercise Improves Body Image For Fit And Unfit Alike

(Science Daily) Attention weekend warriors: the simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can convince you that you look better, a new University of Florida study finds.

People who don't achieve workout milestones such as losing fat, gaining strength or boosting cardiovascular fitness feel just as good about their bodies as their more athletic counterparts, said Heather Hausenblas, a UF exercise psychologist.

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Community: I just feel better overall when I exercise regularly.

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Exercise boosts well-being after breast cancer

(Reuters Health) Being told you have breast cancer is tough emotionally, but regular exercise can help you keep your spirits up, a new study shows…

In addition, the benefits of exercise were still evident more than 36 months after breast cancer diagnosis…

Examples of recommended levels of exercise include taking about a 45-minute brisk walk 3 days a week, or a 20-minute brisk walk daily; doing yoga for about 40 minutes 3 times a week or 20 minutes daily; or any aerobic exercise for about 30 minutes 3 times a week or 12 minutes daily.

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Exercise Extends Life of Kidney Patients

(HealthDay News) Exercise may help extend the lives of people with kidney disease, a new study finds…

The study found that 28 percent of CKD patients were inactive, compared with 13.5 percent of those without CKD. Active and insufficiently active CKD patients were 56 percent and 42 percent less likely to die during the study than inactive CKD patients. Similar exercise-related benefits were noted in those without CKD.

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Walking helpful after a stroke: research

(Reuters Health) People who suffer a stroke can substantially improve their ability to get around independently if they take walks a few times a week, according to an updated review of the medical literature…

In general, the stroke patients walked three or more days a week, usually for more than 20 minutes at a time.

There was no evidence, however, that working out with weights helped stroke patients function better.

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Community: You should also know that regular exercise can reduce the severity of a stroke, should you happen to have one.

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Shingles may boost the risk of stroke: study

(Reuters Health) Shingles are more than just painful. A new study suggests that they may increase the risk of stroke…

Within a year after their first office visit for shingles, 133 study subjects (1.71 percent) had a first-ever stroke, compared with 306 control subjects (1.31 percent).

After accounting for factors that might influence the results, the researchers found that the risk of stroke was 31 percent higher in people who suffered a bout of shingles.

For patients with shingles involving the eyes, the risk of stroke was more than four times higher.

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Community: There’s now a vaccination to prevent shingles.

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Study isolates virus in chronic fatigue sufferers

(Reuters) A virus linked to prostate cancer also appears to play a role in chronic fatigue syndrome, according to research that could lead to the first drug treatments for a mysterious disorder that affects 17 million people worldwide…

Much more study would be necessary to show a direct link, but [researchers] said the study offers hope that CFS sufferers might gain relief from a cocktail of drugs designed to fight AIDS, cancer and inflammation.

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Medication Effective For Acute Liver Failure In Early Stages Of Disease, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) The antidote for acute liver failure caused by acetaminophen poisoning also can treat acute liver failure due to most other causes if given before severe injury occurs, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers and their colleagues at 21 other institutions have found.

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Liver Cells Grown From Patients' Skin Cells; Treatment Of Liver Diseases Possible

(Science Daily) Scientists … have successfully produced liver cells from patients' skin cells opening the possibility of treating a wide range of diseases that affect liver function.

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Major Improvements Made In Engineering Heart Repair Patches From Stem Cells

(Science Daily) [R]esearchers have succeeded in engineering human tissue patches free of some problems that have stymied stem-cell repair for damaged hearts.

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Genes Associated With Onset Age Of Parkinson's Disease Identifiied

(Science Daily) Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) have identified genes which may influence the onset age of Parkinson's Disease (PD). The findings, which currently appear online in BMC Medical Genetics,are the first to identify genes contributing to the variation in onset age and may help identify mechanisms and therapeutic targets capable of delaying symptoms.

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Too Much Of A Good Thing? Scientists Explain Cellular Effects Of Vitamin A Overdose And Deficiency

(Science Daily) If a little vitamin A is good, more must be better, right? Wrong! New research … shows that vitamin A plays a crucial role in energy production within cells, explaining why too much or too little has a complex negative effect on our bodies. This is particularly important as combinations of foods, drinks, creams, and nutritional supplements containing added vitamin A make an overdose more possible than ever before.

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B vitamin may not reduce heart risk

(UPI) Data do not support the suggestion that taking B-vitamin supplements prevents heart disease, researchers in Venezuela say.

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Web tool helps advise when flu needs a doctor

(AP) Wondering if swine flu's bad enough to require a doctor's attention? An interactive Web site may help you decide, using the same type of triage calculations that doctors at Emory University use.

Microsoft Corp. unveiled the site Wednesday at http://www.h1n1responsecenter.com. Type in your age — it's only for people over 12 — and answer questions about fever, other symptoms and your underlying health.

The program may conclude you've probably got swine flu — known as the 2009 H1N1 strain — but that rest and fluids should be enough care, or that you need a non-emergency call to your own doctor.

But answer that you've been short of breath — or that you felt better but then the fever came back with a worse cough — and the program flashes: "You might be very sick! Call your doctor now."

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Riskiest Foods: 3 Tips for Protecting Your Family From Illness

(U.S. News & World Report) With the release of the Center for Science in the Public Interest's list of the top 10 riskiest foods regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, you may be wondering what's left that is safe to eat and what to do to keep your family safe. According to the report, produce such as leafy greens and tomatoes, eggs, seafoods tuna and oysters, and ice cream are among the commonly eaten foods that have accounted for about 40 percent of all food-borne outbreaks due to FDA-regulated foods since 1990. The analysis did not include meat products, which are not regulated by the FDA.

Ironically, many of the foods on the top 10 list are "the most nutritious foods for us," says Sarah Klein, staff attorney with the food safety program at CSPI. And many figure high among favorites…

Until stronger rules [for food producers] are put in place, the folks at the CSPI offer a few tips:

Don't change your diet. "Continue eating a balanced and nutritious diet," Klein says. "We do not recommend that consumers change their eating habits."

Practice defensive eating. "Choose and handle your food carefully," Klein advises…

Use care in handling and preparing all parts of your meal, not just the items on the top 10 list.

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Long-Term Back Pain Not Inevitable, Study Finds

(HealthDay News) Good news for people with chronic low back pain: About four in 10 will recover within a year, according to a study that challenges the common belief that recovery from this type of pain is unlikely…

The findings show that the rate of recovery from chronic low back pain is higher than previously reported and that the prognosis for these patients isn't uniformly poor, said lead study author Dr. Luciola Menezes Costa.

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Troubled Minds Can Mean Wider Waistlines

(HealthDay News) Common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, may increase a person's risk of obesity, and people with repeated episodes of these disorders are particularly at risk, British researchers say.

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Community: However, distress can provide an opportunity for change. See below.

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Study Upends Comfort-Food Theory

(HealthDay News) During times of stress, many people will reach for that favorite bag of chips, soft drink or snack cake for a dose of quick comfort -- or so conventional wisdom holds.

But, a new study from the University of South Carolina takes aim at that comfort-food theory and contends that people undergoing significant change in their lives often pick unfamiliar, even healthier foods and lifestyle options…

Over the course of several studies involving several hundred students, [lead researcher Stacy] Wood found that increasing levels of stress and change correlated with an individual's tendency to pick unfamiliar products. These instinctive choices occurred even when the students expressed agreement with the notion that people choose familiar comfort foods when they are undergoing daily stresses or life changes.

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Whole grains may help keep blood pressure in check

(Reuters Health) Eating lots of whole grains could ward off high blood pressure, according to a study.

The most recent US guidelines recommend that people get at least 3 ounces, or 85 grams, of whole grains daily, and that they consume at least half of their grains as whole grains.

There's evidence, the investigators note, that women who eat more whole grains are less likely to develop high blood pressure, also called hypertension, but there is less information on how whole grains might affect men's heart health.

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Antioxidants may raise diabetes risk: study

(Reuters) Instead of protecting against diabetes, antioxidants -- compounds in foods and supplements that prevent cell damage -- may actually increase the chances of getting diabetes, at least in the early stages, Australian researchers reported on Tuesday.

"In the case of early type 2 diabetes ... our studies suggest that antioxidants would be bad for you," Tony Tiganis of Monash University in Australia, whose study appears in the journal Cell Metabolism, said in a statement…

"My belief is that individuals who are otherwise healthy should not take antioxidants, but rather eat healthy and exercise," he said.

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Diabetic herbal remedies need more study

(UPI) There is positive evidence Chinese herbal medicines may prevent diabetes in those at high risk, an Australian review says, but more study is needed.

The Cochrane review of 16 studies finds combining herbal medicines with lifestyle changes is twice as effective as lifestyle changes alone at normalizing patients' blood sugar levels. However, the researchers concluded there was not enough hard scientific evidence to recommend their use.

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Drink This Tea to Lose That Belly

(Health.com) Five cups of green tea every day could help you shed twice as much weight—most of it around your middle, according to a Journal of Nutrition study. Researchers also found that people who had sports drinks with green tea for 12 weeks lowered their levels of triglycerides, a blood fat linked to heart disease.

Catechins (the antioxidants in the tea) are thought to boost energy and enhance fat-burning, and they may influence body composition in other ways.

Looking for lasting weight loss that won’t leave you hungry? Add a few cups of green tea each day to our Feel Great Weight meal plan for fast (and safe!) results.

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Community: If I drank five cups of tea every day, I’d never sleep.

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A Simple Way For Older Adults To Assess Arterial Stiffness: Reach For The Toes

(Science Daily) How far you can reach beyond your toes from a sitting position – normally used to define the flexibility of a person’s body – may be an indicator of how stiff your arteries are.

A study … has found that, among people 40 years old and older, performance on the sit-and-reach test could be used to assess the flexibility of the arteries. Because arterial stiffness often precedes cardiovascular disease, the results suggest that this simple test could become a quick measure of an individual’s risk for early mortality from heart attack or stroke.

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Community: I thought it might be possible to do this test at home, but apparently not.

From the full text of the study: “Flexibility was measured by a sit-and-reach test using a digital flexibility testing device (T.K.K.5112; Takeikiki, Tokyo, Japan) after some stretching. The device displays the distance which the device moved. Subjects sat on the floor, attaching their hip, back, and occipital region of the head to a wall, with legs held straight by a tester. They put both hands on the device, with arms held straight. In the position, zero point of the device was set. They were then asked to bend forward slowly and reach as far forward as possible.”

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New Approach For Growing Bone To Fight Osteoporosis And Other Diseases

(Science Daily) The natural cycle of building bone to maintain skeletal strength and then breaking it down for the body's calcium needs is delicately balanced, but diseases like osteoporosis break down too much bone without adequate bone replacement, leading to bone fractures.

The results from a new study at Duke suggest a targeted approach by which drugs may be able to fight osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases. [Researches] found a new mechanism of bone formation in mice that works without inducing the complementary bone breakdown.

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'Lab on a Chip' Might Speed Breast Cancer Monitoring

(HealthDay News) A pocket-size device under development could soon help monitor how well breast cancer treatments are working and help assess breast cancer risk by measuring levels of the hormone estrogen…

The new device relies on a method called digital microfluidics. The technique is being used to analyze hormones found in tiny samples of blood, serum and breast cancer tissue.

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Stem Cells Which 'Fool Immune System' May Provide Vaccination For Cancer

(Science Daily) Scientists from the United States and China have revealed the potential for human stem cells to provide a vaccination against colon cancer, reports a study.

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Specialty Hospitals Cherry-pick Patients, Exaggerate Success, Experts Say

(Science Daily) Although many specialized hospitals deliver better and faster services in cardiac care and other specialties, a paper being presented at the annual meeting of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®) maintains that these hospitals cherry-pick patients to achieve these results, and that average patients actually receive worse care.

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Antioxidants may help fight flu, but not by themselves

(Miami Herald) Fruits packed with antioxidants are great, and good for us, health experts say. But they won't, by themselves, bulletproof our immune systems and save us from the H1N1 influenza virus. Or anything else.

Today's expert advice sounds discouragingly like what our mothers always told us.

''A well-balanced diet minus too many sweets and artificial ingredients, with an adequate amount of protein, fruits and vegetables and vitamins is what we need,'' says Dr. Tracie Miller, a professor of pediatrics.

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Calorie Postings Don't Change Habits, Study Finds

(New York Times) A study of New York City’s pioneering law on posting calories in restaurant chains suggests that when it comes to deciding what to order, people’s stomachs are more powerful than their brains…

[A]bout half the customers [in the study] noticed the calorie counts, which were prominently posted on menu boards. About 28 percent of those who noticed them said the information had influenced their ordering, and 9 out of 10 of those said they had made healthier choices as a result.

But when the researchers checked receipts afterward, they found that people had, in fact, ordered slightly more calories than the typical customer had before the labeling law went into effect, in July 2008.

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Community: I think they need to give it more time. In my experience dealing with addiction (food addiction being one of them), it may take many exposures to the calorie postings before people start reacting to them.

Those who are successful in quitting smoking have usually tried many times to do so.

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Depression Predicts Increases In Inflammatory Protein Linked To Heart Disease

(Science Daily) Which comes first, depression or inflammation?

To help solve this long standing chicken and egg conundrum, researchers led by Jesse Stewart, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis asked two critical questions. Does depression lead to elevated inflammatory proteins in the human body? Or does an increase in these proteins lead to depression? They found that the answer to the first question appears to be "yes," and the answer to the second question may be "no" among healthy adults.

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Body's Circadian Rhythm Tightly Entwined With Blood Sugar Control

(Science Daily) Scientists have long struggled to understand the body's biological clock. Its tick-tock wakes us up, reminds us to eat and tells us when to go to bed. But what sets that circadian rhythm?

New research now shows that daily fluctuations in powerful hormones called glucocorticoids directly synchronize the biological clock as an integral part of our mechanism for regulating blood sugar.

"The most surprising part of our findings is that our internal biologic rhythms are embedded directly into another pathway, one that is essential to regulate metabolism," said senior study author Brian Feldman, MD, PhD, assistant professor of pediatric endocrinology…

The new findings give the first in vivo evidence of a direct link between glucocorticoid hormones and genes that regulate our biological clock. The research may eventually help doctors reduce disabling side effects of glucocorticoid drugs such as prednisone, Feldman said. The work could also help diabetics control their blood sugar levels and may shed light on why night-shift workers are at risk for obesity and diabetes.

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How Soy Reduces Diabetes Risk

(Science Daily) Nutrition scientists … have identified the molecular pathway that allows foods rich in soy bioactive compounds called isoflavones to lower diabetes and heart disease risk. Eating soy foods has been shown to lower cholesterol, decrease blood glucose levels and improve glucose tolerance in people with diabetes.

According to Kim, the study shows that “what we eat can have tremendous impact on health outcomes by interacting with certain genes. Recent research also suggests that diet can even change the copy number of a certain gene, leading to biological changes.”

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New Chemo Cocktail Blocks Breast Cancer Like A Strong Fence

(Science Daily) When breast cancer spreads or metastasizes, it crashes through the body's protective fences. The disease becomes fatal when it travels outside the mammary ducts, enters the bloodstream and spreads to the bones, liver or brain. Currently, there are only drugs that try to stem the uncontrolled division of cancer cells within the ducts. Until now, no drugs specifically targeted the invasion and spread of breast cancer to the organs.

A researcher … has found a way to strengthen the breast's "fence" to prevent cancer from metastasizing.

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Gene Test Might Predict Tamoxifen's Effectiveness

(HealthDay News) A genetic variant seems to predict resistance to the breast cancer drug tamoxifen, German researchers report.

The findings … could allow clinicians to predict which women will benefit most from the drug, which has been the gold standard of breast cancer care for the past 25 years. Women who do carry the gene variant may be candidates for alternative treatments.

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