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

Body's 'Marijuana' May Be Key to Diet Pill

(LiveScience) Scientists used lab mice to turn down brain levels of endocannabinoids, chemicals produced by our bodies that are similar in molecular structure to the active ingredients in marijuana…
The modified mice ate more and moved less than their normal counterparts, but stayed skinny even on a high-fat diet. Not only did they look healthy, they had normal blood pressure, and no increased risk of heart disease and diabetes that usually come with a high-fat diet…
Jumping from lab studies in mice to actual health benefits for humans is still a ways away, though, since it is difficult to make a drug that acts only in one brain area.
"To produce the desired effects, we would need to create a drug that blocks 2-AG production in the brain, something we're not yet able to do," Piomelli said. "So don't cancel that gym membership just yet."
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Cannabinoid 2 Receptors Regulate Impulsive Behaviour

(Science Daily) A new study … reveals how manipulating the endocannabinoid system can modulate high levels of impulsivity. This is the main problem in psychiatric illnesses such a schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and substance abuse.
Spanish researchers have for the first time demonstrated that the CB2 receptor, which has modulating functions in the nervous system, is involved in regulating impulsive behaviour…
Carried out on mice, the study suggests the possibility of undertaking future clinical trials using drugs that selectively act on the CB2 and thus avoid the psychoactive effects deriving from receptor CB1 manipulation, whose role in impulsivity has already been proven.
However, the authors of the study … remain cautious. Francisco Navarrete, lead author of the study, states that "it is still very early to be able to put forward a reliable therapeutic tool."
Community: Fortunately, there are practical things we can do now to build our impulse control “muscle”.
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To Limit Anger, Practice Self-Control

(Science Daily) Feeling angry and annoyed with others is a daily part of life, but most people don't act on these impulses. What keeps us from punching line-cutters or murdering conniving co-workers? Self-control. A new review article … examines the psychological research and finds that it's possible to deplete self-control -- or to strengthen it by practice…
"[I]f you practice…, your self-control capacity gets stronger over time," [psychologist Thomas F.] Denson says. "It's just like practicing anything, really -- it's hard at first." But, over time, it can make that annoying colleague easier to deal with.
Community: We know of a number of techniques for improving self control.
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Revisiting LSD as a treatment for alcoholism

(Journal of Psychopharmacology)  Several decades ago, a number of clinics used LSD to treat alcoholism with some success. But until now, no research has pulled together the results of these trials to document exactly how effective LSD was. Now a new meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials of the drug … provides evidence for a clear and consistent beneficial effect of LSD for treating alcohol dependency…
While the experiments varied in the dosage used and the type of placebo physicians administered to patients, LSD had a beneficial effect on alcohol misuse in every trial. On average, 59 percent of LSD patients and 38 percent of control patients were improved at follow-up using standardized assessment of problem alcohol use. There was also a similar beneficial effect on maintained abstinence from alcohol. The positive effects of a single LSD dose - reported both in these and in other, non-randomized trials - lasts at least six months and appears to fade by 12 months.
Regarding the lasting effects of the LSD experience in alcoholics, investigators of one trial noted, "It was rather common for patients to claim significant insights into their problems, to feel that they had been given a new lease on life, and to make a strong resolution to discontinue their drinking". And investigators of another trial noted, "It was not unusual for patients following their LSD experience to become much more self-accepting, to show greater openness and accessibility, and to adopt a more positive, optimistic view of their capacities to face future problems."
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Discovery of Brain's Natural Resistance to Drugs May Offer Clues to Treating Addiction

(Science Daily) A single injection of cocaine or methamphetamine in mice caused their brains to put the brakes on neurons that generate sensations of pleasure, and these cellular changes lasted for at least a week, according to research by scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Their findings … suggest this powerful reaction to the drug assault may be a protective, anti-addiction response. The scientists theorize that it might be possible to mimic this response to treat addiction to these drugs and perhaps others, although more experiments are required to explore this possibility.
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Recovery housing and treatment programs reduce relapse among recovering opioid addicts

(Wiley-Blackwell) Opioid-dependent individuals who want to kick the habit typically begin the road to recovery with detoxification. But detox is ineffective as a stand-alone treatment, with relapse rates ranging from 65% to 80% just one month after discharge. New research … reveals that individuals with substance use disorders may be as much as ten times more likely to stay abstinent when they have access to drug-free recovery housing and day-treatment programs following detox…
The overall abstinence rate for participants given no housing or treatment was a disappointing 13%, but patients who received housing showed a 37% abstinence rate, and among the group that received housing plus day treatment, 50% were abstinent. At each of the three assessment points, participants receiving housing plus treatment were twice as likely to remain abstinent than those receiving housing only, and ten times more likely to remain abstinent than those receiving no housing or treatment at all.
In general, the best outcomes came from participants who stayed in recovery housing the longest, and access to day treatment tended to promote longer residencies: an average of 49.5 days versus 32.2 days for housing residents who received no day treatment.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Asian Beef Rolls
Roll a colorful Asian-inspired beef main dish for a fun restaurant-quality dinner. While the rolls are perfectly portioned for dinner, they could also be served as a festive appetizer at your next cocktail party. Serve with spicy ginger noodles.
EatingWell:
Chipotle Albondigas Soup
Just a bit of spicy chorizo sausage add lots of flavor to the meatballs in this hearty Mexican soup. Dandelion greens, carrots and corn are colorful additions.
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Foraging for wild food can be risky

(UPI) A growing number of people are foraging for wild plants, mushrooms and berries in the woods, but a U.S. expert warns care must be taken when eating the bounty…
[Karen] Snetselaar said foraging isn't for everyone and shouldn't be taken up as a casual hobby or without proper research.
"There are many plants and fungi that are poisonous or have parts that are poisonous," Snetselaar said. "Wild parsley looks a lot like poison hemlock. Plants will sequester toxins that are introduced to the soil or fall on their leaves, like pesticides."…
Take a seasoned forager as a guide … to learn what and where to pick [Snetslaar advises].
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Expert: Black tea has many health benefits

(UPI) Tea has many health benefits including manganese, good for physical development, and potassium, good to maintain fluid balance, a U.S. food expert said.
Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of supermarketguru.com, said studies also show tea drinkers are less likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease than non-drinkers, and a recent study discovered black tea lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Black tea is also packed with flavonoids, antioxidants that help combat free radicals that cause cellular damage and aging.
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Most Weight Loss Supplements Are Not Effective

(Science Daily) An Oregon State University researcher has reviewed the body of evidence around weight loss supplements and has bad news for those trying to find a magic pill to lose weight and keep it off -- it doesn't exist.
Melinda Manore reviewed the evidence surrounding hundreds of weight loss supplements, a $2.4 billion industry in the United States, and said no research evidence exists that any single product results in significant weight loss -- and many have detrimental health benefits…
A few products, including green tea, fiber and low-fat dairy supplements, can have a modest weight loss benefit of 3-4 pounds (2 kilos), but it is important to know that most of these supplements were tested as part of a reduced calorie diet.
"For most people, unless you alter your diet and get daily exercise, no supplement is going to have a big impact," Manore said.
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Death magnifies Pradaxa hemorrhage concerns

(Reuters) The death of an elderly man from a massive brain hemorrhage after a routine fall suggests that bleeding complications from Boehringer Ingelheim's Pradaxa blood clot preventer are largely irreversible, according to the Journal of Neurosurgery.
The recently approved drug is the first in a new class of oral medicines called direct thrombin inhibitors, approved to prevent strokes among patients with a dangerous irregular heartbeat called atrial fibrillation that mostly affects the elderly.
U.S. regulators in December said they were evaluating other cases of bleeding associated with the drug, whose chemical name is dabigatran, but advised patients to continue the medicine for now.
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Talk Therapy May Be Key to Treating Insomnia

(MyHealthNewsDaily) For people with insomnia — that includes nearly one in five American adults — the most common treatments are sleeping pills and cognitive behavioral therapy, sometimes called talk therapy. Although both treatments have their benefits and risks, experts are increasingly recommending cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, instead of pills.
Research has suggested CBT can be as effective as drugs in treating chronic sleep problems. In fact, CBT has been shown to improve not only insomnia but overall well-being and some symptoms of depression. Meanwhile, a recent study suggested that taking sleeping pills to treat insomnia may shorten people's lives.
"There are major benefits for CBT over medication," said Dr. David Plante, a sleep specialist at the University of Wisconsin. "You have long-term benefits, even after the treatment is done, which isn't usually the case for sleeping pills."
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Behavioral therapy may help ease hot flashes

(Reuters Health) A few sessions of behavioral therapy -- even a self-help" version -- may help some women find relief from menopausal hot flashes, a new study suggests…
[The researchers] randomly assigned the women to either have group-based therapy, a self-help version or no treatment.
Women who had group therapy went to four sessions over a month. The self-help therapy was not completely independent; women had one meeting and a phone call with a psychologist who guided the therapy. But otherwise, they used a book and CD to teach themselves tactics for dealing with hot flashes.
After six weeks, Hunter's team found, 65 percent of women who'd had group therapy reported a meaningful drop in how problematic their hot-flash symptoms were. The same was true of 73 percent of women in the self-help group.
That compared with 21 percent of women who'd had no treatment.
And the benefit, the study found, was still apparent after six months -- though by then one-third of the untreated group had improved.
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Internet-Based Therapy Relieves Persistent Tinnitus, Study Suggests

(Science Daily) Those suffering from nagging tinnitus can benefit from internet-based therapy just as much as patients who take part in group therapy sessions. These are the findings of a German-Swedish study in which patients with moderate to severe tinnitus tried out various forms of therapy over a ten-week period.
The outcome of both the internet-based therapy and group therapy sessions was significantly better than that of a control group that only participated in an online discussion forum and thus demonstrated both the former to be effective methods of managing the symptoms of irritating ringing in the ears.
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Toxins found even in ‘safer’ products

(Chicago Sun-Times) Consumer products such as shampoos and sunscreens — even those touted as safer — sometimes contain potentially harmful chemicals that aren’t listed on their labels, according to a study out Thursday that tested dozens of them.
Chemicals that disrupt hormones or affect asthma were found in all 42 of conventional products sampled, as well as in most — 32 of 43 — of the alternative products billed as safer, including some by Seventh Generation, Jason Natural Products and Aubrey Organics…
Co-author Julia Brody says consumers using a typical array of products are exposed to many such chemicals — including parabens, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), triclosan and fragrances.
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Farm Life Linked to Fewer Allergies, Less Asthma

(WebMD Health News) [R]esearch suggests that children who grow up on Amish farms are less prone to allergies and hay fever than Swiss youngsters who are raised on more modern-day farms.
"And kids who live in either farming environment have much lower rates of allergies and asthma than children who don't grow up on farms," says Mark Holbreich, MD, of Allergy and Asthma Consultants in Indianapolis.
The research adds support to the so-called hygiene hypothesis -- the idea that a too-clean world is to blame for rising rates of allergies.
As our homes and public spaces have become cleaner, the theory goes, young children are being exposed to fewer germs, infectious agents, and other substances that help train their developing immune systems to recognize and fight allergic disease.
Community: My grandmother used to say that you couldn’t grow up healthy unless you had eaten mud pies as a child.
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U.S. employers keeping healthcare benefit

(UPI) U.S. employers that offer healthcare to employees say they will focus through 2015 on "quality and efficiency of care," a survey found…
"To help hold the line on costs, employers are also working with their health plan vendors and altering plan designs to improve the quality and efficiency of care received by members," the report said.
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Cancer patients do well at veterans' hospitals

(Reuters Health) Older men treated for cancer at Veterans Health Administration hospitals do just as well, if not better, than men covered by Medicare, a new study suggests.
That finding is a testament to massive changes in the organization of the VHA started in the mid-1990s that made patient care more coordinated, strengthened preventive care and allowed medical mistakes to be spotted faster, researchers said.
It seems like the VA is doing a good job of taking care of veterans, which is obviously a good story," said Mary Beth Landrum, the study's lead author from Harvard Medical School in Boston.
The finding, she added, does hint at the fact that this reorganization of health care may really work well" -- and could be a model for health care reform in the United States.
Community: The VHA is the one example we have in the U.S. of truly socialized medicine. The hospitals are owned and run by, and all the doctors and other employees work directly for, the VHA. I have a friend who uses these services and he attests to the high quality. So much for the curmudgeons who pooh-pah socialized medicine.
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5 Healthy Habits to Copy From Your Dog

(U.S.News & World Report) If you want to have optimal health and a happier life, some of your dog's habits are worth stealing. We're not talking about the shedding or the drooling—your pup can keep those—but we are talking about his or her love for the outdoors and sunny disposition. Here are five things your dog loves that are worth trying.
Getting daily exercise. Your dog adores getting outside for a nice long stroll, and so should you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (like brisk walking) every week for adults ages 18 to 64, and for adults 65-plus with no limiting health conditions…
Having meals reliably prepared and served. When you feed your dog, you serve him using his special bowl—the same amount, every day. When you dine, you should control your own portions, too…
Being forgiving. Your furry friend gets over it when you yell or accidentally step on her tail, so follow her example the next time someone annoys you. "People who forgive tend to be less angry, less stressed, less anxious, and tend to have lower blood pressure," than those who hold grudges, says [Wayne Andersen, a Maryland-based physician and author of Dr. A's Habits for Health]. Being forgiving can also lower your risk for alcohol and substance abuse, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Getting restful sleep… Your pet sleeps when he's tired, and so should you. The average adult needs about seven to nine hours of sleep per day, but about most Americans say they don't get enough shut-eye during the week… "Sleep is not a luxury," says Andersen. "It's an important requirement of our bodies." So act like your dog, and rest up.
Bonding with loved ones… You don't have to follow your loved ones around like Fido does with you, but maintaining close social relationships can help you manage stress and even live longer, according to a 2010 review of research… And, hey, if you want to hang out with your dog one-on-one, that's fine, too. Pets support your mental health, helping you feel less lonely and less fearful, and they increase your self-esteem, suggests recent research published by the American Psychological Association. That makes your dear dog not only a good health role model, but also a good friend.
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26 percent of U.S. adults obese in 2011

(UPI) One-in-four U.S. adults were considered obese in 2011, a Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found.
The index used Americans' self-reported height and weight to calculate body mass index scores. The 2011 metro area findings were extracted from Gallup's daily tracking data of more than 350,000 U.S. adults from Jan. 2, 2011, to Dec. 29, 2011.
Those with a BMI score of 30 or higher are considered obese. Nationwide, 26 percent of U.S. adults were obese in 2011.
Community: You can calculate your BMI here.
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Stigmatizing obesity causes weight gain

(James S. Fell, Body For Wife) I was not the least bit surprised to learn of a recent study showing that the stigma of being overweight can lead to weight gain. Some believe you can guilt people into weight loss, but this is an exercise in futility and counterproductive to boot.
Here is a quote from the link above featuring renowned obesity researcher Dr. Arya Sharma: "The biggest myth out there is that if people would just diet and exercise, nobody would be obese. And that's complete nonsense. If we don't stop looking at obesity as a character flaw instead of a complex health condition, then we won't be addressing the underlying issues. Shaming, blaming and taxing aren't constructive or positive strategies."…
To any of you who are struggling: Fatism — prejudice against the overweight — is just like racism. If people try to make you feel bad for your weight then you should actually feel bad for them for being so closed-minded and bigoted.
Ignore what they say and focus on you instead. 
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How Exercise Can Change Your DNA

(TIME) Exercise does a lot of good things — it burns calories, helps keep your weight in check and lowers your risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Now add one more thing to the list: physical activity can change your DNA.
Unlike the aberrations and genetic mutations caused by carcinogens and toxins, exercise-induced alterations to DNA are more like tune-ups, helping muscles to work better and more efficiently. What’s more, these changes occur even after a single 20-minute workout.
Juleen Zierath … reports with her colleagues … about these very early changes that muscle cells undergo the first time you get off the couch and into the gym.
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How to Rewire Your Brain to End Food Cravings

(Dr Mark Hyman) I’m a food Addict. We all are. Our brains are biologically driven to seek and devour high-calorie, fatty foods. The difference is that I have learned how to control those primitive parts of my brain… Here are 3 ways to get started. For more suggestions on how to wrestle control from your reptilian brain, see Chapter 15 of The Blood Sugar Solution.
Balance blood sugar. Blood sugar highs and lows drive primitive food cravings. If you get famished between meals, that’s a sign that your blood sugar is crashing. When blood sugar is low, you’ll eat anything. To better balance blood sugar, eat a small meal or snack that includes healthy protein, like seeds or nuts, every 3 to 4 hours.
Eliminate liquid calories and artificial sweeteners. Early humans didn’t reach for soda or fruit juices when they got thirsty. Sodas are full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup. Processed fruit juices are awash in sugar. Try sticking with water and green tea. Green tea contains plant chemicals that are good for your health. And, last but not least, don’t succumb to the diet-drink trap. The artificial sweeteners in diet drinks fool the body into thinking it is ingesting sugar, which creates the same insulin spike as regular sugar.
Eat a high-quality protein at breakfast. Ideally, you’re eating quality protein at every meal, but, if you need to prioritize one meal, choose breakfast. Studies show that waking up to a healthy protein, such as eggs, nuts, seeds, nut butters or a protein shake (see my UltraShake recipe) help people lose weight, reduce cravings and burn calories.
Ultimately, you may not control your genes but you do control what and how you eat. Since taking control and changing my diet, my brain no longer caves into the cravings and urgings that seduce the reptilian brain. The most powerful tool you have to transform your health is your fork! Use it well and you will thrive.
Community: There are a number of techniques that may help you improve impulse control.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Seared Scallops with Cauliflower Puree
Pair sea scallops with a cauliflower and potato puree for an elegant yet weeknight-friendly meal. Tip: Patting the sea scallops dry before cooking helps ensure a great seared crust.
EatingWell:
Pink Salmon Cakes with Cilantro Pesto
Canned wild salmon is the base for these fast, delicious salmon cakes. Serve them over mixed greens or with sauteed bell peppers and a piece of toasty focaccia.
Cooking Light:
Recipe Makeover: Fettuccine Alfredo
Half the fat, roughly half the calories, ready in 30 minutes. See how we lightened this rich and creamy classic.
20 Healthy Lasagna Recipes
These 20 lasagna recipes offer lighter versions of a classic Italian dish.
How to Make Composed Salads
Individually prepared composed salads make a beautiful presentation to any meal, be it a usual weeknight or entertaining special guests. Follow our guide to learn just how to master this technique.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Broccoli Pasta
The quintessential flavors of Italy - olive oil, garlic, Parmesan, and red wine vinegar - combine to dramatic effect in this simple dish. Experiment with different types of pasta to find the variety your family most enjoys. The secret - avoid overcooking the pasta or the broccoli.
Food as Medicine
Broccoli is a rich source of kaempferol, a flavonoid that may help to reduce the effects of allergy-promoting substances in the body. The immune-modulating effects of kaempferol may help to explain why broccoli has unique anti-inflammatory benefits. Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K.
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10 Nutrition Myths, Debunked

(Cooking Light) When we challenged ourselves to explore whether fried foods could be made healthy, we discovered that, when done properly, fried foods don’t have to be forever banished from a healthy diet. The exercise inspired us to take on some other ingrained nutrition misconceptions. We talked with leading nutrition researchers, chefs, and food scientists and did some sleuthing of our own to debunk 10 myths so you can enjoy many once-forbidden foods without that old familiar twinge of guilt.
Myth 1. Added sugar is always bad for you.
Truth
 Use the sweet stuff to ensure that sugar calories are far from “empty” calories…
Myth 2. Eating eggs raises your cholesterol levels.
Truth
 Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body…
Myth 3: All saturated fats raise blood cholesterol.
Truth
 New research shows that some saturated fats don't…
Myth 4: The only heart-friendly alcohol is red wine.
Truth
 Beer, wine, and liquors all confer the same health benefits…
Myth 6: Fried foods are always too fatty.
Truth
 Healthy deep-fried food is not an oxymoron…
Myth 7: The more fiber you eat, the better.
Truth
 Not all fibers are equally beneficial. Consider the source…
[E]ating processed foods with added fiber doesn’t get us off the hook. Fact is, most processed foods lack a bevy of vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Eating fiber-rich whole foods is the best way to gain this essential component of [your] diet…
Myth 8: You should always remove chicken skin before eating.
Truth
 You can enjoy a skin-on chicken breast without blowing your sat-fat budget…
Myth 9: Organic foods are more nutritious than conventional
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine provided the most comprehensive review of organic foods to date. Their conclusion: No significant nutritional difference exists between conventional and organic crops and livestock…
Myth 10: Cooking olive oil destroys its health benefits.
Truth Even delicate extra-virgin oils can take the heat without sacrificing nutrition.
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The benefits of alcohol in stroke risk

(Medical Xpress) According to new research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH), light-to-moderate alcohol consumption was associated with a lower risk of stroke in women…
After analyzing the data, the researchers saw that women who consumed low to moderate amounts of alcohol had a lower risk of total stroke compared to women who never drank. Higher levels of alcohol intake were not associated with reduced risk of stroke.
The researchers speculate on several scenarios that may explain alcohol's ability to reduce stroke risk. Alcohol may have components to prevent blood clots and cholesterol from building up in the arteries, both of which can lead to stroke. Higher levels of alcohol intake may increase the risk of high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation which are risk factors for stroke.
The study's findings support the public health message issued by AHA regarding alcohol consumption. AHA recommends that women and men who consume alcohol should do so in moderation. This means one drink per day for women and one to two drinks per day for men.
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Coke, Pepsi change cancer chemical

(USA Today) Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo Inc. are changing the way they make the caramel coloring used in their sodas as a result of a California law that mandates drinks containing a certain level of carcinogens bear a cancer warning label.
The companies said the changes will be expanded nationally to streamline their manufacturing processes. They've already been made for drinks sold in California.
The American Beverage Association, which represents the broader beverage industry, said its member companies will still use caramel coloring in certain products but that adjustments were made to meet California's new standard.
"Consumers will notice no difference in our products and have no reason at all for any health concerns," the association said in a statement.
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FDA warns inhalable caffeine maker over label

(Reuters) U.S. regulators warned the maker of inhalable caffeine product AeroShot Pure Energy over false or misleading labeling, and for contradictory statements about using the product with alcohol.
The Food and Drug Administration said Breathable Foods Inc labeled AeroShot as both inhaled and ingestible, which is contradictory and could be unsafe.
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Could a NOSH-aspirin-a-day keep cancer away?

(Medical Xpress) The humble aspirin may soon have a new role. Scientists from The City College of New York have developed a new aspirin compound that has great promise to be, not only an extremely potent cancer-fighter, but even safer than the classic medicine cabinet staple.
The new designer aspirin curbed the growth of 11 different types of human cancer cells in culture without harming normal cells, reported a team… The aspirin compound also shrank human colon cancer tumors by 85 percent in live animals, again without adverse effects, according to a second paper…
[P]rolonged use of aspirin posed … dangers: side effects ranging from bleeding ulcers to kidney failure. To resolve this, the researchers created a hybrid of two earlier formulations, which they have called "NOSH-aspirin." They used the aspirin as a scaffold to support two molecules that have been shown to increase the drug's safety and potency.
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New potential target for rheumatoid arthritis

(Newcastle University) Newcastle University scientists … have discovered a new way of potentially treating rheumatoid arthritis. This works by preventing damaging white blood cells cells from entering the joints…
Lead author Dr Graeme O'Boyle described the agent's action: "Imagine that the damaged joint is covered in flags which are signalling to the white blood cells. Traditional treatments have involved pulling down the flags one by one but what we have done is use an agent which in effect 'blindfolds' the white blood cells. Therefore, they don't know which way to travel and so won't add to the damage."…
[T]he Newcastle University scientists describe how the agent called PS372424 prevents activated T cells, the white blood cells which cause the damage, from migrating towards the site of rheumatoid arthritis…
The next stage of the work is to engineer PS372424 to improve its drug-like properties with a view to getting it ready for clinical trial.
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New Immune-System Sensor May Speed Up, Slash Cost of Detecting Disease

(Science Daily) An inexpensive new medical sensor has the potential to simplify the diagnosis of diseases ranging from life-threatening immune deficiencies to the common cold, according to its inventors at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
Their device, called an integrated microfluidics-waveguide sensor, sorts and counts cells in small samples of blood and other body fluids. The developers say the sensor provides an easy way to measure different types of white blood cells, a key component of the immune system. They add that the sensor, which is about the size of an adult's thumbnail, could be deployed in doctors' offices, newborn nurseries, patients' homes, disaster sites and battlefields.
"A low-cost way of counting cells could provide point-of-care diagnosis and monitoring for immune disorders, allergies, infections, AIDS, cancer and other disorders," said Manish Butte, MD, PhD, who led the team of inventors.
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Origami-inspired paper sensor could test for malaria and HIV for less than 10 cents, report chemists

(University of Texas at Austin) Inspired by the paper-folding art of origami, chemists at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a 3-D paper sensor that may be able to test for diseases such as malaria and HIV for less than 10 cents a pop.
Such low-cost, "point-of-care" sensors could be incredibly useful in the developing world, where the resources often don't exist to pay for lab-based tests, and where, even if the money is available, the infrastructure often doesn't exist to transport biological samples to the lab…
One-dimensional paper sensors, such as those used in pregnancy tests, are already common but have limitations. The folded, 3-D sensors, developed by  [Professor Richard ]Crooks and doctoral student Hong Liu, can test for more substances in a smaller surface area and provide results for more complex tests.
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U.S. consumers equate cost with quality

(UPI) If American consumers are asked to choose a healthcare provider based only on cost, they choose the more expensive option, U.S. health officials said.
Study leader Judith H. Hibbard of the University of Oregon in Eugene said consumers equate cost with quality and worry lower cost means lower-quality care.
However, higher costs may indicate unnecessary services or inefficiencies, so cost information alone does not help consumers get the best value for their healthcare dollar, the researchers said.
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US could bring more common drugs over the counter

(Reuters) Prescription drugs to treat some of the most common chronic diseases, such as high cholesterol and diabetes, may become available over the counter under a plan being considered by U.S. regulators…
The goal is to ensure people take drugs as needed, while still understanding safety issues.
Experts say the unwillingness of people to take certain medications as prescribed has undermined effective treatment of conditions including high blood pressure, raising the cost of healthcare in the United States.
Community: I’m not sure how making the medications available without a prescription would encourage people to take their medication.
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Health IT Chief Disputes Study On EHR Testing, Costs

(Kaiser Health News) A study published [recently] found that doctors who use electronic health records may order more diagnostic testing, and therefore drive up the cost of health care, despite claims to the contrary by the federal government and health IT industry.
Now, Dr. Farzad Mostashari, national coordinator for health information technology, is pushing back…
The study’s conclusions, Mostashari writes, were based on electronic viewing of imaging results, rather than EHRs, and the authors did not consider electronic tools that help doctors make clinical decisions about whether or not to use a certain test, or the ability to exchange information electronically. The study’s authors also did not look at whether the additional tests ordered were medically necessary and may have actually improved the quality of care, reducing costs in the long term. “This study focused on the numbers, while ignoring the patient,” he writes.
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Plaintiff challenging healthcare law went bankrupt – with unpaid medical bills

(Los Angeles Times) Mary Brown, a 56-year-old Florida woman who owned a small auto repair shop but had no health insurance, became the lead plaintiff challenging President Obama's healthcare law because she was passionate about the issue.
Brown "doesn't have insurance. She doesn't want to pay for it. And she doesn't want the government to tell her she has to have it," said Karen Harned, a lawyer for the National Federation of Independent Business. Brown is a plaintiff in the federation's case, which the Supreme Court plans to hear later this month.
But court records reveal that Brown and her husband filed for bankruptcy last fall with $4,500 in unpaid medical bills. Those bills could change Brown from a symbol of proud independence into an example of exactly the problem the healthcare law was intended to address.
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Heart Attacks Rise Following Daylight Saving Time Change

(Science Daily) Daylight-saving time this year begins March 11, and while we all might look forward to another hour of sunshine a University of Alabama at Birmingham expert says the time change is not necessarily good for your health.
"The Monday and Tuesday after moving the clocks ahead one hour in March is associated with a 10 percent increase in the risk of having a heart attack," says UAB Associate Professor Martin Young, Ph.D., in the Division of Cardiovascular Disease. "The opposite is true when falling back in October. This risk decreases by about 10 percent."
The Sunday morning of the time change doesn't require an abrupt schedule change, but, Young says, heart-attack risk peaks on Monday when most people rise earlier to go to work…
"Sleep deprivation, the body's circadian clock and immune responses all can come into play when considering reasons that changing the time by an hour can be detrimental to someone's health."
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Preventing daylight saving time shift health problems

(MSNBC.com) For many Americans, the switch to daylight saving time is an annual rite of exhaustion. Gaining that extra hour of daylight at night means losing it in the morning. 
The time shift disrupts the body's natural circadian rhythm, according to sleep scientists. So the alarm clock blares just as your internal sleep-wake cycle orders you to stay snugly in bed. 
It's always harder to adjust to the "spring ahead" time change (this year on March 11) than to the "fall back" change (on November 4), just as it's harder to fly east than west. Circadian rhythms are likely genetically determined and not fully understood…
Sleep experts suggest the following tips to dealing with the time switch:
·         Prepare a few days before. Reset clocks on Friday before bedtime. Or go to bed 15 or 20 minutes earlier for three or four days. 
·         Perk up with coffee or another caffeinated beverage in the morning; avoid caffeine in the afternoon and evening.  
·         Expose yourself to daylight soon after waking. Doing so helps adjust the circadian rhythm.
·         Avoid bright light in the evening. Computer screens mimic daylight and throw your circadian rhythm off. 
·         Practice good sleep habits, with a comfy bed, a quiet room and white noise to drown out sounds if necessary. 
·         Be especially careful while driving or engaging in other activities requiring full alertness.  
Community: I have a more difficult time with the change in the fall. In fact, I don’t think I’ve fully adjusted from the last one. Why don’t we just go on daylight savings time and stay there?
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Marriage keeps your heart healthy

(USA Today) Marriage is good for your heart – in more ways than one according to a new study that shows married adults who undergo heart surgery are over three times more likely to survive the first three months after the operation.
The study … found that the likelihood of dying post-surgery is nearly doubled for single people.
Community: A committed relationship is good for our health. It doesn’t have to include marriage.
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More Americans Rejecting Marriage in 50s and Beyond

(New York Times) Over the past 20 years, the divorce rate among baby boomers has surged by more than 50 percent, even as divorce rates over all have stabilized nationally. At the same time, more adults are remaining single. The shift is changing the traditional portrait of older Americans: About a third of adults ages 46 through 64 were divorced, separated or had never been married in 2010, compared with 13 percent in 1970, according to an analysis of recently released census data conducted by demographers at Bowling Green State University, in Ohio…
Susan L. Brown, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State, said the trend would transform the lives of many older people.
The elderly, who have traditionally relied on spouses for their care, will increasingly struggle to fend for themselves. And federal and local governments will have to shoulder much of the cost of their care. Unmarried baby boomers are five times more likely to live in poverty than their married counterparts, statistics show. They are also three times as likely to receive food stamps, public assistance or disability payments.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Tex-Mex Calzones
Spice up sandwich night with this Tex-Mex inspired favorite packed with ground turkey, fresh veggies, and spicy salsa.
EatingWell:
Cincinnati Chili
Cincinnati has a unique spin on chili—they serve it over spaghetti. Typically the chili is just made with meat, no beans, but we couldn’t resist adding beans to add fiber and nutrients. Serve with sliced cucumber and red onion with lemon juice and olive oil.
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Eating Berries Benefits the Brain

(Science Daily) Strong scientific evidence exists that eating blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and other berry fruits has beneficial effects on the brain and may help prevent age-related memory loss and other changes, scientists report…
Berry fruits contain high levels of antioxidants, compounds that protect cells from damage by harmful free radicals. The [researchers] also report that berry fruits change the way neurons in the brain communicate. These changes in signaling can prevent inflammation in the brain that contribute to neuronal damage and improve both motor control and cognition. They suggest that further research will show whether these benefits are a result of individual compounds shared between berry fruits or whether the unique combinations of chemicals in each berry fruit simply have similar effects.
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