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

Daily aspirin cuts cancer death in seniors

(UPI) A study involving more than 100,000 predominantly elderly participants found daily aspirin use lowered cancer mortality, U.S. researchers say…
Study leader Eric J. Jacobs of the American Cancer Society and colleagues … said their study was observational, not randomized, and therefore could have underestimated or overestimated potential effects on cancer mortality if participants who took aspirin daily had different underlying risk factors for fatal cancer than those who did not.
However, the study's large size is a strength in determining the extent aspirin use might lower cancer mortality, Jacobs said.
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The way red meat is cooked can affect cancer risk

(MyHealthNewsDaily) When it comes to eating meat, a guy's choice of what he eats and how it is cooked may affect his risk of having advanced prostate cancer, a new study says.
Men in the study who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week were 30 percent more likely to have advanced prostate cancer than were men who rarely ate pan-fried red meat…
The findings are not sufficient to make dietary recommendations, and more research would be needed to validate the results, said study researcher Mariana Stern, an epidemiologist at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. Still, "to be on the safer side, men should try to limit the intake of pan-fried red meat," Stern said.
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More Recent Research on Cancer Risk

(UPI) Women in the San Francisco Bay area, where there is a high level of breast cancer, are more likely to have a variant of a vitamin D receptor, researchers say.
(UPI) Colon cancer was two to three times more likely to develop in mice with a faulty APC gene and fed high amounts of iron, researchers in Britain and Scotland say.
(Bloomberg) Female smokers have a higher risk of developing leukemia and Hodgkin’s lymphoma, according to a study published in the British Journal of Cancer.
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Recent Research on Cancer Detection

(NIH Senior Health, via email) Like other cancers, colorectal cancer is more treatable if caught early. Watch the short video “Why Get Tested?” to see who should be tested and when.
(Science Daily) An undergraduate student's technique for detecting certain metabolites in urine samples could lead to a simpler and more accurate way to test for prostate cancer… [T]he technique also could prove to be less expensive than conventional prostate-specific antigen (PSA) testing for prostate cancer.
(Science Daily) Researchers have successfully developed and tested a new prostate cancer screening method that uses the combined power of a novel drug therapy and changes in PSA levels over time to identify men with a high PSA who are more likely to have aggressive prostate cancer despite negative biopsies.
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Recent Research on Cancer Treatment

(Reuters) Swiss drugmaker Roche Holding AG said a new study of cancer drug Avastin showed it significantly extended progression-free survival of people with an aggressive form of brain cancer.
(MedPage Today) Bevacizumab (Avastin) plus standard chemoradiation offered a survival benefit in glioblastoma, but adding it to an mTOR inhibitor did not improve outcomes in advanced kidney cancer.
(Science Daily) Patients in early clinical trials of new-style targeted cancer therapies appear to have a much lower risk of the most serious side-effects than with traditional chemotherapy, according to a new analysis.
(Science Daily) Developing resistance to chemotherapy is a nearly universal, ultimately lethal consequence for cancer patients with solid tumors -- such as those of the breast, prostate, lung and colon -- that have metastasized, or spread, throughout the body. A team of scientists led by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has discovered a key factor that drives this drug resistance -- information that ultimately may be used to improve the effectiveness of therapy and buy precious time for patients with advanced cancer.
(Reuters Health) Robot surgery for prostate cancer lowered the rate of urinary complications compared with hands-on surgery in a new Italian study.
(Science Daily) Researchers at Queen’s Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology have found that the non-cancerous tissue, or ‘stroma’, surrounding cancers of the throat and cervix, plays an important role in regulating the spread of cancer cells. The discovery opens the door for the development of new treatments which, by targeting this non-cancerous tissue, could prevent it being invaded by neighbouring cancer cells.
(Science Daily) Georgia Tech researchers are focusing on ways to fight cancer by attacking defective genes before they are able to make proteins. Professor John McDonald is studying micro RNAs (miRNAs), a class of small RNAs that interact with messenger RNAs (mRNAs) that have been linked to a number of diseases, including cancer.
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Study finds link between depressive symptoms and cancer survival

(M. D. Anderson Cancer Center) Research from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has found that symptoms of depression in patients with newly diagnosed metastatic kidney cancer are associated with survival and inflammatory gene regulation may explain this link…
"Our findings, and those of others, suggest that mental health and social well-being can affect biological processes, which influence cancer-related outcomes," said Lorenzo Cohen, Ph.D… "They also suggest that screening for mental health should be part of standard care because there are well accepted ways of helping people manage distress, even in the face of a life threatening illness.
Community: Fortunately, there are practical things we can do to prevent or reduce depression.
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Gazpacho with Shrimp and Avocado Relish
Enjoy a cool summer soup with freshly cooked shrimp and a creamy avocado relish for a quick weeknight dinner. The shrimp add protein, making this the perfect one-dish meal. Pair with a warm slice of grilled garlic bread, perfect for dipping.
EatingWell:
Grilled Shrimp Cocktail with Yellow Gazpacho Salsa
Yellow tomatoes have a lower acidity than their red cousins and several varieties are among the earliest in the season to ripen. Here they combine with cool cucumber and yellow bell peppers in a refreshing salsa. Grilled shrimp make this dish a more full-flavored and elegant version of shrimp cocktail.
Andrew Weil, M.D.:
Healthy Dessert: Carrot Cake
Carrot cake is a perennial favorite, but it is often loaded with vegetable oil and laden with a cream cheese frosting. Our version is healthier, using a small amount of olive oil, a full cup of honey for moistness and flavor, and a combination of whole wheat pastry and unbleached flours. The crunchy walnuts even add a bit of omega-3 fats to this sweet treat. With a cup of hot green tea, this cake will make you forget about cream cheese frosting. Enjoy!
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Decoding The Science Of Sleep

(Wall Street Journal) Nearly a third of working adults in America—roughly 41 million people—get less than six hours of sleep a night, according to a recent CDC report. That number of sleep-deprived people is up about 25% from 1990. About 27% of workers in the financial and insurance industries are sleep-deprived, according to the CDC, while nearly 42% of workers in the mining industry share the same complaint. A 2011 study published in the journal Sleep found that insomnia costs $2,280 per worker in lost productivity, adding up to $63.2 billion nationwide…
[W]hy is sleep, which seems so simple, becoming so problematic? Much of the problem can be traced to the revolutionary device that's probably hanging above your head right now: the light bulb. Before this electrically illuminated age, our ancestors slept in two distinct chunks each night. The so-called first sleep took place not long after the sun went down and lasted until a little after midnight. A person would then wake up for an hour or so before heading back to the so-called second sleep…
Studies show that this type of sleep is so ingrained in our nature that it will reappear if given a chance. Experimental subjects sequestered from artificial lights have tended to ease into this rhythm. What's more, cultures without artificial light still sleep this way…
The consequences of [our] change in lifestyle are far more dire than a simple loss of connection to the natural world. Researchers are increasingly finding that lack of sleep is terrible for our health. Sleeplessness has been linked to increased rates of heart disease, obesity, stroke and even certain cancers. The exact reasons for these effects are still largely unknown, but give support to the theory that sleep is the time when our bodies naturally repair themselves on a cellular level.
Recently, researchers have also found how important these overlooked hours are to our mental performance. Sleep, or the lack of it, is now thought to be a complex process that underpins everything from our ability to learn a new skill to how likely we are to find a novel solution to a problem. It is also considered a vital part of happiness and one of the best forms of preventative medicine.
Community: I’m glad to know that waking up in the middle of the night and then going back to sleep is actually normal for our species. I’ve been doing that for years, and so have my older sister and Mr. Many Years Young.
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Molecular Link Between Circadian Clock Disturbances and Inflammatory Diseases Discovered

(Science Daily) Scientists have known for some time that throwing off the body's circadian rhythm can negatively affect body chemistry. In fact, workers whose sleep-wake cycles are disrupted by night shifts are more susceptible to chronic inflammatory diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancer.
Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have now found a possible molecular link between circadian rhythm disturbances and an increased inflammatory response. In a study…, the Salk team found that the absence of a key circadian clock component called cryptochrome (CRY) leads to the activation of a signaling system that elevates levels of inflammatory molecules in the body.
"There is compelling evidence that low-grade, constant inflammation could be the underlying cause of chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cancer," says senior author Inder Verma.
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New Atmospheric Compound Tied to Climate Change, Human Health

(Science Daily) An international research team led by the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Helsinki has discovered a surprising new chemical compound in Earth's atmosphere that reacts with sulfur dioxide to form sulfuric acid, which is known to have significant impacts on climate and health.
The new compound, a type of carbonyl oxide, is formed from the reaction of ozone with alkenes, which are a family of hydrocarbons with both natural and human-made sources, said Roy "Lee" Mauldin III, a research associate in CU-Boulder's atmospheric and oceanic sciences department and lead study author. The study charts a previously unknown chemical pathway for the formation of sulfuric acid, which can result both in increased acid rain and cloud formation as well as negative respiratory effects on humans.
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Leveraging Bacteria in Drinking Water to Benefit Consumers

(Science Daily) Contrary to popular belief, purified drinking water from home faucets contains millions to hundreds of millions of widely differing bacteria per gallon, and scientists have discovered a plausible way to manipulate those populations of mostly beneficial microbes to potentially benefit consumers…
Their research provides suggestions on how to change which bacteria wind up in the drinking water… Measures as simple as varying the water pH or changing how the filters are cleaned, for example, could help water treatment plant workers shift the balance toward bacteria that are beneficial for humans by not allowing the harmful bacteria to compete.
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Surveillance may help doctors decide to prescribe

(Reuters Health) A new study suggests that using electronic health records to tell doctors what infections are going around in their community could help cut down on unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.
That's important because the more often antibiotics are used, the more likely bugs will become resistant to the drugs and harder to treat the next time around. And doctors often prescribe antibiotics when it's not clear whether or not a bacterial infection is really behind a person's fever, runny nose and cough, researchers said.
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Bioethicist: Families, quit thwarting organ donors

(Art Caplan, Ph.D., Vitals, NBC news) Despite the great demand, very few Americans donate their organs when they die. But the reason for that may not be what you’d think -- it’s your relatives…
Even when you have signed a donor card or checked off your driver’s license a family member can still object to your being an organ donor.  And some do -- at least 10 percent of the time or more, says [researcher David] Shaw. (That number may be even higher, according to other U.S. researchers.) Shaw says doctors ought to forget cousin Fred’s second-guessing or your sister’s distaste for donation  and ought to honor your written wishes and use you as a donor…
When you sign a card or your driver’s license, you should expect that you will be able to be a donor.
I would argue, however, that the problem with family objections is not fearful doctors backing down in the face of distressed or divided families. The problem is what you and I often fail to do when we sign those cards and licenses — tell others!
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Trauma Treatment Costs Vary for Same Outcome

(MedPage Today) The inhospital cost of treating trauma patients is lowest in the Northeast and highest in the West, but without a significant difference in mortality rates across the U.S., researchers reported.
In a retrospective analysis of discharge data, the average cost of treating a trauma patient for one of five types of injuries was $14,022 in the Northeast, according to Adil Haider, MD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and colleagues.
But for reasons that remain unclear it was 18% higher in the South, 22% more in the Midwest, and 33% more in the West, Haider and colleagues reported.
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Health care law may cut down on excessive procedures

(USA Today) The 2010 health care law gives Medicare and Medicaid more authority to track and reject payments for medical procedures believed to be overused, such as those involving hospital giant HCA and its alleged overuse of stents in cardiac patients, records and interviews with health care experts show.
Also, the law and 2009 stimulus act will change payment incentives and allow physicians to use electronic records to limit unnecessary medical testing. Private insurers will also be able to work with government agencies to combine billing data to spot trends in overused procedures.
"The health care law is helping us implement new incentives for doctors, hospitals and health care providers to provide better quality care, and not just a greater quantity of services," Medicare spokesman Brian Cook said.
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Drug Pipeline ’Crisis’ a Ploy, Docs Say

(MedPage Today) If development of innovative new drugs is lagging, it’s largely because drug companies choose to spend their money elsewhere, two researchers charged.
The resources that drug companies devote to discovering new products that fill unmet needs pale in comparison to their spending on marketing, and on research aimed at tweaking their current drugs, argued [the researchers].
"This is the real innovation crisis: pharmaceutical research and development turns out mostly minor variations on existing drugs, and most new drugs are not superior on clinical measures," they wrote.
Community: That’s the exact same mindset that afflicts most American businesses today. They’d rather spend vast sums lobbying Congress to protect their current products, rather than finding new ones, all the while spouting the supposed virtues of creative destruction. Today’s business leaders believe wholeheartedly in the destruction, creative or otherwise, of workers’ wages, benefits, and even their jobs, while fiercely protecting their own huge incomes. Their sense of entitlement endangers our entire economy.
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Health Insurer Refunds May Stall In Employers' Hands

(New York Times) It was the great health insurance giveback: $1.1 billion in premiums returned to policyholders under the Affordable Care Act. But while many people who buy their own insurance found a check in the mail last week, millions insured through employers are still wondering what is happening with the money.
Workers were notified in form letters from insurers this month that a “rebate” had been sent to their employer, who “must follow certain rules in distributing the rebate to you.” But even when employees paid a significant share of the premium, many employers are still deciding how, when or even whether to share the cash…
The law gives employers up to three months and considerable discretion to decide how to spend the employees’ money, so long as it is eventually used to benefit insurance plan participants. And while some employers are returning the money directly in paychecks, or planning “premium holidays” that increase take-home pay, others are weighing different options, benefits consultants said, like reducing next year’s premium, or spending the refund on so-called wellness programs that reward workers who lose weight or quit smoking.
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More Employers Pay For Good Health Habits

(Shots, NPR) If you feel like your employer is more interested in your health lately, you're probably right.
The Affordable Care Act encourages more employers to offer health insurance plans to their employees. But poor health habits and preventable illnesses are adding to the expense of these plans for employers. A recent survey suggests that, increasingly, employers are seeking to cut healthcare costs from the bottom up — by directly addressing the health habits of their employees.
"[Improving employee health] is the only meaningful way to reduce healthcare costs ... and the first step in the process is to motivate employees and their families to participate in health and wellness programs," says Jim Winkler, chief information officer of health and benefits at Aon Hewitt, the consultancy that did the survey.
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Normal weight people get type 2 diabetes

(UPI) Adults with normal weight at the time of diabetes diagnosis have higher mortality rates than overweight or obese adults, U.S. researchers found.
The study … also found that normal-weight people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes have double the risk of dying of heart disease and other causes than overweight people with diabetes…
"It could be that this is a very unique subset of the population who are at a particularly high risk for mortality and diabetes, and it is possible that genetics is a factor with these individuals," [first author Mercedes R.] Carnethon said in a statement.
Community: Some of the headlines and lead paragraphs about this study have been pretty misleading. They made it sound as if people of normal weight diagnosed with type 2 diabetes should get fat to reduce their chances of dying. But the last paragraph above tells us that thin people who contract diabetes may have a more serious form of the disease.
Fortunately, there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes, despite genetic tendencies.
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Protein That Boosts Longevity May Protect Against Diabetes

(Science Daily) A protein that slows aging in mice and other animals also protects against the ravages of a high-fat diet, including diabetes, according to a new MIT study.
MIT biology professor Leonard Guarente '74 discovered SIRT1's longevity-boosting properties more than a decade ago and has since explored its role in many different body tissues. In his latest stud…, he looked at what happens when the SIRT1 protein is missing from adipose cells, which make up body fat.
When put on a high-fat diet, mice lacking the protein started to develop metabolic disorders, such as diabetes, much sooner than normal mice given a high-fat diet…
The finding raises the possibility that drugs that enhance SIRT1 activity may help protect against obesity-linked diseases.
Community: Reducing caloric intake may be one way to boost SIRT1, and other possibilities are an ingredient in milk and the resveratrol in red grapes.
But don’t forget that there are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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Turning White Fat Into Energy-Burning Brown Fat

(Science Daily) [R]esearchers have identified a mechanism that can give energy-storing white fat some of the beneficial characteristics of energy-burning brown fat. The findings, based on studies of mice and of human fat tissue, could lead to new strategies for treating obesity and type 2 diabetes…
[Study leader Domenico Accili, MD] and his colleagues studied a group of enzymes called sirtuins, which are thought to affect various biological processes, including metabolism.
The researchers had previously shown in mice that when sirtuin activity increases, so does metabolic activity. In the present study, they found that sirtuins boost metabolism by promoting the browning of white fat.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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More Recent Diabetes Research

(MedPage Today) The cardiovascular benefits of statin treatment for primary prevention outweighed the risk of developing diabetes, even among those at risk for the condition, an analysis of the JUPITER trial showed.
(Science Daily) Researchers … say neutrophils, an abundant type of white blood cell typically tasked with attacking bacteria and other foreign invaders, also plays an unexpected role in mediating insulin resistance -- the central characteristic of type 2 diabetes, which afflicts an estimated 26 million Americans… The insulin-mediating role of neutrophils makes them a new target for developing treatments of insulin resistance in particular and diabetes in general.
(Science Daily) [R]esearchers studied how the body manufactures fat from dietary sources such as carbohydrates. That process requires an enzyme called fatty acid synthase (FAS). Mice engineered so that they don't make FAS in their fat cells can eat a high-fat diet without becoming obese. "Mice without FAS were significantly more resistant to obesity than their wild-type littermates," says first author Irfan J. Lodhi, PhD. "And it wasn't because they ate less. The mice ate just as much fatty food, but they metabolized more of the fat and released it as heat."
(Boston University Medical Center) A recent study led by Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) demonstrates that the A2b-type adenosine receptor, A2bAR, plays a significant role in the regulation of high fat, high cholesterol diet-induced symptoms of type 2 diabetes. The findings… also identify A2bAR as a potential target for the treatment of type 2 diabetes.
(Science Daily) [R]esearchers led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) have uncovered a new key player in amplifying this stress in the earliest stages of diabetes: a molecule called thioredoxin-interacting protein (TXNIP). The molecule, they've discovered, is central to the inflammatory process that leads to the death of the cells in the human pancreas that produce insulin.
(Science Daily) Scientists at Joslin Diabetes Center have identified biological mechanisms by which glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), a gut hormone, protects against kidney disease, and also mechanisms that inhibit its actions in diabetes. The findings … may lead to the development of new therapeutic agents that harness the actions of GLP-1 to prevent the harmful effects of hyperglycemia on renal endothelial cells.
Community: There are many practical things we can do to prevent, delay, or reduce the severity of type 2 diabetes.
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Human study re-ignites debate over controversial type 1 diabetes "cure"

(Reuters) A controversial experimental cure for type 1 diabetes, using a tuberculosis vaccine invented a century ago, appears to temporarily vanquish the disease, according to a study in a handful of patients led by a scientist long criticized by her peers.
There is no guarantee the results from this early-stage trial … will stand up in larger studies, which are now under way. Other diabetes researchers criticized it for going beyond the evidence in its claims about what caused the observed effects.
If the findings do hold up, however, they would mean that the generic bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccine, in use since 1921, can regenerate insulin-secreting cells in the pancreas, whose loss causes the disease.
"We think we're seeing early evidence of effectiveness," said immunology researcher Denise Faustman of Massachusetts General Hospital, who led the trial. "This simple, inexpensive vaccine attacks the autoimmunity underlying type 1 diabetes."
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Recipes

MyRecipes.com:
Pizza Provencal
Upgrade pizza night by topping a loaf of Italian bread with fresh basil, rotisserie chicken, and all the best of Italian-inspired ingredients. A food processor makes quick work of the homemade sauce. Serve with artichoke–green bean salad.
EatingWell:
Curried Corn & Crab Cakes
Many cooks think crab cakes require a lot of effort, but they're actually not difficult. And with this corn-studded version, accented with fresh lime, mint and cilantro, the time you do spend will be rewarded with raves. Browning the cakes in a skillet and then finishing them in the oven produces a crisp crust and ensures even cooking.
RealAge.com:
Power Up Your Summer Salads
Before you start loading up the crisper, keep in mind that the best salads are real meals: lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. The worst? They're usually restaurant salads masquerading as health food but actually oozing fat and calories.
SouthBeachDiet.com:
Open-Face Stack Sandwiches
For these fun sandwiches, choose multigrain English muffins with 2.5 or 3 grams of fiber per muffin half. Use a light hand when rubbing the muffins with the raw garlic; a little goes a long way!
4 Healthy Lunch-on-the-Go Suggestions
When you're trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, brown-bagging it to work can sometimes be a challenge. But with a little forethought, you can purchase and/or prepare South Beach Diet-friendly foods that will travel well, taste great, and keep you on track at lunchtime.
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Real Mexican food

(HHS HealthBeat) People from Mexico who eat American style tend to gain weight American style, so researchers have been looking at how to encourage alternatives to big portions of foods with lots of calories.
At the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, in Portland, Oregon, Nangel Lindberg developed a year-long program to help 47 Mexican-American women return to a more traditional Mexican eating pattern that includes more fruits and vegetables, less sugar and a more balanced diet. Women who finished the program lost about 16 pounds.
Lindberg advises: “Eat the way your grandmother would tell you to eat. Eat your vegetables, don’t eat too much, don’t eat too much sugar.”
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Food as Medicine

(The People’s Pharmacy) Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here's what it's about:
A physician-chef finds that healthy eating is easier when the food tastes good. Food can have a powerful effect on our bodies. Even the herbs and spices in the kitchen cupboard can help us heal.
One of those spices, turmeric, is the subject of many studies of its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant activity. We speak with a top researcher about the power of turmeric against the pain of rheumatoid arthritis.
We explore the stories behind the health headlines and answer listeners' questions about food as medicine.
Guests: John La Puma, MD, is a board certified specialist in internal medicine at the Santa Barbara Institute for Medical Nutrition and Healthy Weight. He is also a graduate of the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and has pioneered the use of food as medicine
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Easy Ways to Save Money on Healthcare Costs

(RealAge.com) As a society, we need more affordable healthcare for all, and soon! And if everyone in North America gets their blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, and blood sugar normal and stops smoking, the United States and Canada will save over 33% on lifetime medical costs and balance budgets for as far as the eye can see (past 2082!). But until the politicians sort out health costs, here are a few simple swaps you can make now:
1.    Grill a salmon burger instead of a beef burger. Save $20 every time you do…
2.    Crunch greens instead of chips at lunch. Save $500 per month…
3.    Don't just cut bad fat. Eat more nuts, soy, whole grains, and plant sterols. Save up to $2,400 per year…
4.    Replace extra pounds with more muscle. Save $7 to $13 a day…
5.    Buy more fresh fruit, veggies, whole grains, low-sodium foods -- and fewer processed foods. Save $300 to $700 per month…
6.    Switch to taking generic drugs instead of skipping pricey brand-name meds. Save your life.
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More from The People’s Pharmacy

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CDC moves to keep new resistant gonorrhea at bay

(USA Today) Federal health officials took steps Thursday to head off the emergence of a new gonorrhea "superbug" that's resistant to standard antibiotics.
Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that infects 700,000 Americans a year, already has become resistant to all but one class of antibiotics and could soon become untreatable, federal health officials warned.
Doctors at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new treatment guidelines, hoping to delay the inevitable day when standard drugs no longer work. The guidelines call for withholding a potent oral antibiotic now commonly used to treat the infection. Instead, doctors should use an injectable form to which the gonorrhea bacteria seems less likely to develop resistance, along with a second type of antibiotic pills.
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Discovery May Hold Key for Universal Flu Vaccine

(ABC News) Researchers at Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., and Crucell Vaccine Institute in the Netherlands say they have discovered a human antibody that protects against essentially all influenza A and B strains.
The researchers believe the antibody could be used to offer something that has never been available before – an actual treatment for patients who are infected with the flu. Currently, such patients are only given supportive treatment while their bodies fight off the infection on their own.
The discovery may even pave the way to a universal flu vaccine, effective against nearly all flu strains, that could be delivered in a one-time shot similar to immunization against diseases like chickenpox and measles.
Ideally, such a vaccine would eliminate the need for annual flu shots, which are specifically tailored to seasonal strains.
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Blood Pressure Pills Linked to Lip Cancer

(The People’s Pharmacy) Commonly prescribed blood pressure medications can sensitize the skin to ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
The diuretic hydrochlorothiazide or HCTZ is found in dozens of blood pressure pills. A new study suggests that this drug as well as another antihypertensive medication called nifedipine may increase the risk of lip cancer. Such photosensitizing drugs absorb ultraviolet energy and increase the likelihood of cellular damage.
Previous research has shown that these medications may predispose people to squamous cell skin cancer. People taking diuretics like hydrochlorothiazide should be especially careful to protect their skin and lips from ultraviolet sun exposure.
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Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs May Be Linked to Increased Cataract Risk

(Science Daily) Patients using cholesterol-lowering statin drugs may be at increased risk of developing age-related cataracts, according to a study…
While further research is needed to understand the true nature of the association, the additional risk of cataracts in statin users appears similar to [the cataract risk] associated with type 2 diabetes, according to the study.
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Slower Growth in Health Spending Predates Recession

(MedPage Today) The slowdown in the growth in health spending predated the recession by nearly two-and-a-half years, one analysis shows, giving credence to the notion that the dip can’t be pinned solely on the economy.
Furthermore, the slowing in the growth rate that started in mid-2005 appears to be continuing, according to the analysis.
Community: When I was growing up, we didn’t run to the doctor every time we got a little cut or caught a cold. It’s time we went back to more judicious use of medical services.
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89 Million Americans Medically Uninsured During 2004 to 2007

(Science Daily) Eighty-nine million Americans were without health insurance for at least one month during the period from 2004 to 2007, and 23 million lost coverage more than once during that time, according to researchers…
"These findings call attention to the continuing instability and insecurity of health insurance in our country," said Pamela Farley Short… "With more than a third of all Americans under age 65 being uninsured at some point in a four-year period, it's easy to see that the problem of being uninsured is a big one that affects lots of people."
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Two-Tier Health Care

(Todd Hixon, Forbes) Massachusetts, the canary in the health care reform coal mine, is starting to have a two tier health care system. That means that people with limited means have one system available to them, and those who can pay up have another…
I’m not a radical, but this does evoke images of the Soviet state where the Vlasti (political elite) had access to well-staffed, western-standard clinics and the rest stood in line for overworked, miserably underpaid docs. Or of U.S. Congressmen, with their platinum-plated, government-paid health plan for life, making the ACA sausage for the rest of us…
Fundamentally, we’re spending about all that we can on health care. Restraint has to occur some how. The main ways to restrain demand are shortage/queuing (as in the UK), administrative fiat (as in the Soviet Union), or economic incentives, e.g., a two tier system. Each of us gets to decide whether it’s worth the extra $5,000 (hypothetically) to have the hip done at Mass General, or at the Mt. Auburn hospital, a perfectly good but less prestigious alternative. The Saudi princes will no doubt stay with Mass General.
I’ll vote for economic incentives. Each of us gets to make his/her choice in light of the medical facts and our circumstances. And entrepreneurs who find ways to deliver quality care for less have a fair chance to attract customers and change the world.
Community: Here’s a better two-tiered system: Insurance companies really don’t want to cover catastrophic illnesses, so why not have them covered by a national program, either administered by Medicare or some private company? If the whole country were involved, the cost per person should be minimal. Then the insurance companies could compete on basic coverage only.
I’d like to get all profit-making entities out of the health care business in the long term, but before that can happen, we need to build a real opposition to the exaggerations and outright lies promoted by the right wing.
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U.S. Retirement Expert: Medicare Woes Mostly Rooted in Myth

(Science Daily) Various misconceptions surrounding the continued viability of Medicare can be debunked or discredited, making it more important than ever for voters and policymakers to fully understand the program's existing contours and limitations, according to a paper published by a University of Illinois expert on retirement benefits.
Law professor Richard L. Kaplan says Medicare has become one of the most controversial federal programs for numerous reasons, but misinformation has played a key role in fostering criticism of it…
Among the myths that have sprouted, perhaps the most popular one is that Medicare is going bankrupt, Kaplan says…
As long as the federal government receives tax revenues from any source and there are any enrollees in Medicare Parts B and D, those two programs can be funded, Kaplan says.
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Older Americans upbeat about aging, future: survey

(Reuters) Baby boomers are upbeat about aging and expect the next phase of their lives to be better than the last, but many are concerned about their financial future and long-term health costs, a survey released in Tuesday showed…
"The reason they are upbeat is because we have changed our definition of aging. People are working longer. They see people that are older being healthier," said Donna Shalala, the president of the University of Miami and a former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services during the Clinton administration…
Whether it is out of necessity, a sense of productivity, or the enjoyment of it, about 20 percent of seniors over 65 said they are still working either full- or part-time…
The poll also showed that a lack of services in the community is a concern for seniors. More than 25 percent of people in their 60s were not confident there would be resources and facilities in their communities to allow them to live independently.
"With appropriate preventive care and lifestyle changes, growing older doesn't have to mean living with chronic disease and disability," said Rhonda Randall, the chief medical officer at United Healthcare & Retirement.
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Why Do Older Adults Display More Positive Emotion?

(Science Daily) Research has shown that older adults display more positive emotions and are quicker to regulate out of negative emotional states than younger adults. Given the declines in cognitive functioning and physical health that tend to come with age, we might expect that age would be associated with worse moods, not better ones.
So what explains older adults' positive mood regulation?
In a new article…, researcher Derek Isaacowitz of Northeastern University explores positive looking as one possible explanation: older adults may be better at regulating emotion because they tend to direct their eyes away from negative material or toward positive material.
Community: Could it be that the negative nellies don’t reach an advanced age? Maybe they’ve died of stress related diseases before age 60. See here and here.
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High Anxiety Linked to Sign of Faster Aging

(MyHealthNewsDaily) High levels of anxiety might really make you age faster, a new study suggests.
The study found a link between a common form of anxiety called phobic anxiety — an unreasonable fear of certain situations, such as crowds, heights or the outside world — and shorter telomeres in middle-aged and older women. Telomeres are caps on the ends of chromosomes that protect the genetic material from damage.
"Many people wonder about whether — and how — stress can make us age faster," said study researcher Dr. Olivia Okereke, a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. "This study is notable for showing a connection between a common form of psychological stress — phobic anxiety — and a plausible mechanism for premature aging," Okereke said.
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More Education, Socioeconomic Benefits Equals Longer Life

(Science Daily) Despite advances in health care and increases in life expectancy overall, Americans with less than a high school education have life expectancies similar to adults in the 1950s and 1960s.
"The most highly educated white men live about 14 years longer than the least educated black men," says S. Jay Olshansky, professor of epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health and lead author of the study. "The least educated black women live about 10 years less than the most educated white women."
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