Saturday, December 31, 2011

Really? The Claim: Symptoms of Heart Disease Can Show Up in the Eyes

Is heart disease in the eyes? For some people, it just might be.

Studies have shown that higher levels of lipids, or fats, in the blood can cause some people to develop raised yellow patches of skin around the eyelids, known as xanthelasma. Generally the spots are considered a benign cosmetic issue. Though they affect people of all ages, they are most common in middle age and later. Last year an Italian researcher reported that he spotted clear signs of xanthelasma around Mona Lisa’s left eye.

But in a study this year in the journal BMJ, Danish scientists decided to look at whether these yellow patches could be an indication of underlying cardiovascular disease, tied to high cholesterol. In the study, the researchers followed nearly 13,000 adults over age 30 who were taking part in the Copenhagen City Heart Study.

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Friday, December 30, 2011

Why anything can be addictive

For many people the concept of addiction involves taking drugs such as alcohol, nicotine, cocaine and heroin.
But in this week's Scrubbing Up, gambling studies expert Mark Griffiths warns that if the rewards are there people can become addicted to almost anything.
For the past 25 years I have been studying gambling and I passionately believe that gambling at its most extreme is just as addictive as any drug.
The social and health costs of problem gambling are large and have many things in common with more traditional addictions, including moodiness, relationship problems, absenteeism from work, domestic violence, and bankruptcy.
Health effects - for gamblers and their partners - include anxiety and depression, insomnia, intestinal disorders, migraine, stress related disorders, stomach problems, and suicidal thoughts.
If behaviours like gambling can become a genuine addiction, there is no theoretical reason why some people might not become genuinely addicted to activities like video games, work or exercise.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Exercise Info, Not Calorie Counts, Helps Teens Drop Sodas

Sugary drinks like soda are a big cause of obesity, but public health types haven't had much luck convincing the public of that.

But what if you knew that it would take 50 minutes of jogging to burn off one soda?

When researchers taped signs saying just that on the drink coolers in four inner-city neighborhood stores, sales of sugary beverages to teenagers dropped by 50 percent. That tactic was more effective than a sign saying that the drinks had 250 calories each, or a sign saying that a soft drink accounts for 11 percent of recommended daily calories.

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Why Are We More Hungry In The Winter?

If you feel hungrier as winter draws near, you're not alone. Even though most of us spend our days in climate-controlled offices and homes, our appetites seem to change when the days grow shorter. Some researchers say it's our primitive impulses promting us to stockpile calories for the winter ahead.

"We are driven by things implanted in our brain a long, long time ago," says Ira Ockene, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School who has long been interested in how seasonal variations influence our health.

Ockene's own research has documented that caloric intake tends to increase as the weather turns colder. He also points to a study done at the University of Georgia back in 1991.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

24,000 diabetes deaths a year 'could be avoided'

Up to 24,000 diabetes-related deaths could be avoided in England each year, if patients and doctors better managed the condition, a report concludes.

The first-ever audit of patient deaths from the condition said basic health checks, a good diet and regular medication could prevent most of them.

Diabetes UK said it was vital the 2.3 million sufferers had top quality care.

The Department of Health in England said shocking variations in care and an unacceptable death toll were evident.

About a third of people in the UK affected do not realise they have the condition.

It means their bodies cannot use glucose properly. If they do not manage it, they can develop potentially fatal complications like heart or kidney failure.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Gay marriage 'improves health'

Legalising same-sex marriage may create a healthier environment for gay men, say US researchers.

The number of visits by gay men to health clinics dropped significantly after same-sex unions were allowed in the state Massachusetts.

This was regardless of whether the men were in a stable relationship, reported the American Journal of Public Health.

A UK HIV charity said there was a clear link between happiness and health.

Research has already suggested that gay men are more likely to suffer from depression and suicidal thoughts than heterosexual men, and that social exclusion may be partly responsible.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Real-world holiday weight-control advice

It’s here. That year-end onslaught of cookies, candy, cakes and calories. Who better to offer weight-control advice, I thought, than people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off?

I spoke with three Washington area residents: Herbert Walker, 49, of Frederick has lost more than 51 pounds. Dawn Williams, 44, of Lexington Park has lost 205 pounds. And Sam Hardman, 32, of Fairfax has lost 85 pounds. Walker and Williams are in the TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly) Club, a support group for those trying to lose weight. Hardman lost his weight largely with a commercial meal-replacement plan called Medifast. Here are some lessons they have learned to keep from backsliding, especially this time of year.

1. Plan ahead. “I always eat something healthy before I go to a party so I’m not hungry when I get there,” Hardman says. “When you get hit by that wall of hunger, that’s when it’s easy to give in.”

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Strict diet could save brain from aging: study

Eating less may keep the mind young, according to Italian scientists who reported Monday they have discovered the molecular process by which a strict diet may save the brain from the ravages of age.

The research, published in the US journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is based on a study of mice that were fed a diet of about 70 percent of the food they normally consumed.

Scientists found the calorie-restricted diet triggered a protein molecule, CREB1, that activates a host of genes linked to longevity and good brain function.

"Our hope is to find a way to activate CREB1, for example through new drugs, so to keep the brain young without the need of a strict diet," said lead author Giovambattista Pani, researcher at the Institute of General Pathology, Faculty of Medicine at the Catholic University of Sacred Heart in Rome.

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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Maggots Clean Wounds Faster Than Surgeons

The idea of putting maggots into open flesh may sound repulsive, but such a therapy might be a quick way to clean wounds, a new study from France suggests.
Men in the study, all of whom had wounds that wouldn't heal, were randomly assigned to have dead and unhealthy tissue removed from their lacerations by either standard surgical therapy or maggots (that eat dead tissue).
After about a week, men who received the maggot therapy had less dead tissue in their wounds than men who underwent surgery, the researchers said.
However, after two weeks, the immature insects had lost their advantage: Both groups had about an equal amount of dead tissue in their wounds. And in the end, the maggots did not help the wounds heal faster.
Although the effects of maggot therapy were not dramatic, it may be useful in certain cases, such as in patients with diabetes, whose wounds need rapid control, the researchers said. But continuing the maggot therapy beyond one week is not of benefit, they said.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Neti pot danger? Two die from amoeba infection

Last week, Louisiana's Department of Health and Hospitals issued a warning to residents: Don't use tap water to rinse your nasal passages.

The warning came after a 51-year-old woman in the state died after she was infected with the "brain-eating" amoeba Naegleria fowleri, which enters the body through the nose and sometimes causes devastating meningitis. Apparently, the amoeba lurked in tap water the woman used in her neti pot, a pitcher-like device used to rinse nasal passages.

"Tap water is safe for drinking, but not for irrigating your nose," Louisiana's state epidemiologist, Dr. Raoult Ratard, said in a statement. He urged those who want to rinse their sinuses to use distilled, sterile or previously boiled water, and to rinse their neti pot (or other irrigation device) after each use and allow it to air dry.

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monsanto Corn May Be Failing to Kill Bugs in 4 States, EPA Says

Monsanto Co. corn that is genetically engineered to kill insects may be losing effectiveness against rootworms in four states, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said.

Rootworms in Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska are suspected of developing tolerance of the plants’ insecticide, based on documented cases of severe crop damage and reports from entomologists, the EPA said in a document dated Nov. 22 and posted yesterday on the government website. Monsanto’s program for monitoring suspected cases of resistance is “inadequate,” the EPA said.

An Iowa State University study said in July that some rootworms have evolved resistance to an insect-killing protein derived from Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, a natural insecticide engineered into Monsanto corn. Entomologists in Illinois and other Midwestern states are studying possible resistance where the insects devour roots in Monsanto’s Bt corn.

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Incredibly, World's Tiniest Preterm Babies Are Doing Just Fine Read more:

The Starbucks peppermint latte I'm sipping weighs nearly 3 oz. more than Rumaisa Rahman did at birth. The tiny twin, born in 2004 at Loyola University Medical Center weighing 9.2 oz., holds the record of world's smallest baby. She unseated the previous title-holder, Madeline Mann, born 15 years earlier at 9.9 oz., also at Loyola.

Dr. Jonathan Muraskas resuscitated both babies, who are now 7 and 22. A Loyola professor of pediatrics and neonatal/perinatal medicine, Muraskas knows a thing or two about extremely low birthweight babies born the size of cell phones. And now he's published a study in Pediatrics that looks at the girls' outcomes several years down the road.

Amazingly, both micropreemies have reached appropriate developmental milestones in both motor and language skills. Rumaisa is a first-grader, and Madeline is an honors student at Augustana College in Rockland, Ill. They have thrived, but their stories should not be interpreted as the norm and could even "propagate false expectations for families, caregivers and the medico-legal community alike," according to the research.

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Cilantro Recalled Due to Possible Salmonella

A California produce distributor, Pacific International Marketing, or Pacific, is recalling 6,141 cartons of cilantro due to potential Salmonella contamination.

A sample of the cilantro tested positive for Salmonella, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

No illnesses have been reported.

Source of the contamination is unknown, the Salinas-based distributor said in a news release. The cilantro came from Salt River farming, located in Phoenix, AZ and was distributed through retailers in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Indiana, South Carolina and Missouri.

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Off the Mat, Into Court: Lawsuit Pits Bikram and Yoga to the People

Thursday’s 11:30 a.m. session at the Bikram Yoga NYC studio in the Flatiron District began as usual: a handful of half-dressed students slowly flapped their elbows as they decelerated their breath and stared at themselves in the mirror. After paying as much as $25 each, they began their mindful workouts in the 105-degree “Torture Chamber,” while outside on Fifth Avenue, pedestrians scurried past in coats.

A few blocks away, on West 27th Street, about 30 pupils soon began the same breathing exercises, dripping with sweat in the 103-degree heat. But this class, labeled “Traditional Hot Yoga” and offered by the growing studio chain Yoga to the People, cost just $8.

“Yoga should be for everyone,” Matt Hillock, a blissed-out, wrung-out student, said after the lower-priced class.

But Bikram Choudhury, the millionaire founder of Bikram Yoga, believes his kind of yoga belongs to him — he has even copyrighted it. Now, he has sued Yoga to the People for copyright infringement, seeking monetary damages and asking a federal judge to block Yoga to the People from offering its hot yoga class.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Birth control focus may turn women off the Pill

A ruling last week on the morning-after pill, as well as government recommendations on new forms of birth control, could have long-lasting effects on women's perceptions of its safety, health experts say.

Last Wednesday, the U.S. health secretary for the first time overruled government scientists, refusing to make the morning--after pill available to users of all ages without a prescription.

In the days that followed, advisers to the Food and Drug Administration recommended revised labels on the best-selling class of birth control pills, as well as for a contraceptive patch, to better convey their higher risk of blood clots.

Some women's advocacy groups worried the negative attention on the blood clot risk of a new generation of pills that contain drospirenone -- including Bayer AG's popular Yaz and Yasmin -- would create concerns about birth control in general.

An FDA study estimated that 10 in 10,000 women taking the drospirenone-containing drugs would get a blood clot per year, compared with about six in 10,000 women taking older contraceptives.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Some cereal no more healthy than twinkies or cookies

If you're feeding your kids Honey Smacks or Apple Jacks for breakfast you might as well just give them a chocolate chip cookie or twinkie, according to results from a nutritional analysis of kids cereals.

The Environmental Working Group analyzed 84 cereals and found many contain as much or more sugar than many desserts. The worst culprit was Kellogg's Honey Smacks. A one-cup serving packs 20 grams of sugar, more than a Hostess Twinkie, which has 18 grams of sugar. Post Golden Crisps and General Mills Wheaties Fuel also have more sugar than a Twinkie, according to the analysis.

The group said sugary breakfast choices can be troublesome. It cited studies that have found that children who eat high sugar breakfasts have more problems at school. They become more frustrated and have a harder time working independently than kids who eat lower-sugar breakfasts. By lunchtime they have less energy, are hungrier, show attention defi cits and make more mistakes on their work.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Top 10 Healthiest States in the Nation

United Health Foundation has released its annual report on “America’s Health Rankings,” and reveals some disturbing news. This state-by-state report card showed no improvement in American’s health in the last year, unlike the previous two decades, which saw an average of 1.6 percent per year. Disappointing, and costly for a nation in which the economy has taken a dip and many are uninsured.

Reed Tuckson, a United Health Foundation board member warned that the nation is facing “a tsunami of preventable illness,” which is partially driven by the increase in obesity rates and diabetes in this year’s report.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

North Carolina poultry company recalls cooked chicken

A North Carolina poultry company is recalling approximately 4,000 pounds of cooked chicken breasts that may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that the House of Raeford Farms, based in Rose Hill, North Carolina, recalled 18- to 22-pound boxes containing two 9- to 11-pound "boneless oven roasted chicken breasts" per box.

Consumers should look for serial number "P-239A" inside the USDA mark of inspection, along with a product code of "94268" and a package date of "1270" (September 27, 2011). The products were shipped to delicatessens and food service institutions for further processing in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to a USDA press release.

The problem was discovered after a customer's laboratory sample of the chicken tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, according to the USDA statement. Neither the department's Food Safety and Inspection Service nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have received any reports of illness due to consumption of these products.

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

Too few doctors may be telling parents their kids are overweight

Parents can sometimes be clueless about the fact that their kids are too heavy, but doctors may not be steering them in the right direction. A study finds that less than a fourth of parents recollect their healthcare providers telling them their children were overweight.

From 1999 to 2008, 4,985 parents of children age 2 to 15 who had a body mass index in the 85th percentile or higher were asked if they had ever been told by a physician or health professional that their child was overweight.

Overall, 22.4% of parents reported they'd been told. Percentages tended to be higher among minorities, older children, poorer children and those who had public insurance and logged more healthcare visits.

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

Can positive thinking make you well?

Observers may have noticed recently that mainstream medicine is taking a harder line against positive thinking.

Surveys of the leading research in the field conclude that recovery rates from cancer, for example, are not higher among patients who take a positive attitude about fighting their disease. Studies that show the reverse have been small and, according to their critics, flawed in serious ways.

Anyone would be forgiven for throwing up their hands. This seems like another example of dueling data, where one study's findings are contradicted by the next study, leaving the public in a state of confusion.

Doctors are confused, too. It has always been part of a doctor's kit bag to tell patients to keep their spirits up. Until a few decades ago, it was standard not to acquaint a dying patient with the gravity of his condition, which implies an unspoken agreement that hearing bad news isn't good for patients.

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Fitness Key to Longevity

Men who were physically fit in their 40s and maintained that fitness level for a decade reduced their risk of all-cause death by 30% compared with men who were flabby at 40, according to the results of a long-term prospective study.

During more than 11 years of follow-up, those who maintained their baseline fitness levels had a 28% lower risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) death, while those who improved their fitness had a 40% and 44% lower risk of all-cause and CVD death, respectively, compared with those who remained unfit, reported Duck-chul Lee, PhD, from the University of South Carolina at Columbia, and colleagues.

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lean Acorn Crop in Northeast May Lead to More Lime Disease

Coming on the heels of an acorn glut, the dearth this year will probably have a cascade of effects on the forest ecosystem, culling the populations of squirrels, field mice and ground-nesting birds. And because the now-overgrown field mouse population will crash, legions of ticks — some infected with Lyme disease — will be aggressively pursuing new hosts, like humans.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

‘Eat More Kale’ T-Shirts Challenged by Chick-fil-A

For Bo Muller-Moore, a folk artist from Vermont, the T-shirts he hand-screens with the slogan “Eat More Kale” are a dream fulfilled: a quirky project that has emblazoned this leafy mandate across the chests of people worldwide, and one he wants to trademark.

So when Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain that says it sells 537 sandwiches a minute with the help of the slogan “Eat mor chikin” (the words have been penned by cows), sent him a cease-and-desist letter this fall, Mr. Muller-Moore decided to fight the company, setting off a groundswell of local support and national media attention.

“This is corporate bullying,” Mr. Muller-Moore said. His lawyer, Daniel Richardson, sent Chick-fil-A a letter in November, contesting its claim that the slogan “is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property.”

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Five-year-old's removal from family spotlights obesity intervention

As the childhood obesity epidemic continues to grow, health officials are turning to extreme measures. Now, a 5-year-old child from the U.K. has been taken from his parents due to obesity concerns, the Daily Mail reported.

The child, whose name was not released, is among the youngest ever to be taken into care because of obesity. The child, who hailed from Tameside, Greater Manchester, reportedly weighed 60-pounds and had mass index of 22.6, which is considered clinically obese.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Study Detects Arsenic in Rice

Rice is a source of arsenic exposure in the U.S., a study of pregnant women showed.
Both rice consumption and exposure to arsenic through cooking with or drinking tap water were associated with increased arsenic concentrations in the urine (P<0.0001 for both), according to Diane Gilbert-Diamond, PhD, of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., and colleagues.
The researchers determined that eating 0.56 cups of cooked rice each day was comparable to drinking one liter of water containing 10 µg of arsenic, the federal safe standard for drinking water. The average amount of rice eaten in the U.S. is about half a cup per day, although some groups -- including Asians and people eating a gluten-free diet -- consume much more.