Posts Tagged “Medicine”

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Journaling Key to Weight LossCharmaine Jackson lost half her body weight

These are my healthy news health headlines for February 21st through March 4th:

  • Journaling helps woman lose half her body weight
    Charmaine Jackson can tell you what she ate on any date for the past five years.She can tell you how much she exercised, what kind of mood she was in, how much water she drank — even if she watched television while mindlessly munching away.

    All she has to do is flip through the pages of her 14 journals.

    The reason she began her daily record keeping was simple — she wanted to lose weight and keep it off.

    It may sound extreme, but it paid off. Since she began keeping journals, Jackson is half the person she used to be — going from 260 to 130 pounds.

    “(Journaling has) really helped me get an idea of what my behaviors are, what my patterns are, how I can make change for myself for good,” she said. “You wouldn’t see it unless you look at it over time and you really get a chance to see this worked and why.”

  • Exercise, less sitting time, linked to better sleep
    Insomniacs looking for a good night’s sleep may want to hit the treadmill, take a walk or play a game of golf or tennis because a new report released on Monday shows exercise promotes good sleep and the more vigorous the workout the better.Just 10 minutes of exercise a day could make a difference in the duration and quality of sleep, the survey by the non-profit National Sleep Foundation showed.

    “We found that exercise and great sleep go together, hand in hand,” Max Hirshkowitz, a sleep researcher and the chair of the poll task force, said in an interview.

  • Doctors report first cure of HIV in a child -For the first time, doctors are reporting that they have cured a child of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.The landmark finding will help scientists better understand the nature of HIV, doctors say, and could potentially help countless HIV-positive babies in developing countries.

    “I’m sort of holding my breath that this child’s virus doesn’t come back in the future,” says Hannah Gay, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, who treated the child, a 2½-year-old Mississippi girl. “I’m certainly very hopeful that it will produce studies that will show us a way to cure other babies in the future.”

  • What Housework Has to Do With Waistlines
    One reason so many American women are overweight may be that we are vacuuming and doing laundry less often, according to a new study that, while scrupulously even-handed, is likely to stir controversy and emotions.The study, published this month in PLoS One, is a follow-up to an influential 2011 report which used data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to determine that, during the past 50 years, most American workers began sitting down on the job. Physical activity at work, such as walking or lifting, almost vanished, according to the data, with workers now spending most of their time seated before a computer or talking on the phone. Consequently, the authors found, the average American worker was burning almost 150 fewer calories daily at work than his or her employed parents had, a change that had materially contributed to the rise in obesity during the same time frame, especially among men, the authors concluded.
  • Doctor Groups Issue List of Overused Medical Tests
    In an effort to change entrenched medical practices, 17 major medical specialty groups recommended on Thursday that doctors greatly reduce their use of 90 widely used but largely unnecessary tests and treatments.This list of “don’ts” builds on 45 recommendations made last April, under a broad initiative by the American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation, in partnership with the magazine Consumer Reports.

    “As you look through the lists, a lot of these were mea culpas,” said Dr. Eric Topol, chief academic officer of Scripps Health, a health care provider in San Diego. Dr. Topol was not involved in creating the new recommendations. “The literature had supported these recommendations, but until now they were not sanctioned as no-no’s by the professional groups,” he said.

    Some of the recommendations reinforce existing guidelines, but others aggressively go after procedures that have little evidence of benefit and may cause harm, yet are still practiced on a daily basis.

    For example, the American Society of Echocardiography recommended against using echocardiograms before or during surgery for patients with no history or symptoms of heart disease; doctors routinely perform this test. The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging urged physicians not to perform routine annual stress testing using a nuclear heart scan after coronary artery surgery. This is also a routine test, and it exposes the patient to radiation equivalent to 2,000 chest X-rays.

  • Smoking cessation in old age: Less heart attacks and strokes within five years
    Professor Hermann Brenner and colleagues analyzed the data of 8.807 individuals aged between 50 and 74 years using data of Saarland citizens. “We were able to show that the risk of smokers for cardiovascular diseases is more than twice that of non-smokers. However, former smokers are affected at almost the same low rate as people of the same age who never smoked,” says Brenner. “Moreover, smokers are affected at a significantly younger age than individuals who have never smoked or have stopped smoking.”
  • Study disputes long-term medical savings from bariatric surgery
    In the span of 15 years, the number of bariatric surgeries performed in the United States has grown more than 16-fold to roughly 220,000 per year, gaining cachet as a near-panacea for obesity.Despite the daunting price tag, mounting research has boosted hopes that the stomach-stapling operations could reduce the nation’s healthcare bill by weaning patients off the costly drugs and frequent doctor visits that come with chronic obesity-related diseases like diabetes and arthritis.

    But a new study has found that the surgery does not reduce patients’ medical costs over the six years after they are wheeled out of the operating room.

  • The Benefits of Exercising Outdoors
    While the allure of the gym – climate-controlled, convenient and predictable – is obvious, especially in winter, emerging science suggests there are benefits to exercising outdoors that can’t be replicated on a treadmill, a recumbent bicycle or a track.You stride differently when running outdoors, for one thing. Generally, studies find, people flex their ankles more when they run outside. They also, at least occasionally, run downhill, a movement that isn’t easily done on a treadmill and that stresses muscles differently than running on flat or uphill terrain. Outdoor exercise tends, too, to be more strenuous than the indoor version. In studies comparing the exertion of running on a treadmill and the exertion of running outside, treadmill runners expended less energy to cover the same distance as those striding across the ground outside, primarily because indoor exercisers face no wind resistance or changes in terrain, no matter how subtle.

    The same dynamic has been shown to apply to cycling, where wind drag can result in much greater energy demands during 25 miles of outdoor cycling than the same distance on a stationary bike. That means if you have limited time and want to burn as many calories as possible, you should hit the road instead of the gym.

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Little House on the Prairie

These are my health links for January 31st through February 4th:

  • How did ‘Little House’ sister really become blind? -Any fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s beloved “Little House” books knows how the author’s sister Mary went blind: scarlet fever. But turns out that probably wasn’t the cause, medical experts say, upending one of the more dramatic elements in the classic stories.An analysis of historical documents, biographical records and other material suggests another disease that causes swelling in the brain and upper spinal cord was the most likely culprit. It was known as “brain fever” in the late 1800s, the setting for the mostly true stories about Wilder’s pioneer family.Scarlet fever was rampant and feared at the time, and it was likely often misdiagnosed for other illnesses that cause fever, the researchers said.
  • Battles Erupt Over Filling Doctors’ Shoes -As physician assistants and other midlevel health professionals fill growing gaps in primary health care, turf battles are erupting in many states over what they can and can’t do in medical practices.One of the bitterest fights is in Kentucky, where physician assistants are lobbying the state legislature to repeal a law that says that for the first 18 months after certification, physician assistants are allowed to treat patients only when a supervising physician is on site. Being in phone contact isn’t deemed sufficient.The Kentucky Medical Association, which represents doctors in the state, says it is still evaluating the bill. But it helped push for an on-site requirement in 2003 and helped block two previous attempts to rescind the 18-month rule, on the grounds that physician assistants have far less experience than physicians and benefit from more supervision.
  • Effective Addiction Treatment – Make that Evidence Based -Countless people addicted to drugs, alcohol or both have managed to get clean and stay clean with the help of organizations like Alcoholics Anonymous or the thousands of residential and outpatient clinics devoted to treating addiction.But if you have failed one or more times to achieve lasting sobriety after rehab, perhaps after spending tens of thousands of dollars, you’re not alone. And chances are, it’s not your fault.Of the 23.5 million teenagers and adults addicted to alcohol or drugs, only about 1 in 10 gets treatment, which too often fails to keep them drug-free. Many of these programs fail to use proven methods to deal with the factors that underlie addiction and set off relapse.

    According to recent examinations of treatment programs, most are rooted in outdated methods rather than newer approaches shown in scientific studies to be more effective in helping people achieve and maintain addiction-free lives. People typically do more research when shopping for a new car than when seeking treatment for addiction.

    A groundbreaking report published last year by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University concluded that “the vast majority of people in need of addiction treatment do not receive anything that approximates evidence-based care.” The report added, “Only a small fraction of individuals receive interventions or treatment consistent with scientific knowledge about what works.”

  • Key TB vaccine trial fails; more waiting in the wings -A highly anticipated study of the first new tuberculosis vaccine in 90 years showed it offered no added benefit over the current vaccine when it came to protecting babies from TB infections, a disappointing but not entirely unexpected outcome, researchers said on Monday.The vaccine, known as MVA85A, is the most advanced of more than a dozen TB vaccines now in clinical trials in people, and scientists are poring over the results to learn why the trial failed and how the results can inform future studies.MVA85A was developed by researchers at the University of Oxford in Britain with support from Aeras, the Wellcome Trust, the European Commission and the Oxford-Emergent Tuberculosis Consortium, a joint venture between Oxford and Emergent Biosolutions Inc.

    “Obviously, we all would have liked to see greater protection,” said Dr Ann Ginsberg of Aeras, a non-profit biotech based in Rockville, Maryland and funded in large part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

    The current TB vaccine, known as Bacille Calmette-Guérin, or BCG, was developed in 1921, and is given routinely to babies in countries with high rates of TB to prevent severe disease.

    However, protection wears off in just a few years, and BCG does nothing to protect against the most common form of tuberculosis that invades the lungs of adults and adolescents, and can be transmitted through coughing and sneezing.

  • Vitamin C supplements tied to men’s kidney stones -Men who take vitamin C supplements are at higher-than-average risk of developing kidney stones, a new study from Sweden suggests.The findings don’t prove the vitamin itself triggers stones to form. But researchers said that because there are no clear benefits tied to taking high-dose vitamin C, people who have had stones in the past might want to think before taking extra supplements.”I don’t think I would hold this up and say, ‘You shouldn’t take vitamin C, and here’s the evidence,’” said Dr. Brian Matlaga, a urologist who studies kidney stones at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore.

    But, “When you talk to patients, a lot of times you’ll find patients are taking non-prescribed medications, like vitamin supplements… and there may not be great evidence that there’s an actual health benefit associated with these,” he told Reuters Health.

    The new finding “suggests that stone formers who take regular vitamin C may actually place themselves at increased risk,” said Matlaga, who wasn’t involved in the study.

  • Myths of Weight Loss Are Plentiful, Researcher Says -If schools reinstated physical education classes, a lot of fat children would lose weight. And they might never have gotten fat in the first place if their mothers had just breast fed them when they were babies. But be warned: obese people should definitely steer clear of crash diets. And they can lose more than 50 pounds in five years simply by walking a mile a day.Those are among the myths and unproven assumptions about obesity and weight loss that have been repeated so often and with such conviction that even scientists like David B. Allison, who directs the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, have fallen for some of them.Now, he is trying to set the record straight. In an article published online today in The New England Journal of Medicine, he and his colleagues lay out seven myths and six unsubstantiated presumptions about obesity. They also list nine facts that, unfortunately, promise little in the way of quick fixes for the weight-obsessed. Example: “Trying to go on a diet or recommending that someone go on a diet does not generally work well in the long term.”
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Here I am working on a patient and challenging my brain!

Apparently so, according to a new study.

People who challenge their brains throughout their lifetimes — through reading, writing and playing games — are less likely to develop protein deposits in the brain linked with Alzheimer’s, researchers said on Monday.

Prior studies have suggested that people who are well educated and stay mentally active build up brain reserves that allow them to stay sharp even if deposits of the destructive protein called beta amyloid form in the brain.

But the latest study, based on brain-imaging research, suggests that people who stay mentally engaged beginning in childhood and remain so throughout their lives actually develop fewer amyloid plaques.

“We’re not talking about the brain’s response to amyloid. We’re talking about the actual accumulation of amyloid,” Dr. William Jagust of the University of California, Berkeley, whose study appears in the Archives of Neurology, said in an interview. “It’s a brand new finding.”

And, throw in some exercise.

Of course, there will be more research.

Currently, there are no drugs available to successfully prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

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The Alzheimer’s Brain

A worthy goal, especially since I am of the age where I might require it.

The government is setting what it calls an ambitious goal for Alzheimer’s disease: Development of effective ways to treat and prevent the mind-destroying illness by 2025.

The Obama administration is developing the first National Alzheimer’s Plan to find better treatments for the disease and offer better day-to-day care for those afflicted.

A newly released draft of the overall goals sets the 2025 deadline, but doesn’t provide details of how to fund the necessary research to meet that target date. Today’s treatments only temporarily ease some dementia symptoms, and work to find better ones has been frustratingly slow.

A committee of Alzheimer’s experts begins a two-day meeting Tuesday to help advise the government on how to finalize the plan.

An estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s or similar dementias. It’s the sixth-leading killer, and is steadily growing as the population rapidly ages. By 2050, 13 million to 16 million Americans are projected to have Alzheimer’s, costing $1 trillion in medical and nursing home expenditures.

I hope not.

But, seriously, the disease is horrible and the research goal is much welcomed.

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According to a new study.
Women who have non-melanoma skin cancers are more likely to have smoked cigarettes compared to women without skin cancer, said researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., who published study results in a recent issue of Cancer Causes Control.

The researchers concluded that:

  •     Cigarette smoking was associated with non-melanoma skin cancer, and the risk increased with increasing dose (cigarettes per day) and number of years smoked.
  •     Among men, smoking was modestly associated with BCC andSCC.
  •     Among women, smoking was strongly associated with SCC, but not BCC.

So, if you don’t smoke, don’t start.

If you do smoke, cut back and then quit….

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