Posts Tagged “Smoking”

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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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Cigarette Warning Graphic

These are my healthy links for February 19th:

  • California’s Tobacco Control Program generates huge health care savings, study shows -Over a span of nearly 20 years, California’s tobacco control program cost $2.4 billion and reduced health care costs by $134 billion, according to a new study by UC San Francisco (UCSF).Additionally, the study — covering the beginning of the program in 1989 to 2008 — found that the state program helped lead to some 6.8 billion fewer packs of cigarettes being sold that would have been worth $28.5 billion in sales to cigarette companies.
  • When to Retire a Running Shoe -Ryan Hall, one of the world’s best distance runners, used to pride himself on wearing his running shoes into nubs. No more. Now he assiduously replaces his shoes after running about 200 miles in them. He goes through two pairs a month.“I know that my shoes could probably handle a couple of hundred more miles before they are worn out, but my health is so important to me that I like to always make sure my equipment is fresh,” he said.Of course Mr. Hall, sponsored by Asics, does not have to pay for his shoes. Most of the rest of us do, and at around $100 a pair they aren’t cheap. Yet we are warned constantly to replace them often, because running in threadbare shoes may lead to injuries that can take months to heal.

    So here’s a simple question: How do you know when your shoes are ready for those discard bins in gyms? And if you do get injured, is it fair to blame your shoes?

  • States worry about rate shock during shift to new health law -Less than a year before Americans will be required to have insurance under President Obama’s healthcare law, many of its backers are growing increasingly anxious that premiums could jump, driven up by the legislation itself.Higher premiums could undermine a core promise of the Affordable Care Act: to make basic health protections available to all Americans for the first time. Major rate increases also threaten to cause a backlash just as the law is supposed to deliver many key benefits Obama promised when he signed it in 2010.”The single biggest issue we face now is affordability,” said Jill Zorn, senior program officer at the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut, a consumer advocacy group that championed the new law.
  • It’s official: The feds will run most Obamacare exchanges -Friday was a very important day for health policy days. It was the last day for states to tell the federal government whether they wanted any part in running the Affordable Care Act  health exchanges come 2014.
    The federal government did not get many takers. Some of the most closely watched states, including Florida and New Jersey, decided to leave the entire task to the federal government. All told, the federal government will run 26 of the state health exchanges. It  also will partner with seven states, where state and federal officials take joint responsibility for the marketplace. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia will take on the task themselves. Here’s what that looks like in map form, via the Kaiser Family Foundation. 
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These are my links for January 20th through January 25th:

  • Penalty could keep smokers out of health overhaul -Millions of smokers could be priced out of health insurance because of tobacco penalties in President Barack Obama’s health care law, according to experts who are just now teasing out the potential impact of a little-noted provision in the massive legislation.The Affordable Care Act — “Obamacare” to its detractors — allows health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.For a 55-year-old smoker, the penalty could reach nearly $4,250 a year. A 60-year-old could wind up paying nearly $5,100 on top of premiums.

    Younger smokers could be charged lower penalties under rules proposed last fall by the Obama administration. But older smokers could face a heavy hit on their household budgets at a time in life when smoking-related illnesses tend to emerge.

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  • Lawmakers seek to repeal ‘fiscal-cliff’ provision aiding Amgen -A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is seeking to repeal a Medicare-pricing provision in the recent “fiscal-cliff” deal in Congress that benefits Thousand Oaks biotech giant Amgen Inc.Legislation to eliminate the exemption for a class of drugs, including Amgen’s Sensipar, that are used by kidney dialysis patients, was filed this week by U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.). The fiscal cliff legislation approved this month excluded these oral medications from Medicare price controls for an additional two years.”Amgen managed to get a $500-million paragraph in the fiscal cliff bill, and virtually no one in Congress was aware of it,” Welch said. “It’s a taxpayer rip-off and comes at a really bad time when we’re trying to control healthcare costs. Amgen should not be allowed to turn Medicare into a profit center.”

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  • Gap widens between actual weight and people’s imagined weight -Men and women, particularly those categorized as obese, have grown increasingly likely over the years to underestimate their true weight, according to a recent study.In a paper published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers at University College of Cork examined height and weight data for Irish adults over a nine-year period. In three separate health surveys, men and women were asked to estimate their height and weight, and those figures were used to calculate body mass index, or BMI. Afterward, they were weighed and measured for accuracy.What researchers discovered was that while people routinely misjudged their true dimensions, their weight estimates had grown increasingly inaccurate over time. Their height estimates however remained more or less constant.

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  • U.S. researchers tracking flu through Twitter -Researchers and computer scientists at Johns Hopkins University have devised a way to track cases of influenza across the United States using the microblogging site Twitter.Twitter is full of tweets about the flu, which has been severe and reached epidemic proportions this year, but it has been difficult to separate tweets about the flu from actual cases.”We wanted to separate hype about the flu from messages from people who truly become ill,” said Mark Dredze, an assistant research professor in Johns Hopkins’ department of computer science, who monitors public health trends by looking at tweets.

    To solve the problem, Dredze and his colleagues developed a screening method based on human language-processing technologies that only delivers real-time information on actual flu cases and filters out the rest of the chatter on the public tweets in the United States.

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  • Quitting smoking prolongs life at any age -t’s never too late to quit smoking, and researchers have new data to prove it. Even at the age of 64, kicking the habit can add four years to a person’s life, while quitting by age 34 can increase life expectancy by a decade, according to a study published online Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine.After analyzing health data from more than 200,000 Americans, researchers calculated that current smokers were three times more likely to die during the course of the study compared with people who had never smoked. For the most part, their deaths were caused by smoking-related ailments, including heart and lung disease. Overall, their odds of surviving to age 80 were half as good as for never-smokers.But the study, one of two large-scale surveys in the journal providing updated information on smoking and mortality, saw significant benefits for those who quit. Giving up smoking between the ages of 35 and 44 was associated with a gain of nine years of life, and those who quit between 45 and 54 lived an extra six years.

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  • Quitting smoking by age 40 erases most of the risk of an early death -Smokers who quit by around age 40 can stave off an early death, according to a landmark study that fills key gaps in knowledge of smoking-related health ills.While smokers who never stop lose about a decade of life expectancy, those who quit between ages 35 and 44 gained back nine of those years, the study found.Moreover, the benefits of dropping the habit extend deep into middle age. Smokers who quit between 45 and 54 gained back six otherwise lost years, and those who quit between 55 and 64 gained four years.

    Quitting young, before age 35, erased the entire decade of lost life expectancy.

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  • Antibiotic-resistant diseases pose ‘apocalyptic’ threat, top expert says -Britain’s most senior medical adviser has warned MPs that the rise in drug-resistant diseases could trigger a national emergency comparable to a catastrophic terrorist attack, pandemic flu or major coastal flooding.Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer, said the threat from infections that are resistant to frontline antibiotics was so serious that the issue should be added to the government’s national risk register of civil emergencies.She described what she called an “apocalyptic scenario” where people going for simple operations in 20 years’ time die of routine infections “because we have run out of antibiotics”.

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  • Marijuana still a drug with no accepted medical use, court says -Marijuana will continue to be considered a highly dangerous drug under federal law with no accepted medical uses, after a U.S. appeals court Tuesday refused to order a change in the government’s 40-year-old drug classification schedule.The decision keeps in place an odd legal split over marijuana, a drug deemed to be as dangerous as heroin and worse than methamphetamine by federal authorities, but one that has been legalized for medical use by voters or legislators in 20 states and the District of Columbia.A marijuana advocacy group went to court, arguing that federal officials had a duty to reexamine the medical evidence and reclassify marijuana as a drug that has clear benefits for those who are suffering and in pain. Joe Elford, counsel for Americans for Safe Access, said federal drug officials had a bias against marijuana that caused them to ignore its benefits and to exaggerate its dangers.

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  • Big Xylitol Trial Finds Scant Benefits in Adult Caries -The first big randomized controlled trial of xylitol for caries has found no statistically significant benefits in a population of adults at high risk for the disease.Published in the January issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, the Xylitol for Adult Caries Trial (X-ACT) showed a 10% reduction in caries in a high-risk population who sucked xylitol lozenges compared with a matched population who sucked sucralose lozenges.This effect fell below statistical significance (P = .06). “What this says is xylitol is not going to be a frontline defense for those at high risk,” lead author James Bader, DDS, MPH, a research professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told Medscape Medical News. “Use it, but don’t rely on it.”

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  • A Check on Physicals -Even if there is no direct medical benefit, many doctors say that having their patients visit once a year helps to maintain a meaningful relationship and alert doctors to changes in patients’ lives that could affect health. It is also an opportunity to give patients needed immunizations and to remind them to get their eyes, teeth and skin checked.But the long-sacrosanct recommendation that everyone should have an annual physical was challenged yet again recently by researchers at the Nordic Cochrane Center in Copenhagen.Tags:

  • Snowboarding linked to injury rate rise on slopes: study -Allowing snowboarders to hit the slopes at one U.S. ski resort led to a small rise in the number of overall injuries, a trend in line with findings at ski areas elsewhere, according to a U.S. report.Injuries rose by 13 percent in the two years after snowboarders were permitted at the Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, compared to the two years before, according to the report in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.”We recognize that a small but statistically significant increase in injury rate was observed after the addition of snowboarding to this mountain but that factors other than type of sport may play a role in the differences that were identified,” said study leader David Rust from the University of new Mexico in Albuquerque.

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  • Getting a flu shot can be sticking point with healthcare workers -As a nurse at a Downey hospital, Darlene Andres spends her days caring for postpartum mothers and their newborn babies. Andres urges new moms to get the flu vaccine before leaving.But Andres, 36, decided not to get the flu shot herself. Andres — a self-proclaimed “germ freak” — said she just washes her hands instead.”I heard from a lot of co-workers on the floors that they were getting a lot of symptoms after getting the flu vaccine,” she said. “I kind of got scared.”

    On Friday, public health officials warned that the flu wreaking havoc elsewhere has finally arrived in California and is now causing widespread hospitalizations across the state. The increase in illnesses so early could signal a worse flu season than in years past.

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  • Graphic warnings on cigarettes effective across demographic groups -Quitting smoking is a common New Year’s resolution for Americans each year, but research has repeatedly shown it is not an easy task. Some groups, such as racial/ethnic minorities, have an even harder time quitting. New research suggests hard-hitting graphic tobacco warnings may help smokers of diverse backgrounds who are struggling to quit. A new study by researchers at Legacy® and Harvard School of Public Health provides further evidence that bold pictorial cigarette warning labels that visually depict the health consequences of smoking — such as those required under the 2009 Family Smoking and Prevention Tobacco Control Act — play a life-saving role in highlighting the dangers of smoking and encouraging smokers to quit.Tags:

  • Flu season fuels debate over paid sick time laws -Sniffling, groggy and afraid she had caught the flu, Diana Zavala dragged herself in to work anyway for a day she felt she couldn’t afford to miss.A school speech therapist who works as an independent contractor, she doesn’t have paid sick days. So the mother of two reported to work and hoped for the best — and was aching, shivering and coughing by the end of the day. She stayed home the next day, then loaded up on medicine and returned to work.”It’s a balancing act” between physical health and financial well-being, she said.

    An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to a cause that has scored victories but also hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave for a third of civilian workers — more than 40 million people — who don’t have it.

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Amazing what myths persist about smoking and nicotine.

It is yet another reason to keep that  New Year’s resolution about giving up smoking.

Contrary to popular perception, smoking does not relieve stress. But quitting does.

British researchers measured anxiety levels in almost 500 smokers – before and after they tried to give up.

One in five said they smoked to help them deal with stress. Nationally, the figure is as high as one in two.

All took part in an NHS smoking cessation programme, which involved being given nicotine patches and attending two-monthly appointments.

Six months after signing up for the course, 68 of the 491 were still abstaining – and they were less anxious than before.

However, those who tried to give up  and failed were more stressed than in the beginning, the British Journal of Psychiatry reports.

The researchers, from Oxford University and King’s College London, said: ‘The belief that smoking is stress-relieving is pervasive but almost certainly wrong.

‘The reverse is true: smoking probably causes anxiety and smokers deserve to know this and understand how their own experience may be misleading.’

Do yourself a favor for 2013.

Don’t start smoking, or if you do – quit!

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Even with the controversy and court actions, this is good news – for every person who tries to quit = the better.

 Graphic and/or emotional television anti-smoking ads get more smokers to try to quit than less intense ads, according to a new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Harder hitting ads worked equally well, regardless of how much you wanted to quit, how much your income is and your level of education,” said Matthew C. Farrelly, Ph.D., chief scientist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C., and lead author on the study.

The study evaluated the impact of anti-smoking ads run by the New York Tobacco Control Program from 2003 to 2011. Smokers were surveyed about their smoking habits, their recall of anti-smoking ads, their desire to quit and demographic information, such as income level and race. Researchers looked at media market data and determined that the survey participants were exposed to an average of three emotional or graphic anti-smoking commercials and three comparison ads per month during that period. Comparison ads advocated or encouraged quitting but without strong emotional content.

The survey found that current smokers who recalled seeing at least one emotional or graphic ad were 29 percent more likely to have tried to quit in the prior year. Exposure to comparison ads did not increase quit attempts. If the goal is to get smokers to try to quit, ads need to evoke a strongly negative reaction to smoking, the authors concluded.

Here is a video that has played on California television. It is shocking, but if it can prevent one more case of smoking induced cancer….

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