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Nov 13 2010

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Health and Fitness weekly diary. It will publish on Saturday afternoon and be open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

Carrots: Digging Deeper for Fall Flavor

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Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup With Mint or Tarragon

Roasted Carrots With Parsley and Thyme

Tomato and Carrot Marinara Sauce

Flourless Carrot Cake

Arugula and Carrot Salad With Walnuts and Cheese

General Medicine/Family Medical

Heart attack sufferers delay seeking treatment

(Reuters Health) – Despite expert recommendations to seek treatment if shortness of breath, chest discomfort and other telltale signs of a heart attack don’t improve after five minutes, a new study suggests that typical sufferers still stall more than two hours.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., with about 1.25 million heart attacks occurring each year and a quarter of patients succumbing to the event.

About half of all heart attack deaths occur within one hour — usually outside of a hospital.

“In the past decade, we’ve made dramatic improvements in how quickly we provide heart attack care,” lead researcher Dr. Henry H. Ting, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, told Reuters Health.

Gout Cases on the Rise in U.S.

Survey Shows More Than 8 Million Americans Have Gout

Nov. 10, 2010 (Atlanta) — The latest figures on gout are in, and they’re disappointing, researchers say. Following a doubling of cases of the painful and often disabling arthritic condition from the 1960s to the 1990s, gout rates continued to rise through 2008, the most recent year studied.

In a national health survey conducted in 2007 and 2008, 8.3 million Americans reported they had been told by their doctor they have gout.

That corresponds to 3.9% of U.S. adults — and represents a substantial rise from the 2.7% prevalence rate reported in the late 1980s and early 1990s, says Yanyan Zhu, PhD, a research assistant professor in clinical epidemiology at the Boston University School of Medicine.

Spouse can help in painful bladder problem

(Reuters Health) – Spouses who provide pleasant distractions can take their partners’ minds off an exhausting and excruciating bladder condition, a new study finds.

“Our data suggest that providing support in the form of reading to the person in pain, or simply talking to them about your day, present events or the children can be useful in taking their mind off their pain,” lead author Jessica Ginting of Queen’s University in Canada told Reuters Health.

Herbal medicine may ease constipation

(Reuters Health) – People suffering from serious constipation may get some relief from a Chinese herbal medicine consisting of hemp seed and other herbs, a new study finds.

Participants who took 7.5 grams twice a day of hemp seed pill (HSP), which consists of six different herbs, reported some improvements in their symptoms of constipation and fared better than people taking a placebo pill. “We believe HSP works to alleviate constipation,” study author Dr. Zhao-Xiang Bian of Hong Kong Baptist University told Reuters Health.

Bone loss more common in HIV

(Reuters Health) – People with HIV are much more likely to develop bone disease, or be on their way to developing it, a new study shows.

In a group of people with HIV, researchers found eight in 10 had either osteoporosis, the brittle-bone disease that raises the risk of fractures, or osteopenia, abnormally low bone mass that could progress to osteoporosis.

It’s unclear exactly why people with HIV are more likely to experience bone loss, study author Dr. Anna Bonjoch of the Lluita contra la SIDA Foundation in Barcelona, Spain, told Reuters Health.

Lupus Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer

Higher Lymphoma Rates Among Systemic Lupus Patients Appears to Drive Trend

Nov. 9, 2010 (Atlanta) — People with systemic lupus are 15% times more likely to develop cancer compared with the general population, suggest findings of a study involving nearly 13,500 people with systemic lupus.

The higher malignancy rate among people with systemic lupus is driven mainly by an increased risk of cancers of the white blood cells, particularly a threefold increased risk of lymphoma, says researcher Sasha R. Bernatsky, MD, assistant professor in the divisions of rheumatology and clinical epidemiology at McGill University in Montreal.

Because lymphoma is a relatively rare cancer, however, the absolute risk of any person with lupus developing it is still quite low, she tells WebMD.

Warnings/Alerts/Guidelines

Doctors urge caution with popular energy drinks

(Reuters Health) – Even though energy drinks are hugely popular and can be bought just about anywhere from corner markets to big-box stores to gyms, researchers writing in this month’s Mayo Clinic Proceedings urge caution in using them and endorse federal regulation.

“What we know is that a typical energy drink can have as much as a quarter cup of sugar, and more caffeine than a strong cup of coffee,” the leader researcher, Dr. John Higgins of The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, told Reuters Health.

Study on acne suicide risk fuels debate over drugs

(Reuters) – People with severe acne are at increased risk of attempting suicide, scientists said on Friday in a study which fuels a debate about whether acne drugs such as Roche’s Accutane prompt suicidal thoughts.

Swedish scientists found patients had an additional suicide risk for up to a year after treatment with isotretinoin, the generic version of Accutane, which is commonly prescribed for people with severe acne.

Despite labels, some vaginal lubricants harm sperm

(Reuters Health) – Some vaginal lubricants labeled as “not spermicidal” may not be so harmless to sperm, and could actually thwart their egg-bound journey, suggests a new Swiss study.

Researchers studied four gels in the lab, of which only one — Pre-Seed — appeared not to be toxic to sperm.

Women who suffer from vaginal dryness often use lubricants to improve the comfort of intercourse. The gels can also be employed to ease the insertion of medical devices, including probes used for imaging tests during the course of fertility treatment.

FDA Proposes New Cigarette Warning Labels

New Warning Labels Would Be Larger and More Graphic

Nov. 10, 2010 –The FDA is proposing new cigarette warning labels that will be larger and more visible on cigarette packages and in advertisements in an effort to reduce the number of tobacco-related illnesses and deaths.

The proposed images are graphic: a thin, sickly patient in bed, a breastfeeding mother blowing smoke in the baby’s face, a corpse, and a smoker injecting a cigarette in the arm like a hypodermic needle.

The proposal was announced today at a news conference by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and FDA officials. “Today marks an important milestone in protecting our children and the health of the American public,” Sebelius said.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

Some 200,000 at risk of cholera in Haiti, U.N. says

(Reuters) – Up to 200,000 Haitians could contract cholera as the outbreak that has already killed 800 is set to spread across the battered Caribbean nation of nearly 10 million, the United Nations said on Friday.

That would be double the 100,000 cases during a huge cholera epidemic in Zimbabwe between August 2008 and July 2009, which killed 4,287 people. The U.N. forecast of the number of cases in Haiti was based partly on the Zimbabwe toll.

In a strategy plan drawn up with Haiti’s government and aid agencies, the U.N. said Haiti needs $163.9 million in aid over the next year to combat the epidemic, the country’s first cholera outbreak in a century. Cholera could also spread to the neighboring Dominican Republic, it said.

Acute polio outbreak kills nearly 100 in Congo: WHO

(Reuters) – Polio has killed nearly 100 people, mainly young adults, in the Republic of Congo and paralyzed more than twice as many in the past six weeks, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

The crippling viral disease normally strikes children under five years of age, making the acute, fast-spreading outbreak unusual, the U.N. agency said.

“Most of the cases have involved young adults aged between 15 and 29. This illustrates that populations are at risk because they have not been exposed to a full immunization,” it said.

It marks the latest setback to a global campaign begun more than 20 years ago to wipe out polio, for which there is no cure, only preventive vaccines.

Miami has first dengue fever case in 50 years

(Reuters) – Health authorities in Miami, one of Florida’s top tourist attractions, have reported the first case of dengue fever in 50 years, an official said on Friday.

The person diagnosed with the sometimes deadly mosquito-born virus has fully recovered after a brief hospitalization, said Liliana Rivera, a director at the Miami-Dade County Health Department.

The case comes four months after officials announced more than 1,000 people in Key West, Florida, were believed to have been infected with dengue last year, marking its reemergence in the southeast U.S. state for the first time in decades.

Sterile mosquitoes use sex to kill in dengue trial

(Reuters) – British scientists have created genetically sterile mosquitoes which use sex to kill off others in their species, and researchers say early field trials suggest the idea could help to halt the rapid spread of dengue fever.

Scientists from a firm called Oxitec ran a small trial with the Mosquito Research and Control Unit (MRCU) in the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean. This found that releasing 3 million of the genetically altered bugs into a small area managed to cut the species population by 80 percent in six months.

Dengue fever, a disease which causes severe flu-like symptoms and can kill, is spread through the bite of infected female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes.

WHO says deadly TB preventable, urges action

(Reuters) – Health authorities worldwide must do more to combat tuberculosis, which killed an estimated 1.7 million people last year, mainly adults in their prime in Africa and Asia, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

Tuberculosis can be cured in six months if detected and treated early but can spread rapidly among people suffering from malnutrition or the HIV/AIDS infection, the U.N. agency said in its annual report, “Global Tuberculosis Control 2010.”

“There are still 1.7 million deaths every year from a disease that is perfectly curable in 2010,” Mario Raviglione, director of WHO’s Stop TB Department, told a news conference.

Women’s Health

Flu shots safe for pregnant women, study finds

(Reuters Health) – Adding to evidence that the flu shot is safe during pregnancy, a U.S. government study found no unusual complications among pregnant women who’ve received the vaccine in the past 20 years.

Researchers found that between 1990 and 2009, there were 175 reports of possibly vaccine-related medical complications among pregnant women submitted to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS).

That amounts to an estimated rate of 12.5 reported complications per one million pregnant women vaccinated against the flu.

Pregnancy after 45 carries risks

(Reuters Health) – For the few women who manage to get pregnant after age 45, both they and their babies have a higher risk of complications, Israeli researchers have found.

For instance, they are about three times more likely than younger women to experience diabetes and high blood pressure during their pregnancies, the researchers report in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

White women’s skin may show wrinkles sooner

(Reuters Health) – White women may be quicker to develop wrinkles after menopause than black women, and the effects seem to have more to do with age than declining estrogen levels, a small study suggests.

The findings, say researchers, may give lighter skinned women yet more reason to protect their skin from sun damage, since that may be a culprit in the earlier signs of aging among white women.

It has long been thought that darker skin is likely to be more resistant to the signs of aging than lighter skin, as the melanin in dark skin offers some natural protection against sun damage. But there has been little research into whether there are actual objective racial differences in skin aging.

Cancer patients pick antidepressant for hot flashes

(Reuters Health) – Breast cancer survivors who struggle with hot flashes may find respite in an antidepressant, according to a new study that suggests the medication should be the go-to drug when the overheating is severe.

Most women get hot flashes when their estrogen levels start to plummet in menopause, but the symptoms may be especially taxing for breast cancer patients who’ve received chemotherapy or estrogen-blocking drugs.

However, doctors are reluctant to prescribe hormone replacement therapy — the standard drug therapy — to such women, because it might fuel tumor growth.

Instead, they’ve begun using antidepressants and gabapentin (Neurontin), an epilepsy medicine also used to treat certain types of pain.

Painkillers in Pregnancy Linked to Male Infertility

Study Suggests Even Tylenol During Pregnancy May Affect Male Testes

Nov. 12, 2010 — Common over-the-counter painkillers taken during pregnancy may be to blame for a global rise in male infertility.

Even acetaminophen (Tylenol) may put a developing boy’s future reproductive health at risk, suggest findings from a study of some 2,300 Danish and Finnish women by Henrik Leffers, MD, PhD, of Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

The researchers suggest that acetaminophen, ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAID painkillers act as hormonal “endocrine disruptors” and interfere with normal male sexual development. Chemicals in the environment, such as phthalates, act as endocrine disruptors and have in the past been blamed for harmful effects on human sexual development.

Men’s Health

Prostate Cancer Treatment May Up Colon Cancer Risk

(Reuters Health) – Men who opt for hormone-blocking therapy to treat prostate cancer may be increasing their risk of developing colon cancer, hints a study published this week in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

So-called “androgen deprivation therapy,” or ADT, suppresses production of the male hormone testosterone, which helps drive the growth of prostate cancer. ADT is widely used to treat prostate cancer, despite increasing recognition that it carries serious potential risks, including diabetes and obesity, which are known risk factors for colon cancer.

Just last month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ruled that certain hormone treatments for prostate cancer must carry new warnings about an increased risk of diabetes and heart problems. Those medications include Lupron, Zoladex, Trelstar, and Eligard.

Pediatric Health

Special formula may help prevent childhood diabetes: study

(Reuters) – Researchers said on Wednesday they found some evidence that keeping babies off cow’s milk may help prevent the development of type 1 diabetes in children with an inherited risk of the disease.

The children will have to be followed for years to be sure, but the Finnish researchers found indirect evidence that giving the babies a special formula may have helped.

The study of 230 Finnish infants who had stopped receiving breast milk was a preliminary test of the treatment. A much larger study of 2,160 babies, now ongoing in 15 countries, is expected to provide a definitive answer to the question in 2017.

Teens carry extra pounds into adulthood, add more

(Reuters Health) – The U.S. might be missing an opportunity to rein-in bulging waistlines, according to a new report that shows many obese teens put on extra weight as they grow up.

In a nationally representative study of American youth, researchers found that nearly one in 12 teenagers became severely obese as they entered adulthood — landing them some 100 pounds above their ideal weight.

And of those who were obese to begin with, about half the girls and more than a third of the boys grew into the larger-size category, raising their odds of developing heart disease, diabetes and certain types of cancers.

Mental Health

Many Sleep-Deprived Americans Blame Stress

Sleeping Problems Affect Millions, and Health, Job Performance, and Relationships Often Suffer, Study Finds

Nov. 12, 2010 — Millions of Americans say they’re not getting enough sleep and that the lack of shut-eye affects their personal relationships, job performance, and mental and physical health, according to a new study.

A global survey of more than 30,000 people in 23 countries commissioned by the Philips Center for Health and Well-Being shows that people in the U.S. have one of the highest rates of sleep deprivation. The survey finds that 37% of Americans feel they don’t get enough sleep. Only France at 45% and Taiwan at 50% had higher incidences of sleep deprivation.

Playing Tetris May Reduce Traumatic Flashbacks

Study Examines Potential of Computer Games as Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Nov. 11, 2010 — Some computer games are more effective than others at reducing traumatic flashbacks, according to a study.

Researchers led by Emily Holmes, a senior research fellow at Oxford University in England, compared the effects of playing two different types of computer games — Tetris and Pub Quiz Machine 2008 — or doing nothing when trying to minimize traumatic flashbacks.

The study showed those who played Tetris experienced fewer traumatic flashbacks while those who played PubQuiz actually experienced more.

Tetris is a puzzle computer game involving the manipulation of colored blocks; Pub Quiz is a computerized word game.

Wandering Mind May Lead to Unhappiness

Researchers Say People Are Most Happy Having Sex, Exercising, Socializing, Mainly Because Such Activities Help Keep the Mind From Wandering

Nov. 11, 2010 — People are happiest when having sex, exercising, or talking to others — in large part because such activities require enough concentration to keep their minds from wandering, new research indicates.

In general, people spend almost half their waking hours thinking about something other than what they are doing in the present, and this “mind wandering” typically causes unhappiness, study author Matthew A. Killingsworth, a doctoral student at Harvard University, tells WebMD.

Nutrition/Diet/Fitness

Chocolate eaters may have healthier hearts: study

(Reuters Health) – Older women who eat more chocolate are less likely to develop heart problems over a nearly 10-year-period, new study findings report.

The authors found that women older than 70 who ate chocolate at least once per week were 35 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart disease over the course of the study, and nearly 60 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die from heart failure.

What’s nice, study author Dr. Joshua Lewis told Reuters Health, is that women did not have to eat a ton of chocolate to see benefits.

Cherries May Cut Risk of Gout Flare-ups

Eating About 20 Cherries a Day Halved Gout Patients’ Risk of Recurrent Attacks, Study Finds

Nov. 11, 2010 (Atlanta) — People with gout may be able to cut in half their risk of recurrent attacks by eating about 20 cherries a day, preliminary research suggests.

The findings support years of anecdotal reports from patients that cherries help keep the inflammatory arthritic condition in check, doctors here say.

Still, the study does not prove cause and effect, just that there appears to be an association between eating cherries and a lower risk of recurrent gout attacks. People with gout who eat cherries may share some other characteristic that makes them less prone to flare-ups.

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