Mar 05 2011

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.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Whole Grain Goodness, Straight From the Oven


The muffins available in most coffee shops and cafes are like oversize, unfrosted cupcakes: too sweet and too big. But muffins don’t have to be cloying – a bit of natural sweetener is all that’s required to make them taste like a treat. And they don’t have to be calorie-laden confections.

This week, you’ll find it’s possible to make muffins with a number of nutritious ingredients, particularly whole grains. Muffins made with buckwheat or cornmeal offer great taste and nourishment – without the feeling that you’re chewing on rocks.

Even if you don’t think of yourself as a baker, take a stab at this week’s recipes. They’re easy and come together quickly.

Buckwheat and Amaranth Muffins

Carrot Cake Muffins

Steel-Cut Oatmeal and Blueberry Muffins

Rye and Cornmeal Muffins With Caraway

Savory Cornbread Muffins With Jalapeños and Corn

General Medicine/Family Medical

Sleepy Americans Put Health at Risk

Research Shows One-Third of U.S. Adults Aren’t Getting Enough Sleep

March 3, 2011 — About a third of adults in the U.S. may be getting less than seven hours of sleep per day, putting themselves at risk for serious health problems, according to two new CDC studies.

Who gets enough sleep and the consequences of insufficient shut-eye varies according to age, gender, ethnic group, educational level, and other factors, the studies indicate.

Both studies are published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for March 4, 2011.

Ibuprofen May Lower Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Study Shows About a One-Third Reduction in Parkinson’s Risk for Regular Ibuprofen Users

March 2, 2011 — People who regularly take the painkiller ibuprofen appear to have a modestly reduced risk of getting Parkinson’s disease, a new study shows.

For the study, which followed more than 130,000 people for six years, those who reported using ibuprofen at least twice weekly had a more than one-third reduction in the risk of getting Parkinson’s disease compared to those who didn’t take the pain reliever as often.

Aggressive Diabetes Therapy May Raise Death Risk

Study Shows Intensive Treatment to Lower Blood Sugar Is Linked to Increased Risk of Death

March 2, 2011 — New results from a large government-run trial confirm that very aggressive treatment to lower blood sugar is associated with an increased risk of death in people with type 2 at high risk for heart attack and stroke.

The five-year follow-up from the Action to Control Cardiovascular Risk in Diabetes (ACCORD) study confirms findings that ended the trial’s aggressive blood sugar control arm due to safety concerns.

Diabetes Risks Go Beyond Heart Attacks, Strokes

Study: 40% of Deaths in People With Diabetes Are Due to Non-Cardiovascular Causes

March 2, 2011 — Diabetes roughly doubles the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, a reality that’s put many doctors and patients on alert about the need to closely watch blood pressure, cholesterol, and other harbingers of an ailing cardiovascular system.

But less attention has been paid to other ways diabetes may cut life short.

Now an international team of researchers has produced one of the first comprehensive reports on the non-cardiovascular causes of death in people with diabetes, and it offers some sobering new findings.

Rare Diseases: Sufferers Turn to Web for Help

Americans With Rare Diseases Best at Finding Online Health Info, Support

Feb. 28, 2011 — People who have rare diseases — and their caretakers — are the savviest seekers of online health information and support, a Pew survey finds.

Health information trails only email and search engines as the main reason people go online. But when using the web to share information and support with others, one group leads the pack: people with rare diseases and their caretakers.

Drug-Related Poisonings Land Many in ER

Emergency Departments Treat an Estimated 700,000 Yearly for Drug Poisonings, Many of Them Children

Feb. 28, 2011 — Drug-related poisonings send hundreds of thousands of people to emergency rooms every year in the United States, including many people who have overdosed on prescription medications, a new study indicates.

The study also found that children aged 5 and younger had a higher rate of emergency department visits for unintentional drug-related poisonings than all other age groups.


FDA Pulls 500 Cold Medicines From the Market

Agency Says Many of the Drugs May Have Unapproved Ingredients or Inappropriate Labels

March 2, 2011 — The FDA today announced steps to remove more than 500 prescription cold, cough, and allergy products from the market because of potential safety concerns.  

The FDA asked companies to stop manufacturing the 500 products within 90 days and stop shipping them within 180 days. Some manufacturers must stop making and shipping their products immediately, the FDA warns.

There are no data on how often these now-banned medications are prescribed today, but many doctors may be unaware that they contain unapproved ingredients because these drugs are listed in the Physicians’ Desk Reference and may be advertised in medical journals.

New Birth Defect Warning for Topamax

FDA: Epilepsy Drug Raises Risk of Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate When Taken During Pregnancy

March 4, 2011 — Taking the epilepsy drug topiramate (Topamax) during pregnancy raises the risk of oral cleft birth defects such as cleft lip and cleft palate, according to a new warning issued by the FDA.

New drug registry data show that the risk of oral birth defects is up to 16 times higher among women who took topiramate or its generic equivalents during pregnancy.

FDA Approves New Drug to Treat COPD

Daliresp Will Be Sold in Pill Form to Treat Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

March 1, 2011 — The FDA has approved a new treatment for people with worsening symptoms of severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a lung disorder that makes breathing difficult.

The drug, roflumilast — carrying the trade name Daliresp — will be sold in pill form, unlike some other medications for COPD, which are inhaled.

There is a huge caveat here. This drug was approved by the FDA even though the agency’s advisory panel voted 10-5 on April 7, 2010, not to recommend approval of the once-daily pill.  At the time the panel members decided the drug had too many adverse effects to offset what the FDA called a “modest” increase in lung function attributable to roflumilast.

FDA removes liver warning from Gilead drug, shares up

(Reuters) – Health regulators removed warnings about potential liver damage from Gilead Sciences Inc’s drug for pulmonary hypertension, giving it an advantage over a rival medication.

Shares of the U.S. biotechnology company were up 2 percent in midday trading on Friday after announcement of the label change for Letairis, which is known chemically as ambrisentan.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

Fear battles fatalism in Africa’s AIDS fight

(Reuters) – Messages from years of AIDS campaigns are finally filtering down to the dingy streets of Johannesburg where sex workers turn tricks.

But all of that can vanish in an instant when a customer offers a little more cash to have sex without a condom.

At least 5.6 million of South Africa’s 50 million people are infected with the AIDS virus, but new studies show that here and elsewhere on the continent fear of the disease and knowledge about how to prevent it have begun to change sexual habits, and in some places dramatically reduce infection rates.

Women’s Health

Chemotherapy for Breast Cancer May Raise Risk of Falls

Study Shows Chemotherapy and Hormonal Therapy May Affect Balance of Patients

March 4, 2011 — Breast cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and hormonal therapy may affect the patients’ balance, increasing their risk of falls, a new study shows.

Researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University Knight Cancer Institute studied 59 postmenopausal breast cancer survivors who had received treatment with chemotherapy and hormonal therapy, which can cause bone loss.

Depression After Miscarriage Can Linger

Study Shows Depression for Women Who Have Had Miscarriage Continues Even After Birth of a Baby

March 3, 2011 — Feelings of depression and anxiety following a miscarriage may last for almost three years after the birth of a healthy baby, finds a new study in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

“Health providers and women themselves think that once they have a healthy baby after a loss, all would be fine and that any anxiety, fears, or depression would go away, but that is simply not the case,” says study researcher Emma Robertson Blackmore, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center. “I honestly thought that once a woman had a baby or had gone past the stage of her previous loss, the anxiety and depression would go way, but these feelings persist.”

Opioid Painkillers Linked to Birth Defects

Study Shows Codeine and Other Painkillers May Be Risky During Pregnancy

March 2, 2011 — Taking codeine, hydrocodone, or other opioid painkillers shortly before or early in pregnancy increases the risk of congenital heart defects and other birth defects, a study shows.

The study by CDC researchers is published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Obesity Boosts Risk for Aggressive Breast Cancer

Study Shows Link Between Obesity and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

March 1, 2011 — Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle appear to increase the risk for an uncommon but aggressive breast cancer that is not fueled by the hormone estrogen, a surprising new study shows.

The analysis of data from a health study involving postmenopausal women revealed that the heaviest women were 35% more likely to develop so-called triple-negative breast cancers than the thinnest women.

Women Underrepresented in Heart Device Studies

More Safety Data Needed on Use of High-Risk Heart Devices in Women

March 1, 2011 — Despite federal mandates to include more women in research studies, women are often underrepresented in trials evaluating cardiac stents, implantable defibrillators, and other high-risk cardiac devices.

The findings, which appear in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, reflect many of the sentiments expressed in the 2011 update to the American Heart Association’s cardiovascular prevention guidelines for women. The new guidelines call for more male- and female-specific results, especially regarding risks from preventive therapies such as aspirin.

Fibroids: How Long Would You Wait for Treatment?

Women Would Endure Fibroid Symptoms Longer Before Getting Hysterectomy, Study Shows

March 1, 2011 — Women who sought treatment to relieve the pain, heavy bleeding, or other symptoms caused by uterine fibroids report a better quality of life after their procedure, a new study shows.

But several years after recovering from one of three different interventions — an abdominal hysterectomy, uterine artery embolization (UAE), or an MRI-guided focused ultrasound procedure, patients who had a hysterectomy said that, looking back, they might put off having that procedure almost two months longer than women who had the less invasive treatments.

Men’s Health

Key genital measurement linked to male fertility

(Reuters) – When it comes to male fertility, it turns out that size does matter.

The dimension in question is not penis or testicle size, but a measurement known as anogenital distance, or AGD.

Men whose AGD is shorter than the median length — around 2 inches (52 mm) — have seven times the chance of being sub-fertile as those with a longer AGD, according to a study published on Friday in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Half of Men Have Genital HPV

Men at High Risk of Developing Most Common Type of Sexually Transmitted Infection, Study Finds

Feb. 28, 2011 — About half of adult men have genital human papillomavirus (HPV), a sexually transmitted infection that has been linked to certain cancers, according to a study funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

Genital HPV is the most common type of sexually transmitted infection. Many people infected with HPV do not know they have it. There are many different strains of HPV. More than 40 of them affect the genitals. Some types of genital HPV cause genital warts, while others can lead to cancer. Persistent infection with a high-risk strain of HPV is the leading cause of nearly all cervical cancers in women. Genital HPV may also lead to less common, but serious, cancers of the penis, anus, vulva, and vagina and some cancers of the oral cavity and head and neck.

Study: Regular Use of Painkillers Linked to ED

Researchers See Possible Association Between Use of NSAIDs and Risk of Erectile Dysfunction

March 3, 2011 — Men who take painkillers regularly to treat pain such as the aches that come with age may be increasing their risk for another common condition of aging, erectile dysfunction (ED), a study suggests.

Middle-aged men in the study who reported regularly taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) were more likely to have erection problems than men who took the drugs less frequently or not at all.

The study is published in The Journal of Urology.

No link between celiac disease, male infertility

(Reuters Health) – Men with celiac disease are no more likely to suffer from infertility than men without the condition, which makes people intolerant to gluten, suggests a new study from Sweden.

Researchers say the finding is reassuring in light of previous research on the reproductive health of men and women with celiac disease.


Pediatric Health

Toddlers’ sleep, eating problems often go together

(Reuters Health) – Parents who have a hard time getting their babies and toddlers to sleep at night may also often have trouble at mealtime, new study findings suggest.

So-called behavioral insomnia, where a young child regularly resists bedtime or has trouble staying asleep, is common — seen in up to 30 percent of children between the ages of 6 months and 3 years.

A similar percentage have problems at mealtime, ranging from being an overly “fussy” eater to having a full-fledged “feeding disorder” – in which, for instance, parents can’t get their child to follow any regular eating schedule, or the food refusal affects a child’s weight.

New Advice for Fighting Fever in Children

Fever May Have Beneficial Effects in Fighting Infection, Say Pediatricians

Feb. 28, 2011 — Fever may be beneficial when it comes to fighting infection, according to new advice from pediatricians.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics urge parents to recognize fever as a sign that the body is working to fight infection and not something to be feared.

Instead, they say the main goal of treating fever in children should be to keep them comfortable while watching for any signs of serious illness rather than focusing on keeping their temperature within a “normal” range.

Group Calls for Tanning Salon Ban for Teens

American Academy of Pediatrics Wants to Reduce Children’s Sun Exposure

March 1, 2011 — Not enough is being done to reduce sun exposure and the risk of skin cancer among children, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Lifelong sun protection is needed from an early age, and the group is calling for the U.S. government to ban the use of tanning salons among minors as well as urging doctors and parents to do more to protect children from the dangers of ultraviolet radiation (UVR).

What’s the Best Test for Children’s Diabetes?

Study Suggests HbA1C Blood Test Doesn’t Work as Well in Kids as Adults

Feb. 25, 2011 — A simple blood test that measures long-term glucose levels — the hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) test — may not be the best way to diagnose diabetes in adolescents.

The HbA1c screening test is easier to perform than the fasting plasma glucose test, which requires fasting for eight hours. But the new study, which appears in the Journal of Pediatrics, shows that the HbA1c test is less sensitive in diagnosing diabetes and prediabetes in children than in adults.

Breastfeeding by Diabetic Moms Cuts Babies’ Obesity Risk

Experts Say Breastfeeding Also Benefits Moms by Helping Them Recover From Gestational Diabetes

Feb. 25, 2011 — Breastfeeding for six months or more may reduce the risk that babies born to diabetic mothers become obese later in life, a new study shows.

“This is perhaps the first study to show that, indeed, if these babies are breastfed as recommended, or more, then their increased risk of obesity is reduced to levels seen in offspring not exposed to diabetes during pregnancy,” says study researcher Dana Dabelea, MD, PhD, an epidemiologist and associate professor at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado, Denver.


Alcohol May Help Prevent Dementia

Study Suggests Moderate Drinking May Lower Risk of Dementia

March 2, 2011 — Drinking a moderate amount of alcohol may protect against dementia, according to a new study in the journal Age and Ageing.

Among Germans aged 75 and older, those who drank two to three drinks a day decreased their risk of dementia by as much as 60% percent compared to those who abstained.

How old is too old to drive? Retest at 65: poll

(Reuters Life!) – How old is too old to drive?

Two thirds of Americans surveyed in a Marist Poll said 65 is the age when drivers should have to retake their road test.

Younger Americans are more in favor of the requirement, 84 percent below the age of 30 and 76 percent aged 30 to 44, while 62 percent of those aged between 45 and 59 agree,

And almost half of people aged above 60 also think it is a good idea, according to the poll.

Mental Health

Stressful Choices for Surrogate Treatment Decision Makers

Study Shows Long-Term Emotional Impact for People Who Make Treatment Decisions for Ill Loved Ones

March 1, 2011 — Family members and others who act as surrogates, making treatment decisions for incapacitated loved ones, are sometimes affected adversely for months or years, according to a new review of published studies.

”Making these decisions has a profound effect on at least a substantial minority of surrogates, and it’s often negative,” says researcher David Wendler, PhD, head of the unit on vulnerable populations at the National Institutes of Health.

Positive Thinking Helps Heart Patients

Positive Expectations About Recovery May Increase Survival in People With Coronary Artery Disease

Feb. 28, 2011 — “Your attitude affects your latitude” may be more than a cliché, a new study suggests.

Hospitalized patients diagnosed with coronary artery disease who had a positive outlook about their recovery were less likely to die over the next 15 years and had better physical functioning after one year, according to a new study.

Marijuana Use Linked to Risk of Psychotic Symptoms

Study Shows Association Between Development of Psychosis and Smoking Marijuana

March 1, 2011 — Adolescents and young adults who smoke marijuana have an increased risk for experiencing psychotic symptoms, according to a new study.

The new findings appear online in the journal BMJ.


“Stealth veggies” may help cut calorie intake

(Reuters) – Don’t look now, but invisible cauliflower may be lurking in your chicken casserole — and helping you lose weight.

Adding hidden pureed vegetables to entrees can reduce the number of calories the meals pack without sacrificing texture or taste, helping to cut the overall calorie intake, a study at Pennsylvania State University found.

Sodas, Sugary Drinks May Raise BP

Study Finds Higher Blood Pressure in Heavy Soda Drinkers

Feb. 28, 2011 — New research suggests that drinking sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages every day may raise blood pressure, but a beverage industry trade group calls the study significantly flawed.

Sugar-sweetened beverages are the No. 1 source of added sugars in the American diet, and the research is among the first to link them to higher blood pressure.

Exercise Good for Knees, Study Finds

Physical Activity Benefits Knee Cartilage and Overall Knee Joint Health, Researchers Say

March 3, 2011 — Despite some previous research casting doubt on the value of physical activity for the knees, a new study says it’s beneficial for knee joint health.

Researchers in Australia say although it’s true that exercise has been linked to bony spurs called osteophytes, physical activity in general is good for the knees.

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