Sep 17 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 oHartocollisn the right hand side of the Front Page.

Learning to Love Okra


{}(C)ooks in the eastern and southern Mediterranean treat this popular vegetable: they cook it whole, after tossing it with salt and vinegar and marinating it for an hour to make it less, well, slimy. Some regional cooks dry okra in the sun after salting it.

Okra is low in calories, very high in dietary fiber, and a great source of vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins and the phytonutrients glutathione, xanthin, lutein and beta carotene. For the best texture and flavor, buy the smallest pods you can find.

Roasted Okra

When okra is roasted, there’s no need to marinate it in salt and vinegar.

Turkish Chicken and Okra Casserole

Okra stewed with lamb or chicken is a Turkish staple.

Okra, Avocado and Tomato Salad With Chili and Lime Juice

This lively combination is inspired by a favorite Mexican cactus salad.

Algerian Okra, Potato and Tomato Tagine

Make this stew in any sort of heavy casserole, but an earthenware tagine works best.

Mediterranean Okra and Tomato Stew

Okra is stewed with tomatoes and onions throughout the Middle East and in Greece.

General Medicine/Family Medical

African-Africans May Develop High Blood Pressure Faster

by Jennifer Warner

Study Shows African-Americans Progress From Prehypertension to Hypertension Faster Than Whites

Sept. 14, 2011– African-Americans may develop high blood pressure faster than whites with the same risk factors, according to a new study.

Researchers found that African-Americans with prehypertension progressed to hypertension a year sooner than whites with the same condition.

African-Americans with prehypertension were also more likely than whites to develop hypertension.

Power of suggestion affects heart arteries

by Amy Norton

(Reuters Health) – Simply suggesting that a treatment will ease chest pain may not only dampen the pain, but directly alter heart arteries, a small study concludes.

Among 30 patients having a procedure to evaluate their chest pain, researchers found that those who were told they were being given an infusion of a pain-relieving drug did, on average, report a decrease in pain.

But the participants also showed a measurable change in their heart arteries: a slight but distinct narrowing of the vessels.

Muscle Relaxant May Ease Fibromyalgia Pain

by Kathleen Doheny

Low Doses of Cyclobenzaprine Improved Sleep, Pain in Small Study

Sept. 14, 2011 — Low doses of the muscle relaxant cyclobenzaprine, taken at bedtime, help people with fibromyalgia sleep better and feel less pain, according to a small study.

“Bedtime treatment of fibromyalgia patients with low-dose cyclobenzaprine was safe and appears to be effective,” says Seth Lederman, MD, president of TONIX Pharmaceuticals, which funded the study.

Fibromayalgia is a condition marked by fatigue, disturbed sleep, and pain. About 5 million Americans have fibromyalgia.

Cyclobenzaprine, marketed in higher doses by others as Amrix, Fexmid, and Flexeril, is already widely used ”off-label” for patients with fibromyalgia, Lederman says. “Off-label” refers to the practice of prescribing medicines to treat conditions not been specifically approved by the FDA.

Long-Term Painkiller Use Linked to Kidney Cancer

by Matt McMillen

Study Suggests Increased Risk of Kidney Cancer for Users of Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs

Sept. 12, 2011 — Long-term, regular use of non-aspirin anti-inflammatory painkillers raises the likelihood of developing kidney cancer by more than 50%, a study shows.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, suggests men and women who take such drugs are equally at risk.

Some smaller studies had previously shown a tentative link between painkillers and kidney cancer. But study researcher Eunyoung Cho, ScD, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says this is the largest study to look at the relationship between the disease and the class of drugs called nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Study: Americans Confused on Drug Benefits vs. Risks

by Kathleen Doheny

Researchers Find That Many in U.S. Have Poor Understanding of Drug Approval Process

Sept. 13, 2011 — U.S. adults are not fully aware of drug benefits and harms, new research shows.

Many also do not understand what the FDA drug approval process means for the safety of a drug, says study researcher Steven Woloshin, MD.

“If they have these mistaken beliefs, they may make choices and expose themselves to harm,” he tells WebMD. Woloshin is a professor of medicine at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice and co-director of the VA Outcomes Group at White River Junction VA Medical Center.

Carbon Dioxide Gas May Treat Nasal Allergies

by Brenda Goodman

Study Shows CO2 Gas Treats Sneezing, Itching, and Runny Nose Better Than a Placebo

Sept. 15, 2011 — Shooting a quick blast of carbon dioxide gas into the nose may ease some allergy symptoms, and the relief appears to last for about four hours.

When carbon dioxide (CO2) is blown through the sinuses in a kind of pressurized gas rinse, it may relieve symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, and a runny nose, according to a new study. CO2 is a colorless, odorless gas that is exhaled with each breath. It also puts the “fizz” into soft drinks and is frozen to make dry ice.

If You Have Body Odor, It May Be in Your Genes

by Denise Mann

Study Shows Fish Odor Syndrome May Be More Common Than Thought

Sept. 15, 2011 — Imagine showering all you can, using deodorant, essentially being squeaky clean, yet your body odor still resembles fish, or maybe even garbage.

For some people, it’s an unwelcome reality. It’s called “fish odor syndrome,” but it’s technically a genetic condition called trimethylaminuria. And it may be a lot more common than previously believed.


Second Listeriosis Death From Contaminated Cantaloupes

by Daniel J.DeNoon

Outbreak Traced to Colorado Farm; 2 Dead, 20 Hospitalized in 7 States

Sept. 15, 2011 — A second person has died of listeriosis as the outbreak from contaminated cantaloupes has spread to seven states.

Including the two deaths, 22 people have been sickened.

The CDC, FDA, and Colorado health authorities have traced the outbreak to Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo. It is not yet clear whether other farms in the Rocky Ford growing region are involved. The state of Colorado has warned people to avoid cantaloupes from the entire region.

The cantaloupes were recently harvested and widely distributed in the U.S. They may still be available in grocery stores.

Birth Control Pills Recalled

by Jennifer Warner

Packaging Error on Pills Made by Qualitest Pharmaceuticals May Put Users at Risk of Pregnancy

Sept. 16, 2011 — Qualitest Pharmaceuticals is voluntarily recalling multiple lots of its birth control pills because of a packaging error that may leave women without adequate contraception and at risk for unintended pregnancy.

Select blister packs of the birth control pills were rotated 180 degrees within the card, which reverses the weekly tablet distribution. This packaging error could cause women to take pills in the incorrect order and could lead to unintended pregnancy.

There are no other immediate health risks associated with this recall.

More Ground Turkey Recalled Because of Salmonella Risk

by Jennifer Warner

Cargill Recalls 185,000 Pounds of Ground Turkey; Action Follows Last Month’s Recall of 36 Million Pounds

Sept. 12, 2011 — About 185,000 more pounds of ground turkey have been recalled from the same Arkansas processing facility associated with last month’s massive ground turkey recall.

Cargill announced the voluntary recall of about 185,000 pounds of 85% lean fresh ground turkey after products produced by the Springdale, Ark., facility tested positive for contamination with Salmonella Heidelberg bacteria.

Testing by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) showed low levels of the bacteria. It’s the same strain of salmonella associated with the Aug. 3 recall of 36 million pounds of ground turkey.

Study: Antibiotic Ointments May Aid Spread of MRSA

by Brenda Goodman

Researchers Suggest That Antibiotic Ointments May Be a Factor in Spread of Strain Called USA300

Sept. 14, 2011 — MRSA is also sometimes resistant to antibiotics found in over-the-counter ointments like Neosporin and Polysporin, a study shows.

The study is published in Emerging Infectious Diseases. It suggests that these ointments may be one of the factors behind the spread of an especially severe MRSA strain, called USA300, around the world.

It also means that antibiotic ointments probably wouldn’t treat or prevent MRSA skin infection, though experts say they’ve never been recommended for that purpose.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

New AIDS Cases Dropped 25% This Year, City Reports

by Anemona Hartocollis

In a sign of progress against one of the great plagues of the last generation, a dwindling number of New Yorkers have been diagnosed with AIDS over the last eight years, according to new statistics released Friday.

The number of adults newly diagnosed with AIDS dropped to 2,225 in the 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30. That total was 25 percent lower than the total the year before (2,969 cases diagnosed), and 47 percent lower than in the 2003 fiscal year, when there were 4,164 new cases, according to the Mayor’s Management Report, which was released Friday.

Which Kids Die of Flu?

by Daniel J. DeNoon

CDC: Children Under Age 5 at Risk of Severe Flu

Sept. 15, 2011 — Being younger than 5 years old is a risk factor for severe flu, a CDC analysis of last season’s child flu deaths suggests.

There were 115 confirmed child flu deaths from Sept. 1, 2010, through Aug. 31, 2011. The number includes all infants, children, and teens under age 18.

But not included is the much larger number of kids who died of flu but were not tested or officially reported, says Lyn Finelli, DrPH, chief of the CDC’s surveillance and outbreak response team.

World Diabetes: 366 Million Cases and Counting

by Daniel J. DeNoon

4.6 Million Estimated Diabetes Deaths in 2011 Outstrips Population of Los Angeles

Sept. 14, 2011 — Worldwide, 366 million people have diabetes, the International Diabetes Federation says.

That’s 54 million more people than the entire population of the United States.

This year, an estimated 4.6 million people will die of diabetes — far more people than the 3.8 million people living in Los Angeles.

The global annual health care cost of diabetes reached $465 billion.

Women’s Health

Drinking on the Rise Among U.S. Women

by Denise Mann

Study Shows Gap Is Narrowing Between Men and Women on How Much Alcohol They Drink

Sept. 15, 2011 — Problem drinking among women in the U.S. is on the rise, a new study shows.

Women are catching up to men when it comes to how much and how often they drink alcohol. As a result, they are increasingly at risk for developing alcohol problems.

What’s more, men and women who were born after World War II are more likely to binge drink and develop alcohol-related disorders.

These are some of the main findings of a review of 31 studies that looked at how birth year and gender affect our drinking behavior. The study will appear in the December 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

Men’s Health

Active legs at night linked to heart problems

By Geneva Pittman

(Reuters Health) – Men who jerked and flexed their legs involuntarily at night were more likely to develop cardiovascular disease in a new study of sleep and chronic disease in the 65-and-up crowd.

During a one-night sleep assessment, more than two-thirds of men had the involuntary movements, which usually occur in the foot or at the ankle or hip joint, and most of them woke up during the night because of it.

Testosterone May Drop When Men Become Dads

by Salynn Boyles

Researchers Say Study Suggests Men Are ‘Wired’ for Parenthood

Sept. 12, 2011 — Testosterone levels drop when men become fathers, and they are lowest for the most devoted dads, new research shows.

While earlier studies had also shown that fathers have lower testosterone levels than men of the same age without children, it has not been clear if men with low testosterone are more likely to become fathers or if fatherhood actually suppresses levels of the male sex hormone.

The new research suggests that the latter is the case.

Lifestyle Changes May Improve Erectile Dysfunction

by Denise Mann

Study Shows Healthy Diet, Exercise, and Weight Control May Help Men With ED

Sept. 13, 2011 — We know that eating a healthy diet that’s loaded with fruits and veggies, getting regular exercise, and maintaining a normal weight will help reduce your risk for heart attack and stroke. Now new research shows that these same lifestyle changes may be effective in improving erectile dysfunction (ED).

What’s more, erectile dysfunction may be a risk factor for heart disease, often appearing as many as five years before a diagnosis of heart problems.

The study is published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Pediatric Health

Childhood Poisoning by Medication on the Rise

by Kathleen Doheny

Study Shows Increase in ER Visits Due to Poisoning From Medicines in Kids Age 5 and Under

Sept. 16, 2011 — Childhood poisonings by medication are up dramatically, despite repeated messages to adults to keep prescription and over-the-counter medicines out of reach and locked up.

“Overall, the visits to the emergency department for poisoning by medicines [in children age 5 and younger] were up 30%,” says G. Randall Bond, MD. Bond is an emergency physician at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and medical director of the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center.

Fast-Paced Cartoons May Hurt Kids’ Attention, Memory

by Kathleen Doheny

In Study, Kids Who Viewed a Fast-Paced, High-Action Cartoon Did Worse on Tests Than Kids Who Drew or Viewed an Educational Cartoon

Sept. 12, 2011 — Children who watched just nine minutes of a fast-paced, high-action cartoon performed worse on routine tests of attention and other skills compared to children who drew pictures or watched slower-paced educational cartoons, according to new research.

The 4-year-olds who viewed the fast-paced cartoon, then took the tests, ”were handicapped in their readiness for learning,” says researcher Angeline Lillard, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Parents, Kids, Doctors Balk at Talk About Weight

by Daniel J.DeNoon

WebMD/Sanford Survey: Sex, Drugs Easier to Discuss Than Weight Control

Sept. 14, 2011 — Doctors say it’s the most important thing parents can discuss with their kids. Yet both parents and kids would rather talk about anything else — including drugs and teen sex — than weight.

Nearly a quarter (22%) of parents are uncomfortable discussing the risks of being overweight with their kids. For parents of kids ages 8 to 12, only sex is a more uncomfortable topic.


Millions Worldwide Have Undiagnosed Alzheimer’s

by Salynn Boyles

Report by Alzheimer’s Disease International Highlights Undertreatment of Dementia

Sept. 13, 2011 — As many as three-fourths of the 36 million people worldwide who have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias have not been diagnosed, limiting access to treatment for patients and support for caregivers, a new report finds.

The report was released today by the global patient advocacy organization Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI). It highlights what the group calls the worldwide problem of underdiagnosis and undertreatment of dementias.

Cholesterol Levels Linked to Brain Changes of Alzheimer’s Disease

by Brenda Goodman

Study: High Cholesterol Predicts Brain-Clogging Protein Deposits on Autopsy

Sept. 12, 2011 — High cholesterol levels are associated with changes in the brain that are characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, a new study shows.

For the study, which is published in the journal Neurology, researchers used blood tests to measure cholesterol in 147 Japanese adults 10 to 15 years before their deaths. Fifty of them (or 34%) had been diagnosed with dementia.

Tissue samples from their brains were then examined on autopsy.

Mental Health

Many Don’t Tell Their Doctor They Feel Depressed

by Denise Mann

Survey Shows Many Patients Worry Their Doctor Will Prescribe Antidepressants

Sept. 13, 2011 — More than two-fifths of adults may not tell their doctor that they have been feeling depressed, according to a survey.

The reasons vary, but many are concerned that their doctor would prescribe an antidepressant that they don’t want to take. Other reasons include the belief that it is not the job of a primary care doctor to address emotional issues and concerns about keeping medical records confidential.

Regardless of why people don’t want to talk about depression, the result is the same: Depression falls under the radar.  

The new findings are published in the Annals of Family Medicine.


Heart-Healthy Pasta? ‘Super Spaghetti’ Just Might Be

by Bil Hendrick

Scientists Say Pasta Made With Barley Flour Could Lower Risk of Heart Disease

Sept. 16, 2011 — It’s being called “super spaghetti.”

Scientists in Italy and Spain say they have developed a new type of pasta made with barley flour that may reduce the risk of heart disease for lovers of spaghetti and other wheat-based noodles.

Barley, a hardy cereal famous for giving beer its characteristic strength and flavor, is an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, and vitamin E. It has been gaining popularity as an ingredient in so-called “functional foods” that are supplemented with healthy additives.

Apples, Pears May Reduce Stroke Risk

by Bill Hendrick

Study Shows Fruits, Veggies With White Flesh May Be Best at Fighting Stroke Risk

Sept. 15, 2011 — Eating lots of white-fleshed fruit such as apples and pears may significantly reduce the risk of stroke.

In a new study, Dutch researchers set out to determine a possible link between stroke risk and eating fruits and vegetables of various colors. They took a look at self-reported information from 20,069 people between ages 20 and 65 of what they ate over a one-year period.

All of the people had no previous diagnosed heart disease or stroke at the start of the study.

4 Simple Steps to a Healthy Heart

by Jennifer Warner

Study Shows 4 Lifestyle Changes Can Help People Cut Risk of Heart Failure

Sept. 13, 2011 — Having a healthy heart may be as easy as four simple steps: Don’t smoke, lose weight, exercise regularly, and eat vegetables.

A new study shows people who followed these four healthy lifestyle habits reduced their risk of heart failure by 81% in women in 69% in men.

The study is published in Circulation: Heart Failure.

Tempest in an Apple Juice Box

by Daniel J. DeNoon

Too Much Arsenic in Apple Juice? Dr. Oz, FDA Disagree

Sept. 14, 2011 — Does apple juice contain unsafe amounts of deadly arsenic?

Yes, warns Mehmet Oz, MD, star of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show. No, says the FDA.

In what a promotional ad calls “the most shocking investigation in Dr. Oz Show history,” Oz points to tests commissioned at a private lab. Those tests found high levels of total arsenic in one well-known brand of apple juice.

Tipped off by the show, the FDA immediately tested the same lots of apple juice. Their tests showed considerably lower amounts of total arsenic.