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Sep 24 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.

Fall Cooking With Greens

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We may be seeing the first burnt-orange and fiery reds of fall foliage, but farmer’s markets and Community Supported Agriculture baskets are still laden with deep greens like Swiss chard, broccoli rabe and bok choy. If your produce basket is overflowing, here are five new recipes from Martha Rose Shulman that will get you cooking with greens.

Orecchiette With Broccoli Rabe and Red Pepper

Broccoli rabe, also known as rapini, is the centerpiece of this classic pasta dish from Apulia, the region of Italy that makes up the heel of the country’s boot shape.

Stewed Greens With Tomatoes and Mint

This recipe is inspired by a Greek dish from the island of Corfu, from Diane Kochilas’s book “The Greek Vegetarian.”

Valencian Chickpea and Chard Soup

A delicious soup adapted from a recipe in “A Mediterranean Harvest,” by Jon Cohen and Paola Scaravelli.

Stir-Fried Bok Choy or Sturdy Greens

This recipe works equally well with bok choy or sturdy greens, both of which have tough ribs and leaves that have a cruciferous flavor.

Macaroni With Tomato Sauce, Chard and Goat Cheese

This tomatoey version of macaroni and cheese is a great way to use greens or other vegetables.

General Medicine/Family Medical

Heart Rehab Programs May Help Some Stroke Patients

by Denise Mann

Structured Rehab After Stroke May Save Lives, Researchers Say

Sept. 23, 2011 — People who have had heart attacks or certain types of heart surgery often participate in structured rehab programs that focus on improving diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.

Now new research shows that people who have had mini or mild strokes may also benefit from the same type of rehabilitation programs.A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is sometimes called a mini-stroke because the symptoms are like those of a stroke, but do not last long.

Heart disease and stroke share many of the same risk factors. These include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of exercise, diabetes, and obesity.

The new findings appear in Stroke.

Virus Theory for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Discredited

by Brenda Goodman

XMRV Virus Probably Not a Cause of CFS; Original Study Partially Retracted

Sept. 22, 2011 — Researchers are disputing a 2009 study that found a virus in the blood of people with chronic fatigue syndrome, which some hoped might have pointed to a cause of the disease.

The researchers, who were trying to confirm the 2009 study results, say they have failed to find evidence of XMRV infection in some of the same patients who were involved in the original study.

Divorce, Heavy Drinking, Smoking Linked to Hair

by Brenda Goodman

Studies in Twins Highlight New Risk Factors for Hair Loss

Sept. 23, 2011 — Hair loss may not just be a matter of age or unlucky genes.

Preliminary findings from new studies of male and female identical twins suggest that a broad range of lifestyle factors, including stress, smoking, heavy drinking, and sun exposure, may also foil the follicles.

That appeared to be especially true for women. One study found that wives who lost a spouse to death or divorce were at highest risk of hair loss at the midline, which leads to a widening part.

Why We Yawn

by Daniel J. DeNoon

Yawning Cools Brain, Study Suggests, but Is Yawning Really a Social Cue?

All humans yawn. So do most vertebrate animals. Surely it serves some useful function. But what that might be has puzzled scientists throughout the ages.

Now a series of experiments suggests a surprising reason for yawning. It cools the brain, says Andrew C. Gallup, PhD, a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.

FDA OKs Drug for Cancer Patients With Weakened Bones

by Bill Hendrick

Prolia Is Approved to Strengthen Bones of Some Breast Cancer and Prostate Cancer Patients

Sept. 20, 2011 — The FDA has approved the osteoporosis drug Prolia as a treatment for some breast and prostate cancer patients whose bones have been weakened by certain hormone therapies for cancer.

The drug’s manufacturer, Amgen Inc., says studies showed that Prolia improved bone mass and reduced the occurrence of new spine fractures in men with prostate cancer receiving androgen deprivation therapy and who did not have cancer spread to the bone. It also increased bone mass in women being treated with aromatase inhibitors for breast cancer.

Some Acid Reflux Drugs Linked to C. diff

by Charlene Laino

Study Shows Proton Pump Inhibitors Are Associated With Higher Risk of C. diff

Sept. 21, 2011 (Chicago) — The popular class of acid reflux medication that includes Aciphex, Dexilant, Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, and Protonix is associated with an increased risk of diarrhea caused by the bug Clostridium difficile(C. diff).

Needle-Free Wrinkle Treatment Works Like Botox

by Kathleen Doheny

Study Shows Topical Gel May Help Reduce Wrinkles Around the Eyes

Sept. 21, 2011 — Wrinkle relief for those whose fear of needles outweighs their vanity may be on the horizon.

A topical gel containing botulinum toxin type A — the same toxin as that used in injected Botox — helped reduce moderate to severe crow’s feet wrinkling around the eyes, according to two preliminary studies.

“The gel contains botulinum toxin type A and a peptide carrier, which is what helps the botulinum toxin gel penetrate the skin,” says researcher Michael Kane, MD, a New York City plastic surgeon.

Shark-Derived Drug May Treat Viruses

by Salynn Boyles

Squalamine Has New Antiviral Properties, Researchers Say

Sept. 19, 2011 — A unique compound originally isolated from sharks could prove to be a promising treatment for hepatitis B and C and other viral diseases, researchers say.

Known as squalamine, the drug has not yet been tested as an antiviral agent in humans, but it has been given to hundreds of people enrolled in clinical trials designed to test its usefulness for other conditions.

Researchers say they hope to begin human trials to test the compound’s antiviral activity within the next year.

Surgery vs. Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins

by Brenda Goodman

Study Shows Vein Stripping and Laser Therapy Achieve Similar Results

Sept. 19, 2011 — A newer, less-invasive technique that uses a laser to seal off bulging and uncomfortable varicose veins appears to work about as well as the standard surgery to remove the damaged vessels, a new study shows.

Neither procedure appears to be a guaranteed permanent fix for varicose veins, however.

Veins can grow back even after they’re cut away, and sometimes the laser treatment fails to seal a vein completely, allowing the blood flow to gradually return.

Warnings/Alerts/Guidelines

FDA to Primatene Users: Get Asthma Prescription Now

by Daniel J. DeNoon

Sale of Primatene Mist Will End Because the Over-the Counter Asthma Inhaler Uses CFCs

Sept. 22, 2011 — The Primatene Mist inhaler is going away on Dec. 31, and prescription inhalers are the only alternative to the over-the-counter asthma drug.

Don’t wait to get that prescription. The FDA warns that Primatene supplies may not last until the end of the year.

Illnesses Linked to Bedbug Insecticides

by Matt McMillen

CDC Says 1 Death, More Than 100 Illnesses Due to Excessive Exposure to Insecticides for Bedbugs

Sept. 22, 2011 — Bedbugs won’t kill you, but the poisons used to kill them might. According to a new CDC report, exposure to insecticides used to control bedbugs led to one death and more than 100 illnesses between 2003 and 2010.

The report is published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Illnesses From Contaminated Swimming Water Increasing

by Bill Hendrick

Latest CDC Data Show an Increase in Disease Outbreaks From Bacteria in Swimming Water

Sept. 22, 2011 — Eight people died and about 14,000 people in 38 states and Puerto Rico were sickened by bacteria and other bugs picked up during recreational swimming activities in a two-year period ending in December 2008, a new CDC report shows.

In addition, more than 4,000 people were sickened and three died due to drinking dirty water in the same January 2007-December 2008 period, according to a separate CDC study of data from 23 states and Puerto Rico.

Both reports are published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) for Sept. 23.

8 Dead From Listeria-Contaminated Cantaloupes

by Daniel J. De Noon

CDC: Deadly Listeria Bacteria From Cantaloupe Sickens 55 in 14 States

Sept. 21, 2011 — Eight people have died in the ongoing outbreak of listeria food poisoning from Colorado cantaloupes.

There have been four deaths in New Mexico, two in Colorado, one in Maryland, and one in Oklahoma.

The CDC now has 55 reported illnesses from 14 states

Seasonal Flu/Infectious Diseases/Other Epidemics/Disasters

Experimental Gene Therapy May Control HIV

by Charlene Laino

Gene-Based Treatment Hopes to Keep HIV in Check Without Drugs

Sept. 19, 2011 (Chicago) — Researchers report that they have taken a small step toward developing a gene-based treatment that aims to control HIV without drugs in some patients — and could lead to a “functional cure.”

Researchers say a functional cure may occur when the patient would still be infected with HIV, but no longer needs drugs to control it and prevent disease.

Survey: Two-Thirds of Americans Plan to Get Flu Vaccine

by Rits Rubin

CDC Says 170 Million Doses of Flu Vaccine Will Be Available This Flu Season

Sept. 21, 2011 — Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults plan to be vaccinated against the flu this season, while seven in 10 parents say they’re likely to get their children immunized, according to new survey data.

“The last several years we’re seeing an upward trend in influenza vaccination rates,” said Vanderbilt University infectious disease specialist William Schaffner, MD, at a news conference on Wednesday.

Whooping Cough Vaccine May Not Give Long-Term Protection

by Charlene Laino

Study Suggests Protection From the Vaccine May Lessen After 3 Years

Sept. 20, 2011 (Chicago) — The protection provided by the vaccine against whooping cough may wane after only about three years, a preliminary study suggests.

The findings come from a survey of about 15,000 children in Marin County, Calif., where an outbreak of the highly contagious bacterial disease killed 11 infants and sickened about 9,100 people in 2010.

In 2006, there were only about 13,300 new whooping cough cases in the entire country, according to the CDC.

U.S. Is Lagging in Effort to Control Superbugs

by Matt McMillen

New Online Map Rates Countries on Level of Antibiotic Resistance to Infections

Sept. 21, 2011 — A new project puts the U.S. on the map, but not in the way we’d like to be.

A new interactive map illustrates the growing threat posed by drug-resistant superbugs in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. The map was prepared by Extending the Cure, a research project that focuses on issues related to antibiotic resistance.

“Our project’s aim was to frame the problem in a new way,” Extending the Cure research analyst Nikolay Braykov says. “In order to develop sensible policies, it’s important to both measure and communicate the scope of the problem. … We wanted to provide carefully verified data and make it as accessible as possible.”

C. diff on the Rise Outside the Hospital

by Charlene Laino

Risk Factors for C. diff Include Antibiotic Use and Being Over Age 65

Sept. 20, 2011 (Chicago) — The potentially dangerous diarrhea bug Clostridium difficile(C. diff.) is making the rounds in the community — outside the hospital setting it once called home.

Each year, C. diff strikes about 500,000 Americans, mostly in hospitals and nursing homes. But anywhere from 15,000 to 180,000 of those cases are now acquired in the community, says Erik Dubberke, MD, an infectious diseases specialist at Washington University in St. Louis.

Doorknobs May Be ‘Reservoirs’ for MRSA

by Charlene Raino

Researchers Track Spread of MRSA in Homes With Contaminated Household Items

Sept. 19, 2011 (Chicago) — If a member of your household has a drug-resistant staph infection, be aware that doorknobs, light switches, and other seemingly harmless items may serve as reservoirs for the bacteria to multiply and spread.

People with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) who live in homes where such common items test positive for the same strain of MRSA are about five times more likely to spread the bacteria to another household member, a study of nearly 300 homes suggests.

Women’s Health

Hot Flashes Linked to Higher Cholesterol

by Salynn Boyles

Study Shows Hot Flashes in Menopause May Predict High Cholesterol

Sept. 21, 2011 — Several recent studies have linked hot flashes to an increased risk for heart disease, and now new research suggests a link between these menopause symptoms and increased cholesterol.

The study is being presented in Washington D.C. this week at the 22nd annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society.

Researchers followed more than 3,000 women in their 40s and early 50s for seven years as they transitioned through menopause.

Men’s Health

Predicting Sexual Ability After Prostate Cancer Treatment

by Kathleen Doheny

Questionnaires and Interviews Help Researchers Predict Sexual Recovery After Treatment

Sept. 20, 2011 — The better a man’s erections before prostate cancer treatment, the more likely he is to recover the ability to have erections later.

Martin G. Sanda, MD, and colleagues followed 1,027 men for two years after prostate cancer treatment. The researchers focused on the men’s ability to have erections. They evaluated which factors helped to predict that.

”The key factor influencing how men did long term is how men did before treatment,” Sanda says. He is director of the Prostate Care Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and associate professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School.

Pediatric Health

Rotavirus Vaccine Has Cut Hospitalization of Kids

by Denise Mann

Study Shows ER Visits Have Been Reduced Since CDC Recommended Vaccine in 2006

Sept. 21, 2011 — Far fewer children were hospitalized for a common stomach bug known as rotavirus since routine vaccination was recommended in 2006, a study shows.

The new findings appear in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The CDC recommends that infants get vaccinated for rotavirus. There are two available rotavirus vaccines. The RotaTeq vaccine is given in three doses at ages 2 months, 4 months, and 6 months. The Rotarix vaccine is given as two doses at 2 months and 4 months.

Kids’ Poor Bedtime Habits May Bring ADHD Misdiagnosis

by Daniel J. DeNoon

Study Suggests That No Set Bedtime, Bed Sharing Linked to Behavior Problems

Sept. 20, 2011 — A child’s bedtime habits could result in behavior problems — and a misdiagnosis of ADHD, a new study suggests.

The study is based on a survey of 704 parents of children ages 2 to 13. The parents, mostly mothers, filled out brief questionnaires in randomly selected pediatricians’ waiting rooms.

Study: BPA Common in Kids’ Canned Foods

by Jennifer Warner

Researchers Say Potentially Harmful Chemical Is Leaching Into Soup From Cans

Sept. 21, 2011 — Cans of soup marketed for kids may have a potentially dangerous chemical that’s not found on any food ingredient label.

A new report shows some canned soups and meals marketed to children contain the chemical bisphenol A (BPA). All of the products tested positive for the chemical, and Campbell’s Disney Princess and Toy Story soups contained the highest levels.

A spokesman for Campbell’s says regulatory agencies say the amount of BPA in canned foods doesn’t pose a threat to health.

Aging

Diabetes May Be Linked to Risk of Alzheimer’s

by Denise Mann

Sept. 19, 2011 — People with diabetes may be twice as likely to develop memory problems and dementia as they age, including Alzheimer’s disease, a study shows.

This risk also appears to be heightened among people with prediabetes — people who are on the verge of developing diabetes.

Exactly how diabetes and dementia are linked is not fully understood. But the new findings add to growing evidence that what is good for our hearts may also be good for our brains.

The study is published in Neurology.

Study Shows Greater Dementia Risk for People With Diabetes and Prediabetes

Mental Health

Depression May Increase Risk of Stroke

by Denise Mann

Study Also Shows Link Between Depression and Risk of Dying From Stroke

Sept. 20, 2011 — Many people become depressed after they experience a stroke, but new research shows that depression may actually increase risk of stroke and of dying from that stroke.

“We didn’t know whether depression, per se, could increase the risk of stroke, but now we have conclusive and compelling evidence that it can,” says study researcher An Pan, PhD, research scientist at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

Nutrition/Diet/Fitness

Eating Styles Rub Off on Family and Friends

by Rita Ruben

Study Shows Eating Patterns Are Shared in Social Circles

Sept. 22, 2011 — They say husbands and wives begin to look like each other over time. That might not be true, unless the couple has a penchant for matching polo shirts, but a study suggests they do begin to eat like each other as the years pass.

Previous research has tracked the spread of obesity in social networks. The authors of the new study wanted to see how much food and drink choices rubbed off on friends and family.

One Thing Red Wine Can’t Do

by Kathleen Doheny

Study: It Doesn’t Lower Blood Pressure, but Does It Still Help the Heart?

Sept. 23, 2011 — Red wine (in moderation) is as good for your health as it is to your palate. At least that’s what we’re consistently told.

Red wine and heart health have long been linked, with studies suggesting a glass or two a day lowers heart disease risk.

The heart-healthy benefits are often credited to antioxidants called polyphenols. Experts have different opinions, however, about exactly how the polyphenols may benefit the heart.

Now, Dutch researchers have found that the polyphenols don’t seem to promote heart health by reducing blood pressure.