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Jan 31 2015

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Stars Hollow Gazette‘s Health and Fitness News 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.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

True Grits

Anson Mills Polenta or Grits with Beans & Chard photo recipehealthwellpromo-tmagArticle_zpsc9fdecde.jpg

Most life-changing food experiences involve exotic or high-end foods like truffles. But my latest life-changing food experience involved humble grits and polenta – cornmeal mush. [..]

And I have long been a polenta enthusiast, but I was mostly content with my generic oven-baked polenta. But Italian heirloom corn, ground with 17th and 18th century artisan techniques, is an altogether different dish. I cook it on top of the stove, not in the oven. It has a creamier texture and more intense corn/floral flavor and aroma than any polenta I have cooked in the past.

~ Martha Rose Shulman ~

Simple Pencil Cob Breakfast Grits

A humble, simple dish with luxurious flavor.

Pencil Cob Grits Rancheras

Grits make a delicious substitute for the traditional corn tortillas in this dish.

Soft Anson Mills Polenta With Wild Mushrooms and Tomato Sauce

A new way to cook your grits.

Polenta or Grits With Beans and Chard

The beans can be cooked through Step 2 up to 3 days ahead and can be frozen.

Crispy Polenta Medallions

Crispy Polenta Medallions : These crispy rounds can be topped with a variety of cheese or sauces.

Warnings/Alerts/Guidelines

Acne Gel Linked to Rare Side Effect, Doctors Warn

By Alan Mozes, HealthDay

Teen developed blood disorder after using Aczone for a week

Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — For certain people, the acne treatment Aczone may be linked to a rare blood disorder, a new case study contends.

A 19-year-old woman who had used Aczone — the skin gel version of the drug dapsone — for a week developed a serious condition called methemoglobinemia.

FDA: 72,000 Cases of Public Defibrillator Failure

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Agency vows action to boost the effectiveness of the life-saving devices

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Automated external defibrillators — the kind that are installed and ready for use in many public spaces — can save lives when needed.

But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says that since 2005, it has also received 72,000 reports of the devices failing.

General Medicine/Family Medical

Kidney Stones and Calcium Buildup in Blood Vessels

By Rosemary Black, HealthDay

These patients might need closer monitoring for further signs of pending heart trouble, researcher says

Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Some people who develop recurring kidney stones may also have high levels of calcium deposits in their blood vessels, and that could explain their increased risk for heart disease, new research suggests.

“It’s becoming clear that having kidney stones is a bit like having raised blood pressure, raised blood lipids [such as cholesterol] or diabetes in that it is another indicator of, or risk factor for, cardiovascular disease and its consequences,” said study co-author Dr. Robert Unwin, of University College London. Unwin is currently chief scientist with the AstraZeneca cardiovascular & metabolic diseases innovative medicines and early development science unit, in Molndal, Sweden.

Researchers Learning More About Pancreatic Cancer

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

FDA hopes targeted drug research will lead to ‘big break’

Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Scientists are working to find new ways to treat pancreatic cancer, one of the deadliest types of cancer in the United States.

Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in the country. Each year, more than 46,000 Americans are diagnosed with the disease and more than 39,000 die from it, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

Colon Cancer Rates Rising Among Americans Under 50

By Alan Mozes, HealthDay

Still, only 10 percent of cases occur in younger group, study finds

Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Although the overall rate of colon cancer has fallen in recent decades, new research suggests that over the last 20 years the disease has been increasing among young and early middle-aged American adults.

At issue are colon cancer rates among men and women between the ages of 20 and 49, a group that generally isn’t covered by public health guidelines.

Too Much Alcohol at Midlife Raises Stroke Risk,

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

The danger zone: more than 2 drinks daily

Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Too much alcohol in middle age can increase your stroke risk as much as high blood pressure or diabetes, a new study suggests.

People who average more than two drinks a day have a 34 percent higher risk of stroke compared to those whose daily average amounts to less than half a drink, according to findings published Jan. 29 in the journal Stroke.

Eye Tracking May Help to Spot Concussions Quickly

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Simple technique offers possible way to assess brain injury severity, study says

Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A new eye-tracking method might help determine the severity of concussions, researchers report.

They said the simple approach can be used in emergency departments and, perhaps one day, on the sidelines at sporting events.

Study Underscores Power of Placebo Effect

By Amy Norton, HealthDay

Parkinson’s patients given fake drugs fared better on ‘more expensive’ medication

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A new study — this one involving patients with Parkinson’s disease — adds another layer of insight to the well-known “placebo effect.” That’s the phenomenon in which people’s symptoms improve after taking an inactive substance simply because they believe the treatment will work.

The small study, involving 12 people, suggests that Parkinson’s patients seem to feel better — and their brains may actually change — if they think they’re taking a costly medication.

Have Insurers Found Way Around ‘Obamacare’ Rule?

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Analysis suggests hiking drug co-pays may help eliminate people with certain illnesses

an. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Some insurance companies may be using high-dollar pharmacy co-pays to flout the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) mandate against discrimination on the basis of pre-existing health problems, Harvard researchers claim.

These insurers may have structured their drug coverage to discourage people with HIV from enrolling in their plans through the health insurance marketplaces created by the ACA, sometimes called “Obamacare,” the researchers contend in the Jan. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Upper Blood Pressure Number and Younger Adults

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

Systolic pressure of 140 mm Hg or more raises risk for heart disease in later life, researchers say

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Young and middle-aged adults with high systolic blood pressure — the top number in the blood pressure reading — may have an increased risk for heart disease, a new study suggests.

“High blood pressure becomes increasingly common with age. However, it does occur in younger adults, and we are seeing early onset more often recently as a result of the obesity epidemic,” said study senior author Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones. He is a professor of epidemiology and cardiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Daily Drinking May Raise Risk of Liver Cirrhosis

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Everyday habits appear to matter more than lifetime consumption, research suggests

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Daily drinking increases the risk of alcohol-related liver cirrhosis, a new study found.

It’s generally believed that overall alcohol consumption is the major contributor to cirrhosis. But these new findings suggest that how often you pour yourself a cocktail or beer — as well as recent drinking — plays a significant role, the researchers said.

Heart Surgery Transfusions May Up Pneumonia Risk

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

But study found overall rate was under 4 percent

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Receiving a blood transfusion during heart bypass surgery may raise a patient’s risk of pneumonia, researchers report.

“The ability to store and transfuse blood is one of medicine’s greatest accomplishments, but we are continuing to see that receiving a blood transfusion may alter a patient’s ability to fight infection,” Dr. James Edgerton, of The Heart Hospital, Baylor Plano in Texas, said in a Society of Thoracic Surgeons news release. He was not involved in the study.

High Cholesterol in Middle Age, Heart Risk Later?

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Even slightly higher levels took their toll, researchers note

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Many folks in their 30s and 40s chow down on burgers, fried chicken and other fatty foods without fear, figuring they have years before they need to worry about their cholesterol levels.

But new research reveals that long-term exposure to even slightly higher cholesterol levels can damage a person’s future heart health.

Insomnia Linked to High Blood Pressure in Study

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

But finding doesn’t prove cause-and-effect relationship

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — People with chronic insomnia may be at increased risk for high blood pressure, a new study from China suggests.

The researchers found that people with chronic insomnia who took longer than 14 minutes to fall asleep had a 300 percent higher risk of high blood pressure. The longer they took to fall asleep, the greater their risk.

FDA OKs First Generic Version of Heartburn Drug

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

The proton pump inhibitor reduces amount of acid in the stomach

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The first generic version of the heartburn drug Nexium (esomeprazole) has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Ivax Pharmaceuticals Inc., a subsidiary of Teva Pharmaceuticals U.S.A., received approval to market esomeprazole in 20- and 40-milligram capsules to treat gastroesophogeal reflux disease (GERD) in adults and children ages 1 and older, the FDA said Monday.

Seasonal Flu/Other Epidemics/Disasters

Flu’s Grip on U.S. Starting to Weaken: CDC

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

Some areas are starting to see a decline in infections, official says

Jan. 29, 2014 (HealthDay News) — After a rough start to the flu season, the number of infections seems to have peaked and is even starting to decline in many parts of the nation, federal health officials reported Thursday.

“We likely reached our highest level of activity and in many parts of the country we are starting to see flu activity decline,” said Dr. Michael Jhung, a medical officer in U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Influenza Division.

Tamiflu Cuts 1 Day Off Average Flu Bout: Study

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Researchers reviewed collected data on the influenza medication

Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A review of the data suggests that the antiviral drug Tamiflu shortens the length of flu symptoms by about a day, and reduces the risk of flu-related complications such as pneumonia.

The findings come from an analysis of nine published and unpublished randomized clinical trials of Tamiflu (oseltamivir) in adults. The data was provided to the researchers by Tamiflu’s maker, Roche.

Kids’ Post-Virus Paralysis Little Improved

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Cluster of Colorado cases may be tied to 2014 outbreak of enterovirus D68, experts say

Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A cluster of 12 Colorado children are suffering muscle weakness and paralysis similar to that caused by polio, and doctors are concerned these cases could be linked to a nationwide outbreak of what’s usually a rare respiratory virus.

Despite treatment, 10 of the children first diagnosed late last summer still have ongoing problems, the authors noted, and it’s not known if their limb weakness and paralysis will be permanent.

Ebola Vaccine Appears Safe, Triggers Immune Response

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Early trial findings echo those from a smaller U.S. study

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Early results suggest an experimental Ebola vaccine triggers an immune response and is safe to use.

However, larger clinical trials in West Africa are needed to determine if the immune response generated by the vaccine is large enough to protect against Ebola infection, said the researchers at Oxford University in the U.K.

Officials: Ebola Threat Diminishing in W. Africa

By Margaret Farley Steele, HealthDay

But it’s too soon to predict victory over the deadly virus

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — West Africa’s Ebola epidemic has slowed significantly, but health officials are hesitant to say the lethal virus is no longer a threat.

Ebola infections have killed more than 8,600 people and sickened 21,000, mostly in the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, since cases first surfaced in Guinea last winter. Infections in all three countries have dropped in recent months, with Liberia experiencing the greatest falloff, the World Health Organization and others have reported in recent days.

Women’s Health

Flame Retardants May Raise Risk of Preterm Births

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Women with higher blood levels of common chemicals were more likely to deliver early

Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Pregnant women exposed to high levels of flame-retardant chemicals may be at increased risk for having premature babies, a new study indicates.

Researchers analyzed blood samples from pregnant women when they were admitted to hospital for delivery. Those with higher levels of flame-retardant chemicals in their bodies were more likely to have preterm babies (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) than those with lower levels of the chemicals, the investigators found.

Do Pregnant Women Need Blood Pressure Treatment?

By Amy Norton, HealthDay

Controlling blood pressure doesn’t seem to affect baby, but may prevent problems for mom

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — When pregnant women have high blood pressure, more-intensive treatment doesn’t seem to affect their babies, but it may lower the odds that moms will develop severely high blood pressure.

That’s the conclusion of a clinical trial reported in the Jan. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Experts were divided, however, on how to interpret the results.

Weight Changes Tied to Older Women’s Fracture Risk

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Study found just a 5 percent change in weight may affect postmenopausal bone health

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — The risk of broken bones increases with both weight gain and loss in older women, according to a new study.

These findings challenge the widely held belief that weight gain protects older women against fractures, the researchers said.

The study included data from more than 120,000 healthy postmenopausal women in the United States. The women were between the ages of 50 and 79 years old. Their health status was followed for an average of 11 years.

Pesticides, Chemicals Tied to Earlier Menopause

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Research can’t prove cause-and-effect, but higher exposures to PCBs, phthalates showed a link

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Extensive exposure to common chemicals appears to be linked to an earlier start of menopause, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that menopause typically begins two to four years earlier in women whose bodies have high levels of certain chemicals found in household items, personal care products, plastics and the environment, compared to women with lower levels of the chemicals.

Female Hormone Disorder Tied to Health Conditions

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Study found women with polycystic ovary syndrome more likely to be hospitalized for variety of reasons

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Women with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) are at increased risk for a number of serious health problems, new research suggests.

“PCOS has profound implications for a women’s reproductive health, as well as her long-term risk of chronic illness,” wrote study author Dr. Roger Hart, of the University of Western Australia and Fertility Specialists of Western Australia, both in Perth.

Soda Habit May Prompt Early Puberty in Girls, Study Suggests

By Steven Reinberg, HealthDay

Early menstruation a risk factor for depression and breast cancer, researchers say

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Girls who consume a lot of sugary drinks may enter puberty earlier than girls who don’t, Harvard researchers report.

Among nearly 5,600 girls aged 9 to 14 who were followed between 1996 and 2001, the researchers found that those who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who drank two or fewer of these drinks a week.

Many Breast Cancer Patients Lack Info on Disease

By Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay

Problem more pronounced among minority women, study finds

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Many women with breast cancer lack basic knowledge about their disease, such as their cancer stage and other characteristics, according to a new study.

The lack of knowledge was even more pronounced among minority women, the study authors found.

This finding is worrisome because knowing about a health condition can help people understand why treatment is important to follow, experts say.

Thyroid Trouble May Harm Women’s Fertility: Study

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Experts urge routine testing of glandular function for women who have problems conceiving

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A new study supports the notion that thyroid disorders can cause significant reproductive problems for women.

The report’s authors believe that testing for thyroid disease should be considered for women who have fertility problems and repeated early pregnancy loss.

Men’s Health

Prostate Cancer Patients Who Smoke Fare Worse

By Alan Mozes, HealthDay

They were twice as likely to see disease spread, die from illness

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Smoking doubles the chances that a prostate cancer patient will see his disease spread and that he will eventually die from his illness, a new study finds.

“Basically we found that people who smoke had a higher risk of their tumor coming back, of it spreading and, ultimately, even dying of prostate cancer,” said study co-author Dr. Michael Zelefsky. He is vice chair of clinical research in the department of radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.

Pediatric Health

Lead Exposure a Bigger Threat to Boys Than Girls?

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Hormones may offer young females some protection from toxic effects, study says

Jan. 30, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Hormones may explain why lead exposure is less likely to cause brain damage in girls than in boys, researchers report.

Specifically, the female hormones estrogen and estradiol may help protect against lead’s harmful effects on the frontal areas of the brain, according to the findings published recently in the Journal of Environmental Health.

Early Start to Football Linked to Brain Risks?

By Alan Mozes, HealthDay

Former pros who played before age of 11 showed greater deficits in memory and thinking skills

Jan. 28, 2015 (HealthDay News) — As football fans prepare to watch the 49th Super Bowl this Sunday, a new study suggests that boys who start playing tackle football before the age of 12 may face a higher risk for neurological deficits as adults.

The concern stems from an assessment of current memory and thinking skills among 42 former National Football League players, now between the ages of 40 and 69. Half the players had started playing tackle football at age 11 or younger.

Pediatricians’ Group Opposes Legal Marijuana

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

American Academy of Pediatrics says drug has potential to harm children

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Marijuana shouldn’t be legalized because of the potential harm it can cause children and teens, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

However, the group’s updated policy statement does support the compassionate use of marijuana for children with debilitating or terminal illnesses.

Aging

‘Long Life’ Gene Might Make Some Smarter, Too

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay

Greater size of particular brain region predicted better function

an. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — A gene variant believed to “wire” people to live longer might also ensure that they keep their wits about them as they age, a new study reports.

People who carry this gene variant have larger volumes in a front part of the brain involved in planning and decision-making, researchers reported Jan. 27 in the Annals of Clinical and Translational Neurology.

Seniors May Keep Falls a Secret

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

But doctors often able to identify cause of fall and help to prevent another

Jan. 27, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Many seniors don’t tell their doctors they’ve had a fall because they’re worried they’ll be told they can’t live on their own anymore, a physician says.

Millions of Americans aged 65 and older fall every year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But, fewer than half tell their doctor, the researchers noted.

Mental Health

Binge-Watching TV: Sign of Depression, Loneliness?

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Researchers say hours and hours of viewing often isn’t just harmless fun

Jan. 29, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Binge-watching television is linked with feeling lonely and depressed, a new study suggests.

“Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way,” study author Yoon Hi Sung said in a news release from the International Communication Association.

Use of These Meds Tied to Higher Odds for Dementia

By Robert Preidt, HealthDay

Class of drugs interferes with a key brain chemical, but study can’t prove cause-and-effect

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Long-term and/or high-dose use of a class of medications used for hay fever, depression and other ills has been linked in a new study to a higher risk of dementia.

The drugs — called anticholinergics — include nonprescription diphenhydramine (Benadryl) and tricyclic antidepressants like doxepin (Sinequan). This class of medications also includes older antihistamines like chlorpheniramine (Chlor-Trimeton) and “antimuscarinic” drugs for bladder control, such as oxybutynin (Ditropan).

However, the study could only point to an association between long-term or high-dose use of these drugs and a higher risk of dementia, it could not prove cause-and-effect.

Nutrition/Diet/Fitness

Menu Calorie Counts May Mean Healthier Kids’ Meals

By Randy Dotinga, HealthDay

Study suggests certain calorie information might also prompt parents to encourage more exercise

Jan. 26, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Parents might order fewer calories for their children if menus included calorie counts or information on how much walking would be required to burn off the calories in foods, a new study suggests.

The new research also found that mothers and fathers were more likely to say they would encourage their kids to exercise if they saw menus that detailed how many minutes or miles it takes to burn off the calories consumed.