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Niacin for high cholesterol carries death risk
Niacin for high cholesterol carries death risk
July 17, 2014

A major international study out Wednesday found that niacin does not reduce the risk of heart attack or stroke in people with high cholesterol, but it does boost the risk of death.

Therefore, most people should not take the widely used supplement, also known as vitamin B3, according to an editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine that was published along with the results of the randomized trial.

Niacin has been gaining in popularity over the past 50 years and works mainly by raising "good" HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol levels.

However, a four-year study on people aged 50-80 with high cholesterol found no benefit toward cutting the rate of heart attack or stroke.

The study included 25,673 people, all of whom were already taking statins to reduce their cholesterol. In addition, some were taking extended-release niacin and laropiprant (a drug that reduces face flushing caused by high doses of niacin). Others were randomly assigned to a placebo.

Research sites included Britain, China and Scandinavia.

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

One in three Alzheimer's cases preventable
One in three Alzheimer's cases preventable
July 17, 2014

One in three cases of Alzheimer's disease worldwide is preventable, according to research from the University of Cambridge.

The main risk factors for the disease are a lack of exercise, smoking, depression and poor education, it says.

Previous research from 2011 put the estimate at one in two cases, but this new study takes into account overlapping risk factors.

Alzheimer's Research UK said age was still the biggest risk factor.

Writing in The Lancet Neurology, the Cambridge team analysed population-based data to work out the main seven risk factors for Alzheimer's disease.

These are:

Diabetes
Mid-life hypertension
Mid-life obesity
Physical inactivity
Depression
Smoking
Low educational attainment

They worked out that a third of Alzheimer's cases could be linked to lifestyle factors that could be modified, such as lack of exercise and smoking.

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Immigrant illness: What you need to know about scabies and tuberculosis
Immigrant illness: What you need to know about scabies and tuberculosis
July 10, 2014

According to a recent claim from a Border Control union, illegal immigrants are coming into the United States with "active scabies and other illnesses," while reports have surfaced from a camp in San Antonio of a tuberculosis infection. While common in other areas of the world, these two infections aren't frequently seen in the U.S.

Scabies are a mite-type parasite that burrow under the skin, leading to itchiness and skin eruptions. Typically they're found by looking between the fingers, where they often burrow, but they can spread over the entire body.

Symptoms typically begin three to six weeks after infestation, and the disease can be treated with either oral or topical medication to kill the insects. Seven to 14 days after the first dosage, medication must be administered again to ensure the mites are eradicated.

The disease is not very common in the U.S., but has been found in homeless populations.

"It's usually associated with poor housing, poor socioeconomic status, hygiene issues; think about people living in a crowded place for a long time," Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo, an associate professor of medicine and chief of division of general internal medicine at the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine, told FoxNews.com.

While scabies does spread person-to-person, it's more common in populations with very close contact.

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Inactivity may be main culprit in obesity epidemic
Inactivity may be main culprit in obesity epidemic
July 10, 2014

Lack of exercise -- and not a tendency to eat too much -- may explain why an increasing number of Americans are obese, a new study suggests.

Researchers analyzed U.S. government data from the last 20 years and found that the number of women who reported no physical activity rose from about 19 percent in 1994 to nearly 52 percent in 2010. The number of men who said they didn't exercise increased from about 11 percent to about 43 percent.

Black and Mexican-American women showed the greatest decreases in reported exercise, the study authors found.

During the study period, there was an increase in adults' average body mass index (BMI), an estimate of body fat based on height and weight, with the most dramatic rise among women aged 18 to 39. The researchers also found increased rates of abdominal obesity, especially among women.

At the same time, calorie intake among adults remained steady during the study period, according to the findings reported recently in the American Journal of Medicine.

While the investigators found an association between inactivity and the obesity epidemic, the study did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship.

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Healthy habits can help adults reverse risk of heart disease
Healthy habits can help adults reverse risk of heart disease
July 3, 2014

All those late nights, lazy days and emptied bags of potato chips may have put your heart health in a real tight spot, but according to new research, it's likely not too late to reverse at least some of the damage.

In a new study, researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that the risk of heart disease in adults could be reversed by the adoption of healthy habits.

Published this week in the journal Circulation, scientists found adults in their 30s and 40s wrest control of their heart health and reverse coronary heart disease by maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, eating healthy, exercising and limiting alcohol consumption.

"It's not too late," said study author Bonnie Spring, a professor of preventative medicine at Northwestern's medical school. "You're not doomed if you've hit young adulthood and acquired some bad habits. You can still make a change and it will have a benefit for your heart."

Of course, the reverse is also true: if you give up health habits as you get older, your risk of heart disease will invariably go up.

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

Less sleep tied to brain shrinkage, cognitive decline
Less sleep tied to brain shrinkage, cognitive decline
July 3, 2014

Less sleep was found to be associated with brain shrinkage and cognitive decline, according to new research of older adults.

In a new study published in the journal SLEEP, researchers at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore studied a group of 66 older adults with an average age of 67. The group underwent neuropsychological testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans at the beginning of the study - and then again 18 to 24 months later. Participants also answered questionnaires about their sleep duration and quality.

The study ultimately found a relationship between shorter sleep and a slightly faster rate of cognitive decline and brain shrinkage.

"Since the brain is responsible for cognitive abilities, faster shrinkage of the brain is associated with decline in cognitive performance," senior study author Michael Chee, a professor at Duke-NUS and principal investigator of the school's cognitive neuroscience lab, told FoxNews.com. "Statistically, the person with shorter sleep has about a .5 percent rate of decline faster than normal sleepers."

The average reported time in bed was 6.7 hours, and shorter sleep was defined as one hour less than the average. However, Chee estimated that participants' actual sleep time was more like six hours, as sleep efficiency declines with age. Because sleep duration is less controllable as one ages, researchers believe the study is especially important for young people, as young people may be more able to improve their sleep time.

Overall, their research suggested that seven hours of sleep is ideal for optimal cognitive performance.

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Posted by Ken at 4:50 AM - Link to this entry  |  Share this entry  |  Print

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