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All U.S. Adults Should Be Screened for Depression, Panel Recommends
All U.S. Adults Should Be Screened for Depression, Panel Recommends
January 29, 2016

All adults in the U.S., including pregnant and postpartum women, should be screened for depression when they visit the doctor, according to new recommendations released by a government-appointed panel.

This recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is largely consistent with the group's previous recommendation, which was issued in 2009, said Karina Davidson, a member of the task force and a professor at Columbia University Medical Center. However, at the time the previous recommendation was made, there was not enough evidence for the group to either recommend or discourage depression screening for pregnant and postpartum women, she said.

The USPSTF makes recommendations regarding the effectiveness of preventive health services, and also considers whether the benefits of treatments outweigh the potential risks.

"The task force has determined that there is enough good-quality evidence to be confident that the benefits of screening for depression outweigh the harms for the general adult population, including pregnant and postpartum women,"Davidson said. "This is because we found evidence that screening for depression in the primary care setting is accurate, that treatment for depression is effective for people detected through screening and the likelihood of harms from screening or treatments are small."

The USPSTF issued a "B grade recommendation" for depression screening, meaning that it is of moderate to substantial net benefit. The recommendations were published today (Jan. 26) in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Zika Virus Disease Q & A from the CDC
Zika Virus Disease Q & A from the CDC
January 29, 2016

What is Zika virus disease (Zika)?

Zika is a disease caused by Zika virus that is spread to people primarily through the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. The most common symptoms of Zika are fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis (red eyes). The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting for several days to a week.
What are the symptoms of Zika?

About 1 in 5 people infected with Zika will get sick. For people who get sick, the illness is usually mild. For this reason, many people might not realize they have been infected.

The most common symptoms of Zika virus disease are fever, rash, joint pain, or conjunctivitis (red eyes). Symptoms typically begin 2 to 7 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
How is Zika transmitted?

Zika is primarily transmitted through the bite of infected Aedes mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they bite a person already infected with the virus. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to other people through bites. It can also be transmitted from a pregnant mother to her baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth. We do not know how often Zika is transmitted from mother to baby during pregnancy or around the time of birth.
Who is at risk of being infected?

Anyone who is living in or traveling to an area where Zika virus is found who has not already been infected with Zika virus is at risk for infection, including pregnant women.
What countries have Zika?

Specific areas where Zika virus transmission is ongoing are often difficult to determine and are likely to change over time. Please visit the CDC Travelers' Health site for the most updated information.
What can people do to prevent becoming infected with Zika?

There is no vaccine to prevent Zika. The best way to prevent diseases spread by mosquitoes is to avoid being bitten. Protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites. Here's how:

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents. All EPA-registered insect repellents are evaluated for effectiveness.
Always follow the product label instructions.
Reapply insect repellent as directed.
Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
If you have a baby or child:
Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child's face.
Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.

What is the treatment for Zika?

There is no vaccine or specific medicine to treat Zika virus infections.

Treat the symptoms:

Get plenty of rest.
Drink fluids to prevent dehydration.
Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain.
Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
If you are taking medicine for another medical condition, talk to your healthcare provider before taking additional medication.

How is Zika diagnosed?

See your healthcare provider if you develop symptoms (fever, rash, joint pain, red eyes). If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider.
Your healthcare provider may order blood tests to look for Zika or other similar viral diseases like dengue or chikungunya.

What should I do if I have Zika?

Treat the symptoms:

Get plenty of rest
Drink fluids to prevent dehydration
Take medicine such as acetaminophen to reduce fever and pain
Do not take aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs


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More Americans are living past their 100th birthdays
More Americans are living past their 100th birthdays
January 21, 2016

The number of Americans living beyond their 100th birthday has been climbing steadily since the start of the 21st century.

A new CDC report, which tracked mortality among 100-somethings starting in 2000, shows that while centenarians are still uncommon, the number of Americans above the age of 100 has increased more than 43 percent, from 50,281 a decade and a half ago to 72,197 in 2014.

"It's really a sign of continued increase in life expectancy and longevity and a sign of public health efforts and modern medicine over the last two centuries that have contributed to this," said Dr. Maria Torroella Carney, chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health, in New Hyde Park, New York.

The report, Mortality Among Centenarians in the United States, 2000─2014, also looked at trends among the sexes and by racial and ethnic groups.

For men and women, death rates for centenarians climbed between 2000 and 2008, but then decreased through 2014 for both sexes.

Death rates among Hispanics aged 100 and up grew from 2000 through 2006. For non-Hispanic whites and blacks, death rates increased between 2000 and 2008. Then the numbers decreased through 2014 for all racial and ethnic groups examined.

Carney said life expectancy has changed drastically from a century earlier, when a child born in 1900 only had an average life expectancy of making it to age 40. By the time 2000 rolled around, average life expectancy had swelled to the mid-70s.

"In the 1900s, we had sanitation and clean water efforts that really helped. Prevention of maternal death and child maternal injuries and accidents, too. The development of vaccinations and antibiotics in that century really decreased mortality," Carney said.

She said fewer people smoking and environmental shifts to promote clean air that began in the late 1990s likely made a difference, too.

"Then in 2000, vaccines grew more: zoster vaccines [for shingles], influenza and the expansion of use of the use influenza vaccines, pneumonia vaccines," further helped reduce illnesses that take a heavy toll on older Americans, said Carney.

Other medical advances that may be contributing to longer life spans include new antibiotics and new health technologies, including artificial joints, dialysis, defibrillators, and improvements in transplant medicines that help more people stay healthy and active.

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Gluten-free is total BS
Gluten-free is total BS
January 21, 2016

When Dara Piken noticed her college roommate losing weight and feeling great, the always-dieting School of Visual Arts student decided to do the same - and avoid eating gluten.

With lots of gluten-free products available, the 22-year-old thought it'd be easy to hop on the diet. But instead of singing its praises, she gained 10 pounds and a host of stomach issues.

"I was so constipated and miserable," she says. "My stomach was always grumbling, and I was hungry. [At first] I wouldn't eat anything that wasn't naturally gluten-free, and then I would [eat] gluten-free pretzels and gluten-free bread and bagels, and it just wasn't doing it. It was just adding more weight on, and I felt so bloated."

After a year without gluten, she went to see F-Factor nutritionist Tanya Zuckerbrot. A blood test showed Piken didn't have a gluten intolerance, so Zuckerbrot switched her to a high-fiber diet. The change worked like a charm.

"I lost 15 pounds when I brought gluten back," she says. "The gluten-free stuff - it's not a legitimate diet plan."

From celebrities like Miley Cyrus touting a gluten-free diet as the secret to her svelte bod to popular dessert spots like Sprinkles now offering gluten-free treats, it seems everyone is kicking gluten to the curb.

The protein - found in wheat, rye and barley - gives dough an elastic texture and foods like cereal and bread a chewy quality. The diet started as a medical necessity for the 7 percent of people in the US who either suffer from celiac disease - an autoimmune disorder - or a diagnosed gluten intolerance. For them, the protein wreaks havoc on their intestines.

But now, the diet has become a bona fide fad among those who've never suffered from eating a slice of wheat toast. A 2013 poll by consumer analysts NPD showed that 30 percent of all adults were trying to cut down or avoid gluten completely. Packaged Facts, a market research group, forecasts that the gluten-free food market will grow from $973 million in sales in 2014 to $2.3 billion by 2019.

But many nutritionists say a gluten-free diet is not the path to weight-loss success - and it can even be detrimental to your health.

"There's absolutely no reason to go gluten-free if you've not been diagnosed medically with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance," says NYC-based nutritionist and dietitian Keri Gans.

Gans says healthy whole grains - which contain vitamin B and iron - have a host of benefits, including preventing heart disease, lowering cholesterol and stabilizing blood sugar. "Going gluten-free seems to be an easy out as opposed to learning how to eat this food group in a healthier way," she says. "A well-balanced, healthy diet includes bread and pasta."

The problem is that people see the diet as a quick fix to their health problems, says Celiac Disease Foundation nutritionist Janelle Smith. They then jump on the baguette-free bandwagon.

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Acid reflux drugs linked to kidney disease
Acid reflux drugs linked to kidney disease
January 14, 2016

Proton-pump inhibitors, used to treat heartburn, indigestion and acid reflux, have been linked to a significantly increased risk of kidney disease, according to a new study from Johns Hopkins University.

The new study is the latest to find an association between PPIs and negative health outcomes. Studies in 2015 linked the drugs to an increased risk of heart attack, as well as to increased chance of death for hospital patients.

PPI drugs such as Prilosec and Nexium have been in use since the 1980s when they were thought to be relatively safe, leading to widespread use for heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux. During the last decade, however, concerns have grown about a growing list of side effects and significant health risks.

"It is possible that PPI users are sicker than nonusers, or that adverse effects are caused by other drugs or conditions associated with PPI use," Dr. Adam Schoenfeld and Dr. Deborah Grady wrote in an editorial published with the new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association. "However, some adverse effects have been documented by multiple high-quality observational studies and are likely causal."

In the new study, researchers analyzed medical data for 10,482 participants in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, conducted from 1996 to 2011. The results of the data review were then replicated in a further analysis of medical data on 248,751 patients in the Geisinger Health System.

Among the 322 people using PPIs in the ARIC study, risk for kidney disease was 11.8 percent, compared to the expected risk of 8.5 percent. Among the 16,900 patients in the Geisinger Health System data using PPIs, risk for kidney disease was 15.6 percent, compared to the expected risk of 13.9 percent.

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Average Age of New US Moms at All-Time High
Average Age of New US Moms at All-Time High
January 14, 2016

The average age of first-time mothers is at an all-time high in the U.S - over 26.

The change is largely due to a big drop in teen moms. But more first births to older women also are tugging the number up, said T.J. Mathews of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

He's the lead author of a report released Thursday that put the average age at 26 years, 4 months for women who had their first child in 2014.

The government began tracking the age of new mothers around 1970 when the average was 21. It's been mostly climbing ever since, and spiked in about the last five years.

The number rocketed immediately after a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion, which is used mostly by young unmarried women. Also fueling the rise were improvements in birth control and greater opportunities for women, experts said.

"Women are staying in school longer, they're going into the workforce, they're waiting to get married, and they're waiting to have kids," said John Santelli, a Columbia University professor of population and family health.

"It's been going on in the U.S. since the 1950s," and in many other countries as well, he added.

Overall, the average age of first-time moms has been rising in every racial and ethnic group, and in every state. Since 2000, some of the most dramatic increases were for black mothers and for moms living along the West Coast.

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Do heavier waiters affect how much we order?
Do heavier waiters affect how much we order?
January 7, 2016

The study comes from researchers at the Cornell Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, NY, an arm of Cornell University that regularly looks into the subtle intersection of food consumption and psychology.

Led by researcher Tim Doering, the study is published in the journal Environment and Behavior.

"No one goes to a restaurant to start a diet," he says. "As a result, we are tremendously susceptible to cues that give us a license to order and eat what we want. A fun, happy, heavy waiter might lead a diner to say 'What the heck' and to cut loose a little."

But "cutting loose" can be more detrimental than simply breaking a New Year's resolution to eat better.

With more than one third of adults in the US classified as obese - or 78.6 million individuals - obesity represents a major public health issue and drives some of the leading causes of preventable death, including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

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Late-night snacks 'could wreak havoc on your memory'
Late-night snacks 'could wreak havoc on your memory'
January 7, 2016

The research from the University of California found that eating regular meals at times that are normally for sleeping reduced the cognitive performance of mice, and similar effects could exist in humans.

Dawn Loh, first author of the study said: "We have provided the first evidence that taking regular meals at the wrong time of day has far-reaching effects for learning and memory."

The team of researchers tested whether mice were able to recognise an object. Mice who were regularly fed during their sleep-time were significantly less able to remember the object, and their long-term memory was also greatly reduced.

Both these functions are controlled by a part of the brain called the hippocampus, which is involved in activating nerve impulses along certain pathways.

When an experience is repeated, those same pathways are supposed to increase in strength - but this effect was reduced when the sleep cycle was affected by meal time disruption.

In the mice fed late at night, the activity of a protein called CREB was lessened. This protein may be involved in the onset of Alzheimer's disease, and it being less active decreases memory.

It's suspected that different brain areas not being in synch may be the cause of the memory issues.

The team also found disruptions to sleep patterns, leading to broken up sleep and short naps to catch up on the sleep lost during the night.

Professor Christopher Colwell, one of the researchers on the study, said: "Modern schedules can lead us to eat around the clock so it is important to understand how the timing of food can impact cogitation.

"For the first time, we have shown that simply adjusting the time when food is made available alters the molecular clock in the hippocampus and can alter the cognitive performance of mice."

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