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    Showing posts with label Healthy Living News. Show all posts

    Studies Show Big Advance In HIV Prevention

    Exciting research suggests that a shot every one to three months may someday give an alternative to the daily pills that some people take now to cut their risk of getting HIV.

    The experimental drug has only been tested for prevention in monkeys, but it completely protected them from infection in two studies reported at an AIDS conference on Tuesday.

    "This is the most exciting innovation in the field of HIV prevention that I've heard recently," said Dr. Robert Grant, an AIDS expert at the Gladstone Institutes, a foundation affiliated with the University of California, San Francisco.

    "Both groups are showing 100 percent protection" with the drug, Grant said of the two groups of researchers. "If it works and proves to be safe, it would allow for HIV to be prevented with periodic injections, perhaps every three months."

    Until a vaccine is developed, condoms are the best way to prevent infection with the AIDS virus and many other sexually spread diseases. But not everyone uses them, or does so all the time, so public health officials have pursued other prevention options.

    A drug used to treat people with HIV — Gilead Science's Truvada — also is used to help prevent infection in people who don't have the virus. A big study in gay men a few years ago found it could cut this risk by up to 90 percent, depending on how faithfully people take the daily pills.

    The new research tested something that could make this type of prevention much more practical — a long-acting experimental drug made by GlaxoSmithKline PLC. The studies tested it in macaques exposed to a human-monkey version of HIV.

    Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention gave six monkeys shots of the drug every four weeks; six others got dummy shots. All were exposed to the virus twice a week for 11 weeks.

    The monkeys who got the fake treatment were readily infected "but the animals that received the long-acting drug remained protected," said study leader Gerardo Garcia-Lerma of the CDC.

    The results mirror what was seen in the CDC's early research in monkeys on Truvada, the pill that's available for HIV prevention now.

    In the second study, Chasity Andrews and others at the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Rockefeller University in New York gave eight monkeys two shots of the drug, four weeks apart, and dummy shots to eight others. The animals were exposed to the virus weekly for eight weeks. Again, all animals given the fake treatment were quickly infected and those on the drug were all protected.

    To see how long a single shot would last, they did a second study. The single shot protected 12 monkeys for about 10 weeks on average.

    Can CrossFit Improve Running?

    As of today, I have finished many half-marathons and trail half-marathons, climbed mountains and ran a marathon, and I'm currently training for another marathon and various obstacle races. What made this possible? CrossFit.

    Before you click away, hear me out. I'm not going to try to sell everyone on CrossFit because it doesn't work for everyone. I am going to share why it works for me. In the three years I've been combining running with CrossFit, I have not had one injury. My previous injury was a severe case of ITBS, or illiotibial band syndrome, which led to hip problems. I went from crying tears of relief over three miles to more tears crossing a finish line at 26.2 miles. So what is so magical about CrossFit?

    1. CrossFit is serious cross-training. CrossFit is based around improving 10 basic physical skills: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. Participants work to improve these skills through weight-lifting, gymnastics and metabolic conditioning. Good trainers spend a great deal of time each week making sure the workouts for the next week are balanced in all of these things. Looking through that list of 10 skills, which ones do not improve running?

    2. CrossFit incorporates functional flexibility. The age-old question: Should I stretch before or after running? That has nothing to do with CrossFit's flexibility training, which is actually mobility training. The iron-rod backbone of all CrossFit is functional fitness, and that includes skill work designed to improve range of motion for functional behaviors. In my own experience, this has been crucial to my running success. Oh, and to answer the question, I do not advise static stretching before a run. Stretching ligaments, tendons and muscles before loading them with repetitive weight-bearing impact movement is not a good idea. Dynamic stretching is a better option. Again, this is just my personal experience.

    3. CrossFit demands mental stamina. This is what allowed me to finish a marathon without hitting a huge wall. Yes, most CrossFit workouts are less than 30 minutes. Include 3 to 4 CrossFit workouts a week, and the mental discipline has nowhere to go but up. All runners know that mental stamina can be the difference between a DNF and a triumphant finish.

    Salad Mix Behind Food Poisoning Outbreak, Health Officials Say

     Health officials in Iowa and Nebraska on Tuesday identified prepackaged salad mix as the source of a severe stomach bug that sickened hundreds of people in both states, but federal authorities said it's not clear whether cyclospora outbreaks elsewhere in the U.S. are also linked to that produce.

    Cyclospora is a rare parasite that causes a lengthy gastrointestinal illness, and outbreaks of the illness have been reported in 15 states. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that it's not clear whether all of the illnesses are linked to a single source. The outbreak has sickened at least 145 residents in Iowa and 78 in Nebraska.

    Nebraska officials said the salad mix in question included iceberg and romaine lettuce, along with red cabbage and carrots, which came through national distribution chains. They did not identify specific brands. A Nebraska health department spokeswoman said the agency was working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get a "clear picture" of which were involved and whether they're tied to one common source, such as the same farm or producer.

    "Our goal is to protect Nebraskans, pinpoint the source of the illness and make sure the risk is eliminated," said Dr. Joseph Acierno, the department's chief medical officer and director of public health.

    In Iowa, officials said they were confident that most if not all of the product was no longer on the shelves. The affected products were traced to grocery stores and restaurants, said Steven Mandernach, the state's top food-safety inspector. Mandernach said cases were reported throughout the state, but the largest number was in the eastern Iowa city of Cedar Rapids.

    Mandernach said officials have traced 80 percent of the Iowa cases to a common source, which he did not identify because officials believe there's no longer any immediate safety threat. Mandernach said it's possible that the parasite spread through contaminated floodwater and onto farm fields after arriving in the state. Before the outbreak, he said, Iowa had seen about 20 cases of cyclospora in the last decade.

    Local health departments are working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to identify exactly where the contamination originated in the food production chain and where the product was distributed.

    Habits Of Insanely Fit People

    Just a few simple habits can make the difference between a fit person and a couch potato, an everyday worker and the outrageously successful.

    That's because those simple habits work. And these ultra-fit examples are proof.

    Fit People Don't Diet

    Michelle Obama, champion of nutrition and physical activity (and owner of some of the most inspiring arms in America), knows that obsessing over every calorie is no way to live. "The truth is, being a healthy woman isn't about getting on a scale or measuring your waistline -- and we can't afford to think that way," she wrote in Women's Health in 2010. "Instead, we need to start focusing on what matters -- on how we feel, and how we feel about ourselves."

    They Find A Way To Enjoy Exercise

    Fitness is not one-size-fits-all -- and the fittest people understand that and dedicate the time to finding an exercise routine they actually enjoy. Bob Harper, devoted CrossFit fan, takes it to the next step: "For me, working out is a form of therapy, it's cathartic for me, it's a good stress reliever," he told Parade in 2013. "I know that when I go to the gym I am taking care of myself and I know I'll feel so much better afterwards."

    They Don't Compare Their Bodies To Other People's Bodies

    Bow down to Queen Bey! The singer/actress/mama/superstar's weight has fluctuated for a number of movie roles, but she knows where she's most comfortable -- and accepts it. "I feel best when I'm not really thin and not really heavy, when I'm still curvy," she told SELF. "I really believe that everyone is supposed to be different, and whatever is a natural weight for you is usually what looks best."

    They Get Enough Sleep

    Jillian Michaels, tough-as-nails trainer of Biggest Loser fame, considers a good night's sleep her secret weapon. Get "as much as you can," she told Spry Living: "Sleep is critical for a strong immune system, metabolism, anti aging -- the list goes on and on." And she's right: Skimping on sleep ups your risk for a number of serious health conditions. Plus, even just an extra hour of sleep can help your athletic performance. "I really do prioritize my sleep," she told Health magazine. "I get seven to eight hours a night."

    They Cheat

    Even the most fit know that a healthy-eating plan needs a little wiggle room. Jessica Biel values a "cheat" day: "When I'm working and I eat healthily all week, I then give myself one day -- usually Sunday -- when I eat what I want," she told Glamour UK. "You have to, otherwise your mind goes a little nutso."

    They Make Fitness A Priority

    We're all busy, but if you want to be fit you have to make time to work for it. The most fit people strike a balance between work and family obligations, social lives and exercise. In fact, it may be what differentiates the fittest folks from everyone else, boxing champ Laila Ali told Ebony:

        I do my best to work out five days a week. There are times when I can only get in three days a week because I am traveling or just need rest due to a hectic schedule. But working out is always a priority and if I fall off due to my schedule, it is not long before I get back on track. People who are fit are the same as anyone else. The only difference is their level of commitment. If looking good and being fit was easy, everyone would do it! Most people don't want to put in the work or make the sacrifices needed in order to be fit.

    Your Most Creative Time Of Day Is Not When You Think

    A bus company in China has launched a new “safe driving” campaign by suspending bowls of water over their drivers. To avoid getting wet, drivers must drive gently. In today’s technology-obsessed world, this solution is elegantly primitive. You might imagine that this simple yet ingenious idea was conjured by someone functioning at their very best, that such “aha insights” come when innovators are at their peak.

    Not so. A recent study by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks suggests that innovation and creativity are greatest when we are not at our best, at least with respect to our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms determine whether you are a “morning-type” person or an “evening-type” person, and are often measured with a short paper-and-pencil test called the Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire. Circadian rhythms drive daily fluctuations in many physiological processes like alertness, heart rate and body temperature. Recent research indicates that these rhythms affect our intellectual functioning too.

    Numerous studieshave demonstrated that our best performance on challenging, attention-demanding tasks - like studying in the midst of distraction - occurs at our peak time of day. When we operate at our optimal time of day, we filter out the distractions in our world and get down to business.

    In a study I conducted, for example, participants were given three related cue words (e.g., SHIP OUTER CRAWL), and were required to find their common link (SPACE). When misleading distractors were presented with the cue words (e.g., SHIP-ocean OUTER-inner CRAWL-baby), those tested at non-optimal times were more likely to be misled by the distractors and showed lower solution rates. Those tested at peak times were not affected by the distraction. In this and related studies, peak-time benefits are most robust when distraction would disrupt our thought processes and cause errors.

    But distraction is not all bad, and Wieth and Zacks have demonstrated that we can use our increased susceptibility to distraction at off-peak times to our advantage. In their study, they asked participants to solve analytic problems and insight problems at peak or off-peak times. Analytic problems generally require people to “grind out a solution” by systematically working through the problem utilizing a consistent strategy. Here is a classic analytic problem: “Bob’s father is 3 times as old as Bob. They were both born in October. 4 years ago, he was 4 times older. How old are Bob and his father?” No innovation or creativity necessary to solve this problem; one simply has to work it out mathematically.

    Amy Winehouse: Reflections from Two Drug Policy Activists

    Like many of you, we heard the sad news about Amy Winehouse's death on Facebook. The news spread quickly. Her friend Russell Brand immediately issued an incredible tribute to her, which was one of the most widely discussed responses to her sudden death. Most people immediately assumed that a drug overdose must have taken Amy's life. We don't know how she died, and on some level, it doesn't really matter. She was young, talented and apparently haunted with struggles none of us will ever understand. She used drugs. And now she's gone.

    We have worked at the Drug Policy Alliance for many years and spend most days thinking about drugs, our country's drug policies and the people whose lives are impacted by them. We spend most days advocating for, and trying to help, people just like Amy. Here are some of our reflections on the tragic death of Amy Winehouse.

    Relapse Happens.

    Abstinence isn't always achievable for everyone. We know some people will fall short of this goal, despite everyone wanting to see them succeed. Even people with virtually unlimited resources and support, like Amy Winehouse, will sometimes fail to live up to their own hopes for sobriety. We need as many potential solutions on the table as possible, including things that reduce the risks of accidental fatal overdose, like the overdose reversal medication naloxone and physician-monitored prescribed heroin maintenance programs. Amy's drug use and struggles with addiction have been in the news for years. She was in treatment as recently as May. Unfortunately, treatment is not a silver bullet and relapse is a common, and frustrating, part of recovery.

    There's an Overdose Crisis in the United States and Abroad.

    People usually hear about overdose when it happens to a celebrity like Heath Ledger or Chris Farley. Yet overdose is a silent killer that has quickly become one of the leading causes of accidental death in the United States. Nationally, over 27,000 people died from accidental overdoses in 2007 (the most recent data available). In NY and 16 other states, overdose is now the leading cause of accidental death, even passing car fatalities. More Americans now die from an accidental drug overdose than from HIV/AIDS.

    That's the bad news. The good news is that most drug overdoses are preventable. Solutions to the crisis exist; cost-neutral and cost-effective measures such as Good Samaritan 911 laws and expanded access to the lifesaving overdose reversal medication naloxone help reduce overdose deaths.

    Just last week, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York signed a Good Samaritan 911 bill that will save thousands of lives. The bill will help reduce overdose death by allowing people who are witnessing an overdose to call 911 without fear of being prosecuted. New York now joins states like New Mexico and Washington in passing these laws, but we need these laws in every state.

    People Need Better Access to Effective Treatment

    We need to invest in better and more widely available drug treatment. Many people would be shocked to discover that there's virtually nowhere left in the United States where a person addicted to heroin can call and be admitted that same day to a long-term in-patient drug treatment program free of charge. We need to eliminate these barriers to addiction treatment.

    16-Pound Baby Born In Texas

    The average weight of a newborn baby is about 7 1/2 pounds, which is why it's shocking -- even in Texas -- that a woman has given birth to a 16-pound baby boy.

    Two feet tall at birth, JaMichael Brown is the biggest baby ever born in the state of Texas.

    "A lot of the stuff we bought him is too little," mother Janet Johnson told The Today Show.

    The nurse who helped deliver JaMichael said there are health implications for an infant this large.

    The medical term for large infants is "macrosomia," literally meaning "large of body." These babies often have high blood sugar at birth, and a greater chance of obesity or diabetes later in life, doctors say.

    How big is possible cause for concern? According to Babycenter.com, over 9 pounds and 15 ounces is considered "much larger than average."

    From Babycenter:

    Probably the most influential factors are genetics and unmanaged high blood sugar levels from gestational diabetes or diabetes mellitus. Other factors believed to increase risk include ethnicity (Hispanic women are more at risk), obesity, gaining a lot of weight during pregnancy, going past your due date, and even your baby's sex -- male babies are more often than females.

    Bunions: When Do They Become Something To Worry About?

    Many people know the term 'bunion' and that it occurs on a foot, but don't know exactly what a bunion is. Most people think a bunion is an abnormal growth of bone at the base of the big toe. This is incorrect (at least in most cases). A bunion is actually a structural problem where the big toe joint becomes subluxed and drifts towards the smaller toes. A displaced bone, called a metatarsal, becomes prominent on the inside of the foot. The bunion simply refers to the enlarged prominent 'knobby' area.


    Bunions may progress in size and severity. A bunion may start of as minor issue and, over time, may develop into a severe disfiguring foot deformity. See below:
    2011-07-03-DrNealBlitzBunionProgressionHuffPoFINAL.jpg

    So if you have bunion, here are 10 important things you should know, as you consider treatment:
    1. Not all bunions are painful.
    2. The medical term is hallux abducto valgus.
    3. They come in different sizes: small, medium, large or severe.
    4. Genetics. You may have inherited your grandmothers feet.
    5. They occur more often in women than men.
    6. Pointy-toed shoes and high heels may result in bunions.
    7. Bunions may get bigger over time, or not.
    8. The bunion may cause problems with the lesser toes.
    9. Non-operative treatments are mostly aimed at treating the symptoms.
    10. Surgical treatment goals are to realign the natural position of the toe.
    When to seek treatment?
    There is not a specific point when bunion sufferers 'must' start treatment despite the bunion severity. Some people begin treatment with the smallest bunion while others neglect the condition until severe. Reasons to seek medical treatment are:


  • Presence of Pain? Pain and discomfort is the most common reason to seek treatment. Pain directly on the bunion is a symptom of direct shoe pressure. Joint pain suggests arthritic degeneration. Pain on the ball of the foot is concerning for altered foot biomechanics and a sign of a bigger problem. Pain should not be ignored.




  • Interference with Activity? Some people wait until a bunion interferes with activities before seeking medical treatment and I think this is a mistake. Impact activities (such as running, tennis) may be more challenging to perform. If left ignored, simple everyday walking may become problematic. You should take measures that keep you active and healthy.




  • Inability to Wear Certain Shoes? In this subset of patients, it's the sheer size of the bunion preventing fashionable shoes that motivates treatment -- not pain. These patients have learned to live with discomfort but chose fashion over foot health. Clearly, inability to wear shoes is a valid reason for intervention.




  • An Unsightly Bunion? Foot care experts are less concerned with cosmetic appearance as they are about pain, activity restrictions and overall foot function. Often insurance companies only cover medical bunion treatments if pain is present, regardless of size.




  • Overlapping toes? When the second toe has overlapped the big toe, it's an obvious indicator of a global foot problem, and is often associated with collapse of the foot. Interestingly, these problems are not always painful as the condition develops overtime and the pain may be muted, or patients have accepted a certain amount of foot discomfort. The driving force for treatment becomes secondary problems such as metatarsal stress fractures or inability to fit shoes. 




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