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Unreported Abnormal Test Results Endanger Your Health.

Asking your doctor for your test results could save your life!

Do you as a patient always learn the results of the lab tests your physician orders? Or, do you follow the "no news is good news" philosophy? If you follow the latter, your health may be in jeopardy. According to a new study investigators retrospectively reviewed medical records of 5434 ramdomly selected patients 50-69 years of age in 23 different primary care practices. 

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Use of Illegal Drugs and Cognitive Performance

Moderate canabis and ecstasy use reduce memory and attention in young adults.

The regular use of some illegal drugs may cause cognitive impairments. Two of these substances are "ecstasy" and "canabis". Recent research has focussed on attention and memory in a community-based sample of young adults derived from a large-scale epidemiological study. Subjects were sampled with varying degrees of lifetime drug use.

A dose-response relationship was found for poorer episodic memory function when ecstasy and cannabis were used. There was also a stronger tendency for attention to lapse with the higher use of these drugs.

PositiveTip: For maximum memory and alertness stay away from all illegal drugs.

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Stimulants and Youth: A Sobering Association

Common stimulant medications linked to sudden, unexplained deaths in youth.

There have been increasing concerns in recent years that stimulant drugs commonly given for ADHD may be associated with an increased risk of sudden, unexplained death in young people. In a new retrospective, case-controlled study researchers have reported the probability that those using the most commonly prescribed stimulant (methylphenidate) was 7.4 compared to those who were not. (If it had been 1, then the probability would have been the same for each group.)

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Diet Plans or Calories--Which is Most Useful?

Diet plans don't count--it's the calories that do!

Obscured in the media headlines over the findings of the largest controlled trial of weight loss plans ever conducted is the fact that losing weight is hard work, and keeping it off is even harder--regardless of the plan or diet followed.

The good news from this study published in the New England Journal of Medicine is that you can toss out those fad-diet books that promise you can lose the "easy way." More than 800 participants in this two year study were randomly assigned to four different diets that varied in the amount of fat, protein, and carbohydrate levels. They all lost an average of 9 pounds regardless of which diet they followed. It was the calories, and sticking to it, that made the difference!

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A Surprise or Two About Menopause

Regular physical activity is associated with shorter duration of hot flashes.

A new study from Australia suggests that the duration of bothersome hot flashes may last considerably longer than has previously be reported. The investigators reanalyzed data from 438 women in a longitudinal, population-based study who had completed 13 years of follow-up.

The average duration of bothersome menopausal symptoms for women who had never used horomone replacement therapy (HRT) was 5.2 years. When women who used HRT were included, the average duration was 5.5 years.

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Historic Legislation Passes Both Houses--Awaits President's Signature.

Smoking linked to 400,000 deaths annually in US, and citizens each pay $600 yearly.

The Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act now awaits President Obama's signature. Agencies and organizations who have for years fought against the tobacco industry are rejoicing at the outcome of new legislation (H.R. 1256) that will put the Food and Drug Administration in charge of regulating cigarettes and other tobacco products.

One of the major motivating forces behind the legislation is to reduce the huge human and financial burden caused by tobacco. It is estimated that every American pays over $600 per year to cover the health care price tag for tobacco-related illnesses--even if they do not smoke themselves--more than $100 billion per year.

"But I Don't Have Any Willpower!"

We all love success. We want to succeed ourselves, and we usually enjoy it when others succeed--unless it is in direct competition to us (but that is another blog in the future). Health educators love success also, but rarely get to witness it long-term! We can deliver the most creative and interesting lifestyle interventions delivered with wonderful passion and care--only to learn a year later (or less) that most of our class has gone back to their old habits. 

"But I don't have any willpower," is the most common reason I am told for not sticking with new habits. It may be expressed as "I can't win for losing," or "There is nothing I can do about it." The bottom line is that the hardest challenge any of us face (myself included) is to change--eat less, exercise regularly, think more positively, etc.

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Another Thumbs-up for Fruits and Vegetables

Supplementation with Vitamin C and E may lower your resistance to diabetes and make you age faster.

You know exercise promotes longevity and helps control type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance? Did you think exercise and the use of antioxidants might be even better? Time to think again! A brand new study suggests otherwise.

An international team of researchers have discovered in a randomized trial, average insulin sensitivity was higher in those who were not taking any antioxidant supplements (1000-mg vitamin C and 400-IU vitamin E). Exercise raises reactive oxygen species (ROS), but also activates natural antioxidant systems. In the groups taking the antioxidant supplements the natural systems were blunted.

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WHO Declares H1N1 Flu Pandemic

World now at the start of 2009 influenza pandemic--first one since 1968.

Last Thursday, June 11, the World Health Organization declared the new influenza A H1N1 (formerly known as swine flu) a pandemic. This novel virus strain has not previously circulated in the human population. Although declared as "moderate", the speed at which it has spread, and the potential for a much more virulent form to develop spurred this declaration. No restrictions on travel or border closures have been declared.

The Challenge of Balance

Today we hear a lot about the dangers of cigarettes, too much fat, the wrong kinds of fat, excess sugar, too little sleep, too much sedentary living, etc., etc. We know these behaviors are bad for us! Could it be the cacophony of "nots" pushes us over the edge in the other direction sometimes?

When we discover something good for us, are we tempted to run with it to excess? I met a person recently who firmly believed in the virtues of eating slowly and masticating (chewing) thoroughly. He counted how many times he chewed each bite, and recorded it on a piece of paper along with what that bite contained. If he swallowed it all before he had reached 25 chews, he would exclaim, "Next time I need to chew more slowly!" He was disgusted with himself if he finished a meal in under 2 hours, also.