Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New Federal Rule Requires Insurers to Offer Mental Health Coverage

New Federal Rule Requires Insurers to Offer Mental Health Coverage - "The Obama administration issued a final rule on Wednesday defining “essential health benefits” that must be offered by most health insurance plans next year, and it said that 32 million people would gain access to coverage of mental health care as a result. The federal rule requires insurers to cover treatment of mental illnesses, behavioral disorders, drug addiction and alcohol abuse, and other conditions. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, said that in addition to the millions who would gain access to mental health care, 30 million people who already have some mental health coverage will see improvements in benefits. . . ."

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Monday, February 25, 2013

Get up and move around!

"Get up and move around frequently during the day. . . . Get a cup of coffee. Pace. Just don’t sit. An interesting solution for both sore backs and a sedentary workday is the sit-stand workstation. (For more information about these stations, you can read the article “Taking a Stand for Office Ergonomics.”) Dr. Dennerlein said he now has one both at the office and at home and likes the effect it’s had on his work habits.“It gets me moving around,” he said. “It keeps me varying my postures. When I stand at my desk, if I’ve got a thought I’ll walk around. Instead of just sitting and turning and looking at the window, if I’m already standing then I’ll walk over to the window and come back.” Dr. Dennerlein notes that standing for long periods of time is not good for you either. The key is to vary your work posture throughout the day. “Just keep moving and changing things around,” he said. “I think people should be empowered to make adjustments to see what feels right for them. And one thing that might feel comfortable in the morning might not feel comfortable in the afternoon.” (source:

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Friday, February 22, 2013

USDA Guidelines Seek to Curb Unhealthy Snacks in Schools

USDA Guidelines Seek to Curb Unhealthy Snacks in Schools | Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann & Girard - JDSupra: " . . . The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is proposing regulations to keep the nation’s students from buying certain snacks from vending machines and at-campus snack bars during the school day. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, aimed at reducing childhood obesity and related diseases, requires the USDA to establish nutrition standards for all foods sold in schools. While the new rules have a list of prohibited snacks, the rules would not prohibit candy sales and other fundraisers to continue during non-school hours and at off-campus events. Furthermore, parents would still be able to pack whatever they choose in their children’s lunch bags and bring treats for special events such as birthdays.The California Department of Education’s Nutrition Department is currently reviewing the 160-page document with proposed regulations to determine whether the state needs to make any changes to its extensive regulations for “competitive foods” — those sold outside of the regular school meals. The proposed federal rules set a minimum standard, and states and local schools are allowed to have more stringent regulations. In some areas, California has already implemented what the federal rules propose. For example, the federal proposal would eliminate foods with trans fats, which are linked to heart disease, a regulation California put in place in July 2009. . . . The proposed regulations are available here."

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Money Changes Everything

Money and happiness--

Money Changes Everything - "Happiness statistics may be most valuable in smaller, local discussions. Understanding how different sorts of programs affect the well-being of citizens would be enormously helpful to a mayor choosing between building a new bridge or offering a tax cut. I came across the very real role that money can play in happiness when I reported on Yvrose Jean Baptiste, a Haitian woman who lost all of her meager wealth in the 2010 earthquake. After the story was broadcast on NPR, listeners sent her nearly $4,000, which represents several years of wages to the average Haitian. When I visited Baptiste a few months later, I didn’t need any official statistic to tell me that her life had been transformed. She had paid for her aunt’s cancer treatments, sent her children to school and invested in a small market stall that provided a steadier income. She looked years younger."

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Monday, February 18, 2013

When a Dieter Eats Affects Weight Loss

Earlier main meal better--

Really? When a Dieter Eats Can Influence Weight Loss - "But there was a critical difference in the timing of their main meal of the day, which in this case, because of the Mediterranean setting, was lunch. In both groups, the meal comprised about 40 percent of their daily calories. But one group consistently ate it before 3 p.m. daily, while the other did so after 3 p.m. By the end of the study, despite similar caloric intakes, the late eaters had lost significantly less weight. They also showed lower insulin sensitivity, which increases the risk of diabetes. Weight loss strategies, the authors wrote, should focus not just on calories and nutrients, “but also the timing of food.” THE BOTTOM LINE - The timing of your meals may not be everything when it comes to weight loss, but it does appear to play a role."

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Pneumonia Strain Has Spread

Pneumonia resistant to antibiotics--

Pneumonia Strain Has Spread - "Infection with Klebsiella pneumoniae is a serious danger to older hospitalized patients, with an estimated mortality rate as high as 40 percent. It has generally been treated with broad-spectrum cephalosporin antibiotics. Another class of antibiotics, carbapenems, is used as an antibiotic of last resort for the most persistent infections. But now carbapenem-resistant Klebsiella strains, or CRKP, are appearing across the nation, even outside of health care facilities. A study in the March issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology reports that the proportion of Klebsiella cases resistant to cephalosporins increased to 11.6 percent in 2010 from 5.3 percent in 1999. The proportion resistant to carbapenems increased to 4.5 percent in 2010 from less than 0.1 percent in 2002. . . . "

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Sitting too long at work unhealthy

Better get up and move around!--

" . . . If your small business is office-based, chances are most of your staff spends 8 hours a day or more sitting hunched at their desks. New research is showing that prolonged sitting—even in otherwise active people—can be harmful to health. So how can you get your staff up off their chairs? Offer standing desks for employees who want them. You could invest in ready-made furniture such as Focal’s standing furniture. Or, depending on how handy you and your employees are, you could also raise existing desks to an appropriate height by bracing them to the wall. For the really committed, try treadmill workstations. These can be pricey (and most people won’t be able to walk all day, anyway), so you might want to invest in just one and let employees use it at different times of the day with their laptops. For a less expensive solution, stability balls can provide many benefits by requiring employees to work their core muscles just to stay stable. Workers can alternate the balls with regular desk chairs as they build up stamina. Make exercise part of the day. OfficeGym sells a chair-based exercise system that makes it easy to fit in a workout at your desk. You could also encourage employees to take quick stretching breaks instead of coffee breaks. Hold standing or moving meetings. Holding your meetings standing up is a great way to not only get people off their chairs, but also keep the meetings shorter. Double the effect by starting the meeting with a group stretch. You can take it up a notch by holding walking meetings outdoors. (Just make sure someone is recording what’s discussed on a voice recorder or other device so nothing gets forgotten). Walk around. Instead of shooting an email to the person next door, try actually getting up and talking to him or her. (If this gets too time-consuming, you could set a “no-email day” once a week to force people to actually walk around and talk to each other). This tactic can have benefits beyond just walking around as employees interact in new ways. . . ." Read more here.

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Monday, February 11, 2013

For Second Opinion, Consult a Computer

Software Programs Help Doctors Diagnose, but Can’t Replace Them - " . . . Dr. Kohn noted, most physicians set aside five hours or less each month to read medical literature, while Watson can analyze the equivalent of thousands of textbooks every second. The program relies heavily on natural language processing. It can understand the nature of a question and review large amounts of information, such as a patient’s electronic medical record, textbooks and journal articles, then offer a list of suggestions with a confidence level assigned to each. For physicians, Dr. Kohn said, one problem is what he calls “the law of availability.” “You aren’t going to put anything on a list that you don’t think is relevant, or didn’t know to think of,” he said. “And that could limit your chances of getting a correct diagnosis.” Dr. Dhaliwal agreed, citing the recent outbreak of hantavirus at Yosemite. Ten people contracted the virus, and three died. “It’s a febrile illness that looks like the flu,” he said. “It’s so rare, the last time you might have seen it was your medical school classroom.” Had Isabel or a similar program been used, the deaths might have been prevented, Dr. Dhaliwal said. . . . "

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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Insomnia Linked to Trouble Breathing

Insomnia Is Linked to Trouble Breathing - ". . . . The report, published in the current issue of the journal Sleep, found that chronic insomniacs woke an average of about 30 times a night, and that a brief respiratory problem — a drop in the volume of oxygen inhaled, due to a narrowed airway, for instance — preceded about 90 percent of those interruptions. None of the people had any idea they had breathing problems during sleep. The study is hardly conclusive, experts said, because it included only 20 people and had no control group of normal sleepers for comparison. But these experts said that it was worth following up, because it challenged the predominant theory of insomnia as a problem of “hyper-arousal,”. . . . "

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Aspirin and Reduced Risk of Liver Cancer

Aspirin Tied to Reduced Risk of Liver Cancer - ". . . . results were published online last week in The Journal of the National Cancer Institute. After a 10-year follow-up, the researchers found that aspirin users had a 37 percent reduced risk of liver cancer and a 51 percent reduced risk of death from liver disease, compared to those who did not use aspirin or other NSAIDs. Frequency of use — daily, weekly or monthly — made no difference. . . ."

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Elderly Forced to Choose - Exploring Other Options

Forced to Choose: Exploring Other Options - "Rather than pay hundreds of dollars a day out of pocket for room and board in a nursing home, most families opt for S.N.F. coverage. But they pay a price in other ways: they lose the visits by nurses and aides and social workers, the comfort care, the pain relief and the spiritual support that can make hospice such a godsend, whether patients are at home or in nursing homes. The study I wrote about, by a team mostly based at the University of California, San Francisco, found ongoing repercussions from this forced decision. People were much more likely to die in hospitals or nursing homes when they used the S.N.F. benefit. Though studies repeatedly find that most people would prefer to die at home, only 11 percent did. But those who did not use S.N.F. were far more likely to be enrolled in hospice – and 40 percent of them died at home."

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Medication info quick and easy on Google Search

Look up medications more quickly and easily on Google - Inside Search: "We get a lot of queries for medicine on Google. So to make it quick and easy for you to learn about medications, we’ll start showing key facts -- side effects, related medications, links to in-depth resources, and more -- right on the search results page. . . ."

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Afternoon May Be the Best Time to Exercise

Why Afternoon May Be the Best Time to Exercise - " . . . . After several weeks of running, the exercising mice, no matter when they ran, were found to be producing more proteins in their internal-clock cells than the sedentary animals. But the difference was slight in these healthy animals, which all had normal circadian rhythms to start with. So the scientists turned to mice unable to produce a critical internal clock protein. Signals from these animals’ internal clocks rarely reach the rest of the body. But after several weeks of running, the animals’ internal clocks were sturdier. Messages now traveled to these animals’ hearts and livers far more frequently than in their sedentary counterparts. The beneficial effect was especially pronounced in those animals that exercised in the afternoon (or mouse equivalent). That finding, Dr. Colwell says, “was a pretty big surprise.” He and his colleagues had expected to see the greatest effects from morning exercise, a popular workout time for many athletes. . . ."

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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Paper Towels Better Hand Driers Than Air Blowers

Which Are Better Hand Driers: Air Blowers or Paper Towels? - ". . . .  Even environmental concerns, Dr. Thompson says, are eradicated by the paper towel. "The electric blower uses more energy than making a paper towel," he says.. . . .In a dream world, Dr. Thompson says, you'd use a paper towel to dry your hands, open the door with it, then throw it over your shoulder and into the trash. "I personally think that public bathroom doors should open out so you can push them with your thigh," he says. "Or they should not have a door at all, like at airports." While many manufacturers suggest that an automatic faucet and an air blower solve the problem of bacterial transmission, the opposite is in fact true. Studies have shown blowers tend to spread bacteria between 3 and 6 feet from the device, while faucets hosted a different set of problems.  . . . ."

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Monday, February 4, 2013

The secret to being a good gift giver

The Science Behind Gifting (and Regifting) - " . . . Regifting, once a social taboo, is gradually gaining in acceptance. According to a nationwide consumer-spending survey by American Express, 58% of people believe it is OK sometimes to regift an item. That figure rises for the holiday season, when 79% of respondents said they believe regifting is socially acceptable. The survey, which polled about 2,000 people last year, found that nearly one-quarter of consumers said they regifted at least one item the previous holiday season. Regifting can lead to awkward moments. . . .  "Regifting isn't a bad thing, it's not quite as offensive as people might think it is," says Gabrielle Adams, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School and a co-author of the recent study in Psychological Science. Sharon Love, who heads a retail marketing agency, says she frequently regifts an item if she feels it is appropriate for another person. But she says she tries to be upfront about it. Ms. Love, who lives in New York City, says she once received an entertainment and etiquette book that was clearly regifted: The book contained an inscription made out to the giver. "It did kind of make me mad, so I just kind of regifted it the following year back to him," she says. Ms. Love says she received a thank-you card in return. The adage "It's the thought that counts" was largely debunked by the recent study in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which concluded that gift givers are better off choosing gifts that receivers actually desire rather than spending a lot of time and energy shopping for what they perceive to be a thoughtful gift. The study found thoughtfulness doesn't increase a recipient's appreciation if the gift is a desirable one. In fact, thoughtfulness only seemed to count when a friend gives a gift that is disliked. "The secret to being a good gift giver…is to give them what they want," says Dr. Epley, from the University of Chicago. Dr. Epley says that after his wife gave birth to their second child, he spent a lot of time dreaming up what he thought was the perfect Christmas gift for her: a behind-the-scenes day as a trainer at the Chicago aquarium. "She loves marine animals, I thought this would be the best thing for her," he says. Instead, he says, "She hated the gift. The idea of squeezing into a Neoprene wetsuit a month after giving birth and holding a stinky fish over a penguin or a dolphin was the last thing she wanted to do." She returned the gift. Now, Dr. Epley says he asks his wife to tell him what she wants before the holiday season. She presented him with a list last week."

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Grapefruit and Drugs Often Don't Mix

Grapefruit and Drugs Often Don't Mix - " . . . he cautioned, “Not all drugs in the same class respond the same way.” While some statins are affected by grapefruit, for instance, others are not. Here is some advice from experts for grapefruit lovers: If you take oral medication of any kind, check the list to see if it interacts with grapefruit. Make sure you understand the potential side effects of an interaction; if they are life-threatening or could cause permanent injury, avoid grapefruit altogether. Some drugs, such as clopidogrel, may be less effective when taken with grapefruit. If you take one of the listed drugs a regular basis, keep in mind that you may want to avoid grapefruit, as well as pomelo, lime and marmalade. Be on the lookout for symptoms that could be side effects of the drug. If you are on statins, this could be unusual muscle soreness. It is not enough to avoid taking your medicine at the same time as grapefruit. You must avoid consuming grapefruit the whole period that you are on the medication. In general, it is a good idea to avoid sudden dramatic changes in diet and extreme diets that rely on a narrow group of foods. If you can’t live without grapefruit, ask your doctor if there’s an alternative drug for you. . . . "

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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Helping Children Gain Control Over an Anxiety Disorder

Helping Children Gain Control Over an Anxiety Disorder - "Is it any wonder so many children are anxious? As the recent horror in Connecticut demonstrates, children today may be confronted with unthinkable realities, events that their parents and grandparents could never have conceived. But much of what children fear is rooted more in imagination than in reality. Parents may be called upon to ease anxieties about everything from strange noises to water, from spiders in the yard to monsters under the bed. Comforting children seized with irrational fears can be a difficult task. One of the most common childhood fears involves separation from parents. Separation anxiety is a normal developmental stage that typically starts around 9 months and ends at about age 3. However, for Daniel Smith, author of “Monkey Mind: A Memoir of Anxiety,” the trauma of parental separation exploded at age 4 and continued through age 13. “I would become hysterical, nauseated, unable to enjoy anything whenever I was separated from my parents,” he recalled in an interview. . . ."

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Friday, February 1, 2013

Losing Sleep Reduces Your Tolerance for Pain

Really? Losing Sleep Reduces Your Tolerance for Pain - "Chronic sleep loss has many downsides, among them weight gain, depression and irritability. But now scientists have found a new one: It also weakens your tolerance for pain. In recent studies, researchers have shown that losing sleep may disrupt the body’s pain signaling system, heightening sensitivity to painful stimuli. Though it is not clear why, one theory is that sleep loss increases inflammation throughout the body. Catching up on sleep if you are behind may reduce inflammation. Scientists believe this could have implications for people with chronic pain. It could also have an impact on the effects of painkillers, which appear to be blunted after chronic sleep loss. In one study published in the journal Sleep, scientists at the sleep disorders and research center at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit recruited 18 healthy adults and split them into two groups. One was allowed to sleep for an average of nine hours, while the other averaged two fewer hours of sleep each night. . . . ."

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