Tuesday, August 31, 2010

DASH Eating Plan Lowers Long-Term Heart Attack Risk, Especially Among African-Americans

/PRNewswire/ -- The DASH eating plan, known to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol, also reduces the 10-year risk of heart attack, especially among African-Americans, according to research reported in Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, an American Heart Association journal.

The DASH eating plan emphasizes fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products as well as whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts. The plan also calls for a reduction in fats, red meat, sweets, and sugar-containing beverages. It is recommended by the U.S. government and American Heart Association. The study researchers found that the DASH plan:

-- lowered the participants' 10-year risk of having a heart attack or
other coronary heart disease event by about 18 percent compared to
those eating a typical American diet;
-- reduced bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol) an average of 8 percent; and
-- reduced systolic blood pressure overall by 6 millimeters of mercury

In addition, glucose levels did not change significantly, likely because the study's participants did not have diabetes.

"This study provides further evidence that we can make a significant impact on the heart health of the general population by promoting the DASH eating plan," said Nisa M. Maruthur, M.D., M.H.S., study co-author and assistant professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Md.

Adding more fruit and vegetables to the typical American diet did not produce the same degree of risk reduction as the DASH arm of the study. However, participants who ate the diet with more fruit and vegetables still lowered their 10-year risk of having a heart attack or other coronary event by an average of 11 percent compared to the typical American eating plan group.

In the study, 436 patients (average age 45, 60 percent African-American) had either Stage I high blood pressure (140-159/90-99 mmHg) or were pre-hypertensive (120 - 139/80-89 mmHg) and assigned to one of three diets: the DASH eating plan; a typical American diet (low in minerals, such as potassium, magnesium and calcium, and high in saturated fat, total fat, and cholesterol); or the typical American diet plus additional fruits and vegetables.

To determine how DASH affected coronary heart disease risk, researchers plugged their data (blood pressure and cholesterol results) into the Framingham Heart Risk Equation and calculated the 10-year risk of developing coronary heart disease, researchers said. The Framingham Risk equation uses data that has been collected from the ongoing Framingham Heart Study, which has followed two generations of participants in Framingham, Mass. This equation is commonly used by doctors to estimate the risk of heart disease in their patients.

"The blood pressure reduction in blacks seemed to be somewhat greater than in whites," Maruthur added. "Blacks seem to be particularly sensitive to the blood-pressure-lowering effects of the DASH diet."

This research confirms that people can benefit from eating according to the DASH plan. The next step, according to researchers, is to make policy changes that encourage Americans to embrace the DASH eating plan.

The trial was a "feeding study," in which researchers provided participants with food and compared blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels before the study to eight weeks after the study began. This was not a weight loss study, and the participants' weight remained stable throughout the study period.

"This is not a diet that is difficult to maintain. It includes all types of foods," Maruthur said. "It is a way of eating recommended in the American Heart Association's 2020 Strategic Goals, in the 2006 American Heart Association diet and lifestyle recommendations, and in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. We and others have shown that eating this diet should have great public health benefits given the enormous and persistent burden of coronary heart disease."

Co-authors are Steven T. Chen, M.P.H, and Lawrence J. Appel, M.D., M.P.H.

Individual author disclosures are on the manuscript.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another CDC Survey Finds Youth Smoking Declines Have Slowed, Underscoring Need to Step Up Tobacco Prevention Efforts

/PRNewswire/ -- Following is a statement of Matthew L. Myers, President, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids:

The 2009 National Youth Tobacco Survey released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides further evidence that the United States has made dramatic progress in reducing youth smoking, but the rate of decline has slowed significantly in recent years.

Like other recent surveys, this survey sends an unmistakable message to elected officials at all levels: We know how to win the fight against tobacco - the nation's number one cause of preventable death - but our progress is at risk unless we resist complacency and step up efforts to implement proven strategies. These include well-funded tobacco prevention and cessation programs, higher tobacco taxes, smoke-free air laws, and effective regulation of tobacco products and marketing. Our nation is at a crossroads in the fight against tobacco. If elected leaders provide the resources and political will to aggressively implement these solutions, we can achieve one of the greatest public health victories in our nation's history. If they fail to do so, the nation's progress against tobacco could end and even be reversed.

The new survey again demonstrates that we know how to dramatically reduce tobacco use. Between 2000 and 2009, cigarette smoking rates declined by 39 percent among high school students (from 28 percent to 17.2 percent who have smoked in the past 30 days) and by 53 percent among middle school students (from 11 percent to 5.2 percent). There were also large declines in the percentages of high school and middle school students who were current users of any tobacco products or who had ever experimented with cigarettes. Between 2006, when the survey was last conducted, and 2009, the survey found that smoking rates declined from 19.8 percent to 17.2 percent among high school students and from 6.3 percent to 5.2 percent among middle school students. However, the CDC reported that these overall declines were not statistically significant, although there were statistically significant declines in smoking among both high school and middle school girls.

Why have smoking declines slowed in recent years? The CDC and other experts have cited several factors, including large cuts in funding for state tobacco prevention and cessation programs and the tobacco industry's continued heavy spending to market its deadly and addictive products. Between 2008 and 2010, states cut funding for tobacco prevention programs by 21 percent, from $717.7 million to $567.5 million. In contrast, the tobacco companies spent $12.8 billion on marketing in 2006 (the latest year for which data are available), and the bulk of it is spent on price discounting that has kept cigarette prices flat despite tax increases.

The challenge for elected leaders today is to finally fight tobacco use with the political will and resources that match the scope of the problem. All levels of government must do more:

At the federal level, the FDA must effectively exercise its new authority to regulate the manufacturing, marketing and sale of tobacco products. In addition, the Obama Administration and Congress must implement a national tobacco prevention and cessation campaign. The Prevention and Public Health Fund created as part of the health care reform law provides one opportunity to do so.

The states must use more of the billions of dollars they collect from the 1998 tobacco settlement and tobacco taxes to fund tobacco prevention and cessation programs. In addition, they must continue to increase tobacco taxes and enact comprehensive smoke-free laws that apply to all workplaces and public places.

Despite the progress we have made, tobacco use still kills more than 400,000 Americans and costs $96 billion in health care bills each year. We cannot declare victory until we have eliminated the death and disease caused by tobacco.

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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

UGA researchers receive grants to reduce childhood obesity in Georgia communities

 University of Georgia researchers recently received funding to find ways to prevent or reduce childhood obesity, a health crisis of epidemic proportions in Georgia, through partnerships among University System of Georgia institutions and local communities.

Three of the four projects funded by the University System of Georgia are headed by or include UGA researchers.Two projects aim to reduce childhood obesity by working with after-school programs, while a third aims to reduce obesity in newborns by reaching pregnant and post-partum women through local obstetricians.

“Broad-based community partnerships, as exemplified by UGA’s Archway Partnership project, have the potential to be more effective and more sustainable than other approaches in addressing childhood obesity,” said David Lee, UGA vice president for research.

“With faculty experts in nutrition, school exercise programs, health-risk communications, the use of new media to better communicate with youth, health policies and assessment of intervention methods, UGA is in a unique position to join with our state’s communities to develop, implement and evaluate obesity prevention efforts,” he added.

Georgia ranks as the third worst in the nation with over one third of children overweight or obese, according to a 2009 report by Trust for America’s Health. According to a recent report from

But obesity is not the only issue, according to Lee.

“Obesity translates into chronic disease—heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and even enhanced predisposition to certain cancers—and collectively this adds up to a huge financial burden on our health care system that is borne by all levels of government, and ultimately, the taxpayer,” he said.“Among other things, this cost is a disincentive to economic development, including recruitment and retention of forward-thinking companies.”

A recent assessment of the nation’s health, jointly published by United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and Partnership for Prevention, reported that the current annual direct healthcare costs associated with obesity in Georgia is $2.5 billion. The projected increase in obesity – as high as 47 percent – will bring the direct costs to $11 billion by 2018.

This fall in Athens-Clarke County, Phillip Tomporowski and Bryan McCullick, faculty members in the department of kinesiology in UGA’s College of Education, and Catherine Davis, a clinical health psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia, will begin a project to introduce fun and effective exercise games into the Clarke County after-school program curriculum.

Previous research by Tomporowski and Davis demonstrated the cognitive benefits of vigorous exercise programs among overweight school-age children. But the appropriate instructional conditions also must be present, according to McCullick.

Historically, he said, inadequate workplace conditions—including oversized classes, weak equipment and facilities, as well as low regard for physical education subject matter—and inadequate professional development have been obstacles to effecting changes in children’s physical activity.

“It’s led to school environments that may impede, rather than facilitate, children’s engagement in health-promoting levels of physical activity,” he said.

In addition, physical education and physical activity during the school day have been cut back over the last decade. However, according to Tomporowski, after-school programs present opportunity.

“With preparation, after-school teachers can motivate children to be physically active and engage in games that are of the intensity and duration to reap health benefits,” he said.

In a second project, researchers will work through YMCA after-school programs in Colquitt County and with the Healthy Colquitt Coalition to increase children’s physical activity, healthy eating habits and family involvement—all known strategies for reducing childhood obesity.

The researchers are working with UGA’s Archway Program, one of eight programs in the state through which the university lends its expertise to address community-identified problems.

“Because obesity is a complex issue, we need to work with, rather than in, the community,” said Marsha Davis, an associate professor in the department of health promotion and behavior in UGA’s College of Public Health. In addition to Davis, project researchers include Archway Partnership director Mel Garber; Emily Watson, the Archway Professional in Colquitt County; and Frances McCarty of the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University.

In Statesboro, a third project will use the Internet and social media to encourage physical activity in women during pregnancy and after childbirth. Research has shown a critical link exists between childhood obesity and the prenatal health behaviors and gestational weight gain of the mother, yet only a third of U.S. women gain weight within the recommended range during pregnancy, and less than a quarter meet minimum daily exercise recommendations.

“There’s growing evidence that technological learning and social media are as effective as traditional programs for increasing physical activity,” said Michael Schmidt, an assistant professor in the department of kinesiology at UGA. “This study is aimed at young women who are entering childbearing years and are comfortable with these ways of learning.”

Schmidt is collaborating with Bridget Melton and Helen Graf, faculty members in the department of health and kinesiology, and Elaine Marshall, a professor of nursing, at Georgia Southern University; Dr. W. Kent Guion, physical therapy and graduate studies, Medical College of Georgia; and Dr. James Hiller, obstetrician and gynecologist, East Georgia Regional Medical Center.

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Monday, August 23, 2010

CVS/pharmacy and MinuteClinic Offer 'Flu Shots Your Way' at All Locations Nationwide

/PRNewswire/ -- CVS/pharmacy, the nation's leading retail pharmacy, and MinuteClinic, the largest retail health care clinic provider in the U.S., today announced that flu vaccinations are now available at all of its locations nationwide. CVS/pharmacy has more than 7,000 locations and MinuteClinic has more than 500 locations inside select CVS/pharmacy stores.

For the first time, customers will be able to make an appointment to receive a flu shot from a CVS pharmacist at the time, date and location of their choice by using My Flu Shot Scheduler, a new online resource available at www.cvs.com/flu.

My Flu Shot Scheduler offers unparalleled access to flu vaccinations by allowing consumers to make vaccination appointments with a CVS pharmacist that are convenient for them based on their zip code or city/town, as well as the number of people in their family who want to be vaccinated. The exclusive online scheduler will also identify the times and dates of CVS/pharmacy walk-in flu clinics. My Flu Shot Scheduler is also available by calling toll-free 1-888-FLU-SHOT or 1-888-88-GRIPE (Spanish).

This year, only one vaccine will be required for protection against three influenza strains, including the H1N1 virus and the seasonal H3N2 virus. In addition, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending for the first time that anyone ages six months or older get a flu shot, an expansion from its previous recommendations that certain risk groups be vaccinated.

"With this year's 'all-in-one' flu vaccine and the CDC's recommendation that everyone be vaccinated against influenza, it is more important than ever that customers be provided with convenient access to a flu shot," said Troyen A. Brennan, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, CVS Caremark. "Through our 'Flu Shots Your Way' campaign, consumers can make an appointment for a flu shot or take advantage of a walk-in flu clinic at their local CVS/pharmacy, or visit a MinuteClinic for a flu shot any day of the week with no appointment needed."

Each year, influenza causes approximately 36,000 deaths in the United States. A flu shot can reduce the chance of becoming infected by influenza by up to 70%. Because it takes about two weeks to achieve full immunization from influenza after being vaccinated, a flu shot is recommended as early as possible.

"The best protection against the flu is a flu shot. Even if you received the H1N1 vaccine earlier this year, you should still receive this year's 'all-in-one' seasonal flu shot," said Paulette Thabault, RNC, MS, Chief Nurse Practitioner Officer, MinuteClinic. "Influenza is a contagious respiratory illness, so getting a flu shot is an effective way to protect both yourself and those around you."

"In addition to getting a flu shot, consumers can help prevent the spread of germs this flu season by remembering to wash your hands frequently with soap and water or an alcohol-based cleanser, cover coughs and sneezes with your elbow or a tissue, avoid contact with people who are sick with the flu, and stay home from school or work if you have the flu," said Papatya Tankut, RPh, Vice President of Pharmacy Professional Services, CVS/pharmacy. "If you do catch a cold or the flu, CVS pharmacists are available to help you find the right products to treat your symptoms."

MinuteClinic nurse practitioners can vaccinate patients who are 18 months or older except in Massachusetts, where the minimum age is 24 months. The minimum age for vaccinations by a pharmacist varies depending on the state. Check with your local CVS/pharmacy or visit cvs.com/flu's My Flu Shot Scheduler to determine minimum vaccination age by state. MinuteClinic flu shots are administered in a private exam room and CVS/pharmacy will use privacy screens for patients receiving flu shots from pharmacists in the pharmacy area.

A flu shot at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic costs $29.95 and vaccinations are covered by many insurance plans. CVS ExtraCare cardholders who receive a flu shot at CVS/pharmacy or MinuteClinic will also receive a one-time 10% discount on non-pharmacy purchases up to $100 at CVS/pharmacy, except where otherwise prohibited by law.

For more information, please visit www.cvs.com/flu or www.minuteclinic.com/flu.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Male Menopause Affects More Than Five Million Men

/PRNewswire/ -- While most frequently associated with women's health, age-related hormone changes, often dubbed menopause, can occur in men as well, causing symptoms of fatigue, mood swings, decreased desire for sex, hair loss, lack of concentration and weight gain. Experts estimate that more than 5 million men are affected, yet worry the number may be considerably higher since symptoms are frequently ignored.

Male hypogonadism, as it's referred to in the medical community, occurs when the testicles do not produce enough testosterone, the hormone that plays a key role in masculine growth and development. When hormone levels drop, men can experience significant mental and physical changes.

"This is a highly prevalent disorder," said Robert Brannigan, MD, urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. "Unfortunately, we estimate that 95 percent of cases are undiagnosed and therefore untreated. When ignored, symptoms can seriously disrupt one's quality of life."

"My body was telling me that something wasn't right. I was always tired, it didn't matter how much sleep I got, I constantly wanted to take a nap," said Michael Andruzzi, a 40-year-old man diagnosed with male hypogonadism and a patient at Northwestern Memorial.

Brannigan explains hormone variations are a normal aspect of getting older. "In females, ovulation comes to an end and hormone production declines in a relatively quick period of time, whereas men experience hormone shifts more slowly, with testosterone levels dropping around one percent each year beginning in a man's late thirties," adds Brannigan, who is also an associate professor of urology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Brannigan goes on to explain that by age seventy, the reduction in a male's testosterone level could be as high as fifty percent or more compared to baseline levels, but notes that aging men are not the only ones at risk. A number of genetic causes can impact males from birth and are usually diagnosed with failure to progress normally through puberty during the teenage years.

Treatment options for male hypogonadism include hormone replacement therapy (HRT) via absorbable pellet implants, topical gels, patches, and injections. Through HRT, doctors can restore sexual function and muscle strength. In addition, men often experience an increase in energy and an improved overall sense of well-being.

"Once I began treatment, I felt better very quickly," said Andruzzi. "My energy level shot back up; I regained strength and felt I could concentrate much better."

"We are seeing more men affected by male hypogonadism than we saw ten years ago," said Brannigan. "However, many men continue to suffer in silence due to a lack of awareness surrounding the disorder. Because male hypogonadism can significantly impact the quality of one's life, it's important that men pay attention to their body and openly discuss symptoms with their physician in order to prevent overlooking the cause and avoid missing an opportunity for appropriate therapy."

Although research to determine the exact association continues, doctors also warn that male hypogonadism has been linked to chronic medical conditions such as high cholesterol, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It's also closely associated with infertility.

"This disorder is not something that should be ignored," said Brannigan, who is working to educate patients and physicians about the symptoms and treatments available in order to ensure therapies are made available to men in need.

Male hypogonadism is most commonly diagnosed through a simple blood test. Brannigan notes hormone replacement therapy is not appropriate for all patients especially those with history of prostate and breast cancer and men trying to conceive. He suggests consulting your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms.

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New Head Lice Treatment Will "Blow" Lice Away - Facility Introduced in Georgia By Headhunters Lice Removal Service!

/24-7/ -- A new weapon is available to demolish those resistant head lice that pass from child to child each year. The LouseBuster device is a revolutionary new way to kill head lice and their eggs without using pesticides or other chemicals.

Clinical studies have shown that the LouseBuster device that uses only controlled heated air delivered by certified operators. Is a very safe, fast, and highly effective way to kill all stages of head lice - including lice eggs (nits). Headhunters L.R.S. is the first to introduce the Lousebuster device in Georgia that has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration.

Head lice are parasitic, they feed off blood and are most commonly found among children age 3 to 11. However, infestations including the parents are on the rise.

"There are many misconceptions about lice and the people who get them," Tommy Lambert, founder and president of Headhunters Lice Removal Service, Georgia's foremost authority on head lice, said. "Head lice is spread 95 percent of the time during head to head contact. If parents take a step back to see how children crowd around portable games, computers, or during play time, they will see how much head to head contact actually takes place."

In 2009, when Tommy and his wife Heather discovered their children had lice, few treatment options were available to them. Parents were limited to drug store products that often contained pesticides or chemicals. These had to be used repeatedly and posed health concerns.

"Head lice are growing resistant to treatments that contain chemicals, pesticides, and insecticides," Mr. Lambert said. "We know first-hand how difficult it can be to treat head lice."

Over the last year, Headhunters L.R.S. has grown rapidly as he has visited homes, camps, and school systems using the Shepherd Method, which utilizes a strand by strand combing process to remove lice and nits along with an enzyme-based non-toxic enzyme. Mr. Lambert is trained and certified in this method by Lice Solutions founder Katie Shepherd, who is known for being among the top lice experts in the world.

"I am glad we have another non-toxic treatment available," Mr. Lambert said, referring to the LouseBuster device. "Now parents have more options to rid their children of head lice."

There are an estimated 6 to 12 million reported cases per year in the U. S. according to the Centers for Disease Control. A louse's life span is 32 days and a mature louse can lay 5 to 10 eggs daily.

Based on the number of infestations, from May - July, he expects there to be a very high number of cases as children begin this school year.

"With school starting, I expect there to be a lice epidemic," Mr. Lambert stated. "I would like everyone to know that our family based company is here to help them in every way possible. We are the premier head lice removal service in Georgia."

The first Headhunters L.R.S. treatment facility opened in Georgia this month. Mr. Lambert will continue to visit homes, schools, and camps to conduct screenings, treat children, and adults with head lice. He is expanding his services to meet the needs of families in Georgia.

Headhunters L.R.S. is located at 11205 Alpharetta Hwy. Suite E-3 in Roswell and opened for business August 9. Office hours are Monday through Saturday, 9 am to 6 pm and appointments may be made by calling 678-240-0042. For more information on benefits and possible risks of choosing the LouseBuster device for treatment, visit www.headhunterslice.com or www.lousebuster.com or call 1-877-781-0999.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Research Shows Patients May Live Longer with Hospice and Palliative Care

/PRNewswire/ -- A new study released by the New England Journal of Medicine found that among patients with non-small-cell lung cancer, those who received palliative care lived, on average, almost two months longer than those who received standard care. Researchers also found that the patients receiving palliative care reported a higher quality of life through the final course of their illness.

The goals of palliative care are to improve the quality of a seriously ill person's life and to support that person and their family during and after treatment. Sharing the same philosophy of hospice care which is usually provided in the final months of life, palliative care may be provided at any stage during a serious or life-limiting illness.

Researchers also found that when patients received palliative care services, they were also more likely to elect hospice services.

"With earlier referral to a hospice program, patients may receive care that results in better management of symptoms, leading to stabilization of their condition and prolonged survival," wrote the authors of the study released Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

This new study adds to the body of evidence showing that many patients live longer with hospice and palliative care.

A 2007 study that looked at Medicare beneficiaries with some of the most common diagnoses leading to death, found that patients who received hospice services lived on average, 29 days longer than those who did not receive hospice care. This study, published in the Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (March 2007) looked at 4,493 terminally ill patients with either congestive heart failure or cancer of the breast, colon, lung, pancreas, or prostate.

In an earlier study looking at patients with 16 of the most common terminal diagnoses, researchers found that hospice patients lived longer. On average, this ranged from 20 days for those with a diagnosis of gallbladder cancer to 69 days for the cohort of breast cancer patients (JPSM, September 2004).

"There's an inaccurate perception among the American public that hospice means you've given up," said J. Donald Schumacher, president and CEO of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. "Those of us who have worked in the field have seen firsthand how hospice and palliative care can improve the quality of and indeed prolong the lives of people receiving care."

NHPCO encourages all families who are diagnosed with a serious illness to ask their healthcare providers about hospice and palliative care services.

"The time to learn about these services is before a person is in a medical crisis. Patients and families must learn about these options of care as soon as possible," Schumacher added.

Both hospice and palliative care focus on helping a person with a serious or life-limiting illness by addressing issues causing physical or emotional pain, or suffering. Hospice and other palliative care providers have teams of people working together to provide care.

More information about hospice and palliative care is available online at www.caringinfo.org or by calling the HelpLine at 800-658-8898.

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New Findings Just Released in CDC's Weekly Journal Underscore Need for Strategies to Eliminate Smoking in Major Motion Pictures, Members of Congress Call on Hollywood to Adopt Them, Save Lives

/PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) today about the amount of smoking in major motion pictures during the past 18 years. According to the report, "Smoking in Top Grossing Movies -- United States, 1991-2009," theater audiences were exposed to 17 billion smoking impressions in 2009 alone, even though 2009 was the first year that a majority of all films were smoke-free.

Past research by the National Cancer Institute, the highest authority on cancer research in the U.S., had previously concluded that smoking in movies causes youth smoking, but today's report also concludes that a comprehensive approach, if adopted, could save young lives from life-long tobacco addictions. Nearly 80 percent of all adult smokers begin before the age of 18.

The report concluded that, "Effective methods to reduce the harms of on-screen tobacco use should be implemented. Policies to decrease the negative impact of movie smoking on youth have been recommended by the World Health Organization and endorsed by a number of public health and health professional organizations. These include awarding R ratings to new movies that portray tobacco imagery. An R rating policy would create an economic incentive for producers to leave smoking out of movies that are marketed to youth. Complementary recommended policies include requiring strong anti-tobacco ads preceding movies that depict smoking, not allowing tobacco brand display in movies, and requiring producers of movies depicting tobacco use to certify that person or companies associated with the production received any consideration for that depiction."

Members of Congress today called on the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) to act on this critical and timely issue. "The CDC report reaffirms that the presence of smoking in movies can significantly influence a child's decision to start smoking. It's time for the movie industry to accept its own version of a nicotine patch by embracing a policy that will help them kick the habit of including images of smoking in movies targeting youth. Such a commitment would be a powerful investment in the long-term public health of our youth and our nation," said U.S. Congressman Edward J. Markey, (D-MA), senior member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

U.S. Congressman Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA), member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, concurred. "The report today reiterates what we have known about smoking for many years now--depictions of smoking in movies influence kids. Another study from Dartmouth found that one-third to one-half of youth smoking initiation is explained by exposure to smoking in movies. I hope that the movie industry takes a good, hard look at the recommendations in the report and takes steps to reduce the number of young people who take up smoking each year. The health of children here in the U.S. and around the world could be improved by removing tobacco use from movies rated for broad audiences."

"Smoking in Top-Grossing Movies -- United States, 1991-2009" details a content analysis of the 50 top grossing films each year from 1991-2001 and the 10 top grossing movies each week in 2002-2009. Research was conducted by the University of California, San Francisco and Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails. Tobacco incidents and other characteristics were monitored. Key findings:

-- In 2009, more than half (54 percent) of PG-13 films featured tobacco
-- Total tobacco impressions varied between 30 and 60 billion/year from
1991-2001 then started a general decline, reaching a low of about 17
billion in 2009.
-- Total tobacco incidents in all films fell by half in the last four
years, yet incidents in 2009 (1,935) films still exceed those in 1998

"While we have made progress over the past four years consecutively, research shows more than 1.1 million current smokers, aged 12-17, in the U.S. were heavily influenced by tobacco imagery in movies," said Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, President and CEO of Legacy, the foundation that funded the research. "Of those 1.1 million current smokers, 360,000 will eventually die from tobacco-induced diseases. That is still too high a price for our society to pay." Smoking in films has been a major public health priority for organizations like Legacy, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization and more. The groups are urging film studios to endorse four Smoke-Free Movies goals:

1. Rating "R" any new movie with smoking, with the exception of movies
that depict the health consequences of smoking or actual historic
figures who actually smoked;
2. Inserting strong, evidence-based and proven-effective anti-smoking
public service announcements (PSAs) before movies with smoking, in all
distribution and exhibition channels;
3. Requiring producers to certify that no consideration of any kind was
received for tobacco depictions in a film; and
4. Ending the depiction of tobacco brands on screen.

Legacy also called attention to the fact that the states are now spending more money subsidizing films with smoking than they are on their own state tobacco programs and noted that, "States could harmonize their film subsidy programs with public health goals by making films with tobacco imagery ineligible for public subsidy."

For more than 10 years, the national Smoke Free Movies campaign has been pushing the entertainment industry to endorse the four Smoke Free Movies' policy solutions. "It is entirely feasible for the entertainment industry to adopt these industry-wide policies to get tobacco imagery out of the movies that kids see most. R-rating future movies with smoking will give producers a permanent incentive to keep G, PG and PG-13 films smoke-free and reduce tobacco recruitment through this decades-old promotional channel by at least half," said Stanton Glantz, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and contributing author of the report. Glantz also directs the national Smoke Free Movies campaign.

"With the CDC and Members of Congress now recognizing the need for industry-wide strategies that work, we expect to see the U.S. film industry swiftly adopt these four policies to keep tobacco out of youth-rated films and protect the lives of their most vulnerable audience -- millions of American youth," Healton said.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Keys to Keeping Your Body and Golf Game on Par

/PRNewswire/ -- Golf can be played competitively or just for leisure, and for professional players on the 2010 PGA Tour, the game is probably a combination of both. The game demands skill and physical discipline because improper technique can lead to discomfort, minor injury, or even joint replacement. Whether on the golf course or at the driving range, your swing and technique can make or break a game, and in many cases, help avoid or cause pain. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends that golfers maintain proper form and take it slow when playing golf to avoid injury and to stay on par.

-- According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), more
than 115,000 Americans were treated for golf-related injuries in 2009.
-- Golfers most often suffer from hand tenderness or numbness; shoulder,
back and knee pain; golfer's elbow; and wrist injuries, such as
tendonitis or carpal tunnel syndrome.
-- Over 360,000 men and women, ages 45 to 64 had a total hip replacement
or total knee replacement in 2008, according to the Agency for
Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

"Golfers - especially beginners, who haven't learned proper techniques yet - are more susceptible to injuries from overuse and poor mechanics," said orthopaedic surgeon Alexander Raskin, MD. "It's important for golfers to regularly participate in a muscle conditioning program to reduce the risk of common golf injuries."

In an effort to reduce golf injuries, many of which are treated by orthopaedic surgeons, the AAOS recommends the following golf injury-prevention tips:

-- Dress for comfort and make sure to wear the appropriate golf shoes;
short cleats are best on the course.
-- Do not hunch your neck or shoulders over the ball; it may predispose
you to neck strain and rotator cuff tendonitis.
-- To avoid golfer's elbow, caused by a strain of the muscles in the
inside of the forearm -- perform wrist and forearm stretching
exercises and try not to overemphasize your wrists when swinging.
-- To avoid lower back pain caused by a poor swing -- try rowing and/or
pull down exercises to improve flexibility and muscle strength.

Those who are recovering from a joint replacement should take additional precautions as they transition back into their golf game.

"As an orthopaedic surgeon and an avid golfer who underwent a knee replacement three years ago, I have a realistic grasp on the recovery process," said orthopaedic surgeon Francis Burns Kelly, MD. "People who are trying to get back on the course after a joint replacement must listen to their body if they are experiencing any pain or discomfort. It's so important for them to ease into the game until they are back to full strength."

To return to golf after hip or knee replacement, the AAOS suggests the following safety guidelines below:

-- Always warm up and stretch well before playing, but avoid undue strain
on your replaced joint.
-- Get back into the game slowly. Begin with chipping and putting before
hitting irons and then woods. Also, it is best to play just nine
holes initially; once this can be done comfortably you can try a full
-- Use a riding cart initially. Those who like to walk while playing
should wait until they can play comfortably with a cart and then try
walking. It's best to use a pull cart rather than carrying your bag.
-- Be aware of weather conditions; wet weather can predispose you to
falls, especially when the legs are still weak.
-- Use "soft spikes" (required by most courses now) or even tennis shoes
(if ground is not wet). This will reduce torque on the hip and knee.
-- Don't get frustrated when you resume playing. You may not hit the ball
as far as you did prior to surgery because the leg will be weak; this
will get better as strength returns.
-- Be careful about squatting down to line up a putt. This can put too
much pressure on the knee and could possibly cause a dislocation of a
hip prosthesis.
-- Continue a regular exercise program to maintain as much strength in
the leg as possible.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Six apps that will assist you in healthy living

(ARA) - When fingers get pointed in debates over the obesity epidemic in the United States, technology sometimes shoulders some of the blame. Time in front of computer screens or television is often listed as part of the reason why Americans aren't as healthy as they have been in the past. But the truth is there are also technological advances that have the potential to guide you in your quest for a healthier lifestyle, whether that is eating right, exercising or keeping tabs on vital numbers that are important to your health.

Take smart phone applications for example. Nowadays, you can find applications for just about anything in life that might capture your interest, and healthy living is no exception. So if you're looking to stay fit and healthy, here are six mobile apps that give you and your family a little extra help:

Lose It!: Counting calories is perhaps the simplest and most effective way to keep track of your health goals, especially if it involves weight loss. But it's difficult to do all the adding and subtracting in your head, which is where the free app Lose It! comes in. The app allows you to enter what you eat each day and calculates not only calories, but fat, protein, cholesterol and carbohydrates based on portion size. It also allows you to enter different types of workouts, from walking to yoga, to see how many calories you will burn while you are exercising.

Carb Counting with Lenny: This app is designed to help children with diabetes count carbohydrates to help manage their diabetes, but can be of use to anyone. Using their mascot Lenny the Lion, who also uses insulin pump therapy, Medtronic Diabetes introduced this app, which allows children with type 1 diabetes to learn about carbohydrate levels in basic foods. The application also allows users to create a customizable food guide using their own photos or ones they find on the Internet, as well as play games to test their carb-counting knowledge. Periodic contests and giveaways (www.medtronicdiabetes.com/carb-counting-contest) are announced to reward registered users who get highest game scores. Medtronic Diabetes, which makes such products as continuous glucose monitoring devices, designed the app to be useful and educational for both children with diabetes and others who are interested in monitoring carb intake.

Size Me Up: Another application for kids. This one allows children to enter their current height and receive estimates for how tall they might be in the future, at any given age. This can be used to help keep your child motivated to eat right, so they can grow up to be tall and healthy.

BP Buddy: This application allows people who are monitoring their blood pressure to input their blood pressure numbers and heart rate numbers and log them for up to 60 days. An e-mail feature allows users to send their numbers to their doctor for analysis.

The Carrot: As an interactive journal, this application allows you to track multiple items related to health. In addition to entering information on meals, workouts, and even medication, you can also enter your assessment of your moods or the level of job satisfaction you are feeling at the moment to see if you can pinpoint what healthy habits work best for you.

FitReach: This training and diet application allows you to enter information on your meals, as well as workouts. It also encourages you to do regular weigh-ins so you can compare your weight loss with your goals on graphs that are a part of the app.

Applications are available on iTunes and can also be downloaded through your iPhone, smart phone or other compatible mobile device.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Phil Mickelson's Arthritis Shocks Golf World, Psoriasis Cure Now Says a Reminder That Psoriatic Arthritis Is a Serious Disease

/PRNewswire/ -- Golf star Phil Mickelson announced August 10 that he has been diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory and potentially debilitating condition that in his case came on quite suddenly, leaving him nearly crippled earlier this summer.

"Every joint in my body started to hurt to where I couldn't move," he told a press conference, reported the New York Times. "I would just lay down and couldn't roll over."

Mickelson said the psoriatic arthritis quickly spread from his ankle, finger and wrist to his hips, elbows and shoulders.

"He is not being dramatic; that can literally happen to someone experiencing a flare of psoriatic arthritis," said Michael Paranzino, president of the nonprofit Psoriasis Cure Now. "One day you are feeling fine, and days later it can be difficult to get out of bed or tie your shoes. Psoriatic arthritis is a serious disease."

Roughly one million Americans have psoriatic arthritis, and cases range from mild to what Phil Mickelson described this week. Fortunately, the man on the edge of being ranked the world's number one golfer is taking Enbrel, a biologic treatment that has transformed the lives of many people with psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and other immune system diseases.

Paranzino added: "Phil Mickelson says Enbrel has already improved him at least 90%, which is wonderful, but what about the many people with psoriatic arthritis who cannot afford the high price of a biologic, which often exceeds $15,000 annually? Even some people with health insurance are denied these cutting-edge treatments."

But Phil Mickelson may also be a bit too sanguine about his long-term prognosis with psoriatic arthritis. He told the press conference, reported the Associated Press:

"I'll probably take this drug for about a year, and feel 100 percent. I'll stop it and see if it goes into remission and it may never come back. It may be gone forever."

"It's not that it's cured, but it may never come back," he added. "Or if it does come back, I'll start the treatment again and should be able to live a normal life without having any adverse effects. So I'm not very concerned about it.

"Now that I feel confident it's not going to affect not only the rest of my career or the rest of my life, but even in the short term it shouldn't have an effect, I feel a lot better about it and I'm a lot more at ease to discuss it."

In many cases, people with psoriatic arthritis find, for reasons still unclear to experts, that their treatments, including the biologics like the one Phil Mickelson is on, lose effectiveness over time. Sometimes, they can switch to a different biologic treatment and buy more time, but there are patients who have run through all existing treatments. The treatments also carry FDA-required black box warnings for possible rare but serious side effects. In short, there is no guarantee that Phil Mickelson's psoriatic arthritis troubles are behind him. Psoriatic arthritis is a lifelong disease.

"We hope Phil Mickelson achieves his dream of becoming the number one ranked golfer and that he wows us with great golf for decades to come," added Paranzino, of the patient advocacy group Psoriasis Cure Now. "But for many people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, even those who can afford the latest treatments, their disease is a daily battle. That is why research is so important. We need a cure for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis."

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Thursday, August 05, 2010

The American Diabetes Association and Eli Lilly and Company Encourage African-Americans to Face the Music about Diabetes Management

/PRNewswire/ -- The 12th annual Victory Over Diabetes event, hosted by the American Diabetes Association (the Association), will take place in Atlanta on August 7, featuring Eli Lilly and Company's Fearless African-Americans Connected and Empowered (F.A.C.E.) Diabetes initiative and campaign spokesperson, R&B sensation Angie Stone. This free day-long event offers educational workshops and culturally relevant resources that empower African-Americans to better manage diabetes, a disease affecting more than 10 percent of Georgia's adult population.(1)

Victory Over Diabetes will kick off at 7:15 AM with check-in and free health screenings on Saturday, August 7, at the Georgia International Convention Center (2000 Convention Ct. Concourse, College Park, GA 30337). The official program will run from 8:30 AM - 4 PM.

As part of Lilly's F.A.C.E. Diabetes initiative, Stone has been traveling to major cities around the United States since 2007 to raise awareness of the diabetes epidemic among African-Americans, a population disproportionately affected by the disease. In fact, according to the Association, African-Americans are 1.8 times more likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites.(2) Through community-based events such as Victory Over Diabetes, the Association and Lilly hope to provide useful information and solutions that help overcome the barriers many African-Americans face while living with the disease.

"I know from experience that living with type 2 diabetes is a lifelong journey," said Stone. "Today, I am successfully managing my diabetes through a series of positive lifestyle changes. I'm eager to share my story with my hometown of Atlanta, to better motivate residents to become a change-agent for themselves, their families and the African-American community."

Also attending this year's event are the Hebni Nutrition Consultants, creators of the Soul Food Pyramid(TM), who will conduct onsite diabetes-friendly cooking demonstrations. Their recipes and cooking tips will help teach attendees better dietary habits that do not sacrifice the great taste of traditional comfort foods.

"We are excited to team up with F.A.C.E. Diabetes for the second year in a row for Victory Over Diabetes, now in its twelfth year," said Mike Gault, Sr. Executive Director, American Diabetes Association/Atlanta Region. "From learning how to cook with sugar substitutes to implementing a regular exercise routine, sponsors such as Lilly allow us to help those with diabetes take ownership of their condition through better self-management."

For more information on Victory Over Diabetes or the F.A.C.E. Diabetes initiative, please visit www.FACE-Diabetes.com or diabetes.org/vod.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Revealing menopausal symptoms you may not have heard about

(ARA) - Although most postmenopausal women have heard of the traditional symptoms related to menopause - like hot flashes, night sweats and mood swings - according to the REVEAL (REvealing Vaginal Effects At mid-Life) Surveys, fewer have heard of vulvar and vaginal pain and physical discomfort during sexual activity which may also occur during menopause. The REVEAL Surveys were conducted on behalf of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals (now a part of Pfizer Inc) and polled 1,006 postmenopausal women and 602 health care professionals who treat postmenopausal women.

Interestingly, half of the postmenopausal women surveyed agreed that they have learned to live with the vulvar and vaginal symptoms of menopause, such as dryness, as a normal part of getting older. For many postmenopausal women, a disconnect exists between the symptoms they experience and the conversations they are having with their health care professionals. For example, 25 percent of the women surveyed reported that they experienced dyspareunia, or painful sexual intercourse, at least sometimes; however, less than half of those women (44 percent) have spoken with their health care professional about this condition. So, why are these women keeping quiet?

Embarrassment may be one reason. In fact, among those experiencing dyspareunia who have not spoken to their health care professional about this condition, the No. 1 reason why was embarrassment (39 percent), followed by the belief that there is nothing that can be done medically to help (26 percent). Further, roughly half of all women surveyed (47 percent) agreed it is still taboo in society to acknowledge experiencing symptoms of menopause such as vulvar and vaginal dryness or painful intercourse. But women should not be embarrassed about talking to their health care professional about these symptoms.

"As health care professionals, we are trained to understand all of the symptoms associated with menopause and nothing you say should surprise us," says Dr. Michael Krychman, medical director of sexual medicine at Hoag Hospital, executive director of the Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine, and a REVEAL collaborator. "Every woman experiences menopause differently, so talk with your health care professional about any symptoms you may be having. Schedule an appointment and initiate the discussion."

The first step to understanding menopausal symptoms is starting the conversation, according to Krychman. He provides the following suggested tips to ensure women feel comfortable talking with their health care professional:

* Do your homework. Educate yourself on common symptoms associated with menopause, including those affecting your vaginal health.

* Write down your personal symptom experience or use an online assessor, like the one found at www.revealsurvey.com, and bring those results with you to your medical visit.

* Choose words you are comfortable with and practice what you're going to say.

* Take notes during the discussion to make sure you remember key points and follow treatment recommendations appropriately between appointments.

For information on the REVEAL Surveys and to learn more about the vaginal symptoms due to menopause, visit www.revealsurvey.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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