Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Take a Break: Send your name to the sun

NASA is sending a mission to touch the sun. It will swoop to within 4 million miles of the sun's surface, facing heat and radiation like no spacecraft before it. Launching in 2018, Parker Solar Probe will provide new data on solar activity and make critical contributions to our ability to forecast major space-weather events that impact life on Earth. The launch window is between July 31-August 19, 2018

NASA is inviting people around the world to submit their names online to be placed on a microchip aboard NASA’s historic Parker Solar Probe mission. The mission will travel through the Sun’s atmosphere and your name will go along for the ride. You have until April 27, 2018 to  Send your name to the Sun.

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Saturday, March 17, 2018

Journal Watch March 2018

Rocker bottom shoes help reduce chronic low back pain: A new study confirms that rocker bottom shoes helps strengthen back muscles, improving the spine's curvature and thus reducing low back pain. Clinical Rehabilitation 

More than just a cosmetic procedure -- 'tummy tuck' reduces back pain and incontinence In addition to restoring the pre-pregnancy shape of the abdomen, abdominoplasty ('tummy tuck') surgery with muscle repair can improve back pain and urinary incontinence after childbearing, reports a new study. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 

A new solution for chronic pain Neuropathic pain is a chronic illness affecting 7-10 percent of the population in France and for which there is no effective treatment. Researchers have uncovered the mechanism behind the appearance and continuation of pain. Based on their discovery, an innovative treatment was developed which produces, in animal subjects, an immediate, robust and long-lasting therapeutic effect on pain symptoms. CNRS 

Should doctors recommend acupuncture for pain? Some see acupuncture as a safe alternative to drugs, while others argue there's no convincing evidence of clinical benefit and potential for harm. So should doctors recommend acupuncture for pain? Experts debate the issue. BMJ 

Cost Savings from Reducing Pain Through the Delivery of Integrative Medicine Program to Hospitalized Patients: For patients receiving IM therapies, pain was significantly reduced and costs were lowered by about 4%. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine

• Approves first tests to screen for tick borne parasite in whole blood and plasma to protect the US blood supply
• Approves new HIV treatment for patient who have limited treatment options
• Warns of fraudulent and unapproved flu products

A life time of regular exercise slows down aging, study finds: A group of older people who have exercised all of their lives,(cyclists) were compared to a group of similarly aged adults and younger adults who do not exercise regularly. The results showed that those who have exercised regularly have defied the aging process, having the immunity, muscle mass, and cholesterol levels of a young person. Aging Cell 

Smokers at Greater Risk of Hearing Loss: Smoking is associated with increased risk of hearing loss, according to a study of over 50,000 participants over 8 years in Nicotine & Tobacco Research

Getting flu vaccine cuts risk of early death by half in people with heart failure Analysis of six studies supports routine influenza vaccination for heart failure patients For people with heart failure, getting a seasonal influenza (flu) vaccine in a given year was associated with a 50 percent drop in the risk of death during flu season and a 20 percent drop in the risk of death during the rest of the year, according to new research. American College of Cardiology

Physically Fit Women Nearly 90% Less Likely to Develop Dementia: Women with high physical fitness at middle age were nearly 90% less likely to develop dementia decades later, compared with women who were moderately fit, according to a study published in Neurology. The study measured the women’s cardiovascular fitness based on an exercise test. When the highly fit women did develop dementia, they developed the disease an average of 11 years later than women who were moderately fit, or at age 90 instead of age 79. 

E-cigarettes may be more harmful than beneficial, according to evidence-based research A new study finds that e-cigarette use could do more harm than good by substantially increasing the number of adolescents and young adults who eventually become cigarette smokers and marginally decreasing the number of adult cigarette smokers who quit. Plos One

Fiber-fermenting bacteria improve health of type 2 diabetes patients: Dietary fibers promote gut bacteria that benefit blood glucose control. The fight against type 2 diabetes may soon improve thanks to a pioneering high-fiber diet study. Science 

Healthy diet may not offset high salt intake A healthy diet may not offset the effects of a high salt intake on blood pressure, suggests a new study. The research, from scientists at a number of institutions, including Imperial College London and Northwestern University, analysed the diets of over 4,000 people. The results, published in the journal Hypertension, showed that people eating higher amounts of salt had higher blood pressure -- no matter how healthy a person's overall diet. 

Vitamin D reduces early mortality A normal intake of vitamin D can reduce the risk of early death substantially in people with cardiovascular disease, a new study shows. The study concludes that people who have suffered from cardiovascular disease, and have a normal intake of vitamin D, reduce their risk of morality as a consequence of the disease by 30 per cent. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 

Arsenic, Lead Found in Popular Protein Supplements: A new study from the Clean Label Project shows that many of the top-selling powders and drinks may contain concerning levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead, and toxins like bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical found in some plastic containers and food can liners. These substances have been linked to cancer, brain damage, and reproductive issues. Virtually all of the 134 products tested contained detectable levels of at least one heavy metal and 55 percent tested positive for BPA. Consumer Reports 

Is there plastic in your bottled water? Almost definitely yes, says a new study from the State University of New York at Fredonia and the nonprofit journalism organization Orb Media. The study tested 259 water bottles from 11 brands sold across nine countries, including the United States, and found that 93 percent of those tested contained microplastic contamination. The research found an average of 10.4 plastic particles per liter of water, which is twice the amount of contamination found in tap water. 

Grilled Meat, Chicken Ups Risk of Type 2 Diabetes in U.S. Adults: Open-flame and/or high-temperature cooking methods (such as grilling/barbecuing, broiling, or roasting) to prepare chicken and red meat are associated with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes (T2D), according to a study published online March 12 in Diabetes Care

Calcium ± Vit D Supplements Up Risk of Colon Adenomas, Polyps: Calcium supplements, taken with or without vitamin D, may increase the risk of sessile serrated adenomas or polyps (SSA/Ps), according to a study published online March 1 in Gut.

Gastrointestinal hormone measurably improved symptoms of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Through a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II clinical trial, researchers report that small doses of NGM282, a non-tumorigenic variant of an endocrine gastrointestinal hormone, can significantly and rapidly decrease liver fat content in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The findings represent an important proof-of-concept for the compound as there are currently no Food and Drug Administration-approved treatments for NAFLD and NASH. The Lancet 

A new class of experimental drugs reduces hot flushes in menopausal women by almost three-quarters in just 3 days, according to a study published in the journal Menopause.
The treatment also reduces the severity of hot flushes by over a third within 3 days of taking it. The research is a new in-depth analysis of data collected from a clinical trial initially published last year. The new analysis also revealed sleep and concentration significantly improved in the 3-day window. 

Grass Peptide Immunotherapy Cuts Seasonal Allergy Symptoms: Subcutaneous injections administered over three-week period before grass pollen season reduces seasonal allergy symptoms and is generally well tolerated, according to a study published online March 7 in Allergy

Low-Dose Triple Combo Pill Effective for Rapid BP Control: Use of a low-dose triple combination therapy is effective for rapidly achieving blood pressure control among patients with hypertension. annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology

Is your stress changing my brain? Stress isn't just contagious; it alters the brain on a cellular level Scientists have discovered that stress transmitted from others can change the brain in the same way as a real stress does. Nature Neuroscience 

Link between heart attacks and inflammatory bowel disease Research indicates strong role in development of cardiovascular disease Medical researchers recently concluded a study of more than 22 million patients that suggests a strong connection between Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and the development of heart disease and heart attacks. American College of Cardiology meeting 

Drug Copayments Often Exceed Prescription Drug Costs: Drug copayments frequently exceed prescription drug costs, with overpayments affecting 23 percent of all prescriptions, according to a research letter published in the March 13 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Take a Break: Make Real Irish Soda Bread

With St. Patrick’s Day just a few days away, trying making this simple Irish Soda bread. It’s no frills and is delicious served warm or toasted with butter.

I made it a few days ago in my food processor until crumbly. Smushed it together and put it in a greased cast iron skillet. It was delicious. This is the recipe I used. 

If you are British Baking show fan, here’s a video of Paul Hollywood showing how to make it.

One of the keys to a good soda bread is using buttermilk. If you don’t have any on hand stir one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice into one cup of milk. Let stand for 5 until the milk begins to curdle.

 Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Take a Break: Watch Memorable Moments of Coco

The results of the 2018 Oscars are in. Disney/Pixar’s film “Coco” won for best animated films. It’s now available to rent and can be streamed on Xfinity. However, you can also watch Memorable Moments. 

Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Life With Chronic Conditions: Leaving a Legacy

Years ago, I was checking out fabric where I saw my neighbor doing the same thing. An amazing fiber artist, I asked what her new project was going to be. She told me she was making baby quilts, one for each her son’s first children. Given that neither of her sons were close to being married, let alone fathers, I looked rather puzzled. My friend explained that her health situation, she had several chronic conditions, was such she didn’t know if she’d live to see grand kids, or if she did, she’d have the strength to make quilts. In short, she wanted to make sure that her future grandchildren would have a memory of her as a fiber artist.

Because I'm also the director of a historical society, I’ve read a lot of journals and family histories. Sometimes a family member just make us a copy of it, other times the family is gone but they don’t know what to do with it so they drop it off at the Museum. One of my favorite items came from a nurse in WWII who kept a diary of her war experiences. These are incredible windows into our past and you’d be surprised how they impact the future.

After my town was ravaged by tropical storm Irene in 2011, I went back to the journals and articles written by people after the flood of 1927, which had also devastated the town. Their stories helped us cope with our disaster. The year Irene occurred was a historic one for the town as we were to celebrate our 250th birthday just six weeks after the flood. Everything was damaged, yet we knew it was important that we mark that occasion if for no other reason, we wanted to send a message to future generations that they too would have disasters, but they could be resilient and move beyond it.

Legacy helps those who come after us know that we have thought and cared about them as well as what we wish for them.

At any age, thinking about a legacy is appropriate. Consider the following ways you can do this:

• Keep track of your family’s history and organize it in a specific space where people know where it is. This can include genealogy research, scrapbooks, baby books, recipe books, recordings of family members telling stories, videos etc. Keep in mind that anything you do electronically needs to be updated yearly as technology changes so rapidly.

• Set up an educational fund for children. It sends a message of your expectations and hopes for them as well as eases the financial burden. There are many different ways to set up scholarship funds and laws very by state so the best recommendation is to start by calling your local bank and discuss this with them. They will have dealt with this request before and can be of considerable help. There are scholarship crowding funding sites, such as Gradsave,  that may be right for your situation since it allows people to donate similar to how one uses a gift registry.

• Write letters. My mother started doing this in the last decade of her life. For different holidays, she would send us all letters describing how she celebrated them as a child, memorable ones etc. These were wonderful keepsakes. Some people write letters before their child is even born, outlining all the things they want for that child. For more ideas and samples, check out Letter writing.

• Make something special. As my neighbor was doing, if you have a special skill, make items in advance when you have time, energy and funds. I have a friend that’s a weaver and she creates incredible shawls and scarves that she gives to family and friends along with a note that lets them know that as they wrap themselves in her work, she is cradling them in love. What a keepsake. Make sure you note who the items are for, when they should be distributed, and have someone in addition to yourself that knows where they are being kept.

Support causes and organizations that mean a lot to you.

• Be a mentor

• Keep a journal: It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate, just simple notations of what is happening in your life will mean a great deal to future generations.

If you are a caregiver, you can help create someone’s legacy for future generations by keeping track of stories they tell you as well as what they want to happen after they are gone.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Take a Break: Try Virtual Curling

With the Olympics over, and the USA Men’s Curling team taking the gold for the first time ever, you may have watched a lot of curling. Now you can try it at virtual curling.

 Not interested in today’s activities, try the Take a Break Pinterest Board.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Life with chronic Conditions: I can’t afford my Meds

This past week a friend told me how she hadn’t taken her meds for a chronic condition for over a year because she couldn’t afford the co-pay of over $500 a month. A mutual friend, who is in pharmaceuticals, described a variety of ways to obtain medication when you can’t afford it. While a lot of this was in the post Life with Chronic Conditions: Shop Around for the Best Pharmaceutical Prices, she had a direct approach for obtaining free samples and coupons to significantly reduce the price.

• Know what your health insurance covers. Your prescription benefit generally has a different co-pay/deductible than your overall policy. Some insurers wont pay for certain drugs. In short, get as much information in advance as you can.

• When a medication is prescribed, know exactly what it’s for and whether it’s absolutely necessary.

• Discuss price. Is a generic as good as the brand name? Does the provider have samples you can try?

• While a lot of  doctors, clinics and health centers have “no sales reps” policies,  they can call a rep to obtain coupons and/or free samples. Many doctors, hospitals and pharmacies use a system to keep track of pharmacy representatives, so it’s a simple matter of knowing who makes the drug. However, if they don’t, going to the drug website will identify who manufacturers the drug and the provider should follow the Health Professionals links for contact information. Social work departments at hospitals are another source for obtaining coupons to cover co-pays etc. Some condition specific organizations, i.e. the American Parkinson’s Disease Association, will provide coupons to members of local chapters.

• Attend condition specific workshops and conferences. Often times drug reps will be sponsoring the event and will be on hand to discuss the medication as well as provide drug coupons.

• Get to know your pharmacist. Some of them will have special programs or can help arrange a discount.

• Shop around. Consumer reports recommends using Costco as they consistently had the lowest retail prices for the drugs they were checking. You don’t need to be a member to use its pharmacy, though joining can gain you more discounts.

• If you are taking a drug that is frequently prescribed, some pharmacies-places like Walmart-will provide a much lower price than what you can get with your prescription plan.

Statewide Prescription Assistance and Health Care Programs provide an opportunity for uninsured and under insured individuals to access medications at a significant discount. Some programs require applications and some programs require no application. Click here to see what’s available in your state.