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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 5:33 am 
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Smokers sabotage mates who want to quit

Jealousy, guilt about their own habit and wanting a smoking 'buddy' are among the reasons to wreck other people's quitting attempts.

Data collated from 6,300 current and former smokers by Pfizer shows 31 per cent of smokers admit being saboteurs.

The study also found that 72 per cent of smokers who have tried to quit think someone has tried to ruin their attempts.

On average, smokers said they tried to kick the habit at least three times. One in five said they had tried five times or more.

London-based GP Sarah Jarvis said: 'Beating a smoking addiction is hard enough without the negative influence of others around you casting doubt.

'I want those who are motivated to give up smoking to be aware that they don't have to go it alone and that there is support available.

'Even a brief conversation with their healthcare professional ... can increase their chances of success by up to four times, compared with going cold turkey.'

http://bigpondnews.com/articles/Health/ ... 76689.html


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 01, 2012 5:18 am 
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Death and injury on the rise in community sport

HUNDREDS of Victorians are dying or sustaining life-threatening injuries taking part in community sport, particularly cycling, football and motor sports.

A study of major trauma in sport by Monash University found that it increased by about 10 per cent every year in Victoria between 2001 and 2007.

During the six-year period, 218 people died while participating in sport - including on-road cycling - and 1019 sustained major trauma that did not kill them.

The highest rate of deaths and trauma occurred in motor sports, which included off-road motorbiking and quad biking. This was followed by horse riding, power boating, water skiing and cycling, both on and off the road.

The study examined injuries in people over the age of 14, and major trauma was defined as an injury resulting in death, multiple severe injuries, urgent life-saving surgery or an intensive-care stay of 24 hours requiring mechanical ventilation.

While the researchers took into account participation numbers in the sports each year, they could not account for changing frequency, so that if people were riding their bicycles more often it might have influenced the results.

The study found injuries were increasing in football, with the most common injuries being abdominal such as ruptured kidneys or spleens, which require urgent surgery. This accounted for 49 per cent of major trauma in footballers, compared with head injuries, which made up 25 per cent of the trauma, and spinal injuries, 19 per cent.

Dr Nadine Andrew, the lead author of the study published in the journal Injury this week, said she had no reason to believe these trends had changed much since 2007, with the exception of football, given that the drought had made grounds harder during the study period.

''With harder grounds, people can run faster and probably hit the ground harder, so the change in weather conditions may have changed things in recent years,'' she said.

Dr Andrew said she hoped the study would encourage more research into the causes of some of these deaths and injuries so preventive measures could be assessed.

''You can certainly look at changing rules in sports or making protective equipment mandatory, but you do have to back that up with surveillance to see whether those interventions make a difference,'' she said, adding that she did want to discourage participation in sports. ''I don't want this to be a barrier, because there are many benefits that come from engaging in sport and physical activity.''

http://www.smh.com.au/national/death-an ... z22EI33K4t


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 05, 2012 5:23 am 
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Russian Mogul Soliciting Billionaires to Achieve Immortality

There’s a Russian entrepreneur asking for funding right now. He’s asking for essentially unlimited money. It’s a risky project, but he’s sure it can be done. Investors are on the fence, but the ROI may be too good to pass up. The ROI is immortality.

It’s no joke. Dimitri Itskov is head of the 2045 initiative, which he hopes can conquer death once and for all, in just 23 years, via the miracle of modern science. Itskov is going straight to the richest people in the world for help – those with so much money, that they can’t hope to spend it all without becoming immortal. He writes in an open letter to the Forbes Billionaire list:

Human life is unique and priceless. It is only when we have to part with life do we realize just how much we have not done, that we have not had enough time to do what we really wanted or to address something we’ve done wrong. Everything that we have cherished and loved all of a sudden becomes unreachable.

Today you have a unique chance to change this situation. And at the same time bring invaluable benefits to your countries and the world as well as make a mark in history by supporting the creation of the new industry of immortality. You have the power to support and create a new industry of immortality to make revolutionary change that will forever reverberate through the pages of history.

The end goal is to achieve immortality in a few tiered steps before completing the game in 2045. As early as 2015, they want to have a remote-controlled copy of a human body. By 2020-2025, they want to be able to transplant a human brain into that body. By 2030-2035, that avatar gets an artificial brain that can upload somebody’s personality, and presumably, soul, just before the end of their life. And by 2045, we’re working with fully functional holograms that can contain the essence of entire human beings.

Sort of like the Battlestar Galactica prequel “Caprica,” which ended well for all involved.

Pursuit of fabulous, impossible riches is always to some degree about trying to achieve immortality, and at least this project is a little more honest about that. For everyone else, take solace in the fact that in a time of widespread unemployment, rising food prices and global instability, there are people who can still spend millions upon millions of dollars in an effort to become gods.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/davidthier/ ... mortality/


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 09, 2012 5:50 am 
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Cancer takes toll on patients' diets

PATIENTS undergoing cancer treatment who live alone are more likely to be malnourished, research by a Victorian cancer centre has found.

The ongoing Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre study examined the nutrition of patients, selected from 15 Victorian health services, and found those undergoing cancer treatment often lost weight due to poor appetite and fatigue.

Those who lived alone were more at risk than those living with family or a carer, according to the state government-funded project, preliminary results showed.

"The findings are indicating that people who live alone are more likely to have issues with food," Peter Mac's head of nutrition, Jenelle Loeliger told AAP.

"Fatigue is exacerbated for people who are travelling to hospital for their daily treatment appointments, which means they lack energy to prepare and eat nutritious meals when they get home," Ms Loeliger said.

This reinforced the importance of support to help prepare nutritious meals, she said.

The study, the largest of its kind in Australia, examined the nutritional status of 1,600 inpatients, chemotherapy day patients and radiotherapy outpatients across Victoria.

The full results including figures will be released later this year.

Peter Mac oncologist and chief medical officer, Professor John Zalcberg said the study findings would help patients, their carers and health professionals recognise the importance of nutrition in cancer patients.

Nutrition interventions such as referral to a dietician could be developed based on the evidence in the study, he said.

Peter Mac patient Ronald Potter said it was an effort to make meals a priority during his battle with lung cancer.

"Food can quickly lose its appeal and it can be difficult to find the time or energy to prepare and enjoy meals," Mr Potter said.

"I'm fortunate in that I have the support of my partner and my family and I understand the importance of food as part of my treatment regimen," he said.

Restaurant owner George Calombaris will cook for cancer patients at Peter Mac on Thursday, as part of the centre's 13th annual Guest Chef luncheon to encourage patients to eat and enjoy nourishing meals.

The event will focus on healthy meals that can be prepared in advance.

http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/breakin ... 6446148525


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:19 am 
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My Semicolon Life: What to say to a cancer patient

When USA TODAY's Nashville music critic Brian Mansfield was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 48, he figured that a lifetime of Southern-fried foods, extra-large sodas and stress eating on deadline had brought it on. Turned out he had a genetic syndrome that gave him an 80% chance of developing colon cancer. He'll chronicle his life with the disease - and with only a small part of his colon - in a series of weekly installments.

"I'm coming over. What can I bring?"

My friend Ed calls me every week and asks me this. Ed is bigger than me and louder than me, and he puts me at ease because I know I'll never have to worry about talking too much around him. When Ed thinks I haven't asked for enough, he comes up with his own ideas.

The first time Ed came over, I asked him to track down a nutritional-shake powder at Whole Foods that people had recommended to me. Ed not only figured out what I was talking about, he also brought yogurt and smoothies and the very first copy of his new album. (I know it's the first copy, because he numbered it.) When I couldn't think of anything the next week, he showed up with a box of bagels, a couple of Bruce Springsteen bootlegs and an autographed album from J.D. Souther.

Everybody should have a friend like Ed.

I've read several articles lately about what not to say to someone with cancer. I hate those articles, because I've said almost everything in them to other people, so I end up feeling like never speaking to a sick person ever again. Instead of rehashing those articles (though you should know it's considered bad form to tell a person with a terminal illness that your brother died of the very same thing), I'll focus on the best things my wife, Nancy, and I have heard since my diagnosis. Maybe they'll give you ideas of what to say during the awkward times.

Here's a personal favorite:

"We're opening a bank account for you. And while we're at it, we're going to refinance your house."

Now, the point of this is not necessarily to give your sick friends money. But you may be able to apply your expertise or your interests to their situation in specific, if out of the ordinary, ways, even if it's something as basic as cleaning house, doing landscaping or bringing fresh vegetables from your garden.

That said, it's hard to beat our banker friend who created an account for us at her bank, knowing that our expenses were about to rise and our income could drop. Then, she let our mutual friends know they could donate anonymously to it. After that, she took a look at our financial records and figured out a way to refinance our house and consolidate some existing debt in a way that not only lowered our monthly payments but also paid off our house five years faster than our existing plan.

That's one of the few acts of kindness that actually made Nancy cry. It's right up there with the neighbors who organized our online care calendar so friends could sign up to bring food, and the woman who came over and folded clothes with Nancy for three hours the weekend before my surgery.

"If I had to pick one kind of cancer to have, I'd pick yours."

OK, not everyone can pull off this one. But I have this reporter friend whose family is shot through with cancer of all varieties, on both sides. We got to swapping horror stories one day, and the cumulative weight of her tales of caring for people and burying people was truly awe-inspiring. Once she'd established her credentials, she laid this comment on me, and it was the single most encouraging thing anybody told me. It acknowledged the gravity of the situation, steered clear of false optimism and placed my situation in a context much broader than my personal experience. It beat any dozen versions of "You can beat this!" (Although I like those, too.)

"What's going to be the hard part for you?"

I've mentioned this one before, but it's so good it bears repeating. When I first went public with my diagnosis, while everyone else was asking, "How are you feeling?" "What can I do?" and "What happens next?" (all perfectly good questions, I should add), one friend went right to the heart of the matter with this question. It pushed my story ahead, bypassing the small talk and giving me the opportunity to express what concerned me most about my illness. It was what I'd been longing to answer, even though I hadn't even known what the question was. It's an all-purpose question that still allows for a different answer from each individual. It's the question I'll remember to ask others.

"How are you doing today?"

That last word makes all the difference, differentiating the question from the more common "How are you doing?" — or the dreaded "How are you?" It implicitly acknowledges that the person asking understands that cancer is a day-by-day journey, with unexpected twists and turns. For example: Today I'm a few weeks past surgery and feel like I'm recovering nicely. But it's possible there's another tumor inside me that I don't know about yet, and my mind-set could be very different once I get my next set of test results. But today? Today I'm doing great.

"Let me send you something that helped me."

The comments after any of my columns will give you a taste of the advice people want to offer. My cancer was probably caused by fluoridation, dehydration and a Western diet. It can be helped, maybe even cured, if I just change doctors, switch from an acidic to a basic diet, take herbal supplements, study epigenetics and claim the promise of God's healing power.

Everybody's got a suggestion, and getting inundated with it is the price I pay for the occasional piece that really helps — like the recommendation that I get guaranteed renewable life insurance on my kids before I have them tested for my genetic disorder. But there's no way I can follow up on every piece of advice.

Lots of people told me about books they found helpful in their times of trial; two people sent me copies of theirs. Those are the ones I read. Lots of people had dietary suggestions; one person in California shipped me a meal-replacement formula he really liked, even though he knew I could find it in Nashville. That's the one I eat.

Here's the deal: If you know something you think could make all the difference in the world to someone with cancer, just buck up and send it to us. We don't care where help comes from, but we don't have the time, the energy or the money to track down every suggestion somebody throws at us.

Did a book change your life? Great. Send us a copy, even if it's used. If you're convinced your supplement will make us feel better than we have in years, prove it by buying us a bottle. If you're a nutritionist offering unsolicited advice on how we should adjust our diets, then you better be ready to show up at our doorsteps with a box of vegetables, a cutting board and a blender. Otherwise, you're just grandstanding. And teasing us. We don't have time for that nonsense. We've got cancer.

If you do send something, don't follow up. Don't say another word about it. We won't be able to use everything we get, but we'll appreciate the thoughtfulness behind every bit of it. If it works, we'll shout it from the rooftops and be more grateful than you'll ever know. But we'll try to make sure you do.

I'll leave you with a helpful comment a new acquaintance received. Soon after her diagnosis, someone called to say, "I know a lot of people will call you and want to bring you food right now, and it will probably be overwhelming. I'll check in on you in six weeks." She called again six weeks later, almost to the minute.

That's my kind of friend.

Music that makes me want to live

Cancer has changed the way I hear music, more than any other life event except my marriage. Songs I once appreciated only on a surface level now strike deep at the core of my soul. Some inspire me; some terrify me. Others that I might have liked before, I've got no use for now. I've also got more time to listen, whether it's during my morning exercise time or while lying in a hospital bed. These songs form part of the soundtrack to my cancer story.

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/sto ... 56923808/1


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 15, 2012 5:27 am 
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Could exoskeletons help disabled people to be more active?

On a weekday morning in June, 50 people gather at the launch of a new technology shop in a science park outside Cambridge. Dubbed a "store opening" by its hosts, the US firm Ekso, it is quite unlike most retail events. There are no shelves, tills, or counters; no free samples or catalogues.

Instead, Ekso suggests that guests – about a quarter of whom are in wheelchairs – might try out one of its devices, in conjunction with the private physiotherapy firm, Prime Physio. Then, in months or years to come, the wealthier among them could walk away with some of Ekso's kit.

"Technology is reaching the point where those who have been disabled can be re-enabled," says Andy Hayes, Ekso's managing director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in his address. A slide of the bionic superhero Iron Man pops up on an accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

Ekso Bionics has produced the first ready-to-wear, motorised exoskeleton to be made commercially available in Britain. Called the Ekso, this battery-powered robot suit enables paraplegics to stand and walk.

Though this technology is at the forefront of the field, the Ekso is not the first of its kind. British disability campaigner Claire Lomas completed the London Marathon earlier this year using an Israeli-made ReWalk suit; Össur, the Icelandic prosthetics firm that makes the South African athlete Oscar Pistorius's carbon-fibre legs has a line of electrically powered feet and knees; Honda produces a lightweight device for users with minor walking difficulties.

Yet Ekso is notable not only for its technology and the price tag (£100,000 for the exoskeleton which it hopes to lower to £50,000 within the next two years), but its ambitious plans. It sees a time when able-bodied users will be strapping on machines too. In an age when Tony Stark's exoskeleton tops the box-office charts in Avengers Assemble, and Pistorius competes in both the Olympics and Paralympics, Ekso thinks there's a demand for robotic suits that not only aid disabled people, but enhance the abilities of everyone.

The firm's CEO, Eythor Bender, has said he believes exoskeletons are "the jeans of the future", offering assistance with manual labour. "Shipyard workers could probably only hold a 10kg angle-grinder for a couple of minutes," says Hayes. "Whereas if they had a bionic suit, they could work for hours and reduce costs."

Indeed, Ekso's target market is wide open. In 2005, it produced the Exohiker, a bionic walking aid that allows ramblers to trek with heavier loads. In 2009 it developed and licensed a bionic hiking device, the Human Universal Load Carrier, to US defence firm Lockheed Martin. Next year it will launch a product aimed at people recovering from strokes.

Theoretically, Ekso's suits could find all sorts of uses. In practice, their applications are more limited. We watch as 24-year-old Suzanne Edwards dons the device and takes a few steps. Edwards had been a surfing instructor until she suffered a spinal cord injury in January 2011. She is delighted to be able to rise from her chair and walk. However, two of Ekso's staff have to guide her movements, and it's hard to see how it could replace her wheelchair permanently.

Ekso doesn't claim to offer a simple fix for paralysis. Yet it does believe that regular exercise in the suit could help in other ways, such as increasing bone density, improving bladder functions, and aiding weight loss.

However, not everyone in the audience is convinced. Dr Roger Fitzwater was a general practitioner for 25 years until he broke his back in a building accident two decades ago. After the Ekso event he explains his misgivings. "It's a fantastic piece of engineering," he says, "and clearly a work in progress." Yet he still feels Ekso's emphasis on getting wheelchair users to walk again is misplaced.

"What people don't understand is that once you've become accustomed to your paraplegia, walking isn't very important," says Fitzwater. "If you're in pain, that's the most important thing. Then its bladder function, then bowels, then sex, then body image."

"When you see what robotics can do, it's moving forward very fast. I can see it getting a lot better, and having applications in other fields. It's great that they produced it," he adds. "But at the moment it's only for people with big compensation payouts."

There are many reasons to suggest that exoskeletons won't catch on. Yet as technology progresses and prices drop, the bionic age appears to be beckoning. So, why shouldn't a firm like Ekso make a suit to aid paraplegics? Or a suit for office workers to commute in? Or indeed, a suit for soldiers, runners, and anyone else who has the means and ambition to augment their body? With every passing month, in the field of bionics, the "why not?" question is getting harder to answer.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/ ... led-people


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 18, 2012 5:49 am 
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Cancer sufferer films heartbreaking goodbye

A 28-year-old US cancer sufferer filmed a heart-wrenching final goodbye to his family and friends, breaking down as he revealed he had lost his 10-year battle against the illness.

Wisconsin man Eric McLean tried to remain composed as he filmed his final video on August 14 but soon became overwhelmed with emotion as he revealed nothing more could be done to treat his acute myelogenous leukemia.

"This is the end. This is it. We got some really bad news last week and there's nothing we can do," he said.

"Ninety-six percent of my cerebral nervous system is cancerous. My sciatic nerve right now is being crushed by cancer so badly, I am in some of the worst pain you can imagine."

The young man went into remission and relapsed seven times during his 10-year battle.

He relapsed in 2011 shortly after returning home from his honeymoon and underwent a stem-cell transplant.

Mr McLean wept as he described how he would miss his family and friends. "There's so much I want to say," he said. "My wife, Cari. I love you so much, babe. I love you so much."

He was told the life expectancy for sufferers of acute myelogenous leukemia was usually 18 months and he had been battling it for nearly a decade.

"I stood up to the plate, I swung the bat as hard as I could. The ball game is over, guys," he said.

"My doctor says I won. He says I won. I got to believe him. There's nothing else I could have done. I fought to the end. I never said no."

Mr McLean had been making video updates about his cancer fight for the past three years.

His family has reportedly started a charity called LIFE (The Leukemia Ironman Fundraiser for Eric), which will raise money for cancer patients and for cancer research.

http://news.ninemsn.com.au/world/851797 ... ng-goodbye


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:34 am 
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Livestock antibiotics 'could have contributed to human obesity'

By altering the fine balance of gut bacteria which influence our metabolism, even small amounts of the drugs entering the food chain could have caused obesity rates to rise, researchers claim.

Although the use of antibiotics on farms is now banned in the EU due to the risk of germs becoming drug-resistant, it was commonplace in the 1950s and is still permitted in the US.

Prof Martin Blaser of New York University, who led the study, said: "The rise of obesity around the world is coincident with widespread antibiotic use, and our studies provide an experimental linkage.

"It is possible that early exposure to antibiotics primes children for obesity later in life."

For decades farmers in Britain and around the world fed low doses of antibiotics to cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens because the drug caused the animals to gain weight.

In the new study, researchers studied the effects of penicillin and other common antibiotics on weaning mice, using doses similar to the non-medical amounts used by farmers.

Their results, published in the Nature journal, showed that the drugs altered the balance of bacteria in their gut, causing metabolic changes which led them to gain 10 to 15 per cent more fat than untreated mice.

Although antibiotics were already known to cause weight gain, the role of gut bacteria in causing the effect was previously unclear.

Co-author Dr Ilseung Cho said: "By using antibiotics, we found we can actually manipulate the population of bacteria and alter how they metabolise certain nutrients.

"Ultimately, we were able to affect body composition and development in young mice by changing their gut microbiome through this exposure."

A related study published earlier this week by the same authors showed that young children who had taken small amounts of antibiotics were more likely to have higher amounts of body fat.

Prof Brendan Wren of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who was not involved in the study, said: "The role of the composition of our gut microflora is increasingly recognised as being important and has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease, metabolic disorders, immunity and obesity.

"Indiscriminate use of antibiotics for livestock (often used to fatten animals), not only promotes the spread of antibiotic resistance, but can get in our food chain and affect the homeostasis of our gut microflora."

Dr Cormac Gahan, of University College Cork, added: "These studies support an emerging body of evidence linking gut bacteria with the development of obesity.

"Other research has identified specific subgroups of gut bacteria that play a role in energy extraction from the diet and influence the production of hormones in the host. Disrupting this finely balanced ecosystem clearly has consequences for host metabolism and weight gain."

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healt ... esity.html


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:20 am 
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Cancer's extra sting for low earners

LOW-INCOME earners diagnosed with cancer are being hit with a double-whammy of a potentially fatal disease and the struggle to make ends meet during treatment.

Data from Cancer Council NSW revealed an increasing number of cancer patients and their families were, over the past two years, unable to pay their bills and sought financial assistance.

Cancer patients from low socio-economic backgrounds in NSW were almost 13 per cent more likely to die from the disease, according to health authorities.

Cancer Council NSW information and support services director Gill Batt said the council had helped almost 2000 people in the past 12 months with financial and legal problems that were a direct result of their diagnoses.

"Being diagnosed with cancer is extremely traumatic and most patients are primarily concerned with their health and getting through their treatment," she said. "But bills add up quickly - especially for patients or families losing an income as a result."

Cancer Council NSW estimated the average out-of-pocket cost for people diagnosed with cancer was about $10,000.

"For some it's much more than that," Ms Batt said.

"You can claim some expenses back but you still have to be able to pay for treatment costs up-front."

Sydney mum Wendy Pan was poised to start a small business late last year when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Months of treatment forced her to abandon her career plans and pushed the household budget to breaking point.

"I was working a lot and very hard last year but then all of a sudden I had to drop everything," she said.

"Once you stop working it becomes very difficult to pay for those daily expenses."

By supporting today's Daffodil Day, Ms Batt said Australians could help the Cancer Council "grow hope" for cancer patients, carers and families and continue to provide support like its legal and financial referral services.

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/nation ... 6456962070


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:56 am 
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Severe Diet Doesn’t Prolong Life, Study of Monkeys Concludes

For more than 20 years, the rhesus monkeys were kept semi-starved, lean and hungry. The males’ weights were so low they were the equivalent of a 6-foot-tall man who tipped the scales at just 120 to 133 pounds. The hope was that if the monkeys lived longer, healthier lives by eating a lot less, then maybe people, their evolutionary cousins, would too. Some scientists, anticipating such benefits, began severely restricting their own diets.

The results of this major, long-awaited study, which began in 1987, are finally in. But it did not bring the vindication calorie restriction enthusiasts had anticipated. It turns out the skinny monkeys did not live any longer than those kept at more normal weights. Some lab test results improved, but only in monkeys that were put on the diet when they were old. The causes of death — cancer, heart disease — were the same in both the underfed and the normally fed monkeys.

Lab test results showed lower levels of cholesterol and blood sugar in the male monkeys that started eating 30 percent fewer calories in old age, but not in the females. Males and females that were put on the diet when they were old had lower levels of triglycerides, which are linked to heart disease risk. Monkeys put on the diet when they were young or middle-aged did not get the same benefits, though they had less cancer. But the bottom line was that the monkeys that ate less did not live any longer than those that ate normally. Rafael de Cabo, lead author of the diet study, published online on Wednesday in the journal Nature, said he was surprised and disappointed that the underfed monkeys did not live longer. Like many other researchers on aging, he had expected an outcome similar to that of a 2009 study from the University of Wisconsin that concluded that caloric restriction did extend monkeys’ life spans.

But even that study had a question mark hanging over it. Its authors had disregarded about half of the deaths among the monkeys they studied, saying they were not related to aging. If they had included all of the deaths, there was no extension of life span in the Wisconsin study, either.

“This shows the importance of replication in science,” Steven Austad, interim director of the Barshop Institute for Longevity and Aging Studies at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio. Dr. Austad, who was not involved with either study, said that the University of Wisconsin study “was not nearly as conclusive as it was made out to be” and that the new study casts further doubt on the belief that caloric restriction extends life.

But other researchers still think that it does, and one of the authors of the new study, Julie A. Mattison, said there was still a bit of hope. The study is continuing until the youngest monkeys are 22 years old. While the data pretty much rule out any notion that the low-calorie diet will increase average life spans, there still is a chance that the study might find that the diet increases the animals’ maximum life span, she said.

Meanwhile, some others said that the Wisconsin study made them reluctant to dismiss the idea that low-calorie diets result in longer life.

“I wouldn’t discard the whole thing on the basis of one study, when another study in the same species showed an increase in life span,” said Eric Ravussin, director of the nutritional obesity research center at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Louisiana. “I would still bet on an extension of life.”

The idea that a low-calorie diet would extend life originated in the 1930s with a study of lab rats. But it was not until the 1980s that the theory took off. Scientists reported that in species ranging from yeast to flies to worms to mice, eating less meant living longer. And, in mice at least, a low-calorie diet also meant less cancer. It was not known whether the same thing would hold true in humans, and no one expected such a study would ever be done. It would take decades to get an answer, to say nothing of the expense and difficulty of getting people to be randomly assigned to starve themselves or not.

Researchers concluded the best way to test the hypothesis would be through the monkey studies at the University of Wisconsin and the National Institute on Aging, although the animals would have to be followed for decades. It was a major endeavor. The National Institute on Aging study involved 121 monkeys, 49 of which are still alive, housed at a facility in Poolesville, Md. Those that got the low-calorie diet did not act famished, Dr. de Cabo said. They did not gobble their food, for example, but ate at the same speed as the control animals, even though their calories had been cut by 30 percent.

As the studies were under way, some human enthusiasts decided to start eating a lot less, too.

In those same years, though, studies in mice began indicating there might not be a predictable response to a low-calorie diet. Mice that came from the wild, instead of being born and raised in the lab, did not live longer on low-calorie diets. And in 2009, a study of 41 inbred strains of laboratory mice found that about a third had no response to the diets. Of those that responded, more strains had shorter life spans than had longer ones when they were given less food.

The response to that study was “absolute disbelief,” Dr. Austad said. “Even though the authors are well-respected calorie restrictors, people said the result was not interesting, that there was something weird about the mice.”

Now, with the new study, researchers are asking why the University of Wisconsin study found an effect on life span and the National Institute on Aging study did not.

There were several differences between the studies that some have pointed to as possible explanations.

The composition of the food given to the monkeys in the Wisconsin study was different from that in the aging institute’s study.

The University of Wisconsin’s control monkeys were allowed to eat as much as they wanted and were fatter than those in the aging institute’s study, which were fed in amounts that were considered enough to maintain a healthy weight but were not unlimited.

The animals in the Wisconsin study were from India. Those in the aging institute’s study were from India and China, and so were more genetically diverse.

Dr. de Cabo, who says he is overweight, advised people that if they want to try a reduced-calorie diet, they should consult a doctor first. It they can handle such a diet, he said, he believes they would be healthier but, he said, he does not know if they would live longer.

Some scientists still have faith in the low-calorie diets. Richard Weindruch, a director of the Wisconsin study, said he was “a hopeless caloric-restriction romantic,” but added that he was not very good at restricting his own calories. He said he might start trying harder, though: “I’m only 62. It isn’t too late.”

Then there is Mark Mattson, chief of the laboratory of neurosciences at the National Institute on Aging, who was not part of the monkey study. He believes there is merit to caloric restriction, but his routine is to do it intermittently, eating much less, but not every day. It can help the brain, he says, as well as make people healthier and probably make them live longer.

Dr. Mattson, who is 5 foot 9 and weighs 130 pounds, skips breakfast and lunch on weekdays and skips breakfast on weekends.

“I get a little hungry,” he acknowledged. “But we think being hungry is actually good.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/30/scien ... finds.html


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PostPosted: Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:39 am 
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Scientists Discover ‘Hulk’ Protein

(FASEB Journal). Outside of aesthetics, this study has important implications for a wide range of conditions that are worsened by, or cause muscle wasting, such as injury, muscular dystrophy, Type 2 diabetes, and problems produced by muscle inflammation.

“By identifying a novel mechanism regulating muscle development, our work has revealed potential new strategies to increase muscle mass,” said lead author Dr Lowenna Holt of the Diabetes and Obesity Research Program at the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia. “Ultimately, this might improve treatment of muscle wasting conditions, as well as metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes.”

To make this discovery, Dr Holt’s team compared two groups of mice. Once group had disruption of the Grb10 gene, and were very muscular. The other group, where the Grb10 gene was functional, had normal muscles. The researchers examined the properties of the muscles in both adult and newborn mice and discovered that the alterations caused by loss of Grb10 function had mainly occurred during prenatal development.

These results provide insight into how Grb10, nicknamed ‘Hulk’ protein, works, suggesting that it may be possible to alter muscle growth and facilitate healing, as the processes involved in muscle regeneration and repair are similar to those for the initial formation of muscle.

“Don’t turn in your gym membership just yet,” said Dr Gerald Weissmann, Editor-in-Chief of the FASEB Journal. “If you want big muscles, the classic prescription still applies: lift heavy things, eat and sleep right, and have your hormones checked. But this study shows that when we understand the basic science of how muscle fibers grow and multiply, we will be able to lift the burden – literally – of muscle disease for many of our patients.”

http://www.sci-news.com/medicine/article00560.html


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:23 am 
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My Semicolon Life: Never ever getting back with cancer

When USA TODAY's Nashville music critic Brian Mansfield was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 48, he figured that a lifetime of Southern-fried foods, extra-large sodas and stress eating on deadline had brought it on. Turned out he had a genetic syndrome that gave him an 80% chance of developing colon cancer. He'll chronicle his life with the disease — and with only a small part of his colon — in a series of weekly installments.

As long as I've got a laptop, I can do what I do lying flat on my back. So I started posting on Facebook and Twitter from my hospital bed in July and writing album reviews a week later. I've been working full time for nearly a month now, though I try to avoid the kind of 12- and 14-hour days that occur during American Idol season.

Six weeks and a day after my surgery, I went out to talk with Taylor Swift about her upcoming album, Red.

It was fitting, I suppose, since Swift was the first artist I heard from after my diagnosis. I got calls, letters and tweets from several other musicians, too, but she reached out after hearing about my illness, even before I went public with it.

Seven years ago, before Swift released her first single, we got seated next to each other at a music industry dinner, and I'm still kicking myself for not introducing her to Little Richard, who sat behind us that night. In the Swift region of the Twitterverse, I'm a minor celebrity — or at least the answer to a trivia question — since I was the first person she followed on Twitter. Probably that's because I was the only person in Swift's e-mail address book that had a Twitter account before she did, but among her fans, it seems to count for something.

When she saw me, she gave me a big smile and a hug and said, "You look great!"

I should just say thank you, I know I should. But this particular compliment I haven't learned to accept graciously. I'm thrilled to have lost the extra chin; I love wearing clothes that wouldn't have fit me any other time in this century. But, for some reason, I want people to acknowledge why I look the way I do. Even if it creates an awkward moment.

So I said, "It's amazing how much weight you lose with major surgery," and watched her smile briefly go flat. She covered the moment quickly and with more charm than I had shown, replying, "Leave it to you to beat this faster than anybody thought possible."

She'll be a featured musical performer Friday on Stand Up to Cancer, a nationally televised fundraising special. Last spring, she invited Kevin McGuire, a New Jersey teen with leukemia, to attend the Academy of Country Music Awards as her date. He was too ill to attend, but Swift still keeps tabs on his progress.

She hopes Stand Up to Cancer will motivate fans to "remember somebody they lost, or inspire them to send flowers to somebody they know who's going through it."

As our conversation shifts from cancer to Red, I realize that writing this column has made me think of cancer much the way Swift does boyfriends, as rich sources of material that teach hard life lessons. The good that we get out of them — her songs, my stories — helps balance the trouble they cause.

If I had to pick one of Taylor's boyfriends to represent my cancer, it'd be the self-obsessed bad-mouther of Picture to Burn, the kind you'd like to remove from your life with the strike of a match, or, in my case, the slice of a scalpel. "State the obvious, I didn't get my perfect fantasy," Swift sings. "I realize you love yourself more than you could ever love me." Yeah, that's pretty much cancer, which does nothing but reproduce itself until it kills its host, to a T.

But maybe my cancer's going to be the guy in Swift's latest single: Get rid of him once, he comes back again, and he just won't get the message. I'd like to think I'll be rid of him forever, but, right now, I can't quite share Swift's insouciant confidence as she tells him off. Believe me, though, there's nothing I'd like to tell cancer more than We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.

Like, ever.

Music that makes me want to live

Cancer has changed the way I hear music, more than any other life event except my marriage. Songs I once appreciated only on a surface level now strike deep at the core of my soul. Some inspire me; some terrify me. Others that I might have liked before, I've got no use for now. I've also got more time to listen, whether it's during my morning exercise time or while lying in a hospital bed. These songs form part of the soundtrack to my cancer story.

1. Make Me New, Rhett Walker Band

2. Empathy, Alanis Morissette

3. Blind Sighted Faith, The Dunwells

4. Give Me Love, Ed Sheeran

5. A Piece of Peace, Dan DeChellis Trio

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/sto ... csp=34news


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 11, 2012 5:24 am 
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A better life can be child's play

SOME people know Venezuela as a country that produces oil and coffee, and for the anti-US rantings of its President, Hugo Chavez. But many of those involved in classical music also know the South American nation as the originator of a music-education program that is the envy of the world.

El Sistema, founded in 1975 by economist and musician Jose Antonio Abreu, is a national system of musical instruction, based on the collaborative enterprise of playing in orchestras.

The project is musical and social: music-making as an alternative to the hopelessness of poverty and crime. There are some high-profile graduates from El Sistema, but its greatest success may be the joy it has given to more than 310,000 children.

The model has been adopted around the world, with about 60 similar programs in the US, four in Britain and others elsewhere in Europe. The seeds of El Sistema have been planted in Australia, too, and with encouragement it may take root.

At Laverton College, in a disadvantaged area of Melbourne's western suburbs, 30 primary-age children are part of a pilot program organised by Sistema Australia. Last week they were rehearsing for a concert at their school later this month, playing pieces such as Shark Attack and Sad Movie on junior-size string instruments and percussion.

And, in a separate development, local enthusiasts for El Sistema have gained a high-profile ambassador. The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra's new principal guest conductor, Diego Matheuz -- a spunky 28-year-old Venezuelan -- is a graduate of his country's famed music program.

"With El Sistema, you give the opportunity to the children to develop," he says from Venice, where he is music director of the city's La Fenice opera house. "We use the music like a channel to create a better society."

Sistema Australia is the labour of love of a Canberra man, Chris Nicholls, who three years ago quit his six-figure-salary job in information technology to set it up. When he was a boy Nicholls spent four years in Caracas, where his father was the consul general. Many years later he heard about El Sistema and got hold of a DVD documentary about it. He saw the way the Venezuelan system was working for disadvantaged children there and was inspired to set up the pilot program at Laverton.

As with so many other people who become passionate advocates for music education, Nicholls saw evidence of its benefit very close to home.

His son Alex grew up with learning difficulties and the family tried every kind of specialist and treatment to help him do better at school. Alex was a bright kid, Nicholls says, but his lack of confidence was holding him back.

Alex's life changed when he went to a school in Canberra with compulsory music lessons for Year 7 students. He was handed a cello to play: an instrument that gives him a challenge and potential to succeed. Nicholls says the change in the boy was astonishing.

"He started to do better at his schoolwork, he was able to read complex books," he says. "It was all coming out of this music thing."

The music thing stuck: Alex is now completing his fourth year in cello performance at the University of Western Australia.

Nicholls established the Sistema Australia program at Laverton in collaboration with the local Hobsons Bay City Council, Victoria Police and Laverton College, and with support from Jonathon Welch (of Choir of Hard Knocks fame) and violinist Richard Tognetti. There have been some private donors -- Nicholls has put in $200,000 of his own money -- but so far not a substantial corporate backer.

Nicholls bought the musical instruments, and about 30 children enrolled in Laverton's Crashendo orchestra in May last year. They meet after school hours three days a week for instrumental lessons and orchestra rehearsal.

The children started by playing easy pieces in unison -- that is, the same melody -- but have progressed to playing different instrumental lines in harmony.

Several principles underscore the Sistema system. First, it is voluntary: the kids aren't forced to do it. Second, there are no auditions, unlike some other youth orchestras, so children of all abilities can play. Third, it is a group-learning environment, where older students mentor the younger ones.

"The focus is on the children, they are treated as musicians," Nicholls says. "They are immediately adopted as members of the orchestra. They belong to a special group of people, a gang."

Results at Laverton have been encouraging. A survey of parents reported that their children were happier, more confident and better behaved since they joined the Crashendo orchestra.

Laverton is far from the barrios of Venezuela, however. In that country, El Sistema is a national program built around 280 teaching locations or nucleos. And it has substantial government backing, to the tune of 540 million bolivares ($121m) annually, according to The New York Times.

El Sistema is also an intensive program in which children participate every day.

Matheuz says he would spend all his afternoons at the conservatorium in Barquisimeto, having lessons in violin and harmony and going to orchestra rehearsals.

"I loved it," he says. "When I finished school at 1pm, I go home, I take a shower, eat, and I say to my father, 'Please bring me to the conservatory.' I spend four, five, six hours in the conservatory, every day, the whole afternoon there."

Matheuz played in the same orchestra as a slightly older boy who would become El Sistema's best-known graduate: Gustavo Dudamel, the 31-year-old music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Matheuz was the concertmaster in the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra in Caracas where Dudamel was conducting.

In time, "Maestro Abreu" -- as Matheuz calls El Sistema's founder -- asked whether he would consider becoming a conductor, too. He made his international conducting debut with the Simon Bolivar orchestra in 2008 in Puerto Rico; the same year he conducted Claudio Abbado's Orchestra Mozart in Bologna, later becoming its principal guest conductor. Last September, La Fenice made him its principal conductor.

The Melbourne appointment follows a concert he gave with the MSO at the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, where he wowed the crowd on a sultry summer night. Within a week, MSO management was making overtures about making him a more frequent visitor.

His first official duties in Melbourne are next August when he conducts a series of Stravinsky concerts.

He says he is looking forward to returning to Melbourne and to finding out more about the Sistema project at Laverton.

"I would love to become involved," he says. "I am waiting (for) the moment to go there, to see the children and everything."

Sistema Australia is among several projects that aim to instil a love of music in children. For example, there's businessman Graeme Wood's WotOpera workshops for school-age children; Don Spencer's Australian Children's Music Foundation; and the music program my godmother Robin Thompson instigated at the Police Citizens Youth Club in Orange, NSW.

But the name El Sistema resonates among music lovers. As well as the Laverton pilot scheme, there are plans to roll out similar projects in Adelaide and at three locations in Western Australia.

El Sistema has a strong flavour of social democracy about it: its motto is "To play and to fight". But it is not a panacea for social ills. "Of course, El Sistema helps, but you cannot stop everything, that is impossible," Matheuz says.

Nicholls puts the success of El Sistema down to the effect of children, parents and community being involved in the co-operative business of making music.

"It's not rocket science," he says. "It's a matter of putting good things together."

There is no magic about it, only the wonder of seeing children transform themselves through music.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/a- ... 6471351109


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:48 am 
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Adult playgrounds in New York

New York City has introduced playgrounds for adults.

The playgrounds look much like a children's play area but they are designed to allow adults to exercise and are essentially an outdoor gym.

The first of the playgrounds was tested in a park in the Bronx over the past two years.

The playground has 15 pieces of equipment and each piece is designed to work out a particular body part.

'To a lot of people this looks like children's play equipment and it's the same materials, the same durable materials, but it's just more customized to be this more gym-type outdoor equipment' Nancy Prince, Deputy Design Chief for the city's Parks Recreation Department, told Reuters.

'So just as we can put a lot of fitness activities and play activities for kids, we can add this to our whole component of things for adults'.

'In the Parks Department, we have been putting in some adult exercise equipment for adults, pieces here and there since the 1930s, but this is a new concept where we have a whole bunch of units and the individual units target individual muscle groups on the body, very much like the gyms or recreation center exercise areas. So it's a new idea to have have it in parks, have it free, take it outside into the environment'.

http://bigpondnews.com/articles/OddSpot ... 95108.html


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:16 am 
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Easy step to boost your long-term health

IT'S one small step for man, but a giant leap toward a healthy heart.

People are being urged to get off their buses or trains and leave their cars behind, and walk to work instead.

Former ironman Guy Leech is the official ambassador for Bupa Walk To Work Day. The event, now in its 14th year, encourages people to incorporate walking into their everyday routines.

"It's all about encouraging people to plan the walk, then plan the day," Mr Leech said. "This could be walking to a meeting rather than driving or catching a cab, or holding walking meetings instead of sitting in a meeting room."

Bupa's chief medical officer Dr Paul Bates said small changes like regular walking can have a big impact on a person's long-term health. "Regular walking reduces your risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes," he said.

Bupa Walk to Work Day is on Friday, September 28. Register at walk.com.au.

http://www.news.com.au/national/easy-st ... 6475215529


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