Nopales, or prickly pear cactus is being regarded as a superfood when considering the health qualities it can bring to one’s diet. This fruit is a high source of fiber, carotenoids and antioxidants while being known for treating high cholesterol and obesity. Nopales also contain anti-inflammatory properties and aid in treating diabetes. Evidence shows that nopales can significantly lower high blood-sugar rates in individuals suffering from type 2 diabetes. More here
Research suggests that up to 5% of the elderly population, age 70 and above, may suffer from a type of memory loss called mild cognitive impairment. This estimate is worse than any previous year according to a researching team at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Dr. Ronald Petersen, the neurologist who led the study stated, “If we extrapolate these findings to the baby boomers, who are aging into the period of risk, we’re talking about a significant number of individuals who may become cognitively impaired in the very near future.” The number of elderly adults that have mild cognitive impairment has increased to an alarmingly higher rate than previously anticipated. More here
A recent study from the American Heart Association has discovered a possible link between blood type and the risk of developing heart disease. The study, which tracked 89,500 adults for 20 years or more, found people with blood type A, B, or AB had a higher risk for coronary heart disease compared to people with blood type O. Blood type AB, which is only found in 7.0 percent of Americans, had the highest risk at 23 percent. Type B was associated with an 11 percent increased risk and participants with type A blood had an elevated risk of 5.0 percent. Type O blood, which is found in about 43 percent of Americans, had the lowest risk. Lu Qi, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s senior author and an assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said it’s good to know your blood type the way you know your cholesterol or blood pressure numbers. More here and here.
An Australian study says a person’s personality has a role in determining their lifestyle. People who believed their actions determined their fate were more likely to eat a healthier diet, exercise regularly, and avoid binge drinking and smoking. On the other hand, those who put their faith in luck were more prone to unhealthy lifestyles. The research examined data on the diet, exercise, and personality type of more than 7,000 people. Deborah Cobb-Clark, director of the Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, said their study shows a direct link between personality type and a healthy lifestyle. More here.
A recent study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, finds that working too many hours can raise the risk of developing coronary heart disease. People who worked long hours were found to have an approximately 40 percent higher risk of heart trouble compared to coworkers who worked fewer hours. The research, which looked at 12 studies totaling 22,000 people, notes that long working hours have been previously linked with a number of conditions and habits which contribute to heart disease, such as elevated blood pressure, anxiety, depression, type 2 diabetes, unhealthy diet, smoking, and lower physical activity. Longer working hours are also associated with stress and sleep deprivation, which have been shown to increase cardiovascular risk. Coronary heart disease is currently the leading cause of death and is projected to remain so for the next several decades. More here and here.
A new study from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine aimed at measuring the amount of money Medicare beneficiaries spend on healthcare in the last five years of their life discovered a stunning amount of out-of-pocket expenses. The research analyzed data from 3,209 individuals and found that, though Medicare provides nearly universal coverage, a quarter of participants paid an average of $101,791 on healthcare costs and the average for all participants was $38,688 in the final five years of life. More than 75 percent of people in the study spent at least $10,000. The amount of money spent on healthcare costs varied based on the type of illness, with dementia costing more than twice the average amount paid by someone dying with cancer. More here.
A study of nearly 6,000 men with prostate cancer found that those taking aspirin regularly as part of their treatment had a lower risk of death than those who didn’t take any type of anticoagulants. The study, authored by Dr. Kevin Choe of UT Southwestern Medical Center, suggests men who have received surgery or radiation as a treatment for prostate cancer may benefit from taking aspirin. Aspirin, along with other anticoagulation medication, has been shown to inhibit cancer growth and metastasis but there has previously been little clinical data on the topic. Dr. Choe said the results of the study suggest aspirin prevents growth of tumor cells, though there needs to be more research before recommending it to all prostate cancer patients. More here.
Statins are popular cholesterol-lowering drugs which inhibit one of the enzymes that is central to cholesterol production in the liver. Medications such as Lipitor and Zocor have become widely used as a treatment for high cholesterol, which is linked to cardiovascular diseases. Now the FDA is requiring new warnings to be added to the labels of both brand name and generic versions of the drugs. The warnings will inform patients that memory loss, mental confusion, high blood sugar, and type 2 diabetes are among the possible side effects of taking statins. But FDA officials stress that the health benefits of the drugs far outweigh the possible risks. Mary Parks, MD, director of the FDA’s Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products, said it is important that health care professionals and patients have the most current information on the risks of statins but also to assure them that these medications continue to provide an important health benefit. More here and here.
Researchers at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine gave mice large doses of a drug typically used to treat a type of skin cancer and found that it very quickly reversed the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. Within three days, the mice showed greatly improved memory and more than half of the plaque had disappeared in the brain. Despite the dramatic effect of the drug, the researchers caution that it may not have the same effectiveness if given to humans. Gary Landreth, lead researcher, said Alzheimer’s has been cured in mice many times and that research should move forward quickly but cautiously. More here.
A new report from the Institute of Medicine calls for more attention to the increasing number of Americans suffering with a chronic illness. Nearly 50 million Americans have a chronic illness and three-quarters of all health-care costs are spent on conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, chronic pain, and dementia. The report calls for more action from federal, state, and local governments in addition to more research into how to care for people with multiple chronic illnesses. More than a quarter of Americans live with more than one chronic illness, such as people suffering from both diabetes and heart disease. The report’s authors wrote that the epidemic of chronic illness is steadily moving toward crisis proportions, yet enhancing the quality of life for people living with these diseases hasn’t been given the attention it deserves. More here.