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March 18, 2011, 5:59 PM CT

Radiation risks to health

Radiation risks to health
The growing concern surrounding the release of radiation from an earthquake and tsunami-stricken nuclear complex in Japan has raised fears of radiation exposure to populations in North America from the potential plume of radioactivity crossing the Pacific Ocean. To help Americans understand their radiation-related health risks, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), the American Thyroid Association (ATA), The Endocrine Society and the Society of Nuclear Medicine (SNM) issued a joint statement (http://www.endo-society.org/advocacy/policy/upload/Joint-Statement-on-Radiation-Risks-to-Health.pdf).

The statement suggests that the principal radiation source of concern, in regard to impact on health, is radioactive iodine including iodine-131.This presents a special risk to health because exposure of the thyroid to high levels may lead to development of thyroid nodules and thyroid cancer years later.

Radioactive iodine uptake to the thyroid can be blocked by taking potassium iodide (KI) pills. However the statement cautions KI should not be taken unless there is a clear risk of exposure to high levels of radioactive iodine. While some radiation appears to be detected in the United States as a result of the nuclear reactor accident in Japan, current estimates indicate radiation levels will not be harmful to the thyroid gland or general health. If radiation levels did warrant the use of KI, the statement recommends it should be taken as directed by physicians or public health authorities until the risk for significant exposure dissipates.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 17, 2011, 10:55 PM CT

Want more zest for life?

Want more zest for life?
Researchers at Texas A&M and Texas State found that gardening contributes to increased life satisfaction in older adults.

Credit: Photo courtesy of Tina Marie (Waliczek) Cade

Does gardening contribute to quality of life and increased wellness for elderly adults? Scientists from the Texas A&M and Texas State Universities asked these questions in a survey of people aged 50 and older. The survey revealed some compelling reasons for elderly adults to get themselves out in the garden.

Aime Sommerfeld, Jayne Zajicek, and Tina Waliczek designed a questionnaire to investigate older adult gardeners' and nongardeners' perceptions of personal life satisfaction and levels of physical activity. As per Sommerfeld, main author of the study published in HortTechnology: "The primary focus of the study was to determine if gardening had a positive impact on perceptions of quality of life and levels of physical activity of elderly adults when compared with nongardeners".

A 2007 Administration on Aging report titled A Profile of Older Americans noted that one in every eight Americans is considered an "older adult" (65+ years). The older adult population is at greater risk for disease as a result of decreased levels of exercise and poor dietary and/or lifestyle choices; a combination of moderate physical activity and increased consumption of fruit and vegetables has been reported to dramatically reduce an adult's risk for a number of chronic diseases. "Gardening is one of the most popular home-based leisure activities in the United States and has been reported as the second most common leisure activity, after walking, of adults older than age 65 years", the scientists noted.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 15, 2011, 10:57 PM CT

Extended Parental Support as a Safety Net

Extended Parental Support as a Safety Net
A newly released study from the Journal of Marriage and Family shows that contrary to popular anxieties about slacker young adults who refuse to grow up, or indulgent parents who stifle their adult children's development by continuing to support them, there is evidence that parental assistance in early adulthood promotes progress toward autonomy and self-reliance.

Study author Teresa Swartz, "The fact that young people depend so heavily upon their parents well beyond the age when most people from earlier generations had already started families and had dependable jobs has triggered a great deal of public anxiety over whether these trends signal young adult immaturity and stunted development. The larger social trends in delaying family formation appears to be one reason for the extended dependence upon parents. Today, the road to adulthood is much longer and more arduous than it was thirty years ago".

The scientists collected longitudinal data to examine the conditions under which young adults are more likely to receive financial support for living expenses, or to live in the parental home. Eventhough almost half of the respondents received either money for living expenses or lived with their parents (or both) in their mid-twenties, only 10-15% received financial or housing help when in their early 30s. The likelihood of receiving financial help decreased 15% each year, and the likelihood of living with parents decreased by 18% each year. Swartz, "These results indicate that young people do eventually become independent of parents as they grow older".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 15, 2011, 7:27 AM CT

Nursing home boom in China

Nursing home boom in China
A nursing home industry is booming in China as a rapid increase in the proportion of its elderly population forces a nationwide shift from traditional family care to institutional care, as per new research by Brown University gerontologists.

The study, led by Zhanlian Feng, assistant professor of community health, and published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, is the first systematic documentation of the growth and operation of nursing homes in Chinese cities. The demographics driving the trend, however, are better known: Experts with the U.S. Census Bureau project that China's over-65 population will rise from 8.3 percent of the population today to 22.6 percent (or 329 million people) in 2040.

Under a National Institutes of Health grant to co-author Vincent Mor, professor of medical science, Feng and his colleagues at Brown, Georgia State, and Nanjing University observed that the number of nursing homes in Nanjing grew from only three in 1980 to more than 140 in 2009. In Tianjin, where there are 136 nursing homes, only 11 existed before 1990. More than half of the nursing homes in the capital Beijing opened after 2000.

"Institution-based long-term care has been very rare in the country in the past," said Feng. "Even now it is still rare, but we've seen explosive growth, which is quite a phenomenon in a country where for thousands of years people have relied almost exclusively on the family for old age support".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 13, 2011, 11:32 AM CT

Most children slept through a smoke alarms

Most children slept through a smoke alarms
An Australian study to determine the likelihood of school-aged children waking up to their home smoke alarm observed that 78% of children slept through a smoke alarm sounding for 30 seconds. The outcomes of the study are published recently in the journal Fire and Materials.

Home smoke detectors have been relied on since the 1960s, and have been known to save lives in domestic fires. The study's results show children are most at risk of not waking up to the sound of their home's smoke detector. Though related studies have been conducted in the past, the sample size used in this study has been the largest to date.

In order to gather data for the study, parents of 123 children (79 families) were asked to trigger their smoke alarm for 30 seconds after their child, or children, had been asleep for one to three hours. 60 boys and 63 girls were included in the study and the average age was 8.82 years. The group was split into two age groups so that the younger group would be prepubescent. This is because plasma melatonin levels drop with puberty onset and the melatonin hormone is known to be sleep-inducing. About 70% of the participants were aged from 5 - 10 years (87) and 30% from 11 - 15 years (36).

Volunteer parents reported whether or not their children woke using a research website, and the results showed that 78% of the children slept through the alarm. Of the small number of children who did wake up, only half recognized the sound as a smoke alarm, and half of those children knew they should evacuate. The data collected also showed that younger children (five to ten years old) were significantly more at risk, with 87% sleeping through the alarm, in comparison to 56% of 11-15 year olds.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 13, 2011, 11:09 AM CT

Secrets to Long life

Secrets to Long life
Howard Friedman
Good advice for a long life? As it turns out, no. In a groundbreaking study of personality as a predictor of longevity, University of California, Riverside scientists found just the opposite.

"It's surprising just how often common assumptions - by both researchers and the media - are wrong," said Howard S. Friedman, distinguished professor of psychology who led the 20-year study.

Friedman and Leslie R. Martin , a 1996 UCR alumna (Ph.D.) and staff researchers, have published those findings in "The Longevity Project: Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study" (Hudson Street Press, March 2011).

Friedman and Martin examined, refined and supplemented data gathered by the late Stanford University psychology expert Louis Terman and subsequent scientists on more than 1,500 bright children who were about 10 years old when they were first studied in 1921. "Probably our most amazing finding was that personality characteristics and social relations from childhood can predict one's risk of dying decades later," Friedman concluded.

The Longevity Project, as the study became known, followed the children through their lives, collecting information that included family histories and relationships, teacher and parent ratings of personality, hobbies, pet ownership, job success, education levels, military service and numerous other details.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 10, 2011, 7:12 AM CT

Passive smoking increases risk to unborn babies

Passive smoking increases risk to unborn babies
Pregnant non-smokers who breathe in the second-hand smoke of other people are at an increased risk of delivering stillborn babies or babies with defects, a study led by scientists at The University of Nottingham has found.

The study, reported in the April edition of the journal Pediatrics, found passive smoking increased the risk of still birth by almost one-quarter (23 per cent) and was associated with a 13 per cent increased risk of congenital birth defects.

The findings underline the importance of discouraging expectant fathers from smoking around their pregnant partners and warning women of the potential dangers of second-hand smoke both pre-conception and during pregnancy.

Dr Jo Leonardi-Bee, of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University, said: "Mothers' smoking during pregnancy is well-recognised as carrying a range of serious health risks for the unborn baby including fetal mortality, low birth weight, premature birth and a range of serious birth defects such as cleft palate, club foot and heart problems.

"Since passive smoking involves exposure to the same range of tobacco toxins experienced by active smokers, albeit at lower levels, it is likely that coming into contact with second-hand smoke also increases the risk of some of all of these complications".........

Posted by: Emily      Read more         Source


March 8, 2011, 7:42 AM CT

Online nutrition courses

Online nutrition courses
Most of us have heard of Phoenix, no, not the mystical bird or the capital of Arizona, but the online university. As per the Babson Survey Research Group, enrollment in online courses is growing faster than overall higher education offerings due to various reasons like the economic downturn. With the increase in demand for online education, a study in the March/April 2011 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior explores nine online nutrition courses.

Since nutrition courses meet general education science requirements and professional education needs in dietetics, medical, nursing, and other allied health curricula, nutrition is among the a number of postsecondary subjects usually taught online. Investigators from the University of Massachusetts evaluated published literature concerning online nutrition education courses. Findings from this study revealed four quasi-experimental studies that indicated no differences in nutrition knowledge or achievement between online and face-to-face learners. Results were inconclusive regarding student satisfaction, motivation, or perceptions.

This study documents that eventhough a number of components of nutrition education have been successfully included in online courses, there are still some areas that need improvement. Dr. Nancy Cohen, professor at the University of Massachusetts states, "Students can gain knowledge in online as well as in face to face nutrition courses, but satisfaction is mixed. Online learning has advantages such as overcoming time and distance barriers, capacity to share resources among colleges and universities to wide audiences, and the ability to use innovative multimedia and virtual instructional methods. However, if online courses are designed in such a way that traditional face to face methods like textbook readings, lectures, and examinations are published on the Internet without considering social isolation, de-individualized instruction, and using technology for the sake of technology, effective learning may not occur".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


March 8, 2011, 7:40 AM CT

The sorry state of health of US medicine

The sorry state of health of US medicine
As the debate about healthcare in the United States rages, four insightful articles in the March 2011 issue of The American Journal of Medicine strive to add reasoned arguments and empirical research findings to the dialog.

The issue leads off with the editorial, "The 800-Pound Gorilla in the Healthcare Living Room," by Journal Editor-in-Chief Dr. Joseph Alpert, Professor of Medicine, Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson. As a practicing doctor and medical educator, Dr. Alpert has first-hand experience with the current environment of medical therapy. In his view, "the most important deficit in our new healthcare legislation was the failure to address the 800-pound gorilla sitting squarely in the middle of the US healthcare system: the need for tort reform." He contrasts his own training at Harvard Medical School, where the rule for good patient care was "Don't order any test or intervention (medical or surgical) that has little or no chance of improving the patient's quality or length of life" against the current rule: "Order a huge array of tests, including radiographic imaging, to rule out every conceivable clinical condition including very unlikely diagnostic entities." Without meaningful reform to stem the tide of defensive medicine with its staggering volumes of unnecessary diagnostic testing, he believes that all attempts at controlling healthcare costs in the US will be doomed to failure.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


March 7, 2011, 6:53 AM CT

Sleepy connected Americans

Sleepy connected Americans
poll released recently by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) finds pervasive use of communications technology in the hour before bed. It also finds that a significant number of Americans aren't getting the sleep they say they need and are searching for ways to cope.

A number of Americans report dissatisfaction with their sleep during the week.

The poll observed that 43% of Americans between the ages of 13 and 64 say they rarely or never get a good night's sleep on weeknights. More than half (60%) say that they experience a sleep problem every night or almost every night (i.e., snoring, waking in the night, waking up too early, or feeling un-refreshed when they get up in the morning.)

About two-thirds (63%) of Americans say their sleep needs are not being met during the week. Most say they need about seven and a half hours of sleep to feel their best, but report getting about six hours and 55 minutes of sleep on average weeknights. About 15% of adults between 19 and 64 and 7% of 13-18 year olds say they sleep less than six hours on weeknights.

"This poll explores the association between Americans' use of communication technologies and sleep habits," says David Cloud, CEO of the National Sleep Foundation. "While these technologies are commonplace, it is clear that we have a lot more to learn about the appropriate use and design of this technology to complement good sleep habits.".........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Adolescents who suffer physical injuries are vulnerable to emotional distress in the months following their hospitalization, yet almost 40 percent of hospitalized adolescents interviewed for a new study had no source for the follow-up medical care that could diagnose and treat symptoms of post-traumatic stress. These young trauma survivors are at risk for high levels of post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms, as well as high levels of alcohol use, according to research by researchers at the Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center.

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