Health and Fitness

Cells Send Dirty Laundry Home To Mom

Understanding how aged and damaged mother cells manage to form new and undamaged daughter cells is one of the toughest riddles of ageing, but scientists now know how yeast cells do it. In a groundbreaking study researchers from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, show how the daughter cell uses a mechanical "conveyor belt" to dump damaged proteins in the mother cell. "This ensures that the daughter cell is born without age-related damage, " says professor Thomas Nystr m from the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology. Thomas Nystr m is a professor of microbiology at the University of Gothenburg and one of Sweden's leading researchers in the field of cellular and molecular biology. His research group has published countless scientific discoveries about cell ageing which have provided a new understanding of aging and age-related diseases. Now he and his colleagues have identified a key piece in the ageing puzzle. Mechanic transport In a study published as a feature article in the scientific journal Cell, two collaborating research groups at the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology have been able to show how newly formed yeast cells transport damaged and aged proteins back to the mother cell, guaranteeing that the new cell is born young and healthy.

First Evidence That Blueberry Juice Improves Memory In Older Adults

Scientists are reporting the first evidence from human research that blueberries - one of the richest sources of healthful antioxidants and other so-called phytochemicals - improve memory. They said the study establishes a basis for comprehensive human clinical trials to determine whether blueberries really deserve their growing reputation as a memory enhancer. A report on the study appears in ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication. Robert Krikorian and colleagues point out that previous studies in laboratory animals suggest that eating blueberries may help boost memory in the aged. Until now, however, there had been little scientific work aimed at testing the effect of blueberry supplementation on memory in people. In the study, one group of volunteers in their 70s with early memory decline drank the equivalent of 2-2 l/2 cups of a commercially available blueberry juice every day for two months. A control group drank a beverage without blueberry juice.

Quality Of Compounded Medicines Supported By New Standards

To further protect the safety of patients taking individually prepared medications, the U.S. Pharmacopeial Convention (USP) has developed new and revised quality guidelines for pharmacists who compound - or individually prepare - these life-saving drugs. As the use of compounded medicines has grown in recent years, the need for clear and rigorous standards to help ensure these preparations are of high quality and purity has become increasingly important. USP has long had such standards, but is now proposing updates and new content for General Chapter Quality Assurance in Pharmaceutical Compounding. USP is seeking comments on these proposed revisions from compounding pharmacists and other interested parties. According to Shawn Becker, R.N., USP's director of healthcare quality standards, "If a medicine is not commercially available, the only way a patient can get it is for the doctor to prescribe an individually compounded preparation. This happens frequently, for example, with pediatric or geriatric medicines, with drugs that treat unusual conditions, or when a patient is allergic to dyes or other ingredients in the manufactured medicine.

Research Roundup: Raising Seniors' Co-Pays Increases Costs; The Stimulus And Safety Net Providers

New England Journal of Medicine : Increased Ambulatory Care Copayments And Hospitalizations Among The Elderly - This study examines the consequences of increasing copayments for outpatient care of Medicare enrollees in managed-care plans. "As compared with matched control plans in which copayments for ambulatory care were unchanged, Medicare plans that increased these copayments by an average of 95% for primary care and 74% for specialty care had a reduction in the number of outpatient visits but an increase in hospital admissions, in the number of days of hospital care, and in the proportion of enrollees who used hospital care, " the authors write. They estimate that "for every 100 elderly enrollees exposed to this level of increased cost sharing for ambulatory care, there would be 20 fewer outpatient visits during the first year after the increase but more than 2 additional admissions for acute care and approximately 13 additional inpatient days in the year after the increase. The effects of copayment increases on the subsequent use of inpatient care were magnified for enrollees living in areas with low income and low educational levels, for black enrollees, and for enrollees who had hypertension, diabetes, or a history of acute myocardial infarction as compared with the effects observed for the entire study cohort.

Healthy Adults May Need Less Sleep As They Age According To Study

A study in the Feb. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP suggests that healthy older adults without sleep disorders can expect to have a reduced "sleep need" and to be less sleepy during the day than healthy young adults. Results show that during a night of eight hours in bed, total sleep time decreased significantly and progressively with age. Older adults slept about 20 minutes less than middle-aged adults, who slept 23 minutes less than young adults. The number of awakenings and the amount of time spent awake after initial sleep onset increased significantly with age, and the amount of time spent in deep, slow-wave sleep decreased across age groups. Yet even with these decreases in sleep time, intensity and continuity, older adults displayed less subjective and objective daytime sleep propensity than younger adults. Furthermore, two additional nights involving experimental disruption of slow-wave sleep led to a similar response in all age groups. Daytime sleep propensity increased, and slow-wave sleep rebounded during a night of recovery sleep.

Poverty Risks For Older People In EU Countries An Update

This Policy Brief provides the latest evidence on how EU countries differ in terms of poverty risks for older people (aged 65 years and over). Results using the latest EU-SILC data for 2008 show that, on average, older people face a higher poverty risk rate than the total population: the rate for older people was 19% as opposed to rate for the total population of 17%. The highest poverty risk rates were observed in Latvia (51%), Cyprus (49%), Estonia (39%) and Bulgaria (34%), and the lowest in Hungary (4%), Luxembourg (5%) and the Czech Republic (7%). Three country groupings can be distinguished from these results: ten countries with lower-than-average poverty risk rates for older people (16% or less), nine countries with close-to-average poverty risk rates (18-23%) and another eight countries with higher-than-average poverty risk rates (>25%). No single explanation can be meaningfully employed to explain this differentiation across the three groupings of countries. That said, countries with low poverty risk rates for older people generally have a good social safety net in the form of a basic pension (e.

Couples Who Say We Have A Better Shot At Resolving Conflicts

People often complain about those seemingly smug married couples who constantly refer to themselves as "we." But a new study from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that spouses who use "we-ness" language are better able to resolve conflicts than those who don't. UC Berkeley researchers analyzed conversations between 154 middle-aged and older couples about points of disagreement in their marriages and found that those who used pronouns such as "we, " "our" and "us" behaved more positively toward one another and showed less physiological stress. In contrast, couples who emphasized their "separateness" by using pronouns such as "I, " "me" and "you" were found to be less satisfied in their marriages. This was especially true for older couples. Their use of separateness pronouns was most strongly linked to unhappy marriages, according to the study. Moreover, the study found that older couples identified more as "we" than did their middle-aged counterparts, suggesting that facing obstacles and overcoming challenges together over the long haul, including raising families, may give couples a greater sense of shared identity.

Unions, Democratic Leaders And White House Reach Agreement On 'Cadillac' Health Insurance Plans

Los Angeles Times : "The White House and labor leaders agreed Thursday on a formula to tax high-cost insurance plans, removing one of the last obstacles to President Obama's healthcare overhaul, officials said." Organized labor had staunchly opposed the proposed "Cadillac" tax, but as part of the agreement, "reached after an intense round of negotiations this week, union leaders dropped their opposition ... in exchange for concessions to limit its scope." Under the compromise, the threshold for family plans subject to the tax would be increased from $23, 000 to $24, 000. The cost of dental and vision plans would be exempt. Based on the agreement, a 40% excise tax would be applied to "individual healthcare plans valued at $8, 900 or more and family plans worth $24, 000" (Hook and Levey, 1/15). The New York Times : The "negotiations produced changes to a tax included in the bill passed by the Senate last month. The changes would lessen and delay the impact of the tax on workers and would reduce the amount of revenue collected.

Increased Co-payments For Doctor Visits Boost Health Care Costs For Seniors

For years many health experts believed that increasing insurance co-payments for routine doctor visits helped control costs. Patients faced with the higher price tag, they theorized, would simply cut back unnecessary visits, saving themselves and insurers money. Brown University researchers now believe that the practice of increasing co-payments for outpatient visits - at least for senior citizens - may actually make care far more expensive. They determined that patients faced with higher co-payments did cut back on their doctor visits. But those same elderly patients ultimately required expensive hospital care because their illnesses worsened. The finding, to be detailed in the Jan. 28, 2010, edition of The New England Journal of Medicine, has implications for insurers and politicians seeking ways to control costs but also improve quality of care. "It is a lose-lose proposition for most health plans, " said Dr. Amal Trivedi, the study's lead author. "Our study suggests that when you raise co-payments for ambulatory care among elderly beneficiaries, particularly those with low incomes, lower education and chronic disease, they do cut back on their outpatient care but are more likely to need expensive hospital care.

Among Older Drinkers, Social Factors Can Both Predict And Sustain Alcohol Misuse

Social factors have consistently been implicated as a cause of vulnerability to alcohol use and abuse. The reverse is also true, in that individuals who engage in excessive drinking may alter their social context. New research on drinking among older adults has found that older adults who have more money, engage in more social activities, and whose friends approve more of drinking are more likely to engage in excessive or high-risk drinking. Results will be published in the April 2010 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research and are currently available at Early View. "Ours is one of the first studies to focus longitudinally on high-risk drinking among older adults, " said Rudolf H. Moos, senior research career scientist for the Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System in Palo Alto, California, as well as corresponding author for the study, "and the first to have 10-year and 20-year follow-ups addressing this issue." Moos and his colleagues examined 719 (399 men, 320 women) 55 to 65-year-old adults at baseline (between 1986-1988), and then again 10 and 20 years later.

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