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Good News: Republican Health Care Plan Saves Health Coverage for 1 Million Americans!


The Congressional Budget Office has scored the American Health Care Act—passed earlier this month by the GOP-controlled House—and only 23,000,000 Americans will lose their health care coverage. The previous version of the bill would’ve resulted in 24,000,000 Americans losing their health care coverage. So, hey, good news for the 1,000,000 people who would’ve lost their health care coverage had the original bill passed! It’s still bad news for the 23,000,000 people who will lose their health care coverage if the Senate approves a similar bill, of course, and there’s lots of bad news in the CBO report for people who manage to hold on to their health insurance after the Republicans get through “repealing and replacing” Obamacare. People who still have health insurance are going to see their premiums rise, according to the CBO, and the health insurance they’re left with will “fail to cover important medical services, and people with pre-existing illnesses could be shut out of coverage” entirely, reports the New York Times. People who buy insurance on the private market will have to go without mental health care, addiction treatment, maternity care, or rehabilitation services. So who comes out ahead? Besides the millionaires and billionaires who’ll be getting massive tax cuts?

Winners would include people who are young, healthy and earn higher incomes. They would be better off, assuming they didn’t develop serious health problems.

The Republican health care plan saves money by making health care available to people who don’t need it and denying care to people who do. If you don’t need insurance, you can have it. The moment you need it, you can’t have it anymore.

TPM follows the money:

The CBO said that latest version of the legislation would save the government $119 billion, $32 billion less than its March analysis of a previous version of the bill that did not include some changes made to bring conservatives and moderate Republicans on board. The $834 billion cut in Medicaid funding and $276 billion in savings by making the tax credits for individual insurance less generous are offset by the $664 billion the legislation would add to the deficit in eliminating Obamacare’s taxes, a cut that would mainly benefit high-income earners and industry.

But let’s not be cynical. Republicans aren’t just gutting health care to provide tax cuts to billionaires. They’re also doing it to turn American workers into serfs. Take it away, Paul Krugman:

Until 2014, there was basically only one way Americans under 65 with pre-existing conditions could get health insurance: by finding an employer willing to offer coverage. Some employers were in fact willing to do so. Why? Because there were major tax advantages—premiums aren’t counted as taxable income—but to get those advantages employer plans must offer the same coverage to every employee, regardless of medical history. But what if you wanted to change jobs, or start your own business? Too bad: you were basically stuck (and I knew quite a few people in that position).

Then Obamacare went into effect, guaranteeing affordable care even to those with pre-existing medical conditions. This was a hugely liberating change for millions. Even if you didn’t immediately take advantage of the new program to strike out on your own, the fact was that now you could. But maybe not for much longer. Trumpcare—the American Health Care Act—would drastically reduce protections for Americans with pre-existing conditions. And even if that bill never becomes law, the Trump administration is effectively sabotaging individual insurance markets, so that in many cases Americans who lose employer coverage will have no place to turn—which will in turn tie those who do have such coverage to their current employers.

You might say, with only a bit of hyperbole, that workers in America, supposedly the land of the free, are actually creeping along the road to serfdom, yoked to corporate employers the way Russian peasants were once tied to their masters’ land. And the people pushing them down that road are the very people who cry “freedom” the loudest.

UPDATE: And this…

Article source:

Is chocolate good or bad for health?

NEW YORK (CNN) — Who doesn’t love chocolate? Even if it’s not your favorite sweet treat, you can probably agree that the confection conjures thoughts of love, pleasure and reward.

But in case you need one more reason (or 10) to celebrate chocolate, just look to science. Studies of chocolate lovers — and even some self-proclaimed “chocoholics” — suggest that it could lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease, help control blood sugar and slash stress, and on and on.

Research has even backed up some of the more bizarre health benefits that have been ascribed to cocoa. The Mayans used chocolate powder to relieve the runs, and in the last decade, researchers have identified possible diarrhea-blocking chemicals in chocolate. But as for prescribing cocoa to combat syphilis sores, Victorian-era doctors probably missed the mark.

“(Chocolate) is a good antioxidant. It has a good effect on inflammation. We think most of the beneficial effects are because of this,” said Dr. Owais Khawaja, a cardiology fellow at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio. These benefits might include reducing the risk of cancer and dementia, Khawaja said.

However, not all chocolate is created equal. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power of chocolate is thought to come from a class of plant nutrients found in cocoa beans called flavonoids. Dark chocolate has more of these than milk chocolate, and white chocolate — which does not actually contain chocolate — is not a good source of flavonoids.

Even a chocolate bar that is 70 percent cocoa, generally considered dark chocolate, can have varying levels of flavonoid compounds, depending on how it was processed. For example, chocolate that has gone through a chemical step known as dutching, also known as Dutch chocolate, has essentially lost all traces of these compounds.

Then there is the milk and sugar. “What we get commercially is not just the pure chocolate. … I don’t think the milk and sugar in milk chocolate would be that good for you,” Khawaja said.

That could be bad news for those who hope to harness the power of chocolate when they grab a Hershey’s or Snickers bar. Contrary to what the ads said when milk chocolate was introduced in Europe and the United States in the late 1800s, it may not be a nutritious part of our diet.

But we need more research into the effects of consuming all kinds of chocolate, including milk. “There is not enough data as to what form of chocolate is good” and how much chocolate is good, Khawaja said. Studies tend to ask participants about whether they consume chocolate or dark chocolate, but not what kind. To make matters worse, people often forget or misrepresent how much they really eat.

For now, it is probably safe to say that dark chocolate is good — or at least, not bad. “But until we have more data, don’t eat too much. If you’re having a serving once or twice a day, fine. But don’t start having it six times a day,” Khawaja said.

Here’s a look at what doctors, rulers and businesspeople have thought of chocolate through the ages.

The word “cocoa” comes from “kakawa,” which meant “God food” to the Olmec people who lived in what is now Central America between 1500 and 500 B.C. The ancient Mayan people in what is now Mexico apparently agreed. Researchers have detected chemicals from chocolate in Mayan ceramic vessels dating as far back as 600 B.C. Chocolate, which was often consumed as a thick, foamy beverage, probably only increased in popularity over the following centuries. By the time Europeans discovered the Mayans, chocolate was not just for the gods and the rich. Everyone was drinking it.

The chocolate beverage scored a huge endorsement when Aztec Emperor Montezuma II, who reigned from 1502 to 1520, called it “the divine drink, which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink (cocoa) permits man to walk for a whole day without food.”

By the 16th century, chocolate was racking up a reputation both in the Americas and in Europe for treating many medical ails, including fever, cough, and stomach and liver problems. In 1577, Spanish explorer Francisco Hernandez wrote about how Mexicans toasted cacao beans and ground them into a medicinal powder that “contained dysentery.” Five centuries later, in 2005, researchers found that flavonoid antioxidants in chocolate can block fluid secretion in intestinal cells, at least in the lab, suggesting that cocoa could provide natural diarrheal relief.

In his book “The Natural History of Chocolate,” Frenchman D. De Quelus recounted his 15-year-stay in the Americas and concluded that an ounce of chocolate had “as much nourishment as a pound of beef.” Perhaps as evidence to his point, he described a woman who could not chew because of a jaw injury and had to subsist on a diet of chocolate dissolved in hot water with sugar and cinnamon. She was “more lively and robust than before (her) accident,” De Quelus wrote.

A French pharmacist by the name of Jean-Antoine Brutus Menier opened a factory that coated less-palatable pills with chocolate. When his sons took over, they dropped the medicinal side and turned it into Menier Chocolate (which was eventually sold to Nestle).

Chocolate was the most pleasant of the ingredients in a balm given to syphilis patients that also included corrosive materials. Chocolate was also used as an antidote for infections with parasitic worms. For that prescription, it was mixed with sugar, cinnamon, tree oil and an antifungal agent called calomel.

After nearly a decade of experimentation, Swiss inventor Daniel Peter unveiled the “original” milk chocolate, a combination of cocoa, cocoa butter, condensed milk and sugar. Ads proclaimed the product to be a dietary staple more nutritious than coffee and a luxury that was “as distinct from ordinary eating chocolate as the Alps are from foot-hills.” Switzerland had the corner on milk chocolate until Cadbury hit the scene in England in 1904, promising to make “strong men stronger” and generally to be the superlative milk chocolate in terms of nutrition, sustenance and refreshment.

Milton S. Hershey made a name for himself in the 1880s by developing a caramel candy so tasty, it killed all competition. By the turn of the century, the famous confectioner had moved on to chocolate. After a reconnaissance mission to Switzerland, the birthplace of milk chocolate, Hershey introduced the 5-cent bar from — where else? — Pennsylvania. Similar to its European predecessors, the bar was marketed as a daily dietary requirement that was “more sustaining than meat.”

Move over, dark: Milk chocolate is just as good for your heart

Don’t feel bad if you prefer milk over dark — a new study says that any kind of chocolate is good for your health.

Throughout the 1800s and 1900s, texts piled up describing the everything-under-the-sun medicinal purposes of chocolate. But what if you needed medicine to stop yourself from indulging in chocolate? For the first time in medical literature, doctors reported successfully treating two patients with possible chocolate addiction using the then-new antidepressant bupropion, known as Wellbutrin. One of the patients, a middle-aged woman who also suffered from depression, went from eating 2 pounds of chocolate candy a day to having no interest in chocolate after taking bupropion. (She still had a normal appetite for other foods, though.)

Research has concluded what most of us already know: Chocolate is the most craved of all foods. The power of chocolate is probably only boosted by the sweetness and creaminess of most chocolate treats. But could it really be addictive in the same way that drugs and alcohol are? Psychologists argue against this possibility. Although chocolate contains caffeine and substances similar to those found in marijuana, it probably does not contain high enough levels to have long-term effects on brain chemistry.

Forget pizza and French fries; chocolate may be the ultimate of all comfort foods. A study of 330 adults in the United Kingdom suggests that people tend to crave chocolate when they are feeling down, upset or stressed. Experts speculate that this is because eating chocolate, like all enjoyable foods, gives us a rush of endorphins. These are the same feel-good chemicals that our bodies release when we exercise.

Is it too good to be true that chocolate fights cancer? Maybe not, according to some emerging data. An antioxidant found in chocolate called catechin was linked with lower rates of lung cancer in a study of elderly Dutch men. A year later, a study of postmenopausal women in the United States found that those who consumed the highest level of catechin had 45 percent lower risk of rectal cancer, compared with those who consumed the lowest level. However, the authors of the studies pointed out that other foods and drinks, especially tea, apples and pears, are richer sources of catechin than chocolate, and the lower rates of cancer could have more to do with people consuming them.

Pregnant women might want to give in to their chocolate cravings. Women who report eating chocolate every day during their pregnancy go on to describe their babies as being more active and having a better temperament when they are 6 months old. The researchers who conducted the study suggest that chocolate may help mitigate prenatal stress in moms-to-be.

It’s hard to imagine that chocolate could keep your blood sugar in check, but dark chocolate might have just that effect. In a small study of healthy adults, those who ate half an ounce of dark chocolate a day for 15 days had better insulin sensitivity, and lower blood pressure to boot, than adults who ate a similar amount of white chocolate.

Researchers from the United States traveled to a remote island in Panama to solve a medical mystery: Why are the Kuna Indians who live there free from high blood pressure and other medical ailments, even though they eat as much salt as Americans? The likely explanation, researchers found, is that this population consumes a lot of cocoa-containing beverages, about 10 times the amount of the less traditional Kuna living in Panama City. Previous research suggested that antioxidants in the cocoa plant called flavanols could cause blood vessels to dilate, reducing blood pressure.

If chocolate is a drug, at least it doesn’t seem to have scary effects on your brain like in those 1980s public service announcements. A 2006 study carried out brain imaging of young women and observed increased blood flow to the brain after the women drank a cocoa beverage high in flavanol antioxidants for five days. Studies over the next several years found that young women had faster reaction times after consuming dark chocolate and that older adults performed better on a memory test after drinking high-flavanol cocoa beverages for three months.

The Aztec Emperor Montezuma II is said to have sipped on the “divine drink” of chocolate “before visiting his wives.” However, science has not supported a role for chocolate in the bedroom. A study of women in Northern Italy did find that those who reported eating the most chocolate had higher levels of sexual desire and satisfaction. But these women were also younger than the non-chocolate eaters, and researchers concluded that age rather than chocolate consumption probably explained the sexual differences.

A study of adults in Italy found that those who ate small to moderate amounts of dark chocolate — up to 0.3 ounces a day, the equivalent of about one and a half Hershey’s Kisses — had lower levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation that has been linked to heart disease. But there was a catch. Those who ate more than one-third of an ounce of chocolate a day did not appear to reap any inflammation-lowering benefit.

Montezuma II might have been onto something when he deemed chocolate a remedy for fatigue. A small study found that people with severe chronic fatigue syndrome got relief from their symptoms — and some were even able to return to work — after consuming chocolate rich in polyphenol antioxidants for eight weeks.

Ever lament how chocolate is the perfect food, except when you want to stop eating it? Don’t worry, science understands. A study implicated both the sugar and the cocoa in chocolate for making adults less able to keep themselves from going back for seconds. Tasting chocolate even triggered feelings of euphoria and well-being in these adults, just as addictive drugs can.

But even though chocolate may trigger loss of control, it is probably not addictive, said Jennifer Nasser, associate professor of nutrition sciences at Drexel University and lead author of the study. For one thing, it takes too long for chemicals from chocolate to enter our bloodstream, she said. However, other researchers say sugar can be addicting and can change brain chemistry in a way that resembles drug addiction.

Chocolate could team up with beverages such as coffee, tea and cola to drive down your risk of skin cancer. A study of more than 120,000 nurses in the United States revealed that women and men who guzzled the highest amount of these beverages and ate the most chocolate had an 18 percent and 13 percent lower risk of developing skin cancer, respectively, presumably because of the caffeine they contain. But the caffeine in a serving of chocolate is piddly compared with that in a cup of coffee: 7 milligrams vs. 137 milligrams.

The blood pressure-lowering power of chocolate could be just the beginning. Researchers uncovered other heart benefits in a large analysis of more than 150,000 men and women in the United States, Europe and Australia who reported eating up to 3.5 ounces of chocolate a day. Chocolate consumption was associated with a 21 percent lower risk of stroke, a 29 percent lower risk of developing heart disease and a 45 percent lower risk of dying of heart disease.

Even better news for some, the study found that consuming milk chocolate, often regarded as less healthy than dark chocolate, was also associated with lower risk of heart disease. The authors speculate that ingredients such as calcium in milk chocolate may contribute to this beneficial effect.

Although the authors say the benefits they observed could be due to other foods in the participants’ diets, they do at least take the findings to mean that there “does not appear to be any evidence to say that chocolate should be avoided in those who are concerned about cardiovascular risk.”

Investigations into whether chocolate could have any other ties to the heart were taken a step further in May.

A study published in the journal Heart, part of the BMJ group, suggested that moderate consumption of chocolate might be tied to a lower risk of atrial fibrillation, the most common type of irregular heartbeat.

Yet the controversial study came with some serious limitations, and it pinpointed only an association, not a casual relationship.

The study was based on 55,502 adults in Denmark and included self-reported data on how much chocolate each person ate, on average. A serving of chocolate was defined in the study as 1 ounce.

The adults were separated into five groups: those who consumed less than one serving a month; one to three servings a month; one serving a week; two to six servings a week; and one serving or more a day.

Compared with those who said that they ate less than one serving a month on average, the rate of atrial fibrillation was lower for all other groups, the researchers found.

Among women, the strongest inverse association between chocolate and atrial fibrillation was among those who said that they had one serving of chocolate a week, the researchers found. Among men, the strongest was among those who said they had two to six servings a week.

However, the study found only a correlation between a chocolatey diet and heart flutters, not a cause-and-effect relationship. Because of this, even the researchers noted in the study that there’s no way to rule out that something other than chocolate could be driving the study findings.

For instance, there was a smaller percentage of diabetes cases among the study subjects who said they ate more chocolate on average. People with certain chronic conditions, including diabetes, have an increased risk of atrial fibrillation, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“The chocolate consumers were healthier as they had less hypertension, less diabetes, and lower blood pressure. The chocolate consumers also had higher levels of education,” wrote Duke University Medical Center’s Drs. Jonathan Piccini and Sean Pokorney in an editorial that accompanied the new study.

“Moreover, although the study characterized education level, other socioeconomic factors, such as income, were not accounted for,” they wrote. “Regardless of the limitations of the Danish chocolate study, the findings are interesting and warrant further consideration.”

™ © 2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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Healthy Living: Study shows people traveling abroad not receiving proper vaccines

Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching and with it, fabulous family vacations.

But a new study shows people traveling abroad may not be getting the proper vaccinations.

If any of your upcoming travel plans include trips abroad, make sure to squeeze in a doctor’s visit before you go.

According to a study in the Annals of Internal Medicine, between 2009 and 2014, more than half of international travelers who were eligible to receive the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine did not.

Measles was eradicated from the U.S. in 2009, but remains common in other parts of the world, including Western Europe.

Travelers who did not get the vaccine put themselves at risk of infection.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued travel notices for several other vaccine-related health issues.

Hepatitis-A is a risk almost everywhere in the world.

Yellow Fever is prevalent in parts of South America and Africa.

Malaria is an issue in parts of South America, Africa and Asia, and while there’s no Malaria vaccine, there is medicine travelers can take to prevent it.

Cholera has been noted in Mexico, Haiti, parts of Asia, parts of Africa and Yemen.

There are a variety of resources for people wondering whether they need vaccinations before they embark. The CDC’s travel health notices are a great resource, as is the state department’s website.

Both display specific information based on the destination.

Article source:

Age Well Community Council Launches Healthy Living Website

From the City of Danbury: The Age Well Community Council of Danbury, formerly the Aging In Place Council of Danbury, will host a “reveal and recognition” event to celebrate the launch of Age Well CT, the official healthy living website for resources, news and events for older adults in Western Connecticut; and recognize the generous support provided by a number of contributing foundation and community supporters.

The new site, will be introduced with a brief demonstration for community leaders and residents from Danbury and neighboring partner communities including: Brookfield, Newtown, New Milford, New Fairfield and Woodbury.

Age Well CT will offer residents a one stop experience to find resources and events that promote healthy aging and strong connections to communities. The site also features a Caregiver Center complete with planning and FAQs. Residents’ ability to more easily access a multitude of areawide community resources, that are trustworthy and reliable, make healthier aging more attainable.


  • The Honorable Mark D. Boughton, Mayor – City of Danbury
  • The Honorable Dianne Yamin, Judge, Danbury Probate Court; Co-Chair, Age Well Community
  • Council
  • Reverend Leroy Parker, Pastor, New Hope Baptist Church, Danbury

Supporters: The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation, Savings Bank of Danbury, Danbury Hospital and New Milford Hospital Foundation, Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, Fairfield County’s Community Foundation

Date/Time/Place: Tuesday, May 30 @ 1 p.m.; New Hope Baptist Church 10 Dr. Aaron Samuels Blvd., Danbury

Specialized training sessions will be held for local residents at 1 p.m. at these senior centers on the following dates: Elmwood Hall, July 12; New Fairfield, July 13; Brookfield, July 14; Woodbury, July 19; New Milford, July 26; Newtown, July 27

For questions, please contact: 860-314- 2225. Public is welcome to attend.

Photo via Pixabay

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YMCA to continue Healthy Living Expo series

YMCA to continue Healthy Living Expo series

YMCA to continue Healthy Living Expo series

Photo by Samantha SmithYMCA staff members pose with the YMCA sign at the Healthy Living Expo.

YMCA to continue Healthy Living Expo series

YMCA to continue Healthy Living Expo series

Photo by Samantha SmithLocal vendors sell handbags at the YMCA Healthy Living Expo.

Posted: Thursday, May 25, 2017 5:42 pm

YMCA to continue Healthy Living Expo series

By SAMANTHA SMITH  – Staff Writer 

Herald Argus


MICHIGAN CITY — Since April 2015, Michigan City resident Amelia Lasky has been teaching yoga at the Michigan City Elston Branch of the La Porte County Family YMCA.

Once she was promoted to Wellness Coordinator earlier this year, she decided to do something more with her new position to promote the Michigan City YMCA and get people to come in after they had to close down their pool last year, which reopened on May 20.

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HEALTH: Summertime safety tips


At the top of this Memorial Day weekend, our hearts beat with respectful pause in honor of our brave men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, to preserve our rights. For many of us, special plans are underway as we gather with friends and family in remembrance and gratitude to each who have taken action to protect our country. And according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), more people will be taking to our highways and scenic byways this Memorial Day weekend to enjoy our communities throughout our nation – estimating more than 39.3 million Americans are traveling (up almost 3% over last year). It is a special time as we step out into our country’s great outdoors – and too, we welcome what has become synonymous with this weekend, the first days summer.
This shift to our warmer, longer days brings a new season of opportunities for enjoyment – but the facts are it is a time that often spikes in injuries and accidents. Also, there are recent reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issuing some new warnings with respect to the rise of warning about Tick-borne diseases on the rise. Here are some important reminders as you plan your summer activities:

Dr. Nina’s What You Need to Know: Important Tips for a Healthy Safe Summer

Dehydration Our sweat glands play a critical role in thermoregulation—the process that allows our body to maintain its core internal temperature. When we sweat and the sweat evaporates into the environment, heat gets transferred out of our body—thereby allowing us to cool down. However, this can quickly lead to dehydration if we are not conscious of the fact and take efforts to replenish with fluids.
• Make sure to drink plenty of water and avoid sugary and energy drinks or alcohol to hydrate
• Know the signs of dehydration—they include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and a fast heart rate. One of the first signs of heat exhaustion is leg cramping. Use it is an indicator that it is time to take a “time out” and seek medical treatment.

Driving safety Memorial Day Weekend is one of the busiest times of the year for drivers, and, also one of the deadliest. The National Safety Council estimates that more than 400 people may be killed on the road this year (data shows that from 2010 to 2015 there were an average of 364 deaths over the Memorial Day holiday period). Some safety tips include:
• Buckling up. Experts agree that this is one of the most effective measures we can take to protect ourselves and those riding with us. In fact, it is estimated that every year seat belts save over 13,000 lives in motor vehicle accidents and can decrease the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50%.
• Don’t drive distracted. Distracted driving is defined as any activity that causes a driver to take their eyes off the road or hands off the wheel and includes using a cell phone, eating, drinking, grooming, reading (including maps), operating a navigation system, or watching a video. Accidents can happen in nanoseconds. Statistics show that it contributes to well over a million car crashes and 16 percent of fatal accidents every year.
• Don’t drink and drive. If you choose to enjoy an alcoholic drink, designating a driver who is not drinking should be as automatic as buckling our seat belts. Annually, there are over 10,000 completely preventable, unnecessary, and tragic deaths due to drunk driving.

Water safety Nearly 3,000 Americans die from drowning every year.
• Always use the buddy system when swimming; even at a public pool or beach where there is a lifeguard.
• Young children should never, ever, EVER be left unsupervised around water. Kids can drown before we know it. In fact, studies show that most children who drown were out of their parent’s sight for less than 5 minutes!
• Do not jump into anything you cannot see. Hitting a submerged rock or shallow bottom can cause tragedy, including paralysis or drowning after becoming unconscious
• Do not swallow pool water or waterpark playgrounds and always rinse off in the shower before getting in or out of a pool – outbreaks of diarrhea linked to cryptosporidiosis parasites have been on the rise according to the CDC. As well, don’t swim or let a family member swim if sick with diarrhea (wait two weeks).

Food safetyMemorial Day barbecues and get-togethers are a tradition for millions across the nation. But be aware that improperly cooked or stored foods can make us sick to our stomachs
• Cook meat products such as hamburgers and hot dogs thoroughly
• Wash your hands with soap and water before handling food and after touching raw meat
• Use separate utensils, dishes, and cutting boards for raw/uncooked meats to avoid cross-contamination of bacteria
• Refrigerate perishable foods within two hours and keep products with mayonnaise (salads, coleslaw) out of the sun for longer than 15 minutes
Grill safety There is a saying that “You can’t buy happiness but…you can BBQ and that’s kind of the same thing.” But, did you know that outdoor grilling is responsible for an average of 8,900 home fires every year (according to The National Fire Protection Association)? Here are some safety tips:
• Use outdoor grills, outdoors. And, too, do not use them in a garage, breezeway, carport; under overhanging branches; or near other surface that can catch fire.
• Keep your grill clean. Memorial Day Weekend is often the first time of the year that Americans fire up the outdoor grill—make sure to do a thorough cleaning before using. Uncontrolled fires can occur from grease on the grill or blockages in tubes that lead to the burner from insects or grease. Also, check and replace connecters that can lead to a gas leak.
• Never leave a lit grill unattended

Sun Safety The CDC states that the sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage your skin in as little as 15 minutes! Sun damage is responsible for premature skin aging such as wrinkles and spots and increases our risk for skin cancer. There is research showing that getting sunburnt, just once every 2 years, can triple your risk of melanoma skin cancer! So let’s make sure to protect ourselves (and our kids) by:
• Using barriers—sunglasses, wide brim hats, protective clothing
• Seek out the shade
• Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater and reapply every 2 hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.

Ticks/Lyme disease Tick-borne diseases overall are on the rise, and prevention should be on everyone’s mind. The bacteria causing Lyme disease is transmitted to humans by tick bites; and ticks are most active between the months of April to September. The good news is that with proper precautions, Lyme disease can be prevented.
• When possible, avoid bushy or wooded areas with high grass and leaf litter. If you cannot, make sure to walk in the center of a trail; wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants that can tuck into our socks; and use 20-30 percent DEET (repellant) on clothing and exposed skin.
• After returning from outdoor hiking or even routine backyard excursions, conduct a full-body tick check. If you have been bit by a tick, don’t panic—it takes between 36-48 hours to transmit the bacteria. Remove the tick promptly with tweezers and seek medical treatment if you observe symptoms (e.g., bull’s eye rash, fatigue).
• Also in traveling to the Northeast and Great Lakes area, there has been in an increase of Powassan, a tick-borne illness. People with severe Powassan often need to be hospitalized to receive respiratory support, intravenous fluids or medications to reduce swelling in the brain. There’s no vaccine to prevent Powassan – prevention in protecting yourself is vital.

May this weekend be a beautiful time of remembrance – and start of a great, safe summer season.

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3 heart health tips for women

METRO – Heart disease may be something most commonly associated with men, but it can be deadly for women as well. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease is to blame for one in every four female deaths in the United States. Americans’ female neighbors to the north also are not immune from heart disease, which is the leading cause of death for Canadian women.

Recognizing the threat that heart disease poses is a great first step for women who want to avoid becoming one of the hundreds of thousands of women who lose their lives to heart disease each year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers the following advice to women looking to prioritize their heart health.

1. Consume a heart-friendly diet.

Thanks to food labels, it’s easier than ever for women to consume heart-healthy diets. When examining labels, look for foods that are low in sodium and sugar. When planning meals, avoid foods that are high in trans fats. In 2015, the FDA ruled that trans fats were not recognized as safe for use in human foods and gave manufacturers three years to remove them from their products. At press time, no such ban exists in Canada, though information regarding trans fats must be included on Canadian food labels. The Cleveland Clinic advises consumers to check labels for “partially hydrogenated oils,” which are a hidden source of trans fats. In addition, the Cleveland Clinic notes that foods such as cakes, pies, cookies, biscuits, microwavable breakfast sandwiches, and many types of crackers contain trans fats.

2. Take existing conditions seriously.

Certain conditions can increase a woman’s risk for heart disease. While women may not be able to turn back the clocks and prevent these conditions from developing, they can take them for the serious threat they are and do their best to manage them. High blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol can increase a woman’s risk for heart disease. Take medications as directed, monitor blood sugar levels if you have diabetes and routinely have your blood pressure and cholesterol tested to ensure any preexisting conditions are not increasing your risk for heart disease.

3. Discuss aspirin intake.

The FDA notes that many physicians prescribe aspirin to lower patients’ risk of heart disease, clot-related strokes and other problems related to cardiovascular disease. However, there are risks associated with long-term aspirin use, and such risks should be discussed with a physician. According to the FDA, bleeding in the stomach, bleeding in the brain, kidney failure, and certain types of stroke are some of the potential side effects of long-term aspirin use. Such side effects may never appear, but the risk that they might makes discussing the pros and cons of aspirin well worth it.

Women can learn more about heart disease by visiting

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US Charges Four With Trading Insider Tips on Health-Care Policy

Federal prosecutors filed insider-trading charges against one of Wall Street’s best sources of tradable information from the government, accusing him of relaying a series of tips from an obscure bureaucrat inside a key health-care agency to traders at a New York hedge fund.

The tips concerned information about government-funding levels for cancer treatments and kidney dialysis from 2012 to 2014, according to prosecutors. Christopher Worrall, a senior technical adviser to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,…

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Freeways kill: Expert to reveal the latest science on health and tailpipe exhaust – The Courier

It’s easy to take aim at the region’s coal-fired power plants or chemical manufacturing facilities when it comes to climate change.

Their imposing industrial structures and history of large scale emissions make them the traditional targets for the public and regulators alike.

But cars and trucks driven by you and me are also part of the Louisville area’s pollution mix that produces our air quality alerts. And even as overall air quality continues to improve, there is renewed focus nationally on pollution “hot spots,” or parts of communities with more localized problems.

Like along freeways, which can kill in more ways that one.

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has found that children, older adults, people with a preexisting cardiopulmonary illness, and people of low socioeconomic status are among those at higher risk for health impacts from air pollution near roadways, including premature death.

People who want to learn more about pollution risks from freeways will have an opportunity to do so on June 6, when an expert on air pollution and transportation will be speaking in Louisville.

Doug Brugge has a doctorate degree in biology from Harvard University and a master’s degree in industrial hygiene from the Harvard School of Public Health. He is a professor in the Department of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

The talk will be at 6:30 p.m. at Jefferson Community and Technical College in the Health Sciences Hall, 110 West Chestnut. The Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation is the sponsor.

I asked Brugge four questions as a way to preview his talk:

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Question: Researchers have for some time found that living near freeways can be harmful to people’s lungs and health due to diesel and other tailpipe emissions. What new findings will you be talking about in Louisville?

Answer: You are correct that roadway proximity is well established as a risk factor for a range of adverse health outcomes. Our research started with that premise and has sought evidence for whether ultrafine particles that are elevated near major roadways might be a factor that is responsible for these associations.  I will present very recent findings from our work that support the ultrafine hypothesis.

Q: Please put health risks of living near a freeway in some sort of perspective that a typical person might understand?

A: A recent study, that I will include in my talk, estimated near roadway risk for Los Angeles and found a couple of thousand deaths per year in the city may be from this exposure.  And that the number of deaths will increase in the coming decades.

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Q: If you live or work near a freeway, or you send your child to a school near a freeway, is there anything you can do to protect yourself?

A: I will also present our appraisal of community-level tactics that can be used to reduce exposure to traffic-related air pollution.  Among the better tactics in our estimation are improved filtration in ventilation systems, barriers between the road and housing or schools, and building housing, schools, active transportation paths and recreational areas at a distance from roadways.

Q: What should cities or states do to mitigate these risks?

A: We have developed a zoning ordinance that is under consideration in a city adjacent to Boston that is one possible model for what could be done. We also have legislation filed in the state of Massachusetts. Los Angeles and California are ahead as they have a new city ordinance that requires better filtration for near highway housing and a state law restricting siting schools near freeways.

Reporter James Bruggers writes this Watchdog Earth blog. Reach him at 502-582-4645 and at

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3 Health Care Trends That Don’t Hinge on the ACA

In early May 2017 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare). Subsequently, Republicans in the U.S. Senate began working on their version of a law to do the same. The House bill is flawed, leaving many uncertainties that the Senate has promised to address. While the fate of the bill is in flux, there are three immutable trends in the U.S. health care system that won’t change. As a result, regardless of how the law evolves, tremendous opportunities will remain for consumers, medical providers, health care payers, and investors to shape and improve the health care system.

The first trend is demographic: The U.S. population is continuing to age. In 1960 the median age for men and women in the U.S. was 29.5; it is now 37.9, and in the next 12 years will exceed 40. Per capita annual health care costs are roughly $4,500 for people age 19 to 44; they double for people age 45 to 64; and they double once again for those 65 and older. Thus, as the population ages, health care services will naturally expand, as will the pressure to find efficient ways to deliver those services.

Second, technology has become a pervasive element across the health care system, with a major impact on diagnosis, treatment, and communications. In 2004 one in 5 practicing physicians used an electronic health record (EHR) in the U.S. Today nearly nine in 10 physicians regularly employ EHRs. There’s a tremendous amount of information and structured data now available to guide treatment, assess outcomes, and measure quality of care. Beyond EHRs, digital health tools — apps, wearable devices, and other hardware and software that measures and monitors health — are becoming common in consumers’ lives. From 2015 to 2016, investors poured more than $8 billion into funding these tools. More than 3,000 apps are now available to help manage diabetes alone. Clearly, most of these tools won’t survive. But technology has become rooted firmly in U.S. health care and, as elsewhere, consumers will choose many of the winners.

Insight Center

Third, irrespective of revisions to the ACA, discoveries in the life sciences that enhance the quality and extend the length of life will continue to flow from research laboratories. These are being driven by two major trends: the availability of personal health data, and the plummeting cost of integrating massive health data sets in the cloud. Based on these two foundations, we’ll begin to see the emergence of personalized medicine.

The pipeline for new drugs is bursting, and new devices and tools in the rapidly emerging digital health space will come to market more quickly. According to QuintilesIMS, there are more than 2,000 drugs in the late-stage approval process, and they will yield an estimated 45 new active substances annually over the next five years. This therapeutic deluge will make decision making more complex for clinicians, who must understand efficacy and risk, and for payers, who must choose which treatments to favor through preferred pricing. Indeed, the profusion of new treatments may present a serious challenge to the current payer strategy of negotiating favorable pricing with drug and device companies.

Taken together, these three trends will drive dramatic changes in health care, regardless of government policies. We see several areas where patients and care providers, as well as entrepreneurs and investors, will likely benefit.

First, businesses that help patients understand, access, and use the health care system will be rewarded. Patient engagement has been a mantra for those seeking to reform health care, as it’s widely accepted that patients who are engaged in their own health care have better outcomes. Technology plays a crucial role in promoting engagement, in part by customizing medical information for each patient, and digital platforms — whether websites, apps, or EHRs — that promote health and help patients understand their medical conditions and their options for treatment and prevention will grow in importance.

Investors are already keenly focused on this area, with many startups competing for a slice of the market. In 2011 81 digital health startups received venture funding; with consistent year-over-year increases, 296 startups were venture backed in 2016. The venture industry is betting big on digital health, with $4–$5 billion invested annually. But traditional business models focused on and serving third-party reimbursement continue to struggle with how to monetize digital health tools. We believe models will emerge that capture value from the growing consumer demand for effective digital health-promotion support. Solutions that drive patient engagement and improve outcomes will succeed in the marketplace.

Second, we expect to see growth in businesses that make it easier for consumers to access affordable health care while living where they want to live, in a setting that they can afford. In the U.S., the two key drivers of this trend are the aging of the population and the need for cost control. Telemedicine is increasingly becoming an adjunct to care that addresses these trends. Today’s technology enables practitioners to scale their services, seeing more patients in less time, and it embeds analytics that can help focus clinicians’ time on the cases where they can have the greatest effect. From the patients’ perspective, telemedicine is appealing because it allows them to engage more frequently with doctors than they could through in-person visits — a particular aid for older patients with chronic conditions, who benefit from the frequent contact and care coordination that telemedicine can provide.

The market for services tailored to the elderly, helping them age in place, will expand in many directions. Stanley Healthcare, a division of Stanley Black Decker Corporation, which sells products to over 17,000 hospitals and senior living facilities, offers a good example. One product helps reduce falls; another, Wander Guard, helps seniors with early stages of dementia live semi-independently. Stanley and others have quickly gained market share by serving the needs of this population and addressing patients’ and caregivers’ eagerness to adopt assistive technologies.

A third growth area is in EHRs and digital health applications. While new EHR offerings continue to emerge, the market has consolidated around a few large players, which has held back innovation and interoperability. The proprietary nature and standards for EHRs are likely to diminish, however, as industry pressure opens up data repositories and personal data become more accessible. Two initiatives deserve particular attention, because both will accelerate data liberation, punish companies that resist, and reward vendors that get onboard early: the Human API platform and the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) specification. While they are different from each other, both are significant attempts at retrieving, aggregating, and contextualizing patient wellness and medical data. With the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt among its investors, Human API has the audacious objective of creating a consumer-controlled digital repository, where health data is securely shared with just those parties selected by the consumer. FHIR is a standard crafted by Health Level Seven, a health data sharing nonprofit, to provide interoperability among health systems. Rather than passing entire health documents among providers, FHIR allows the transfer of clinical and administrative data between software applications used by different health care providers, enabling them to access the specific data needed from medical records across systems.

We’re convinced that these trends will ultimately drive mainstream adoption for proven digital health solutions. Where clinical trials demonstrate efficacy, and the solutions allow for improved cost management, we’ll begin to see multiple models emerge: insurance reimbursement, employer subsidies, and even consumer purchases. As adoption increases, companies that today provide therapeutics — principally pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers — will begin to add digital health solutions to their portfolios.

Uncertainty surrounding the health care bill shouldn’t have a material effect on the success of various solutions. Indeed, with the current government gridlock, the rapid development of and growing demand for new health care technologies may help policy makers chart the course forward.

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