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.
As part of a recently announced effort to find effective treatments for Alzheimer’s disease, the Obama administration is seeking more funding for research into the disease. The National Institutes of Health announced it will devote an additional $50 million to dementia research and the President will ask Congress for $80 million to fund Alzheimer’s research in 2013. Experts and advocates say the more than half a billion dollars allocated for Alzheimer’s next year isn’t enough and, in order to make real progress, nearly $2 billion a year would be needed. Still, with 5 million Americans currently suffering with the disease, the increased effort is a significant step toward discovering new and effective treatments for Alzheimer’s. More here.
While most studies concentrate on the financial status of those about to retire, new research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dartmouth College, and Harvard University looked at the assets of individuals and couples as they approached retirement, while they were retired, and as they aged. The results found that more than half of the elderly and one-third of elderly couples had less than $10,000 in savings and investments in the last years of their lives, highlighting the need for better and more accurate advance retirement planning. James Poterba, an economist at MIT, said there are a significant number of households that have a very small cushion if they encounter any kind of financial need. More here.
A study which followed nearly 70,000 women over 14 years found participants whose diet included the highest level of a flavonoid known as flavanones had a 19 percent lower risk of suffering a blood-clot related stroke compared to the women with the lowest level of the compound. Flavanones, one of thousands of flavonoids, is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruit and was specifically associated with a lowered risk of stroke. Previous research has suggested that flavonoids, which give fruits and vegetables their color, help to improve blood-vessel function and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Via WebMD.
Fish oil and multivitamins are the most commonly used supplements, according to a survey of 10,000 people by consumerlab.com. Vitamin D, calcium and CoQ10 rounded out the top five. The survey found older adults are more likely to use supplements than respondents under the age of 35 and, among them, B vitamins, vitamins C and E, and resveratrol were popular. The results revealed that men are more likely than women to take supplements aimed at slowing aging and boosting energy, while women used more vitamin D, calcium, B vitamins, and iron supplements. Also, 42.8 percent of participants said they purchased supplements online and nearly 30 percent shopped for supplements and vitamins at health stores. More here.
It’s commonly known that stress can negatively affect health and raise the risk of developing disease. But a recent study of women over 50 found that just anticipating a stressful situation caused an accelerated rate of cellular aging, which is associated with a raised risk of chronic illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. In the study, participants were told they’d have to participate in a stressful event in the near future. The women who showed a higher level of stress in anticipation of the event also had an increased rate of cellular aging. The study’s lead author Aoife O’Donovan, PhD, said how you cope with major forms of stress in life may have an influence in how you respond to minor forms of stress. More here.
A survey of baby boomers reveals their preferences and wishes for possible retirement relocation destinations. Respondents to the Consumer Federation of the Southeast/Mason-Dixon Polling & Research survey listed top-quality health care as very or somewhat important when considering a place to relocate after retiring. Affordable housing was also high on the boomers’ wish list, with 92 percent of participants listing it as important to them. The survey, which interviewed 1,100 adults between the ages of 47 and 65, found a third of them were open to moving across state lines to find a retirement location that offered a pleasant climate, low local taxes, and access to recreational opportunities. More here.
Gallup’s Well-Being Index measures Americans’ economic confidence, future expectations, physical and emotional health. In January, respondents reported exercising more, eating healthier, and feeling less stress and worry than the previous month. Nearly half of Americans say they exercised for a half hour at least three days in the last week and 55.7 percent said they ate five servings of fruits and vegetables at least four times in the past seven days. The overall health index rose to 63.3 from 61 in December. The physical health index increased to 77.1. Gallup’s Life Evaluation Index, which asks Americans to rate their current and future life, reached it’s highest level in nearly a year. More here.
An analysis of federal data on the country’s nursing homes done by USA Today reveals an overall improvement in the level of care, though there remains a large number of low-rated nursing homes that haven’t improved since 2008 when the government began ranking the quality of care. The number of four-and five-star rated homes rose to 43 percent from 38 percent while the percentage of one-and two-star homes fell to 35 percent from 40 percent in 2009. Among the 15,7000 homes analyzed by USA Today, 564 received one star in each of the past three years and 448 had a five-star rating during each reporting period. More here.
Brussels sprouts aren’t among the most popular vegetables, largely due to the fact that when overcooked they take on a bitter flavor. But despite their popularity problems, they are packed with nutrients that provide numerous health benefits and can help lower cholesterol and prevent age-related macular degeneration. A 3.5-oz. serving of Brussels sprouts provides 7 percent of the recommended daily amount of protein, nearly double the amount found in most vegetables. They also contain 15 percent of the recommended amount of fiber and 142 percent of the suggested amount of vitamin C. A cruciferous vegetable related to cabbage, Brussels sprouts contain isothiocyanates which may help prevent cancer and reduce the risk of heart attack. More here.