Diets High in Trans Fat Linked to Depression

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LAS PALMAS, Spain) – Eating a diet too high in trans fat can increase your risk of depression, reports Health News.
According to a study published in the online journal Public Library of Science ONE, the consumption of trans fats, or modified vegetable fats, can have a serious effect on your mood.

Trans fats, which have already been linked to heart disease and increased levels of LDL, or “bad” cholesterol, were shown to increase the risk of depression by 48 percent for those who get more than 0.6 percent of their daily calories from the substance.

Researchers at the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain studied more than 12,000 participants over a period of six years. Of those studied, 657 of those who consumed a high level of trans and saturated fats developed depression.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


HHS, DOJ Recoup More Than $4 Billion in Taxpayer Dollars

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) – In a joint operation, the Department of Health and Human Services, along with the Justice Department, recovered more than $4 billion in taxpayer dollars lost to fraud in 2010, reports MedPage Today. 

The DOJ has said the funds represent the largest recovery of taxpayer dollars in the department’s history.

The prevention and enforcement operation was part of the Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program (HCFAC), which was implemented to recover and return such funds to the Medicare Health Insurance Trust Fund, the Treasury and other departments.

The HCFAC received $350 million from the Affordable Care Act to aid in its operations.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Report: Alzheimer's Is 'Defining Disease of Baby Boomers'

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- The Alzheimer's Association has released it's Generation Alzheimer's Report, calling the disease the "defining disease of baby boomers."

This year, the first of the baby boomer generation will turn 65, the age when the risk of developing Alzheimer's significantly increases.

There is an impending wave of new cases of the disease and new families that will have to cope with the devastating toll this disease takes on its victims.

It's expected 10 million baby boomers will develop alzheimer's and of those who reach age 85, nearly one in two will get it. 

The report says since there is no way yet to prevent it, cure it, or even slow the progression, every one of those 10 million baby boomers will either die with or from

In addition to the human toll, over the next 40 years alzheimers will likely cost the nation an estimated $20 trillion dollars. With such a broad ranging impact on patients, families, medicare and medicaid, Alzheimers could also take a toll on the national economy.

Unless a cure is found, alzheimer's could become the defining disease of the baby boom generation.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Should Doctors Talk to Parents About Guns?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- In Florida, where a five-year-old has just been suspended after bringing a loaded .22-caliber pistol to preschool, a local politician has proposed a bill that would ban doctors from asking parents about guns at home.

"The intention of the bill is to prevent the violation of an individual's right to privacy," State Rep. Jason Brodeur said in a statement to ABC News.  "The bill addresses a violation of privacy rights concerning firearms and seeks to prevent future occurrences of such violations."

Under the proposed legislation -- currently under review by the Criminal Justice Subcommittee of the Florida House of Representatives -- a doctor could face a hefty fine or even jail time for asking a patient or a patient's family about guns in their home.

"Parents don't know what to believe and don't know why their state wants to know if they lawfully own firearms," Brodeur said.  He said the purpose of the bill is to protect families from being denied treatment for refusing to answer questions about guns in their home.

But the proposal has sparked outrage among pediatricians, many of whom say asking parents about guns in the home is not just their right, but their responsibility.

"Including a discussion about gun safety during checkups at a pediatrician's office is no different than encouraging parents to use car seats or keep poisons locked up," said Dr. John Moses, an associate professor of pediatrics at Duke University.  "The issue here is not the right of gun ownership, but simply child safety and the prevention of tragic injuries that can be avoided by proper gun storage."

Gunshot wounds account for one in 25 admissions to pediatric trauma centers in the United States, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cold Temperatures Help With Weight Loss, Say Researchers

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) -- While a warm, toasty house may feel great in the winter, some researchers suggest warm temperatures also may play a role in the obesity epidemic.

Fiona Johnson of University College London and her colleagues analyzed a number of studies that examined the relationship between exposure to cold temperatures and the ability to burn off energy.  Their research is published in the journal Obesity Reviews.

They found evidence that over the past several decades, people in the U.S. and the U.K. have been steadily raising the temperatures in their homes.

They also found indirect evidence that the body's response to cold, which consists of shivering and hormonal actions, plays a major role in energy expenditure.  Regulation of body temperature, they say, is associated with weight.

But some weight loss experts said the connection between cold temperatures and weight isn't yet very strong and they can't say for certain whether there's any association with obesity.

Experts do agree that one of the study's findings raises interesting questions about the role of a type of tissue that previously received little attention.  The authors found that brown adipose tissue, a kind of fat, plays a very significant role in burning energy when exposed to cold.

Dr. Jana Klauer, a physician in private practice in New York, said small animals and babies have brown adipose tissue, but as people get older, they tend to lose it.  Studies have shown, however, that some adults do have it, though it hasn't been determined how common it is.

Klauer cited a recent study done in Japan that exposed two groups of men to cold.  One group had brown adipose tissue and the other didn't.

"They found that in people that had the brown fat, energy expenditure went up 400 more calories per day when they were exposed to cold," said Klauer.  "They were using 400 more calories to generate heat."

The results suggest that weight loss in cold temperatures may be easier for people with brown adipose tissue.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Up to 40 Percent of US Births Induced Early

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WARRINGTON, UK) – A new report suggests that an alarming number of births in the U.S. are induced early without a good medical reason, according to HealthDay News.

Leapfrog, a hospital quality watchdog group, said Wednesday that a hospital-by-hospital report revealed that as much as 40 percent of births are induced early, but that the figure varied greatly by hospital. 

"This is the first real evidence that the practice of scheduling newborn deliveries without medical reasons is common and varies among hospitals," said Leah Binder, CEO of Leapfrog. "The information is extremely disturbing," she continued. "We are calling on hospitals to put policies in place to prevent early elective deliveries."

The group pointed to consequences of early deliveries and the importance of the final weeks of a pregnancy in a child’s development as reasons to decrease the number of babies being induced early. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Environmental Stressors Determine Parent-Child Relationships

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(OXFORD, England) – Scientists have discovered that parents react to unpredictable environmental changes by investing more time and care into the upbringing of their children, reports Science Daily.

Researchers at Oxford University found that changes in mortality rates and fertility cause an evolutional change in how a parent cares for their offspring.

"We already know that some animals, such as different populations of European kestrel, alter the levels of care they give their offspring in response to unpredictable environments," said author Dr. Mike Bonsall of Oxford University's Department of Zoology. "What this new research shows is that many more species are likely to 'hedge their bets', changing how much they care for their offspring depending on how challenging the environment is."

For example, in a challenging environment, parents might feed their offspring more often than when the environment is stable.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Getting Your Tongue Pierced? Research Says Go Plastic

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(INNSBRUCK, Austria) – New research suggests that plastic studs used in tongue piercings are less likely to cause infection compared to metal studs, according to HealthDay News.

Researchers at Innsbruck Medical University in Austria found that stainless steel studs are more likely to build up bacteria and cause infections or other complications.

“Consumers should avoid stainless steel and titanium studs in favor of [plastic], not only because of bacteria and a potentially higher risk of local infection of the piercing channel, but also because of the risk of tooth chipping and gum recession," said study author Dr. Ines Kapferer.

Researchers tested their theory on 80 people ages 16 to 36 with recent tongue piercings by giving them stainless steel, titanium or plastic studs. Those who wore the stainless steel studs had the highest accumulation of bacteria in lab tests. 

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio


Brain Stimulation Could Help Lower High Blood Pressure

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(BRISTOL, UK) – New research has discovered what may be a new treatment for those who have difficulty controlling their high blood pressure with medication, according to a study published in Neurology.

The finding is based on a case study of a 55-year-old man with high blood pressure who received a deep brain stimulator to help treat pain that developed from a stroke.

It was discovered that the device lowered the man’s blood pressure to a point where he no longer needed his blood pressure medication.

"This is an exciting finding as high blood pressure affects millions of people and can lead to heart attack and stroke, but for about one in 10 people, high blood pressure can't be controlled with medication or they cannot tolerate the medication," said Nikunj K. Patel of Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, UK.

Patel and his team found that the man’s blood pressure levels decreased gradually after the device was implanted and have remained under control without the use of medication.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Loud Traffic Linked to Stroke Risk

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(COPENHAGEN, Denmark) – A new study suggests that prolonged exposure to loud traffic can increase a person’s risk of stroke, especially in people over the age of 65.

According to the study, published in the European Heart Journal, a person under the age of 65 is 14 percent more likely to suffer a stroke for every 10 decibels or more of traffic noise. The risk increases significantly for those over 65, to 27 percent.

Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Epidemiology of Danish Cancer Society in Copenhagen say the increased risk is also tied to stress.

"Exposure to traffic noise is believed to provoke a stress response and disturb sleep, which might increase the risk for stroke, through mechanisms including increased level of stress hormones, increased heart rate and blood pressure and impaired immune system,” said senior researcher Mette Sorensen. "Although our study was the first study on traffic noise and stroke, I was not surprised of the results as earlier studies have found traffic noise to be associated with other cardiovascular diseases.”

The study also accounted for other factors such as pollution, smoking and diet habits and other noise contributors such as planes and railways.
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