Monday, December 27, 2010

Milk, Cheese May Cut Diabetes Risk

Harvard scientists have identified a natural substance in dairy fat that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

According to the researchers, the compound, trans-palmitoleic (TP) acid, is a fatty acid found in milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter. It is not produced by the body and so only comes from the diet. Diabetes is an increasingly common condition that can result in disability for older individuals according to the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance.

A report in the Annals of Internal Medicine explains that TP acid may underlie epidemiological evidence in recent years that diets rich in dairy foods are linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic abnormalities. Health experts generally advise reducing full-fat dairy products, but TP acid is found in dairy fat.

The researchers examined nearly 4,000 participants and followed them for 20 years in an observational study to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in older adults. Metabolic risk factors such as blood glucose and insulin levels, and also levels of circulating blood fatty acids, including trans-palmitoleic acid, were measured using stored blood samples in 1992, and participants were followed for development of type 2 diabetes.

At baseline, higher circulating levels of TP acid were associated with healthier levels of blood cholesterol, inflammatory markers, insulin levels, and insulin sensitivity, after adjustment for other risk factors.

During follow-up exams, individuals with higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had a much lower risk of developing diabetes, with about a 60% lower risk among participants in the highest quintile (fifth) of TP acid levels, compared to individuals in the lowest quintile.

Support for the study was provided by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health and the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements and National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spousal Refusal Will Change Medicaid Law

The following is from an excellent story in the New York Times (link below). The inability of taxpayer-paid programs (Medicaid specifically) to pay mounting bills for long-term care will mandate changes in the current system.

For that reason, the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance urges education and advocates planning. If you are age 50-to-60, and middle class this is especially vital. If Medicaid (taxpayers) are strapped today … you can only imagine what it will be in 20 or 30 years.

Here’s the blurb from the NY Times and the link to the full article.

Last year, more than 1,200 people in New York City officially turned their backs on their husbands and wives to qualify for Medicaid, triple the number of people five years ago. The practice, known as “spousal refusal,” is becoming more common as the population ages and the cost of nursing care rises — and it is coming under increasing attack by government officials looking to curb ballooning Medicaid expenses.

In a recent report, Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch warned that spousal refusal could be abused as “an entitlement for the less needy” and urged state officials to rethink it, noting that long-term care accounts for nearly half the state’s Medicaid spending.

Lawyers for the elderly argue the tactic of spousal refusal is legal nationwide, and it is most commonly used in New York and Florida, where 136 people refused to support a sick spouse last year.

Without the option of spousal refusal, lawyers say, American health care is like a ghoulish lottery. Those who need doctors’ care for illnesses like cancer or heart disease are covered by Medicare, the insurance program for the elderly, while those who need more custodial care for Alzheimer’s or stroke must pay for it themselves or dispose of their assets to qualify for Medicaid.

The federal government allows a healthy spouse to keep a house, a car, up to about $2,700 a month in income and up to about $110,000 in other resources. Anything above that must be spent on nursing care before Medicaid kicks in.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Aspirin May Now Prevent Cancer

Taking low doses of aspirin can reduce the risk of many kinds of cancer.

A report by scientists reveals that the evidence is strong enough to suggest people over 40 should take aspirin daily as protection.

In a study of eight trials involving 25,570 patients, researchers found that cancer deaths among those who took aspirin in doses as low as 75 milligrams a day were 21 percent lower during the studies and 34 percent lower after five years.

Aspirin protected people against gastrointestinal cancers the most, the study found, with rates of death from these cancers around 54 percent lower after five years among those who took aspirin compared to those who did not.

Researchers at Oxford University noted that while taking aspirin carries a small risk of stomach bleeding, that risk was beginning to be “drowned out” by its benefits in reducing the risk of cancer and the risk of heart attacks.

Previous studies have found taking aspirin can cut the risk of developing colon or bowel cancer and suggested it does so by blocking the enzyme cyclooxygenase2 which promotes inflammation and cell division and is found in high levels in tumors.

In the latest study, published in The Lancet, researchers found the 20-year risk of death was reduced by about 10 percent for prostate cancer, 30 percent for lung cancer, 40 percent for colorectal or bowel cancer and 60 percent for oesophageal cancer in those taking aspirin.

Posted by the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks relevant health news stories

Monday, December 6, 2010

Vision Of Elderly Can Improve

According to a study from the University of California, Riverside and Boston University elderly adults can improve their vision with perceptual training. This has positive implications for the health and mobility of senior citizens.

UCR researchers and Boston University psychology professors conducted a series of experiments to determine whether repeated performance of certain visual tasks that are at the limits that one can see can improve the vision of adults older than 65.

The researchers found that with just two days of training, in one-hour sessions, with difficult stimuli resulted in older subjects seeing as well as younger college-age subjects. The improvement was maintained for up to three months and the results were dependent on the location in the visual field where the stimuli were located – suggesting that the brain changed in early levels of visual cortex.

Age-related changes in vision – such as contrast sensitivity, dark adaptation, visual acuity, spatial vision, orientation, depth perception and motion perception – have been substantiated in numerous previous studies. This is the first study that demonstrates that perceptual training can be used to improve vision among the elderly in the earliest levels of visual processing.

The researchers used a texture discrimination test in which the participants were presented with stimuli consisting of a letter embedded in the center of a field of horizontally oriented lines. In addition to the letter, an array of peripherally located lines was oriented diagonally and formed either a vertical or horizontal object, always presented in the same quadrant. That was followed quickly with the display of a masking pattern. The task was to identify the central letter and the peripheral object.

After age 60 there is a steady increase in the incidence of falls and automobile crashes that are associated with changes in visual processing reports the American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance which tracks health related issues impacting aging Americans.