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Flu shot linked to lower heart attack, stroke risk

When it comes to prostate trouble, the lion’s share of attention goes to prostate cancer and an enlarged prostate. A third condition, prostatitis, flies under the radar even though it affects up to one in six men at some point in their lifetimes. It triggers more than two million visits to doctors and untold agony each year.

Prostatitis, which means inflammation of the prostate gland, is an equal opportunity disorder. Unlike prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), which predominantly affect older men, prostatitis affects men of all ages.

Prostatitis refers to a loose assemblage of syndromes characterized by urinary problems such as burning or painful urination, the urgent need to urinate, trouble voiding, difficult or painful ejaculation, and pain in the area between the scrotum and rectum (known as the perineum) or lower back. Although it causes some of the same symptoms as BPH and can occur at the same time, prostatitis is a separate condition.

Some types of prostatiti…

Radiation for breast cancer can increase heart risks

Telling the difference between run-of-the-mill sore throat caused by a virus, which doesn’t require medication, from strep throat caused by a bacterium, which should be treated with antibiotics, is a tricky thing at any age.

As a mom to three school-aged kids, I have schlepped off to the pediatrician many times to check out a variety of colds, fevers, and sore throats. Many of these appointments included the drama and trauma of the much dreaded (at our house) throat culture. Until recently, the results were always negative.

I was taken aback when our 7 year old actually had strep throat. In the middle of summer.  Twice. The first time involved a very sore throat, fever, and what I thought was a heat rash (it was 90 degrees all that week), that turned out to be the classic rash associated with strep. The second time, we saw similar symptoms, minus the rash. When the next sore throat rolled around, I was convinced it was strep—similar symptoms, plus some little white spots in the back of…

Adopt a Mediterranean diet now for better health later

Millions of American men and women have served in the Armed Forces, protecting and defending our nation. Although many died, most returned home to “pick up their lives.” That isn’t always easy. For some veterans, the trauma of war changes the brain in ways that can cause long-term problems.

War-related mental health problems have been with us for centuries. They probably afflicted Achilles, the Greek warrior at the center of Homer’s Iliad. During the Civil War, such problems were called “nostalgia” or “soldier’s heart.” In World War I, the term was “shell shock.” “Combat neurosis” and “battle fatigue” were the preferred descriptions during World War II and the Korean War. By the late 1970s, the condition had evolved into post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

According to the American Psychiatric Association, more than 300,000 veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed with PTSD. Countless others probably suffer from this condition but have never sought help for i…

Prostate cancer in second and third-degree relatives elevates risk

One long-ago summer, I joined the legion of teens helping harvest our valley’s peach crop in western Colorado. My job was to select the best peaches from a bin, wrap each one in tissue, and pack it into a shipping crate. The peach fuzz that coated every surface of the packing shed made my nose stream and my eyelids swell. When I came home after my first day on the job, my mother was so alarmed she called the family doctor. Soon the druggist was at the door with a vial of Benadryl (diphenhydramine) tablets. The next morning I was back to normal and back on the job. Weeks later, when I collected my pay (including the ½-cent-per-crate bonus for staying until the end of the harvest), I thanked Benadryl.

Today, I’m thankful my need for that drug lasted only a few weeks. In a report published in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers offers compelling evidence of a link between long-term use of anticholinergic medications like Benadryl and dementia.

Anticholinergic drugs block the action of ace…

Making one change — getting more fiber — can help with weight loss

Jogging is one of those activities that seem to perfectly embody the concept of healthy physical activity. I know people who run for an hour or more a day. I admire their commitment to physical activity and sometimes envy their seeming good health. But a new study from Denmark has me rethinking the benefits of strenuous jogging.

Researchers with the ongoing Copenhagen City Heart Study have been following the health of more than 1,000 joggers and 400 healthy but inactive non-joggers. Between 2001 and 2014, 156 of these study participants died. Using the death rate of the sedentary non-joggers as a point of comparison, the researchers found that the death rate of light joggers was 90% lower than that of the non-joggers, while that of moderate joggers was about 60% lower. Here’s the big surprise: the death rate for strenuous joggers was no different than that of sedentary non-joggers. This kind of relationship is known as a U-shaped curve (see figure).

Association bt jogging & deatIn …

What is the magic sleep number

Last year was a lousy year for the flu vaccine. Hospitalizations for flu hit a nine-year high, and the vaccine prevented flu in only 23% of all recipients, compared with 50% to 60% of recipients in prior years.

Why does the flu vaccine work well in some winters and not others? The flu vaccine primes the immune system to attack two proteins on the surface of the influenza A virus, hemagglutinin (H) and neuraminidase (N). Different flu strains have different combinations of these proteins — for example, the strains targeted by recent flu vaccines are H3N2 and H1N1.

Unfortunately, the influenza virus is microbiology’s answer to Miley Cyrus: it can change enough in just one year to become completely unrecognizable. The H and N proteins are genetic chameleons that undergo constant transformation. This process is called antigenic drift, and it regularly flummoxes vaccine makers, public health experts, and your immune system.
Developing the new flu vaccines

Most flu vaccine in the United States…

Turning to drugs and treatments for better health

If the latest information on health and wellness is important to you, you will not want to miss a special live-streamed webcast, “Rethinking Cholesterol,” which will be aired on Thursday, September 24, from 12:30pm to 1:30pm Eastern time. The webcast, which is free to all viewers, is co-sponsored by Reuters, Harvard Health Publishing, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and Harvard Medical School.

Recent science has brought new insights into the importance of controlling cholesterol for maintaining cardiovascular health. LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is a potent risk factor for heart and blood vessel disease. New research suggests that when it comes to protecting your heart, the lower your LDL cholesterol, the better.
How you can lower your cholesterol

There is much you can do with your diet to lower LDL cholesterol. Mainly, it is critical to reduce your intake of saturated fat and trans fat. These two forms of fat drive up LDL levels. Saturated fat is found in bu…