Health Updates 28 September 2011

  • Congress extends autism research funding: “The legislation approved Monday night authorizes nearly $700 million over three years for research into the causes of autism and related conditions, as well as treatments.  The measure passed the House without controversy, but several Republican senators blocked it, citing budget concerns.” (Associated Press)
  • Study finds B12 may help stave off memory loss: “A new study found a link between poor nutrition and cognitive problems in older adults.  The study, published Monday in the journal Neurology, found that adults over 65 with a vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to have lower  brain volumes and cognitive impairment than those with adequate B12.” (Fox News)
  • Never too old to quit: “Perhaps you’ve heard of the ‘damage is done’ scenario.  An elderly family member started smoking as a young person, maybe a teenager….Decades later, despite wall-to-wall anti-smoking ads, despite smoking being outlawed in nearly every public space, perhaps despite family pleas or doctors’ admonitions or even a heart attack, that person remains a smoker.  What’s the point of stopping now…my body has already suffered the consequences of a lifetime of tobacco addiction?  The damage is done, isn’t it?”  Not necessarily.  New studies show that “even at older ages…people who wean themselves from cigarettes can feel better, possibly improving enough to stop taking certain medications, and may even ward off cognitive decline.  In short they may have better and possibly longer lives.  Even a month without cigarettes can significantly lower blood pressure…’If you’re open to quitting, regardless of how old you are, it’s one of the best things you can do for your health’.”  Continuing to smoke can make one’s final years that much worse.  And under the Affordable Care Act, Medicare  now covers smoking-cessation counseling for any beneficiary trying to stop. (Paula Span, NY Times)
  • Survey finds health insurance premiums surge with workers bearing the brunt of costs: “Premiums paid directly by workers have galloped ahead of wage increases and inflation – rising 131 percent between 2001 and 2011 for family plans.  Employer costs for those plans have gone up 113 percent over the same period, as some have asked their workers to take on a higher proportion of premium costs.  Still, employers are primarily coping with rising health-care expenses by moving their  workers into plans with higher out-of-pocket costs such a deductibles, co-pays and co-insurance.”

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