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Why To Exercise Today: The Size Of Your Brain As You Age

CommonHealth (WBUR) - 3 hours 45 min ago

(Wikimedia Commons/NIH)

Voice of panic: “Noooooo, don’t let my brain shrink!”

Voice of reason: “No one is shrinking your brain.”

Voice of panic: “But a study just out in the journal Neurology finds that people who are less fit in middle age tend to have smaller brains when they’re measured 20 years later.”

Voice of reason: “Right, but it’s just a link, not proof of causation. Anyway, that smaller size is compared to fitter people. So don’t panic, just get back on that treadmill…”

Would write more but too busy jogging. From the press release:

“We found a direct correlation in our study between poor fitness and brain volume decades later, which indicates accelerated brain aging,” said study author Nicole Spartano, PhD, with Boston University School of Medicine in Boston.

For the study, 1,583 people enrolled in the Framingham Heart Study, with an average age of 40 and without dementia or heart disease, took a treadmill test. They took another one two decades later, along with MRI brain scans. The researchers also analyzed the results when they excluded participants who developed heart disease or started taking beta blockers to control blood pressure or heart problems; this group had 1,094 people.

The participants had an average estimated exercise capacity of 39 mL/kg/min, which is also known as peak VO2, or the maximum amount of oxygen the body is capable of using in one minute. Exercise capacity was estimated using the length of time participants were able to exercise on the treadmill before their heart rate reached a certain level. For every eight units lower a person performed on the treadmill test, their brain volume two decades later was smaller, equivalenpeoplet to two years of accelerated brain aging. When the people with heart disease or those taking beta blockers were excluded, every eight units of lower physical performance was associated with reductions of brain volume equal to one year of accelerated brain aging.

Read the full study here.

Categories: Health Care

Insurers’ Push to Restrict Special Enrollment Periods Would Block Uninsured People

Insurers are pressing the Administration to put burdensome new restrictions on special enrollment periods (SEPs) — times during which people who’ve experienced major life changes such as having a child, getting married, moving, or losing other coverage can enroll in marketplace coverage outside the regular open enrollment period.[1]  That’s a bad idea.  Some insurers want the...
Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Meet govinfo, GPO’s Next Generation of Access to Federal Government Information

In Custodia Legis - 6 hours 44 min ago

The following is a guest post by Christine McMahon and Amanda Colvin, Office of Programs, Strategy, and Technology, Government Publishing Office.  

GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks unveils the new name and logo for the next generation FDsys website at the govinfo launch event on February 3, 2016. Photo by the Government Publishing Office. 

On February 3, 2016, the Government Publishing Office launched, a beta website that will eventually replace the Federal Digital System (FDsys) public website. FDsys, and now govinfo, provide free public access to hundreds of thousands of official publications from all three branches of government. govinfo is a modern, mobile-friendly website, with a focus on soliciting feedback from users and improving overall search and access to content. Read our Q&A below to learn more.

Is everything that is available on FDsys available on govinfo?

Right now, all content available on FDsys is available on govinfo by conducting searches and clicking the format links in the search results. You can get to any PDF, XML, text or any other content file that is available on FDsys.

However, not all browse pages or detail pages have been built yet for every collection. For a list of all collections and publications and how they are currently available, refer to our list of What’s Available.

govinfo team at the GPO govinfo launch: Lisa LaPlant, Ric Davis, Suresh Raman, Ramesh Pinjala, Joann Sharp, Pradeep Jutur, Alexey Fegeding, Lotfi Mehai, GPO Director Davita Vance-Cooks, Denis Dobrovolskii, Lauren Rouppas, Jon Quandt, Amanda Colvin, and Christine McMahon (not pictured: Alec Bradley, Jay Silverman, Jing Xie, and Alan Zhang). Photo by the Government Publishing Office.

The new govinfo website automatically resizes and shifts for an optimized display on a range of mobile devices. Photo by the Government Publishing Office.

What are the differences between FDsys and govinfo?

govinfo is the new front door to accessing the same official, preserved content that GPO has made available through FDsys for the last seven years. The new website has no impact on the content, metadata, preservation repository, application of digital signatures, or any other back-end processing.

govinfo offers the same features users enjoy on FDsys such as multiple ways to search and browse content and search result filters, but govinfo offers several new and improved features including:

  • Responsive design for optimized display on mobile devices;
  • Two new ways to browse – alphabetically and by category;
  • A new, open-source search engine;
  • An expandable and collapsible search widget on every page;
  • More options for sharing pages and content on social media; and
  • An innovative “Related Documents” feature (see below for details).

What is the Related Documents feature?

On select Content Details pages for a document, a “Related Documents” tab will display other documents within govinfo that have a functional relationship or reference to that particular document. The purpose of the Related Documents feature is to make it easy for users to navigate to associated content without having to conduct multiple searches or manually go into and read each document’s text. Currently, the following relationships are available:

  • Congressional Bills Details pages–Other bill versions of that legislation, Presidential Signing Statements and Remarks for the legislation from Compilation of Presidential Documents, Public Laws for the legislation, Statutes at Large document for the legislation, U.S. Code documents that reference the legislation;
  • Public and Private Laws Details pages–Bill versions of that legislation, Presidential Signing Statements and Remarks for the legislation from the Compilation of Presidential Documents, Public or Private Law for the legislation, the Statutes at Large document for the legislation, U.S. Code documents that reference the legislation Compilation of Presidential Document Details pages- Bill versions for the legislation, Public Laws for the legislation; and
  • Federal Register Details pages–Other Federal Register rulemaking documents related via the same Regulatory ID Number, CFR documents referenced by that Federal Register document.

GPO Chief Technology Officer Ric Davis remarks on the history of electronic access to Federal government information at GPO at the govinfo launch event on February 3, 2016. Photo by the Government Publishing Office.

It’s important to note that you may not see any documents under the “Related Documents” tab. This could occur for several reasons: if in fact there are no related documents in the system for that document; the related documents feature has not yet been built for that document or collection; or metadata is not available in the system to support a relationship for that document.

Where can I learn more about govinfo and provide feedback?

Visit to check out the new site, and learn more about the new features and what’s available. You can also review our Help pages for a wealth of information on searching and browsing for content. We will continue to optimize the site design and features based on your feedback; so, leave us a note by clicking “Feedback” in the top menu anywhere on the site.

Categories: Research & Litigation

Coordinating Medicaid and SNAP Renewals Can Help Participants and States

About three-quarters of households receiving SNAP (formerly food stamps) in 2014 also had at least one member on Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  As our new report shows, this overlap gives states an opportunity to coordinate how people periodically renew their eligibility for these programs to reduce burdens on both participants and state eligibility workers....
Categories: Benefits, Poverty

For Menopause-Related Sleep Problems, Study Suggests Trying Acupuncture

CommonHealth (WBUR) - 14 hours 31 min ago

If you’ve reached menopause and just can’t sleep like you used to, you might want to learn about a special spot on your body. No, not that one. It’s the Sanyinjiao acupoint, or Spleen 6 — a small area just above the ankle on the inside of the leg. New research suggests that for women with menopause-related sleep problems, acupuncture, particularly on that point, may offer relief.

(Fairy heart/Flickr)

Among the myriad discomforts that afflict menopausal women, sleep problems may not get as much attention as hot flashes. But all manner of sleep disturbances — from waking up at the crack of dawn unable to fall back asleep to full blown insomnia — are pervasive among this demographic.

Researchers report that the prevalence of menopause-related sleep disturbances ranges from 8.4 to 56.6 percent. Estrogen deficiency contributes to the problem; nocturnal hot flashes are also sometimes a factor.

In the new review, a meta-analysis of 34 clinical studies published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers in China found a “substantial association” between acupuncture and improved sleep in peri-menopausal and post-menopausal women. Specifically, the researchers say they demonstrated “that the association of reduction in menopause-related sleep disturbance and acupuncture was correlated with changes in serum estradiol levels particularly when the Sanyinjiao acupoint was stimulated.” (Estradiol is the estrogen mostly produced from the ovaries, and can also be used to treat peri-menopausal symptoms.)

The researchers theorize that the elevated serum estradiol levels may be the key to why acupuncture could help alleviate the sleep disturbances.

In the paper, researchers conclude with a ringing endorsement:

“…we recommend that acupuncture should be adopted as an alternative or complementary therapy for improving sleep in addition to current conventional therapies [for instance, hormone therapy] in women experiencing menopause-related sleep disturbances.

Individuals who are interested in adopting acupuncture therapy as an alternative therapy to conventional treatments for improving menopause-related sleep disturbances should talk to their acupuncturists about the Sanyinjiao acupoint [Spleen 6, in English, “the junction point of the spleen, liver, and kidney meridians”] as the preferred acupoint to stimulate the secretion of serum estradiol levels.”

I asked Dr. Bridget Chin, a medical acupuncturist at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, what she thought of the study. Here’s what she wrote in an email:

In my Medical Acupuncture practice at Spaulding, I routinely treat menopausal insomnia in addition to the hot flashes and anxiety symptoms that occur.

This is an excellent meta-analysis to support the use of acupuncture for menopausal women with sleep disturbances. Previous reviews found promising results, but were unable to conclude this due to limited evidence.

I believe that acupuncture improves sleep disturbance through multiple mechanisms, additionally by improving melatonin secretion.

The fact that they were able to identify a strong correlation of elevated estradiol in the acupuncture groups compared to controls makes sense. Increasing estradiol levels have also improved perimenopausal depression in previous studies.

Most interestingly, they were able to pinpoint a specific acupuncture point, Spleen 6 which correlates with an increase in estradiol levels compared to other points chosen. I routinely use this point for my patients with menopausal symptoms, and I now have some scientific research to support continued use of this point.

Categories: Health Care

Obama Budget Strengthens Medicaid and CHIP

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:00pm
The President’s budget includes sound improvements to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including: Three years of full federal financing for all Medicaid expansion states.  The President proposes to have the federal government pay the entire cost of health reform’s Medicaid expansion for the first three years — whether states have already expanded or will in...
Categories: Benefits, Poverty

President’s Budget Boosts Funding to Fight Deep Poverty

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 8:00pm
Recognizing the long-term consequences that children face when they live in deep poverty — as researchers Kathy Edin and Luke Shaefer detailed in their book, $2 a Day:  Living on Almost Nothing in America — the President’s budget includes new initiatives to help deeply poor families improve their circumstances and prevent other families from falling into such poverty.   They...
Categories: Benefits, Poverty

Greenstein: Obama’s Budget: More Investment With More Deficit Reduction

Center on Budget and Policy Priorities - Tue, 02/09/2016 - 3:00pm
Statement On the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget President Obama’s new budget shows that we can address key unmet national needs and substantially reduce deficits at the same time.  The budget proposes major initiatives to increase economic opportunity, reduce poverty, and boost investment in infrastructure and other activities important to raising productivity and long-term...
Categories: Benefits, Poverty


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