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Health briefs: University of Florida joins study on effects of activity by the elderly

UF to help study the benefits of elderly activity

Physical activity helps with weight loss, improving heart health and even warding off some cancers. Now researchers want to know whether it will also prevent disability as we age. The University of Florida has been awarded a record-breaking federal grant, $60 million in stimulus funds, to participate in the LIFE, Lifestyle Interventions and Independence for Elders, study. The study will include 1,600 sedentary adults, age 70 to 89, who are at risk for disability. They will be enrolled starting early next year. UF is one of eight field sites for the LIFE study. It's estimated that adults over the age of 60 spend 60 percent of their time, more than eight waking hours a day, engaged in sedentary behaviors.

Electronic records boost primary care

Routine use of electronic health records may improve the quality of care in primary care practices more than other common strategies, according to a study by Rand Corp. researchers. Studying 305 groups of primary care physicians in Massachusetts, researchers found that practices that used multifunctional electronic health records were more likely to deliver better care for diabetes and provide certain health screenings than those that did not. The findings are published in the Oct. 6 edition of the Annals of Internal Medicine. "Overall, we were surprised by how few strategies to improve the quality of care were linked to measurably better performance," said Dr. Mark W. Friedberg, the study's lead author and a scientist at Rand, a nonprofit research organization. "The strategy that showed the most impact was use of advanced electronic health records."

Leafy greens high on food illness list

A growing threat for food-borne illnesses comes attractively packaged and is increasingly popular with shoppers looking for healthy meals: ready-to-eat leafy greens. Though beef and poultry are a more frequent source of food-related outbreaks than produce, the number of outbreaks tied to lettuce, spinach and other leafy greens, whether fresh-cut or whole, has been rising in the past two decades, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest. On Tuesday, researchers with the group called leafy greens the riskiest food regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, with 363 outbreaks linked to those foods from 1990 to 2006. (Meat is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.)

Chip measures breast estrogen

Estrogen fuels breast cancer, yet doctors can't measure how much of the hormone is in a woman's breast without a fairly substantial biopsy, a painful and invasive procedure. A Canadian invention might change that: a lab-on-a-chip developed by Toronto gynecology specialist Noha Mousa and University of Toronto engineer Aaron Wheeler that can do the work quickly with just the poke of a small needle. They were able to measure droplets of estrogen from samples at least 1,000 times smaller than today's testing requires. Research published Wednesday in a new journal, Science Translational Medicine, opens the possibility that doctors could use the new technology, called digital microfluidics, to see if breast cancer therapy is working, to tell who's at high risk, or for other problems, such as infertility.

Compiled from Times wires

Health briefs: University of Florida joins study on effects of activity by the elderly 10/07/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 7, 2009 6:53pm]
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