New research finds that combining foods such as oats, soy, nuts, and plant sterol can dramatically lower cholesterol.

Need to lower your cholesterol? Try thumbing through the "portfolio diet."

New research reveals that the diet, which combines soy, nuts, plant sterols, and fiber, may work better than a traditional low-fat diet.

The University of Canada found that people with high cholesterol who followed the portfolio diet lowered their low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels by about 13 percent after six months on the diet, according to a recent study.

That is compared with a 3 percent LDL reduction among those who followed a diet low in saturated fat. The findings appear in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The portfolio diet focuses on four kinds of food groups:

• Substitute soy-based foods for meat and dairy, such as soy burgers, soy hot dogs, soy milk and soy dairy substitutes.

• Eat a lot of sticky fiber, such as adding a natural psyllium supplement to your diet and eating oats, barley and vegetables such as eggplant and okra.

• Replace butter and margarine with plant sterol-enriched margarine. US brands include Benecol and Take Control and brands in other countries are Becel and Flora pro-activ. Plant sterols are also available in capsule form.

• Eat a handful of nuts every day.

The new study is the latest in a series of research studies by Dr. David Jenkins from the University of Toronto. Prior research from his lab revealed that following the portfolio diet is almost as effective as taking a statin drug.

"If we let people know that they can control their own cholesterol levels themselves, we're putting some of the responsibility but also the power back into the hands of ordinary citizens," Jenkins told health news site WebMD.

With AFP Relaxnews
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The FDA has approved Botox for overactive bladder in some patients.

Botox can cause more than just your wrinkles to freeze -- it can help an overactive bladder.

The face-freezing pharmaceutical injection was given the nod by the Food and Drug Administration to treat people with multiple sclerosis or spinal cord injury who suffer from urinary incontinence and must manage it with medication or a catheter.

"Urinary incontinence associated with neurologic conditions can be difficult to manage," said George Benson, deputy director of FDA's division of Reproductive and Urologic Products.

"Botox offers another treatment option for these patients."

The new method allows a physician to inject Botox into a patient's bladder, where it relaxes the muscles and allows more urine to be stored.

Clinical studies showed such injections could decrease episodes of urinary incontinence for a period of nine months.

Botox, which is marketed by the California-based Allergan, is also approved for treatment of chronic migraines, severe underarm sweating, eyelid twitching and certain kinds of muscle stiffness, the FDA said.

The drug is made from a toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. In other forms it can cause a deadly type of food poisoning called botulism, according to the National Institutes of Health.
With AFP Relaxnews
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A breakthrough study shows that MDMA, the chemical in ecstasy, could be the future of cancer treatment.

Scientists are saying that ecstasy-an illegal drug largely connected with hardcore clubgoers-can actually treat several forms of cancer.

However, a market-ready medication doctors can prescribe to patients may take another ten years to develop, researchers told BBC Radio.

"This is an exciting next step," said Professor John Gordon, lead author of a groundbreaking study on the topic, during a radio interview.

"Where we've tested these new compounds, we can wipe out 100% of the cancer cells in some cases."

Birmingham University researchers first discovered the unlikely link between the illegal substance and a viable therapy for common blood cancers like leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma in 2006. Additional research produced an atomically tweaked version of ecstasy's active compound, MDMA, which bolsters the drug's cancer-fighting power 100-fold in test tubes.

The original 2006 study found a fatally large dose of MDMA would be needed to make a dent in the disease. But the Birmingham team, toiling for five years along with scientists from The University of Western Australia, found a way to maximize MDMA's cancer-fighting properties, while minimizing its toxic effect on the brain.

This is how it works: The drug attaches itself to the fat in diseased cells, weakening the membrane and making them "soapy."

The cancer cells are then essentially washed away, Gordon said.

The news is "genuinely exciting," said Dr. David Grant, director of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Research charity.

"Further work is required but this research is a significant step forward in developing a potential new cancer drug," he said.
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New research suggests that confidence is key to sticking to your workouts.

Having trouble sticking with an exercise routine? Don't blame your willpower.

New research suggests that whether or not you can overcome obstacles in your workout regime could boil down to confidence.

"Almost 50 percent of people who begin an exercise program drop out in the first six months," said University of Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Edward McAuley, who led the research. His assumption? A lack of a quality he refers to as "self-efficacy," or "situation-specific self-confidence."

"People who are more efficacious tend to approach more challenging tasks, work harder, and stick with it even in the face of early failures," adds McAuley in a statement on August 16.

If you fall a little short in self-efficacy, all is not lost, said the researchers.

Prior research has shown that you can boost confidence to achieve your goals by remembering your previous successes, observing others accomplishing something you find daunting, and enlisting support from your friends and family. "Every step toward your goal will further increase your confidence," McAuley said.

In the study, the researchers conducted a battery of cognitive tests on 177 men and women in their 60s and early 70s, and also asked them whether and how often they set goals for themselves, monitored their own progress, managed their time, and engaged in other "self-regulatory" behaviors, such as working in the yard rather than watching TV.

Participants were then randomly assigned to either a walking program or a stretching, toning, and balance program that met three times a week for a year. Their self-efficacy was assessed after three weeks in the program.

Those who stuck to their program were the ones who were better able to multitask and better control their undesirable behaviors, the researchers found.

With AFP Relaxnews
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