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Thursday, Apr 24th

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An effective eye drug is available for $50. But many doctors choose a $2,000 alternative.

lucentisThe two drugs have been declared equivalently miraculous. Tested side by side in six major trials, both prevent blindness in a common old-age affliction. Biologically, they are cousins. They’re even made by the same company.

But one holds a clear price advantage.

Avastin costs about $50 per injection. Lucentis costs about $2,000 per injection.

Doctors choose the more expensive drug more than half a million times every year, a choice that costs the Medicare program, the largest single customer, an extra $1 billion or more annually.

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Immune system may play crucial role in mental health

mental healthA growing body of research on conditions from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to depression is starting to suggest a tighter link than was previously realized between ailments of the mind and body. Activation of the immune system seems to play a crucial role in both.

"We just didn't understand how much of a role the immune system plays in how we think and feel and act," says Andrew Miller, a professor of psychiatry at Emory University. "An overactive immune system or when there's something going on in the immune system, it can have consequences on the brain."

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A handful of tree nuts a day reduces death risk by 20 percent

tree nutes mean longer lifeAlmonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, macadamias, pecans, pine nuts and pistachios are linked to a 20 percent lower death rate, U.S. researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Ying Bao of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston and colleagues analyzed nut consumption with total and cause-specific mortality among 76,464 women in the Nurses' Health Study and 42,498 men in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study.

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Coca-Cola's Assault on Tap Water

coca colaWhile public health advocates have sung the praises of tap water for years, Coca-Cola has been focusing on its own covert assault on the affordable, healthful, and refreshing beverage.

Unbeknownst to many in the nutrition and public health world, the soft drink giant launched a  "Cap the Tap" program -- aimed at restaurants -- in 2010, described in the following manner on the Coke Solutions Web site:

Capture Lost Revenue By Turning Off the Tap

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Heart attack risk identified by new scan

Heart attack risk scanA new way of scanning the heart can identify those who may be at high risk of a heart attack, early tests suggest.

It can identify dangerous plaques in the arteries which nourish the heart. If a fatty plaque ruptures, it can lead to a clot, blocking the flow of blood.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh said an effective tool for predicting a heart attack would make a "massive difference" to patients. Experts said it was an exciting start.

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Genetically modified foods labeling initiative defeated by Washington voters

gmo initiative defeatedA closely watched ballot measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods sold in Washington was defeated Tuesday night after opponents spent heavily on TV ads attacking the initiative.

Results showed Initiative 522 leading in populous King County -- which includes Seattle -- but losing in almost every county in the state. In Clark County, across the Columbia River from Portland, nearly 60 percent of voters were voting no on the measure.

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Healthy San Francisco might sicken Tea Partiers

health care in SFTea Party members serving in Congress might find themselves headed to the emergency room with symptoms of a heart attack after hearing about the latest development in universal health care in San Francisco.

As conservative Republicans in Washington, D.C., fulminate over President Obama's Affordable Health Care Act, the city's 6-year-old Healthy San Francisco program is on track to provide care predominantly for immigrants who are living here illegally.

And the kicker? Everybody here is fine with it. Only in San Francisco? Indeed.

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