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Health Replay: ‘Milk or Meds’ … and More

Health news you should know

This week in health:
One in three adults in this country living with chronic diseases such as diabetes, arthritis or high blood pressure have trouble paying for both food and medications, says a new study in theAmerican Journal of Medicine. Researchers analyzed data collected by the 2011 National Health Interview Survey, which looked at almost 10,000 people aged 20 and older and found that people who had difficulty affording food were also four times more likely to skip necessary prescriptions because of the cost. They also found that 23 percent took their medication less often than prescribed, 19 percent reported difficulty affording food and 11 percent said they were having trouble paying for both food and medications. “This leads to an obvious tension between ‘milk’ or ‘meds,'” says Niteesh Choudhry, M.D., who worked on the study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “If you have a fixed income, should you treat or should you eat?” Researchers say patients struggling to afford food or medications should talk to their doctor.
Protein-heavy diets such as Paleo and Dukan are touted for weight loss, but a new study suggests they might be bad for dieters’ kidneys. The small study, conducted on rodents, found that animals following a high-protein diet dropped pounds, but also had an increased risk of kidney stones and other symptoms of kidney failure.
Seat belt use is up, with an average of 87 percent of people using them nationwide, a trend the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been seeing since the mid-’90s. The NHTSA’s 2013 research found seat belts use increased significantly for auto occupants in the Northeast and for people driving in heavy traffic.
A shortage of IV saline is forcing hospitals and dialysis centers to get creative to manage supplies of a solution commonly used to hydrate patients. The shortage is attributed to a spike in flu cases in January. Health-care providers are reserving supplies of the fluids for their most seriously ill patients and using smaller IV bags to cope. “We have not heard of anyone running out of the IV solutions at this point,” said Valerie Jensen, the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) associate director for drug shortages. “But we know the hospitals are not comfortable with the low supplies.’ The FDA has asked three IV saline manufacturers to step up production, and it expects the supply to return to normal by the second quarter of this year.
Teens need a breakfast of champions (donuts and triple fat lattes from the corner coffee shop don’t count) or they face an increased risk of certain illnesses later in life. A recent study from the National Institutes of Health linked teens’ poor breakfast habits to a significantly higher (68 percent) incidence of developing metabolic syndrome  once they reach adulthood. Metabolic syndrome increases the risk of suffering serious health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and stroke. Previous studies found that breakfast skippers were more likely to be obese or have heart disease.

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