Roundup: Flu Vaccines Urged as Season Intensifies; Coffee Reduces Aging-Related Inflammatory Process, Study Finds

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January 20, 2017

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If you haven’t gotten a flu shot, the time is now. Flu season is here, and there’s been an uptick in the number of people in Florida getting sick with the virus, according to the Florida Department of Health (FDOH).

Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe Counties are reporting mild-to-moderate flu activity, with the influenza A virus being the most common strain cited. Across the state last week, the percent of seniors, adults aged 65 and older, who visited emergency departments and urgent care centers for flu-like symptoms increased above the peak levels seen in the the 2015-16 season, says the FDOH. And while rare, one child in Florida died earlier this month as a result of having the flu.

Although flu activity is on the rise, vaccination remains the best protection against the illness. “It’s never too late to get your flu shot,” said the Florida Department of Health advisory issued this week. Children, pregnant women, seniors and people with underlying chronic health conditions are most at risk for severe flu illness. Practicing good hand hygiene by properly and frequently washing hands can also prevent the spread of infection, health officials advise.

Flu shots are available from a number of places, including primary care physician offices. The Florida Department of Health also provides a list of locations for flu vaccinations.

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Coffee Reduces Aging-Related Inflammatory Process, Study Finds

Most chronic diseases tied to aging are associated with chronic inflammation, including heart disease. But a new study finds that coffee might help you live longer because of its ability push back on that inflammatory process.

This is more good news for coffee drinkers. In the past, various studies have linked coffee consumption to living longer. Now, researchers may have found the mechanisms underlying this link. Lead author David Furman, of the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection at Stanford University in California, and colleagues recently reported their findings in the journal Nature Medicine.

A group of healthy adults, aged 2o to 30, and another group of healthy adults, aged 60 and older, were all analyzed as part of the study.  The researchers found that the blood of older adults — those who had low “gene cluster activity” tied to circulating inflammatory protein — was more likely to contain caffeine metabolites. Further research revealed that the caffeine metabolites seemed to prevent inflammatory effects.

Those older study participants who had high gene cluster activity were also significantly more likely to have arterial stiffness – a risk factor for heart attack and stroke – compared with subjects who had low gene cluster activity and were regular coffee drinkers.

Co-senior author Mark Davis, Ph.D., also of the Institute for Immunity, Transplantation and Infection at Stanford, told Medical News Today that these findings demonstrate “an underlying inflammatory process, which is associated with aging, is not only driving cardiovascular disease but is, in turn, driven by molecular events that we may be able to target and combat.”

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Daily Exercise May Boost Colon Cancer Survival

At least 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity can reduce the rise of disease progression and death in colon cancer patients, preliminary research suggests.

Researchers who tracked more than 1,200 colon cancer patients found a 19 percent reduction in risk for early death. Five or more hours of moderate — but non-vigorous — activity a week increased that survival benefit to 25 percent.

Walking, cleaning or gardening counted as moderate exercise, researchers said. Exercise benefits previously have been reported for early stage cancer patients.

The study team, led by Brendan J. Guercio, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, is scheduled to present the findings this week at the annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium in San Francisco.

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