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Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman Found Dead in Manhattan Apartment

philip-seymour-hoffman-picture-2Award-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead Sunday afternoon in his New York City apartment, a law-enforcement official said.

The New York Police Department is investigating, and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to determine exact cause of death. The official said Mr. Hoffman, 46 years old, was found dead at his apartment at 35 Bethune St. in the West Village neighborhood of Manhattan.

Mr. Hoffman won the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 2005 film, “Capote.”

Posted On 02 Feb 2014

Report: Masahiro Tanaka to Yankees for $155 million



Via Paul White – USA Today Sports

Masahiro Tanaka is headed to the New York Yankees, who are once again spending money with the determination of years past.

Fox Sports is reporting that the prize of this winter’s free-agent class has agreed to terms on a seven-year, $155 million contract with the Yankees, the latest move in a winter of wild spending for the club.

Between outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, catcher Brian McCann and now Tanaka, the Yankees have expended $438 million in an effort to return to dominance.

That doesn’t include the $20 million posting fee the Yankees must pay to the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Tanaka’s team in Japan.

And though Tanaka has never thrown a pitch in the major leagues, the Yankees did not hesitate to offer him the fifth-largest contract ever for a pitcher.

Their agreement with Tanaka also comes less than two weeks after they had $25 million of 2014 payroll freed with 162 games of slugger Alex Rodriguez’s suspension upheld by an arbitrator.

And it also comes during a period in which the Yankees hoped to duck under Major League Baseball’s $189 million luxury tax threshold to avoid paying significant penalties.

Enter Tanaka, whose signing will effectively destroy those hopes.

The 25-year right-hander makes the move after the most remarkable pitching season in Japanese pro history — 24-0 with a 1.27 earned run average and Pacific League MVP for the Japan Series champion Rakuten Golden Eagles last season.

His overall numbers in Japan were comparable – even better when compared with league averages at the time – than Yu Darvish, the Texas Rangers ace who’s easily the best pitcher the Japanese leagues have sent to North America.

Not quite as overpowering as Darvish, Tanaka still has the pitch selection that – barring injury – makes him a prime candidate for a long-term deal.

He also has great flexibilty: Fox Sports reports the deal includes an opt-out clause after four years, which means Tanaka can cash in even more should he find success in the major leagues.

So, you might not see the Darvish fastball, but it’s still a good one. And think Koji Uehara’s splitter plus an above-average slider.

Tanaka doesn’t come to North American with the rock-star persona Darvish had cultivated in Japan, but the next Japanese ace has the necessary baseball credibility at home to arrive with special status.

When Japanese media members were discussing during last year’s World Series – and Boston closer Koji Uehara’s suddenly elevated status — the hero-level status of Japanese players who have come to the major leagues, they often referred to “Koshien.”

That’s the annual Japanese national high school tournament held at Koshien Stadium, the iconic home of the Hanshin Tigers of Japan’s Central League. Once a star in that tournament, a Japanese player has legendary status.

Count Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka on that list. Darvish’s team never won the tourney but he achieved a lesser level of notoriety for a no-hitter in one of the four years he was in the competition.

Tanaka didn’t win either, but is a big part of the lore.

In 2006, he entered the championship game as a reliever in the third inning and pitched through the 15th, when the 1-1 game was stopped, requiring a replay the next day. Tanaka relieved in the first inning the next day after his team fell behind 1-0 and finished the game without allowing a run. Winning pitcher Yuki Saito – who now plays for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters but missed most of last season with shoulder problems – pitched all 24 innings for his team and struck out Tanaka to end the second game.

High workloads at an early age for Japanese pitchers remain a underlying concern for major league teams considering long-term contracts. For every Darvish, who hasn’t pitched fewer than 182 innings since 2006, there’s a Saito, who has 39 career games as a pro.

Tanaka, who often goes by the nickname Makun to teammates, has averaged 188 innings in his seven years since turning pro out of high school and none of those seasons was more spectacular than 2013. His combined record over the past three seasons is 53-9 with a 1.44 ERA and 583 strikeouts and 78 walks in 511 innings.

Posted On 22 Jan 2014

An Action Plan for Handling Stress

stress-pencil-croppedStress can take a physical and emotional toll, so be prepared to address it head-on.



Stress is on the rise for a lot of Americans, and more than half of us don’t feel like we’re getting the support we need to handle it. Why are so many people stressing out — and what can they do?

According to a Stress in America survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 1 out of 5 Americans reports feeling extreme levels of stress and more than a third say that their stress has gone up in the past year. Among the leading causes of stress are money, work, family and health issues. Even children aren’t exempt — a new study from Auburn University and the Catholic University of America looks specifically at stress in kids caused by marital conflicts at home.

Many people think of being stressed “as a normal state of being, even though I would argue it’s not,” said Dr. Lynn Bufka, a licensed clinical psychologist, APA’s assistant executive director for practice research and policy, and a member of APA’s Stress in America team. “We don’t necessarily think about how we can do something differently and address this head-on.”

But it does need to be addressed. Stress can have a very real impact on a variety of body systems, from the cardiovascular system to muscles. “There’s often also a physiological reaction in addition to the mental experience of feeling stressed,” said Bufka. “And that may manifest itself in terms of headaches, or stomachaches, or muscle tension.”

So what should you do? For starters, don’t wait for the stress to get to you. “There’s positive things that we can do,” as Bufka points out, “but when we’re feeling stressed we may not always think of those things, so it’s helpful to have a plan in advance.”

Studies have shown that any kind of exercise, from high-energy activities to yoga, can help. “When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that fight stress,” said Frank Lupin, MS, ATC, PES, a certified athletic trainer and a personal trainer for Coordinated Health in Bethlehem, Pa.

Some other healthy tips for managing stress: Eat well-balanced meals, limit alcohol and caffeine intake, and make sure you’re getting enough sleep.

People should also consider what the source of their stress is, and whether or not they feel it’s at a manageable level. “It’s when our ability to cope with stressful events exceeds what we have to offer…or when it starts interfering with our functioning and our ability to work or be a student or be a parent,” said Bufka. “That’s when we really need to think…maybe I might need some additional support from a professional.”

The problem is that more than half of Americans feel that their healthcare provider offers little or no support to manage their stress, according to the Stress in America survey.

“When people receive professional help to manage stress and make healthy behavior changes they do better at achieving their health goals,” says American Psychological Association CEO Norman B. Anderson, PhD. “Unfortunately, our country’s health system often neglects psychological and behavioral factors that are essential to managing stress and chronic diseases.”

In many cases, stress just isn’t covered during a typical patient visit, either because of the briefness of the visit or because it’s focused on a specific patient complaint. Bufka suggests that “patients do themselves a good service by going in knowing the questions they want to ask.”

When a patient does raise stress as an issue, some physicians may simply not feel that they can adequately address it. Doctors also may not recognize that a patient is overly stressed and needs help.

If you can’t identify what’s causing your stress or if it persists and starts interfering with your daily life, then speak to your doctor. Ask them about what treatment options, such as therapy or medication, may be available. If your doctor can’t help, they should be able to refer you to someone who can.

Posted On 16 Jan 2014

Counting Calories Isn’t Enough


You Need to Factor in Appetite and Metabolism

Metabolism determines how efficiently we’re burning calories and appetite determines how satisfied they make us. There are ways to increase the former and decrease the latter, which will make it a lot easier to maintain a healthy weight.

By Sanjay Gupta, MD, Everyday Health

When it comes to maintaining your weight and staying fit, you want to look at how many calories you’re taking in every day and also how many calories you’re burning off. It sounds simple, right? But it’s a lot harder than simple addition and subtraction.

If you look at restaurants, they’ll post calorie counts. That can help. There are apps out there that will help you do that as well. There are also devices that will look at how many calories you’re burning throughout the day, like the FitBit, for example.

But it’s actually a lot more complicated than simply looking at those calories. There are two big influencers that affect that — metabolism looks at how efficiently you’re burning those calories throughout the day, and also your appetite, which looks at how satisfied those calories are making you.

So there’s the goal — you want to increase your metabolism, decrease your appetite, and I’m going to give you some tips on how to do so. And I promise you, some of these are not that obvious.

For example, don’t be tempted to skip breakfast. Sure, you’ve cut some calories, but you’ve also cut your metabolism.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, Cleveland Clinic:
After a night’s sleep when your body is burning calories and working hard to keep you alive while you sleep, you need to fuel it the next day. You need to break that fast.

Dr. Gupta:
Skip breakfast, and your body can go into a sort of starvation mode.

Kristin Kirkpatrick:
Your body essentially says, OK I don’t have the fuel I need to function, so I’m going to have to lower the metabolism a little bit to survive.

Dr. Gupta:
Lower metabolism means your next meal will not be burned off as fast. And what you eat for breakfast is also important, especially when it comes to that other factor — appetite. Try to start the day with protein — things like yogurt, eggs, or egg whites if you want to avoid cholesterol. Protein will make you feel full longer.

So what about sweets? Not all sugars are created equal. Researchers at Yale compared the two simple sugars that make up table sugar, also known as sucrose. They are glucose and fructose. Now, fructose is also found in fruit, but we’re getting a lot more of it these days in high-fructose corn syrup as well as processed foods.

The researchers found that fructose is not as good as glucose at making us feel full. So when foods are sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup as opposed to sugar, we may tend to eat more of them. There is some evidence that even artificial sweeteners with no calories at all may still boost the appetite, and contribute to weight gain indirectly.

When it comes to carbs, the harder they are to digest the better. That boosts metabolism. So whole wheat is better than white, and beans may be the best of all.

Kristin Kirkpatrick:
Beans have something called resistant starch, which is starch that is a little more difficult for our body to digest. The more difficult it is for our body to digest something, the more energy it’s going to take to actually do that.

Dr. Gupta:
Finally, adding spice to your life may also boost your metabolism. There is some evidence that a chemical in black pepper prevents fat cells from forming.

Reduce your appetite, increase your metabolism, and you’ll find keeping that nutritional balance is a lot easier.

With Everyday Health, I’m Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Be well.



Posted On 14 Jan 2014

Bad Health Habits Don’t Change, Even After a Health Crisis

We are creatures of habit, especially bad habits. New research shows even a crisis like a heart attack or a stroke is not enough to get many of us to shape up.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta via Health Matters

We all think we could break a bad habit if we had to. That smokers’ excuse “I can quit anytime,” holds for all our bad habits: “I can start exercising any time” and “I’ll eat better tomorrow.”

But a study out of Canada has some sobering news: Even a brush with death is often not enough to get us to make better choices.

Researchers studied more than 150,000 people from all around the world, rich and poor, urban and rural. Participants answered questions about exercise, diet, and smoking.

Because the group was so large, there were almost 8,000 participants who had survived either a heart attack or a stroke. Thehealth habits of this group were startling.

Only 39 percent reported improving their diet, and just 35 percent increased their physical activity. Of those who were smokers, only 52 percent quit.

Just 4 percent of those 8,000 people improved their habits in all three areas: smoking, diet, and exercise.

Posted On 13 Jan 2014

Police advise caution on icy roadways throughout Suffolk

StoryThe Suffolk County Police Department is advising motorists to use extreme caution when driving on roadways due to icy conditions.  The advisory was issued shortly after 11 a.m. Friday morning, stating “the roadways are icy and considered hazardous.”

A report from The U.S. National Weather Service this morning stated that rain is moving across Long Island and is “creating some slick and hazardous conditions where temps are currently below freezing.”

“While temperatures will be slowly rising above freezing over the next few hours, give yourself plenty of extra time while traveling and go slow,” is advised to all drivers in the report.

Posted On 10 Jan 2014

“Bombshell” Smoking Report Hits Milestone

Fifty years later, millions of lives have been saved. But tobacco use remains a public health crisis.

By Dr. Sanjay Gupta – Health Matters

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of a turning point in Americans’ attitude toward the health risks of smoking. Increased awareness and public health initiatives have helped save millions of lives since then. It’s “a great public health success story,” according to the authors of a new study. But the story doesn’t end there.

On January 11, 1964, U.S. Surgeon General Luther Terry released a report clearly linking tobacco use to disease and death. Research such as a 1954 study by the American Cancer Society had already pointed to a smoking-cancer link. But the Surgeon General’s first report on smoking and health “hit the country like a bombshell,” Terry later recalled. The report stated that smoking was associated with a 70 percent increase in mortality, and linked it to chronic bronchitis, emphysema, and heart disease.

“This report probably ranks up there with the discovery of the polio vaccine,” said Michael Roizen, MD, an internist and chief wellness officer at the Cleveland Clinic. “This was the first time it was widely recognized that tobacco was a carcinogen.”

The number of U.S. smokers is half what it was in 1964, and new research funded by the National Cancer Institute estimates that smoking prevention efforts helped extend 8 million lives.

Health warnings are required on cigarette packages, tobacco ads on television have been banned, and marketing tobacco products to kids under the age of 18 is prohibited.

All but 10 states have imposed at least one type of public smoking ban. In recent years, several states have boosted the sales tax on cigarettes, “thereby reducing the demand for cigarettes and, ultimately, smoking-related death and disease,” according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Yet nearly 1 out of 5 Americans still light up, and smoking remains the leading cause of preventable death. Smoking-related diseases account for $96 billion in annual U.S. healthcare costs.

The CDC estimates that 7 out of 10 U.S. smokers say they want to quit, and millions have tried. The health benefits of quitting can be seen almost immediately. Research has shown that just 72 hours after quitting smoking, breathing becomes easier as the bronchial tubes in the lungs relax. A recent study presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions found that a smoker’s risk of heart disease can drop to the level of a non-smoker’s within eight years of quitting.

There are several effective options to help smokers quit, from counseling to medications. “It’s much easier for people to undertake the task of quitting smoking,” said Dr. Roizen. “It’s not as hard to quit as it used to be because of the behavioral programs and other treatments developed.”

Health experts remain split about the effectiveness of one tool to quit smoking. As Roizen puts it, “the next debate will be about the safety of e-cigarettes and whether or not they should be sold to everyone.”

The electronic cigarette or e-cigarette uses a battery to vaporize flavored liquid solutions that often contain nicotine. The vapor contains fewer harmful chemicals than regular cigarette smoke, but research such as a 2009 U.S. Food and Drug Administration study found detectable levels of the carcinogen nitrosamine and the toxic chemical diethylene glycol in some e-cigarette samples.

Opponents fear that e-cigarettes, which are not federally regulated, may be a gateway for young smokers. The CDC reported the number of middle school and high school students using e-cigarettes doubled in one year, while 3 out of 4 continued smoking regular cigarettes as well.

“We are worried that e-cigarettes will help kids overcome their inhibitions and re-normalize smoking and undermine the progress we have made,” said Tim McAfee, MD, director of the CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health, at a press conference.

A September study in the Lancet found e-cigarettes “modestly effective at helping smokers to quit,” but its authors cautioned that “more research is urgently needed to clearly establish their overall benefits and harms.”

“Despite the success of tobacco control efforts…smoking remains a significant public health problem,” according to the NCI study. But the Surgeon General’s “bombshell” report a half century ago remains a milestone in public health policy. “It got physicians to pay attention and got them to believe the harmful effects of smoking,” said Roizen. “And it got society to notice too.”

Posted On 10 Jan 2014

The Mediterranean Diet’s Secret Formula for Fighting Diabetes



In other news: Easy ways to make superfood snacks, and a look at how effective fad diets are.

By Erinn Connor, Everyday Health Staff Writer

The tried-and-true Mediterranean diet could lower your chances of diabetes all on its own, without increasing exercise or cutting back on calories. The reason may be one of the diet’s key components: olive oil.

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of participants on the Mediterranean diet reduced their diabetes risk by 40 percent, compared to a group on a low fat diet. Olive oil has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which could be a reason for the reduced risk.

The Mediterranean diet also focuses on eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fish.

The new study “demonstrates the power of plant foods and an overall healthful diet,” said Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington University in St. Louis.

Americans Living Longer Than Ever

People born in 2009 have an average life expectancy of 78.5 years—the longest ever.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the life expectancy for a man born in 2009 is 76 while a woman’s life expectancy is 80.9 years old.

Though Americans can expect a long life, this does not necessarily mean it will be a healthy one. With more and more people being diagnosed with chronic illnesses, quality of life may not match the number of years lived.

“The next chapter in medical advance will need to be as much about lifestyle as medicine if we are to add life to years along with years to life,” said David Katz, MD, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center.

Easy to Eat Superfoods

Wondering how to incorporate superfoods in your diet? It’s not as hard as you think.

Quinoa packs a lot of protein and is also gluten-free, making it a popular choice for many. Use quinoa as a substitute for rice or barley, which gives you a wider range of uses for the tiny seed.

Everyone talks about kale as a low-calorie option, and one simple way to prepare it is to spray it with olive oil, add some salt, and microwave for five minutes.

Do These Fad Diets Work?

Will fad diets actually help you lose the weight you’re looking to shed in 2014? Here’s a look at the pros and cons of two famous diets:

  • Paleo diet: Known as the “caveman diet,” this meal plan hones in on fish, lean meats, fruits and nuts, things our ancestors ate centuries ago. It’s a fairly easy diet to follow, but long-term health benefits have yet to be proven.
  • South Beach diet: This diet cuts out carbs and instead encourages lean proteins, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains as well as fruits and veggies. The first phase of the diet can be strict for new dieters, but the maintenance phase makes it easier to keep the pounds off.

Erinn Connor is a staff writer for Health Matters With Dr. Sanjay Gupta

Posted On 09 Jan 2014

Maddux, Glavine and Thomas are Hall of Famers


The Baseball Hall of Fame has announced three new inductees for 2014.

The new inductees were announced at 2 p.m. ET Wednesday and they are:

Pitcher Greg Maddux who played for the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs garnered 97.2% of the voters selections

Pitcher Tom Glavine of the Braves and later the New York Mets.  Glavine was named by 91.9% of the voters.

And slugging first baseman Frank Thomas, who played for the Chicago White Sox as well as spending time with the Oakland A’s and Toronto Blue Jays. Thomas received votes from 83.7% of the voters.

Craig Biggio, who spent his career with the Houston Astros, just missed. He was named on 74.8 percent of the ballots cast by baseball writers. It takes 75 percent to get into the hall.

The lingering effects of the steroids era continued to be felt. Former superstar Barry Bonds, who was named on 36.2 percent of the ballots last year, was on only 34.7 percent this time around. Pitcher Roger Clemens’ vote also went down slightly.

Posted On 08 Jan 2014