Health Buzz: Advice on Flu Vaccines if a Relative Had Complications and Other Health News

Most U.S. babies born now will live to be 100; personalizing diet according to genes.


Safe to Get Flu Vaccine if a Family Member Had Complications?

Should you have a flu shot if a family member had severe complications? U.S. News's Bryan Arling, expert in internal medicine, explains a case in which a patient wondered if she should get the flu shot currently available and/or the H1N1 vaccine when it becomes available for herself, her husband, and her children. Her father developed severe Guillain-Barré syndrome a week after getting a flu shot last year.

Guillain-Barré syndrome is an autoimmune process that attacks peripheral nerves to skeletal muscles, Arling explains. It can be so severe that patients become bedridden, cannot move their arms or legs, and even may require a mechanical ventilator to breathe. A tiny fraction of 1 percent of patients who receive flu shots (and other immunizations) may develop this syndrome, and most recover almost completely. This is the sort of decision that people should make in conversation with their own doctor, Arling writes. In this patient's case, because her father took many months to recover and because the H1N1 appears quite infectious but not exceptionally lethal, she and Arling reasoned that it seems best not to immunize her because of the genes she may share with her father. Read more.

[Read: Keep Your Flu Shots Straight This Fall and 4 Flu Vaccine Doses for Kids.]

Most U.S. Babies Born Today Will Live to Age 100

A new review of studies suggests that the majority of babies born today in the United States and other rich nations will reach age 100, Health Day reports. Researchers in Denmark looked at aging studies from more than 30 developed countries and concluded that the death rate among octogenarians (and people even older) is decreasing, they found. "Continued progress in the longest living populations suggests that we are not close to a limit, and further rise in life expectancy seems likely," the researchers wrote. The study appears online in The Lancet.

[Read: Anti-Aging Drug Closer to Reality and 5 Common Myths About Aging.]

Do Your Genes Determine Which Diet Means Weight-Loss Success?

The more science learns about the marvelous diversity among human beings—fueled by genetic, environmental, and other factors—the clearer it becomes that a one-size-fits-all approach to diet is bound to fail, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson writes. Indeed, the weight-loss industry has cottoned to the notion that one specific diet isn't likely to work for everyone and is churning out eating plans based on what authors say is scientific evidence that taking your individual differences into account makes success more likely.

One book, the Women's Health Perfect Body Diet, offers two different eating plans keyed to your "carb tolerance." Another, The GenoType Diet, uses blood type, fingerprint analysis, and leg length measurements, among other factors, to prescribe one of six diets based on a "unique genetic type." And if you've got more extra cash than the $25 you'd spend on a book, various companies offer gene tests that they promise will identify the ideal mix of macronutrients (carbs, protein, and fat) and the exercise intensity that will most likely lead to weight loss. Is there anything to the fancy formulas and rules? The bottom line remains that if you want to lose weight on a diet, you have to burn off more calories than you're taking in. Read more.

[Read: Do Diet Programs Work? 7 Tips to Shed Pounds, and Can Snacks Be Part of a Healthful Diet?.]

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