As you head out to shop for the holidays, be aware of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses lurking around the great deals at the mall. Stay away from the following germy mall locations:
The restroom sink
More bacteria lingers around the sink than the door handle or the toilet handle in public restroom. Since people touch the faucet handle immediately after using the toilet, bacteria collects in this location. The soap may also harbor germs, particularly when refillable soap dispensers are used.
Think twice before you steady yourself with the escalator handrail. Recent testing found E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails. If you must use the handrail, keep hand sanitizer handy for afterward.
The clothes you try on have probably been tried on before. Skin cells and perspiration are often left behind, serving as food for bacterial growth. Wear full-coverage underwear, especially when trying on pants, and bandage cuts or wounds before putting on a piece of clothing.
A 2005 study found that between 67% and 100% of makeup-counter testers were contaminated with bacteria, including staph, strep, and E. coli. Itâ€™s best to buy makeup before trying it on, then return if the shade is off.
What are your best germ-avoiding tips while shopping?
Conventional wisdom has long suggested that aspirin may help stave off heart attacks or strokes. But a new study suggests that aspirin will not benefit most healthy women, and could cause side effects like bleeding ulcers and bruising.
The Dutch findings, published in the European Heart Journal, suggest many women needlessly take the drug. Researchers say 50 women will need to take the medication for 10 years for just one to be helped — and only if they are at high risk of heart attacks or strokes to begin with.
The researchers 28,000 healthy women age 45 and above who had received either aspirin or dummy pills in an earlier U.S. trial. Overall, aspirin cut the rate of heart attacks, strokes and death from heart disease from 2.4 percent to 2.2 percent.
The new study contradicts advice from leading medical groups like the American Heart Association. Dutch researchers did say that women over the age of 65 tend to benefit more than average from taking aspirin regularly.
Do you take aspirin regularly?
A rare condition that leads to serious heart damage may be spreading through the wind, researchers believe. Kawasaki disease frequently impacts children and includes symptoms of prolonged fever, blood-shot eyes, red lips, red tongue, and also red, swollen hands and feet with peeling skin.
Large-scale wind currents moving from Asia to Japan and around the North Pacific could be the root of the problem. Researchers discovered the number of Kawasaki disease cases increased in Japan when the wind blew in a southwesterly direction, and decreased when winds blew from the south. They also found the numbers of cases peaked from November to March when air from Central Asia blew over Japan and reached as far as Hawaii and San Diego.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that around 5,000 to 6,000 American children get the disease every year, most under the age of 5. Children with the disease are treated with a high dose of antibodies, but 10 to 20 percent of those with the disease end up with coronary artery damage.
If a childâ€™s fever lasts beyond five days and includes a rash, red eyes, and lips, have him or her checked out for Kawasaki disease.
Do you know someone with this disease?
Researchers have focused for years on the benefits of cutting down salt in the general populationâ€™s diet. But new studies suggest that reducing salt may not have as great of an overall impact as was once thought.
A review of more than 160 studies published Wednesday suggests that while cutting down on salt reduces blood pressure in people who have normal or high blood pressure, it also causes increases in hormones and compounds that can negatively impact health.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is one of the leading causes of strokes, heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases, which combined form the biggest killers worldwide and claim more than 17 million lives a year.
A different review published in July came to a similar conclusion: British researchers found no evidence that small reductions in salt intake lowered the risk of developing heart disease or dying prematurely. U.S. dietary guidelines currently recommend Americans consume less than 2.3g of sodium daily, or 1.5g for certain people who are more at risk of high blood pressure or heart disease. A teaspoon of salt, or roughly 5g, holds around 2.3g of sodium.
Do you keep track of how much salt you consume?
A candy binge might not be the first thing youâ€™d think a dentist would recommend. But this Halloween, dentists are encouraging kids to gorge on their spoils from trick-or-treatingâ€”because itâ€™s healthier than rationing the candy over a longer period.
Eating candy bit by bit, every few hours, day after day, keeps your teeth bathed in enamel-corroding acid. This may lead to dental caries, or cavities. If kids eat ten pieces of candy in a short period of time, saliva will neutralize the acid over the course of an hour so. Spread those candy bars out over ten days, and the teeth are being constantly exposed to the harmful acid.
Still, dentists are recommending a good brushing after every candy gorging episode. Sour candies do the most damage to teeth, so consider switching to less-corrosive chocolate. Of course, the recommendation to eat lots of candy at one time only applies to oral health: kids may take in lots of unnecessary calories without nutrients if they eat their entire stash of treats the day after Halloween.
Will you encourage your kids to eat lots of candy?
Thereâ€™s a dark side to a tasty candy that may make its way into several treat bags this Halloween, the FDA is warning. Black licorice can lead to heart arrhythmias and other health problems when consumed by adults in large quantities, the FDA noted in its pre-holiday alert.
The candy contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, which lends it a sweet flavor. But eating only two ounces of black licorice daily for two weeks could cause a heart arrhythmia, since it causes the kidneys to excrete potassium. Low levels of potassium can make the heart beat irregularly fast or out of sync, health authorities say.
People taking diuretics, digoxin and laxatives should be especially cautious when consuming the treat. The combination of the candy with these medications can drive potassium down to dangerously low levels. Other studies suggest that women taking oral contraceptives should practice moderation with black licorice because of the potassium effect.
However, the FDAâ€™s warning applies to everyone: young, old, at Halloween or at any other time of the year.
Do you eat black licorice?
Researchers studying vitamin E as a method to prevent prostate cancer instead found a shocking result: the supplement slightly increases the chance of prostate cancer in men. The new findings are published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study was a follow-up of an earlier large-scale cancer prevention trial conducted three years ago. The trial was stopped after researchers couldnâ€™t determine that supplements of vitamin E, selenium or a combination of the two nutrients could prevent prostate cancer. In the follow-up, about half the trial’s original 35,000-plus participants found a 17% increase in prostate cancer, compared with men who took a placebo. For every 1,000 men, 76 who took vitamin E supplements got prostate cancer, compared with 65 men who took placebo.
The study authors werenâ€™t clear on why vitamin E appeared to raise the risk of cancer. The recommended dietary allowance of vitamin E is currently 15 milligrams for adults. Prostate cancer is the cause of about 34,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.
If youâ€™re one of many health-conscious women who take vitamins, you may want to pay attention to the findings of a recent University of Minnesota study. According to the 20-year study, women who take multivitamins are 6% more likely to die earlier than women who donâ€™t take them.
Yes, you read that right. Researchers explained that many of the supplements contain high amounts of specific compounds, and high doses could be potentially toxic. “If you combine several supplements, or a multivitamin with supplements, then you reach even higher potentially toxic doses,â€ the lead researchers said.
In recent years, studies have shown that vitamins such as A, C and E, which were supposed to lower risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and cancer, didn’t provide a significant benefit. But many patients kept taking them anyway, and few doctors publicly discouraged it, since the studies didn’t show that taking vitamins did much harm either.
The 38,000 women who participated in the study, average age 62, were surveyed three times about whether they took multivitamins or 15 other types of supplements, and in what doses. Although the higher death risk was noted, researchers found that a bright spot: women in the study who took calcium had a nearly 10% lower risk of death over the study’s follow-up period, compared with those who didn’t take calcium supplements.
Do you take a multivitamin?
A diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains may prevent certain birth
defects, according to a study appearing in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent
Medicine this week. The study compared the diets of 3,824 mothers whose children
experienced birth defects with those of 6,807 mothers of healthy children.
Compared with high-fat, high sugar diets, healthier diets with plenty of folate, iron and
calcium were associated with a one-third lower risk of cleft lip, a one-quarter lower risk
of cleft palate, and a one-fifth lower risk of spina bifida, another neural-tube defect.
Folic acid deficiencies are associated with neural-tube defects and cleft lip and palate.
The researchers took into account whether the women they studied were taking folic acid
in addition to having a healthy diet. Women who followed the healthier diets in the year
before pregnancy were up to one-half as likely than those with unhealthier diets to have a
baby with the neural-tube defect anencephaly.
Researchers said that women of child-bearing age should continue to take folic acid
supplements, since studies have shown it makes a significant impact on reducing birth
Do you eat a healthy diet?
Anesthesia use in children may be linked to long-term damage and learning disabilities,
according to a new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Researchers
found that kids exposed to anesthesia before the age of 2 could develop a form of
cognitive impairment called apoptotic neurodegeneration.
However, researchers did not find an increased risk of learning disabilities in children
who had only been given anesthesia once. Multiple exposures to surgery and anesthesia
had more of a harmful impact, significantly increasing the likelihood of learning
disabilities later in life. The estimated incidence of learning disabilities in kids whoâ€™d
been exposed to anesthesia once was 23.6%, compared to 36.6% in those whoâ€™d had
anesthesia multiple times.
The study authors cautioned that the underlying condition requiring surgery might
complicate the relationship between anesthesia and developmental learning outcomes.
Surgery often involves trauma to tissues, blood loss, and inflammation, and the skill sets
and experience of surgeons vary widely.Still, the study may be beneficial for those who
have the option of delaying early surgeries.
Has your child been exposed to anesthesia?