The Health Benefits of Water

Did you know that your body weight is approximately 60 percent water? Your body uses water in all its cells, organs, and tissues to help regulate its temperature and maintain other bodily functions. Because your body loses water through breathing, sweating, and digestion, it’s important to rehydrate by drinking fluids and eating foods that contain water. The amount of water you need depends on a variety of factors, including the climate you live in, how physically active you are, and whether you’re experiencing an illness or have any other health problems.

Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints

Water does more than just quench your thirst and regulate your body’s temperature; it also keeps the tissues in your body moist. You know how it feels when your eyes, nose, or mouth gets dry? Keeping your body hydrated helps it retain optimum levels of moisture in these sensitive areas, as well as in the blood, bones, and the brain. In addition, water helps protect the spinal cord, and it acts as a lubricant and cushion for your joints.

Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste


Smoking’s Toll on Health a Study Finds

However bad you thought smoking was, it’s even worse.

A new study adds at least five diseases and 60,000 deaths a year to the toll taken by tobacco in the United States. Before the study, smoking was already blamed for nearly half a million deaths a year in this country from 21 diseases, including 12 types of cancer.

The new findings are based on health data from nearly a million people who were followed for 10 years. In addition to the well-known hazards of lung cancer, artery disease, heart attacks, chronic lung disease and stroke, the researchers found that smoking was linked to significantly increased risks of infection, kidney disease, intestinal disease caused by inadequate blood flow, and heart and lung ailments not previously attributed to tobacco.

Even though people are already barraged with messages about the dangers of smoking, researchers say it is important to let the public know that there is yet more bad news.

Why Is Smoking Bad For You

Smoking is responsible for several diseases, such as cancer, long-term (chronic) respiratory diseases, and heart disease, as well as premature death. Over 480,000 people in the USA and 100,000 in the UK die because of smoking each year. According the US CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), $92 billion are lost each year from lost productivity resulting from smoking-related deaths.

Of the more than 2.4 million deaths in the USA annually, over 480,000 are caused by smoking.1

Smoking is the largest cause of preventable death in the world. Recent studies have found that smokers can undermine the health of non-smokers in some environments.

In an article published online in Medical News Today on 30 May 2013, we presented data demonstrating that, on average, smokers die ten years sooner than non-smokers.

Smoking causes cancer

Lung cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in the world. According to the American Lung Association, 90% of male lung cancer patients develop their disease because of smoking. In addition, male smokers are 23 times more likely to develop lung cancer than those who have never smoked. Female smokers are 13 times more likely

Not So Harmless Pot Linked to Heart Problems

Pot may not have a chilling-out, calming effect on everyone — evidence is emerging that for some people, smoking marijuana could increase the risk of heart problems, doctors say.

In a new study, researchers used data from a database called the French Addictovigilance Network, gathered from 2006 to 2010. Of the nearly 2,000 reported complications related to marijuana, the researchers found that 2 percent, or 35 cases, involved heart problems. These cases included 20 people who suffered a heart attack, and nine who died.

Researchers found most patients were men, with an average age of about 34. Regular marijuana users with a family history of heart disease had an increased risk of heart disease, according to the study, published today (April 23) in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Many of the patients also had other risk factors for heart disease, such as smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol, the researchers noted. Nevertheless, nearly half of the patients were regular users of only marijuana.

Researchers also found a small increase in heart problems over time. In 2006, only 1.1 percent of the reported complications were heart related, but that rate increased to

Cases of Tamiflu-Resistant Flu Concern Experts

World Health Organization researchers are reporting an apparent spike in Australia in the number of seasonal influenza cases resistant to Tamiflu, the most commonly used antiviral drug.

The jump in such cases involving the pandemic 2009 A(H1N1) flu strain, also known as swine flu, took place during Australia’s most recent winter: May through August of 2011.

“In 2007/2008, a different A(H1N1) influenza virus developed Tamiflu-resistance,” explained WHO research scientist Aeron C. Hurt, who reported the spike. “On that occasion, it was first detected in large numbers in Europe. However, within 12 months the virus had spread globally, such that virtually every A(H1N1) virus around the world was resistant to this drug,” he explained.

“This previous situation demonstrated the speed and potential for a Tamiflu-resistant virus to spread worldwide,” Hurt added. “Our concern is that this current pandemic 2009 A(H1N1) Tamiflu-resistant virus may also spread globally.”

Hurt, who is based in the Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza in North Melbourne, outlined his observations in the Dec. 29 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

To explore the question of H1N1-drug

Ecological imaging test may determine deadliness of breast cancer

Scientists in London have developed an ecological imaging test that may help determine which breast cancers are most likely to be deadly— an analysis that could in turn help doctors tailor individuals’ treatment more effectively.

The Ecosystem Diversity Index fuses a cancer imaging technique and methods used by ecologists to study animal and plant species. In a study published Tuesday in PLOS medicine, scientists at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, who developed the combined test, used the index to distinguish cancer cells from normal cells in tumors, according to a news release. They found that, based on the test, the more complex and diverse breast cancer is, the more likely it may be to advance and cause death. The institute helped fund the research, according to the release.

Study authors analyzed 1,026 samples of untreated breast tumors from three hospitals. They looked at three cell types: cancer cells; immune system lymphocytes; and stromal cells, which produce connective tissue.

They found patients with high-grade tumors that had a diameter larger than 5 centimeters, whose tumors were on the upper end of the Ecosystem Diversity Index, faced a 16 percent five-year survival rate, compared

Lung Cancer Health Center

The immune therapy drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab) may extend the lives of people with advanced lung cancer, a new study finds.

Keytruda is commonly used to treat other tumor types, and made headlines recently after it helped former President Jimmy Carter fight off brain cancer.

In this study, researchers compared Keytruda to the chemotherapy drug docetaxel in more than 1,000 patients with non-small cell lung cancer. All of the patients were battling tumors that had progressed even after chemotherapy.

Non-small cell lung cancer is the leading form of the disease.

All of the patients’ tumors produced a protein called PD-L1, which can shield the tumor from immune system attack, according to a team led by Dr. Roy Herbst, professor of medicine at Yale University School of Medicine.

Among patients with the highest amounts of PD-L1, those who received Keytruda lived twice as long as those who received docetaxel alone — 14.9 months vs. 8.2 months, Herbst’s team found. Patients with low levels of PD-L1 also benefited from Keytruda.

Treatment-linked side effects were less in patients given Keytruda versus those who took docetaxel, the study found.

There might be one drawback to Keytruda,

Twin Cities Take Top Ranking for Healthy Living

Exercising more and smoking less are two of the main reasons why residents of Minneapolis-St. Paul find their city is now the top-ranked in the United States for healthy living.

Every year, the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) ranks the 50 healthiest and fittest metropolitan areas in the United States, using the American Fitness Index (AFI). Although kicking the habit was a big part of why the Twin Cities unseated Washington D.C. from the No. 1 spot in 2011, moderate-to-low rates of chronic health problems such as obesity, asthma, heart disease and diabetes also factored into the city’s high score (77.2 out of 100 possible points).

Moreover, Minneapolis-St. Paul’s percentage of park land is above average, as is its share of recreational facilities. More farmers markets also popped up in the city this past year. These trends tend to indicate residents there are moving towards healthier lifestyles and eating habits, the ACSM noted.

Trailing behind Minneapolis-St. Paul to round out the AFI’s top five slots are the following cities:

  • Washington D.C., with a score of 76.8
  • Boston, with a score of 69.1
  • Portland, Ore., with a score of 67.7
  • Denver, with a score of 67.6

What Is the Flu?

Influenza, commonly known as “the flu,” is a viral infection of the respiratory tract that affects the nose, throat, and sometimes lungs.

Outbreaks of flu tend to happen annually, at about the same time every year. This period is commonly referred to as “cold and flu season.”

However, each outbreak may be caused by a different subtype or strain of the virus, so a different flu vaccine is needed to prevent the flu each year.

For most people, a bout of flu is an unpleasant but short-lived illness.

For others, however, flu can pose serious health risks, particularly if complications such as pneumonia develop.

Every year, thousands of Americans die from the flu. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of deaths caused annually by flu in the United States ranged from 3,000 to 49,000 between 1976 and 2006, with an annual average of 23,607 flu-related deaths.

The best way to avoid getting the flu is to get an annual flu vaccination, encourage the people you live and work with to do likewise, stay away from people who are sick, and wash your hands frequently.
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3 Health Wins During March Madness

As March Madness sweeps the nation, fans everywhere may be surprised to learn that the NCAA tournament isn’t just fun and games — it can actually have a significant impact on your health.

Most of the effects seem positive. “Being involved in a social group with shared values and interests is demonstrably healthy,” says Chris Peterson, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. “Being a sports fan is an excellent example of that.”

But the tourney may not be a health slam dunk. Certain factors, such as whether your team wins or loses or how riled up you get during games, can take a negative toll on your health and safety too.

So will this year’s tournament be a boost or bust your health? Read on to find out.

1. Health Boost: Self-Esteem Spike

Among garden-variety (as opposed to hardcore) fans, cheering on your alma mater can lift your self-esteem and lower levels of anxiety and depression — regardless of whether the team wins or loses, says Daniel Wann, PhD, a sports psychologist at Murray State University in Kentucky. “Research shows that identifying with a team helps you

Kids overexposed to ‘cool’ cigarettes in their video games

If previous years are any indication, many of these games will contain images of cigarettes and tobacco use. Experts worry they could lead young people, who clock hours a day playing video games, to start smoking.

Some 42% of video games featured characters smoking cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes and other products or made references to these products and smoking equipment, according to a study published in September.

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco found that limited their search to the 118 games released between 1994 and 2015 that were rated by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, an independent regulatory body that makes age recommendations for games.

Although there is ample research showing that images of smoking in movies influences young people, much less is known about the effect of tobacco references in video games. Adolescents from 12 and 17 who see the greatest amount of smoking in movies are about twice as likely to start smoking as those with the least exposure, according to a U.S. surgeon general’s report.

Video games could be even more influential than movies, said Robin Koval, chief executive officer and president of

Support Japan Relief Efforts With Everyday Health

In the aftermath of Japan’s devastating 9.0-magnitude earthquake and terrifying tsunami, people everywhere are wondering how they can support the numerous relief efforts under way. Many international relief groups are working to relieve suffering in the increasingly dire situation.

The Japanese government has so far confirmed that more than 3,500 people have died and more than 17,000 remain missing. These numbers are likely to rise once emergency service teams are able to reach all of the affected disaster areas. Nearly 530,000 Japanese have been evacuated from their homes so far, and shortages of food, water, and medical supplies are widespread.

Here’s an important way you can contribute to relief efforts: Donate to AmeriCares, a non-profit relief organization that saves lives and restores health in response to natural disasters, conflict, and chronic poverty. Everyday Health is partnering with AmeriCares to support its efforts on the front lines in Japan. For more than 25 years, AmeriCares has been delivering humanitarian aid, medical supplies, medicines, and other relief directly to disaster areas. One of those disasters AmeriCares responded to was the 1995 Kobe earthquake that struck Japan, leaving massive destruction and more than 300,000 homeless.

Related: Seven

Tap Into Beer’s Health Benefits

Beer drinkers, take note: Your favorite pint may be healthier than you realize. When it comes to good-for-you happy hour beverages, we tend to think mainly of red wine and its heart-friendly antioxidants. Recent research, however, reveals that beer may also help what ales you, from reducing the risk of osteoporosis to beating brain fog.

But before you go on a beer binge, remember that moderation is key to reap its health perks. That means no more than two 12-ounce beers a day for men and one for women. “If you overdo it, alcohol can take a toll on your health, contributing to liver damage, certain cancers, heart problems, and more,” says Andrea Giancoli, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. People with certain health conditions — including gout, high triglycerides, or breast cancer, for example — should avoid drinking beer or other alcohol because it can exacerbate those health problems, according to Joy Bauer, RD, nutrition and health expert for Everyday Health and The Today Show.

Too much alcohol can also cause weight gain. After multiple rounds, calories can add up quickly (a 12-ounce regular beer can pack up to 150 calories, while a

What’s Charlie Sheen’s Health Problem

After observing Sheen’s rants on radio shows and in the press, Drew Pinsky, MD, addiction specialist and host of Celebrity Rehab, suggested the star was bipolar. “These are bipolar, manic symptoms. The irritability, the agitation, the pressure in his speech, the anger and the aggression; that’s all manic symptoms, ” Pinsky told TMZ. “The thought process is unraveling. It’s derailed. It’s loosened. That’s a serious symptom.”

Sheen, however, disagrees with the allegation he has bipolar symptoms. “Wow, what does that mean? Wow, and then what? What’s the cure — medicine? Make me like them? Not gonna happen,” a chain-smoking Sheen said in an ABC News interview that aired this morning on Good Morning America. “I’m bi-winning. I win here and I win there.”

Related: Could Sheen Be Bipolar? Top Symptoms to Look For

Meanwhile, his family has taken a different tack. “He’s an extraordinary man,” his father, Martin Sheen, told the UK’s Sky News. “If he had cancer, how would we treat him? The disease of addiction is a form of cancer, and you have to have an equal measure of concern and love and lift them up, so

Stamp Out Smoking

Most of us know that smoking is unhealthy. So why do so many people still do it? The answers are complex. Researchers have found effective ways to help people quit smoking—or prevent them from starting in the first place. The tricky part is putting these tools to use. We can all take steps to help stamp out smoking.

Fifty years ago, the first Surgeon General’s Report on Smoking and Health revealed that smoking cigarettes raises your risk of developing several diseases. Since then, smoking rates have declined, saving millions of lives. But at the same time, more than 20 million Americans have died too soon because of smoking. And more than 3,200 children under age 18 smoke their first cigarette every day as a result of tobacco industry marketing and other influences.

We know a lot more than we used to about the dangers of tobacco smoke. “When you smoke, you inhale thousands of hazardous chemicals,” explains Dr. Michele Bloch, a tobacco control expert at NIH. “They travel all around inside your body and cause damage to numerous parts.”

Cigarette smoke can quickly damage delicate lung tissue. It doesn’t have a chance to heal when

Vitamin D May Delay Deterioration of Smokers’ Lungs

Among smokers, lung function may decline faster in those who have a vitamin D deficiency than in those with normal vitamin D levels, a new study suggests.

However, although boosting levels of vitamin D may offer some protection to the lungs from the effects of smoking, it won’t prevent deteriorating lung function or smoking-related health problems, such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, the researchers warned.

“Vitamin D, possibly due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, could provide a small amount of protection against lung damage that occurs from smoking,” said lead researcher Dr. Nancy Lange, of the Channing Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

“If these findings are replicated in other studies and interventional trials, vitamin D supplementation could have the potential to provide some protection against the damage to lung function that is due to smoking,” she said.

Lange emphasized that the effect was small and “the most important intervention, for both lung and overall health, is for people to stop smoking.”

The report was released online July 19 in advance of print publication in the American Journal of

Walking Helps Heart and Brain

In a randomized study involving men and women in their mid-60s, walking three times a week for a year led to increases in the volume of the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory, according to Dr. Arthur Kramer, of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Urbana, Ill., and colleagues.

On the other hand, control participants who took stretching classes saw drops in the volume of the hippocampus, Kramer and colleagues reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The findings suggest that it’s possible to overcome the age-related decline in hippocampal volume with only moderate exercise, Kramer told MedPage Today, leading to better fitness and perhaps to better spatial memory. “I don’t see a down side to it,” he said.

The volume of the hippocampus is known to fall with age by between 1 percent and 2 percent a year, the researchers noted, leading to impaired memory and increased risk for dementia.

But animal research suggests that exercise reduces the loss of volume and preserves memory, they added.

To test the effect on humans, they enrolled 120 men and

Smoking Tied to Back Pain, Arthritis

Two new studies have implicated smoking in the development of psoriatic arthritis and inflammatory back pain.

“Taken together, the interactions between environmental factors and the onset, the course, and outcomes of rheumatic diseases are getting increasingly complex, and it is becoming increasingly clear how detrimental the influence of smoking is on most of these diseases,” wrote Jürgen Braun, MD, of Rheumatology Medical Center Ruhrgebiet in Herne, Germany, and colleagues in an accompanying editorial.

The studies and editorial were published in the June Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

The study from Qureshi and colleagues examined the incidence of the condition among 95,000 participants in the Nurses’ Health Study over 14 years, identifying 157 cases.

The likelihood of developing psoriatic arthritis increased with the duration and intensity of smoking.

Moreover, the risks of severe disease were “remarkably elevated” among smokers with a 25-year history and with 20 or more pack-years, according to Qureshi’s group.

Among the possible mechanisms by which smoking could influence the incidence and course of psoriatic arthritis are through the induction of oxidative stress, and effects on inflammation and the immune system, the researchers noted.

“The mechanisms underlying the

3 Reasons Nicotine Is Addictive – and Tips That Will Help You Quit Smoking

Nicotine is a drug naturally present in tobacco. When you smoke a cigarette, the nicotine enters your lungs. From there, nicotine is quickly absorbed into your bloodstream. Within eight seconds, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, it reaches your brain.

“How you get a drug into your system has a lot to do with how addictive it is,” Seidman explains. “And inhaling tobacco smoke is one of the fastest ways to get any drug into your system because it goes directly to your brain.”

Nicotine affects you physiologically, psychologically, and socially, which gives momentum to your nicotine addiction and makes it that much more difficult to quit. “You can’t separate those three things,” Seidman says.

Physiological Effects of Nicotine

Once nicotine reaches your brain, it causes adrenaline to be released. A rise in adrenaline causes:

  • Your heart to beat faster
  • Your blood pressure to rise
  • Your pulse to quicken
  • Your veins to constrict
  • The electrical activity in your brain to change

At first, these changes may not be pleasant and can cause coughing, headaches, dizziness, and nausea. However, if you continue to smoke, you learn

How to Eat a Healthy Diet

Healthy Diet: The Building Blocks
The best source of meal planning for most Americans is the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food Pyramid. The pyramid, updated in 2005, suggests that for a healthy diet each day you should ea

  • 6 to 8 servings of grains. These include bread, cereal, rice, and pasta, and at least 3 servings should be from whole grains. A serving of bread is one slice while a serving of cereal is 1/2 (cooked) to 1 cup (ready-to-eat). A serving of rice or pasta is 1/2 cup cooked (1 ounce dry). Save fat-laden baked goods such as croissants, muffins, and donuts for an occasional treat.
  • 2 to 4 servings of fruits and 4 to 6 servings of vegetables. Most fruits and vegetables are naturally low in fat, making them a great addition to your healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables also provide the fiber, vitamins, and minerals you need for your body’s systems to function at peak performance. Fruits and vegetables also will add flavor to a healthy diet. It’s best to serve them fresh, steamed, or cut up in salads. Be sure to skip the calorie-laden toppings,

Health Effects of Smoking

Cigarette smoking has disastrous consequences: It damages just about every organ of the body and leads to the general deterioration of the smoker’s health. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cigarette smoking is responsible for nearly one of every five deaths in the United States, or about 438,000 deaths every year. Cigarette smoking is deadlier on an annual basis than HIV/AIDS, motor vehicle crashes, drug abuse, alcoholism, suicide, and murder … combined.

Smoking and Cancer

Cancer was one of the first diseases that researchers linked to cigarette smoking, and it continues to be smoking’s most notorious health effect. Cigarette smoking and tobacco use causes about one-third of all cancer deaths in the United States.

Lung cancer is most closely linked to cigarette smoking. Smoking causes nearly all lung cancer deaths in America, about 90 percent of male deaths and 80 percent of female deaths. The chances that a male smoker will die of lung cancer is 23 times that of someone who’s never smoked, while women who smoke run a risk 13 times greater than non-smokers.

But lung cancer is far from the only form of cancer attributable to

Drinking Alcohol Health Boost or Health Risk

A large number of studies have shown that moderate alcohol intake can lower the risk of cardiovascular disease in men and women. Moderate drinking means one drink per day for women and one to two for men, says Donald Novey, MD, an integrative medicine physician with the Advocate Medical Group in Park Ridge, Ill. “The difference in amounts is because of how men and women metabolize alcohol,” Dr. Novey explains.

“When you say one drink, the size of that drink matters,” Novey adds. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture one drink is equal to:

  • 12 ounces of beer or
  • 5 ounces of wine or
  • 1½ ounces of spirits (hard liquor such as gin or whiskey, 80-proof)

The Dangers of Drinking Too Much

Unfortunately, some people can’t stop at just one or two drinks. Too much alcohol can result in serious health consequences. Heavy alcohol intake can damage the liver, causing cirrhosis, a fatal disease. Excessive drinking also can raise blood pressure and damage the heart, and is linked to many different cancers, including mouth, esophagus, breast, prostate, and colorectal cancers. The health risks are even greater for those who not only drink but smoke as