Category Archives: Disease

10 Health Effects Caused by Smoking You Didn’t Know About

By 1964, it was official: The U.S. Surgeon General confirmed that cigarette smoking causes lung cancer. But in the 50 plus years that followed, we learned that smoking is responsible for a heap of other awful diseases, contributing to the tobacco epidemic we face today.

Here are some health consequences of smoking you might not have heard before…

  1. Going Blind

    Smoking doesn’t do your peepers any good. Smoking increases your risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in adults over the age of 65.

  2. Type 2 Diabetes

    Smoking contributes to type 2 diabetes and increases the risk of complications from the disease— including poor blood flow to legs and feet. This can lead to infection and result in the need to amputate a limb. Yep–you could lose your foot or leg!

  3. Erectile Dysfunction

    Male sexual function is affected when you smoke. Tobacco causes narrowing of blood vessels all over your body, including those that supply blood to the penis. Good news is that quitting will make a big difference.

  4. Ectopic Pregnancy

    Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening reproductive complication in women that is more likely in smokers. It occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. The egg can’t survive and it puts mom’s life at serious risk.

  5. Hip Fractures

    Smokers lose bone density at a faster rate than non-smokers which puts you at risk for breaking body parts like your hip. Putting down the cigarettes can help slow down this process and keep you breaking a sweat, not your bones, on the dance floor.

  6. Colorectal Cancer

    Colorectal cancer, which forms in your intestines (colon or rectum), is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. One of the reasons? Yup, cigarette smoking. Smoking is linked to an increased risk of developing and dying from this type of cancer.

  7. Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic inflammatory disease more common in women that affects the joints in your hands and feet. It causes painful swelling that can eventually result in bone loss and joint deformity. Smoking is one of the causes, and is also associated with developing the disease at an earlier age.

  8. Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate

    These birth defects, commonly called orofacial clefts, occur when a baby’s lip or mouth doesn’t develop properly during pregnancy. Women who smoke during pregnancy are more likely to have babies with orofacial clefts.

  9. Fertility Issues

    Moms-to-be take note: Smoking can affect your ability to conceive. It causes reduced fertility in women and can contribute to other problems during pregnancy.

  10. Gum Disease

    As if potentially losing a limb isn’t enough (see #2), you also risk losing your teeth from smoking. Smoking contributes to periodontis—a gum infection that destroys the bone that supports the teeth. It is a major cause of tooth loss in adults.

Top 10 Deadliest Diseases

The news is filled with stories about Ebola, and breast cancer gets a lot of press too. Would it surprise you to know that neither makes the list of the 10 deadliest diseases? Even more surprising, perhaps, is that several of the deadliest diseases, including the number one killer in the world, are at least partially preventable. Where a person lives, access to preventive care, and quality of healthcare all factor into their risk.

The top five deadliest diseases haven’t changed much in the past decade, but we’ve managed to lower the number of deaths for some of the top 10 deadliest diseases.

1. Coronary Artery Disease (Ischemic Heart Disease)

The deadliest disease in the world is coronary artery disease (CAD). CAD, also called ischemic heart disease, occurs when the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart become narrowed. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 7.4 million people died of ischemic heart disease in 2012. That was about 13.2 percent of all deaths.

In the United States, about 600,000 people die of heart disease every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That makes it the deadliest disease in the U.S., as well as the world. In the U.S. the most common type of heart disease is CAD, which takes about 380,000 lives each year.

Among the risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and smoking. Regular exercise, good nutrition, and weight control can help lower your risk of developing CAD.

Where you live matters. Although it’s still the leading cause of death, mortality rates have declined in many European countries and in the United States. This may be due to better prevention and access to quality healthcare. However, in many developing nations, mortality rates due to CAD are on the rise.

2. Stroke

A stroke is when an artery in the brain is blocked or leaks. Oxygen-deprived brain cells begin to die within minutes.

Stroke was responsible for 6.7 million deaths around the world in 2012, according to WHO. That figure represents about 11.9 percent of all deaths. CDC figures show that nearly 130,000 people in the United States die of stroke each year — that’s one person every four minutes. About one in four strokes occur in people who have had a prior stroke. Stroke is also a leading cause of disability.

Risk factors for stroke are similar to those for CAD. In general, good health habits can lower your risks.

3. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

COPD is a chronic, progressive lung disease that makes it hard to breathe. Chronic bronchitis and emphysema are types of COPD.

About 3.1 million deaths were attributed to COPD in 2012, according to WHO. That represents about 5.6 percent of deaths, a rate that has held steady since 2000. In 2004, about 64 million people around the world were living with COPD.

The main cause of COPD is tobacco — and that means secondhand smoke, too. Another factor is air pollution, both indoors and out. COPD affects men and women at about the same rate. There’s no cure for COPD, but its progression can be slowed down with medication.

The American Lung Association estimates that in 2011, 12.7 million adults in the United States had COPD, but even more showed some sign of lung problems. There’s a great variation in the number of cases from state to state. In 2011, about 4 percent of people in Minnesota and Washington had COPD. In Alabama and Kentucky, it was more than 9 percent.

4. Lower Respiratory Infections

WHO estimates that lower respiratory infections caused about 3.1 million, or 5.5 percent of deaths in 2012. This group of diseases includes pneumonia, bronchitis, and influenza.

Flu season lasts from December through February in the Northern Hemisphere and from June through August in the Southern Hemisphere. The risk is year round in tropical regions.

According to the CDC, about 20 percent of travelers returning to the United States seek medical attention for respiratory infection following a trip. Packed cruise ships, hotels, and other close quarters increase risk of transmission and outbreaks of disease.

5. Trachea, Bronchus, and Lung Cancers

Trachea, bronchus, and lung cancer are all respiratory cancers. The main causes of this type of cancer are smoking, second-hand smoke, and environmental toxins.

WHO estimates that in 2012, 1.6 million people died from trachea, bronchus, and lung cancers. These cancers represent about 2.9 percent of all deaths globally.

6. HIV/AIDS

HIV is short for human immunodeficiency virus. It’s a virus that attacks the immune system. HIV can cause AIDS, or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. AIDS is a chronic, life-threatening condition.

According to the Foundation for AIDS Research (amfAR), since the start of the pandemic, almost 39 million people have died due to HIV/AIDS. In 2013, about 1.5 million people lost their lives to AIDS. That’s about 2.7 percent of deaths worldwide.

By the end of 2012, 35.3 million people around the world were infected with HIV. Every day, about 5,700 more become infected.

Rates vary dramatically by geographical location. HIV is rampant in sub-Saharan Africa, where almost one in 20 adults has it. The region is home to 70 percent of all people who have HIV. Sadly, it’s also home to 91 percent of the HIV-positive children in the world.

7. Diarrheal Diseases

Diarrhea is when you pass three or more loose stools a day. When diarrhea lasts more than a few days, your body loses too much water and salt. Death is due to dehydration. Diarrhea is usually caused by an intestinal infection transmitted through viruses, bacteria, or even parasites. This type of infection can easily spread through contaminated water or food. It’s particularly widespread in developing nations that have poor sanitary conditions.

WHO estimates that 1.5 million people died from diarrheal diseases in 2012, which comprises about 2.7 percent of deaths. Fortunately, that’s down from 2.2 million in 2000. Diarrheal disease is the second top killer of children under age five. Tragically, about 760,000 children die from diarrheal diseases each year.

According to a 2009 Unicef report, every year there are about 2.5 billion cases of diarrhea involving children under five years old. More than 50 percent occur in Africa and South Asia. More than 80 percent of child deaths due to diarrhea occur in those regions.

According to Unicef, healthy behaviors such as good handwashing technique can reduce the incidence of diarrheal diseases by 40 percent. Progress is being made in the fight against diarrheal diseases, but much work remains. Improved sanitization and water quality can help prevent diarrheal diseases. Access to early medical intervention can be the difference between life and death.

8. Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes is a group of diseases that affect insulin production and use. In type 1 diabetes, the pancreas can no longer produce insulin. The cause is not known. In type 2 diabetes, the pancreas doesn’t produce enough insulin, or it can’t be used effectively. Type 2 diabetes can be caused by a number of factors, including poor diet, lack of exercise, and carrying too much weight.

In 2012, about 1.5 million people died from diabetes-related causes, according to WHO. People in low to middle income countries are more likely to die from complications of diabetes.

9. Preterm Birth Complications

According to WHO, in 2012, as many as 1.1 million deaths were due to prematurity and complications due to low birth weight. Three-quarters of these deaths happen within the first week of life. Lack of skilled medical care makes this a huge problem in developing countries. Many newborn deaths could be avoided with good prenatal and postnatal care.

10. Tuberculosis (TB)

TB is a lung condition caused by bacteria called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. It’s an airborne disease that is often successfully treated. Some strains of TB are resistant to conventional treatments. Second-line drugs used to treat these patients are in limited supply. Some strains fail to respond to second-line treatment as well.

In 2012, about 900,000 people lost their lives to TB, according to WHO estimates. The majority of TB-related deaths happen in poorer countries. It is one of the top causes of death for people who have HIV.

19 Best way how to cure a headache

How to get rid of headaches without medicine? When dealing with a headache, most rush to the store for over-the-counter pills or prescription drugs. However, there are natural and simple remedies that you can try at home. This article will list down ways to get rid of a headache without medicine. You can find the help by basically looking into your kitchen.

Headache attack can be very detrimental to one’s performance at work or school. It interferes with the family life, work, sleep, school, sports, and even during leisure activities. However, headaches are extremely common. According to MayoClinic, headache refers to the pain in any region in the head whether it concentrates on an isolated portion or on one or both sides. The sharp pain may arise gradually or suddenly and headaches usually last for an hour or for a couple of days.

Why do people get headaches?

Answering this question is of prime importance. Identifying the cause of headaches is crucial to determine the proper action one should take. Some headaches are brought out by stress at work or other circumstances we normally experience, while others serve as symptoms of a more serious condition.

The International Headache Society, according to MedicalNewsToday, classified headaches into two categories: primary headaches and secondary headaches, depending on their causes.

Primary headache is headache caused by over activity of pain-sensitive portions in the head, which include the blood vessels or nerves inside the head, the muscles of the neck or head, and other chemical processes in the brain. Tension headache, cluster headache, and migraine are primary headaches. Other primary headaches include exercise headaches, pain over the scalp, cough headaches, and chronic headaches that occur daily. These are however considered symptoms of certain ailments or underlying diseases. Primary headaches may be triggered by lack of sleep, alcohol, skipped meals, or stress.

The second headache category is the secondary headaches, which are symptoms to a disease that stimulates the pain-sensitive nerves of the head. Secondary headaches vary in severity, which spans from sinus headaches, dehydration, to the more serious blood clot or brain aneurysm. Other secondary headaches include ear infection, concussion, influenza, meningitis, glaucoma, stroke, encephalitis, panic attacks, overuse of pain medication, and many more. Headaches under this category are better attended by the doctors, which is why immediate medical assistance is advised.

For common headaches, overuse of pain medication may lead to a rebound headache. This should not be the problem, because there are other means we can do to ease or cure the headache. We can choose from herbal or natural way of dealing with headaches or migraines. Other people may only require any of the available remedies for a headache, while others need to have a combination of two or more. What is important, again, is to identify the cause of your headache. Here are different possible ways on how to ease a headache without pills.

How to get rid of headaches without medicine

 1. Scalp massage

 

Having headaches can be very uneasy and agitating, worse, if you are at school or at work. There is however a simple and doable way of easing the pain, that is by giving yourself a rewarding scalp massage. When one side or both sides of your head is suffering from the throbbing pain, then it is time to apply pressure on the head. This improves blood circulation to the head and face. Scalp massage can be done by yourself or you can ask someone to do it for you. This way it will be resulting to a more even and concentrated massage. If you are suffering from a tension headache, focus on the focal point which is at the base of the skull that lies near the hairline. Scalp massage should also include giving massage to your face, to the back of the neck, and extending to the base of the skull. It is advised, moreover, to drink water before and after getting a scalp massage especially that the body flushes out toxins after the massage. So keeping yourself hydrated is very important.

2. Aromatherapy

To maximize the effect of scalp massage, you may opt to use essential oils. As in over the counter prescriptions, essential oils also contribute to relieving a headache. Using oil in a scalp massage to treat a headache does not produce any side effects nor does it expose to harmful chemical agents making it safe for the young ones. There are various essential oils available that include peppermint, lavender, and basil. If you are not familiar yet with the above mentioned, then we’ll walk you through with each of them. Most oils are helpful to ease headaches.

Peppermint oil helps regulate and promote proper blood flow in the body through the vessels. Tension headaches are the primary target of this oil because such headaches entail a poor blood flow. Aside from the bloodstream, peppermint oil also clears the sinuses. Remember, sinus headaches are the result of congestion in the sinuses that causes pressure in the head.

On the other hand, lavender oil is used primarily for a migraine pain. It can be applied directly on the head. A migraine headache is attributed to the blood vessels and nerves of the head and neck. The aroma of lavender oil easily eases the pain when inhaled. This can be done by pouring drops of the lavender oil into the boiling water. The vapor of the water and lavender oil concoction or solution helps alleviate a headache pain. Moreover, the powerful scent of basil oil can be helpful when dealing with a headache. Its capability to relax muscles is advantageous to treat headaches brought by tight muscles or tension.

3. Flax seed

 

Another natural ingredient found at home are the flax seeds. While they are used commonly as laxatives, flax seeds or linseeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that are essential to the body. They help to reduce the inflammation that causes headaches. And since constipation may also cause a headache, the consumption of flax seeds may treat not only one but both- constipation and a headache. Flax seeds may be consumed in either a ground or oil form. You can add flax seeds to your oatmeal, soup, smoothies, or pasta.

4. Ginger root

 

Ginger has been used as a natural herbal remedy for many treatments,it  is also considered as one of the most reliable headache remedies. Aside from its basic use in the kitchen as an ingredient for recipe, ginger root is also impressed with medicinal properties. Drugs are normally considered as the immediate go-to when trying to inhibit the inflammation or pain. During prostaglandin synthesis, fat or lipid compounds are produced in the cells. These fatty compounds are responsible for mediating inflammation. But of course, you can prevent the use of drugs by using a natural and safer alternative which is the ginger root. This finds greater importance for treating a headache, especially when nausea is involved with a headache pain. Also, a ginger root is a popular remedy when you want to effectively combat vomiting. One can munch on a slice of ginger root or make a tea or beverage out of it.

5. Cayenne

 

The pain from an unrelenting headache can easily turn your day upside down. When headache is only a symptom or incidental to the main ailment, things turn worse. An immediate pain reliever is what we always rely on. But there are natural remedies to ease a headache aside from medicine, one of which is cayenne pepper. Cayenne, a perennial shrub, holds capsaicin. Capsaicin depletes a neurotransmitter called substance P, a pain-inducing chemical that sends pain signal to the brain. Therefore, transmission of pain stops. Mix cayenne pepper in warm water using a cotton swab. Then, apply the moist swab into the nostrils until you feel the heat. The antibacterial properties of cayenne also mitigate the growth of bacteria or disease, of which headache is a symptom. Aside from applying a solution to the nostrils, you can also mix it with warm water for drinking.

6. Apple

 

The saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” might just be true in the case of a headache. This may come as a surprise to others, but yes, apple can naturally cure or at least alleviate the headache pain. The capability of apples to treat a headache is derived from the fact that apples can restore the alkaline and acidic balance in the body. The aroma of green apples, likewise helps reduce the pain from a headache. So don’t wait for your headache to become worse. When you feel like you are having one, immediately slice one apple and eat it. As an alternative, one can use the apple cider vinegar and reap the same benefits from steam-style process.

7. Potatoes

 

Yes, potatoes make crispy fries and sweet and creamy mashed potatoes. But more than that, potatoes are also good remedy for headache. There are various causes of headache and if you are suffering from one resulting caused by an alcohol hangover, then potatoes must be right for you. Drinking alcohol does not only dehydrate the body, it likewise eliminates potassium. Potassium is needed by the body to send electricity to the organs, cells, and tissues in the body so the same could function properly. Potassium may help alleviate headache arising from alcohol. Potatoes, specifically baked potatoes, contain higher amount of potassium than regular banana.

8.  Almonds

 

We know that almonds are definitely tasty and nutritious. But aside from that, almonds are also found to be good cures for headaches, basically for two main reasons. First, almond is a rich source of magnesium with 67% of the daily-recommended intake per 100 g of serving. Magnesium significantly relaxes the blood vessels, thereby protecting you from a severe headache. The second reason lies on the salicin contained in almond nuts. Salicin is often used as a pain reliever. Aside from relaxing the blood vessels, almonds also reduce or ease the pain from a headache. Next time when you suffer from a headache, eat a handful of almond nuts.

9. Butterbur

 

Butterbur has long been acknowledged as a remedy for skin allergies, asthma, and headaches. This perennial shrub belonging to the daisy family holds petasin and isopetasin. These are substances that reduce inflammation, which in turn reduce headaches and prevent migraines. Aside from its anti-inflammatory properties, it also normalizes blood flow to the brain, which likewise reduces spasms. Since butterbur is not yet considered as a pharmaceutical drug, users must also consider the possible side effects of this remedy.

10. Water

 

In most cases, a headache may indicate dehydration. The fact that we don’t drink the right amount of water our body needs each day, results to reduced oxygen and blood flow to the brain. As soon as the pain in the head starts to appear, immediately head for a glass of cold water. Keep a bottle of cold water next to you to normalize the flow of both oxygen and blood. Also, drink water after consuming alcohol or other beverages that dry you out like coffee and sugar-filled drinks. Another good alternative to water are fruits rich in water like watermelon. Aside from being filled with water, watermelon is also a good source of magnesium, an essential element that eases the headache. Other foods high in water are cucumber, tomatoes, and berries.

11. Tea

 

Apart from water, another refreshing drink to relieve a headache is tea. There are different types of teas that are great for treating headaches. Commonly used are green tea, chamomile tea, ginger tea, and cinnamon tea. Teas are effective in soothing tension and relieving pain. The minimal quantity of caffeine found in every cup of tea boosts energy and at the same time contains pain-relieving properties that do the same job as painkillers. The combined anti-inflammatory and antispasmodic properties of tea will effectively kill the pain. Furthermore, the scent of the tea provides additional relaxation.

12. Coffee

 

As mentioned earlier, caffeine is indeed effective in alleviating the pain from a headache. Truth is, coffee helps reduce the size of the blood vessels, which is the reason why it is okay to drink coffee. But because coffee causes dehydration and may intensify the headache, consumption of coffee must be limited.

13. Hot or cold compress

 

Another simple remedy for headaches is applying a hot or cold compress. These compresses vary according to the nature of the headache. If the headache originates from expanding blood vessels then a cold compress is suggested. A cold compress slows down the blood flow, thereby reducing the inflammation. Meanwhile, a hot compress is recommended for headaches caused by anxiety or tension. Also, you can take a cold or a hot bath. Add in essential oils to make it more relaxing.

14. Avoid MSG

 

One effective way to combat a headache is to avoid food with monosodium glutamate (MSG). This could be another surprising news for many, but food with MSG has tendency to trigger a headache or migraine. The reason is that because MSG can excite our neurons. Foods containing MSG are mostly processed or canned goods. Avoiding foods with MSG does not only prevent a migraine, it also promotes a healthy lifestyle.

15. Relaxation exercises

 

If we come to think of it, common headaches and even migraines are caused primarily because of stress, fatigue, or anxiety. And aside from healthy diet, there could be no other better way to lose the stress but to workout regularly. Among the several benefits of exercising is to reduce stress and muscle tension that is built up by overwork. Give yourself a break, engage in a regular exercise like swimming, biking, and brisk walking. These aerobic exercises minimize the frequency and severity of a headache or migraine. Working out releases endorphins, which can take your mind off the discomfort and pain.

Aside from aerobics, meditative exercise such as yoga can also relieve and even prevent a headache. Yoga incorporates meditation, proper breathing and posture that promotes relaxation of the body and mind. Yoga also limits the intensity and frequency of a headache. Yoga allows your muscle to stretch out, which alleviates the pain you feel. To maximize the effect of a workout, one should not skip the warm up and cool down. Allow your body to stretch before and after  exercise. Otherwise, you are more prone to headaches.

16. Diet change

 

There are foods that trigger headaches such as dairy, chocolate, food rich in nitrates and MSG. Instead, fill up yourself with foods that are high in magnesium and vitamin B2 or Riboflavin like vegetables and fruits.

17. Yogurt

 

The body, including the brain, needs to be replenished with essential minerals. To maintain the brain’s efficient functioning, it needs calcium. Consumption of calcium-filled foods like yogurt is a great way to refuel the brain. There are several foods high in calcium. Plain yogurt however is recommended because it has no added sugar. Apart from that, yogurt offers probiotics that assist the body in recovery especially when medicines brush off the good bacteria.

18. Rest

 

When suffering from a headache, give yourself time to recover by taking a good rest or sleep. In most cases, a headache or migraine is caused by overwork, forcing yourself to work more will only aggravate the condition. Instead, find a quiet place where you can take a nap or sleep to relax your mind and muscles. Most of the time, headaches disappear after the right period of rest. However, it is also important to remember that both deprivation of sleep and oversleeping may still cause a headache. It is recommended to sleep seven to eight hours at night.

19. How to avoid headaches

  1. Avoid stress by staying organized and keep yourself from multitasking and overthinking.
  2. Get enough sleep in a dark and quiet room. Try to set a consistent sleeping schedule to fix your body’s clock.
  3. Eat regularly and healthy.
  4. Keep hydrated.
  5. Exercise regularly.

10 Ways to Threat Low Back Pain

Perhaps you bent the wrong way while lifting something heavy. Or you’re dealing with a degenerative condition like arthritis. Whatever the cause, once you have low back pain, it can be hard to shake. About one in four Americans say they’ve had a recent bout of low back pain. And almost everyone can expect to experience back pain at some point in their lives.

Sometimes, it’s clearly serious: You were injured, or you feel numbness, weakness, or tingling in the legs. Call the doctor, of course. But for routine and mild low back pain, here are a few simple tips to try at home.

Chill it. Ice is best in the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury because it reduces inflammation, says E. Anne Reicherter, PhD, PT, DPT, associate professor of Physical Therapy at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. “Even though the warmth feels good because it helps cover up the pain and it does help relax the muscles, the heat actually inflames the inflammatory processes,” she says. After 48 hours, you can switch to heat if you prefer. Whether you use heat or ice — take it off after about 20 minutes to give your skin a rest. If pain persists, talk with a doctor.

Keep moving. “Our spines are like the rest of our body — they’re meant to move,” says Reicherter. Keep doing your daily activities. Make the beds, go to work, walk the dog. Once you’re feeling better, regular aerobic exercises like swimming, bicycling, and walking can keep you — and your back — more mobile. Just don’t overdo it. There’s no need to run a marathon when your back is sore.

Stay strong. Once your low back pain has receded, you can help avert future episodes of back pain by working the muscles that support your lower back, including the back extensor muscles. “They help you maintain the proper posture and alignment of your spine,” Reicherter says. Having strong hip, pelvic, and abdominal muscles also gives you more back support. Avoid abdominal crunches, because they can actually put more strain on your back.

Stretch. Don’t sit slumped in your desk chair all day. Get up every 20 minutes or so and stretch the other way. “Because most of us spend a lot of time bending forward in our jobs, it’s important to stand up and stretch backward throughout the day,” Reicherter says. Don’t forget to also stretch your legs. Some people find relief from their back pain by doing a regular stretching routine, like yoga.

Think ergonomically. Design your workspace so you don’t have to hunch forward to see your computer monitor or reach way out for your mouse. Use a desk chair that supports your lower back and allows you to keep your feet planted firmly on the floor.

Watch your posture. Slumping makes it harder for your back to support your weight. Be especially careful of your posture when lifting heavy objects. Never bend over from the waist. Instead, bend and straighten from the knees.

Wear low heels. Exchange your four-inch pumps for flats or low heels (less than 1 inch). High heels may create a more unstable posture, and increase pressure on your lower spine.

Kick the habit.

Smoking can increase your risk for osteoporosis of the spine and other bone problems. Osteoporosis can in turn lead to compression fractures of the spine. Recent research found that smokers are more likely to have low back pain compared with nonsmokers.

Watch your weight. Use diet and exercise to keep your weight within a healthy range for your height. Being overweight puts excess stress on your spine.

Try an over-the-counter pain reliever. Anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin), and naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprosyn) can help reduce back pain. Acetaminophen (Actamin, Panadol, Tylenol) is another over-the-counter option for pain management. Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist about any interactions over-the-counter pain relievers may have with other medications you are taking. People with a history of certain medical conditions (such as ulcers, kidney disease, and liver disease) should avoid some medicines.

Call your doctor if:

  • Your low back pain is severe, doesn’t go away after a few days, or it hurts even when you’re at rest or lying down.
  • You have weakness or numbness in your legs, or you have trouble standing or walking.
  • You lose control over your bowels or bladder.

These could be signs that you have a nerve problem or another underlying medical condition that needs to be treated.

Cancer prevention: 7 tips to reduce your risk

You’ve probably heard conflicting reports about cancer prevention. Sometimes the specific cancer-prevention tip recommended in one study or news report is advised against in another.

In many cases, what is known about cancer prevention is still evolving. However, it’s well-accepted that your chances of developing cancer are affected by the lifestyle choices you make.

So if you’re concerned about cancer prevention, take comfort in the fact that some simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Consider these seven cancer prevention tips.

1. Don’t use tobacco

Using any type of tobacco puts you on a collision course with cancer. Smoking has been linked to various types of cancer — including cancer of the lung, mouth, throat, larynx, pancreas, bladder, cervix and kidney. Xhewing tobacco has been linked to cancer of the oral cavity and pancreas. Even if you don’t use tobacco, exposure to secondhand smoke might increase your risk of lung cancer.

Avoiding tobacco — or deciding to stop using it — is one of the most important health decisions you can make. It’s also an important part of cancer prevention. If you need help quitting tobacco, ask your doctor about stop-smoking products and other strategies for quitting.

2. Eat a healthy diet

Although making healthy selections at the grocery store and at mealtime can’t guarantee cancer prevention, it might help reduce your risk. Consider these guidelines:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Base your diet on fruits, vegetables and other foods from plant sources — such as whole grains and beans.
  • Avoid obesity. Eat lighter and leaner by choosing fewer high-calorie foods, including refined sugars and fat from animal sources.
  • If you choose to drink alcohol, do so only in moderation. The risk of various types of cancer — including cancer of the breast, colon, lung, kidney and liver — increases with the amount of alcohol you drink and the length of time you’ve been drinking regularly.
  • Limit processed meats. A report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the cancer agency of the World Health Organization, concluded that eating large amounts of processed meat can slightly increase the risk of certain types of cancer.

In addition, women who eat a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts might have a reduced risk of breast cancer. The Mediterranean diet focuses on mostly on plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. People who follow the Mediterranean diet choose healthy fats, like olive oil, over butter and fish instead of red meat.

3. Maintain a healthy weight and be physically active

Maintaining a healthy weight might lower the risk of various types of cancer, including cancer of the breast, prostate, lung, colon and kidney.

Physical activity counts, too. In addition to helping you control your weight, physical activity on its own might lower the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer.

Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits. But for substantial health benefits, strive to get at least 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes a week of vigorous aerobic physical activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity. As a general goal, include at least 30 minutes of physical activity in your daily routine — and if you can do more, even better.

4. Protect yourself from the sun

Skin cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer — and one of the most preventable. Try these tips:

  • Avoid midday sun. Stay out of the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun’s rays are strongest.
  • Stay in the shade. When you’re outdoors, stay in the shade as much as possible. Sunglasses and a broad-brimmed hat help, too.
  • Cover exposed areas. Wear tightly woven, loosefitting clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible. Opt for bright or dark colors, which reflect more ultraviolet radiation than pastels or bleached cotton.
  • Don’t skimp on sunscreen. Use generous amounts of sunscreen when you’re outdoors, and reapply often.
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps. These are just as damaging as natural sunlight.

5. Get immunized

Cancer prevention includes protection from certain viral infections. Talk to your doctor about immunization against:

  • Hepatitis B. Hepatitis B can increase the risk of developing liver cancer. The hepatitis B vaccine is recommended for certain high-risk adults — such as adults who are sexually active but not in a mutually monogamous relationship, people with sexually transmitted infections, intravenous drug users, men who have sex with men, and health care or public safety workers who might be exposed to infected blood or body fluids.
  • Human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is a sexually transmitted virus that can lead to cervical and other genital cancers as well as squamous cell cancers of the head and neck. The HPV vaccine is recommended for girls and boys ages 11 and 12. It is also available to both men and women age 26 or younger who didn’t have the vaccine as adolescents.

6. Avoid risky behaviors

Another effective cancer prevention tactic is to avoid risky behaviors that can lead to infections that, in turn, might increase the risk of cancer. For example:

  • Practice safe sex. Limit your number of sexual partners, and use a condom when you have sex. The more sexual partners you have in your lifetime, the more likely you are to contract a sexually transmitted infection — such as HIV or HPV. People who have HIV or AIDS have a higher risk of cancer of the anus, liver and lung. HPV is most often associated with cervical cancer, but it might also increase the risk of cancer of the anus, penis, throat, vulva and vagina.
  • Don’t share needles. Sharing needles with an infected drug user can lead to HIV, as well as hepatitis B and hepatitis C — which can increase the risk of liver cancer. If you’re concerned about drug abuse or addiction, seek professional help.

7. Get regular medical care

Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers — such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast — can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening schedule for you.

Take cancer prevention into your own hands, starting today. The rewards will last a lifetime.

20 Ways To Never Get Cancer

That is, if you have a healthy lifestyle. “As many as 70% of known causes of cancers are avoidable and related to lifestyle,” says Thomas A. Sellers, PhD, associate director for cancer prevention and control at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa. Diet, exercise, and avoidance of tobacco products are, of course, your first line of defense, but recent research has uncovered many small, surprising ways you can weave even more disease prevention into your everyday life.

 Try these novel strategies and your risk of cancer could dwindle even more.

1. Filter your tap water
You’ll reduce your exposure to known or suspected carcinogens and hormone-disrupting chemicals. A report from the President’s Cancer Panel on how to reduce exposure to carcinogens suggests that home-filtered tap water is a safer bet than bottled water, whose quality often is not higher—and in some cases is worse—than that of municipal sources, according to a study by the Environmental Working Group. (Consumer Reports’ top picks for faucet-mounted filters: Culligan, Pur Vertical, and the Brita OPFF-100.) Store water in stainless steel or glass to avoid chemical contaminants such as BPA that can leach from plastic bottles.

2. Stop topping your tank
So say the EPA and the President’s Cancer Panel: Pumping one last squirt of gas into your car after the nozzle clicks off can spill fuel and foil the pump’s vapor recovery system, designed to keep toxic chemicals such as cancer-causing benzene out of the air, where they can come in contact with your skin or get into your lungs.

3. Marinate meat first
Processed, charred, and well-done meats can contain cancer-causing heterocyclic amines, which form when meat is seared at high temperatures, and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which get into food when it’s charcoal broiled. “The recommendation to cut down on grilled meat has really solid scientific evidence behind it,” says Cheryl Lyn Walker, PhD, a professor of carcinogenesis at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. If you do grill, add rosemary and thyme to your favorite marinade and soak meat for at least an hour before cooking. The antioxidant-rich spices can cut HCAs by as much as 87%, according to research at Kansas State University.

4. Caffeinate every day
Java lovers who drank 5 or more cups of caffeinated coffee a day had a 40% decreased risk of brain cancer, compared with people who drank the least, in a 2010 British study. A 5-cup-a-day coffee habit reduces risks of oral and throat cancer almost as much. Researchers credit the caffeine: Decaf had no comparable effect. But coffee was a more potent protector against these cancers than tea, which the British researchers said also offered protection against brain cancer.

5. Water down your risk
Drinking plenty of water and other liquids may reduce the risk of bladder cancer by diluting the concentration of cancer-causing agents in urine and helping to flush them through the bladder faster. Drink at least 8 cups of liquid a day, suggests the American Cancer Society.

6. Load up on green greens
Next time you’re choosing salad fixings, reach for the darkest varieties. The chlorophyll that gives them their color is loaded with magnesium, which some large studies have found lowers the risk of colon cancer in women. “Magnesium affects signaling in cells, and without the right amount, cells may do things like divide and replicate when they shouldn’t,” says Walker. Just 1/2 cup of cooked spinach provides 75 mg of magnesium, 20% of the daily value.

7. Snack on Brazil nuts
They’re a stellar source of selenium, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of bladder cancer in women, according to research from Dartmouth Medical School. Other studies have found that people with high blood levels of selenium have lower rates of dying of lung cancer and colorectal cancer. Researchers think selenium not only protects cells from free radical damage but also may enhance immune function and suppress formation of blood vessels that nourish tumors.

8. Burn off your risk
Moderate exercise such as brisk walking 2 hours a week cuts risk of breast cancer 18%. Regular workouts may lower your risks by helping you burn fat, which otherwise produces its own estrogen, a known contributor to breast cancer.

9. Skip the dry cleaner
A solvent known as perc (short for perchloroethylene) that’s used in traditional dry cleaning may cause liver and kidney cancers and leukemia, according to an EPA finding backed in early 2010 by the National Academies of Science. The main dangers are to workers who handle chemicals or treated clothes using older machines, although experts have not concluded that consumers are also at increased cancer risk. Less toxic alternatives: Hand-wash clothes with mild soap and air-dry them, spot cleaning if necessary with white vinegar.

10. Ask about breast density
Women whose mammograms have revealed breast density readings of 75% or more have a breast cancer risk 4 to 5 times higher than that of women with low density scores, according to recent research. One theory is that denser breasts result from higher levels of estrogen—making exercise particularly important (see #8). “Shrinking your body fat also changes growth factors, signaling proteins such as adipokines and hormones like insulin in ways that tend to turn off cancer-promoting processes in cells,” Walker says.

11. Head off cell phone risks
Use your cell phone only for short calls or texts, or use a hands-free device that keeps the phone—and the radio frequency energy it emits—away from your head. The point is more to preempt any risk than to protect against a proven danger: Evidence that cell phones increase brain cancer risk is “neither consistent nor conclusive,” says the President’s Cancer Panel report. But a number of review studies suggest there’s a link.

12. Block cancer with color
Choosing your outdoor outfit wisely may help protect against skin cancer, say Spanish scientists. In their research, blue and red fabrics offered significantly better protection against the sun’s UV rays than white and yellow ones did. Don’t forget to put on a hat: Though melanoma can appear anywhere on the body, it’s more common in areas the sun hits, and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have found that people with melanomas on the scalp or neck die at almost twice the rate of people with the cancer on other areas of the body.

13. Pick a doc with a past
Experience—lots of it—is critical when it comes to accurately reading mammograms. A study from the University of California, San Francisco, found that doctors with at least 25 years’ experience were more accurate at interpreting images and less likely to give false positives. Ask about your radiologist’s track record. If she is freshly minted or doesn’t check a high volume of mammograms, get a second read from someone with more mileage.

14. Eat clean foods
The President’s Cancer Panel recommends buying meat free of antibiotics and added hormones, which are suspected of causing endocrine problems, including cancer. The report also advises that you purchase produce grown without pesticides and wash conventionally grown food thoroughly to remove residues. (The foods with the most pesticides: celery, peaches, strawberries, apples, and blueberries. See the full list of dirtiest fruits and vegetables here.) “At least 40 known carcinogens are found in pesticides and we should absolutely try to reduce exposure,” Sellers says.

15. Do a folic acid check
The B vitamin, essential for women who may become or are pregnant to prevent birth defects, is a double-edged sword when it comes to cancer risk. Consuming too much of the synthetic form (not folate, found in leafy green veggies, orange juice, and other foods) has been linked to increased colon cancer risk, as well as higher lung cancer and prostate cancer risks. Rethink your multivitamin, especially if you eat a lot of cereal and fortified foods. A CDC study discovered that half of supplement users who took supplements with more than 400 mcg of folic acid exceeded 1,000 mcg per day of folic acid. Most supplements pack 400 mcg. Individual supplements (of vitamin D and calcium, for instance) may be a smarter choice for most women who aren’t thinking of having kids.

16. Up your calcium intake
Milk’s main claim to fame may also help protect you from colon cancer. Those who took calcium faithfully for 4 years had a 36% reduction in the development of new precancerous colon polyps 5 years after the study had ended, revealed Dartmouth Medical School researchers. (They tracked 822 people who took either 1,200 mg of calcium every day or a placebo.) Though the study was not on milk itself, you can get the same amount of calcium in three 8-ounce glasses of fat-free milk, along with an 8-ounce serving of yogurt or a 2- to 3-ounce serving of low-fat cheese daily.

17. Commit to whole grains
You know whole wheat is better for you than white bread. Here’s more proof why you should switch once and for all: If you eat a lot of things with a high glycemic load—a measurement of how quickly food raises your blood sugar—you may run a higher risk of colorectal cancer than women who eat low-glycemic-load foods, found a Harvard Medical School study involving 38,000 women. The problem eats are mostly white: white bread, pasta, potatoes, and sugary pastries. The low-glycemic-load stuff comes with fiber.

18. Pay attention to pain
If you’re experiencing a bloated belly, pelvic pain, and an urgent need to urinate, see your doctor. These symptoms may signal ovarian cancer, particularly if they’re severe and frequent. Women and physicians often ignore these symptoms, and that’s the very reason that this disease can be deadly. When caught early, before cancer has spread outside the ovary, the relative 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is a jaw-dropping 90 to 95%.

19. Avoid unnecessary scans
CT scans are a great diagnostic tool, but they deliver much more radiation than x-rays and may be overused, says Barton Kamen, MD, PhD, chief medical officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. In fact, researchers suggest that one-third of CT scans could be unnecessary. High doses of radiation can trigger leukemia, so make sure scans are not repeated if you see multiple doctors, and ask if another test, such as an ultrasound or MRI, could substitute.

20. Drop 10 pounds
Being overweight or obese accounts for 20% of all cancer deaths among women and 14% among men, notes the American Cancer Society. (You’re overweight if your body mass index is between 25 and 29.9; you’re obese if it’s 30 or more.) Plus, losing excess pounds reduces the body’s production of female hormones, which may protect against breast cancer, endometrial cancer, and ovarian cancer. Even if you’re not technically overweight, gaining just 10 pounds after the age of 30 increases your risk of developing breast, pancreatic, and cervical, among other cancers.