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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends washing your hands with soap and water in order to reduce the amount and types of germs and chemicals on your hands. However, if soap and water aren’t available, you can use hand sanitizer to help minimize illness and spreading germs to others. Here are guidelines for choosing the right hand sanitizer, and tips for properly using it.

When to Use a Hand Sanitizer

Choose a hand sanitizer with at least 60-percent alcohol. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands, but according to the CDC they do not eliminate all types of germs. Hand sanitizer with less than 60-percent alcohol may not work as well for many types of germs and it tends to just reduce the number of germs verses destroying them.

Hand washing is more effective than hand sanitizer at removing certain kinds of germs like norovirus, Clostridium difficile, and Cryptosporidium. But hand sanitizer that is alcohol-based can inactivate many types of germs effectively when used correctly.

How to Use Hand Sanitizer

The CDC guidelines for using hand sanitizer include applying the product into the palm of one hand. Read the label to know the correct amount to pour. Next, rub the product all over the surfaces of your hands until your hands are dry.

It is unclear if using hand sanitizer past its expiration date is just as effective. However, the Clorox Pro website says their hand sanitizer has a shelf life of 24 months.

Incorrect Ways People Use Hand Sanitizer

There are several incorrect and ineffective ways hand sanitizer can be used. One is not using enough of the hand sanitizer on the hand. Another error is wiping it off before it’s dried. In addition, according to the CDC, when hands become very greasy or dirty (like after playing football in the mud) hand sanitizer may not work as well. In that case, hand washing with soap and water is the best choice.

Why You Shouldn’t Forget Hand Washing

Hand washing is still the best way to minimize germs on your hands. This is especially true before, during and after preparing food or before eating. Also wash your hands after using the restroom, changing a diaper, touching a pet or cleaning your pet’s waste, handling the garbage, and after coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose. To properly wash your hands:

Wet your hands with clean running water and apply soap.

Rub your hands together, lathering and scrubbing well. Scrub the back of your hands between your fingers, and under your nails (which should be trimmed).

Continue rubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Rinse your hands under running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel, or air dry. Do not wipe your hands on your clothes.

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Bold resolutions to maintain a healthier diet are common in the new year.

But the secret to sticking with nutritious eating isn’t a big, complex plan. Keeping it simple can lead to success.

A healthy diet can be affordable, too, especially if thought is put into meal planning and grocery shopping.

1. Take it slow and steady

Remember the saying, “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” That’s certainly true for starting a new approach to eating, nutrition experts say.

Try to think of the undertaking as a gradual lifestyle change, not a crash course, and set realistic goals toward achieving heart health and other long-term positive results. Sudden weight loss shouldn’t be the aim. Consider the resolution just one step toward achieving heart health and other long-term positive results.

In this fast-food society where dining out is common, it can be easier to add healthy food to your diet rather than take something away.

“Choose something simple, something that you know you can achieve — and start small,” said Dr. Linda Van Horn, the Division Chief of Nutrition in the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.

Many Americans don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, so consider adding a piece or two of fruit each day. It’s fairly easy and may help you gradually shift away from bad habits and toward healthier eating.

If weight is an issue, adding calorie-burning physical activity along with healthier eating leads to quicker results.

2. Enjoy home cooking and save money

Preparing meals at home can be more nutritious than eating out — and less expensive.

Look for fresh produce on special at a neighborhood grocery store or local farmer’s market. Some large discount stores offer produce at even lower prices. Just try to be selective in choosing the best quality available.

Fresh is best, but frozen vegetables without additives are an alternative. And for those who live alone and worry that fresh food may spoil before it’s used, canned fruits and vegetables are another option.

Paying attention to can labels will help with nutrition goals. Consider selecting fruit canned in its own juices, not in sugary syrup.

Fresh fish or lean meats are good protein selections, and occasionally using rice and beans as menu ingredients will supply protein while reducing costs, Van Horn said.

Shop for success: Try to maximize grocery shopping around the perimeter of the store to find produce, meats and minimally processed foods. Processed packaged foods with higher salt, sugar and fat content — and fewer nutrients — tend to be on center store shelves and in the freezer. And despite what some say, you can eat healthier, unprocessed foods on a budget.

3. Be strategic when eating out

Dining out means relinquishing control over food preparation to someone else who is probably more interested in taste than nutrient quality. And it costs more than eating at home.

Realistically, though, restaurant meals are part of many families’ lives. So it can help to approach eating out with a strategy.

Consider restaurants that are amenable to requests for using oils such as corn oil or soybean oil (high in polyunsaturated fats) and olive oil and canola (those high in monounsaturated fats). Consider asking for more vegetables instead of french fries or mashed potatoes, and avoid heavy cream-based sauces.

Look for restaurants that offer vegetarian options, fresh seafood and whole grains. Stay away from deep-fried foods.

4. Beware those ‘popular’ diets

Plenty of companies attempt to profit from weight loss at New Year’s resolution time. That might involve selling their foods and shakes as heavily advertised diets.

Again, remember, there’s no quick fix — no matter what you see on TV.

Evidence-based results are preferable to popular diets that boast only of marketing study results. The American Heart Association and other health organizations support the DASH diet — which stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension — because of its research track record.

This heart-healthy diet helps with blood pressure control and weight loss by emphasizing foods low in saturated fat, total fat, cholesterol and salt. No special foods are required. The diet relies heavily on fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy foods as well as whole grains, poultry, fish and nuts.

The eating plan is supported in research sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. The National Institutes of Health details the DASH plan and related health information on its website.

Although DASH is recommended, some plans that offer group support also can be effective for some people, particularly as they’re getting started, noted Van Horn, a member of the AHA’s nutrition committee.

5. Drink to your health

Try to drink your way to better health and pocket some extra money with a simple change: Choose water instead of soda or other sweetened beverages at meals.

Skim milk, black coffee or tea without sugar or cream may be OK for adults. For children, milk or water are best.

If you indulge in alcohol, consider limiting wine, beer or spirits. The AHA recommends limiting intake to one to two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women. Specialty coffee drinks can be a calorie and sugar culprit, as well, if they are loaded with sugar, syrups and creams.

Medical studies have also found links between added sugar, including sugar-sweetened beverages, and increased risks of heart disease.

So, think of ways to eat healthy foods, not drink unhealthy calories.

Avoiding or limiting all types of sugary drinks can help with overall health — and the pocketbook.

That applies to the bigger picture with your resolutions as well.

Even if you’re looking to make dramatic changes in the new year, cut yourself some slack. Try taking small steps. Look for small, doable ways to improve your health and your budget. Over time, those small steps can lead to big success.

If you have questions or comments about this story, please email

The American Heart Association regularly releases guidelines and scientific statements for preventing and treating heart disease and stroke.

What do these guidelines mean for you? Should you change your medications? Should you see a doctor for treatment? How do you know if you’re healthy? You’ll find answers here in the Guidelines Resource Center.


In November 2017, the rules changed about what classifies as high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Experts looking at all the newest data defined hypertension as a reading of 130 on the top or 80 on the bottom. In the past, the standard was 140/90.









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20 Ways To Never Get Cancer

Certain cancer-fighting foods and other healthy habits can dramatically lower your cancer risk


First, the good news: You probably won’t 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.

The Cancer Prevention Diet

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. (Try these 14 Walking Workouts That Blast Fat.)

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.




Cholesterol is a waxy substance that’s found in the fats (lipids) in your blood. While your body needs cholesterol to continue building healthy cells, having high cholesterol can increase your risk of heart disease.

When you have high cholesterol, you may develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Eventually, these deposits make it difficult for enough blood to flow through your arteries. Your heart may not get as much oxygen-rich blood as it needs, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Decreased blood flow to your brain can cause a stroke.

High cholesterol (hypercholesterolemia) can be inherited, but it’s often the result of unhealthy lifestyle choices, and thus preventable and treatable. A healthy diet, regular exercise and sometimes medication can go a long way toward reducing high cholesterol.

High cholesterol has no symptoms. A blood test is the only way to detect high cholesterol.

When to see a doctor:

Ask your doctor for a baseline cholesterol test at age 20 and then have your cholesterol retested at least every five years. If your test results aren’t within desirable ranges, your doctor may recommend more frequent measurements. Your doctor may also suggest you have more frequent tests if you have a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease or other risk factors, such as smoking, diabetes or high blood pressure.

Cholesterol is carried through your blood, attached to proteins. This combination of proteins and cholesterol is called a lipoprotein. You may have heard of different types of cholesterol, based on what type of cholesterol the lipoprotein carries. They are:

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol transports cholesterol particles throughout your body. LDL cholesterol builds up in the walls of your arteries, making them hard and narrow.
Very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL). This type of lipoprotein contains the most triglycerides, a type of fat, attached to the proteins in your blood. VLDL cholesterol makes LDL cholesterol larger in size, causing your blood vessels to narrow. If you’re taking cholesterol-lowering medication but have a high VLDL level, you may need additional medication to lower your triglycerides.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL). HDL, or “good,” cholesterol picks up excess cholesterol and takes it back to your liver.
Factors within your control — such as inactivity, obesity and an unhealthy diet — contribute to high LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol. Factors beyond your control may play a role, too. For example, your genetic makeup may keep cells from removing LDL cholesterol from your blood efficiently or cause your liver to produce too much cholesterol.

You’re more likely to have high cholesterol that can lead to heart disease if you have any of these risk factors:

Smoking. Cigarette smoking damages the walls of your blood vessels, making them likely to accumulate fatty deposits. Smoking may also lower your level of HDL, or “good,” cholesterol.
Obesity. Having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
Large waist circumference. Your risk increases if you are a man with a waist circumference of at least 40 inches (102 centimeters) or a woman with a waist circumference of at least 35 inches (89 centimeters).
Poor diet. Foods that are high in cholesterol, such as red meat and full-fat dairy products, will increase your total cholesterol. Eating saturated fat, found in animal products, and trans fats, found in some commercially baked cookies and crackers, also can raise your cholesterol level.
Lack of exercise. Exercise helps boost your body’s HDL “good” cholesterol while lowering your LDL “bad” cholesterol. Not getting enough exercise puts you at risk of high cholesterol.
Diabetes. High blood sugar contributes to higher LDL cholesterol and lower HDL cholesterol. High blood sugar also damages the lining of your arteries.

High cholesterol can cause atherosclerosis, a dangerous accumulation of cholesterol and other deposits on the walls of your arteries. These deposits (plaques) can reduce blood flow through your arteries, which can cause complications, such as:

Chest pain. If the arteries that supply your heart with blood (coronary arteries) are affected, you may have chest pain (angina) and other symptoms of coronary artery disease.
Heart attack. If plaques tear or rupture, a blood clot may form at the plaque-rupture site — blocking the flow of blood or breaking free and plugging an artery downstream. If blood flow to part of your heart stops, you’ll have a heart attack.
Stroke. Similar to a heart attack, if blood flow to part of your brain is blocked by a blood clot, a stroke occurs.

If you think you may have high cholesterol, or are worried about having high cholesterol because of a strong family history, make an appointment with your family doctor to have your cholesterol level checked.

Because appointments can be brief, and because there’s often a lot of ground to cover, it’s a good idea to be prepared for your appointment. Here’s some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.

What you can do

Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there’s anything you need to do in advance, such as restrict your diet. For a cholesterol test, you will likely have to avoid eating or drinking anything (other than water) for nine to 12 hours before the blood sample is taken.
Write down any symptoms you’re experiencing. High cholesterol itself has no symptoms, but high cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease. Letting your doctor know if you have symptoms such as chest pains or shortness of breath can help your doctor decide how aggressively your high cholesterol needs to be treated.
Write down key personal information, including a family history of high cholesterol, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure or diabetes, and any major stresses or recent life changes, as well as exposure to other cardiac risks, such as a personal history of smoking or exposure to family members who smoke (secondary exposure).
Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements, that you’re taking.
Take a family member or friend along, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to soak up all the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
Be prepared to discuss your diet and exercise habits. If you don’t already exercise or eat a healthy diet, be ready to talk to your doctor about any challenges you might face in getting started.
Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Your time with your doctor is limited, so preparing a list of questions will help you make the most of your time together. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For high cholesterol, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:

What kinds of tests will I need?
What’s the best treatment?
What foods should I eat or avoid?
What’s an appropriate level of physical activity?
How often do I need a cholesterol test?
What are the alternatives to the primary approach that you’re suggesting?
I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
Are there any restrictions that I need to follow?
Should I see a specialist?
If I need medication, is there a generic alternative to the medicine you’re prescribing me?
Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me?
What websites do you recommend visiting?
In addition to the questions that you’ve prepared to ask your doctor, don’t hesitate to ask questions during your appointment at any time that you don’t understand something.

What to expect from your doctor

Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:

Do you have a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or heart disease or strokes?
What are your diet and exercise habits like?
Do you smoke? Are you or were you around other smokers?
Have you had a cholesterol test before? If so, when was your last test? What were your cholesterol levels?
What you can do in the meantime

It’s never too early to make healthy lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and becoming more physically active. These are primary lines of defense against high cholesterol and its complications, including heart attack and stroke.

A blood test to check cholesterol levels — called a lipid panel or lipid profile — typically reports:

Total cholesterol
LDL cholesterol
HDL cholesterol
Triglycerides — a type of fat in the blood
For the most accurate measurements, don’t eat or drink anything (other than water) for nine to 12 hours before the blood sample is taken.

For more on your blood test numbers

click ↓ here

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Lifestyle and home remedies
By Mayo Clinic Staff
Lifestyle changes are essential to improve your cholesterol level. To bring your numbers down, lose excess weight, eat healthy foods and increase your physical activity. If you smoke, quit.

Lose extra pounds

Excess weight contributes to high cholesterol. Losing even 5 to 10 pounds can help lower total cholesterol levels. Start by taking an honest look at your eating habits and daily routine. Consider your challenges to weight loss — and ways to overcome them. Set long-term, sustainable goals.

Eat heart-healthy foods

What you eat has a direct impact on your cholesterol level. In fact, a diet rich in fiber and other cholesterol-lowering foods may help lower cholesterol as much as statin medication for some people.

Choose healthier fats.

Saturated fat and trans fat raise your total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol. Get no more than 10 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat. Monounsaturated fat — found in olive, peanut and canola oils — is a healthier option. Almonds and walnuts are other sources of healthy fat.
Eliminate trans fats. Trans fats, which are often found in margarines and commercially baked cookies, crackers and snack cakes, are particularly bad for your cholesterol levels. Not only do trans fats increase your total LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, but they also lower your HDL (“good”) cholesterol.

You may have noticed more food labels now market their products as “trans fat-free.” But don’t rely only on this label. In the United States, if a food contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat a serving, it can be marked trans fat-free. It may not seem like much, but if you eat a lot of foods with a small amount of trans fat, it can add up quickly. Instead, read the ingredients list. If a food contains a partially hydrogenated oil, that’s a trans fat, and you should look for an alternative.

Limit your dietary cholesterol. Aim for no more than 300 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol a day — or less than 200 mg if you have heart disease. The most concentrated sources of cholesterol include organ meats, egg yolks and whole milk products. Use lean cuts of meat, egg substitutes and skim milk instead.
Select whole grains. Various nutrients found in whole grains promote heart health. Choose whole-grain breads, whole-wheat pasta, whole-wheat flour and brown rice. Oatmeal and oat bran are other good choices.
Stock up on fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which can help lower cholesterol. Snack on seasonal fruits. Experiment with vegetable-based casseroles, soups and stir-fries.
Eat heart-healthy fish. Some types of fish — such as cod, tuna and halibut — have less total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol than do meat and poultry. Salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help promote heart health.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. Moderate use of alcohol may increase your levels of HDL cholesterol — but the benefits aren’t strong enough to recommend alcohol for anyone who doesn’t drink already. If you choose to drink, do so in moderation. This means no more than one drink a day for women and one to two drinks a day for men.
Exercise regularly

Regular exercise can help improve your cholesterol levels. With your doctor’s OK, work up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise a day. Take a brisk daily walk. Ride your bike. Swim laps. To maintain your motivation, keep it fun. Find an exercise buddy or join an exercise group. And, you don’t need to get all 30 to 60 minutes in one exercise session. If you can squeeze in three to six 10-minute intervals of exercise, you’ll still get some cholesterol-lowering benefits.

Don’t smoke

If you smoke, stop. Quitting can improve your HDL cholesterol level. And the benefits don’t end there. Just 20 minutes after quitting, your blood pressure decreases. Within 24 hours, your risk of a heart attack decreases. Within one year, your risk of heart disease is half that of a smoker’s. Within 15 years, your risk of heart disease is similar to that of someone who’s never smoked.

Statin side effects:

Weigh the benefits and risks
Statin side effects can be uncomfortable,

making it seem like the risks outweigh the benefits of these powerful cholesterol-lowering medications.

Consider the risks and benefits.
By Mayo Clinic Staff

Doctors often prescribe statins for people with high cholesterol to lower their total cholesterol and reduce their risk of a heart attack or stroke. Most people taking statins will take them for the rest of their lives unless they can achieve normal cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, weight loss and nutritional supplements. This can make statin side effects more difficult to manage.

For some people, statin side effects can make it seem like the benefit of taking a statin isn’t worth it. Before you decide to stop taking a statin, discover how statin side effects can be reduced.

What are statin side effects?

Muscle pain and damage
The most common statin side effect is muscle pain. You may feel this pain as a soreness, tiredness or weakness in your muscles. The pain can be a mild discomfort, or it can be severe enough to make your daily activities difficult. For example, you might find climbing stairs or walking to be uncomfortable or tiring.

Very rarely, statins can cause life-threatening muscle damage called rhabdomyolysis (rab-doe-mi-OL-ih-sis). Rhabdomyolysis can cause severe muscle pain, liver damage, kidney failure and death. Rhabdomyolysis can occur when you take statins in combination with certain drugs or if you take a high dose of statins.

Liver damage
Occasionally, statin use could cause your liver to increase its production of enzymes that help you digest food, drinks and medications. If the increase is only mild, you can continue to take the drug. Rarely, if the increase is severe, you may need to stop taking the drug. Your doctor might suggest a different statin. Certain other cholesterol-lowering drugs, such as gemfibrozil (Lopid) and niacin (Niacor, Niaspan), slightly increase the risk of liver problems in people who take statins.

Although liver problems are rare, your doctor will likely order a liver enzyme test before or shortly after you begin to take a statin. You shouldn’t need any additional liver enzyme tests unless you begin to have signs or symptoms of trouble with your liver. Contact your doctor immediately if you have unusual fatigue or weakness, loss of appetite, pain in your upper abdomen, dark-colored urine, or yellowing of your skin or eyes.

Digestive problems
Some people taking a statin may develop nausea, gas, diarrhea or constipation after taking a statin. These side effects are rare. Most people who have these side effects already have other problems with their digestive system. Taking your statin medication in the evening with a meal can reduce digestive side effects.

Rash or flushing
You could develop a rash or flushing after you start taking a statin. If you take a statin and niacin, either in a combination pill such as Simcor or as two separate medications, you’re more likely to have this side effect. Taking aspirin before taking your statin medication may help, but talk to your doctor first.

Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
It’s possible your blood sugar (blood glucose) level may increase when you take a statin, which may lead to developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is small but important enough that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a warning on statin labels regarding blood glucose levels and diabetes. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.

Neurological side effects
The FDA warns on statin labels that some people have developed memory loss or confusion while taking statins. These side effects reverse once you stop taking the medication. Talk to your doctor if you experience memory loss or confusion. There has also been evidence that statins may help with brain function — in patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s, for example. This is still being studied. Don’t stop taking your statin medication before talking to your doctor.

Who’s at risk of developing statin side effects?

Not everyone who takes a statin will have side effects, but some people may be at a greater risk than are others. Risk factors include:

  • Taking multiple medications to lower your cholesterol
    Being female
    Having a smaller body frame
    Being age 65 or older
    Having kidney or liver disease
    Having type 1 or 2 diabetes
    Drinking too much alcohol (More than two drinks a day for men age 65 and younger and more than one drink a day for women of all ages and men older than 65)

What causes statin side effects?

It’s unclear what causes statin side effects, especially muscle pain.

Statins work by slowing your body’s production of cholesterol. Your body produces all the cholesterol it needs by digesting food and producing new cells on its own. When this natural production is slowed, your body begins to draw the cholesterol it needs from the food you eat, lowering your total cholesterol.

Statins may affect not only your liver’s production of cholesterol but also several enzymes in muscle cells that are responsible for muscle growth. The effects of statins on these cells may be the cause of muscle aches.

How to relieve statin side effects

To relieve statin side effects, your doctor may recommend several options.

Discuss these steps with your doctor before trying them:

Take a brief break from statin therapy. Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether the muscle aches or other problems you’re having are statin side effects or just part of the aging process. Taking a break of 10 to 14 days can give you some time to compare how you feel when you are and aren’t taking a statin. This can help you determine whether your aches and pains are due to statins instead of something else.
Switch to another statin drug. It’s possible, although unlikely, that one particular statin may cause side effects for you while another statin won’t. It’s thought that simvastatin (Zocor) may be more likely to cause muscle pain as a side effect than other statins when it’s taken at high doses. Newer statin drugs are being studied that may have may have fewer side effects.
Change your dose. Lowering your dose may reduce some of your side effects, but it may also reduce some of the cholesterol-lowering benefits your medication has. It’s also possible your doctor will suggest switching your medication to another statin that’s equally effective but can be taken in a lower dose. For example, if you’ve successfully taken atorvastatin (Lipitor) for a long time at higher doses, your doctor may keep you at this level. However, higher doses aren’t recommended if you’re new to this medication.
Take it easy when exercising. It’s possible exercise could make your muscle aches worse. Talk to your doctor about changing your exercise routine.
Consider other cholesterol-lowering medications. Taking ezetimibe (Zetia), a cholesterol absorption inhibitor medication, may help you avoid taking higher doses of statins. However, some researchers question the effectiveness of ezetimibe compared with statins in terms of its ability to lower your cholesterol.
Don’t try over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers. Muscle aches from statins can’t be relieved with acetaminophen (Tylenol, others) or ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) the way other muscle aches are. Don’t try an OTC pain reliever without asking your doctor first.
Try coenzyme Q10 supplements. Coenzyme Q10 supplements may help to prevent statin side effects in some people, though more studies are needed to determine any benefits of taking it. If you’d like to try adding coenzyme Q10 to your treatment, talk to your doctor first to make sure the supplement won’t interact with any of your other medications.
Watch for drug interactions

Statins can have several potentially dangerous interactions with other medications and some foods. These interactions can make it more likely you’ll have statin side effects. These include:

All statins and grapefruit or grapefruit juice. Grapefruit juice contains a chemical that can interfere with the enzymes that break down (metabolize) the statins in your digestive system. This can be dangerous because it’s uncertain what the effect would be on your total cholesterol. You should still be able to have some grapefruit or grapefruit juice, but talk to your doctor about limiting how much grapefruit you can have.
Lovastatin (Mevacor, Altoprev) or simvastatin (Zocor) and amiodarone (Cordarone). People taking the statins lovastatin or simvastatin, either alone or in combination with amiodarone (Cordarone), a medication for irregular heart rhythms, are at a greater risk of severe statin side effects, such as rhabdomyolysis.
All statins and gemfibrozil (Lopid). People who take both gemfibrozil (Lopid) and a statin may be at a greater risk of statin side effects.
Mevacor (lovastatin) and HIV drugs. Medicines used to treat HIV (protease inhibitors) should never be taken with Mevacor.
All statins and some antibiotic and antifungal medications. If you have a fungal or bacterial infection, be sure to tell your doctor if you take a statin.
All statins and some antidepressant medications. It’s possible that taking antidepressants, such as nefazodone, and a statin could make you more likely to have muscle aches.
All statins and some immunosuppressant medications. If you take a medication to suppress your immune system, such as cyclosporine (Sandimmune), and a statin, you may be more likely to have muscle aches.
Weigh the risks and benefits

Although statin side effects can be annoying, consider the benefits of taking a statin before you decide to stop taking your medication. Remember that statin medications can reduce your risk of a heart attack or stroke, and the risk of life-threatening side effects from statins is very low.

Even if your side effects are frustrating, don’t stop taking your statin medication for any period of time without talking to your doctor first. Your doctor may be able to come up with an alternative treatment plan that can help you lower your cholesterol without uncomfortable side effects.

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And don’t forget to check out our Blue Zone Diet guide

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Food Facts…

For more information

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Ebates Coupons and Cash BackBoston Proper, Inc.

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The best way to fight breast cancer is to have a plan that helps you detect the disease in its early stages.

Create your Early Detection Plan to receive reminders to do breast self-exams,

and schedule your clinical breast exams and mammograms based on your age and health history.

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The Breast Cancer Myths…

Finding a lump in your breast means you have breast cancer.

The Truth
Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam. He or she may possibly order breast imaging studies to determine if this lump is of concern or not.

Take charge of your health by performing routine breast self-exams, establishing ongoing communication with your doctor, getting an annual clinical breast exam, and scheduling your routine screening mammograms.


Men do not get breast cancer; it affects women only.

The Truth
Quite the contrary, each year it is estimated that approximately 2,190 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. While this percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam while in the shower and reporting any changes to their physicians.

Breast cancer in men is usually detected as a hard lump underneath the nipple and areola. Men carry a higher mortality than women do, primarily because awareness among men is less and they are less likely to assume a lump is breast cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment.


A mammogram can cause breast cancer to spread.

The Truth
A mammogram, or x-ray of the breast, currently remains the gold standard for the early detection of breast cancer. Breast compression while getting a mammogram cannot cause cancer to spread. According to the National Cancer Institute, “The benefits of mammography, however, nearly always outweigh the potential harm from the radiation exposure. Mammograms require very small doses of radiation. The risk of harm from this radiation exposure is extremely low.”

The standard recommendation is an annual mammographic screening for women beginning at age 40. Base your decision on your physician’s recommendation and be sure to discuss any remaining questions or concerns you may have with your physician.


If you have a family history of breast cancer, you are likely to develop

breast cancer, too.

The Truth
While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.

If you have a first degree relative with breast cancer: If you have a mother, daughter, or sister who developed breast cancer below the age of 50, you should consider some form of regular diagnostic breast imaging starting 10 years before the age of your relative’s diagnosis.
If you have a second degree relative with breast cancer: If you have had a grandmother or aunt who was diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk increases slightly, but it is not in the same risk category as those who have a first degree relative with breast cancer.
If you have multiple generations diagnosed with breast cancer on the same side of the family, or if there are several individuals who are first degree relatives to one another, or several family members diagnosed under age 50, the probability increases that there is a breast cancer gene contributing to the cause of this familial history.

Breast cancer is contagious.

The Truth
You cannot catch breast cancer or transfer it to someone else’s body. Breast cancer is the result of uncontrolled cell growth of mutated cells that begin to spread into other tissues within the breast. However, you can reduce your risk by practicing a healthy lifestyle, being aware of the risk factors, and following an early detection plan so that you will be diagnosed early if breast cancer were to occur.


If the gene mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2 is detected in your DNA,

you will definitely develop breast cancer.

The Truth
According to the National Cancer Institute, regarding families who are known to carry BRCA1 or BRCA2, “not every woman in such families carries a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, and not every cancer in such families is linked to a harmful mutation in one of these genes. Furthermore, not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer.But, a woman who has inherited a harmful mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.” For people who discover they have the harmful mutation, there are various proactive measures that can be done to reduce risk. These include taking a hormonal therapy called Tamoxifen or deciding to take a surgical prevention approach which is to have bilateral prophylactic mastectomies, usually done with reconstruction. Most women will also have ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as well since there is no reliable screening test for the early stages of developing ovarian cancer.


Antiperspirants and deodorants cause breast cancer.

The Truth
Researchers at the National Cancer Institute (NCI) are not aware of any conclusive evidence linking the use of underarm antiperspirants or deodorants and the subsequent development of breast cancer.

***Material on this page courtesy of the National Cancer Institute.



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Brain and Neural Tumors

Brain tumors are the most common solid tumor in children. However, new research and clinical trials are leading to life-saving innovations and increasing survivorship every day. READ MORE

Leukemia is the most-common type of childhood cancer, accounting for approximately 25 percent of all childhood cancers. Leukemia and other diseases of the blood and bone marrow may affect red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. READ MORE


Lymphomas are tumors of the lymphatic system caused by abnormal lymphocyte growth. Children’s Cancer Research Fund has made great strides in the study and treatment of both Hodgkin’s and Non-Hodgkin’s lymphomas in young people. READ MORE

University of Minnesota researchers are aggressively researching the underlying causes of sarcoma and working to develop novel treatments. Sarcomas in children include osteosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, and Ewing sarcoma. READ MORE

Other Cancers

Though they are less common, cancers originating in the liver, kidneys, and gonads can pose a severe threat to young patients. READ MORE

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Get the Facts. Recognize the Signs.

Ovarian Cancer is one of the most deadly of women’s cancers. Each year, approximately 21,980 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In 2014, approximately 14,270 women will die in the United States from this disease. Many women don’t seek help until the disease has begun to spread, but if detected at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 93%.

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