Health Headlines: If You Don't Want to Get Sick, Quit Touching Your Face

Plus: Smoking-related cancer numbers rising in Europe; supplements are scary; and more health headlines.

If you don’t want to get sick, quit touching your face! Every time people touch their mouth or nose, they transfer bacteria and viruses between their face and their hand. Health researchers at the National Institutes of Health found that people touched their faces an average of 3.6 times per hour, and common objects an average of 3.3 times per hour. The transfer of germs from one body part to another is a primary way that germs spread, and how people get sick. [Today]

In eight Scandinavian and European countries, 270,000 cases of smoking related cancers are diagnosed every year, according to a new study out of the Catalan Institute of Oncology in Spain. This is hardly surprising considering in many European countries, there is no “smoking section” because everywhere is the smoking section. Current smokers were 2.6 times as likely as never smokers to develop a tobacco-related cancer, and ex-smokers had 1.5 times the risk. The countries are Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. [NBC News]

Supplement claims fail to meet federal requirements, according to the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, who issued two reports on the subject. Supplements are exempt from the rigorous standards used by the FDA in regulating food, drugs, and medical devices. The reports add to the evidence that this is a serious public-health problem. In 2007, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, $14.8 billion was spent on nonvitamin, nonmineral, natural products, such as fish oil, glucosamine, and Echinacea. [Slate]

Prescription drugs that interact badly with grapefruit have more than doubled in number since 2008, according to the Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario. According to the report, drugs that can interact with grapefruit include: Certain cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as Zocor (simvastatin), Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Pravachol (pravastatin), some blood pressure-lowering drugs, such as nifedipine (Nifediac and Afeditab), organ transplant rejection drugs, such as cyclosporine (Sandimmune and Neoral), and certain cardiovascular drugs, such as amiodarone (Cordarone and Nexterone), clopidogrel and apixaban. [Health]

Women are having surgery on their feet to fit into stilettos. Seriously. Like chopping off their pinky toe. File this with the bagel heads. Just stop. Please. [Globe]

 

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