Binge Drinking Kills 12,000 Women Annually

Plus: Hand sanitizer might be useless against norovirus and more health news.

People that are bilingual have brains that work more efficiently than people who speak only one language, according to new research published in The Journal of Neuroscience. When we pass through middle age, our brains become slower at switching from one task to another and at shutting out unwanted distractions. Neuroscientists have been accumulating strong evidence that knowing, and constantly using, a second language starting in childhood can significantly delay a decline in brain power. But that doesn’t mean you have to start at childhood to get the brain benefits. Learning a new language at any age can improve you brain power. [Today]

Hand sanitizer might be useless against the norovirus, the severe gastrointestinal illness that the nation is currently dealing with, according to the CDC. In 2011, the CDC studied 91 long-term care facilities. The facilities where staff members used alcohol-based sanitizers, were six times more likely to have an outbreak of norovirus than the facilities where the staff preferred using soap and water. The bottom-line is that hand sanitizers were not meant to replace hand washing. [New York Times]

A Miss America contestant is having a double mastectomy now that the pageant is over. Miss D.C. is a 24-year-old that is having both breasts removed as a preventive measure to reduce her chances of developing the disease that killed her mother, grandmother and great aunt. [NY Daily News]

Binge drinking contributes to the deaths of about 12,000 women and girls annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A CDC report estimates that nearly 14 million U.S. women binge drink about three times a month, consuming an average of six drinks during each binge. Half of all high school girls who consume alcohol reported binge drinking. CDC Director, Thomas Frieden, says that binge drinking can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, heart disease, unintentional pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and auto accidents. In a college city like Boston, the binge drinking numbers are especially high. [NBC News]