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Surgeon General: Skin Cancer Is 'Major Public Health Problem'


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Surgeon General is calling skin cancer a "major public health problem" and says tanning is a direct cause.

A report from the office of Surgeon General Boris Lushniak says unlike other forms of cancer in the United States, the rate of skin cancer is on the rise, with 5 million people getting treated each year.

About 63,000 people are treated for melanoma and about 10% of those cases are directly linked to indoor tanning.

Lushniak says all states should ban minors from using tanning beds and the report urges everyone to wear sunscreen outside.


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Exercise: Why 6 Seconds Can Be as Worthwhile as 90 Minutes


iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When it comes to exercise, even a little can go a long way. A slew of new studies suggest that working out for just a few minutes -- seconds, even -- can be beneficial to your health.

Read on to find out how any amount of exercise is completely worthwhile. The amount you should do just depends on your goals.

6 Seconds:  For seniors, every second of exercise counts.  In a new Scottish study, retirement-age subjects were asked to do six six-second sprints on a stationary bicycle with one minute of rest in between. After six weeks, their blood pressure dropped by a respectable 9 percent.  It’s possible these results might translate to younger folks, said Michele Olson, an exercise science professor and researcher at Auburn University in Alabama.  “Even a little activity can increase the efficiency of your heart and lead to more energy overall, no matter what your age,” she said.

5 Minutes:  According to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, a five-minute daily run can cut the risk of death in middle-aged men and women by 30 percent and the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease by 45 percent compared to people who parked themselves on the couch all day.  But don’t cancel your gym membership just yet, Olson said.  “You have to push at a very high intensity to see improvements in heart function and reduce the dangerous, unhealthy visceral fat that collects around the organs,” she said.

10 Minutes:  Olson, who has led numerous investigations on the benefits of quick, intense exercise, said that bone health benefits begin to kick in around the ten minute mark.  “That’s about how much time you need to stress the bones and stimulate bone density to avoid osteoporosis,” she said.

30 Minutes:  Most major health groups, including the American Heart Association, recommend getting at least half an hour of activity daily -- and with good reason.  “Thirty minutes seems to be the tipping point where you begin to see not just health benefits but fitness benefits like reduced weight and increased stamina as well,” Olson said, adding that other advantages include cancer prevention, a lower risk of type 2 diabetes and a healthier cholesterol profile.  Thirty minutes of exercise is also where you’ll see improvements even if you slow down to a moderate pace, which Olson characterizes as brisk but sustainable. However, an International Journal of Obesity study published earlier this year found that pushing hard for the full half hour may lead to even greater weight loss by dulling your appetite.

60 Minutes:  One hour of exercise a day at a moderate pace appears to be the secret to substantial, long term weight loss, Olson said. This may be especially true for middle-aged and older women who are close to their ideal weight, a recent Harvard study revealed.  While sixty minutes of exercise may seem unrealistic, Olson said you don’t have to do it all at once.  “You can accumulate minutes throughout the day doing many different exercises and activities, including some resistance training,” she said. “And if you go at a higher intensity you can cut back to 45 minutes daily.”

90 Minutes:  People who are obese or have lost a lot of weight may have stubborn metabolisms that require up to 90 minutes a day of activity for weight loss or maintenance, studies suggest.  Longer exercise sessions should be done at lower intensity to prevent injury and burn out, Olson said, especially for someone who carries a lot of extra pounds. But here again, breaking up your workout into shorter, more manageable sessions should yield the same results as one marathon session.

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Warm Water Sparks Flesh-Eating Disease Warning


iStock/Thinkstock(TALLAHASSEE, Fla.) -- Florida health officials are warning beachgoers about a seawater bacterium that can invade cuts and scrapes to cause flesh-eating disease.

Vibrio vulnificus -- a cousin of the bacterium that causes Cholera -- thrives in warm saltwater, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If ingested, it can cause stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea. But it can also infect open wounds and lead to “skin breakdown and ulceration,” according to the CDC.

“Since it is naturally found in warm marine waters, people with open wounds can be exposed to Vibrio vulnificus through direct contact with seawater,” the Florida Department of Health said in a statement.

The infection can also be transmitted through eating or handling contaminated oysters and other shellfish, according to the CDC.

At least 11 Floridians have contracted Vibrio vulnificus so far this year and two have died, according to the most recent state data. In 2013, 41 people were infected and 11 died. The proportion of skin and gastrointestinal infections is unclear.

Florida isn’t the only state to report Vibrio vulnificus infections. Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi have also recorded cases, and a 2013 outbreak linked to contaminated shellfish sickened at least 104 people in 13 states, according to the CDC.

Most people who contract Vibrio vulnificus infection recover with the help of antibiotics, but severe skin infections may require surgery and amputation, according to the CDC. People with weakened immune systems are also at risk for blood infections, which are fatal about 50 percent of the time, the CDC notes.

The CDC recommends the following precautions to avoid Vibrio vulnificus infections:

  • Avoid exposing open wounds to warm saltwater, brackish water or to raw shellfish
  • Wear protective clothing when handling raw shellfish
  • Cook shellfish thoroughly and avoid food contamination with juices from raw seafood
  • Eat shellfish promptly after cooking and refrigerate leftovers

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Ebola Virus May Have Spread to a Fourth West African Nation


Hemera/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- The world’s deadliest Ebola outbreak continues to spread in the West African nations of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and possibly one other.

At least 1,093 people have contracted the deadly virus and 672 people have died, according to the latest numbers from the World Health Organization.

Two American aid workers are among the victims of the growing outbreak, which has taken a heavy toll on health care providers treating the sick and working to contain the outbreak. Meanwhile, a top Liberian doctor also died this past weekend.

Officials are also concerned after an infected man managed to board a plane from Liberia to Nigeria, potentially spreading the deadly virus to a fourth country.

In an effort to stop the spread of the incurable disease, Liberia's president has closed all but three land border crossings, restricted public gatherings and quarantined communities heavily affected by the Ebola outbreak.

As for what this means for the U.S.,  Dr. Stephan Monroe at the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions told reporters Monday, "No Ebola cases have been reported in the United States and the likelihood of this outbreak spreading outside of West Africa is very low."

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Social Media Is Where Good News Gets Posted


iStock/Thinkstock(MADISON, Wis.) -- It’s a sign of the times: when people have good news that’s happened to themselves or others, they’ll more often share it on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter to reach the biggest possible audience in the least amount of time.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison arrived at that finding after having 300 undergrads keep a journal of their emotions and the form of media they used to convey these feelings to others.

Far and away, when there was positive news to report, the students generally posted messages on social media.

Interestingly, however, the participants went “old school” when they had to pass along bad news.

The preferred ways of spreading less joyous information was via the phone or even telling people face-to-face.

Study author Catalina Toma put it succinctly, “You often hear people say when the phone rings, its bad news," Toma said. "Our data supports that."

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Your Soul Mate May Not Wind Up Being Your Sole Mate


iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Careful soul mates, you're probably deluding yourselves.

Although people who believe they’ve found the perfect mate who “completes” them, University of Toronto researchers say those in love are often surprised when things don’t work out as planned.

Essentially, it’s those couples who understand that a relationship can take some time to develop are the ones who are more successful in the long run, according to study authors Spike W. S. Lee and Norbert Schwarz.

They had participants fill out questionnaires about whether they considered if love meant two people were “made for each other” as soul mates do or if “love is a journey” filled with mistakes and forgiveness.

Not surprisingly, those who believe relationships take work reported fewer conflicts and tended to recall more celebrations with their partner.

Still, the soul mate concept is apparently the more accepted of the two, a Marist poll found, with 73 percent agreeing with it and 27 not believing it. Furthermore, it’s younger folks who are more likely to think that finding a soul mate is the essence of true love.

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People Get Naturally High from the Choices They Make


iStock/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) -- Are you the kind of person who gets a kick out of the things you choose solely on your own, such as movies, restaurants, clothes, car, etc., while ignoring what others might like?

While some might have an unflattering name for that, neurologists at Brown University are willing to cut you some slack.

They call the high you get from making particular selections “choice bias,” which involves the brain rewarding itself with the pleasure hormone called dopamine.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that but due to constant reinforcement, your brain might actually be over-rewarding itself for a decision that isn’t that much of a big deal.

Again, the Brown researchers say this may not be your fault because “choice bias” is actually in your genes, based on DNA samples they’ve taken from saliva of those who exhibit this trait.

Of course, that fact won’t placate those you irritate if you keep ignoring their choices.

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