Don’t Just Stand There; Move!
We’ve long known that sitting all day is bad for our health. But since most of us can’t escape the cubicle farms and the sit-down culture they’ve created, we’ve instead turned to standing desks. And while standing is much better for us than sitting, it should not be mistaken as the cure to bad posture, achy joints and other health ailments.
“We’re not meant to be sedentary for too long,” says Todd Peterson, DC, of Elite Performance Chiropractic in Chicago. Movement, therefore, is the key. “Our bodies need nutrients,” Peterson says, “and they are best spread throughout the body when we move. I’d like to have a desk that would allow us to alternate between sitting and standing.”
But don’t spend all day jostling between sitting down and standing up, Peterson warns. Repetitive motion can be bad for the body, too, as it can create erosion of the joints. It’s best to move with variety, so stretch, amble to the water cooler or walk to a co-worker’s desk rather than sending an email. —Bret Dworski
Taking a Risk with Oral Cancer
If you’ve recently had a sore in your mouth that won’t heal, a pain in your mouth that won’t go away or a lump in your cheek, it might be wise to see your doctor or dentist and be evaluated for oral cancer.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) predicted that nearly 40,000 Americans would be diagnosed with some type of oral cancer by the end of 2015, and that nearly 8,000 would die from it. Genetics aside, common high-risk factors of oral cancer arise from lifestyle choices such as alcohol and tobacco use. According to the Cancer Treatment Centers of America, about 80 percent of people with oral cancer use tobacco in chewing or cigarette form, and 70 percent are heavy drinkers.
Although the best way to reduce the risk of oral cancer is to break these habits, other methods may come in handy. In 2012, the ACS conducted a study that found a link between drinking coffee and reduced risk of death from oral cancer. When people drank four cups of caffeinated coffee a day, they had a 49 percent lower risk of oral-cancer death compared to not drinking coffee at all or only an occasional cup.
But don’t rely on coffee alone. To limit your risk, the ACS advises you to limit smoking and drinking, avoid HPV infection and excessive sun exposure on your lips, and eat a healthy diet. —BD
6 Natural Remedies for Summer Skin Issues
Paula Malhotra, MD, a dermatologist at Northwestern Medicine, shares natural remedies to reach for when Mother Nature takes a bite out of your summer fun.
Use this beneficial succulent to treat mild sunburns and blisters. The plant’s anti-inflammatory gel reduces swelling and pain caused by burns.
Never pop a blister on purpose. But if one does pop, soak it in 1 cup vinegar with 4 cups lukewarm water to prevent bacteria from entering the wound.
Place cold cucumber slices on rashes like poison ivy to soothe the pain.
Grind 1 cup oatmeal into a fine powder for a bath soak to alleviate the urge to scratch poison ivy, which spreads the rash.
Hold ice on bug bites for 5–10 seconds at a time to help relieve the itch.
VITAMINS K & E
Rub either of these vitamins—sold as creams, lotions or soft gels—on bruises to decrease bruising time. —Heidi Lading Kiec
Originally published in the Spring 2016 print edition.
Erin O’Donnell is a freelance health and science writer, parent, and graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism. Walks by Lake Michigan make her happy.