Why Reading Is the Foundation of Good Health


Reading is a skill most of us take for granted. When you see the front page of a newspaper or pull up your favorite health site, you probably don’t even think about the fact that you’re reading the words on the page. You just do it. But that ability doesn’t come naturally. Reading is a skill built during childhood that allows us to communicate and learn about the world around us. The troubles that come from illiteracy extend far beyond not being able to read the latest bestsellers. Today, we’re kicking off our Books Across America book drive, so it seems appropriate to discuss how difficult reading can impact your happiness, health, and well-being.


Today’s Headlines: The Type of Bug Spray You Should Be Using, the Four Habits That Can Lower Your Risk For Cancer, and an Update on the Zika Virus

Don’t waste your money on natural bug spray. According to tests from Consumer Reports, natural repellents don’t last as long as their synthetic counterparts. “The consumer testing group released its latest update on which repellents work best…those with naturally derived oils may smell nice, but they don’t keep the mosquitoes off for long…Both the CDC and Consumer Reports say that while ‘natural’ sounds better and safer to consumer, it isn’t necessarily so. That’s especially true when it comes to mosquito repellents.” Repellents with the chemical DEET lasted for an average of seven hours when tested, whereas natural repellents lasted less than an hour. With mosquito season coming up, make sure you’re protecting yourself and your family with the right bug spray. (NBC)

A new study found that four healthy habits may prevent or reduce your risk for cancer. The habits that Americans should develop are quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising weekly, and eliminating or scaling back on drinking. “The effect of a healthful lifestyle varied according to gender and cancer type. For instance, women who followed the strictures on smoking, drinking, weight and exercise could reduce their lung cancer risk by 85% and their colorectal cancer risk by 60%. For men, the corresponding figures were 90% and 50%. The study’s findings present a significant challenge to research published last year that said as many as 80% of cancers might be attributable to factors beyond the control of individuals — the “bad luck” hypothesis. Instead, the new research offers evidence that bad behavior trumps bad luck as a cause of cancer.” This study makes it evident that healthy habits may be the best way to fight and prevent cancer. (LA Times)

The Zika virus is forecast to spread in the U.S. this summer. With mosquito season looming, there will be more Zika cases popping up throughout the country. “Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the federal government needs to ensure any local outbreaks of the disease don’t spread widely. ‘We already have Zika in the United States. But it is travel-related,’ Fauci said…There are more than 500 travel-related cases of the Zika virus in the U.S., according to new figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. None of them were locally transmitted by mosquitoes.” This summer, make sure you take proper precautions and apply bug spray. (Time)

The FDA Gives Nutrition Labels a Makeover


The familiar nutrition label which appears on packaged foods has existed for more than 20 years. Now, the label is getting a makeover: A new “Added Sugars” line shows hidden sugars. The “Calories from fat” line has been dropped, and serving sizes have been adjusted to match what people typically eat (as opposed to what they should ideally consume). Take a look at the biggest adjustments to the label in the infographic above, courtesy of Sharecare.com. The new version of the label will show up in a grocery store near you in July 2018.

Sharecare Top 5: 6 Weird Reasons You Can’t Lose Weight, Your Brain on Sugar, Back-Friendly Exercises, and More

Sporty woman drinking detox smoothie

Sporty woman drinking detox smoothie

Stay on top of your wellness goals with the latest health information from Sharecare.com:

1. You’ve ditched your bad diet habits, but the scale still won’t budge – what gives? Find out if any of these reasons are causing your weight loss dry spell.

2. Have you ever joked that you’re addicted to sugar? You could be for real. Emergency medicine physician Darria Long Gillspie, MD, explains how your brain fuels your craving for the sweet stuff — and three things you can do to stop it.

3. Strong back muscles can help reduce your risk for lower back pain, injuries and accidents. Discover which exercises a physician recommends for a sturdier back.

4. Nicer weather means more time outside – and more exposure to potentially harmful UV rays that could lead to skin cancer. Here’s everything you need to know to protect your skin this summer.

5. Do your hands ever feel numb and tingly? Find out what an orthopedic surgeon says   about when the sensation is normal and when it could signal a health problem that needs your doctor’s attention.

How to Check Out Online Pharmacies Before You Buy From Them

040313Antidepressants Blog

Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show. Connect with her on Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website, Leamy.com.

When The Dr. Oz Show asked me to investigate how Americans could get their prescription medications — including increasingly pricy generics — for less, I suggested an experiment where we shopped around at all sorts of different pharmacies and priced common medications to see the differences in price.

The results were jaw dropping. A 30-day supply of one common medication ranged in price from $10.50 to $150! A month’s supply of another went all the way from $14 to $434! Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Why You Need to Double Check Your SPF, What You Should Know Before Getting into the Pool This Summer, and What May Help Prevent Cancer

Your sunscreen may be lying to you. According to a recent report, almost half of all sunscreens sold in the U.S. has less SPF than the amount listed on the bottle. “Researchers at Consumer Reports independently evaluated the Sun Protection Factor value of 65 sunscreen products — including lotions, sprays and sticks — and found that 43% of them had less SPF than the label promised… In this year’s report, 13 of the 35 sunscreen lotions that were tested had an SPF less than 30, despite all claiming to be at least SPF 30…[most] fell short by about 10 or 15 points.” SPF 30 is the general recommendation for sunscreen but researchers are now suggesting getting sunscreens with a listed SPF of 40 or higher to make up for the potential 10-15 point difference. (CNN)

Do you know if your public pool is safe? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that many pools have been shut down and will continue to be closed due to health and safety violations. “The agency on Thursday detailed inspection data, collected in 2013, in five states that are home to the largest number of public pools and hot tubs: Arizona, California, Florida, New York and Texas. Researchers examined the outcomes of 84,187 routine inspections of 48,632 public aquatic facilities, including hot tubs, pools, water parks and other spots where people swim in treated water. They found that almost 80 percent of the time, inspectors documented at least one health or safety violation.” The CDC advised parents to use store-bought test strips to test the pH levels of the water in public pools, look for cleaned drains and check to see that a lifeguard is on duty and that safety equipment is in good condition. (Washington Post)

Your daily habits may prevent you from getting cancer. Researchers have reported that healthy habits and an overall healthy lifestyle could decrease a person’s risk for developing cancer. “Of the people studied, 16,531 women and 11,731 men had a healthy lifestyle pattern and were determined to be low risk. These healthy patterns included moderate or no drinking, a BMI between 18.5 and 27.5, weekly physical activity that included at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity, and either never having smoked or currently not being a smoker. The authors then studied cancer rates among the high- and low-risk groups. They found that overall, 20 percent to 40 percent of carcinoma cases and about half of carcinoma deaths can be potentially prevented through lifestyle modification. Carcinomas form in the lining of certain tissues or organs and is the most common form of cancer.” While more research needs to be done, the evidence is encouraging. (ABC)

Today’s Headlines: How Exercise May Prevent Cancer, The Difference Between Reading a Book and Reading on Your Computer, and Why Adults Don’t Get as Much Sleep

Exercise may decrease your risk for many different types of cancer. A new analysis from the National Cancer Institute studied 1.4 million people and determined that physical activity could aid in the prevention of thirteen types of cancer. “People who exercised the most had a 42 percent lower risk of esophageal cancer and a 27 percent lower risk of liver cancer over 11 years than people who exercised the least…” While multiple types of exercise — such as swimming, running, and walking — were listed as helpful, the main takeaway was that moderate exercise for a few hours a week was the healthiest practice. (NBC)

Reading on paper and computer screens are both beneficial to learning but in different ways. A new research study examined the positives and negatives of reading across different mediums. “In the study, people who used computer screens for learning did better when it came to understanding concrete details, but they had more difficulty understanding abstract concepts…‘Smartphones are great devices for looking up quick, concrete facts like the name of an actor or a restaurant we want to try…They may not be best at helping us remember larger concepts, though.’” Overall, the study concluded that reading on a computer can help you remember facts better, but if you want to understand in-depth connections, it’s best to print out the information to read it on paper. (ABC)

The idea that older people need less sleep may actually be a myth. Based on a series of European studies, researchers have speculated that older adults are getting less sleep due to undiagnosed insomnia. “On average older people sleep for a shorter time than their younger friends, but that only tells you that they get less sleep, not that they need less sleep. Insomnia in the retired is not always taken seriously by doctors. In one study, 69% of older people reported a sleep problem, but in 81% of cases the problem was not noted on the patient’s chart. One hypothesis is that the aging process disrupts their circadian rhythms, causing them to wake earlier than they should.” While the study is not definitive, the researchers recommend that people 65 and older get seven to eight hours of sleep a night. (BBC)

Stay Safe When You Eat Gas Station Convenience Store Foods

Woman shopping for candy grocery store

Elisabeth is a 13-time Emmy-winner, a critically acclaimed personal finance author, and a 20-year consumer advocate for programs such as Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz ShowConnect with her via Twitter @ElisabethLeamy and on her website, Leamy.com.

Gas stations now make more money off of food than they do from gas, in terms of profit margins. In fact, many should really be called “food stations,” as they spend more time and money preparing fuel for humans than for vehicles. No longer do they just stock candy bars and chips. Many gas stations make made-to-order sandwiches or feature hot bars loaded with wings, nuggets, and more. So if they’re going to act like restaurants, we should hold them to restaurant standards. Read more  »

6 Favorite Seasonal Fruits and Vegetables


It’s truly amazing the variety of fruits and vegetables that are available in the grocery store all year round. From citrus fruits to tomatoes to squash to bell peppers, what the weather’s like outside has ceased to matter when it comes to what you can get at the store. While it’s great to have such variety all year, I notice a definite difference in the produce section when the weather starts to warm up. More variety is available and the fruits and vegetables often taste better than they did when I was buying them out of season.

Watch: The Best Fruits to Eat for Weight Loss

The warmer weather also means the opening of farmers markets, which offer fresh, flavorful and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables. What should you be looking out for this summer? Here are a few of my favorites that I’ve been waiting for all winter.