In the News: Chocolate May Benefit the Heart, Five Reasons Your Sunburn is Getting Worse, Thirdhand Smoke Harmful to Health

Chocolate may be good for the heart. Chocolate lovers rejoice! A Danish study has discovered that chocolate consumption may reduce the likelihood of an irregular heartbeat, which can often lead to stroke, heart failure, and other serious conditions. The study, which explored the eating habits and health of 55,502 participants between 50-64 years of age, found that those who ate just one to three one-ounce servings monthly had a 10 percent lowered risk of an irregular heartbeat. The participants who ate chocolate once a week had a 17 percent lowered risk and the ones who ate two to six servings weekly had a 20 percent lowered risk. Before you run out and buy a stack of Hershey bars, remember: dark chocolate with the highest cocoa content is the most beneficial, so look for that component above ingredients like milk and sugar. While these findings are very exciting, it’s important to still practice moderation to avoid weight gain and other issues. Want to try some healthy and guilt-free chocolate recipes? Check these out. (NYT)

Five reasons your sunburn is getting worse. While you may think that applying sunscreen incorrectly is the main source of worsening sunburns, it turns out there are five other reasons to blame. Research has shown that citrus juice can thin your skin (thanks to the acid) and make you more likely to burn, spraying perfume or cologne may cause sun blisters (particularly if they are made with bergamot oil), certain antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, and acne meds can make you more sensitive to the sun as well, not drinking enough water, and taking hot showers can all make your sunburn more intense, painful, and longer lasting. Want to avoid sunburns all summer long? Check out this simple guide to buying sunscreen. (MH)

Thirdhand smoke is also harmful to health. We’ve all heard of secondhand smoke before but did you know that thirdhand smoke exists as well? Known as the smoke that seeps into drapes, carpeting, bedspreads, tiles, and more, thirdhand smoke may be harmful to our health too. In an experiment conducted on mice, researchers found that newborn and adult mice exposed to thirdhand smoke had noticeable changes in blood cell counts tied to their immunity, which leads to allergic reactions and inflammatory conditions. It appears that the young mice were more affected than others, which may be because their immune systems are not fully developed yet. Scientists believe that these results have a human application, which is why it is so important to avoid not just secondhand smoke but thirdhand as well. If you or someone you know is ready to quit smoking, take a look at this fact sheet to learn more. (USA)