Today’s Headlines: Vaccines, Dietary Salt, and Pain Tolerance

You may need another vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) has announced it now recommends Prevnar 13 for all adults over 65. Prevnar is a vaccine that protects against Streptococcus pneumoniae, which is one of the most common causes of pneumonia in older adults and can be fatal. The ACIP is a government organization that looks at all available evidence for various vaccines and makes recommendations about who should get what. “The panel recommended that adults 65 years or older who have not previously received either Prevnar or Pneumovax, or whose previous vaccination history is unknown, should first receive a dose of Prevnar 13, followed by a dose of Pneumovax.” The decision comes after studies showing the vaccine to be very effective in those over 65 at preventing infection. All decisions about vaccinations should be made with the help of a physician. (Fox)

The role of salt in health is more complicated than we thought. For healthy individuals, cutting salt out of your diet might be problematic. A new study out this week, “tracked more than 100,000 people from 17 countries over an average of more than three years and found that those who consumed fewer than 3,000 milligrams of sodium a day had a higher risk of death or a serious event such as a heart attack or stroke in that period than those whose intake was estimated at 3,000 to 6,000 milligrams. Risk of death or other major events increased with intake above 6,000 milligrams.” The World Health Organization, U.S. government and American Heart Association all recommend less than 1,500 to 2,300 milligrams. While those on a low-salt diet should continue to keep their sodium low, this new study indicates that the debate is not over about how much is too much when it comes to salt. (WSJ)

Doing exercise may decrease your sense of pain. While just the thought of exercise may be painful for some people, a new study has found that exercise can actually increase your pain tolerance. “Scientists have known that strenuous exercise briefly and acutely dulls pain” by releasing endorphins, but less was known about the long term effects. By studying a group of volunteers who either did or didn’t do exercise over a several week period, researchers found that “the volunteers in the exercise group displayed substantially greater ability to withstand pain. Their pain thresholds had not changed; they began to feel pain at the same point they had before. But their tolerance had risen. Those volunteers whose fitness had increased the most also showed the greatest increase in pain tolerance.” (NYT)

Reproductive Clock More Pressing When Real Clock is Ticking

woman running late

From nosy relatives to babies populating social network feeds, women are often reminded of the period of time they have for childbearing. As they enter their 30s, a heightened awareness of the shrinking time left to conceive can be a source of anxiety, especially in those without a partner. A new study published in the journal Human Nature looked to see just how much a real reminder of the passage of time could affect this sense of urgency and how that might, in turn, influence how choosy a woman is when it comes to finding a mate. Read more  »

4 Ways to Ease Your Aching Back


Summer is a big time for tackling heavy-duty home projects and lugging outdoor gear all over the place, which can sometimes be more than your back bargained for. Your lower back especially is a very vulnerable area prone to injury, particularly as we age. The wear and tear of living eventually weakens the skeletal structure, causing bone loss and disintegrated or displaced discs. And you’re not alone: eight out of 10 Americans experience back pain at some time, making it the fifth most common reason to visit the doctor. Read more  »

The One Place You Never Thought to Check for Melanoma

Legs walking

It goes without saying that you need to routinely check your back, legs, arms and any other exposed area of your body for questionable moles if you want to stay skin-cancer-free. But body parts that seem to be hidden from the sun’s rays are just as important to inspect regularly. One that you probably never thought to check but deserves equal attention from your critical eyes: your toenails. Read more  »

Today’s Headlines: Neck Manipulation, Sugar Cravings, and Windowless Offices

Neck manipulation may be associated with stroke. All that twisting may not be so good after all. A new study has found a link between recent neck manipulation and cervical artery dissection, a condition resulting from small tears in the wall of an artery. These tears can appear after sudden trauma and expand in between the layers of an artery wall, leading to stroke if it happens in arteries found in the neck. The authors “focused on four large studies that were mainly associated with strokes involving the arteries of the neck. They found that people who had these types of strokes were more likely to have had some type of neck manipulation. But, the studies they looked at couldn’t determine what caused people’s strokes. It’s possible that people may have sought neck manipulation therapy for symptoms that were really the early stages of stroke. These tears often cause pain in the back of the neck that may be misinterpreted by both the patient and a healthcare provider.” (Reuters)

More sleep might cut your sugar cravings. Your next diet might involve lying in bed a little longer. A new study has found that sleep deprived, overweight adults who “got an average of 96 extra minutes of sleep per night, cut their cravings for sweet and salty junk food by 62 percent and reduced their overall appetite by 14 percent.” Participants in the study started at six and a half hours per night before bumping up to the optimal eight hours. Authors think cravings increase without sleep because “[w]hen we are sleep deprived, we incur a metabolic cost for being awake, so we tend to compensate for this extra energy expenditure by eating. With all the tempting snack foods so widely available, we tend to overeat and choose unhealthy foods.”(CBS)

Windowless offices may be killing your sleep. A new study out this week has found that workers with natural light in their offices “got an extra 46 minutes of sleep during the work week and reported better health overall.” Your brain normally uses natural light to time its internal clock, or circadian rhythm. Without natural light during the day, it can be tough for your brain to set this clock properly. “Even on nights when ‘windowless workers’ hadn’t been at the office, they still got less sleep,” likely because their body clock had already been set while at work. The authors suggest an “architectural design of office environments that places more emphasis on sufficient daylight exposure for workers in order to promote health and well-being.” And maybe supplement with lunch outside. (Fox)

Consistent Exercise Decreases Breast Cancer Risk


Fitness woman training shoulders

Exercise can ward off many diseases and a recent long-term study has found that it may help decrease breast cancer risk, too. Breast cancer is one of the most common cancer types in women and is especially common in women who have gone through menopause. Researchers have known for some time that increased exercise is likely linked to lower breast cancer risk, but they didn’t have a good sense of how much exercise needed to be done and for how long the effects of exercise lasted. Read more  »

How to Make and Use Natural Bug Repellant

Mosquito sitting on the skin

Nothing ruins the outdoors during the summer with family and friends like a little mosquito bite on your neck. Suddenly, a beautiful sunset turns into a buffet dinner for the mosquitoes. But spraying chemicals on your skin to keep pests away may not feel like a good option either. Not to worry: Mosquitoes aren’t a new phenomenon and Ayurveda has been repelling them for over 5,000 years with great success. With the help of some amazing essential oils you can enjoy these fleeting summer moments without biting insects, while enjoying some additional benefits for your skin. Read more  »

Dealing with the Struggles of Addiction and Depression


I got a call alerting me that Robin Williams died, and I felt a shadow cross my heart. I loved him. I grew up watching his entire career, laughing hysterically along with the rest of the world at his endless stream of outrageous characters, his brilliant stand up and his dramatic roles. There seemed to be no end to his infinite talent. I, like many parents, had the added affinity for Robin because I was able to share his laughter with my children as they were growing up in the many kids movies in which he starred without an equal. I watched his philanthropy and saw a person with a deep understanding of the power to do good that comes as a responsibility when you are a celebrity. Read more  »

Sharecare Top 5: Must-Know Facts About Ebola, Worst Skin Care Mistakes, Help for Sore Knees and More

Slim woman applying sunscreen

Not sure what to make of the Ebola outbreak? Wondering if your sunscreen offers enough protection? We at Sharecare have all kinds of health information and tips for you. Check out five of our latest posts.

1. Ebola has been all over the news this week, but many of us still have questions about the virus. What are the symptoms? How does it spread? Is there a cure? We’ve got all those answers and more from emergency room physician Darria Long Gillespie, MD.

2. It’s the season of fun in the sun, but too much exposure to harmful UV rays can lead to sunspots, wrinkles and skin cancer. Find out if you’re making these seven skin mistakes, and what to do instead.

3. Don’t let knee or hip pain keep you down. Instead, hit the dance floor – really! A small study found that slow dancing can help relieve joint pain. Find out why, and discover other fun ways to manage chronic pain.

4. Have you or a loved one been diagnosed with hepatitis C? We’ve got good news. With a doctor’s help, you can find ways to control symptoms, prevent liver damage and possibly even be cured. Use this guide for ways to fight back against hep C.

5. Does your focus fade as the hours tick away? Keep your brain and memory sharp all day long by following these five tips from Michael Roizen, MD.