The dirty truth about showers

There’s nothing like that freshly scrubbed feeling, but a new study suggests your shower may be making you sick. Researchers at the University of Colorado at Boulder found that up to 30 percent of showerheads are harboring Mycobacterium avium, a bacteria that can cause lung infections. “Showerheads are an ideal breeding ground for microbes,” says study author Leah Feazel. To protect yourself, let the water run for a few seconds before you step into the shower. And consider trading your current showerhead for an all-metal one—plastic components harbor more bacteria.

The lasting effects of those extra 10 pounds

Fitting into your high school jeans may make you the most envied person at your 10-year reunion—and one of the healthiest at your 25th.
     According to a new Harvard study, women who weighed the same at age 55 as they did at 18 were 82 percent less likely to develop a chronic illness or disease—including cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease, and multiple sclerosis—than those who put on 22 pounds or more.
     “Gaining even a few pounds can take a tool on the body,” says Qi Sun, the study’s lead researcher. To help thwart weight creep, he recommends stepping on a scale weekly: People who do so are more likely to shed pounds or maintain their weight.

Not-so-sweet news for your heart

From the sugar in your coffee to that 4 p.m. brownie. Chances are you easily exceed the 6 teaspoons of added sugar recommended daily. That habit may put your heart at risk, report University of Colorado researchers. They found that when people consumed more than 42 teaspoons of added sugar a day, their blood pressure rose five points in two weeks.
     “An excess of fructose [found in table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup] causes cell damage, which may increase blood pressure,” says researcher Richard Johnson, M.D. A good start: Sprinkle less sugar in your coffee and tea.

The germ strategy that keeps you healthy

Although you can’t avoid all cold-causing microbes on a daily basis, there are some research-proven ways to keep them from invading your home.
  • Use a humidifier
    Oregon State University researchers found that cold and flu viruses flourish in dry air: Aim to keep your home at around 50 percent humidity.
  • Clean common areas
    Viruses can live on surfaces for up to 24 hours once that leave the body. If someone in your household is sick, wipe down door knobs, refrigerator handles, and remote controls with disinfectant.
  • Kick off your shoes
    Change into slippers at the door of your house to avoid tracking in germs and bacteria.


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