Pain pills linked to heart risk

Here's another reason to pass on the pain meds: Some of them could throw your heart's rhythm permanently off track.

Commonly used non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen can increase your risk of atrial fibrillation, a serious and potentially deadly heart rhythm disorder.

I wish I could say it's just a little bump in risk, but it's not. Current or even recent use of NSAID painkillers can boost your odds of atrial fibrillation by 80 percent, according to the Dutch study of 8,423 seniors, none of whom had heart rhythm problems at the start of the 13-year study.

The study focused on prescription-strength versions of the drugs, including ibuprofen and naproxen, but that doesn't mean the over-the-counter stuff is safe. The researchers didn't focus on those lower doses.

Besides, millions of people who buy over-the-counter NSAID painkillers end up taking a prescription dose anyway. They pop extra pills -- and the new study isn't the only one to find that habit could be a deadly mistake.

One study from 2011 found that regular use of NSAIDs could double, triple and even quadruple your risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death, while a study I told you about just last year found these drugs can double your risk of heart failure and increase your overall heart risk by about a third with long-term use.

And even if your heart makes it through OK, these drugs can do a number on your stomach -- causing internal bleeding problems such as ulcers.

Other painkillers pack other problems, so your best approach for pain is with nondrug therapies such as acupuncture, chiropractic and cold laser as well as natural anti-inflammatories such as turmeric, fish oil and MSM.

Speak with a holistic medical doctor about your options.

So there are two actions to take here.

First, buy only organic meats. Because the animals can't be given antibiotics, you're less likely to encounter drug-resistant germs.

You'll also get safer, healthier and better-tasting foods.

And second, keep your cutting board clean -- and that means more than just soap and water. Use 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.

Spill some onto the board, rub it in with a clean dishtowel or a paper towel and then rinse it off.