DNA damage

  1. Effects of smoking and tobacco residue

    Third-hand smoke damages DNA

    You don't have to be a smoker yourself to face the effects of risks smoking -- and you don't even have to inhale a cloud of secondhand smoke, either.

    Cigarettes leave behind a toxic residue that lingers long after the smoker and his cloud are gone. And now, new research of the effects of smoking shows how this residue could actually damage human DNA.

    And all you have to do is touch it.

    The residue is called THIRD-hand smoke. It's why smokers and their homes, cars, clothing, etc. all smell like smoke even if they're trying to quit and haven't lit up in weeks.

    This lingering smell is caused by something called tobacco-specific nitrosamine, and it contains some of the most dangerous carcinogenic compounds of the cigarette.

    Unlike smoke, which blows away, tobacco-specific nitrosamine can build up on surfaces -- and then you can inhale it in dust or absorb it through your skin when you touch it.

    And that's when you problems begin -- because in the new study, researchers found that the residue left over from chronic smoking can actually cause breaks in DNA strands and oxidative damage to the DNA.

    The problem with tobacco-specific nitrosamine is that it is notoriously difficult to get rid of. It can linger for months, or even years, after the smoker is gone, and it can't always be washed, vacuumed or even painted away.

    If you're an ex-smoker yourself, there's no inexpensive answer here to remove the effects of smoking from your home. Consider replacing the carpet, drapes and other coverings and have a professional come in to clean the walls before re-painting if you haven't done so already (especially if there are young children in your home).

    It might seem like a lot of work. But if you want the true benefits of a smoke-free lifestyle for yourself and your family, it's worth the effort and the expense.

  2. Healthy aging begins with a sip

    If anyone knows a thing or two about healthy aging, it's the Japanese. They live longer and better than anyone else on the planet, nearly five years longer than Americans on average.

    So what's the secret?

    Aside from good genes, a low obesity rate and a diet rich in fatty fish, the Japanese have one habit that never quite caught on here: They drink green tea by the gallon.

    Nearly every home and workplace has an electric kettle, always on and ready to brew some green tea -- and new research out of Japan confirms again that those who drink the most, age the best.

    The study of 14,000 Japanese seniors finds that the heaviest tea drinkers -- those who gulp down five or more cups a day -- are less likely to need help with everyday activities like getting dressed and bathing.

    These tea-loving seniors are 33 percent less likely to suffer from "functional disabilities" than those who drink little to no tea.

    People with more moderate tea consumption -- two or three cups a day -- can still get most of the benefit: They're 25 percent less likely to suffer from functional disability than non-drinkers, according to the study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

    The study didn't look at why green tea drinkers are healthier and more independent, but this one's a no-brainer: Green tea's famous antioxidants have been shown to fight and even repair the DNA damage that comes from aging and disease.

    One small study a couple of years ago found a 20 percent reduction in DNA damage after just a month of regular green tea consumption.

    It's practically a miracle in a mug, boosting your health from head to toe -- and along with slashing your risk of functional disability, green tea can also help cut your odds of cancer, dementia, diabetes, depression, heart disease, osteoporosis and more.

    Green tea drinkers even live longer, too (as the Japanese can testify).

    There are lots of products that claim to have green tea -- or green tea extract -- in them, but skip all that and get yours the old-fashioned way: brew a cup fresh whenever you want some.

  3. TSA refuses new study on airport scanners

    It's outright insane if you stop to think about it: In order to "protect" air passengers, the U.S. government is blasting them all with dangerous levels of radiation from full-body X-ray scanners.

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