TIME Research

What Drinking Does to Your Body Over Time

healthiest foods, health food, diet, nutrition, time.com stock, red wine, alcohol
Danny Kim for TIME

Social drinking is not always benign

The effects of having a few drinks can differ person to person, but often people may not realize just how risky their drinking patterns are, or what that alcohol is doing to them under the hood.

There are two definitions for “safe” drinking. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines say moderate alcohol consumption is OK, which means having up to 1 drink per day for women and up to 2 drinks per day for men. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has its own recommendation it calls “low risk” drinking, which sets limits for what levels of drinking will put you at a low risk for developing an alcohol abuse issue later on. This comes out to no more than three drinks on any single day and no more than 7 drinks per week for women, and no more than four drinks on any single day and no more than 14 drinks per week for men.

According to Dr. George Koob, director of the NIAAA, the current body of evidence doesn’t show whether there are significant differences between someone who drinks at this level versus someone who never drinks. In some cases, there’s strong evidence to suggest that moderate wine consumption could actually benefit the heart. Though Koob says some studies have been controversial and it’s not determined what it is about wine or other parts of a person’s lifestyle that could be at play. There are also individual patterns and sensitivities that people should take into consideration at this level. Some people can handle the amount better than others.

If you genuinely stay within the healthy drinking limits, you’re likely at a low risk for alcohol-related health problems down the line.

The concept of binge drinking is often associated with college students and drinking to get “drunk.” But evidence suggests that people beyond college age also maintain those heavy drinking behaviors. The NIH defines it as five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women within two hours. Some of the risks associated with binge drinking are well known. It increases the risk for sexual assault, violence and self harm. But the physical effects of such behaviors on the body are often less discussed. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), there’s strong evidence to suggest that regular binge drinking can damage the frontal cortex and areas of the brain involved in executive functions and decision making. Alcohol slows down the pace of the neurotransmitters in your brain that are critical for proper body responses and even moods.

“Abstaining from alcohol over several months to a year may allow structural brain changes to partially correct,” the NIH says. “Abstinence also can help reverse negative effects on thinking skills, including problem­ solving, memory, and attention.”

Long term drinking can also hurt your heart muscles making them unable to contract properly. It can also harm liver, pancreas and immune system function. Heavy drinking can prevent the protective white blood cells in your body to attack bacterial invaders like they’re supposed to. Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk for certain cancers like mouth and breast. Regular heavy drinking also increases the risk for some alcohol dependence. “It creeps up on people,” says Koob.

You can calculate how many “drinks” your cocktail adds up to here and assess how risky your own drinking behaviors are here.

TIME Cancer

Nearly 10 Million Americans Still Use Tanning Beds

73985688
Getty Images

Skin cancer may be scaring people away

It looks like tanning beds are finally becoming less popular, a new report reveals.

The number of U.S. adults who use indoor tanning beds—which are strongly linked to skin cancer—declined to 4.2% in 2013 from 5.5% in 2010, according to new research published in the journal JAMA Dermatology.

Even young adults are using tanning beds less than in the past. The researchers noted a drop from 11.3% of 18 to 29 year-olds using them in 2010 to a 8.6% in 2013.

Still, the researchers estimate that 7.8 million women and 1.9 million men still use tanning beds, and for some age groups, there appears to be more interest. For instance, the number of female tanners dropped in all age groups and among college graduates. However, the researchers noted a 177% increase in tanning among men between ages 40 to 49 and 71% higher among men 50 and up.

Though the study authors can’t say for certain, it’s likely the wider acknowledgement that indoor tanning beds can lead to cancer that has more Americans opting out. The hope among public health experts is that the trend will continue to lose popularity.

TIME ebola

Ebola Cases Resurface in Liberia After 2 Months of Being Ebola-Free

Liberia Ebola West Africa
Abbas Dulleh—AP Health workers wash their hands after taking a blood specimen from a child to test for the Ebola virus in an area where a 17-year old boy died from the virus on the outskirts of Monrovia, Liberia, on June 30, 2015.

A teenage boy died from the virus and may have infected others

Liberia has reported its second case of Ebola on Tuesday after nearly two months of being Ebola-free.

Liberia had been declared officially Ebola-free on May 9 after it had gone 42 days with no new cases.

On Sunday, the body of a teenage boy was discovered in a rural area outside of the capital Monrovia and was confirmed to have the virus, Reuters reports. The news was not made public until Tuesday. People who came into contact with the boy have been isolated, and at least one of those patients has tested positive.

Though Liberia was declared free from Ebola infections in May, the outbreak has continued in Guinea and Sierra Leone, which share borders. “There is no known source of infection and there’s no information about him traveling to Guinea or [Sierra Leone],” a spokesperson for the ministry of health told Science.

So far, Ebola has infected 27,400 people in all three countries, killing over 11,200.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Foods That Taste Better in July Than They Will All Year

Here's what should be on your grocery list this month

Never know what’s growing now? Let’s take it one month at a time, with TIME‘s Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year.

We’re officially into summer, which means the produce department is looking plentiful. “It depends on where you are and what your climate is, but July is a great month,” says Deborah Madison, author of Vegetable Literacy. While some farmer’s markets will have different offerings compared to others, keep your eyes out for some of these fruits and veggies.

Figs: “There’s the early crop of figs this year, and there will be a second crop at the end of August,” says Madison, who lives in New Mexico. Just rinse your figs and trim the stems before eating.

Cherries: Madison says farmer’s market shoppers will likely continue seeing cherries brought to market, though the types of cherries may change as the season goes on. We are smack in the middle of both the tart and sweet cherry season now, so there’s no better time to pick up a pint.

Peas: Keep an eye out for the bright green pea pods. Peas taste their best in the summer, and according to Vegetable Literacy, if you live in higher altitudes, peas can be enjoyed all summer long. Snap peas taste their best when they are moist. When they start to dry, they can taste more starchy.

Peaches: If you can smell peaches, they’re ripe. While peach season can peak in states at different times, you’re definitely going to see some especially juicy ones in July. Peaches should be firm and without bruises on the outside.

Rhubarb: This vegetable is hearty since it comes from places with tough climates like China, Mongolia and Russia. Rhubarb can begin to appear in the Spring, but it can have a long summer season in some states. Remember to only eat the stalks and not the leaves, which are poisonous. Most of us enjoy rhubarb in our pie, but it can be good as a jam or can be eaten like applesauce.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Kind of Food Is Why America Is So Fat, Study Says

TIME.com stock photos Food Snacks Candy Chocolate
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

More calories in our food supply means more overeating

Worldwide, countries are dealing with a serious obesity problem. In the U.S. alone, more than two thirds of adults are overweight or obese. Now a new study suggests it likely has a lot to do with the make up of our food.

The new study, published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organization, looked at both the obesity rates and the supply of energy-dense—meaning high-calorie—foods in 69 countries, and found that both body weight and calories had increased in 56 of those states since 1971.

The finding was especially notable in high-income countries. “This suggests that, in high-income countries, a growing and excessive food supply is contributing to higher energy intake, as well as to increasing food waste,” the authors write. In the U.S. alone, the food energy supply went up by 768 calories per person between 1971 and 2008.

A wide reduction in physical activity may also be a contributing factor, the authors note, however, the surplus of available calories is likely leading people to overeat which in turn is adding on pounds for a lot of people. Other factors like pollution and gut bacteria should also be further studied to understand how they may contribute to weight gain as well, the researchers argue.

To combat the problem, the researchers argue that comprehensive approaches will be necessary. For instance, nation-wide policies should restrict the marketing of unhealthy food to young people and more packaged foods should have front of box nutritional labeling.

As always, eating more fresh foods rather than processed and exercising are two healthy habits worth adopting.
TIME Infectious Disease

California Lawmakers Pass Strict School Vaccine Bill

The bill ends vaccine exemptions for personal beliefs

The California senate has passed a bill that requires most children in public schools to get vaccinations and ends exemptions from vaccinations for personal beliefs.

The bill only allows for kids with serious health problems to not get vaccinated.

The bill is now heading to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has not said whether he will sign the bill. It would be one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country.

California recently experienced an outbreak of measles that was tied to a Disneyland amusement park. Many of the people infected were not vaccinated.

TIME Appreciation

Man Bought $30K Lottery Ticket by Accident

CT Lottery Bob Sabo becomes a “30X Cash 2nd Edition” instant game top prize winner.

He meant to buy a different ticket but didn't have his glasses on

A Connecticut man won $30,000 last week when he accidentally bought the wrong lottery ticket.

Bob Sabo didn’t want to wait in line at the Super Stop & Shop in Fairfield, Conn. to buy his lottery ticket, so he decided to purchase one from the lottery vending machine. He intended to buy two $20 tickets, but since he didn’t have his glasses on, he accidentally purchased one $30 ticket.

“When I got home and scratched the 30X ticket, I couldn’t believe it—we won $30,000. Winning the way we did was a very freaky thing!” Sabo told the CT Lottery.

Don’t we all wish we made mistakes like that.

TIME medicine

Minnesota Takes Half Step Toward Legalizing Marijuana

547026687
Getty Images

Pills and oils are approved, but smoking marijuana remains prohibited

Minnesota eased a statewide ban on medical marijuana products Wednesday, approving the use of pills and oils for seriously ill patients, while upholding a ban on products that can be smoked.

Under the new law, users will be able to use liquid and pill extracts of marijuana plants, provided they are suffering from serious conditions such as epilepsy, HIV and cancer, the Associated Press reports. The law also restricts sales to only eight dispensaries within the state.

While legalization advocates hailed the new rules as a step forward, they argued that Minnesota’s approach was unusually restrictive, potentially excluding patients living in rural areas or on tight budgets from obtaining the drugs.

[AP]

TIME faith

Global Jewish Population Approaches Pre-Holocaust Levels

Roughly 70 years after the close of World War II, global Jewish population returns to 16.5 million

The global Jewish population is nearly as large as it was before the Holocaust, according to a new tally released by an Israeli think tank on Monday.

A report by the Jerusalem-based Jewish People Policy Institute estimates that the global Jewish population has reached 14.2 million people. If accounting for people with one Jewish parent and people who identify as partially Jewish, the number reaches close to pre-Holocaust levels of 16.5 million, the Associated Press reports.

The report says that the rise is due to natural growth, mainly in Israel. In addition, 59% of adult children in the U.S. who have one Jewish parent say they identify as Jewish.

About 6 million Jewish people were killed during the Holocaust.

[AP]

TIME animals

Siegfried and Roy’s White Lion Dies After Medical Procedure

Magicians Siegfried Roy lion white
Siegfried & Roy—Getty Images World-renowned illusionists and conservationists Siegfried & Roy pose with Pride, the Magical White Lion in this undated photo.

Legend went into cardiac and respiratory arrest

A 14-year-old white lion named Legend from the Siegfried and Roy act died at the Toledo Zoo in Ohio after undergoing a medical procedure.

Veterinarians at the zoo, where the lion was on loan, were treating the lion’s paws. Legend went into cardiac and respiratory arrest while being removed from the anesthesia, the Guardian reports.

The lion’s cause of death is still being determined, and the Guardian reports that the veterinarian at the zoo said that while there were risks to anesthesia, the procedure needed to be done to improve the cat’s quality of life.

Legend’s 14-year-old brother Courage also currently lives at the zoo.

[The Guardian]

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com