TIME Cancer

Users of Jessica Alba’s Honest Company Sunscreen Are Posting Photos of Epic Sunburns

An investigation by NBC5 in Chicago found that the company reduced the zinc oxide levels in its sunscreen to 9.3%, when the standard is between 18 and 25%

Eco-friendly Honest Company’s sunscreen may be “naturally derived,” “unscented” and “non-toxic,” according to the company’s website, but now some users on social media are claiming that it doesn’t work.

The sunscreen, promoted by sometime-movie-star Jessica Alba’s wildly successful baby product company as “providing the best broad spectrum protection for your family,” is getting bad reviews by users online, many of whom are posting painful-looking sunburn photos they say they took after using the product.

In a statement to the Today Show, the Honest Company stressed that the sunscreen is tested by an independent third party with positive results and that “the number of complaints received on our own website about our Sunscreen Lotion constitute less than one half of one percent of all units actually sold at Honest.com. We stand behind the safety and efficacy of this product.”

A country-wide investigation by NBC5 in Chicago found that the sunscreen’s formula was changed at some point, reducing to 9.3% non-nano zinc oxide from 20%. (The majority of zinc oxide sunscreens list their active ingredients at 18 to 25%). Still, the company says it added other components to make up for the difference in zinc.

“The Honest Company has been transparent about the amount of zinc since the new formula came out in early 2015 as seen on the website and the new formula’s packaging,” the company told Today.

[Today]

Read next: You Asked: Is Sunscreen Safe —and Do I Really Need It Daily?

 

TIME brazil

WHO Seeks Virus Tests After Sewage Found in Rio’s Olympic Waters

rio de janeiro brazil water
Ricardo Moraes—Reuters A fisherman casts his line as birds fly over the Sao Conrado beach in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 26, 2015.

Officials are concerned about athletes' health

(RIO DE JANEIRO) — The World Health Organization has asked the IOC to analyze virus levels in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic waters, and the governing body of world sailing says it will start doing its own independent virus tests.

The moves come after an Associated Press investigation showed a serious health risk to Olympic athletes in venues around Rio rife with sewage.

In a statement to the AP, the World Health Organization said it suggested the International Olympic Committee start monitoring for viruses at the Rio venues.

“WHO has also advised the IOC to widen the scientific base of indicators to include viruses,” the statement said. “The risk assessment should be revised accordingly, pending the results of further analysis. The Rio Local Organizing Committee and the IOC are requested to follow WHO recommendations on treatment of household and hospital waste.”

A spokesman from the Rio organizing committee referred comment to the IOC, which is meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Olympic organizers and the Brazilian government have tested only for bacteria to decide if the water is safe. Many experts say viruses are a far bigger problem and need to be monitored.

The International Sailing Federation said independently it would start testing for viruses.

“We’re going to find someone who can do the testing for us that can safely cover what we need to know from a virus perspective as well as the bacteria perspective,” Peter Sowrey, chief executive of the ISF, said. “That’s my plan.”

The sailing venue in Guanabara Bay is badly polluted, as is a separate venue for rowing and canoeing — Rodrigo de Freitas lake — in central Rio. The AP investigation also showed venues for triathlon and open-water swimming off Copacabana Beach had high virus levels that pose a threat to athletes and tourists.

Sowrey, who spoke from Kuala Lumpur, has a local interest. His wife Alesandra is a native of Rio, and he has a 9-year-old daughter Marie.

“I’m a father myself,” Sowrey said. “I want to make sure that everyone who goes out in the water is as safe as possible and is given the right guidance and right security.”

The AP analysis showed dangerously high levels of viruses and bacteria from sewage in venues where about 1,400 athletes will compete in water sports, in the games which open in a year — Aug. 5, 2016.

In Rio, much of the waste and sewage goes untreated and runs down hillside ditches and streams into Olympic water venues that are littered with floating rubbish, household waste, and even dead animals.

At the world swimming championships in Kazan, Russia, swimmers said they were worried about the situation in Rio.

“The athletes and the athletes’ commission have expressed their concern at the current problems with the quality of water, the cleanliness of the water,” Vladimir Salnikov, a former Olympic gold-medal winner, said. “That will be put into a recommendation, and people will pay attention to that.”

Shin Otsuka, an executive board member of the International Triathlon Union, said on Friday his body was considering testing for viruses.

The ITU is holding an Olympic qualifying race on Sunday using the waters off Copacabana Beach.

Costa Rican triathlete Leonardo Chacon said he knows the risks, but will take them.

“We know we are exposed to viruses, maybe to a health problem later,” he said on Friday in Rio. “But in my case, I have invested so much to prepare myself for this, and I want this to happen because I can’t recuperate this investment any other way other than competing and winning the points that I need to win.”

When Rio was awarded the Olympics in 2009, it promised cleaning its waters would be an Olympic legacy. But Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes has repeatedly acknowledged this will not be done, calling it a “lost opportunity.”

Sowrey said the ISAF would start doing its own water testing in Rio this month, no longer relying solely on Brazil’s government analysis.

“We want to make sure we keep pressure on the organizing committee and the Brazilians to make sure they put some energy into cleaning up the bay,” Sowrey said. “My job is to make sure something actually happens and it’s not just talk, and someone is actually walking the walk.”

Sowery said he received a call from a woman who wanted reassurance that the ISAF was giving the right guidance to her child and others competing in an Olympic sailing test event this month in Rio.

He said a “backup plan” included sailing all the events outside Guanabara Bay in the open Atlantic. The ISAF has three courses there, and three inside the bay.

He said it would be “‘heartbreaking” to sail outside the bay and lose the postcard backdrop of Sugarloaf Mountain, which will be a focus of television coverage.

In most Olympics, sailing is contested far from the main Olympic venues. In Rio, the sailors and rowers and canoeists get center stage — a chance to win fans and valuable sponsors.

“We’re not going to sacrifice health for the sake of good pictures and good TV,” he said. “But the backdrop of Rio is an amazing backdrop, and will do something for the sport of sailing.”

TIME human behavior

If You Want to Improve Your Memory, Try Climbing a Tree

Boy climbing tree
Getty Images

A new study says tree climbing is good for your mind

Turns out, the secret to remembering where you left your car keys may not lie with the tried-and-true method of retracing your steps or inside a prescription pill bottle. According to researchers from the University of North Florida, climbing a tree or balancing on a beam can dramatically improve cognitive skills, including memory.

Those two exercises are examples of proprioceptively dynamic activities. According to the The American Heritage Stedman’s Medical Dictionary, proprioception is “the unconscious perception of movement and spatial orientation arising from stimuli within the body itself.” The dynamic part is added when you couple that effort with another element like route-planning or locomotion.

According to a press release from UNF, the results demonstrated remarkable cognitive gains: “After two hours, participants were tested again, and researchers found that their working memory capacity had increased by 50 percent, a dramatic improvement.”

For those who don’t have easy access to a forest or balance beam, now might be the perfect time to take up parkour. Don’t worry, it’s still totally way cool.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

6 Brands Removing Artificial Chemicals From Their Products

Artificial colorings have been linked to everything from attention problems to obesity

Petroleum byproducts. Bug parts. Wood shavings. Duck feathers. If you can imagine it, you’re probably eating it every day as one of more than 3,000 natural and artificial chemicals that appear in our food supply. But after a decade of reporting on abominable additives, preposterous preservatives and crazy calorie counts, the editors at Eat This, Not That! are excited to report on a healthy new food trend: Major food manufacturers are finally stripping unnecessary chemicals from their products. And that may help you and your family strip off the pounds.

General Mills announced this week that it would eliminate artificial colors and flavors from its entire line of cereals, swapping out chemicals like red dyes (some of which have already been banned in most countries) for natural colorings from healthy sources like vegetables, joining Kraft, Nestle and other large companies in a race to clean up their acts.

Why is this such a great trend? Artificial colorings have been linked to everything from attention problems to obesity; in fact, studies show that people who eat highly processed foods tend to weigh more than those who don’t, even when calorie counts remain the same. Yet we really know very little about these chemicals: The Food and Drug Administration’s database of “Everything Added to Food in the United States” is really an America’s Most Unwanted list of additives, preservatives and flavor enhancers that food manufacturers (not the FDA itself, mind you) have decided are “generally recognized as safe.”

If you’ve been trying to cut artificial foods out of your life, take a second look at some of these products.

 

  • General Mills

    What they Promise: GM says that 60 percent of their cereals now don’t use artificial colors—like Cheerio’s and Chex—and that by the end of 2016, 90 percent will be completely free of artificial colors and flavors.

    Products: Eventually, this will include all cereals, including Trix, Lucky Charms and Reese’s Puffs.

    Why this is Great: A few years ago, researchers discovered that the artificial colors Yellow No. 5 and Yellow No. 6 may promote Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) in children. In fact, Norway and Sweden have already banned the use of these artificial colors, and in the rest of the EU, foods containing these additives must be labeled with the phrase: “May have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

    When it takes effect: The research is currently underway, and GM estimates that the entire line will be done by 2017, with cereals that include marshmallows, like Lucky Charms, the last to roll out.

  • Kraft

    Brand: Kraft

    What they Promise: The company announced this past spring that they would strip all artificial preservatives and synthetic colors from their iconic blue boxes of macaroni. They will replace the chemicals with those derived from natural sources like turmeric, paprika and annatto, a tree with vibrant orange-red seeds.

    Products: Original Kraft Macaroni & Cheese

    Why this is Great: Yellow 6, one of the colors currently being used in the pasta dish, contains benzidine and 4-amino-biphenyl, two known human carcinogens.

    When it takes effect: January 2016

  • Nestle

    What they Promise: The company announced earlier in the month that it would remove artificial flavors and “certified colors” in addition to reducing salt by 10 percent in its frozen pizza and snack products

    Products: Butterfinger, Baby Ruth, Digiorno, Tombstone, California Pizza Kitchen, Jack’s, Hot Pocket and Lean Pockets brands

    Why this is Great: We’re thrilled about the reduction of artificial colors—for the reasons mentioned above—but cheers to also reducing the sodium count. Sodium causes your body to retain water, which leads to pressure on your heart—and a rounder belly.

    When it Takes Effect: By the end of 2015.

  • Subway

    What they Promise: The sandwich chain announced earlier this month that they plan to remove preservatives and artificial colors and flavors from their core products

    Products: Sandwiches, salads, cookies and soups

    Why this is Great: Caramel coloring—which is currently being used in a number of their breads and meats—has been shown to cause cancer in animals and is a possible carcinogen for humans, too.

    When it Takes Effect: Over the next 18 months

  • Pizza Hut

    What they Promise: The popular pizza chain—once home to P’Zones, a calzone they described as “Over 1 pound of pizza goodness”—has been playing it both ways lately. Their just-announced Hot Dog Bites pizza plays to those looking for gross, mash-up pizzas, while in May, they also announced plans to remove artificial flavors from its pizzas. (Previously, they had removed MSG and partially hydrogenated oils.)

    Products: They promise to remove artificial flavors from the entire menu.

    Why this is Great: As the Pizza Hut CEO said: “Today’s consumer more than ever before wants to understand the ingredients that make up the foods that they enjoy.” But we’re also excited that they plan to reduce sodium in their pizzas, which will take effect next year.

    When it Takes Effect: The artificial flavors should be removed by the end of next month. Until then, learn which pies to avoid with this definitive list of The Worst Pizzas of 2015!

  • Panera

    What They Promise: The fast-casual restaurant chain promised to remove a long list of ingredients ranging from artificial preservatives and sweeteners to artificial colors and flavors, outlined in their published No-No List, from all of their products.

    Products: All.

    Why This Is Great: Titanium dioxide, only one of the ingredients getting the axe, is a whitening agent added to yogurts, marshmallows, even sunscreen, and Panera has historically used it in products like their mozzarella cheese. It’s a liquid metal, and worse: The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified it a possible carcinogen in humans. It has also been linked to asthma, emphysema, DNA breakdown, and neurological disorders.

    When It Takes Effect: By the end of 2016

    This article originally appeared on Eat This, Not That!

    More from Eat This, Not That!

    Read next: This Is Why You’re a Total Sucker for Sweets

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TIME ebola

Experimental Ebola Vaccine Could Stop Virus in West Africa

It has been called "a game-changer"

LONDON (AP) — An experimental Ebola vaccine tested on thousands of people in Guinea seems to work and might help shut down the waning epidemic in West Africa, according to interim results from a study published Friday.

There is currently no licensed treatment or vaccine for Ebola, which has so far killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa since the world’s biggest outbreak began in the forest region of Guinea last year. Cases have dropped dramatically in recent months in the other two hard-hit countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

“If proven effective, this is going to be a game-changer,” said Dr. Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, which sponsored the study. “It will change the management of the current outbreak and future outbreaks.”

Scientists have struggled for years to develop Ebola treatments and vaccines but have faced numerous hurdles, including the sporadic nature of outbreaks and funding shortages. Many past attempts have failed, including a recently abandoned drug being tested in West Africa by Tekmira Pharmaceuticals.

For the study, researchers gave one dose of the new vaccine to more than 4,000 health care workers and other people within 10 days of their close contact with a sick Ebola patient. Another group of 3,500 people got the shot more than 10 days after their exposure to the infectious virus. In the group that received the vaccine immediately, there were no Ebola cases versus 16 cases in people who got delayed vaccination.

The vaccine, developed by the Canadian government, has since been licensed to Merck & Co. but has not yet been approved by regulators. The study results were published online Friday in the journal Lancet.

At the moment, officials think the vaccine would only be used once an outbreak starts, to protect those at high-risk; there are no plans to introduce mass vaccination campaigns like those for measles or polio or to create huge stockpiles of the shots.

Merck, based in Kenilworth, New Jersey, noted its vaccine is in what is normally the final round of human testing in Sierra Leone, and in mid-stage testing in Liberia.

Merck will manufacture the vaccine if it’s approved for use outside patient studies. In late-morning trading in the U.S., Merck shares were up 62 cents, or 1.1 percent, at $59.13.

Last December, Gavi, the vaccine alliance, said it would spend up to $300 million buying approved Ebola vaccines. The private-public partnership, which often buys immunizations for poor countries, said Friday that it “stands ready to support the implementation of a WHO-recommended Ebola vaccine.”

An expert group monitoring the study’s data and safety recommended the trial be stopped on July 26 so that everyone exposed to Ebola in Guinea could be immunized.

The vaccine uses an Ebola protein to prompt the body’s immune system to attack the virus.

“It looks to be about as safe as a flu vaccine,” said Ben Neuman, a virologist at the University of Reading who was not part of the trial. Researchers are still assessing possible side effects; the most serious seemed to be fever and the stress experienced by patients who believe such symptoms were due to Ebola.

“This (vaccine) could be the key that we’ve been missing to end the outbreak,” Neuman said. “I don’t see any reason on humanitarian grounds why it should not be used immediately.” He said further tests would be necessary to see if the vaccine might also protect pregnant women, children and adolescents; those trials are already under way. It’s also uncertain how long protection might last.

WHO vaccines expert Marie-Paule Kieny said having an effective vaccine might avert future disasters but added it would still take months to get the shot approved by regulators.

“Using a tool like this vaccine, we would be able to stop the epidemic from going really wild and spreading further,” she told reporters, noting that stamping out future outbreaks still depends on early detection. WHO first identified Ebola in Guinea last March but did not declare the epidemic to be a global emergency until August, when the virus had killed nearly 1,000 people.

Other Ebola vaccines are being studied elsewhere but the declining caseload is complicating efforts to finish the trials.

___

AP Business Writer Linda A. Johnson in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

TIME Heart Disease

Here’s How Much You Should Stand Each Day

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Getty Images

More evidence suggests getting off your seat and moving around is good for your health

We know that the amount of time we spend sitting each day wreaks havoc on our health, and in a new paper, researchers show that spending just two hours standing or moving around instead of sitting may have a real positive impact on our health.

In the new study published Thursday in the European Heart Journal, researchers had 782 men and women wear activity trackers 24 hours a day for seven days. The monitors tracked how much time the men and women spent stepping, sitting, standing, sleeping or lying down. The participants also provided blood samples and other measurements like blood pressure and weight.

With the data gathered from the trackers, the researchers used a mathematical model to estimate how the allotted time in each condition would impact the men and women’s health. Interestingly, they found that spending two extra hours a day standing instead of sitting was linked to better blood sugar levels and lower levels of fat in the blood (triglycerides). Specifically, more time spent standing was associated with a 2% lower average blood sugar levels and a 11% lower levels of triglycerides. Cholesterol levels showed improvement as well.

The findings also showed that spending an extra two hours moving instead of sitting was linked to a significant lower body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference.

The study cannot definitely prove that these tweaks to the amount of time spent sitting directly causes improvements in health markers, but the researchers note that the findings do fall in line with what’s known about the impact on the body of being active (or at least not being sedentary).

More research is still needed, but the findings support the longstanding advice that moving around is better for our health than lounging around, and suggest that any decisions to purchase a standing desk are not made in vain.

TIME Health Care

Many Teens Are Still Not Getting The HPV Vaccine

Even though the HPV vaccine prevents cancer, the number of teens who get vaccinated is still lower than desired

New federal data shows that despite public health efforts, the number of teen boys and girls receiving the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine only increased slightly in 2014.

The new numbers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released on Thursday show that four out of 10 adolescent girls and six out of 10 adolescent boys have not started the HPV vaccination series. Without vaccination, young people are at a greater risk of developing HPV-related cancers down the line.

Overall, 60% of girls in the age group and 42% of boys have received one or more doses of the vaccine which the CDC reports is 3% higher for girls and 8% higher for boys compared to data from 2013.

Currently it is recommended by the CDC that girls and boys ages 11 to 12 get the HPV vaccine. While the new numbers are an improvement from prior years, medical experts would like to see greater HPV vaccine use, especially since the vaccine prevents cancer.

HPV is not an uncommon infection. Other data from the CDC shows sexually active men and women will get at least one type of the virus at some point during their lives. Each year around 27,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed with HPV-caused cancer.

We are missing crucial opportunities to protect the next generation from cancers caused by HPV,” said Dr. Anne Schuchat, assistant surgeon general and director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases in a statement.

TIME China

New Study Blames Chinese Grandparents For Obese Kids

Weight-Loss Summer Camp For Students In Shenyang
ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images Overweight students attend military training during a weight-loss summer camp on July 30, 2009 in Shenyang of Liaoning Province, China.

China is already the second fattest country in the world

Chinese children raised by their grandparents are twice as likely to be overweight or obese, according to a study published this month in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity.

China is already the second fattest country in the world, with more than a quarter of its adults overweight, or obese, in 2014.

The new study’s researchers set out to determine the factors leading to China’s high obesity rate, and they discovered that grandparents often work at cross-purposes with parents and schoolteachers when it comes to child nutrition.

Chinese grandparents, the study found, tend to overfeed the kids under their care: “Fat means wealthy,” some grandparents in the study told the researchers, believing that obesity indicates that children are well cared for. For many grandparents in China, who came of age during a famine that killed as many as 45 million people, high-calorie foods are viewed as healthier.

According to the study, children who live with their grandparents eat two more servings of junk food each week.

The widespread obesity among Chinese youth — with 23% of boys and 14% of girls considered overweight or obese, according to NPR — is creating problems for the rising country. Those figures have already surpassed other wealthy countries like Japan and South Korea. It’s posing problems for the Chinese military, since some soldiers are too fat to fit into their tanks. Last year, the People’s Liberation Army relaxed its weight standards slightly to allow “more portly young men” to join the ranks. Meanwhile, the prevalence of diabetes across China increased by 56% over the past two decades.

So don’t blame McDonald’s for China’s rapidly growing waistlines. Blame the grandparents.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

Should I Eat Pretzels?

Runners, yogis and dieters love them — but are they good for you?

4/5 experts say no.

You might think pretzels are the best nutritional choice from the vending machine, since they’re typically free of (or low in) fat. But here’s a twist: pretzels aren’t a healthy pick, according to most of our experts.

“Pretzels are a snack food made from enriched flour which provides very little fiber and overall very little nutritional benefit,” says Kate Patton, a registered dietitian in the preventive cardiology nutrition program at the Cleveland Clinic. They might be low in fat, but they’re also low in protein, low in fiber and high in sodium—a typical one-ounce serving has 352 mg of sodium, almost 15% of the total daily limit recommended by the Food and Drug Administration. For snacks that are more nutrient-dense, Patton says, nuts, seeds, roasted edamame or popcorn would be better choices.

Another thing pretzels have in abundance are carbohydrates and they’re high on the glycemic index, says David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center. High-glycemic index foods spike blood sugar levels more quickly than foods sitting lower on the glycemic index. Moul Dey, PhD, associate professor in health and nutritional sciences at South Dakota State University and a researcher of flour, agrees that eaters can do better than pretzels. “Pretzels are not in my preferred list of snacks,” she says.

But Kristi King, senior clinical dietitian at Texas Children’s Hospital, says it’s all relative, and if the options are pretzels or certain other salty snacks, then pretzels would be the healthier pick. “Pretzels are a great alternative to full-fat chips”—though you should watch the sodium.

And if you really love pretzels, there are some people are on a mission to make the snack healthier. “We have developed a ‘nutritional’ soft pretzel as a functional food,” says Yael Vodovotz, PhD, professor at the Ohio State University department of food science and technology. It’s a high-soy pretzel with a lower glycemic index and a higher amount of protein derived from plants, and Vodovotz hopes it will help people manage their weight. “We are comparing these functional pretzels to ordinary ones and preliminary data looks very promising,” she says.

But since the kind you’re most likely to buy is still far from a health food, for now, it’s best to limit the twists.

Pretzels
Illustration by Lon Tweeten for TIME

Read Next: Should I Eat Corn?

TIME Diet/Nutrition

5 Foods That Taste Better Now Than They Will All Year

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

Want to 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.

August is one of the best months for produce, according to Chris Romano, an associate produce coordinator at Whole Foods. “In summer there are a lot of good choices out there,” he says. Based on where you live in the U.S., your produce offerings can vary, but in August there are several fruits and veggies that are in-season and tasty nationwide.

Pluots: Summer is the season for stone fruit like plums, peaches cherries and pluots—which look like deep red or nearly forest green plums—are especially flavorful this month. “August is by far their peak,” says Romano. “They really sharpen in flavor and are very dramatic in color.”

Tomatoes: These need long, hot days to really develop in flavor, Romano says. “Heirlooms have gotten so popular in the last few years,” he says. To find the perfect tomato, our friends at Cooking Light recommend looking for one with bright, shiny, firm skin that has a little give when gently squeezed.

Grapes: Grapes need a many hours of sun and heat to develop their flavors, and they concentrate all their sugars in August, says Romano. “We will see all sorts of varieties from champagne to cotton-candy grapes.” A good way to select grapes is to pay attention to the color of the stem. If the stems are brittle it means they likely won’t last very long once you bring them home. Grapes with a flexible green stem are a good bet.

Melons: Though you can get a decent melon in the fall or even winter, summer is really their peak. “Whether it’s a melon with a white, deep orange, or a salmon flesh, there’s nothing better,” says Romano. To pick a good melon, look for symmetry, a heavy weight, and no bruising.

Okra: August is a good month to keep an eye out for okra. Look for small green pods and steer clear of bruising. In the United States, okra has become a Southern cuisine staple, but people living in other U.S. regions can enjoy it too. When okra is overcooked it can have a slimy texture, so be sure to look up a couple recipes before diving in.

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