TIME medicine

Viagra May Boost Risk for Developing Skin Cancer, Study Finds

Men who use the little blue pill may have twice the risk of developing melanoma

There may be a dangerous link between Viagra and melanoma, according to new research.

Men involved in long-term health research who used Viagra for erectile dysfunction nearly doubled their risk of developing melanoma, a study published in the June issue of JAMA Internal Medicine found.

Researchers evaluated nearly 26,000 men who disclosed during a Harvard study in 2000 that they used sildenafil citrate, or Viagra, for erectile dysfunction. None of the men evaluated had any instance of cancer during the initial study. Between 2000 and 2010, however, researchers found the men who took Viagra were at nearly twice the risk of developing skin cancer.

Over the course of the study, during which participants were given questionnaires once every two years, the researchers identified 142 cases of melanoma, 580 of squamous cell carcinoma, and 3030 of basal cell carcinoma. They did not, however, find a direct link between erectile dysfunction and melanoma.

The study’s authors say though the results may indicate Viagra increases the risk for melanoma, their research alone is not enough to affect clinical recommendations.

TIME medicine

Chicago Sues Painkiller Makers for Deceptive Marketing

Rafe Swan—Getty Images/Cultura RF

Five pharmaceutical companies stand accused of marketing a highly addictive painkiller, normally used for cancer treatments, as an answer to everyday aches and pains

The city of Chicago filed suit against five pharmaceutical manufacturers on Monday, for allegedly marketing a class of highly potent painkillers for common aches and pains, while masking the risks of addiction.

The lawsuit charges Purdue Pharma L.P., Cephalon, Inc., Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Endo Health Solutions Inc. and Actavis plc for marketing highly addictive opioids normally used in cancer treatments as a remedy for everyday pains, including back pains, arthritis and headaches.

“This has led to a dramatic rise in drug addiction, overdose and diversion in communities across the nation, and Chicago is not immune to this epidemic,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel in a statement.

The city is seeking compensation for approximately $9.5 million in prescription payments. It also alleges drug abuse burdened local hospitals with an influx of patients. The mayor’s office said painkiller abuse had climbed 65% between 2004 and 2011, resulting in 1,080 trips to the emergency room.



TIME Research

Don’t Trust Wikipedia When It Comes to Your Health, Study Says

Researchers found errors and inaccurate assertions in 9 out of 10 Wikipedia entries on the costliest medical conditions

A new study has found that Wikipedia entries on the costliest medical conditions contradicted the latest medical research 90% of the time.

A team of U.S. scientists said they found “many errors” in Wikipedia articles concerning the 10 costliest medical conditions. The researchers cross-checked Wikipedia entries on coronary disease, lung cancer, hypertension and back pain, among other ailments, against the latest research from peer-reviewed journals.

Nine out of 10 entries analyzed on the crowd-sourced encyclopedia contained assertions that were contradicted by the peer-reviewed sources. Only the entry on concussions escaped the review error free. The authors noted that the article appeared to have contributors with a greater degree of expertise, mimicking the peer-reviewed process.

“Health care professionals, trainees, and patients should use caution when using Wikipedia to answer questions regarding patient care,” wrote the study’s authors in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.

The authors laid particular stress on medical professionals; a recent study found that 50 percent of physicians admitted using Wikipedia as a reference source.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

14 Surprising Causes of Dehydration

Causes of Dehydration
Getty Images

Your body is about 60% water. Lose even 1.5% of that H2O—the tipping point for mild dehydration—and your mood, energy levels, and cognitive function all drop, according to research from the University of Connecticut. And while there are obvious reasons you can end up dehydrated—a sunny day, exercise, or not drinking enough in general—other triggers are less obvious. Check out these 14 surprising causes of dehydration and how to prevent them.


People with diabetes—especially people who don’t yet realize they have it—are at increased risk for dehydration. When levels of sugar in the blood are too high, the body tries to get rid off the excess glucose through increased urine output, says Robert Kominiarek, DO, a board-certified family physician in Ohio. All of those extra trips to the bathroom can be dehydrating. If you’re diabetic and suffer from frequent thirst or urination, talk to your doctor about how you can work together to improve your blood sugar control. And if you’re experiencing excessive thirst along with these other type 2 diabetes symptoms, it’s time to pay a visit to your doctor.

Your period

Is it that time of the month? Drink an extra glass of water. Estrogen and progesterone influence your body’s hydration levels, and when the two are roller-coastering, like when you’re in the throes of PMS, you may need to increase your fluid intake to stay hydrated, Dr. Kominiarek says. What’s more, for some women who have excessively heavy periods, the amount of blood lost is enough to deplete fluid levels, says OB-GYN Marielena Guerra, MD, of Elite OB/GYN in Florida. If you think the latter might be you, start counting your tampons. If you have to change them more than once every two hours, talk to your gyno.

Prescription meds

Check your prescription’s list of side effects. Many medications act as diuretics, upping your urine output and your risk for dehydration, Dr. Kominiarek says. Blood pressure medications are a common example. Plus, any drug that lists diarrhea or vomiting as a potential side effect could end up causing dehydration if you experience those side effects. If your prescription hits any of the above, increase your fluid intake.

Low-carb diets

Carbohydrates are stored in your body right along with fluids. That’s why you drop a couple pounds of water weight when you eliminate carbs. That might look good on your scale, sure, but it’s bad news for your hydration levels, says dietitian Jaime Mass, RD. Plus, since whole carbs such as oatmeal, whole grain pasta, and brown rice all soak up water during the cooking process, eating them can actually increase your hydration levels. Cut them from your diet and you could be unwittingly reducing your fluid intake, too.

Health.com: 6 ‘Bad’ Carbs That Are Actually Good for You


When you’re under stress, your adrenal glands pump out stress hormones. And if you’re constantly under pressure, eventually your adrenals become exhausted, causing an adrenal insufficiency, Dr. Kominiarek says. Problem is, the adrenals also produce the hormone aldosterone, which helps regulate your body’s levels of fluid and electrolytes. So as adrenal fatigue progresses, your body’s production of aldosterone drops, triggering dehydration and low electrolyte levels, he says. While increasing fluid intake can help in the short term, mediating your stressors is the only real long-term solution.

Irritable bowel syndrome

As if irritable bowel syndrome wasn’t terrible enough on its own, its symptoms (such as nausea and chronic diarrhea) can cause dehydration, Kominiarek says. What’s more, many people who suffer from this conditions place themselves on elimination diets to avoid what they believe may be trigger foods, Mass adds. If those diets nix any fluids or fluid-rich foods, they could end up further contributing to dehydration.

Your workout

We typically think of post-workout dehydration as a problem reserved for endurance athletes, but any time you break a sweat, be it an hour-long spin class or quick jog around the block, you’re losing water, Mass says. And, week after week, if you are sweating out more than you’re sipping, you could become dehydrated. Try this: Weigh yourself immediately before and after your workout. For every pound you’ve lost (the goal is not to!), drink 16 to 20 ounces of water, she suggests.


Has your baby got you feeling bloated? Chances are your body is retaining water in an attempt to offset dehydration, Guerra says. During pregnancy, your overall blood volume and cardiac output increase, which can thereby increase your fluid requirements. What’s more, nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness can also take their toll on hydration levels, she says. If you are suffering from morning sickness, don’t just accept it as a given. Talk to your doc about how to ease your symptoms.


As you age, your body’s ability to conserve water as well as its sensation for thirst declines, meaning it’s easier so become dehydrated and more difficult to tell when you’re fluids are low, says Mass. If you have trouble remembering to drink water throughout the day, try making a game of it. Keep a bottle of water near you at all times and, each day, keep a running total of how much you’ve consumed.

Health.com: 13 Everyday Habits That Are Aging You

Dietary supplements

Just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean is can’t send your bladder into overdrive. For example, parsley, celery seed, dandelion, and watercress have all been shown to increase urine output, which could potentially lead to dehydration, Mass says. If you are thinking about taking a dietary supplement—or are already taking one—it’s best to speak with a nutritionist, primary care doctor, or naturopathic physician about any potential side effects.

High altitudes

When you travel to high altitudes, your body acclimates by speeding up your breathing as well as increasing your urine output. While both are necessary to a healthy adjustment to the altitude and its oxygen levels, constantly peeing and panting—which causes you to exhale more water vapor than usual—can cause dehydration.

Drinking alcohol

Forget hangovers. Even a well-behaved happy hour could deplete your fluid levels. Why? Because drinking makes you go to the bathroom. Alcohol inhibits an antidiuretic hormone that would normally send some of the fluid you’re consuming back into the body, and instead sends it to your bladder. Meanwhile, thanks to the diuretic effect of alcohol, your cells shrink, pushing more water out to your bladder. All this lowers your body’s hydration levels, Mass explains. What’s more, since alcohol impairs your ability to sense the early signs of dehydration—such as thirst and fatigue—it’s easy to drink well past your dehydration point.

Health.com: 15 Signs You May Have an Iron Deficiency

Eating too few fruits and vegetables

Filling half of your plate at each meal with produce can score you up to two extra cups of water a day. So, put another way, if you don’t eat your five-a-day, and don’t compensate (at least from a fluid perspective) by drinking extra water, you could easily wind up dehydrated.


Breastfeeding is all about moving water—not to mention electrolytes, proteins, minerals, and other ingredients—from mom’s body to baby’s. So of course it can lower your hydration levels, Dr. Guerra says. If you start to have trouble producing, increase your fluids and talk to your doc. It may be a sign of serious dehydration.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME Exercise/Fitness

5 Drug-Free Home Remedies For Pain

Treat Aches and Pains at Home
PM Images—Getty Images

Feeling achy from a running injury? “Given time, your body will usually start to heal on its own,” says Lisa Callahan, MD, co-director of the Women’s Sports Medicine Center at the Hospital for Special Surgery, in New York City.

If the pain lasts for more than 10 to 14 days, or if it’s very sudden or severe (meaning you can’t walk without pain or it’s noticeably swollen), it’s time to visit a doctor. In the meantime, here are a few things you can do to help speed your recovery.

(Health.com: 11 Fitness Foods to Help You Get in Shape Faster)


Most injuries start with inflammation, so icing right away can help. Keep cooling sessions to no more than 20 minutes at a time to prevent frostbite or other skin damage.

(Health.com: 7 Running Injuries and How to Avoid Them)


If you’re still hurting after two or three days, try switching from ice to a heating pad, which will increase blood flow to the affected area and speed healing.

(Health.com: Exercises That Help Prevent Knee Pain)


Once your pain is gone, gently take the muscles and joints through their full range of motion to reduce stiffness and aid in recovery. Stretch several times daily.


Kinesiology tape (KT) may reduce swelling, take pressure off overused muscles and cut pain. Research on its value is limited, notes Dr. Callahan, but if it seems to help you, stick with it.

(Health.com: 25 Exercises You Can Do Anywhere )


A running injury doesn’t have to mean a total break from exercise. Try doing some low-impact workouts (Spinning, swimming) to keep your fitness up while your body heals.

5 Ways to Treat Injuries and Speed Recovery originally appeared on Health.com.


Yes, You Need to Wear Sunscreen Everywhere. Here’s How

Sun Protection checklist
Deborah Pendell—Getty Images/Flickr RF

You won’t read “Wear broad-spectrum SPF 30 daily!” here, because by now, you know you should. Still, you may need a reminder of why this habit is so important. Some eye-openers: “Up to 90 percent of skin cancers are associated with UV exposure,” says Elizabeth Hale, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at the NYU Langone Medical Center. One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer—which includes deadly melanoma—in their lifetimes. Our hassle-free guide is filled with practical tips on keeping every body part safe. To-do: Read, stock up on SPF, rub!


Women are more likely to develop melanoma on their lower legs and men on their backs, probably because men take off their shirts in summer while women bare their gams. “For everyday, a body lotion with SPF 15 is better than nothing,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Beach days require an actual sunscreen. Don’t forget your feet—they’re at risk for melanoma too, and very exposed in sandals.

Health.com: 10 Best Sunscreens for Summer 2014

Back and arms

These are also prime spots for melanoma. To help them (and every inch of you) stay protected at the beach or pool, slather on SPF at home in the buff, says Dr. Hale; it takes about 15 minutes to sink in. Derms prefer lotion to sprays for the first coat because you get an even layer of coverage. Have your partner or a friend do your back, from the tops of shoulders on down. Rays can still penetrate the fabric of a one-piece, particularly if it’s an older suit that’s wearing thin. If nobody is around to lend a hand, use sunscreen spray with a 360-degree nozzle to reach behind you. Either way, pack a spray for touch-ups every two hours. By law, sunscreens can no longer claim to be sweatproof or waterproof—the truth is, you do sweat them off. And don’t rush the spritz process. Yes, it’s supposed to be quick, but you still need to be thorough. “Hold the nozzle 1 to 2 inches away from skin, spray for one to two seconds per part, then rub it in,” advises Dr. Zeichner. Avoid applying downwind or most of your protection will get blown out to sea.

Health.com: 13 Everyday Habits That Are Aging You

Neck and chest

“Signs of sun damage show up here early in life, perhaps because the area is more sensitive and often exposed,” says Kevin Cooper, MD, chair of the department of dermatology at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland. Cover the entire region with sunscreen, including the sides of your neck. “The area under your ears is particularly susceptible to aging and cancer because it doesn’t have the benefit of the shadow of your chin, which gives the front of your neck some protection,” says Dr. Zeichner. If you’re wearing a ponytail, be sure to smear the back of your neck.

Health.com: 14 Health Products You Probably Don’t Need


It’s a common spot to develop basal and squamous cell carcinoma, the most prevalent forms of skin cancer. And we hardly need to mention the dark splotches, fine lines and crow’s-feet that come from sun exposure. “Don’t count on your makeup,” cautions Dr. Hale: It may contain SPF, but you probably won’t apply enough to achieve a significant level of protection. Your best bet is a sunscreen that’s lightweight and oil-free, especially if you’re acne-prone. Alternatively, find SPF in a multitasking daily moisturizer. And choose a hat over a baseball cap, which doesn’t cover the sides of the face or ears.

Health.com: 18 Fashion and Makeup Mistakes That Age You


If your regular sunscreen brings on redness or tears, try a formula with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, both of which are unlikely to irritate eyes. Wear sunglasses that block 100 percent of UV rays, the best defense against cataracts and other eye damage caused by rays.


Your ideal shield: SPF 30 lip balm. If there’s none handy, use a matte lipstick. Avoid glossy lip colors if you’re spending a lot of time outside, notes Dr. Hale: Gloss—even if it has SPF—intensifies the sun and can increase the damaging effects of UV rays like baby oil can.

Scalp and ears

Scarily, skin cancer on areas with little fat is more apt to spread because it penetrates deeper than it would on a fleshier spot, says Dr. Zeichner. “Dip a cotton swab in SPF lotion and paint it on your part and ears,” suggests Francesca Fusco, MD, a dermatologist in New York City. Or use a sunscreen stick. A nice blowout can come in handy: One Australian study showed that hair worn down gives ears substantial coverage.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

TIME medicine

Illinois House Approves Medical Cannabis for Epileptic Kids

A home-grown marijuana plant is seen at an undisclosed location in Israel
A homegrown marijuana plant is seen at an undisclosed location on Jan. 28, 2014 Baz Ratner—Reuters

Minors suffering from epilepsy should be allowed to use medical marijuana to reduce seizures, the Illinois house voted on Wednesday

Kids under 18 could be allowed to use medical marijuana after the house in Illinois expanded the state’s medical-pot law to include epileptic children.

The plan to let minors use medical marijuana passed 98-18 in the house on Wednesday and will now go back to the state’s senate. It was passed there in April but will now be reviewed as the house made an amendment stipulating that the marijuana must not be smoked.

“These people are not interested in getting high,” Democratic state representative Lou Lang, who sponsored the bill, told the Chicago Sun-Times. “These are folks that are interested in alleviating their seizures.”

The active ingredient in marijuana can help reduce the seizures of epileptic minors, parents have said.

TIME celebrities

Jennifer Lawrence Found the Cure For the Hiccups

20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards - Press Room
Jennifer Lawrence poses in the press room at the 20th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Jason LaVeris—FilmMagic

JLaw, what would we ever do without you?

Your best friend Dr. Jennifer Lawrence has found the cure for hiccups—securing her spot as the people’s star.

A Vulture reporter witnessed Lawrence’s hiccup treatment at a Vanity Fair Cannes Film Festival party. The hiccuping actress told her non-hiccuping entourage, “Seriously, I need some water now… The only thing that ever works for getting rid of hiccups for me is when I drink water and raise my arms over my head and lower them very slowly.”

The reporter nervously watched Lawrence (note: being scared, another cure for the hiccups) for the two minutes it took for the actress to drain a water bottle and very, very slowly lower her arms.

And… it worked. Thanks for your infinite wisdom J-Law.

You can all go back to your work weeks now.


TIME Addiction

Medication Can Help People Stop Drinking, Study Says

A combination of alcohol cessation drugs and psychological therapy is the most effective means of treating alcoholism, new study finds

Newly-developed medication can be an effective means of curbing alcohol dependence when paired with psychological counseling, according to a new study published in JAMA.

In the first large, randomized study in the United States that tested the efficacy of FDA-approved drugs for alcohol dependents either combined with or without therapy, a large team of researchers from across the U.S. found that acamprosate (Campral) and naltrexone (Revia) successfully help users stop drinking when combined with psychological treatment. Right now, most doctors either prescribe drugs or treatment, but rarely both.

Two other drugs, nalmefene (Selincro) and topiramate (Topamax), can also help patients stop drinking, the study found.

Eight million people in the United States are currently alcohol dependent. Alcoholism can case liver and brain damage, as well as damage to other organs, and can increase the likelihood of dying early by three times.


TIME medicine

FDA Clears the Way for New Blood-Clot Medication

A microscopic view of blood clotting inside an artery. Getty Images

Zontivity, a new drug from Merck, can be used to reduce the risk of stroke or cardiovascular death and treat patients who have suffered a heart attack

The FDA gave the go-ahead to a new drug on Thursday that can be used to inhibit blood clots.

The new medication, which reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes, is produced by American pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck & Co. and will be sold under the name Zontivity.

“In patients who have had a heart attack or who have peripheral arterial disease, this drug will lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death,” said Ellis Unger, director of the FDA’s Office of Drug Evaluation I.

However, like other blood-clot inhibitors, Zontivity increases the risk of bleeding by hindering platelets in the blood from clustering together. For these reasons, the FDA advises patients who have suffered from a stroke or traumatic head injury to avoid the medication.

The approval of the drug was reportedly delayed over safety concerns due to fatal bleeding in patients who were given the medication during clinical trials, according to Reuters.

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