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Archive for Monday, October 27, 2008

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Eight (not so deadly) health sins

October 27, 2008

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Is a trip to the drive-thru or forgetting to floss really so awful? Or is not getting more than five hours of sleep a night really so detrimental to your health? Woman's Day finds out which bad habits need to be fixed ASAP and which you can relax about. Among them:

¢ You eat a burger and fries for lunch once a week: There's solid evidence eating a fatty meal will almost immediately affect the functioning of your blood vessels, making it harder for them to dilate for up to four hours after you've eaten. But having fast food once a week is probably OK.

Make it healthier: Order a small or child's-size burger (sans mayo and cheese), downsize the fries and add a side salad. Try to limit fast food to every other week - or even better, once a month.

¢ You only sleep five hours a night: It may seem harmless, but it's not. Besides the laundry list of negative health effects including an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and hypertension, not sleeping enough on a regular basis can make you fat.

Fix it ASAP: Go to bed 10 or 15 minutes earlier each night until you're getting at least six hours of sleep. If it takes you longer than 30 minutes to fall asleep or you wake frequently during the night, talk to your doctor.

¢ You brush twice a day but hardly ever floss: Although brushing is crucial, flossing is just as important because it's what keeps the bacteria that cause gum disease from building up between your teeth. Research has also linked gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease.

Fix it ASAP: Keep your floss next to your toothbrush as a reminder to do it every day.

¢ Once or twice a month you smoke a few cigarettes: The line between smoking a few a month and smoking a few a week or even a day can be thin. Women who smoke just one cigarette a day have triple the risk of heart disease and five times the risk of lung cancer, according to a recent study.

Fix it ASAP: Quit. Smoking is usually tied to drinking, so it is often recommended that people give up alcohol for about a month. For help, call (800) QUIT-NOW to talk to a counselor who can help map out a personal stop-smoking plan.

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