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Health Tip Tuesday

Get smelly. 

Garlic, onions, spring onions and leeks all contain stuff that’s good for you. A study at the Child’s Health Institute in Cape Town found that eating raw garlic helped fight serious childhood infections.

 

Heat destroys these properties, so eat yours raw, wash it down with fruit juice or, if you’re a sissy, have it in tablet form.


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6 Purely Psychological Effects of Washing Your Hands

Washing your hands doesn’t just keep you healthier; it has all sorts of subtle psychological effects as well.

Hand washing sends an unconscious metaphorical message to the mind: we don’t just cleanse ourselves of physical residues, we also cleanse ourselves of mental residues.

So, here are six purely psychological effects of washing your hands…

1. Recover optimism

Washing your hands can wash away the feeling of failure.

In a study by Kaspar (2012) participants who failed at a task, then washed their hands, felt more optimistic afterwards than those who didn’t.

Unfortunately washing their hands also seemed to reduce their motivation for trying the task again.

Still, hand washing can help boost optimism after a failure.

2. Feel less guilty

In the mind, dirt is associated with guilt, so theoretically washing doesn’t just remove dirt, it also removes a guilty feeling.

One study had participants think about some immoral behaviour from their past (Zhong & Liljenquist, 2006). One group were then told to use an antiseptic wipe, and another not.

Those who washed their hands after thinking about an immoral behaviour felt less guilty. The antiseptic wipe had literally wiped away their guilt.

3. Take the moral high ground

Feeling clean directly affects our view of other people.

When people in one study washed their hands, they were more disgusted by the bad behaviour of others (Zhong, Strejcek & Sivanathan, 2010):

“…”clean” participants made harsher moral judgments on a wide range of issues, from abortion to drug use and masturbation. They also rated their own moral character more favorably in comparison with that of their fellow students.” (Lee & Schwarz, 2011)

So, when people feel clean themselves, they take the moral high ground and are harsher on the transgressive behaviour of others.

 
Wash your hands, wash your mind: recover optimism, feel less guilty, less doubtful and more…
 

4. Remove doubt

Sometimes, after people make the wrong decision, they try to justify it by pretending it was the right decision.

It’s a result of cognitive dissonance, and it’s one way in which people lie to themselves.

However, hand washing may wipe away the need for self-justification in some circumstances, leaving you better able to evaluate your decision the way it really is (Lee & Schwarz, 2010).

5. Wash away bad luck

Washing the hands can mentally wipe away the effects of perceived bad luck.

When participants in one study had some experimentally induced ‘bad luck’ while gambling, washing their hands seemed to mentally wash away their bad luck (Xu et al., 2012).

In comparison to those who didn’t wash their hands, hand washers carried on betting as if their bad luck was forgotten.

6. Guilt other people into washing their hands

Apart from its psychological effects, hand washing is the cheapest and best way of controlling the spread of things like colds and other infectious diseases.

So, getting people to wash their hands is really important.

To this end, a public health study flashed different messages onto the walls of public toilets as people entered, including “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does,” and “Don’t be a dirty soap dodger.” (Judah et al., 2009)

The most effective overall message, though, was: “Is the person next to you washing with soap?”

So it seems when you wash your hands in a public toilet, you help guilt other people into washing theirs as well.

Not only are you staying healthy, you’re also doing a public service by shaming others into following suit.

A clean slate

All these studies are demonstrating that when we wash our hands, we also wash our minds clean:

“…the notion of washing away one’s sins, entailed in the moral-purity metaphor, seems to have generalized to a broader conceptualization of wiping the slate clean, allowing people to metaphorically remove a potentially broad range of psychological residues.” (Lee & Schwarz, 2011)

Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog.  
source: PsyBlog


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Vancouver hospital first in Canada to use bug-killing robot armed with UV light

JAMES KELLER / THE CANADIAN PRESS      FEBRUARY 1, 2013

VANCOUVER – When Trudi the robot is plugged in and armed, it sounds more like a space shuttle launch system than a germ-killing machine.

“Disinfecting will commence in 15 seconds; please leave the room,” Trudi — as staff at Vancouver General Hospital have named it — calls out in a digital monotone from inside a treatment room.

“Disinfecting process started,” it continues, as its thin, vertical bulbs blast out powerful ultraviolet rays, killing germs and viruses that might be lurking nearby.

The hospital is the first facility in Canada to use Trudi — whose formal name is Tru-D SmartUVC — as health officials across the country look for ways to protect vulnerable patients from catching potentially deadly bugs such as norovirus and C. difficile.

Health officials in British Columbia have started a pilot project that will see Tru-D and a similar device each tested for five months to determine whether the technology should be used permanently in health-care facilities in the province.

“We’ve been very impressed with the almost complete eradication of organisms, even when we take it to high concentrations,” Dr. Elizabeth Bryce, the medical director for infection control at Vancouver Coastal Health, said after a demonstration of the device on Friday.

“We hope it will decrease the rates of hospital-acquired organisms like superbugs.”

The Tru-D device is 1.65 metres tall with long bulbs running vertically up a round, clear shaft — think R2-D2 from “Star Wars” instead of Rosie from “The Jetsons.” It can’t move on its own and must be manually wheeled from room to room.

A GERM-KILLING, UV-RAY-BLASTING ROBOT RADIATES LIGHT IN A PHOTO.
THE HOSPITAL HAS BECOME THE FIRST IN CANADA TO TEST THE ROBOT,
 THAT HOSPITAL STAFF HAVE NAMED TRUDI.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/JAMES KELLER

A large sensor on the top of the device measures reflections from the UV light to determine the size of the room and how much exposure will be required to disinfect it. The process can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.

It must be used in an empty room that has already been cleaned by hospital staff, said Bryce, providing an extra layer of disinfection rather than replacing existing cleaning.

The five-month pilot project started in January. When that trial is finished, another UV disinfection device, PulseRx, will also be tested.

The results will determine whether the provincial government commits to permanently using either of the devices, which can cost up to $100,000 apiece.

Bryce said the hospital has actually been using Tru-D for the past three months. It asked the company for its test model early as it dealt with the recent norovirus outbreak late last year.

“We did use it in the norovirus season as an add-on to the cleaning, and we’re very pleased with that, as well,” she said.

The Vancouver General Hospital was among many hospitals across Canada to be hit with a norovirus outbreak in recent months, with infection rates several times higher than average in some places.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control announced in early January that a busier-than-normal norovirus season was being complicated by the discovery of a new strain of the illness.

Health officials issued their usual cautions that anyone with norovirus should stay away from hospitals to avoid spreading it to other patients.

Tru-D is already being used in the United States and elsewhere, and Bryce said preliminary results from those jurisdiction is encouraging.

She noted hospitals already use UV light to sterilize medical equipment, so using the technology to disinfect entire rooms isn’t a stretch.

“UV is not new as a disinfection technology, but it’s new in being applied to cleaning patient rooms,” she said.


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Scientists: Garlic Fights Common Illness Better than Antibiotics

By Anthony Gucciardi        Contributing Writer for Wake Up World     7th May 2012

Scientists at Washington State University are now confirming once again what natural health experts have known for years — garlic fights one of the most common food-borne illnesses much more effectively than antibiotics. Garlic has built a strong reputation in fighting infections, a benefit that is but one of many.
Campylobacter bacterium, the name for the common bacteria that often results in intestinal illness, affects around 2.4 million Americans per year and is often treated with illness-linked antibiotics, but maybe not anymore.
According to the researchers, the information ‘opens the door’ to the many benefits of garlic when it comes to preventing and fighting infections. This means treating certain food items, cleaning, and use as a healing food substance. Once again, however, these mainstream scientists are simply re-discovering what many cultures have known (and have been utilizing) for centuries! It’s no secret that garlic is really a nutritional powerhouse, a superfood that can boost overall immunity and combat diseases — even superviruses that have the medical community in a frenzy.
Even Greek athletes used garlic to boost their physical performance in the arena due to the deep knowledge of the food’s empowering properties. Leading expert Dr. David Kraus explains:

“People have known garlic was important and has health benefits for centuries,” said Dr. David W. Kraus, associate professor of environmental science and biology at the University of Alabama. “Even the Greeks would feed garlic to their athletes before they competed in the Olympic games.”

Garlic even has a role in the prevention of cancer — the disease that is currently ravaging the population. In fact, it is a role that is quite notorious among cultures who have been using garlic in their dishes for countless years. Scientists believe that the role of garlic in cancer prevention quite possibly has to do with the way that garlic boosts the production of something known as hydrogen sulfide. It is this very substance that also protects the heart. Researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that directly injecting hydrogen sulfide into mice almost completely stopped damage to heart muscles as a result of heart attack.
The benefits of garlic are many, and the mainstream scientific community is just catching on to how important of a role garlic plays in the diet.
About the Author
Anthony Gucciardi is an accomplished investigative journalist with a passion for natural health. Anthony’s articles have been featured on top alternative news websites such as Infowars, NaturalNews, Rense, and many others. Anthony is the co-founder of Natural Society, a website dedicated to sharing life-saving natural health techniques.


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Coconut Health Benefits, Life Saving and Antioxidant Properties

Danica Collins

Coconuts are one of the wonder foods on earth that amply provides for all human needs and have multiple health benefits… They can even save your life!
Few people (even fewer doctors) understand how important the coconut is to stabilizing blood sugar; lowering cholesterol; healing; hydration; and even replacing blood plasma in an emergency.
Referred to as kalpa vriksha (Sanskrit for “the tree that supplies all that is needed to live”) in ancient India, the coconut palm has been recognized as a top immune booster, antifungal, antibiotic, antiviral and antibacterial remedy for thousands of years all over the world.
Yet, it has been only recently that modern researchers have begun to fully discover the massive coconut health benefits this amazing fruit seed offers.
To give just one example of coconuts’ life-saving properties, they were used extensively in the Pacific during World War II. Since blood plasma supplies were scarce, it was very common for medics to siphon pure coconut water from young coconuts to be used as emergency plasma transfusions for soldiers who were injured. Since coconut water is nearly identical to human blood, it was suitable for people of all blood types.

Because of its strong antioxidant properties and health benefits, the coconuts can be used to:

    • Lower cholesterol
    • Improve digestion
    • Ward off wrinkles
    • Stabilize glucose levels
    • Fight off viruses
    • Build cells
    • Regulate hormones
    • Increase thyroid production
    • Lose weight
    • Increase metabolism
    • Fight infections
    • Stave off memory loss
    • Kill bacteria
    • And more!
Considered one of the most treasured foods of all time, coconut products — including coconut flesh, coconut water, coconut oil, and coconut cream — each deliver superb health benefits.
Coconut oil, for instance, is considered the best and safest oil to use for cooking — even superior to extra virgin olive oil when it comes to giving the body what it needs for optimum health. Unlike other fats and oils that we typically use for cooking and baking, coconut oil does not form polymerized oils or dangerous trans fatty acids in our bodies, which can raise our cholesterol levels; clog our arteries and even make our skin sag and wrinkle. Plus, this ultra-safe oil can give your body important antioxidants that can help build stronger cells and improve your overall health and well being.

Coconut health benefits found all-in-one

Here are a few ways that you can take advantage of coconut products to stave off disease and to recapture the look and feeling of youth:
Coconut Water – The coconut is a natural water filter. It takes almost 9 months for a coconut to filter every quart of water stored within its shell. This makes the resulting coconut water completely pure and sterile, which is one reason why it can be used for blood transfusions.
Another benefit of coconut water is the fact that it has the highest concentration of electrolytes than anything else found in nature. This makes it an excellent source of hydration.
Coconut Oil – In addition to being superior for cooking and baking, coconut oil also makes a superb topical oil that can help to naturally rid the skin of dangerous toxins. It also gives the skin the perfect mix of hydration and antioxidants that it needs to stay healthy, smooth and younger-looking longer.
Another great benefit of coconut oil is in protecting your teeth from the bacteria that can cause cavities and disease. Simply rubbing a little fresh coconut oil on your gums and teeth can keep them stronger and healthier than virtually any other dental treatment.
Most people don’t realize that coconut oil can actually help you lose weight! Yes, simply changing your cooking oil from the unsaturated fat variety to coconut oil can help you lose those extra pounds.
Here’s why: Unsaturated fats found in canola, corn and other vegetable oils, as well as margarine suppress the metabolism, which makes it harder to lose weight — and easier to gain it. Over time, this metabolism suppression may result in 20-30 pounds of excess weight that your body cannot get rid of. Coconut oil, on the other hand, helps to increase thyroid function and boost your metabolism — 2 important components to shedding unwanted pounds.
Coconut Cream – The best skin treatment product one can use to achieve flawless skin may quite possibly be coconut cream. Unlike traditional skin creams which can actually introduce fats and oils to the skin that will break it down over time, making it look older, creams derived from the coconut can actually replenish the skin, giving it a more youthful and healthy glow than most other skin care products on the market.
When it comes to buying coconut products, coconuts are not all created equal. Wild coconuts are always best, but can be hard to obtain if you don’t live in a tropical country. Whether you are using this wonder food to boost your immune system; increase your metabolism or fight wrinkles, using products from young coconuts will help you reap the most benefit.
Young coconuts contain the purest unsaturated fat, compared to the fat found in the more mature varieties. This is why they offer the most rejuvenation properties for the body’s tissues. But how can you tell how old a coconut is? Young coconuts are usually green in color and oddly shaped. The brown hairy ones are mature coconuts, and while they offer a lot of healthy benefits, they aren’t nearly as good for you as younger varieties.
The best place to find young fresh coconuts is, of course, in the markets of the tropics, so be sure to seek them out if you travel to those areas considering all the health benefits from a coconut. Coconut-producing regions export coconuts all over the world so it’s relatively easy to find coconuts at your local health food store or Asian grocer.

source: undergroundhealthreporter


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Are ‘Cat Ladies’ More Likely to Attempt Suicide?

By Alexandra Sifferlin       

Women who are infected with the common cat parasite Toxoplasma gondii may be more vulnerable to suicide, a new study finds, adding to the evidence that T. gondii or Toxo, as the bug is known, may cause subtle changes in the human brain that lead to personality changes and even mental illness.
The parasite is excreted in cat feces — which is why pregnant women are advised not to change the litter box — but it also spreads through undercooked meat and unwashed vegetables. Pregnant women who become infected with T. gondii can pass it onto their fetus, possibly causing brain damage or stillbirth. Now the new study finds that expectant mothers who have the infection, called toxoplasmosis, may themselves be at higher risk of suicide.
The finding comes from a study of 45,788 Danish women who gave birth between May 15, 1992, and January 15, 1995. University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers tested the women’s babies for T. gondii antibodies, which the infants could only have acquired from their mothers, and compared infection rates to the women’s suicide rates logged in the Danish health registry. The team also cross-checked the mental health registry to find out if any of the women had been previously diagnosed with mental illness.

They found that women who were infected with T. gondii were one-and-a-half times more likely to attempt suicide than uninfected women. The higher the levels of T. gondii antibodies found, the higher the suicide risk. They were also more likely to try to commit suicide violently, with a gun, sharp object or by jumping. When the researchers took into account women’s previous mental illness, they found that those who had toxoplasmosis were more likely to attempt suicide than those who had been mentally ill.

“We can’t say with certainty that T. gondii caused the women to try to kill themselves, but we did find a predictive association between the infection and suicide attempts later in life that warrants additional studies,” lead study author Dr. Teodor T. Postolache, an associate professor of psychiatry and director of the Mood and Anxiety Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, said in a statement.

The findings fall in line with previous studies on T. gondii infection in humans. (In animals also, the parasite has been shown to subvert brain chemistry and manipulate behavior, sometimes dangerously.) A Czech scientist, Jaroslav Flegr, has studied T. gondii‘s effect on human personality and mental illness for decades, as detailed in a lengthy article in The Atlantic in March. The bug resides in about one-third of the world’s population (in the U.S., 10% to 20% are infected), but it usually doesn’t cause any noticeable effects — healthy people fight off the flu-like symptoms of an initial infection, after which the parasite lies dormant in the brain. “[O]r at least that’s the standard medical wisdom,” wrote Kathleen McAuliffe in The Atlantic:

If Flegr is right, the “latent” parasite may be quietly tweaking the connections between our neurons, changing our response to frightening situations, our trust in others, how outgoing we are, and even our preference for certain scents. And that’s not all. He also believes that the organism contributes to car crashes, suicides, and mental disorders such as schizophrenia. When you add up all the different ways it can harm us, says Flegr, “Toxoplasma might even kill as many people as malaria, or at least a million people a year.”

Still, Flegr acknowledged that the effects of the parasite on personality were “very subtle” and that the “vast majority” of people wouldn’t even know they were infected. As for whether T. gondii infection could be used to predict self-harm or the odds of a car crash, Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky told McAuliffe: “[I]’m not too worried, in that the effects on humans are not gigantic. If you want to reduce serious car accidents, and you had to choose between curing people of Toxo infections versus getting people not to drive drunk or while texting, go for the latter in terms of impact.”

In the new study, researchers couldn’t establish that T. gondii infection caused increased risk of suicide, only that it was associated. And they’re not sure exactly why the link exists. “Is the suicide attempt a direct effect of the parasite on the function of the brain or an exaggerated immune response induced by the parasite affecting the brain? We do not know. In fact, we have not excluded reverse causality as there might be risk factors for suicidal behavior that also make people more susceptible to infection with T. gondii,” said Postolache in the statement.

The authors call for further studies focusing on the biological mechanisms of the parasite and how it may affect people’s suicide risk and other personality factors. If the findings hold up, perhaps T. gondii infection could be used to help prevent some of the 10 million suicide attempts that occur each year. “If we can identify a causal relationship, we may be able to predict those at increased risk for attempting suicide and find ways to intervene and offer treatment,” Postolache said.
In the meantime, people should cook their meat through, wash their vegetables and give their kitchen knives a good scrubbing to avoid spreading or contracting the parasite.
The study was published online in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

source: Time


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The 8 germiest places in the mall

By Cari Wira Dineen, Health.com
November 26, 2011

(Health.com) — During the craziness of the holidays, the last thing you want is to get sidelined with a cold, flu, stomach bug — or worse. But while you’re checking items off your shopping list, you may be exposing yourself to germs — like flu viruses, E. coli, and staph — that can make you sick.

“Anywhere people gather is filled with bacteria and viruses, and a crowded shopping mall is a perfect example,” says Philip Tierno, Ph.D., director of clinical microbiology and immunology at New York University Langone Medical Center.

With that in mind, we asked a panel of experts to rank the worst germ hot spots at your local shopping center. Check out the ewww-inducing results — and tips for keeping yourself in the clear.

1. Restroom sinks
The filthiest area in a restroom (and therefore in the whole mall) isn’t the toilet handle or the doorknob — it’s the sink, our experts say. Bacteria, including E. coli, fester on the faucet and handles because people touch those surfaces right after using the toilet, explains panelist Charles Gerba, Ph.D., a professor of environmental microbiology at the University of Arizona.
“The sink area is a moist environment, so bacteria can survive longer there,” he adds.
Watch out for soap dispensers, too — not only are they handled by many dirty hands, but the soap itself may harbor germs. When Gerba’s team tested liquid soap from refillable dispensers in public bathrooms, they found that one in four contained unsafe levels of bacteria.
Protect yourself: Wash your hands thoroughly after using a public loo: Lather with soap for at least 20 seconds, then rinse well. Use a paper towel to turn off the water and open the door. If there’s no soap or paper towels, kill germs with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, using at least a tablespoon of product.
Gerba also advises avoiding refillable soap dispensers (usually made of clear plastic with a removable lid) and only using liquid soap that comes in a sealed refill; if that’s not an option or you’re not sure, follow up with hand sanitizer.

2. Food court tables
Even if you see the table being wiped down, that doesn’t mean it’s clean, says panelist Elaine Larson, Ph.D., a professor of epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University: “The rags themselves can actually spread harmful bacteria such as E. coli if they are not changed and washed regularly.”
Protect yourself: Consider stashing a pack of hard-surface disinfecting wipes in your purse so you can swipe the table before you sit down. “Look for ones that contain alcohol or another disinfecting agent in order to make sure you’re killing germs, not just wiping away grime,” Tierno says.

3. Escalator handrails
“In our testing, we have found food, E. coli, urine, mucus, feces, and blood on escalator handrails,” says Gerba. “And where there is mucus, you may also find cold and flu viruses.” Tierno concurs: “We’ve found respiratory flora on handrails,” he says, “which makes sense because people cough into their hands, then touch the rails.”
Protect yourself: Play it safe: Avoid touching handrails altogether, recommends Gerba, unless you absolutely have to — in which case, give yourself a generous squirt of hand sanitizer afterward.

4. ATM keypads
After testing 38 ATMs in downtown Taipei, Chinese researchers found that each key contained an average of 1,200 germs, including illness-inducing microbes like E. coli and cold and flu viruses, Tierno says. The worst key of all? The “enter” button, because everyone has to touch it, Gerba points out.
Protect yourself: “Knuckle” ATM buttons — you’ll avoid getting germs on your fingertips, which are more likely to find their way to your nose and mouth than your knuckles. And be sure to wash your hands or use sanitizer afterward.

5. Toy stores
Toy stores can actually be germier than play areas, carousels, and other kid-friendly zones, Tierno says, simply because of the way little ones behave there. “Kids lick toys, roll them on their heads, and rub them on their faces, and all that leaves a plethora of germs on the toys,” he says. The goods their parents don’t buy end up back on the shelves, where your kid finds them.
Protect yourself: If you make a purchase, wipe down any toy that isn’t in a sealed box or package with soap and water, alcohol, or vinegar (which has antimicrobial properties) before giving it to your child. And, of course, reach for the hand sanitizer after you’ve been hands-on in the toy aisle.

6. Fitting rooms
You won’t pick up much from the hooks or the chair. The germ culprit? What you try on.
“After people try on clothing, skin cells and perspiration can accumulate on the inside,” says Tierno. “Both can serve as food for bacterial growth.” You can even pick up antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), just by trying on clothes, says Tierno.
Protect yourself: Always wear full-coverage underwear (no thongs!) when trying on clothes, especially pants, bathing suits, and any other garment that touches your genitals or rectum. Bandage cuts or scrapes before trying on clothes, as “open wounds can be a gateway to dangerous bacteria,” Tierno says. And be sure to wash new clothes before you wear them.

7. Gadget shops
While you’re playing around on that new smartphone, you could be picking up germs from the thousand people who tested it out before you. “Most stores do clean their equipment,” says Tierno, “but they certainly don’t clean after each use.”

A study published last year in the Journal of Applied Microbiology found that viruses easily transfer between glass surfaces (think iPad or smartphone faces) and fingertips. And a recent report found that of four iPads swabbed in two Apple stores located in New York City, one contained Staphylococcus aureus, the most common cause of staph infections, while another registered a bacteria associated with skin rash. That’s not even counting the cold and flu germs that might be lurking.

Protect yourself: Before you try out the latest gizmo, quickly wipe it down with a disinfecting wipe. And (yes, once again) use a hand sanitizer after you’re done.

8. Makeup samples
Heading to the makeup counter? You might end up picking up a staph infection right along with the latest lipstick shade. A 2005 study found that between 67% and 100% of makeup-counter testers were contaminated with bacteria, including staph, strep, and E. coli. “This study shows us that someone was sick or went to the bathroom, didn’t wash their hands, and then stuck their finger in the sample,” Tierno says.
Protect yourself: “Avoid using public makeup samples to apply cosmetics to your lips, eyes, or face,” says Tierno, who suggests asking for a single-use unit (you open it, try it, and throw it away). If that’s not available, use a tissue to wipe off the sample and then apply the product to the back of your hand.

The best line of defense: Buy then try. Returning stuff to the store may be a little more of a hassle, but it’s a heck of a lot better than bringing home a nasty bug.

Health Magazine 2011
source: CNN