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A summary of important health news from the past week.

Carcinogen Reportedly Found in Hand Sanitizer: How to Avoid it

By: George Citroner

Hand sanitizer, long relied on to help prevent infection, has become extraordinarily important during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, online pharmacy Valisure sounded the alarm over what the company says are hand sanitizer batches contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical benzene. Valisure has submitted a citizen petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates hand sanitizer, requesting the FDA issue an immediate recall of the affected batches and update guidance to include an exposure limit for benzene. According to the citizen petition, the company analyzed 260 unique batches of hand sanitizer from 168 brands. The analysis found 44 batches contained benzene levels of at least 0.1 parts per million (ppm). The highest level detected was 16.1 ppm, over eight times the FDA limit. It is advised to avoid using hand sanitizers that contain denatured alcohol as these can be very harmful to the skin, even causing cancer. When shopping for hand sanitizer, it is imperative to be cognizant of smell, substitutions, sink and sewers, and stickiness.

Heart Disease Is Still A Killer. Here’s How To Reverse It

By: Kristen Kendrick

Heart disease remains an imminent threat to American health; each year an estimated 655,000 American lives are lost to complications of heart disease. With such startling statistics and the extra layer of unease that the pandemic has added to our lives, many are concerned about the toll of COVID on their heart health. With many of us stuck at home with our lives on hold, maintaining the motivation to eat well and stay active has proven difficult, but health experts say that it is not impossible. Just as before, it takes effort, a flexible mindset, and implementing evidence-based lifestyle changes into one’s daily routine. The pandemic does not and should not stop us from taking control over our present and future health statuses.

Psychedelic science holds promise for mainstream medicine

By: Science Daily

At the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, researchers are discovering the effect of psychedelics on brain activity. Their new research, published in Nature: Scientific Reports, showed a strong correlation in improved rodent brain activity and behavior through the use of controlled psychedelic treatment such as psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and ecstasy. The research suggests that psychedelic drugs may be an effective treatment option for individuals suffering from PTSD, anxiety disorders, and depression.

Most People Using E-Cigarettes Still Want to Quit

By: George Citroner

A recent report by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that over 60 percent of adults who vape want to quit. The study involved over 30,000 adults across the U.S. who have tried to quit e-cigarettes in the past. Many adults who started vaping as an alternative to smoking, face decreased motivation to quit due to belief that e-cigarettes are a safer alternative to conventional cigarettes. While they are safer than traditional cigarettes, e-cigarettes still contain a large quantity of nicotine. E-cigarettes may be perceived as a safer alternative, but they are still highly addictive. The safest option is to quit traditional cigarettes and e-cigarettes all together.

Losing a long-term spouse can be deadly, studies show

By: Sandee LaMotte

Queen Elizabeth II recently lost her husband of seven decades, Prince Phillip, and his death has resulted in many worrying about the well-being of the Queen. Studies have shown surviving spouses can suffer from several health issues like anxiety and impaired immune function. There is medical evidence that conveys how grief impacts one’s health. Broken heart syndrome occurs when the heart is shocked by sudden stress. This stress damages the normal function of the heart, changing the shape. Widowhood effect is another example of how our emotional lives directly affect our health. The risk of a recently widowed person dying from any cause increases significantly after a spouse’s death. Support continues to be key when coping with the death of a spouse, and many find grief counseling to be helpful.