How Venus Williams Eats and Sleeps for the U.S. Open

At 37 years old, Venus Williams didn’t look a day over 30 as she crushed the court at Wimbledon last month, advancing through the tournament and onto center court for the final. And while Williams didn’t end up taking home the winning trophy, had she, it would have been her sixth Wimbledon title—and she would have been the oldest female player to win. So what’s the secret to her long tennis career, which has continued despite her 2011 Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosis? How is one of the most recognized names in the game keeping her body—and mind—feeling so fresh and young? In an interview with Health at an event promoting her current partnership with American Express, Williams shared how she’s feeling as she steps under the lights at the U.S. Open this week.

What was it like to be back in a final at Wimbledon? Does it have you excited for the U.S. Open these next two weeks?

Yeah, of course! Being able to build on your results throughout the years helps you to not only grow, but also learn from wins and losses. So I feel like I can take that whole experience to the Open.

How is the sport different from when you started playing at age 14? Is it harder on your body?

Oh my gosh, not only has the sport changed, but I’ve changed as well. Even the courts have changed. It’s so much more competitive now. I love change though… it’s important.

What are your secrets to keeping your body feeling fresh and young?

I don’t think it’s necessarily a secret. I think I’ve paced myself in terms of training. Of course, I train more because I’m a professional athlete. But with the amount of tournaments and the amount of training and also knowing how to push your body—and trust me, I’ve pushed my body a lot. But you have to know when to say when, too. And also, it’s very draining mentally to keep this level up, so I also like to take mental breaks. Those are just like some of the tips that have worked for me. I would love to keep playing even more.

RELATED: This Drastic Diet Change Helped Venus Williams Fight Her Autoimmune Condition

Do you take days off? And if you do, are you totally off or are you still staying active?

What is a day off? I don’t know. You know, this year I haven’t taken a lot of days off. But there is something to be said for letting the body recover, and especially letting the mind recover, and a lot of times you come back stronger.

What do you do for your mental breaks?

I believe tennis is meditation. You stand there in the zone and you’re hitting the same shots over and over, and over and over, so there is no better form of meditation that hitting serves, forehands, or backhands. But I like to dance. I spend a ton of my free time with my family, too, because I’m away a lot.

How much do you sleep? Does the amount change during tournaments?

In a tournament, yes, I sleep a lot more because I have to. You don’t want to just give away a match because you just couldn’t find a way to go to bed. I try to get at least eight hours. At home, I can stay up a lot more. But sleeping is important. If you want to go out there and train and push yourself to the limit, you have to be well rested. That gives me more energy. So it’s definitely a disciplined life, being an athlete. It’s all about discipline and getting the best out of your time.

Do you get massages?

I see massage as a part of my training, almost. You spend a lot of time on the table because what you’re doing is a little bit unnatural and you break stuff because you’re just meditating on your forehand over and over. So I see that as a part of work. You definitely wouldn’t see me using my free time going to a spa, because I’ve already been on the table for hours.

Are you hitting the gym at all?

I’m all about the gym life. It’s super important to prevent injury, but also to be strong. I live for abs.

RELATED: Venus Williams Describes Her Workout Routine and Healthy Living Habits: “My Job Is to Be Healthy”

As you’ve gotten older, has your gym regimen changed at all? Anything different from when you were, say, 20?

Not necessarily. I probably spend a little more time at the gym. I’ve always spent plenty of time at the gym. So not necessarily, but I do keep up with exercise and fitness.

Do you think the fact that you’ve been an athlete and trained hard and eaten well your whole life, do you think that your body is helping you out now as you age?

I hope so. I do. I think there’s a lot to say for that. You have to be good to yourself. If you don’t take care of your car, you’ll break it, it’s the same thing. But the body is somehow more resilient, which is unbelievable. The things we do or put in it, we still go.

Do you eat differently during tournaments? More protein and carbs? More fat?

I eat a ton more during a tournament. Lately, I’ve been off the protein train—even vegan protein. That’s something new I’m trying. I’m not necessarily convinced we need as much protein as they say. And I still feel good. I think it’s all about how you feel and finding out what works for your body.

So what do you turn to since you cut back on protein? What’s your go-to to replenish?

I do shakes and smoothies—they’re easy and quick. I love it. Different varieties, green ones, pink ones, red ones, all different colors with lots of fruits and veggies.

How do you keep your body looking, feeling, and performing great?

Always wear sunscreen, for the exterior. And for the interior, eat as many green things as possible.

It seems like social media is trying to promote self-love lately. Do you think it’s important to give yourself some reassurance every now and then?

Yeah, it’s not always easy to love yourself. There can be barriers, whether we built them ourselves or that we grew up with them—who knows. But at the end of the day, the same amount of time that you spend not loving yourself, you could. So sometimes I think you have to simplify things in your head and make it make sense.

This article originally appeared on Health.com


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FDA Approves First Gene Therapy Treatment For Cancer

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) followed the advice of its advisory committee and approved a breakthrough treatment for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on Wednesday. It’s the first gene therapy approved in the U.S.

Dr. Carl June, director of the center for cellular immunotherapies at University of Pennsylvania’s Abramson Cancer Center, who pioneered the therapy, was still emotional an hour after receiving the news of the approval in an email.

“It’s unbelievable,” June told TIME, his voice wavering. “It’s an amazing feeling. We worked on it and worked on it and finally to have such a discrete, palpable event like this is such an amazing thing.”

Read more: FDA Panel Recommends Approval of the First Gene Therapy Treatment

June and his team have been developing the treatment, called CAR T cell therapy (for chimeric antigen receptor T cells), for nearly three decades. Also called Kymriah, the treatment isn’t actually a drug in the traditional sense, but a collection of the patient’s own cells that have been removed from the body and genetically engineered to recognize and destroy cancer cells circulating in the blood. Each treatment is a living drug, a bespoke therapy designed specifically for individual patients.

“This is an ultra-personalized therapy that actually works,” says June. “Patients are involved in making their own drug.”

Not only does the approval represent a landmark in being the first green-light for a gene therapy, it marks a sea change in the way cancer can be treated. Until now, treatments have focused on bringing in drugs, surgery or radiation to weaken the cancer. With CAR T cell therapy, the treatment starts from within, by enhancing the body’s own immune system to fight cancer with a genetic boost. “It’s a paradigm shift,” says Dr. Kevin Curran, from the pediatric bone marrow transplantation service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. “These are actually living cells that we pull out of the system, modify in the lab, teach how to find cancer, turn back on and put back into patients. To do that definitely shifts everything.”

Read more: Cancer’s Newest Miracle Cure

And there is hope that the therapy might even provide more cures for leukemia than existing options. The first patient to be treated with CAR T cells is currently in remission seven years after his treatment. “We now have proof that it is possible to eradicate cancer by harnessing the power of a patient’s own immune system,” Dr. Kenneth Anderson, president of the American Society of Hematology and a physician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, said in a statement. “This is a potentially curative therapy in patients whose leukemia is unresponsive to other treatments and represents the latest milestone in the shift away from chemotherapy toward precision medicine.”

Novartis, which licensed the technology and made it possible to manufacture the CAR T cells on a larger scale, plans on making Kymriah available at around 30 hospitals nationwide by the end of the year. Because Novartis will have to manufacture each patient’s dose individually, for the time being, the therapy will only be available at those facilities.

Read more: What If Your Immune System Could Be Taught to Kill Cancer?

For now, Kymriah is approved only for children with ALL that has failed to respond to existing treatments. But already scientists are studying whether CAR T cells can be effective in other blood cancers and lymphomas, as well as in solid cancers like breast, prostate, ovarian and lung cancers. “We hope the momentum behind the technology builds as we continue to investigate the abilities of personalized cellular therapeutics in blood cancers and solid tumors to help patients with many other types of cancer,” said Dr. Stephan Grupp, director of the cancer immunotherapy frontier program at University of Pennsylvania and who led the studies on children with ALL.

June also hopes that as more people receive the therapy, advances in making the cells and distributing the technology will make it more accessible. He likens the process to the first computers, which initially were built manually and took more time, before the process became automated and routine to the point where they could be easily mass-produced. “Right now there is going to be a limitation to how much Novartis can manufacture until more plants are built and more people are trained,” he says. “There will be shortages.”

Read more: Promising New Cancer Treatment Uses Immune Cells

As more people receive the therapy, doctors will also learn more about how to control its most serious side effect: a severe immune reaction known as cytokine release syndrome that requires hospitalization in the intensive care unit. Medications can control the extent of the reaction, but some early patients died of the syndrome.

The therapy’s cost will be another issue. While Novartis won’t specify how much the CAR T cells will cost, some have estimated the price tag would be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nonetheless, there will indeed be a surge in demand for CAR T cell therapy, as there is with any exciting breakthrough in medicine. “I think the cancer world is going to be forever changed,” says June. “There will be many more of these CAR T cell therapies in the future.”

For more on the first patients to receive CAR T therapy, read the TIME story, “Cancer’s Newest Miracle Cure.”


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FDA Cracks Down on Stem Cell Clinics But Patients Are Still at Risk

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that the agency is targeting clinics that offer unproven stem cell therapies, calling such offices “unscrupulous clinics” selling “so-called cures.” The FDA seized materials from one clinic in California, and sent a warning letter to another in Florida.

“The FDA will not allow deceitful actors to take advantage of vulnerable patients by purporting to have treatments or cures for serious diseases without any proof that they actually work,” said FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb in a statement.

The agency announced that on Friday, Aug. 25th, U.S. Marshals seized five vials of a vaccine that is intended for people at a high risk for smallpox (for example, people in the military) from StemImmune Inc. in San Diego, California. The FDA says it learned that StemImmune was using the vaccines as well as stem cells from body fat to create an unapproved stem cell therapy. On its website, StemImmune says “The patient’s own (autologous, adult) stem cells, armed with potent anti-cancer payloads, function like a “Trojan Horse,” homing to tumors and cancer cells, undetected by the immune system.” The stem cell treatment was injected into the tumors of cancer patients at the California Stem Cell Treatment Centers in Rancho Mirage and Beverly Hills, California.

MORE: Three People Are Nearly Blind After Getting a Stem Cell Treatment

The FDA also sent a warning later to U.S. Stem Cell Clinic in Sunrise, Florida. The company recently came under public scrutiny when a March report revealed that three people had severe damage to their vision — one woman went blind—after they were given shots of what the company said were stem cells into their eyes during a study sponsored by the clinic. The FDA says that an inspection of U.S. Stem Cell Clinic revealed that the clinic was using stem cells to treat diseases like Parkinson’s, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), heart disease and pulmonary fibrosis. According to the FDA, there are currently only a limited number of stem cell therapies approved by the agency—including ones involving bone marrow, for bone marrow transplants in cancer care, and cord blood for specific blood-related disorders. There are no approved stem cell treatments for other diseases.

The FDA says U.S. Stem Cell Clinic also attempted to interfere with the FDA’s most recent inspection by refusing to allow FDA investigators to enter without an appointment, and denied the agency access to its employees. “Refusing to permit entry or FDA inspection is a violation of federal law,” the FDA says.

Action by the FDA on clinics promoting unproven stem cell therapies is “a long time coming,” says Sean Morrison, former president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR) and director of the Children’s Research Institute at UT Southwestern. “Clinics are preying on the hopes of desperate patients claiming they can cure all manner of diseases with stem cells that have not been tested in clinical trials, and in some cases, are flat out impossible.”

In the past, medical experts were concerned over Americans traveling to countries with less medical regulation for stem cell therapies, but Morrison says such clinics have been popping up stateside over the last five years. “It’s not a few companies in the U.S. making claims about therapies with stem cells,” says Morrison. “It’s scores of companies. The problem has exploded in the U.S.”

Morrison blames the lack of FDA crackdown in the past for the growing problem. “At some point people made the calculation that the FDA didn’t seem to be enforcing these laws,” he says. “The margins are huge. They charge people tens of thousands of dollars.”

Since stem cell therapy is still an active and legitimate area of scientific research, it can be hard for Americans to figure out what is safe and effective and what is not. Even when it comes to clinical trials, the scientific soundness is murky. A July 2017 paper reported that 18 U.S. companies have registered “patient-sponsored” stem cell studies on ClinicalTrials.gov. That means that the patients receiving the treatment paid for them, which isn’t the case in more legitimate studies. None of these were gold standard studies: meaning the people were not randomly assigned to receive the treatment or not, so the participants knew they were receiving the therapy — that could bias the results. Only seven of the studies disclosed upfront that patients had to pay to join the study, and none revealed that the costs ranged from $ 5,000 to $ 15,000 a treatment, Wired reports.

While Morrison says he’s glad the FDA has taken action, he says it’s not enough—at least not yet. “The FDA has to show that there is really a sustained commitment to enforcement,” he says. “When the FDA wasn’t bringing actions against these companies, I think people thought this meant that it was a gray area and that they could get away with it.”

Undoing that damage could be a long process, and one that Morrison says needs consistent attention by the agency. In a letter released on Monday, FDA commissioner Gottlieb said the agency is stepping up enforcement of stem cell therapies and regenerative medicine. “I’ve directed the FDA to launch a new working group to pursue unscrupulous clinics through whatever legally enforceable means are necessary to protect the public health,” said Gottlieb. Whether those efforts have an impact remains to be seen.


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What Happens When a Hurricane Hits a Hospital

When a hurricane hits Houston, it also threatens some of the world’s leading medical care.

South Texas has been enduring the worst storm to hit the U.S. in years in Hurricane Harvey, with flooded streets expected to persist for days. With more than 10 million patient visits each year, and more than a dozen hospitals and medical facilities, the Texas Medical Center (TMC) in the heart of Houston is the largest medical complex in the world. The largest children’s hospital, as well as the largest cancer hospital, are also housed in the city.

As Harvey gathered steam before making landfall late Friday night, the more than 106,000 TMC employees were prepared, but no one could have predicted the sheer volume of water that would inundate the city. The lobby of MD Anderson Cancer Center resembled a wading pool, and some of TMC’s facilities effectively ended up in a moat, surrounded by water that prevented anyone from getting in or out.

But for the patients and staff inside, it was pretty much business as usual. Most of the TMC hospitals adopted a shelter-in-place strategy, which meant they called in staff prior to the storm and divided them into shifts of working and rest, on the premises, so they wouldn’t have to leave the hospital. Previous experience from storms suggested this was the best strategy; evacuating patients is a tricky process, since sometimes the evacuation procedure can be more medically dangerous if traffic jams out of a vulnerable area mean people will be stuck in ambulances or makeshift mobile care units for hours on end.

Read more: How you can help the victims of Hurricane Harvey

Many hospitals in the area cancelled elective surgeries and non-essential appointments, in an effort to conserve supplies and resources. “The main reason for that is we want to be sure we have enough anesthesia support, and nursing support to continue to do surgeries,” said Tom Flanagan, vice president of emergency management at Memorial Hermann Health System, which is located in the TMC complex.

Other priorities are patients who need chemotherapy treatments or dialysis, which need to be given at designated times to be most effective. Those patients were contacted one by one to ensure that they would be in the hospital before the storm hit, able to come to the hospital after the storm passed, or to find another facility for their treatments.

At Texas Children’s Hospital, staff took turns on 12 hour shifts beginning Friday night to care for the 600 patients across three facilities. Doctors also called in women with high risk pregnancies who were due to give birth imminently as a precaution, and housed them in the Marriott next door to the main campus so they could be at the hospital quickly when their labor began. That meant their babies would also have access to the neonatal ICU if they needed it, rather than risking a dangerous ride through the storm to get to the hospital. “We assessed every patient, every pregnant mom, knowing that if they delivered and were unable to get to us, it would be devastating,” said Cris Daskevich, senior vice president at Texas Children’s.

Learning lessons from previous hurricanes and tropical storms Katrina (2005), Rita (2005) and Allison (2001), all of which deluged Houston with floodwater and cut off patients from needed medical care, the TMC facilities constructed so-called submarine doors to protect their basement floors from incoming water. On Sunday, Texas Children’s and Memorial Hermann Hospital closed theirs, which helped to keep the facilities dry.

Read more: The Story Behind the Photo of Nursing Home Residents Trapped by Hurricane Harvey

But while the hospitals were relatively dry, they were surrounded by water, and emergency personnel and staff could not reach the facilities for several hours at the peak of the storm on Saturday and Sunday. “We were on stand by and waiting so that when the roads were clear, we were ready to receive patients again,” Daskevich said.

During the storm itself, Flanagan said, there weren’t many emergencies. “We don’t usually see a lot of injuries or emergencies during the height of the storm,” he said. “But right after the storm passes, when people are allowed to go back and assess the damage, we start seeing storm-related injuries.”


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A New Drug Lowers Risk of Heart Attack and Cancer

It turns out that cholesterol isn’t the only thing you have to worry about to keep your heart healthy. In recent years, doctors have started to focus on inflammation — the same process that makes cuts red and painful — as an important contributor to a heart attack. It’s the reason doctors recommend low-dose aspirin to prevent recurrent heart attacks in people who have already had them, why they also prescribe statins, which lower both cholesterol and inflammation, and why they have started to measure inflammation levels in the blood.

But it’s never been clear exactly how much inflammation adds to heart disease risk. Since statins lower both, it’s hard to tell whether inflammation or cholesterol has the bigger impact on heart problems.

MORE: Why Inflammation in Your Mouth May Raise Your Risk of Cancer

But in a new paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine and presented at the European Society of Cardiology meeting, scientists say they now have proof that lowering inflammation alone, without affecting cholesterol, also reduces the risk of a heart attack.

In the study, 10,000 people who have already had a heart attack were randomly assigned to get injected with a placebo or different doses of a drug called canakinumab. Canakinumab, made by Novartis, is currently approved to treat rare immune-related conditions and works to reduce inflammation but does not affect cholesterol levels. After four years, the people who received the drug had a 15% lower chance of having a heart attack or stroke compared to people who didn’t get the drug. The medication also reduced the need for angioplasty or bypass surgery by 30%.

“Even I am pinching myself,” says Dr. Paul Ridker, who led the study and is director of the center for cardiovascular disease prevention at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and is a pioneer in exposing the role inflammation plays in heart disease. “This outcome is more than we hoped for. The bottom line is we now have clear evidence that lowering inflammation through this pathway lowers rates of heart attack and stroke with no change at all in cholesterol.”

About a quarter of people who have heart attacks will have another heart event even if they keep their cholesterol at recommended levels. For them, it may not be cholesterol so much as inflammation that is driving their heart disease. So the study further solidifies the fact that heart doctors should be measure inflammation as well as cholesterol in their heart patients. An inexpensive blood test that looks for a protein that rises in the blood with inflammation, called C-reactive protein (CRP), can tell doctors how much inflammation their patients have. Beginning in 2003, the American Heart Association started to provide guidelines on how doctors should use CRP testing; for patients like those in the current trial, the group did not see any additional benefit to CRP testing since those patients should already be treated with statins, which can lower both cholesterol and inflammation.

But with the new results, those guidelines may change. Ridker says the findings should clarify how doctors can optimize the way they treat their heart patients — about half of people who have had a heart attack tend to have high levels of inflammatory factors, while half have high cholesterol levels. The inexpensive CRP test could identify those with higher inflammation, who might be candidates for taking a drug like canakinumab.

The drug is not currently approved for any heart conditions, but Novartis will likely look at doing more studies to confirm its effectiveness in treating heart disease.

Perhaps more intriguing are additional results that Ridker reported, related to cancer. In a separate study published in the Lancet using data from the same study, he found that people taking canakinumab lowered their risk of dying from any cancer over four years by 50%, and their risk of fatal lung cancer by 75%.

While the connection between heart disease and cancer may not seem obvious, Ridker says that many people who have had heart problems, like those in the study, are former or current smokers, since smoking is a risk factor for heart attacks. And smoking increases inflammation. “People who smoke a pack of cigarettes a day are chronically inflaming their lungs,” he says. That’s why he decided to look at cancer deaths as well as heart events in his study population.

The cancer data is still preliminary, and needs to be confirmed with additional studies, but it’s encouraging, says Dr. Otis Bradley, chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society, who was not involved in the study. “We know that free oxygen radicals and inflammation can damage DNA and can cause cancer,” he says. “This all makes sense to me.” Studies have already shown, for example, that inflammation may be a factor in prostate cancer and colon cancer.

But whether anti-inflammatory agents, like canakinumab, or even over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, should be part of standard cancer treatment isn’t clear yet. There are a number of different inflammatory pathways, and canakinumab targets just one. Other pathways, along with new anti-inflammatory drugs, may emerge with more research.

When it comes to heart disease, however, it’s clear that inflammation-fighting medications like canakinumb may represent the next generation of treatment. “Ten years from now we will be doing more personalized medicine,” says Ridker. “Some people will get more cholesterol lowering. Some will get more inflammation-lowering drugs. Some will get other agents that we haven’t considered yet. It’s a wonderful new era in heart disease treatment.”


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How to Clean Your Filthy Cell Phone: This Week in Health

Your cell phone picks up bacteria everywhere it goes. (Touching it 47 times a day, the national average, doesn’t help.) Not to worry, though: doing this just a few times a month will likely protect you. Here’s the other health news you need to know this week. Sign up for the TIME Health newsletter for more.

Your cell phone is 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat

Here’s the right way to clean your screen and avoid some of the grossest germs.

Why pigs might be even better organ donors than humans

Four newborn pink piglets.
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Scientists have created virus-free piglets that could one day provide organs for human transplants. One of the scientists behind the research, geneticist George Church, says he believes pig organs could one day be engineered to be even healthier and more durable than organs from humans.

What’s the best non-pasta pasta?

There are all kinds of ways now to eat non-flour pasta. Here are the perks of zucchini noodles, lentil pasta and chickpea spaghetti.

How a short meditation can help people drink less

red-wine-bottle-2-drinking-health-alcohol-motto-stock
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A mere 11 minutes of mindfulness training, given just one time, may help heavy drinkers cut back on alcohol, found a new study. Though mindfulness-based treatments usually involve many hours of practice, the new report suggests that even a quick mindful session may be powerful.

You asked: Are airport body scanners safe?

The type of body scanner at U.S. airports—called a millimeter-wave scanner—doesn’t pose much of a cancer risk, health experts say.

Is hydrogen water good for you?

Twelve glasses of water
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Water is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink, since it’s free of sugar, salt and chemicals that can harm cells. That hasn’t stopped companies from trying to improve on the health benefits of H2O. But does adding extra hydrogen to bottled water make a difference?

Why the Zika virus is especially dangerous for pregnant women

mosquito
Getty Images; Illustration by Marisa Gertz for TIME

A new study looks at how the Zika virus tricks the immune systems of pregnant women. Since expectant mothers are already more vulnerable to infections, the report underlines the importance of keeping them protected.

Why do your ears pop on airplanes?

It’s perfectly normal, but can be uncomfortable. Here’s how to fix it.


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Insurance Company Aetna Inadvertently Reveals HIV Status of Thousands

Insurer Aetna Inc. inadvertently revealed the HIV status of some clients in a mailing about medication for the disease sent to about 12,000 people last month.

The beginning of the letter, informing patients about options under their Aetna plan when filling their HIV prescriptions, was in some cases visible below the person’s name and address on the envelope, through a large plastic window, according to the Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, which first revealed the mailing problem.

The insurer, which informed customers of the breach in a second letter and apologized, said some letters may have shifted in the envelope. The company also said that a vendor, which it didn’t identify, was responsible for the July 28 mailing.

Legal Action Center and the AIDS Law Project of Pennsylvania, in a letter Thursday to Aetna, asked the insurer to take “corrective measures” to make sure future breaches don’t happen. The advocacy groups said they were contacted by individuals whose letters had been viewed by family, roommates and neighbors. People with HIV can face “widespread stigma,” including discrimination in employment, housing and education, the groups said.

“It creates a tangible risk of violence, discrimination and other trauma,” Ronda Goldfein, the executive director of the Pennsylvania AIDS group, said in a statement.

In its own statement Thursday, the insurer said it’s starting a full review of its processes.

“This type of mistake is unacceptable,” the company said. “We sincerely apologize to those affected by a mailing issue that inadvertently exposed the personal health information of some Aetna members.”


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This Is The Best Way to Detox Your Body

If you associate a “detox” with a 7-day juice fast, it’s time to make over your notion of a cleanse. Detoxing doesn’t require you to make extreme diet choices, since our bodies are made to flush out toxins on their own. Cleansing can be as easy as eating foods that help filter gunk out of your gut and drinking enough H2O to keep digestion in check so it releases unwanted leftovers from your system. Here are six healthy habits that will help you detox your body naturally: no deprivation required.

Eat anti-inflammatory

Whole foods packed with nutrients are your best bet when it comes to keeping your insides clean. Fiber-rich fare like fruit, veggies, and beans, as well as nuts, seeds, whole grains, lean protein and probiotics can aid gut and liver function so any unwanted buildup gets out of your system. Try to cut out processed, fried and sugary foods along with red meat for even better results.

RELATED: 9 Ways to Detox Your Home

Drink more of the right stuff

Sorry to say it, but alcohol is a detox no-no. Stick to sipping on water instead—hydrating will help your kidneys flush out toxins. Feel free to add lemon to your H2O for a hit of electrolytes. The citrus may signal the liver to produce more enzymes, which can keep digestion moving smoothly. Sick of plain water? Switch things up with tea. Green tea has been shown to protect against heart disease and cancer, while milk thistle may boost liver function. Drink up!

Get moving

Sweating actually helps you detox by boosting circulation throughout the body. What’s more, exercise is known to help you feel less stressed, happier and more energized.

RELATED: 14 Best and Worst Foods for Digestion

Eat smaller portions—and slowly

Big meals bring on bloating, which forces the digestive system to work overtime. Opt for smaller, more frequent meals and eat slowly to stop yourself from gulping air while you wolf down food.

Treat your skin right

Practice smart skincare by dry-brushing skin with a soft brush before your bath or shower. The gentle exfoliation boosts circulation and may promote new cell growth, too.

Get good sleep

Logging adequate snooze time is key for keeping your health on track. Create a sleep haven by keeping your bedroom cool, dark, quiet and free of screens. Stick to a standard bedtime that allows you to get at least seven hours of sleep nightly. Sufficient rest will help reduce stress and inflammation so your body can function its best.

This article originally appeared on Health.com


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How to Make a Warm Compress (We Tried All Popular Methods)

Nothing can soothe you more than the blissful warmth of a hot compress, especially after a long and tiring day. A hot compress can almost magically chase off all kinds of aches and pain. The heat penetrates deep into the tissues of your body, thereby increasing blood circulation in the affected area and easing up…

The post How to Make a Warm Compress (We Tried All Popular Methods) appeared first on Fab How.

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How A Short Meditation Can Help People Drink Less

Just 11 minutes of mindfulness training may help heavy drinkers cut back on alcohol, according to new research in the International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology. People in the study who listened to short audio recordings drank about three fewer beers than usual over the following week, while those in a control group didn’t change their drinking habits.

The practice of mindfulness involves focusing on what’s happening in the present moment. Unlike other strategies sometimes used to combat unhealthy behaviors or addictions—which often strive to reduce cravings or teach people to ignore them—mindfulness encourages practitioners to acknowledge such cravings and respond with intention.

The downside is that mindfulness-based treatments usually involve many hours of training over several sessions and aren’t readily available to everyone who might benefit from them. Researchers at University College London wanted to see how a very brief intervention—just one informal session lasting a few minutes—might benefit people at risk for problems with alcohol.

They recruited 68 adults who admitted to drinking heavily, but not to the point of having an alcohol-use disorder. Half of them listened to an 11-minute audio recording that taught basic mindfulness strategies, like thinking consciously about one’s feelings and bodily sensations. The recordings told them that by acknowledging these sensations—like cravings, for instance—they could tolerate them as temporary events, without needing to act on them.

The other half participated in relaxation training specifically designed to reduce cravings. After the session, both groups were encouraged to continue practicing the techniques throughout the week.

The study was double-blinded, which means that people did not know which intervention they were receiving. The word “mindfulness” wasn’t used in any recruitment or experimental materials, so people’s assumptions about the technique would not influence their results.

MORE: How Meditation Helps You Handle Stress Better

Because the two training sessions were so similar and so brief, the researchers expected to see only a subtle change in drinking reduction and only small differences between the groups.

But the results surprised them. During the following week, the mindfulness group drank 9.3 fewer units of alcohol (equal to about three pints of beer) than they had the week before the study. There was no significant change among people who were taught to relax.

Lead author Sunjeev Kamboj, a reader and deputy director in UCL’s Clinical Psychopharmacology Unit, says that practicing mindfulness can make a person more aware of their tendency to respond reflexively to urges. “By being more aware of their cravings, we think the study participants were able to bring intention back into the equation, instead of automatically reaching for the drink when they feel a craving,” he says.

MORE: Can You Lose Weight On The Mindfulness Diet?

Kamboj and his coauthors hope that heavy drinkers—a group at risk for alcohol addiction and abuse, as well as other unpleasant side effects and chronic health issues—can use mindfulness to reduce their consumption levels before they develop serious problems. They are also exploring whether mindfulness can help people who have other types of substance-use problems. It’s yet not clear whether people have to really want to cut back on drinking or other unhealthy behaviors in order to benefit, he adds.

He also believes that mindfulness can be effective even when practiced informally without committing a lot of time, effort or money. “There are many self-help books, CDs, websites and apps that don’t involve formal face-to-face mindfulness training,” he says, “which our results suggest might be helpful for hazardous—but probably not for more severely affected—drinkers.”


Health – TIME

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Can Baby Powder Really Cause Ovarian Cancer?

A jury has ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $ 417 million in damages to a 63-year-old woman in Los Angeles who developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s talc-based baby powder for decades.

Like many women who use baby powder to freshen up or reduce chafing between their thighs, on their genitals, or in their underwear, Eva Echeverria was unaware for many years of the potential link between ovarian cancer and talc, an ingredient in some types of baby powder.

This isn’t the first time the company has been involved in a lawsuit over its popular powder—and it will likely face hundreds more cases in the future, according to Reuters. In May, a Missouri jury awarded $ 110 million to a Virginia woman who alleged that her cancer was caused by baby powder, and last October, a Missouri woman was awarded more than $ 70 million.

Earlier in 2016, Johnson & Johnson was also ordered to pay $ 72 million to the family of a woman who died in 2015, and $ 55 million to a South Dakota woman who survived. Two similar suits in New Jersey and one in Saint Louis have been dismissed after a judge deemed there was insufficient evidence linking talc to ovarian cancer.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that the company will appeal this latest verdict, and cites a National Cancer Institute report from April that found the weight of evidence “does not support an association between perineal talc exposure and an increased risk of ovarian cancer.” (However, the New York Times reports, the report takes a different tone in another section, noting that “it is not clear” whether talc is a risk factor for cancer.)

All of this may leave you wondering, “can using baby powder cause ovarian cancer?” The answer to this question is murky. Here’s everything we know so far.

RELATED: Knowing These Ovarian Cancer Facts Could Save Your Life

What is talc?

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral found in baby powders as well as other cosmetic and personal care products, and it’s good at absorbing moisture, cutting down on friction, and preventing rashes. For many years, parents used it to diaper babies, until doctors began discouraging it for health reasons. As for adults, many still use it around their genitals or rectum to prevent chafing or sweating, says Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive services at Yale School of Medicine.

As the American Cancer Society points out on its website, talc in its natural form may contain asbestos, a known carcinogen.

The FDA does not allow talc-based products to contain any asbestos. But the trouble is, cosmetics don’t have to be reviewed or approved by the FDA before they land on store shelves, so there’s no guarantee that they haven’t been contaminated.

In light of this concern, the FDA visited several retail outlets in the Washington, D.C. metro area and bought and tested a variety of cosmetic products containing talc across a wide range of prices for a study that ran from 2009 to 2010. They found no traces of asbestos in any of the products.

But of course, that doesn’t prove that all talc-based products are asbestos-free.

RELATED: 10 Products You Think Are Healthy, But Aren’t

Can “asbestos-free” talc cause ovarian cancer?

As of now, it’s unclear. The FDA says that literature dating back to the 1960s has suggested a possible association between talc powders and ovarian cancer.

But “the data is wishy-washy,” says Minkin. “Some studies haven’t found a connection, and other ones have only shown a small increase in the hazard ratio [or risk]. And there are lots of different variables in these studies for researchers consider.”

For example, one 2013 study analyzed nearly 20,000 people and found that those who used any type of powder down there were 20% to 30% more likely to have ovarian cancer than those who didn’t use any powder. The findings led the researchers to suggest that “avoidance of genital powders may be a possible strategy to reduce ovarian cancer incidence.”

However, the researchers pointed out a few of the study’s limitations: Participants might have overestimated how often they used these products, and not all powders contain talc—some contain cornstarch instead.

Then, a 2014 study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute looked at data from about 60,000 women and found no link between powder use and ovarian cancer risk.

Back in 2010, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organization) concluded that there is “limited evidence in humans” that using talc-based body power on the genital areas is “carcinogenic,” and stated that using it down there is “possibly carcinogenic in humans.”

Robyn Andersen, an ovarian cancer researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, says that when she works with women with ovarian cancer, she asks them about their use of talcum powder. “We know it’s a possible risk factor, we just don’t know how [big] of a risk factor it is,” she says.

Andersen says that because the powder is made up of such finely-ground particles, it might be able to travel up the mucus membranes in the vaginal canal and eventually work its way into the ovaries. Once there, the powder might cause inflammation and eventually cancer.

What you should know

On its “Facts About Talc” website, Johnson & Johnson states that its talc-based products are are asbestos-free, and cites several studies that found no overall increase in ovarian cancer risk among women who used talcum powder versus women who didn’t. It also cites that FDA study mentioned above, which found no asbestos in Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder.

That said, if all of this is enough to concern you, you’ve got other options besides talc-based powder. Some baby powders (including some by J&J) contain cornstarch instead of talc, and there is no evidence linking cornstarch to ovarian cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.

Something else to keep in mind: when it comes to vaginal health solutions, sometimes less is more.

This article originally appeared on Health.com


Health – TIME

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How to Enjoy Yourself: 50+ Tips to Have More Fun Alone

More than often people are so caught up in the complexities of a busy lifestyle that they tend to forget to take a step back, slow down, and enjoy some quality “me” time. Spending some time alone lets you recharge your mental batteries and rejuvenate your mind and body. Solitude gives your brain a chance…

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Here’s How To Tell If You Have Smartphone Separation Anxiety

Smartphone separation anxiety is real, and it even has a scientific name: nomophobia. First described in 2012 (and added to the dictionary in 2016), nomophobia is defined as “the feelings of discomfort or anxiety caused by the nonavailability of a mobile device enabling habitual virtual communication.”

Now, a new study compares how people with high and low levels of nomophobia tend to perceive and value their smartphones—and provides some insight into the type of person who’s most at risk of an unhealthy relationship with their device. The research was published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

For their new study, scientists surveyed 201 university students in South Korea, ages 18 to 37, and asked them how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements about positive memories, their daily smartphone use, and their behaviors and emotions in relation to their phones.

They found that it’s common for people to perceive smartphones as part of their “extended selves” and get attached to the devices, “especially when they use smartphones as a tool for storing, sharing, and accessing personal memories that reflect their identities,” says Ki Joon Kim, assistant professor of media and communication at the City University of Hong Kong.

These feelings heighten people’s tendencies for “phone proximity-seeking” (i.e. the need to be near your cell at all times) and ultimately leads to nomophobia, the authors concluded. “Thus, those who use their smartphones particularly for such purposes are more likely to be at risk for developing smartphone separation anxiety,” says Kim.

The study also showed that users with different levels of nomophobia perceive their smartphones differently, as well. Many of the words people used when describing the “meaning” of their smartphones were the same across the board, but some were unique to people with high versus low nomophobic tendencies: The former used words like “hurt,” “alone,” and “want,” while the latter used more benign words like “game,” “comfortable,” “SMS,” and “efficient.”

People with high levels of nomophobia also frequently reported having phone-induced wrist and neck pain, compared to people with low levels, and were more likely to report being distracted from work and studies. “These findings suggest that the problematic use of smartphones can surely induce negative effects not only on users’ physical conditions but also on the overall quality of their everyday lives,” says Kim.

Of course, smartphone-related anxiety is nothing new. One previous study has even shown that being away from our precious devices can lead to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure. This study supports these ideas, says Kim, and confirms that nomophobia “is a real thing.”

(Although it’s not formally included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the go-to reference for psychologists and psychiatrists, research does suggest that nomophobia “may serve as an indicator of a social disorder or phobia” for certain individuals who rely on virtual communication, the authors wrote in their paper.)

It’s almost certain that nomophobia will become more rampant, Kim adds, since mobile technology continues to become more invasive, more interactive, and more accessible. It’s also becoming increasingly personalized and customizable, with apps and programs that automatically classify images and generate collages and animations, “thereby curating the user’s daily life and special memories,” the authors wrote in their paper. While we can’t stop technology from evolving, they say, we can at least try to stop ourselves from using our smartphones 24/7 and from becoming overly dependent on them as extensions of ourselves.

Being informed about the negative effect of nomophobia may be the first step in overcoming fear of missing out (FOMO) and disconnection, he says, “and giving ourselves a chance to turn off our smartphones and be without them for a certain period of time would be the next step.”

In a press release, Brenda Weiderhold, the journal’s editor-in-chief, agrees that nomophobia, FOMO, and fear of being offline (FoBO) are all legitimate anxieties—and as such, they may be treated similarly to other traditional phobias. “Exposure therapies, in this case turning off technology periodically, can teach individuals to reduce anxiety and become comfortable with periods of disconnectedness,” she says.

This article originally appeared on RealSimple.com


Health – TIME

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DIY Homemade Face Wash and Cleanser For the Clearest Skin Ever

Despite all precautions, your skin accumulates dirt and grime throughout the day, especially if you have naturally oily skin. While many commercial products are available in the market to cleanse or wash away these impurities, such products often contain harsh chemicals that can cause irritation or an allergic reaction. Additionally, these products are pretty expensive…

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Fitbit May Have a New Way To Detect an Irregular Heartbeat

When a 42-year-old patient came to Our Lady of Lourdes Medical Center in New Jersey to be treated after a seizure last year, doctors were able to identify exactly when his heart rate began to spike by looking at his Fitbit fitness tracker. It let doctors know he’d only been in a-fib for a few hours—well within the window necessary to employ a procedure that brought his heart back into rhythm before sending him home.

As a side perk, it’s already paying dividends, but Fitbit hopes to make its activity monitors even more useful in situations like these. The company is researching ways in which its wristbands can be used to assist those who suffer from atrial fibrillation by identifying periods in which abnormal heart beats may be occurring, a Fitbit executive told TIME. “When we start to look at our PurePulse [heart rate monitor] data that we get from all of these users, we began to see irregularities in heart rhythms,” says Subramaniam Venkatraman, Fitbit’s director of research. “From our knowledge of physiology, [that] suggests an indicator of atrial fibrillation.”

Atrial fibrillation is a quivering or irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, strokes and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million people in the U.S. live with the condition, according to the American Heart Association. An episode of atrial fibrillation isn’t usually harmful on its own, but it can increase a person’s risk for stroke even when they’re not experiencing symptoms, which can include dizziness, shortness of breath and chest pain.

But some people don’t experience symptoms at all, meaning their condition is only detectable upon physical examination, as the American Heart Association notes. These are the people Fitbit aims to help, and the company says it’s exploring various ways to do so. Fitbit’s research is still in its early stages, but Venkatraman shared a couple of scenarios the company is looking at.

One possibility is a symptom checker within Fitbit’s smartphone app, which would allow users to keep track of the physical indicators they’re experiencing. Fitbit could then analyze the logged symptoms along with data from its heart rate sensor to provide the user with more information. A feature that alerts wearers when they should see a doctor is another potential idea.

But measuring heart rate data from wrist trackers like Fitbit’s presents its own set of challenges. Optical heart rate sensors, which are commonly found in smartwatches and fitness trackers, measure the heart rate by shining a light through the wearer’s wrist to monitor his or her pulse. But using this type of technology can be tricky when attempting to detect arrhythmia, since the data gathered by the optical sensor is generally only clean enough to spot abnormalities when the wearer is stationary or asleep, says Venkatraman.

Read more: The 8 Best Fitness Trackers You Can Buy Right Now

Sensors that measure the heart’s electrical activity, known as EKGs, are more effective at detecting arrhythmia regardless of activity level. But these sensors don’t measure heart activity over long periods of time the way a wrist-worn optical sensor can. One of the most common solutions, a Holter monitor, only records the heart’s electrical activity for 24 or 48 hour periods, according to the National Blood, Lung, and Heart Institute. A Fitbit fitness tracker by contrast can log heart rate over extended periods of time, noticing aberrations Holter monitoring might miss. “Over a year, if you’ve ever had an episode of atrial fibrillation, there’s a chance you can catch it,” says Venkatraman. “So that’s a huge advantage.”

Using a Fitbit wristband isn’t reliable enough to accurately detect abnormal heartbeats today, says Eric Topol, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute. But he predicts that definitive data to support such use cases could come in the next year. “You can certainly through the sensors tell that you’ve got an irregular rhythm,” says Topol. “The only question is how often is it a true positive for atrial fibrillation versus a false positive.”

That’s part of what Fitbit’s research and development team is currently working on. The company is building a data set and learning more about the level of performance its PurePulse heart rate sensors can provide for detecting atrial fibrillation. Venkatraman couldn’t go into specific detail, but did say Fitbit is seeing “very promising early results.”

The larger question may be whether or not the public will trust Fitbit with more than monitoring their exercise and fitness levels. Fitbit faced a class action lawsuit last year in which some owners alleged that its PurePulse heart rate technology was inaccurate. Fitbit stood by its technology, adding that it would “work with the appropriate regulatory agencies to make sure we’re doing this the right way” when it comes to detecting atrial fibrillation.

It’s not the first time Fitbit has sought to tackle more ambitious health issues that reach beyond basic fitness tracking. Fitbit said in July that it’s also working on technology to help those affected by sleep apnea, CNBC reported, a serious disorder in which someone’s breathing is interrupted while they slumber.

Exactly how and when Fitbit’s atrial fibrillation research will appear in the company’s products is undecided. But Venkatraman did say the improvements would likely come in the form of new software that would work with existing Fitbit hardware. “That is certainly something we’re thinking about,” he says. “We’re still evaluating what the best path is to bring this technology to market.”


Health – TIME

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