Personal Health and Well-being

Candy Sagon writes about health topics for AARP. She previously was a reporter with the Washington Post and has written numerous articles on food, health and nutrition for national magazines.

Don’t Shake on It: A Fist Bump Is Less Germy

Manners maven Emily Post probably would have disapproved, but British researchers say if you want to protect yourself against germs, you should pass on the traditional handshake and instead exchange a fist bump, especially with your doctor. Scientists with Aberystwyth University in Wales wanted to see how doctors could reduce the spread of bacteria, so they tested three types of  hand-to-hand greetings to see which one transferred the fewest germs: a handshake, a high five or the sort of knuckle-to-knuckle …

Could Probiotics Lower High Blood Pressure?

If you’re trying to keep your blood pressure under control, having a daily carton of yogurt or other foods filled with probiotics could help, a new study finds. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria in fermented foods, like yogurt and some cheeses, that research has shown can improve digestive health, help the body fight off some infections, maybe even boost brain health. Studies have also indicated that these helpful microbes seem to lower blood pressure. Australian researchers, who looked at nine of …

$190M for Victims of Doctor’s Secret Exam Photos

Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, one of the world’s most respected medical centers, announced it will pay a record $190 million to settle a class-action lawsuit by more than 8,000 women accusing a hospital gynecologist of secretly taking photos and videos of his patients’ pelvic exams. The lawsuit alleges that Nikita Levy used tiny hidden cameras, including one in his pen, to record the exams. After a coworker alerted authorities about her suspicions, Levy was fired in February 2013, the …

Niacin Won’t Help, May Harm, Heart Patients

For 50 years we’ve been told that taking high doses of the B vitamin niacin was one way to lower cholesterol and improve heart health. Now some prominent physicians have had an abrupt change of heart: New research shows that niacin not only doesn’t help but could be very risky for patients. Two large studies, published July 17 in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that taking niacin didn’t reduce deaths from heart disease and it put patients at …

Anti-Cancer Gel May Be Safer Than Pill

For women with an early form of breast cancer, the oral drug tamoxifen can help prevent a recurrence, but the pill also has serious side effects. Could a tamoxifen skin gel, applied directly to the breast, avoid the side effects while still blocking the cancer cells? The answer may be yes, according to a small, but intriguing new study by researchers with Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Both the skin gel and the pill versions of tamoxifen delivered the …

Study Questions the Need to Fast for Cholesterol Test

For years we’ve been told we need to fast for eight to 12 hours before getting a blood test to measure our cholesterol. But for the second time in two years, a large study finds there’s no evidence that fasting is necessary. “The evidence on which the fasting recommendation is based is weak at best,” said senior author and cardiologist Sripal Bangalore of New York University Langone Medical Center. “Our study and data from other studies now really question this …