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.

The Jolie Effect: A Jump in Breast Cancer Gene Testing

Just how big of an effect did movie star Angelina Jolie have on women getting tested for the BRCA breast cancer gene? A hefty 40 percent jump, according to the first study to look at the impact of Jolie’s announcement that she had undergone testing. The study by the AARP Public Policy Institute analyzed more than 6.5 million health insurance claims for women 35 and older during 2013. Researchers found that testing rates increased from about 350 a week prior …

‘Light’ Jogging Better Than Running? Well, Maybe

For a moment last week, research offered all of us slow, plodding exercisers a moment of revenge. According to a new Danish study, those hard-charging runners who blow by us on the jogging trail — or pound away for a sweaty hour on the treadmill several times a week — are ruining their health as much as sluggish, non-exercising couch potatoes. In fact, the researchers said, it was really the twice-a-week, sedate joggers who were going to live the longest. …

How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?

Not getting enough sleep has huge effects on our health — from foggy thinking to heart problems to weight gain — but just how much sleep is considered enough? That’s the question the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) tackled with a panel of scientists who reviewed more than 300 sleep-duration studies and came up with new guidelines, including one for people age 65-plus. “This is the first time that any professional organization has developed age-specific recommended sleep durations based on a …

Pharmacists Rank Best Over-the-Counter Products

Let’s say you have a cold. Or some nagging heartburn or other minor ailment. Which of the myriad over-the-counter drugs at your drugstore or discount store should you buy for relief? Let’s ask the pharmacist. In fact, let’s ask more than 12,600 pharmacists. That’s what the American Pharmacists Association does each year for its survey of over-the-counter (OTC) products. For the 2015 survey, released Feb. 1, pharmacists across the country were asked to report which nonprescription brand-name products they recommended …

Toilet Paper Is Shrinking. Blame Hand Dryers

No, it’s not just your imagination. Toilet paper squares are surreptitiously shrinking — getting smaller, thinner and/or fewer. The reason it’s hard for you to tell: Companies are increasing the size of the inner cardboard tubes, so the rolls still look the same to consumers. And why are hand dryers to blame? Don’t worry — we’ll get to that. The case of our dwindling toilet paper sheets was explained in an interesting Washington Post column. The old standard size was …

A Little More Salt Is Not So Bad for Us

A little more salt may not be such a bad thing for healthy older adults, a new study finds. Adults age 50-plus have been warned for years not to consume more than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium daily — less than a teaspoon of salt — or they risk all kinds of bad heart-health effects, from high blood pressure to heart failure. But researchers found that pushing the limit a bit, to 2,300 mg, or about a teaspoon of salt, …