Fewer than 14 percent of American adults smoked cigarettes in 2017, the lowest level seen since data collection started in 1965, government health officials reported Tuesday. “Certainly, it is fantastic that the U.S. smoking rates continue to drop,” said Dr. Adam Lackey, chief of thoracic surgery at Staten Island University Hospital. “I suspect education is a large part of why the rates are dropping.” “Unfortunately, I suspect part of the drop is also related to more and more people switching to the various other methods of consuming nicotine,” he noted. “Vaping seems to be taking off, and I am always dismayed to have patients proudly tell me that they don’t smoke, and thank goodness for all those vaping products that they use now.” “Yes, vaping doesn’t have the high levels of tar and soot that are the major contributors to the cigarette lung cancer risk,” Lackey said. “But you are still inhaling heated chemicals into your body. And you are still getting nicotine, which in and of itself is not particularly healthy, aside from the addiction standpoint.” Meanwhile, the report unearthed some bad news along with the good. Twice as many of those who smoked lived in rural areas and smaller cities than in cities of 1 million or more — about 22 percent versus 11 percent, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — It is important to protect your eyes from sun-related ultraviolet damage. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency suggests how: Choose sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays. Wear sunglasses every day, even when it’s cloudy. Wear a wide-brimmed hat to block UV rays from affecting your eyes from the sides and above the glasses. Some contact lenses also have UV blocking. Ask your eye doctor about how much protection your contact lenses provide.

You’d better think twice before taking booze to the beach or out on a boat. Alcohol increases the risk of injury and death in and on the water, safety experts warn. For example, alcohol is a factor in up to 70 percent of all water recreation deaths of teens and adults, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism (NIAAA). Drinking impairs judgment and makes people more likely to take risks, a dangerous combination for swimmers, the institute noted. Even experienced swimmers may go farther out than they should and not be able to make it back to shore, or they may not notice how cold they’re getting and develop hypothermia. Diving after drinking is especially dangerous, according to the NIAAA. Being drunk may cause divers to collide with a diving board or to dive where the water is too shallow, the institute noted in a news release. In addition, alcohol can lead surfers to become overconfident and try to ride a wave beyond their abilities. And drinking while boating presents another set of challenges. NIAAA-funded research shows that alcohol may play a role in 60 percent of boating deaths, including falling overboard. Also, a boat operator who’s had four to five drinks is 16 times more likely to be killed in a boating accident than one who hasn’t had any alcohol.…  read on >

It’s often said salt water is good for cuts. Or that sunscreen isn’t needed on cloudy days. But both are incorrect, says Isabel Valdez, a physician assistant and instructor of family medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. When you head outdoors this summer, you should be aware of some common health myths, she noted. “Salt water from the beach can actually contain germs or bacteria that can infect an open wound,” Valdez said in a college news release. “You should wait until the wound is healed and sealed completely before submerging it in fresh or salt water.” Wash wounds with warm, soapy water. See your doctor if the wound becomes red, sore or warm to touch, Valdez advised. It’s also a myth that you don’t need to wear sunscreen when it’s cloudy. “You definitely want to wear sunscreen even when it’s cloudy because you are still going to be exposed to some UV rays,” Valdez said. “I recommend always wearing an SPF over 30.” Reapply sunscreen throughout the day, especially if you are swimming or sweating, she added. You probably know you need to drink more fluids in the heat. But don’t assume all liquids are equal. Drinking soda or an alcoholic beverage will not hydrate you. In fact, too much alcohol or caffeine actually can dehydrate you because they are diuretics that…  read on >

(HealthDay News) — Which sunscreen is right for you? There may be no easy answer unless you understand sunscreen lingo, the American Academy of Dermatology says. A recent study in JAMA Dermatology found that fewer than half of people asked at a dermatology clinic understood the meaning of “broad spectrum” or “SPF.” The academy offers this primer about sunscreen lingo: “Broad spectrum” sunscreen means it can protect you from the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. This will help prevent skin cancer, early skin aging and sunburn. Sunburn protection factor (SPF) determines how well sunscreen protects from sun damage. SPF of 15 filters 93 percent of UVB rays, while 30 SPF filters 97 percent of those rays. No sunscreen is entirely waterproof, but some are water-resistant. The product is considered water resistant if it stays on wet skin for 40 to 80 minutes. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours, even if your skin stays dry. A chemical sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays, while a physical sunscreen protects you by deflecting the sun’s rays.

Many migraine sufferers skip recommended behavioral treatments, such as stress management and talk therapy, a new study finds. Lack of time, cost and skepticism are among the reasons why, said Dr. Mia Minen, director of research for NYU Langone’s headache division in New York City. Previous studies have shown that treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy, stress management, relaxation techniques and biofeedback may reduce migraine symptoms by 50 percent or more, Minen and her team said. (Biofeedback involves using a monitoring device to reduce muscle tension.) These treatments can cost less than medications and have long-term benefits for migraine reduction, the researchers noted. “Migraines can be debilitating, so it stands to reason that many patients would want to access a treatment that reduces symptoms by half. However, our research shows this is far from the case,” Minen said in an NYU news release. Migraine headaches affect about 36 million Americans. The moderate to severe throbbing headaches are often accompanied by nausea and/or vomiting, and sensitivity to light and sound. For the study, Minen and her colleagues looked at 53 migraine patients who were referred for behavioral treatment with a specially trained therapist. The patients were interviewed within three months of their initial appointment. Only 30 (57 percent) made an appointment for behavioral treatment. Patients who had previously seen a psychologist were more likely to begin…  read on >