National Radon Action Month: 5 Fast Facts

radonKeeping your home safe is likely one of your highest priorities, especially if you’re raising a family. But you may not know about some things that endanger your home; for example, radon gas.

Radon is a radioactive gas that can lead to lung cancer. Radon does appear naturally, which means that there is a level of radon gas in your home that is expected and acceptable. However, once radon goes above a certain level, your household will be at risk.

Because many people don’t know about the dangers of radon gas, January has been named National Radon Action Month in order to help generate awareness. Here are five facts you should know about radon:

  1. Radon can’t be detected by humans – Because radon can’t be seen, smelled, or tasted, it’s important you test the level of radon in your home. Radon is measured by pCi/L (picocuries per liter of air). The average indoor radon concentration is 1.3 pCi/L.
  2. Radon is natural – The release of radon gas is caused by the normal decay of elements such as uranium, radium, and thorium, all of which are found in rocks and soil. 
  3. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer – Radon is the leading cause of cancer in non-smokers. Many studies have also linked radon to childhood leukemia.
  4. Testing for radon is easy – It’s as easy as placing a test kit in the right place, letting it sit between 2-7 days, and then sending it off to the address on the package. You’ll receive the results in about two weeks. The EPA suggests that radon levels should be no more than 2 pCI/L, while the U.S. Surgeon General recommends attention to radon levels above 4 pCi/L. 
  5. You can fix high radon levels – There are radon mitigators that can help address high levels of radon in your home and lower them to a safe level.

Be sure to test your home for radon and keep visiting us at The Benefits Store to stay up-to-date with all the latest health news.

How Much Can Babies in the Womb See?

babies in the wombWhen babies are newborns, they are capable of seeing objects and colors. They can only see objects between 8-15 inches away. It’s not until they reach roughly three to four months of age they begin to fully develop their vision.

Babies in the Womb Can Detect Light

It seems babies begin developing their vision much earlier than we thought. Researchers at the University of California in Berkeley have recently discovered evidence babies can detect light in the womb by the second trimester, long before they can see images. Before, the light-sensitive cells in the developing retina of a baby (which are basically thin sheets of brain-like tissue situated near the back of the eye) functioned as little more than on/off switches. The cells were thought to help establish the day/night rhythms parents wanted their babies to follow after birth. 

The new research revealed that, by the second trimester, the light-sensitive cells in a baby’s retina communicate with each other as part of an interconnected network. This means the retina has more light sensitivity than previously thought. Scientists now believe babies may be more sensitive to light and their behavior and brain development could be influenced by exposure to light while in the womb.

Headline Here?

A baby’s developing eyes contain 3% ganglion cells. These ganglion cells send messages to the brain via the optic nerve and are sensitive to light. So far, researchers have discovered six different subtypes that communicate with various places in the brain.

For example, some ganglion cells send signals to the part of the brain that makes the pupils constrict when exposed to bright light. Others communicate to the suprachiasmatic nucleus in order to tune the baby’s internal clock to the day/night cycle. 

Essentially, the babies in the womb not only detect light, but their eyes are developing by coding for the different intensities of light to which they are exposed. For more health news and updates on new scientific breakthroughs, continue visiting us at The Benefits Store

Can Brushing Your Teeth Protect Your Heart?

Most people are taught to brush their teeth regularly at an early age to prevent cavities from developing. While brushing your teeth will certainly help achieve this (as well as prevent other issues, such as gum disease), it turns out teeth-brushing can also help lower the risk of atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) and heart failure.

How Brushing Your Teeth Can Improve Heart Health

The European Journal of Preventive Cardiology recently published a study linking oral health to atrial fibrillation and heart failure. Previously, it was believed poor oral hygiene would lead to bacteria in the blood. This would result in inflammation, which would increase the risk of atrial fibrillation and heart failure. The study was performed to define the link between oral health and these two heart issues more clearly.

The study involved:

  • 161,286 participants of the Korean National Health Insurance System
  • Participants between ages 40-79
  • Participants had no history of atrial fibrillation or heart failure

Between 2003 and 2004, participants underwent routine medical exams collecting information that included illnesses, oral hygiene behaviors, oral health, and more. During a median follow-up exam of 10.5 years, 7.971 participants experienced heart failure, while 4,911 participants developed atrial fibrillation. 

Based on the information collected, participants that brushed their teeth three or more times a day had a 12% lower risk of heart failure and a 10% lower risk of atrial fibrillation. The study did not investigate mechanisms. One reason brushing your teeth could improve heart health is because it reduces the bacteria between the teeth and the gums. This prevents the bacteria from entering the bloodstream.

The findings were independent of other heart-risk factors, such as alcohol consumption, sex, age, body mass index, and more. Additionally, the study was limited to one country. However, a very large group of people were studied over a long period of time, which strengthens the findings.

Learn more about heart health and all the latest health news by keeping up-to-date with The Benefits Store.

4 Tips to Help You Compete in The Great American Smokeout

Almost everyone knows smoking is bad for you. It’s become a widely known fact that smoking is one of the leading causes of cancer.

Because of how addictive it is, it can be incredibly difficult to stop smoking. That’s why the American Cancer Society encourages smokers to stop – even if only for a day – with the Great American Smokeout.

November 21, 2019: The Great American Smokeout

The Great American Smokeout is on the third Thursday of November every year. On that day, all smokers throughout the country are encouraged to stop smoking for that day.

Even quitting for one day can be helpful. The idea behind it is that by not smoking for a day, some smokers will decide to stop smoking altogether. One day without cigarettes can jumpstart an effort to quit altogether.

Getting Ready to Quit

If you’re a smoker and you’re trying to quit, these 4 tips can help:

  1. Save the date – Have a date in mind to quit smoking. This can help to mentally prepare you to quit and can help motivate you. It’s why the Great American Smokeout is such a success: It gives smokers a date to quit. This year it’s Thursday, November 21, 2019.
  2. Tell everyone your plan – Tell everyone in your life you’re preparing to quit smoking. The loved ones in your life will provide you with emotional and moral support which can help motivate you even more. If you tell them the date you’re going to quit, you’ll be more likely to follow through.
  3. Be prepared for the challenge – Quitting is tough! Figure out a few ways to cope with the urges you will feel. Plan to:
    • Contact a friend
    • Drink water
    • Exercise
    • Find a support group online
    • Make yourself a goody bag with gum, gummies, hard candies, etc.
    • Play games
  4. Remove all cigarettes – Get rid of cigarettes and smoking-related items from your home, your car, and your workplace. Out of sight; out of mind.

If you’re a smoker, quit during the Great American Smokeout. Stay up-to-date on the 2019 Great American Smokeout and other health news by visiting us at The Benefits Store today.