This Interactive Chart Shows How Your Lifestyle Can Change Your Cancer Risk

World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research

If you read a lot of health news, you probably spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about your cancer risk. Will drinking too much coffee give you cancer? What about eating hot dogs? Or using a cell phone? Since it can be difficult to interpret the research, the World Cancer Research Fund has an interactive graphic, as Lifehacker spotted, that can help put things into perspective.

The World Cancer Research Fund, an international network of cancer prevention charities based in the U.S., the UK, the Netherlands, and Hong Kong, is dedicated to the science of how diet, nutrition, and physical activity affect cancer risk. Its Interactive Cancer Risk Matrix (see the full version here) visualizes what current research says about cancer risk and prevention in regards to lifestyle choices, like eating processed meat or having been breastfed as a child. (It doesn’t, however, include the genetic factors that play a role in cancer risk.) It features both factors that increase your risk for certain cancers—bacon and booze, for example—and factors that seem to decrease your risk, like eating a lot of whole grains and staying active.

A bubble chart that shows factors that decrease cancer risk in shades of green
World Cancer Research Fund/American Institute for Cancer Research

The visualization divides risk factors into three categories: convincing, probably, or limited-suggested evidence. The first two mean that there’s significant research to show a causal link between those factors and either an increase or decrease in cancer risk. Limited evidence means there’s not enough definitive research for experts to be confident making a recommendation either way—the studies suggesting a link might be of poor quality, or the results too inconsistent to make a definitive call on it, even if there has been some evidence to suggest it has an effect.

These lifestyle factors don’t usually affect your risk of all cancers, so the graphic specifies which cancer each risk factor is associated with. As a result, some factors show up in multiple spots. A high adult body weight has been shown to have a probable increase in risk for cervical cancer, for instance, but a convincing increase in risk for other cancers, like liver cancer, colorectal cancer, and kidney cancer.

Not all of the risk factors are intuitive. Sure, arsenic in drinking water might increase your risk of lung cancer, but what does drinking mate have to do with cancer? Each of the bubbles is a link to the site’s in-depth webpages on related research, so if you click on the “mate” bubble, it will take you to a research digest of what current science tells us about the links between non-alcoholic drinks and cancer risk.

Explore for yourself here.

[h/t Lifehacker]

This Outdoor Lantern Will Keep Mosquitoes Away—No Bug Spray Necessary

Thermacell, Amazon
Thermacell, Amazon

With summer comes outdoor activities, and with those activities come mosquito bites. If you're one of the unlucky people who seem to attract the insects, you may be tempted to lock yourself inside for the rest of the season. But you don't have to choose between comfort and having a cocktail on the porch, because this lamp from Thermacell ($25) keeps outdoor spaces mosquito-free without the mess of bug spray.

The device looks like an ordinary lantern you would display on a patio, but it works like bug repellent. When it's turned on, a fuel cartridge in the center provides the heat needed to activate a repellent mat on top of the lamp. Once activated, the repellent in the mat creates a 15-by-15-foot bubble of protection that repels any mosquitos nearby, making it a great option for camping trips, days by the pool, and backyard barbecues.

Mosquito repellent lantern.

Unlike some other mosquito repellents, this lantern is clean, safe, and scent-free. It also provides light like a real lamp, so you can keep pests away without ruining your backyard's ambience.

The Thermacell mosquito repellent lantern is now available on Amazon. If you've already suffered your first mosquito bites of the summer, here's some insight into why that itch can be so excruciating.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

“They Will Catch on Fire”: Michigan Library Asks Patrons Not to Microwave Their Books

Burning books may kill coronavirus germs, but at what cost?
Burning books may kill coronavirus germs, but at what cost?
Movidagrafica Barcelona, Pexels

Last month, the Plainfield Township branch of the Kent District Library (KDL) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, took to Facebook to share a cautionary tale about burning books.

It wasn’t a summary of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, nor did it have anything to do with a metaphorical protection of free speech. Instead, the post showed a scorched edition of Window on the Bay by Debbie Macomber, which had apparently been microwaved in an ill-conceived attempt to burn off any coronavirus germs.

As the post explained, each book is outfitted with a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag—a more efficient alternative to barcodes, which must be scanned individually and at close range. But since RIFDs contain metal, “they will catch on fire in the microwave.”

“I don't know if it was something that they saw on the news—that they thought maybe the heat would kill COVID-19,” the library’s regional manager Elizabeth Guarino-Kozlowicz told the Detroit Free Press.

Exposure to high heat could indeed kill the virus. According to the World Health Organization, temperatures of 132.8°F or above can eliminate the SARS coronavirus, which behaves similarly to this newer strain (SARS-CoV-2). That said, we still don’t know exactly how heat affects SARS-CoV-2, and nuking a novel is a horrible idea no matter what.

Food & Wine reports that KDL workers are quarantining all returned library books for 72 hours to make sure all coronavirus germs have died before checking them back into the collection. As for the fate of the charred volume, KDL told Mental Floss that the borrower has been billed for it. After they pay the fine, they’ll get to take it home for good.

If you’re worried about borrowing contaminated books from your own library, you can always call first to find out what safety guidelines they’re following. Or, you could stick to e-books for a while—here are five free ways to get them.

[h/t Food & Wine]