Drinking Lots of Coffee Won't Damage Your Arteries, According to a New Study

iStock/ozgurcoskun
iStock/ozgurcoskun

If you need a pot of coffee to make it through the day or have a reserved table at your local coffee shop and worry about what all of that caffeine might be doing to your heart, you may find encouraging news coming out of the British Heart Foundation. Researchers at the organization have found no evidence linking excessive coffee consumption—even up to 25 cups a day, though no one is recommending that—with an increased risk of stiffening arteries, which can lead to heart problems like heart disease or a heart attack.

The data was presented this week at the British Cardiovascular Society Annual Conference and based on a review of 8412 UK residents. The study examined previous research linking coffee ingestion to hardening of the arteries and compared the heart scans of people who drank less than one cup of coffee a day, between one and three cups a day, and more than three cups a day. Researchers found no increased risk of hardening arteries in the group drinking more coffee, which even held true for the small number of the participants who reported drinking up to 25 cups daily.

The study, which has not yet been published or peer-reviewed, was looking only at the link between stiffened arteries and coffee consumption. The idea that guzzling coffee is safe for your heart should not be construed to mean it’s safe overall: a 2017 analysis of over 400 studies on the detrimental effects of coffee found that drinking up to 400 mg daily, or roughly four 8-ounce cups, was tolerable for most people, but that tolerance can vary. One cup might make someone restless, while someone else might not see any adverse effects until they hit cup number four.

People with certain medical conditions, like high blood pressure, should be careful to watch their consumption. Individuals with other chronic conditions should always consult a physician before making caffeine a daily part of their routine. Like most things, it’s best enjoyed in moderation.

[h/t CNBC]

Why You're Probably Washing Your Hands All Wrong

Washing your hands is the best protection against germs.
Washing your hands is the best protection against germs.
rclassenlayouts/iStock via Getty Images

When some of us fall ill, we begin to wonder what brought on the coughing, sneezing, and aching. We might blame a sniffling person in the checkout lane or an office pandemic.

Obviously, there are many ways to catch a viral or bacterial infection. But the single best way to minimize that risk is to wash your hands. And while that might seem simple—it is, after all, a skill taught to us as children—you may not be doing it correctly.

Popular Science recently highlighted the importance of handwashing, noting that people may touch their face up to 52 times per day. If they’ve just touched a surface that’s harboring germs, that’s 52 opportunities for pathogens to settle in the mucus membranes and lash out with everything from flu to respiratory infections. Proper hand hygiene, according to the Centers for Disease Control, can reduce the community risk for respiratory illness by 16 to 21 percent and for unpleasantness like diarrhea by up to 40 percent.

The problem? People tend to wash too quickly, sticking their hands under the faucet for a few fleeting moments and moving on. In 2018, the U.S. Department of Agriculture evaluated 383 subjects and found that most did only a cursory wash.

It’s better to follow the CDC’s advice, which is to get your hands thoroughly wet with very warm water—which can be enough to kill some microbes—and then lather up, making sure to reach every fold and surface area between your fingers, around your wrists, and under your nails.

So far, this is not the stuff of surgical scrubbing. But here’s where most people drop the ball: Rather than soap up for just a few seconds, try to keep the cleaning going for 20 seconds. That’s two cycles of the “Happy Birthday” song. When you’re done, dry with a clean towel.

It’s good to wash up before eating, after coming from outside, handling an animal, or prior to touching your face for any reason, like putting in contacts or flossing. Obviously, washing after using the bathroom is a must, but you knew that.

As for hand sanitizer: It’s good for when there’s no running water available, but it can’t kill all germs, and it won’t do a whole lot if there’s visible dirt or grime on your hands. Water and soap remain the gold standard.

[h/t Popular Science]

China's Coronavirus App Is Alerting Citizens When They're in Danger of Being Infected

Coronavirus fears have spread throughout China and beyond.
Coronavirus fears have spread throughout China and beyond.
Kevin Frayer, Getty Images

Questions continue to linger around the new coronavirus, currently plaguing parts of China and other countries. In an effort to combat the spread of the virus, the Chinese government recently introduced a smartphone app that claims to alert users when someone suspected of having the virus has been nearby.

According to the BBC, the app, dubbed the “close contact detector," works by having phone users register their name and government ID number. Once they activate the service, they’ll be notified if they’ve been in a place where someone diagnosed with coronavirus has been. Patient A, for example, might have reported being on a train, in a classroom, or in an office space that the app user also occupied. The user would get an alert along with a notice to stay home in the event they might have contracted the virus.

Whether a user has been in close contact is determined by their physical proximity to someone suspected of having the virus. Airplane passengers in the three rows surrounding someone suspected of being infected would be considered in close contact. Other passengers may not be considered close.

The scope of the app appears to be limited to information provided by transit authorities and other institutions and does not appear to be an all-inclusive method of determining exposure.

The app is state-sponsored and was developed by the General Office of the State Council, the National Health Commission, and the China Electronics Technology Group Corporation. While critics have said the app presents an invasion of privacy and a way for government to track any user's movements, others have argued that the risk to public health warrants it.

"In this case the public good and the public health has to outweigh the privacy concerns, otherwise we have no shot of doing anything about this," Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told ABC News.

[h/t BBC]

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