Health Advice

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Health

Make a Clean Getaway

Scott LaFee on

The Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers to avoid hand sanitizers from Mexico, which may contain a toxic form of alcohol. Some of these products use methanol or wood alcohol, which can be toxic when absorbed through the skin.

Methanol-contaminated hand sanitizers have been implicated in blindness, cardiac and central nervous system effects, hospitalizations and death. Exposure can result in nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, permanent blindness, seizures, coma, permanent damage to the nervous system or death, reports STAT. Young children who ingest these products, and adolescents and adults who drink them as an alcohol substitute, are most at risk.

Think Before You Drink

There is plenty of evidence that alcohol can harm brain health, but a new study pinpoints three key time periods in life when its negative effects are likely to be greatest. All are periods when changes in the brain make it particularly sensitive:

1. Gestation (from conception to birth)

2. Later adolescence (15-19 years)

 

3. Older adulthood (over age 65)

In each of these periods, write scientists in The British Medical Journal Today, the brain is especially vulnerable to environmental exposures. In the first two periods, the youthful brain is undergoing creation and dramatic development or refinement. In later life, alcohol appears to heighten the risk of dementia.

Body of Knowledge

Smoking rates are trending downward, but it's still the leading cause of preventable death and disease, killing 480,000 Americans every year, says the American Cancer Society. Most people associate smoking with cancer: In some parts of the country, nearly 4 in 10 cancer deaths are attributable to smoking, but tobacco use has other implications. See the next item.

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