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]

High Levels of Arsenic Found in Bottled Water From Whole Foods and Dr Pepper

iStock/mediaphotos
iStock/mediaphotos

If you're concerned about drinking unfiltered water from your tap at home, bottled water isn't automatically the safer option. As USA Today reports, tests conducted by the California nonprofit Center for Environmental Health (CEH) found that the arsenic levels in two popular bottled water brands exceed those found in the state's tap water.

The affected brands are the Keurig Dr Pepper-owned Peñafiel and Whole Foods-owned Starkey. The arsenic content in each product hasn't prompted a federal recall, but CEH discovered that it does violate state guidelines. CEH sent notices to both companies informing them that their products must be printed with health warnings disclosing the presence of arsenic under California’s consumer protection law Proposition 65.

Arsenic is safe, and often unavoidable, in very small amounts, but in high concentrations it can be harmful. Drinking water with unsafe levels of arsenic can lead to cancer, reproductive problems, and developmental issues in children.

An earlier report released by Consumer Reports in April found that the same brands analyzed by CEH had twice the federal limit of arsenic in their bottled water. Keurig Dr Pepper stopped production of its Peñafiel water, which is sold at Target, Walmart, and elsewhere, for two weeks following Consumer Reports's tests. Starkey water bottles are sold at Whole Foods.

Even if they meet safety standards, many popular water brands contain trace amounts of arsenic. Consumer Reports has found acceptably low arsenic levels in Aquafina, Dasani, Evian, Deer Park, Fiji, and Poland Spring products.

[h/t USA Today]

These ASMR-Ready Headphones Promise to Lull You to Sleep

AcousticSheep
AcousticSheep

What do hushed whispers, gently tapping fingernails, and Bob Ross’s voice have in common? They’re all examples of triggers that may cause what’s known as an autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR), or, as Dictionary.com succinctly explains it, a “calming, pleasurable feeling often accompanied by a tingling sensation” that can be triggered by soothing stimuli. ASMR has recently been recognized as an effective relaxation technique for those looking to calm their nerves; now, ASMR enthusiasts and novices alike can experience it in the form of a sleep-ready headband.

Upon first glance, SleepPhones: ASMR Edition may look like just a fabric headband, but the device actually features flat speakers tucked into soft, stretchy, eco-friendly material. Unlike regular headphones, SleepPhones can be worn comfortably to bed, even if you sleep on your side, and they come preloaded with content designed to help you relax. They feature eight hours of built-in ASMR content by 16 different ASMR artists (or ASMRtists), including but not limited to tracks with rhythmic tapping and "peaceful Italian whisperings."

A close-up of the SleepPhones speaker technology
AcousticSheep

The speaker components of SleepPhones
AcousticSheep

Using SleepPhones is designed to be a stress-free experience. The speakers have the ability to play for 20 ad-free hours with a mere three-hour charging time in between. There are also zero cords involved, meaning you won’t get all tangled up as you lie down or if you have a tendency to toss and turn at night. The small button located in the back of the headband allows you to start, pause, or skip tracks and control the volume.

For people looking for ways to relax beyond yoga and meditation, ASMR may be the way to go. One study observed that subjects watching ASMR videos not only reported feeling that aforementioned pleasant tingling, but were also found to have reduced heart rates.

You can get a pair of your own SleepPhones on Kickstarter with a pledge of $75 or more. They come in three different sizes with seven colors from which to choose.

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