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Why Does Sunlight Damage Our Skin?

If you believed the headlines, just about everything, from cell phones to coffee, causes cancer. Most of those headlines are overblown, at best, but there are still plenty of carcinogens out there. Some of these, like smoking, are avoidable. Others, like sunlight, are a little trickier. The video above from the American Chemical Society explains how the sun can damage us and why we’d be wise to take precautions.   

Given its constant and almost mundane presence in our lives, it’s easy to forget that the Sun is a star, but it is. And like all the other stars, it gives off intense radiation (what we usually call sunshine). Fortunately, our planet is surrounded by a marvelous natural shield: the ozone layer. Gases in the atmosphere bear the brunt of the Sun’s force, allowing just a trickle of ultraviolet radiation through. Of course, “a trickle” is relative. Those rays are still strong enough to burn our skin and damage our DNA if we’re not careful. 

Sun exposure is kind of like crushing a cookie in your fist; there’s not much you can do to fix it once the damage is done. But you can take steps to protect yourself now and decrease future harm. Wear sunscreen every day (yes, even in the winter), indoors and out, and reapply every two hours. We know you’re sick of hearing it now, but you’ll thank us later.

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Beyond the Label: How to Pick the Right Medicines For Your Cold and Flu Symptoms
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The average household spends an annual total of $338 on various over-the-counter medicines, with consumers making around 26 pharmacy runs each year, according to 2015 data from the Consumer Healthcare Products Association. To save cash and minimize effort (here's why you'd rather be sleeping), the Cleveland Clinic recommends avoiding certain cold and flu products, and selecting products containing specific active ingredients.

Since medicine labels can be confusing (lots of people likely can’t remember—let alone spell—words like cetirizine, benzocaine, or dextromethorphan), the famous hospital created an interactive infographic to help patients select the right product for them. Click on your symptom, and you’ll see ingredients that have been clinically proven to relieve runny or stuffy noses, fevers, aches, and coughs. Since every medicine is different, you’ll also receive safety tips regarding dosage levels, side effects, and the average duration of effectiveness.

Next time you get sick, keep an eye out for these suggested elements while comparing products at the pharmacy. In the meantime, a few pro tips: To avoid annoying side effects, steer clear of multi-symptom products if you think just one ingredient will do it for you. And while you’re at it, avoid nasal sprays with phenylephrine and cough syrups with guaifenesin, as experts say they may not actually work. Cold and flu season is always annoying—but it shouldn’t be expensive to boot.

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Why You Might Not Want to Order Tea or Coffee On Your Next Flight
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A cup of tea or coffee at 40,000 feet may sound like a great way to give yourself an extra energy boost during a tiring trip, but it might be healthier to nap away your fatigue—or at least wait until hitting ground to indulge in a caffeine fix. Because, in addition to being tepid and watery, plane brew could be teeming with germs and other harmful life forms, according to Business Insider.

Multiple studies and investigations have taken a closer look at airplane tap water, and the results aren’t pretty—or appetizing. In 2002, The Wall Street Journal conducted a study that looked at water samples taken from 14 different flights from 10 different airlines. Reporters discovered “a long list of microscopic life you don’t want to drink, from Salmonella and Staphylococcus to tiny insect eggs," they wrote.

And they added, "Worse, contamination was the rule, not the exception: Almost all of the bacteria levels were tens, sometimes hundreds, of times above U.S. government limits."

A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that water supplies on 15 percent of 327 national and international commercial aircrafts were contaminated to varying degrees [PDF]. This all led up to the 2011 Aircraft Drinking Water Rule, an EPA initiative to make airlines clean up. But in 2013, an NBC investigation found that at least one out of every 10 commercial U.S. airplanes still had issues with water contamination.

Find out how airplane water gets so gross, and why turning water into coffee or tea isn’t enough to kill residual germs by watching Business Insider’s video below.

[h/t Business Insider]

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