Health Buzz: Scans Urged for Those at Risk of Lung Cancer

3 meditation techniques for beginners; plus, digestive folk remedies: do they work?


Task Force Recommends Annual Low-Dose CT Scans for Older Current and Former Smokers

People with a high risk of lung cancer should receive annual screenings with a low-dose computed tomography, says the U.S. Preventative Task Force in a draft recommendation. The influential panel of health experts found evidence that screening current and former smokers between ages 55 and 79 who have been exposed to a significant amount of tobacco smoke over time can "prevent a significant number of lung cancer deaths."

Lung cancer is the third most common type of cancer, and nearly 90 percent of people who have it die of the disease. Smoking is the most important risk factor for lung cancer and accounts for about 85 percent of cases in the United States. Risk increases with age, with the disease most commonly occurring in people over age 55.

Looking to kick the habit?, a website created by the Tobacco Control Research branch of the National Cancer Institute, has useful tips and tools to help folks in all stages of quitting.

3 Meditation Techniques for Beginners

Gold stars to those who can make it through this article without wondering about dinner or unattended emails, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram or scanning half a page before realizing you have no idea what the heck you just read.

Amit Sood, author of the upcoming book "The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living," calls this autopilot daze, in which we're physically here, but mentally elsewhere – our "default mode." And it's not a great place to be. We spend about half of our day in default mode, in which we're typically unhappy, he says, adding that too much time in this mode can lead to increased risk of depression, anxiety and attention deficit.

Our brain's counter to default mode is its focus mode. Imagine if, as you were reading, a giraffe walked up to you. Chances are, you'd stop reading and thinking about emails, dinner and Instagram, and focus entirely on the giraffe. A perhaps more realistic example: You're driving home from work, thinking about who knows what, when a police car pulls up behind you. Even if you're obeying the law, your attention may now shift to the rearview mirror and speedometer, as recollections of the workday are replaced with silent urges for the police car to change course. [Read more: 3 Meditation Techniques for Beginners]

Digestive Folk Remedies: Do They Work?

Long before Big Pharma, people used a variety of natural remedies to ease digestive woes, writes U.S. News blogger Tamara Duker Freuman. Now that modern medicines are available to treat everything from indigestion to constipation, however, many people still prefer to seek relief from natural products that have stood the test of time. But do they work, and are they safe?

Here is the lowdown on a few of the ones I regularly encounter:

Aloe Vera: commonly used to treat constipation. Aloe supplements come in two forms: capsules and juice. They typically contain one of two compounds – aloe latex or aloe gel. Aloe latex is extracted from underneath the skin of the aloe leaf. Its active ingredient – aloin – is a stimulant that may increase contractions in the colon. It also decreases reabsorption of water in the colon, leading to softer, more easily passed stools.

Aloe gel is taken from the inner part of the aloe leaf and is generally less effective than latex as a laxative. Bottled aloe juice typically contains Aloe gel. Capsules may be formulated with crushed whole aloe leaves, which contain both latex and gel, or with the gel only. [Read more: Digestive Folk Remedies: Do They Work?]

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