Health Buzz: Too Many CT Scans Pose Cancer Risk, Studies Say

Don't leave funds in your FSA; 6 stupid holiday diet tricks you should ignore (and 1 you shouldn't).

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Too Many CT Scans Pose Cancer Risk, Studies Say

The overuse of CT scans may be putting patients at greater risk of developing cancer, two new studies suggest. In the past 30 years, the number of scans performed each year has risen from 3 million to almost 70 million, HealthDay reports. The diagnostic tool produces higher doses of radiation than X-rays—one study, examining data from four San Francisco hospitals, recorded levels as high as 90 millisieverts from one scan. An equivalent dose would require several thousand X-rays, says Andrew Einstein, director of cardiac CT research at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, HealthDay reports. Another study projected that 14,500 deaths would result from cancers linked to CT scans done in 2007. Findings from both studies are published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

[Read Facing a CT Scan? Think About Radiation and Radiation From Medical Scans Soaring.]

Don't Wait Until the Last Minute to Use Up Your FSA Funds

As 2009 comes to a close, it's use-it-or-lose-it time for the funds in your flexible spending account, also known as a flexible spending arrangement, U.S. News's January Payne writes. Even if you have money left in your FSA, there are steps you can take now to spend it, says Deb Cohen, chief knowledge officer at the Society for Human Resource Management. "The last thing you want to do is have unused funds," Cohen says. "It's been taken out" of your paycheck all year long, and there's no way to get your money back, so don't let it go to waste.

Payne lists five things to keep in mind if you have unused money in your FSA. Among them is to find out if your employer offers a grace period for using funds. It may allow you to submit expenses as many as 2½ months into the new year. That gives you until mid-March to spend the money. Read more.

[Read Flexible Spending Account Strategies for Tough Economic Times and How to Choose a Health Plan: 12 Helpful Tips.]

6 Stupid Holiday Diet Tips You Should Ignore (and 1 You Shouldn't)

You can read the best holiday diet advice while waiting in line at the supermarket—or not. Amidst the stories about Tiger Woods's monogamy issues, the gossip mags spill some ideas for controlling holiday weight gain that sound too good (or odd) to be true.

Take the "Get thin for the holidays" diet, for example. The restrictive, 1,000-to-1,200-calorie diet that promises to shed 7 pounds in as many days won't likely do the trick. First, do the math: Even if you normally burn off 2,500 calories in a day and cut back to 1,000, your deficit over a week still adds up to less than 7 pounds (1 pound is equivalent to 3,500 calories). Anything you do lose on a strict calorie deprivation diet is mostly water. Moreover, most dietitians would counsel people to maintain their weight—not try for a drastic loss—over the holidays. To attempt to jump-start a whole new you while smack in the middle of the most indulgent season of the year is an exercise in masochism. So go easy on yourself; if you are aiming for a major shake-up in your eating, practice moderation during the holidays and go for the fresh start in 2010, U.S. News's Katherine Hobson writes. Read more.

[Photo Gallery: Holiday Diet Substitutions.] [Read Holiday Healthy Eating Tips From the King of Mindless Munching.]

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