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Allison Aubrey

Sun exposure is the leading risk factor for developing melanoma. And there's evidence that alcohol consumption is linked to an increased risk of skin cancer, too.

Part of the explanation is that when people drink, they tend to be more lackadaisical: They're less likely to apply sunscreen and more likely to spend too much time in the sun, be it at the beach or pool. But this isn't the whole story.

Some who have given up booze altogether join "sober sometimes" friends to enjoy nonalcoholic drinks at Sans Bar in Austin, Texas.
Julia Robinson for NPR

A new study published in The BMJ can't tell you exactly how much red meat is OK to eat to maintain good health or prevent disease.

But it does help sort out a big-picture, and perhaps more important, question: What does a healthy pattern of eating look like?

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has a new recommendation aimed at preventing HIV infections and AIDS. The influential panel's guidance says people at high risk of being infected with HIV should be offered preventive antiretroviral medications — taken in a daily pill.

There's lots of evidence that preexposure prophylaxis — also known as PrEP — is effective. The Food and Drug Administration-approved pill Truvada contains two antiretroviral medicines (tenofovir and emtricitabine).

For roughly 40 million Americans, SNAP benefits are a lifeline.

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, delivers about $60 billion in aid each year. And retailers that accept SNAP benefits are required to stock a variety of staple foods — including a minimum number of fruits and vegetables, meat, dairy and grain options.

The Food and Drug Administration is holding its first public hearing on CBD, the cannabis extract that has quickly grown into a billion-dollar industry. Today's hearing will help officials determine how to regulate CBD products.

The compound can be extracted from marijuana or from hemp. It's promoted as a way to ease anxiety and inflammation – and it doesn't get people high because it doesn't contain THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

There's nothing magical about the number 10,000.

In fact, the idea of walking at least 10,000 steps a day for health goes back decades to a marketing campaign launched in Japan to promote a pedometer. And, in subsequent years, it was adopted in the U.S. as a goal to promote good health. It's often the default setting on fitness trackers, but what's it really based on?

"The original basis of the number was not scientifically determined," says researcher I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women's Hospital.

The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to the food industry on Thursday, urging companies to get behind the initiative to standardize the use of the phrase "best if used by" on packaged food labels.

"A Low-Fat Diet Helps Reduce The Risk of Death From Breast Cancer." Did a headline like this catch your eye this week?

Dozens of news organizations, including NPR, reported on a new study that found that a low-fat diet helped women reduce their risk of dying from breast cancer.

A coalition of state attorneys general is suing the Trump administration for weakening the federal nutrition standards for school meals that are fed to about 30 million children across the country.

About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe.

What's driving this? As a planet we don't eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we consume too many sugary drinks, too much salt and too much processed meat.

It's long been known that air pollution influences the risk — and severity — of asthma. Now, there's emerging evidence that diet can play a role, too.

Pediatricians have long warned parents about the risks of consuming too many sugary drinks — including the link to Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Eggs have made a big comeback. Americans now consume an estimated 280 eggs per person per year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And that's a significant increase compared with a decade ago.

The consumer-advocacy organization Consumer Reports tested 45 fruit juices, including apple, grape and juice blends, and found that 21 of them had "concerning levels" of cadmium, arsenic and/or lead, according to a new report. Juice samples came from 24 national and private-label brands.

School lunches are healthier than they were five years ago. But Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says schools need more flexibility in serving meals that kids will eat.

"If kids are not eating what is being served, they are not benefiting, and food is being wasted," Perdue said in a statement announcing a rule that is set to be published later this month.

When it comes to turning back the clocks on our devices, technology has us covered. Our smartphones automatically adjust.

But our internal clocks aren't as easy to re-program. And this means that the time shift in the fall and again in the spring can influence our health in unexpected ways.

If you peer into Americans' grocery carts, you're unlikely to see a mix of foods and beverages that make for an ideal diet. And this is true for many of the nearly 42 million people who receive food stamps, too.

Ever heard of these food additives? Synthetically-derived benzophenone, ethyl acrylate, methyl eugenol, myrcene, pulegone, or pyridine?

These compounds can help mimic natural flavors and are used to infuse foods with mint, cinnamon and other flavors.

You've likely never seen them on food labels because food manufacturers are permitted to label them simply as "artificial flavors."

There are a lot of misconceptions out there about the flu shot.

But following a winter in which more than 80,000 people died from flu-related illnesses in the U.S. — the highest death toll in more than 40 years — infectious disease experts are ramping up efforts to get the word out.

There's a lot of talk about how to make our food supply more sustainable. And, increasingly, eaters connect the dots between a healthy diet and a healthy planet. One line of evidence? A shift on grocery store shelves.

Coffee is far from a vice.

There's now lots of evidence pointing to its health benefits, including a possible longevity boost for those of us with a daily coffee habit.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a marijuana-derived drug for the treatment of two rare and serious forms of epilepsy, Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, that begin in childhood but can persist in adulthood.

The drug is made from purified cannabidiol, or CBD, a compound found in the cannabis plant. The drug will be marketed under the brand name Epidiolex.

CBD has medicinal effects, but it does not cause the mind-altering high that comes from THC, the primary psychoactive component of marijuana.

A little bit of alcohol has been shown to be protective of heart health. But how does drinking influence cancer risk?

A new study finds that light drinkers have the lowest combined risk of developing cancer and dying prematurely — even lower than people who don't drink at all. But here's the rub: In this study, "light" drinking is defined as one to five drinks per week.

If you take Prilosec or Zantac for acid reflux, a beta blocker for high blood pressure, or Xanax for anxiety, you may be increasing your risk of depression.

More than 200 common medications sold in the U.S. include depression as a potential side effect. Sometimes, the risk stems from taking several drugs at the same time. Now, a new study finds people who take these medicines are, in fact, more likely to be depressed.

Americans are rediscovering the coldest aisle in the supermarket.

According to a new report, sales of frozen foods, including vegetables and prepared foods, are now on the rise following a multi-year slump.

The uptick is new — and modest. But growth "is accelerating as consumers begin to see freezing as a way to preserve food with fewer negatives," concludes a report from RBC Capital Markets.

Falls are a leading cause of injury and death among older adults. In 2014, about 1 in 3 adults aged 65 and older reported falling, and falls were linked to 33,000 deaths.

If you want to reduce the risk of falling, regular exercise may be your best bet, according to the latest recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Will people drink less sugary soda if the price goes up? A new study suggests the answer is ... yes.

Researchers at Drexel University surveyed residents of Philadelphia both before and after a 1.5-cent-per-ounce tax on sweetened drinks took effect. They also surveyed people in three other cities that don't have a beverage tax. The researchers found Philadelphians were about 40 percent less likely to drink sweetened beverages daily after the tax went into effect, compared with people in the other cities.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

NOEL KING, HOST:

Burgers and chicken nuggets are still the mainstay of the Happy Meal. But on Thursday McDonald's announced its goal to market more balanced kids meals around the globe.

The company says by the end of 2022, at least 50 percent or more of the kids meal options listed on menus will meet new global Happy Meal nutrition criteria: Meals will have 600 calories or less; no more than 10 percent of calories from saturated fat; no more than 650 mg sodium; and no more than 10 percent of calories from added sugar.

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