Is weekend binge drinking more harmless than we thought? Plus monkeypox may spread through the air, and more health news

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Weekend binge drinking: not as harmless as you think

Many may consider an episode of binge drinking — defined as 5 or more drinks on one occasion — as just being harmless fun. But a new study suggests that even moderate drinkers who indulge in binge drinking can suffer lasting consequences.

Researchers found that among people who typically drank at moderate levels, those who sometimes binged were at increased risk of alcohol-related problems, both in recent times and nine years later.

Alcohol problems included having irresistible urges to drink; needing to drink more and more to get the same effect; emotional or psychological symptoms related to alcohol, and drinking despite it causing issues at work, school or home.

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Monkeypox may sometimes spread through the air

After adding, and then deleting, a recommendation that U.S. travelers wear masks to protect themselves from monkeypox, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still says that those traveling to countries where the disease is spreading and “other people who may be in close contact with a person who has been confirmed with monkeypox” should consider wearing masks.

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Why the new guidance? The advice comes as experts say the monkeypox virus can sometimes spread through the air, at least over short distances, but it’s not clear exactly how much that contributes to the spread of the disease.

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Coffee is kind to your kidneys

There’s more good news for coffee lovers who already reap its other health benefits — your favorite beverage may also help protect your kidneys.

“We already know that drinking coffee on a regular basis has been associated with the prevention of chronic and degenerative diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and liver disease,” said study author Dr. Chirag Parikh, director of the Division of Nephrology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“We can now add a possible reduction in AKI [acute kidney injury] risk to the growing list of health benefits for caffeine,” he said in a university news release.

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Veterans are at higher risk of deadly melanoma

U.S. veterans are at higher risk for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, than most Americans, and new research finds they are also more likely to have advanced-stage disease when it’s detected.

At the time of diagnosis, “we found veterans with melanoma were more likely to present with ‘regional’ or ‘distant’ disease,” explained study author Dr. Rebecca Hartman, an associate chief of dermatology with the VA Boston Healthcare System.

“Primary care providers and dermatologists who care for veterans, as well as veterans themselves, should be aware of the elevated advanced melanoma risk in this population,” Hartman added.

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Do you live in a ‘hot spot’ for diabetes complications?

Texas and Florida are big U.S. centers for Americans dealing with short- and long-term diabetes complications, a new study shows.

The findings could help direct support to people who need it the most, according to the researchers.

“Our analysis has enabled us to create a map of the United States that showcases hot spots of different diabetes complications and any demographic information associated with these areas,” said study leader Jacques Lowe, a medical student with a focus on diabetes at Carle Illinois College of Medicine in Champaign.

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Healthy human brains are hotter than we thought

New research gives new meaning to the term “hotheaded” — your normal brain temperature is higher and varies much more than previously thought.

The findings could lead to future research into whether disruption of daily brain temperature rhythms might trigger dementia and other brain diseases, the study authors said.

The researchers conducted brain scans on 40 volunteers, aged 20 to 40, in the morning, afternoon and late evening of a single day and created the first 4D map of healthy human brain temperature.

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