• Cardiovascular

    Housecall: Alcohol — risks, benefits and why moderation is key


different kinds of alcoholic drinks in various glasses with a white backgroundTHIS WEEK'S TOP STORIES
Alcohol use: If you drink, moderation is key 
It sounds like a mixed message. Drinking alcohol may offer some health benefits, especially for your heart. On the other hand, too much alcohol may damage your heart and increase your risk for certain cancers, liver disease, stroke and other serious health problems. When it comes to alcohol, the key is moderation. Here's what you need to know.

Irritable bowel syndrome 
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common intestinal problem that affects more than 30 million Americans. Signs and symptoms can include cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas and a change in bowel habits. While IBS is a chronic condition, many people can control their symptoms by managing diet, lifestyle and stress. Learn about factors that may trigger IBS and the symptoms that indicate you need to seek medical care.

Can I transmit the shingles vaccine virus to others?
A new shingles vaccine, Shingrix, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2017. The new vaccine is inactivated, meaning it uses a dead version of the virus, eliminating the risk of transmission. Learn more from Dr. James Steckelberg, an emeritus Mayo Clinic infectious diseases specialist.

Is sodium nitrate in meat a heart disease risk factor?
Sodium nitrate, a preservative that's used in some processed meats, such as bacon, jerky and luncheon meats, could increase your heart disease risk. It's thought that sodium nitrate may damage your blood vessels, making your arteries more likely to harden and narrow, leading to heart disease. Nitrates also may affect the way your body uses sugar, making you more likely to develop diabetes. Learn more from Katherine Zeratsky, a Mayo Clinic registered dietitian nutritionist.

Balance problems
Needle biopsy
Nasal polyps
Poor color vision

Garlic cauliflower potato mash
Southwestern vegan bowl
Sweet peppers stuffed with scalloped corn
Tandoori chicken wrap

Shopping for shades?
Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can damage your eyes, not just your skin. Choose sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays. Opt for wraparound or close-fitting sunglasses with wide lenses that protect your eyes from every angle. Keep in mind that the color or degree of darkness of the lenses has nothing to do with their ability to block UV rays.

Need practical advice on diet and exercise? Want creative solutions for stress and other lifestyle issues? Discover more healthy lifestyle topics at mayoclinic.org.

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