You may have seen the numbers: The COVID-19 vaccines have a 95 percent efficacy rate.
But what you may not know is that 95 percent efficacy does not mean that five percent of vaccinated people will still get COVID. According to Live Science, the actual percentage of vaccinated people who still got COVID-19 was a hundred times less than five percent: Just .04 percent. (Pfizer and Moderna trials). This means that the vaccines are highly effective in preventing the worst outcomes of COVID-19.
The 95 percent efficacy rate means that vaccinated people had a 95 percent lower risk of getting COVID-19 symptoms compared with individuals in the control group, who didn’t get vaccinated at all.
As a matter of fact, the vaccines were all 100 percent effective in preventing severe disease (hospitalization and death) within six weeks after the first dose (Moderna) or seven weeks (Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson).
Zero vaccinated people in any trial were hospitalized or died of COVID-19 after the vaccines had fully taken effect.
Every vaccine trial looked at protection from experiencing symptoms, not protection from getting infected at all. Although it is possible that the vaccines also reduce the number of viral particles in the body — which would cut transmission — scientists are not yet sure if vaccinated people can still transmit the virus. That’s why people should still wear masks.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month: Learn to perform a self-check
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a great time to start or continue good skin health habits to protect yourself against skin cancer. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 9,500 people are diagnosed with skin cancer every day. This adds up to at least one in five Americans developing cancer by the age of 70.
Skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the U.S. More Americans are diagnosed with skin cancer each year than all other cancers combined.
Sun protection is a great and easy way to reduce your risk of developing skin cancer. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), everyone should take the following steps to protect themselves from the sun’s damaging rays:
– Seek shade when appropriate. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
– Wear clothing with built-in sun protection, such as long-sleeved shirts, pants, hats, and sunglasses. Look for clothing with a UPF label.
– Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30 or higher, even on cloudy days. Most adults need about an ounce, enough to fill a shot glass. Reapply about every two hours.
– Never use tanning beds.
– Use extra caution near water, snow, and sand.
What to look for
The AAD also encourages regular skin checks. Brigham Health Hub recommends self-skin checks using the ABCDE rule:
A: Asymmetry (the two halves look different).
B: Borders (irregular or poorly defined edges).
C: Color (dark black or multiple colors).
D: Diameter of greater than six millimeters, or about the size of a pencil eraser.
E: Evolving size, shape, or color.
If you see any suspicious spots, talk to your doctor right away. See a dermatologist regularly for preventative skin checks.
Spotlight on red radishes
The crisp white flesh and peppery taste of radishes make them a great addition to salads and sandwiches. Plus, the leaves of this root vegetable can be used as a leafy green much like lettuce and spinach. Although they can be found year-round, red radishes are generally ready to be harvested in the spring.
Radishes pack a punch with their distinct taste, but they’re also loaded with nutrients. In particular, radishes are a good source of vitamin C and other antioxidants that protect your cells from damage. They’re also rich in minerals like calcium and potassium, which help lower blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. Other compounds in radishes can help prevent diabetes. Plus, this vegetable is low in calories and a natural appetite suppressant.
Selecting and storing
For maximum taste, choose radishes that are about the size of ping pong balls. Make sure they’re firm with a smooth, vibrant red exterior. If you buy radishes in bunches, the leaves should be stiff and bright green.
Radishes can be stored for about a week in a perforated plastic bag. Place them in the crisper drawer of the fridge to help prevent them from drying out.
To stock up on these tasty vegetables, visit your local farmer’s market.
5 tips to keep your feet healthy
May is Foot Health Awareness Month, which means it’s an ideal time to focus on making sure your feet look and feel their best. Here are five tips for keeping your feet in great shape.
1. Wear shoes that fit
Investing in comfortable and supportive shoes is a surefire way to maintain good foot health. In particular, wearing shoes that fit properly will help prevent injuries and keep blisters, callouses, and corns at bay. When it comes to footwear, be sure to favor function over fashion.
2. Keep your feet clean and dry
Simply washing your feet every day with warm water and antibacterial soap will help keep them healthy. It’s also a good idea to wear socks that absorb and wick away moisture. This will help stave off bacteria that could cause odors and infections.
3. Trim your toenails properly
Ingrown toenails are the leading cause of foot pain and infection. Avoid trimming your nails too short, always cut them straight across and make sure the edges don’t dig into the sides of your toes.
4. Stay active
Like the rest of your body, your feet benefit from regular exercise. In fact, by simply walking every day, you’ll increase their strength and flexibility, thereby reducing your risk of injuries and other issues.
5. Visit a podiatrist
It’s recommended that you visit a podiatrist once a year. In addition to performing a foot exam, this professional can provide expert advice on how to care for your feet and prevent problems.
Remember, your feet help you get around, so it’s important to take good care of them. If you experience foot pain or have trouble walking, be sure to reach out to a podiatrist or other healthcare provider.
What is restless leg syndrome?
Restless leg syndrome (RLS) is a neurological disorder that affects about five to 10 percent of adults and is particularly prevalent among women. Also known as Willis-Ekbom disease, it’s characterized by a strong urge to move the legs in response to unpleasant sensations in the lower limbs. The frequency and intensity of these sensations, which may include itching, aching and crawling, depending on the person. RLS may also affect other parts of the body such as the arms and head.
Since symptoms typically occur while sitting or lying down in the evening or at night, RLS can interfere with sleep and lead to a number of health problems. Here’s an overview of the condition and what can be done about it.
There’s often no known cause of RLS, but your chances of developing the condition are significantly higher if it runs in your family. If this is the case, symptoms will usually begin in early adulthood, before the age of 40. Additionally, RLS symptoms may temporarily appear or worsen during pregnancy. In certain instances, the condition is associated with other health problems such as an iron deficiency or kidney failure.
In most cases, it’s the description of your symptoms that will allow your doctor to make a diagnosis. However, your physician will likely also review your family history and schedule a blood test to determine if you have an iron deficiency or other abnormality. A polysomnography, which is a type of sleep study, might also be recommended.
There’s no cure for RLS, but there are several treatments that can considerably reduce its symptoms. Medications that increase the amount of dopamine in the brain are often prescribed, as this neurotransmitter helps the nervous system regulate movement.
Additionally, there are various habits you can adopt to help ease RLS. These include maintaining a regular sleep schedule and doing activities that require prolonged sitting early in the day rather than in the evening. When you experience symptoms, you can massage and stretch your legs or apply a heating pad or ice pack to get relief.
If you think you have restless leg syndrome, it’s important to take your symptoms seriously and consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Train your nose
Viruses are notorious for inhibiting the sense of smell, but sometimes the lack of smell becomes chronic. For these people, a hot pizza smells the same as cardboard — or worse.
There are two known smell disorders. Phantosmia causes people to smell things that aren’t there. Parosmia causes people to smell strange or unpleasant odors from ordinary things. According to Harvard’s Men’s Health, you might smell rotten eggs instead of cinnamon.
A 2020 study suggests people can train their noses (or brains) to smell more effectively. The study published in the journal The Laryngoscope found that people can improve their senses of smell and recover from smell disorders by using a sniff kit. The kit has a variety of smells. Participants in the study sniffed the smells twice a day for six months.
You can buy sniff or scent kits online. Most of them start with four scents: rose, lemon, clove, and eucalyptus.
However, if you haven’t been able to smell for a while, see a doctor to rule out other problems.
How to add more protein to your diet
Do you get enough protein? In addition to preserving muscle mass (which can help prevent falls and injuries), protein is crucial for maintaining strong bones, good vision, and a robust immune system. Here are a few ways to incorporate more protein into your diet.
While eggs are a top choice, you can also add protein to your morning meal by mixing pumpkin, sunflower, or ground flax seeds into your cereal. Better yet, swap the milk for Greek yogurt to create a protein-packed breakfast parfait. If you prefer toast, opt for whole-grain bread topped with almond or peanut butter.
Add a side of cottage cheese or top your salad with high-protein ingredients such as chopped nuts, canned tuna, grilled chicken, or a hard-boiled egg. Use hummus as a sandwich spread or, better yet, replace the bread with sliced turkey to create a tasty protein wrap. If you want a hot meal, consider beef stew, lentil soup, or three-bean chili.
Lean beef, chicken breast, and fish are all great options, but why stop there? Choose a high-protein side such as quinoa, wild rice, or millet, and round out your meal with peas, broccoli, brussels sprouts, or another vegetable that’s high in protein. You can also use beans and tofu to create a variety of plant-based protein dishes.
To find out if you should be eating more protein, speak with your family doctor or consult a nutritionist.
If you want an extra boost of protein between meals, consider snacking on:
• Celery sticks and peanut butter
• Cucumber and smoked salmon
• Edamame or roasted chickpeas
• Apple slices and hard cheese
• Chia pudding with blackberries