In today's health news:
Salt may be turning your body against you by wreaking havoc in your immune system, suggests a new study. The BBC said researchers found that a diet that goes heavy on the salt may activate a component of the immune system that targets the body, which in the worst cases, could result in conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes.
$245 billion: That's how much diabetes cost the U.S. in 2012, setting a record and marking a 41-percent increase from 2007. USA Today notes that the "per-patient cost" of the disease hasn't risen – it's the number of people who have it that's spiked. An estimated 22.3 million people were diagnosed with diabetes in 2012, compared to 17.5 million in 2007.
The rate of violent deaths in states with restrictive gun laws was significantly lower than it was in states with less rigorous regulation. The study, according to the Los Angeles Times, found that in the most restrictive states, there was an average of one fewer gun death for every 250,000 people. But in an accompanying commentary published in the same journal, critics wrote that the study treats all gun laws as if they have equal impact, among other flaws, which means their findings can provide "no firm guidance" to policymaking.
ABCNews.com says that colon cancer – also known as colorectal cancer – is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., and so has some tips on prevention and how folks over 50 can psyche themselves up for that dreaded colonoscopy. (Hint: ABC says the procedure itself is not that bad, because you're under anesthesia.)
Short bouts of exercise may boost "higher brain functions" – that means memory, concentration, planning and decision-making. That's according to a new study appearing in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, which says its findings may be attributable to the increased blood and oxygen that physical activity sends to the pre-frontal cortex. The results held for all three age groups of the study: 6- to 12-year-olds, 13- to 17-year olds and 18- to 35-year-olds.
The health insurance provider Blue Shield of California is being criticized for its rate hikes, which California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones calls "unreasonable." KPCC reports that some of those rates were raised by as much as 19.9 percent; Blue Shield, for its part, says the rate increases are reasonable and necessary to keep up with the rising costs of health care.
If you like processed meat – hot dogs, sausages – you won't like the findings of a new study: HealthDay says researchers found that eating too much of the stuff can take years off your life. More specifically, people who ate a lot of processed meat raised their risk of dying early by 44 percent. Some potential reasons: Processed meat has a lot of cholesterol and saturated fat, and may potentially contain carcinogens – compounds that can cause cancer.
And finally, check your tuna: The Huffington Post reports that Bumble Bee has issued a voluntary recall of some of its five-ounce cans of tuna, because the seal may not be tight enough which could cause spoilage. The offending cans have "best by" dates between Jan. 16, 2016 and Jan. 18, 2016. People who think they've bought a bad can get their money back by contacting Bumble Bee – and throw the recalled stuff away.
Photo by jules via Flickr Creative Commons.