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The best Valentine's Day present ever and benefits of the backstroke: In health news today

Swimming can be good exercise and beneficial for your back. Some trainers suggest starting with moves like the backstroke.
Swimming can be good exercise and beneficial for your back. Some trainers suggest starting with moves like the backstroke.
Flickr via Sum_of_Marc

Health officials say the flu epidemic seems to be lessening but seniors in particular are still at risk. NBC News reports that so far this season, almost 9,000 people have been hospitalized due to the flu and its complications - with people older than 65 accounting for more than half of that number.

With the weather warming up and bikini season near, the New York Times reports that swimming is good exercise that can also help ease back pain. Working out in a pool can strengthen your back and core muscles, while the buoyancy helps alleviate stress on your joints. Trainers suggest starting with the breastroke or the backstroke since freestyle or butterfly involve more "trunk rotation."

If the liver damage wasn't enough to scare you, a new study shows that even moderate alcohol consumption may substanitally increase your risk of dying from cancer. SFGate.com reports that in 2009, between 18,000 and 21,000 people in the U.S. died of alcohol-related cancers,  including liver and breast cancer. Although the study's authors recognized the possible health benefits of alcohol as well, they said booze causes 10 times as many deaths as it prevents.

A consumer group has filed a petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that asks the agency to require soda makers to reduce the amount of high-fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners in their drinks. The Los Angeles Times reports the Center for Science in the Public Interest submitted the petition because, said their executive director, current levels of high-fructose corn syrup are unsafe for daily consumption. The Center also argues soda sweeteners are largely responsible for high obesity rates and health problems.

The future is now: The FDA has approved the first artificial retina that may help people who were blinded by a rare genetic disorder to see again. The Huffington Post reports this implanted device replaces the function of light-sensing cells in the retina that are destroyed by retinitis pigmentosa. The inherited disease affects about 100,000 people across the country.

And you thought your Valentine's Day present was sweet! The New York Daily News reports that a Missouri woman gave her boyfriend one of her kidneys last week. The couple spent February 14 recovering together at home. Kidney recipient Travis Spire-Sweet, 30, had been living with a partially functioning organ since birth.

Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons via Sum_of_Marc