Reader’s Digest Health Report: December 2016

We’ve rounded up the four best medical discoveries from around the world for December.

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Fruits and vegetables
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1. Fruits and Veggies Boost Happiness

A recent study of more than 12,000 Australians revealed that the benefits of a produce-rich diet extend beyond physical health. With every added daily portion of fruit or vegetables (up to eight), the subjects’ happiness levels rose slightly. The researchers’ conclusion: if someone were to switch from a diet free of fruit and veg to eight servings per day, he or she would theoretically gain as much life satisfaction as someone who transitioned from unemployment to a job. The exact reason is unclear, though it may be related to the effect of carotenoid levels in the blood.

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Elderly couple
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2. Long-Lived Seniors Tend to Be Healthier

Longevity doesn’t usually mean more years with disease or disability, according to a 2016 analysis from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. By comparing Americans, Europeans and Australasians aged 95-plus to younger seniors, researchers found that serious conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis were hitting long-lived men and women later in life. Compared to people who died before reaching 95, those with very long lifespans often endured a shorter period of illness leading up to death.

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Man drinking coffee
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3. Coffee Doesn’t Promote Cancer (Unless It’s Too Hot)

Good news for fans of coffee: it was stripped of its “possibly carcinogenic” classification during a recent meeting of the International Agency for Research on Cancer. However, the agency did warn against any beverage that is served at a temperature higher than 65 C. Scalding hot liquids can conjure cells in the esophagus, contributing to esophageal cancer in the future. Meanwhile, coffee served at a moderate temperature appears to provide a mild protective effect against cancer in the uterine lining and the liver.

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Woman working out
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4. Lighter Weights as Effective as Heavy Ones

When it comes to building muscle, lifting light objects many times works just as well as lifting heavier ones fewer times, concluded a Canadian study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. With either method, the key is to work with the muscles until they’re fatigued, which is a sign of activated fibres. The study’s participants were young men, but its findings had implications for everyone, particularly those intimidated by massive weights.

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