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Reader’s Digest Health Report: October 2017

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

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DIY Home Massages Boost WellnessPhoto: Shutterstock

Health Report: Home Massages Boost Wellness

Some things are best left to the pros, but the DIY version of a relaxation massage works well, according to a study from Northumbria University in the U.K. Healthy but frazzled couples took a three-week course to learn a handful of simple massage techniques. Their perceived stress levels diminished, both during the training and afterwards, as they used their new skills. What’s more, both the partner who received the massage and the one who provided it got a wellness boost across eight domains, including energy, pain and mood.

Plus: The Scary Things That Happen to Your Brain When You’re Stressed

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Spice Your Meat to Block CarcinogensPhoto: Shutterstock

Health Report: Spice Your Meat to Block Carcinogens

Cooking meat at high temperatures—grilling or broiling, in other words—creates carcinogenic compounds called heterocyclic amines (HCAs). The good news for barbecue lovers is that certain seasonings can prevent HCAs from forming. A Kansas State University experiment showed that a gram of black pepper almost totally inhibits the HCAs on 100 grams of ground beef by binding with the free radicals involved in their formation. Piling on antioxidant herbs and spices works equally well, the most effective ones hailing from the mint (rosemary, thyme and oregano, for example) and myrtle (cloves and allspice) families.

Plus: 20 Antioxidant-Rich Fruits and Vegetables You Should Be Eating

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There are upsides to worryingPhoto: Shutterstock

Health Report: There Are Upsides to Worrying

Fretting can be hard on the mind and body, but sometimes it does more good than harm, says a recent report out of the University of California. First, worrywarts are more likely to take preventive health and safety steps such as wearing seat belts or using sunscreen. A bit of anxiety also makes you brace for the worst, which means you’ll be emotionally ready for a bad outcome and relieved if there’s a good one. In short, a surplus of concern is paralyzing, but a bit from time to time is nothing to worry about.

Plus: Why Worrying Might Actually Be Good for You

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Oral Steroids Carry RisksPhoto: Shutterstock

Health Report: Short-Term Oral Steroids Carry Risks

Corticosteroids are powerful anti-­inflammatory drugs that mimic hormones. They are prescribed sparingly for the long term because of complications such as blood clots and osteoporosis. However, they are still commonly used as a short-term measure against problems such as respiratory-tract infections and allergies. A cohort study of 1.5 million people in the U.S. found that within the first 30 days following a short prescription, corticosteroid pills more than tripled the risk of blood clots and multiplied the risk of sepsis by five. The researchers acknowledged that oral steroids can be very helpful but urged people not to take a higher dose than needed.

Plus: 10 Things Not to Do This Flu Season

Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada