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Sheryl Kraft

Sheryl Kraft, a freelance writer and breast cancer survivor, was born in Long Beach, New York. She currently lives in Connecticut with her husband Alan and dog Chloe, where her nest is empty of her two sons Jonathan. Sheryl writes articles and essays on breast cancer and contributes to a variety of publications and websites where she writes on general health and wellness issues. She earned her MFA in writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

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Catching Up on Your Health: Three Important Stories

My inbox is constantly full of all sorts of breaking and unique news on health, fitness, nutrition and other matters of the body. I used to feel compelled to read each one, feverishly running through e-mails at night, after my work was done. (But that is still work, isn't it?)

But it's impossible to get through them all. On most days the number of e-mails easily climbs into the triple digits. Besides, the light from the computer screen and all the mental stimulation that followed began to interfere with my sleep rhythms, not to mention hubby's ire at being constantly ignored and my "um-hums" to all his statements getting tiresome. As much as I insist that I can easily multitask, I can't.

So I've been forced to hit the "delete" key a bit more than I'd like.

But once in awhile there are stories that are just too good to pass up—news items that catch my attention and stick with me. For all of you who are equally overwhelmed with trying to keep up with everything (or if you are in need of cocktail-party banter), I am happy to share some interesting health goodies:

Does Height Increase Your Cancer Risk?

British researchers say that the taller among us might be more susceptible to certain types of cancer, among them breast, ovarian, uterine, bowel, leukemia or melanoma. For every four inches, the risk appears to go up about 16 percent. The link was seen to affect men and women equally. The data used in the research comes from a British study called the Million Women Study, which was conducted between 1996 and 2001. Close to 1.3 million middle-aged women who were enrolled in this study received routine breast-screening exams and filled out a simple questionnaire including their height and weight. Women were divided into six categories of height, from less than 5 feet 1 inch to 5 feet 9 and taller.

The taller women were found to be significantly more likely to develop most cancers. And when the researchers looked at other studies from other areas of the world that were done before this one, they found the same connection between height and cancer.

Obviously, we can't change our height. A spokesperson for the American Cancer Society says that this does not mean tall people should get additional cancer screening, nor should the more statuesque among us panic. Some possibilities for the connection could be the higher levels of growth-related hormones coursing through the body and other factors that influence height such as childhood diet, health, genes and hormone levels, say the study's authors.
You might want to read: 10 Easy Ways to Fight Cancer With Nutrition

Can Optimism Lower Your Stroke Risk?

Major risk factors—like smoking, high cholesterol and high blood pressure—are all culprits in raising your stroke risk. But did you ever consider pessimism to be one of them?

Researchers studied data from the Health and Retirement Study (a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults aged 50 and older) and looked at standard optimism tests for over 6,000 men and women who were all stroke-free when the study began. At the end of the two-year follow-up period, 88 people suffered strokes. What researchers found, when they studied the self-reported health questionnaire and adjusted it for age and other health factors, was that with each increase in optimism score came a decrease in stroke risk.

Restaurant Calorie Counts May Not Be All That Accurate

I for one was happy when restaurants starting adding calorie counts to their menus or websites. For me, it's like a trusted friend whispering in my ear, "Do you really want to eat that?"—even though research suggests that most people don't eat less despite these explicit warnings. Taste, price and location were all more important in their choice of what to put in their mouths.

But even if you're one who pays attention to the numbers and is grateful for their existence, beware: nutrition researchers at Tufts University found that about one out of five restaurant dishes are misrepresented, underestimating the calorie counts by at least 100 calories. Among the culprits were Outback Steakhouse, Boston Market and Olive Garden.

On average the counts were accurate; but 19 percent of the foods the Tufts' lab tested were misrepresented by at least 100 calories. One even had 1,000 more calories than it was listed as containing.

Here's one specific example found by the lab at Tufts: Chipotle's burrito bowl. This dish with rice, black beans, peppers, onions, lettuce, green tomatillo salsa and cheese had 249 more calories than was stated on the restaurant's website.

No wonder so many people, despite their vigilance when it comes to dining out, are putting on weight. Unfortunately, you can't believe everything you read. All those extra—and unknown—calories do add up.

Hungry for more reading? The Best of the Worst Foods You Don't Want to Eat

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