fluGIVE FLU THE FINGERS

Hit the massage table now to stay out of the sick bed later. Massages may help you fend off the flu, according to a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. People who received a 45-minute Swedish massage had an 18 percent spike in infection fighting white blood cells. "Deep massage may move white blood cells from a man's lymph nodes into his bloodstream," says study author Mark Rapaport, M.D. Find a certified massage therapist at findamassagetherapist.org.

TOWEL OFF

Hand dryers are full of hot air: Restroom air dryers can leave your hands covered with germs, according to a recent U.K. study. The reason: Air dryers won't budge residual germs that paper towels can slough off. Hot air the only option in the loo? You'll kill the most bugs by holding your hands steady under the dryer for at least 30 seconds.

THYROID THREAT

What do some hot dogs and spinach have in common? Nitrates. In a study in the International Journal of Cancer, men who consumed the most nitrates-often found in leafy vegetables-were more likely to develop thyroid cancer than men who took in the least. One theory: Excess nitrates trigger a hormone thought to promote tumors. Play it safe by eating nitrate-free meats and organic produce, which may contain less of the compounds.

AN EYE OUT FOR TROUBLEeye

How’s your vision? Fine? Have your eyes checked anyway-you could dodge ocular illnesses and other diseases, says Kimberly Cockerham, M.D., an associate professor of ophthalmology at Standford University.

Chronic watery eyes (a) may signal hyperthyroidism; excess thyroid hormone causes orbital tissues to swell and become irritated.
High blood-sugar levels due to diabetes can starve blood vessels of oxygen, causing your eyes to grow new, collateral blood vessels (b).
Over time, untreated high blood pressure can cause narrowing of eye blood vessels and hemorrhaging (c) in the area.
Plaque from a clogged carotid artery (d) can break off and travel into your retinal blood vessels-a warning sign that you’re at risk of a stroke.
A brain tumor is one health threat that can increase pressure in your brain, which puts stress on the optic nerve (e).

ON OUR RADAR

A ticking balm
Your optical pain reliever might have a scary side effect when University of Minnesota researchers slathered mice with a cream containing a known tumor promoter and then one with capsaicin-an ingredient in some muscle rubs-the rodents developed larger, more numerous cancerious lesions than when the tumor promoter alone was applied. While preliminary, the findings raise questions about the safety of capsaicin creams.