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Smoking, tanning beds, Splenda, oh my! Let’s be honest: we all do things that are all wrong for our bodies. Just how bad are these questionable but common practices? We’re taking a look at popular habits that may compromise your health in the long run.

Cigarettes

questionable health habits

We’ll start with the obvious: it’s no secret that cigarettes aren’t your lungs’ best friends, but just how seriously will a daily smoke (or two or three or four) affect your insides? Put simply, smoking increases one’s risk of death from all causes (that means, stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease, you name it). The good news? After abstaining from a light for two to five years, an ex-smoker’s risk of stroke is halved, and after ten years, an ex-smoker’s risk of lung cancer drops by half. The bad news? It’s not at all easy to break the habit. Choose your unhealthy practices wisely; ditch the cigs and keep the double-stuffed, cake batter-flavored Oreo’s. Even those are safer than tobacco.

Birth Control Pills

questionable health habits

Research on the health effects of oral birth control is far less conclusive than that on cigarette smoking, but some consequences have already been proven. Example A: Remember Yaz, the birth control brand that was sued by some 15,000 users who experienced blood clotting and gallbladder disease as a side effect from the brand’s faulty pill? We do. Yikes.

Perhaps even more disturbing are the unclear long term consequences of ingesting oral contraceptives, which have only been taken regularly for some 65 years. Example B: A recent study found that women on certain kinds of the pill had a higher risk of breast cancer. Don’t freak out, though; these findings don’t require that you trash your little pink packet right away. Here’s why.

Tanning Beds

questionable health habits

Tanning beds may be common (more than one million Americans go to tanning salons everyday), but their effects are not at all questionable. We get that being bronzed makes you feel your best (join the club), but individuals who use tanning beds before the age of 35 increase their risk of melanoma by a whopping 75% (don’t join that club if you can help it). In other words, get addicted to buying Jergens Natural Glow lotion, instead. Fake it.

Sweeteners

questionable health habits

(Image via Conscious Life News)

Whether or not artificial sweeteners are safe remains a topic of debate. There’s no clear-cut answer as to whether it’s healthier to consume real or artificial sugars: both are highly processed and both will affect the body in some less-than-natural ways. Take your pick: would you rather raise your insulin resistance with real sugar or exacerbate gas and diarrhea with fake sugar? The answer, as with almost any potentially-dangerous habit, is moderation. Don’t guzzle life-sized bottles of Sprite and don’t add four packets of Splenda to your coffee every morning. Simple as that.

What questionable health habits do you have?


images via thinkstock unless otherwise noted