Tough health questions answered

Is sugar as addictive as cocaine? Does laser hair removal really work? Find the answers to these and more tough health questions

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Q: Will eating protein help me lose weight?

A: Yes. Eating protein while dieting helps preserve lean muscle, which keeps your metabolism from slowing down. Most dieters lose both muscle mass and body fat, and since muscle burns more calories than fat, the result is a slower metabolism. Exercise is key to maintaining muscle, but getting enough protein helps, too. Health Canada recommends eating 46 grams per day.

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Q: Will stretching prevent soreness?

A: No. A review of five scientific studies has found that stretching before or after exercise does not prevent muscle soreness. Rather, soreness indicates that your muscles are getting bigger and stronger. The sore feeling usually occurs about 24 to 48 hours after exercise, so some tenderness in your body after working out is a good thing.

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Q: Can home humidifiers make you sick?

A: Yes. A humidifier can combat dry air to keep your home moist in winter, but if you don’t change the reservoir water, empty the drip pan daily and clean the inside of the tank frequently, bacteria and fungi can grow. And when spewed into your home’s air, they can cause flu-like symptoms
or inflammation of the lungs.

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Q: Does laser hair removal work?

A: Yes. Lasers effectively remove hair, but multiple treatments are required for permanent loss. The process targets melanin-the dark pigment that gives colour to hair and skin. Melanin absorbs the laser energy, and the heat disables the 50 to 85 percent of nearby hair follicles in their active growth phase. The darker the hair, the more light absorbed, and the more zapped follicles. People with fair skin and dark hair get the best results.

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Q: Does wearing briefs lower men’s sperm count?

A: No. For years, researchers have speculated that wearing briefs (which fit more snugly than airier boxers) overheats the scrotum, causing a dramatic drop in sperm count. But while several studies show that semen quality and fertility can be affected by excessive heat from, say, hot tubs, there is actually no evidence to suggest that wearing briefs will render men sterile.

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sugar addictive

Q: Is sugar addictive?

A: Maybe. Some studies have suggested that sweets and addictive drugs cause similar changes in the brain that can lead to dependence. Cocaine, for example, increases levels of dopamine, a brain chemical that seems to play a role in producing sensations of pleasure. A Princeton University study showed that laboratory rats allowed to binge on sugar water also produced large amounts of dopamine. When deprived of sugar, the rats developed withdrawal symptoms such as trembling. But more work is needed to understand whether the same happens in humans.

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