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Myths and mistletoe: A holiday health quiz

With Christmas just days away, there's no time for proper meals, so instead you're grazing on sugar cookies and candy canes. No time for the gym, either, so your only exercise is crossing your fingers and hoping you don't wake up Jan. 1 with an extra 10 pounds.

Guess what. You probably won't. Researchers say you're more likely to pile on just a pound or so over the holidays — but you'll probably never lose it.

Let's dispel a few other holiday health myths with our quiz:

1. Your only option for lunch is a quick sandwich from the mall's food court. What's the better choice?

A. Ham on rye with mustard and lettuce

B. Turkey on a croissant with swiss

C. Roast beef on a hoagie roll with cheddar and mayo

D. Doesn't matter, they're all about the same.

Answer: A. With 2-3 ounces of ham, it has about 300 calories versus more than 500 for the turkey (blame the croissant and cheese) and 600 for the roast beef and cheddar. By the way, deli turkey, ham and roast beef all have about 30 to 40 calories per ounce.

2. Name the most likely of health problems to send people to the hospital emergency room during the holidays?

A. A dislocated hip

B. Skipping prescription medication

C. Allergies

D. Flu symptoms

Answer: B. People get distracted and forget their meds, or they want to avoid bothersome side effects while traveling or partying.

3. Speaking of the flu, who needs a flu shot?

A. Only people who have chronic illnesses

B. Only the elderly

C. Only students who live in dorms

D. Only those who are 6 months of age and older

Answer: D. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, everyone needs an annual flu vaccine except for young babies — and those with a severe egg allergy, as the vaccine is made using egg protein.

4. How long does it take the flu vaccine to be protective?

A. Two hours

B. Two days

C. Two weeks

D. Two months

Answer: C. It takes two weeks after inoculation, so don't wait for everyone around you to get sick to get the vaccine.

5. How long can you safely leave your holiday ham, turkey and deviled eggs on the buffet table at room temperature?

A. Half an hour

B. One hour

C. Two hours

D. Indefinitely; they're fully cooked.

Answer: C. After two hours at room temperature, organisms that can cause food poisoning start to grow.

6. True or False? If your dog eats a leaf from the poinsettia plant, it could kill him.

False. Poinsettias, holly and mistletoe aren't as toxic as many people think. They might cause vomiting and diarrhea, but are not likely to be life-threatening. The exception, according to Tampa veterinarian Stuart Rosenburg, is when small dogs vomit so much they become dehydrated, warranting immediate medical attention. Check out

7. What's one of the most effective things you can do to prevent illness?

A. Leave town for a colder climate

B. Cover your mouth with your hand when you cough

C. Drink eight glasses of water a day

D. Wash your hands frequently

Answer: D. Wash with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds, or as long as it takes to sing Happy Birthday. Covering your cough is also important, but use a tissue or cough into your sleeve, not your bare hand.

8. True or false: If your kids are really hyper, it's because they've been dipping into the cookies and candy — again.

False. While there are many reasons to limit sugar (tooth decay and obesity among them), authors of an analysis published in the British Medical Journal say there is no link between sugar and hyperactivity. The kids probably are just excited to see Santa.

9. True or False: After two or three beers, if I don't feel drunk, I'm safe to drive.

Answer: False. After two beers, you probably aren't legally drunk, but you've had enough for your judgment to be impaired, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. After three beers, coordination, ability to track moving objects and steering all are impaired.

10. True or false: Holidays are dangerous times for people who are depressed, because the rate of suicide always goes up.

Answer: False. Several studies have shown that suicides actually decline during holidays, perhaps because there's more family around to help offer support. But traffic- and alcohol-related deaths go up at holiday time, so be careful out there.

Myths and mistletoe: A holiday health quiz 12/21/11 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 9:30pm]
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