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Health Beat: 8 vices to avoid for your health

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Jul 04 2013 11:24:01 AM CDT
Updated On: Jul 04 2013 04:39:03 PM CDT

You probably know not to smoke, not to tan, and not to eat fattening foods, but other seemingly harmless vices can be ruining your health.

ATLANTA, Ga. -

You probably know not to smoke, not to tan, and not to eat fattening foods, but other seemingly harmless vices can be ruining your health.

First on our list: Nail-biting. When you chew, bacteria under your nails can enter your mouth. 

"The biggest problem is infection," said Dr. Sharon Bergquist, assistant professor of medicine at the Emory University School of Medicine.

Next up: Wearing contacts too long. As many as 67 percent of people do it, but not changing your lenses can damage your cornea.

"You can also change the shape of your cornea, and that will start distorting your vision," Bergquist explained.

Bad habit number three: Rubbing your eyes. Doing it too much can thin out the cornea.

Loud music is a vice enjoyed by many, but it can be dangerous. Twenty percent of rock musicians have permanent hearing loss.

Wearing high heels all the time can cause bunions, hammer toe, varicose veins, and more. 

"The inner part of your knee gets a little more wear and tear, and you can get premature arthritis in your knee," Bergquist said.

Another vice to avoid: Eating too fast. It takes the brain about 20 minutes to recognize the stomach is full, so it's easy to overeat.

Bad habit number seven: Skimping on sleep. Getting less than six hours a night can double the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Our final vice to avoid, and maybe the most dangerous: Constant sitting. Women who sit more than six hours a day have a 37 percent higher death rate than those who sit less than three.

Whatever your weakness, remember that moderation is key. 

"Any vice can be dangerous if you overdo it," Bergquist explained.

Here’s some good news: You can make up for some past mistakes. If you give up smoking, within 10 years your risk of death from lung cancer is almost equal to that of a nonsmoker.

If you baked in the sun as a teen, stopping now can reduce your risk of cancer. You can also give your skin a daily boost with a cup of green tea. A recent study found women who drank it every day for 12 weeks had greater protection from UV rays.

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