By Dr. Mehmet Oz
The minute you quit, your body starts working to repair the damage caused by tobacco. Within 48 hours, your senses of smell and taste begin to recover. The next month, you may notice that your cough and shortness of breath are improving. And once you reach the ten-year mark, your risk of death from lung cancer will almost equal the risk of a lifelong nonsmoker.
How to atone: Because ex-smokers will have an increased risk of heart disease for 15 years, I recommend spending 20 to 30 minutes in a sauna once or twice a week. (Most fitness clubs have one.) Several studies have documented the effectiveness of sauna therapy for reducing blood pressure, and breathing the hot air can improve lung function.
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Baking in the Sun
One blistering burn during your childhood or adolescence more than doubles your risk of melanoma. But if caught early, skin cancer is usually treatable.
How to atone: If you notice a mole that looks different from others or that changes, itches, or bleeds, have it checked out. And give your skin a daily boost with a cup of green tea. A 2011 study found that women who drank the tea every day for 12 weeks experienced greater protection from new UV rays.
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Most Americans who lose weight on a diet regain about a third of the pounds within one year. Worse, this yo-yo effect appears to be hard on the cardiovascular system. Research has linked weight cycling to an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.
How to atone: From this point on, commit yourself to slow and steady progress; it's the only healthy way to slim down. A national survey published last year identified several practices helpful for reaching your ideal weight and staying there, including: (1) limit carbohydrates; (2) practice portion control; (3) plan before you go grocery shopping; and (4) read nutrition labels.
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