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Poor CreditBefore you go overboard with the holiday spending, you may want to take a moment to think about your heart. Researchers in New Zealand recently found a link between low credit scores and poor cardiovascular health, saying certain personality traits may be to blame.

Using data from the long-term Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, which tracked the health of 1,000 individuals from birth through age 38, analysts saw a clear connection between certain characteristics—including self-discipline as well as the ability to plan ahead—and both optimal financial health and better overall heart health.

In order to draw their conclusions, the research team used a well-known heart health gauge developed for another decades-long health study known as the Framingham Heart Study. The Cardiovascular Disease Risk Score allowed researchers to measure the “heart age” of participants based on physical health factors (such as blood pressure and cholesterol levels) as well as diet and lifestyle habits.

Although the Dunedin study participants were all nearing 40, their heart ages told a different story, ranging between 22 to 85 years old. Not surprisingly, the younger the heart age, the better the credit score. And finally, while researchers say the personality characteristics connected to higher credit scores are typically established in early childhood, it is never too late to start practicing healthy habits—physically and financially!

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boy-costumeBased on the results of yet another study involving flame retardant chemicals, scientists from the Silent Spring Institute say most Americans are harboring at least a handful of these toxins in their bodies—including one called TDCIPP that was supposedly phased out in the 1970s and one called TCEP that previously hasn’t been seen in Americans.

Study author Robin Dodson and a team of researchers analyzed urine samples from more than a dozen California residents, looking specifically for six “rarely studied” chemicals with a laundry list of health risks including cancer, neurological disorders, and damage to the nervous and reproductive systems. As you might expect, they found evidence of all six substances.

So how are we being exposed to these dangerous chemicals? Possibly just by sitting on the couch or lying in bed, scientists say, since the flame retardants are most often found in the polyurethane foam used to make furniture (along with other textiles, upholstery, carpet and plastics). Further, high amounts of TCEP and TDCIPP in the body were linked to high levels of the chemicals in household dust, pointing to our homes as a primary exposure source.

“When you sit on your couch, you want to relax, not get exposed to chemicals that may cause cancer,” said Dodson in a recent news release. “Some flame retardants have been targeted for phase out, but unfortunately there are others that have largely been under the radar,” she added.

Dodson and her team recommend purchasing furniture made without flame retardant chemicals, as well as vacuuming with a HEPA filter and frequent hand washing (especially before eating) to reduce exposure to the harmful substances.

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