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brain-toxinsIn yet another study about the damaging effects of toxic chemicals on human health, researchers in Canada have found evidence that everyday toxins may be negatively impacting our intelligence, beginning as early as infancy.

Dr. Bruce Lanphear, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, says the accumulation of toxins in the body can directly affect the intelligence quotient (IQ) of developing minds. He and his colleagues point to toxic flame retardants (commonly used in furniture and upholstery) as well as bisphenol A (BPA), lead, organophosphate pesticides and mercury as some of the culprits.

Even in small amounts—as little as a few hundred parts per billion, says Lanphear—such chemicals can impact the early brain development of children and lower IQ by as much as five to nine points. Further, the findings suggest kids with the highest levels of exposure may not reach peak intellectual ability.

The conclusion was reached after looking at more than three decades of data on exposure to toxins found commonly in our environment, many of which have been linked (in previous studies) to physical and mental disabilities in children.

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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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