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Smoking is arguably the single most important preventive measure you can take to ensure good health.

Smoking is arguably the single most important preventive measure you can take to ensure good health.

Think otherwise? Consider this stat: People who consistently smoked an average of less than one cigarette per day over their lifetime had a 64 percent higher risk of earlier death than people who never smoked, according to new research from the National Cancer Institute.

People who smoked between one and 10 cigarettes a day had an 87 percent higher risk of earlier death than "never smokers."

The greater risk primarily focused on succumbing to respiratory diseases, such as emphysema and cardiovascular disease. It's not for nothing that cigarettes are colloquially known as "coffin nails."

Biology 101

American high school seniors continue to score poorly in National Assessment of Educational Progress testing on knowledge of biology, around 150 points, which is just slightly above "basic." Proficient is 179; advanced is 222.

How well do you know your biology? Here's a sample question:

Albinism, or the lack of pigment in the skin, is a recessive trait. A heterozygous female marries a man with albinism. What is the probability of having a child with albinism?

a) 25 percent

b) 50 percent

c) 75 percent

d) 100 percent

Answer: b.

Body of knowledge

One-quarter of the 206 bones in the human body are located in the feet.

Life in Big Macs

One hour of building a fire inside (like in a fireplace) burns 170 calories, (based on a 150-pound person) or the equivalent of 0.2 Big Macs. It also burns a lot of logs.

Counts

63: Percentage of doctors surveyed who said the Zika virus was the biggest medical news story of 2016. (The Cancer Moonshot program came in second at just 11 percent.)

Source: Medscape

Doc talk

Cerumen: earwax

Phobia of the week

Chorophobia: fear of dancing

Never say diet

The Major League Eating record for jellied cranberry sauce is 13.23 pounds in eight minutes, held by Juliet Lee. Before the feat, skeptics doubted Lee could break the record. Oh yes I cran, she declared. (It's berry hard to avoid these puns.)

Best medicine

On an airplane flight, a woman asks the passenger in the adjacent seat: "What kind of work do you do?"

The man replies, "I'm a naval surgeon."

"My word!" exclaims the woman, "How you doctors specialize these days."

Observation

"I did not become a vegetarian for my health, I did it for the health of the chickens."

— Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991), Polish author and Nobel laureate

Self-exam

Q: How many types of color receptors does the human eye have?

A: We all know about rods and cones, the two types of cells in the human eye that help translate incoming light into signals the brain can translate as vision. Rods detect light and dark; cones detect color. There are three types of cone cell: S, M and L. Each is sensitive to a different light wavelength, and thus range of color.

Last words

"I'm going away tonight."

— American singer James Brown (1933-2006) Brown's last words were recorded by his longtime friend and manager Charles Bobbit, who said he uttered them, took three breaths, closed his eyes and died.

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