The 10 Biggest Health Lessons We Learned in 2016

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Breakthrough health studies don’t come around often, but new research is always being conducted to either confirm or disprove the results of existing ones. It’s almost impossible to maintain a handle on all the information being published and presented, but it is possible to evaluate which research offers us the biggest health lessons.

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A lot of the new research of 2016 reiterated lessons we already knew: Stress impacts health, alcohol in moderation may benefit the heart, consuming omega-3 fatty acids can reduce risk of a heart attack. However, some of what we learned surprising, even startling. The finding that a few hours of physical activity at the gym can’t reverse the negative effects of sitting for hours on end is enough to make you rethink your exercise and eating habits; evidence that a glass of red wine may counteract the short-term negative effects of cigarette smoking might have you reaching for a corkscrew (though if you're still smoking, you probably aren't that concerned with a healthy lifestyle anyway).

These "lessons" are meant to be informative, not taken as gospel. Some of the studies that this information comes from use small sample sizes, animal participants, or short time frames, making the results uncertain, but that’s the beauty of scientific research: If the findings are controversial, another group of researchers might continue to challenge what we think we know into 2017.

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Here are the 10 biggest health lessons we learned in 2016.