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Just one drink a day can increase your risk of cancer, study warns

Do you enjoy the occasional cocktail? Beware, because even moderate consumption of alcohol can increase your risk of cancer, according to a new report

>> On AJC.com: Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

Researchers from the American Society of Clinical Oncology recently conducted an experiment, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, to determine the link between drinking and the disease. 

To do so, they looked at several studies that found a strong correlation between alcohol and cancer.

After gathering all the data, they concluded that about 3.5 percent of all cancer-related deaths were due to alcohol consumption. 

Furthermore, in 2012, they discovered approximately 5.5 percent of all new cancer occurrences and 5.8 percent of all cancer deaths worldwide were attributable to drinking alcohol.

"The importance of alcohol drinking as a contributing factor to the overall cancer burden is often underappreciated," the organization said in a statement. "Associations between alcohol drinking and cancer risk have been observed consistently regardless of the specific type of alcoholic beverages."

>> On AJC.com: 7 surprising things that can increase your risk of cancer

While researchers did note the greatest risk was among those with heavy and long-term use and those who also smoked cigarettes, moderate drinking is risky, too. Scientists described moderate as up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.

This was particularly the case with oropharyngeal – cancer affecting the throat – and breast cancer.

“A meta-analysis that focused solely on cancer risks associated with drinking one drink or fewer per day observed that this level of alcohol consumption was still associated with some elevated risk for ... oropharyngeal cancer and breast cancer,” the authors wrote. 

>> Read more trending news

But researchers aren’t suggesting you get rid of your booze altogether. They want individuals to recognize “that excessive alcohol use can delay or negatively impact cancer treatment and that reducing high-risk alcohol consumption is cancer prevention,” they wrote. 

To prevent high-risk alcohol consumption, researchers believe lawmakers and health care providers should implement specific strategies and policies.

Some suggestions include limiting youth exposure to advertising of alcoholic beverages and increasing alcohol prices and taxes. 

Scientists also hope to conduct more research.

>> On AJC.com: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells, study says

“Systems-based research,” the report said, “including research into successful means for the oncology community to identify patients who are currently using alcohol or who may be at high risk for alcohol relapse, will be critical.”

Thanksgiving 2017: Best ways to show gratitude

As you prepare for the holiday season, maybe you’ve been wondering about the best ways to give thanks on Thanksgiving. Well wonder no more.There are alternative ways to spend Thanksgiving that will embrace the true spirit of the holiday. From volunteering your time, to including others in your celebration and other creative ideas, there are plenty to give back and show your appreciation for others this time of year.Take a look at some of the best ways to give thanks on Thanksgiving. 1. Volunteer to help make the holiday brighter for someone less fortunateIt’s been said that giving is better than receiving, and volunteering your time on Thanksgiving Day is a good way to reap the benefits of the old adage.From soup kitchens and food pantries to churches and Meals on Wheels, serving or delivering food to less fortunate families is a great way to spend a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. The time commitment may be minimal but it’s far outweighed by the benefits. 2. Extend an invitation to someone who would welcome the companyIt’s never fun to be alone on the holidays. Whether widowed or single, orphaned or separated from family by geography, the prospect of celebrating a holiday by yourself is never fun.Consider giving someone a much-needed respite from a solo holiday by extending an invitation for lunch or dinner. It may be a small gesture, but it could mean a world of difference to the invitee! 3. Make an extra meal to share this Thanksgiving seasonThe demands of the season can put a strain on households on a tight budget. This year when you’re planning your Thanksgiving feast, make a second one to share with a family who may may not be able to provide one for themselves. By fostering the festive spirit of thankfulness through a meal, you can brighten the holidays for others. 4. Make a donationA component of thankfulness is sharing with others, and donations are an excellent way to achieve this. What’s more: it’s not just money that organizations are looking for. Donating gently used home goods and clothes to your favorite charity is just as important as cash donations. 5. Visit a nursing home or hospitalPatients in nursing homes or hospitals often face holidays alone in a situation that is trying at best. This Thanksgiving, take an hour or two and go put a smile on the faces of patients who are alone for the holiday. A kind or caring word, a sincere hug and a few quiet moments of conversation could be the difference for a patient between a lonely day and a feeling of warmth and goodwill. 6. Break out the craftsPrepare to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness among the youngest members of your family this holiday. Set aside time to teach them even the simplest of Thanksgiving crafts like Pilgrim hats, cardboard napkin rings, turkey hands and pinecone placements. The children will be thankful for the art instruction, but they’ll be even more thankful for the quality time. 7. Help guests express their thankfulnessIf you’re planning to host a crowd this holiday, allowing the guests to share their gratitude is a great way to give thanks on Thanksgiving.A great way to encourage guests to really think about what matters most to them is to offer them cards on which to write the things for which they are most thankful.Another way to get the thankful juices flowing is to create a Thanksgiving tree as a centerpiece for your holiday. Use cardboard or construction paper leaves in varying colors and encourage friends and family to take a leaf or two on which to write their thanks and wishes. By the time the day is over, the branches will be full of thanks and your guests will be encouraged to keep sharing. 8. Share your favorite memoriesAdd another level to your thankfulness by asking family and friends to share favorite holiday memories and stories. By remembering the past in a warm way and vocalizing the things that have meant the most, you and your family will find your way to a deeper state of gratitude. 9. Take all of the gratitude, and find a way to make a differenceAfter a day of sharing, use the memories and thanks as a starting point to help others. Be it family time or possessions, relationships or momentous occasions, use the items listed throughout the day to find creative ways to make a difference to others.

Too much Christmas music is bad for your health, psychologists say

The holiday season is upon us and that probably means the icicle lights are going up at your local hangouts, your neighbors are starting to set up the decor in their front yards and, of course, Christmas music is likely on a continuous loop everywhere you go — or it will be soon.

» RELATED: Debate settled: This is the right time to put up your Christmas tree

If you’re not all that excited about the last bit, you’re not alone.

In fact, according to some mental health experts, hearing Christmas music can be psychologically draining, especially for those working in retail who have to listen to holiday tunes blasting in their stores regularly. 

» RELATED: 9-year-old battling cancer to celebrate Christmas early this year

“People working in shops at Christmas have to learn how to tune it out -- tune out Christmas music -- because if they don’t, it really does make you unable to focus on anything else,” Linda Blair, a clinical psychologist in the United Kingdom, told Sky News. “You’re simply spending all your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing.”

» RELATED: 7 tips on doing Christmas dinner on a budget

Music tends to bypass rationality and go straight for our emotions, Blair said. "It might make us feel that we're trapped. It's a reminder that we have to buy presents, cater for people, organize celebrations.”

>> Read more trending news

While previous research has shown that adding Christmas music or scents to the shopping experience yields a positive experience for shoppers, it could also lead to impulse buys, due to the music’s emotional influence, Blair said.

» RELATED: Are the holidays the most miserable time of year?

The United Kingdom’s Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers also told Sky News it “ask(s) employers to consider the staff who have to listen to Christmas music all day, because playing the same songs repeatedly can become very irritating and distracting.”

» RELATED: President Trump says you'll be hearing 'Merry Christmas' a lot more this year

Increased stress during the holidays is also a major trend in the U.S., according to the American Psychiatric Association.

Some common holiday stressors could include financial demands of the season, dealing with the interpersonal dynamics of family and maintaining personal health habits, including an exercise regimen, a 2015 Healthline study on consumer health found.

» RELATED: 12 expert-approved tips to avoid holiday weight gain

Ellen Braaten, a psychology professor at Massachusetts General Hospital, shared some tips in a Harvard Medical School report on holiday stress and the brain:

“People who feel stressed during the holidays should evaluate how they spend their time, decide what they want the holidays to mean to them, and keep their expectations for the season realistic.”

“The holidays are just another time of year,” Braaten said, “certainly something to mark, but not the end-all, be-all.”

Read more about holiday stress and the brain at neuro.hms.harvard.edu.

7 things to know about The National Dog Show

The National Dog Show, one of the most anticipated dog shows in the nation, returns Nov. 18 and 19 in Philadelphia. Since 2002, television viewing of the National Dog Show has been a Thanksgiving tradition in homes across the nation. Presented by Purina and hosted by the Kennel Club of Philadelphia, the show features more than 150 American Kennel Club-sanctioned breeds and varieties competing for Best of Breed, First in Group and the top-dog spot: Best in Show. Here’s what you need to know about the show that celebrates man’s best friend. 1. You don’t have to go to Philadelphia to catch the show. There’s no need to book a trip to The National Dog Show: NBC’s top-rated broadcast of the show airs at noon Thanksgiving Day, immediately following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The two-hour show features hosts John O’Hurley, Mary Carillo and David Frei and regularly reaches nearly 20 million dog-lovers in the comfort of their homes. 2. The show has been airing since 2002, but it’s been around for much longer than that. The Kennel Club of Philadelphia Dog Show has been in existence since 1879 with minimal interruptions. When NBC Sports began airing the show in 2002, it was rebranded as The National Dog Show.  The show is one of only three major dog shows in the nation, ranked along with the AKC National Championship and the Westminster Dog Show3. There are seven groups of dogs. There may be more than 2,000 dogs entered in the show, but when the coveted Best in Show competition takes place, you’ll only see seven dogs. These canines are the best of the best, representing seven groups and the characteristics and functions for which the breeds were originally intended: the Terrier Group, the Toy Group, the Working Group, the Sporting Group, the Hound Group, the Non-Sporting Group and the Herding Group. 4. There’s no new breed this year, but you can catch a glimpse of 2018’s new sanctioned breed during the show. For the first time since 2006, no new breed has been added to The National Dog Show competition. But viewers don’t have to wait to find out if 2018 holds the same fate: the newly sanctioned bred for next year’s competition - the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje - will be a participant in the Miscellaneous Class at this year’s show. A spaniel-type dog of Dutch descent, the Nederlandse Kooikerhondje will join the Working Group in 2018. 5. It’s a benched show, and that’s kind of a big deal. An untrained dog-show enthusiast may be wondering why a benched distinction makes a difference. Participating dogs are required to stay on assigned benches when not in competition, an awesome feat of discipline and character.  The benching makes the canine competitors accessible to all on site and allows for interaction and provides an easy way to ask questions and share information. 

The National Dog Show is one of the oldest and few remaining benched shows in the United States.  6. The judges are picky, and rightly so.Over the course of the show, judges will have seen hundreds of dogs. But what exactly are these discerning individuals looking to find? The questions are tough: Is the dog able to perform the job the breed was originally bred to do? Does the dog have all of the physical characteristics typical of their breed? How fit is the dog? Does the dog have the correct gait?  But wait, there’s more: Judges are also looking for happy dogs that enjoy the competition so each dog’s expression and general demeanor receives extra scrutiny. 7. Those long names may sound excessive, but there’s a good reason for them. Gia, a greyhound, was 2016’s Best in Show, but her proper name is GCHS CH Grandcru Giaconda CGC. While it may seem a little crazy, there’s a method to the madness of the competitor naming. 

That long and hard-to-read name reads like a history lesson on the dog’s life. Components of the dog’s name can be pulled from many different places: the name of the kennel where the dog was born, notations about the dog’s qualifications or prizes and a part of the name that’s specific to the dog.

Thanksgiving 2017: Most popular desserts

Thanksgiving is about family, gratitude, togetherness, gathering and of course, turkey. It’s about all the fixings, too: macaroni and cheese, green bean casserole, gravy, mashed potatoes.  And don’t forget about those tasty leftovers. For those with a sweet tooth, Thanksgiving wouldn’t be the same without its traditional desserts. 

From the traditional pumpkin pie to the more modern pumpkin cheesecake making appearances on holiday tables, here is a rundown of some of the most popular Thanksgiving desserts.

Pumpkin pie

Perhaps the most popular Thanksgiving dessert, pumpkin pie is an easy favorite. Traditionally, pumpkin, either freshly roasted and pureed or canned, is mixed with a spice blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and mace. A flaky, buttery crust is often pre-baked, then pie filling, typically mixed with eggs, milk and butter, is poured into the crust and baked until it is browned and set. For a variation, butternut squash can be used in lieu of pumpkin pie filling.

Sweet potato pie

With sweet potato pie, the same pumpkin pie spice blend of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, cloves and mace is used along with the pre-baked crust. Some additions to the filling can add more dimension to this dessert: orange zest, fresh grated ginger and brown sugar being examples. Use organic garnet yams or any other organic variety for the best flavor of sweet potatoes. Also, roast the potatoes versus boiling or microwaving.

Pecan pie

Pecan pie isn’t for the faint at heart and for those who are novices to all things sweet. You’ll only need a sliver of this pie, concocted of pecans, corn syrup or molasses, eggs, sugar, vanilla and butter. For the ultimate pecan pie experience, serve with a heaping scoop of ice cream on top. One popular variety of pecan pie is a chocolate one, where dark chocolate is added into the mix with the pecan filling. Also, pecan pie can be made into bite-sized pieces to enjoy as pecan pie bars or squares. For this version, the pie is baked in a sheet pan and cut into small squares.

Apple pie

An all-American favorite, apple pie is a popular Thanksgiving dessert choice. To prepare an apple pie, cut, peel and cook apples on top of the stove. Mix with spices, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and a little vanilla. A few varieties of apple pie include the lattice pie crust, featuring crisscrosses of dough across the pie and Dutch apple pie, with crumbs as the pie topping.

Pumpkin cheesecake

Pumpkin cheesecake is a seasonal spin on a beloved dessert and a perfect item to add to the Thanksgiving dessert melange. There are two approaches to this dessert: mixing in the pumpkin with the cream cheese, eggs and sugar to bake in a browned graham cracker crust or create one layer of pumpkin pie over one layer of cheesecake. Swirls of the pumpkin in the cheesecake can be added for artistic flair.

Cranberry pie

Cranberries are more than the sauce to go with a heaping serving of turkey and stuffing. They can play a starring role in a season-friendly dessert. When cranberries are cooked, they impart a tangy, slight bitterness to taste, making it a perfect companion to a buttery crust or even a spongy, fluffy cakelike batter as a variation. To prepare this pie, start with fresh or frozen cranberries that have been defrosted in a food processor. Pulse to chop and combine the cranberries with sugar, walnuts, cornstarch, orange zest, salt and nutmeg to a desired consistency, then pour mixture into crust and bake.

Pumpkin roll

A creamy and simple dessert option, the pumpkin roll is a classy version of the well-known cake roll and a popular Thanksgiving dessert. For traditional pumpkin rolls, a pumpkin spice cake is baked in a jelly roll pan, cooled, and then a cream cheese filling is added to the interior of the cake before rolling up and sprinkling the outside with powdered sugar.

Egg custard pie

Simplicity is the name of the game with this custard dessert. Milk is combined with eggs, sugar, milk, vanilla or nutmeg then baked in a pie crust. And ta-da. That’s it. Simple, indulgent and good.

Thanksgiving 2017: Alternative ways to spend the holiday

For many Americans, Thanksgiving is steeped in family traditions, but for those seeking alternative ways to spend Thanksgiving, there are plenty of options. Here are ideas for a nontraditional Thanksgiving that are creative, fun and sure to create fond memories for years to come.

Volunteering

One way to spend Thanksgiving is giving back to others. Pick either the early morning of Thanksgiving, the afternoon, the evening when most everyone will be napping from eating or the entire day to help out in a local food pantry, volunteer at a shelter where they are feeding the homeless/less fortunate or create your own way of giving back that fits local community needs. For help on figuring out where you can be of help, visit VolunteerMatch.

Getting out of town

Switch things up this year and get out of town for Thanksgiving. Spend Thanksgiving week relaxing beachside with a drink, exploring a city through its food in restaurants and eats from the street or immersing yourself in cultural or local traditions. Book early as you can to avoid higher flight prices and hotel rates. Get creative with leaving and returning dates. For instance, it’s likely to be cheaper to leave for a Thanksgiving trip on the day of and return a week later rather than the following Sunday, when a lot of other travelers will be doing the same.

Friendsgiving

A buzzword in recent years, Friendsgiving is intended to be an addition to family traditions and not a replacement. Plan a Friendsgiving Thanksgiving dinner, lunch or brunch the weekend before the holiday and assign friends to bring different dishes to lessen the load of hosting. Create a signature drink for the event and leave a portion of Friendsgiving for games and revelry.

Cocktail party

Snazz it up and turn Thanksgiving into a fancy affair with a cocktail twist. Hire a bartender to curate a Thanksgiving-esque selection of drinks featuring cranberries and spiced liqueurs, for example. Create a fun invitation that spells out the dress code.

Potluck dinner

Instead of being overwhelmed with all the moving parts inherent in pulling off a Thanksgiving dinner, opt to ask guests to bring a different dish. Delegate all you need and separate it into categories: meats, side dishes, desserts, drinks. Assign guests on what to bring based on their strengths.

Themed party

A spin on the cocktail party idea, set a theme for Thanksgiving and run with it. If Italian themed, make only Italian dishes for the food, settle on a certain region of Italy and pick wines from there and play movies set in Italy after dinner and as dessert is being eaten.

A museum day

Spend the day gazing at works of art on Thanksgiving. Some museums are open on Thanksgiving, and it’s a great time to check out an art collection without large crowds. After an afternoon of reflection and inspiration, follow up with a nice dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Get active

Thanksgiving is a great time to go for a run and thankfully, many cities have racing options, often affectionately referred to as Turkey Trots, for those who want to burn a few calories on America’s biggest eating day. To find a race near you, visit Active.com.

Women who use IUDs may have reduced risk of cervical cancer, study says

Are you on birth control? If you use an intrauterine device, also known as an IUD, you may have a lower risk of developing cervical cancer, according to a new report

»RELATED: 7 surprising things that can increase your risk of cancer

Researchers from the University of Southern California recently conducted an experiment, published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal, to determine the link between IUDs and the disease.

>> Read more trending news 

To do so, they took a look at 16 previous studies that examined more than 12,000 women from around the world. Each study included information about the participants’ IUD use, history of cervical cancer and other health risk factors, including prevalence of HPV and the age of a woman’s fist vaginal intercourse. 

»RELATED: Newborn baby photographed with mother's IUD in hand

After analyzing the results, they found that the rate of cervical cancer was one-third lower in women who used IUDs compared to those who did not. 

“The pattern we found was stunning. It was not subtle at all," lead author Victoria Cortessis said in a statement. "The possibility that a woman could experience some help with cancer control at the same time she is making contraception decisions could potentially be very, very impactful."

»RELATED: Sugar can fuel cancerous cells , study says

Scientists, however, did note that their analysis did not include any clinical work. Therefore, IUDs have not been proven to prevent cervical cancer. 

But they do have a few theories about IUDs’ protective benefits. 

Some believe the placement of the IUD causes an immune response in the cervix that helps the body ward off an HPV infection that could one day lead to cervical cancer. Also, when an IUD is removed, they think it may contain harmful cells that contain the HPV infection. 

Scientists plan to continue their research to understand how IUDs can be used as protection against the illness. 

“The results of our study are very exciting,” coauthor Laila Muderspach added. “There is tremendous potential.”

»RELATED: Just 1 percent of women are aware of this common ovarian cancer symptom, study says

Man who walked miles every day to find kidney donor for wife finally gets his wish

A 74-year-old man who walked several miles every day searching for a kidney donation for his wife finally got what he was looking for.

>> Watch the news report here

>> Utah man uses sandwich board to find kidney donor for his wife

Wayne Winters, 74, of Farr West, Utah, went viral last month as he desperately searched for a kidney donation for his wife, Deanne, who was diagnosed with stage 5 kidney failure, KSTU reports.

>> On HotTopics.TV: Kind strangers help elderly cancer patient who called 911 for food

“I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do something.”

He decided to strap on a sandwich board and walk along a busy road. Dressed in slacks, a jacket, a hat and his sandwich board pleading for kidney donations, Winters walked several miles hoping to catch just the right person’s eye.

Finally, weeks later, Winters’ search has come to an end. He finally got the call he was waiting for, and now his wife is now recovering from transplant surgery.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

Although he finally found a match for his wife, Winters says he still plans to take walks with his sign.

“I will spend more of my days walking with my sign to see how many I can get,” Winters said.

According to the National Kidney Foundation, about 30 million Americans have chronic kidney disease. The two main causes of the disease are high blood pressure and diabetes.

Kidney disease causes toxins to build up in the blood, causing people to feel sick. Early detection can cause kidney disease from becoming worse before dialysis or transplants are needed.

Thanksgiving basics: How to cook a turkey

Turkey is typically the star of the Thanksgiving Day table, but the idea of cooking a giant bird can be daunting. Cooking a turkey is surprisingly easy, but you’ll need to take precautions to make sure the bird is properly handled and cooked to a safe temperature. To ensure a holiday meal that everyone will enjoy, following this guide to how to cook a turkey. How to store a turkey before it’s cookedIf you’ll be cooking your turkey within one to two days after you buy it, you can store it in the fridge in its original packaging. But if you won’t be serving it for a few days or more, it should be frozen, keeping it in its original wrapping. How to thaw a turkeyA frozen turkey will need to be thawed before it’s cooked, but it needs to be kept at a safe temperature while it’s thawing. Don’t leave it out to thaw on the counter, because if it’s left out for more than two hours, bacteria in it can grow rapidly. You can thaw your bird using any of the following methods: Microwave: This method is ideal for small turkeys. Unwrap your turkey and check your microwave’s owner manual for defrosting times and the power you should use. Refrigerator:  Check out Betty Crocker’s thawing chart to see how much time you’ll need. Even small whole turkeys (three to four pounds) take about a day, so plan far ahead of time, because big birds take days to thaw. Cold water: Put the turkey in a plastic bag and submerge it in cold water. You’ll need to keep the water cold by changing it every 30 minutes. This method takes about 30 minutes of defrosting per pound of turkey. How to cook a turkey Butterball recommends the following steps: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Drain the turkey’s juices, and pat it dry with paper towels. Put the turkey, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan. Tuck the wings back to help stabilize the turkey, and spray or brush its skin lightly with vegetable or cooking oil to help it get that nicely brown appearance. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer deep in the lower part of the thigh. When the temperature on your thermometer reaches 180 degrees, your turkey will be done. Put the turkey in the oven, and when it’s about two-thirds done, cover the breast loosely with a piece of aluminum foil to help prevent overcooking. When its thigh thermometer reads 180 degrees, remove your turkey from the oven and let it stand on a platter for 15 minutes before carving. For approximate cooking times, check out Butterball’s chart, which lists times for stuffed and unstuffed turkeys by their weight.  To stuff or not to stuff It’s safer to cook stuffing in a casserole dish since it’s easier to make sure it’s thoroughly cooked and doesn’t cause food poisoning. If you decide to stuff the turkey, do so right before you cook it, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises. The stuffing should reach a temperature of 165 degrees when it’s in the bird. Leave it in the turkey for about 20 minutes after you take it out of the oven. How to carve a turkeyThis task becomes easier if you let your turkey stand for about 20 minutes before carving. This will also give you a juicier end product, since the standing time lets the juices reabsorb into the meat.Put your turkey on a cutting board, and use a meat fork (a large fork with two tines) and a sharp carving knife to do the job. Place the turkey breast-side up, and pull the leg away from the body until the thigh bone pops out. Then cut through the joint.Slice along the breast bone to remove the breast meat, and then cut off the wings. Separate the thigh from the drumstick and slice pieces from the bone.  How to store turkey leftoversAs tempting as it can be to leave the turkey and fixings out all afternoon so everyone can continue to nibble on it, it should be refrigerated as soon as possible. Otherwise, bacteria can grow, which can cause food poisoning. The temperature inside the refrigerator should be at 40 degrees or colder to safely store leftovers. 

Top Thanksgiving food safety tips

Thanksgiving is one of the most anticipated meals of the year, so make it memorable for the right reasons. Thanksgiving food safety guidelines include tips on proper storage, food preparation and temperature recommendations and will prevent your guests from ending up with food poisoning.Follow these Thanksgiving food safety tips from the United States Department of Agriculture from the first trip to the grocery store to the final serving of leftovers. Buying a turkey: If you are going to serve a fresh turkey, buy it no more than two days before Thanksgiving. Keep it in the refrigerator until you're ready to cook it, on a tray that can catch any juices that may leak.Thawing the turkey: The USDA recommends thawing the turkey in the refrigerator, but you'll need plenty of time since refrigerator thawing requires 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. You can also resort to the microwave, following the manual's instructions very carefully, or the cold water method, which takes 30 minutes per pound."Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter," the CDC warns. "A frozen turkey is safe indefinitely, but a thawing turkey must defrost at a safe temperature.”Be sure to remove the giblets after thawing and before cooking, and to cook the thawed turkey immediately if you defrost it using the microwave.Cooking a turkey: Wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food you’re preparing to prevent infection or illness spread. But don't wash the turkey! That only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods and use separate cutting boards, plates and utensils to handle raw turkey.Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, using a food thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh and the innermost part of the wing.Practice safe stuffing: Even if a stuffed bird is a family tradition, the safest way to avoid food poisoning is to cook stuffing outside of the turkey in a separate casserole dish, where you can make sure it is cooked to a temperature of 165°F at its center (use a meat thermometer to check.)If you choose to stuff your turkey, noted the USDA, you can still prepare the ingredients ahead of time, but you should keep wet and dry ingredients separate and chill the wet ones. Add the wet ingredients to the dry right before filling the turkey cavities and cook the turkey immediately. Use a food thermometer to assure the center of the stuffing cooks to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F. The right way to handle Thanksgiving leftoversFor many foodies, Thanksgiving leftovers are the best part of the meal. They'll make gourmet renditions like crispy mashed potato and stuffing patties. But even if you just microwave green bean casserole and put together turkey sandwiches, the proper handling of leftovers is an important part of Thanksgiving food safety."Clostridium perfringens are bacteria that grow in cooked foods left at room temperature," the CDC notes. "It is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. Symptoms can include vomiting and abdominal cramps within six to 24 hours after eating."To prevent food poisoning from leftovers, follow this advice from the USDA :

  • Get leftovers into a refrigerator within two hours to keep bacteria from growing on the food.
  • Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers so they'll cool faster and spend less time at the unsafe temperatures between 40 °F to 140 °F.
  • Never store stuffing inside a leftover turkey; store meat and stuffing separately.
  • Don't eat leftovers that have been in the refrigerator more than three or four days. Consider Tuesday as the toss date. Freeze leftover turkey up to four months, the USDA recommends.
  • Discard turkey, stuffing or gravy that has been left out at room temperature for more than two hours, or more than an hour in temperatures above 90 °F.
  • Reheat turkey to an internal temperature of 165 °F. Use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature.

For more information about food safety (in English and Spanish), call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854. It's available 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday.

 

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