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Test your holiday health smarts with this seasonal quiz

True or false? Christmas cards can kill. Or, how about this one — during the height of the holidays, more people die from heart attacks than any other time of the year. True or false?

Gold and silver glass balls with true or false written on them
Take the holiday health true or false quiz.
Viv Williams / Post Bulletin

ROCHESTER — As the holidays continue to dazzle our senses throughout the month of December, let's take a moment to have a little festive health-related fun. See how many of these seasonal true-or-false trivia questions you get right.

Are the following statements true or false?

During the month of December, most people gain an average of five to eight pounds.

  • False (thank goodness!): Results from an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine show that most people gain about 0.37 kilograms, which is a little less than a pound.

Pigging out at a holiday meal that's high in salt and fat can increase your risk of heart attack.

  • True: Dr. Stephen Kopecky, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, says research shows that within 90 minutes, a big fatty meal that contains a lot of saturated animal fats will start to affect the lining of the arteries, making them more likely to rupture or tear. A clot could develop, block blood flow and cause a heart attack. Also, consuming too much salt, fat, caffeine and alcohol could cause irregular heartbeats called atrial fibrillation.

Christmas cards can kill.


  • True: At least it was true in 1876! A holiday review article in the journal BMJ notes that a man developed arsenic poisoning after painting cards with a highly toxic paint.
  • And false: These days holiday cards seem to be good for you health. An article published in the journal Cogent Psychology shows that sending Christmas cards is associated with a lower risk of depression.

An estimated 15,000 emergency department visits result from holiday decorating mishaps, such as falling off ladders, straining your back and cutting yourself from touching or stepping on broken ornaments. (Remember that scene from the movie "Home Alone?")

  • True: The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission came up with that number. An article on the commission's website also includes the recommendation that everyone should pay attention to safety during the holidays so fun doesn't turn into a tragedy.

More people die from heart attacks during the July 4th holiday than in December.

  • False: The American Heart Association reports that more people die of heart attacks during the last week of December than in any other time of the year. An article on the association's website outlines ways you can stay heart healthy during the holidays. Those suggestions include staying active and getting exercise, getting enough sleep, reducing stress, taking your medications, celebrating in moderation and knowing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack.

If you're counting calories, choose two frosted sugar cookies over a piece of a yule log for dessert.

  • Trick question! After quickly checking nutritional content of a bunch of sugar cookie and yule log recipes, I conclude that two average-sized and frosted sugar cookies contain about the same number of calories as an average piece of a yule log. Recipes vary widely in content, but the average calorie amount for both options ranged from 260 to 390.

I hope you enjoyed the quiz. Happy Holidays!


Follow the  Health Fusion podcast on  Apple,   Spotify and  Google podcasts. For comments or other podcast episode ideas, email Viv Williams at  vwilliams@newsmd.com. Or on Twitter/Instagram/FB @vivwilliamstv.

Opinion by Viv Williams
Viv Williams hosts the NewsMD podcast and column, "Health Fusion." She is an Emmy (and other) award-winning health and medical reporter whose stories have run on TV, digital and newspaper outlets nationwide. Viv is passionate about boosting people's health and happiness by helping them access credible, reliable and research-based health information from top experts. She regularly interviews experts and patients from leading medical institutions, such as Mayo Clinic.
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