Antibacterial Personal Care Products Are Linked to Allergies in Children

June 20th, 2012

 From Science Daily (June 19, 2012) This study gives us yet another reason to use more natural products! Cathie— Exposure to common antibacterial chemicals and preservatives found in soap, toothpaste, mouthwash and other personal-care products may make children more prone to a wide range of food and environmental allergies, according to new research from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center.  Results of the NIH-funded study are published online ahead of print June 18 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Using existing data from a national health survey of 860 children ages 6 to 18, Johns Hopkins researchers examined the relationship between a child’s urinary levels of antibacterials and preservatives found in many personal-hygiene products and the presence of IgE antibodies in the child’s blood. IgE antibodies are immune chemicals that rise in response to an allergen and are markedly elevated in people with allergies.

“We saw a link between level of exposure, measured by the amount of antimicrobial agents in the urine, and allergy risk, indicated by circulating antibodies to specific allergens,” said lead investigator Jessica Savage, M.D., M.H.S., an allergy and immunology fellow at Hopkins.   Continue reading »

Never Go To Bed Angry

February 4th, 2012

Some say it goes back to the Bible, in Ephesians 4:26. “Let not the sun go down upon your wrath.” Regardless of its origins, the adage has been scarcely researched. But in a recent study in The Journal of Neuroscience, scientists found there might be a nugget of truth to it: Going to sleep after experiencing negative emotions appears to reinforce or “preserve” them.

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Little Bit of Exercise, Big Benefits

October 6th, 2011

ScienceDaily: A new University of Colorado Boulder study shows that a small amount of physical exercise could profoundly protect the elderly from long-term memory loss that can happen suddenly following infection, illnesses or injury in old age.

In the study, CU-Boulder Research Associate Ruth Barrientos and her colleagues showed that aging rats that ran just over half a kilometer each week were protected against infection-induced memory loss.

“Our research shows that a small amount of physical exercise by late middle-aged rats profoundly protects against exaggerated inflammation in the brain and long-lasting memory impairments that follow a serious bacterial infection,” said Barrientos of the psychology and neuroscience department.

“Strikingly, this small amount of running was sufficient to confer robust benefits for those that ran over those that did not run,” Barrientos said. “This is an important finding because those of advanced age are more vulnerable to memory impairments following immune challenges such as bacterial infections or surgery. With baby boomers currently at retirement age, the risk of diminished memory function in this population is of great concern. Thus, effective noninvasive therapies are of substantial clinical value.”

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Building Smarter Beings

July 17th, 2011

By Riddhi Shah of the HuffingtonPost: Over the last decade, interest in the science of meditation has skyrocketed. We now know more than ever before about just how meditation affects our minds and bodies. Increased research has led to a plethora of fascinating discoveries: Take, for instance, the fact that meditation can prevent heart disease. Or that it reduces stress. Or that it can significantly lessen ADHD symptoms, and in many cases, beats medication.

Still, much is left to be discovered. We know more but we definitely don’t know everything. While we wait for science to catch up with ancient wisdom, check out this slideshow on the complex effects of the simple act of focused breathing [here are its salient points]:

  • [S]ustained meditation leads to something called neuroplasticity, which is defined as the brain’s ability to change, structurally and functionally, on the basis of environmental input. For much of the last century, scientists believed that the brain essentially stopped changing after adulthood. But research by University of Wisconsin neuroscientist Richard Davidson has shown that experienced meditators exhibit high levels of gamma ray activity and display an ability — continuing after the meditation session has attended — to not get stuck on a particular stimulus. That is, they’re automatically able to control their thoughts and reactiveness.

Western Diets Are Making the World Sick

April 16th, 2011

From NPR’s ‘Fresh Air': When physician Kevin Patterson described his experiences working at the Canadian Combat Surgical Hospital in Afghanistan, he noticed that the Afghan soldiers, police and civilians he treated in Kandahar had radically different bodies from those of the Canadians he took care of back home.

“Typical Afghan civilians and soldiers would have been 140 pounds or so as adults. And when we operated on them, what we were aware of was the absence of any fat underneath the skin,” Patterson says. “Of course, when we operated on Canadians or Americans or Europeans, what was normal was to have most of the organs encased in fat.”

In a conversation on Fresh Air, Patterson tells Terry Gross that the effects of urbanization are making people everywhere in the world both fatter and sicker.

“Type 2 diabetes historically didn’t exist, only 70 or 80 years ago,” says Patterson. “And what’s driven it is this rise in obesity, especially the accumulation of abdominal fat. That fat induces changes in our receptors that cells have for insulin. Basically, it makes them numb to the effect of insulin.”

He explains that the increase in abdominal fat has driven the epidemic of diabetes over the last 40 years in the developed world — and that he’s now seeing similar patterns in undeveloped regions that have adopted Western eating patterns.

Patterson explains that in his Canadian practice, where he takes care of indigenous populations near the Arctic Circle, there is a marked increase in the number of diabetic patients he sees.  “The traditional Inuit culture of relentless motion and a traditional diet consisting mainly of caribou, Arctic char, whale and seal has been abandoned over this period of time for Kentucky Fried Chicken and processed food and living a life very similar to ours,” he says.

Part of the problem, says Patterson, is that it’s so much cheaper for processed food to be flown into the Arctic Circle than fresh food.  “There’s no roads or rail access to any of those communities,” he says. “So a 4 liter jug of milk can cost you $10 or $11. But there’s a very clear parallel between that and the inner city. In poorer neighborhoods in North American cities, fresh food is either not available or extremely expensive compared to — on a calorie-by-calorie basis — compared to fast food available on every street corner.” Continue reading »