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 »

The Multivitamin Maelstrom

November 7th, 2011

By Cathie Dunal, MD, MPH: The media’s most recent — and unsubstantiated — medical claim comes from the Iowa Health Study in an article in the Annals of Internal Medicine: researchers state that mortality rates increase in older women who take daily multivitamin and mineral supplements. This claim has circled throughout the major media carriers, even landing in the Chicago Tribune, “…older women who took a daily vitamin supplement — even just a multivitamin — had an increased risk of dying of cardiovascular disease and cancer.” Look thoroughly at the research before you throw away your vitamins!

A closer look shows that the Iowa Health Study article is not the rigorous, randomized study that is the gold standard in medical research; instead, it is simply observational. Women (average age: 61.6) self-reported their health status in 1986, 1997 and 2004. Finally, in 2008, after twenty-two years and only three checks, researchers tallied the number of women who had passed away due to cardiovascular disease, cancer or “other causes”.

Clearly the structure of the study wasn’t optimal, and furthermore, the study simply ignored the baseline health levels of the respondents. (Were they all basically healthy? Did any of the respondents have high blood pressure? How high? A family history of heart disease? Were they big fast food eaters?) We can’t accurately determine the respondents’ baseline health levels — and that, in a nutshell, is one of the major reasons the study is flawed.

As well, we have to address the supplements themselves: Were they of a high quality? Were the women taking supplements to cure an existing complaint, or taking them preventively to maintain optimal health levels? The study found that participants who took iron had the greatest mortality rate — and this finding, I argue, raises just these questions.

If we momentarily backtrack to the Seventies — remembering that the average age of the participants was over sixty at the beginning of the study — we’ll remember that media outlets had been saturated with Geritol® commercials promising to fix “iron-poor blood” or “tired blood”. Iron was marketed as a cure for tiredness, and Geritol® was the largest selling iron and B vitamin supplement in the US until 1979. I suspect that a significant number of the respondents who took iron were self-medicating tiredness — or other symptoms that could very well have been caused by underlying medical conditions. As the study fails to provide contextual information regarding the rationale behind supplement-taking, it becomes almost impossible to accurately analyze the study’s claims.

And finally, the findings in the Iowa Health Study are contradicted by a wealth of other research.  Literally the next day after the Iowa Health Study was published, a summary article appeared in the Harvard Health Newsletter reporting better health with folic acid supplements and Vitamins B6 and B12. Quite contradictory.

The bottom line: this is a flawed study that has been overblown by the media.  It will be interesting to see more research on the topic, as it is clearly a hot-button issue in the medical community.  Meanwhile, I’m still taking my vitamins!

Wintertime Vitamin D

October 11th, 2011

By John Fauber of the Journal Sentinel: If the current strain of H1N1 swine flu is like flu strains of years past, it likely will mysteriously subside in the coming weeks.

For whatever reason, in temperate areas such as North America, flu largely is a fall and winter phenomenon. A couple of theories have tried to explain that seasonality, but in recent years an intriguing new idea has emerged:

Levels of flu-fighting vitamin D reach their lowest point in the winter when ultraviolet light disappears.

Vitamin D, which is made in large amounts in the skin when it is exposed to solar radiation, is a hormone that regulates hundreds of genes. Some of those involve the body’s innate immunity and its defenses against viruses, especially those affecting the respiratory system.

The idea is that if people increased their levels of vitamin D, it might help ward off outbreaks of flu.

For as far back as records exist, flu outbreaks have occurred around the planet when solar radiation was at its lowest. No one has been able to say why.

“It virtually disappears in the summer in temperate climates,” said William Schaffner, chairman of the department of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. “In the tropics it kind of smolders all year long. Its seasonality is not nearly as pronounced.”

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All About Cramps

July 9th, 2011

By Anahad O’Connor for NYTimes: For many avid runners, side stitches can be a maddening problem: the cramplike spasms set in suddenly and can ruin a good workout. While no one knows their precise cause, many experts believe a side stitch occurs when the diaphragm — which is vital to breathing — is overworked during a vigorous run and begins to spasm. Runners who develop stitches are commonly advised to slow down and take deep, controlled breaths.

But a new theory suggests that it may not be the diaphragm that’s responsible for the pain, and that poor posture could be a culprit. In one recent study, researchers used a device to measure muscle activity as people were experiencing side stitches. They found no evidence of increased activity or spasms in the diaphragm area during the onset of stitches.

Last year, the same team published a separate study in The Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. They found that those who regularly slouched or hunched their backs were more likely to experience side stitches, and the poorer their posture, the more severe their stitches in exercise. Article

More Running Tips……

Nocturnal Leg Cramps Continue reading »

Metagenics Supplements

August 21st, 2010

“The term ‘functional medicine’ was coined in 1993 to describe the medicine of the future. Today, many integrative and complementary and medicine practitioners use a functional medicine approach. By promoting changes in lifestyle, environment, and nutrition, these practitioners rely on their knowledge of key physiological, genetic, and biochemical processes for establishing an innovative form of total patient wellness.

1. Patient uniqueness: Each individual is unique. This uniqueness encompasses voluntary activities, such as decision-making, personality development, and emotional response, and involuntary activities like metabolism of nutrients, cellular processing of information, and communication among the body’s organ systems. Functional medicine professionals realize that all individuals have unique metabolic patterns that affect their health needs and thus, the concept of individuality is central to every aspect of functional medicine, from clinical assessment and diagnosis to the broad spectrum of treatment modalities.

Continue reading »