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Health Jabs Archive
Health Ninja Christi's thoughts on health issues

Study shows caffeine
may help prevent skin cancer

March 2, 2009

Caffeine (yes the chemical in your coffee) has been shown to stimulate cells that have been damaged by ultraviolet (UV) rays to self destruct. Too much exposure to ultraviolet light is one of the major causes of skin cancer. Caffeine specifically targets these cells that have been damaged and could become cancerous; it leaves normal cells alone.  The study was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. According to the lead researcher, Dr. Paul Nghiem, an associate professor of dermatology at the University of Washington in Seattle, caffeine could one day be used in sunscreens. For those thinking about drinking more coffee or tea, Dr. Nghiem points out that an increase in intake will not have a significant impact in skin cancer prevention. The study doesn't say how much caffeine a person would need to take or rub on to be beneficial.

Another benefit of Vitamin D discovered

February 24, 2009

A research study published in the February 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, states that Vitamin D (known for developing strong bones) actually plays a big role in helping the body's immune system against the common cold and flu. The author of the study, Dr. Adit Ginde states that "...our study provides support that lower levels of vitamin D are associated with an increased risk for respiratory infections, such as the common cold and the flu. And people who have pre-existing respiratory disease -- like asthma and emphysema -- appear to be at an increased risk for this association."   Good sources of Vitamin D are salmon with bones, milk and sunshine.  However, don't over do it with the sunshine and get yourself burned, as that can raise the risk of skin cancer. 10 to 15 minutes daily should be enough.

The Dangers of Online Drug
Advice From Internet Websites

December 8, 2008

A recent study in The Annals of Pharmacotherapy, performed an evaluation of current Wikipedia and Medscape Drug Reference Monographs as they pertain to providing users with correct information about medications, dosages as well as the completeness of information they provided.

Both were scored using the question list for the scope and the completeness of the information provided. If an answer was provided, a score of 1 was assigned. If an answer was missing or incorrect, a score of zero was given.. If the answer was plain erroneous, these were also counted and characterized. For a more complete explanation of the complex scoring system please refer to the December issue of the journal listed above.

The study found that MDR and Wikipedia not only had errors of omissions, but inaccurate information and just opinions from people who have used these medicines before. This can be very very, dangerous for the layperson who is looking for information related to the safeness of a medicine, and if there are any side effects or interactions with other medications that they are currently taking. Given the fact that Wikipedia is often one of the first results that pop up on Google when performing a search, people tend to put more faith in what is written there, even though ANY person can edit the information found there.

One of the researchers found:

"The researchers compared Wikipedia to Medscape Drug Reference (MDR), a peer-reviewed, free site, by looking for answers to 80 different questions covering eight categories of drug information, for example adverse drug events, dosages, and mechanism of action. While MDR provided answers to 82.5 percent of the questions, Wikipedia could only answer 40 percent. Answers were less likely to be complete for Wikipedia, as well. Of the answers the researchers found on Wikipedia, none were factually inaccurate, while there were four inaccurate answers in MDR. But the researchers spotted 48 errors of omission in the Wikipedia entries, compared to 14 for MDR. 'I think that these errors of omission can be just as dangerous as inaccuracies', Clauson told Reuters Health. He pointed out that drug company representatives have been caught deleting information from Wikipedia entries that make their drugs look unsafe."

The bottom line is that while Wikipedia can be a beginning point, it is NOT accurate enough to be used as a substitute for a professional doctor or pharmacist's opinion. As it stands the misinformation currently on there could cause a person to make a bad decision or to miss a cross reaction between a patient's medications. We as patients need to remember that there is a lot of junk and non-professional opinions out there which can be harmful, so always double check with your physician and or pharmacist before you take any advice you get from the internet.

What You Should Keep In
Mind When Visiting Your Doctor

December 3, 2008

Many doctors claim to be walking away from private practice due to HMOs micromanaging and low pay-outs, or even simply the high cost of malpractice insurance. However it seems that far more doctors need to consider a vocation change according to a recent study. According to a study by the Institute of Medicine, medical mistakes in hospitals alone are the eighth-leading cause of death in the United States, exceeding those by car accidents, breast cancer, and AIDS.

Some of the largest mistakes doctors make often lead to the death of their patients. Here is what you should keep in mind when visiting your doctor.

1) Be Aware! Probably one of the scariest mistakes that a doctor can make is misdiagnosing their patients. This usually happens when doctors neither listen, or believe what their patients have to say. When most people make mistakes, they usually can be corrected with little or no repercussions, however for thousands of people each year, these mistakes maim and/or kill a patient leaving family shocked and dismayed. Get a copy of all of  your records as soon as possible; this includes surgical transcriptions, hospital charts and doctors notes from all of the doctors who saw you or your loved one during this episode.

2) Be Reasonable. Doctors are not God, and they can not save everyone. Some people may have underlying diseases that neither they or the doctor were aware of that could have been a contributing factor to injury or misdiagnosis.

4) Be Honest. These doctors need to now if you are on any meds, prescribed or otherwise. Even natural herbs such as Glucosamine, or iron can cause problems during routine surgery such as excessive bleeding, blood clotting, or interactions with anesthesia. If you are taking street drugs, they need to know, they are not there to report you, but to help you through your medical problem intact with the least amount of side effects or complications.

5) Be Your Own Advocate! Do NOT assume that doctors know everything, they do not, and what they do not know can sometimes kill you! Study up on your condition, disease, or procedure, and be willing to ask questions and DO NOT stop asking if you do not get a clear answer that you can understand. Do not be afraid to postpone the procedure until you understand what is going to be done to you. If you are not happy, get a second or even third opinion on your case; look things up on the internet (from legitimate sources) and bring articles with you to your appointments. All doctors think they are right and more educated than you, and well sometimes they are, and sometimes they are plain out of touch with new innovations and medications that are out there. You must OPEN YOUR MOUTH in an educated way because after all it is YOUR body and life, not theirs, so fight for it.

The Dangers of Hairspray and
Some Cosmetics During Pregnancy

November 25, 2008

There is a new study out that links hairspray to birth defects in boys. The study was conducted at Imperial College in London; it was found that women who had a workplace exposure to aerosol hairspray had a much higher incidence of having babies with hypospadias, where the urinary tract is found away from the penis. The exposure, especially during the critical first three months actually doubled the risk of this birth defect.

This study was started to investigate the fact that the incidence of hypospadias has risen sharply in the last few decades. Many experts highly suspect that chemicals called phthalates, which are found in many plastics, including those found in hairspray and some cosmetic products. Phthalates have the ability to disrupt hormones, and have been banned in toys in the European Union for some years. However, since there is no concrete study that proves this link, there has been no ban or warning on these products. Those who are most a risk are not the casual user; they are the professional hairstylists and or salon workers.

Over 800 women were interviewed and 471 women whose babies had been born with hypospadias were interviewed, as were a similar number of women with unaffected children. About two times as many babies who were affected by the disease were exposed to hairspray or cosmetics through the jobs they mother held while pregnant.

While researchers felt this was important information, they were quick to point out that more research was needed, and that each woman needed to make the decision for themselves on whether they want to be more cautious of the phthalates in hairspray and some cosmetics. In some animals, the potential of phthalates could suppress production of the male sex hormone testosterone which is essential in the development of the male penis in some animals, but evidence that it had the same effect in humans was inconclusive.

One last important discovery from the study, was that women who took folic acid, which is already known to prevent neural tube defects if taken early enough, also lowered their risk of having a baby with hypospadias by a third.

Flu season is upon us again!

November 14, 2008

Here we go again, flu season; time to stock up on the cough and cold medicine and even get our yearly jab in the hope of avoiding or minimizing the effects of the virus.

Flu shots can help to minimize the risk of getting a serious case of the flu, if the scientists have guessed which strain will hit big this year.  There are however other ways to help avoid getting the flu.  Some of these are obvious, but others may not be so simple to think of.

1) DO NOT use soaps and detergents that have Triclosan or any other anti-microbial agents, plain soap and warm water are more than adequate.  Being "too" clean can encourage even nastier bugs and viruses to make you sick.

2) Keep school aged children away from younger siblings if they develop any signs of illness, i.e. runny nose, fever, fatigue etc...

3) Make sure that when you come from the outside to the inside, wash your hands and face to make sure that any germs  you or your family picked up get washed away as soon as possible.

4) If you get sick, DO NOT  insist on antibiotics; colds are caused by viruses and therefore not helped at all by antibiotics.  The overuse of antibiotics  is causing bacteria to become resistant such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) which can be deadly, even in young, otherwise healthy people

5) Do not underestimate the flu, in 1918, thousands of people died from one of the worst worldwide flu outbreaks in recorded history.

6) If you or your child does get sick, PLEASE stay home!  By trying to tough it out you WILL infect many other innocent people, just think of how many surfaces we all touch each day.

There are far worse things
than cold medicines for your child...

November 12, 2008

A while back I wrote about the unnecessary restriction of cold and allergy medicine to children under 4 years of age.  Now the warning has been raised to 6 years of age.  There is still nothing wrong with these medicines, there is however something very wrong with the labeling on these medicines.  Out of the millions of doses give to children every year, only one or two children have adverse reactions.  These reactions most often tend to be because parents dose based on age and not based on WEIGHT, which is the appropriate way to give any medicine.

The irony is that the FDA and pediatricians have decided to warn the general public against these medicines which serve a great purpose; to relieve the suffering of young children when they are sick and no prescription medicine can give them comfort. However, we still fool parents into believing that pumping 10 vaccines into small children at one time has no ill effect, and is no way responsible for autism, brain injuries and other defects that only occurred AFTER these vaccinations were administered.

Sorry, but as a mother and a chemist, I KNOW they are wrong, and I will comfortably give my child an antihistamine, or a cold remedy in the proper dose, before I ever give my child vaccines in such large amounts.  When my son turned 2, I got a letter from my pediatrician reminding me it was time for him to get his next 10 vaccines! he is now 2 and half, and while I have given him a dose of antihistamine to help him breathe because of his allergies, I have yet to give him one of those 10 vaccines.  He will be vaccinated as it is important, but on a much slower schedule.  I go by the rule of 3...no more than 3 vaccines go into my children at one time.  Please educate yourselves: this does not mean 3 NEEDLES, that means 3 vaccines.  For example, the MMR vaccine should not (in my opinion) be given until close to a child's 3rd birthday.  In case you did not now, MMR stands for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, three separate vaccines in one vial, and the doctors try to also give the DTaP with this, which is another 3 vaccines (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussus). If your keeping count that is only 2 needle sticks, but 6 vaccines.  In my opinion, these vaccines are a necessary evil but should be given very carefully and at least 2-3 months apart, as they pose a much more serious danger to our children than some acetaminophen with cold medicine in it.


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