Archive for the 'Health Care' Category

Take the 4-point plastics pledge

Probably everyone has seen that one scene from The Graduate where during the Benjamin’s party, one of his parent’s friends says something to the effect of: “I’m going to tell you one word about the future. Plastics.” Many of us even remember the old commercial sponsored by the American Chemistry Council that stated: “Plastics Make It Possible.” For years we’ve come to rely on the convenience, portability and “safety” of plastics.

Then, we got a collective environmental conscience and realized that plastics were filling our landfills and destroying the planet.

Now, we know that certain plastics contain Bisphenol-A a possible endocrine disruptor and hormonal disruptor as it mimics the female hormone estrogen.

It is in many items that we use daily and consider safe: from baby bottles to sports bottles, the linings of metal food cans, and in nearly any take-out container that isn’t foil or a paper product. The least safe plastic items are those labeled 3, 6 and 7 and their unsafe properties increase with heating from the dishwasher and microwave. A recent report by Catherine Zandonella, M.P.H. in the Green Guide states that “the plastics industry says it is harmless, … a growing number of scientists are concluding, from some animal tests, that exposure to BPA in the womb raises the risk of certain cancers, hampers fertility and could contribute to childhood behavioral problems such as hyperactivity. …[And] ninety-five percent of Americans were found to have the chemical in their urine in a 2004 biomonitoring study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The company asserts that the levels of BPA found in the items we use daily are safe, and are only unsafe at high doses. Zandonella’s report continues that according to Frederick vom Saal, Ph.D., a developmental biologist at the University of Missouri, “low doses that are now proving to cause a myriad of harmful effects in animals, including chromosomal damage in female egg cells and an increase in embryonic death in mice. A follow-up to this is a study indicating a relationship of BPA blood levels to miscarriages in Japanese women.” While the FDA sees no reason to change its 2003 opinion on the safety of BPA in conjunction with food use, they have been wrong before. In contrast, in December 2007, the Center to the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction issued a detailed report about BPA and its implications in humans, concluding that more study on the effect of BPA in humans is needed.

Hmmm. Some experts say BPA is perfectly okay; others, not so much.
So what are we to do?

After a thorough check of my cabinets for anything labeled 3, 6 or 7, I was happy to find that all of my son’s sippy cups were labeled 2. But that was just the cups themselves. What about the lid–the part that he actually sucks on? What about the ones that have been saved by relatives with toddlers before us and passed down to us and clearly show the wear and tear of little toddler nibbles? Are the ones that are a decade old (and clearly flaking) still safe? There was no way to know…as neither the contemporary lids nor the older sippy cups had any numbers on them. Am I to assume that because the newer cups have a “2″ imprinted on them that the lids are also twos?

You see. More questions.

I checked my son’s bowls and other plastic that we use for food regularly as well. No numbers there either. Luckily, I never heat food in plastic, but what about transferring hot food to a plastic bowl?

As you can see, the new information only leads to more questions, concerns and decisions about food container choices.

While on one hand I don’t want to give my toddler a glass bowl…it is much easier to take care of a cut than potential future problems that could affect his internal functions.

I put my mind at ease with the intent to make some behavioral changes and wiser shopping choices. Luckily, I didn’t have to grapple with how to dispose of any threes, sixes or sevens properly.

But later in the day, the question arose again. I was at my favorite local cafe, where as I sipped my steaming coffee from its cardboard-lined cardboard cup, I stared down at the number six on the lid. How many times have I sucked on a hot liquid in one of these lids in my lifetime? How many times have I consumed hot food from a number 6 container? Sure, my exposure has been minimal according to the FDA and some scientists, but the questions still lurk.

What about you and your family? It makes you too, wonder now, doesn’t it?

Armed with this new information, I am willing to take a four-point pledge for myself and for my family and make a behavioral change to reduce my (our) exposure to BPA.

  • A pledge to shop smarter and avoid purchasing plastic products labeled with the numbers 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge to avoid take-out and establishments that use plastic containers labeled with 3, 6 or 7.
  • A pledge that when point two is absolutely unavoidable, to avoid personal exposure to such plastics that have come into contact with heat.
  • A pledge to use sustainable and safe reusable products.
  • Will you too take the pledge?

    Feel free to make it public and claim the pledge in the comments field.

    Posted in Health, Daily Living, Health Care, Healthy Living, Poison, Smart Buying, Guest Blogger, News Items | 1 Comment »

    Controversy surrounds cancer vaccine Gardasil

    I’m angry that the world’s first cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, is causing a splash of alarmist headlines with its introduction in Australia. The vaccine, developed by leading immunologist Ian Frazer, is being administered to 230,000 Australian teenagers in a $400 million federal government initiative.

    Gardasil prevents cervical cancer by immunizing against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus, known to cause 70 percent of all cervical cancers.

    Headlines such as “girls collapse after cancer vaccine? have been frontpage news in Australia warning of side effects such as dizziness and nausea. One Melbourne based social commentator went so far as to suggest in today’s Herald Sun newspaper that the vaccines rollout is just a revenue raiser for the medical profession and urging parents to keep their children from the queue.

    That particular article by Neil Mitchell annoyed me as it dramatized a small number of girls who fainted (a common happening to adolescent girls after any injection) but failed to recognize the hundreds of Australian women who die from this preventable disease each year. Heaven help the parents who follow this man’s advice blindly.

    I was happier to read the response of “Anne? an immunization nurse who spends her working days administering Gardasil, amongst other vaccines, to school children. While she couldn’t count the hundreds of children (particularly the girls) who have fainted, cried, or reported bizarre non-physical reactions to all injections she has given – she had never seen a child who hadn’t recovered. Her daughters were first in line for Gardasil, and moaned about it as school children do. But they knew how lucky they were.

    Ironically the young women who need the vaccine most – those in the poorest nations where cervical cancer diagnosis and treatment is inadequate at best– remain the least likely to receive it with the cost estimated at a prohibitive $300 to $500 a pop. Kudos to the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation though, who announced last year $27.7 million funding to research methods of introducing Gardasil in developing countries.

    Here in the prosperous U. S. of A. only Virginia has passed legislation for compulsory vaccination with Gardasil. Governor Rick Perry of Texas faced an abrupt end to his proposal to vaccinate schoolgirls with the senate blocking him last month. Other states haven’t made it even that far. NewScientist reported some conservative groups believe the vaccine will encourage sexual activity in adolescents by reducing their risks of catching sexually transmitted disease. To me, limiting access to Gardasil for that reason would be like limiting the availability of condoms. While that sort of thinking continues I expect it will be sometime before there will be a nationwide approach to cervical cancer prevention.

    In the meantime 15,000 American women are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year. Personally I want to see Gardasil introduced as a free compulsory vaccine for all school aged girls across America.

    What do you think? Would you have your precious daughters at the front of the queue or are you not convinced?

    Posted in Uncategorized, Health, Health Care | 1 Comment »

    Hand, Foot and Mouth WHAT???`

    Two days ago, my daughter awoke from her afternoon nap with, exempting the ninth grade sexual education videos, the nastiest blisters I have ever seen - except hers are on the soles of her feet and the palms of her hands….  They were so alarming that I called the pediatrician right away.  Apparently, it is Hand, Foot and Mouth disease outbreak time here in Nashville.  The title makes is sounds a lot more fatal than it actually is.  The word disease makes everyone, especially mothers, shutter with sickening fear. This thing seriously needs an image makeover - when the doctor diagnosed it, I about fell to the ground… She then went on to explain that is merely a three to four day illness, not a “disease”.  It is actually a virus that attacks seveal mucus membranes that are directly linked to the areas in the body that give it it’s name.  Within four days, she should be back to normal.  So, why the alarming name then?  Why not call it  Hand, Foot and Mouth blisters with a mild to moderate fever?  Sure, she has been uncomfortable and not sleeping at night.  She is definately not feeling well but, at worst, the last few days have felt like flu season - I certainly didn’t need the word “disease” thrown at me from a pediatrician.

    Aside from the frightful name, here is what we have learned about this “disease”:

    Your kid won’t want to eat - it can’t be to pleasant with all those awful blisters all over the mouth.  Soup, apple juice, ice cream and popscicles have worked perfectly.

    Even though it feels as though the sun is about to collide into the earth, we have been putting socks and footy pajamas on our daughter.  She doesn’t seem to mind wearing socks in the heat - I think the heat is less uncomfortable than the blisters on her feet when she tries to walk.

    We have been diligent in keeping our son away from her.  It is moderately contagious, so we are being very careful to wash hands more often than not and to make it known to the other youngun’ that he ought to not be kissin’ on the baby.

    Motrin at night has only helped a little.  She is just so ridiculously uncomfortable that the medicine is barely skimming the surface of her malaise.

    It totally crept up on us.  My husband and I had both noticed, seperately, that she was having trouble eating and was complaining of her mouth hurting.  She also started to have trouble sleeping at night about two days before the blisters showed up in their full regalia.  Difficulty sleeping at night is always our indicator that she is getting sick, but otherwise, she had been acting perfectly normal.  It’s a sneaky little “disease” but, if you find that you are dealing with it, it is not nearly as scary as the name implies.

    Posted in Health Care, Healthy Living | 2 Comments »

    Rotavirus Added to Bulky List of Childhood Vaccines

    NPR reports:

    Two new vaccines may be added to the regimen of childhood immunizations. Experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggested this seek that all children ages 2 to 5 get flu shots. Research shows young children are among the main spreaders of the flu.

    Also recommended is a less-familiar vaccine against rotavirus, the leading cause of severe gastrointestinal illnesses in infants and young children.

    Read and listen to the full story.

    Posted in Health, Health Care | No Comments »