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What to drink on a hot day to get your antioxidants?

August 12, 2013

 IMG_3164I love cold water to quench my thirst on a hot summer’s day. But I also like to get some antioxidants in my beverage. In the summer, when I am in the park or on the water, brewing my own tea is seldom an option. I wondered whether the bottled teas had much of the good antioxidant factor left in them and found a research article that revealed — probably not. It looks like if I want a beverage from the store to stick in my cooler or pick up along the way, it might be a good choice to have pomegranate or Concord grape juice over ice.

Here is the ranking of beverages in one research study that looked at their antioxidant content:

What is a patent and what did the US Supreme Court decide about human genes and patents?

117_1749June 13, 2014

The US Supreme Court ruled that human genes cannot be patented. A patent is the authority to make, use, or sell something. Myriad Genetics Inc. sought patents regarding genes for which some versions have been linked to breast and ovarian cancer–the BRCA gene mutations. The Court decided that identifying and isolating these genes is not worthy of a patent. On the other hand, Myriad also has created a synthetic form of DNA known as cDNA and that was determined to be worthy of a patent.

For patients, testing for BRCA gene mutations may become more accessible. Until now, Myriad has had the only genetic test for BRCA gene mutations. Perhaps others will now develop testing and contribute to cost reductions, since Myriad does not hold exclusive rights to make, use, or sell products associated with these genes.   


Health communication online for supporting fitness–

September 21, 2012

 Today is my daughter-in-law’s birthday. September is filled with birthdays in my family. And we celebrate them. Not so much with cake. More with talk and support. Reminding each other of all the good things from the past year and all that we have to look forward to in the year ahead. That support makes all the difference in the world for living a fulfilled life. That must be part of the idea behind I read about the online site when I was going through a pile of old magazines this summer. I do that now and then, tearing out pages for items I want to follow-up on and throwing the rest of the magazine away or–if it is not too destroyed–donating it for others to read. At any rate, I read about SparkPeople being a site where members find support for reaching fitness goals. So today I visited the site.

My first impression in joining is that the site has a lot of capacity for customization. I could [tho I didn’t] create my own personal page. Even without creating the personal page, I entered some information in a very quick fashion and the screen rolled over to content relating to my interests. The site is filled with color and images and all kinds of links. There are communities to join, friendships to make [the site says], stories of success before and after joining.

I wonder how long members, on average, spend on the site and how many weeks, months, or years they  remain active members. I noticed that the site has a lot of advertising support. As far as I have gone, that apparently supports the site so that it is free to subscribers. So far anyway. I do wonder if the site is doing so much for so many topics that it might prove to be less depth than some would want. I also wonder about the name and how people would find their way to the site if they didn’t read about it in a magazine. Perhaps others have experiences with the site and will let us know more.

Health communication about BONIVA

August 25, 2012

“BONIVA has not been proven to stop and reverse bone loss in 9 out of 10 women and is not a cure for postmenopausal osteoporosis”  []. This message has appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. Have you seen or heard it?

I wonder how Sally Field feels about that. She appeared in ads to endorse the product and she read the script that said the research had shown that BONIVA reversed bone loss…  I will track down the research and see if we can find what the published research  really found. For now, I am reflecting on how many of us heard Sally’s ad versus how many of us have seen or read about the FDA’s retraction. And I am enjoying having the strength, including my bones, to pick up my 4 year old grandson and wrestle him into my lap for a family gathering at a restaurant after church on a warm Sunday afternoon.

Health communication and children’s backpacks: Should they carry a warning label?

August 12, 2012

Warning labels. We find them on so many things. And we too often ignore them. But parents are devoted to knowing what dangers face their children. So parents often read warning labels that have to do with products they might purchase for a son or daughter. Such warnings appear on bicycle safety helmets. The CDC notes that,

Three organizations — ANSI, the Snell Memorial Foundation, and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) — have developed voluntary standards for bicycle helmets Table_1. Helmets are tested for the amount of impact protection they provide by dropping the upper torso and helmeted head of a crash-test dummy (i.e., a “helmeted headform”) onto a metal anvil and measuring the amount of force on the headform (22). Testing for strap-system strength is done by dropping a weight on the fastened strap; the weight causes weaker strap systems (i.e., straps or buckles) to break. Helmets that meet Snell standards provide better protection against bicycle- related head injury than do helmets that meet the less rigorous ANSI standards (18). The Consumer Product Safety Commission is developing federal standards for bicycle helmets. These standards will apply to all helmets sold in the United States and will most likely be similar to the existing standards.

All three existing standards require that manufacturers include warning labels that advise consumers that helmets are for bicycle use only (e.g., “not for motor-vehicle use” {23}) (24, 25). In addition, manufacturers are required to warn consumers (e.g., by including a warning label in the helmet) that a) a helmet that has sustained an impact should be returned to the manufacturer for inspection or be destroyed and replaced, and b) helmets need to be fitted and securely fastened to the bicyclist’s head to provide maximum protection

Some research and experience begins to suggest that perhaps a warning label should appear on children’s backpacks. Some backpacks used for recreational backpacking have warning labels

Some children’s backpacks have warning labels because the material that the pack is made from includes content known to be a cause of cancer. See this review for example:

“This item just arrived, a gift for my 2 year-old son. He was thrilled when he saw it. It was therefore terribly upsetting to discover the following warning (in tiny print) on one of the product labels: “WARNING: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.” This warning follows the requirements of California Proposition 65 (ample material about it on the web). This warning is, of course, unacceptably vague. However, no caring parent would risk exposing their child to a toxic substance. This morning, my son woke up asking for his backpack. I am saddened, angered, and frustrated that he and I have been put in this position by inadequate regulation of toy safety (the backpack is made in China) and inadequate disclosure (both on the toy tag and on the Amazon website) identifying the specific potential risk” [].

Consumer reports suggests that the size of the backpack, including how far down on a child’s back it falls and the width of straps, is important for the comfort of the pack for your child. For a full review of things to consider, see the report at:

Happy back to school shopping!

Applause applause for Disney and ban on junk food ads for cartoons

June 11, 2012

Disney has decided to ban ads for junk food when it comes to kids’ cartoons. That’s some good news when it comes to media exposure and kids’ learning product names. The bad news is that it won’t take effect until 2015. Wow. Why? Contracts?

Read more in the AP story here:

Health communication and Dr. Oz’s message about paraben

May 1, 2012

I am in the midst of final exam week and grading. In the background, Dr. Oz started talking about ‘paraben’ and how it acts as an estrogen. I am always on the alert for these kind of messages. Hormones, research, cancer, blood clotting… these all came to mind. I got up from the computer and went to listen carefully. And then I went to my bathroom. My shampoo have five kinds of paraben in it. My two different types of body lotions had multiple forms of paraben as well. I got rid of them. Trash. Not a moment’s hesitation.

Why? Well, one of the facts Dr. Oz shared is that in one research study, 19 of 20 women diagnosed with breast cancer had significant levels of paraben in their breast tissue. I will hunt down the research and share it soon. For now, here is a summary of content from Dr. Oz with the link to the story at the end:

Flushed Away

We all know about industrial pollution and climate change, but there’s a new threat to the environment much closer to home – pharmaceutical  and personal care product pollution (PPCP). Experts are increasingly worried that marine life across America is showing us the harm its doing to our planet and ourselves.


What’s Happening to the Environment?

In river basins around the country, the United States Geological Survey has found fish with both female and male sex organs. Intersex frogs are also popping up all over. And experts have found evidence of chemicals called endocrine disruptors, such as atrazine (an herbicide) and Bisphenol-A (BPA) in the country’s water supplies.


What are Endocrine Disruptors? 

These chemicals alter the actions of hormones in our body, which can hurt us in 2 ways. First, they can block our hormones from acting as they normally would, and, secondly, they can act like hormones triggering effects that may include early onset puberty in adolescents.  


What’s Happening to Us?

Breast cancer rates are increasing, girls are entering puberty earlier, sperm counts and testosterone levels are falling drastically, and certain genital abnormalities are on the rise.


What Should We Watch Out For?

Though the evidence is not definitive, experts fear that products we are introducing into our environment could be to blame, and they are urging us to decrease the use of certain chemicals. Here’s what to look for:


Bisphenol-A (BPA)You may have heard about BPA, the chemical used to make hard plastics, line cans, and create carbonless receipts. It’s proven to raise the risk of breast cancer in rats and the FDA has raised an alarm about the potential harm BPA can cause; Connecticut even banned its use  in children’s products.


Ninety-three percent of us have BPA in our bodies. We live with it, and we excrete it when we go to the bathroom, sending the chemical into the environment.

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These difficult-to-pronounce ingredients help fragrance linger on the body after you have applied a lotion or body cream to your skin. They’re also found in toys, floor coverings, detergent, soaps, nail polish, and shampoos. Unfortunately, they mimic the hormone estrogen and have been linked to reproductive problems in rodents, such as lower testosterone and fetal malformation. Often they are not listed on beauty products, so the best rule of thumb is to avoid any products with fragrance.



Found in moisturizing shampoos and body lotions, parabens are the most widely used preservatives in the beauty product industry, and they also act similar to estrogen in our bodies. One study found parabens in the breast cancer tissue of 19 out of 20 women studied; experts worry there could be a connection.


Use these chemicals as a litmus test for a healthy product. If you see them listed on the label (often as methylparaben, butylparaben, or propylparaben), it shows that the manufacturer is not concerned about limiting exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.


Leftover Prescription Medicine

The medication we take ends up in our water supply in 1 of 2 ways. We secrete it in our urine (which we can’t control), but many of us also flush unused medication down the toilet, contributing to the rising amount of pharmaceutical pollution found in our water supply. In 2008, the Associated Press found that dozens of pharmaceuticals end up in our water supplies, and eventually, in our tap water. That’s because water treatment plants are designed to neutralize biological hazards, such as bacteria, but not pollutants such as antibiotics. Scientists are now discovering bacteria in the wild that are not only resistant to antibiotics, they can actually live off them.


What Can You Do?

  • Drink water from stainless steel bottles
  • Avoid plastics with the numbers 3, 6, and 7 on the bottom
  • Never heat plastic in the microwave (even if it says it is microwave safe)
  • Choose frozen and fresh produce over canned
  • Use BPA-free baby bottles
  • Avoid any products that contain fragrances; opt for those that get their scent from essential oils
  • Stay away from parabens
  • Choose products that are paraben- and phthalate-free
  • Dispose of leftover medication by throwing it in the trash with coffee grinds or cat litter (to keep harmful medications from being picked from the trash), return the unused portion to your pharmacy, or go online to find your local hazardous waste disposal facility.” 


Weighing in on…’pink slime’

March 23, 2012

I am sure that you’ve all heard about it. But just to be sure we are on the same page, let me share a brief story about ‘pink slime’ below so you know what I am talking about. I guess one of my favorite comments I’ve heard during this discussion came from a vegetarian who stated, “If I knew where my meat was coming from, I might eat it.” For me, it is the use of the word “lean” that gets me. Count the number of times it appears in the news story here. It really makes me wonder how often I have purchased really ‘lean’ ground beef in the past and got it at a good price–but really wasn’t getting what I thought I was buying.. Hmm. And when did pink slime first get added to our meat supply? Anyone know?

What is the missing content in this ad and why is it worth talking about it for the sake of health?

January 18, 2012

I have been meaning to look up the research linked to ads about high fructose corn syrup for awhile. You know the ones. They says that the two are the same and that your body doesn’t know the difference. What they don’t every explicitly say in any of the ads I have seen is: they are both high calorie carbohydrates that should be eaten in moderation, err on the side of less rather than more.

Turns out that the Corn Refiners Association started the ad campaign to clear up misconceptions about corn syrup versus cane sugar. You can see the original ad here: 

I cannot embed it because the Corn Refiners have disabled embedding. After a bit of surfing, I did find one of the ads from the campaign because someone else is using it along with their personal conclusions about why corn syrup is bad. I thought it would be worth checking to see if I could find any research.    

A review of the science [found here:] supports several conclusions. Of course, the broadest conclusion is that more research is needed. But that being said, here goes. On p. 519, the authors conclude,

“From a compositional standpoint, high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, invert sugar, honey, and concentrated fruit juices are all virtually interchangeable. All of these nutritive sweeteners are composed of approximately 50% glucose and 50% fructose. All are absorbed similarly, have similar sweetness, and have the same number of calories per gram.”

Why I am annoyed by this Nexium commercial

January 11, 2012

OK. Running on the networks is this annoying commercial. The key message is, “You wouldn’t want your doctor doing your job.”

I suppose it is intended to somehow make us feel guilty because we are somehow offending our doctor in our personal efforts to read product labels and make informed decisions about over the counter drug purchases.

I don’t think my doctor would be offended. Instead, I think both my doctor and I are annoyed by an ad that suggests only a doctor knows best.

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