Showing posts with label health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health. Show all posts

November 27, 2018

Is Lip Balm Bad for You?

Lip balm distributed by Colorado Parks & Willife.
A friend was visiting Denver from northern England earlier this month. I urged her to bring sunglasses — just tell your European friends that Denver is slightly south of Naples, and they will understand — and also lip balm.

Was I wrong about the lip balm?

Living in an arid climate, I think of chapped lips as normal. I rarely put anything on them except sometimes in the winter.

Now, in the ever-changing world of health advice, some people are saying lip balm makes things worse.
Lip balms provide only temporary comfort, and some types can make scaly lips even drier.

That's because, in part, when the thin film of moisture from the lip balm evaporates, it dehydrates your lips even more. "It starts a vicious cycle," Dr. Leah Jacob, an assistant professor of dermatology at Tulane University, told Live Science.
I grew up with Chapstick commercials featuring the dashing competitive and freestyle skier Suzy Chaffee (born in Vermont but who attended the University of Denver), whose nickname was "Suzy Chapstick" because she was that brand's spokesmodel in the 1970s. (She later endorsed only "all-natural" products.) So this is hard news to take.

Susy Chaffee at Squaw Valley
Additionally, lips don't have any hair follicles or oil glands of their own. Instead, the oil from glands around our lips provide moisture. Licking your lips or applying a thin gloss, balm or anything out of a tube to supplement that moisture may sound like a good idea, but it can be the worst thing you do for them because it can lead to further dehydration, Jacob said.

Some lip balms contain ingredients that can be irritating or drying. Menthol, salicylic acid, cinnamic aldehyde and peppermint flavors are all culprits, Jacob said. "A lot of people don't have any problems with these ingredients, but people with sensitive skin or allergies may be more sensitive to these on their lips, as well," she said.
But can she do a "Suzy contortion spin," as shown?

April 12, 2014

Sunlight and Body Weight Connected?

Get up and out in the sunshine early in the day, and you will be slimmer, says this article.
A surprising new strategy for managing your weight? Bright morning light. A new Northwestern Medicine study reports the timing, intensity and duration of your light exposure during the day is linked to your weight—the first time this has been shown..
And before you start talking about individual exceptions, yes, I am married to a slim person who hates to get up early. For me, early dog walk is partly about getting some sunlight to start my metabolism. (For the dog, it is about expending all the craziness built up during the hours of sleep by running wildly through the woods.)

October 04, 2013

Backcountry Hygiene for Women

Answers to all the difficult questions, from a woman who has backpacked the length of South America — and more.
Even if you’re a guy, it’d be worth reading this article: If you ever want your girlfriend, fiancee, or wife to join you on a backpacking trip, your ignorance on this subject could be major roadblock.
Hat tip: Mountain Matters

June 13, 2013

Urban Trees and Public Health

In a NPR interview transcript, a researcher who tries to quantify exactly how the loss of trees (particularly urban trees) affects public health.
That's a really unique opportunity. Imagine if you were trying to look at the effect of trees growing on someone's health and I got 100 people, I put them in 100 identical houses, and I planted trees in front of 50 of those houses and then waited. It would take 40 or 50 years before you found anything because trees grow really slowly. It's hard to see significant changes quickly. On the other hand, trees die really quickly. That's why you have this unique opportunity to see a big change in the natural environment in a short amount of time.

April 23, 2013

Mental Illness and Gun Rights: Some Hidden Traps?

Recent debates over gun-ownership have seen the pro-gun rights side reacting to calls for restriction with the counter-argument that what we really need is more attention paid to the mentally ill.

On its website, the National Rifle Association states, "The NRA has supported legislation to ensure that appropriate records of those who have been judged mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to mental institutions be made available for use in firearms transfer background checks."

This seems like a good response to those politicians who want to turn law-abiding citizens into criminals with the stroke of a pen. We all agree that "crazy people shouldn't have guns."

But is there a hidden danger here? Who defines "mental illness"? The mental-health industry (drug makers, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, and other therapists) keeps enlarging the definition.

The new fifth edition of the DIagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will have even more categories than the fourth edition had. And the DSM-4 already offered catch-all categories such as "adjustment disorder," which let a therapist medicalize any mild depression, etc., assign it a code number, and let patients submit claims to their insurance carries.

Now half the population will be conceivably coded as "mentally ill":
If we think of having a diagnosable mental illness as being under a tent, the tent seems pretty big. Huge, in fact. How did it happen that half of us will develop a mental illness? Has this always been true and we just didn’t realize how sick we were—we didn’t realize we were under the tent? Or are we mentally less healthy than we were a generation ago? What about a third explanation—that we are labeling as mental illness psychological states that were previously considered normal, albeit unusual, making the tent bigger. The answer appears to be all three.
A book review in the Chronicle of Higher Education also notes the multiplication of categories of mental disturbance:
Where [psychiatrist Jeffrey[ Kahn's book is a genial guide to American angst, [Edward] Shorter's How Everyone Became Depressed is a polemical, alarmist complaint about the psychiatric profession, the big pharmaceutical companies, and the changes within medicine about diagnosis and terminology. Shorter, a professor of history at the University of Toronto, who went down this road in Before Prozac (Oxford, 2008), argues that the overelaboration of symptoms in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the updated fifth edition of which will appear in May, has led to the multiplication of nervous syndromes. "Most clinicians, in their heart of hearts, thought anxiety and depression were really the same illness: It was only the DSM drafters who wanted to keep them apart," he says.
If you are not taking psychotropic medication yourself, you know people who are. And since not everyone metabolizes these medications the same way, perhaps you have heard stories of how a switch in medication caused the patient to become crazier, until they begged their psychiatrist to prescribe something else.

Furthermore, boys more than girls tend to receive psychoactive drugs. Making the connection, one writer notes, "It is simply indisputable that most perpetrators of school shootings and similar mass murders in our modern era were either on – or just recently coming off of – psychiatric medications."*

This is one aspect of school shootings that has not been examined enough. Could "Why did they do it?" have some connection with psychotropic medication?

So, gun owners, think about these questions:

• if you like the NRA's language about "involuntarily committed," do you think that if someone is placed on a 72-hour hold, the SWAT team should kick down the door and seize all firearms in the household? Even if that person is released subsequently with a pat on the hand?

• Do you think that a therapist who thinks guns are icky might get a patient to admit to owning one and then report that patient as a danger to society?

• Do you think that the gun-banners might seek to leverage the DSM-5 to make gun ownership more difficult in the name of protecting society from the "mentally ill"?

It's a culture war that we are in, not a disagreement over crime-fighting.

* I realize that WND tends toward the "paranoid style," but this issue of drugs and school shooters is worth looking at. Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

January 02, 2010

You Don't Get More Natural Than Poop

At Boing-Boing, they answer a "science question from a toddler: Why is poop brown?"

It turns out that there is a book about it.

When I was a college student, I attended a lecture by Yogi Bhajan, founder of 3HO and spiritual father of the New Mexico Sikhs, who informed us that if we were happy and holy, etc., our turds would float.

At the time, I merely wondered how Indian sages discovered that fact without a tradition of indoor plumbing.

Dr. Sheth might not agree with the guru, since he includes a chapter on "Floaters versus Sinkers" and tells Boing-Boing what I have heard elsewhere too:

Fatty poop also smells way worse than normal and it tends to float. "Like an oil slick," Dr. Sheth said.

December 06, 2009

Environmental Causes of Breast Cancer and Asthma?

As mammogram guidelines are debated in the media, I am glad to see someone thinking that perhaps rising breast cancer and asthma rates have to do with environmental pollution, probably endocrine distruptors.

I asked these doctors what they do in their own homes to reduce risks. They said that they avoid microwaving food in plastic or putting plastics in the dishwasher, because heat may cause chemicals to leach out. And the symposium handed out a reminder card listing “safer plastics” as those marked (usually at the bottom of a container) 1, 2, 4 or 5.

The popular Nalgene polycarbonate bottles with a 7 on the bottom are in the "throw out" category, writer Nicholas Kristoff suggests. The company's rather ambiguous position is stated here.

October 28, 2009

Your Butt is a Running Muscle

Not really new stuff -- there were man vs. horse races in the 19th century, and the man could win over distance -- but the New York Times joins the reaction against high-tech running shoes.

November 08, 2008

Smart Pills

I have a childhood memory of going on a "nature walk" with someone (in Boy Scouts? at the old Jefferson County, Colo., camp for 6th-graders?) who told us about "smart pills."

He held up a nearly spherical little mule-deer turd and told us that if we ate one, we would be smart -- smart enough to never do that again!

Har har.

That memory came back when I read this item in today's Denver Post: "Elk Droppings May Have Sickened Kids."

In Jefferson County, too.

April 05, 2008

Living Long the Mineralized Water Way

From another of those "Live to be 100" articles:

Drink hard water. Nicoyan [Costa Rica] water has the country's highest calcium content, which perhaps explains the centenarians' lower rates of heart disease, as well as stronger bones and fewer hip fractures.

"We have that one covered," M. says, as she shakes big flakes of mineralized deposits out of the tea kettle.