Monday, August 11, 2014

Antibacterial Soap?

Seems that the antibacterial agent used in antibacterial soap, Triclosan, shows up in urine samples.  I don't know if that bothers you.  In the very least it speaks to how our skin functions to absorb (or eliminate) substances.  What you put on your skin can get absorbed and travel throughout your body.  There has not been any ill health effects proven from systemic exposure to Triclosan (yet), but one does have to wonder if something is sufficiently destructive to bacteria to kill them, then what it might be capable of doing to our cells?  That question is beginning to be asked in various circles - especially among governmental agencies concerned about public health and the manufacturers who are always leery about potentials for lawsuits.  

There are several problems with antibacterial soap.  Largely because of the advertising for these soaps, the consuming public has developed germ-phobia.  We've gotten pulled into a war against germs (that we probably can't win.)  There are many germs that our allies in the war against illness, and we are killing them off too.  Then, the pathological germs have shown themselves quite capable of adapting to chemical warfare -- more so than we are, so we could be well on our way to causing more "super bugs."  The effects of these anti-bacterial agents on our own cell structure are unknown.  The human body is very responsive and it comes as a little bit of a surprise that exposures to an anti-bacterial soap that is immediately rinsed off, in most cases, can be absorbed in amounts quickly and effectively enough to then be excreted and detected in urine.  Generally, there are many chemicals that take a long time to do their damage, or for us to see a negative health effect.  What are our children being exposed to now that will appear in some unwanted health problems years down the line?  Finally, what effect are these chemicals having on the unborn children of pregnant women?    We know for a fact that another common chemical used in cosmetic products, soaps, lotions, and shampoos -- Butyl Paraben, reduces the size of newborns, in addition to its pretty strong association with causing cancer.  What will be the health toll of using the some 2,000 different home cleaning, health, and beauty products with antibacterial ingredients?

It's almost enough to make you go natural, isn't it?  For the record, natural soaps are as good as antibacterial soaps for washing your hands.

NatureWords for your Health,
Mark  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

What to Do About Aspirin?

Millions of people who have been to their doctor for a routine physical have been told the past few years to take a baby aspirin (81 mg) every day to prevent heart attacks and stroke.  Aspirin commercials and the medical profession have gone all out to teach this.  The FDA this past week issued a statement reversing this well rehearsed advice.  They now say that aspirin, while it may be indicated after a stroke or heart attack, it does nothing to prevent heart attacks or stroke.  Therefore, the risk from aspirin to cause bleeding in the brain or stomach outweighs the benefit.  Consequently, you should not be taking aspirin to prevent a heart attack.  Seemed clear enough.

A day later, out of Europe, comes very convincing evidence that aspirin is strong prevention against cancer - especially gastrointestinal tract cancers.  So, what does one do with this confusing duel of studies about aspirin?

Here is a little table to help you decide.

You should PROBABLY NOT TAKE ASPIRIN (check with your doctor to be sure.)
If you are allergic to it.
If you bruise easily.
If you have a blood clotting problem or you have difficulty getting cuts to stop bleeding.
If you have stomach or duodenal ulcers.
If you are taking blood thinners.

You MIGHT BENEFIT FROM ASPIRIN (check with your doctor to be sure):
If you have a family history of stomach or colorectal cancer in your family.
If you have a bad headache.
If you have a fever, aches, or pains.
If you have some kind of inflammatory condition (e.g. arthritis)

You PROBABLY RISK YOUR HEALTH TAKING ASPIRIN (check with your doctor to be sure):
If you are trying to avoid getting a heart attack or stroke.
If you think you are avoiding cancer (when all other cancer risk factors are low or absent.)

In every instance, it is best to check with your doctor.  About 7500 (non-suicidal) deaths per year occur due to aspirin.  It can cause hemorrhaging, so you should respect the fact that it is a drug, like all the others out there.  Don't take it if you don't have a clear need and indication to be taking it.