IFA News and Opinion
Issue Date: April 1, 2007
Poison Prevention Tips
When Jeff and Kathy Campbell's daughter awoke
coughing one night, her parents stumbled into a dark kitchen for cough
syrup but returned instead with a spoonful of Dermaton, a tick and flea
killer. The pesticide contained a substance that can cause severe
breathing problems, fluid in the lungs, and congestive heart failure.
“It was amazing how much the bottles were alike,”
said Jeff Campbell. When Rachel complained about its taste, the
Campbells recognized the pesticide smell and rushed Rachel to the
According to a news release from the Home Safety
Council, 92 percent of all poisonings occur in homes. Although cleaning
solutions are the most common cause of poisonings, overdoses of
medicines and mistaken identity also cause numerous poisonings.
Many times accidental poisonings involve overdoses of
seemingly safe over-the-counter medicines. For instance, an overdose of
iron supplement is potentially fatal and swallowing an eye drop bottle’s
contents can produce low blood pressure and comas.
The storage of poisonous materials can also lead to
potential poisonings. Using soft drink bottles to hold paint thinner,
turpentine, or gasoline invites children to taste them. Containers for
pesticides, solvents, and cleaners can easily be mistaken for bottles of
mouthwash and cough medicine. Sweet-smelling or good-tasting products,
like perfumes and antifreeze, are particularly attractive to children.
The Safety Council recommends:
Evaluate where hazardous substances are stored and eliminate situations that could lead to a poisoning incident.
Store products in their original containers with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Store harmful products away from food and medicines.
Make sure all medications have child-resistant caps.
Post the telephone number of a poison control center
near the phone.
One Cornell University professor says many of us are
dietary sleepwalking. It's like we're in a nutritional trance. We just
eat whatever happens to be there without giving it a thought.
In his book, Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We
Think (Bantam), Professor Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food
and Brand Lab, explains the psychology behind it all.
He writes about the "tablescape." How attractively
food is arranged, how close it is to us, and how the room is lighted all
affect how long we linger at the table and how much we will eat. Wansink
recommends using smaller plates. With snacks, he says people using large
bowls take half again as much as those using smaller bowls.
If there is more variety, people will eat more. He
recommends the rule of two, taking only two foods from a buffet at any
one time. Refill as often as you want, but by taking just two foods each
time, you'll eat less.
When dining with others, the enjoyable atmosphere can
cause you to eat up to 40 percent more. One tip: At a party, don't start
eating until the last person at the table starts. Or go back to the rule
Wansink says it's best to avoid huge packages of snacks. He says half
the food you buy in huge quantities will be gone in a week. If you want
that 5 pound barrel of snacks, divide it into small plastic bags so you
won't be eating a huge quantity at once.
Want to slim down over time? Forget starving
yourself. The professor says that if you cut 200 calories a day, you
will be 20 pounds lighter in one year without ever feeling hungry.
Omega-3s Go Into Foods
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce the risk of
heart disease, Alzheimer's, and possibly other diseases. The American
Heart association recommends them. But because omega-3 is found
naturally only in fish such as salmon, and in nuts, and oils, it's
difficult to get much omega-3 in your diet.
Food processors are changing that. Omega-3 is now the
hottest food additive on the market. More than 250 different food
products are now fortified with omega-3s. According to a HealthFocus USA
Trend Survey, four in 10 adults are seeking more omega-3s in their diet.
Tropicana is the first orange juice to contain it.
Unilever's I Can't Believe It's Not Butter has 400 milligrams of omega-3
per serving. Omega Farms adds omega-3 to milk, cheese, yogurt, and
orange juice. Eggland's Best gives its hens feed that is high in
omega-3s, resulting in 100 mg per egg for consumers.
Pet foods such as Iams and Eukanuba are fortified
Eat at home. Restaurant food has more fat, calories,
Apples Protects Memory, Heart, and more
Chalk up another victory for Mom's "apple a day"
While medical researchers spend their lives making
discoveries that will improve our health, sometimes they discover that
good food can be great medicine.
When it comes to apples, the good news gets better
all the time. Apples can preserve memory and help to prevent asthma,
cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.
Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Lowell
say the big news about apples right now is its possible ability to keep
Alzheimer's disease away. Apples can increase production of the
neurotransmitter acetylcholine, resulting in improved memory.
Neurotransmitters are also vital for good health throughout the body.
The UMass study mostly used apple juice.
Apples are the best source of quercetin, an
antioxidant that protects brain cells against oxidative stress. This is
a tissue-damaging process associated with Alzheimer's disease.
Drinking two cups of apple juice or eating three
apples a day boosts production of quercetin. C.Y. Lee, professor and
chairman of the Department of Food Science & Technology at Cornell
University, says apples are among the best choices for fighting
Lee says people should eat more apples, especially
fresh ones. Red Delicious has a very high antioxidant content. Be sure
to eat the skin. It can have 6 times more antioxidants than the flesh.
Apples are well-known cancer fighters and heart
protectors. They reduce risk of diabetes, asthma, and tooth loss.
No-fuss apple-nut salad
Set out salad bowls for the number of salads you will
make. Cut apples (with skins) into small chunks and drop into each bowl.
Add chopped walnuts and tiny marshmallows. Mix.
In a separate bowl or large cup, slightly thin
fat-free mayo with a little milk and sweeten to taste with sugar or
sweetener. Mix well, then pour onto the individual salads. Serve
New test reduces number of breast biopsies
Doctors in the U.S. perform more than a million
breast biopsies every year. The results come back normal eight times out
A new technology has now been developed that could
greatly reduce the number of biopsies doctors feel they must do.
Reported by the Radiological Society of North America, a new procedure
called elasticity imaging involves no needles or scalpels. Yet it is
very good at telling the difference between benign lumps, which are
softer, and cancerous growths, which are harder. Elasticity imagining
can easily tell the difference between the two.
To a patient, an ordinary ultrasound and an
elastogram, which requires only a few seconds more, feel the same.
The technology is not yet available for general use.
After international trials now taking place, however, it could eliminate
the need for many thousands of biopsies.
Supplement Gains Fans
After recent studies suggest that resveratrol, a
substance found in red wine, increases endurance and prolongs life span
in mice, human beings are rushing to health food stores and Web sites to
buy resveratrol. (Mice in the studies were given very high does of
David Sinclair, a biologist at Harvard Medical
School, who led the study published in Nature, takes resveratrol
himself. Others involved in the research take it too. They won't tell
what brand or dosage they take. Still, Sinclair and other scientists say
it's too early to recommend use of the substance to others.
This Stent Disappears
Abbott Laboratories' bio-absorbable stent reduces
some of the risks associated with metal and drug-coated stents. It's
rigid enough to widen an artery but begins to dissolve after a year. By
then, the blood vessel has reshaped itself and can stay open without a
prop, say doctors testing the stent in New Zealand.
Easy Steps to Better Health
Recommended by health writer Tara Parker-Pope, some
of these ideas are not new, but put together, they can make a big
difference in your weight and fitness level.
Eat together at the table: People consume more when
eating in front of the TV. And foods eaten "on the go" are generally
higher in calories.
Play with kids for at least 20 minutes a day. Ride a
bike, jump rope, play touch football or soccer. You can visit this
link at www.caloriecontrol.org/exercalc.html to find calories burned in
Focus on favorite foods. Instead of trying to give up
your favorites, eat smaller portions or switch to lower-fat versions.
They can be just as good.
Eat soup. "Volume" foods like soup leave you feeling
full on fewer calories. Check The Volumetrics Eating Plan (Morrow
Cookbooks) by Pennsylvania State University's Barbara Rolls.
If you can't quit, at least exercise
Smoking is a bad idea, no question about it. But if
you haven't yet quit, you should know that exercise can reduce your risk
of lung cancer.
In a study of older women, researchers found that
smokers who were physically active, had a 35 percent lower risk of lung
cancer than sedentary smokers.
The study of 42,000 women began in 1986. By the end
of 2002, there were 36,410 participants and 777 cases of lung cancer. Of
those, 125 were nonsmokers, 177 were former smokers, and 475 were
Among the 475 current smokers, 324 currently smoked
and were not very physically active. Among the physically active
smokers, there were 151 cases of lung cancer.
Most experts think the reduction is trivial because
smoking is so risky in so many ways. At the University of Pennsylvania's
Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, they say the most
important thing smokers can do is quit.
Those who quit are 10 to 11 times less likely to
develop lung cancer.
Early Detection of Kidney Disease
Every day your kidneys go about their work of
removing excess fluid and waste from your blood. You probably never
think about them. But you should.
In addition to filtering waste, the kidneys have
several important jobs to do. Consider this: They produce the two
hormones needed to make red blood cells and regulate blood pressure, and
they produce the active form of vitamin D, which helps maintain calcium
for bones and other body functions.
At your regular checkup, ask your doctor about a
blood test to measure your kidney function. Early detection of a problem
is very important.
Each kidney has millions of tiny nephrons that act as
filters. Beginning about age 40, a natural loss of nephrons occurs, but
because there are so many, that doesn't cause problems unless other
factors are present. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, or both,
some nephrons will lose their ability to filter blood.
In addition to controlling diabetes and blood
pressure, you can protect your kidneys with these steps.
If you regularly take over-the-counter painkillers, especially for a long period of time, check with your doctor. The doctor may be able to recommend a safer alternative.
Get treatment for strep throat. When streptococcus invades the kidneys of adults, it can lead to kidney problems and kidney failure in some cases.
Know what's in "natural herb supplements." Some substances can work like prescription drugs. Patients taking blood thinners should know that garlic, ginger, ginko biloba, and ginseng all contain natural anticoagulants. They could cause internal bleeding in people taking blood thinners.
Anger is Bad for Your Health
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic have a story about the
appetizer in a fancy restaurant: one shrimp.
One diner was speechless, the second one laughed, and
the third became angry and demanded to see the manager. These were three
different responses to the same situation.
Feeling angry is OK if it just happens now and then,
but being angry too often, too intensely, or too long is not. It can
make your heart race, your blood pressure skyrocket, your muscles tense,
and your arteries dilate.
This fight-or-flight response is good if you'll be
fighting off a lion. If not, you're inviting your heart into a dangerous
set of circumstances.
To manage anger safely, think before you respond.
Consider possible explanations for the situation. Defuse a possible
blowup with humor if that's possible. This is particularly useful with
If you get angry very often, identify your triggers
so you can guard against them. With premeditation, you can be assertive
but calm. Watch for similar situations and know how you will respond.
Remember that when you get very angry, you hurt yourself, not the other
person or other people.
Believe it or not, getting into good physical
condition can help you handle stressful situations or insults. Regular
exercise can help reduce frustration. It can give you the confidence to
know you can handle a problem and be in charge of it if you stay calm.
Deciding to walk away can be the best course of
action. If it's a letter, put it aside for a day or two. If it's a
person, saying, "I'll get back to you on this," and walking off can
diffuse the situation and give you time to come up with a good response.
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