STUDY: Kids who are overly hygienic appear to be at increased risk of developing wheezing
JOURNAL: Archives of Disease in Childhood 2002;87:26-29.
AUTHORS: Dr. Andrea Sherriff
ABSTRACT: Kids who are overly hygienic appear to be at increased risk of developing wheezing--a symptom of asthma--and the allergy-related skin condition eczema, according to new study findings.
COMMENTARY: Dr. Andrea Sherriff of the University of Bristol, UK, and her colleagues based their results on surveys of more than 9,000 parents, who indicated how often their 15-month-old children bathed and washed their faces and hands.
The investigators found that children with the highest degree of personal hygiene--those who washed their faces and hands more than five times per day, cleaned before meals, and bathed more than two times each day--were the most likely to develop eczema and wheezing between the ages of 30 and 42 months.
The relationship between hygiene and allergies spanned different hygiene levels. As the level of hygiene increased, so did the risk of developing eczema or wheezing.
Increasing levels of hygiene appeared to be especially linked to a risk of developing severe eczema, the authors note in the current issue of the Archives of Disease in Childhood. In infants and young children, eczema manifests as intensely itchy, red patches that can ooze and crust over. The condition is treated with ointments and antihistamines, and avoidance of substances that trigger the condition.
Sherriff's team found that taking into account additional factors that might influence the results, such as family history of allergies or contact with furry pets, did not affect the relationship between hygiene and the allergy symptoms.
The link between hygiene and allergies is in step with the so-called "hygiene hypothesis"--the theory that a lower exposure to germs affects the immune system's development in such a way that it is more prone to allergic reactions.
For example, previous studies have found that adults who had grown up on a farm were less likely to develop allergies, while young children exposed to older siblings at home and those who attend day care also have a lower risk of allergies and asthma.
This study should not be interpreted as a call to parents to abandon all hygiene practices. We do not want to go back to the days of infectious diseases--which we have eradicated partly because of improved hygiene. Just don't over do it.
STUDY: People who are more spiritual are better able to deal with the discomforts and limitations of chronic disease
JOURNAL: American Geriatrics Society
AUTHORS: S. Chung
ABSTRACT: People who are more spiritual are better able to deal with the discomforts and limitations of chronic disease than their less-spiritual counterparts. That's the conclusion of a Johns Hopkins study presented at the American Geriatrics Society's annual meeting.
COMMENTARY: Recent studies have suggested that acutely ill people with strong religious faith or an optimistic personality may get better quicker or live longer than people who lack those traits. The aim of the Hopkins study was to assess the relation between spirituality, disease severity and perceptions of well-being in patients with chronic disease.
To do so, the researchers examined data on 77 patients aged 30 or older who had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for a minimum of 2 years. Spirituality was defined as "the capacity of an individual to stand outside of his/her immediate sense of time and place and to view life from a larger, more detached perspective."
While being spiritual did not lessen the effects of the arthritis, reduce pain or improve mobility, people who were more spiritual tended to be happier and feel better about their general health, the study found.
Putting this into practice could be as simple as teaching relaxation skills, meditation and yoga, said Hopkins investigator S. Chung. The way we define spirituality, it's not necessarily a particular faith orientation, but certain things like feeling like a part of the community by volunteering. And for elderly people, there's so many things that could be done to make them feel part of the mainstream of things.
Having a belief system can really help to lower stress and during times of sickness and health.
STUDY: DHEA supplementation decreased the number of flare-ups and reduced disease severity
JOURNAL: Arthritis and Rheumatism (2002;46:2924–7)
ABSTRACT: Supplementing with dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) is beneficial for women with systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus), according to a report in Arthritis and Rheumatism (2002;46:2924–7)
COMMENTARY: The results indicate that DHEA supplementation decreased the number of flare-ups and reduced disease severity in women with active lupus.
DHEA is a steroid hormone manufactured in the adrenal glands, ovaries, and testes. Blood levels of DHEA are low in many people with lupus, and some scientists believe that DHEA deficiency may be a contributing factor to the development of the disease. DHEA modulates the activity of the immune system, which tends to be overly aggressive in individuals with lupus.
JOURNAL: Journal of Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nursing (2002;29:295–300)
ABSTRACT: Topical application of honey is beneficial in the treatment of wounds and burns.
COMMENTARY: A number of properties inherent to honey might contribute to its ability to fight infection and promote healing.
Its high sugar content allows it to draw infection and fluid from wounds by a process called “osmosis.” Honey prevents bacterial growth through its acidic pH and through the work of an enzyme that produces small amounts of hydrogen peroxide.
Its ability to keep the area around a wound moist and protected promotes fast healing and prevents scarring.
Honeys also contain components from the specific plants used by the bees in their production, and it is speculated that some of these components might further add to the antibacterial and wound-healing effects of certain honeys. The process of pasteurization, used to sterilize commercial honeys, destroys the enzyme involved in the production of hydrogen peroxide, rendering these honeys less antibacterial.
Raw honeys maintain their enzymes, and honeys produced for therapeutic use are sterilized through an irradiation process that does not damage their constituents. There are currently two therapeutic honeys available: Medihoney of Australia and Active Manuka Honey of New Zealand. Both are derived from bees using the flowers of tea trees (Leptospermum spp.) as their
STUDY: Women Worry
JOURNAL: Journal of the National Cancer Institute
ABSTRACT: Conflicting information on what factors determine radiologists' accuracy in reading mammograms may have some women wondering what they can do to ensure a correct diagnosis.
COMMENTARY: The busiest radiologists--those who had evaluated the most mammograms--did not necessarily do the best job at identifying signs of breast cancer.
There are a number of steps women can take to boost the accuracy of the breast cancer screening test.
First and foremost women should attempt to go to the same breast cancer screening clinic year after year.
If that is not possible, women should obtain the X-rays from their previous mammograms for comparison sake.
For younger women they should avoid getting a mammogram while they are menstruating because the breast tissue undergoes changes during this time that can affect mammogram accuracy.
Younger women are better off scheduling mammograms during the follicular phase of their cycle--the first and second week after the first day of their period.