Thursday, December 4, 2014

Health Care and School Lunches

Do you remember those school days in the cafeteria when you were going through the lunch line? How about the lunch ladies with their hair nets, and big metal spoons they used to slop the slop? And what about “Mystery Meat Thursday”? Do you have flashbacks when you go into a restaurant that has self serve buffet lines?

These kinds of memories are shared by millions of people who at one time or another experienced eating lunch in a school lunch room, and only the lucky kids who brought their sack lunches were fortunate enough to avoid seeing chicken spaghetti with sauce as heavy as silicon morter thrown onto their tray at least once a week.

The school lunch program in schools across the country has long been a joke that keeps on giving. However, it has suffered some changes, and is still a source of contention with school districts, parents and kids, and the federal government. This month, according to Farm Futures Magazine, the USDA has renewed efforts to connect school cafeterias with local farmers and ranchers through its Farm to School Program. The program helps schools buy more food from local farmers and ranchers in their communities, expanding access to healthy local food for school children and supporting local economies.

The Secretary of Agriculture stated: "These inspiring collaborations provide students with healthy, fresh food, while supporting healthy local economies. Through farm to school projects, community partners are coming together to ensure a bright future for students, and for local farmers and ranchers." Much more information about this initiative can be found at this website: http://farmfutures.com/story-usda-pushes-more-local-food-school-lunches-0-121067 . 

Since the 1940’s schools have been providing federally assisted school meal programs. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day. The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946, according to the USDA. More feedback about this aspect of school nutrition can be found at this site: http://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp/national-school-lunch-program-nslp .

According to FRAC, the Food Research and Action Center, the NSLP provides per meal cash reimbursements to schools as an entitlement to provide nutritious meals to children. This means that all eligible schools can participate and all children attending those schools can participate. Schools participating in NSLP also receive agricultural commodities (unprocessed or partially processed foods) as a supplement to the per-meal cash reimbursements, in amounts based on the number of lunches they serve. USDA research indicates that children who participate in the NSLP have superior nutritional intakes compared to those who do not participate. 

The National School Lunch Program provides school children with one-third or more of their Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for key nutrients. These lunches are required to provide no more than 30 percent of calories from fat and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Every school district that participates in the National School Lunch Program was required to enact a local school wellness policy, an opportunity to address obesity and promote healthy eating and physical activity through changes in school environments. More details are available at this site: http://frac.org/federal-foodnutrition-programs/national-school-lunch-program/ . 

Additionally, the Food and Nutrition Service administers several programs that provide healthy food to children including the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, the Summer Food Service Program, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, and the Special Milk Program. Administered by State agencies, each of these programs helps fight hunger and obesity by reimbursing organizations such as schools, child care centers, and after-school programs for providing healthy meals to children.

Details about this expanded food program is available at this website: http://www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/child-nutrition-programs . And, for a more exhaustive amount of background material on all school food programs administered by the government, you can see that at this site: http://www.nutrition.gov/food-assistance-programs/school-lunch-and-breakfast-programs .

According to the New America Foundation, the National School Lunch Program supports student nutrition in over 101,000 schools and residential facilities. It provides free and reduced priced meals to low-income children before school, during school, after school, and over the summer. In fiscal year 2013, federal school nutrition programs underwrote more than five billion lunches served. Total funding for all nutrition programs sums to $16.3 billion in both cash and commodity payments in fiscal year 2014. To find more detailed info on this topic, visit this website: http://febp.newamerica.net/background-analysis/federal-school-nutrition-programs .

However, according to Breitbart, the National School Lunch Program feeds upwards to 31 million American students a day, spending nearly $12 billion annually; but many of those children are throwing away the vegetables, fruits, and snacks forced on them by the new federal nutrition standards. The government's new school lunch requirements championed by First Lady Michelle Obama are wasting $4 million a day in discarded food that children won't eat.

A new Harvard study of the program, "shows that 60 percent of fresh vegetables and 40 percent of fresh fruit are being thrown away." And a recent study released by the National School Nutrition Association found 81.2 percent of schools surveyed indicated an increase in the amount of food being thrown away by students since the new nutrition standards went into effect two years ago.
 
Nearly 600 school districts have already dropped out of the First Lady's lunch program. That’s a lot of food and tax dollars being wasted. More details on this issue can be found at this site: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/09/18/Michelle-Obama-s-School-Lunch-Program-Wastes-Millions .

Is there light at the end of the checkout line? Perhaps, but innovation is slow to be adopted, unless the government mandates it. There are other options, though. One company is already making a difference—OrderLunches.com. The company was created in 2006 to replace the complicated task of organizing and managing school lunch programs. Schools can now eliminate the endless hours spent managing paper processes or using other online systems that simply just don’t work. Busy parents get to pre-order their kids meals, know what they’re eating at school and get rid of the morning chaos.

Helping schools nationwide connect with local restaurants, caterers or on-site cooks to build strong partnerships that keep kids healthy & parents happy is the mission of this company. More details about this resource is available at this website: http://www.orderlunches.com/how-it-works/ .

Do school lunch programs work? Yes, for the most part. However, figuring out the secret sauce to avoid waste and still provide nutritious food at an affordable price is a huge challenge. Kids will be kids, though. If they don’t like it, they won’t eat it. The best option is to continue to find ways to help children and teens eat healthy food. That is a big part of the education process. Perhaps schools can sneak that curriculum in somewhere between home economics and gym class. 

Until next time.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Health Care and Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is the time of year families get together to celebrate and give thanks. Many people go with traditions and customs handed down generation by generation. And some make up new ways to give thanks and to remember the season. Thanksgiving also traditionally begins the holidays and the Christmas Season.

As well, this holiday is a time when safety and health are paramount. According to ABC news,  here are the five top health hazards to avoid. This year, the National Safety Council predicted, there will be 418 traffic fatalities and another 44,700 injuries from car crashes over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. More than 40 percent of holiday car accidents involve alcohol, according to the National Highway Safety Association.

Secondly, overindulging on turkey day wine, especially if you’re older and obese, can disrupt regular heart rhythms leading to “Holiday Heart Syndrome” an American Heart Journal study showed way back in 1978. Further strain on the ticker comes from digesting a massive meal. As a recent University of California study found, cheering for a losing football team resulted in a 15 percent spike in heart attacks among men and a 27 percent spike among women.

Third, More than 4,000 fires occur on Thanksgiving Day, U.S. Fire Administration statistics revealed. One culprit: Deep-fried turkeys. Each year, they cause approximately five deaths, 60 injuries, the destruction of 900 homes and more than $15 million in property damage, the National Fire Protection Association reported.

And fourth, Americans will consume 51 million turkeys on Thursday, Food Safety News reported. And if the bird isn’t fresh or properly cooked, many of them also risk serving up a side of salmonella. Cooking to an internal temperature of 165 degrees is the best way to avoid poisoning, FSN advised. As for leftovers, store them within two hours or toss them.

And finally, because turkey bones splinter, they can may choke dogs or cats, the Veterinary Medical Association warned. Dogs should also be kept away from any dish that contains onions, leeks or garlic because they are known to damage canine red blood cells. Likewise, raisins and grapes can induce kidney failure. And chocolate, especially vast amounts of the dark variety, can lead to serious gastrointestinal symptoms and even death in dogs.

So, the need to stay safe and healthy goes beyond just celebrating good food, good drink, and good family and friends. There is a deeper meaning to the reason for Thanksgiving.

In 1789, George Washington, a freshly minted first President and Father of a new nation, proclaimed a time to be set aside for all Americans to honor God in a time to give thanks for the blessings bestowed on a country that was brand new, and that had just come through almost a decade of war with its former parent nation, Great Britain. Still searching for a new identity as the United States of America, the population of three million new citizens were looking for a cohesive way to make it in the world.

According to The Heritage Organization, following a resolution of Congress, President George Washington proclaimed Thursday the 26th of November 1789 a day of “public thanksgiving and prayer” devoted to “the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”

Reflecting American religious practice, Presidents and Congresses from the beginning of the republic have from time to time designated days of fasting and thanksgiving (the Thanksgiving holiday we continue to celebrate in November was established by Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and made into law by Congress in 1941).

In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance. Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs.

Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up. Here is the proclamation:  

“By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:” 

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favor, able interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquillity, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other trangressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go. Washington”

As you gather together to celebrate  your blessings this holiday, give thanks for both the tangible and intangible rewards you enjoy each day. Teach your children and grandchildren the true meaning of Thanksgiving and why it is such an important occasion. Take time to reflect on your blessings, and why you are thankful. Give thanks to God for what He has provided no matter how much or how little you have. Don’t take it for granted. After all, you could be living in a country that is totally clueless about this time of year. What a shame that they miss all the blessings of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Until next time.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Health Care and Halloween 2014

Today, Halloween, marks the annual event that millions of Americans and people around the world celebrate almost as much as Christmas. According to Wikipedia, Halloween is an international holiday celebrated on the evening of October 31; today it is often all day long with office parties and other events. Halloween activities include trick-or-treating, ghost tours, bonfires, costume parties, visiting haunted attractions, carving jack-o'-lanterns, reading scary stories, and watching horror movies. Irish and Scottish immigrants carried versions of the tradition to North America in the nineteenth century.

Other western countries embraced the holiday in the late twentieth century. Halloween is celebrated in several countries of the Western world, most commonly in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Puerto Rico, Japan, Australia, United Kingdom, and at times in parts of New Zealand.

According to Wikipedia, Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain. The festival of Samhain is a celebration of the end of the harvest season in Gaelic culture, and is sometimes regarded as the "Celtic New Year". Traditionally, the festival was a time used by the ancient Celtic pagans to take stock of supplies and slaughter livestock for winter stores. The ancient Gaels believed that on October 31, the boundary between the alive and the deceased dissolved; and the dead become dangerous for the living by causing problems such as sickness or damaged crops.

The festivals would frequently involve bonfires, into which bones of slaughtered livestock were thrown. Costumes and masks were also worn at the festivals in an attempt to mimic the evil spirits or placate them. The term Halloween is shortened from All Hallows' Even (both "even" and "eve" are abbreviations of "evening", but "Halloween" gets its "n" from "even") as it is the eve of "All Hallows' Day", which is now also known as All Saints' Day. It was a day of religious festivities in various northern European Pagan traditions, until Popes Gregory III and Gregory IV moved the old Christian feast of All Saints' Day from May 13 (which had itself been the date of a pagan holiday, the Feast of the Lemures) to 1st November.

Hundreds of years later, Halloween is now the United States' second most popular holiday (after Christmas) for decorating; the sale of candy and costumes are also extremely common during the holiday, which is marketed to children and adults alike. Over eighty percent of American adults planned to give out candy to trick-or-treaters, and over 90% of children plan to go trick-or-treating tonight.

The dental section of About.com reports how to manage all that candy that comes home with kids after trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Sugary candy can lead to tooth decay, but following these simple steps can help you and your children have a fun Halloween without the nightmare of harming their teeth in the process:

--Don’t let your kids gorge on Halloween candy all night. Teaching your kids moderation on Halloween is important.
--Monitor that your children are brushing their teeth three times a day.
--Make sure that your children use an age-appropriate fluoridated mouthwash every evening.
--Have extra disposable dental flossers laying all over the house. You’d be amazed at what kids will do when their bored.
--Avoid or limit candy such as caramels, candy corn, jelly beans, and taffy. These particular candies are extra sticky, making it hard for saliva to wash away the sugar.
--Give your kids sugar free gum to chew. Not only does sugar-free gum help prevent cavities, it also helps neutralize the effects of sugar from the candy. Therefore, it combats the bacteria in plaque that causes cavities.

Halloween is a fun holiday and you shouldn’t have to worry about things like tooth decay as indicated by About.com. By practicing good oral hygiene and using moderation, your kids can have a fun and safe Halloween and still enjoy the candy! If you want to make sure your kids don't come home and gorge themselves on their Halloween candy, it can help to have a plan in place even before you go trick-or-treating. As a part of this plan, you might:

1.) Discuss how they can have a certain number of treats when they get home, but they must put the rest away for later. Unfortunately, depending on how much Halloween candy they get, 'later' can linger for days, weeks, or months, so you should also come up with a plan for this left-over Halloween candy.
2.) Allow them to keep a certain number of pieces of candy or a certain percentage of what they collect and then give the rest away to a food bank or other charity.
3.) Set a limit on how much candy they can collect on Halloween and don't let them fill up bag after bag after bag...
4.) Let them trade in their Halloween candy for something they have been wanting, like a video game, book, toy, trip to the movies, etc. or for fewer pieces of their favorite candy or treat.
5.) Prepare a healthier alternative to the Halloween candy that they will bring home, including fruits, sugar free treats, etc.
6.) Offer them alternatives to Halloween candy as a trade for their candy when they get home from trick-or-treating, which itself is a lot of the fun on Halloween for many kids, and not so much eating the candy itself. Also, make sure your kids eat dinner before going trick-or-treating so that they won't be so hungry before they get home.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) offers some practical safety tips for celebrating Halloween that make a lot of sense, especially for children, for a SAFE HALLOWEEN:

1. Swords, knives, and similar costume accessories should be short, soft, and flexible.
2. Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups or with a trusted adult.
3. Fasten reflective tape to costumes and bags to help drivers see you.
4. Examine all treats for choking hazards and tampering before eating them. Limit the amount of treats you eat.
5. Hold a flashlight while trick-or-treating to help you see and others see you.
6. Always test make-up in a small area first. Remove it before bedtime to prevent skin and eye irritation.
7. Look both ways before crossing the street. Use established crosswalks wherever possible.
8. Lower your risk for serious eye injury by not wearing decorative contact lenses.
9. Only walk on sidewalks or on the far edge of the road facing traffic to stay safe.
10. Wear well-fitting masks, costumes, and shoes to avoid blocked vision, trips, and falls.
11. Eat only factory-wrapped treats. Avoid eating homemade treats unless you know the cook well.
12. Enter homes only if you're with a trusted adult. Otherwise, stay outside.
13. Never walk near lit candles or luminaries. Be sure to wear flame-resistant costumes.

Halloween can be a fun time for kids. It also can be a scary time. Make sure that you monitor where your child goes, and what types of treats they get in their bags. Be careful when you are going door to door, especially in neighborhoods where you are not familiar with all the homes in the area. Check out the items before your child eats it to make sure there are no problems with the candy or other foods. Keep tabs on how much they eat. You don't want a fun time to turn into a big stomach ache later.

Although Halloween is celebrated worldwide, don't let anyone pressure you into observing the event if you aren't open to celebrating it whether based on personal beliefs or other reasons. What may be perceived as harmless fun by many, may not be so much for you. Part of a healthy lifestyle, other than watching what you eat, is having a good feeling about your own mental and spiritual well-being on this day.

Until next time.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Health Care and Rodents

When most people think of rodents, automatically mice and rats come to mind. However, nearly 40% of mammal species are rodents, and they are found on every continent except Antarctica. Rodents include mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks and beavers, among others. A very detailed list can be found at this website: http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/rodents.htm. 

The approximately 4,000 rodent species are divided on the basis of their anatomy into three well-defined groups, or suborders, and more than 30 families. The Sciuromorpha, or squirrel-like rodents, include the various species of squirrel, chipmunk, marmot, woodchuck (or ground hog), prairie dog, gopher (or pocket gopher), pocket mouse, kangaroo rat, and beaver.

The Myomorpha, or mouselike rodents, include a great variety of mouse and rat species, as well as species of hamster, lemming, vole, muskrat, gerbil, dormouse, and jerboa, according to InfoPlease.com. This is the largest rodent group. The Hystricomorpha, or porcupine-like rodents, include the porcupine, capybara, nutria (or coypu), agouti, cavy (including the domestic guinea pig), mara, and chinchilla, as well as many species whose common names include the term rat (e.g., the South American bush rat). More info can be found at this site: http://www.infoplease.com/encyclopedia/science/rodent-types-rodents.html.

According to the Orkin company, rodents’ biology and habits can make them challenging to control, and they present a serious menace to your home. If you’re in need of rodent control services, here’s what you should know about these pests:

Rats

·         Instincts: Rats are instinctively wary of things new to their environment, including rat control measures such as traps and bait, and colonize in attics, burrows, under concrete and porches, in wall voids and other hard-to-reach places.

·         Disease: Rats can harbor and transmit a number of serious diseases. They can also introduce disease-carrying parasites such as fleas and ticks into your home.

Mice

·         Access: They invade your home seeking food, water and warmth.

·         Contamination: Each mouse can contaminate much more food than it eats.

Rodents are warm-blooded mammals that, like humans, can be found throughout the world. They have oversized front teeth for gnawing and check teeth, which are adapted for chewing. Rodents chew on a variety of items available to them and cause great damage in and around homes. Plus, they tend to be rapid breeders. Some species breed year-round, and populations are maintained through constant reproduction.

Because of the rodents’ body plan, they are capable of squeezing through spaces that appear to be much too small for them. All such holes should be sealed to prevent entry and reentry of rodents. A pest control professional should be contacted for assistance. Rats and mice are both extremely destructive within agricultural communities. A number of species feed on seeds and grains. The feces and urine of some rodents may contaminate surfaces with which they come into contact. More details can be found at this site: http://www.orkin.com/rodents/.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), worldwide, rats and mice spread over 35 diseases. These diseases can be spread to humans directly, through handling of rodents, through contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva, or through rodent bites. Diseases carried by rodents can also be spread to humans indirectly, through ticks, mites or fleas that have fed on an infected rodent.

The primary strategy for preventing human exposure to rodent diseases is effective rodent control in and around the home. This is achieved by eliminating any food sources, sealing even the smallest entries into homes, and successfully trapping rodents in and around the home. Cleaning up after a rodent infestation can be labor intensive, and potentially harmful to your health. For a complete overview, visit this website for extremely detailed material: http://www.cdc.gov/rodents/cleaning/index.html.

In spite of some health hazards concerning rodents in general, some mice and rats, gerbils and hamsters, and a few other rodentia are available as household pets. If you’re interested in providing room and board for one, here is a good overview and comparison of what to expect: http://exoticpets.about.com/cs/resourcesgeneral/a/choosearodent.htm.

Certain variations of mice and rats serve the medical research community. By testing these rodents through controlled laboratory testing, many medicines and valuable new clues to curing some diseases have been developed. Much more significant data about this topic can be found at this site:  http://www.sciencedaily.com/news/plants_animals/rodents/.

However, some interesting studies using laboratory rodents have recently come to light. According to Nature, the international research journal of science, male, but not female, experimenters induce intense stress in rodents that can dampen pain responses, according to a paper published in Nature Methods. Such reactions affect the rodents’ behavior and potentially confound the results of animal studies, the study suggests.

According to the research, this surprising gender disparity was discovered while investigating whether the presence of experimenters affects rodent pain studies. For years, anecdotal reports have suggested that rodents show a diminished pain response when a handler remains in the room. More information about this study can be found at this site: http://www.nature.com/news/male-researchers-stress-out-rodents-1.15106.

Finally, according to the State of Florida Health Department, wild rodents can cause home damage, contaminate food, and cause illness in people and pets. Rodent infestations are more likely to occur when events such as flooding displace them. To avoid rodent infestation remove potential rodent food and water sources, and store food for people and pets in sealed containers. Clear debris and other material where rodents can hide.

Safely clean up rodent droppings, urine and nesting areas, always wearing gloves and spraying material with disinfectant until thoroughly soaked before attempting to remove or clean. More details can be found at this website: http://www.floridahealth.gov/%5C/environmental-health/rodents/index.html .

Rodents serve a purpose in creation, but they can also be problematic in many cases. Make sure that your home or worksite is protected and monitored, and cleaned. Rat bite fever is not the same as Saturday Night Fever, so your dance routine is definitely not the same.

Until next time.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Health Care and Lipstick

Women and teens cannot get enough of it. Married men fear it on their shirt collars. Store shelves are stocked with it by the case. Celebrities hawk it on commercials non-stop on television, magazine ads, and billboards; and billions of dollars per year are spent on acquiring it. The ancient Egyptians were the first recorded people to use it, and people have been enhancing their lips with it for thousands of years.

Lipstick by definition is a cosmetic used to color lips, usually crayon-shaped and packaged in a tubular container. No individual inventor can be credited as the first to invent lipstick as it is an ancient invention; however, the history of the use of lipstick and credit individual inventors for creating certain formulas and methods of packaging, according to this website: http://inventors.about.com/od/lstartinventions/a/Lipstick.htm .

The actual term "lipstick" wasn't first used until 1880. However, people were coloring their lips long before that date. Upper class Mesopotamians applied crushed semi-precious jewels to their lips. Egyptians made a red dye for their lips from a combination of fucus-algin, iodine, and bromine mannite. Cleopatra was said to have used a mixture of crushed carmine beetles and ants to color her lips red.

Historians note that the first cosmetic lipstick manufactured commercially (rather than homemade products) occurred around 1884. Parisian perfumers had begun to sell lip cosmetics to their customers. By the late 1890s, the Sears Roebuck catalog started to advertise and sell both lip and cheek rouge. Early lip cosmetics were not packaged in their familiar tubes that we see used today. Lip cosmetics were then wrapped in silk paper, placed in paper tubes, used tinted papers, or sold in small pots.

According to CNN, every day millions of women apply lipstick without a second thought. What many don't know is that lipsticks may contain lead, the notorious metal that can cause learning, language and behavioral problems. Lead is a neurotoxin and can be dangerous even at small doses. So what's lead doing in lipsticks? Not all lipsticks contain lead, but a number of studies in recent years show that the metal is more prevalent than previously thought.

Medical experts say there is no safe level of lead in your blood. The FDA says it doesn't consider the lead levels it found in lipsticks to be a safety issue. No lipstick lists lead as an ingredient. The amounts are small, but the presence of lead in lipstick, which is ingested and absorbed through the skin, raises concerns about the safety of a cosmetic product that is wildly popular among women.

Urged on by both consumers and the cosmetics industry, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration conducted its own testing in 2010. The FDA's results were even more astonishing: The agency detected lead in all 400 lipsticks tested, ranging from 0.9 to 3.06 ppm -- four times higher than the levels observed in the study done by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics in 2007. 

And lead isn't the only toxic metal you may be applying to your lips.  Recently, University of California researchers tested eight lipsticks and 24 lip glosses and detected nine toxic heavy metals, including chromium, cadmium, manganese, aluminum and lead. It's true that a single lipstick application will not lead to harm. And the good news is that not all lipsticks contain detectable levels of lead or other heavy metals. (And by the way, cost doesn't seem to be a factor; a cheap or expensive lipstick isn't the determinant of how much lead is present.)

The problem is when women who wear lipstick apply it 2 to 14 times a day, according to the study by the University. The result is that they are ingesting and absorbing through their lips as much as 87 milligrams of product a day, the study says. Women are not only applying their lipsticks several times a day, but they also are doing this in the span of a whole lifetime, which means that exposure to lead and other heavy metals adds up and can potentially affect their overall long term health. More details on this subject can be found at this website: http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/04/opinion/rasanayagam-lipstick-lead/ 

There remains a wide range of metal concentrations across colors and brands, according to the New York Times, and cosmetic companies are able to control metal content when they choose.

Some metals are undoubtedly absorbed through mucosal tissues in the mouth. And people do swallow lipstick, one reason that it’s so often reapplied. Given the continued debate about how much is absorbed, everyone — including the cosmetics industry — is pushing the F.D.A. to study the issue further.

In the meantime, health care practitioners recommend that consumers take a common-sense approach to cosmetics. For starters, don’t let young children play with lipstick. You should treat it like something dangerous, because if they eat it, a comparatively large level of metals are going into a small body. And be cautious about how often you reapply that shimmering color. Given the uncertainties, two or three times a day is all that beauty can reasonably demand. More information can be found at this site: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/16/is-there-danger-lurking-in-your-lipstick/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0.

Cosmetics safety should be assessed not only by the presence of hazardous contents, but also by comparing estimated exposures with health-based standards. In addition to lead, metals such as aluminum, cadmium, chromium, and manganese require further investigation, according to the National Institutes for Health. A detailed overview of a scientific study can be found at this website: http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/1205518/ 

Now that you're thinking about lipstick in a new way, let's look at the basics. In short, lipstick is a compressed tube of waxes, oils, additives and pigments that color and moisturize the lips. Most lipstick-wearers don't give much thought to anything other than the color, how it feels on their lips and how much it costs. Lipstick can be had for anywhere from $1 to $100, depending on the brand. One lipstick made by Guerlain costs more than $60,000, but that's probably because of its diamond-encrusted, 18-karat gold tube, according to HowStuffWorks.com.

Although there are many different types of lipsticks and a vast array of colors, there are some basic ingredients. And that list of ingredients above is just a paltry few of the many substances that might be in the tube of lipstick in your purse. For many women, wearing lipstick for the first time is a rite of passage, and even if they wear no other makeup, they feel naked without it. Lipstick essentially began the modern cosmetics industry. Much more info on lipstick can be found at this website: http://health.howstuffworks.com/skin-care/beauty/skin-and-makeup/lipstick.htm .

Lipstick in general is considered to be safe, but check the ingredients with the manufacturer of the brand you want to buy. Although the health effects of lipstick have not shown to be harmful yet, there is a growing body of evidence that it could cause long term issues. If you suspect that you may have health related issues due to using lipstick, see your doctor. All health issues should be addressed by a physician or professional medical practitioner.

Until next time.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Health Care and Back to School Safety

Here the school bell ringing? See the big yellow buses and the flashing yellow school zone lights (and the local police with their radar guns)? Stunned that the summer is just about over? Yes, it’s time to go back to school. Much to the regret of millions of children and teens, and to the delight of many more millions of parents, this is the time that kids start the annual ritual of heading back to the classroom. Actually, football players, and marching band, and drill team members have already been after it for at least a month during the hottest days of the year—getting ready for the first pep rally, the first game, and the first concert of the new school year.

As the halls of academia once again fill to the brim with children and adolescents in elementary and secondary schools nationwide, the primary concern that educators and administrators have as top of mind is not really education. Health and safety are paramount as the most important aspects of educating young people. Books, chalk boards, rules and regulations, class schedules, recess and study hall, and subject matter for all classes is all second place when it comes to the most critical aspects of delivering a good education.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has a significant amount of information about school safety tips. For example, traveling back and forth to school has its own set of safety precautions. Just ignoring the school bus etiquette alone can be dangerous. Review the basic rules with your student:

·         Children should always board and exit the bus at locations that provide safe access to the bus or to the school building.
·         Remind your child to wait for the bus to stop before approaching it from the curb. Make sure your child walks where she can see the bus driver (which means the driver will be able to see her, too).
·         Remind your student to look both ways to see that no other traffic is coming before crossing the street, just in case traffic does not stop as required.
·         Your child should not move around on the bus. If your child's school bus has lap/shoulder seat belts, make sure your child uses one at all times when in the bus. (If your child's school bus does not have lap/shoulder belts, encourage the school system to buy or lease buses with lap/shoulder belts).

Another topic is bullying. Bullying or cyber-bullying is when one child picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school, on the playground, on the school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or through mobile devices like cell phones. This topic and much more can be found at the AAP website: http://www.aap.org/en-us/about-the-aap/aap-press-room/news-features-and-safety-tips/Pages/Back-to-School-Tips.aspx .

Safety should be a priority for every family as children return to classrooms this fall. It is important for parents to stay up-to-date on the proper safety precautions and share this information with their children to keep them safe throughout the school year, according to The National Safety Council (NSC).

The NSC cautions against overloaded backpacks. These large bags used by children have received a lot of attention from parents, doctors, school administrators and the media in the past several years. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are more than 7,300 backpack-related injuries annually treated by hospitals and doctors. Injuries include bruises, sprains and strains to the back and shoulder and fractures.
 
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a child's backpack should weigh no more than 10 to 20 percent of the child's body weight. This figure may vary, however, depending on the child's body strength and fitness. Here are some warning signs that a backpack is too heavy:

·         Change in posture when wearing the backpack
·         Struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack
·         Pain when wearing the backpack
·         Tingling or numbness
·         Red marks

Whether children walk, ride their bicycle or take the bus to school, it is extremely important that they take proper safety precautions. Not just parents, but all motorists, need to know how to safely share the road with school buses, pedestrians and bicyclists.  The back-to-school season is a great time to learn about Graduated Driver Licensing and what practices will work best for your family. Parents can also find more information to help their teen drivers at driveithome.org.  
 

Also, every year more than 200,000 children visit hospital emergency rooms because of playground injuries, many of which could have been prevented.  Here is the NSC site for more detailed material on back to school safety: http://www.nsc.org/safety_home/SafetyObservances/Pages/BackToSchoolSafety.aspx .

Additionally, are your kids’ immunizations up to date? All schools require that children and teens have current vaccination records that are current and on file. Your little angels won’t be able to attend class past the second day if they are not properly immunized against the standard accepted vaccinations. It's a good idea to take your child for a physical and eye exam before school starts. Most schools require up-to-date immunizations and may need documentation. Failing to keep immunizations current could prevent your child from attending school. Check the immunization requirements in your state.

Bring all health-related forms that the school requires when you take your child to the doctor. If your child will be participating in a sport, his/her doctor may have to sign a release form. Be sure to keep your own copy of any records. Let your child's doctor know if you have any questions or concerns about the scheduled vaccines or any other health-related issues that may be affecting your child. More information is available at this site: http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Back-to-School.shtml .

Some kids feel nervous or a little scared on the first day of school because of all the new things: new teachers, new friends, and maybe even a new school. Luckily, these "new" worries only stick around for a little while. Here are a few final tips for a fantastic school year, according to this website: http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/school/back_to_school.html:

·         Get enough sleep.
·         Eat a healthy breakfast.
·         Try your best.
·         Use good work habits, like writing down your assignments and turning in your homework on time.
·         Take your time with school work. If you don't understand something, ask the teacher.
·         Keep a sense of humor. One teacher we know shows his new students a picture of himself graduating high school — a grinning ape in a red graduation cap and gown. This usually makes the kids laugh, and it's a good way to remind them that school is fun!

Vaccinations, eye exams, bike helmets and healthy snacks top the back-to-school health tips in most back to school reviews. In preparing for their child’s return to school, parents should review their child’s health status, just as they check their clothes and school supplies. To succeed in school, children need to be healthy, alert and able to properly see the blackboard and read. For an extremely detailed and comprehensive back to school checklist visit this website: http://www.chla.org/site/apps/nlnet/content2.aspx?c=ipINKTOAJsG&b=6089699&ct=8608851 .

Finally, take some time to breath deeply and relax. You’ve had all summer to get ready. Don’t wait til the night before to make mad dashes to your local Target for those school supplies and snacks, or to the doctor’s office for the vaccinations, or to the mechanic to make sure your teen’s car is good to go. Take time to prepare in advance so you can enjoy your last days of summer with good family fun. Stress is one thing you can live without. Now…. get ready for HOMEWORK!!!!!!!!!!!

Until next time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Health Care and Pathology

The component of the causal study of disease and a major field in modern medical practice and diagnosis is referred to in the medical community as Pathology. The term pathology itself may be used broadly to refer to the study of disease in general, incorporating a wide range of bioscience research fields and medical practices, or more narrowly to describe work within the contemporary medical field of "general pathology," which includes a number of distinct but inter-related medical specialties which diagnose disease mostly through the analysis of tissue, cell, and body fluid samples, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary.

According to the American Society of Clinical Pathology, there are several types of medical professionals that study in the field of pathology:

A general pathologist is a physician who examines tissues, checks the accuracy of lab tests, and interprets the results in order to facilitate the patient’s diagnosis and treatment. He or she works closely with the patient’s other doctors and is a vital member of the patient’s primary health care team. Pathologists work in many areas of the medical laboratory and often serve as the Lab Director. Contrary to popular depictions of this career, the task of performing autopsies constitutes just a small part of the typical pathologist’s practice.

A clinical pathologist oversees lab tests conducted on body fluids. For instance, together with clinical lab technologists, pathologists work to ensure that blood and blood products are safe. In microbiology, pathologists identify microorganisms that can cause infections – bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites – so that the most effective treatment can be selected for each particular case.

An anatomic pathologist assists surgeons during operations by providing immediate diagnoses on biopsies (specially treated tissues removed in surgery and rushed to the lab).

A forensic pathologist uses lab science to answer questions about evidence collected for criminal and civil cases. Other pathologists conduct research in pathology, developing new tests and new instruments to better diagnose diseases.

Some pathologists devote their careers to research in pathology, developing new tests and new instruments to better diagnose diseases. Pathologists often teach their specialty to medical students and those preparing for other laboratory professions, including clinical lab technology and cytotechnology, among others.

Pathologists are problem-solvers, fascinated by the process of disease and eager to unlock medical mysteries, such as AIDS and diabetes, using the sophisticated tools and methods of modern laboratory science. With today’s rapid advances in biomedical science, over 2,000 laboratory tests on blood and body fluids are available – many of which require a pathologist’s expert interpretation.

There are approximately 14,000 board certified pathologists in the United States who practice their specialty in community, university, and government hospitals and clinics, in independent laboratories, or in private offices, clinics, and other health care facilities. More info about this profession is available at this site: http://www.ascp.org/About-the-ASCP .

Pathology provides those who practice it several opportunities, according to the Intersociety Council for Pathology Information, (ICPI). Pathologists function in three broad areas; as diagnosticians, as teachers, and as investigators. Fundamental to the discipline of pathology is the need to integrate clinical information with physiological, biochemical and molecular laboratory studies, together with observations of tissue alterations.

Pathologists in hospital and clinical laboratories practice as consultant physicians, developing and applying knowledge of tissue and laboratory analyses to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of individual patients. As teachers, they impart this knowledge of disease to their medical colleagues, to medical students, and to trainees at all levels. As scientists, they use the tools of laboratory science in clinical studies, disease models, and other experimental systems, to advance the understanding and treatment of disease.

Pathology has a special appeal to those who enjoy solving disease-related problems, using technologies based upon fundamental sciences ranging from biophysics to molecular genetics, as well as tools from the more traditional disciplines of anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, and microbiology. More material about this topic is available at this website: http://www.pathologytraining.org/career/index.cfm .

An additional type of pathology deals with speech and language therapy. Speech-language pathologists (sometimes called speech therapists) assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent communication and swallowing disorders in patients. Speech, language, and swallowing disorders result from a variety of causes, such as a stroke, brain injury, hearing loss, developmental delay, a cleft palate, cerebral palsy, or emotional problems, according to the US Department of Labor. When diagnosing patients, speech-language pathologists typically do the following:

·         Communicate with patients to evaluate their levels of speech or language difficulty.
·         Determine the extent of communication problems by having a patient complete basic reading and vocalizing tasks or by giving standardized tests.
·         Identify treatment options.
·         Create and carry out an individualized treatment plan.

When treating patients, speech-language pathologists typically do the following:

·         Teach patients how to make sounds and improve their voices.
·         Teach alternative communication methods, such as sign language, to patients with little or no speech capability.
·         Work with patients to improve their ability to read and write correctly.
·         Work with patients to develop and strengthen the muscles used to swallow.
·         Counsel patients and families on how to cope with communication disorders.

Speech-language pathologists work with patients who have problems with speech. Their patients may be unable to speak at all or they may speak with difficulty or have rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering. They may work with those who are unable to understand language or with people who have voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or a harsh voice.

Speech-language pathologists must also complete administrative tasks, including keeping accurate records. They record their initial patient evaluations and diagnoses, treatment progress, any changes in a patient’s condition or treatment plan, and, eventually, they complete a final evaluation when the patient finishes the therapy. Some speech-language pathologists specialize in working with specific age groups, such as children or the elderly. Others focus on treatment programs for specific communication or swallowing problems, such as those resulting from strokes or cleft palate.

In medical facilities, speech-language pathologists work with physicians and surgeons, social workers, psychologists, and other healthcare workers. In schools, they work with teachers, other school personnel, and parents to develop and carry out individual or group programs, provide counseling, and support classroom activities. More information can also be found at this website: http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm#tab-2 .

Pathology is a highly specialized and unique field of practice in health care. The medical community has been enhanced significantly due to the discoveries in pathology and related practices, whether the scope is in medicine or speech. Learning what causes disease or symptoms in humans is integral in helping to diagnose and treat individuals who become ill. As well, pathology helps in developing ways to improve methods of preventive medicine. 

Until next time.