Tag Archives: Medical Science

I told you your kids were contaminated

You already know that the biological legacy of our chemical supply is my pet cause. Here’s more from a CNN article today:

Michelle Hammond and Jeremiah Holland were intrigued when a friend at the Oakland Tribune asked them and their two young children to take part in a cutting-edge study to measure the industrial chemicals in their bodies.

[The] tests revealed that their children — Rowan, then 18 months, and Mikaela, then 5 — had chemical exposure levels up to seven times those of their parents.

“[Rowan’s] been on this planet for 18 months, and he’s loaded with a chemical I’ve never heard of,” Holland, 37, said. “He had two to three times the level of flame retardants in his body that’s been known to cause thyroid dysfunction in lab rats.”

The technology to test for these flame retardants — known as polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) — and other industrial chemicals is less than 10 years old. Environmentalists call it “body burden” testing, an allusion to the chemical “burden,” or legacy of toxins, running through our bloodstream. Scientists refer to this testing as “biomonitoring.”

As usual, some defenders of the chemical legacy say that presence does not equal proof. But wouldn’t we rather err on the side of caution, especially considering how sensitive our bodies are (especially our hormones) and how these same chemicals have been proven to cause cancers and reproductive problems in lab animals?

I hate it when the news makes me preachy. I wish there were more excuses to write about funny stuff, like gay wizards. Quit screwing things up, world!

Lead in lipstick

I always knew there was a reason why I choose to look so frumpy. It turns out I am a scientist. National news outlets like CNN have been picking up this story today about the presence of unsafe doses of lead in popular lipsticks made by L’Oreal, Dior, and Cover Girl.

More than half of 33 brand-name lipsticks tested (61 percent) contained detectable levels of lead, with levels ranging from 0.03 to 0.65 parts per million (ppm). None of these lipsticks listed lead as an ingredient.

One-third of the tested lipsticks exceeded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s 0.1 ppm limit for lead in candy – a standard established to protect children from directly ingesting lead. Lipstick products, like candy, are directly ingested into the body. Nevertheless, the FDA has not set a limit for lead in lipstick, which fits with the disturbing absence of FDA regulatory oversight and enforcement capacity for the $50 billion personal care products industry.

Research money is finally going to the study of harsh chemicals in cosmetics, and I couldn’t be happier about it, even though the published findings will continue to be scary. Women (and the men and babies that are kissed and snuggled regularly by women) need to demand that the FDA regulates the chemical content of cosmetics. When harsh cosmetics aren’t swallowed or absorbed directly into the skin, they are washed into our water supply where they cause untold environmental damage.

Here is a great local website – environmentalhealthnews.org – that chronicles the problems in more depth.

Here is a website that will tell you which beauty products are safe and which are not: Skin Deep

Hipster doctors feel your pain

Two medical posts today.

1. Young Brooklyn doctor opens medical practice for uninsured artists. Makes housecalls on motor scooter and answers questions about your rashes on the instant messenger. I wonder how many of these conversations turn into cyber sex. “Now tell me where it’s swollen. Tell me what it feels like.” You know all those artsy types are going to be video chatting with the good doctor, showing him their engorged nipples.

PS Is the above post too graphic? I don’t even know anymore.

2. Doctors aren’t trying to torture you (or my grandmother); they actually do not perceive your pain. To save them from daily trauma brought on by over-empathizing with their patients, doctors’ brains experience detachment from their pain receptors when someone is suffering. I wonder if this works for parents who are doctors, and if this explains why my dad was always trying to staple our leg wounds together in the backyard.

It has always been our name so deal

They say that the sweetest sound in the English language is one’s own name. I heard a lot of it today. “Wistar, you have no blood vessels in your left leg.” “Wistar, can you eat some fruit cocktail, or do you think you might throw it up?” “Wistar, we’re just going to stick this needle in your vein for a hot second.” I am my grandmother’s namesake. I was there with Wistar, sitting beside the orthopedic hospital bed, editing an erotica novel on my laptop while Big Wis watched the first few episodes of Desperate Housewives, and we both started to get confused. “Hey Wis,” said my other, visiting grandparents, “Would you like to come to dinner with us?” “No,” said Big Wis, thinking they were inviting her, demobilized with infection on her fluffy pillows. “I don’t have anything to wear. I think I will just dine here tonight. I ordered mashed potatoes.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was me who had been invited [that seems like bad grammar – me versus I – someone help me], that no one was dreaming of taking her out to dinner, that she was obviously bedridden while I was mobile and restaurant-able. The other Wistar. The young, healthy Wistar, who can hoist the 90-pound grandma onto the commode, who can eat a cheeseburger in 30 seconds, who can tune out the TV during Law & Order. As opposed to the elderly, southernly Wistar, who can catch a fever and be suspicious of Mexicans. Who can refuse to be hungry for dinner. Who can reject the circulation in her leg. One nurse came into the room and said, “My father-in-law is named Wistar. I’ve never in my life met another Wistar and here are two in one room.” “Terrific,” I said, “Make the other one get better.”

Exchange in Cardiac & Vascular Center waiting room

Old man in jeans and a baseball cap waits for the nurse to call him in for a procedure. Elderly, overweight woman wearing a smart pink suit walks into the waiting room with a cane and a girlfriend.

“You can sit in that loveseat right there,” the man says to the pink lady.

“Why? You wanna make love?”

The nurse opens the door and calls for the patient.

“How long will the procedure take?” says the pink lady.

“Fifteen minutes,” says the nurse. “But there are two hours of recovery time. You can go get some lunch.”

Ladies arise from loveseat.

“All right. We’re going to the cafeteria.”

“Don’t spend my money!” the patient calls as he disappears into the Cardiac Center.