Health Capsules — Grapefruit and some drugs don’t mix
Laundry detergent warning
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is advising parents and caregivers to lock up single-load liquid laundry packets and keep them away from children.
According to the CPSC, kids who are exposed to the chemicals in single-load laundry packets are at risk of serious injury because some chemicals in the packets are toxic. Because the packets are soft and colorful and resemble certain candies, toys and teething products, kids sometimes confuse them with play items.
So far this year, the CPSC staff have been alerted to roughly 500 incidents involving injuries from the product. Children have been hospitalized due to loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling, and breathing difficulty that has required intubation. Eye contact with the contents of ruptured packets has resulted in severe irritation and temporary vision loss due to ocular burns, according to the CPSC.
Consumers are advised also to handle the packets with dry hands, because they dissolve quickly and release highly concentrated toxic chemicals when they come in contact with water, wet hands or saliva.
The holiday season is a time for celebration and enjoying time with family and friends, but for many people, it is also a time for major stress.
Stress is hard on people’s health; it can cause headaches, upset stomachs, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and it can lead to harmful behaviors, such as eating too much or too little or abusing drugs or alcohol.
Kathryn Tristan, a research scientist on the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine and author of “Why Worry? Stop Coping and Start Living” (Beyond Words, December 2012) suffered for years with anxiety and learned to overcome it. Tristan compiled the following list of tips for taking the stress out of the holidays:
• Focus on fun. Expect pleasure, not perfection, and you’ll draw it to you.
• Simplify. Enjoyment comes from simple camaraderie. Most people will never notice all the details you are worrying about.
• Start new traditions. Grown children with families or new blended families need flexibility. You can’t make everyone happy.
• Focus on now. Enjoy today; enjoy now. Live in the present moment instead of the unpredictable future.
• Downsize your parties. If you are running around serving a big crowd, you don’t have time to interact and enjoy. Make it smaller.
• Delegate. If you do it alone, you’ll be totally stressed out. Is this what you want?
• “No” is not a four letter-word; use it. If you are miserable, you aren’t helping anyone. It’s OK to put yourself first.
• Expect less, not more. When you boil it down, it’s just another 24 hours of life, so the big days are an illusion. Focus on simple pleasures.
• Express feelings in more positives. Focus on the positive attributes/remembrances of people/family – not their shortcomings.
• Reschedule parties for January. Suggest postponing a party to January to ease tight schedules and extend the fun.
Toy safety tips from the AAP
During the holidays, it’s not uncommon for well-meaning family and friends to give children toys that are potentially dangerous.
To help ensure a safe holiday season, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers the following toy safety warnings:
• Serious stomach and intestinal problems – even death – can result from swallowing button batteries and magnets, which can be found in toys, musical greeting cards, remote controls, hearing aids and other small electronics. Keep them away from children, and if a child swallows one, call a healthcare provider immediately.
• To prevent burns and electrical shocks, do not give children younger than 10 a toy that plugs into an electrical outlet.
• Remember that government regulations specify that toys for children younger than 3 cannot have parts that are less that 1.25 inches in diameter and 2.25 inches long, because young children can choke on small parts.
• Children can choke or suffocate on a deflated or broken balloon, so do not allow children younger than 8 to play with them.
• Remove strings and ribbons from toys before giving them to young children.
• Watch for pull toys with strings longer than 12 inches, which could be a strangulation hazard for babies.
• Keep older kids’ toys away from young children.
For more toy safety tips, plus holiday safety tips pertaining to Christmas trees, lights, decorations, food, fireplaces and more, visit aap.org.
Six thousand steps to good health
Taking 6,000 or more steps a day adds up to a healthier life for middle-aged women, according to a study recently published in Menopause, the journal of the North American Menopause Society.
Researchers in Brazil outfitted nearly 300 women aged 45-72 with pedometers and tracked their daily steps. They found that women who took at least 6,000 steps a day had a lower risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome – a precursor for diabetes and a risk factor for heart disease – and were less likely to be obese than women who took fewer steps.
The findings were consistent regardless of whether the women had gone through menopause and whether or not they were on hormone therapy.
After ‘The Biggest Loser’
Fans of “The Biggest Loser” TV show have seen many people who have lost a lot of weight as a result of diet and exercise, but are they able to maintain the weight loss?
Kevin Hall, a research scientist at the National Institutes of Health, used a computer model to project what happens after people lose lots of weight by following the program used on “The Biggest Loser.” He found that keeping weight off would not require an unreasonable regimen.
“They would have to have about a 20 percent calorie cut from where they started, with about 20 minutes a day of vigorous exercise,” Hall said, adding that the plan is doable for many people, including those not on the show.
Hall’s study appeared in the journal Obesity.
Grapefruit and some drugs don’t mix
According to Canadian researchers, the number of prescription drugs that interact dangerously with grapefruit has more than doubled since 2008, and many doctors are unaware of the situation.
“The number of drugs on the market with the potential to produce serious adverse and in many cases life-threatening effects when combined with grapefruit has markedly increased … from 17 to 43 in four years,” said David Bailey, a researcher at Lawson Health Research Institute in London, Ontario. “There is much greater need for health care professionals to understand grapefruit/drug interactions and to apply this information to the safer use of these drugs in their clinical practice.”
Researchers said that even small amounts of grapefruit or grapefruit juice when paired with certain medications have the potential to cause sudden death, acute kidney failure, respiratory failure, gastrointestinal bleeding and other serious problems.
According to the researchers’ report, drugs that can interact with grapefruit include:
• certain cholesterol-lowering statin drugs, such as simvastatin (Zocor), atorvastatin (Lipitor) and pravastatin (Pravachol)
• some blood pressure-lowering drugs, such as nifedipine (Nifediac and Afeditab)
• organ transplant rejection drugs, such as cyclosporine (Sandimmune and Neoral)
• certain cardiovascular drugs, such as amiodarone (Cordarone and Nexterone), clopidogrel and apixaban
Researchers said that all drugs that react with grapefruit are taken orally and do not metabolize well. A small quantity of grapefruit – even consumed hours before taking the medications – can increase the amount of the drug metabolized, which is like taking many doses at once, they said.
According to Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a spokesman for the American Heart Association and a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, little is known about how often adverse drug/grapefruit effects occur in real world practice. He said further studies are necessary and offered some advice:
“Patients taking medications where there are potentially serious adverse interactions should, in general, be advised to avoid consumption of moderate or large quantities of grapefruit, or together with their physician consider potential alternative medications that are not metabolized by the liver enzyme inhibited by grapefruit,” Fonarow said.
On the calendar
“Joint Pain,” a free program for those with joint pain that is preventing enjoyment of daily activities, will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11 at Des Peres Hospital. Attendees will learn about treatment options and surgery techniques. To register, visit despereshospital.com.
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“Waiting Room Warrior: Becoming Your Best Healthcare Advocate” will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 12 at the Cancer Support Community, 1058 Old Des Peres Road. A longtime medical social worker and breast cancer survivor shares professional and personal perspectives on advocacy and empowerment within the cancer journey. Attendees will learn ways to claim personal power and optimize partnerships with health care providers. The program is open to anyone with a cancer diagnosis or supporting a person with cancer. To RSVP, call (314) 238-2000, or register at cancersupportstl.org.
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CPR for Family and Friends will be offered from 8:30-11 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 15 and from 6:30-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18 (choose one date) at Mercy Hospital in Creve Coeur. Attendees learn to perform CPR for infants, children and adults and learn first aid for choking. The class fee is $30. An American Heart Association book and participation card are provided upon completion. Call (314) 961-2229.
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“A New Year: Same Old Resolutions,” a nutrition course designed to give cancer survivors and caregivers the tools which research has shown can help lower the risk of the recurrence of certain cancers, will be held from 5:45-6:45 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 18 at the Cancer Support Community, 1058 Old Des Peres Road. To register, call (314) 238-2000, or visit cancersupportstl.org.
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“Home Alone,” a program designed for children ages 9-11, will be held from 9-10:30 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 28 at St. Luke’s Hospital’s Institute for Health Education, 222 S. Woods Mill Road in Chesterfield. The class is for kids who may be staying home alone for the first time or who need to learn more skills in order for their parents to feel comfortable leaving them home alone. Topics include handling the unexpected, stranger danger, simple first aid, dealing with loneliness and boredom, storm safety, trust and honesty. The fee is $15. For more information or to register, call (314) 542-4848, or visit stlukes-stl.com.
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“Healthy Resolutions for 2013” will be held from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 12 at The Lodge Des Peres. The event will feature group exercise classes, health screenings, an American Red Cross blood drive, tips for leading a healthier lifestyle and community wellness vendors. Des Peres Hospital will offer glucose and cholesterol screenings and body mass index (BMI) testing, and Premier Medical Specialists will offer walk-up blood pressure checks. Admission is free. To register for testing, call (888) 457-5203.