Monthly Archives: August 2013

Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs – Are They Really Safe?

Compact Fluorescent Bulbs
Compact Fluorescent Bulbs

We have all heard about the benefits of the new CFL energy efficient light bulbs. It saves you money on electricity and you don’t have to replace them as often, how nice! It all sounds good until you realize these CFL bulbs contain mercury which poses a significant risks in many areas of your health.

Because these lights contain mercury, a huge issue is what happens if you break one. We were shocked to find out that there are actually several very important steps that need to be taken if that occurs, however none of these steps are even mentioned on the packaging of these bulbs.

If a bulb breaks, most of us would reach of the vacuum for clean up the mess, however that is actually the worst thing you can do because that can spread the mercury. Believe it or not, if you break a bulb, the very first thing you need to do is evacuate the room for 10 minutes, open windows/doors and shut off central AC/heat if you have one.

This is imperative because at the time the bulb breaks, the concentration of mercury vapor (one of the most toxic forms) in the air is hundreds of times greater than what is considered safe. This is especially important for children as the recommended limit for them is just 0.2 mcg/m3 and if exposed, a child will receive eight thousand times the limit.

Then, carefully collect all the broken pieces of glass and use a damp cloth/paper towel to wipe up any remaining powder and seal everything (broken pieces and cleaning cloth) in a plastic bag. Do not place any fragments in your regular indoor garbage can but rather bring the sealed plastic bag directly outside. After the cleanup is completed, leave the windows open and AC/Heat off and avoid occupying that room for the next several hours.

Additionally, a new study shows that CFL bulbs also emit high levels of ultraviolet radiation. UVA and UVC rays emitted are strong enough to actually burn the skin and experts say this radiation could initiate cell death and cause melanoma, one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer.

Manufacturers that make these bulbs claim they have installed a special protective layer to prevent this but when researchers testing this, they found small cracks all over this layer in every bulb. These cracks are what allowed dangerous UV rays to get through. It was found that healthy skin cells exposed to CFLs showed an increase in free radicals (bad things that damage cells and can lead to cancer) and a decrease in their ability to build collagen (needed for healthy skin).

Manufacturers also claim that CFLs don’t produce a large amount of UV radiation, no more than being outside in the sun.  As with most products though, when tested in isolation, they do not produce the same effect as in real life. Because these bulbs contain mercury vapor, it combines with the electric current and therefore the UV rays emitted are increased greatly. Ceiling bulbs are farther away and probably do not cause as much threat but bulbs used for reading and in table lamps which are much closer to you can certainly pose a problem.

CFL bulbs contains other cancer-causing chemicals such as naphthalene and styrene  which are activated when the bulbs are turned on.

Using less energy is amazing for the environment but we can’t forgets that the mercury is still in the bulb when you are done using it and that can contaminate our soil and water supply when they end up in landfills.

You may want to consider buying LED lights which are just as energy efficient and are completely mercury-free.

Is Lactaid A Good Alternative For Those With A Milk Sensitivity?

Lactaid Milk
Can Lactaid really help?

Earlier today I saw a commercial that I found to be quite deceiving. The commercial was for Lactaid milk and it stated that if you are sensitive to milk, Lactaid is a great alternative for those with a milk sensitivity. While Lactaid can be helpful for those that cannot tolerate milk, it is quite inaccurate to say it as they did. In the practice, we have so many patients that come to the office saying they can’t tolerate milk and thus they drink lactaid , however more than half of those patients do not feel any better. This is quite common and I would like to offer an explanation of why that is the case.

Milk contains a special sugar called lactose as well as proteins called whey and casein. If someone does not produce an enzyme lactase to digest the lactose in the milk, they are considered lactose intolerant and therefore would need to take lactase enzymes or drink milk with no lactose (Lactaid) to be able to tolerate it. While lactose intolerance is quite prevalent, it affects only a small portion of the people that have health issues related to milk and milk products.

The bigger portion of the population has what is called a milk sensitivity which is quite different than an intolerance or the inability to digest the lactose. Milk sensitivity is when a person has a reaction to another protein in the milk, often the casein and/or whey which is very common. Unfortunately in those cases, lactaid milk would not be helpful because it still contains both of those proteins. Milk sensitivity can arise from many underlying reasons including, genetics, stress, dysbiosis and leaky gut (see more on this here). In those cases all milk including Lactaid would have to be avoided and milk alternatives such as coconut milk may be a better solution. I wanted to clarify this because it is unfortunate that so many people are drinking Lactaid and are frustrated they are not feeling better and do not realize that a sensitivity is quite different than a lactose intolerance.

Do Fish Oils Really Cause Prostate Cancer?

Omega 3 Fish Oil

In the last few weeks we have been getting lots of questions from our patients about the recent study that has linked fish oil supplements to prostate cancer. Is this really true?

Please rest assured, your fish oils are completely safe, and still great for your health. Unfortunately like many studies out there, the conclusion drawn at the end of the study was questionable to say the least.

The part of the story that the media missed in reporting is that the subjects in this study were not given fish oil supplements but rather put on a diet that was high in fish. Eating fish and taking fish oil supplements is not the same thing and thus concluding that fish oil supplements can cause prostate cancer cannot really be stated. Eating fish will raise your Omega 3’s, that is true, but fish have a lot of other nutrients as well as toxins. Could it be that something else in the fish was carcinogenic leading to the prostate cancer? Our oceans are quite polluted and fish are exposed to many toxins including heavy metals, PCB’s and other waste products that end up in the ocean.

While EPA and DHA levels were slightly higher in the subjects with prostate cancer than those without cancer, (3.74% which is not all that high to begin with) the study does not state whether the increased omega 3 fatty acids levels in the blood were due to supplements or fish intake and association does not imply causation as lifestyle and other dietary factors are very much involved.

Many scientists are also referring to a myriad of other studies that conclude that in fact omega 3 fatty acids lower prostate cancer risk and looking at high fish consumption populations such as the Eskimos who tend to have lower prostate cancer rates.

Unfortunately the media is not always responsible in investigating their reporting and panic often spreads unnecessarily. This is the reason that you see a study on the news say one thing such as coffee is bad for you, and then a month later see the complete opposite such as coffee is good for you.

Please be assured that your fish oils are safe and still great for all aspects of your health, but be sure that your fish oil is high quality, pure, free of toxins and of course natural (triglyceride form is always best). Just as fish can have toxins, so can fish oils if they do not come from a good source and not processed with great care. We love the Tru TG fish oils from Designs for Health which are 90% triglyceride which is the highest level available on the market today.