Monday, September 24, 2007

Imaginary allergies and illnesses

Report from Australia below. I am myself aware of certain women whose health problems vanished when their relationships improved

MORE than five million Australians are suffering "imaginary" food allergies and intolerances, health experts say. Research shows food allergies have become society's new "'fad", with people suffering the symptoms - including rashes, breathing difficulties and stomach cramps - simply because they want to. "The brain is very powerful and can make people react because they think they are going to react," said Jack Bell, a specialist allergy dietitian at the Royal Brisbane Hospital and clinical lecturer in nutrition and dietetics at Queensland University of Technology.

His opinion is backed by research by the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Another study carried out in Britain reached similar conclusions.

Figures show up to six million Australians claim to be allergic to foods ranging from milk to mustard - but only one in eight has had the condition medically diagnosed. Mr Bell warned people against diagnosing themselves with an allergy, saying it could lead to eating disorders, vitamin deficiences, unnecessary use of medication and costly medical bills. "It's not uncommon to see people on highly restricted diets that they don't need to be on because they don't actually have an allergy," he said.

Researchers said the latest food allergy to become "popularised" was an intolerance to monosodium glutamate (MSG). Others include milk, eggs, soya beans, wheat, fish, and even an intolerance to fruit and vegetables.

A food allergy is an immune system response to a food that the body mistakenly believes is harmful, and an intolerance occurs when the body finds it hard to digest a particular type of food. An intolerance is harder than an allergy to diagnose because it can take varying amounts to achieve a reaction and it is affected by other factors such as stress and hormones. With an allergy, only a small amount of food is needed for a reaction.

Brisbane nutritionist Anthony Power urged people to seek a medical diagnosis. "There is also a tendency for people to panic unnecessarily and think they have one when really it's just a bit of bloating after a meal," he said. People are advised to see an immunologist or accredited practising dietitian.


A further comment on the above from an upper-class British lady. Excerpt:

Millions of people have imaginary allergies and food intolerances, according to a survey last week. Many of them have diagnosed themselves online; one in 50 says they only noticed their "problem" when a friend had similar symptoms; and 39% of people questioned think it is "trendy" to claim a food allergy. Twelve million people claim to suffer from allergy or intolerance, of which less than a quarter are medically diagnosed.

Is this not completely hilarious? There are more than 3m people walking around droning on about "lactose intolerance" this and "issues with wheat" that, and they're complete fantasists as well as the most tiresome and bad-mannered dinner party guests.

I understand that allergies (where the reaction is dramatic and occasionally life-threatening) and intolerances (where the reaction is unpleasant but less extreme) do actually exist; I have a small nephew whose medically diagnosed intolerances are so severe that he is under the care of St Thomas' hospital in London. His parents carry an EpiPen. So I'm not one of those people who think the very idea of allergies is nonsense.

But I do loathe the way in which people - usually women on a diet - turn something commonplace and understandable, such as not eating bread because it makes them fat, into a look-at-me-I'm-special, cod medical issue.


`Quickie' breast surgery on way

WOMEN undergoing a new type of breast enlargement will be able to go out to dinner on the evening of their operation, British plastic surgeons will be told this week. John Tebbetts, a Texan plastic surgeon, will tell the annual meeting of the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons the augmentation can be carried out in 30 minutes and will greatly reduce the damage to skin and breast tissue. Tebbetts, based in Dallas, said: "After the surgery we tell the women to go home, have a little nap then get up after two hours, wash their hair, which helps them stretch their muscles, then to go out to dinner. Between 80 and 85% of our patients go out on the evening of their surgery."

The operation, marketed as the "out to dinner" breast augmentation, involves carrying out exact measurements of the breast skin and tissue in advance so that exactly the right size of implant is inserted. Completing the operation in between 30 to 40 minutes means the woman requires low levels of anaesthetic drugs. Tebbetts avoids bleeding by using an extremely precise cutting device. His patients are promised no tubes, no visible bruising and no need for special bras. They can drive on the day of surgery and resume normal activities the next day.

But Tebbetts says women need to be educated out of thinking they require a period of convalescence. "Women have got to get out of the mindset that they are going to be ill after this operation."

Patrick Mallucci, a British consultant plastic surgeon, will this week unveil his formula for the perfectly proportioned breast to an augmentation symposium at the Royal College of Surgeons. Mallucci said the ideal breast has the nipple sitting about 45% from the top, pointing slightly skyward. "An attractive breast has a balanced proportion between the upper half and lower half. All the models I looked at conformed to those parameters."



Just some problems with the "Obesity" war:

1). It tries to impose behavior change on everybody -- when most of those targeted are not obese and hence have no reason to change their behaviour. It is a form of punishing the innocent and the guilty alike. (It is also typical of Leftist thinking: Scorning the individual and capable of dealing with large groups only).

2). The longevity research all leads to the conclusion that it is people of MIDDLING weight who live longest -- not slim people. So the "epidemic" of obesity is in fact largely an "epidemic" of living longer.

3). It is total calorie intake that makes you fat -- not where you get your calories. Policies that attack only the source of the calories (e.g. "junk food") without addressing total calorie intake are hence pissing into the wind. People involuntarily deprived of their preferred calorie intake from one source are highly likely to seek and find their calories elsewhere.

4). So-called junk food is perfectly nutritious. A big Mac meal comprises meat, bread, salad and potatoes -- which is a mainstream Western diet. If that is bad then we are all in big trouble.

5). Food warriors demonize salt and fat. But we need a daily salt intake to counter salt-loss through perspiration and the research shows that people on salt-restricted diets die SOONER. And Eskimos eat huge amounts of fat with no apparent ill-effects. And the average home-cooked roast dinner has LOTS of fat. Will we ban roast dinners?

6). The foods restricted are often no more calorific than those permitted -- such as milk and fruit-juice drinks.

7). Tendency to weight is mostly genetic and is therefore not readily susceptible to voluntary behaviour change.

8). And when are we going to ban cheese? Cheese is a concentrated calorie bomb and has lots of that wicked animal fat in it too. Wouldn't we all be better off without it? And what about butter and margarine? They are just about pure fat. Surely they should be treated as contraband in kids' lunchboxes! [/sarcasm].

Trans fats:

For one summary of the weak science behind the "trans-fat" hysteria, see here. Trans fats have only a temporary effect on blood chemistry and the evidence of lasting harm from them is dubious. By taking extreme groups in trans fats intake, some weak association with coronary heart disease has at times been shown in some sub-populations but extreme group studies are inherently at risk of confounding with other factors and are intrinsically of little interest to the average person.


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