Sunday, November 16, 2008

Pregnant Women Shouldn't Swallow Mercury Scares

Food fads in conflict here: Omega 3 versus mercury. On all the evidence neither is any cause for concern but mercury is probably the biggest beat-up. So I endorse the conclusion without endorsing the reasoning

Washington Post writer Moira McLaughlin is six months pregnant and responsibly trying to navigate the tricky world of prenatal nutrition. That is no easy task, since even the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) dietary advice for pregnant women can be dangerously misleading. But a look at the science of seafood and pregnancy can do wonders for McLaughlin's menu planning -- and prevent the columnist from making a costly mistake. In her latest column, she talked about how extensive the "no no" list is for moms-to-be:
No deli meats, no sushi, no blue cheese, no soft cheese (unless pasteurized). No homemade ice cream, no cookie dough, no sprouts, no pepperoni. No massages in the first trimester, no saunas, no hot tubs and no heart rate over 140.

And fish? That proved way too challenging for my pregnant mind to muddle through. Because they contain fatty acids crucial for fetal brain development, the Food and Drug Administration says pregnant women should eat two meals a week of shrimp, salmon, pollock or catfish. But because of their toxic mercury content, the FDA says pregnant women should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. A little canned tuna is okay, but not albacore. Locally caught fish might be okay; just check the Environmental Protection Agency's fish advisory Web site. Ocean fish is better than lake fish. Crab is low in mercury but not totally free of it and, according to some Web sites, pregnant women should avoid it.

So . . . eating the right fish will get my kid into Harvard? Eat the wrong fish and we should give up on the idea of college altogether.

McLaughlin isn't exaggerating the seriousness of her dietary dilemma: As we documented in our recent "Tuna Meltdown" report, more than a quarter-million children in low-income households were deprived of intelligence-boosting omega-3 fatty acids as a result of overblown mercury warnings. ButMcLaughlin must not know that the FDA builds a tenfold cushion into its recommendations when it comes to mercury in tuna. That means she could eat five times as much tuna as the FDA says she can and still be protected by a 200 percent buffer between her baby and any risk of negative health impacts.

Canned tuna is consistently the cheapest source of omega-3 fatty acids - the nutrient she cites as "crucial for fetal brain development." However, because of overblown warnings by the federal government and fishy scare tactics by environmental and animal-rights groups that don't want anyone chowing down on seafood, most pregnant women don't get enough in their diet.

And speaking of Harvard, earlier this year the prestigious university published a study that showed moms who ate canned tuna twice a week had children who scored higher on intelligence tests than kids whose moms avoided it altogether.

So when McLaughlin's cravings kick in for a late night tunafish sandwich, she shouldn't question whether she should give in. In 21 years, her baby can thank her for it in his valedictory address. Even if he graduates from Yale instead.

Source (See the original for links etc.)

Empty out your bathroom cabinet... this $8 cream does EVERYTHING

I am inclined to regard cosmetics and such things as all a lot of nonsense but if the British goo below sidetracks people from wasting their money on more expensive stuff I am all for it

They say that for the credit crunch, it's the cream of the crop. The packaging isn't swish - but neither is the price tag. And for $8, it'll do almost everything you need. Boots's Aqueous Cream has become a top seller as shoppers tighten the purse strings during the economic downturn, according to the store. It has been billed as a one-stop bathroom essential for the budget conscious.

The cream can be used as a moisturiser, cleanser, shaving cream, shower gel, and an aid for chapped lips. 'This product is really versatile, effective and doesn't cost the earth,' said Angela Chalmers, a pharmacist at the high-street chemist. 'It's a phenomenal seller. Some stores are ordering 10-20 tubes a day just to keep it on the shelves.'

The main ingredient for the fragrance-free product is paraffin wax - used in some of the most expensive face creams. Miss Chalmers said consumers have been attracted by the 'simple formula and versatility' of the 500g tubs. 'The whole family can use it. When you think about the winter, it really is a wonderful product. 'When you rub it on to dry skin, it acts as a moisturiser. But mix it with water in the shower and it acts as a great emollient that just washes off. 'A lot of people use it instead of shower gel. It is also a good shaving cream and leaves your skin feeling soft and moisturised and not irritated. 'It's also great for chapped lips, it's good for massaging into fingers and cuticles and it's also fantastic for those suffering from chilblains. You can even use it as a cleanser.

'That's what's quite unique about this product. It really is the cream for the credit crunch. 'There are other branded moisturisers that come in 500g quantities but they tend to be very expensive, you're talking about $20 to $24. You can also get it in 100g tubes so it's easy to carry around with you.' The recent bad weather is also thought to have provoked a rise in demand for the cream, Miss Chalmers added.

Last year, a Boots anti-ageing cream became a sell-out after tests established that it really worked. Scientists discovered that No 7 Protect & Perfect Beauty Serum can rejuvenate skin, beating wrinkles. The product quickly flew off shelves after it was shown to work on BBC2's Horizon and then featured in the Daily Mail. Its appeal was boosted by the cost of $35 for a 30ml jar, a fraction of the price of other products.



Anonymous said...

It sounds like this cream is similar to ordinary sorbolene creams as found widely in Australia - they're also quite cheap, a few dollars for a 1 litre bottle at a chain store. Sorbolene cream is widely recommended by dermatologists (ok, it used to be, I don't know how many of them now are selling quackery) as a plain, all-purpose skin aid, as it's usually free of skin irritants like fragrances, and can be used as a lotion, cleanser, shaving cream, etc. It actually does work for most people's skin. I think there are versions with and without paraffin, but most sorbolene cream is just glycerine emulsion, sometimes with extra vegetable oil. Some people claim that paraffin and mineral oils will "suffocate" your skin but this is nonsense, you'd have to slather your whole body in a thick layer to have any detrimental effect. These "toxic petrochemicals" are actually amongst the most bland and gentle things you can put on your skin. The people selling the "natural" cosmetics like to conveniently ignore the fact that a good deal of their ingredients like essential oils are proven to be highly irritating to skin and can cause some people to develop intolerances and allergies with longer-term use. If someone still doesn't like the thought of using petrochemicals, plain old olive oil from the supermarket works, and it's $25 for 4 litres as opposed to $50 for 30ml like the "cosmeceutical" rip-off artists charge.

John A said...

Not sure if I'd use it for chapped lips, but the US has an equivalent.

Bag Balm®

Been around a long time. Supposedly developed originally to keep farmer's chapped/work-roughened hands from irritating milk cows' udders, it has long been a staple in the medicine cabinets of my family and many others whose closest relation with farming has been driving past.