We live in an old mobile home. It’s a 1970 model. Lately I have been hearing a lot about asbestos, which was used freely in years gone by, being harmful to people. How can we tell if there is asbestos in our home? If there is, how do we get rid of it? Could asbestos be the cause of ailments such as lupus and dementia?
Asbestos is an excellent insulation material. However, it has been found to cause mesotheliomas—lung cancers of a specific kind.
There are a couple of types of asbestos fiber—one more irritative than the other. These fibers, when powdered small enough, can be inhaled as dust. They make their way to the pleural surface of the lung, and set up inflammatory reactions, which are forerunners of cancer.
I was recently on a trip, and developed a very painful big toe. I saw a doctor, who diagnosed gout. He gave me Tylenol, because I have a history of an ulcer. But I wonder if it really was gout, because I thought gout was a disease of the gluttonous.
Gout does have a reputation of being related to rich foods, but many persons eating a normal diet can also have it. When purines are metabolized, uric acid is a product of their breakdown. Purines are a part of the makeup of DNA molecules, so a diet rich in meats will produce more uric acid. But uric acid levels rise in most people because their kidneys are not clearing it well. Perhaps you are not drinking enough water.
“Gouty” arthritis is caused by crystals of monosodium urate being deposited in the tissues around joints and setting up inflammation. Men are about eight times more likely than women to have gout. Increasing age is another factor. Any problem that diminishes kidney function could bring on gout. Thus, people with hypertension, diabetes, obesity, or even high cholesterol may be at risk. Some medications also raise uric acid levels; these could be low-dose aspirin, or even thiazide diuretics.
I have a “nervous” stomach, and get cramps and diarrhea easily. The doctor says it is irritable bowel syndrome. Any comments?
For years we have known of the frequent upset of gastrointestinal function if stress gets too high. Before the discovery that peptic ulcer was related to Helicobacter pylori infection, (a specific bacteria that causes an infection in the stomach), it too was thought to be a stress-related disease. Now we know the ulcer caused the stress. With irritable bowel syndrome, the cause is not yet identified with such precision. What is of interest, though, is an increasing awareness of a network of nerves supplying the gut. It is becoming apparent that this gastrointestinal (GI) nervous system may play a large role in communicating between the brain and the gut. Hunger, satiety, toxins in the stomach—all send messages from the GI tract to the brain. This nervous system, more properly called enteric nervous system (ENS), produces chemicals such as serotonin, and may influence mood. In fact, some of the medications used for depression have effects on the GI tract also. This is still an early stage in our understanding of the ENS, but it could be that persons with irritable bowel syndrome will be found to have a problem with the enteric nervous system.
I read recently that a large study, the Women’s Health Initiative, showed that a low-fat diet didn’t make any difference to heart disease and breast cancer. What do you think?
The Women’s Health Initiative study is the first large government study to commence the evaluation of chronic diseases in postmenopausal women. The study has raised several interesting issues, but also—to our mind—questions about its design.
In studying postmenopausal women, unfortunately, the problems under study may already exist and may be irreversible. Additionally, women in the study found it difficult to change their pattern of eating. It’s too bad we are often not interested in health until it’s too late, or we are rigidly fixed in our habits.