Showing posts with label natural. Show all posts
Showing posts with label natural. Show all posts

Friday, February 13, 2009

Public Health Experiment and Scaremongering

The worrier's guide to 21st century health - New Idea
According to the headlines, everything in our modern- days lives could be harming our health, from new Wi-Fi technology to food additives.

By embracing these discoveries and technology, are we unwittingly taking part in a public health experiment, or should we take the scaremongering with a pinch of salt? We take a look at the potential risks and come up with some solutions.

Everyday chemicals
Cleaning products and food packaging contain man-made chemicals.

‘The chemicals in many products have real health effects,’ says Adam Lowry, co-founder of the Method ecological range of household cleaning products. ‘Indoor air is up to five times as polluted as the outdoors and contains five to 10 times as many pesticides.’

Pesticides, paraffins, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals are thought to cause asthma, skin irritation, allergies and headaches.

Manufacturers insist chemicals are subject to safety regulations. ‘Studies linking asthma with household products aren’t based on fact,’ says Dr Chris Flower of the UK’s Cosmetic, Toiletry & Perfumery Association.

If there’s a natural alternative, use it and reduce your ‘toxic load’.


* Use eco-friendly cleaners and organic toiletries.
* Redecorate with low-VOC paints.
* Have house plants – they absorb up to 87 per cent of indoor pollution.
* Open windows to renew air daily.
* Ditch air fresheners in favour of vaporising essential oils.

Wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) connects us to the internet via radio waves, not cables.

Radio waves have been around since the late 1800s, but some people worry that modern frequencies will affect us in new ways.

Some research shows Wi-Fi affects kids’ concentration, so it shouldn’t be in schools until we know more,’ says Jane Alexander, author of The Overload Solution (Piatkus, $24.95).

2007 UK TV investigation claimed radiation levels from Wi-Fi in some schools were up to three times those of a mobile mast, but authorities disagree. ‘The radio frequencies used in Wi-Fi are broadly the same as for FM radio,’ says Dr Michael Clark from the UK’s Health and Protection Agency (HPA).

The HPA says sitting in a Wi-Fi hot spot for a year gives the same dose of waves as a 20-minute mobile phone call.

‘If you’re a man, use a laptop on a table, not your lap. The heat they generate may affect male fertility,’ says Professor Malcolm Sperrin from Royal Berkshire Hospital in the UK.

Fast food
Takeaways seem too handy and tasty to resist. Are they really so unhealthy?

‘Most fast food contains too much saturated fat and salt, which can increase risk of heart disease, obesity, diabetes and stroke,’ dietitian Helen Stracey says.

Worst of all are trans fats, which the World Health Organization wants us to eliminate completely. They raise bad cholesterol, lower good cholesterol, affect how our liver uses fat and mean higher fat deposits around your tummy. Trans fats are man-made in the food industry when liquid oil is solidified by hydrogenation.

Additives are another problem, as some have been shown to affect children’s behaviour. A 2007 study in The Lancet medical journal found some preservatives could cause hyperactivity and allergic reactions.

Most convenience foods may affect health if eaten often. Stick to fresh, unprocessed food.


* Check labels for fat and salt levels.
* Have takeaways as an occasional treat.
* Stop seeing fast food as convenient. What’s faster than beans on wholegrain toast?