Monthly Archives: June 2016

Allergy tests before trying peanuts

Most of the time, parents can safely feed peanuts to babies on their own, but infants with a history of allergies should still get a checkup first, a research review confirms.

“If your infant has a history of an allergic disorder (i.e. eczema, food allergy), we would recommend that he/she be evaluated for a peanut allergy by an allergist, before introducing a peanut containing product at home,” said lead study author Dr. Sara Anvari of Texas Children’s Hospital and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“Also, when introducing peanuts at home, do not introduce whole peanuts as they can be a choking hazard,” Anvari added by email.

Reports of peanut allergies have increased more than three-fold among U.S. children in the last 20 years, Anvari and colleagues note in JAMA Pediatrics.

During this time, feeding guidelines have moved away from telling parents to avoid introducing some foods that can cause allergies until kids are 2 or 3 years old, and stopped telling women to avoid peanuts when they’re pregnant or nursing. But many recommendations still stop short of urging parents to give babies eggs and peanuts early in life.

For the current analysis, researchers summarized research published since 2008, when the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revised its guidelines for peanut introduction to note there’s no evidence to suggest waiting longer than six months could reduce the risk for allergies to this food.

After these guidelines and other similar recommendations came out, a shift in thinking about peanuts came courtesy of a study of 640 babies in the U.K. who were already at high risk for nut allergies because they had eczema or an egg allergy already, researchers note.

This U.K. experiment compared the effects of giving some babies a 6-gram dose of peanut each week to strict peanut avoidance in children over a five-year period. All of the kids in the study got skin tests to determine if they developed a peanut allergy.

At age 5, about 14 percent of the kids who avoided nuts had a peanut allergy compared with roughly 2 percent of the children who got an early taste of this food.

Based on these results, some proposed guidelines may be shifting toward early introduction of peanuts even in babies with a history of other allergies, the authors note.

But when these high risk babies get that first taste of peanuts, they should have it in a clinical setting with lab tests to check for allergic reactions before parents offer peanuts to children at home, the researchers point out.

Doctors want you to know about butt

As women, we know how important it is to take care of our vaginas. But it’s time you showed your booty some love, too. That’s why we asked some top butt doctors—a.k.a colon and rectal surgeons (the term proctologist isn’t used anymore!)—what you need to know about your behind.

“We specialize in diseases of the colon, rectum, and anus,” says Alexis Grucela, M.D., colorectal surgeon and assistant professor of surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.  “This can range from treating malignant conditions like colon and rectal cancer, to colitis and Crohn’s disease, to benign anal conditions like hemorrhoids. And yes…we love the poop emoji.” (Heal your whole body with Rodale’s 12-day power plan for better health.)

So what do these specialized physicians want you to know about your butt? Here’s what they said.

1. DON’T WAX YOUR BUTT

“Sometimes women who do a lot of bikini waxing ask if it’s okay to wax around the anus, and I generally discourage that. It’s natural to have hair there and the skin around your anus is very sensitive. Ingrown hairs there are difficult to deal with. The smartest thing to do is leave that hair there.” —Jean Ashburn, M.D., a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic

2. THE TOILET SHOULDN’T BE YOUR ZEN PLACE

“Many people read, check email, play on their phones, escape work, kids, or life, or do other activities on the pot. The toilet works like a gravity sink and your hemorrhoids engorge with blood and swell from this. Limiting your time on the toilet can improve or help prevent hemorrhoid symptoms. Try meditation or yoga instead.” —Grucela

3. WASH WITH WARM WATER

“We’re talking about a delicate area! The best way to clean is with warm water. No need to rub and scrub—and definitely no need for antibacterial soap. Skip the baby wipes, too; they clog toilets and can cause allergic reactions to the delicate skin in the area.” —Alex Ky, M.D., an associate professor of colon and rectal surgery/proctology in the Mount Sinai Health System

4. FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND

“Fiber plays a huge role in colon health—it bulks your stool by binding water, preventing issues like hemorrhoids and diverticulitis [inflammation in one or more small pouches in the digestive tract]. Women under 50 should aim for 25 grams daily through foods like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, and nuts and seeds.” —Amy Lightner, M.D., an assistant professor of surgery at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine

5. PREGNANCY CHANGES THINGS

“Everybody’s backside looks and is different. It’s also normal for women, especially after having children, to have skin tags, hemorrhoids, and swollen tissues that may remain swollen that maybe your friends don’t have. Everyone goes through life and pregnancy differently—there’s not a ‘normal.’ It’s about what’s normal for each individual person. That said, if you’re concerned about a change in how something looks, please tell me.” —Ashburn

Helps with cold care

With technology helping people get healthier through fitness and nutrition, what about something that improves health by tackling colds? A new smart thermometer hopes to do just that.

Kinsa, the first Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-cleared, app-enabled thermometer hooks up to an app via your smartphone’s headphone jack and gives temperature readings in seconds. The app then tracks fever readings, symptoms and medication doses for each family member. It also offers guidance on what you should do next, whether it’s calling a doctor or taking medication.

Kinsa makes both an under-the-tongue and in-ear thermometer which range in price from $19.99 to $59.99.

“Everybody’s backside looks and is different. It’s also normal for women, especially after having children, to have skin tags, hemorrhoids, and swollen tissues that may remain swollen that maybe your friends don’t have. Everyone goes through life and pregnancy differently—there’s not a ‘normal.’ It’s about what’s normal for each individual person. That said, if you’re concerned about a change in how something looks, please tell me.” —Ashburn

“Preventative measures matter. Just like a Pap smear looks for abnormalities in the cervix, a colonoscopy looks for abnormalities in the colon and rectum. In general, most people should have a colonoscopy at age 50. If you have any significant personal or family history of colon cancer, that age may be earlier.” —Chand

How to change prostate cancer treatment

Though many men diagnosed with prostate cancer seek a second opinion before beginning treatment, second opinions are unlikely to change their treatment decisions, according to a U.S. study.

Prostate cancer management options range from surgery and radiation to “watchful waiting.” Most men with prostate cancer are over age 65 and do not die from the disease, so treatment may not improve health or lengthen life in all cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We were surprised by the relatively large percentage of men who obtain second opinions for their prostate cancer,” said lead author Dr. Archana Radhakrishnan of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.

“We had thought that men who received second opinions, in general, may receive different treatment than men who did not,” she told Reuters Health by email. “What we found was that overall, men who got second opinions had similar treatments to those who did not.”

The researchers surveyed about 2,000 men who were newly diagnosed with localized prostate cancer in the Philadelphia area between 2012 and 2014. Forty percent sought a second opinion after diagnosis, often to get more information about the cancer. Only 20 percent of men who sought another opinion said they were not satisfied with their first doctor.

About 80 percent of the men received definitive treatment, including surgery or radiation. Those who sought a second opinion were no more or less likely to get definitive treatment.

“It is evident here and in other studies that people seek second opinions for a variety of different reasons, not all about looking for a different doctor who will offer different treatments,” said professor Jenny Philip of St. Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne in Australia, who was not part of the new study. “The need for reassurance, the need to be sure of having all the information and provided in a way that is understood may all be a means of confirming the approach suggested by the first doctor.”