BPA in plastics avoidable, not in water bottles
DEAR DR. ROACH: I read that plastic bottles can be dangerous for your health. Do I need to worry about drinking water from plastic bottles? -- D.D.
ANSWER: I think you are talking about bisphenol A (BPA), a substance that can have some of the same effects as the female hormone estradiol. BPA has effects on many organ systems of the body, if absorbed in high-enough doses. The concern has been great enough that both the United States and Canada have banned the use of BPA in baby bottles.
BPA is found in particular types of plastics (in some plastics marked with identification code 7), especially in the plastic that lines some metal food and beverage cans. BPA is NOT found in plastics marked 1 through 6 used for food. BPA can be released with high heat and harsh chemicals from plastics, so that's why it's not recommended to heat food in the microwave in plastic containers.
Most bottled water is made with plastic with ID code 1, 2 or 4, and these have no BPA.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My husband suffers from jock itch, but has no rash. Our primary-care physician says, "Just use powder," but he has been using Gold Bond powder for more than a year, and it is not working! What do you suggest? -- F.L.
ANSWER: Jock itch is a common condition. It's usually caused by a fungal infection, and is the same infection that can be found almost anywhere you have skin folds and it is warm and humid. Powder dries the skin and makes it harder for the fungus to grow, so it usually works. But if it doesn't, I would try an antifungal cream like clotrimazole twice daily for two to four weeks.
If that doesn't clear it up, it may not be caused by a fungal infection. Then it would be time to go back to your PCP or to a dermatologist.
DEAR DR. ROACH: My mother-in-law is 90 and has been diagnosed with thoracic aorta dissection. Surgery is not an option due to her age and the location of the dissection. She has been released from the hospital and is now in rehab. Can you explain what this condition is, and if it is repairable? What can we expect as caregivers?
ANSWER: All arteries (and the aorta is the biggest) have three layers. A dissection is when two of the layers split apart and blood leaks into the lining of the artery. Dissection of the thoracic aorta is a serious condition. This can be an immediate emergency, because the split can continue under the high pressure of the aorta, causing the aorta to become blocked with the blood that eventually clots; or causing the blood to leak out of the aorta; or causing other arteries coming off the aorta to be blocked. In some cases, though, the blood between the two layers clots and the dissection becomes contained.
The only cure is surgical, but the risk of surgery is very high in a 90-year-old, and so medication is the correct treatment. The most important treatment is strict blood pressure control, with systolic blood pressure always below 130.
TO READERS: Many people have come down with the mysterious illness chronic fatigue syndrome. The booklet on it explains the illness and its treatment. To obtain a copy, write: Dr. Roach -- No. 304, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 U.S./$6 Can. with the recipient's printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
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Dr. Roach regrets that he is unable to answer individual letters, but will incorporate them in the column whenever possible. Readers may email questions to ToYourGoodHealth@med.cornell.edu or request an order form of available health newsletters at P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Health newsletters may be ordered from www.rbmamall.com.
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