Monday, August 25, 2008

Antibiotic Use Linked to Increase Cancer Risk

More alarming news today in the field of medicine; a new study finds that antibiotic use increased the risk of several types of cancers including breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer and colon cancer. Similar studies have been done in the past and this study supports the evidence. Scientists looked at data from over 3 million patients. Antibiotic use has been linked to other major issues the most severe being that of antibiotic resistance. This link to cancer is even more significant to health and the risk increases with increased antibiotic use. Of course antibiotics are necessary at times and can save lives, but since their inception in the 1940's they have been both misused and overused. It is always good to question an antibiotic prescription and ask if it is really necessary. Oftentimes a physician will prescribe an antibiotic just for patient satisfaction.

Most antibiotics are prescribed for self limiting illnesses that tend to improve on their own such as children's middle ear infection (otitis media) or bronchitis. Research studies have found that antibiotics are unnecessary for uncomplicated cases of both of these conditions.

There are also many ways that herbs can help relieve symptoms of these conditions. Gargle with sage tea for a sore throat. Make eardrops by infusing garlic in a little olive oil. Essential oil of lavender can be added to that to soothe a fuss child. For more information see my book "The Antibiotic Alternative."

The relationship between antibiotics and cancer is not known and how antibiotics would influence a cell to grow uncontrollably as in cancer has not yet been identified.
International Journal of Cancer 2008 Aug 14, doi: 10.1002/ijc.23622

Friday, August 22, 2008

Moisturizers linked to Skin Cancer?

I just came across this alarming news; 4 separate lotions were tested in mice and found to increase the occurrence and growth of skin cancer following exposure to UV light. The moisturizers used and their ingredients (as well as I could find) are:

Dermabase - water, petrolatum, mineral oil, cetostearyl alcohol, propylene glycol, sodium laurel sulfate, isopropyl palmitate, imidazolidinyl urea, methylparaben and propylparaben.

Dermovan is a wholesale product used as a base or vehicle for other ingredients by compounding pharmacists. It apparently has not been available since 2006 but contains water, glyceryl stearate and stearamidoethyl diethylamine, glycerin, mineral oil, cetyl esters, cetyl alcohol, butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.

Eucerin (original) – Water, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone

Vanicream - Water Purified, White Petrolatum, Cetearyl Alcohol, Ceteareth 20, Sorbitol Solution, Propylene Glycol, Simethicone, Glyceryl Monostearate, Polyethylene Glycol Monostearate, Sorbic Acid, BHT

All four creams are emollients that are recommended by dermatologists for dry, rough, scaly and itchy skins.

The initial purpose of this study was to investigate if caffeine added to a skin cream could inhibit the formation of cancer after UV exposure. Preliminary evidence has found that this is true. These four creams were chosen as the bases to add caffeine to and were undergoing testing to confirm that they were suitable as negative controls. The research however suggested they were not negative controls but actually increased the growth of two types of non-melanoma skin cancer in mice. Dermovan had the highest results.

Because of these results the researchers asked Johnson & Johnson to make a custom blend to test. The ingredients of this blend were: purified water, propylene glycol, stearyl alcohol, cetyl alcohol, polysorbate 20, isopropyl myristate, C12-15 alkyl benzoate, benzoic acid, glycerin, and sodium hydroxide. Although this cream did not show evidence of increasing skin cancer in mice more human research on this and other moisturizers will certainly be required.

It is difficult to pinpoint a possible ingredient in these creams that may be at the root of promoting skin cancer. Looking at the ingredients list however one can see that petrolatum (mineral oil) is found in the creams contributing to skin cancer but not in the custom blend that tested negative. According to the National Toxicology Program, mineral oil is related to skin cancer in mice at least.
Sodium lauryl sulphate found in at least one of the creams is considered an irritant by some. There are several other ingredients found in these products that would never find their way into creams and lotions made by Sagescript Institute. Possibly ingredients that are not tumorigenic by themselves can act synergistically with UV light to be more tumorigenic. It is of course too early to relate these results to humans though but you can be sure that more testing will be done in this area. In the meantime keep in mind that certain herbs have been found to decrease skin damage caused by UV light including green and black tea, rosemary and raspberry seed oil.

Yao-Ping Lu, You-Rong Lou, Jian-Guo Xie, Qingyun Peng, Weichung J Shih, Yong Lin and Allan H Conney. Tumorigenic Effect of Some Commonly Used Moisturizing Creams when Applied Topically to UVB-Pretreated High-Risk Mice. Journal of Investigative Dermatology advance online publication 14 August 2008; doi: 10.1038/jid.2008.241

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Minty Peach Drink

Earlier this week it was quite hot while I was working outside so I was looking for a cool drink. I noticed the peaches on the counter and made this drink:
In a blender container put:
4 peaches (peeled and quartered)
2 tablespoons of honey
juice of one lime
fill blender with ice
Add 4 mint leaves

Blend all together and pour into glasses. This is a great icey, refreshing drink for a hot summer afternoon. Try it.
By the way, Colorado peaches make the best drink!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Wedding Herbs

My younger brother finally tied the knot so to speak and got married. For his wedding I put together an assortment of herbs as an 'Herbal Blessing'. Sometimes these herb mixes can be used instead of rice to toss at the couple with wishes of good luck. They don't have the problems that rice has with expanding in a bird's stomach and they don't have the problems of causing weeds like seeds do. They can also be placed in a bowl for guests to scoop out some to put into small organza bags. However, the place where my brother's wedding was did not allow anything loose like this so they put the herbs in organza bags before the wedding and set them in the reception area for guests to take.

Each herb has a specific meaning. Although flowers and herbs have probably always had meanings, they were popularized during Victorian times when polite people would never openly talk about their feelings but would rather send their messages (especially those that dealt with love) in the form of flowers. Even though we tend to speak quite freely now, using herbs to send a message adds a nice touch.

Here are the herbs and their meanings that I included in this combination:
Rose for Love
Lavender for Devotion
Rosemary for Remembrance
Larkspur for Joy
Sage for Virtue
Chamomile for Patience
Thyme for Strength

Thursday, August 7, 2008

An Herb A-Fair

I can't believe summer is nearing an end, but this is my favorite time with the harvest abundant. I've just returned from my brothers wedding and next week I will post about the Wedding Herbs I made for them. This post is just to let you know that there will be an Herb A-Fair at the Gardens at Spring Creek in Ft. Collins this Sunday, August 8 from 12:00-5:00 pm. I will be giving a presentation on skin care herbs at 2:00 and also selling some of my products there. This will include my two new products: an all natural bug spray (NoSkeetos) and a botanical face cream packed with antioxidants for antiaging effects (Springtide). This is the first annual herb fair for the Gardens and I hope you can make it out.


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