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Plastic Bottles and Containers: New Concerns

A study from Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, U.K. shows that high levels of urinary Bisphenol-A (BPA), a chemical compound commonly used in plastic packaging for food and beverages, is associated with heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and abnormal liver tests (JAMA, Sept 17, 2008). BPA can break down to form female hormones called estrogens that are linked to breast and uterine cancer in women, decreased testosterone levels in men, and may also cause birth defects.

You are exposed to BPA, primarily through food, drinking water, tooth sealants that you may receive in a dentist's office, and exposure through your skin and lungs from household dusts. Ninety percent of Americans have detectable levels of BPA in their urines.

Although the safety of BPA is still uncertain, you would be prudent to limit your exposure. The primary concerns are plastic water bottles and baby bottles. Each bottle is supposed to have a number in a circle stamped on the bottom. Try to avoid the following numbers:
#1 Most single-use water bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE).
#7 This is used for many colorful hard plastic lexan bottles made with polycarbonate plastics.
At a minimum, do not re-use bottles or containers with these numbers. Do not freeze or reheat foods or beverages in them.

Plastic products that bear the following numbers appear to be safe:
#2 HDPE, high-density polyethylene, the most widely recyced plastic,
#4 LDPE, low-density polyethylene) and
#5 PP, polypropylene.


Reports from

Irritable bowel syndrome
Exercise bikes
Skin creams


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Why do so many people fail to keep weight off after they diet?

A new study shows that older people who diet without exercising lose huge amounts of muscle. When weight loss was combined with exercise, they did not lose muscle (Journal of Applied Physiology, October, 2008). Loss of muscle slows metabolism even further because larger muscles burn more calories at rest.

In this study, elderly sedentary people were placed in three groups: 1) Diet only, 2) exercise only, 3) diet and exercise. Those who dieted and exercised for four months lost more fat and less muscle than those who only dieted. Most of the exercisers chose to walk on a treadmill, which is not a very vigorous endeavor.

This also explains why losing weight repeatedly through dieting shortens a person's life span. Many people go on diets and lose weight, quickly regain their lost weight and then go on a diet again. These people then become fatter at the same weight because they have lost so much muscle. Therefore at the same weight, they have fuller fat cells. Full fat cells produce immune stimulant called cytokines that turn on a person's immunity continuously to cause inflammation, which increases risk for cancers, heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and other harmful diseases.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is it true that married people live longer than singles?

A study from The University of Copenhagen in Denmark shows that being married offers no health benefits beyond those gained just by couples living together (Social Science & Medicine, November 2008). This flies in the face of the vast majority of previous studies that showed that, compared to single people, married people live longer, smoke less, exercise more, and have fewer health problems. Since the difference in health status was due to living together, rather than being married, the authors write: "We suggest that in future studies of social relations and mortality, cohabitation status is considered to replace marital status as this variable may account for more of the variation in mortality."


More on Vitamin D

A study from Norway shows that people who are depressed have significantly lower blood levels of vitamin D, and high doses of vitamin D appear to relieve symptoms of depression. ( Journal of Internal Medicine, September 2008) Those with blood level of D3 less than 40 had far more depressive traits. Those given 20.000 or 40.000 IU vitamin D per week had a marked reduction in depressive scores after one year.


Recipe of the Week

Three Sisters Soup

You'll find lots of recipes and helpful tips in The Good Food Book - it's FREE

June 22nd, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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