Researchers May Have Found Answer to Cosmetics Allergy

January 15th, 2020

Makeup setNew research is being done on allergic reactions to cosmetics and skin creams.

Molecule May be Allergy Culprit

An international team of dermatologists, rheumatologists and immunologists has identified CD1a, a molecule found in human skin cells, as the culprit in a complex process that triggers allergic contact dermatitis or ACD.

Researchers decided to explore how the skin’s immune cells respond to the introduction of the chemicals found in consumer products. The team suspected that CD1a, which is found in the skin’s Langerhans-or immune cells, might be responsible for making these chemicals visible to T-cells, the cells that trigger the immune system response.

To test their hypothesis, researchers exposed human T-cells in tissue culture, to material from skin patch testing kits used in allergy clinics. In general, they found that the T-cells responded to certain substances, including balsam of Peru, a tree oil widely used in cosmetics and toothpaste. Specifically, two chemicals found in balsam—benzyl benzoate and benzyl cinnamate—were directly responsible for stimulating the T-cell response.

In all, researchers identified a dozen chemicals that appeared to elicit a similar response. The authors believe these chemicals cause ACD by binding with CD1a molecules on the surface of Langerhans cells. Essentially, by binding with CD1a, these chemicals become “visible” to T-cells, prompting the immune system to respond.

The researchers suggested that confirming CD1a’s role in the development of ACD could provide future researchers with a pathway for developing new treatments for the condition.

Researchers published their findings on January 10, in the journal “Science Immunology.”

What is Allergic Contact Dermatitis?

Allergic contact dermatitis occurs when a substance to which you are sensitive (allergen) triggers an immune reaction in your skin. It usually affects only the area that came into contact with the allergen. But it may be triggered by something that enters you body through foods, flavorings, medicine, or medical/dental procedures.

Signs and symptoms include:

  • Bumps and blisters, sometimes with oozing
  • Dry, cracked, scaly skin
  • Itching, which may be severe
  • Red rash
  • Swelling, burning or tenderness

Poison ivy is perhaps the best known trigger for ACD, but it can also be caused by many ingredients in soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, toothpaste, and plants.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to know what is going on in the world of health. Keep up to date with IAA! Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Studies Back up Intermittent Fasting

January 8th, 2020

Large bathroom scaleA review of existing studies published last month in the “New England Journal of Medicine” suggests that periodically forgoing meals can improve overall health.

Intermittent Fasting and the Body

Studies in animals and people have shown that alternating between times of fasting and eating supports cellular health, likely by triggering an age-old adaptation to periods of food scarcity called metabolic switching. Metabolic switching occurs when cells use up their stores of rapidly accessible sugar-based fuel and begin converting fat into energy.  Since most Americans eat three meals plus snacks each day, it was noted they do not experience metabolic switching or its potential benefits.

When a person depletes his or her sugar energy stores during fasting, fats are released from fat cells and converted to keytone bodies by the liver. Keytone bodies are not just an energy source, but also have a “potent signaling” function. The body responds by activating certain pathways that boost beneficial processes like autophagy, a mechanism that helps regenerate cells. These pathways are untapped or suppressed in people who overeat and are sedentary, the review noted.       

Studies and clinical trials have shown that the eating regimen has “broad spectrum benefits” for health problems, including helping to reduce:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Inflammation
  • Insulin resistance
  • Obesity

The review showed intermittent fasting can also help improve verbal memory, executive function and global cognition in adults with mild cognitive impairment.

Different Types of Fasting

Intermittent fasting has a few different methods:

  1. Day-time restricted feeding which narrows eating times to six to eight hours per day.
  2. 5:2 intermittent fasting, which is when people limit themselves to one moderate size meal two days per week.
  3. Alternate fasting: This means eating nothing or very little one day, then eating whatever you want the next, and then repeating that process.

The review advised to ease into this process and to check with your doctor before making any changes.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants to keep you up to date on the world of health. Remember, with IAA one call does it all.

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Healthier Eating Could Save the U.S. Billions in Healthcare

January 2nd, 2020

Apple sitting next to small weightsHealthier eating could save the United States more than $50 billion a year in healthcare costs associated with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and related illnesses, according to a new study.

Eating More Green Could Save the U.S. Some Green

In the study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Tufts University in Massachusetts, created a model to measure the impact of food and nutrient groups on cardiometabolic disease costs for Americans aged 35 to 85 years. Those 10 groups were:

  • Fruits
  • Nuts/seeds
  • Polyunsaturated fats
  • Processed meats
  • Seafood omega-3 fats
  • Sodium
  • Sugar sweetened beverages
  • Unprocessed red meats
  • Vegetables
  • Whole grains

Researchers first looked at the effects of current eating habits and then did a recalculation if Americans ate the healthiest amounts of the 10 food/nutrient groups.

The study authors concluded that poor eating habits cost the U.S. about $300 per person, or $50 billion a year and accounted for 18 percent of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes costs. Of these costs, 84 percent was for acute care, researchers reported.

The study was published December 17 in the journal “PLOS Medicine”.

What Americans can do

The typical eating patterns currently consumed by many in the U.S. do not align with dietary guidelines.

Don’t be a statistic! Help improve your health by creating healthy eating goals:

  1. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables: Choose red, orange and dark green vegetables for your meal. Add fruit to meals as part of main or side dishes or as a dessert. The more colorful you make your plate; the more likely you are to get the vitamins, minerals and fiber your body needs to be healthy.
  2. Make half the grains you eat whole grains.
  3. Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk: Both have the same amount of calcium and other essential nutrients as whole milk, but fewer calories and less saturated fat.
  4. Choose a variety of lean protein foods.
  5. Compare sodium in food: Use the Nutrition Facts label to choose lower sodium versions of foods. Select canned foods labeled “low sodium,” “reduced sodium,” or “no salt added.”
  6. Drink water instead of sugary drinks: Soda, energy drinks and sports drinks are a major source of added sugar and calories in American diets.
  7. Eat some seafood: Adults should try to eat at least eight ounces a week of a variety of seafood.
  8. Cut back on solid fats: Eat fewer foods that contain solid fats. The major sources for Americans are desserts.  

About three-fourths of the population has an eating pattern that is low in vegetables, fruits, dairy, and oils and most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, saturated fats and sodium.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to be in the best shape possible! Getting healthy could help you save on healthcare. Remember, with IAA one call does it all. 

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Blue Light Eyewear: Fad or Here to Stay?

December 26th, 2019

Woman at laptop wearing blue light glassesYou’ve seen people around the office wearing blue light glasses, but are they an item you really need?

Blue Light Glasses: Do They Help?

Looking at a computer screen all day can irritate your eyes. Some people have turned to blue light glasses to eliminate this problem.

Market Study Report (a market research company) says the global market for blue light eyewear will increase to $27 million by 2024, up from 18 million in 2019.

The advertised benefits for this product are:

  • Improved sleep habits
  • Less eye strain
  • Prevention of eye disease

As these glasses are a newer product, there is not a lot of research to show if it actually makes a difference. The Food and Drug Administration does not regulate this eyewear because it is marketed as a medical device.

The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) says people don’t need blue light glasses and has gone on the record as not recommending any kind of special eyewear for computer users.  The AAO says blue light from digital devices does not lead to eye disease and doesn’t even cause eye strain. The issues people complain about are simply caused by overuse of digital devices.

There are some eye professionals, however, that believe they have benefits. The Vision Council, which represents the optical industry, says “specialized glasses” are “one tactic” that might cut eye strain.

What is Blue Light?

Sunlight is made up of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet light. When combined, it becomes the white light we see. Each of these has a different energy and wavelength. Rays on the red end have longer wavelengths and less energy. On the other end, blue rays have shorter wavelengths and more energy. Light that looks white can have a large blue component, which can expose the eye to a higher amount of wavelength from the blue end of the spectrum.

You are exposed to blue light from the following:

  • CFL bulbs
  • Computer monitors, smart phones and tablet screens
  • Flat screen LED televisions
  • Fluorescent light
  • LED light

Blue light exposure you receive from screens is small compared to the amount of exposure from the sun. Yet, there is concern over the long-term effects of screen exposure because of the proximity of the screens and the length of time spent looking at them.

Early research shows that too much exposure to blue light could lead to:

  • Digital eye strain: Blue light from computer screens and digital devices can decease contrast, leading to digital eye strain. Symptoms of eye strain include sore or irritated eyes and difficulty focusing.
  • Retina damage: Studies suggest that continued exposure to blue light over time could lead to damaged retinal cells. This can cause vision problems like age-related macular degeneration.

The AAO, the Vision Council and other vision-related organizations urge moderation in screen use.  Most of them recommend adopting the 20-20-20 rule. This means that every 20 minutes you’ll look at an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America wants you to take care of your eyes. Whether you wear blue light glasses or just give your eyes a screen break during the day, IAA hopes you give your eyes the attention they deserve.

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Makeup May Carry Superbugs

December 18th, 2019

Makeup setNew research finds that nine out of 10 beauty products may harbor superbugs after they’re opened.

Superbugs in Your Makeup

British researchers found that 90 percent of the makeup products it analyzed contained bacteria that can cause illnesses ranging from skin infections to blood poisoning if used near the eyes or mouth or on cuts or scrapes.

The highest levels of potentially harmful bacteria were found in beauty blenders. Beauty blenders (sponges used to apply foundation or other products to the face), mascara and lip gloss get contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria because most are not cleaned and are used long past their expiration dates, according to researchers.

Researchers found that 93 percent of beauty blenders had never been cleaned, even though 64 percent had been dropped on the floor at some point. Beauty blenders are particularly susceptible to contamination because they are often left damp after use, providing an ideal breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

The risk is especially high among people with weakened immune systems.

The study was published in the “Journal of Applied Microbiology.”

What are Superbugs?

A superbug is a term used to describe bacteria that cannot be killed using multiple antibiotics. Any species of bacteria can turn into a superbug.

Antibiotic-resistance is a naturally occurring phenomenon that can be slowed, but not stopped. Over time, bacteria adapt to the drugs that are designed to kill them and change to ensure their survival. This makes previous standard treatment for bacterial infections less effective and in some cases, ineffective. The concern is that doctors will eventually run out of antibiotics to treat them. 

Certain actions may accelerate the emergence and spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Misusing antibiotics (such as taking them when you don’t need them or not finishing all of the medicine) is the single leading factor contributing to the problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Some others are:

  • Having poor infection prevention and control practices
  • Living and working in unsanitary conditions
  • Mishandling food

Every year about 2 million people get sick from a superbug, according to the CDC. About 23,000 die.

What IAA has to Say

Insurance Administrator of America knows that superbugs can be serious. Make sure to follow your medication instructions as directed. IAA wants you to keep those superbugs at bay!

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