HEALTH

Study finds eating disorder sufferers abuse diet pills, other OTC products

BY Michael Johnsen

PHOENIX Between 11 million and 13 million people in the United States have eating disorders, and many of them abuse or become dependent upon over-the-counter substances, the Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders announced Wednesday.

“It may surprise many people, including some healthcare providers, that over-the-counter products and supplements for dieting purposes are frequently abused by those with eating disorders,” stated Kevin Wandler, spokesman for Remuda Ranch Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders. “A full 64% of eating disorder patients abuse diet pills. The health consequences of diet pill abuse are enormous and include high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, tremors, thickening of the heart muscle and kidney damage.”

Other substances abused by individuals with eating disorders include laxatives and diuretics. Although laxatives and diuretics are not often considered drugs of abuse or dependence, individuals can become dependent on them. A recent study found that in a sample of 200 bulimics, 31% used diuretics.  

“It can take the body months to recover from laxative and other over-the-counter substance abuse,” Wandler said.

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Alka Seltzer

BY Michael Johnsen

As seen on shelf at Walgreens, having a major pharma player like Bayer HealthCare field what essentially is a hangover-relief product adds credibility, not to mention a little more shelf presence, to similar products like Living Essentials’ Chaser Plus.

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Study: Hand rinsing can reduce contraction of gastrointestinal illnesses

BY Michael Johnsen

RESTON, Va. New research out of the U.S. Geological Survey has determined that hand rinsing effectively may reduce exposure to microbes that cause gastrointestinal illnesses commonly found in beach sand.

“Cleaning our hands before eating really works, especially after handling sand at the beach,” stated Richard Whitman, the lead author of the study. “Simply rinsing hands may help reduce risk, but a good scrubbing is the best way to avoid illness.”

For this study, scientists measured how many E. coli bacteria could be transferred to people’s hands when they dug in sand. They analyzed sand from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago. Using past findings on illness rates, scientists found that if individuals were to ingest all of the sand and the associated biological community retained on their fingertip, 11 individuals in 1,000 would develop symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.  Ingestion of all material on the entire hand would result in 33 of 1,000 individuals developing gastrointestinal illness.

In a further laboratory experiment, USGS scientists determined that submerging one’s hands four times in clean water removed more than 99% of the E. coli and associated viruses from the hands.

In recent years, USGS scientists have discovered that concentrations of E. coli bacteria in beach sand are often much higher than those in beach water. Follow-up research at beaches around the nation by many scientists has resulted in similar findings, although the amount of bacteria in sand varies depending on the beach.  Although beach water is monitored for E. coli as mandated in the Beaches Environmental Assessment and Coastal Health Act (BEACH Act 2000), beach sand is not currently monitored for contamination.

Recent analysis of seven beaches across the nation by the University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency showed that beachgoers digging in sand were more likely to develop gastrointestinal illness after a day at the beach compared to those not digging in sand. The association with these illnesses was even stronger for individuals who reported being partially covered up in sand. Because children played in the sand more frequently and were more likely to get sand in their mouths, they were more likely to develop gastrointestinal illness after a day at the beach.

“The excess illnesses we observed among those exposed to sand generally consisted of mild gastrointestinal symptoms, but it is a good idea to be sure to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer after digging or playing in the sand,” stated Chris Heaney, lead author of the UNC study.

E. coli is an indicator of recent sewage contamination and if it is present, pathogens harmful to human health are also likely present.  The origin of these bacteria is often unknown. They can persist throughout the swimming season, remaining a potential contamination source to beach visitors.

Results of these studies highlight the need to intensify efforts to determine sources of microbial contamination to beaches and associated risk of playing in beach sand.

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