Survey: Americans’ hand-washing habits haven’t changed
MILWAUKEE Worries about the H1N1 virus haven’t changed most Americans’ hand-washing habits, according to a national survey released by Bradley Corp. Tuesday morning.
In Bradley’s first Healthy Hand Washing Survey, 54% of respondents reported they “wash their hands no more or less frequently” in public restrooms since the H1N1 virus emerged.
“We were extremely surprised by that response especially since the medical community calls hand washing the best defense against the spread of cold and flu viruses,” stated Jon Dommisse, director of marketing and product development at Bradley Corporation.
Bradley’s survey, conducted online July 28-31, queried 1,020 Americans about hand washing in public restrooms. The respondents were from around the country, ranged in age from 18 to over 65 and were equally divided by gender.
Although 87% said they did wash their hands after using public lavatories, other responses indicated some may have exaggerated how often they did the job correctly. When asked if they had also used soap, the numbers declined slightly to 86%; yet 55% of the group admitted on occasion they’ve simply rinsed, without using soap.
In contrast to what people say they do, numerous observational studies have reported what Americans actually do. In 2007, researchers from the American Society for Microbiology found only 77% washed their hands after using a public restroom.
Hand-washing among school-age children is especially important since at least 22 million school days are lost every year due to the common cold, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Hand-washing is a lifetime health practice,” says Dommisse. “Children should understand its benefits and take that knowledge into adulthood.”
Scientists uncover immune system’s role in bone loss
LOS ANGELES A new UCLA study sheds light on the link between high cholesterol and osteoporosis and identifies a new way that the body’s immune cells play a role in bone loss, the University announced Monday.
Published Aug. 20 in the journal Clinical Immunology, the research could lead to new immune-based approaches for treating osteoporosis, authors of the study noted. Affecting 10 million Americans, the disease causes fragile bones and increases the risk of fractures, resulting in lost independence and mobility.
Scientists have long recognized the relationship between high cholesterol and osteoporosis, but pinpointing the exact mechanism connecting the two has proved elusive.
“We’ve known that osteoporosis patients have higher cholesterol levels, more severe clogging of the heart arteries and increased risk of stroke. We also knew that drugs that lower cholesterol reduce bone fractures, too,” explained Rita Effros, professor of pathology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “What we didn’t understand was why.”
In the study, UCLA researchers focused on low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and examined how high levels of oxidized LDL affect bone and whether a type of immune cell called a T cell plays a role in the process.
Using blood samples from healthy human volunteers, the team isolated the participants’ T cells and cultured them in a dish. Half of the T cells were combined with normal LDL – the rest was combined with oxidized LDL. The scientists stimulated half of the T cells to mimic an immune response and left the other half alone.
“Both the resting and the activated T cells started churning out a chemical that stimulates cells whose sole purpose is to destroy bone,” Effros said. Called RANKL, the chemical is involved in immune response and bone physiology.
When Effros and her colleagues tested the T cells of the mice on the high-fat diet, they discovered that the cells acted differently than those of the mice on a normal diet.
The T cells switched on the gene that produces RANKL. The chemical also appeared in the animals’ bloodstream, suggesting that the cellular activity contributed to their bone loss.
“It’s normal for our T cells to produce small amounts of RANKL during an immune response,” explained Effros. “But when RANKL is manufactured for long periods or at the wrong time, it results in excessive bone damage.”
CDC, Reckitt Benckiser develop site to promote good health, hygiene
NEW YORK On the surface, this news highlights how serious the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention take that “prevention” piece of their title. The fact of the matter is the novel H1N1 influenza pandemic, the virus that ran rampant in the spring, giving the United States a little taste of what could come, will be the top billing this coming cough-cold-flu season. To date, the virus has not mutated in the past few months as it ran its course through the influenza season of the southern hemisphere, which means that Americans can expect more of the same here — an influenza strain that produces illness severity comparable to the seasonal flu but that favors younger people because they have no antibodies in reserve against this novel H1N1 virus.
Younger people not only means the twenty- and thirtysomethings in the workforce, it also means their school-age children. And given that children are oftentimes blamed for spreading colds and flu in a typical year, it only goes to reason that children may be a good spreader of the H1N1 pandemic virus, too. With this partnership, the CDC is making a robust effort in educating both children and their parents in proper cold/flu etiquette, because the cheapest way to nip this bug from the get-go is to inhibit its spread.
Going one level deeper, it also shows how quickly today’s administration will turn to private business in an attempt “to get things done.” The assumption here is that it’s not the CDC putting up the funds to launch this Web site, but Reckitt Benckiser. And in turn, Reckitt Benckiser gets a very credible driver around its Lysol disinfectant brand.
That bodes well for retail pharmacy and the healthcare companies that supply them. Because it bears a recognition what the private sector brings to the table — ready access to consumers who may be more apt to pay attention when the credibility of government agencies like CDC is married to the credibility associated with a venerable brand. Today it’s Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol. Tomorrow it could very well be CVS or Walgreens.