Health Monitor


The chance of a child developing an allergy to a pet living in the home is no higher and, in some cases, even lower than children who don’t have a pet in the home, according to a study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy.

The family dog or cat causing allergies is a common concern among parents, so researchers from the Department of Public Health Sciences at the Henry Ford Hospital monitored a group of children from the day they were born through to adulthood. The children and families were contacted on a regular basis to discuss their exposure to dogs or cats. When approximately 565 of the children reached the age of 18, researchers tested blood samples for antibodies to cat and dog allergies.

The research team found that exposure to a specific pet during a child’s first year was very relevant and that, in most cases, it generated a protective effect from developing an allergy. Young adult males exposed to dogs during their first year of life had a 50 per cent lower risk of becoming allergic to dogs compared to young adult men who had no dog in the house. Both men and women were much less likely to become allergic to cats if they lived in a cat for that critical first year compared to others who did not have a pet cat.

“This research provides further evidence that experiences in the first year of life are associated with health status later in life …” wrote author Ganesa Wegienka.

Extremely obese older men who received bariatric surgery do not have a lower risk of death compared to men who don’t get the surgery, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The research team gathered data on 850 veterans at 12 Veterans Affairs medical centres, trying to determine if bariatric surgery — either gastric bypass or gastric banding — could reduce mortality in older, high-risk men. All of the veterans had undergone bariatric surgery between 2000 and 2006 and were an average age of 49.5 years. Their average body mass index was 47.4. The control group was 41,244 men who did not have surgery, were of an average age of 54.7 years and had an average BMI of 42. All of the controls were recruited from the same Veterans Affairs medical centres.

All participants were followed until December of 2008. In total, 1.29 per cent of men who had surgery died within 30 days of their operation. After a year, 1.5 per cent of surgery patients died compared to 2.2 per cent of the controls; after two years, 2.2 per cent of the surgery patients died compared to 4.6 per cent of the controls and after six years, 6.8 per cent of patients had died compared to 15.2 per cent of controls.

While the initial results showed some lower mortality rates, “when they included 1,694 propensity-matched patients in further analysis using an approach to compare patients who appear to be similar … bariatric surgery was found not to reduce mortality significantly.”

When it comes to pesticide residue, the apple is king, according to a yearly survey conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture, and earned the distinction of winning the number one spot on the Dirty Dozen list of fruits. In vegetables, celery is king and takes the number two spot on the list.

Researchers with the Environmental Working Group gathered food data from 2000 to 2009. They ranked fruit and vegetables according to a score that weighed pesticides detected and their levels. All samples were washed and peeled before testing.

Of 700 apples tested, 98 per cent were found to have pesticide residue. Perhaps more notable than the apples was cilantro where 44 per cent of samples tested not only showed pesticides but a total of 33 unapproved pesticides, the highest percentage since 1995.

One thought-provoking fact was that, if consumers ingested their five recommended fruit and vegetable servings from the Dirty Dozen list, they were consuming an average of 14 different pesticides each day. Eating from the list of least contaminated foods would limit that to two.

The complete Dirty Dozen, from most residue to least, is apples, celery, strawberries, peaches, spinach, nectarines, grapes, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, blueberries, lettuce and kale/collard greens.

A second list, the Clean 15, where the least residue of pesticides were found, includes onions, corn, pineapples, avocado, asparagus, sweet peas, mangoes, eggplant, cantaloupe, kiwi, cabbage, watermelon, sweet potatoes, grapefruit and mushrooms.


About Author

St. Albert Gazette

The St. Albert Gazette has been the source for news and community information in St. Albert and area since 1961. Today the twice-weekly full-colour tabloid delivers award-winning journalism in print, online and on mobile.