The Student Body fills the unique purpose of engaging discussion on health and health policy issues on campus, as part of The Student Health Alliance at Cornell (SHAC)’s broader mission. Original research is not necessary! Just bring your enthusiasm and write about the health issues that make you tick! The 2009-2010 Volume of The Student Body will be published three times per semester; staff writers can expect to attend weekly meetings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to join our email list.
A Message from the President SHAC is a pre-med and pre-health undergraduate student organization affiliated with Gannett. Our mission is to promote awareness and discussion of health-related issues on the Cornell campus through lectures, informal dialogue, and other public service events and activities. Our membership includes both aspiring health-careers students as well as those students who are simply interested in current healthrelated issues. Previous events have consisted medical school panels and peer mentoring, community service activities (e.g. canvassing for Ithaca Free Clinic, making presentations on health-related topics at local elementary schools, volunteering at local soup kitchens), partnership with other health-related organizations on campus to bring The Student Body in speakers and sponsor programs, and production and distribution Editorial Board of health publication, The Student Body. During the 2009-2010 school year we hope to become more integrated with the other health related clubs on campus, through participation with the newly established Cornell Undergraduate Health Cooperative, to further enhance discussion and awareness of student health. Similarly, our goals involve reaching the greater Cor nell community through direct dialogue, via both increased production of our publication and larger events. Furthermore, SHAC is unique in its dynamic nature, allowing members to explore and pursue their own ideas. Although we elect primary positions such as President, Treasurer, and Secretary, all are welcome to become involved with the executive board in order to accomplish our mission and expand our reach to the community. In the past, SHAC members have influenced campus awareness of health issues, been involved in community service, and most importantly, established a group of friends through common interests. Through all of the aforementioned goals and visions, we strive to enrich Cornell’s campus as well as develop club members as campus leaders. We always welcome those who are interested and we are committed to helping you find the experience you’re looking for or help you find a way to achieve your own goal and more.
Sincerely Yours, Vinay Patel SHAC President 2
Allison Ferreira- Editor-in-Chief Sanchit Gupta- Senior Editor Jessica Ye- Design Editor SHAC is an undergraduate student organization affiliated with Gannett University Health Services. Publication of The Student Body is funded by SAFC. The contents of The Student Body are the works of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or beliefs of SHAC, its affiliates, advisers, or Cornell University.
Pictures on cover found on Google Image search and www. Cornell.edu
Produced by Jessica Ye, Steven Gu, Andrea Kim, and Susan Duan © The Student Body 2009 - SHAC
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Table of Contents Restoring the Spectrum ................................................................................................................................................. 4 Good News for Chocoholics .......................................................................................................................................... 5 Radiation from Cell Phones and Other Electronics Pose Health Risks - Truth or Myth? ................... 6 The Spice of Life ................................................................................................................................................................ 8 A Possible New Wonder Drug May Be Found on Your Teeth! ....................................................................... 9 HYGIENE: Hype or Hope? ............................................................................................................................................ 10 Hand Sanitizer or Soap and Water? ....................................................................................................................... 11 Warning: May Contain Nuts! ..................................................................................................................................... 12 Photo References 1. http://www.fda.gov/ucm/groups/fdagov-public/documents/image/ucm106831.jpg 2. http://www.kingcounty.gov/employees/HealthMatters/ Newsletter/Feb09/~/media/employees/HealthMatters/ Newsletter/Feb09/nuts.ashx 3. http://www.doc.mo.gov/mve/html/images/chemical/
bar-soap.jpg 4. http://www.dirigohealth.maine.gov/portal/images/ mobile-phone.jpg 5. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/examples/normal_vision. jpg 6. www.peacecorps.gov/teens/more/recipes/ 7. www.argonneclub.anl.gov/aabc/committees.htm
RESTORING THE SPECTRUM
ing about these exciting findings, Neitz said, “We knew right away that it began to work. It was as if they woke up and saw these colors.”
These miraculous results persisted even two years after the opsin injections. In addition, Neitz and his team reported that as time passed, the protein had enhanced the monkeys’ vision by inBy Tommy Rucker creasing the intensity of colors that the monkeys were already able to see, as much as 11-fold in the hink about your average day: get out of bed, go case of certain hues. to class, eat, do homework, go to bed, repeat. Now, what if you had to take a couple of things out For those of you who are colorblind, please don’t of this monotonous routine? No, not that looming go out and start poking needles into your eyes prelim tomorrow or paper due next week! What any time soon. Neitz’s team has concluded that about the colors red and green? much more research will have to be done before this procedure can be applied to humans. In the United States, 3.5 million people suffer from colorblindness, In the Future... which figures to about 1 Nevertheless, in addiin 87 people. Until now, tion to helping colorthere has been little develblind individuals, these opment in finding a cure findings may open the for this inherited vision door to treating other hindrance. The few cureye conditions, such rent treatments available as achromatopsia, a have limited effectiveness. disease that damages One of the remedies on the retinal cones and the market for colorblindeven age-related vision ness consists of a two-volt degeneration. electrical surge to the eye muscles for 15 minutes, So the next time that three times a week. DeReproduced from thedeafblog.co.uk you are racing to camspite its high usage, this to get to a class “We knew right away that it pus painful treatment does not that started 10 minutes have a high success rate. ago, take a glance over
Cure for Colorblindness
began to work. It was as if they woke up and saw these colors.”
A promising new “miracle” treatment for the colorblind has recently developed in the unlikely form of two male squirrel monkeys at the University of Washington-Seattle, where Jay Neitz and his research group has made the first plunge into finding cure for colorblindness by injecting a virus in the retinas of the two moneys. Instead of containing genetic material which would make the monkeys sick, the virus was engineered to carry a gene coding for the production of opsin, a protein that makes a pigment which can detect the colors red and green. After five weeks, the two naturally colorblind animals began to develop the ability to see colors that had previously been invisible to them. Speak-
Libe Slope. Thanks to modern science and two U-Dub Monkeys, that vibrant skyline is “under construction” for the 1.1% of the students here at Cornell University who have never seen that sunset in all of its multicolor splendor. .
Reproduced from ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
© The Student Body 2009 - SHAC
Reproduced from fda.gov
any of us have grown up with limits on our chocolate consumption. Halloween candy mysteriously disappears after November 1, and certain schools refuse to sell candy to their students. But is this mouthwatering treat really as bad as we think it is? I always knew I would find an excuse to keep that spare bar of Hershey’s chocolate in my microfridge and finally, I have. According to a recent study published in the New York Times, people who eat chocolate have increased survival rates following a heart attack. In fact, the relationship is correlated: the more chocolate you eat, the higher your chances are for survival after a heart attack. This correlation was also found with the risk of dying from heart disease. There was a 27% decrease in chance of cardiac death seen in those who consumed chocolate once a month, 44% in those who consumed chocolate once a week, and 66% for the chocoholics who ate chocolate twice or more a week. Before you drop everything and clear the candy aisle at Noyes, be warned: the study had a few flaws. First, it was an observational study, meaning an experimental and control group were not previously selected. This precludes researchers from establishing a definite cause and affect relationship. Second, the type of chocolate that
the patients consumed was not taken into account. In addition to the differences in taste in a Snickers Bar and a Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bar, there are varying nutritional benefits, particularly with regard to the antioxidants found in dark chocolate. Antioxidants help to protect the body from free radicals, which can damage cells and impair the immune system. Dark chocolate has an Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity of 9080 units per serving – blueberries have 8708 – while milk chocolate only has 3200 units per serving. This difference is quite substantial and should be considered if you decide to start using chocolate as a second lifeline of sorts. It should also be noted that this study did not find that chocolate prevented heart attacks; it only found that it helped patients in the aftermath.
Although the thought of daily chocobinges may begin to sound tempting, keep in mind that there’s a reason we have been taught to consume chocolate in moderation. The government set serving size for hard candy is 40 grams. A Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Bar is 41g, 180 calories, and contains 40% of your daily value of saturated fat. Yes, the health benefits are there, but don’t let your heart overrule your stomach: this treat is fine once or twice a week, but if you turn it into a daily indulgence you may find the con’s outweigh the pro’s in the long run. So go forth and eat chocolate! Just do it in controlled amounts.
Reproduced from ps21.gov.sg
“the more chocolate you eat, the higher your chances are for survival after a heart attack.” 5
from cell phones and other electronics pose health risks – truth or myth? By Diane Cheng of damage, but some studies have indicated potentially significant and permanent health hazards. Findings suggest that after being exposed to electromagnetic fields, cells showed a significant increase in DNA damage, which could not always be repaired by the cell and was also present in the next generation of cells. Researchers indicate that this DNA damage could lead to cancer and other diseases, but the correlation between RF emission and cancer has long been disputed by many leading research institution between RF emission and cancer has long been disputed by many leading research institutions, including The Journal of the Reproduced from  American Medical Association and the New England Journal of Medicine. Discovery Health online lists cell phone radiation related cancer as number 8 of “top ten cancer myths,” and further states that, n our high-tech world, cell phones have become “considerable research has also found no clear asindispensable. In an era when leaving your sociation between any other electronic consumer phone at home for a day may cost you your sanity, products (such as microwaves) and cancer.” your friendships, and even your job, the potential Regardless, consumers have sued mobile health hazards of being so phone companies in cell phone dependent may “...exposed to electromagnetic several recent and wellnot be of primary concern. court cases, fields, cells showed a signifi- publicized Popular myths describe citing radiation from cell the dangers of cell phone cant increase in DNA damage, phone usage as the culuse, but just how damaging for cancer in themwhich could not always be re- prit are the effects of a phone’s selves or loved ones. paired by the cell...” radiofrequency (RF) emisThough many of these sions? cases were dropped, the As we carry on long conversations, phones headlines sparked public concerns over cell phone become warmer because of the RF emission. While safety. In light of the increasing concerns, cell phone cell phone radiation heats up body tissue, some- companies have taken a big step forward from the times causing headaches and nausea, its effects traditional “no proof, no risk” stance. Many have will not lead to any peradopted initiatives to “...FDA does have the authority manent damage. Howevaddress consumer coner, the lack of permanent to take action if cell phones are cerns, taking measures damage does not imply such as including radiashown to emit hazardous levels a lack of side effects. Scition level information on entists behind a 2004 their products, and thus of RF radiation.” European Union funded allowing consumers to study state that radiation from cell phones does select a phone on that criterion. Additionally, as cause “alterations” to human DNA, even though cell phone quality improves, cell phone manufacsuch biological “changes” have not been proven turers assure us that the radiation emission will to be a risk to human health or a cause of disease. gradually decrease. Research looking at the effects of RF emission on The Food and Drug Administration is not recells and DNA did not consistently find evidence quired by law to review the safety of radiation-
© The Student Body 2009 - SHAC
Table: 10 highest-radiation cell phones (United States)
Reproduced from 
emitting consumer products such as cell phones Ultimately, many scientists emphasize that and similar wireless devices before they can be the data collected is far from conclusive, and that sold. However, FDA does have the authority to take there is no need to panic. The lack of evidence, action if cell phones are shown to emit hazardous levels of RF radiation. In such a case, FDA could “...as cell phone quality imrequire cell phone manufacturers to notify users proves, cell phone manufacof the health hazard and to repair, replace or recall the phones so that the hazard no longer exists. turers assure us that the radiSuch action has never been taken by the FDA.
ation emission will gradually decrease.”
however, is not evidence in itself that cell phone radiation poses no risk to our health. Perhaps because the explosion in electronic use is relatively recent, not enough time has passed to assess the full range of health effects or to collect evidence for further studies. For people who are still suspicious about any possible health effects from cell phones, the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) explain practical ways to minimize exposure to radio-frequency radiation without giving up cell-phone use, including hands-free Motorola W385, #4 on the Top 10 Highest -radiation cell kits and blue tooth head sets. phones in the U.S. Photo by: Steven Gu Photo References
1. http://deq.mt.gov/ 2. “20 highest-radiation cell phones (United States).” CBS
Interactive Inc.. 2009. < http://reviews.cnet.com/45206602_7-5020357-1.html>
ardiovascular disease, cancer and stroke are the leading causes of death in the United States. While technology has improved the detection and treatment of these illnesses, natural remedies that have existed for centuries might be useful in prevention. Cinnamon, garlic, cumin, ginger, turmeric, and oregano are among many spices that not only flavor our dishes, but could also kick up quality of life when added to a healthful diet. Besides cinnamon’s psychologically pleasing associations with comfort foods like apple pie, hard candy and tea, research shows that cinnamon also has profound health impacts. Traditionally, cinnamon’s antimicrobial properties were its most valued: people used it for food preservation, preventing bad breath, and aiding digestion. In addition, cinnamon also reduces inflammation in the body. Because inflammation initiates most chronic diseases, decreasing inflammation decreases one’s risk. Cinnamon also has anticlotting effects, which can decrease the risk of heart attack or stroke. A 2007 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that rice pudding spiced with cinnamon decreased the rate of gastric emptying, leading to a slower rise in blood glucose. Garlic may deter not only vampires, but also tumors, fungi and bacteria. The strong aroma of garlic is characteristic of one of its compounds, allicin, which has direct antibacterial and antiviral effects. Garlic is also rich in vitamin C, selenium and B6, which are antioxidants and metabolic cofactors that can decrease risk of cardiovascular disease. While a 2007 study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine did not find that garlic reduced LDL cholesterol or blood pressure, there was evidence that it may help deter Reproduced from the hardening of the arteries doh.sd.gov/diabetes/ by preventing the deposition img/garlic.jpg of “oxidized” LDL cholesterol into the blood stream. Ginger in candy, cookie, or savory form is especially good at treating nausea. It is commonly
recommended as a method to ameliorate gastrointestinal distress resulting from the side effects of many drugs. While ginger has not been widely researched, according to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, it may help decrease congestion and joint pain by reducing inflammation. Turmeric has a bold yellow color characteristic of mustard and curry. Research is underway about its role in preventing Alzheimer’s, cancer, and liver disorders, but turmeric has other significant health properties. For instance, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine states that turmeric can be used topically to treat eczema, or as an antiseptic to treat cuts. It also aids in digestion and may relieve arthritis pain. Oregano, an herb with a warm flavor used in Italian, Greek and Israeli cuisine has been used medicinally for many years. Hippocrates used oregano as an antiseptic, and its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties make it an excellent method for food preservation, as it fights off the foodborne pathogen Listeria. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods website, oregano is believed to treat Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus in some parts of the world. Increased globalization of the food supply and nutrition research continues to heighten awareness of the effects that natural compounds have on the body. While alternative and complementary medical clinics are opening across the country, knowledge of the interactions between traditional and pharmaceutical medicines is vast and not as well known. Thus, consult with a health care professional before beginning treatment with an herb or supplement.
© The Student Body 2009 - SHAC
A possible new wonder Bydrug may be found on your teeth! Yvonne Robles
hat do over eighty different types of diseas- as a way to reduce organic compounds and other es, the thin film on your teeth, and the lining wastes in sewage. The biofilms digest these organof sewers have in common? ic compounds as nourishment; one man’s waste is All of them are linked to biofilms. some bacteria’s favorite meal. Biofilms can, for Biofilms are essentially masses of bacteria example, be engineered to digest a variety of conthat have changed their phenotypes (the set of taminants, and treatments may be developed to traits they express) to form a matrix of extracellu- successfully remove corrosive or antibiotic resislar “goo” which consists of a jumble of DNA, poly- tant films. Using engineered biofilms could be an saccharides, cellulose, and other components from inexpensive way to better clean our water without the bacteria. The matrix formed by the bacteria is the use of added chemicals and machinery that are advantageous for them; most biofilms are antibiot- harmful to the environment. ic resistant and the extracellular “goo” protects the Rapid advances in research, including recent bacteria from unfavordevelopments on the able environments, alCornell campus, have lowing it to grow in less indicated the possibilmoisture and nutrients ity of manipulating biothan just as lone bactefilm to eliminate or use ria cells. Think of it as them as an advantage in the bacterial version of everything from uses in a Megazord from Power medicine to the environRangers. ment. Primarily through These adaptations genetic recombination allow biofilms to have techniques, different starring roles in infecgenes have already been Reproduced from blog.usa.gov tions and diseases such shown to be positive or “one man’s waste is some bacas urinary tract infecnegative regulators of tions, cystic fibrosis, curli, fiber-like growths teria’s favorite meal” middle-ear infections, on the outer membrane and gingivitis. Similarly, of some bacteria that annearly 20% of the corrochor biofilms to surfaces sion in pipes, boats and and are accepted to be the like are caused by directly related to biomicrobes and biofilms. film formation. ControlThis includes things such ling the actual growth of as oil pipelines, leading biofilms is an important to the waste of valuable step towards engineerpetroleum products being biofilms for specific cause a layer of microoruses. Reproduced from ares.jsc.nasa.gov ganisms ate away at the Nonetheless, biopipes they are transportfilms are still an unexed through. plored frontier in Biology. Finding a way to use biofilms to our advan- Scientists are still unsure about what environmentage could eliminate or better treat these prob- tal cues promote the production of biofilm, some lems. Similarly, the obstacle of antibiotic resis- of its properties, and the extent of its role in some tance of pathogens can be resolved by the control bacterial infections. But controlling these growths of biofilms; this may be what replaces the increas- offers the promise of being able to regulate these ingly ineffective wonder drug Penicillin when the films that are present in our everyday lives could bacteria it currently fights someday becomes too lead to a less wasteful, disease-free, cleaner world. strong for it. Who wouldn’t want the mighty Megazord on People are already using wild type biofilms their side?
HYGIENE: Hype or Hope? By Nicholas Cordero
FLUSH…footsteps. “Hey, do you want to get something to eat?”
omething was missing in this exchange: it was the sound of running water that I had grown all too familiar with, having suffered from OCD in my childhood and owing an almost too-soft pair of hands to hours spent soaping and scrubbing away at the germ that were stupid enough to take refuge there. While I admit that I was excessive as a child, even a little rinse is better than not washing at all. The act of hand washing has both hygienic and religious roots. Ritual hand washing is performed in many major Religions, be it the lavabo of Christianity or the wudu of Islam; it exists as a method of cleansing oneself. The hygienic implications are the same: the microbiologists Kampf and Kramer state that about two million infections occur in hospitals every year in the United States due to slacking with hand washing. There are a variety of reasons to wash one’s hands. First, it is the polite thing to do. We don’t take other people into the bathroom with us, so why should we take the bathroom out to them? Second, it stops the spread of disease, whether from the bathroom or from coughing, sneezing, and touching shared objects. While you may be immune to your germs because they were in your body, others may not be; that handshake you share with a friend and that dinner you prepare for a mate could be giving them a bit more than your love. My personal favorite reason for scrubbing up is that hand wash-
ing prevents the occurrence of a little disease called “necrotizing fasciitis.” What is the proper technique of hand washing? To start, the main ingredients are running water, soap, a clean towel, and patience. First, douse hands with clean, running water and apply soap. The soap needn’t be antibacterial, as the Kampf and Kramer demonstrated that antibacterial soaps are no more effective at killing bacteria than unmedicated soaps are. In fact, some bacteria have even grown resistant to the antimicrobial chemicals in these soaps, making them even less effective than normal soaps. Once soap has been applied, lather up for at least 20 seconds. Then, rinse off and dry hands with a clean towel. For extra credit, you can then apply a moisturizing lotion to your hands to counter the drying effect of washing. Partial credit is awarded for replacing all of these steps with an alcoholbased hand sanitizer, which is almost as effective as soap and water but takes much less time. Easy, huh? Indeed, one of the reasons why America is not plagued today by epidemics is because of public health advances centered on contagion in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but handwashing can still help control the spread of illness. But don’t overdo it like I did as a kid: a study by Bloomfield et al. shows that a little bit of eaten dirt can greatly boost a child’s immune system. But walking across the tightrope between clean and too clean is much safer than the dental-floss sized line between clean and dirty.
© The Student Body 2009 - SHAC
not taken chemistry, polar molecules are attracted to polar molecules while non-polar molecules are attracted to non-polar molecules. In a soap molecule, then, the non-polar group is attracted to the oil and dirt on skin, while the polar group is attracted to the water molecules. When you rinse off soap, the soap molecules are washed away with whatever the non-polar groups were attracted to on your skin. Unlike hand sanitizers, soap does not necessarily kill germs, but it gets rid of them down the drain. To use it most effectively, wet hands first, rub and lather for 20 seconds, rinse while still rubbing, and dry hands.
Photograph by Jessica Ye
’ve always hated hand sanitizers. They seemed like a sham created by companies to make money. “Kills 99.99% of all germs!”—as if. “Moisturizes hands and keeps them soft!”—yeah right, after peeling away a layer of skin. While others squeeze a blob of gel into their hands, I prefer good ol’ soap and water. However, in these germ-ridden days, hand sanitizers are everywhere. Since I cannot avoid thinking about them, I decided to once and for all find out the truth about these two methods of cleaning hands.
How hand sanitizer works
Hand sanitizers have a distinctive, sweet smell— that’s the alcohol. Alcohol kills bacteria because it changes the shape of proteins, thereby making them non-functional and effectively killing the germs in the process. The most effective hand sanitizers are 60-95% alcohol-based. Also, when alcohol is rubbed onto hands, it evaporates quickly, taking away with it the outer layer of oil on skin as well as the germs that were on it. Some hand sanitizers are made with aloe and vitamin E to replace lost moisture. To use it most effectively, rub a dime-sized drop of gel between your hands for 30 seconds. If your hands are dry in only 20 seconds, you didn’t use enough gel.
How soap works
Soap is made of molecules that have both a polar group and a non-polar group. For those who have
The debate: Hand sanitizer vs. Soap and water
Knowing about how the methods work convinces me that they are both valid. However, there is one important difference between them: hand sanitizers can only remove bacteria, while soap and water can remove bacteria and dirt and grime. When your hands are wet or visibly dirty with food or dirt, use soap and water. In fact, the gel is hardly effective at all in these conditions. (You’d better hope that those working at Okenshield’s and Trillium are not keeping their hands clean by only using hand sanitizer!) With regard to bacteria only, however, research shows that hand sanitizers are actually more effective than soap and water in eliminating the microorganisms. However, most of the bacteria they kill are not harmful to humans anyway. As for the H1N1 virus, both methods are equally effective according to a study done in Australia. Researchers spread the virus over the hands of 20 volunteers. If the volunteers did not clean their hands, then some viruses were still found alive after one hour. As soon as they did clean their hands—either way—almost all the viruses were eliminated. It turns out that hand sanitizers are not a total sham after all. Still, I was right to doubt the “Removes 99.99% of all germs!” claim. Companies get these results by testing their hand sanitizers on smooth surfaces, not human hands. No matter which method you use, the important thing is to simply try to keep your hands as clean as possible. Maybe now I will buy a bottle of hand sanitizer for when soap and water are not available. 11
Reproduced from bloomington.in.gov
he Statler’s Terrace Café, most known for its comprehensive salad bar and excellent service, often comes to mind for many students when considering a place to grab a bite on campus. Students hurry down the salad line, watching their selections being quickly tossed together , and emptied into a box, and think nothing of tossing out the stray Chinese noodle, carrot shred, or almond sliver that has mistakenly ended up in their possession. However, this is a cause for concern for students who help comprise the 3.7 percent of the U.S. adult population afflicted with a food allergy. Despite meticulous labeling on commercially sold food products and on selected items in dining halls, mass-prepared foods in many venues are unlikely to have labels and are even less likely to be meticulously separated from possible contaminants. Food allergy causes about 30,000 episodes of anaphylaxis and 100 to 200 deaths per year in the U.S., and accounts for between 35 and 50 percent of hospital visits. Although the prevalence of food allergies is higher in children under 4 than in the adult population, life-threatening reactions to food allergies occur most often in adolescents and young adults. These reactions are most often caused by peanuts and tree nuts, which are often
found in areas where cross-contamination of ingredients is the greatest, such as salad bars or stirfry stations. College students are forced to endure the psychological effects resulting from the risk of death and social isolation during eating events. Emotional stress, like that brought about by spending several years at Cornell, has been shown to increase the severity of allergic reactions. Furthermore, CNN Health Reports recently found that 83 percent of people with seasonal allergies reported that their allergies affected sexual activities. Although those afflicted with food allergies are not sneezing or coughing, their sexual lives may be impaired by their fear of contact or inability to dine with their peers. However, recent clinical trials have shown promise for effectively desensitizing children to food allergens further than allergy shots. Oral immunotherapy and sublingual immunotherapy have been introduced to build up a child’s tolerance to an allergen. These therapeutic methods involve introducing trace amounts of the food, either by ingestion or by placing it under the tongue to be absorbed through the membranes of the mouth. Children who do not react, or who are able to endure the reaction are given increasing doses of the allergen over time, with the hopes of eventual desensitization. A spokesperson from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology indicated that the results from several recent trials are promising, but it is important to keep in mind that these results are preliminary and may not be applicable to everyone. Most importantly, these trials should only be conducted in a clinical setting under the care of a medical professional. In other words, do not try this at home. Although these trials promise an optimistic future for people afflicted with food allergies, the need for such a desperate, high-risk treatment method brings to light the question of why we have seen such a rise in the prevalence of anaphylactic food allergies in the last few decades. From 1997 to 2007, the prevalence of reported food allergy increased by 18 percent among children under age 18 in the U.S. and 4 million Americans currently have food allergies. If this rise in the prevalence of severe allergies is due to our eradication of more potent bacterial and viral pathogens in our environment, as some suggest, then what environmental hazards will we be exposing ourselves to next by reducing our susceptibility to food allergens?
© The Student Body 2009 - SHAC
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