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Posted on 05-21-2013
Children's cough and cold medicines have taken a justifiable beating in the past few years, and the news isn't getting any better (at least not for the drug manufacturers). A recent study published in the medical journal Pediatrics suggests use of these medicines in children under age 6 may cause as many as 500 child deaths per year - strike three in the eyes of many concerned parents and health care providers who feel the potential dangers aren't worth the risk.
The first strike against cough and cold medicines came in 2006, when guidelines published by the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) stated that over-the-counter cough and cold medicines are ineffective in treating the "underlying causes" of cough. The guidelines strongly recommended against the use of such medicines by children ages 14 and younger. At the same time, a review in Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology attributed the perceived benefit of cold medicines to "the placebo effect," essentially suggesting parents (and their children) feel the medicine is working because they have an underlying assumption it will work.
Strike two came in 2008 - that's when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a public health advisory recommending that over-the-counter cough and cold products not be given to infants and children under 2 years of age because of serious and potentially life-threatening side effects. The agency had received reports of deaths associated with decongestants and antihistamines in children, most younger than age 2. Pharmaceutical manufactures complied, pulling products from the shelves. Approximately six months later, manufacturers announced they would voluntarily change their product labels, this time to warn against giving cough and cold medicines to children ages 4 and younger.
The FDA is in the process of deliberating whether to extend the ban on cough/cold medicines to children older than age 4; perhaps all the way up to age 11. A decision is expected within months. With up to 500 children dying each year, isn't it about time? After all, three strikes and you're out. Ask your doctor about the dangers of common child medications and potential nondrug alternatives.
Over the years, various studies have suggested that people who regularly consume cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, turnips, bok choy, etc.) have lower rates of many cancers, including breast and prostate cancer. Researchers have investigated cruciferous vegetables in an attempt to identify the active agent(s) that account for this cancer-protective effect. As it turns out, cruciferous vegetables are unique in that they contain compounds called sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. Both of these natural agents enhance the body's ability to detoxify cancer-causing chemicals, but indole-3-carbinol in particular exhibits other impressive anti-cancer effects that should be recognized.
Experimental studies show that indole-3-carbinol and its metabolites (products made from indole-3-carbinol in the body's metabolism) not only stop the growth of certain types of cancer cells, but also trigger them into committing suicide. This is an important mechanism by which the indole-3-carbinol is thought to lower our risk of cancer.
So, in addition to speeding up the body's ability to neutralize (detoxify) and eliminate cancer-causing chemicals, indole-3-carbinol also appears to help ensure that any emerging cancer cells commit suicide before they can become a threat to the body. Research suggests supplementation with indole-3-carbinol also reverses cervical dysplasia and vulvar intraepithelial neoplasia (tumor), two precancerous conditions that occur in women, in a high percentage of cases. Another study showed that indole-3-carbinol supplementation reversed respiratory papillomas as well.
In addition to these impressive cancer-fighting capabilities, indole-3-carbinol also helps prevent the buildup of the form of estrogen that is linked to breast and uterine cancers. Researchers have identified that when a woman's body makes more of one form of estrogen (16-OH estrone) and less of another form (2-OH estrone), her risk of reproductive organ cancer is greater. Indole-3-carbinol promotes the conversion of estrone to 2-OH estrone, the form of estrone that is safer and less potent, and reduces the buildup of the dangerous 16-OH estrone.
Indole-3-carbinol may be one of the most powerful cancer-fighting nutrients ever identified. In order to derive optimal benefits from this important compound, you should consume broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts or some combination of cruciferous vegetables at least four to five times per week. In addition, you should consider indole-3-carbinol supplementation to further optimize your cancer defenses on a daily basis. Talk to your doctor about how to reduce your risk of developing cancer and other diseases through the proven power of nutrition.
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