Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Top 10 Skin Myths

From Heather Brannon, MD,
Your Guide to Skin Conditions / Acne.

How do you know the information and advice you get about your skin is true? Skin care product companies are trying to sell you their product. Your friends probably have as much medical knowledge as you do. Unfortunately, there are more than 10 skin myths that confuse people, but these are the most popular myths I've seen.

1) Tanning is harmless
Exposure to ultraviolet light, UVA or UVB, accounts for 90% of the symptoms of premature skin aging. Both UVA and UVB radiation can cause skin damage including wrinkles, lowered immunity against infection, aging skin disorders, and cancer. The amount of damage to the skin caused by the sun is determined by the total lifetime amount of radiation exposure and the person's pigment protection.

2) Acne is caused by what you eat
Acne is caused by over production of sebum (oil) and obstruction of the pores. The amount of sebum produced by the skin is regulated by hormones only, not food. This includes chocolate, greasy food, soda, and fast foods. These foods do not have any effect on the hormones that regulate sebum production.

3) Dermatologists can diagnose any skin condition
Medicine is an art, not an exact science. Dermatologists spend at least 3 years learning about various skin disorders. Unfortunately, some people have rashes that fit several different disease profiles. Dermatologists are trained to diagnose a rash by giving a prioritized list of possibilities. Sometimes the response to treatment helps determine the diagnosis.

4) Topical antioxidants reverse wrinkles
Free radicals play an important role in creating wrinkles. Therefore, it makes sense that antioxidants will make skin more youthful. Unfortunately, there are no good scientific studies that show what type of topical antioxidant is effective. This research is being conducted now, but it is still too early. Right now the only topical product that has been proven to improve wrinkles is Retin-A.

5) "All-natural" skin care products are best
What exactly does "all-natural" mean? Unfortunately, this term can mean just about anything, and cosmetics companies use it any way they want. All cosmetics and skin care products have synthetic ingredients in them. Because a skin care product is made from a plant does not mean that it is better for the skin than a product created in a lab.

6) I can't get herpes from someone who doesn't have a rash
Understanding how the herpes simplex virus works is crucial to understanding how it causes lifelong infection. Viral shedding can occur before a rash develops, making it possible to be infected after contact with normal appearing skin.

7) Dry skin causes wrinkles
Wrinkles are caused by many factors as the skin ages. The microscopic changes are distinct and unmistakable. Even though wrinkled skin looks better when it is moisturized, there is no evidence that moisturizer has any effect on the microscopic skin damage. In other words, moisturizers do not have any long-term effect on wrinkles.

8) Expensive skin care products are better than inexpensive ones
The cost of a skin care product or cosmetic is absolutely NOT an indicator of effectiveness. The cosmetics industry would like people to believe that an expensive product has some special ingredient in it that make it more effective. However, there are many products in every category that are effective and don't come with a high price tag.

9) Skin conditions can be cleared up quickly
Some skin conditions such as bacterial infections start improving as soon as you use the right medications. However, many skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and seborrhea are chronic, meaning they get better slowly with treatment and reoccur when the treatment stops.

10) Men don't have as many skin problems as women
Men wrinkle as much as women and they get skin conditions such as acne, seborrhea, atopic dermatitis, and psoriasis just like women. Men also have additional concerns surrounding facial hair. While men don't spend as much money as women on wrinkle creams and other skin care products, they also don't use sunscreen and protect their skin enough.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Is it true there used to be cocaine in Coca-Cola?

Indeed, a certain stimulant was present in the soft drink back in 1886, according to the Soda Museum, but probably in mild amounts. Coca-Cola was named after its two key ingredients -- coca leaves and kola nuts.

Coca leaves contain small amounts of cocaine, and people in the Andean region of South America have a long tradition of chewing them for their effects as a mild stimulant, appetite suppressant, and altitude sickness remedy. To make cocaine powder, a much stronger stimulant, coca leaves undergo elaborate processing that involves washes by kerosene and several chemicals.

Coca-Cola used syrup from the coca leaves that probably introduced trace amounts of the active substance into the drink. But concern about cocaine addiction grew in the early 20th century, and in the United States, the Harrison Act of 1914 banned the use of the drug in non-prescription products.

When technology improved enough to make it possible, Coca-Cola started using "spent" coca leaves, which go through a cocaine extraction process, rather than fresh leaves, for flavor. It gives a whole new meaning to "I'd like to buy the world a Coke," doesn't it?


Thursday, May 04, 2006


If you love something, set it free.
If it comes back, it was, and always will be yours.
If it never returns, it was never yours to begin with.

If it just sits in your living room,
messes up your stuff,
eats your food,
uses your telephone,
takes your money,
and never behaves as if you actually set it free in the first place, you either married it or gave birth to it.

Love is like a roller coaster: When it's good you don't want to get off; and when it isn't, you can't wait to throw up.