by Constance Daley
American Reporter Correspondent
St. Simons Island, Ga.
November 13, 2007
THE PENDULUM SWINGS
ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. -- It's only because I've lived long enough to see the pendulum swing from lurking dangers to miraculous cures - and then, darn it, back again. Oh, how wonderful it felt to be alive in the age when fluoride was in our drinking water, our toothpaste ("Look, Ma, no cavities") our mouthwash and an integral part of our semi-annual dental checkup.
Now, we discover, only now, that it is one of the medications that the FDA (Federal Drug Administration) never tested for safety. When something is too good to be true it usually isn't. This was released to the public before testing all products was required by law. It can cause dental-fluorosis - spotted, pitted and stained teeth. It is topical, not systemic. Now it's recommended, if at all, for children at age six or seven when their second teeth come in.
Brian A. Burt of the University of Michigan School of Public Health reports that "fluoride supplements should no longer be used for young children in North America … the risks of using supplements in infants and young children outweigh the benefits."
There is nothing I can do now; my children are all over thirty. Perhaps they listened when I yelled, "Don't swallow the toothpaste." Free starter bottles of Tri-Vi-Flor were in the packet when I was discharged from the hospital, and at the three month checkup I was given Poly-Vi-Flor. The flouride supplemented the essential vitamins, dropped into their toothless mouths and "ingested" for sure.
We've learned so much and witnessed the contradictions as the pendulum swings and marks time for us. There was a time when doctors treated "housewive's fatigue" by suggesting she take time for herself. "Sit down in a comfortable place, have a cup of coffee, light a cigarette, and relax. You'll feel better in no time."
We were told to stay away from alcohol; now we're told to have a glass or two of red wine every night. There are cardioprotective compounds in grapes. The reports have always emphasized red wine only. Now studies are surfacing adding white wine to the cardioprotective agents in wine. So, out with the Chianti, in with the Chardonnay. No reason except I like it better.
Take coffee: Coffee lovers have been switching to decaffeinated coffee for forty years. Now the recommendation is that two or three cups of regular coffee each day are good for you. My brothers died unsatisfied. Oh, how they wanted their morning coffee, but doctor's orders: Decaf or nothing.
Dark chocolate lowers blood pressure. Researchers recommend we balance the calories by cutting down on other things. They also claim it's the antioxidants in dark chocolate that causes the lowering of blood pressure. The antioxidants in your system are measureable an hour after a piece of chocolate.
I have my own theory. Stress contributes to high blood pressure and no one can feel stressed after a bite from a dark chocolate Hershey Bar. But, interestingly enough, milk chocolate does not have the same efficacious effect.
In a report by Mauro Serafini, Ph.D., of Italy's National Institute for Food and Nutrition Research in Rome, and colleagues, sceintists said "Our findings indicate that milk may interfere with the absorption of antioxidants from chocolate and may therefore negate the potential health benefits that can be derived from eating moderate amounts of dark chocolate." Does this mean no more dunking Oreos?
Reports like this one may reassure us not everything we like is forbidden fruit. And it looks as if this swing of the pendulum is marking time with us.
When I reached menopause, I elected not to take estrogen replacement. When I learned "premarin" was pregnant mare's urine, I decided against it for no other reason. Later synthetic Premarin combined with Provera became Prempro and my doctor implored me to take the therapy since it was supposed to be good for my heart and I had a family history of cardiac problems.
Then the pendulum swung again; more women were getting breast cancer and the majority of them were also on Prempro.
I've seen trends come and go. I'm not going to record the advantages we hoped for back then, nor elaborate on the dangers feared now that we lived through them. In the 1960s we were advised to put our infants to sleep on their tummies to keep their heads from flattening in the back while they curled up in their familiar fetal position. With a firm mattress there would be no danger of suffocation.
My adult children now, with babies of their own, are aghast that I would put a newborn baby on his tummy.
Is there an answer to something I can't and wouldn't change? Well, I could say, "Go look in the mirror - I molded that beautiful head."