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The Truth about Artificial Sweeteners

The Truth about Artificial Sweeteners

For decades dieters and diabetics have used artificial sweeteners to reduce sugar intake in an attempt to lose weight or control their diabetes. Multiple studies have shown that this does not work. One study split a number of people with metabolic syndrome (prediabetes) who drank sodas into 3 groups. One stayed on the regular sodas, one switched to diet sodas (with artificial sweetener), and the third switched to Perrier or other drinks without sugar or artificial sweetener. By switching to diet soda, the prediabetes did not change. However, stopping all sodas did markedly reduce the problem.

This and other studies only showed that switching to artificial sweeteners did not change anyone’s diabetes, prediabetes or weight. One study 4 years ago did show that artificial sweeteners have an effect in causing diabetes. Another study a year ago showed that drinks with artificial sweeteners could increase a person’s risk of dementia or stroke. A new studyfrom the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University links artificial sweeteners to obesity and diabetes, claiming sweeteners change how the body processes fat and uses energy.

We at the Center for Plastic Surgery have preached for years that the way to control weight and diabetes is reduction of sugar through dietary management, not substitution for it. All these studies continue to add evidence of the significant harm that artificial sweeteners do and the necessity of proper dietary management rather than substituting something for sugar or fat.

Myths about the Sun and Protection from it:

We all think we know about the sun, what it does to us and how to protect ourselves from it. Unfortunately, most of us really do not know what we need to know. A great deal of this is because most of the people who write about this and even many Dermatologists and Plastic Surgeons keep repeating information that has been outdated for years. Though you may think that this is implausible, several studies have shown that it takes an average of 13 years before a new discovery is adopted into general usage. Unfortunately, it has already taken well over 20 years to adopt new knowledge about the sun and how to protect from it, and it has still not been generally accepted. The following are some widely held myths:

SPF is what you need to look for in selecting a Sunscreen.

SPF is a designation designed to tell you how well the sunscreen protects from sunburn. It has no bearing on whether it protects you from sun damage that causes skin cancer and aging, however. Sunburn is caused by UVB that is absorbed by everything, including your skin. This is the reason it causes a burn (all the energy is concentrated in the outer skin layer) and is present twice as much in the summer as the winter, at noon as morning and evening and in Florida as in North Dakota (because of atmospheric absorption). Since it is UVA that is absorbed into all layers of the skin and causes cellular damage resulting in skin cancers and aging, you need a way to tell if what you are using does that. SPF does not do this.

All sunscreens protect from damaging rays equally.

Since December of 2013, any product labeled as a sunscreen or sunblock have to protect from both UVA and UVB. Any product that simply puts an SPF on the label but does not claim to be a sunscreen or sunblock does not necessarily have any UVA protection and any that it does have is usually short lived. Even those that are approved as sunscreens are not all equal in the protection provided. There is a long list of chemical sunscreens and the manufacturer can use a mixture of them. Some are better than others. The one thing they all share is that they only last about an hour if you are outside or 2 hours if you are inside since the sun actually deactivates them. The physical sunblocks are zinc, titanium and iron oxide. They all protect from both UVA and UVB and last until washed or rubbed off. However, zinc is by far the best, protecting maximally over a larger spectrum and is the easiest to apply.

You only need to use it when you “go out in the sun.”

This, again, is based on what we previously knew about UVB. Since UVB is immediately absorbed rather than being reflected, it is much less strong in the shade or inside. Besides, many modern windows block UVB. None really block UVA, which is present almost equally all day, all year, at all latitudes and even inside and in the shade. We, therefore, need to protect from it all the time every day. This requires the proper sunblock and sun protective clothing.

Something other than an applied sunscreen or sun protective clothing will protect you,

There have been many claims over the years. Most recently, several companies have marketed either a pill or something to drink that is supposed to protect you from sun damage. None of these products work, and the FDA has recently warned these companies to stop making such claims.

For proper sun protection, we suggest:

Since zinc oxide provides the widest spectrum of maximum protection and lasts as long as it remains in place, this is, not only the best, but the most practical. Probably the main reason it has not been adopted better is another myth, “it is that white stuff the lifeguards used to wear on their noses.” A recent health writer even bemoaned that we did not have a reasonable sunblock or “something other than that white stuff.” The fact is that it has not been “white” for well over 20 years and rubs in clear but provides superb protection. Instead of looking for SPF, we recommend that you simply look at the ingredients and buy one with at least 8% zinc oxide. This will give you all the UVA and UVB protection you need. We also suggest that your clothing be sun protective, either bought that way or washed with Rit SunGuard that washes in sun protection for 20 washes. We sell both in the office.

10 Worst Mistakes in Sun Damage Protection

I got these off AOL a week or so ago. I tried to find the source to just create a link but could not find it, so I have reproduced them and added my own comments. If you want skin that is healthy and looks good, the absolute number one thing you can do is protect it from the sun. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation that leads to these mistakes.

  1. The attitude that “the damage has been done.”  Damage from the sun is cumulative, so every day you are continually getting more damage. The more damage you receive, the more likely you are to have visible damage.
  2. Not wearing Sun Glasses.  The sun not only causes skin damage, but also damages the cornea, lens, and retina. There is evidence that some astigmatism and cataracts are caused by sun damage.
  3. Avoiding sunscreen around the eyes.  Everyone worries about dark areas and crinkles around the eyes. Both these are, to some extent, sun damage.
  4. Looking only at SPF.  SPF is TOTALLY WORTHLESS as far as telling you whether the sunscreen will protect you from skin damage. All it says is that the sunscreen will protect you from UVB and getting a sunburn. UVA is the part of the sun causing long term damage. Instead of checking SPF, you need to check the ingredients. Avobenzone will block UVA, but needs to be applied hourly. We recommend that you look for Zinc Oxide, at least 8-14%, since it is a physical block and needs only be replied if rubbed or washed off.
  5. Relying on Label lingo.  All sunscreens are required to say whether they block UVA and/or UVB. However, just because the ingredient will block UVA does not mean it is practical. Avobenzone only lasts an hour. The only practical one is Zinc Oxide and it should be replied as often as you rub it off.
  6. Keeping the same bottle of sunscreen for months or years.  If you are doing this, you are definitely not using enough.
  7. Thinking Sunscreen is all you need.  Sunscreen is intended for the non-covered areas of your bodies. Most people think that clothing will protect from the sun. Unfortunately, regular clothing will not protect you. UVA penetrates most clothing as if it were not there. What you need is specific sun protective clothing or your regular clothing washed in Rit SunGuard every 6 months.
  8. Skimping on Sunscreen.  You need to apply an adequate amount to cover the areas generously.
  9. Skipping Sunscreen when indoors, on cloudy days or in the winter.  UVA is present morning, noon and evening, in North Dakota and south Florida, in summer and winter. It penetrates windows and bounces around inside the house. It also bounces off things outside and is, thus, present even in shade.
  10. Believing the “base tan” myth.  This is just a myth. Additionally, the way many people get their base tan is in a tanning bed, or, as we call them, “Skin Cancer Machines.”

The Importance of Daily Sunscreen

About this time of year, many start thinking about using sunscreen and many stores add new sunscreen choices. The truth, however, is that we all need to use a good sunscreen every day all year. It needs to protect from both UVB, the rays that cause sunburn and are present mainly in the south, mid-day and in the summer, and UVA, those present morning to night, at all latitudes and all year that cause aging and skin cancers. My preference, because it is exceedingly effective as well as practical, is micronized zinc oxide of from 8-14%. We stock several in the office. We also have many excellent methods of rejuvenating the skin from skin care creams to laser, IPL and peels. A recent publication by Drs. Oz and Roizen has reinforced our thoughts on this subject.

New Study Shows 79% of Heart Attacks may be Preventable by Lifestyle Changes

We at the Center for Plastic Surgery have been teaching lifestyle modification for years to improve general health and reduce the risks of many diseases. A new study has added further credence our teachings. The study of Swedish men reports that four out of five “heart attacks in men are actually preventable when a person makes changes to lifestyle that include maintaining a healthy weight and diet, adopting a regular exercise program, avoiding cigarettes and keeping alcohol consumption to a minimum,” according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Researchers arrived at this conclusion after conducting “a retrospective analysis of more than a decade’s worth of data on the health and lifestyle habits of 20,000 Swedish men, aged 45 to 79.” Specifically the study found  that “not smoking lowered the risk of heart attack” by 36 percent. Exercise also helped. The “men who walked or cycled for at least 40 minutes per day and did other exercise at least one hour per week had a 3 percent lower risk.” Additionally, men with “a waist circumference below 37 inches had a 12 percent lower risk,” the study also found. It also reports that moderate drinking and “a diet of fruits, veggies, legumes, nuts, reduced-fat dairy products, fish and whole grains” also helped reduce the risk of a heart attack. Men whose behaviors included all of these measures “had an 86% lower risk of heart attack than those with high-risk behaviors.” However, just “1% of men in the study – and about the same amount of the US population – keeps this kind of heart-healthy regime.”

These findings were repeated by CBS News (9/23) and NBC News (9/23 Fox) on their websites and by Time (9/23 Sifferlin) and repeated by the AMA Morning Rounds (9/23) .

HealthDay (9/23, Dotinga) reports that when it comes to heart attacks in women, “healthy living” appears to have a “similar effect,” as seen in previous studies.

MedPage Today (9/22, Raeburn) reports that an accompanying editorial “cited earlier research attesting to the risk reduction power of simple lifestyle factors, and went so far as to call for change,” writing, “It is time to prioritize these most basic and fundamental behaviors.”

Low-carb diets may be better than low-fat diets for protecting against heart disease.

On the front of its Science Times section, the New York Times (9/2, D1, O’Connor, Subscription Publication) reports that individuals “who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades,” according to a National Institutes of Health-financed study published Sept. 2 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The study “included a racially diverse group of 150 men and women…who were assigned to follow diets for one year that limited either the amount of carbs or fat that they could eat, but not overall calories.” By the time the study ended, “people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides…plunge,” while HDL increased.
The Washington Post (8/29, Searing) “Health & Science” blog points out caveats to the study, including the fact that “the study measured risk factors for cardiovascular disease but did not last long enough to measure actual development of the disease.” In addition, “dietary data came from the participants’ responses on questionnaires.”
As part of our lifestyle enhancement efforts, we, at the Center for Plastic Surgery, have been teaching that it is the carbohydrates and sugar that are causing a great deal of health problems including heart problems. We have also taught that the key to weight loss and proper health is balancing carbohydrates, protein and fat at about 33% each for all meals (most people’s diets have been 70-80% carbohydrate)  and that the carbohydrates should be low glycemic and minimally cooked or processed. This type of diet actually lowers cholesterol and other heart risk factors.

Bill empowering FDA on sunscreen ingredients gets House panel nod.

The FDA has been very slow in approving new sunscreen ingredients and in informing the public the importance of wearing on a daily basis a sunscreen that blocks UVA. They did, as of 1 and a half years ago, require sunscreen makers to label whether they block UVA, the rays that cause skin cancer and age the skin. These are present all day, everywhere and year around. Manufacturers, however, still insist on stressing SPF, a measure of how well the sunscreen blocks UVB, the rays that cause sunburn. These are present mainly down south mid day in the summer. SPF, therefore, only tells you if you are protected from sunburn, not whether you are protected from UVA, the aging rays. Of the 2, UVA is the most important.

The Hill (7/16, Al-faruque) reports that a House panel Tuesday “approved by voice vote a bill that would require” the FDA to quickly decide “whether to approve new sunscreen products available outside” the US. The article notes the Sunscreen Innovation Act would require the FDA to take decisions on sunscreen ingredients, “some of which have been waiting on approval for a decade.”
The National Journal (7/16, Subscription Publication) provides details of the legislation, noting the Act “would institute a timeline for review, and would no longer require the FDA to issue a regulation every time it wants to approve an ingredient.” The bill “requires final decisions on pending applications within one year, and decisions on new applications within one and a half.” The piece notes that new superior ingredients in sunscreens have been awaiting a decision from the FDA for at least 12 years, “with the last” OTC “sunscreen ingredient approved by the agency in the 1990s.”

The question is, will the FDA quit waffling and really assess these ingredients on whether and how well they block UVA and whether they will demand that the amount of UVA protection is also posted.

Tanning salon associated with higher rates of melanoma.

Because tanning beds use UVA light that,when natural, has been associated with skin cancer including melanoma, we at the Center for Plastic Surgery have been preaching avoidance for many years. Now there is enough evidence that tanning beds cause cancer that the fact is making it into the non-medical media.
Reuters (5/29, Seaman) reports on a study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute finding that the use of a tanning salon to get a tan may provide some protection against sunburn, but does not provide protection against skin cancer. The study was based on a comparison of 1,167 melanoma patients with 1,101 people who did not have cancer but were otherwise similar. The study found that 78 percent of those with melanoma reported using tanning salons, while just 40 percent of those without cancer did.
TIME (5/28, Sifferlin) reports the study “shows that even if you don’t get a sunburn while indoor tanning, it still raises your risk for skin cancer.” HealthDay (5/28, Mozes) reports that study co-author DeAnn Lazovich said, “tanning is a biological response to damage to the DNA.” She added, “there is no safe way to tan,” stating that “avoidance of ultraviolet radiation in any form should be the goal.” HealthDay also points out that “the U.S. National Cancer Institute also advises against any form of indoor tanning.”

Cognitive engagement, intellectual activities may stave off dementia.

The Los Angeles Times (6/24, Healy) “Science Now” blog reports that in people “at higher genetic risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, completing more school and going on to a lifetime of mentally challenging work and leisurely pursuits can delay the onset of dementia by close to nine years,” according to a study published June 23 in JAMA Neurology.
Bloomberg News (6/24, Ostrow) reports that the study of 1,995 Minnesota seniors also revealed that “lifelong intellectual activities such as playing music or reading kept the mind fit as people aged and also delayed Alzheimer’s by years for those at risk of the disease who weren’t college educated or worked at challenging jobs.”
HealthDay (6/24, Mozes) reports that “at the time of the study’s launch, mental functioning was lower among carriers of the APOE4 genotype,” which is considered “the most significant genetic risk factor for late-onset Alzheimer’s,” and “among those who scored lowest on education, job, and/or activity measures.” Surprisingly, the study “authors found that those with the lowest educational and occupational scores actually gained the most protection against dementia by embarking on intellectual activities from middle-age onward.” Reuters (6/24, Doyle) also covers the study.

Study: One in ten US deaths linked to overconsumption of salt.

         NBC Nightly News (3/21, story 6, 0:35, Williams, 7.86M) reported, “The same Harvard researchers who told us just yesterday about the high number of deaths linked to drinking too many sugary drinks said today one in ten deaths in this country can now be linked to overconsumption of salt.”

The ABC News (3/21, Moisse) “Medical Unit” blog reports that investigators “used data from 247 surveys on sodium intake and 107 clinical trials that measured how salt affects blood pressure, and how blood pressure contributes to cardiovascular disease like heart attacks and stroke.”

Bloomberg News (3/22, Armour) reports that the researchers found that “eating too much salt contributed to 2.3 million heart-related deaths worldwide in 2010, and 40 percent of those deaths were premature.” Almost “1 million of the deaths, or 40 percent of the total, happened in people who were 69 years old or younger, according to the study.” Bloomberg News pointed out that “The U.S. ranked 19th of the 30 largest countries studied for deaths due to excess salt.” The research was presented at an American Heart Association meeting.

The Huffington Post (3/21) reports that a separate study, also “presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association, shows that 75 percent of people around the world consume significantly more salt every day than is recommended.” Researchers looked at data from “187 countries, and 247 separate surveys on salt intake between 1990 and 2010 through the Global Burden of Diseases Study.” The investigators found that “people around the world ate nearly 4,000 milligrams of salt a day in 2010, which is nearly twice as much as is recommended by the World Health Organization (less than 2,000 milligrams of salt a day) and nearly three times as much as is recommended by the American Heart Association (less than 1,500 milligrams of salt a day).”

MedPage Today (3/22, Phend) reports, “Only six nations didn’t shake out with an average sodium intake exceeding the WHO limit of 2,000 mg a day; only Kenya had a national average that would meet the AHA threshold of 1,500 mg per day.” HealthDay (3/22, Preidt) and the Daily Mail (UK) (3/22, Nye) also cover the first study.

Study: Pre-packaged foods for toddlers have too much sodium. The CNN (3/21) “The Chart” blog reports, “Most packaged meals and snacks marketed to toddlers have more than the recommended amount of sodium per serving, meaning children as young as one are most likely eating far too much salt early in life, according to” research presented at an American Heart Association meeting. These “findings were alarming to researchers since there is evidence a child’s sodium intake is related to the likelihood that he or she will develop hypertension as an adult.” A research team led by Joyce Maalouf, a fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, looked at “more than 1,100 products specifically marketed to babies and toddlers that were sold in grocery stores.” The researchers considered a product to be high in sodium if a serving contained more than 210 milligrams of sodium.

CBS News (3/22, Jaslow) reports on its website that the researchers found that “75 percent of” the “pre-packaged meals and savory snacks for toddlers were high in sodium.” The researchers also “found toddler meals on average had significantly more sodium than baby meals, with some as high as 630 milligrams per serving.” According to Maalouf, “Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods may develop early in life.” Maalouf added, “The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older.”

The Huffington Post (3/21, Pearson) reports, “Maalouf stressed that even within specific categories or brands of toddler meals, sodium content can range. ‘Therefore, it is important for parent and caregivers to read nutrition facts and labels and choose products with the lowest amount of sodium,’ she said.”

HealthDay (3/22, Doheny) reports, “The message for parents, Maalouf said, is to read nutrition labels and choose lower-sodium items.”