From bad habits, to medical myths, to old wives’ tales, The Doctors set the record straight and explain what’s really bad for you.
Double dipping -- putting a food item into a bowl of dip, taking a bite, then dipping the food item again is among the most controversial party issues around. Robin, 43, is a habitual double-dipper, and it has her husband, 46-year-old Rick, a germ-a-phobe grossed out. “Do you like to kiss Robin?” Dr. Jim asks Rick.
“I do, but I’m more mentally prepared for the saliva at that point,” he says.
But the big question is: How many germs are really passing through the second dip? A ClemsonUniversity study showed that from just three to six double dips, 10,000 extra bacteria are transferred from the eater’s mouth. In The Doctors’ own tests, a significant increase in infection-causing bacteria was found, as well.
The type of dip being used does factor into the amount of bacteria transferred. “The runnier dips tend to contain a little more bacteria and actually adhere more to the chip when you double dip, which you shouldn’t be doing,” Dr. Jim says.
“You probably shouldn’t double-dip at a party. You really shouldn’t,” Dr. Travis says. “The reason is that if you are sick, you can pass pathogenic bacteria or viruses onto other people.”
Is your morning cup of Joe putting your health at risk? If you use a French press to make it, it just might be.
“Interestingly, some studies have shown that if you’re drinking French-pressed coffee, it can increase your cholesterol slightly,” Dr. Travis says.
While many coffee makers use a filter to remove certain oils such as terpenes, which are known to raise cholesterol, French-pressed coffee is unfiltered. “Even just two to six cups of French-pressed coffee a day will raise your cholesterol by between six and eight points,” Dr. Jim says.
“If you love a cup of French-press coffee, life is all about moderation,” Dr. Travis says. “If you’re going to choose to go ahead and continue drinking it, just keep your cholesterol in check, get it checked by your doctor. If your numbers are off the charts, then maybe you consider giving it up. But [in most cases] you don’t have to give up the things you love in life, you just have to be careful that your cholesterol isn’t out of whack.”
Whether it’s while playing sports or just playing around, concussions can occur to anyone at any time. If you see someone suffer a concussion, you probably will have many questions.
“In the E.R., I get asked the question all the time, ‘After we go home, can I let my child go to sleep tonight?’” Dr. Travis says. “The point is, there are certain symptoms where you have to take your child into the E.R. to be seen: If they lose consciousness, if they have continued confusion, repetitive questioning, nausea and vomiting. It’s OK for a kid to say ‘I just played a football game, I’m tired and want to go to sleep,’ but if after the game they’re lethargic and sleepy without your typical I’m tired, I want to go to bed attitude, they have to be evaluated. You don’t want to let your child just go to sleep if they’re lethargic. Lethargic is, no matter what, you can’t arouse someone.”
“I’m all for letting them sleep, but go in and check on them, look at them, see if their breathing is regular,” Dr. Jim says. “If they’re definitely having a problem, if they’re slipping into a coma, their breathing is usually going to get a little bit irregular, with deep, shallow [breaths].”
Ashley, 23, is a social smoker who only lights up a cigarette when she drinks. She used to be a regular smoker and asks The Doctors just how bad social smoking really is for her. “Is it all in moderation?” Ashley asks. “I only have one or two anytime I go out, and I don’t drink that much.”
“It’s certainly better to social smoke than smoke every day, no question,” Dr. Travis says. “But it is a slippery slope between social smoking and being addicted to it.”
Studies show that if you smoke consistently, each cigarette takes 11 minutes off of your life. “I did the calculations before the show, and just five cigarettes a week, you’re losing close to one hour off your life [per week], and in one year that’s over two days of your life,” Dr. Travis says.
By quitting, Dr. Travis explains that within 20 to 30 minutes after your last cigarette, your blood pressure will begin to drop. Twenty-four hours after your last puff, your chance of heart attack decreases, and two weeks to three months after quitting your lung function increases up to 30 percent.
“And the beautiful thing is, and this is more for chronic smokers, once you get to five to 15 years after quitting, chances of a stroke and other terrible outcomes get back near normal,” Dr. Travis says. “For every person it’s a little bit different, but if you’re having trouble, and you’re only smoking when you’re social and it’s associated with having a cocktail, cut out cocktails until you get over the habit of social smoking, and only go to places where smoking isn’t allowed. That’s an easy solution.”
Nail Polish Dangers
While the United States Food and Drug Administration says nail polishes are safe, some consumer groups are concerned about toxic chemicals in them. Many nail polishes contain three chemicals in particular that can harm your health:
• DBP (dibutyl phthalates) is a plasticizer that prevents chipping. Studies have shown it is an endocrine disruptor and could affect reproduction.
• Formaldehyde, which hardens the nails, is also known as a carcinogen.
• Toluene helps the polish glide on easily, and has been linked to nervous system disorder.
While the polishes may contain these chemicals, they are said to be safe when used as directed. "A lot of these ingredients are only harmful if you ingest them," Dr. Jim says. "It could be bad if children get their nails done, then chew and eat the nail polish."
Some nail polishes are completely free of these chemicals but may chip easier and not dry as fast. "Pregnant women should look for nail polishes that don’t have toluene or DBPs," Dr. Lisa says. "They are out there, so you just have to ask your manicurist about it, ask your doctor about it."
"They may chip a little bit sooner, but that's a chance I'm willing to take," Dr. Travis says.