September 16, 2008

Oral Piercings Are Common – and Dangerous


Israeli teenagers are twice as likely to get oral piercings than their counterparts in New York - but both are at high risk for gum disease and tooth fractures.

A review by Tel Aviv University, which published its findings in the American Dental Journal, found that nearly one in five of those with oral piercings risk their gums and teeth. Dr. Liran Levin of TAU's dental school and Dr. Yehuda Zadik of the Israel Defense Forces maintain that even if patients remove the piercings when they reach adulthood, they will be at a higher risk for complications that include tooth loss and gum problems

The researchers did a meta-analysis of studies on oral piercing complications around the world. "There is a repeated trauma to the area of the gum," Levin told UPI. "You can see these young men and women playing with the piercing on their tongue or lip. This prolongs the trauma to the mouth, and in many cases is a precursor to anterior tooth loss. Ironically, teens who opt for oral piercing are very concerned about body image, but seem unaware of the future risks."


Flat irons used to straighten hair have become increasingly popular in recent years. Now dermatologists warn that irons with a ceramic coating can damage hair. At the latest meeting of the American Academy of Dermatologyin in Chicago, University of California dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani presented evidence that when ceramic flat irons are used improperly or too frequently, hair breakage can occur.

Irons with a ceramic coating are said to provide more rapid and uniform heat transmission. While this allows for quicker straightening of hair, if used at the highest heat level (175 to 215 1/4C) on a daily basis, they can cause very noticeable problems, Mirmirani said. To temporarily straighten hair with a flat iron, heat is applied with tongs, thus breaking and then reforming the hydrogen bonds in the inner core of the hair strands. While the goal of straightening is to alter hair's inner structure, the unwanted consequence may be damage to the outer protective cuticle, causing weathering, damage and eventual breakage, he said.

Hair weathering is usually characterized by dry ends or flyaway hair. However, if breakage occurs, it can happen anywhere along the length of the strands and causes a shaggy or skimpy appearance. When this occurs, flat iron users may resort to the device even more frequently to try and tame the broken or uneven appearance - which can lead to yet more damage. Mirmirani suggests lowering the temperature, especially if the heat is applied to damp hair or hair that has been treated with color or permanents; flat irons should be used, if at all, only on dry hair; some styling products can act as protectors to help prevent burning, she said, and the devices should probably not be used more than two or three times weekly.



The measles outbreak that affected 1,438 Israeli children in 11 months since the middle of last year seems to have petered out, but new US statistics show how bad it was. Prof. Yona Amitai, a pediatrician and former head of the Health Ministry's department of mother, child and teenage health, calculated that the ratio of measles in Israel was 260 times that of the US, which reported only 131 cases in the past six months.

The outbreak was reportedly triggered by a hassid who had the measles and came to Jerusalem to attend the wedding of a relative of his rebbe. The infectious disease spread among unvaccinated hassidic children in the capital and then to other haredi communities in the country. There was criticism that the health authorities should have taken action earlier to increase the vaccination rate in the haredi community.


A new vision-screening device, already shown to give an early warning of eye disease, could provide a head start in treating diabetes and its vision complications, a new study shows.

The instrument, invented by two scientists at the University of Michigan Kellogg Eye Center, captures images of the eye to detect the metabolic stress and tissue damage that occur before the first symptoms of disease are evident. For people with diabetes, diagnosed or not, the device could offer potentially significant advantages over blood glucose testing - the current "gold standard" for diabetes detection.

The non-invasive device takes a specialized photograph of the eye, taking about five minutes to test both eyes. In the July issue of Archives of Ophthalmology, Dr. Victor Elner and Dr. Howard Petty report on the potential of the instrument to screen for diabetes and determine its severity. If further testing confirms the results, the new instrument may be useful for screening people who are at risk of diabetes but haven't been diagnosed.

"Our objective in performing this study was to determine whether we could detect abnormal metabolism in the retina of patients who might remain undiagnosed based on clinical examination alone," says Elner, a senior opththalmologist.

Metabolic stress, and therefore disease, can be detected by measuring the intensity of cellular fluorescence in retinal tissue. In a previous study, Petty and Elner reported that high levels of flavoprotein autofluorescence (FA) act as a reliable indicator of eye disease. In their new study, Elner and Petty found that FA activity was significantly higher for those with diabetes, regardless of severity, compared to those who did not have the disease. Given the increasing prevalence of diabetes, the FA device could help address a growing public health concern.

The Michigan researchers, who have filed for patents and formed a company named OcuSciences, also note that elevated FA does not always mean an individual has diabetes. "Because of the prevalence of diabetes in our population, individuals with abnormally high FA would be prompted to undergo glucose tolerance testing," says Elner. "If the findings were negative for diabetes, we would look for other causes of ocular tissue dysfunction."

Originally published by JUDY SIEGEL-ITZKOVICH.

(c) 2008 The Jerusalem Post. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.