Dear Dr. Roach: There is so much information on the Internet about the toxins found in the plethora of hygiene products that we consumers purchase and use daily.
When I visit the Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database (www.ewg.org/ skindeep) to research the products my family and I use, I feel a sense of urgency to throw out those that raise a “moderate” to “high” health concern and replace them with the items that have the “low” to “no” health concern rating. The problem is, many of the safest products are difficult to find at your local super centers and drugstores. In addition, they are more expensive. What do I do as a consumer to keep my family and myself safe and healthy? Is all of this hype and blown out of proportion? Thank you for your response. — D.B.
A: I had never seen that group’s work before, and I took a careful look at the site and methodology. I was a bit surprised but pleased that the information presented seemed to be well-researched and based on good science.
I certainly would consider their ratings, and given two products that I liked equally, I would choose the one with a better safety score. I am not sure that everything you choose for yourself and your family needs to be in the “safest” category, but the potential safety of a product should be in the list of attributes you consider, along with price, when choosing a product.
If we all stopped buying products with less-safe ingredients, manufacturers would get the message and stop using them. I suspect that the risk of using the nonpreferred products is modest, but nobody really knows how much risk there is. If reducing your risk is easy, then why not?
Dear Dr. Roach: Whenever I eat a meal or drink any kind of fluid, my stomach balloons out and I look four or five months pregnant. It doesn’t cause any pain, just discomfort. The next morning when I get up, my stomach is normal again. A few years ago, a doctor said only that this should have been addressed when I was an infant. I’m now in my late 40s and am a little nervous. Could this stomachache be the start of something bad that should have been taken care of years ago? Any idea what this might be? — A.S.
A: I would be a lot more worried if you hadn’t said that this has been going on for years. Even so, it’s not normal, and I would recommend that you see a gastroenterologist.
A partial mechanical blockage of the stomach outlet would explain the symptoms, but I wouldn’t expect that to last for years without a crisis. One condition that comes to mind is gastroparesis (gastro-par-EES-us), which is an inability of the stomach to empty properly. It’s often associated with diabetes, but it can happen for no reason or after a viral infection. Gastroparesis is diagnosed by a gastric (stomach) emptying study, and there is effective treatment.
To Readers: Heart disease remains the No. 1 killer. The booklet on clogged heart arteries explains why they happen and what can be done to prevent clogging. Readers can obtain a copy by writing: Dr. Roach — No. 101, Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. Enclose a check or money order (no cash) for $4.75 with the recipient’s printed name and address. Please allow four weeks for delivery.
Dr. Keith Roach writes for North America Syndicate. Send letters to Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475 or email