President John F. Kennedy’s family had several dogs that cuddled with Caroline and John-John (as well as a beer-swilling rabbit that was a gift from a magician) while they were in Washington. Calvin Coolidge had nine canines lodged in the White House’s family quarters. And the Obamas’ Portuguese water dog, Bo, was allowed to sleep on the bed with the first lady when the president was out of town.
That’s not unusual; many people find comfort from having their pooch sleep on the bed. Unfortunately, a new study of 40 pet-loving adults with no sleeping disorders finds that having your dog up on the mattress may prevent you from getting the restful sleep you need to be sharp the next day. But, dog owners, take heart; that doesn’t “put Fido in the doghouse.” The study published in Sleep Medicine found that having a dog snoozing in the room, just not on the bed, doesn’t pose any problem.
Ideally, you should be sound asleep for 85 percent of the time you’re in bed. People with a dog in the room are asleep about 83 percent of the time – an insignificant difference. And in truth, many people get far less sleep time than that because of insomnia, interacting with digital devices or aches and pains.
So if you’re not sleeping well, having a dog sleeping nearby may boost your health by improving your snooze time. The other benefits of owning a dog? It reduces blood pressure and protects against heart disease; motivates you to exercise, which promotes weight loss; and lowers stress.
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The bleach boys
When Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys recorded “409” in 1962 (”My four speed, dual-quad, positraction four-oh-nine”), it referred to Chevrolet’s hot-rod, eight-cylinder, 409-cubic-inch engine. Around the same time, the spray cleaner Formula 409 hit the shelves. TV host Art Linkletter and his business partners then purchased it for $30,000, and a few years later, after Linkletter promoted the product in television commercials, they sold it to Clorox for $7 million. Did the Beach Boys – or should we say “Bleach Boys” – boost the popularity of the household cleaning agent? Maybe.
These days, they might regret it. A study in the journal Environmental and Occupational Medicine says that frequent use of toxic, bleach-based household cleaning products causes a two-fold increase in the risk for asthma in adults 19 to 24. Another study found that infants born to women who were exposed to these chemicals while pregnant have increased rates of asthma. And another states, “There is increasing evidence on the deleterious role in asthma of the use of household cleaning products in spray forms in adults.”
So what should you do if you want to get out a stain or kill mold around the house? There are cleaning products with fewer harsh toxins and volatile organic chemicals. Read the labels. But a good scrub with soap, water and a little vinegar often will do the trick. If you must use harsh cleansers, make sure the area is well-ventilated and that no children or pets are around, and wear protective eyewear and a mask or ventilator.
Think before you ink
At the beginning of “The Hangover 2,” Stu wakes up with a tattoo on his face that’s identical to Mike Tyson’s. The film was almost withheld from theaters when Tyson’s tattoo artist sued Warner Brothers, citing design ownership. But they inked a deal, and the movie (tattoos and all) hit theaters in April 2011.
If you’re thinking about inking, don’t let Tyson’s iconic tattoo inspire you. Tattoo ink is made of a variety of chemicals, almost none of which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration for skin injection. In fact, some inks contain pigments used in printer toner and car paint.
We’ve warned you before that getting tattooed (it can be like having sex with everyone who’s used that tattoo artist before, without the fun) puts you at risk for chronic infections like hepatitis C. The inks can also trigger a permanent allergic reaction, cause tumors at the site of the tattoo, and invade lymph nodes.
But now, a study published in Scientific Reports that looked into the lymph nodes of four people who had had tattoos and found that nanoparticles of tattoo-related chemicals had collected there. That’s concerning, because from the lymph nodes, toxic particles of such a small size can infiltrate all sorts of places in your body and inhibit your immune system. We don’t yet know about long-term damage. If you’re considering a tattoo, take a moment to contemplate what might happen down the road when your body reacts to the toxic ink infiltrating your organs and tissue.
When it comes to the micronutrient zinc chances are you need more of it.
Several studies highlight zinc’s benefits for your health. The Cochrane Library’s Database of Systemic Reviews points out the important role zinc plays in the health of children 6 months to 12 years old. Worldwide, one in every 58 deaths in children under 5 is related to zinc deficiency.
Another study, from Tufts University, focuses on zinc deficiencies in people 65-plus; it found that 30 percent of folks in nursing homes had low serum zinc levels, weakening their immune system and increasing the risk of pneumonia.
A third study, from the University of Texas at Arlington, found that zinc helps prevent many cancers and slows down and stops the growth of esophageal cancer cells.
So how can you get more zinc? (Excess zinc can cause copper deficiency and neurologic disease, so remember that the recommended daily allowances are 11 mg of zinc for men and 8 mg for women; kids need 2-5 mg; teens 8 mg.) You can get your daily dose from foods such as spinach; legumes; flax, sesame and pumpkin seeds; garlic; peanuts; turkey; salmon; whole grains; and dark chocolate.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit www.sharecare.com.