The questions you sent in last year raised issues vital to your health and happiness. Here, we spotlight environmental pollutants and mental/emotional health issues to remind you what you can do about them.
Kathy G. asked about the health risks from chemicals in plastics.
We reported: Several studies have concluded that gradual but constant exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals (BPA, BPS, phthalates, parabens, antimicrobials) in plastics and elsewhere increases rates of male infertility, birth defects, endometriosis, obesity, diabetes, some cancers and premature death from heart disease and stroke. Exposure also doubles your risk of dementia, diminishes IQ scores and contributes to escalating rates of autism and ADHD.
Adele F. asked about how her nephew developed autism spectrum disorder when it looked like her sister did everything right when she was pregnant.
We reported: Evidence is accumulating that environmental triggers play a huge role. Researchers found a shocking number of children born in Southern California from 2000-2003 whose moms had been exposed to PCBs and DDT (revealed by second trimester blood tests) were diagnosed with autism and intellectual disabilities! The chemicals, banned in the 1970s, are still widespread in water and soil, and bioaccumulate in the food chain.
For both cases, here’s what you can do: Don’t handle thermal paper receipts; they’re loaded with BPA. Avoid plastic containers with the recycle numbers 3, 6 or 7. Opt for glass containers whenever possible and never microwave food in plastic containers. Use fragrance-free cosmetics and personal-care products. Filter your water. Eat lots of fresh produce and only 100 percent whole grains. Avoid red and processed meats, added sugars and syrups, and all trans and most saturated fats. Also, taking a prenatal multivitamin with DHA three months prior to and during pregnancy reduces autism risk by as much as 40 percent.
Marlane M. asked what she could do about her boss who lies constantly.
We reported: Neurologists say pathological lying is a mental disorder called behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) characterized by changes in the brain’s white matter. But psychiatrists say it takes environmental triggers and emotional reactions to various forms of stress, from rejection to abuse, to ignite the behavior.
What you can do: At work, document as much as possible so that you’re equipped to make a verifiable presentation to your boss’s boss. Or, if applicable, try the employee assistance program at your workplace. There are treatments that can treat bvFTD, including talk therapy, anti-addiction programs and antidepressant medications.
Amanda P. lamented being fat-shamed —- an all-too-prevalent problem on social media. (Beware those tweets!)
We reported: Fat shaming online is a way for cruel, ignorant people to pick on someone at a distance. Recently, however, there has been a vocal protest against fat shaming, and we’re glad it’s coming under fire.
What you can do: We hope anyone who has felt the pain of fat shaming can dismiss the fat-shamers for the weak, hurtful people they are! Then, if you’re struggling to attain a healthy weight, we suggest joining a support group/program and moving forward.
Candice B. asked why being narcissistic is deemed such a bad trait.
We reported: According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — the professional’s go-to reference book for diagnosing mental illnesses — someone with a narcissistic personality disorder sees him- or herself as exceptional; requires the approval of others; has no ability to empathize, recognize or identify with others; has superficial relationships that only exist to serve self-esteem; exhibits pathological personality traits of antagonism and feelings of grandiosity, entitlement and self-centeredness. In addition, the previous version of the DSM mentioned that someone with NPD can be preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success and power while exaggerating his or her achievements and talents.
What you can do: If you know someone who suffers from NPD, cognitive behavioral therapies and medications can help establish new patterns of behavior and unravel the deep-seated causes of this mental illness. In other situations, smile and walk away.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To submit questions, write to Drs. Oz and Roizen, 300 W. 57th St., New York, NY 10019-5238, or visit sharecare.com. Their column appears Monday.