Letters to the Editor – Dec 2011 / Jan 2012

Who are you calling an ‘old lady’?

I always look forward to Helke Ferrie’s excellent articles. But her article in the November issue, “Dietary Supplements Increase Mortality Rate in Older Women,” surprised me, because she referred to the older female participants in a study as “old ladies.” Years ago I read a study about how females are perceived. The results reported that all participants, male and female, viewed “ladies” as low-status females and “women” as high-status females. I can’t remember if they used the term “girls” in the study. I’ve noticed that misogynist men can’t seem to use the term “women,” preferring “girls” or “ladies.”

Mary Maron

Helke Ferrie responds: I am afraid they really were “old ladies.” That was the whole point of this bogus study: to get post-menopausal women of a high mean age into the trial. When the study commenced, most participants were in their sixties, which is “senior citizen” status – I am among them now. The study ended when most of them were, consequently, in their early eighties. They certainly were not “girls” when they started nor when the study ended.
This otherwise badly designed study had no perceived bias against women. It was supposed to be specific to females who have different medical issues from men and are known to live longer than men, on average. Hence, researching what reduces their ability to live to their maximum expected age is, on the face of it, a good scientific pursuit. I resented being referred to as a “girl” in the 1970s, and the women’s lib movement changed that quite nicely by the late 1980s. As for “old ladies,” I can’t see why that is misogynistic. I like being one.

‘Are the Mouth and Body Not Connected?’

I recently came across two articles published in the “Research and Product News” for the Ontario Dental Hygienists’ Association (ODHA) suggesting that products containing Bisphenol A are OK – but not products containing “harmful” herbs. As a dental hygienist, I used to recommend herbal products to clients all the time. But since being designated as “independents,” we are no longer allowed to recommend herbal or natural alternatives. Apparently, it is not considered to be within the scope of our practice. I am currently finishing my Registered Nutritional Consulting Practitioner course and will not be able to use that designation while practising dental hygiene.
Secondly, people should know that hygienists are now allowed to work on their own without a dentist, so clients “choose” where they want to get their teeth checked and  cleaned, and who provides them with information about dental health. I am curious to hear what natural health experts have to say about BPA and herbal products and if the Ontario Dental Association and ODHA agree? The number of scripts I see on a daily basis for Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Serzone, and Celexa, is incredible, as is the fact that it’s OK to prescribe these antidepressants for company-sponsored studies. Dr. Rona and Helke Ferrie are right in their October articles about drug alternatives and fear-mongering about natural products. I know many dental hygienists who have offered nutritional advice, but now are not allowed. Are the mouth and body not connected?

Linda Ambrose

Leaving pets outside could be considered abusive

Dear Vitality Magazine:

I enjoyed Richard DeSylva’s article, “Banish Parasites with Herbs that Clear Critters from the Bowels” (Nov. 2011). However, I found one aspect of the article offensive and irresponsible. As a future integrative practitioner who is studying holistic nutrition, and as an animal-welfare advocate who believes that all animals on this planet, human and non-human, deserve quality of life, I was saddened to read DeSylva’s advice that pets should be kept “outside if at all possible.” Considering that your audience is mostly Canadian and that we endure long and cold winters, I would ask that instead of advocating generally for animals to be kept outdoors, which is essentially encouraging animal neglect and abuse, please instead address two types of readers, if you must: those who feel as DeSylva does that “the health of you and your children should be uppermost”; and those for whom the term “family” does not include an animal. Those readers who share Richard’s views can perhaps refrain from adding a pet to their family. For those who, like me, adopt animals to include them in their family, I would advise them of the risks as you have done and leave it at that.

Paula Martins

Effect of Disease on Testosterone Levels

Dear Vitality Magazine: In the magazine’s October 2011 News Briefs, Michael Downey made reference to a study presented to the annual meeting of the Endocrine Society concerning testosterone levels decreasing in response to disease. Can you help me locate this study?

Wayne Cheveldayoff

Michael Downey responds: Hi Wayne. Thanks for reading our News Briefs. The study was presented in person on Tuesday, June 7, 2011, at the Endocrine Society’s 93rd Annual Meeting and Expo, in Boston. It was presented by Dr. David Handelsman of the University of Sydney. It was not a standalone study. It was actually an early-release portion of a much wider project, the Healthy Man study, which won’t be complete until sometime in the future. For that reason, as far as I am aware, it has not yet been published in any medical journal, and won’t be until the Healthy Man study is complete. All I can offer is the abstract of the study that appeared in an Endocrine Society summary compiled for the media, describing studies presented at the June annual meeting. You can read that media meeting summary on page 79 of the document found here.

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