Owning a dog is good for your health
BY MICHAEL ROIZEN AND MEHMET OZ www.doctoroz.com September 18, 2012 9:45AM
Updated: October 20, 2012 6:05AM
Q. I had a mild heart attack recently and my doctor wants me to walk more. Do you think a puppy can help me get healthier?
A. Absolutely. Dogs improve and protect your health in so many ways, and exercise from walking your dog is right at the top of the list. One National Institute of Health-funded study of people with heart attacks found that a year later those who owned dogs were more likely to be alive than those who didn’t — even if they had the most severe cardio problems. Having a loving pet also reduces stress. Harvard Medical School and Yale Law School — pressure cookers of stress, for sure — have specially trained “therapy dogs” that students can check out from the library for a dose of calming canine companionship. And therapy dogs also have been making the rounds at hospitals for a long time. For heart patients, petting a pooch can bring down blood pressure.
If you have kids or grandkids at home, they benefit, too. Babies seem to develop healthier immune systems if they grow up in a house with a dog, and older kids learn about caring and responsibility. The right dog can be a real benefit for you and your family.
Q. Is it true that tattoos can cause skin cancer? I’m dying to get one.
A. The jury is still out. But, and this is a big BUT for those of you with tattoos, many kinds of tattoo ink are toxic and can be germ-filled. There’s been a wave of infections from tainted ink. Unless the artist changes ink for every customer, when you get a tat, you are being intimate with everyone who got a tat from that inkwell.
As for the toxins, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has started to look into the risks, and since more than 45 million Americans (36 percent of 30-year-olds) have tats, the info shouldn’t be too hard to get — eventually. Remember, it took a couple of decades to positively determine that smoking causes lung cancer.
Those colorful inks include phthalates (hormone disrupters that you worry about in plastics), as well as carcinogenic metals and hydrocarbons. Black ink (based on soot) may contain hazardous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can cause cancer. They’re also made with dibutyl phthalate and benzo(a)prene, which is labeled by the Environmental Protection Agency as “among the most potent and well-documented skin carcinogens.” Blue ink contains cobalt and aluminum. Red ink often contains cadmium and mercury sulfide.
Your skin is there to protect you from heat, cold, dirt, germs and dangerous chemicals. So ask yourself, does walking around with known toxins etched into your skin sound smart?
King Features Syndicate