Health Buzz: Declining Circumcision Rates May Inflate Health Costs

How to cope with body odor; when nutrition labels lie

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Study: Declining Circumcision Rates Could Inflate Health Costs

As circumcision rates decline, health costs will go up, warn researchers at Johns Hopkins University. A team of economists and epidemiologists estimated that each circumcision not performed will lead to significant increases in lifetime medical expenses to treat sexually transmitted diseases and related cancers. Findings were published Monday in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Circumcision rates have been falling nationwide for decades: In the 1970s and 80s, about 80 percent of baby boys were routinely circumcised, compared to fewer than 55 percent in 2010. One reason, experts speculate, is that many states have eliminated Medicaid coverage for the procedure. Research suggests numerous health benefits to circumcision, such as a reduced risk of contracting HIV, human papillomavirus and herpes simplex. "The state governments think we can save a few bucks, but it ends up costing them more in the long run," study author Aaron Tobian, an assistant professor of epidemiology and pathology at Johns Hopkins, told Reuters. "The medical benefits of male circumcision are extremely clear." 

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  • B.O.? Uh Oh! How to Cope With Body Odor 

    So you smell, huh? Nothing sends 'em running like a serious case of B.O. Forget the fancy outfit, the blown-out and styled hair. One funky whiff or two and, yikes, you're alone at the party. Calling body odor embarrassing doesn't exactly do it justice. But, phew: Experts say it's entirely preventable and treatable. "I have patients who find it really debilitating," says Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It's so bad that they have a hard time going on job interviews and dates. But there are little things you can do to easily make a difference." 

    First up? Understand where that odor comes from. Our bodies have two types of sweat glands: eccrine and apocrine. Eccrine glands are all over the body and open directly into the surface of the skin. They produce a thin, odorless, watery sweat that helps cool the body with evaporation, says dermatologist Jessica Krant, founder of the Art of Dermatology practice in New York. Apocrine glands develop in areas with lots of hair follicles, like the scalp, armpits, and groin, and "generate a more waxy, fatty sweat that contains cellular debris that is attractive to bacteria," Krant says. Hormones, stress, and caffeine, among other factors, can increase the production of aprocrine sweat. Though sweat itself is virtually odorless, it's a breeding ground for bacteria, which break the sweat down into acids and cause that unpleasant smell. 

    Want to banish B.O.? Try these strategies: 

    1. Be clean. Shower daily, especially with antibacterial soap—it'll help keep the bacteria your skin under control. "Hygiene is good," Day says, though she adds that "over-showering doesn't help." Be mindful of what's in your shampoo and conditioner: "Some products contain ingredients like olive or coconut oil, and they don't easily wash out," Day says. "Then they become rancid and smell." And don't forget your feet. Dry them thoroughly after bathing, since microorganisms thrive in the damp spaces between your toes. [Read more: B.O.? Uh Oh! How to Cope With Body Odor]

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    • When Nutrition Labels Lie 

      We're all familiar with the standard Nutrition Facts label that appears on all packaged foods sold in this country. The label is mandated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in accordance with the 1990 Nutrition Labeling and Education Act (NLEA) and requires that values for specific nutrients be reported in a standardized format. This law was intended to provide clearer, more transparent information to consumers, and enable them to better compare the nutritional merits of products

      Unfortunately, Nutrition Facts labels are not always factual, writes U.S. News blogger Tamara Duker Freuman. For starters, the law allows a pretty lax margin of error—up to 20 percent—for the stated value versus actual value of nutrients. In reality, that means a 100-calorie pack could, theoretically, contain up to 120 calories and still not be violating the law. The same margin of error goes for other nutrients as well, which doesn't bode well for diabetic carb counters, folks with high blood pressure who are watching sodium intake, or moms looking to boost the iron content of their babies' diets. The FDA has never established a systematic, random label-auditing process, and compliance with the law is expected to be self-enforced by food manufacturers.