Fabric softener ads often portray an image of comfort, freshness and sweetness. Yet most fabric softeners contain a grim list of known toxins which can enter your body through the skin and by inhalation, causing a wide range of health problems, particularly for young children.
Here are some of the harmful ingredients commonly found in liquid or sheet fabric softeners include:
• Chloroform: This substance was used as an anesthesia in the 1800s up through the early 1900s when its potential for causing fatal cardiac arrhythmia was discovered. A carcinogenic neurotoxin, it is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. Inhaling its vapors may cause loss of consciousness, nausea, headache, vomiting, and/or dizziness, drowsiness. It may aggravate disorders of the heart, kidneys or liver. Its effects worsen when subjected to heat.
• A-Terpineol: Causes Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders, meaning problems relating to the brain and spine such as Alzheimer’s disease, ADD, dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, seizures, strokes, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Early symptoms of CNS problems include aphasia, blurred vision, disorientation, dizziness, headaches, hunger, memory loss, numbness in face, pain in neck and spine. A-Terpineol also irritates the mucous membranes and, if aspirated into the lungs, can cause respiratory depression, pneumonia or fatal edema.
• Benzyl Alcohol: This upper respiratory tract irritant can cause central nervous system (CNS) disorders, headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness and dramatic drops in blood pressure.
• Benzyl Acetate: This substances has been linked to pancreatic cancer. Its vapors can be irritating to eyes and respiratory passages and it can also be absorbed through the skin.
• Ethanol: Another fabric softener ingredient which is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list and linked to CNS disorders.
• Pentane: A chemical known to be harmful if inhaled.
• Ethyl Acetate: This substance, which is on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list, can be irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. It may also cause severe headaches and loss of consciousness, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys.
• Camphor: Another substance on the EPA’s Hazardous Waste list. It is easily absorbed through body tissue, causing irritation of eyes, nose and throat. Camphor can also cause dizziness, confusion, nausea, twitching muscles and convulsions.
• Linalool: A narcotic known to cause respiratory problems and CNS disorders. In animal testing, exposure to linalool has resulted in death.
• Phthalates: Used in scented products to help the scent last longer, phthlates have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive system problems.
• Limonene: This known carcinogen can cause irritation to eyes and skin.
• Also, if you follow a vegan lifestyle, you should be aware that many fabric softener sheets are made using tallow, a form of animal fat.
Manufacturers are aware that the products contain toxic chemicals. The packaging on many brands include a warning that the product should not be used on children’s sleepwear. Since some of the same brands also have large images of children and toys, however, consumers may miss the small print message.
Making your own fabric softener is very easy and cost effective . Additionally, using homemade cleaning products helps keep harmful chemicals away. Vinegar is cheap and nontoxic. It naturally removes soap residue, and helps with static reduction during drying. Vinegar contains small amounts of sodium and potassium, which help soften hard water. Homemade fabric softener ingredients are combined with water to make a solution you can store in a container and use each time you do the wash.
Natural Homemade Fabric Softener
Mix ingredients together and pour into a storage container.
Doctors at Mayo Clinic are working to develop a medical device that could change the lives of people who suffer from seizures due to epilepsy.
The implantable device is for patients who don’t respond to medication. The device will deliver stimulation to the brain to keep a seizure from happening, it will also allow doctors to access data they’ve never had before.
“With that information we’ll have for the very first time, very clear analytics of how many seizures a person had, whether they’re having seizures at night that they might not be aware of,” explains Gregory Worrell, M.D., Ph.D a neurologist at Mayo Clinic.
But that’s not all the information these devices will collect.
“For the first time we may be able to forecast seizures for people so they’ll know that today is a day where I’m at higher risk of having seizures. With that information, they might take more medication they might take different medications.”
The development is made possible through a $6.8 million grant and a partnership between Mayo Clinic, The University of Minnesota, The University of Pennsylvania, and Medtronic.
The hope is to have the devices ready for use in patients within 5 years.
Overconsumption of candies with licorice is associated with tonic clonic-seizures and hypertension in a case study.
The report involved a 10-year-old boy who was admitted to a hospital in Bologna, Italy following generalized tonic-clonic seizures. The boy had an elevated blood pressure. A brain magnetic resonance scan showed a localized vasogenic oedema. [Pediatric Neurology 2015;52:457-459
A follow-up examination offered the clue: the boy’s teeth had black stains. He later admitted to have consumed 20 licorice toffees per day in the past 4 months. This amounts to 2.88 mg/kg of glycyrrhizic acid, which gives licorice its sweet taste, and exceeds the WHO’s maximum recommendation of 2 mg/kg. This partly explained the reason for his hypertension, said the authors.
The risk of seizures from licorice is of particular concern in children with low body weight, they added. Licorice consumption is also linked to posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome in children.
OBJECTIVE: Phenytoin (PHT) is routinely used for seizure prophylaxis in patients with brain tumours during and after craniotomy, despite incomplete evidence. We performed a prospective, randomised study to investigate the significance of prophylactic use of levetiracetam (LEV), in comparison with PHT, for patients with supratentorial tumours in the perioperative period.
METHODS: Patients were randomised to receive LEV, 500 mg/body every 12 h until postoperative day 7, or PHT, 15-18 mg/kg fosphenytoin followed by 125 mg PHT every 12 h until postoperative day 7. The primary end point was the occurrence of seizures, and secondary end points included the occurrence of haematological and non-haematological adverse events.
RESULTS: One hundred and forty-six patients were randomised to receive LEV (n=73) or PHT (n=73). The incidence of seizures was significantly less in the LEV group (1.4%) compared with the PHT group (15.1%, p=0.005), suggesting benefit of LEV over PHT. The observed OR for being seizure free in the LEV prophylaxis group relative to the PHT group was 12.77 (95% CI 2.39 to 236.71, p=0.001). In a subgroup analysis of patients who did not have seizures before craniotomy, similar results were demonstrated: the incidence of seizures was 1.9% (LEV) and 13.8% (PHT, p=0.034), and OR was 8.16 (95% CI 1.42 to 154.19, p=0.015). LEV was completed in all cases, although PHT was withdrawn in five patients owing to liver dysfunction (1), skin eruption (2) and atrial fibrillation (2).
CONCLUSIONS: Prophylactic use of LEV in the perioperative period is recommended because it is safe and significantly reduces the incidence of seizures in this period.
In pooled data from two clinical studies that used historical controls as the comparator, eslicarbazepine monotherapy at two different dosages led to a reduced rate of loss of seizure control, which was the primary endpoint, according to Ladislav Pazdera, MD, of Oblastni Nemocnice Rychnov Nad Kneznou in the Czech Republic, and colleagues, in a poster presented at the American Epilepsy Society annual meeting.
When eslicarbazepine was initially approved in November 2013, the FDA restricted its use to add-on therapy, because its pivotal trials had involved patients who had remained on other anti-epileptic medications but continued to have seizures. Because the drug is related to one of those existing medications, oxcarbazepine (specifically, it’s a slowly metabolized prodrug for oxcarbazepine’s active metabolite), Sunovion believed it could be an effective monotherapy as well.
The two trials reported here had identical designs and enrolled a total of 332 patients, about two-thirds of them in the U.S., who showed at least four partial-onset seizures during the 8 weeks prior to screening despite use of one or two conventional medications.
They were randomized to target doses of 1,600 or 1,200 mg/day of eslicarbazepine, which were titrated upward from low starting doses while their prior medications were tapered to zero. The eslicarbazepine monotherapy period lasted 10 weeks.
For comparison, the study used data from a 2010 review of seizure control over time from previous clinical trial data. Pazdera and colleagues calculated that, on the basis of those data, 65.3% of patients would be predicted to show worsened control over the 10-week monotherapy period. Significantly lower rates of this outcome would signify a beneficial effect of eslicarbazepine monotherapy.
Both doses of the drug did indeed lead to significantly lower rates of worsened seizure control compared with the 65.3% threshold. Across the two studies, approximately 32% of patients with the 1,200-mg target dose and 22% of those with the 1,600-mg target met this endpoint (both P<0.05).
There was a significant discrepancy between the two trials, though, apparently related to where the patients were located.
The proportion of patients meeting the primary endpoint criteria was markedly greater in the trial conducted mainly in the U.S., with worsened seizure control seen in about 45% of patients in the low-dose group and 30% of the high-dose group.
In the second trial, with only 25% of patients from the U.S., rates of worsened seizure control were dramatically lower — less than 15% at both doses. But even in the U.S.-predominant trial, outcomes according to the primary endpoint were still significantly better than the historical control rate.
The investigators said that a higher rate of obesity in the U.S. patients might have accounted for the different results. They noted a previous study indicating that obese epilepsy patients were generally less responsive to drug therapies. However, they did not perform a multivariate analysis to examine body mass index or weight category and U.S. residence as independent variables.
As expected, Pazdera and colleagues found that patients with more severe epilepsy at baseline — as indicated by more frequent seizures and/or by more intensive treatment prior to enrollment — were more likely to fail on eslicarbazepine monotherapy compared with participants with less severe baseline illness.
Safety data were generally consistent with those seen in the drug’s previous trials. For one particular adverse effect seen with eslicarbazepine, hyponatremia, the overall incidence was less than 5%, the investigators said.
Getting through cancer treatment successfully is something to celebrate. To stay in good health, doctors say you need to watch for other symptoms, including vision changes, headaches and problems with balance.
What many cancer survivors don’t realize is that 25 percent of people who survive some common cancers go on to develop a brain tumor. These brain tumors don’t originate in the brain but are actually cancerous cells from the original tumor that travel to the brain through the bloodstream. When this happens, doctors call these tumors brain metastases.
“About one-third of patients with the most common cancers — lung, breast and kidney cancer and melanoma — are at risk of developing brain metastases,” says Cleveland Clinic neurosurgeon Gene Barnett, MD.
When this happens, the resulting growth needs early treatment. Dr. Barnett says early detection can help people get the right treatment at the right time to avoid serious complications. This is why you need to be vigilant and pay attention to your symptoms.
Watch for these 9 signs
If you’ve had cancer and experience these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor:
- Vision changes (such as double vision or partial vision loss)
- Headaches (possibly with nausea)
- Numbness or tingling in part of the body
- Paralysis or difficulty moving any part of the body
- Inability to walk
- Difficulty with balance and an increased incidence of falls
- Difficulty speaking (including slurred words or incoherent speech)
- Problems with mental acuity (such as not being able to read or tell time)
- Seizure or convulsions
Metastatic brain tumors tend to develop gradually, although severe episodes can occur. No matter what, it’s important to tell your doctor immediately so he or she can evaluate you and treat you early as needed.
Treatable brain tumors
For years, doctors believed that brain metastases were uniformly fatal. Treatment could only to relieve symptoms. Today, they know that such tumors are treatable, thanks to technological and medical advances. The key is early detection.
To help in this fight, Cleveland Clinic teamed with the Northern Ohio American Cancer Society to establish the B-Aware Program. “Our goal is to educate at-risk cancer patients so that brain metastases are detected as early as possible, when they have the greatest number of treatment options,” says Dr. Barnett.
Many treatments available
We’ve come a long way from the days when the only treatment option available for brain metastases was whole brain radiation. This often failed to control the tumors. Today, aggressive and precisely delivered treatments produce better outcomes with fewer side effects.
Treatment options depend on the location, type and extent of the tumor, and include:
- Radiosurgery. Radiosurgery directs highly focused beams of radiation at the tumor with extreme precision. This will not destroy the tumor, but may succeed in stopping tumor growth. Surgeons deliver this radiation so precisely that they can spare the surrounding brain tissue. Gamma Knife surgery is a common form of radiosurgery.
- Minimal access surgery. This type of surgery allows doctors to remove the tumor in a faster, simpler way. Surgeons make a very small incision in the skull or hidden in a nearby structure. This reduces postoperative complications, minimizes pain and scarring, and shortens recovery time.
- Localized radiotherapy, or radiation therapy. Radiotherapy exposes the cancerous cells to ionizing radiation that injures or destroys them. Doctors often use radiotherapy before or in addition to radiosurgery.
- Medical therapies. Chemotherapy uses drugs to kill tumor cells that are dividing most rapidly. Many drugs used successfully for tumors in the body cannot penetrate into the brain. However, in certain cases, chemotherapy or other medical treatments may secure control of certain brain metastases.
“We want to help patients ‘be aware’ of all management options, so they don’t blindly agree to a proposed treatment which may not be in their best interest,” says Dr. Barnett. “They always have the right to seek a second opinion.”