‘Targeted Hygiene’ Embraces Some Dirt and Germs

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, July 3, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Somewhere between the Mom who obsessively wipes down every knob and toy her child might touch, and the Dad who thinks rolling in the dirt is “good” for kids, there’s a healthy medium, British experts say.

“We have to find a way to protect against infectious diseases and harmful microbes, whilst at the same time sustaining exposure to the essential beneficial microbes in our world,” explained Sally Bloomfield.

Bloomfield is a member of the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, and also the co-author of a new report that surveyed British adults on their attitude towards dirt and germs in the home.

The 2018 survey, from the Royal Society for Public Health, suggests people are confused about how much dirt is OK. A lot of that confusion is probably coming from the rise of the “hygiene hypothesis” — the notion that today’s homes are overly sanitized, and kids need contact with germs to build up healthy immune systems.

But this notion can be taken too far, as Bloomfield’s group found.

In fact, nearly one in four people polled agreed with the statement that “hygiene in the home is not important because children need to be exposed to harmful germs to build their immune system.”

Men were twice as likely as women to express that opinion.

On the other hand, misconceptions around the level of “danger” posed by dirt were also common.

Bloomfield’s team found that “almost two-thirds of those we surveyed (61%) said touching a child’s dirty hands after they have been playing outside was likely to spread harmful germs.”

But that’s simply not true. In fact, “there is little evidence that outdoor dirt and soil is contaminated with harmful microbes (unless there are animals nearby),” according to the report.

Different germs, different hazards

Bloomfield, a researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the key thing to remember is that all germs are not created equal.

Exposure to diverse microbes from other people, domestic animals and the natural environment do help build a healthy immune system and microbiome — the varied microbes normally living in the gut and respiratory tract, experts agree. However, exposure to the wrong types of germs can both weaken the microbiome and cause infections.


And if those infections require antibiotics, “good” bacteria in the gut get destroyed along with the bad, they pointed out.

So, how to find a balance between being a compulsive germaphobe who’s constantly cleaning or the lax parent letting kids chow down on mud pies?

Bloomfield believes a new, more nuanced model, called “targeted hygiene,” is probably the answer.

Targeted hygiene means intervening with kids and their environment, but only when you can stop the risk of infection. This doesn’t necessarily mean avid cleaning. Cleaning does get rid of visible dirt, but it won’t necessarily reduce the risk of infection.

What does? Handwashing.

Handwashing is a simple component of targeted hygiene, and should be timed to certain activities, Bloomfield said.

“Our own bodies, our food and our domestic animals are the most likely sources of spread of infection — so the times that matter are [times such as] when we handle raw food, when we use the toilet, when we care for our pets, when we are infected or caring for someone who is infected,” she explained.

So, be sure to wash your hands well:

  • when you first come home;
  • if you’ve been caring for or playing with a pet;
  • after toileting;
  • before eating or preparing food;
  • after handling raw meat, fruits or vegetables;
  • after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.

‘Common sense’ clean

Most — but not all — of the British adults surveyed seem to understand the value of hand washing, since “73% of respondents said they ‘always’ washed their hands thoroughly with soap after using the toilet and after preparing raw meat,” the report found.

In addition to hand washing, Bloomfield said other important measures include cleaning surfaces that come into contact with food, cleaning surfaces regularly touched by many people, and washing dishcloths immediately after using them so they don’t spread germs.

Dr. Aaron Glatt is a spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He reviewed the new report and said he “likes the idea of targeted hygiene.”

“Good common sense remains the best way to prevent infection,” Glatt said. “You don’t need to wash your hands 40 times a day, but appropriate hand washing needs to be stressed. If you’ve just come out of the bathroom or are going to be preparing foods, wash your hands.”


When it comes to routine cleaning, Glatt said the kitchen and bathrooms are two major areas that need attention.

He agreed that pets can potentially be a point of transmission for infection, but if they’re cared for properly, they shouldn’t be a concern.

“We even allow pets into the hospital for therapy,” Glatt said. “In general, kids and pets interact in a positive way.”

Again, common sense should be your guide: “Kids shouldn’t let a pet lick their plate and then eat from it,” Glatt said.

WebMD News from HealthDay


SOURCES: Sally Bloomfield, honorary professor, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, United Kingdom; Aaron E. Glatt, spokesperson, Infectious Diseases Society of America, and chair of medicine, South Nassau Communities Hospital, Long Island Medical Center, New York; June 2019,Too Clean or Not Too Cleanreport, Royal Society for Public Health

Copyright © 2013-2018 HealthDay. All rights reserved.

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WebMD Health

Massachusetts Targeted For Recreational Legalization

Even as Massachusetts experiences growing pains under its relatively new medical marijuana law, a potent decriminalization group is targeting the state for the next step:

Full legalization of recreational pot.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project this week said it’s launching a committee and a fund-raising campaign to put a referendum called the “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Massachusetts” on the state ballot.

According to a statement from the group:

Massachusetts voters have shown a desire to reform their marijuana laws, first by decriminalizing simple possession in 2008, and then by approving a medical marijuana ballot initiative in 2012. In addition, a recent poll taken by WBUR/MassINC Polling Group found that 49% of Massachusetts voters support making marijuana legal.

Additionally, Massachusetts is a relatively liberal northeastern state, even if its ex-governor is former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (who was seen as moderate and whose similar state healthcare program preceded Obamacare).

MPP’s Mason Tvert told Commonwealth Magazine that the organization wants to repeat what Colorado has done with recreational cannabis:

We’re going to be spending the next year working to build a coalition. We really want to replicate the Colorado process, and not just the winning part. We spent six months drafting the best possible initiative, and the most effective system we felt was possible. That’s our goal in Massachusetts: to get a large group of stakeholders, and write the best possible law. If the legislature wants to participate in drafting the law, they’ll have the opportunity. And if not, and if we believe it’s something the voters want, we have no choice but to take it to the ballot.

The 420 Times

Obesity-Related Enzyme Targeted in Mouse Study

WEDNESDAY April 9, 2014, 2014 — An enzyme in the fat and liver of mice could take a key role in future attempts to battle obesity and type 2 diabetes, according to a new study.

The enzyme — nicotinamide N-methyltransferase, or NNMT — appears to help regulate the ability of cells to burn energy efficiently, researchers report.

By hampering the gene that produces the enzyme, researchers were able to keep mice fed a high-fat diet from gaining weight. The mice also became better at using insulin to process blood sugar, which could lower their odds for developing diabetes.

“The mice were eating normally. It wasn’t a food intake effect. They actually had increased energy expenditure,” said senior author Dr. Barbara Kahn, vice chair of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a professor at Harvard Medical School. “For every calorie they ate, they burned up more energy.”

Controlling levels of this enzyme could potentially help people reach and maintain a healthy weight by prompting the body to burn excess energy rather than store it, Kahn suggested.

“Diet and exercise will always be very key, but this opens up the possibility of a new way to speed up cellular metabolism so people don’t store as much fat,” she said.

Results of animal research do not necessarily apply to humans, however.

Kahn and her colleagues discovered this new role for the enzyme while researching the role of body fat in the development of type 2 diabetes.

Researchers studied thousands of genes present in the fat of mice to determine which ones affected the body’s ability to convert glucose (blood sugar) into cellular energy, Kahn said.

The investigators found large amounts of the NNMT enzyme in the fat of mice prone to obesity or diabetes because they used glucose less efficiently and tended to store it away in body fat. This enzyme is already known, but no one has linked it to cellular metabolism, Kahn said.

To test the enzyme’s role in weight gain, researchers used a targeted genetic medication in the mice being served a high-fat diet to “knock down” the gene that promotes production of the enzyme.

Reducing levels of the enzyme in their fat and liver protected mice from diet-induced obesity, causing a 47 percent reduction in their body fat and a 15 percent increase in their lean body mass, the researchers report in the April 10 issue of the journal Nature.

Mice with reduced levels of this enzyme also experienced a 50 percent to 60 percent reduction in their blood insulin levels, an indication of improved insulin sensitivity.

Further, the medication worked without causing any harmful side effects, Kahn said.

Researchers believe the enzyme influences metabolism by suppressing a biochemical process known as a “futile cycle,” in which cellular reactions are sped up and burn more energy.

“We all know people who can seemingly eat whatever they want and not gain weight,” said Kahn. “Part of the reason for this natural weight control owes to basal cellular metabolism — the body’s inherent rate of burning energy. A futile cycle is one way to speed up energy utilization in cells.”

The explanation makes sense in an evolutionary sense, she said. Critters facing starvation need an enzyme like this to improve their ability to store away what little food energy they find, she explained.

“Human beings have evolved to have efficient metabolisms so they could survive famines and droughts, and times when food was not available,” Kahn said. “A person with a more efficient metabolism is more likely to gain weight than a person with a less efficient metabolism.”

Don’t expect this new finding to be translated into a weight-control treatment for humans anytime soon, however, experts said.

“One cannot be assured that this will be a totally healthy thing to do,” said Charles Brenner, a professor of biochemistry and internal medicine at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. “We don’t know what side effects this approach would have. The ability to gain weight on a high-fat diet is a normal part of animal metabolism.” Interfering with this natural process could have unintended consequences, he noted.

Brenner added that the new research only tested the ability to prevent weight gain by reducing the enzyme’s levels in mice. “They did not use this drug as a weight-loss measure,” he said.

Even more skeptical is Dr. Christoph Buettner of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

“Most of these kinds of discoveries do not lead to new drugs for one reason or another,” Buettner said. “Even if successful, it will take close to a decade until a drug targeting NNMT reaches our clinics.”

More information

For more information on obesity, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Posted: April 2014

View comments – Daily MedNews

Advanced Tonsil Cancer May Respond Well to Targeted Radiation

FRIDAY Feb. 21, 2014, 2014 — Targeted radiation therapy benefits people with advanced tonsil cancer, a new study suggests.

Such a treatment would effectively fight the disease while limiting the body’s exposure to harmful side effects.

Researchers looked at outcomes for 46 patients with advanced tonsil cancer who were treated at Washington University in St. Louis between 1997 and 2012. The patients were followed between three months and nearly nine years, with an average follow-up of nearly three years.

Limiting radiation treatment to lymph nodes on one side of the neck led to good local control of cancer and no cancer recurrence on the untreated side, according to the study being presented this week at the Multidisciplinary Head and Neck Cancer Symposium in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Lymph nodes are small structures that work as filters for harmful substances in the body, according to the American Cancer Society.

The new study also found that the location of the original tumor, rather than the amount of cancer in lymph nodes on the side of the neck with the tumor, affected the risk of cancer on the other side of the neck.

“All treatments for cancer — surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy — although effective, can cause temporary and/or permanent toxicity which can affect long-term quality of life,” study author Dr. Wade Thorstad, chief of head and neck services at Washington University School of Medicine, said in a symposium news release.

“Our research indicates that for appropriately selected patients with tonsil cancer, the volume of radiation therapy necessary to control the cancer can be significantly reduced, therefore reducing the side effects and toxicity of radiation, while maintaining a high rate of tumor control,” said Thorstad, who’s also an associate professor of radiation oncology.

Because this study was presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

Cancer Research UK has more about tonsil cancer.

Posted: February 2014

View comments – Daily MedNews

Harborside targeted by feds while Leader Pelosi stresses importance of federal action on medical marijuana

The Associated Press is reporting that Harborside Health Center, which has been called California’s largest non-profit medical marijuana dispensary, is being targeted by federal prosecutors in California. According to Harborside spokesperson Gaynell Rogers, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag’s office has threatened to seize the property on which Harborside’s two locations operate: one in Oakland and the other in San Jose.

Meanwhile, the ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives and congresswoman for nearby San Francisco, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, reaffirmed her support for the medical use of marijuana, telling a round table of bloggers that taking up and discussing federal legislation regarding medical marijuana would be “really important.” While she gave no firm promise to introduce specific legislation, her support for medical marijuana patients puts her at odds with the actions of President Barack Obama’s Justice Department.

President Obama would be wise to listen to his party’s ranking member in the House of Representatives as opposed to career drug warriors like DEA chief Michele Leonhart. While Leader Pelosi recognizes the real and growing evidence of marijuana’s medical efficacy, Agent Leonhart cannot even bring herself to admit that heroin is more harmful than marijuana. And if science isn’t something that the president and his circle are interested in listening to, they should at least listen to the 77% of the American public who support medical access to marijuana.

MPP Blog

More Frequent WoW Expansion Releases Targeted

World of Warcraft Cataclysm

World of Warcraft players are consuming content faster than ever before and, as a result, Blizzard is finding itself needing to quickly pump out content to meet that demand. Without saying what it would mean for the amount of content included in each expansion, Blizzard’s Mike Morhaime said during an investors conference call today that the developer is looking to decrease the amount of time spent developing future WoW expansions.

“As our players become more experienced playing World of Warcraft over the many years, they have become much better and much faster at consuming content,” he said. “And so I think with Cataclysm they were able to consume the content much faster than with previous expansions but that’s why we’re working on developing more content.

“We launched our first update last week and we have another update that’s already in test. The response we’ve gotten so far from players has been very positive and we really think we need to be faster at delivering content to players and that’s one of the reasons we’re looking to decrease the amount of time in between expansions.”


Prescription Drug Abuse Targeted as a ‘Public Health Crisis’

The program, announced at a press conference in Washington, aims to reduce abuse rates of some non-medical prescription drugs by 15 percent over by five years and to cut down on the number of unintentional overdose deaths. It would require drugmakers to
Moreover Technologies – Search results for… drugs – 30 of 1462 returned

Hitting the Target, Missing the Mark: How Targeted Therapies Have Left Patients Wanting

Biotech , Drugs , startups Richard Watson wrote: It is not unusual to read about another drug failure in a challenging neurological disease such as multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease
Moreover Technologies – Search results for… drugs – 30 of 1342 returned

Blueprint Medicines Brings In $40M, Led by Third Rock, for Targeted Cancer Therapies

condition. Blueprint proposes to do this by understanding the molecular drivers of cancer processes and developing more targeted drugs, such as kinase inhibitors that block the action of enzymes that control things like cancer cell proliferation.
Moreover Technologies – Search results for… drugs – 30 of 1353 returned

Caution: B.C. Medical Marijuana Grow-Ops Targeted By Thieves

?Some British Columbia residents who are legally licensed to grow medical marijuana are being ripped off by thieves.Three Langley, B.C., medical marijuana grow-ops have been robbed in the past six months, reports Cassidy Olivier at The Province. But Royal Canadian Mounted Police said there is “no way to tell” if the grows are being specifically targeted because they are a medicinal cannabis operation, or simply because they have pot.”We’re very concerned,” said Supt. Derek Cooke of the Langley RCMP, reports CBC News. “This is a significant problem for the community.” There are more than 800 legal medical marijuana grow-ops in B.C., according to Cooke.

Continue reading “Caution: B.C. Medical Marijuana Grow-Ops Targeted By Thieves” >

Toke of the Town

Police Nab 3 Men In 12 Robberies That Targeted Marijuana Users

?Some Victims Were Tied Up, Pistol Whipped; All Were Robbed of MarijuanaPolice in Bremerton and Kitsap County, Washington have arrested three men who they believe broke into and robbed at least a dozen homes of marijuana users in recent months.People at some of the victimized homes were legal medicinal cannabis users, while others were illegal users, according to Bremerton police, reports Josh Farley of the Kitsap Sun.

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Toke of the Town