Q. How common are albinos?
People get their color from a pigment called melanin. Albinos have no melanin in their skin, hair or eyes.
Q. I’ve been reading about athletes using steroids to build themselves up. Do these drugs work for older men?
First some background on steroids. There are two types of steroids: corticosteroids and anabolic steroids. Corticosteroids, such as cortisone and prednisone, are drugs that help control inflammation. Anabolic steroids, such as androstenedione or andro, are substances that can help the body make muscle.
Q. I’ve been reading about “dirty bombs” that spread radiation. They can kill by giving you radiation sickness. What exactly is this?
Radiation sickness is an illness caused by too much exposure to radiation. How ill you become depends on the dose and the rate of exposure. Exposure to low-dose radiation, such as X-ray examinations, does not cause radiation sickness.
Q. Do wrinkle creams work?
The American Academy of Dermatology says that over-the-counter wrinkle creams do little or nothing to reverse wrinkles.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved prescription tretinoin cream to treat aging skin. In addition, the FDA has also approved lasers for skin treatment.
Tretinoin cream, which is a vitamin A derivative, is sold under the brand names Altinac, Atralin, Avita, Renova, Retin A Micro Gel, Retin-A and Tretin-X.
Q. Does drinking carrot juice help with cataracts?
A cataract is a clouding of the lens, the clear part of the eye that helps focus images like the lens in a camera. Cataracts can blur images and discolor them. Most cataracts are related to aging. More than half of Americans over age 65 have a cataract.
I suspect this reader’s question was inspired by the common belief that carrots are good for your eyes. And carrots are good for your eyes.
Q. A friend of mine said his doctor told him he has “hemochromatosis.” He didn’t seem worried. I didn’t want to ask, but is it serious?
Every once in a while I get a question that surprises me completely. Hemochromatosis? I thought it sounded like a rare condition in a small subculture. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Q. My father was diagnosed with SVT? Is that bad?
SVT stands for supraventricular tachycardia, an abnormally-fast heart rhythm. It is not usually dangerous. SVT is one of many types of arrhythmia. An arrhythmia is a problem with the speed or rhythm of the heartbeat.
Most arrhythmias are harmless. Even serious arrhythmias can be treated successfully. Most people with arrhythmias are able to live healthy lives.
Q. I’m a healthy 71-year-old woman and I sweat a lot. I was wondering if it’s something I should discuss with my doctor.
Heavy sweating, or perspiration, is normal if you are exercising, in a hot environment or you are nervous. It also happens during menopause.
Healthy people sweat, but the amount varies widely. Some people inherit heavy sweating, especially on their palms and the soles of their feet. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, excessive sweating affects about 8 million Americans.
Q. What are the most common food allergies?
Foods that produce most allergic reactions in adults include fish, shrimp, lobster, crab, peanuts, eggs and tree nuts such as walnuts and pecans. Common children’s allergic reactions are caused by eggs, milk, wheat and peanuts.
A true food allergy is an abnormal response by your immune system to certain foods. All reactions to foods are not allergies. When you have a reaction that doesn’t involve the immune system, this reaction is called food intolerance.
Q. I don’t get it. Is ozone a good thing or a bad thing?
Ozone, a gas, is a form of oxygen. It is created when an electric spark or ultraviolet light passes through air, or when pollutants react chemically with sunlight. Beneficial ozone is in the upper atmosphere, 10 to 30 miles above the surface of the Earth. It protects us from the sun’s ultraviolet rays. Too much of these rays may increase the risk of skin cancer, cataracts and problems with our immune systems. Part of the good ozone layer has been destroyed by man-made chemicals.