Have you seen ads for oxygenated water, claiming to cure tiredness, improve memory, help you to exercise longer and make you a better athlete? A study from Austria shows that oxygenated water offers none of these benefits for humans (International Journal of Sports Medicine, Volume 27, 2006).

When you exercise as hard as you can, you gasp for breath because you cannot meet your needs for oxygen, no matter how hard or fast you breathe. Lack of oxygen prevents you from breaking down lactic acid so it accumulates in your muscles and blood, and you develop severe shortness of breath. Researchers analyzed the effects of drinking oxygenated water daily for two weeks on lung function and clearance of lactic acid from the bloodstream during exhausting exercise. During both exercise and rest, there was no difference between people who drank oxygenated water and those who drank ordinary water as a placebo.

Oxygenated water would be helpful to fish because they have gills whose main function is to extract oxygen from water. Since you don’t have gills, extra oxygen in water is useless to you. Lungs are the only organ humans have to provide oxygen to the bloodstream, extracting it from the air you breathe. Water is not broken down into hydrogen and oxygen in your digestive tract; it is absorbed, used and excreted as water. Since you have no mechanism for moving extra oxygen from water into your bloodstream, oxygenated water cannot possibly help you with exercise or anything else. I recommend that you save your money.


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Dear Dr. Mirkin: What’s the latest in the debate on cell phone safety?

Researchers at the Swedish National Institute for Working Life reported that people who use cell phones for more than an hour a day for ten years are at significantly increased risk for brain cancers (International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health, April, 2006). This study disagrees with the Dutch Health Council study and a British survey, both released this year, that failed to show increased any risk. Most studies so far have failed to show an association between cell phones and brain tumors.

Cell phones emit low dose microwaves that do not cause cancer because unlike X rays, they are not strong enough to break bonds that hold molecules together. The only way that microwaves can cause cell damage is by producing heat. A study in the British journal, Nature (May 25, 2001) showed that microwaves cause roundworms to release heat shock proteins that are a sign of tissue injury.

Nobody is concerned with the energy generated by electromagnetic waves that come into your cell phone. The concern is the energy necessary to send a signal from your phone to the tower many miles away. This 800 to 900 MHz range radio frequency comes almost exclusively from the antenna on the phone and not from the phone itself. Since the issue is not settled, it would be wise to keep the antenna at least two inches away from your skin, preferably with a wired or wireless earpiece. Sound waves in an earpiece have never been implicated in any type of damage.


Dear Dr. Mirkin: Is salt restriction the best way to lower blood pressure?

Nowhere in medicine is there more confusion than the issue of salt as a cause of high blood pressure. At the 2006 meeting of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Dr. Abdul-Rahman of Newark, Delaware reported that people who lowered blood insulin levels had a significant reduction in high blood pressure even though they also markedly increased their salt intake (Endocrinology Practice, Volume 12, 2006).

These obese patients increased their daily salt intake from less than two grams a day to more than 20 grams a day. They avoided starchy and sugary foods and lost around 12 pounds in six weeks. They did not count calories. Their average blood sugars dropped from 106 to 98, average fasting insulin from 21 to 14 mu/ml and average diastolic blood pressure from 96 to 88. Some of the patients were able to stop their blood pressure drugs. This study and others show that high blood insulin levels are an important cause of high blood pressure, and that you can lower insulin levels by avoiding refined carbohydrates and losing weight. I recommend a modified DASH diet to all my patients.


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