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Housecalls—Healthy Cookware, Banishing Dark Circles, the Facts on Fertile Eggs
Nonstick’s Sticky Wicket
Q Are there health hazards associated with Teflon and other nonstick cookware?
A Possibly—but there are ways to sidestep the risks.
Manufacturers of nonstick cookware have known for decades that heating their products past 600Þ F can cause fluoropolymers in the coating to break down. And as these chemicals degrade, they release toxic gases, some of which can cause a temporary flu-like condition and some of which are carcinogenic, into the air. So DuPont, the maker of Teflon, recommends cooking at temperatures at or below 500Þ F.
But the Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently sounded the alarm with a study showing that a generic nonstick frying pan, left empty on an electric burner set at high heat, reached 736Þ F in just 3 minutes and 20 seconds; a Teflon pan topped 700 degrees in 5 minutes. The EWG has petitioned the Consumer Product Safety Commission to require warning labels on nonstick cookware, but so far has been turned down.
If you do use nonstick pots and pans, keep the heat at low or medium, and never let a pan sit empty on a hot stove. Or choose cast-iron, enamel-coated iron, or steel versions instead. Integrative doc Andrew Weil also gives his seal of approval to copper and aluminum-clad pots and pans, as long as they have stainless-steel interior surfaces.
Goodbye, Raccoon Eyes
Q What causes dark undereye circles, and can anything be done about them?
A The usual suspects—sun damage, age, and genetics—can cause them, but there’s also a lesser-known culprit: inflammation, says dermatologist Nelson Lee Novick, of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City. Inflammation from allergies, a lack of sleep, or eye-rubbing can cause undereye blood vessels to become dilated or clogged. Also, age can thin undereye skin, making underlying blood vessels more visible; sun can darken skin; and genetics can make you more predisposed to it all.
As usual, prevention is the best medicine. Get plenty of sleep, and elevate your head with two pillows. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen (UVB rays can darken circles), and sunglasses that filter both UVA and UVB.
But if these strategies don’t help, you do have options other than a good concealer. New studies have shown that a topical therapy combining vitamin K with retinol can help. “After 16 weeks, a computer measured 70 percent reduction in subjects’ undereye discoloration,” says dermatologist Mel Elson of Burns, Tennessee, who has studied the vitamin combo. Products that contain sufficient amounts of the vitamins, he says, include Vita-Cap Dark Circle Eye Serum from Esteem by Naomi Judd, and Lumineyes by Mary Kay.
Q Are fertilized eggs any better for you than non-fertilized ones?
A Not exactly, though they may be worth eating anyway.
According to the American Egg Board, fertilized eggs don’t keep as well as the normal kind, cost more to produce, and don’t have any nutritional advantage. But chicken farmer Steve Mahrt of Rock Island Eg...