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Lemon slice may come with extra germs

People's Pharmacy

November 15, 2010|Joe Graedon, Teresa Graedon | The People's Pharmacy

One of my co-workers always asks for a slice of lemon in his water. I shudder every time I see that piece of lemon floating in his glass, but I don't have the nerve to tell him it's probably loaded with germs. Am I mistaken?

You are correct. Microbiologist Anne LaGrange Loving was served a Diet Coke with a slice of lemon she had not requested. She decided to check whether the lemon was likely to be contaminated.

She and her co-author surreptitiously swabbed 76 lemon slices served at 21 different restaurants, then cultured the results. Two-thirds of the lemon slices had bacteria on either the rind or the pulp, they reported in a 2007 edition of the Journal of Environmental Health. Many of these germs have the potential to cause illness, although the study was not designed to discover if any patrons actually became sick.

I want to thank you for a recent tip on using Crest Sensitivity Toothpaste to help with allergies. My daughter started using the toothpaste two weeks ago. She always needed to use her inhaler frequently when she came home from college, due to cat allergies. This past weekend, she didn't need the inhaler one single time.

Thanks for sharing her experience. The active ingredient is potassium nitrate, a compound that was used to treat asthma and arthritis a century ago. Although it is unlikely there is enough in toothpaste to have a pharmacological effect, your daughter is not the only one to report benefit.

Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist, and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. http://www.peoplespharmacy.com.

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