Practicing family physicians from the UNC Department of Family Medicine have teamed up with The Carrboro Citizen to bring you a weekly feature responding to your questions about health and medicine. Send your questions or comments to email@example.com
This week we respond to questions about radon and gluten.
Dear HOUSE Calls, Why is radon a problem? Should I get a house tested for radon before I buy it?
Radon is an odorless gas that can be produced from the decay of uranium products. It is somewhat more common in older homes. It can break down over time, and if you inhale it or ingest it, it may increase your risk of lung cancer. After smoking and second-hand smoke, radon is the third-leading cause of lung cancer. You can purchase inexpensive kits to measure radon, and this is probably a good idea before buying a house. Radon levels vary widely by location, so consider contacting your local health department for advice. Most of North Carolina has low levels of radon, including most of the counties in the central and eastern parts of the states. However, some counties in central North Carolina and most of the western part of the state have moderate to high levels of radon. You can find more information about radon and radon testing in North Carolina at ncradon.org.
Dear HOUSE Calls, Gluten-free diets seem to be increasingly popular, even for people without gluten sensitivity. Is this a good idea?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. The term â€œglutenâ€ comes from the Latin word for glue, and this protein literally keeps our food sticky and chewy. Wheat is a very common part of our diet, and cutting it out can be difficult and expensive. Gluten is the protein that people with Celiac disease can not tolerate. These people should not eat gluten. Those without known or at least suspected Celiac disease have no reason to avoid gluten, but gluten-free diets are often very healthy diets. Most Americans eat far too much carbohydrate, especially simple carbohydrates like processed wheat flour. Cutting out some of the wheat in your diet and making most of your wheat intake whole wheat can make a big improvement in your diet and your health. As for us, weâ€™ll continue to enjoy some whole-wheat gluten (preferably with pizza sauce and cheese on top). Exercise caution with extreme diets of any kind, and consider working with your physician or a nutritionist to make sure you are getting all the nutrients your body needs if you do decide to pursue a gluten-free diet.
House Calls is a weekly column by Dr. Adam Goldstein, Dr. Cristy Page and Dr. Adam Zolotor on behalf of Your Health and the UNC Department of Family Medicine.