|Holy smoke!||Dec. 16, 2006|
|Provided by: Sun Media|
|Written by: DR. GIFFORD-JONES|
This holiday season, millions of people around the world will be going to church. And many will be lighting candles and offering prayers to the Almighty. But how healthy is holy smoke? And how hazardous is the Christmas tree?
We're all cautioned to take special care it doesn't catch on fire. But I wonder how many readers have heard about "Evergreen tree abscess"?
Dr. Jim McDaid, an Irish family doctor and Minister of State, has raised a holy stink about holy candles. He warned that burning incense in churches could be harmful to altar boys and girls who help Roman Catholic priests celebrate mass.
I'm sure that no one has ever researched the dangers of incense. But it's known that carbon is a cancer-causing agent and wherever there's smoke there are also carbon molecules. So good sense indicates the less incense and cigarette smoke the better.
The burning of incense is an age-old religious tradition used in many churches.
Today in Ireland it's primarily used at funerals. Its scent seems to add a mystical dimension to the proceedings. So it takes a brave man to criticize current traditions and clerics who have confirmed ideas about the burning of incense.
A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland said she was unaware of any study about the effects of incense, but the church would be looking into the matter.
But what will happen to Dr. McDaid? I doubt he will be ex-communicated from the Roman Catholic Church for his interesting views. But no sane Irishman is going to push his luck too far and be damned to everlasting hell.
So to be on the safe side he denied that he is anti-church, anti-smoke or even against the use of incense.
Also appropriate at Christmas is the story of a 2-year old boy with a history of recurrent right-sided pneumonia since 10 months of age. Bouts of lung infection started a few months after his first Christmas. Each time doctors detected nothing abnormal after examining the lungs with a stethoscope, and the boy was otherwise healthy. But X-rays continually revealed a right-sided pneumonia.
During a later attack of pneumonia, an X-ray and CT scan showed a round mass in the lower portion of the boy's right lung. But doctors were still puzzled as to the cause.
They speculated it might be a case of atypical pneumonia, a congenital cystic lesion, a tumour or a chronic inflammatory mass triggered by so many attacks of pneumonia. They also considered the possibility of tuberculosis, but a TB skin test was normal.
Bronchoscopy could not be done as the mass was far beyond reach of this instrument. The only choice left was to operate on the boy.
At surgery, doctors discovered an inflammatory mass rigidly attached to the chest wall affecting almost the entire right lower lung, which had to be removed. But none of the doctors could have guessed what was inside this inflammatory mass. The pathologist reported that buried deep inside the lesion was a small branch of an evergreen Christmas tree!
It's believed this is the first published case of evergreen tree pneumonia causing lung abscess in a child. If this diagnosis had been made earlier there's a chance an operation would not have been needed.
So this holiday season keep an eye on toddlers who have a tendency to taste and swallow objects.
Once again, as I have for so many years, I wish my readers a happy and healthy holiday season. I'd like to say a special thanks to those who have taken the time to send along their views. It's always good to hear from you whether it's to offer praise or take me to task.
|MORE COLUMNS BY DR. GIFFORD-JONES|