Q: So Lance Armstrong finally came clean. But he never tested positive for drugs. How did he get away with doping all those years? And can we ever trust athletes not to be dopers? — Mike C., Dunedin, Fla.
A: Armstrong had a lot of help along the way. He said he would get clean weeks before his races, and he was tipped-off ahead of time before “random” testing was going to happen.
But he wouldn't be so successful at dodging detection today. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) now uses a protocol called the Athlete Biological Passport. By Lance's own admission, it would have identified him for sure.
The Athlete's Biological Passport is a snapshot of an athlete's base physiology. Using a set of selected biological markers, it shows screeners exactly what the athlete's biochemistry looks like when it is unaltered. That profile is good for a few decades.
So even if a before-race screening doesn't detect a doping substance, like human growth hormone (HGH), if it shows there's an enhancement of oxygen transfer to the muscles, then officials know for sure that doping has gone on.
Several top cyclists have already been sanctioned because their biological profile showed they had been doping. Another benefit? Clean athletes who get a false positive result on a drug test can present the Biological Passport to prove they haven't been doping.
This is a big step forward for the integrity of competitive sports. Now we'd like to see every Olympic and professional athlete get a Biological Passport before they sign with any team. Maybe then we can go back to inducting players into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown and pro-level sports can rediscover integrity in competition.
Q: It seems like half the kids in my son's fourth-grade class are diagnosed with ADHD. What's going on? Am I imagining things? — Gail F., Columbia, Mo.
A: Well, no, you are not imagining things. A recent report states that between 2000 and 2010, there was a 90 percent increase in the number of black girls diagnosed with ADHD, and overall diagnoses jumped 24 percent.
How does such an increase happen? One answer could be that there's an increase in the diagnosis, not in incidence, of ADHD. Another possibility is that, at least in part, the jump is caused by kids' cumulative exposure to triggers right around the time they're born and as they're growing up.
Some studies indicate that hormone disrupters, such as BPA (bisphenol A), found in plastics and household products (microwave ovenware, linings of food cans and even cellphones) may contribute to developing ADHD. Tip: The number “7” on the bottom of containers identifies plastics that may contain BPA.
What can you do to reduce your family's exposure to such potentially harmful chemicals?
•Avoid all paper receipts. Most have BPA or BPS (bisphenol S); they have the same effect. You don't absorb BPA/BPS through the skin. However, if you get it on your hands and then touch your mouth or food — bingo! — you get 1,000 times the dose that you'd get from food or drink packaged in plastic.
•Opt for fresh, not prepackaged or prepared foods.
•Choose beverages in glass bottles.
•Try to reduce your use of plastics whenever possible (we know it's difficult).
And make choices that keep your immune system strong and inflammation to a minimum: That means no trans fats and few saturated fats, no added sugar or sugar syrups, no grains that aren't 100 percent whole and lots of physical activity (get everyone out playing and running around every day).
Have adults in your family take 1,000 IU of vitamin D-3 and give kids the age-appropriate dose listed on the label.
Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Mike Roizen is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email your health and wellness questions to Dr. Oz and Dr. Roizen at firstname.lastname@example.org.