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’Ah-Choo!’ Myths About Colds By Jennifer Ackerman

Originally Posted: September 02, 2010

Southampton - On average, we spend about five years of our lives suffering from colds. Author and scientist Jennifer Ackerman has written a book "Ah-Choo!" about what works, what can't hurt, and what might make you feel worse.

According to Ackerman Americans catch an estimated one billion colds a year, forcing us to miss 40 million days of work and school, and to make 100 million visits to the doctor. Remarkably, there is still no cure for the common cold, but that hasn't stopped consumers from spending billions of dollars every year on antibacterial sprays, cold medicines, and alternative "natural" remedies.

In "Ah-Choo!" Ackernman (author of "Sex Sleep East Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body") tackles widespread myths about colds, tracks current research and scientific advances, and sifts through the treatment chatter.

This humorous, practical and well-researched book offers insight into all the ways to avoid catching a cold, such as the cashier at the grocery store with the red eyes and runny nose, to reminding us that clincial trials have never been purused on the benefits of chicken soup - but as Ackerman explains "most of us find it soothing, and it certainly helps with hydration."

Offering some cold hard facts, Ackerman reveals:

 • People with diverse social networks get fewer colds than those with a small social circle; it's the number of social roles that counts, not the number of individuals with whom you associate.

 • Rather than preventing or shortening the life of a virus, boosting your immune system can make your cold symptoms much more severe and unpleasant.

 • First-borns in large families are twice as likely to have asthma as last-borns.

 • Vitamin C and Zinc do not help fight off or shorten colds - but never underestimate the effect of a placebo.

 • Cold germs are viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics and antibacterial soaps touted by manufacturers are useless against cold viruses and do nothing to prevent secondary bacterial infection.

"Ah-Choo!" is an interesting read, and certainly timely as we head into cold and flu season, and offers some very interesting alternatives to "fighting off a cold."

Published by Twelve ($22.99), "Ah-Choo!" is being released early September.

Ackerman has written essays and articles for the New York Times, Scientific American, Health, Real Simple, and Women's Health, among numerous other publications, and is the author of two books. She is currently a senior fellow at the Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service at Tufts University.

For more information go to www.jenniferackerman.net.

Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.

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