The California Cure Safe House

by Dr. Cara Natterson

Today’s parents tend to worry much more than their own parents ever worried—about everything. We swim in a sea of endless information—studies claiming that this chemical can cause cancer and that additive jump-starts puberty. Now parents fear for their children at every turn: “Don’t eat that food! Don’t drink out of that cup! Don’t use that product!” In doing so they have roundly earned the nickname “helicopter parents.”

Turns out, there is more than just hype available to guide your parenting; there is actual data. Despite rumor on the playground, there are studies that look at chemicals, vaccines, food additives and more. The business of figuring out what is dangerous for your children and what is safe is not as simple as listening to the rumor mill. Here are some study-proven pearls that can help you begin to separate fact from fiction...


Organic soy can cause boys to grow breasts. Wrong, despite the fact that soy contains a naturally occurring chemical called a phytoestrogen (sounds frighteningly similar to the hormone estrogen).

Antiperspirants cause cancer. Extreme hyperbole.

Caffeine will stunt your child’s growth. False!

Sports Drinks are a necessary replenishment after a big game. Actually, water works just as well.

DEET insect repellant is more dangerous than an allergic reaction to a bug bite. Myth.


Cell phones are increasingly suspected of causing illnesses like brain cancer, and our young children will have a lifetime of exposure to these devices.

Genetically modified foods are made using the genes of a variety of different plants, so they could be at least partly responsible for the increasing presence of food allergies.

Juice is one contributor to the increasing obesity epidemic among children, particularly when it is “enhanced” with sugar and other sweeteners.

Cough and cold medicines aren’t recommended for young children, and they generally don’t work anyhow.

CARA NATTERSON, M.D. lives in Los Angeles and is the author of Dangerous or Safe: Which Medicines, Foods, and Chemicals Really Put Your Kids at Risk.